Sorry it took so long to get this posted. I typed for 3 ½ hours on the website when I first got home and somehow lost it all. I then had to recreate everything in MSWord (to be safe) and cut and paste to the website. Please note I have used my wife’s formal name throughout this report instead of her nickname as it is impermissible to use her nickname for this web page due to its resemblance to an HTML tag of the same name.
After arriving home on Jan. 11th from Camp Belize1 with my two friends, Don and Joe, I had only 3 weeks until time to leave for Camp Belize2 with my wife Gail on Jan.30th. (Check out my trip report for Camp Belize1 on this site on Jan.15) This was my first time attending both camps, and only the 2nd year that I am aware that there were two camps. This was my 5th trip to AC and Gail’s 3rd trip. We went to Camp Belize 2002 together, then I went to 2003 with my friend Don, we spent this past Thanksgiving in San Pedro with our family, then I went to Camp Belize1(2004) with my friends Don and Joe.
Gail and I arrived at Philip Goldson Airport on the mainland by USAir on Friday, Jan. 30th at 1:10 PM. I had brought my guitar as a carry-on and stowed it in the overhead bin instead of checking it. I worry about it less that way. Both American and USAir have let me do that with no problem. We were scheduled to take the Tropic Air flight to San Pedro at 2:40 PM, but we got through customs so quickly that they put us on the 1:40PM flight instead. As we were the last two people on the aircraft, Gail was elected co-pilot and sat upfront next to the pilot. I sincerely hoped she would not be required to undergo any emergency on-the-job training.
As we approached the familiar waterways and landed on the San Pedro Airstrip, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Since we were an hour early, Lelo, our taximan, was not there, so we called him from Tropic Air. Gail and I agreed that she would wait with the luggage for Lelo and go to Paradise Villas with him while I walked down to Moncho’s to get our golf cart. I had reserved a golf cart in advance for each of my three trips since Thanksgiving in exchange for a 20% discount on all three rentals. During Camp Belize1, when I arrived at Moncho’s, I opted for a gas cart because we use the cart a lot and I was tired of running out of electric at inopportune times. They cannot or will not give a discount on the gas carts. However, I had forgotten to notify them that for this trip I also wanted a gas cart instead of electric. They had an electric reserved for me only and were totally out of gas carts. After some cajoling, begging and pleading, they found a gas cart for me. Thank you, Moncho’s. If you use a cart a lot, gas is the way to go. They fill up the tank at their cost and a tank has always lasted for 9 days for me. They are also much faster. I don’t know if that is good or bad.
As I rolled away from Moncho’s, I reveled in the warmth and beautiful sun, as well as the familiar buildings and sights, as I headed toward Paradise Villas. We have always stayed there, as it perfectly suits our needs. It is so close to town and is sort of a gated mini-community. The pool is great. They have just substantially expanded the pier adding much more width and different levels, and it is close to Wet Willie’s, two grocery stores, and great snorkeling just off the pier. I was well aware that back home in Maryland they were expecting another snowfall and an ice storm on top of the 14” of snow we already had. Brrr!
My timing was great. I arrived at our villa just as Lelo had unloaded our luggage and walked into the very familiar living room of Villa 20A, where we had also stayed in November. I discovered that Nellie Gomez, our rental agent, had brought her CD player from home for us to use so we did not have to carry one from USA and had put 24 bottles of water in our refrigerator, which were just cold enough. Working with Nellie is great. She is president of the Homeowner’s Association and manages approximately 80% of the units there and runs a Laundromat on Pescador St. as well. She will pick up and deliver your laundry with same day service.
After we got unpacked and got the villa organized, Gail announced that she was hungry and needed a snack to hold her until dinner. She doesn’t weigh much more than a good-sized German Shepherd, but needs to eat every 3 hours.
We were going to a Sunset Party that night at the Belizian Reef on the rooftop deck hosted by Meg and Jim from Maryland. We had met Jim at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. the middle of last year for a JJW concert. Gail and I had met Meg at our first Camp Belize in 2002. We had arrived at the airport on the mainland and were waiting for our Tropic Air flight to San Pedro. We knew nobody from the JJW group or from Texas. All of a sudden I spotted two smiling ladies, Meg and her friend Kathy, who were wearing boots and 9 gallon hats. We figured we had just seen our first authentic Texans. After introducing ourselves to them, we discovered that Meg lives in Maryland only about 70 miles from us and Kathy lives in nearby Pennsylvania.
We got Gail her snack, then headed south to scope out the rear entrance to the parking lot at the Belizian Reef to locate the parking lot for after dinner. On the way past the airport, we met up with Sandi (Poptart) from Minneapolis, who we had met during our first year, Derby from Austin, and Gary from Oregon, who I had met last year at 2003 Camp Belize. When we asked Gary where Linda (his wife) was, he said she wouldn’t be coming down until Wednesday in order to give him a chance to get some of the celebrating out of his system before she got there. Not a bad approach! Gary plays bass back home, but brought a regular six string guitar with him. They were there at the airport waiting for Kevin (Kevbo) from California to get in. We had met Kevin at Camp Belize 2002 and then again at the Birchmere later in 2002. He is still looking for an applesauce cake that Gail mailed to him for Christmas 2002.
Although the Sunset Party was to start about 6 PM, we decided to go to dinner first because I knew that once we started playing guitars and singing, dinner would be the last thing on my mind. After ten days in early January of having to hold and steady my guitar everywhere I went in the cart, this time I brought a bungee cord and attached it and my guitar to the luggage rack of the cart. Perfect! We drove to Caramba on Pescador St., one of our most favorite restaurants and glided into the air-conditioned comfort. I carried my guitar into the restaurant, as I surely could not leave it attached to the cart. If you did not read my earlier trip report, let me tell you that this place is a jewel. It has only been open 9 or 10 months. Rene, the owner, makes you feel like he is welcoming you into the dining room of his home. His nickname is SpongeBob. His combination of extremely warm service and excellent food and drink at very reasonable prices is very hard to match. We had two of our favorites from his kitchen. Gail ordered stewed chicken and I asked for blackened grouper. While waiting, I had two of his world-class Margaritas. Buffett needs to try these. They are excellent. When our dinner came, we enjoyed our meals immensely and I had a couple of Belikins to go with my dinner. Gail does not drink alcohol at all because of food allergies, so she had a virgin Pina Colada. She is a great DD for me. She swears that Caramba makes the best Pina Coladas on the island.
We finished in about 45 minutes and thanked Rene. Gail told him how she had been looking forward to his stewed chicken again and how delicious it was. He said email me when you get home and I will send you my recipe. However, you will need certain spices that you can only get in San Pedro. Stop by later in the week and I will give you a list of spices to buy.” On the way to the Belizian Reef, we ran into Sandie and Derby again and by this time they had Kevin in the golf cart. We greeted Kevin and chatted for a bit until a taxicab’s horn encouraged us to get moving.
Turning into the back alley near the Belizian Reef, I missed the Belizian’s parking lot and wound up parking in the lot behind BC’s. Sorry, Charlene! BC’s was hopping, as usual, with the Friday night regulars and others. We walked 50 yards down the beach and headed up the stairs of the Belizian Reef to the rooftop deck with a guitar and a bag of beer. As we got to the top, we greeted our host and hostess, Jim and Meg. It was dark by now, but they said it had been a beautiful sunset. It was great to see them on this, the eve of our first day of many, in paradise. I greeted Randall and Anne from Texas. I had met them at Camp Belize 2003 and they were active spectators in our now legendary pickin’ party at Ramon’s that year. Jeff and Chris from Minneapolis were there also. I remembered them from Camp Belize 2003. I also spotted Conrad and Trisha from Conro, Texas. It was so good to see everyone again and get re-acquainted. It seemed like we had 5 or 6 conversations going at once to try to get caught up.
I need to tell you a little bit about Conrad. I didn’t really get to know him at all in 2002. I knew he played guitar, and sang, and had brought his guitar with him. That’s it. When he arrived in 2003, he had his left hand bandaged because of a fairly bad cut of some type and was not able to properly make chords to play the guitar early in the week. A large group of JJW folks had wound up at Fido’s on Tuesday night and Barefoot(Tim Budd) Skinny was playing solo with his guitar, keyboard, and computer outfit. Conrad had his guitar and was going to sit in with Tim to do a few songs and asked me if I could get up with him and play the chords with Tim’s guitar. I said sure. (Gulp, this was to be almost the first time I had gotten up on a stage and played in public since my rock n’ roll band days as a teenager.) Tim was to play keyboards with us. We started out with Redneck Mother and it went very well and we got a big ovation from our JJW crowd, as well as the others. Then we jumped into Trashy Women, playing in A. Conrad was sounding great. Tim had given me a mike too, so I was singing a little back up. All of a sudden, I let my mind wander on verse two and switched into the wrong key. Conrad and Tim both shot me a look like they had just developed severely upset stomachs. I got so flustered that I couldn’t remember how to get back into the right key and kept playing in the wrong key. More agonized looks from my two band mates. Making matters worse was the fact that the volume on my guitar was much louder than Conrad’s guitar because I was supposed to be carrying the freight on the guitar. It sounded so bad that we finally stopped dead in the middle of the song and got off the stage amidst a cacophony of Skinny’s typical, humorous comments. I was poised to duck flying beer bottles. Fortunately, they didn’t come.
I was so disappointed in my screw-up, I nearly did not take my guitar to the pickin’ party at Fido’s the next night (Wednesday). I think I only took it because I had run into Pam that afternoon and she reminded me to not forget to bring it with her great enthusiasm. Before I took my seat in the pickin’ party circle, I went over to Conrad and apologized for screwing up the night before. He didn’t say much, but I think he said “that’s alright” or something like that. As it turned out, the pickin’ party was a huge success and incredible fun. Conrad and Trisha did a wonderful duet I had never heard before. I beat on my guitar and sang everything I could remember for 5 hours straight with no refreshment except tequila shots and Belikins.
Cut to the Philip Goldson Airport on Sunday as we were leaving. I was waiting for my American Airlines flight to call for boarding when I spotted Conrad sitting over on a bench by himself and I noticed that he had completely removed his bandage from his left hand. I went over to him and said “Hey Conrad” and apologized once again for my messing up the song at Fido’s. He didn’t respond at all-just looked up at me. I then said, “Well, I’m glad to see that your hand appears to be better. Playing the guitar with one hand must be really tough.” He then cleared his throat and said, “Buddy, my name is not Conrad, there is nothing wrong with my hand and I sure as hell
don’t play the guitar….I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I hastily made my exit, as I realized the guy I was talking to had a beard just like Conrad and had a hat very much like Conrad’s hat, but, guess what, he sure as hell was not Conrad.
I actually had had a previous meeting with Conrad. During Camp Belize 2002, Gin and Fran, the Texas twins who sing like angels, said to Gail and me, “You’ve got to come to Birthday Bash.” We had no idea what Birthday Bash was, but they certainly brought us up to speed on it. We wound up going, of course, and stayed at the Driskill. After seeing Django and his great band open for Jerry Jeff at the Broken Spoke on Friday night, we went back to the hotel for the open mike which Conrad was running. I was dying to get up and try to sing and play something, but made up my mind that I must wait until some really poor performer got up and then follow him because it would have been horrible for me to follow some of the good musicians of whom it seemed there was an endless supply. When Gail realized what I was planning to do, she excused herself to go to bed. She has never seen me play anyplace but my den at home. Goodnight, Gail; that is probably a wise move. Finally, I had my chance. It was late, and one guy kept getting up and sounding pretty darn bad each time. When his feet hit the little stage the next time, I notified Conrad that I could do a couple of songs. He said “fine, you are next after this guy.” Man, was I excited and nervous. As the guy finished, I started to move toward the stage to try to do my songs, but a young, thin, tall drink of water stepped in front of me to a rousing cheer from the crowd, picked up a guitar and did about 6 songs to heartfelt ovations from the crowd. Yep, you guessed it. It was Django Walker whom I had to follow. I almost went out the window when Django stepped down and Conrad said, “Okay, you’re on!” I forced myself to get up and do a couple of songs and I did enjoy it. I guess I could say Django opened for me at the Driskill. Those were my experiences with Conrad prior to Camp Belize 2004.
Soon Gary arrived with his guitar. He, Conrad, and I went down to Jim and Meg’s 2nd floor condo to sit on the porch and play guitar. Jim and Meg had set out a nice array of snacks for us with plenty of beer and drinks. Gary was playing bass runs on the 6 string guitar and Jim was doing a great job harmonizing with Conrad. Jim also plays guitar, but did not bring it. I bet he brings his guitar next year. Gail was tired and got a ride home. After about an hour or so, we decided to go to find where Dennis Wolfe, the popular local US expat musician, was playing. Someone said Coconuts, so Conrad and Trish, Jeff and Chris, and someone else? jumped on my golf cart and we headed to Coconuts. Gary had been celebrating without a license for too long and he insisted that he was going to walk to Coconuts. Didn’t see him again that night. No Dennis and the place was kind of slow. Bartender said Dennis is at Cannibals. So, to Cannibals we went. No Dennis again. Then it hit me. Dennis always plays at Caye Caulker on Friday nights, and Skinny has his full band playing at his Hammock House on Friday. Jeff and Chris decided to call it an early night. Conrad and Trisha and I headed to Hammock House with Conrad’s guitar. I had left my guitar with Jim and Meg. We parked on the town side of the cut and took the ferry over the cut. Skinny’s band, Category X, was really cooking. Skinny was on keyboards and vocals. James Story and Ebbie from Fido’s, two superb musicians, were playing guitar. Charles, who is son of Estelle from Estelle’s By The Sea, was on bass. Dale Wallace’s (of Will and Dale) son was on drums. These guys play excellent rock ‘n roll leaning heavily to classic rock. Conrad, Trisha and I loaded up on Belikins and Conrad got ready to sit in with the band. He soon got up and introduced himself and did Home Grown Tomatoes, Trashy Women, Redneck Mother and several more excellent songs. I was very pleasantly surprised. I had never seen him perform in this kind of setting before, only at the pickin’ party at Ramon’s. Trisha was recruited by Skinny to play some awesome tambourine. I think she is a natural and could go places with that instrument. (Never has to be tuned like a guitar does.) We stayed and closed down the place, then headed to Conrad and Trisha’s place-fast food alley across from Jambel’s Jerk Pit- for a delicious after midnight hamburger. (I suspend my normal good eating habits when I am on vacation.) I dropped them at Lily’s Hotel and headed to the Casino, as it was only 1:00AM and I knew I certainly didn’t have to be in the office the next morning. Had a couple of drinks, then sat down to play blackjack. Met a couple of interesting guys in their mid-twenties who were also playing, who are living in San Pedro-can’t remember their names. The young ladies who work at the Casino are so lovely and so personable, it’s hard to care whether you win or lose. Can’t remember their names, either. However, for some inexplicable reason, I walked away winning about $110 BZE at 3AM and headed that golf cart to #20A Paradise Villas for a good night’s sleep, thoroughly pleased with my first evening and night back in paradise, invigorated by meeting a lot of friends from previous years, and anticipating getting re-acquainted with many more.
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Slept in a bit. Quite a bit. Like 11AM. It was a gorgeous morning with lots of sun, blue skies and impossibly blue water as far as you can see.
Gail and I went to Estelle’s for breakfast. Charles’ brother waited on us. Told him I had seen Charles playing bass last night and had not known he was a musician. After breakfast we went for a long walk south on the beach. Ran into a couple of local young men about 8 or 9 years-old, who were soliciting donations for their Football League. They charmed us into making a $2 donation. Also ran into Jerome who was promoting his bracelets and necklaces. Gail told him “not today, but I will buy from you before the week is over.” Jerome is about 11 or 12 and wears a white headband. I am just about certain that he is the same kid who kept coming into Fido’s in 2002 when he was a lot shorter and only 9 or 10 and trying to sell his jewelry to Fido’s customers in the evening when bands were playing. A large and imposing security guy kept throwing Jerome out, but he was not intimidated by this big guy and kept sneaking back in to pitch his goods to customers. Even when Jerome was in the middle of a sales pitch to customers and the security guy would come up and tell him to leave, Jerome would consistently turn his back on the guy and continue his sales pitch as if he could not hear a thing the security guy was shouting at him. We really admired his nerve at that early age and were happy to see him two years older, inches taller, and still running his business with style and grace.
We headed back to Paradise Villas and parked the golf cart. As we started into our villa, I looked down the row of villas at # 22 and saw, much to my surprise, Jim and Barbara from Minnesota, on the front porch with a group of people drinking Belikins, exactly as they were when Don and I left San Pedro in January, 2003. We had met them and enjoyed their Belikin hospitality and porch many times during Camp Belize 2003. We headed to their porch and as I got closer, I was very happy to also see Jim from Colorado, who had been our next door neighbor in 2003 when Don and I stayed in villas 1A and 1B. What a pleasant surprise to see our Paradise Villas compadres from last year! They offered me a Belikin, but it was still a bit early for me. This vacation was looking better all of the time and it hadn’t even started yet.
After getting a couple of bottles of water from the fridge, we headed south on the golf cart to explore some more of the island. By the time we got near El Caribe Resort, Gail announced that she was hungry and needed a “snack”. I felt like we had just eaten and wasn’t hungry. We went to El Caribe’s restaurant, which is out above the water on their dock. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful place. I had heard great things about El Caribe, but it was a little further out from town than I like to be. Gail asked how much shrimp was in the shrimp salad and decided that it was too much for her. Instead, she ordered a hamburger on a plate without roll because she is allergic to wheat. For me, it was indeed time for a Belikin. When our order came, the waiter brought both the shrimp salad and the hamburger for Gail. He had misunderstood, but very agreeably took the shrimp salad back to the kitchen. Very nice staff and very lovely setting on the water.
After Gail finished her snack and I got another Belikin to go, we continued south and went further than we had ever gone, way past the dump until the road got really poor. The stagnant water was very prevalent. By this time we were getting bitten by lots of no-see-ums. I don’t know how they do it, but they do bite and are nearly impossible to see. I put my foot on the gas and really made that golf cart unwind to get us back to civilization.
As it was Saturday, we decided to go to a really nice place for dinner that night and then head to Coconuts where Dennis Wolfe would be playing all night with The Usual Suspects, Reynaldo on bass and Dennis-cito (Little Dennis) on drums. We decided to go to Capricorn, but I needed to call for reservations. When we got back to the villa, I bought a calling card and went to look for a phone booth. I went three or four blocks in each direction and every phone was in use with a waiting line of San Pedranos. I guess being Saturday night, everyone was lining up their dates and activities. In frustration, I went to C’s phones on Pescador Street to rent a cell phone and charger for the coming 8 days for $50 US. I then had to buy a CELLPHONE phone card, as the one I had bought was not for cell phones. I bought a $50 BZE card and had the grocery clerk manager enter it into my new phone. By this time it was too late for Capricorn, so I called information, got the number for El Divino Steakhouse at Banana Beach and made reservations for 7:45PM. I realized that a phone book would certainly come in handy, but had no idea if San Pedro had one. Went back to C’s Phones and asked if he had any for sale. He said that you have to get it from BTL, the phone company, but had to have BTL phone service in your home or business to get one. I asked if I could look at his phone book. He said sure, but that his was from 2001. Hard to figure a phone store with a three year-old phone book as its latest.
Went back and picked up Gail at the Villa and arrived at El Divino just in time. I had heard about an exceptional shish-kebob dish they have of beef and seafood and that they carve the beef at table-side. That was what we were there for. The restaurant is probably the most elegant I have seen in San Pedro with a great hardwood bar and attractive furnishings and appointments. They bill themselves as a martini bar and have many variations of that venerable drink. When our waiter arrived, he looked very familiar, but we could not place him. We later realized he had waited on us at Sweet Basil’s in 2002. He quickly informed me that they had just run out of their signature dish, the shish-kebob. Gail ordered pork chops and I ordered the filet on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and a couple of martinis for me. The presentation of the food was so impressive that it was the first time ever that Gail actually took a picture of the plates before we ate. The food was very good; the atmosphere was relaxing; but the waiter, who shall remain nameless, was as unremarkable here in this elegant place as he had been at Sweet Basil’s, and detracted from what was otherwise a great dining experience. He spent half of his time giggling to himself and making jokes that only he appreciated. He was close to annoying, as well as difficult to locate when we needed anything. First time I have been dissatisfied with a waitperson on AC in five trips and nearly 135 meals. Such is the luck of the draw.
We left El Divino’s and headed to Coconuts, got there about 9:30. Dennis and the band were playing. It was great to see him. Dennis has a great thing going. After moving here 18 years ago from the US, he married lovely Dulce and has a son, Dennis-cito, who plays drums with him. Dennis is a great musician and songwriter. His knowledge of old songs is voluminous. His two CDs are filled with excellent songs with great lyrics. He is extremely personable when performing and is extremely generous in letting visiting musicians and wannabes sit in with him constantly. He has an extra mike and guitar plugged in and available at all times. He says he enjoys it more than we do, but I don’t know if he realizes how special it makes a vacation for visiting guitar players and singers to be able to play and sing with him. He never knows what he is going to get in the way of a sit-in specialist. Sometimes there are incredibly talented professional musicians on the island, as there were this week and sometimes he gets stone-cold amateurs like me. In addition, the crowd gets a huge kick out of it. I hope he lives forever and never retires.
I got a double rum and coke from the bar and Gail and I started soaking in some of Dennis’ great music. Soon we began to see some of our friends arriving. The bulk of the JJW group was not to arrive until Sunday, so our group was large enough to help make Coconuts cozy, but not swamped as it would get later in the week. We soon noticed a 3+/- year old boy with a real guitar (miniature size) perched in front of the band on a stool with his Dad next to him, strumming his heart out to every beat that Dennis played. He was cute as hell. Gail took some pictures of him. We met his Dad, who was from Texas. He introduced us to his lady-friend, a US expat, who is one of the owners of Coconuts. She was very friendly and made us feel very welcome at Coconuts that night and all week long.
Soon, Conrad, Trisha, and Gin and Fran, arrived. Gin and Fran were staying next door at Woody’s Wharf with Brad and Terry, Gin’s son and daughter, whom we met for the first time that night. Conrad, Gin and Fran got up with the band and did several great songs with Conrad playing and singing lead; Gin and Fran harmonizing and singing backup. Gail and I had met Gin and Fran during our first year, 2002, had a great time with them, and attended Birthday Bash as a result of our friendship with them. They have been singing together since they were children and they have beautiful voices and know an incredible number of songs, both old and new. What a treat to hear them and Conrad together again.
Soon, Gary arrived and took over for Reynaldo on bass to give him a break. Reynaldo seemed to love the opportunity for a break. Dennis’ son, Dennis-cito, who is 14 or so, was playing drums. He does a great job. Although I have seen him play before, he is not the youngest drummer I saw that night. Shortly, Reynaldo’s son, Conrad, who is 9 years old, took over for Dennis-cito and really made those skins shake. He had his own fan club of 4th graders with him, cheering his every rat-a-tat-tat on the snare drum. Later, Dennis-cito came back and showed us why he plays first string in this band. I was very pleased and surprised to see how well Gary played bass. He was consistent, creative and inventive and was as appreciated by Reynaldo as he was by the rest of the crowd, because Reynaldo was able to relax and network with the crowd.
Dennis never plays any of his own songs unless they are requested, so I requested “I Don’t Drink Anymore”, “ Blame it on Buffett”, and “Third World Paradise”. Gail requested “Just Two Things” and Dennis said he could not remember the lyrics (to his own song) but would learn it for the next night.
After an evening of great music and great fun with friends, Gail and I headed home on the faithful low speed golf cart for the great comfortable king-size bed at Paradise Villas at about 12:30. I decided to skip the ambiance of the casino.
Sunday, February 1, 2004
Somehow, we managed to get up at 8:30AM, but lay around talking until 10:00AM. Once again, it was an impossibly beautiful morning, with bountiful sun and everything else a feast for the eyes and senses. About 86 degrees F. The Paradise Villas ground crew was out, as always, watering the plants and flowers and raking the sand in the compound area. One of our subjects of discussion (that I can repeat) was how almost the entire vacation stretched ahead of us until Sunday, February 8th, but how quickly we both knew it would go. Before long, we would be butt-deep in Western Maryland snow and ice.
Had breakfast in the villa of eggs from the grocery store, sausage and bacon from the Sausage Factory, toast and jelly, and coffee and tea. At 11:00 AM, Gail went out to the pool with Derby and I went for a run up the beach. I wound up at El Caribe Resort wondering if I could make it back. I made it back to the villa by 2:00 PM, but was breathing hard.
A while later, Gail saw a familiar face from the front window of our villa. She immediately yelled, “Cindy, the dentist!” Sure enough, it was Cindy from Shreveport, LA, whom we had met in 2002 and I had spent time with in 2003. They had a brief reunion, and Cindy seemed as enthusiastic and upbeat as ever. She told Gail that they were also in Paradise Villas and had one of the beach front units, 24B.
The rest of the day posed quite a dilemma. Dennis Wolfe was hosting an Open Mike/Jam Session at the Palapa Bar 2:30 to 6:00PM, which I try to always attend. Barefoot Skinny was hosting an Open Mike at the Hammock House starting at 6:00 PM. There were Super Bowl parties at several of the bars starting at 5:30 PM. Jerry Jeff was hosting a Meet and Greet at Wet Willie’s at 5:30 PM. We did our best to attend everything and to be in four places at one time, although my memory is a little bit fuzzy as to who was, where, when and with whom.
The Palapa Bar was a blast as always. It is not a great place for non-drinkers on Sunday afternoon. Gail, Gary, and I went there on our golf cart without my guitar. Jim and Meg were bringing my guitar from their condo. As we walked out to the bar from the shore, Jim from Minneapolis and Jim from Colorado were just leaving, as they were on their way to pick up Desiree from the airport. They missed some good music. Conrad was already there and played a bunch of good songs. I did a couple of songs. Gary jumped in and took over the bass from Reynaldo, much to Reynaldo’s delight. Each time Gary would motion to Reynaldo to come back up and play bass, he vigorously shook his head no. He really welcomed the break from his usual routine and Gary was doing such a great job anyway. Everybody was partying without a license. We ran into Eric and Georgia from Texas, Jim and Meg who brought my guitar (Thanks, again), Porker and Linda from San Francisco, Elvis (Bill) and Barbara from California, Sandie (Poptart), Randall and Anne, and many other fun locals and expats. Both Dennis-Cito and Conrad(the 9 year-old-one, not the one from Conro) were playing drums. Eventually, Dennis invited Conrad’s cousin, Tulio, to try the drums. Tulio is about 10 or 11. It was his first time and the crowd loved him. He had a whole peanut gallery of groupies around his age who were sitting on the floor and playing “air drums” as he played. This is a regular stop on Sunday for a lot of locals and US expats. Eventually, a young couple whom I had not seen before joined Dennis. The guy played keyboards very well and the girl sang. She looked to be in her mid-to-late twenties and very attractive. I didn’t catch their names. She was a little hesitant about the song they were getting ready to do, but Dennis said, “don’t worry, it’s easy. Just follow me and do EVERYTHING I SAY TO DO.” Without missing a beat she responded, “Dennis, I’ll tell you right now, I am NOT taking my clothes off!” She then sang a few songs and had a great voice, husky and strong.
As it was approaching 6PM, it was obvious that we were not going to any of the Super Bowl parties, as we had to get to the Meet and Greet which had started at 5:30 PM. This is probably the first Super Bowl I have missed since I first saw Green Bay beat Kansas City 35-10, but it was well worth it. It was also obvious that we were going to be very late for the Open Mike at the Hammock House, as we still had to do something about dinner.
Gail, Gary and I left the Palapa Bar about 6:00 PM and flew along the sandy path in the golf cart amid deepening dusk and the ominous threat of mosquitos. Fortunately, the ever-prepared Gail had brought plenty of Off insect repellant and doused Gary and me well. In a few minutes we pulled up at the ferry, waited our turn, crossed the cut and headed to Wet Willie’s. When we got there it was packed with many familiar faces. Everyone was in high spirits and we spent the next hour or so renewing old acquaintances and friendships and meeting some new people. I cannot even begin to recite all of the people I saw at the Meet and Greet. It was like the difference between night and day compared to the Meet and Greet at Camp Belize1. The Meet and Greet at Camp Belize1 was like a tea party at the Garden Club compared to this one. The first was, of course, much smaller, and everyone sat around quietly at tables and spoke in whispers. I thought I had accidentally stumbled into a very laid-back memorial service at the Camp Belize1 Meet and Greet. Among the many interesting new people I met that night were Rob and Mary from Philadelphia. Rob is a very talented and charismatic performer who plays guitar and sings with his brother, John, in the Philly area as the Mangomen. Check out their website www.theMangomen.com.
Mary is the lovely limbo lady in one of the routines they do in their show in Philly. Rob and Mary were staying at Paradise Villas in a beachfront unit #23A. After having a number of Belikins and other mood altering beverages at Wet Willie’s and chatting with JJW, we all decided to head for dinner to Caramba, the incredible restaurant I mentioned earlier in this report; then go to the Hammock House to play some music with Skinny and Category X. By the time we got to Caramba, it looked like every JJW fan who had read my trip report from Camp Belize1 decided to go to Caramba at the same time. The place was packed from wall-to-wall and the outside seating area, which probably holds another 20 people, was filled to capacity. Gail and I were lucky enough to get the last table available. Rene was as personable and engaging as ever, but he did look a little stressed for the first time I can remember. Perhaps he was not expecting such a large crowd on Sunday night. For whatever reason, it took an incredibly long time for ANYONE to get their food. It was probably an hour or more before food came out. Gail and I did not care from our standpoint because we had had nearly instant service every time in the past, but we felt terribly bad for our friends who had come on our recommendation, and were sitting there, weak with hunger. Rene apologized several times. I believe that this was a first-time experience for him. Gail had grilled shrimp and I had a T-Bone steak, salad and French fries. Despite the long wait, it was a lot of fun seeing this place packed wall-to-wall and seeing the enthusiasm of all of our compadres. I did not eat much of my dinner. For some strange reason, I had started to feel very sick at my stomach as we left Wet Willie’s. I felt even worse when we got to Caramba. I could not imagine what it was. When Gail and I finished, we talked to Conrad, Trisha, Gin and Fran out front and told them that I would get my guitar and see them at Hammock House shortly. As we drove back to Paradise Villas, I started to get the chills and the shakes and the nausea intensified. Gail was planning to go home to get to bed early, so I dropped her off, and got my guitar. I did not tell her about the chills and the shakes, for fear she would try to talk me out of going to Hammock House to play and sing. I headed toward the cut, got there, parked my cart on the town side, and sat there for a few minutes listening to the music pouring out of the Hammock House. As I sat there, the chills got worse and the nausea worsened. I did not want to miss this night at the Hammock House no matter what. However, after five minutes of sitting there, I felt so bad that I started the cart, turned around and headed back to Paradise Villas. Gail was still awake. I got into bed and realized that in addition to the chills and shakes, my joints were hurting….sounded like a classic case of the flu. I had escaped it so far this year with no sickness of any kind… and here it was, jumping on me at the beginning of my second week in paradise. I realized that if this was really what it was, I would be out for the rest of the coming week. I went to sleep very concerned and more than a little depressed.
Monday, February 2, 2004
I slept very late. Woke up at 10:30 AM. I was afraid to stand up to see how sick I was, but I did. Miracle of Miracles! Whatever it was had lasted only overnight and was totally gone. I felt as good as new and ready for nearly anything. We had a light breakfast in the villa. It was another beautiful day without any hint of cloud or rain.
About 11:45, Jim, Barbara and Desiree from Villa 22A, Jim from Colorado who is in a beachfront unit, #2A, and Randy and Cindy from 24B stopped by to tell us they were heading to the Stained Glass Pub for lunch. They said that they had read in my trip report from Camp Belize1 that it was one of my favorite places. Hope they like it, too. Jim from Colorado had the best T-Shirts on the island. One said “Betty Ford Clinic”, another said “ Modern Drunkard Magazine” which is an actual magazine with large distribution and purportedly a healthy bottom line with its financials. Those are just two examples. He has many more. I think Jim from Minneapolis has more Jerry Jeff T-shirts than anybody on the island. Everyday he has on a fresh one. Either he launders them everyday, or he has 6 or 7 of them. I ran into him at Coconuts one night with a different shirt on and I honestly did not recognize him when I first saw him. He also is a virtual walking encyclopedia when it comes to musicians and our kind of music. We weren’t quite ready for lunch, so we told them we would see them later, maybe before they finished at the Stained Glass Pub.
We arrived at the Stained Glass Pub at about 12:30 PM and were warmly greeted by Jim, one of the proprietors. Jim and his wife, Marie, have done a beautiful job in decorating this small place which is extremely warm and full of ambiance. The group from Paradise Villas was still there, and the rest of the place, which only seats about 25 people, was pretty full. There is also a very nice bar which seats 7 or 8 people. I ordered a cheeseburger, which I have been touting as the best cheeseburger on the island; Gail had roast beef, French fries and coleslaw. Soon, a young couple sat down beside us. They were Chris and Leah. Chris is a co-owner of the Blue Water Grill with Kelly McDermott, Jerry McDermott’s daughter. Jerry is a MAJOR developer on the island and just recently bought the Paradise Hotel (next to Paradise Villas) back from the Japanese firm he sold it to some years ago and may turn it into a condotel. I told Chris and Leah of a funny conversation I had last year with their partner Kelly which is outlined in my previous trip report. The Stained Glass Pub is a favorite venue of local business owners and expats. In a little while, a group of three agents from Southwind Realty came in looking for lunch. As they looked around and saw no tables available, they moved to the bar. I heard one of them say under her breath, “ hell, it looks like we need to start calling for reservations to get in here for lunch.” When Jim, Jim, Barbara, Desiree, Randy, and Cindy finished their lunch, it was obvious that they liked this place because they all gave me a round of applause. As I acknowledged the applause, Gail said, “look at Jim behind you at the bar”. I turned around, and Jim, the proprietor, was applauding harder than anyone!
We paid our bill, jumped on our golf cart and headed down to Pescador Street so that Gail could buy a souvenir fish to send to our friend, Molly, in Portland, Oregon, who had visited here a couple of years ago. We then headed back to the villa, I took a nap, and Gail headed out on the pier, which was in the midst of getting substantial expansion and improvements. She spent two hours out on the pier with Cindy, Randy, Barbara and Desiree, and met an interesting guy, Frank from Toronto, a retired cop.
After my nap, I headed out to the pier to do some snorkeling, but decided not to, as the construction of the addition to the pier was in full swing with power saws and hammers. I took my gear back to the villa and went over to Wet Willie’s for some libations and conversation. As I came back from Wet Willie’s, I ran into Jim from Colorado at the end of the pier and we stopped and drank a couple of Belikins together. Jim was wearing a “Cat’s Eye Pub” T-shirt from a bar in Baltimore, MD, which has great live music, and is fairly close to where I live in Maryland. We spotted a guy and a girl sitting on the beach with an acoustic guitar and moved in their direction. The guy got up and came toward us when he spotted Jim’s T-shirt. He said, “Hey, are you from Baltimore? I’ve played at the Cat’s Eye Pub.” He was Jim from Clinton, Maryland, about 70 miles from where I live. His wife is Janet. He went on to tell me that he would be opening at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, in a month or two for the Seldom Scene, a well-known bluegrass group; had opened at Wolftrap, an outdoor shell near Fairfax, Virginia, for Willie Nelson last year; and would be performing at the Hagerstown Blues Festival in my home town in June of this year. As the next few days went on, I learned that he is the very devil on the guitar….absolutely blew me away. In fact, I saw some serious jaw-dropping by some extremely good local guitarists when Jim sat in at various places during the rest of the week. In addition, he was also staying at Paradise Villas with the rest of us.
Went to Wet Willie’s to put our names on a couple of seats. Got pretty good seats about five or six rows back from the front.
Went back to the villa for a shower and a cocktail. Got dressed in our finest(relatively speaking) and went outside to get ready to go to the show at 6 PM. As we passed by Unit 22A, found Jim and Barb and numerous guests continuing their field research on the indigenous beer, Belikin, and accepted Jim and Barb’s offer of a few drinks prior to heading to Wet Willie’s. While talking to Jim from Colorado, I told him that I had been trying to find someplace where John Prine was playing for the past 9 months or so, and could find nothing, but heard that he had cancer. Jim told me that John had had throat cancer, had had surgery and came through with flying colors. I was very glad to hear that. He is way, way up on my list of favorites of all time. I have only seen him once before and that was 4 years ago. I have since discovered that he is playing in Washington, DC on April 1st in a very small venue called the Warner Theatre on 13th Street, NW. I got tickets early on and have some extra tickets in the 15th row center. If anyone is interested, let me know. Gail and I will be staying in DC on that night which is a Thursday and would love to meet anyone from out of town who would like to come in to see John do his thing.
The Jerry Jeff concert started at 7 PM. It was very good. JJW was in good spirits and in good voice. We all had a great time, and I especially enjoyed watching some of the new people react to his incomparable story-telling between songs, as well as some of the songs that he performed that they had never heard before. It was so good to see so many of the regulars there again, especially after Camp Belize1 when everyone looked at us polishing our old halos on Jaded Lover as if we were out of our minds. Front row Rita and Ron were sitting in guess what row, Kent and Patches were right up front, Randall and Anne were close up, Conrad and Trisha were in the second row, Jen and Fran were in the first row, Eric and Georgia were very close to the front, Jeff and Chris from Minnesota were there, and on and on and on.
After the show, Gail went to Elvi’s Kitchen, always a real treat, with Porker and Linda, Gary, Elvis and Barbara, Derby, Kevin, Allen and Joanie, while Conrad and Trisha and I went to fast food alley, to get something quick to eat so that we could go to Mango’s where Barefoot Skinny was having joke night on the deck and then playing music with part of his band until 12:00 AM. Joke night consists of encouraging the members of the audience who have drunk copious amount of alcohol to get up on the microphone and tell their favorite joke to the best of their ability. Complicating this is the fact that the microphone and sound system were great for singing, but made it very difficult to hear the jokes that were told. With luck and no hearing loss, you could get the gist of the stories that were told. The best joke, in my opinion, was the one told by TV Tom. I can’t remember it, but I thought it was great. Maybe it’s just because I like TV Tom. In case you don’t know him, he has an electronics repair shop and fixes nearly everything on the island for everyone on the island and is Jerry Jeff’s main man on everything that has to do with his TV, sound system, electronics, alarm clock and doorbell. He always has a backlog of work and never gets caught up, but he will do anything for anyone, loves life, and is living the dream. He walked away from a very lofty position at Circuit City quite a few years ago. He tells me that they still call him every year offering him more money yet to come back. He also tells me he is getting ready to open an Italian restaurant on AC very soon.
After the jokes were over, Skinny and the band played a few songs, then Conrad got up on the bandstand with his guitar to sit in. The crowd was really raucous by the time he got up and I did not envy him the task of getting their attention and being heard over the din of their voices. However, he picked some excellent selections and soon had the crowd singing along with him on each song.
After Conrad finished playing, I finished my drink and headed up the beach to Cannibal’s where Dennis was playing and ran into Gail and her companions who had finished dinner at Elvi’s Kitchen. Rob and Mary from Philadelphia were there listening to Dennis. We stayed until about 12:30 AM when Dennis closed up, then headed to Paradise Villas. Gail, I, Rob and Mary stopped by the porch of #22 to say hello to Jim, Barb, Jim and Des. Jim and Janet from Maryland from across the courtyard stopped over with Jim’s guitar. Gail went on home to go to bed. Jim and Barb brought out some cold Belikins for all of us, so I went home to get my guitar. We began singing and playing, sharing a guitar with Rob as he had not brought one, and played until 3:45AM. I am surprised that we did not get any complaints from other residents. Either they had their windows shut and air conditioners on, or they really liked our music. At one point I estimated that we had done 97 verses of Sangria Wine, with Jim from Maryland making up 80% of them on the spot. Rob did a great version of “Come Away To Belize With Me” and many other Buffett and Jerry Jeff songs. Jim amazed us with his guitar work, as well as his vast knowledge of songs and lyrics. He said he knows 8000 songs! Finally, at 3:45 AM we decided it was time to end this great night and head to bed. So much for my plan to get to bed early and do my run at 8:00 AM tomorrow. Thanks for the hospitality to Jim, Barb and Des of #22.
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
We got up at 10:30 AM and fixed ham, and bacon and eggs in our villa. Gail told me that after one more week of this she thinks we will both be ready to go back to our regular routines. I told her that after one more week of this I will be ready for this to BE my regular routine! The weather was again picture perfect with blue skies and blue water everywhere. It seems that this little island has an inexhaustible supply of perfect days during this time of the year.
Gail spent most of the day shopping, came back to the villa for lunch, then went back to shop some more. She met Elisabeth, Tim Budd’s wife, at her jewelry shop in Fido’s Courtyard. I went for a run, then went out to the pier to do some snorkeling. However, the construction work on the pier was still going hot and heavy, so I settled for catching some sun and reading my latest John Jakes novel, Charleston, at the pool. I plugged in a John Prine tape and wasted away for a few hours. It felt good to do nothing but soak up the rays.
We had a real treat in store for tonight. Conrad had met Rodney Davis at the Hammock House on Sunday night. Rodney had just moved to AC from Jamaica and is originally from New Orleans. He has bought a place at Belize Yacht Club and has a very large catamaran, which he leases for trips. He agreed to take us out for a sunset cruise tonight from about 4:00PM to 7:30PM at $35 per person if we can get enough people, around fifty-five, so that he can pay his captain and crew. Conrad had signed up the necessary fifty-five people very quickly Monday night at the JJW concert and had a waiting list.
This was also to be a big night for Cindy Lou from Shreveport. At the silent auction at Birthday Bash last year, she had the winning bid for dinner for four with Jerry Jeff at Casa Gonzo. She and Randy had invited Sandie and Tom to go with them. At the last minute, Tom did not feel well, so Gary filled in for him. Jerry Jeff went out fishing for their dinner and his cook prepared a great meal for the five of them. There are some great photos of the event. Talk to Cindy for complete details of a way cool evening.
At about 3:30 PM, Gail and I packed up my guitar and her snacks and drove the golf cart up toward the Belize Yacht Club to meet Conrad in front of the multi-colored house, which is the landmark of where Rodney’s boat was docked. Trisha was meeting another group of people in front of the Mayan Princess to walk them up the beach to meet at the boat. When we walked out the pier to the boat, it was truly beautiful. Rodney said he had had over 80 people on it before, but it was a bit crowded. It is the largest catamaran I have ever been on. It had a bar, two bathrooms, and lots of comfortable seating and tables. Rodney had stocked it with 12 or 14 cases of Belikin, gallons of rum punch and assorted fruit juices and a nice spread of fresh Belizian fruit, snacks and finger foods. We had a little trouble getting the sound system hooked up, but once we did, we had some great music. Conrad and the twins played, Rob from Philly played, Jim from Maryland played, I played and Ebbie rounded out the night by doing Dust My Broom and a couple of other blues numbers. It was a beautiful night and a great cruise. What a nice bonus to our week. Thanks Conrad and Trisha and Rodney. As the Hammock House was having Barbeque Night, Rodney took the boat as close to the Hammock House as he could, then sent a small outboard in with 10 or 12 people at a time so that everyone who wanted to go to the Hammock House for barbeque could do so. He then took the rest of us back to where we started. Gail and I gave Ebbie a lift home and took Jeff and Chris to Cannibals, where we all had a very nice dinner, and then stayed to listen to Dennis play until midnight. Dennis had a very young and talented guitarist sitting in with him most of the evening. His name was Adam. He sang a couple of obscure Johnny Cash songs and was able to imitate Cash’s voice pretty well. Before long, Rodney and many of the people from the cruise arrived at Cannibals. The spirits flowed and a good time was had by all. I met Cindy and Scott from San Antonio. It turned out they also were staying at Paradise Villas. In fact, they were staying in the upstairs part of #20 where we were staying downstairs! I told Scott he needed to say hey to another dentist, Cindy from Shreveport, who was with the group. They wound up meeting the next day.
Gail went home early and I stayed until about 12:30 AM after we closed the bar down.
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Gail got up at about 9:00 AM and watched a movie with Jean Simmons and cried her eyes out. The weather is a bit rainy and overcast. Good thing we had cable and all of the premium channels in case we had gotten stuck inside. I got up at about 11:00 AM, which is starting to be a pattern with me here in paradise. Thank goodness I live healthy in my normal life back home with early to bed, early to rise, very healthy foods and lots of exercise. We took our rain ponchos and headed to town although the rain had stopped and the sun had just come back out. After some riding around and doing a few errands, we pulled into the alley leading to BC’s and parked in their lot about 11:30 AM, then went in to look for a seat. The place was packed, as usual, but we got one of the corner seats over by the railing. Gail ordered a chicken salad sandwich and a virgin Pina Colada and I ordered a chicken burrito and a Belikin. The chicken salad was tasty, but there was very little of it. It was more like a light spread of it on the bread. On the other hand, the burrito was very large and very good, as always. Good thing-otherwise Gail would have starved without half of my burrito. Shortly, a very energetic squall began to blow and rain began to pelt BC’s. They tried to tie down the canvas flaps, but the wind was too much and the rain still came inside. It blew pretty hard for about 10 or 15 minutes and then ended as quickly as it had started.
Once the rain had stopped, we dried the seat of the golf cart as well as we could and motored to Lily’s Restaurant for some key lime pie and coffee. As we were finishing our pie and coffee, Jerome, the young jewelry mogul, stopped by to see if Gail was ready to make her purchase. She said she was and he began showing her ankle bracelets. After she made her choice, he installed it on her ankle, telling her that she had a very beautiful little ankle. He tried to explain to her that she had two ankles so she should buy two ankle bracelets from him. No sale. We said goodbye to Jerome and headed to Paradise Villas.
It was about 2:00 PM. Gail went in for a nap. I spotted Jim across the courtyard playing his guitar on his front porch with several people who lived next door to him. I got my guitar and went over. Alcohol was flowing freely. I don’t usually drink that early, but I made an exception today. They had some great Margaritas and plenty of Belikin. I met 3 new guys and 3 new gals, but cannot remember their names. At least one of them played some guitar. They were also playing dominoes. Rob and Mary stopped over shortly and we started singing and playing. Everyone on the porch joined in and new people came up to the porch as they heard us play. Kristin from Wet Willie’s stopped by and told us we sounded so good that we were welcome to come over and play at Wet Willie’s. For some reason, Jim and I began playing a lot of Beachboys’ songs- Surfin USA, Help Me Rhonda, Fun Fun Fun, Little Deuce Coupe, etc. Everyone seemed to know the words even though a lot of them on the porch were in 3rd grade when these songs were hits. At 4:30 PM, Gail came over to gather me up to go to the Barbeque at Woody’s Wharf at 5:00 PM. There was to be an orgainized pickin’ party at Woody’s after the Barbeque. I really didn’t want to leave, but she was going to take the golf cart and leave me to carry my guitar, so I went with her.
When we got to Woody’s, we found a seat and Gail bought tickets for us to get a dinner. I was not hungry yet, so I gave my ticket to Gary. We met Judy, Gary’s wife, who had just arrived.
As I said about Camp Belize1 last month, Woody’s is an impossible place to have a real pickin’ party. The layout is wrong. Everyone wants to eat their dinner and visit with their friends, and Dennis and his band start playing next door at Coconuts at 9:00 PM and you cannot hear yourself play. It was the same way this week. After awhile, Conrad moved it to the front porch of Gin and Fran’s condo. This worked better, but there was only room for a very small audience to get on the porch. However, we could hear ourselves better. Soon Rob and Mary stopped by and Rob played a few songs. A left handed guitarist from Louisiana did excellent renditions of two Prine songs, Please Don’t Bury Me and The Accident. After about an hour, we all moved next door to Coconuts, which had a very large crowd by this time.
Gary soon filled in at bass for Reynaldo, who again welcomed the break. Conrad and Gin and Fran did several of their best numbers. By this time I was wishing that we could have a full evening of the Conrad show instead of just a couple of songs. He knows so many songs on his playlist, but we never get to hear them all. Maybe next year we should get a drummer and a bass, rent a sound system, and offer to play at Coconuts on a night Dennis is not there and listen to all of Conrad’s songs.
We drank and danced in the sand at Coconuts all night long. Rob and Mary arrived and Rob did a couple of his songs with Dennis. Jim and Janet arrived and Jim did a couple of his songs with Dennis. Jim had had a pretty long day and began to talk to the crowd on the microphone. Dennis reminded Jim that he had the cutoff switch to Jim’s microphone right close by and was about to use it. Jim got the point. Despite his long day, Jim played perfectly on the songs he did.
I heard Dennis say that his wife, Dulce, was in the house. I asked him during break to introduce me to her, which he did . She is a very nice lady. I realized that I had seen her numerous times at the Palapa Bar on Sundays and did not know who she was. I also met Dee Thomas, a US expat, who runs a financial consulting business from her home on the island, whose clients are international corporations. She is a very interesting and knowledgeable lady and knows a lot about what is going on in San Pedro. She also introduced me to a couple of her friends, one of whom is getting ready to move back to the US after several years on AC.
We finally left at about 12:30 and the party broke up and headed back to Paradise Villas. For the first time on the island, I suggested that Gail utilize her DD status and drive the cart home. It was another fun night!
Thursday, February 5, 2004
Another gorgeous day on the caye without a cloud in the sky anywhere.
Gail got up early at about 9:15 AM, had cereal and went out and sunned on the pier with Cindy from Shreveport from 10:15 AM to 12:30 PM. She met Rocky, a young, colorful boat captain whom I also met last month.
I got up at 10:00 AM (early for me these days), fixed a ham and egg sandwich in the villa, then went for a run. When I came back to villa, Gail was not around and I did not know where she was, so I went for a walk downtown. We both got back to villa about 12:30 PM and decided we were overdue for a visit to Caramba. We headed there for a 1:00 PM lunch and took Rene a little “sponge Bob” straw that our grand-daughter had asked us to take to him. He got a kick out of it. Gail had stewed chicken and I passed up my ordinary lunchtime choices to have blackened lobster with green salad, and rice and beans, and two Pina Coladas! Wow-was that special! I don’t think I have ever had lobster for lunch. I’m out of control! Gail’s chicken was as pleasing to her palate as usual.
We left Caramba and did some more exploring with the golf cart. I reminded myself that I had been wanting all week to go to the lagoon at 4:30 to see the crocodiles. Maybe tonight. We called our daughter and granddaughter back home on our new cell phone from the golf cart to learn that they were expecting two more inches of solid ice tonight. We sympathized with them but were so glad we are here and not there. As we headed south, two young San Pedrano boys asked us for a ride to El Caribe Resort area. As we rode, we asked them why they weren’t in school. They told us that the teachers were all getting together today in one location to talk about them. (Teacher’s Meeting) Soon, they announced that they were young business men and pulled out a lot of necklaces and bracelets that they would like to sell. Their names were David and Derrick. David explained that their mother made the jewelry for them to sell. They sold it so they had money for school books! Gail bought an ankle bracelet from David for $10 BZE. After a little while, David told Gail that Derrick was probably going to feel bad because she had bought a bracelet from David but not from Derrick. Gail got tough and said that although she bought one from David this time, Derrick would have to wait until her next trip and she would buy one from him at that time. They then asked us to bring back some of the metal clasps from the US next time, as they had a hard time getting them here. We agreed to do so. (In fact, our daughter has bags of them left from her jewelry-making days.) They reminded us not to give them to anyone except them directly because there are a lot of boys on the island who would tell us they were their brother and that they would give them to David and Derrick, but would actually keep them for themselves. These guys had all the angles covered.
We got back to Paradise Villas about 3:00 PM. Gail reminded me to be at Wet Willie’s at 4:00 PM to mark our seats because she wanted to sit in the front row tonight for the first time ever. I looked down at unit #22 and saw that the front porch party was in full swing. I stopped down to have another one of Jim’s cold beers and chat a bit. Shortly, a couple of us went to Cindy and Randy’s villa and Cindy was fixing me a drink she called “4 Mornings In Belize”. It was very good, but she kept filling my glass every time I even took a sip. I began to doubt if I was going to make it to the lagoon today to see the crocs. However, I did make it to Wet Willie’s in time to mark front row seats for Gail and me for the concert.
Gail was going to have dinner at Wet Willie’s, but I was going down to the Blue Water Grill for one of their two sushi nights (Tuesday and Thursday) Gail does not like sushi; I do. When I got there I had a couple of Crown Royals and waters and perused the menu. Unfortunately, they don’t actually offer sushi, they just have rolls. I ordered a salad and a California roll, a spicy salmon roll and some other kind of roll. They were tasty, but not the same as sushi. After a couple of Belikins, I headed back to Wet Willie’s and got there just as Jerry Jeff was starting. I could see Gail was excited to be in the front row.
The concert was another good one. JJW seemed very relaxed again and did plenty of talking and story-telling between songs. I expected that he would bring Fran and Gin up to sing with him on the Dutchman or some other songs, but he did not. As he was starting Trashy Women, I was singing along enthusiastically. On verse 2, he got distracted and forgot the words. He looked at me still singing and said, “How does it go-help me out here”-so I did. On Monday night, he completely skipped verse 2, which starts out “you should have seen the look on the faces of my Dad and Mom”. I’m glad I was able to help him out.
After the concert, Gail and I went to Cannibal’s to enjoy some more of Dennis and his show. A lot of the group showed up there and stayed until closing. After closing, I wanted to go to the casino, but was actually too tir