Brunette, Vice President of Grand Baymen Belize, answers that frequently
asked question about moving abroad, "Do you have any regrets...?" aswell as
highlighting some of the recent events that took place in her home of Belize...
Do you have any
regrets about moving to Belize?" Without hesitation,
Mike and I honestly answer, "No, we have no regrets." Visitors often find it
baffling that we could be as happy, or even happier, in little San Pedro Town
than we were in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Initially, we invested in property on
Ambergris Caye because of our love for the Caribbean Sea and the laid back tropical lifestyle.
Every day we're still thrilled to be surrounded by so much beauty, color, and
But, there's another attractive aspect of
daily life on Ambergris Caye that kept drawing us back to this low-key Caribbean retreat. It's the people and the strong
sense of community here. I'd never experienced anything like it before. In a
big metropolitan area, like the San Francisco Bay Area, one can easily feel
lost in a sea of bodies. It's difficult to get to know many neighbors.
On my very first return trip to Ambergris
Caye, I was constantly greeted by people who remembered me from the prior year!
This occurred on the beach and around town. It was a revelation for me. I
seemed to have more friends in San Pedro than in California!
Whether or not they know you, people in San
Pedro Town smile and wave at you. And, people help people here, as a matter of
Volunteering is very common in San Pedro.
Almost everyone gives back to the community in some way. There's always some
kind of fundraiser about to occur. Sometimes it's for the Saga Society (Humane
Society), Holy Cross School, or Green Reef. But, often the goal is to raise
money to help a family or friend in need. This has really touched me to see
neighbors helping neighbors daily.
This is why we describe Grand Baymen Belize as a "Caribbean Community". The
owners/investors who spend time here become our neighbors. We expect to see
them regularly - at the pool, on the beach, or in town. Grand Baymen is a
community within a community, especially because we are walking distance from
town. It's easy to mingle...
It's also very comforting, at this time of
economic and political upheaval, to live in a place where everyone knows and
will help you. We all look out for one another...
As always, we hope you'll come and visit us
for a Chill Weekend, or at any other time, you feel the desire to experience
our Isla Bonita. Be sure to drop by and say hi.
some of the recent events in Belize:
Ambergris Caye wins another top 10 ranking as a great place to
Easter is a very special holiday in San Pedro Town. We'll share a
few of the events.
Review of the successful Reef/Lagoon Kayak Eco-Challenge.
Tacogirl and Tacoboy - Bloggers who illustrate the San Pedro
April and May Chill Updates.
Tres Pescado Fishing Tournament.
Magazine Votes Ambergris Caye a Top 10 Retirement Island - Again!
The Editors of ISLANDS Magazine have again selected Ambergris
Caye as one of the 2010 BEST ISLANDS TO LIVE/RETIRE
ON! They will highlight
the top ten islands and their rankings in their special annual issue, published
in July/August. It's always a best seller.
ranking isn't just a fluke. In 2009, Islands Magazine ranked
Ambergris Caye the BEST Island to Live/Retire
couldn't agree more! Consistency is the key.
Easter in San Pedro - Kids, Kites and
Easter Eggs Underwater...
Belize is a festive country
that loves to celebrate holidays, events and parties. Easter is indeed the most
important and favorite holiday in Belize. It is a holiday of
religious significance for most Belizeans. A high percentage of San Pedranos
are Hispanic. Mainly Catholics, they adhere to the rituals of Good Friday and
Easter. No one works on Good Friday. And Easter is a day when people spend time
with their family and friends.
On Sunday morning, the majority of families
attend church. But, come Easter afternoon everyone is out and about. The beach
and town are buzzing with activity. There are activities for all, but
especially the children. One of the fun activities geared towards the kids is
Moose's Kite competition, held at the Exotic Caye Beach Resort, the Grand
Baymen Belize beach resort.
Each of the kids who competed was required
to design and make their own kite. There were a variety of colors, designs and
approaches. Creativity was the name of the game. For instance, many of the
kites had many parts that included garbage bags strands and streamers!
The Easter weather and breeze were perfect
for kite flying. It was great fun to watch the kids work with their kites. We
adults sat on the beach at Crazy Canucks/Exotic Caye Beach Resort, enjoying
both the streaming kites and our Easter cocktails. Capturing pictures of
multiple kites midstream was indeed a bit of a challenge...
Another new Easter event this year was the
underwater Easter egg hunt. Of course, snorkels and diving were involved. The
kids, and the adults, had so much fun that this will certainly become another
repeat event next year.
Lagoon-Reef Kayak Eco-Challenge - Protecting Our Reefs and Lagoons
Last month we briefly summarized the
grueling Lagoon-Reef Eco Challenge. This is such a fun, lively community event,
that it deserves a detailed report this month. The Eco-Challenge is
representative of the type of larger community activities that bring residents
together in San Pedro Town.
The Eco-Challenge is held each year, in
April, to raise awareness that it is critical to protect Belize's offshore reefs and lagoon areas. This
event was the brainchild of Elito Arceo, a San Pedrano businessman and
environmental activist. Elito owns and operates Seaduced, a very successful San
Pedro water sports and tour company.
This year was very special, with 35 teams
competing during the sixth year of the race. It was an "all amateurs" race this
time. The competition kicked off at 6 AM on Saturday, April 24. Contestants covered
a total distance of 44 miles. Two days were required to complete the challenge.
There was a camping stop on Saturday night.
It was indeed a very physically challenging
event. But, the competitors also had the opportunity to kayak through beautiful
lagoons and remote eco-sensitive areas, such as the Bacalar Chico World
On Sunday, Mike and I reached the Town Square in time for lunch. The top three paddlers
didn't reach the Town Square until after 12:30 PM. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd
was palpable. It seemed that the entire town was waiting on the beach... People
waved and cheered, anxiously waiting for their favorite team to cross the
Boats and water toys crowded the shallow
offshore waters, close to the beach shore. Everyone was jostling for the best
vantage point in the water. Viewers attempted to stay cool while watching the
kayakers paddle through the finish line, and then collapse.
The local beach cantinas were overflowing
with locals, expats and visitors. We all enjoyed our delicious lunches and
tropical drinks while taking in the show. It was the perfect vantage point to
watch the teams drag in, one by one, elated but spent.
Many teams did not survive. The trip on
Saturday was grueling. Kayakers paddled against the strong offshore Caribbean winds for over 22 miles.
On Sunday, I was there, able to capture the
contestant's relief as they struggled across the finish line. People lined the
shores waving, hooting and calling to their friends. The atmosphere was festive
and fun. Next year, I plan to volunteer and join a support boat team. In the end, the Reef Radio's Ranza Boys took the top prize. But there were
prizes for all. Good humor prevailed as the following awards were presented:
Dog Tired Award
Most Creative Team
Team that got lost
Team that got smoked
During the day, there were many activities
and games for the kids. They could go seashell hunting, compete in the sand
castle building contests, participate in tube racing, or have their face
How Blogging in Belize Led One Couple to Success in San Pedro
This month I would like to introduce you to
the couple who started Ambergris Caye's best blog. They have only lived in San
Pedro since 2006. But they're well known and recognizable everywhere around
town... Their blog, tacogirl.com realistically depicts what it's like to live on
Ambergris Caye on a day-to-day basis.
Here in San Pedro Town, Laurie Norton and
Paul Jewitt are affectionately known as tacogirl and tacoboy. They're easy
going Canadians - low key and modest. They've lived in Belize only four years. Yet, they've become the
on-line voice of the Isla Bonita.
Laurie and Paul are part of an emerging
trend. Move over Baby Boomers! An increasing number of adventurous 30-40 year
olds are making their mark on the local San Pedro Town scene. They come with a
bit of savings and a pocket full of dreams. Determined to live on Ambergris
Caye, they start a business so they can stick around.
Laurie and Paul had vacationed in places
such as the Virgin
Islands, Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Florida. Each time they returned to Toronto, they were more determined to escape the
winters. Laurie kept pushing Paul to make a move to Ambergris Caye - sooner
rather than later.
A series of "going nowhere" retail jobs
made it easy for Laurie to leave Canada. Paul had worked for high-powered
companies like Edward Jones and Mosaic, in advertising and business
development. Along the way, he picked up web design. Then he became an independent
contractor. So, he felt he'd be able to make a living anywhere.
They finally made the move in January of
2006. Destination - Belize. First stop - San Pedro Town, Ambergris
Caye. When they arrived in town, they immediately fell in love with the Isla
Bonita and the people. Why San Pedro? Of all the places they had visited Laurie
notes, "It's the quirkiest, funniest, friendliest place."
The first year in Belize they tightened their belts and became
volunteers. "We recommend that everyone volunteer when they move their
residencies. It's a great way to meet people and quickly fit into the
community." Through their volunteering, they easily met new friends. Doors
began to open.
In 2007, Paul helped Laurie start a blog
about living on Ambergris Caye. Initially, she used it to keep in touch with
friends and family. She tried to show them a slice of her new life on this
quirky Caribbean island.
Laurie has always focused on giving her
readers a fun, colorful, depiction of everyday life on Ambergris Caye. "Little
did I realize that due to the Belize message boards, and people's love for
Ambergris Caye, my blog would take off like a rocket and turn into a full time
is a daily Belize Blog. It's geared towards expats and travelers. Over the past
three years, it's gained a worldwide following. Readers tune in to get their
daily fix of life on Ambergris Caye. It features a mix of island life, travel
tips, local news, restaurant and resort reviews.
These days the blog site gets over 300
visitors per day. In 2009, Laurie traveled to San Francisco to accept a Lonely Planet Travel Blogger
Award. After only two years, the tacogirl.com blog won their popular vote for
the Best Image Blog. It will soon be featured in "Great Destinations
But what about Paul? He started two more
web related businesses. [#%!].com is the local news blog he started in
October. Recently, he started [#%!].com.
Is the Taco Twosome still happy living on
Ambergris Caye? "We celebrated our four year anniversary this year and still
love every minute of being here. While it has not always been easy, we have no
regrets. Making this move was the best thing we ever did."
If you would like to get a feel for the
events and festivities that occur on Ambergris Caye, visit www.tacogirl.com.
May Chill Weekends
The Grand Baymen Chill Weekend held on
April 23-25 was another success. A group of 20 or so visitors joined us for a
weekend of beachfront get togethers, delicious meals, shared camaraderie,
informative lectures, tours, and lively music. Attendees came from both coasts,
including Vermont and California. There were even a few Irishmen and one
Russian present. It was a fun, lively group, so there was no lack of
The next Chill Weekend is being held on May
28-30th, the Memorial Day Weekend. If you are interested, you can sign up
now by clicking on the link below. The cost for the weekend is only
$299/first person and $100/second person. This includes two nights at
Exotic Caye Beach Resort, five meals, a local tour, and a variety of very
helpful presentations about living/retiring
You can now
find a list of the planned Chill Weekends on the Exotic Caye Beach Resort
website, at www.belizeisfun.com.
There is a tab for the Chill Weekends. And, of course, you can use the link
above to go directly to the sign up page.
Boogie in Belize Makes the Cover of Parachutist Magazine
The Annual Boogie in Belize Skydiving Event
made the cover article for the May 2010 edition of Parachutist Magazine.
The magazine is the official United States
Parachute Association publication, which goes out worldwide to over 40,000
members. There is a nice article in the issue entitled ‘Unbelizeable!'
At February's end, jumpers from around the
world escaped winter and gathered at one of the most beautiful tropical boogie
locations, the country of Belize, for 10 days of warm weather and skydiving
Congratulations to Rich Grimm and the
entire Tsunami Skydivers Team.
2nd Annual Tres Pescados Slam Tournament
- August 12, 13 and 14
Belize has long been known by
serious anglers around the world as an outstanding place for sport fishing. The
2nd Annual Tres Pescados Slam Tournament will be held August 12, 13 and 14.
This new, but highly visible fly-fishing competition is hitting the mainstream.
Already, more teams are signed up than competed last year. If anyone is
interested or wants more information, contact the Tournament coordinator, Jim
Oliver at 011-501-668-6690 (if calling from the USA). Of course, you can
also stop by the Tres Pescados Fly Shop when you visit us at Grand Baymen Belize.