Articles on San Pedro and Belize
by: Reef Ransom








November 1, 2001 - November 30th, 2001 May 14, 2002 - May 26, 2002
May 27, 2002 - June 12, 2002 July 7, 2002 - July 23, 2002
August 22, 2002 - September 5, 2002 October 8, 2002 - October 19, 2002
October 22, 2002 - November 20, 2002 November 23, 2002 - December 18, 2002
December 19, 2002 - January 18, 2003 January 19, 2003 - February 17, 2003
March 23, 2003 - April 16, 2003 April 17, 2003 - May 15, 2003
May 30, 2003 - June 13, 2003 July 15, 2003 - August 11, 2003
August 12, 2003 - October 9, 2003 October 10, 2003 - November 8, 2003
November 9, 2003 - December 8, 2003 December 9, 2003 - January 7, 2004
January 10, 2004 - February 8, 2004 March 30, 2004 - April 4, 2004
April 6, 2004 - May 4, 2004 May 6, 2004 - July 1, 2004
July 8, 2004 - August 30, 2004 September 6, 2004 - September 27, 2004

Ocean Street-Boca Del Rio
November 1, 2001.

The day has been overcast. Tropical Storm Michelle is churning up just to our SE. It appears to big quite a large storm, taking up most of the Western Caribbean Sea. I will keep my eye on her. We have had a lot of rain as Michelle built up. Today we have been spared any more rain, for the moment. The air temperature is about 80' today. Aside from watching Michelle I have had a busy day. I went to town and got a haircut. Kim Gonzales at Aquarius Salon is my regular choice.

November 2, 2001.

Another overcast day, courteous of now Hurricane Michelle. She is brewing up almost due East of where I sit, here in San Pedro. She's about 200 miles or so out. I, like others who live here remember all to well that Mitch, Keith and Iris all took strange, unexpected turns and caught people off guard. While Michelle is projected to go North of us, everyone knows how sudden Hurricane's can change their minds. For my money, especially ones named after women, and even more so for one named Michelle. The sea is really kicking up outside the Reef. The waves are crashing hard and sending spray high in the air. Inside, the seas are fairly calm. I'm trying to rent my vacant apartment downstairs, so I placed an ad in The San Pedro Sun Newspaper. Maybe someone will call.  Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 3, 2001.

Michelle is still around but North of us now. She has caused some high seas and beach erosion even though not really coming to close to us. A dynamic storm with far reaching effects. I saw a guy on his golf cart going to town and noticed he was cruising around talking to people and generally acting important. All the while doing nothing really of course. A little jingle came into my head so I started writing a song when I got back home. Here's the first verse, more or less.

Now he's a big man on the island,
busy doing nothing all day.
For day's on end, it's always the same,
But that's just the price of his fame.

I was honored to attend a small birthday celebration for Ladishia Staines tonight. Her husband Enrique arranged a gathering of family and friend's. We enjoyed great food, music and company at Elvi's Restaurant. I felt a special joy at being invited to a personal affair for my close Belizean friends. As a Gringo, even though I work to become a part of this Country and its society; it is rewarding to be accepted. I know that cultural differences are not real. People are real. The People of Belize are certainly real. Thanks for including me. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 4, 2001.
Michelle is hitting Cuba now and seems to no longer be a threat to Belize. We still have some cloudiness and high waves and seas. The beach by the High School is eroding away as it always does in high seas. My friend Miguel from Progresso just stopped by. He is building my bodega and is busy on a job now but can start back next Monday. I am glad because he is a nice guy and I get to practice my Spanish. I went for a swim in the sea today. The water is a little murky and the waves are big enough to surf on. It felt good. I noticed the water didn't seem as salty as usual. If I was a brainiac I might say it was due to the Hurricane pulling up water from a deeper level and mixing it with the upper levels of the sea. The cooler, deeper water may be less salty. Just a theory from a lay beach bum. The clouds started breaking up after dark and the Moon rose with a flat top and bands of clouds across it that made it resemble Saturn. The stars were dancing with delight to be able to see us on Earth below. Another night to remember.

November 5, 2001.

The weather is back to normal, which means perfect. Plenty of sun, the breeze blowing non stop. Temps around mid 80's for the high. The sea has cleared up fast and is running to the south as we still have El Norte wind. The sea is very slight inside and I enjoyed a nice swim. The strong current (which is unusual) tugging out is gone with the big waves of yesterday. The normal saltiness is back to. It's a fairly quiet day in Paradise. People are doing simple things like laundry and cooking.

November 8, 2001.

The sky has cleared after some unneeded rain. The streets of San Pedro are quiet, save a few pedestrians. The sea is speaking in its own way, sounding like the roar of wind on a blustery winter night, but it is not winter. It is the rhythmic waves as they curl up, then cascade down upon reaching the Barrier Reef. Inside the reef, the shallows off shore give cause for smaller voices from smaller waves. Indeed the Sea is very much alive, maybe more so than we human's. Surely she speaks only the truth of the universe and she survives on and on through time, while we as human's fade away. Los Noches in San Pedro.

Shine Your Light
My heart knows the song to sing,
and my spirit knows the things to bring.
If I lose the way in the dark,
I'll count on you to load the Ark.
Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 9, 2001.

The day has been full of sun until about 2:00, when the clouds took over the sky. We are getting a few drizzles and rain looks to be falling out to sea. I went swimming before lunch. The water is just the right temperature. I rented my downstairs apartment to Miguel, my construction worker from Progresso and his family. A total of 6 people are staying there, which is a few more than I normally would want, but they are good folks and very quiet. At lunch they brought me some stewed chicken and rice and beans with potato salad and a sliced cucumber and slaw salad. It was really good and I wolfed it right down. Right now the ladies and the ones not working until tonight are raking the yard. It's nice to be right about the good character of someone you just met.

As I was closing my back door last night, just before midnight, I saw a Belizean woman cast her hand line into the river (really the sea) behind my house. In just a moment she was hauling the line back in hand over hand as quick as she could. On the hook was a nice snapper. I had shared a cab ride with her earlier from town and she was telling me she had caught 47 fish last night in the river. I told her whenever I fished there I never caught any. She just laughed. I wondered if her 47 fish was just a fisherman's tale until I saw her out there at midnight hauling one in. No wonder I never catch any fish in the river, de lady catch dem all first.

It's 4:41 in the afternoon, still raining. The daily rush hour has started in front of my house. The worker's from North of the cut are returning back to this side. They get back and forth across the river channel by a hand pulled ferry. I assume they have decent jobs because they all are riding bicycles, which is akin to having a car in the states. A procession of 20 or more goes by at almost the same time every day. That's the kind of thing youíre missing, so get on down here. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 10.2001.

There are mornings here that when you wake up, you remember right away you are in a special place. The breeze will be blowing just right and the Sea will be dancing a delightful lee dance. The morning sun will dazzle your eye as it sparkles off of the dancing Sea, and it will seem as if you are living upon an actual jewel. A jewel more beautiful and more rare and precious than the rarest Diamond, Safire or Ruby. This is one of those mornings. I am thankful for the gift and humbled by its greatness.

November 11, 2001.

It is a nice morning with a stiff breeze from the NW. The sky is partly cloudy and the sea is still running to the South, although rather calmly. The local whisper is that tourist are coming again. Some local restaurants have gone from being bored each night to being full. Time will tell if it is a sign of good things to come in the tourism industry or just a flutter of activity. I think we will know more about next March or April. Sunday is Family day in Belize. The beach will be the spot for families with kids and even us grown- ups today. BBQ's and Belikin's. Laughter and gossip. Clean wholesome ways to spend the moments of a day.


The turquoise sea is set in motion,
reaction to the strength of the North wind.
The waves slosh to and fro,
ending up a frothy white blanket on the beach.
Outside the reef, in the blue,
Nature is taking its course.
While overhead giant Frigate bird's circle,
seemingly floating against the breeze.
I watch and I smile, knowing all is as it should be,
at this moment.

Our almost daily right now afternoon rains came again today. They passed by and the night is a beauty. Stars and Planets are shining like jewels in the night sky. Thank you.
Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 12, 2001.

I overheard part of a conversation today as I was returning from saying goodbye to a departing friend. It was to me, a true slice of the Real San Pedro. It went like this and remember it is only a snippet. "...It can be, you have to make your own fun though..." from a Blonde Lady who spoke in American to a man who also looked American. He was obviously a tourist asking questions and she was living here and speaking the reality of living on a beautiful but low key Island. Fun comes at weird times here and should be fully utilized because it might get boring again for days or weeks or longer. I like to think of it as a dose of Island Magic. It gets you under its spell. While you wait, the sea and the breeze and the sun and the moon and the star's and the swaying coconut palms and the subtle rhythm of daily life here, all allow your moment's to pass like clear cool water over the smooth stones of the stream of life. Cherish it.

November 13, 2001.

Hammering and skill saw noise filled the early morning air. My work crew decided to get an early start. I sleep late. Therefore I got up grumpy. It's a good thing the view is so cosmic, you can't stay grumpy to long when you live on this Island. The sun is out and the breeze is just right from the NE at about 10 Knottís I estimate. "You can just as easily laugh and play while you grow as become serious and overwhelmed." Gary Zukav, from "Thoughts From The Seat of The Soul".

The night sky is clear and the stars and constellation are so bright they seem close enough to reach out and touch. Reminds me we are children of the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 14, 2001.

The big news today is that Belize is changing to the U.S. Dollar for currency. A good friend of mine is in the money changing business. He and others will be affected if this does indeed take place. Regular people like myself will be affected also. By selling U. S. Dollars for Belizean Dollars you can make 3-4% on your money on the spot. The catch? You can only spend Belizean Dollar's in Belize. No problem if you live here. The times, they are a changing.

It is a beauty of a day. Sun with scattered clouds and headed to around 85' F. The breeze is slight, could be a lee stronger but ok. Today, I am closing in on a year ago now, that something devastating happened in my life. It is indeed a challenging time. The one thing that keeps me sane is the natural beauty I am surrounded by. When I feel down or confused, I focus on the natural forces at work in the universe. Here on the Caye, they can be easier to spot than in the rest of the "Real World". In short, I count my blessings. You too can do that, no matter where you are or what your circumstance. Can't hurt to try.

The fumigator just came around spraying anti-mosquito fumes. I think it is Malathion but not sure. It sure smells bad, like rotten diesel fuel mixed with vinegar. I always race to close all my doors and windows when I hear the unmistakable sound of the machine that does the fogging. I don't want it in my house or to breathe it. Last year I got caught in it twice and had a sore throat for several months after. On the plus side, it controls the 'squito's fairly well. The average tourist won't notice many mosquitos and might even remark about their absence from the scene. This is due to the spraying by the Town Board of San Pedro. Without it we would be reading about tourist who were carried off into the Mangrove by giant swarms of mosquito's, or of bloodless human bodies found along the beach. No, we need the spraying, but I still run every time I hear it.

Starry, Starry night. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 16, 2001.
I took the 10:00 flight on Tropic Air from San Pedro to Corozal. Corozal is in Belize on the Belize/Mexican border and is where the Duty Free Zone is located. The free zone is a cross between a shopping mall and a central market in a big Mexican City. You can buy almost anything there you would find in major stores. The prices seemed about average to me. I priced Dom Perignon 1992 for $90.00 U. S. (drank three bottle's) and Perfume. Obsession was $45.00 U.S., about the same as in an airport duty free or a perfume shop in the states. The traffic was terrible as the line backed up forever. The Mexican consumer was pouring in and out of the Free Zone. The Free Zone is not set up for the people of Belize, really but for mostly Mexico and other countries. To me it looked to be ill designed and very helter skelter. I looked at several shops and doubted if most were making any money at all. It looked to me like they were not doing good, even with the steady stream of buyers. A lot of competition as everyone has scrambled to take advantage of the incredible growth at the Free Zone. Three years ago not much was there, now it is humming. I wasn't too crazy about starting a business here (thatís what my Belizean friend has proposed), but I did have an interesting thought come to me while I was there.

Corozal was not much as tourism goes. Just a passing through point between Belize and Mexico, I think. Still I hadn't been so it was worth the trip. I thrive on travel to new places. Even more I thrive on the adventure of a new place, the unknown. The Free Zone was interesting but not my style. On the way back I stopped and had lunch with my friend who owned land and a building in the Free Zone. He knew the owner of the restaurant we ate lunch at, so it was a cozy time. Nice setting and good food at Tony's Hotel and Restaurant on Corozal Bay. While we ate a man told us his business in the Free Zone had been great the first year (three year's ago), down 20% the second year and down 50% this year. His reason was too much competition in the Free Zone. He is probably right, except toss in a little war, terrorism, bad economy and plane crashes to complete the mix. He also told us that 300 small shops were closing up in the Free Zone because they couldn't make it. I can call 'em.

I took a taxi with George Moralez to the airport and caught the 3:30 flight back to San Pedro. The flight takes about 20 minutes each way and cost $135.00 Belize round trip. George's cell phone is 014-6746. He's a dependable, honest, nice guy. Reef will use him again.

The change to U.S. Currency for Belize is not going to happen to soon it seems. Still a lot of details to work out. Some think 10 years or more, other's say it is just a dream. Reef Ransom thinks it is coming, just slowly like everything else in Belize.

I realized about 8:30 this evening I was out of coffee and milk. So a quick golf cart ride to the store I made. The San Pedrano's are out talking and enjoying a breezy Friday night. Along the sandy street you have to weave around young boys and girls playing marbles. They are having much fun. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 17, 2001.

The morning was overcast and the breeze was very slight. When you spend a lot of time here, you understand very well the importance of the breeze. It helps regulate the heat, it keeps the mosquitos away and it makes the Palm tree's sway. All three of these factors affect my afternoon siesta, so the breeze is importante. Fortunately, it is pretty reliable. About 2:00 this afternoon the sky cleared and the sun came out. The breeze remained slight, so it got a bit muggy until around 4:30. Just about an hour after sunset I went out on my back porch and the sliver of a new moon hung majestically in the western sky. Looking to be a pretty night. Lasted long enough to go for a nice dinner at Celi's and get home. A good rain shower has gone over twice now since dark.
I planted some flowers and Plantain's this evening. My tenant's in my apartment downstairs are quite ready to help plant flowers and do almost anything in the yard. The Aunt's in the group brought back Hibiscus, Orchid's, and several other pretty flowers I don't know the name of, from Progresso, where they just returned from today. That is their home but they cannot find work there. San Pedro is full of low paying jobs that look good to someone who can't find any jobs at home. I am fortunate to have them in there, as they are good tenants. To plant flowers in Boca del Rio (the portion of San Pedro Town by the river cut) where I live you need to do a few things to get ready. We are built on what was once Mangrove swamp. So the water table is very high. Also the soil is mostly assorted fill and is not very fertile. Another minor problem is that crabs bore up and eat the roots of the plants, killing them off. So I built beds using my existing concrete fence base and Pimento stakes, to form the rest of the retaining walls. Pimentos are the type of tree that you see used to make Native Thatch Cabana's. The Cabana's at Ramon's are made using Pimento. Then I lined the bottom with cement blocks that were pieces left over from the first fence that Hurricane Keith destroyed. Then I hauled a wheelbarrow full of seaweed from the beach and lined the bottom again with that. It is supposed to be great fertilizer. It should be it smelled fishy enough. Then the last thing I did was import some black soil to the Caye from Belmopan in the heart of Belize. You have to get good soil here or nothing will grow. Were just sand. Aren't we all though...? You reap what you sow. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 18, 2001.

The sun is shining and the breeze is blowing from the N at about 10-15 knots. I am grilling cheeseburgers in Paradise. Jimmy Buffet is playing on my new Sony Wave. The Palm trees are a swayin and the sweet music's playin. Great God Almighty which way do I steer?

The Cheeseburgers turned out good. The quality of the beef in Belize isn't exactly USDA Prime, but is still pretty good. I think here on the Island you need to try to get it fresh instead of frozen. That takes a little pre planning. The grocery stores only sell frozen and Chico's Meat Market has less than full time hours. I usually don't eat beef much. Fish, Lobster and chicken are the main stay.

The night brought in a little rain shower. The sky is cloudy and no stars have graced us yet tonight. Last night was also cloudy and was not good for observing the Meteor Shower. I did see some shooting stars early in the night around 12:45, but the main part was to be around 4:00 a.m. and I did get up but couldn't see anything. The Tourist count seems to be up at the moment. Most are still from countries other than America. There are a few American's here diving though. Without tourism, it would be real tough in this Country.

November 19, 2001.

Today is Garifuna Settlement Day. A national holiday paying tribute to the Garifuna population in Belize. Many businesses are closed including the banks. The entire town is on Holiday. Of course the tourist related spots are all open. The weather is beautiful for the celebrations. It is another in a long line of easy going days here in San Pedro.
November, 20-30th, 2001.
These last dayís of this month I am using to share a story that was told to me here in San Pedro. The Man I will not name but know well and have good reason to believe him when he tells me and only me, this story and swears it true. Hereís the start of it with more coming next month. See what you think mi amigo.

I hadnít seen my good friend for a while. That was common down here in the tropics. Things move slow and so do people. Friendships down here hold up to time. When you do see a good friend, it is cause to celebrate. We did celebrate. Some time during our fun, my friend reached across the bar table and pulled my head close to his. He said something into my ear, but I could only make out something about a Princess. I shook my head yes thinking he wanted to go to the Princess Casino in Belize tomorrow. NO, NO, he yelled in my ear again, shaking his head back and forth. ďNot the Casino,Ē he yelled, ďIíve been searching for a Mayan Princess.Ē I looked hard at him and in his eyes to see if he was just talking in mirth, but his eyes spoke a serious word. Searching for a Mayan Princess, I thought. ďWhere?Ē I yelled back over the noisy bar scene. He smiled real big and paused for a minute; then said not so loud ďEL PetenĒ.

More on this next issue, I promise. It has a couple of good twist and takes awhile to tell it.


"The sea is mother nature's embryonic fluid."
Reef Ransom.

When a Belizean says ďGood NightĒ to you, they donít mean the end of the night like Americans do; they mean just have a good night.

Not much wisdom passed by me this month.

Where to Stay Tip:

The Mayan Princess has nice mini apartments with kitchen and ocean view. It is right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro. A/C, TV and phone. Great spot for divers too. It is right in front of great dive shops. Off-season as low as $65.00/night U.S. In season a bit more of course. Not secluded but interesting to watch the local daily life along the sea, it will unfold in front of you if you stop and let it.  Telephone 501-226-2778.

May 14, 2002.

The day was sunny and warm. The breeze did its job as long as you weren't blocked from it. This morning I slept late. After enough coffee I took my battery over to my boat and hooked it up. I had gotten some bad gas from the Yacht Club and wanted to see if any water or dirt was in it. I didn't find any water, but the filter had a lot of dirt in it. I think that a lot of rust got sucked from the bottom of the tank when they filled me up. Anyway, got that fixed I think. I stayed home for a light lunch and then went downtown to exchange some money. I stopped at Elvi's for some iced tea on the way. After that I went to the casa de cambio and exchanged 500 U.S. Dollars for 1025 Belize dollars. The official exchange rate is 2-1, but you make 2 1/2 percent on the spot when you exchange your U.S. dollar for Belize at a money changer (casa de cambio). The Government and business' of Belize need the U.S. currency to pay for all the goods shipped into Belize. So they pay more for it than the going exchange rate. For the business that goes to the Central Bank to buy U.S. dollars to spend on products abroad, they pay more for the dollar, but it is just part of the cost of doing business in Central America.

After my big morning, I went over to the beach and watched some local guys working on a wooden skiff. They were repairing the wood and then sealing it with Gluvitz, a fiberglass like product that hardens and seals. The work goes slow but what doesn't around here? After that I spent a little time just relaxing under a palm tree on the beach. I came home and repaired my water hose. The end had started to leak because the metal had rusted from the salt air. I bought a repair kit at Harmouch's Hardware for $4.50/blz and fixed it up good as new. Then I watered my plants. They have grown like a jungle. My banana and plantain trees are 10-15 feet tall, lots of bananas. Only bad news for the plants is that the crabs have eaten the roots of quite a few and killed them off. I think the ones alive now are so big that the crabs don't like their roots. I think they like young tender roots.

The night sky is of course indescribable. The sliver of a new moon looks like a big smile that cocks slightly to one side. The bright glow of a heavenly planet is so close that it seems to reach out and kiss the moon. It is Venus or Mars I think. What a night to be alive!   Right Here mi Amigo's--- Reef Ransom.

May 15, 2002.

We are in a typical weather pattern of dry hot days. The temp is getting up to about 90 and rain is not happening. Pretty normal for May. Thank the Gods for the breeze, it makes a big difference. The days go by so slowly. There are still tourist on the Island, but not crowded in any way. A good friend of mine is in Cozumel right now and I am tempted to run up there for a day or two. One nice thing about living in Belize is that many of the cool spots that people dream about going to are close by. Cancun, Cozumel, Costa Rica, and Cuba just to name a few. I slept late this morning but still fill like a siesta this afternoon after a lunch of rice and beans and fish fillet. Whatís great about that is I can take one and no one cares or thinks a thing about it. Ahh, life in the Tropics.

I bought a big Papaya for $5.00/bz and sliced it up today. I put it in the fridge and when it gets cold it is like a sweet mushy popsicle. So good, so refreshing on a hot afternoon. As I sat on my front veranda looking out at the majestic blue sea, I was pleasantly rewarded with the passing of a very nice sailboat. She was a schooner, meaning two masts, one just aft of center and the other at the stern, along with a foresail or jib sail. I got the binoc's out but couldn't make out her name. I estimated overall length around 75 feet. It wasn't an old classic boat but a newer, modern fiberglass Sailing Yacht. It looked like her course was taking her very close to the reef, although it is hard to tell exact distance from the shore to just outside the reef where this ship was. It is very deep just outside the reef and the Captain of this vessel obviously knew his business. Always like seeing ships in action on the sea. Especially grand sailing boats. This day she was running along quite fast with just the jib out. Thanks for the gift, oh subtle natural way of the universe.

Perfect night. A few clouds and lots of stars peaking out. The breeze is steady and the crescent moon has been obscured by a passing cloud in the western sky. The silence of the night is really full of the sounds of the natural rhythm of the universe. Has to be, this Island is pure natural beauty. Right Here mi Amigo's---Reef Ransom.

May 16, 2002.

In America we always know the day and the date. We also know the time of day. We have to, to keep up with the flow. How could we schedule any meetings if we didn't know the time or the day? Meet me on; letís see what day is it? Nothing could get done, right. Of course. I mention this because I got up today and like most days, I wasn't sure what day of the week it was. That is a common side affect of living here on the Caye. The day of the week doesn't matter so much. Neither does the time. It is today, and it is now. All we need to know.

The morning started off hazy. Very typical right now. Some chance of rain, but I will have to wait and see. My flowers and the dusty streets could use the rain, not to mention my rain vat is empty. The rain vat is my emergency supply of water during hurricane season, which starts in just two weeks on June 1.

The clouds hung on all day and the sun didn't shine much. It came out just before sunset, which was nice because the clouds made for a colorful sunset. The night sky is still cloudy. The moon looks like a flashlight shining through a blanket. Its there, but not to bright. Ten days till full moon. No rain today either. Life on the Island. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

May 17, 2002.

Ever wondered how to get from San Pedro, Belize to Cozumel, Mexico? Well, first of all Cozumel is mostly straight North up the coast from where Belize becomes Mexico. I guess the distance to be less than 150 miles. This time of year is the low (or slow) season and there are no flights from Belize to Cancun or Playa del Carmen and of course vice a versa. When there are flights, they operate three days a week. So to get there from San Pedro, here you go. Boat or plane to Corozal (Belize), taxi to Chetumal (Mexico) then five hour bus ride to Playa del Carmen. There you take a ferry over to the island of Cozumel. You can also take a boat directly to Chetumal, and you could also rent a car in Chetumal and drive to Playa del Carmen. The Bus from Chetumal to Playa del Carmen is $35.00/bze each way. I don't know if I will go or not. The five hour bus ride gives me pause.

Sunny today. A Chinese Circus is on the Island and starts performing tonight at the old football field. The night is once again, perfect. The moon is about a third full and cast a bright glow upon the clouds in the sky. A breeze that Hollywood couldn't do better. How lucky I am!

What causes happiness? I know success doesn't. Money doesn't. Love doesn't. Those things are transient. Many people find it with a pill. Maybe happiness is more of a myth than a reality? I don't want to confuse the quality that most people acquire from life, which is contentment, with happiness. Two different things. Happiness seems to imply some form of pureness and naturality in its true form. While contentment is just being content with what you have. Accepting your lot basically. As I think about the two, I wonder which, if either is best. Got to go walk on the beach to ponder. Right Here mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 18, 2002.

I am planting five coco palms in my yard today. Someone I know showed up with them yesterday and wanted to sell them to me. I can use them, so I bought them. I paid $60.00/bze for them or $6.00/US a piece. They are about 2-3 feet tall right now. The shoot comes right out of the coconut. What you plant is a coconut with roots on one end and a big leafy sprout on the other. They will grow, but slowly. I dedicate them to the next generation of renegade individuals who choose to live their dream here. Long may you both embrace the breeze.

Another hot day. If the heat bothers you, then you just chill out after lunch till evening when it cools off. It isn't really that hot as long as you are catching some breeze and the breeze is almost non stop here. Just another Saturday night on the Caye. Eight nights till full moon. Do you feel it? Of course you do. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

May 19, 2002.

The Belize weather forecast for today was that a cold front is upon the country and will cause widely scattered rain showers today. The temperature in coastal areas would be 90' F. I got a laugh from that one. A cold front will produce 90' temperature. Good to be in the Tropics. We didn't get any rain during the daylight hours. We could use it for sure. I went for a luscious swim in the sea just before noon. Felt real good. I stopped on the dock afterwards and watched the rhythms of the sea. I could see the current come in, then out, then almost stop. Sometimes the breeze would stir it up in a swirl or just move it sideways. All rhythms as natural as could be. It gave me pause as I thought about the rhythms of life and of nature. All just the same rhythm I think. There can be some comfort in the knowledge that there is a natural order and we are a part of it.

There was very little breeze today. It seemed like a slow day on the island. The heat may have encouraged lying around the pool or swimming somewhere. Also Sunday is a big departure day for visitors.

May 20, 2002.

I got up this morning and decided to go somewhere. I didn't know where, but I was going to take a piece of a banana leaf and when I got to the airport, toss it into the air and see which way it blew. I would fly somewhere in that direction. I figured the choices could be somewhere in Guatemala, or Honduras, or Mexico, or Cuba, somewhere like that. Well, I set my sights on leaving by 11:00. Any later and I might find myself stuck in the middle of no where in who knows where. When I say no where, you need to have traveled through the Caribbean and Central America or somewhere like that to have a full understanding of the term. Where ever I was going, I planned to be there by the end of the day and chilled out in the finest condo, villa, cabana or guest house by night fall. Everything went good. Got packed (I travel light), got a shower, closed up the house here, all ready to go. I couldn't get a taxi in time and I didn't want to leave my golf cart at the airport for how many days I knew not. The taxi drivers all use cell phones and you mostly need to know their last name to look them up, or have had them give you their number. I have such a number for my friend and steady taxi driver, Mark. His phone broke a few days ago, so he was out. His last name? I know lots of people here, but very few last names. Not really needed. People get to be know by their name and a nick name sort of. Like Roberto, know as Captain Robby. His real last name, not important. Oh yea, I didn't go anywhere.

I took my boat out into the blue this afternoon to go fishing. I had bought some big lures the last time I was in the states and was curious to see if they would work here. I went with a couple of friends. We rigged up two poles with the two lures I had brought. For you fishing pro's, sorry I don't know exactly what they are called. They worked. The one that was about 5 inches long and looked like a minnow or sardine caught a Mackerel quickly. The other one, a smaller one about two inches long looked like a greenish blue, big bug. It caught a big Jack fish right away too. Unfortunately, he got off right at the boat by swimming under the motor and breaking the line. He was too big for the net and while getting the gaff hook, he did his thing. True fish story, honest. That little lure didn't last long, he took it with him. After that we went inside the reef and fished for a while in a channel using Sardines for bait. A few bites but no real action. No problem, I just headed up the coast a little and nudged the bow up by the reef and we set the anchor. I and my good buddy dove for Conch. We each filled up a large dive bag with nice Conch. Cerviche tonight. There's nothing like being on that reef. I find it one of the few places where you can really lose yourself and forget anything else going on in the world, at least for a while. That's about it for today. It did rain during the night last night. We needed the rain, need more really. There is some lighting in the Northwest sky and supposed to be some thunderstorms around, so maybe we get some too. Hurricane season is just ten days away, so anything could happen. Full moon, after tonight, five nights and counting. Feel the intensity as the power builds in the universe. Right Here mi lluna amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 21, 2002.

The breeze remains slight and from the North. That means it feels hot in the afternoon. Great for lying on the beach or around the pool though. I haven't done much today. I did go to town and visited with some friends. They have a restaurant and it is very slow right now. They moved here from the states and bought a house and business. Unfortunately they aren't making as much money as they expected. Life in the Tropics. As Jimmy Buffet says "In the Tropics they come and they go."

The sun will be setting in about 30 minutes. That brings a beautiful array of colors in the western sky. Sometimes, if the clouds are right, like lately, the sky in the East gets all shades of crimson and coral pink. Not tonight though, no clouds over there. The sea remains very calm. A perfect delight for any water related activities. I wish you could walk with me on the beach right now. There is a magic about this time of day. Bonus is we have a near full moon already up in the sky. Thank you, oh subtle natural way of the universe.

May 22. 2002.

And the days go by so slowly. I went fishing about four o'clock this afternoon. It gets dark about 6:30. The moon is three days from full. The weather just changed from hot to cool. I had two new rods and reels. The boat is running good. The fishing however, was just so so. While trolling in the blue, two big fish got away and took my lures with them. At sunset the sky had a look like some famous holy painting, that shows the divine light coming down from the sky to shed its glow upon mankind. The light just streamed across the sky in narrow beams. At the same time over my other shoulder, the moon was up in the sky and approaching full. There I was. Out on the sea, and in the middle of the two cosmic forces, just a man, and as significant as a drop of water in that mighty sea. Humbly, I thanked the subtle natural way of the universe.

I got showered after fishing and it was about 7:30. I went to the grocery store for some supplies and then had a light dinner at home. I gave a ride to a lady who had just gotten off work and had walked from Victoria House to the big grocery store on the South side of town. She was Belizean by birth, but raised in England. She was in a toot about her boss and job. Seems she was doing extra work and wasn't being appreciated for it. I caught an earful from the minute I picked her up, till the minute I dropped her at the corner by the post office. She was staying at Marthaís Hotel close by there. I bid her goodnight and reminded her that tomorrow was another day with new possibilities. She muttered some response and I drove home. Right Here mi Amigo's---Reef Ransom.

May 23, 2002.

"What do you do down there?" That is the question I hear most from people. In fact, that is the reason I started the San Pedro Journal E-Letter. A good friend kept asking me what I did here. I found I didn't really have a good answer, so I decided to write down what I did and share it. Still, I couldn't give you an exact response if you asked me the question now. However, here is what I did today. This morning I cleaned my kitchen and living room. I watched a big barge go by as it slowly made its way up the coast to some spot where someone needs construction supplies. On its deck was a large amount of gravel and a bobcat to unload it. Then I checked on my flowers I transplanted yesterday. They are fine. I had a nice lunch at Elvi's Restaurant. I checked on my boat, it is fine. So far this afternoon I have watched a sailboat way out in the blue with my binoculars and gone to the grocery store. The store was out of milk and chocolate ice cream, my reason for going. The afternoon is a bit hot and muggy, so I will not do much till this evening. That is part of my exciting day, here in paradise. A friend came by and we sat and talked for a couple of hours this afternoon. As the night came and it cooled down, I went and inspected my plants and watered the ones that needed it. I ate a lite dinner at home and then went for a nice walk on the beach. The stars are bright and the moon is nearly full. Three more nights till full. Thatís a look at a day of someone who lives in paradise. Right Here mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 24, 2002.

I decided to get off the island for a little while. I took the noon flight on Tropic to municipal airport in Belize City. Of course we stopped at the International Airport and dropped off some departing tourist. The ride is about 20 minutes with the extra stop at International and cost about $90.00/bze, roundtrip. I picked up a taxi at Municipal and had my driver, whose name was Spanish; take me to the Smokey Mermaid for lunch. I asked Spanish to come back in about an hour. The Smokey Mermaid is a nice restaurant set in an outdoor court. The grounds are full of lush tropical plants and trees. A really large mango tree creates an umbrella over a great deal of the eating area. While I was setting there a mango came crashing down and broke a small limb on its way down. They both landed safely, just between a table of people and the bar. Another cool feature is they have running water everywhere in fountains or little ponds. It is a very soothing environment. In Belize it is also the place to see important people and be seen at. I had fish fingers and fries. It was good and cost around $13.00/bze plus drinks. From there I had Spanish take me to the Princess Hotel/Casino. He charged me $15.00/bze for the two rides. I spent a couple of hours high rolling in there. Left a winner. Hit 777 on the dollar slots. From there I went into Brodies to buy a few supplies. Because everything has to be sent here by barge or plane it is always less expensive to shop on the mainland. Then back to Municipal to catch the 4:30 back to San Pedro. The flight is 15 minutes and over the sea and lots of little islands. When the reef comes into view about halfway through the flight, I just smile. My golf cart was waiting where I parked it earlier and I took it on home.

The night is COSMIC. What else can I say? The moon is casting an enchanting shadow over us all. The clouds swirl by, leaving bright the night sky. This is a gift I would wish to give to everyone. Wish you were here. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

May 25, 2002.

The Madness has begun to subside. Another hot day. A big party weekend in Belize just like in America. Called Commonwealth Day on Monday the 27th. The Island is near pack up with visitors. Americans, Belizeans from the mainland, Europeans, South Americans and Mexicans for sure. Tonight under the full moon I watched Rasta men dancing to Reggae music. While just down the street a couple of doors, the stereo was playing a sweet Mexican ballad. I certainly enjoy the diversity. The moon is so full and so over bearing, that you can see how ancient civilizations felt they should worship it. From what I can tell, we still do. Here's some full moon madness from old Reef.

I live a life that a lot of people would love to have. Really, my life is so great that most people wouldn't even dare dream about such a great life. Get the point yet? Now, when I say that I have a great life, etc., I mean in the conventional way. What used to be in the American way, but satellite T.V. has changed that. All the world regardless of how poor has access to Satellite T.V. Even if they can't afford the material comforts, they know they exist, and they want them. Why not, they have a right to be happy, don't they? Assuming that everyone has the right to be happy, how can we assume what will make people happy? Even more so, how can we assume anything can bring happiness to people? Beyond that even, how can we be sure happiness exist at all.

Now, these are just random thoughts and questions. The kind of things I think about under the full moon on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. I don't have a clue as to the answers or if there are any answers. What constitutes happiness? Five dollars on Saturday night? A new girlfriend? A job? A Promotion? A trip to the Jungle? A ride on the Sea? A stormy morning to wake up to? You help an old lady across the street? You trust someone? See what I mean, I don't know any answers, just questions. So here I am. I doubt that I am alone in this search for the answers. The quest to make sense of it all is surely a common link. Or is it?

Right Here---Reef Ransom.

May 26, 2002.

This morning I played my guitar and sang a song I wrote.

I went diving and fishing this afternoon. I went up by Mexico Rocks to dive for Conch. The season is coming to a close on June 15th, and the poor Conchs are harvested out. I won't take the small ones, and there where many of them. Still I managed a few. The fishing though is another story. I went outside in the blue, just inside in the channel, and to my favorite little Red Snapper hole. Not much luck. One thing I did catch, a sunburn. I know better than most the intensity of the sun down here. I had just recently reminded someone about it. Just goes to show you that this place is so cool anybody can get caught up in the beauty and forget the sun.

I watched the full moon rise gently over the Caribbean Sea. An experience that can only be experienced. As it rose into the sky, a small cloud bank floated past, and for a moment the moon appeared to be sitting on an altar in the sky. Thank you again! The intensity in life has subsided now with the fullness of the moon. You can feel it, I know.

I wanted to mention, in answer to what I see in this place, the snorkeling I did today. I went right up onto the reef, in water so shallow I barely floated over the big coral. As I was coming up from a dive, I was thinking how beautiful and how National Geographic this moment was. I always feel like I am floating or swimming in Mother Natureís embryonic fluid. That is what I want to share with my friends and anybody who comes here. Hope I get to share with you soon. Right Here mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Helpful One liners.

When you hear someone speak Creole and say "he nice up", it means he has been drinking rum.

For those of you anxiously awaiting the release of ďIn Search of the Blue Eyed Mayan Princess", the manuscript is near completion and will be published soon. I will let you know. Copies of my first book, "In Search of the Mayan Princess", are available to order. Just send an email and we'll fix you up.

May 27, 2002.

The day started with heavy rain showers right before dawn and they mostly continued till mid afternoon. I managed to get to the store during a short break in the rain. The clouds gave way just a little right at sunset. That was nice because it made a beautiful color in the sky. I did the kind of things you would do anywhere on a rainy day. Read, played guitar, watched a movie, ate and then got bored. Tonight I think I will take a walk along the sea and maybe go in town for a while. With a good raincoat, you just keep on trucking. The streets are like a bowl of mud from the large amount of rain we have gotten. Is the rainy season early this year? I don't know. Looks that way today. The sea is almost smooth as glass. It is hard to tell where the reef lies because the waves are so small that there is very little white foam as they cross the reef.

At the end of my walk tonight, I stopped and sat on one of the benches in the Boca del Rio Park. The water was calm and the sky full of clouds. I couldn't find a star or the rising moon. As I sat there, it was very silent. The sound from the reef was crystal clear and about all you could hear. You had to cock your head just a little to get your ear out of direct fire of the wind. The wind, lightly blowing, still blocked out any sounds when blowing directly into your ear. Even though the water is very calm, the sound of the gentle waves breaking upon the endless reef is still a low rumble, somewhat like the noise a passing train makes, except without the clickity clack. I just sat there for some time. I knew that no matter what else was going on in the rest of the world, everything was working just right here. I walked the half block back home and another day slips away. I did see Venus shining very brightly in the low western sky when I stepped out onto my back veranda. No other stars.

To the memory of all those spirits not alive to see Memorial Day this year, those of us who are, remember.

Right Here mi Amigo's---Reef Ransom (One of the lucky ones).

Thanks so much to those of you who took the time to send an email about last monthís edition of the San Pedro Journal E-Letter. All the comments were positive and greatly appreciated.

May 28, 2002.

Rain came in the night and early morning. It stopped about mid morning and then became mostly sunny. I went to check my boat for water, my bilge pump is not automatic because if I leave the battery on the boat, someone thief it for sure. As it turned out the pump I had is history. It was used when I got it and the wires have been wet with salt water. That means corrosion and that means no juice flowing through the wires. I spent about an hour trimming the wire about an inch at a time trying to get it to work this morning. Finally I realized that the corrosion had gone all along the wire from the pump itself. Off to Capt. Shark's I went, that is where you can buy marine supplies here in San Pedro. A slightly larger pump (2000 gallons per hour), cost me $130.00/bze. When it cools down a little about 5ish, I will go install it. I had lunch at Elvi's. Conch season is coming to an end soon and I am storing up on it. There seem to be quite a few tourists here. Hurricane season is just four days away. If you live here, you already know that.

My hammock gave out a while back, so I have been suffering greatly. Especially in the afternoons. This morning on my way to Shark's, I saw the guy who sells hammocks. Of course you can buy a hammock in any gift shop. No shortage at all. I know this guy supplies all the gift shops and brings the hammockís here from Mexico. I have bought my other hammocks from him for a long time. I asked him to come by mi casa in the afternoon and he did. I now have a new hammock and a favorite past time lives! I asked if he could have the factory in Mexico make a special one for me. I really need them to be muy largo(very long), because I am tall. He said he would check for me. For the record I paid $70.00/bze or $35.00/U.S. for the heavy-duty hammock. Now I have a hammock to hang on my front veranda, so till after my siesta....

May 29, 2002.

I don't write much about the nightlife because I don't do it much. Last night I decided to get out and see what might be going on. As I passed by Hotel del Rio, I was beckoned to come up on the porch and have something to drink. Well, I wasn't doing anything else really, so why not. As it happened there were two pretty blondes staying there and it was their last night on the Island. They were both 25 and from Colorado, close to wherever CSU is at. I forget the town. So I had Vodka and O.J. and we watched the moon rise front their front porch. From there we went to Sharks Bar and Fido's Courtyard. Fido's had live music, but it must have been later than I thought, because they finished not long after we got there. Shark's was still happening though, with a slight crowd of partiers. Most were outside on the deck surrounding the actual shark tank below. Inside the tank are live sharks. For you long time visitors to San Pedro, you might remember this location and idea, used to be called The Tackle Box Bar. It went down though, during Hurricane Mitch I believe. I can remember someone describing how it slowly tilted then the big waves just pull it down. It was a late night for sure. So, my party going friends, men and women alike, there is life after dark, here in San Pedro.

I went to town for lunch. I noticed a few people that looked like cruise ship tourist. Big cruise ships have started coming to the Belize City port, but few if any make it to San Pedro in the few hours they have ashore. About two o'clock, I spotted a huge cruise ship outside the reef and headed north. It was quite a ways out from the reef and I got my binoculars and took a look. It looked like the lost city of Atlantis had risen from the murky depths of the unforgiving sea. I mean this ship looked like a city on the sea. Now I have to go with my initial instinct about the cruise ship tourist on the island. My intuition is very reliable. A sunny day with calm seaís. Time to catch the sunset.

I Walk

I walk along the sea's edge at dusk; the seaweed is piled up from the days tide, The head and skeleton of a big Permit fish, lay at the waters edge. The slow easy waves of low tide nip and pull at the carcass, but it won't budge. I walk along the sea's edge at dusk; the laughter of small children turns my head to see, what prompts so much gayety and glee, but they just keep on running and laughing and I never know. While under foot are the walls and moats of half washed away castles made from sand. I walk along the sea's edge at dusk, and gaze upon the dancing sea, wondering what is out there that I cannot see, and what I will do if I ever know. While the crimson sky fades to black, and the tide keeps up its rhythm, I walk.

The night sky is sharing some stars. I'll take an extra long look at them tonight for everyone. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

May 30. 2002.

Ditto on the weather. Hot and dry. Hurricane season is just two days away. I am a little surprised how many times people have mentioned it. Every person has spoken of hurricane season with an amount of true trepidation. The odds of us getting hit with a hurricane here in Belize have to be so low. Three direct hits in five years is way above the average of one every fifty years. Still, any chance, however slim is enough for concern when you know the power of hurricanes.

Caribbean Seafood Platter for dinner at Elvi's. The special for Thursday night. So good. I stopped off at the local casino, The Palace, it is called. Their slogan, "It ain't Vegas." How true, but about 25 quarter slot machines and three blackjack tables. Enough, that I wish I hadn't of stopped in. The night is partly cloudy with a few stars to gaze at. All seems well, here on the Island. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

May 31, 2002.

Hot. Light breeze. Partly cloudy skies. Very calm sea. Last night I had a dream that a friend was falling or running away from something bad. I have had this same dream before. My friendís mother was sick when I had the dream before. I can't contact them, so I can only hope it was just a dream. Hope is interesting. It is what we use to replace the feelings we get from the unknown. Fear, lack of control, the feeling something bad is happening and there is nothing you can do about it. All you can do is hope. Hope for the best. Hope to be wrong. Hope that everything will turn out right in the end. Of course there could be no such thing as hope unless there was hopelessness. Right?

Good news, the breeze picked up to about normal. Makes it much cooler feeling. It also changed direction, now from the South East. It changed very quickly. The sea went from near calm to small white caps inside the reef. Still not very rough though.

I stopped by the bank and picked up a list of properties they have for sale. Four different ones. I looked at all of them. Finding them was fun. They don't have an exact address really and you find them from a few clues like this. "You know where the house that sunk is? This property is right next to it." Or, "You know where the houses burned by the airstrip? This property is right there, next to the house that only burn slightly." I managed to find them all. Now none of these properties are prime beach front like most tourist dream about. However, in San Pedro there are a lot of areas where property is still inexpensive and will be worth much more in a few years. As an investor, I look at all the options. If the location is ok, and the price and the profit potential are ok, then maybe I buy. From experience I know that you look at a lot of these, before you find the right one's. I am interested in a couple of these properties. Anything happens, I'll keep you posted.

Some stars in the sky tonight after a beautiful crimson and pink sunset. I watched a satellite go over from the dock at Hotel del Rio. It's another night in Paradise. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

June 1, 2002.

Happy hurricane season everyone. I hope we don't get one. I don't like the names this year. Of course, no one consulted me about them. Coastal high temp for today is 91° F. The breeze is blowing about a steady 10 mph. The sea is mostly calm.

I went fishing for big trophy fish this afternoon. My guide was Gaby Perez. He lives on Pescador Dr. close to the RC school. We stopped first at the channel (cut in the reef) in front of the Yacht Club and fished for Skipjack's or Lady Fish as they call them here. They were for bait outside in the blue as we fished for Marlin, Tarpon, Tuna, etc. We used medium size gear and baited with a yellow jig with a live Sardine attached to the hook. Then you cast into the school of fish, which looked like a dark cloud in the water. Worked the jig, reminded me of fishing for Bass, and hoped for a bite. I had a little trouble catching the routine. Finally I was in sync, but we had enough for bait, so done. I hooked one but let the line go slack to tighten my drag and he jumped in the air and gone. Gaby told me they have soft mouths and are hard to hook. We then trolled in the blue back and forth from about Tres Cocos (the area just across the river cut, North) to Hol Chan (the underwater Marine Park). Used the live Ladyfish and a live Bonefish for bait. Nothing. Switched to artificial bait around 4:30. Nothing. Came home at 6:00. What is the saying? A bad day fishing is better than a good day on the job. Something like that. For me, I love being on the sea. Trolling like we were is more likely to get you no fish than some fish. But when you get a big one, ay yi yi. I would go fishing with Gaby again, anytime.

I grabbed a quick shower and change. Then I had a Pizza to go from The Blue Water Grill. They have real good food there and I like their Pizza best on the Island. Saturday night and the town was getting active. Several senoritas's called to me on my way home from The Blue Water Grill. I made them wait; I had a pizza to get home.

Cloudy sky's tonight. I miss the stars when they are out of sight, tucked perfectly away behind the clouds. The time marches on, even here where it moves so slowly. All the things we thought we couldn't bear, we did. Time doesn't heal things, but it does run them over and leave them on the side of the road like road kill. Emotional road kill, I like that. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

June 2, 2002.

Party in the Boca del Rio Park. Band and BBQ. You can hear the bass of the band for several blocks. Here in Belize, the local musicians seem to think that an overwhelming Bass and Percussion equalís music. For me, and I like all types of music, it is as one of my Belizean neighbors said, "Just noise, not music." Hot and calm today. Like a stuck record. I went to the store for some things. As I left, I watched a group of American tourist, six of them, three couples, as they got frustrated trying to find the ferry across the river. They were in a limo size golf cart from Moncho's Rentals. They stopped in front of the store. I see a lot of tourist lose their confidence about there, maybe the fork in the road throws them. Have they gone too far? What is ahead if they keep going? This can't be the way through that neighborhood? The neighborhood gets a bit more rustic as you leave the area of town. To many, it doesn't look safe. This group I was watching came into the store and looked around, while two of them tried to call the rental place to verify where they were going. Even though I heard then say, "She said just to keep on going till you run into it." Of course you can't just pick up a pay phone and drop a coin into it and call. You need a calling card to do that. So, instead of asking me or any number of other people right there where the ferry was, they loaded up and went clear back to Moncho's Rental office and asked again. I bet the lady said the same thing, "Just keep on going, you can't miss it." I saw them pass right by my house about 25 minutes later. I live one block from the ferry. Hope they found it. Here's a clue. When you come here as a tourist for the first time, trust your instincts, and don't be to cool to ask for help. Almost everyone here is very friendly, especially if you are too.

Had a great dinner at Celi's Restaurant. Celi's is located on the beach in the middle of The Holiday Hotel. Good place to stay, good place to eat. I came home afterwards and watered my plants and the two palm trees I planted this afternoon. There is lighting in the south and western sky. By watering I pretty much assured that it will rain. Hope so. Later I will be having some caye lime pie from Celi's. It is the 2nd best on the Island, in my humble opinion. I am fairly qualified to judge caye lime pie, as I have made it part of my life's work to sample it all through the Tropics. Now you are probably saying, "OK, now where is the Number 1 caye lime pie on the Island?" Don't worry, I know where and I am likely to tell you sometime. From Paradise; Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

June 3, 2002.

It rained quite a bit last night. There are some puddles in low areas. I knew it would since I watered my plants. Mother nature does a much more thorough job than I do, so better. Typical morning for me. Coffee, check out the view. Yeah, I'm still in paradise surrounded by mother natures many shades of blue. Play my guitar; sing a new song I'm writing. Then I put on an oldies CD with K.C. and the Sunshine band and all the other great artist from the disco era of the 70ís and 80's. It's a good one to get you going in the morning. Great for cleaning, working out, etc. Had some nice Papaya too. Mostly sunny and calm seas. Hurricane season is here; you can feel the tropical weather pattern that lends itself to development. Right now the Island calls and I answer.

Went out to the Jade Garden for dinner. It is one of my favorite places to eat in San Pedro. For dessert, I brought home two pieces of the best caye lime pie on the Island. Now, there is another kind of caye lime pie that is served here. It is frozen caye lime pie and it is excellent, but a different category. Who has the best-frozen caye lime pie on the Island? I'll let you know. Not much activity in town tonight. Some tourist, but pretty light. The night is breezy and a few stars are visible. Quite a few clouds up there though. All in all, a very low key and typical night here in paradise. The night is calling me out. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

June 4, 2002.

What can you write about an uneventful day? According to a reliable source, the arrivals at the International Airport on Sunday were about half capacity. The departures about 120%, meaning over booked leaving the country. Less than half the potential amount of visitors coming in. Now, that is just one day, but the signs are clear. No crowds at the restaurants, streets are not crowded. Everyone here is saying it is slow. Hurricane season can't help. I really love Hurricane Season. I wake up and have to be aware that some great force beyond my human capacity to comprehend may be lurking out there heading right for me. Direct hit. Itís a lot harder to waste you life anytime you are putting it at risk. Of course it is at risk every day, but the comfort of our routine lull's us into forgetting that.

I bought some real great fruit's today. Bought a Mango, a Pina' (Pineapple), some oranges for fresh juice in the morning, and some other veggies. The fruit's here are usually excellent. Seas remain calm and the breeze light.

June 11, 2002.

Fresh back from Mexico. Well, last night flight from Corazol arrived home at 5:00. The weather was hot there (in the Yucatan), and still hot here. Let me tell you about my le trip. Cancun was full of partying graduates from all over the world. Most from the US and almost all of the women were blonde. I went to Carlos and Charlieís one night, and it was pack up. Buckets of Cerveza and shots of Tequila were flying. All of Cancun was like that. The drive up there from Corazol was about 5 hours. We stopped in Playa del Carmen and had a nice lunch by the sea. They call the area from Cancun South for about 100 miles "The Mayan Riviera". All along the highway there are to many beach hotels and big resorts to count. The closer you get to Cancun the more people. Cozumel is a ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. In Cancun I stayed at the Hilton. I ate at great restaurants, enjoyed the big waves on the creamy beach and the big event, I went to Sam's Club and CostCo. You will find all the big name stores and companies from the U. S. in Cancun. In a way, itís almost like being in Miami. Imagine you live in the most god forsaken hell hole of a dust bag, little non-zip coded, back country, can't get there cause the bridge is out, town. The nearest city is about a five-hour drive over some shaky roads part of the way. A trip to Sam's or CostCo would be pretty cool. More or less the same for me. I bought some hard to get items here in Belize. Mexico is not my favorite country to visit or hang out in. I usually am ready to leave after 2-3 days. That was true this trip, except I stayed 4 days. I was so happy when I crossed over the border back into Belize. It was hotter than hell, but I was glad to be home. Glad I took the trip, it was well worth it.

San Pedro is getting quiet, as the tourist count is low. Time to be planning and doing for the start of high season in a few months. I got my golf cart back from Osmin's and the bill was $200.00/U.S. I have spent a lot on my cart in the last few months. Here you have to, to keep them alive. Now, mine should be good for a while. Looking forward to going snorkeling tomorrow. There is lighting in the sky, but that happens a lot and it doesn't rain here. Mostly I just want the sea to stay fairly calm. You can go out on choppy days with no problem, its just not as comfortable. When you live here you get spoiled and you watch and wait for those days of glass. The sea gets calm and looks smooth as glass. See you in the morning at the dock, mi amigos. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

June 12, 2002.

I took my boat up the North coast this morning to a little spot called Buena Vista. I tied on to a buoy and spent a great couple of hours snorkeling and diving for Conch. I saw quite a few fish including a Puffer or "Chicken of the Sea" as the locals call it. Also Red Gramy's, Big Angel Fish, Yellowtails and so many more. I picked up a Conch shell that was partially buried in the white sand. The shell was wedged under a large piece of Staghorn Coral and hard to see. I thought for sure it was a live Conch. I dove down about six feet to the bottom and snagged the shell. I turned it over to check for a conch and it had none. It did have a little Octopus. I watched him swim away put the empty shell back for him to hide in. At his size of about a silver dollar pancake, there were a whole lot of bigger fishes in the sea to worry about. The Coral here is very nice and you can swim through small little canyons and around and over giant coral formations to find yourself in a clear white pool. The Coral would just give way and the sea was a little deeper like a pond in the sea, and the floor was pearly white sand. No sea grass or Coral, except as it surrounded the pool like Steep Canyon walls. You can swim right up to the reef here, and most of the area is shallow. Not much current today. Always check the current when you get in to swim. Sometimes it gets strong. I harvested six medium Conchs. The season for them ends in three days so they are harder to find. Hung out in the shade of the boat for a while with a cool one and listened to the sound of the surf on the reef. Thanked my lucky stars. Wished you could all be there. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

August 21, 2002.

Dear readers. This is your San Pedro Journal E-Letter for last months moon cycle. Yours truly was called to the states to be a pall bearer and to help out someone having some surgery. Hence, this months Journal is last months Journal. All in the spirit and after all, this is Belize. Thanks for reading the San Pedro Journal. Hope you enjoy!

I am back in Paradise. San Pedro always looks so good when youíve been gone. The sea is my beacon and I am dead on the mark. Beautiful weather. Before I left for the states, I pulled my boat out of the sea to do some repair and maintenance. Since I left spur of the moment, I left my friend some cash to buy the material and do the repair. I saw him this morning and he got it done, so I am glad of that. You never know around here.

High overhead, the moon, near full, is dancing in and out of storm clouds. It is the completion to an instant in time, when all things in the universe, were perfect. To the moment! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 7, 2002.

The morning is a beauty. Some clouds floating around in the sky, a perfect breeze. The kind of breeze that is strong enough to cool you off, but not so strong as to blow excess dust and debris. I judge the perfection of the breeze by if and how much it blows my front screen door open if I donít lock it. If it blows the door open more than a few inches, it is getting a le windy. If it blows it all the way open, better secure everything outside or it will blow away. If it slams against the inside wall from the breeze, it must be hurricane season. On the other side of this breeze issue, is the screen door that doesnít even flinch from the breeze (no breeze). Or the occasional light bump (very light breeze) of the door from the breeze. Both of these signal a hot kind of day. A day when even the hammock on the front veranda wonít be comfortable and you will look out to sea and say out loud, ďWhere are you Mistress breeze?Ē  So for the record, today is a blow open the front screen door several inches, need to lock it up kind of breeze day. In short, another perfecto day in paradise. One more thing about the breeze measurement. If the breeze is from the back instead of the normal front (seaside) of the island, then a whole other set of rules apply. Thatís for another day though, when the breeze is from the back.

I went downtown to Linoís Meat Market and bought two slabs of ribs. They cost $16.00/bze each slab. Came home and smoked/grilled them on my grill, then added a le water with them in a baking pan and covered and put in oven for about 45 minutes. That gives them great smoked meat taste and then extra tenderization in the oven. Be sure you have water in the pan to create the steam needed to make the ribs even tenderer. I had the crowning touch and added some KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce, original flavor. I try to keep a supply on hand from the good old U.S.A. Good ole KC BBQ on the Island. Yes itís rough, but I try to hang on.

Late this afternoon I spent a while just hanging under the palapa on the beach by a friends house. Several other local friends stopped by. One was just back from Xcalat, Mexico. Xcalat is not to far up the northern coast of the Yucatan, and likewise not far north of San Pedro. He said there were lotís of tourist there. A mix of Americans and Mexicans. I didnít know it drew a lot of tourist. I havenít been there in many years, so maybe it has changed. Might be a new spot to check out from San Pedro. Hire a boat and go for a day and night.

Just a typical Sunday in paradise. The sea is a little choppy, but not bad. Boats are going up and down the coast like schools of ladyfish, slashing through the waves. All is as it should be, at this moment. The night sky is good for stargazing tonight. No moon and no clouds. They seem so close you feel like you can reach out and feel their warmth. The breeze has stiffened up and it is another creamy night. Iíll take one more look for myself and for all the rest who are dreaming about a night like this in paradise. To you mi amigos, thanks for having a dream.

When the stars are oh so bright,
I sing a little song, releasing it into the night.
To be a part of this great show,
I do my part, and wait for something that I know.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 8, 2002.

I woke up way to early today. I actually got out of bed at 5:00 a.m., must have woke up around 4. Why is it I wake up early when I donít want to, and canít wake up early on the mornings I want to? The neighborhood is very much alive this morning. Someone was building something about 6, sounded like a hammer and nails. At 7, another neighbor was pounding on his metal trailer with a big hammer. Add a couple of big trucks belching by and you have the scene. To think all I would have missed by sleeping late. A beautiful morning all the same. The sea is calming down. The sunlight is glimmering on the surface of the sea and reminds me of a perfect blue diamond sparkling brilliantly in the sun. Another day in Paradise awaits. I give thanks to the subtle natural way of the universe, may it guide me through the moments of my day.

The sky turned black and a good rain storm came over about 2 this afternoon. Then we went back to mostly sunny. I replaced the steering on my boat late this morning before the rain came. I have been chasing a raccoon around my porch and yard. It seems she really likes my ripe bananas from one of my banana trees. How did a raccoon get on the island you ask? Havenít a clue, although Ambergris Caye wasnít always an Island. It used to be a peninsula. A man made cut turned us into an Island. I havenít had enough sweet and sour lobster since the season for lobster opened back up. So, off to Jade Garden for dinner. Dinner was good as usual. One of my friends is a waiter there and he and his family just moved into one of the government homes built after hurricane Keith. There are many new homes already built, but not too many people living in them yet. It seems even the subsidized price of the home is still too much for the average Belizean. The payment isnít really the problem, but the small down payment is. A problem also very common in the U.S.  It is nice to know someone made it and I am happy for my friend and his family. Nice things do happen. A quiet night. Some clouds in the sky. The stars wonít be shut out completely.

The tide changes from high to low.
Stiffly, old fisherman clean their catch from the day,
The Frigates and Gulls hungrily eye the rejected parts.
And so at the end of the day, the fish is gone and the man and the bird are here,
Nourished and back again, to where each had started.
The tide changes from low to high.

Right Here mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 9, 2002.

Another spell weaving morning in San Pedro Town. The rhythm of the universe is all around us in the sea, sky and wind. The whole Island, including all of us here are helplessly caught up in the underlying current. Man, am I lucky. I have a new cleaning lady this morning. I donít even know her name yet. Her kids ask me for a ride a couple of days ago and I obliged. As I dropped them off they ask if I had a job for their mother. I was looking for a new maid to help out some times. I like to do most of my own cleaning but need someone to do a really good job every so often. My house isnít anywhere close to kid proof. I have lots of le things sitting and laying around. As she is cleaning, her youngest boy, about 2 is also here in my home. Her other older son, about 5, just came up the stairs and into my house looking for his Mom. I am keeping an open mind, but time will tell about this maid. At least my house will be real good and clean and I know she needs the job.

At dusk I went by my friend Fidoís house to see if he wanted to go fishing with me in the morning. He wasnít there, so I walked along the beach, I could see a squall out on the sea and then I felt a sprinkle. Watching the rain approach across the sea to where I was standing was way to cool. Like a roaring freight train the sheets of cool hard rain came towards me and them over me. I ran for the nearest shelter, but remembered my open windows and my guitar and computer, so I ran home. Nothing like walking or running in the rain. It is good for the soul, some primal urge gets satisfied. What a great place to live! The night is partly cloudy. The sky is showing a few stars and a planet or two. I drove through town about 7:30 and there were a few tourists around having dinner, but nowhere looked to crowded. The tickets to Belize have become very expensive lately. If you connect from anywhere to Dallas, Houston or Miami and then on direct to Belize, you will pay about $1000-1100.00/U.S. Crazy isnít it. You can fly from the same spots to Cancun for $800.00/U.S. and have meals and hotel included for five days. Could this have something to do with the slow season in Belize? I saw a big cruise ship pass by headed north, its lights shining brightly out on the night sea. Now the rhythm of the night calls me out. Maybe Iíll see you out there? Hope so! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 10, 2002.

A clear early morning came and then gave way to cloudiness. The local Belize forecast is for rain over most areas of the country today. It will be hit and miss I think and is common enough weather for the time of year. I went to see if my boat had any rain water from the night, it didnít have much if any. I stopped and helped push a boat back into the water with the Marin Family. They are great fishing guides and for sure fly fishing guides you would want to know if you fish. They have a phone number, 501-226-2124. I hired a couple of guys to trim my grass with a weed eater this morning. They are young and looking for jobs. We negotiated down to $30.00/bz for trimming my small area of grass and raking up the clippings. Most of my yard is white sand, but I have cultivated some small areas of grass (like they use on golf courses, but I donít really know the name), which I am proud of and enjoy walking on barefoot. I use them to contrast the white sand. Also I gave them both a cold Coke. One of then named Carlos is coming back to work one day for me in the rest of the yard. My banana and plantain trees need trimmed and culled. A busy morning for sure.

Like clockwork, another le squall passed over tonight just before 6:00. The day was dry with little bits of sun peeking out. Good breeze. We are in what my friend Ramon Badillo always called a tropical. Meaning a tropical wave is passing over us. I know Ramon saw many a tropical in his lifetime, may he rest in peace. The sea remains choppy inside the reef and stirred up real good outside in the blue. Not cherry days for anything on the sea, although not out of the question, especially if you were here for a limited number of days on vacation. Living here spoils you. I tend to wait for the perfect days to go out on the sea. There are plenty of them. I walked over to Boca del Rio Park and watched a man and a lady fishing in the river mouth. They each had a hand line and tossed it out into the deeper channel of the river while standing just into the waters edge in about ankle deep water. Pieces of crab and sardines were the bait of choice. I didnít see any bites, but was nice to watch for a few minutes. The sights and sounds of the real Belize, I love them.

At dinner tonight a couple walked in and the woman was taken back by the floor. ďOh, a dirt floor, ďshe said. I hear that every so often and forget that eating in a restaurant with a dirt (really its beautiful white sand that is groomed everyday) floor is not the norm. Here in San Pedro it is the norm for sure. Not every restaurant can give you the ambience of a sand floor, however. If you insist, you can find plenty of good restaurants with tile or wood floors. Just a le note about how we get set in our perceptions of reality. Another rain shower caught me on the way back from dinner about 8:00. Fortunately, it ended just when I got inside my gate at home. Timing is everything! This is the official New Moon phase, signaling the beginning of the lunar cycle as it shifts towards becoming what we know as full. Two weeks away from the full moon. No moon or stars to see tonight. Clouds are everywhere. In between the rain, kids still play in the streets with their soccer balls. To all the rest of the world, I wish a happy night. Right Here, mi amigoís---Reef Ransom.

July 11, 2002.

I am just finishing my coffee and trying to decide what to do today, or this morning at least. A dark cloud has settled overhead and is sending down a little rain, so that decision is made. The weather has been unsettled sort of for days now. I am having trouble finding that perfect fishing day. Oh well. ďI got de pot, bring me your cupÖand when youíre empty, I fill you up.Ē A glorious morning and I embrace all that may (or may not) happen today. Well it mostly rained today. When it wasnít raining it looked like it might, so nothing much go on today. Some nice thunder too. My rain water vat is full for sure. That is good for hurricane season.

Rain out on the sea, and I sit along the shore waiting.
Darkness pours from the sky as the rain falls over the sea.
Closer and closer it creeps towards me,
Slyly it captivates me in its spell,
And then it comes ever so fast, soaking my clothes and all around.

July 12, 2002.

I watched a police pickup truck full of heavily armed men go past my front door this morning. They were in army fatigue and carrying AK-47 assault rifles. They stopped at a house just a few doors down from me. The reason I saw them was because I had stepped out to see where a helicopter was headed that had just flown overhead. It wasnít the emergency helicopter that we see sometimes if someone is sick or there has been an accident, but it was a military helicopter. Seeing such a display of gun power and manpower was somewhat of a surprise to me. They carried someone off from the house and had a dog and searched the house too. It appeared they found nothing. Drugs are smuggled through Belize and San Pedro is close to the Mexican border so it happens here too. It is not uncommon to hear of a fisherman who is building a nice new cement apartment building with the money he got from finding and selling a bale he found drifting in the sea. So for sure if you want drugs, you can easily get them here in Belize. If you donít want drugs and arenít into them, you will probably never notice anything that has to do with drugs. They are everywhere in the world, we are not immune. Made for an interesting day. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 13, 2002.

A sunny day until about 4:00, then a dark cloud came from the south and soaked everything real good. It passed about 6:00. I managed to sneak out to dinner between showers. I went to Celiís Restaurant, located in the Holiday Hotel of course. I go there for the fried chicken and potato au gratin with a side of steamed fresh veggies. All the food is good, but Celiís has the best fried chicken on the Island. On my way to eat, I saw a perfect rainbow that seemed to start and end at about the length of San Pedro Town proper. This rainbow was a complete arc and wasnít really long at the base like most are. It was a gentle reminder from the subtle way of the universe that natural beauty is all around us. Glad I got to share it.

A blustery night. Some light rain. No moon or stars or planets tonight. I had to make an emergency run to the store before closing time. Out of coffee. On the short drive I saw children playing in water puddles, lovers of all ages spooning or walking hand in hand, a few shops still open, but most everyone I saw was on weekend time and having fun. Even with our share of problems, San Pedro is still a good place, where good things, simple things, things that we either take for granted or just plain forget about sometimes, happen. A very uplifting trip to the store, glad I was out of coffee. Right Here---Reef Ransom.

July 14, 2002.

The weather has been less than perfect vacation weather. We have had days without sun and with rain for some time now. Today has been off and on light to heavy rain. Now, this could be perceived as perfect weather if you can appreciate the way in which these small showers and squalls build up over the sea and then move over the Island. You can see them out over the sea. Sometimes they cross over us and sometimes they donít. When they do come, you can feel the air cool, and the wind blows harder as the front edge and the raindrops reach. Then the palm trees dance in the wind and it crosses over and we can start over. Definitely a nice natural rhythm to it all. So just a matter of perspective I guess.

I went to visit a friend this afternoon. He lives on the third floor of his building and the view is so good it makes me want to add another story to my house so I can have that same great view. You can see most of town and you can see the width of the Island and how small it really is. Ambergris Caye is very long, but it is very narrow. Where I live it is about 250 feet from sea to sea. After that, I came home and just chilled out. The breeze is real strong and I got an earache from it. That happens here. The wind is not only strong, but most important it is steady. The new moon is slipping in and out of view in the western sky. Venus is hanging a little lower in the same western sky. Clouds are obscuring most of the stars. Mother Nature seems very active tonight.

Blow ye winds, blow.
Maketh something anew,
In the tides steady flow.

Thanks to the subtle natural way of the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 15, 2002.

The sun is setting in the western sky. It cast unique colors of glowing red, carnation pink and a deep shade of crimson throughout the sky. At the same time, in the east and out over the sea, a thunderstorm is developing. The periodic low rumble of the thunder and the dark swirling clouds are marching towards San Pedro. At the same time the quarter moon is right in the middle of the two. Magical sight!

I went fishing at 3 this afternoon till about 6. Caught several Yellowtails and a couple of Ocean Triggerfish. Really wasnít too good of fishing. I decided to go out in the blue, since they werenít really biting inside the reef. The waves were way big, about 7-8 feet and the fishing wasnít much better out there. The sea wasnít as clear as normal today. There have been a lot of storms in the Caribbean lately, must have stirred the water. All in all, should have stayed inside the reef

The storm has stayed out to sea so far as I get ready to sleep. The sky is partly clear and stargazing is good. When the moon is bright like tonight, it makes an interesting show as the leaves of my banana trees dance in the breeze, leaving their silhouettes on the white sand. The moon and the stars are right, the sea and the wind are right, the moment is right then too. Humbly, I give thanks. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 16, 2002.

Her I am groaning and kind of complaining because the weather hasnít been too good. Today is the same. Right now itís about 2:30 in the afternoon (evening its called here), and a storm is coming through. As I looked out over the sea, I saw three giant lighting bolts come from the sky. Not at once, but close in succession. At the same time I saw down in my yard, my banana trees swaying, no not swaying, more like just blowing in the strong wind of this storm now over San Pedro, and as the thunder boomed and the rain pored, I was reminded of where I was. I live on a beautiful tropical island. Sometimes I forget that and need reminded. I think everyone that lives here is guilty of that to some degree. So into my head came a new slogan for the next biggest t-shirt and bumper sticker slogan to take the world by storm.

ďA bad day on the Island is better than a great day anywhere else!Ē
ďA bad day on the Island is better than a great day in the office!Ē

Donít worry, Iíll work out the bugs and youíll probably see it for sale on T.V.

Really nice storm though.

Half Moon Fever. If there is such a thing, I must have it. The sky cleared after sunset and the moon is high in the night sky and about half full. Went to town for dinner and on the way back I picked up a guy who had just gotten off work. I gave him a lift across town to a corner close to his house. That was at about 7:30 and he told me he had been at work since 6 this morning. He was working in construction and when I said to him that was a long day, he replied ďYea, but dat what I got to do.Ē It was a pleasure to give a lift to someone with a great attitude like his. Dat is de Belize I know and love. Actually when people ask me what it is I like about Belize so much, I always answer the same. It is the people, I tell them. There are many beautiful spots on this earth, some may even be prettier than Belize, but there are only one Belizean people. I also always say that if you come here on a holiday, by the time you leave, you will have made at least one good friend and probably several. You will be looking forward to coming back to paradise and visiting your friends in Belize. Think Iíll go for a le walk on the beach and feel the sea breeze and listen to the sounds of the surf breaking on the reef. Iíll pause for a moment and really let it all sink in and try to pass it through the universe to everyone else who dreams of walking the beach on a night like this and canít right now. Close your eyes and let it happen. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 17, 2002.

The rain is gone and it has been a pretty day. The sea is calming a bit from its choppy state this morning. I was going to take a short trip to the duty free zone at Corozal, but woke up late and didnít have the energy today. Maybe manana. I become more Belizean everyday. About 3:00 this afternoon the Red Cross helicopter went over the island. Maybe they were just practicing but usually there has been an accident or someone is real sick and needs to be evacuated to the hospital in Belize City. I call it the Red Cross helicopter because it has a big red cross on each side to identify it. I donít think it is part of the Red Cross proper, just the symbol is recognized around the world. Certainly hope nothing bad happened to anyone. I went to town for lunch. The tourist activity is very slow. The whole town is slow right now I think. About the only signs of activity, are the always it seems, on going construction of buildings and houses about everywhere. The sea is about as blue as it can be today. Reminds me of pretty blue eyes.

I went swimming in the sea from about 4:30-5:00 this evening. The water is nice and warm, but not hot. Visibility is fair, with the unsettled weather of late stirring up the sand. Some small waves inside the reef along the shore. I canít say it too much; being in the sea is like being in Mother Natureís embryonic fluid. So soothing and constant.

Another very leisure, lazy day floats by in the tropics. All the things that should have happened did. Certainly one can draw a sense of contentment from that knowledge. The sun is setting and it feels like Belikin and hammock time for Reef.

I walked along the sea tonight. The moon was high overhead, thinly veiled behind wispy clouds. Tonight it is a little more than half and we are 7 nights away from full moon. The stars are like a laser light show for Pink Floyd. The breeze is steady as is the sound from the reef. I went to my dock and bailed yesterdayís rainwater out of my boat. As I methodically dipped and poured the water over the back (stern for you nautical types) of the boat, I glanced to the sky and saw all the marvel up there, and I glanced down to the sea around me and the way it sloshed to an fro, and I glanced at the person that was me, there bailing water from a boat on the sea. At that moment; I knew that there was still magic in the world and I was right in the middle of it. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 18, 2002.

Itís a powerful night. The moon is as bright as can be for a half moon. The stars are all out. People are out late standing and talking in the streets or their yards. It is one hell of a night to be alive. I went to the Palace casino here in San Pedro Town for a while. Played blackjack for about 2 hours and left just a le bit ahead of the game. The Palace is not real big, but its real gaming with slot and poker machines and blackjack tables. As they say, ďIt ainít Vegas,Ē but itís a whole lot of fun. I had the pleasure of sitting across from a somewhat new dealer for most of the night by the name of Raquel. She is from Ecuador originally. All in all, a fine night. The moon is filling fast, six more days. I feel the energy intensifying. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 19, 2002.

I went to my dock to go for a swim this morning. I had finished cleaning my kitchen and washing my clothes and was ready for a refreshing swim in the sea.  As I walked along the dock I saw someone doing something unusual on the dock next to me. I couldnít tell what he was doing so I called to him and ask. The wind was blowing just enough that I couldnít hear what he was saying, so I waded over to him to check it out. He was wearing a mask over his nose and mouth. What do you think he was doing? Cleaning the hide of a Crocodile. They had found it in the back and apparently killed it and were going to hang the hide somewhere, or maybe sell it? Just another morning in San Pedro. The swim was incredible. The sea has calmed and is crystal clear like good Gin again.

Hereís a fishing report, sort of. I went trolling with some new lures I bought in the states. I caught 3 nice size Mackerelís or Spanish Fish as they call them here. One of them was full or Roe. A couple of days ago they were catching Grey Snappers by the dozens just out into the blue through the San Pedro cut. Once through the cut in the reef, you need to go towards a buoy out there, and then about 100 or so yards away to the South. They were all full of Roe, too. The fish are biting if you know where to find them. While outside in the blue, I saw a medium size Hawksbill Turtle. He was about 50 feet away and just came to the surface for air and then he was gone again. For lunch I really roughed it. Went back inside the cut by Captain Morganís (famous for the TV show ĎTemptation Islandí) and had a nice lunch and cold drink at their beautiful Resort. Now the sun is setting on another beauty day in Paradise. I count my lucky stars.

The night sky has about a trillion million jillion stars shining in it. The moon is high overhead and a healthy half full. The few clouds that are around are the high puffy kind, you know, the ones that always look like elephantís or poodles. The breeze is blowing steadily and you can feel the energy of the night. I am drawn to my front veranda and my hammock. There I will sway to and fro with my thoughts and memories of the day. Wishing you all well from paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 20, 2002.

A tropical wave is passing over the country of Belize. That means periods of thundershowers. This morning has seen some very hard rain pass through. In between showers, I walked the couple of blocks to Dahliaís store for some plantain. Outside of her store (a nice store which we need in Boca del Rio area) a guy lay on the cement just outside her door. He was so passed out; I paused to see if he was breathing because he looked dead. Nobody really seemed to be bothered by it. The people around, including me just smiled or shook their head. Wait, is this the French Quarter? No, San Pedro.

The tropical rain let up about 12:30 and I decided to get out of the house and went to Elviís for lunch. Just had a bowl of lobster and shrimp soup with white rice. Really nice. Then I spent the next hour or so talking with friends while waiting for the rain to stop again so I could go home. It stopped and I left but only got about 2 blocks and down come de rain. I had been smart enough to bring my rain parka with me and struggled to put it on in the strong wind. I drove on home in the driving rain and enjoyed it. One side effect is the streets. They can and have turned into what I think of as bowls of mud. In fact the whole town becomes a giant mud bowl sometimes this time of year. I remember leaving early one trip I took to Belize because of the non-stop rain and the mud bowl wouldnít dry up. A few days of that, stuck in a small Belizean hotel room and you wonder what happened to your sanity. Of course this was way before we had TV, phones, internet and nice fancy resorts and condoís here on Ambergris Caye. All that aside, there is nothing like the natural beauty of tropical weather. So for me, it has been a great day, a gift that I accept. The temperature was 79í for the high and steady most of the day. Feels cold in the wind and damp air. I may need to put on a T-shirt to keep warm.

The sea is full of white foamy waves. They roll in and hit the shallows and the sea grass beds, winding up as white foam. Then the next one comes, and the next, and so on. Really the state of the sea is very turbulent, very agitated; yet it is very calming to behold its rhythm, and creation and cessation of waves; marching on; in no uncertain terms.

Transplanted some Croton plants in between showers right around 5ish. They were starts I brought from Bacadia along the Mopan River about 8 months ago. They have all grown well and gotten so big, I needed to move some. Then walked to the dock and along the beach. Busy day. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 21, 2002.

A nice day filled with sun and the gentle breeze. It is Sunday, family day in Belize. I went swimming this afternoon and it looked like about everyone from San Pedro was out swimming in the sea. It was the perfect day for it. You will always see a lot of kids and families out on Sundays. I was given a special gift from the sea. As I was walking in from my swim, I felt something kind of sharp under my feet. The tide was low and right where I stop swimming and start walking it gets very shallow. Today, in about one foot or less of water, I found a big beautiful Queen Helmet shell. A rare find out at sea, or along the reef. If I knew the story of how it got there, almost on shore like that, in such shallow water, I would probably be amazed at the sequence of events that placed it there, right below my foot. Humbly, I accept.

The moon is looking close to full, but not yet. A couple of nights away from full. It is high in the sky before sunset. These nights preceding and during the full moon, are the best times to be on the Island, I think. The feeling of something magical is in the air. It calls to you, it enchants you, and it takes your soul to a new place. Check it out sometime, or call up the memory if you have been here and felt it. The night is calling; I must go.

Miscellaneous note. I had Mackerel steaks from the Spanish Mackerelís I caught. Just some seasoning and lightly fried in some Canola oil, toss in some plantain and some fresh veggies. A feast of the Godís. Fresh seafood is a definite luxury.
Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 23, 2002.

Happy Full Moon! We made it through another cycle.

August 22, 2002.

The full moon rose in the eastern crevice where the sky and the sea meet to form the horizon. It was magnanimous in all its glory. Surrounding it, and sometimes stealing the center stage, were tall stuffy storm clouds, full of lightening and thunder. The rain has come to shore and the sky has gone dark. Devoid of any moonlight, the earth below devoid of any moon shadows. Thunder reverberates through the air like the sound of ten thousand buffalo storming through a canyon. Yes mi amigos, the night is full of magic and power. How much of it shall be ours? The choice is up to us each.

The streets, restaurants and bars were all close to empty tonight as I went into town for a while. Not much happening in San Pedro tonight. There is another new girl working at the Palace Casino. Her name is Adela and she is very pretty. I go now to close my eyes and listen to the sound of the thunder as it rolls through the sky. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 23, 2002.

It rained and blew hard all night long last night. Much of the Island has standing water in yards and streets. Some less well-designed house might have taken in some water. A nice tropical it was, but it has passed through it appears. It has been just bad enough weather to keep me from going to Corozal the last two mornings. I went down to the dock and bailed out my boat. The sea has calmed some, maybe I should go fishing.

Just in on the coconut telegraph: Last nights strong storm contained a tornado and did damage to the area around the airstrip. Several roofs were lost, two airplanes were tipped over and blown across the runway, and three boats were uplifted from the sea and tossed back causing great damage. I knew it was a hell of a storm. I know tornados and they are every bit as destructive as a hurricane, but thankfully move through very fast. The day turned out to be a windy one with partly sunny skies. The moonrise will be visible tonight. Last night there were too many storm clouds. Iíll be on top of it! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 24, 2002.

I went fishing this morning. Left about 11:00 and went outside to the blue and trolled for a while. The sea is not as clear as normal and is full of floating seaweed. The storms that just passed through the last couple of nights have mucked up the water, so to speak. Also it was cloudy. I think the lures that I am using work better with sunlight. Makes them sparkle and glint better. An approaching rainstorm chased me inside the reef and to home at about 1:30. I caught one small Spanish Mackerel. Still loved it though. Didnít see anything exotic in the sea today, but nothing like being out there, feeling the waves as their energy lifts you up and then lets you down. A very natural rhythm in life.

Last night I went to town and stopped at the Palace Casino for a while on the way back home. Had a few people in there, mostly tourist having fun. I didnít stay to long. As I drove home I heard a crackle and smelled burning wires as my golf cart came to a sputtering halt. I checked the wires, but didnít see the problem. I waited for a le while until one of my friends came by in a cart and I asked him for a tow home. He lives right by me and we used his and my security cables (normally used to go through the steering and the cart frame to keep your cart safe) linked together for a towrope and made it home fine. One thing about San Pedro, and all of Belize really, you can make a lot of good friends and they are always happy to help you. The people of Belize are her true Jewel. My neighbor is a mechanic, so he fixed me up good as new first thing this morning. The part was $85.00/bz and the labor was $35.00/bz with some battery water and grease tossed in for free. The combination of the salt air, heavy rains, muddy roads and rough, rough roads, make life hard for all vehicles here on the Island.

The moon will be rising in about a half an hour. Time to go down by the sea and let the sound of the waves and the reef and the breeze cloud my brain. Only to be saved by the majestic moonrise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 25, 2002.

It has been a perfect day. The morning cleared up and the sky is blue and the sea is blue and everything is like paradise. The sea is very calm and lots of boating is going on. I have cleaned mi casa and edited some old issues of the San Pedro Journal today. I went for a swim about 11:00 this morning. The sea is just the right temperature, just slightly cool to the hot body. Now as the night approaches, I need to go out for some supplies. I looked earlier today for milk, but there was none close by. I will have to wait till the next delivery. Manana??? Who knows for sure? They will tell you tomorrow, regardless.

The night sky is clear as can be. The moon is hanging brightly overhead and cast a spotlight on the gentle ripples of the calm sea. The stars are bright. A barking dog breaks the silence of this magic night, and a golf cart goes speeding by, reminding me I am not in heaven, but still on earth. May your nights be as mine. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 26, 2002.

This morning I got up early to go to Corozal to stop into the Duty Free Zone. The Free Zone is located in Belize, along the border with Mexico. It is basically a shopping area where you can buy goods without the added cost of duty, which is quite high in Belize. The Free Zone is off limits to Belizeans for shopping. The reason is because no duty has been paid on the goods to the Government of Belize. Hence, the Free Zone is set up for the people of Mexico to come across the border and shop. And they do, in a big way. I am looking for a warehouse within the Free Zone to receive and sell general merchandise imported from the U.S. Thatís why I was going there today. I called Tropic Air and reserved a seat on the 9:00 flight to Corozal. I got to the airport at about 5 till 9, plenty of time. One of the ladies working there motioned me over and recognizing me; ask me for my frequent flyer discount card. I gave it to her and she told me how much money and I paid and got my boarding pass. No big deal, done it hundreds of times at least. I stepped into the bathroom for a minute and when I stepped out, I saw a plane loading up outside. I started to go out, but the same lady told me that wasnít my flight, the other one was. OK, I said. The other flight boarded right then and so did I. The guy outside the plane closed and secured the door, the engine roared to life. The pilotís voice came over the intercom and he said clearly, ďThank you for flying Tropic Air. Our flight time to Municipal Airport will be approximately 15 minutes.Ē So, someone booked me for Municipal instead of Corozal. Pretty funny, really. I guess some things can get to routine. I had planned on going to Belize City tomorrow or Wednesday anyway, so just went today instead. I hope Iíll get to go to Corozal tomorrow.

While in Belize City, I met with the Customs Comptroller about importing some containers into Belize. That went well. Then I went to the Princess Casino and chilled out for a while. I was there to early to do much. Finally the bowling alley (something new in Belize) opened at 11:00. So I bowled a couple of lines. No 300 games, but fun all the same. Then I had a bite of lunch. Honestly, I canít really recommend either restaurant at the Princess. They are passable, but nothing to brag about. Then I hit the Casino, it opens at noon. I went straight for the dollar slots. Played for a while, winning just enough to keep going, then I hit triple bars for a payout of $120.00 U.S. I had started with 100 U.S. dollars, so I was ahead. Then I just started winning on almost every play. I hit another triple bar payout on the same machine and several smaller payouts on another machine. I played solid for an hour and a half and left with my original $100.00, plus $240.00 more. Flew back home on the 2:30 flight and chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

The night is fresh, one of my friends said. It is fresh, full of fresh breeze, cooling breeze. I walked along the waters edge and felt the cool water on the bare souls of my feet. The stars are excellent tonight. The moon is coming up a bit later each night, so it is dark for a while after sunset. Itís not to cloudy overhead; so stargazing is a must. The moon is four days past full, but still very cosmic. There are some clouds to the east, and they have some lightening in them. Makes for a wonderful contrast.

While I was walking on the beach, I stopped to check my boat. I found someone has thieved the prop from my motor. This is the kind of petty crime we have on the Island. It is for sure the work of a crack head. It sours my attitude for a moment, but then I put it into perspective. I know so many good, honest, kind Belizean people and I wonít let just a few ruin my short stay on this good Earth and on this Island.  Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 28, 2002.

I went to Corozal today. I wanted to go into the Free Zone to check on some details about starting a business there. I took the 9:00 flight on Tropic Air. The flight leaves the island and flies over the sea between Ambergris Caye and the mainland. Below, the sea is a charismatic shade of baby blue. It is dotted with a few smaller cayes and what look like mere spits of sand here and there. We ran into a big rainstorm on the way. It started just as we hit the main coast. The coast of Belize is really just mangrove and swamps for several miles inland before you find any real dry land. I couldnít help but wonder what kinds of life existed down below in all that swamp and those lagoons?

The flight skirted the rain as best we good and landed safely in Corozal. I caught a taxi and went to my friendís house and borrowed his truck. The trip to the Free Zone was informative and I accomplished my mission. I was done and at Tonyís Inn having lunch at 11:30. I love the tortilla soup and chicken nachos at Tonyís. After lunch I had a few hours till the return flights to San Pedro. I decided to drive to the small village of Progresso. I had some friends living there and had never been, so I headed out. The road was rough and about half way to Progresso, you have to cross a wide river. In typical Belizean fashion and ingenuity, they have a hand cranked ferry that you drive up on and they take you across the river. The ferry will hold up to three vehicles. The hand cranking is slow but sure and I was on the other side in about 10 minutes. The river, there at the crossing reminded me of a scene from a documentary on the wilderness of Africa, but it wasnít Africa, it was Belize. Another National Geographic Moment. I made it to Progresso and found my friends the Benetez family. I was given a chair to sit on, and we all sat in the shade of the new cement house they were building. We visited for about an hour or so. When I said goodbye to get back to Corozal to catch the 3:30 flight, they gave me some wonderful avocados from the bush. I guess no one will starve when you can find all the great natural food you need in the surrounding bush. On the way back, the line to cross the river was long and I had to wait for the barge to cross with the cars in front of me, and then bring the ones from the other side back. The loading and unloading take some time, and so does the cranking. I waited about 25 minutes to cross. Would I make it in time for the 3:30 flight home? I didnít sightsee on the way back and quickly returned my friendís truck and called a cab. We raced to the airport and I had 3 minutes to spare. On the flight home we once again ran into a le rain storm. Safely at home in San Pedro now. The night is stormy and rainy. I wish all of you peace out there. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 28, 2002.

The day is sunny and hot. The sea is calm and waiting for you. There are few tourists in San Pedro right now. It is the very peak of hurricane season, but still a great time to come to San Pedro. You get the beaches and the restaurants and bars etc. to yourself. A great time to get to know the people of Belize also as they have more time. I went for a refreshing swim after some rice and beans with stew chicken for lunch. Just chilling out on a hot afternoon in paradise.

The new sprayer for mosquitos is quieter than the old one. The noise is the only warning you get that you are about to be sprayed. I barely got my windows and doors closed before it passed by. Even so, I still get a le hit. It smells rotten, but it controls the mosquitos. I donít like to breathe it, but the locals living in small shacks many times need it inside their house to help kill the mosquito. They donít really think there is any health risk. In the early 1900ís they sprayed DDT along the beach in New York and people walked along behind in the fog and the spray, playing in it like kids do in a fire hydrant. That was supposed to be safe too. So they thought at the time.

Quiet days and nights on the Caye. And the days go by so slowlyÖRight Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 29, 2002.

I got up and made some coffee at 7 this morning. I opened the curtains and the window and gazed out at the majestic blue sea like I always do. What a sight to start off the day with, unbelievably powerful. This morning the sea was very flat and I could not clearly distinguish the line of the reef as you usually can. The outside waves hit the reef and break up in white foam, marking the reef very well. Perfect sea then for about anything on the water. I was not to go out today though. Someone (a crack head, no doubt), thieved the prop from my boat motor in the night a few nights ago. That is the kind of petty crime you must be able to live with to live in San Pedro. The few keep you always on guard. Just for the record I replaced the prop with a new one from Captain Sharks. You can get most marine supplies at Captains Sharks. They also carry fishing gear and other Marine supplies. They are located behind the airstrip and Maya Island Air terminal. The cost was $450.00/bz for the new prop and a few more dollars for the nut, washer and pin. Oh well.

A friend of mine gave me a big bag of frozen conch left over from the end of the season at his restaurant. These conchs were harvested while the season was open and fresh frozen. I went to town and bought the ingredients to make conch cerviche. I bought cilantro, cucumber, carrot, onion, green pepper, tomato and very important, key limes. I dice up all the veggies. I rinse and microwave conch for about 5 minutes (before that I mash them good with a meat tenderizer). Then I chop the tender conch up and add it to veggies. This is an important part. Lime juice. You add limejuice to the mix and it brings out all the flavor and marinates the conch. The best kind of lime to use is the key lime (6/$1.00/bz), which looks smaller, but has much more juice. Also it has a stronger juice. The bigger limes just donít have the same amount of juice or the same taste. Made about a gallon and a half of cerviche I guess. Turned out real nice. Wish I could share it with you.

A tropical storm out off the coast of Africa and a strong tropical wave not so far south of us by Salvador and slowly moving this way. We are in the peak of the hurricane season. It is on everybodyís mind, but no one wants to talk about it too much. Donít want to jinx us I think. Good idea. Right now though, the most perfect gorgeous weather.

It is a sweet night. The air is fresh and cooling. While I was enjoying my dinner at Elviís tonight, I was thinking about what I was doing at the moment and most moments in general. I was sitting at a place I love, on an island I love, doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing. It couldnít be any better, really. I decided if God wanted to call me and I didnít wake up in the morning, I would understand. Seize the moment and live the dream my friends. Right Here, mi amigos-Reef Ransom.

August 30, 2002.

Mangrove Shadows

In the shadows of the Mangrove,
Lies an old conch shell, long gone its lustrous shine.
Algae flutters to and fro on the curled lip of the shell,
Betraying the seaís ebb and flow.
A le fish hovers close by,
Looking like a proud homeowner.
Swimming all around and dusting the sand with his tail,
Making the territory his own.
This little world is happening all on its own,
And it is all that matters to the le fish.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 1, 2002.

Determined not to let another day fill up with boredom, I went out on the sea. Rain and bad weather have been pretty much status quo lately, and has made for to many days spent inside, waiting for the rain to go. My friends Fido and Marcos went with me today. I wanted to dive for some lobster, so we went up close to the reef and spent an hour or so in search of lobster. Today we saw none. The weather has them somewhere else I guess. We took our fishing gear too, and we slowly swept the shallow waters close to shore, net in hand, waiting for some sardines to show themselves. The way you find sardines to catch using a cast net is to watch the birds. The gulls and the pelicans will fly reconnaissance, skimming over the waters surface until they spot a school of sardines. Then, blam, down they go into the sea. Dinner is served, for them. Today there were no birds going blam. I blame that on the unsettled weather, too. No sardines to fish with. We trolled for a while with artificial bait, staying inside the reef. It was rough outside in the blue. No bites. About 4:00, we had a big storm approaching us, so we headed back in. There was a long, narrow streak in the sky and it looked like a small waterspout. It was out to sea and we raced the storm back. It was gone by the time we reached the dock. The day has had more rain. The mosquitos are thick and they love the rain, along with the frogs. Our streets in San Pedro our full of holes and look like mud-wrestling tanks instead of streets. Still, another great day in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 2, 2002.

Back to school for all the kids here in San Pedro.  It is quite a sight to see, all the children in their various colored school uniforms filling up the narrow sand streets each morning, noon and evening as they make their way to and from the schools. I think they have had a great summer. At the start of the summer, those little foot powered scooters were very popular with all the kids. The same ones that were all the rave on T.V. in the states. The scooter fad on the island came and went, my guess is they got rusted and seized up with salt and sand real quick. The latest thing for the kids here reminds me of my youth as I spent summers in the country trying to find fun things to do. The kids here have all built homemade stilts to walk all around on. Some of them have gotten very good at it too. They just have a couple of 2x4ís and someone must be helping them attach a footrest from wood on each leg. I did the same thing on the farm. I watched one young boy walk all the way out to the dock and to the end of the dock (which is planks with a few inches between each one) and back to shore. When I watch the children of San Pedro invent ways to have fun and play, it reminds that the intent of life is just that simple. Take what you have and innocently make it into something that brings fun into your life. How much better could it be? From the smiling faces of the kids and their laughter as they play, Iíd say not any better. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 2, 2002.

Another night of thunder, lightening and very heavy rain. Pretty cool really. The rain had some people out at 2:00 a.m. bailing out their boats so they wouldnít sink. The day has been overcast with the sun coming out in late afternoon. I went and bailed my boat this afternoon. It was full of water. The season is slow as far as tourism goes. Many places are closed for a month or two. Many will reopen on Nov. 1. Places I know that are closed: Celiís Restaurant, Mata Chica, and Fidoís Courtyard (getting a new look inside, they tore down the old palapa and are building it or something else new). The thing to remember is not really who is closed, but that some hotels, bars and restaurants do close during the slow season. If you came and wanted to go to someplace and found it closed, you might be disappointed. I think this is a great time to visit and get to know Belize, just look before you leap. Plenty of great places to stay, drink and eat are open.

Everyone is keeping an eye on the tropical weather reports on TWC at ten before the hour, each hour. A lot of activity in the tropics for sure, but everyday go by without a hurricane here is one day closer to the end of the season. The sea is slight and so beautiful today. Thank you to the powers that be for letting me live this life. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 3, 2002.

A sweet day in paradise. I canít imagine any other color in the world looking so mesmerizingly beautiful as the shade of Blue that is the color of the sea. The thing I like about this blue, is the contrast as the sea goes from shallow inside the reef, to the reef with its foamy white mustache, to the deeper water and shade of blue outside the reef. This we call the blue, as in going out into the blue; outside the reef to the deep water. Ok, enough about the beauty of the sea. Right now you can get some killer avocados in Belize. They are big and rich buttery sweet tasting. I stopped off at Fidoís Courtyard to check out the construction of the new palapa. Man, it is tall. I mean really tall, maybe three stories on the giant wooden post. These posts are all one piece and came from the bush around Progresso somewhere. I saw them on the truck when I was in Progresso last week. My friend Miguel is working on the project, and told me they were Wari Trees. I am not sure about the spelling, but that is the name. I love how they use the natural gifts from the jungle and the bush to make things here in Belize. What I like most, is itís not any big deal.

The night sky is mostly clear. Star bright, star light ...

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 4, 2002.

I woke up early this morning. We had some more rain in the night. I had trouble with my golf cart last night and had to push it the last few blocks home. I pushed it across the street this morning to my neighbor who is a mechanic. One dead battery he tells me. The cart holds six batteries and they arenít cheap. I have had this cart for almost four years now. Same batteries all the time. Must be about time to replace them all. Just another casualty of the Island. The salt, damp air, rough roads and sun are hard on everything. On a brighter note, it is a fantastic morning. Sunny and the sea is like a temptress, always touching that one spot of weakness within me. I submit to the natural beauty. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 5, 2002.

I am taking a holiday like many others in Belize. This issue will be what you have read so far, plus a never before published journal entry from the past. Iíll see you in paradise next month. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.


January 11, 2000.

I flew with 3 friends from San Pedro to Belize Municipal Airport this morning and then rented a Suzuki Side Kick. Drove to Chan Chich Lodge on the Gallon Jug Estate. Chan Chich is a mesmerizing Jungle Resort. The drive took about 4 hours. From Orange Walk on, the road was bad and kept getting worse. We arrived at the lodge just as our passenger front tire went flat. After we entered the Gallon Jug Estate, while driving on their nice road to the actual lodge, we saw numerous doeís and a few buck along the side of the road. One ran right in front of us. We also saw a couple of groups of Tapirs grazing on the grass. There were Oscillated Turkeys and other birds I didnít know. We did see a Hawk, Eagle like bird with a striped tail. Right after we got to the lodge, we walked over to the pool to have a look at it, and one of the staff motioned to us to come over to where he was. Just a few feet into the jungle canopy, high in the trees, right by the pool and Jacuzzi, were Howler Monkeys feeding in the treetops. The night is descending on this ancient Mayan site. What magic. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.


October 8, 2002.

My how the time fly's. I am held over in the states a few days longer than planned. I am more than ready to get back home to San Pedro. In the interim, I am going to share some never before published journal entries from my journal. My first trip to Belize was in 1982, but the earliest journal entry I can find is in 1985. I believe my travel journal for the time prior to 85 is lost somewhere in those hazy days of youth. Also these old entries weren't done with the same intent as the current San Pedro Journal and you may find the writing style less complete. At some later date, I plan to tell the `rest of the story' that goes with each short entry. Also I was just visiting Belize at the time and not living here. Hope you enjoy and remember that the info contained therein is 17 years ago stuff.


January 15, 1985.

New Orleans.

The French Quarter was a bit dead.  I heard some good jazz at the Preservation Hall. The Thomas Jefferson Band was playing.

January 16, 1985.

New Orleans Airport.

Waiting for the Taca flight to arrive from Belize. The same plane will be carrying me down to Belize. Listening to Jimmy Buffet. I saw a pedestrian hit by a car at I-10 and Williams Blvd. Hope they weren't hurt to bad. Taca, take a chance airline.

January 19, 1985.

San Pedro Town.

After three days of snorkeling and sailing, the term "Paradise" truly applies. While snorkeling outside the reef, a shark that was about six feet long came at my legs. I kicked him, and we both swam away. Sailed a native wooden boat about 25-30 feet long.

January 20, 1985.

Traveled from San Pedro to municipal airport in Belize City. Some clouds and light rain. Pilots name is Mondo. I rented a Land Rover and drove to Chaa Creek, which is close to San Ignacio. The brakes went out of the Land Rover and I had to drive through the hills with just a hand brake.

January 21, 1985.

Chaa Creek. Mick and Lucy are our host. Good Food. What a wonderful way to wake up, in a thatched cabana over looking the river. Hope to get brake lines fixed today.

January 23, 1985.

Leaving Sonny's Beach Resort in Placencia. Placencia is a peninsula with beautiful course sand beaches. Good spot. Sonny's cost $40.00/U.S. night for two people. On the way we saw a blue fox cross the road. What a drive back to Chateau Caribbean.

January 25, 1985.

Caye Caulker is hippyville kinda. Not overly impressive. Great tarts from a lady in the middle street. Sailing back to Belize City, saw a dolphin. Great snorkeling.

January 28, 1985.

Staying at Lily's Hotel. $ 25.00/BZ, for one person per night. Good spot. I drank lots of rum with Woody. We talked about Caribbean Coves. I had to stumble back home from his house at about 5:00. I passed out till noon.


Bottle Dom Pierignon        $79.00/BZ.
Half dozen eggs             $ 1.75/BZ
One loaf of bread           $ 1.00/BZ
12 pack Belikin Beer        $16.00/BZ
Jar Mixed Fruit Jam         $ 4.25/BZ
One stick margarine         $  .50/BZ
Fresh squeezed O.J. 3/4 gal $ 9.00/BZ	(at Olguita's Store)
White Rum                   $ 6.25/BZ
Pre-cooked Canadian Bacon   $15.30/BZ
8OZ. Miracle Whip           $ 3.09/BZ
Those were the days. Yes I was, Right There Mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 10, 2002.

Have you ever struggled and searched for the right words? In your life have you ever wanted to express something, be it love, sorrow, regret, or gratitude, so badly that you ached inside your soul to get the right message out and get it out exactly as you feel it?
I know I have. In my knowledge that one persons suffering isn't the suffering of the entire world, I take refuge in the fact that I am not alone. Surely there are others of you who share this struggle too? What is it that causes the message; so clear and pure from the soul, to become whittled down as we think it, realize it and attempt to capture it in word and paragraph? Perhaps some things cannot be expressed in this manifested world that most of us exist in. My challenge is to practice patience as I await the answer.
Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 19, 2002.

I want to talk about decisions. How do the decisions we make affect our lives? Do we know what the potential effect of a decision will be? Maybe we think we know the consequences of our decisions, but do we really? What about not making a decision? That is really a decision, isn't it? OK, we decide to meet someone for lunch. We have lunch and that's that. No surprise consequences from agreeing to have lunch with someone is there? We might not think so on the surface. But, what about the person you accidentally pulled out in front of on the way to lunch? What about the hostess who seated you and what about your waiter? Wouldn't your interaction with these people have some affect and therefore consequence? Lets not forget the people who you didn't interact with because you choose to have lunch with someone other than them. Wouldn't your lack of interaction with all those people you didn't see at lunch have an effect on their life to? So there are consequences to our actions, more than we see on the surface, and there are consequences from our non-actions also. Again, more than we see on the surface.

Here's the deal. When things are happening to us that we don't like or understand, it is because of our past actions or non-actions. The things below the surface are so easy to miss or ignore. If we wish to have any control over our life and the events in it, we need to become aware of all the dimensions of life, not just the surface. Once we do this, we learn how to control our intent and actions, so that the proper events may unfold in our lives.

That's your full moon philosophy from Reef Ransom for this lunar cycle. Feel free to share your thoughts about this or anything else, I'd enjoy it. I'll be going back home to San Pedro on Oct. 22 and coming to you live, so to speak from that date on. This vacation issue will not count as one from your subscription. I know how badly we all need our San Pedro fix, especially if we are gone from the island for a while. I humbly offer these past entries and current thoughts for your reading and consideration. May you enjoy! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 22, 2002.

I am back home at "La Casa de los Rosas" in San Pedro Town, on Ambergris Caye, in the country of Belize, on the continent of Central America. It's a great place to be and I shall remind myself to be thankful for the gift. I arrived at the airstrip here in san Pedro at 2:45 this afternoon. Here's how it goes to get here, or at least one possible scenario.

If you don't live in Houston, Dallas or Miami, then you will be taking a connecting flight to one of these places (there are a few exceptions). I flew into Houston to make my flight to Belize today. The weather was bad in Houston and I was delayed arriving there. The Continental flight left at 12:05 and they were calling my name over the loudspeaker by the time I got to the gate. It was a rough flight down as we had to skirt some storms. The plane was about as empty as I have seen one going to Belize in twenty years. I asked the stewardess how many passengers were onboard. She said there were 40, and some of those were non-rev passengers, meaning airline personal or family not paying for the ticket. She said that eighty people were returning to Houston on the flight back. It is the low season, but I don't know? I got off the plane in Belize and went to the immigration desk just inside the terminal. They took my arrival record, checked my passport and residency card, stamped me `arrival October 22, 2002' and gave me back my passport and departure record. I went the few steps to the baggage claim area and waited for my lone bag to come round on the conveyor belt. I had checked this bag because I had a drill driver in it and they aren't allowed in carryon bags anymore. Got my bag and headed to the `Nothing To Declare' line in the customs area. "That all your luggage?" the customs man asked. "Yes". I replied. "Where are you going?" he asked. "To San Pedro." I answered. "All right," he said. "Enjoy your stay." And he waived me on.

Just around the corner from the customs area is the main terminal. The porters will really want to help you with your bags. If you have some big bags, let them. They charge a U.S. dollar per bag and it isn't really far at all, but they need to make a living and you are on vacation, so live a little. I don't use them because I rarely have bags. If I do have some big luggage, I gladly pay them. I usually fly on Tropic Air to San Pedro. Their ticket counter is the first one you come to as you enter the terminal from Customs. I checked my one bag again and bought my ticket, paid my departure tax (always a tax to leave the International airport) and then went through security and the x-ray belt. After that I went through the door right there, to the departure lounge. I had about 30 minutes till my flight to San Pedro. I talked to Steve the shoe shine guy and of course Mr. Jet of Jets Bar there in the departure area. You can't pass through the airport without stopping off and saying hi to Jet and having a cold one. We left early on the flight to San Pedro with only four people on board the 16 seater Cessna Caravan. We made a stop at the municipal airstrip to pick up four more people and some packages. All this was during a driving rain storm. The landing strip at Municipal is right over the sea and on the edge of it too. Not much room for error, the pilots take off and land there all the time and I have probably flown there 150 times m/l so it is safe, but it does give cause for a le rush of the neck hairs sometimes. Less than five minutes there and off again on the fifteen minute flight to San Pedro. Below the sea is alive with color. The large buildups of sand and shells that we humans think are islands, are scattered all around. Some are big and have towns and houses and some are small and have only sand and coco palms. Some are just mangrove swamp, but cosmic just the same.

My banana trees
The most prominent islands (cayes, really) are Caye Chappell- privately owned and the only 18 hole golf course in Belize; Caye Caulker and then Ambergris Caye-home of San Pedro Town. You will see these three in that order as you approach San Pedro. Safe at the San Pedro airstrip, I catch a cab ride home for $5.00/BZ and a dollar tip. My spirit soars as I glimpse my banana trees and I know all is well in the world as soon as I spy the beautiful Caribbean Sea from my front veranda.

It is night now. The moon, the stars, the glimmering sea and the strong tropical breeze. All are here tonight, right now. I will not be overcome by the temptation to describe this natural, powerful, beauty that surrounds me here. I'll leave it to you to close your eyes and imagine yourself on a magical tropical island. That's what I did, and here I am.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 23, 2002.

This morning I woke up early. The sun was beating down hard on our tiny le island and I guess it was calling me out. A beautiful morning with a strong breeze and slightly choppy sea's. I went to town and paid all my utility bills. On the way to town five young kids hailed me for a ride. I stopped and let them load up. They were all primary school age, all dressed in the same brown school uniform. They talked and laughed as we rode along. I dropped them at the corner by Wasa, that's as far south as I was going, they were going all the way to the Royal Palm. I got them about half way I guess. All this and the morning is still young. God, I love this place.

I started towards Elvi's for a 12:15 lunch meeting. My golf cart quit about 4 blocks up the street. I was already late, though not really by Belizean standards, so I started walking towards Elvi's. I was still many blocks away. After a couple of hot blocks, hot sun today, a cab came by and I rode the rest of the way. $5.00/BZ for the cab ride, just FYI. Made my meeting and had a great lunch at Elvi's. Conch is back in season and that's what I had. After lunch I borrowed a friends cart and towed mine to the mechanic across the street from my house. Another bad battery he told me. That is 2 now I have replaced. $200.00/BZ per. All of my batteries came with my cart about 3 Ĺ years ago, so I should just dust off my wallet and buy all new ones. There are 6 batteries total. Hope it is fixed now.

The breeze has been constant all day and the sea maintains a light chop. Not much action on the water right now, or anywhere else as far as that goes. Belize does not observe daylight savings time like the U.S. and so at about 5:30 tonight it was getting dark. The days are getting shorter I guess. Sometime around 7ish I thought about the moonrise and glanced out the window across the sea to the horizon. Sure enough, there it was ascending into the sky like a big orange nerf ball. It is still almost full and it is the deepest orange when it rises and then it slowly turns back to lunar yellow as it gets high in the night sky. I stopped everything and ran out to the beach to sit by the sea and listen to the rhythm as this powerful spotlight in the sky shined its light down on my earthly presence. The experience left me in awe and as humble as seeds on a Mulberry. The day has been perfect and the night is covering my spirit like a wool blanket on a cold winter night. Before I sign off for today, let me ask these questions. If you're living your life's dream, was it really a dream? Are metaphors really metaphors if they are really happening to you? I'll gaze to the heavens and wish you the best. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 24, 2002.

I saw Taff Elliott in town this morning. He waved and I stopped and we talked for a while. Taff and his wife Rose have lived in San Pedro since 1980. Some long time visitors might remember them from the Pirates Lantern. Taff and Rose owned, built and lived at the Pirates Lantern and that is the first place I ever stayed in San Pedro. That would have been in 1982. The rooms were small but clean and comfortable, something like $10.00 a night I think. Rose was and is a great cook and dinner there was always a treat. Here is a le story I will share:

I decided after my first visit to Belize that every year I would come to San Pedro to watch the super bowl. Not many places had TV in the early 80's, but Taff had Satellite at the Pirates Lantern. We started a betting pool before the game and as a joke I signed my name as Jimmy Buffett. We were told the game started at noon our time. Myself and a few friends found a spot in the tiny bar and settled in for the game. While we waited we had a few Belikin Beers. That was about the time that they started having several hours of pre-game hype before the game ever started. We didn't know that. The game didn't start until 5:00 and by then we were real drunk. We drank so much beer that Taff had to send out for a re-supply. At the end of the game, I could barely see. Who do you think won the big pool? Of course, Jimmy Buffett. I won something like $165.00 I think, it didn't even come close to covering my bar tab. I almost remember that day like it was yesterday. Taff and Rose recently sold the Pirates Lantern and are doing fine.

Went for my usual at Elvi's tonight. Thursday night is Caribbean Platter night. Grilled lobster, snapper, shrimp, conch and a huge crab claw all topped with a sweet tropical fruit sauce. Elvi's isn't the least expensive place to eat, but it is one of the best I think. The special tonight was $50.00/BZ. plus drinks. Did I mention that the bartender Emil makes the world's best tropical drinks? He told me he was fixing one just for you!

The sky is streaked with a beautiful shade of crimson as the sun sets on la Isla Bonita. I glanced out my front window and noticed something out on the sea. I stepped onto the veranda and could tell it was a sailboat passing by outside in the blue. It is the first sailboat I have seen in awhile, and I love sailboats. I got my binoculars and took a better look. Turned out to be a Schooner (two mast instead of one) and quite large. Estimating length over a distance of water is a foolish thing. I estimate she was about 65 feet LOA (length over all). The only sail she had out was the jib (front sail), and it was just unfurled to about storm jib (a small amount of sail) size. That was all the graceful ship needed in the steady winds today. I saw in my minds eye that the skipper was heading for the cut in the reef by the Yacht club and trying to get there before the sun set any further. I watched them sail out of my sight and gauged they had just the right amount of daylight left to make the cut, furl in the jib, motor through the cut, drop anchor, fix a rum and coke and start to relive the days adventure. All before days last light is chased away by night.

A bank of thick clouds has cast a veil over the moonrise tonight. Alas, even the mighty moon must give way to some things in the universe. The night breeze has stiffened. Outside in the sand streets of San Pedro it begins to grow quiet. The TV's and the children and the stereos are put to bed, one by one. The taxi's have less need to prowl the night in search of fare. Los noches. The Night. It is full of power. Truly, I wish you were here to grab your share. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 25, 2002.

In San Pedro there are basically four choices for getting around while on land. They are: taxi (everywhere and inexpensive), bicycle (modestly priced, self powered), golf cart (cost more but you are master of your domain), and of course the very steps at our feet, yes, walking (real common and the least expensive mode of transportation). Before I lived here, I just rented a cart or walked. In San Pedro, having a golf cart is like having a car in the states. There are a few gas powered carts around, but thankfully most are electric (gas carts are noisy), and they run off of six 8 volt batteries. My batteries are almost 4 years old in my cart. When one went bad a few weeks ago, my mechanic asked me if I wanted to change all 6 of them. They cost $200.00/BZ each, that's $100.00/U.S. x 6. I said no Mon; just replace the one that is broke. Long story short, I have had to tow it home twice and replace another battery and it still isn't charging enough to last long. So today I bought 4 more new batteries for a total of 6, which I should have done in the first place. That's what I get for pushing it to the edge. Four years is almost a record for any set of golf cart batteries to last on the Caye. Now I should be good for awhile.

A strong but brief shower passed through right at sunset. Not a lot of rain, but good for the dusty roads. Not many tourists around town right now. Everyone is just hanging on, waiting for the season to start, and maybe secretly hoping that it does start and is a good year. I drove through town and it looks like Fido's Courtyard is back open. They tore down the old palapa and put up a new one. It looks pretty cool. I'll check it out more thoroughly and let you know. Food, drink, music, fun, Fido's Courtyard is a favorite of tourist and locals alike.

I had my favorite dinner at Jade Garden, sweet and sour lobster. They have lots of good food, check out the egg rolls and their key lime pie is the best. Friendly waiters too!

Got some nice jazz, full of saxophone (Candy Dulfer) playing and just letting the tropical breeze caress my body and carry off my soul. To all of you, thanks for letting me share. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 26, 2002.

Saturday on the island, not much going on. A pretty morning greets me with sunny blue sky and the caress of the breeze. Some clouds are floating around and we are about to have a tropical wave pass over, so the day may have some showers. I spread some white sand in my back yard where I have a low spot this morning. The white sand is not just like everywhere as you may think on the island. The island is white sand in most places, but you can't just go and fill up your wheelbarrow and carry it off. White sand is a precious commodity on an Island of white sand. I paid $125.00/BZ. for 3 yards of white sand delivered to my back yard. Land has become so scarce and valuable that much of the island is built in swampy mangroves on fill. What were once mangrove swamps are now la isla Bonita and more is coming everyday. These `filled' areas are not white sand but generally trash, construction debris, coconuts, yard debris, seaweed, and anything else that floats up and has no other use, and are far from pristine white sand. What you do, is top off the land when it is filled high enough with a few inches of white sand. The beaches are real though, so don't worry.

After I spread the sand I came inside and squeezed myself some fresh orange juice. Oranges are grown on the mainland of Belize and are really good. They cost 5/$1.00/BZ. or 10 U.S. cents each. When I am to lazy to squeeze my own juice, I go down to Rubies Café at Rubies Hotel on the beach and buy fresh juice from the cute girls in there. The juice was good and I considered a le slug of vodka or rum in it, but then noticed it was only 9:15 a.m., not that anybody would mind if I passed out and slept in my hammock till way past noon.

About mid-afternoon I was hanging at the beach just soaking up the breeze and the beauty of my surroundings. A young boy I have known for a long time came by named Leroy. Leroy can climb a coco tree like a monkey. He just uses his feet at an angle and with his hands around the tree, pulls himself up to the top. I ask him to fetch me a couple of coconuts, which he cheerfully did. I chopped them and drank some of their milk. Leroy asked me if I had a job for him. I had some cleanup work in my back yard, so I put him to work for about an hour or so. Leroy is a nice young man and I am glad to see him again. The afternoon brought some showers.

A big Halloween party at the Holiday Hotel tonight. I will pass, but you know it is tons of fun. They have it every year, so plan a trip around it! The night sky is full of clouds and there will be no star gazing tonight. Even the moonrise is obscured tonight. Still, the night is full of magic. I humbly thank the subtle natural way of the universe for letting me be a part. May your life be as mine, full of magic. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 27, 2002.

The morning has showery weather for us. The type that will be around most of the day I think. The neighborhood is quiet this early morning, except for a barking dog. Have you ever noticed how pet owners don't notice their dog barking or their cat (and dog) pooping in other peoples yards and in the streets and on the beach? It's sort of like how parents get oblivious to their children's screaming and just let them go and go even in public places. You know the barking, pooping or screaming is annoying, and they would know it, if they were listening to someone else's dog, or child or stepping in someone else's pet poop, but they don't know it because it is their dog, cat, or child. Aren't we funny, us human beings?

My neighbor, Elaine came and cleaned for me today. I do clean myself, but she mops and does the bathroom better than I do. Not to mention because it is so slow right now, she is only working 2 days a week at her regular job and she could use the extra dollar. My house isn't real big and I usually pay $20.00/BZ. to have it cleaned.

                They Say

He lives down on an island; they say.

Where all the days are just another day in paradise,

and all the tropical breezes can't blow him back; they say.

Cause he's living his dream and swings in his hammock each day,

Drinks cold Belikin while the pretty Honduran honeys beckon his way, come out and Play?

He lives down on an island; they say.

Where all the days are full of Buffett and Marley and Rasta-far-I,

and sweet, sweet papaya's and fillet with rice and bean; they say.

Cause he's diving for conch and looking for dat Caye lime tree,

his days are Tropical cold, nights Habanera hot; and he passes them both a step from the sea.

He lives down on an island; they say.

Where all the days bring lazy mystery and adventure,

and lots of time to ponder, plot and scheme; they say.

Cause he walks the beach at night and searches the heaven for a sign,

patient skipper at the helm, can you find your port, for the moon and the stars are your design.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 28, 2002.

The tropical wave seems to have passed through and sucked all the clouds away with it. Clear blue sky today. Nice steady breeze, someone pinch me, I'm stuck in a post card daydream.

Water Delivery

"Can I drink the water"? Yes, you can drink the water. The town water is purified but few like the taste. Most drinking water is bottled water. Some still prefer the rain water they catch in their rain vats from the roofs of their houses. Purified, bottled water is delivered all through town everyday (Monday-Saturday) to every business or home that wants it. A plastic 5 gallon jug cost $4.70/BZ. If you are in a restaurant and they bring you water in a glass, it is almost certainly bottled water from a large jug. Drink it and enjoy it. If you aren't sure, just ask your waiter if the water is purified? Now, for the cool part I guess. The delivery system is a John Deere tractor pulling a wagon full of water. They drive through town, honk their horn and if you want water you set out your empty and they bring you your next one. I put a picture in this months issue for you to see it (attachment waterdelivery). Beer and Coca Cola products are sold and delivered the same way.]

Here is a tip that will more than pay for your subscription to the San Pedro Journal. As I was picking up some fresh fruits and veggies at `The Greenhouse' (a produce shop on barrier reef drive), a lady came in to buy something and ask the store owner if she took American money. They so take American money in Belize, that you can sell it legally for an amount higher than the official exchange rate of 2 to 1. When you arrive in San Pedro (or other towns in Belize) find an official Casa de Cambio and sell/exchange your U.S. dollars. You will get back Belize dollars, which you will spend and make 2&1/2 percent extra on the spot. If you are going to spend $2,000.00 U.S. on vacation, why not sell it for $4,000.00/BZ plus an extra $50.00/BZ per U.S. thousand for a total of $4,100.00, an extra $100.00/BZ or $50.00/U.S.? To complicated? Just take your U.S. money to an OFFICIAL money changer and get back more than you will if you just spend it as you go. So yes, we take American money (the vendor will gladly take the extra 2.5%). You can also do the same with your travels checques, pesos, and pounds. Only thing to be aware of is not to sell/exchange more money than you will spend while you are here. It is not easy to convert back to U.S. and will cost you also. So, cash what you will spend and get money for free. Where else can you invest your money and make 2.5% instantly? Now, that one tip alone is enough to fund your subscription to the San Pedro Journal so you will always be connected to paradise.

It is one of those nights that put you in a state of hypnosis. The breeze blowing non stop, the sound of the waves from the reef, the palm trees swaying to and fro, all a part of the natural rhythm that permeates this island. What it does to the human psyche is, it puts your spirit in the middle of a stream of really positive energy and you get on a very even keel as you let everything unimportant, unreal drop away. It is a high for sure. Now I think I will walk out to the end of my favorite dock and have another big hit. Maybe it's your favorite dock too? Come with me then. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 29, 2002.

A beauty of a day. The breeze is still strong and the sea is still choppy. The color of the sea today is even bluer than it has been lately. Maybe the weather has had it stirred up a le bit? I sat on the beach about midday and just took in the whole scene. I saw a family of four drive by and stop at the park. They all got out and posed for the video camera, for sure a Kodak moment. They were the only tourist I saw go past. There are a lot of seagulls around lately. They fly overhead searching for a meal from the sea below or maybe a handout from some fisherman cleaning his catch for the day. That part is pretty normal, but they are shrieking out as they fly overhead in a shrill almost barking, crying sort of sound that I haven't really noticed before. Maybe it has something to do with mating. Sort of a seagull's version of "Can I show you my place on the beach?" The sea outside the reef in the blue is looking pretty feisty. The waves crashing on the reef look a lot like the head of a draft beer, really foamy.

I went to Jade Garden for some sweet and sour lobster. When I got to the corner where you turn to go to wasa (water dept.), the road was blocked off. Traffic was being diverted around the block. I drove around like everyone else and came back to the main street and on to Jade Garden. The man at the road block told me there had been an accident and that's all I knew till I got to the Jade Garden and they told me a man had been killed. Apparently he was run over by the big dump truck used by Varela Material Supply. I was told he was still under the big wheels. A large crowd was gathered around the accident scene. The odds of having an accident like this in San Pedro have to be incredibly high. Very narrow streets, originally designed for foot traffic, and lots of foot, bike, golf cart, taxi van, and big construction vehicle traffic just does not work. Add to all this, the fact that many of the big trucks and the taxis drive like our streets are the Indy 500. The town plans on paving more streets, which will just add to the heavy foot of the speeders. This accident and death occurred on the only stretch of street that is paved at present. The street takes a short, quick jog, right at the end of Ramon's Resort and by the Island Supermarket located on the cross corner. That curve violates every rule for safety from an engineering standpoint, but even more important; it is obvious with just plain common sense that it is dangerous. I don't know if the truck was going to fast or not. I am sure the driver must feel bad, and I am mindful of the deceased and his family and friends; may they have the strength they need.

As I walk on the beach tonight, I will pause to count my blessings. Maybe we all should do that. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 30, 2002.

The day started with a rain shower that quickly passed over. The sea is moderate. I pulled my boat up on the beach. I want to do some work on it. The bottom needs scraped and resealed and I want to paint the entire boat. The name of my boat is `Shanely.'  That is the name that was on her when I bought the boat. It is the former owner's daughter's name. I like it ok, but think I will take the opportunity to change it as long as I will be painting anyway.

An eyewitness to the accident last night that killed a local man said the victim was riding on his bicycle and slipped on the drainage ditch and was thrown right under the oncoming dump trucks wheels. According to the witness, the mans body from his shoulders up were crushed under the wheels of the big truck.

I have noticed a few tourists in town, but still not many. Not much to write about, cause not much going on. It is mid afternoon and I must retire to my hammock. From there, I can watch the Frigate Birds and the Gull's float by overhead as they survey the sea for a tasty snack. Rough duty, oh how do I survive?

I went for a walk along the beach at sunset. What an extra magical time it is to walk the edge of the sea. It is cooling off. The day is sliding away into history and the night is like a newborn babe in its tenacity and desire to fulfill its destiny. The sky is the canvass and some genius is the artist. I, walking along these shores, am simply one who sees this painting. I paused and talked with a friend until a shower came and drove us both home. Another tropical wave is coming over us, so some showers will be around I guess. Still, in tonight's cloudy sky, I can see a few stars. Mostly in the western sky. I hope you can see them too. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 31, 2002.

Halloween. We had lots or rain in the night. Thunder and lightning included. There is water standing everywhere and the ground is so water logged that the crabs have to come up out of their holes to catch some air. Now, these crabs are a real nuisance in that they dig lots of holes in my yard and they eat the roots of my plants which kill the plant. Everyone on the island who has a yard has the same problem with these guys. I took advantage of the water driving them topside and shot three of them with my trusty pellet rifle. That was the highlight of the day. It thundered this morning for awhile and rained off and on all day. The breeze has been real strong and steady. There were lots of school kids out with costumes on today and tonight. Bob the Builder was a popular choice as was the devil, ghosts and mummy's.

The night brings a certain tone upon our isla bonita. It feels like a sense of survival has fallen over the populace of San Pedro. The recent traffic accident fatality, the slowest slow season in many years, the uncertainty about the upcoming season and the uncertainty in the U. S. and in the world in general, all may be accumulating in people's minds. My only response to this is to be patient. Good fortune follows bad as sure as the sun will shine after the storm. While waiting, do nothing that will impede the incoming flow of goodness when it comes. Know the good is coming and you will make it so, expect something bad and you will make it so. I am going out to the beach where I will practice walking but leaving no footprints in the sand. How can that be? Come on down and find out! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 2, 2002.

Bad news from the coconut telegraph this morning. Someone broke into a mans house to steal money and beat the man to death with a crow bar. The info seems to indicate that a local business had a large sum of cash stored in a safe, at the victims' residence. Apparently the thieves/murderers found out about it. Rumor also has it that the crooks were hired by a relative of the victim who knew the cash was secretly stashed there. A tragedy. It seems crime can not be escaped, even here in our little paradise.

A squall has just come up. The day has been hot and sunny until about now which is 2ish in the afternoon. I love these squalls when they just pop up like today. The sky gets suddenly dark out over the sea. The air gets cool and you feel a sudden rush as the much cooler air at the front of the squall rolls in. You can see the darkness of the rain over the sea as it sweeps towards the shoreline. Quickly and savagely the winds swirl over us and then the rain pours from the sky. The sea gets a foamy carpet all along its surface and the waves grow larger. Then as suddenly as it came, it is gone. Its fury dissipated for a while as it passes over our le island and out to sea again. Will it re-awaken and drop more rain and wind on someone else? I think so. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 3, 2002.

Sunday morning. I got up early this morning, sleepless night. My reward for this early rising is a beautiful cool morning in paradise. The sea has flattened out and although not like glass is much less choppy than it has been. The foamy line along the reef is still there, but not quite as wide looking. I saw a hummingbird in one of my banana trees. So pretty, I don't know what kind it was. There are several pages of pictures of all the hummingbirds in Belize in my bird book, so many that for an amateur birder like me, it is very difficult to tell what kind of hummingbirds I see. I am satisfied just to see them and admire their grace and beauty. As of late, I have also seen the following birds here on the Caye in and around my yard: Flycatcher, Brown Headed Blackbird, Dove, Melodious Blackbird, Vireo, White Ibis, Herons, several types of Cranes, ducks and other exotic birds I can not name. If you like bird watching, amateur or pro, you will enjoy Ambergris Caye. Don't forget to bring your Bird Book and a small pair of binoculars. Your reward will be quietly pleasing. After I cooked up some broth to make conch chowder out of later, I went for a refreshing swim in the sea. What a great morning it has been.

The sea was a beautiful shade of blue today. It is always mesmerizing to look at the beauty of the sea, but today, like many days, it was a special shade of blue. When it looks like it did today, I can't help but think about a pair of beautiful blue eyes I know. Funny how the two connect for me.

I sat on the beach with a couple of friends this evening until about sunset. We just talked and laughed about mostly nothing. All the while the Frigate Birds circled overhead, looking like a bomber squadron as they patrolled the shores of our island. One of our neighbors had a le too much to drink today and we watched him stagger around for awhile. It was a beautiful sunset. Not long after dark a deluge of rain came through and sent everyone scurrying for cover. It has passed and leaves us another magical night. For all of you, I wish a peaceful feeling, like mine. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 4, 2002.

"The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful"_ J.B. A perfect day of weather. The sea is slight and great for anything in or on the sea. Good news! Tourists are starting to trickle into San Pedro. I can't describe how dependent this Island is on tourism. The days of fish and coco's for a living are gone for sure.

The work on my boat is coming along well. The bottom is all sanded and filled and glassed with a first coat of Gluvitz. Some sanding and another coat of Gluvitz (a sealer) and it is ready to paint. Still have the new name to paint on and the inside to paint. A few more days before I can take her on the sea, I am anxiously waiting.

I had a real nice salad for lunch at The Blue Water Grill. The Blue Water Grill is located on the beach at the Sunbreeze Hotel. Right on the beach, good food, good drinks, moderate to higher price. I like it and it is worth your time to check it. Also the Sunbreeze Hotel is mid-range ($100.00ish/U.S./night high season), great central location, fair beach, pool, rooms with a/c, T.V. and phone. A lot of divers stay there to be close to the dive shops. Cost less in the slow season of course.

A man from the bush came to my gate and hailed me this afternoon. He had something to show me he said. Almost everyday, someone tries to sell me something unusual. I went down stairs and let him in. He had an old folding carry on luggage bag with the skin of a Jaguar inside. He wanted $200.00 for it. I looked and politely passed as I don't want to support the trade. Just another day in San Pedro. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 5, 2002.

I tried to buy a certain kind of lime in town. It is called the Caye lime or local lime and is smaller than the other kind of lime you will find for sale here in San Pedro. The key lime actually has more juice and it marinates much better. No one had any so I came home and thought to myself; I sure need some Caye limes. About an hour later I heard someone ringing a bell, the kind of bell that street vendors use around here. I looked down from my window and saw a man coming up the street riding one of the tri-cycles with a small truck like bed in the front full of something. He waved at me and I asked him what he was selling? "De local lime, mon". They were 8/$1.00/BZ. I bought 4 dollars worth. Now, I thought; all I needed was some fresh something from the sea to marinate in the lime juice. Conch or Lobster cerviche? Cubera Snapper or Hogfish? Slight problem being my boat is still up on the beach (finished painting the bottom today) and I am grounded for a few more days.

About sunset, I went down to the waters edge to see how the bottom paint was drying on my boat. As I got there I noticed a friend of mine bringing his le skiff to my dock. He gave me a wave to come out, so I did. He had been fishing and diving and had some fresh lobster tails and Boneyfish fillets for me.

There is no doubt that we all create our own realities in our lives. Consciously or sub-consciously we are doing it. So wherever you are and whatever you are doing at this moment is the result of your own intentions manifesting in the universe as your life.

I fixed a great dinner at home. I steamed some local veggies (cho cho, acorn squash and carrot) and I cooked my fresh Boneyfish fillets in a Creole sauce. I started the fish with a light touch of olive oil and then in a local lime juice marinate. I heated up a skillet and placed the fillets in the pan. I let them cook for just a minute and turned them over. I added some chopped onion, sweet pepper, cilantro and fresh basil to the fish. I added the rest of the marinate juice and a salsa I prepared earlier, which was more of the marinate, plus chopped tomatoes and a small amount of habanera pepper. All this I simmered for a few minutes on low heat until just flaky. It was so good.

I went out to catch some live music at Sharks Bar. I guess I was early cause no music. Saw some great stars from their dock around the shark pen. Met a couple from Wisconsin, here on their honeymoon. They came to San Pedro for 4 days, and then are going to San Juan (Puerto Rico) for 2 days, then taking a cruise around the Caribbean for a week and then winding up at St. Johns (Virgin Islands) for a few days. Nice couple in their mid 30's I guess. We talked a bit and I answered a few questions. The one that got me was "What about the streets? Are we safe here?" When you just arrive for the first time, it can be daunting and overwhelming. Perfectly natural. My answer, "Yes you are safe. But like everywhere in the world use your common sense." I shared a few tips for dining and snorkeling, took the last sip from by bottle of Beliken and wished them a wonderful vacation. I swung by Fido's looking for some action, but dead there too. "Cut my heal had to cruise on back home_"  Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 6, 2002.

After a beautiful, slightly warm day, I got rinsed off and went to dinner at Ramon's. Ramon's is one of the nicest and most popular spots in San Pedro. The Resort is expensive but first class for Belize. Great beach, pool, bar, diving, and really good restaurant. I had a good dinner and enjoyed the setting. There were two large groups of American tourist staying there and dinning at the same time I was. I had the special of the night, grilled shrimp in garlic and wine sauce, served with pasta and steamed local vegetables. Cost for dinner per person around $18-20.00 U.S., not including bar.

A night sky full of stars. Gentle breeze blowing my hair. Saturn is hanging low in the western sky. All in life is as it should be, at this moment. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 7, 2002.

A weak cold front is passing over Belize and bringing cloudy skies and cooler temps. Worked around mi casa and had rice and bean delivered from Papi's Diner, (in Boca Del Rio) for lunch. Great rice and bean!

There are a lot of tourists on the island now. Not anywhere near full, but tourist for sure. The moon is new and in the western sky after a scarlet sunset. Another day draws to a close in Paradise.

If you do a good deed and then tell people about it, does it create good karma? If you help a blind person cross a busy street and then tell your friends, was it still a good deed? Good karma? Reap what you so? To know the answer, plant the energy of a good deed in your life by doing something good and don't let any one know about it, or take any credit for it. Be patient and see what happens and how it feels. Also at about the same time, plant the energy of another good deed by doing something good, more or less equal to the first good deed and then tell several people about it and readily accept any credit. Notice how it feels. Now, the important part. Which one was more powerful? Then that's the one to spend the precious moments of your life focused on. Do I see a light? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 8, 2002.

The sea has been very calm all day. The breeze is only slightly blowing. A crescent moon graced the early night sky. Mosquito's were out to play in the light breeze. I went into town for dinner at Celi's Restaurant in the Holiday Hotel. Newly renovated and looking very nice. Still has a sand floor in the outside eating area to enjoy. The tourist count continues to rise, good news for the local economy.

Many of my banana and plantain trees have sprouted fruit in the last few days. Must be due to the days getting shorter. I always dreamed of growing my own bananas, and now I do (picture in attachment Banana). The night sky and the fresh night air are waiting out in my hammock. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 9, 2002.

Is it ok to have a beer, smoke a joint, or take a pill to feel better? Seems like a big question in the world. I don't now the right answer to the question, but I do know that at one time we all knew how to be high and feel great just from the natural energy of life itself. We lost that ability and now we have to peel away layers of old decaying past to get back to a place to know and do what we always knew how to do. I know that in every one of us is the knowledge to live life to its fullest and purest, and feel so good; without any outside stimulants.

So, it is possible. Just needs to be relearned, remembered and it is magic. The highest high. Now, having spouted all that out, let me also say, "Whatever gets you through the night is all right." Life is hard and I try not to judge anyone for their desire to feel better. I am no saint. If it helps you get through the day or the night, right on. Just make note that there is something that feels even better and is obtainable. Now I think I will share a le song I wrote awhile back. I was contemplating the trend in the world to take a pill for every ill and problem. It prompted me to write these lyrics. This song is just for fun and not a judgment about or against anyone. The song can be done country, rock, hip-hop or reggae and consists of two cords on the guitar.

Here's a BONUS FEATURE this issue:


(The Prozac Song) Copyright 2002. Dal E Ha Publishing.
Just give me one more Prozac,
Just give me one more Pill.
I just want to feel all right,
I'm not searching for no thrill.
Doctor said here try these son,
You've got to have a smile when the day is done.
He said take three of these,
And they will set your mind at ease.
Just give me one more Prozac,
Just give me one more pill.
I just want to feel all right,
I'm not searching for no thrill.

A family of four from Canada walked by today and stopped to ask how far it was to "some" restaurant they were going to across the river cut. Of course they were looking for Sweet Basil and I told them they were almost to the ferry now and about a 5 minute walk from there. They just arrived last night from Canada. The father told me they were in a snow storm yesterday and today on a tropical island. They looked hot (it takes time to adjust to the heat). I offered them some cool water. I wonder if they made it to Sweet Basil. Hope so, it would be worth the trip; great lunch spot (they close at 5).

It is a perfect night to cap off another dreamy day on this island. The fat lip of a moon is hanging low in the sky as it slips off, around the world and back again. The breeze is gentle, and caress' my body like a long lost lover's hand, touching all the right spots and leaving my senses at full tilt. Out to sea the waves are breaking and along the shores of Ambergris Caye, the tide is changing. The stars above all twinkle with merriment as they watch the magical night below them unfold. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 10, 2002.

One who knows does not speak.

One who speaks does not know.

The one who knows is the one whose doors are shut,

Whose openings are blocked, whose sharpness

Is blunted, and whose glare is softened.

He is one with the subtle truth of the universe.

Thus you cannot get close to such a person

By your love to do so.

Nor can you keep away from him

By your desire to do so.

You cannot bestow benefit on him,

Nor can you do him harm,

Because he holds the subtle essence of the universe.


Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 11, 2002.

It is a breezy morning. The breeze is from the SE at about 20-25 knots, I estimate. Small white caps inside the reef and some big waves outside in the blue. The reef is full of foam from the waves crashing there. The spray from the waves as they crash down upon the reef is jumping up and dispersing as mist which makes the river of foam look even bigger. I didn't sleep well last night and found myself looking out over the sea at about 5ish this morning. It wasn't sunrise, but the first light of day was bravely streaming into the night sky. The entire sky wasn't getting light yet, just one small narrow band out over the sea. I could see the few wispy clouds skirting away and the light grow as the minutes marched along. A beautiful sight. The yin and yang of insomnia.

The moon is looking like a bowl in the night sky. Wish you could see it from here. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 12, 2002.

I spent my morning running errands, mostly getting supplies for my boat repair. The bottom and sides are all sealed and painted. We turned her back over yesterday and now the inside will get some maintenance and new paint. Then put the engine back on and slip her back into the sea. I am anxious for that. Also I need to find my sign guy and have him come and paint on a new name. This afternoon I went into Belize to meet someone and pick up a couple of things at Brodie's Store. Brodie's sells almost everything including food. They also have a pharmacy; I guess they are like a small version of Wal-Mart. I also went by the Central Bank of Belize and got a permit to buy U.S. Currency. If I sell something here that I bought in the states and I want to replace it or I just have more Belize currency than I want, I can now legally buy the U.S. Dollar from the Bank or from the Casa de Cambio's (the licensed money changers). You have to jump through a couple of hoops, but not to hard to obtain the permit right now. I left San Pedro on the noon flight on Tropic Air and flew to Municipal Airport in Belize City. I flew back to San Pedro on the returning 3:30 Tropic Air flight (flights leave San Pedro every hour on the hour to Municipal and leave Municipal returning to San Pedro every half on the half hour). Both going and returning we stopped off at Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker is the first Caye to the South of Ambergris Caye. We stopped to pick up and deliver a passenger each way and some packages too. The landing brings you in over the sea. As we approached, I noticed three large ships at anchor in the bay on the back side (leeward side) of Caye Caulker. That is a sign of tourism and a good sign. I also spotted a pair of adult Dolphins in the clear sea below; they were close to the North end of the island and on the Leeward side. I have seen dolphins several times while sailing or boating in this area behind Caye Caulker. I have not seen them clearly from the air, until today. If you fly from Municipal to San Pedro, you may make a short stop like I did to let someone or something on or off, the stop is five minutes or less and you don't de-plane. It sort of gives you a bonus really, because you get a better look at the Cayes and the Reef because of the flight path and the lower altitude. Here's a le bit of info that may save you some dough if traveling in Belize. Yes, I know you seasoned Belize vets know about this, but lots of people don't. It is about half the price to fly from Municipal Airport (in Belize City) to San Pedro, than it is to fly from the International Airport (where you arrive into the country, and about 16 miles from Belize City) to San Pedro. Now, the slight catch is the taxi ride from the International to Municipal will cost you. It isn't really worth the hassle and time for just one person or two even, but three or more, it can save you some money. It could save you around $35.00/U.S. each, minus the cost of the cab. I haven't done it for a while, but I estimate the cab at $30-50 Belize, depending on the number of people. This option will also take you an hour or two longer, but if you are economy minded, worth knowing. If you just want to get there and don't really care about the money, then don't consider this option. Also, if you are taking day or overnight trips which require travel back and forth from San Pedro to the Mainland, the same applies. Cost less to fly into Municipal. There are taxi's there and rental car companies and tour operators will gladly meet you there.

I went out this evening for awhile. I saw Ramon Nunez standing under his house talking to someone. He looked like he was doing well. Many people get to know Ramon from Ramon's Village, one of the more popular Resorts here. I heard from a friend who works there, that they have been full for two weeks now. This night is just another one of those lazy, hypnotic, magical, tropical nights. The moon has been high in the sky since before sunset and gives a glowing face to everything around. There are a few cotton ball clouds that float across the half empty moon and for brief moments it gets dark; and you can almost hear the earth breathe.

We enter the final week before the full moon. Wishing all the best to you. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 13, 2002.

A big rain storm came through this afternoon around three. I think it sucked all of the breeze away when it left because it is very calm and hot. More squalls out to sea though. Not much going on. I see increasing numbers of tourist in San Pedro.

Just to keep the perspective about life, grass is always greener, etc., let me tell you something I am wanting, but can't get here in San Pedro. The new Santana CD (Shaman, I think the name) was released earlier this month and I would so love a copy. There is nowhere to buy the newest CD's at, although lots of places to buy CD's. I imagine by now, a bootleg copy has made its way down here and as much as I hate to, I will surely find myself buying a copy if ones floats by. Next time you run by Best Buy, Border's, C.D. Warehouse or Wal-Mart to pick up a CD, appreciate it. It is a luxury and remember; Paradise is a relative term.

I boiled some lobster tails and spooned on some melted butter and seasoning for dinner. I fixed white rice and fried plantain to go with and tossed in some green beans for good measure. I love plantain. It has to be fixed right and be at the right point of ripeness to cook up well. When they are, they are real sweet and tasty. A feast of the God's, yet so simple. The night sky filled with clouds and no stars or the moon can be seen. Some hard rain and wind is hanging around the area. The sky will flicker with an occasional hit of lightning and then a few seconds later, the low rumble of thunder echoes across the sea. I can only watch, listen and contemplate. What about you? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 14, 2002.

It rained off and on all night and the early dawn hours brought the low rumble of thunder, like God was up early and bowling. Along with the thunder came strong North winds and driving rain showers. What a great morning to stay in bed. The winds don't blow from the North very often, unless a cold front is coming from the North like now. The streets and yards are all full of water; the sand is already full like a sponge in a bucket.

I was just struck by the things I need everyday. It seems that life can get complicated and all I really need every day are these things.

Gaze at the Sea.

Walk on the beach.

Play my guitar.

Swim in the sea.

Do nothing bad.

Help someone.

Stay unattached.

Made some lobster chowder for lunch. Had it with white rice on the side and some garlic bread. The garlic bread I picked up from La Popular Bakery which is just about four doors down from me. It always smells so good when they are baking and they make great treats. I have to be careful or I will be in there too much!

A deluge of rain has been pouring from the sky for several hours, since about dark I guess. Virtually the entire island is suffering from minor flooding. The water can not run away fast enough and is left standing. My windows shuttered from the thunder as the mighty storm started its journey over us. The rain is hard driving and in sheets, like you might expect rain to be like in the tropics. What a coincidence. No stars, no moon, no anyone on the streets. My widows are closed to the rain and the water beats down on the ground even harder. A dark night. Suits my mood. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 15, 2002.

Including tonight, just six nights until the full moon. Lunar madness. I can feel the forces pulling and tugging at earth and everything upon it, including myself and all living beings. These days before the event are the strongest and most challenging. Our morning had rain and then clearing with the sun shining bright. There are some thundershowers around so we may get even more rain. I don't mind, I like thunderstorms. I just hope the clouds part for awhile tonight to reveal the mystery and beauty of the moon.

My boat is ready to push back in the water; we put the engine back on this morning. I still need a name painted on. I went to find my painter friend yesterday, but he has moved. A neighbor told me he thought he was working on something at Victoria. So, late this morning I took a ride down south to Victoria House Resort. He wasn't around there and I checked at the places next door also and no luck. The road was real bad, bumpy and full of pot holes from the heavy rains lately. Victoria House sure is a pretty spot. A creamy beach and lots of comfort with a great restaurant, bar and pool. The grounds are nicely landscaped and a treat by themselves.

The sun was out all day today after the showers this morning. The night sky is clear and the moon was visible high in the Eastern horizon before the sun went down. It is a force in the universe. It is sending us a message. Can you read it? The stars are about as good as they get tonight also. The light of the moon keeps a few hidden, but there are some so close you think you can reach out and touch them. Thank you, oh subtle natural way of the universe. I am your humble servant, and you; a kind master. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 16, 2002.

Life changing events. Things that happen, that literally change your life. Today is an anniversary of one for me. I guess life changing events can be either good or bad. Which it becomes, is much up to the individual I think. Sometimes what seems like something bad, can turn out to have been something good cloaked in one of those disguises that life puts on important things. I will have to focus much harder than normal to live this day and do nothing bad and make it a good day. Time is an impartial force and it makes you survive and go on, rather you want to or not. You may not be the same, in fact you can't ever be the same, but you go on in a different form of who you are. That realization is new to me, although a friend told me much the same thing over a year ago. Wisdom is elusive and only shows itself when it is ready.

To help me in my quest, the subtle natural way of the universe has laid a most beautiful day at my feet. For this I am grateful and I recognize my obligation to make the most of the gift. Living in paradise has its advantages for sure.

I went to some apartments called Melrose Place because they were having a sale. I bought a new tong for my kitchen. On the way, a lady was selling some beautiful Orchids along the street. I stopped and couldn't resist buying a purple one. She also had white Orchids and they were very splendid too. My only previous experience with Orchids would be in a corsage and that was many years ago. I think I will learn how to care for one now. Sunny sky and light breeze, it's a postcard kind of day in paradise.

The last faint light of day is just a wisp in the low horizon. The breeze is very calm and the mosquito's are out. The moon is nearly full, but is obscured by a low hanging bank of clouds. I could see it earlier about an hour before sunset. We had some rain come in the mid afternoon. A rather quiet Saturday on the island. Oh yea, I decided to name my boat: Baby Blue.

As another cold front passes over us from the North, the wind has changed to the North and is gusting at 30-40 mph I estimate. It is blowing the heck out of my Banana trees. No visible moon due to the clouds. This island is so full of magic. Wish I could reach out and share it with you. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 17, 2002.

The banana winds blew out finally this morning. We had a sunny day. The temperature was a freezing 77' F. according to my thermometer. That is low for here and had many people grabbing jackets and long pants. The moon rose a couple of hours before sunset and is visible in the evening sky.

Boca Del Rio Park
I noticed several groups of tourist came down to the Boca Del Rio Park today and laid out their towels on the sugary sand and spent the afternoon. The beach at the park is a good one. You can wade out a long ways from shore and swim there too. Oscars Gym is right close by and you can grab a cold soft drink or water. To get to the Boca Del Rio Park, just follow the beach all the way to the river cut. Last year they shot a swimsuit catalog there, so you know it looks good. Here's a picture of Ocean Street-Boca Del Rio.

Starry night and moon so bright. Very calm breeze. The power of this night is overwhelming and I long to drink it all in. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 18, 2002.

My how the days pass so quickly in total, but so slowly in singularity. For the second time in about a week, great swarms of Dragonfly's have ascended on our island. They are everywhere flying in by the millions I would guess. Must be something about this time of year? I don't know why they are here, but I have never seen them here before. The day has been cool as the cold front has settled in over Belize. Temps are in the mid 70's, which does seem cold compared to normal. The moon is near full and you can feel the influence on our Earth. Calm seas, although I haven't seen anyone out. It would be ok in the water because it is the same temperature as usual, but when you got out it would be cold. The sun hasn't been out either, so cool air, breeze and no sun insure a cold day on the water. I got the name painted on my boat and am waiting for high tide now to push it back into the sea.

There is a once in a life time meteor shower tonight. Something like 5,000 shooting stars an hour. At about 10 o'clock tonight we have complete cloud cover and no stars, or the sky for that matter can be seen. The breeze is very calm also which makes me think the clouds won't be moving to fast. The moon is concealed behind the dense low hanging clouds, but still manages to light up the night. I went out to the end of the dock in front of the Hotel Del Rio and laid there to watch for the meteor shower. I didn't see anything. The tide was low and the sea was like a mirror, smooth and reflecting everything in its eye. It was quiet and I could hear the murmur of the waves as they crossed over the Staghorn and Brain Coral Reef and quickly died away. I will be up tonight, so I will be checking again for visibility. If I don't get to see it, I will hope you did. It will happen again in about 97 years, so not to worry.

Of note today: I noticed a very large white looking bird across from my house sitting on a light pole. I got out my binoculars and got a good look. At first I thought it was a young Eagle, but after looking at it for a while and looking in my bird book, I decided it was an immature Grey Kite. It was all white except for the wings and a band across its eyes were black. It had a hooked beak and large talon like claws. I didn't get a perfect look at the tail, but I am sure it was a kite, an immature one. It was a big bird for sure. I wondered if it had gotten blown off course or something because I have not seen one on the island before. A sign from the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 19, 2002.

A cool Garifuna Settlement Day. Garifuna Settlement Day is kind of like July 4th in the states, maybe not as big. Many businesses are closed, except the tourist related ones of course. I only saw one shooting star last night from the meteor shower because the clouds never left. They are still here today.

The cool weather prompted me to make some chili, American style of course. During winters in the Mid-West, chili was just the thing. It's not often here in the tropics that you find `chili' weather. The night sky is still obscured by clouds. I know the moon is up there though, I can feel it.

Just around the corner from my house a real slice of Belizean life is going on. At the midway point in the block there is a street light. Below in the narrow sand street four young children are playing marbles. They are all about 7-10 years old. They each have a different skin tone, symbolic of the diversity of people in Belize. They laugh and poke fun at each other and occasionally they all roar up when one of them hits a good shot. The biggest concern in their young Belizean lives is to watch out for the mud holes while they play marbles. That's as real as life gets, anywhere. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 20, 2002.

We remain under a cold front with cloudy skies and cool temperatures. The night is full of steady, soaking rain. A fitting night for the full moon. So, until the next fit of lunacy comes around, my fellow children of the universe; Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

I want to wish a safe and happy holiday season to all you fellow children of the universe.  ---Reef Ransom.

We are travels on a cosmic journey ­ stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. But the expressions of life are ephemeral, momentary, transient. Guatama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, once said,

This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds.
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking
at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.

We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then this moment will have been worthwhile.

        Deepak Chopra

November 23, 2002.

From my back veranda I look at the river behind, which is about 75 feet away. All the boats coming and going from front to back and back to front, pass by here on the river.  This beautiful morning, there is a local sailboat tied up to shore. They are unloading fresh green thatch from the jungle. This palmetto leaf is what you will see on the roofs of many houses and resortís in Belize. They work real well when installed properly. They must also only be cut in the 3-5 days before and after the full moon or they will not last. So, someone is getting a new roof in San Pedro.

Sunny and cool weather today.

At the sunset of a perfect day, the sky is ribbed with fiery crimson clouds. The sea lays still and so flat you can barely make out the reef. Stars are starting to pop out and life on this island and this Earth carries on. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 24, 2002.

He went to Belize, searching for answers to questions that bothered him soÖ I guess I like to use lines from Jimmy Buffett songs as metaphors for life. I often tweak them just a little to fit the current situation. If you are a hardcore Buffett fan, not just Margaritaville, Come Monday and Changes in Latitudes, but a true Parrot Head; then you know that the songs tell stories and for me they tell relevant stories. So, I had a great need to put Jimmy on the CD player this morning. Living my life like a songÖ

The morning started out cool and cloudy, 76í at about 9:30. The sea remains calm.

The clouds gave way to the sun and it was a pretty day with a high of about 82í. The night sky is dark and full of stars. The tourist count has risen again as of this weekend. All the most popular spots, bars, restaurants and resorts are starting to get some small crowds. Nowhere is full up yet. It is a quiet Sunday night on this spit of sand in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, in the middle of this universe. I relish the moment. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 25, 2002.

The sky is partly cloudy and the sea gentle as another day begins.

The weather changed to the North this afternoon and the sea picked up a bit. About an hour before sunset the sky grew dark and we had a heavy rainstorm pass through. It seems to have cleared out now around 9ish and I can see the heavenly planets and Orionís belt high overhead. I was surprised today as I heard rumblings of too few of tourists on the island. Several places and people told me in their own ways that they were hurting for business. Money is tight among the working class of San Pedro. The magic potion is a good dose of tourism.

I paid bills, swung in my hammock, walked on the beach and played my guitar today. Not much happened. That happens a lot here. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 26, 2002.

I went fishing today with my good friend of twenty years Fido Badillo. We caught more fish than I could keep count of. Mostly red and black snappers, with a few yellowtails mixed in. A few of them were what the old country boy in me would call hawgs. We only spent about 3 hours out on the sea but caught all the fish we wanted to. Yes we eat everything we keep. The weather changed while we were out there and we found ourselves fishing in a driving rain. We just ducked under the bimini top and kept on fishing. I caught one of those hawgs during a driving rain. The rain came so hard we couldnít see the shore for a while. Fresh fish for dinner tonight boy.

Fido Badillo is a born San Pedrano and can share San Pedro and Belize with you as well as anybody around. Fido is what I call a true Belizean Character, meaning he may surprise you at any minute with one of his funny sayings or he may burst into a Jamaican accent so thick you will think he come from Spanish Town or Port Royal. He will entertain for sure. When it comes to fishing, snorkeling or anything else on the sea; he is the best. He knows all the good spots and lots of cool things about them. Fido also makes the best Conch Cerviche on earth. His house is on the beach about a half block south of the park in Boca Del Rio. You can arrange adventures on the sea at 501-608-2630.

Windy and rainy night. I can make out a few stars between clouds. I went for a walk on the beach around 8. The rhythm is so soothing. I got a gift from the sea. Something is always floating up around here. Tonight it was a round buoy on a long rope and I brought it home and placed it with my other nautical treasures. I humbly accept the gift from the sea. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 27, 2002.

The sea is more turquoise than blue today. It has a slight chop with very small white caps inside. Outside maybe 5-6 foot waves that are breaking hard on the reef. You can see the white foamy moustache real well today.

I had pizza from The Blue Water Grill tonight. I like their Hawaiian pizza, ham, cheese and pineapple. Later I was talking with a friend of mine and found something she said of interest in reference to life in San Pedro. I wonít mention her name. My friend is 24, she is really pretty, well educated and has traveled around the world quite a bit. She owns a business in San Pedro. I ask her how she liked having a business in San Pedro after a year at it. She said she liked it and she had put getting her Masters off to stay here longer. She said she was having fun. The only thing she didnít like was no social life in San Pedro.

A few stars in the night sky but mostly clouds. A hard short rain came around 8:30. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 28, 2002.

It is a cloudy morning with strong winds from the North. The sea is fairly calm and running to the south. The filtered sunlight is glistening on the surface of the majestic Caribbean Sea. I take a while to wake up and get going in the morning. I really hate to admit it, but I am a willing slave to a pretty set morning routine. If you catch me before at least midway, then I am not quite in sync yet.

I heard someone hail me from outside my gate this morning. I was about half way through my wake up routine. It was a Belizean guy I know named Dennis.. I just met Dennis about 10 days ago. He just sort of drifted in with the tide like a lot of things and people do here. He is a manual laborer and unemployed. All three things, the drifting in, the laborer and unemployed are common conditions in San Pedro. This morning he was asking for a job and telling me he didnít have anything to eat and couldnít find a job. He was asking for a job, but I didnít have a job right now. I told him and he just stood there at the gate. The hustlers in San Pedro do this and they are real good at it. For a moment I considered giving him some money and hoping to get him to work it off later, remember I was only half awake. Fortunately I caught myself and didnít even mention giving him any money. We Gringos have such a built in need to fix the world by throwing money at it that we are easy targets for these guys that hustle for a living. A lot of the time it isnít even perceived as wrong to con a few dollars from a Gringo or even to steal something from them. The reason is: all Gringosí are rich anyway.

Now, here is the real dilemma. What if Dennis was telling the truth? I had no way to know if he had been up all night smoking crack and was looking for another hit or really needed food. I even wondered if someone else I know who tries to hustle me quite often hadnít sent him. My solution was that I gave him a banana and an Orange to eat.

You have to be aware at all times here in paradise or you will get hustled by someone. I only mention it because it is part of the less rosy tinted, real San Pedro. Personally I like it because it keeps me on the edge and therefore clear in my actions. The entire world is full of hustlers of many types. Here, their existence is much more visible and therefore just part of the charm.

If you are not aware, then the strong currents that come from the energies of life will carry you away and you will wind up wherever they deposit you. Who is more aware than a woman teetering atop a cliff with a drop below of 10,000 feet? Everything serves a purpose in life. Everything.

It is Thanksgiving Day. Belize doesnít officially recognize Thanksgiving Day as a holiday. There are so many Americans living and visiting here though, that all the restaurants serve American style Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings. No businessí close for the day, life as usual just turkey for dinner.

I tended my flowers and did some very light maintenance work around mi casa. The hammock sucked me in for awhile this afternoon and I played my guitar off and on all day. I thought about Dennis and put him to work for half the day. My first instinct about him was he was all right. I donít mind taking a chance on him.

The wind is from the North and every so often letís lose with a good gust of north air. It sounds like a cold winter night in Kansas or Minnesota but it isnít. It isnít even close. The night sky is clear and full of stars to gaze upon. I think Iíll go walk the beach, give thanks and count my lucky stars. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 29, 2002.

I donít let go of things easily. I rarely latch on to anything or anyone. A person, a cause, an injustice or love; they all pass me by. When one does catch me up in its snare, I donít let go, even if I sometimes want to. I think it is because I understand how precious and rare it is to find a person, a cause, an injustice or a love that is pure and true. Because of this, I pick carefully and I pick for all time.

Some light rain in our early morning hours has given way to the sun. Looks like another perfect day in Paradise. Calm seas. Life is calling me out this morning, so I go and see what she wants.

It is night and darkness is all around. I stand at the end of my dock and listen to the waves as they lap against the dock, the shore and my boat. In the very low eastern sky I make out Orionís belt as it rises to its glory. I tell myself that another very bright star with a red tint is really the planet Mars. A strong north wind blows my hair in my eyes and I turn my face directly into the wind to blow my hair back, away from my face. Right here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 1, 2002.

I saw another (or maybe the same one) Kite yesterday. It landed on the same utility pole and hung out there for awhile. If youíve never seen a Kite, they look a lot like Bald Eagles. Itís a beauty of a morning in Paradise with a sunny sky, gentle North breeze and calm enchantingly blue seas.

Yesterday was the last official day of Hurricane season. Belize can let out a sigh of relieve. Of course next years season is just around the corner.

Last night (Saturday night), I went to town. My first stop was the Palace Casino. That was a mistake. My second stop (and last) was at Fidoís Courtyard. The Category 7 band was playing and they are really good. I was surprised to find, under the new giant thatched roof palapa a crowd of maybe 150 people inside Fidoís. The place was rocking. I could smell the sweat and alcohol as I passed my way through the pack up bar. I enjoyed watching the tourist as they let loose and cut some very mean rugs. If their office could only see them now. I was surprised when I got to Fidoís because they had a $5.00 cover charge at the gate. "When did that start?" I asked. "Last week." the guy tell me. He said it was because of the great band. He was right. They are worth the money. Of course I didnít have to pay. I love this country. The scene was typical Saturday night bar activities. Fidoís is also a favorite of locals. Many arrived later after they closed their business or finished work.

I went up around Buena Vista to dive for Conch. I left home about 10 and filled my dive bag twice with nice big Conch and was back at the dock by 12:30. I still have a hard time adjusting to being right in the middle of a true edition of National Geographic. What I mean by that is that everywhere all around me, there are incredible beautiful pieces of nature. I donít have to go far at all to be left in awe of the natural beauty. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 2, 2002.

I decide to take Baby Blue out this morning and headed all the way up North to Rocky Point. That is the place about 15 or so miles North of San Pedro where the reef and the island actually meet. The reef is about a half mile or so from the shores of Ambergris Caye everywhere else. I have wanted to go to Rocky Point for over 20 years now. It had always seemed like a real far trip and I had been all along the coast north about half way to Rocky Point but never all the way. It was definitely worth the trip, which wasnít bad at all. Great coral and lots of big fish. Pristine white beach and the prettiest color of blue you can imagine in the color of the sea. I dove for Conch and came back with some real big and beautiful shells, the kind of shells that shops love to have to sell to tourist. Not these though. These I will keep and give to special people in my life. I went outside the reef at Rocky Point and trolled back for some fish. No luck there. I didnít mind because I was so happy and felt so incredibly lucky just to be there. Check it out sometime if you get the chance.

The stars are so close tonight I can reach out and feel their warmth on my hands. Surely if there is a heaven, it must look like this. Wish I could share it with you. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 3, 2002.

It was a quiet day. I had lunch with some friends at Elviís. The sea was a little rougher today than it has been. Not many tourists around town and businessí are complaining.

The night started off starry and then from seemingly nowhere, a really great rain has settled in. I love rainy nights like this one. I put some Art Tatum on the stereo and just chilled out to the max. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 4, 2002.

The sun is setting on our tiny island in the Caribbean Sea. The day has been partly sunny and partly rainy. As the sun is setting a big squall has come in from the sea and brought a stiff wind from the north. The sea is all foamy inside and big waves are crashing out on the reef. The sky has an unusual cast to it as the darkness of the squall mixes with the muted colors of sunset and they both mix with the darkness of nightfall. I am enjoying the rain. Moments to reflect on life are precious and I see it as a gift.

The beer is too cold, the Daiquiris too fruitifulÖ I think Iíll go out and play tonight. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 7, 2002.

The purple Orchid I bought last month continues to flower and all the beautiful orchids, six in all it made, are still looking like new. The blooms look like they must last a long time. The tourist count is still low. I sense a bogged down feeling on the island. The dollars arenít trickling down to too many people right now. There are enough tourists visiting that maybe one or two of they main restaurants get almost full each night, but there are lots of restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators and gift shops. A big pie, lots of fingers. Not much going on really. I got a traffic ticket in my golf cart. No it wasnít for speeding. They like to put up little road blocks here in San Pedro now and check for valid drivers license, vehicle license and insurance coverage. Oh yes, even a golf cart must have insurance here in San Pedro. The insurance doesnít cover anything, but that isnít really important down here. My vehicle license expired at the end of November and thatís why I got a ticket. There is no system to remind you that your "tag" is due and I simply just didnít know/forgot. I did the same thing last year and they just let me go the next day and get one. This time there were lots of official people around and they couldnít just give me a pass, as they say here. The fine was $25.00/Bze and I paid it and got my tag renewal, which was $62.50/Bze for the year. San Pedro has gotten like America and this is just one example. Traffic stops to check Golf Carts? Come on, I say; give me a break. The first time I went through one of the stops a couple of years ago, I really howled about it. Our quiet, do as you want, donít bother anyone island was gone. Now I just smile and talk with the officer, I know most of them well. I guess I had the ticket coming, next year will I remember? Probably not, but maybe Iíll get a pass.

I walked to the end of my dock tonight. The tide was out so the water was low and it was very calm too. It had some small ripples on the surface almost like a small pond might have on a windy day. Above me in the night sky, I could make out the dark forms of clouds as they covered most of the night sky. A sliver of a new moon slipped in and out of sight as I scanned the night sky for stars. There were only three stars I could see through the dark clouds. That made me smile because they were my lucky stars and I stopped the world for a minute and thanked them. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 8, 2002.

The morning started off rainy and very hazy looking out to sea. Another cold front over us, which means rain, scattered sunshine and temps in the 70ís during the day. Yesterday it did feel cold and I put on shorts and a t-shirt right away when I got out of bed. I laughed out loud though when I looked across the street at my neighborís yard and saw their dogs, not one, but two dogs with a shirt on. It was slipped over their heads and their front legs went through the arm holes, kinda like you might see on dogs in a city where it snows a lot.

I put on my rain gear and went to the store. I am making some fish soup and needed a few things. As I drove over the potholed sandy streets, water splattered everywhere. Few people were out but those that I saw all had their raincoats on. The le shops along the way were mostly empty, although open. Inside the owner or maybe the ownerís son or daughter or wife sat watching T.V. as the rain came down. Life was still going on, but at a slower pace. It was a great ride in the rain and I humbly thank the subtle natural way of the universe for sharing it with me.

The sun came out for the day at about 11ish. This cold front kept the temperature at 80í or below all day. Calm seas around us. I made my fish soup. I started with a homemade chicken broth (chicken parts boiled with onion, garlic, pepper, celery and seasoning, m/l, remove parts for broth).. I took about a teaspoon of olive oil and heated it up in a skillet. I placed the Snapper fillets I had in the skillet and squeezed the juice from a caye lime on them. I seasoned them with some Tony Chachereís Original Creole Seasoning (a habit I picked up from my good buddy Mikey and our days spent haunting the French Quarter, I bring it down from the states) and lightly browned them on both sides. I chopped the cooked fish into small pieces and added it to the broth. Then I added in big bite size cut up pieces: white potato, green pepper, garlic cloves, carrot, small acorn squash, a cho cho and plantain. Into that I squeezed another caye lime, added more Tonyís and simmered it robustly for about an hour and then gently for another hour. I added coconut milk to the last hour of simmering. How much of all the ingredients isnít so important, the bigger the pot, the more ingredients. It turned out quite nice, this fish soup. A creamy rich texture mixed with a chicken noodle kind of broth gone Caribbean and of course, not at all fishy tasting. Habanero sauce, optional. Wish I could share it with you tonight.. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 10, 2002.

Cabin fever. Everyone has heard that expression; some folks might be feeling it right now up north in Oregon or Kansas or Alaska. Here on the island you can develop Island Fever, sort of cabin fever in a convex sort of way. You get it when you havenít been off island for a while. Even paradise can become to familiar and too much the norm, not to mention the seemingly innate desire for civilization and its amenities. For me, that meant a trip to Belize (Belize City, here the localís just say Belize) and a stop at the Princess Hotel and Casino. I flew over on Maya Island air on one of their new planes. We stopped at Caye Chappell (the privately owned second island south that is a golf course) and let some visitors off and then on to Municipal airport. A short taxi ride and I checked in and started to have some fun. The gambling was costly, the food not that good, but the break away from the island was just right. The Casino has a nightly dance revue and the ladies that dance are all from Russia and quite beautiful. I had no idea Russian women came in all hair colors like red, blonde and purple and some with such pretty blue eyes. Most are Clairol girls, though.

I awoke this morning with that tired feeling you get from having too much fun the night before. You feel kind of bad, but the smile on your face makes it all ok. I went down to the restaurant and had some coffee to wake up. After that I went back up and took a shower and then back down to have my breakfast. While I was eating, the Russian dancers all came in for their breakfast. I chatted with two nice people I met the night before who were from the states and worked in security for the FAA. They were headed back to Miami today as their job was done in Belize. I finished my breakfast and walked over to the table the dancers were at. I complimented them on their performance last night and invited them all out to the island for a le holiday. I felt it was my duty.

I caught a flight on Tropic back home about mid-morning. Saw a turtle and two manta rays in the sea on the flight home. I am back in paradise.

The day has been overcast but dry as another cold front slides on down. The sea and the breeze are calm, calm, calm. My golf cart hit a big hole yesterday before I went to Belize and broke one of my springs. To make a sad story short, I had to replace the springs on both sides and the shocks and a couple of other things that were rusted away. This island is hard on everything, animate or inanimate. Lots of salt and rough roads. The cost? Parts were $450.00/BZ and labor will be maybe another $100.00, heís working on it now.

The night sky is clear to the east with Orionís Belt clear and seeming close enough to touch. About high noon is a beautiful half moon and the sea is so calm that the sound from the reef is just a whispered murmur. Outside in the blue I can see a cruise ship heading north, probably to Cozumel or Cancun.. They were in Belize today I think. Even way out to sea, and this isnít the biggest cruise ship, the light at night makeís it look like a floating city. I love ships at sea. I went to town for dinner and it is very deserted feeling. I told some friends it was scary for the town to be so empty of visitors on December 10th. What if no one comes? Of course tourists will come, but they need to come in normal sufficient quantities to revive the local economy, which is certainly in intensive care if nothing else. One of my friends who is a waitress at Elviís is having a birthday today and plans to go to Sharks bar after work to celebrate. She invited me to come down; a Punta band will be playing. Dare I go after my big night in Belize? Recovery time grows longer with age. StillÖ Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 11, 2002.

I can feel the force of the moon as it gets close to full and exerts its natural pull on earth and other heavenly bodies. If you think about it you can almost picture in your minds eye the fantastic forces of the entire universe at work; all pulling, spinning, metamorphisizing and all doing it in some sort of unison. A controlled continence of ever evolving and expanding energy that makes up everything. Every single thing. Our little full moon cycle is just a grain of sand on Ambergris Caye as it relates to the entire remaining universe.

It is still slow on the island. The night is one of the ones you come here for, perfect temperature and slight steady breeze. As you walk along the beach you will enjoy an arm around you, or youíre arm around someone. The breeze makes it just perfect for some snuggle action by the sea or on your favorite dock. The stars that twinkle so brightly and the golden bowl of a half moon high in the sky become the perfect compliments to this night. May we all awaken tomorrow and treat the day as what it is: magic. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 12, 2002.

Another year nearly spent, wonder where the moments went? The sea was frothy today with some small rolling white capped waves inside the reef. The whitish color of the spray at the reef was really a contrast to the blues of the sea. It has been a pretty day. This morning I said hello to a man I have known from one introduction about 2-3 years ago as Mike. I had a very interesting conversation with Mike and found out he was born in Belize. I had always thought him from somewhere north because I only just really remember seeing him here in the last few years. He told me that in the fifties on Ambergris Caye they would catch a hermit crab and tear off a hind leg to use as bait for a snapper. Then they would toss their line in not far off shore and take home a nice big snapper for dinner. Also at that time according to Mike, the beach was much bigger and along where the cemetery is, there was a small path that served as the road and it was lined with coconut trees, all long gone now. It was a fun chat with a nice guy and I learned something. Thanks Mike.

I saw Philippe Paz today walking down Barrier Reef drive (Front Street). Philippe owns Lilyís Hotel where I stayed many times in the 1980ís. He is getting old but still shuffles down the street pretty good. He used to cook a mean shrimp scampi. All the best to you Philippe.

Moonlight on the water. Right here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 13, 2002.

If you look around you will find a lot of oppression in the world and the universe. Sickness, crime, violence, corrupt world leaders, human bondage, and starvation are all elements of oppression. We live with these and many other forms of oppressive actions and energies at all times, they are part of life. In a way all the oppressive energy is like the outside of an inflated balloon. The key for us then, seems to be to keep the inside of the inflated balloon filled with the proper energy. This we can generate through simple good deeds and intentions.

The temperature spiked (I like that word) to 90í at just before the crack of 9 this morning. The breeze was on break and the banana leaves had nothing to dance to. Made for a hot, muggy morning. A burst of cooler air came through about noonish and it helped make a real nice day weather wise. Night has fallen and the sky has lines of broken clouds that skirt over the half moon which is high in the sky. The stars are visible and the sea is quiet. The breeze is still on break.

I walked along the beach, played my guitar, swam in the sea, swung in my hammock and inserted some good into the universe through my simple actions, and the day slowly slipped by. I am tempted to go out for fun on a Friday night but what happens is; the magic of this island places you in a hypnotic sort of state and the level of bliss is so high, you just want to sit by the sea and let it bathe your soul. Going out is almost going backward. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. And the full moon comethÖRight Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 14, 2002.

About 2 weeks I got a stomach bug and realized I had need of something to kill the damn thing off. I had some amoxicillin in the house and took that for 2 days and got better. A few days later, it came back. I went to the pharmacy and bought 5 days worth of amoxicillin and took it and got better. A few days passed and it came back. Now I go to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for some antibiotic specifically for this stomach bug. He gave me the right one and I am better. I like being able to treat myself without seeing a doctor, but it can have its downside. In this case I didnít take the anti-biotic longer enough or the correct one really the first two times. All just part of life in a third world country. Right Here, mi amigoís---Reef Ransom.

December 16, 2002.

It is another calm slightly overcast morning. The sea is flat and calm and so is the breeze. A few showers out to sea, but they donít look like they will make it here.

Last night a big yacht was sitting at the mouth of the river right here by where I live. It looked out of place and the strange boat kept its big diesel engines going all the time. It was still there late when I went to bed and gone when I got up. What it was doing is something I could only speculate on, although it is a smugglers moon and there is a channel in the reef right in front of here that opens into the blue and north you go to Mexico or into the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S.; and south you go to South America. Were they waiting to meet someone out to sea? Were they refueling? Were they carrying Millions of Dollars in cash? Were they lost? Whatever it was, it was Belize. Here, live and let live is still alive.

A friend of mine, Dean was pushing his wooden skiff back to the sea this evening as I passed by. He had a group of guys and the plan was to lift it from the yard it was in where the repairs had been done and take it the 100 or so feet to the sea. I have a boat and you never know when you may be the one needing some help, so I helped. There were 8 of us and it took every bit of all 8 to lift and carry this 16í wooden skiff to the sea. The group was all colors of skin and the air was filled with curse words in English, Spanish and Creole as we hefted the bad boy to the sea. Beyond that, a quiet day, I humbly accept it. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 17, 2002.

Here is your dose of lunar madness and it is about destiny. I believe that every one of us has a purpose that we were manifested into this world and our present body for; this would be also our truest destiny. Our purpose or our destiny may be grandiose like inventing a cure for all sickness, or it may be small and simple like cutting the grass for an elderly lady who lives on social security, both acts are equal in the universe because they both are necessary pieces to complete the great puzzle. Now here is the important part. Regardless of whether your destiny is grandiose or simple, to fulfill your life and know true happiness, you must seek and fulfill your truest destiny. Often, this becomes a problem in our world today, because we donít teach our children this very simple and basic law of the universe, because no one taught us. So here is my simple request. Stop right now and ask yourself "What is MY truest destiny and am I fulfilling it?" Then after you embrace the power of this law of the universe, sit down and say to your children or to a child "Did you know you have a special purpose in life?" Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 18, 2002.

The day was sunny and hot. The island has some visitors which is good news. I talked to a manager at Ricoís Restaurant located on the sea at Banyon Bay Resort and he said they were going to be near full there this weekend. The sea has remained calm, although it is running a little from the east now with a very light chop. The full moon is high in the sky and big fat clouds occasionally float through the sky obscuring Mother Natureís night light. Earlier tonight, I sat at the end of my dock and just listened to the waves lapping at the boat and the dock post and the shore. I looked out over the mighty sea and sensed that there was more to all this than meets the eye. When you know the essence of the subtle natural way of the universe, you can dance your way through life and if you do dance your way through life, you damn well better spread some good around on your way.

The purple Orchid I bought about a month ago is still doing good, three of the flower petals are still like new and very beautiful. Here is what it looked like then.

Helpful One Liners:

The universe has very simple rules; theyíre just hard to follow sometimes.
Reef Ransom

"If you want to get a dollar, go to de bush and holler." Belizean parents response to kids asking for extra money.

December 19, 2002.

I went for a walk along the beach in Boca del Rio at around 5 this evening. Still daylight, but dusk and ultimately sunset was coming. The tide was fairly high and there was a good bit of seaweed deposited on the white sandy shore. I noticed a large dark spot just ahead of me and only about 3 feet from the shore. I got closer and realized it was a Manta Ray. It is not unusual to see Manta Rays under the docks and piers close to shore. This guy was in very shallow water though. They are for the most part harmless of course and beautiful to see in the sea. This one swam away and disappeared into the turtle grass.

The majestic orange ball floated up into the sky at the same time as the sun was setting. The full moon rose and sits in the sky like the royal nobility that it is. Below, here on earth life is happening. The night is one of magic. The night sky and the breeze and the sugary sand beneath your feet, can make you feel real good. As an added bonus, a group of 5 guys have sat up their band and are playing in a yard, right on the beach. They happen to be very good. Right now they are playing "Let It Be" by the Beatles, earlier they were playing some heavy jazz and also some Santana. It's a really good sound. I went over to take a listen and while I was there, I talked with my friend Abby Marin. He started telling me how great the night was and how this was really paradise. "A night like this is why I stay here." He said. I responded by saying," Yes man, nights like this are why I came here to live, they are magical." From there we talked about how the universe is magic and Abby mentioned a book called the Mayan Prophecy's which he had just read. I have read about every book around on religion and Mystical happenings but I had never heard of this one. He made me the loan of it and I'm sure I will devour it. The night is magic. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 20, 2002.

It is a cloudy but mostly a very hazy morning on la isla bonita. A small cold front is here again but it looks like a great day ahead. The sea is still calm and flat inside and outside the waves are big but look like slow rollers. Me, I'm right here in the right place at the right time just like the sun and the sea and the breeze.

I went for a boat ride and some snorkeling this afternoon with some good friends that are here on vacation. We cruised up the coast and grabbed one of the buoy's that are inside the reef and tied up. I dove for Conch and they swam and explored the area. It was a near perfect day for it. I did pretty well with the conch. I had to get right up on and in the reef though to find them, the ones I did find were all big and with thick lustrous shells. I didn't see any real big fish but my friends saw a Barracuda they thought was about 4 feet long. After we came back in, I showered and we met for dinner at Celi's Restaurant in the Holiday Hotel. I came on home after that and checked the night sky. It was full of clouds and the moon was mostly obscured. I decided that the day had been enough and went to bed. As I did, I thanked the subtle natural way of the universe for letting me have another magic day.  Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 21, 2002.

It is a cold, rainy, hazy and windy morning in San Pedro, as yet another cold front moves through again. Life is right here though as everyone carries on. With Christmas nearing, many have been busy shopping and decorating. Christmas is a big thing in Belize and you will see many festively decorated houses and buildings around the Island.

It stayed mostly cloudy all day and spit some rain in the mid afternoon. I went to Elvi's for dinner tonight. They had a good crowd in there. A lot of the locals have left for their homes on the mainland to see family for Christmas. There seems to be a fresh and large batch of tourist on the island. Tonight we have thunder, lightning and hard driving rain. I love this kind of night. The moon is hidden but occasionally flickers through the cloud cover. An Island, rainy night, full moon, what more could you wish for. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 22, 2002.

The day turned out nice enough after a cloudy, cool and rainy start. The temperature hit 80' and I saw vacationers lying on the beach catching some rays. The sea was a bit rough for most of the day though. When I went to town for a pizza at the Blue Water Grill I cruised by Elvi's and all the other restaurants between Boca del Rio and Blue Water Grill and they all had a good crowd. It looks like Christmas has brought a good number of tourists to our island. I am glad and hope it continues.

The night sky is cloudy and dark with no stars or moon to see. Christmas is coming near and you can feel it here in San Pedro. No snow or reindeer, but brightly decorated trees and houses are everywhere. The children are all anxiously waiting too. There have been school Christmas programs going on almost every night now since last weekend. Life around Christmas here is very much like life in the states at Christmas. There is a sense of family and giving that is common to both countries.

It was a fairly uneventful day in paradise. Many days are and that is just fine with me. I can only hope I will be graced with many more uneventful days like today here in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 23, 2002.

Almost Christmas. I am going to see my family in the states for 2 weeks and really am looking forward to the visit. Today in San Pedro I paid bills and wished my friends a happy holiday. It is a pretty day and the sea is as always, enchanting. I picked up the Conch shells I harvested last Friday from Fido's house, he cleaned them for me. For now, I am the luckiest man that ever lived on this earth. My dream is a reality and my reality a dream. Thank you, subtle natural way of the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 24, 2002.

In last months SPJ, I tried to express a certain thought in my own clumsy non-literate way. Today I stumbled onto this, and it is what I had in mind. Let me share it with you.

Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively.
They are like a great river that maintains it's coarse but adjust its flow_
They have form but are formless.
They are skilled in both planning and adapting and need not fear the results
of a thousand battles: For they win in advance,
defeating those who have already lost.

Sun Tzu.

January 2, 2003.

As a person living on this earth, there are days when I am painfully aware of my many faults. Today is one of those days. I am not perfect and I know no one is, still I am very aware of the proper actions and avenues to take in life and I feel the need to take as many of the proper turns as I can possibly take. I acknowledge my faults and I desire to improve. In the moments of the day or night when I am sad or depressed about my actions I can only try to survive and know that a brighter time exist just around the bend. I really miss the sea and the natural energy of San Pedro. Everything happens for a reason and I know this to be true. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 7, 2003.

I arrived back home in San Pedro this afternoon at 2:00. My visit to the states was a good one with lots of holiday and family fun. While I was away the weather has been very rainy and nasty almost everyday. As we flew over to Ambergris Caye on a Tropic Air flight, one of the other passengers mentioned that the water didn't look as clear as he remembered from his 3 previous visits. He was right, the stormy weather has stirred up the shallow areas inside the reef and the rivers are carrying more silt out to the sea from all the rain inland. The pretty clear blue did appear as we got closer to the Cayes.

The night air is cool but I love it. A strong crescent moon hangs low in the western sky. A group of dark looking clouds have been gathering and cover the night sky. Out in the street I hear kids playing, their mom's calling them inside for the night. It is good to be back so close to the pulse of the universe. I feel it beating. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 8, 2002.

The morning was cool with a strong North wind, I estimate wind chill at about 69' F. The sun came out all day and warmed us up to a nice 80'. The sea remains choppy and a deeper shade of blue today. I have some wiring that has corroded badly on my boat and need a new harness for my engine. Apparently, and this is not uncommon here in Belize, there are not any to be had in the entire country. I will need to be more Belizean and find a way to make it work while I wait for the correct part to come from the good ole United States. It is just a real pretty day off the coast of Belize.

I visited with some friends on their dock for awhile this afternoon. Tonight I went for a carry out pizza from the Blue Water Grill. There was a near capacity crowd there at about 7:30. The island has a good amount of tourist here right now. The night sky is full of bright stars and planets. The moon is shaped like a bowl and is sitting lazily in the western sky. All is well in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 9, 2003.

I awoke to a beautiful, cool Thursday morning. I am on an island off the coast of Belize in Central America. OK, everything checks out. The sea is calm and I hope to get out on it today if I can get my tilt working on Baby Blue. The temperature is supposed to hit 80, which will be perfect. First though, I must do some laundry so I can hang it out to dry while I am away. Reality, I love it.

Got the tilt repaired, but it was late afternoon (evening they say here in Belize). I am all set to go now. I did get my laundry done, that was the big event of the day. I watched a friend clean a barracuda and a snapper at his dock. The annual Jerry Jeff Walker event is going on this week. There are a lot of Jerry Jeff fans in San Pedro. He did a show already this week and another is planned for Saturday Night. It's always a fun week and really good for the local economy when the Jerry Jeff fan club hits the island.

A real quick mention, the San Pedro Journal is not intended to be a newspaper or any source for "news".  Although I do write about events and people many times, I do not hold myself up to the same set of standards as the local newspapers do for reporting news. The San Pedro Sun and the Ambergris Today are the local San Pedro papers and can be found online at They both offer subscriptions and great coverage of local events.

Dinner at Elvi's, it is Caribbean Platter night which is one of my favorite meals. It is all the seafood's currently in season, grilled and topped with a tropical fruit sauce. I have mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again. The cost is $50.00/Bze and includes soup and the main entrťe. Tonight it was lobster, conch, snapper, shrimp and crab claw, delicious. A near full crowd at Elvi's tonight as Wil and Dale provided live music for the guest at Elvi's as they do every Thursday night.

The night sky is clear and glistens with stars and star dust. A half moon is high in the sky. I noticed tonight that the days are getting noticeably longer. Sunset was around 5:20 before Christmas and now it is around 5:50 and getting a few minutes later everyday. I think I will walk out on the beach and breathe the night air, maybe I will see a big cruise ship passing by in the darkness of the vast sea horizon, I have seen one each of the last two nights. Ships out on the sea are great sources of inspiration for me. Oh, the stories they could tell.

On my walk I got to listen to the last couple of songs from the Jerry Jeff Walker concert tonight. I didn't know the schedule but tonight he was at the old Hustler dock, now called Wet Willies. You could hear the music a good way up and down the beach. That's how I heard him last year too, sitting on the beach. After that I sent a message to someone special via a shooting star in the Northern sky. I stopped in the Boca Del Rio Park and sat on a bench which is right next to the sea. I had to make myself get up after about an hour and come back home, I was so relaxed and a part of the wind, the sea and the song from out on the reef that if I stayed out any longer, I didn't think I could get my body back home. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 10, 2003.

This morning I cleaned my kitchen and did a load of laundry. Not a day passes by that someone doesn't ask me for a job cleaning my house. Sometimes I will hire them, but mostly I clean myself. I cook for myself too. I like to be self sufficient. It was a sunny and breezy morning. The town water has been off again today and is off almost every night after midnight till about 5 a.m. When it is on sometimes it isn't strong enough to make it to the second floor where I live. This has been happening for many days and nights now. Same thing happened last year. Of course we will receive no credit from the water company for loss of service and there isn't anything you can do about it except smile and make the most of it. It is just part of the real life in San Pedro.

This afternoon I went for a little fishing. I went south along the coast to around the Yacht club and slowly motored all around there looking for sardine. A friend had seen them there earlier. After about 45 minutes and no sardines at all, I headed back north to just past Boca del Rio and did the same thing along the coast and in the small inlets and bays there. No sardines to be seen today. They must be clear up in Mexico a friend said. Usually I find them by watching the birds and following them. When a gull or gulls are diving into a shallow cove, that is the sardine spot. Today I swear the gulls and pelicans were watching us, waiting for us to find the sardines. Fortunately I had brought some frozen sardines from our last trip. They are not near as good of bait as live sardines are and also go soft on the hook allowing the fish to nibble the bait away sometimes without biting the hook. I fished in the channel just north of the river cut and caught several snappers. I saw a big ray while anchored there. Then I got greedy and wanted a bigger fish, so I went through the cut and out into the blue.. The waves were not too bad and were slow rolling for the most part. I caught a few more snappers and some small groupers (which I released because they are over fished), but not El Pescador Grande. No big fish. It was a great time on the sea, it always is.

Went to Jade Garden for some sweet and sour lobster and brought home some caye lime pie for later. I went for a nice walk along the beach here in Boca Del Rio (the area of San Pedro near the river cut) and walked to the end of a couple of docks. The tide is low and the sea is fairly calm. You can hear the gentle roar of the waves on the reef. Above, vast amounts of stars and a generous half full moon grace the night sky. Below, we mortal animals go about our lives. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 11, 2003.

The morning was bright and a bit warmer than it has been the last few mornings. I did some banking this morning and visited with some friends I ran into on the way home from town. It was mostly a slow moving, uninteresting day in paradise. Tonight I went to Elvi's for some grilled snapper, excellent choice I might add. The night is cool as the wind picked up and changed to the north at around 4:00 this afternoon. The sea was mostly calm all day but it too picked up with the change of wind to the north. While I was at Elvi's there was a large group of people having dinner after a wedding today. The bride had on a lovely white dress and the entire group seemed to be enjoying themselves. Many people are choosing San Pedro as a place to get married at. The process is getting easier and most of the resorts and hotels can help with the arrangements if you really want to take the plunge. Years ago, it was much harder to get married here in San Pedro. The main obstacle was the need to be married by someone not from this district. Kind of like you couldn't be married in the states by a judge from your own county. I don't know why this was and it may have only applied for non-residents at the time, but to get married before around 1990, you had to bring a preacher or Minister or other official entity to San Pedro and they had to come from a different district like Orange Walk or Cayo for example. That has all changed and the process is very do-able these days.

Pretty sky tonight. A few clouds are hanging around but not blocking the entire sky. Our moon is getting fuller each night and is about 5-6 nights away. I think I will walk along the sea and then go uptown and check out Fido's Courtyard. The Category 7 band should be playing and I saw a lot of tourist in town so the joint may be rockin. The night is magic and I want to drink it all in, how about you? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 12, 2003.

The day has brought near perfect weather with sunny skies and a warm light breeze. The sea is calm and all is running as it should be in the universe. Really though, nothing much is going on in San Pedro. It is like all the energy is pent up and waiting for someone or something to pop the balloon so to speak. It makes for some boring moments of the day. I guess I will have to go out and see what's happening elsewhere on the island. Of course, the full moon cometh_

The breeze shifted to the north around 4 this afternoon and some low clouds came rolling in. The night sky is cloudy with a few stars and the haze of the moon showing on occasion. I went to Celi's for dinner. After, I stopped by the Hangover Bar there at the Holiday Hotel. The conversation was very lively and I thought maybe a big football game was finishing up. As I listened in I realized the people were talking about the United States, George Bush and Saddam Hussein. Everyone seemed convinced we (the U. S.) were going to war. Some thought it was about time, some didn't like the idea or the reason. I don't watch much T.V. or pay attention to the news. It will make you crazy to think about because it is all so illogical, and it is all propaganda anyway. Don't get fooled by it.
A steady rain has been coming down now since around 8:00 and the night sky and the beach, are just a walk in the rain away. I was thinking of going to the Palace Casino for a while, but not in the rain. That might make it my lucky night then. A new "casino" has opened up in the same spot that Rock's grocery used to occupy on the middle street. Rock's is still there but just in half the space. I had heard another casino was opening and I saw this one looked open tonight as I went past. It isn't Vegas for sure, but more like an amusement center for adults. I'll check it sometime and give a report. Right now this rainy night has me thinking of someone special. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 14, 2003.

A cold front brings cool air and north winds; I put on a long sleeve shirt to go outside. I walked over to a friend's house on the beach and a girl there laughed at me because I thought it was cold. Most locals are wearing their long pants though. The sea is still fairly calm but it would be cold getting in and out of the water. I am spoiled so even though I am bored I won't go on the sea till we get better weather in a day or two. So until then I'll just whine about being bored for awhile and wait for something interesting to come my way. My neighbor, Mauricio told me that they were changing tires on about 20 golf carts from the small tires (like I use and need) to the bigger tires they use on beefed up suspension systems, at the Boatyard. I am going to cruise by and see if I can buy a good set of used wheels and tires for my golf cart.

I had lunch at Elvi's; with no crowd at lunch time on Jan 14, the middle of high season. That was weird, I talked with the waiter at Jade Garden and they had no customers for lunch today either. Some tourists are around, but just not enough to go around I guess. Elvi's is one of the best restaurants and very long established so if it is slow, then it is slow. After my great lunch I went and checked on the new used tires for my golf cart. Sure enough at the Boatyard, Bushmaster Cart Rentals has 20 new carts from the states and is putting bigger tires on them. The carts are near new used ones from the states and the tires and wheels are all real good. More importantly, they just got to the island. Anything that sits or stays around here is subject to heavy corrosion and general deterioration from the salt and the sand. It is always better to start with something fresh to the island for that reason. I was pleasantly surprised that a good friend of mine was working there. I asked about the tires and he told me a set of four would be $150.00/Bze and he would put them all on for me too. That's a pretty good deal so tomorrow I will go by and let him change them.

The night is overcast and breezy. The north wind has brought some cooler air and the stars are hidden from view. The moon can be seen as a haze in the clouds and it shall not be denied entirely. I saw Harry and Betty from the Palace Casino at the Jade Garden Restaurant tonight. They had their youngest son and their daughter with them. I spoke with them a bit and they are all doing well. They are real nice people. I am going to put on a long sleeve and go out for my nightly walk on the beach. While I am out there I am going to thank the powers that be for all my good fortune and magic in life. All of you out there are part of that. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 15, 2003.

The cold front is right over us and it is cold. The wind is blowing from the north at a steady 25 mph or more and it is raining a steady driving rain. The actual temperature is about 70', but it feels cold and locals and visitors alike are wearing raingear and jackets or coats and hats. I went to get my tires changed this morning and then had some lunch in town. I didn't take my rain gear and got soaked coming home from town. For this afternoon I will try to occupy myself by listening to some great jazz and playing my guitar a little. When I can't stand to be inside anymore, if it is still raining, I will put on my raingear and go walk along the beach and see what is not happening there. One neat thing this morning, I just hung out with the workers as they changed my tires and they are just regular guys who work as mechanics each day. I guess I love just being with the real people of San Pedro and Belize about as much as I love all the natural beauty here too. We just talked and tried to stay out of the rain as they worked. One of them a young boy, a helper mechanic put a plastic bag on his head to keep off the rain and we all laughed at that. And that is about as real a slice of life of here, as you can get. Aren't I lucky!

The weather is just a real mess, which is about the best I can say about it. The wind is blowing very hard from the north; the air is as wet as it can be with steady rain falling from the sky for most of the afternoon and night now. The temperature really struggled to hit the soft side of 70' at about 4:30 this afternoon. I wore jeans, a long sleeve shirt, socks and slip on sandals and a windbreaker jacket to and from dinner and I was freezing both ways. They say it is in the 10's and 20's in the Midwestern states and snowing very hard with 6-12 inches depending on where you are so I guess everything is relative. The tourist's visiting now are not sure what to think. I didn't notice much action on the sea today. The cold air, wind and choppy seas were not very inviting. This would not be a brochure kind of a day on Ambergris Caye.  I did see some good groups of tourist's in town tonight despite the rain. I hope to get a view of the moon sometime tonight as it is nearing full.

Quick note: Mickey's Restaurant moved just around the corner on Pescador Dr. (Middle Street) a few days ago. It looks like a better location for a good restaurant. Of course Mickey Nunez is the owner, stop say hi and try it out. They have a great Lunch Burrito on Burrito Wednesdays, chicken or beef and mucho grande! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 16, 2003.

Another cold rainy morning greeted the island today. The sea is rough and not many reservations for fun on the sea were kept today. Fortunately the sun has come out this afternoon and we are getting a bit better weather. Inside the reef the sea is still pretty calm with just a light chop and the turquoise color has returned. Also since it is warmer and drier more people are out and about. I took my raingear this morning and did some errands in town. Life is happening here in San Pedro Town.

I went to the Palace Casino for a while tonight and made a small donation.. There was a good crowd in there. I imagine most people, locals and tourists are feeling a bit pent up with the bad weather keeping us off the sea and inside quite a bit, not to mention the moon is nearly full. I got a good look at it just after dark tonight as the clouds parted for about an hour.. They returned and cover the night sky like a blanket. Here in San Pedro, we sometimes wait like a crab in a hole. Something usually comes along. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 17, 2003.

The morning is still cold, windy and rainy. We are catching a lot of cold fronts so far this year and I am glad I am not just here for a few days on vacation right now. There is not much motivation to go out in the driving rain if you don't need to, so I am holed up inside my house listening on the radio to the Prime Minister of Belize, Said Musa; address the country. The election is coming soon and each political party is doing their best to make themselves sound good and the other party sound bad. The Prime Minister is sharing economical information that all shows increase across the board, but most people see little of that prosperity trickling down. The opposing party is much the same in that whichever side is in power, they will twist and tilt the facts to meet their needs. The U.S. Government does the same thing. As a kid I learned about this type of twisted truth from government, but then it was an evil thing and was only done by bad countries like Russia, they called it propaganda; of course now it is just part of life. One thing for sure, politics is a very hot topic in all of Belize right now.

The wind dropped to absolutely nothing about 7ish or an hour more or less after sunset. That is a big change from the steady 20-25 mph north wind we have had for days. I wish it was a sign of good weather but I think it is just a lull as our current cold front passes out and yet another cold front comes this way. Florida is going to be real cold tonight and this weekend and it will slip on south from there. The night sky is completely covered in a low cloud layer. I could barely see the hazy light from a near full moon around 8:00.  The strong north breeze picked up again about 9:00 and brought more rain with it. The next cold front is here. It is midnight and the wind is howling and the rain is coming down sideways. No moonlight, but I feel the full moon up there anyway. I wonder if it feels me? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 18, 2003.

Here's your dose of lunar madness for this cycle.

Dreams. Dreams are a common thread between all people in the world. It doesn't matter how large or small your dream is, it is still your dream and matters greatly in the universe. I don't keep a list written down but I have always had a list of things I dreamed of doing in this life. Through the course of time I have been blessed to have accomplished or achieved most things on my `list'. One thing I have yet to cross off is to learn to speak Spanish. I have always known a few words and phrases, mostly from my early 20's and traveling around Mexico a lot. However knowing how to order beer and tell a girl she is very pretty in Spanish and speaking it are two different things. To the end of accomplishing this dream of mine, I have written words and phrases in Spanish with their English translation beside, all over my living room walls. When I want to remember a word or phrase I can just look up and there it is, or if I learn a new word or phrase I just add it to the wall. Writing the Spanish word is also very good for learning the language.

Tonight is the full moon and Saturday night. A good friend called me and asked if I wanted to meet him for a beer at Fido's Courtyard. He told me that they were filming some show there tonight. I said sure and away I went and we met and had a beer. It was only about 9:00 and not much was going on, no filming of anything so we left. I decided to drop back later around 10:30 to at least hear the Category 7 band play some American Rock and Roll. When I got back to Fido's, they were filming an episode of Wild On E!TV and featuring several Playboy Playmates. The camera was panning the crowd and they were doing interviews with the Playmates and the crowd. The new hostess for E!TV posed for lots of pictures and I'm sorry I don't know her name but of course she is beautiful. I made my way through the pack up crowd and got to the bar to order a Lighthouse Beer. There were about a hundred people trying to get the bartenders attention and it takes a certain knack sometimes. I happen to get his eye and mouth to him `Lighthouse" and he shakes his head yes. At the same time I see a real pretty woman standing next to me with long blonde hair and I realize she wanted a drink too and I had unintentionally butted in front of her. As I was thinking I should order her drink too, I realized she was a Playmate. I love this place! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Random notes:

Local Flights

I have flown on Tropic Air several times since the accident that occurred in the bad weather of New Years Eve. In that accident the plane was forced down into the sea short of Ambergris Caye and all 14 passengers and pilot were unharmed. I mention this because I have flown on Tropic Air since their inception and I know them to be safe with well maintained equipment and well trained pilots.
Full Moon
Everyday, they as well as Maya Island Air shuttle passengers all over Belize every hour on the hour, all day long. I would not hesitate to fly on either of the local Belize airlines and consider them both very safe.

New Tennis Club

A new Tennis and Health Club opened in San Pedro recently. I have not been yet but the ads boast two real tennis courts, real gym equipment and a 4,000 sq. ft. pool. La Isla Bonita Tennis Club is located by the airstrip, around the corner from the Barefoot Iguana.  It sure sounds like a real nice set up. I wonder if San Pedro is big enough for it? You can use it even if you are a visitor to the island; they have daily and weekly rates, so next trip bring your racket.

Thanks for reading the San Pedro Journal! Check out the Full Moon!

January 19, 2003.

It was a sunny day with the temperature reaching 75í F. The sea was running to the south and was choppy inside the reef and outside had some big waves. It is Sunday and I stayed around home most of the day and tended my plants. I have a bunch of bananaís getting ripe on the tree so I am watching them close. I mixed in a couple of walks along the sea and I went for a few groceries about 7 this evening. The sky filled with clouds around 5ish and the night sky is blanketed once again. At least today was sunny and we will take it after the spell of bad weather we have had. The sea was calming down by the time it got dark. It is a little before 9 and a light but real steady drizzle is coming down from the sky. I hope we arenít going back into the same cold front la Nina weather pattern that has been in place and very yucky. The weather here is usually very nice and agreeable. Once on vacation I spent 5 very cold, wet days in Nassau. Everyplace has its bad weather; I am just spoiled and want one of our postcard days to go play on the sea. For now I wait as patiently as I can. Paradise is real and it is now. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 20, 2003.

It is an overcast morning. The air is neither cool nor warm. Up the street a potlicker is fertilizing a neighborís yard. Out on the reef, slow rolling waves are slapping their last energies upon the coral and turning to frothy white foam as they end their journey. This is life and it is my life. I am humbled by the moments of the morning.

I decided to go into Belize and flew in on the 11:00 flight on Tropic Air. The flight over to Municipal airport in Belize City was a triple-header. We left San Pedro, landed in Caye Caulker to pick up someone and some mail I think and then we left Caye Caulker and flew to International airport and let some folks off and picked up a couple of passengers. Then we took off and flew to Municipal Airport. A 14-minute flight from San Pedro to Municipal turns into about a half an hour adventure when you do the triple-header. The trade off is that you fly over several Cayes and over the reef at low altitudes and get a great glimpse of the sea and the mangroves and the islands. I needed to buy something that they only had in Belize City and I got a taxi and had my le errand finished in about 20 minutes. It was still overcast and cool in Belize and I really didnít want to do much else there but I did need to eat lunch and wait for the return flight to San Pedro. I had my taxi drop me at the Princess Hotel and Casino. Once again, I had a mediocre lunch and then stepped into the casino for a while. I caught the 1:30 flight home to San Pedro and wished I had taken the time to get to know the 2 U.S. hundred dollar bills I had left behind at the casino, a little better. My return flight stopped at International and we filled up and flew direct to San Pedro. A local guy in front of me pointed out some Manateeís that had dug little holes in the sea as we flew over them around Moho Caye. That was something new for me and I would have never seen them or know if he hadnít of taken the time to point them out to me, a complete stranger. That is Belize and that is Belizeís Treasure.

Tonight I walked out to the sea and watched as the moon popped up ever so slowly above a low-lying bank of clouds. As it cleared the clouds, just the top orange lip graced the sky and like an old silent movie the reel turned and the sequence continued and the moon rose to a fitting spot in the night sky. Most of the clouds have parted and the stars are as bright and brilliant as they can be. The sea is choppy and all the boats are rocking on their moorings. A night of magic, may we all pass it on. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 21, 2003.

The day was back to perfect sunny warm weather. I took care of some errands this morning and after lunch I went fishing with my friend Gaby. We left from in front of the Hustler dock at about 3:00 and headed south to the mangroves located past the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. There we cast our net and brought in some live sardines and then we went out to a spot where an old barge has sunk and fished there. I caught a nice Spanish Mackerel, a Barracuda and a couple of Snappers. All in all we caught lots of fish. We reluctantly hoisted anchor as the sunset and started on the more or less half an hour boat ride back to San Pedro Town. The darkness of night and the image of the sea passing by gave an almost surreal feeling to the ride home. It was a great day on the sea!

I passed the airport tonight and noticed Jimmy Buffetís seaplane sitting there. He must be here or coming soon. He comes often now but I have never seen him. Iím sure he is more interested in fishing and having fun with his toys than playing the part of a ďStarĒ. Still neat to see his plane with the surfing parrot on the tail sitting around the island.

The moonlight is dancing upon the sea and stars are smiling in the heaven overhead. Gentle waves lap at the sandy shore and you can get a true sense of the harmony in the universe as you stand by and quietly take it all in. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 22, 2003.

This is the second great weather day in a row. That is the good news. The bad news is another cold front coming through Florida and this way. Our weather pattern is not average so far this year. The sea was nice and calm all day and life was buzzing on the island.

Tonight I went for my walk along the sea. I stopped and walked out to the end of the Hotel del Rio dock and looked back at the shore. I let my minds eye wonder back to the first time I had seen this shoreline about 21 years ago. There was no Hotel del Rio, only an old pull behind your car trailer where Fido Badillo lived. There were no streetlights; no condoís or houseís to speak of. There were palm trees and lots of mangrove. Up the coast to the north of the cut there were no lights from homes or resorts; no electricity either. No cars or taxiís drove by, there was no street, just a path along the beach. Looking back at the shore 21 years ago was like looking back at the end of the world as far as San Pedro was concerned. Even the walk from town seemed like forever because after about Paradise Hotel, there was not much but very natural island and the walk was like walking through a jungle. At least that is how I always felt as I walked down to see Fido. A couple of things are still the same though. Above, the Milky Way is so clear and crisp and so close, you feel like you can reach out and touch it, but you donít try because just being there beneath it and feeling the magic of the night is more than enough. The other thing that has stayed the same is the enchanting call from the reef. The sound may be faint or it may be a clear roar, but it is unlike any other sound in the world and it is quite hypnotic to the human soul. Tonight the waves were slapping against the boats and the main sheet from the lone sailboat around was clanging against the mast as sailboats do. The night was more of a symphony I decided and I just sat there on the edge of my dock; on the edge of the sea, on the edge of the world, on the edge of the universe and played my small part. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 23, 2003.

Another pretty day. The sea is calm and the sky is sunny. I cruised to town for a new lock for my front door to replace the old one that had succumbed to the environment. There were a good number of tourists walking the streets. It looked like a perfect day on the streets of San Pedro. It was a wonderfully uneventful day. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 30, 2003.

It is about midnight and the night sky is dull and devoid of any visible life. A thick cover of low clouds is above us tonight. The breeze is slight and the roar from the reef is very loud tonight and very calming and awe inspiring at the same time. Depending on the breeze, you can usually hear the sound of the reef, but tonight it is singing loud in its tenor voice. It lullís me to sleep. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 1, 2003.

The early morning is cloudy and windy. The winds are from the back and make for coolness in the air. Out over the sea there are dark spots that are dropping rain as they skirt by the caye. The sea is choppy and seems to be running to the south. Big foamy waves are splashing on the reef. The day has begun in paradise.

I stopped by the Mayan Princess and reserved an apartment for a friend who is coming down in a couple of weeks. The Mayan Princess is right on the beach in the center of town. The rate for high season (right now) is $115.00/U.S. night, plus the standard 17% hotel tax. If you call or email them ( direct, you will get 15% off. The units are small apartments with a kitchen and are all beachfront. A nice middle of the road place to stay. Reasonably comfortable and the kitchen means you can buy your Belikin by the case and save money or have your milk and cookies at 2:00 a.m. from your own fridge, just like home. Hope to see you there. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 2, 2003.

I live my life perched over a great cavernous dark void. One foot is on each edge as I straddle the darkness below me. On one side my foot sits on the edge of good and on the other side my foot rests on the edge of evil, below lies the great caldron of the worse than evil, the unknown. Some days my foot slips to one side or the other and I act accordingly. Someday I will slip and not land on either side but I will slip into the darkness below, into the unknown. Until that time, I exist here with both of my feet touching the very edges of the great void below me. I will experience the good and the evil and I will do my best to keep myself centered between the two. To me, this is about as close as I can come to defining the purpose of life.

It is a rainy morning. The sky is cloudy but it was like this yesterday and didnít rain much at all. The weather can be in small pockets here. I think because we are of course an island and the sea acts differently on weather systems than the land does. Just a guess, mind you. Just another day in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 3, 2003.

This morning I went to the Brand New Belize Bank building to make a deposit. The new building is really nice and it feels like you are in a small bank in the U.S., of course the service is still a bit slow. The new Belize Bank location is still on front street (Barrier Reef Dr.) but north a few blocks from its old location and across from the cemetery more or less.

I took Baby Blue out this afternoon and went over to Caye Caulker. I wanted to pick up my friend Marcos and bring him to San Pedro. I met some nice folks here on vacation a few days ago and invited them to come along. The ride over and back was pretty normal. It is always a beautiful sight to be out on the sea, passing between islands, thank you oh subtle natural way of the universe.

Caye Caulker. Hippyville we used to call it in the 80ís. It has changed much as has most all of Belize in the last 5-10 years. There are many more quaint little shops and places to stay than there used to be. The cost of most everything is less in Caye Caulker than in San Pedro and it is a bit more laid back there too. It has the feel of San Pedro in the early 80ís. While there I stopped at the split and had a couple of beers. Then I went down to Rasta Pasta for some cerviche and another beer. Rasta Pasta is right on the beach and a popular spot. On the ride home I looked for sardines and found only a few. Oh well, tomorrow I will find some more.

A sliver of the new moon hangs low in the western sky and the stars are out in all their glory. It is a peaceful yet powerful night. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 4, 2003.

It was a hot tropical kind of day, the kind you dream of when you are sitting in Buffalo freezing your buns off and plotting an exit strategy from the cold.

It is dusk here on Ambergris Caye. It is a time when the intense light and energy of the day begins to give up its hold, and night is lurking out in the distant horizon, far over the majestic Caribbean Sea. It is a time when the forces of nature are making a shift change. It is a very powerful time. The colors of the western sky are unmatchable in any picture or painting. From the end of your favorite dock it seems the world is putting on a command performance just for you, and it is.

I went for my normal walk along the sea at about 10:00 tonight. I walked along the beach in the Boca del Rio Park area and stopped at the end of one of my favorite docks to look at the stars. I always start my star gazing by trying to find Orionís Belt, then the Big Dipper and then the Milky Way. Tonight they were all up there as clear and bright as can be, along with more constellations and planets than a simple man such as myself can know. The Milky Way was long and thick; it had almost a small tail as it descended from the sky into the distant horizon. One thing for sure, it seems so close that you feel as if you can reach out and pluck one of the millions of stars, just like you would a lightning bug. It makes you feel as if you are closer to heaven. Indeed, I believe we are closer to heaven, here on Ambergris Caye. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 5, 2003.

It was a hot tropical day in paradise. The breeze is steady and from the east. The sun is baking everything in sight and a few lazy clouds roll across the sky. The sea is inviting and has a slight chop but is calm. First we complain about the cold rainy days and then the hot hazy days. Ah, life in paradise.

There are some groups of tourist around and that is good. I think, and this is just from what I see, hear and common sense, that the season will be off by at least 40% from pre 911. I donít think 911 is the reason for the sluggish tourist industry, not just here but all over the world. I think the uncertain economy is the prime reason people arenít traveling far, or at all. Fear of a war is probably also a big factor, although it would be hard to find a time in our countries history when we werenít at war (or a military intervention, peacekeeping mission, etc.) with someone, somewhere. We tend to get lured into a false sense of security that was never really there to start with.

I wasnít very hungry at dinnertime and decided to have some cereal and fruit. I didnít have cereal or much milk, so I went out to get some. I went to The San Pedro Supermarket first and they had neither milk nor cereal I wanted. Next I went to Richieís Store right next door, same story. It looked like the cereal delivery hadnít come for a while, with the shelves part empty and part full of oddball generic brands and many of them from Mexico. So I headed across town to the Island Supermarket, which is across from the Belikin Beer warehouse. As I got there I realized I had gotten hungrier and I was just a block from the Jade Garden, so there I went and ate great sweet and sour lobster. Brought home the islands best caye lime pie for later. I still planned on stopping at the store since I had driven over there, but realized that when I left the house it was with just enough money for the things I wanted or as it turned out; just enough for sweet and sour at Jade Garden. I guess my cereal will have to wait till tomorrow. That is real life in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 6, 2003.

I passed down Barrier Reef Drive (Front Street) tonight at about 7:30. As I passed the corner by Fidoís Courtyard, I glanced over and noticed that they had just laid the first three rows of bricks down for the new street. I believe that is the first place actually in town that they paved (not including the test area from the airstrip past Ramonís). It is the end of an era. No, not an era. The end of a legacy? No, that isnít right either. What do you call it when something that has value and meaning to lots of people ceases to exist? I guess it is just the end of sand streets in San Pedro Town. Yes itís true the sand streets are not like they used to be because of all the vehicle traffic and yes they are very dusty and get giant potholes every time it rains. I donít argue about any of that. I donít argue about the change to the cobblestone type of brick, I just observe and make note of the end of something, to which the cobblestone streets are just an obvious metaphor.

The day was tropical with a temperature around 87í and steady, stiff easterly winds. The sea was a le foamy inside today. Not big waves, just stirred up. The boats came and went all day long. Tonight the sky is mostly clear and I easily found my three jewels of the sky that I look for every night. Clearly I could see Orionís Belt, The Big Dipper and the Milky Way. I feel like I get my bearings here on earth when I can get a fix on all three and myself here on Ambergris. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 7, 2003.

The warm tropical days just keep on coming. It was hot enough today that I came in about mid afternoon to escape the sun and the heat. There is a lot of talk in town about the lack of business in January. Some talk about February being booked up, but that just isnít so. There are tourists here but not in huge numbers. The upside for the traveler is that prices are cheaper. Tour operators, dive shops, restaurants and cart rental companies are all offering discounts. You can get a discount on lodging to if you shop around and ask. I believe that all the prices here have been artificially inflated over the last 5 or so years and they will adjust to what they should be for a vacation spot that is pretty but dusty, haphazardly developed and in Central America. That statement may not win me any new friends but there is definitely some truth to it. There was a real boom of tourist arrivals after the Temptation Island show was on Television. Everyone saw it as a continuing thing and rushed to build more hotel rooms, condos, gift shops, dive shops, bars, cart rentals and restaurants. The boom after the T.V. show has not been sustained. That is why when you reach San Pedro Air Strip now; barkers will be trying to get you to go to certain restaurants by offering discount coupons. I donít know if the other businesses are doing that yet but the restaurants are for sure. That is a change for San Pedro. Laid back? More like Mexico I think. Even that may be weeded out as the economy plays out. May not be enough tourists arriving to fight over or no restaurants survived to fight for them.

I helped a friend pull his le skiff up out of the sea this afternoon. The sea is mostly calm and fairly flat. During the day and within a block of mi casa I saw a Kite (an Eagle like bird) sitting on the top of a sailboat mast, a Redheaded Woodpecker, a Kingfisher, Vireos, Flycatchers, Frigates, Seagulls, Herons, Blackbirds and Doves. If I wanted to study birds, this would be a good spot.

The magic of the night is thick and has a grasp on my soul. I must answer it and go stand by the sea and let the breeze blow my hair. I must go and listen to the powerful roar from the ancient reef that lies at my doorstep. I must look up and find the brightest star and feel the rhythm of the sea and the universe as it unfolds at my feet.  I must go. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 8, 2003.

Letís see, I am living on an island in the Caribbean. It is a perfect tropical kind of morning. The sea is a majestic shade of blue and nearly calm this morning. The gentle breeze is tickling the palms and the bananas. Jimmy Buffett is playing in the background. OK, everything checks out. Hello Ambergris Caye, Hello Universe. Thank you for letting me be, right here, right now. I am humbled by the magic of it all.

I have been eating bananas and plantains from my own yard for about a month or more. I have had apple bananas that are small and extra sweet, I have had regular plantains and Sanbo plantains (the fruit grows different than regular plantains and they are sooo sweet when ripe) all very tasty. My le plantation is set to churn out bananas fairly regularly now. Bananas arenít tree really but plants ands they grow up from shoots that sprout up right next to the old plant as it gets old and dies so they just keep producing. You do need to maintain them a bit for optimum production.

I bought 2 small conch pearls a few days ago for $160.00/Bze for both. Conch pearls are rare and very valuable like pearls from Oysters. Some Conch Pearls sell for tens of thousands of dollars. The oneís I bought arenít worth much but I have a collection of conch pearls and I know that if I buy the smaller ones then they will come see me when they find the big ones. One more thing, donít expect to come down here and buy pearls that cheap. When you live here and are connected in a le bit you will see them occasionally. Buying them cheaply is a timing thing and you have to be here to wait until the opportunity presents itself. One of the pearls was teardrop shape and the other round. I had Dimas at D&G Jewelry make a gold ring and set the round one in it. It came out real good. You can find Dimas or Gloria on the back street across from the new Super Buy grocery store, worth checking out for unique jewelry.

Another day in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 12, 2003.

The tropical days seem to blend together in a big blur and pass right on by.

I want to write about the street vendors here in San Pedro. A street vendor is really a small business owner here in Belize. His or her tricycle carts, suitcase on wheels, large sacks or baskets are the store. Almost everything is sold at sometime by street vendors here in San Pedro. You will find food (some good, some not so good), clothes, pots and pans, plastics, plants, music CDís and really about everything. Some are more frequent than others. Tortillaís, and tamales are the most common and every morning at 7:45 a 
street vendor comes by my house and all through my neighborhood honking a horn. He is selling corn tortillas. His horn is very obnoxious and nobody likes it but it goes away so we all just live with it, besides people need tortillas. Another tortilla vendor comes by each day and just uses a bicycle bell and that gets every ones attention and isnít so obnoxious. Then also each day Ricky passes by selling corn tortillas or tamales. Ricky is blind and sells on the street all over town, he just whistles and occasionally yells out ďcorn tortillas!Ē Another popular street vendor is the guy who drives along, rings his ice cream bell and sells a drink that is a cross between a slurpee and a milk shake. It is shaved ice with your favorite flavor like cherry or strawberry, etc. and it is topped with some canned sweet cream and it is sweet and a favorite of kids and adults. So, the next time you pull into the drive thru and order a shake or stop at the mall and buy some clothes, just remember there are many ways to shop in the world. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 15, 2003.

There are times in life when you donít get to have everything the way you want. There are times in life when you have to face things or do things that you would prefer not to have to do. When these times arise, and they do for all of us, there is little you can do except take a deep breath, remind yourself of all the things you believe in and how magic life is even in its moments of uncertainty, pain, grief or tragedy. I believe we walk this earth for a short while and then we pass on to something greater. The time we get to spend here on earth is just a temporary gift and the gifter can take the gift back at anytime without prior written notice. So, tonight as I walk the beach and feel the breeze on my skin I will try to remember these things and have compassion for myself and all others in the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 16, 2003.

Some light housekeeping is in order. Last issue I mentioned a book titled ďThe Mayan ProphecyĒ, which my friend and excellent fishing guide Abby Marin lent to me. It is an excellent book and so full of information I had to spend a lot of time with it and still wanted it longer when I needed to return it to Abby. I ordered a nearly new copy off of for $12.95 and had it shipped to my address in the states. The Internet makes for a very connected world. Iím not sure if that is good or bad, but it for sure is.
Öand Iím lying here beneath the moon and the stars. Sweet dreams my fellow children of the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 17, 2003.

Our full moon is now. The cycle has been completed and at the same time has started again. We live our lives coming and going in full circles. Sometimes we find some magic inside those full circles. Speaking of full circles, here is a never before published Journal Entry from Aug. 27, 1999. Happy Full Moon! May your lunar madness bring you inner gladness!


San Pedro Town

Fido and I went fishing last night. We left about 4:30 and slipped through the cut just north of the river out into the blue. We had just filled our tank with gas and oil, the gas cost $5.00/Bze per gal. The sunset was incredible with brilliant glowing oranges and reds in the western sky. While at the same time the full moon rose off the Caribbean Sea to the east. It was like a huge spotlight shining across the sea, casting moon shadows upon the earth. As we fished, the 2-3 foot waves gently rocked our boat. We took numerous yellowtails and 3 cubreaís. We also hooked 4 mackerels and a big grouper about 3í long. We fished until about 7:30 and then using the moonlight, we felt our way along the outside of the reef and through the cut while the subtle natural way of the universe carried us home. What a priceless experience.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Here is another picture of the full moon in Paradise. May the moments of your life be as magical. Thanks for reading the SPJ.

March 23, 2003.

The weather has returned to normal in the temperature department anyway as it is in the upper 80ís here on Ambergris Caye. The last week we have had temperatures at or close to 100í F., which is much hotter than normal. The sky has been cloudy and at mid Ėafternoon it is completely cloudy. I went up the coast in my boat to the area called Playa Blanca and did a le dive for Coracol (Conch). I stopped a good distance from the reef and let the boat drift over the grassy bottom below. I drifted with it and found a few conch but not many. I decided to go up close to the reef and I nudged Baby Blue all the way up to the edge of the coral and tossed in the hook. I put on my mask, snorkel and fins and slipped over the side into the shallow water. I could feel the strong current instantly and thought to myself it was no place for anyone who wasnít a strong and confident swimmer. It was a le grassy which is good for conch, but mostly there were lots of corals. There were Brain Coral and Staghorn Coral and others I donít know the name of.. I fought my way through and over them as the surf from the reef cascaded over me and made any forward progress nearly impossible. I got as close as I dared or could and managed to fill my dive bag with some good size conch. What a cool spot to be in. If you knew a spot like that existed in the world, why in the world wouldnít you be close by it always? Just a thought. While in the sea I saw a manta ray bury itself in the white sand. It was around 5 feet across, which is fairly big for around here and it stirred up the sand into a milky trail through the sea as it buried itself. I also saw a nice Barracuda that was about 4 feet long and real girthy. I also got a le sunburn on my back. You canít ignore the sun down here no matter who you are. The sea was mild and it was a great way to spend the morning. Later, sautťed conch.

A beautiful thunderstorm has taken over the night. It is really quite nice and we need the rain. It is like the whipped cream for the end of a really great day in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

March 24, 2003.

There is a lot of hustle and bustle on the still sand streets of San Pedro. The dive shops and restaurants are all getting a good amount of business. The day was steamy from the moisture left behind in last nightís thunderstorm. I did some yard work, played my guitar and caught a le hammock time in the afternoon. It being a hot day and all I was really obligated. The night air is filled with the smell of spicy fried dinners from every kitchen in the area, or at least it seems. I have been blessed with another day of living and another day of making the dream which is my life, real. Now, I go to sit at the end of my favorite dock and listen to the heartbeat of the universe all around me. Hope you get to do the same. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

March 29, 2003.

I went to The Riverside Sports Bar to catch the NCAA hoops on their big screen. The Riverside Sports Bar is not on the beaten path exactly but is well worth the effort. It is located on the river in the Boca del Rio area almost directly behind La Popular Bakery. The owners are a family from Texas and they have made the place into something real nice. Downstairs is a game room with pool, air hockey, foosball, etc. and upstairs is the bar. Along with the big projection TV they have several other big TVís, all on different stations and they have a great sound system to go with. If you are into any sports they will have it. If you are into pool, watching the sunset or just a fun time at a bar, this is a nice spot to discover. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 3, 2003.

The breeze continues to be from the northeast and the weather is slightly unsettled but quite nice really. It is not to hot or to rough on the sea. I am taking advantage of the cool to moderate temperatures to do a spring cleaning on mi casa. I have two women from Honduras assisting me and doing most of the actual cleaning really. I clean, but come on. I am a man, so a womanís touch is needed every so often. Amen to that.

While having dinner at Celiís Restaurant on Tuesday night (I rate their fried chicken the best on the Caye) I overheard a conversation from the table next to me. Sitting there having dinner and talking about the days events were two grown men and a young boy around 11 or 12, I estimate. He was the son of one of the men. They talked and I could tell they had a great day and they seemed like just nice down to earth people. The conversation I noted was started by the father of the boy and he started talking about how as a boy he and his brother would go out and collect pop bottles and cans along the road side. They would take along big trash bags or burlap sacks and fill them up and leave them along the roadside and their mother would come and pick them and the bags up later. They would pile the bags behind the garage and when they got enough they would take them down to the corner gas station and sell them. What struck me as interesting was that this parallels the way that people survive here in Belize. They know how to squeak out a living from very meager resources, like we used to do with pop bottles and cans in the states and still do I think. Here it is an art form and I am always surprised at the resourcefulness of the Belizean people. I think that their self reliance is partially responsible for their overall natural state of happiness.

April 6, 2003.

It is a Sunday and I woke up before my Belizean Alarm clock went off. Thatís what I call the tortilla cart that comes by every morning around 7:45 honking an obnoxious horn to alert everyone within miles that they are coming with tortillas. The horn is like the kind that clowns use in a circus, you know; HONK, HONK. I have come to count on the wake up call every morning. I had my coffee and decided to walk the beach in search of gifts from the sea. The sea has been active and so has the easterly breeze, so anything may have washed up on shore. The white sandy shore was covered with the daily ration of seaweed that washes up on shore every night. The town board has someone rake it up, but not on Sundays. That means more of a chance to find something. I didnít walk far and was presented with a fine piece of bamboo about 7 feet long and about 1 and Ĺ inch around. I used it for a great walking stick until I got back home. I put it with my collection of bamboo which I use for decoration and anything else I can think of.

The sea is running with a mild chop and while not glass, it is still very doable if you are here on a visit. I watched some wind surfers cutting across the sea today. The wind is perfecto for it and the small white caps that are running inside the reef make it even more fun to do and to watch.. These guys were clipping along very fast, easily 25 mph. The parks and streets have been full of tourist and local families out enjoying the beautiful day here in paradise. Mostly it has been a slow uneventful kind of day. More or less normal I would say.

ONE NIGHT I stood along the edge of the sea one night,
the breeze blowing in my face, the wind howling in my ears.
I listened to a sound out in the darkness,
the call of the barrier reef, sounding off in the night.
Offshore in the darkness passed a light, a ship at sea,
close to shore snug at their docks, local boats danced to and fro in the waves.
Above, the Big Dipper, Orionís Belt and the Crescent Moon graced the heavens,
I let out a grand sigh and walked home, lighthearted and conscious in mind.
The Gods were pleased that night, and why shouldnít they be?

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 7, 2003.

The day has started off with a somewhat typical layer of clouds overhead. It makes it seem hazy, but it isnít exactly haze. I think the rougher seas toss up lots of spray and along with normal evaporation it makes these morning clouds.

The streets of San Pedro are, and have been full of hustle and bustle as our guests on the island enjoy themselves and spread that Yankee Dollar around. Even down here boy, we are working for that Yankee Dollar. The tourist business is not dead, but is very much alive in San Pedro, at least for the present. The sagging U.S. economy and The Bush familyís war hasnít been the doom to tourism in Belize that many (yours truly included) thought it would be. Itís not any record year, although the Government of Belize would have us all believe it is because overall arrivals are up. The vast majority of increase in arrivals to Belize is from cruise ship business and the folks disembark and spend a few hours here and get to say they have been in Belize. They have everything pre-paid on the cruise and arenít spending large sums of money because of that. Still, they are appreciated and welcome and they do bring some business. What is happening I think is a burst that is bringing the tourism industry in Belize up off the canvas and putting it back on its feet. How long this burst holds is another story for another day. So, for the moment and in true Belizean fashion, everything is good right now and that is all that matters. Weíll worry about manana, manana.

The moon is lounging in the western sky as it works it way towards full, night by night. I glance at the sky and everything is still there and I know that myself and the whole of mankind are merely transient and that our true worth lies in the way that we pass the moments here under this moon and these stars. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 9, 2003.

Buenas dias. At early morning I find the sea has gone calm and the breeze is absent from the scene. I see on my daily weather report I get via e-mail, that a cold front is approaching and this must be the lull between systems. The sky is partly cloudy and it is a pretty enough day. I look forward to passing the moments, one by one.

Around 4:00 this afternoon the air was filled with the sound of thunder. To the north the sky was covered in clouds and they were marching south towards Ambergris Caye. These clouds brought a serious rain and some very strong wind with them. The streets became empty for the couple of hours the rain lasted. The day turned to night and the sky stayed cloudy but the moon still managed to rhythmically slip in and out of view, giving the impression it was being serenaded by an unseen orchestra.

Had a great Pizza at Paulyís Pizza which is newly located on Tarpon Street in the spot where Mickeyís Restaurant used to be. They advertise themselves as a real New York style pizzeria and I agree. The pizza is real good, so when fish, lobster or chicken doesnít sound good, go to Paulyís Pizza.. Their phone is 226-2651 and they have take out, sit down or delivery. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 10, 2003.

It is a cool morning, temperature wise. The cold front made it down and I saw Geraldo Badillo of The El Gato Sailing Catamaran and he told me that his trip for the day canceled because of the cold weather. Of course it was really in the low 70ís but that can feel cold down here in the breeze. The day turned out to be very pretty.

I pumped the rain water out of my boat from last night and mostly just stayed close to home doing small chores. When you live here, everyday isnít some incredible experience and some are just plain boring. Still, I wouldnít trade any of them for anything else in the world.

At around 8:30 I was on my way home from town and as always I was enjoying the true flavor of where I live and where I had chosen to spend the moments of my life. Here is a le piece of the pie we call life in San Pedro.

Last nights rain left a few puddles here and there and especially in low spots. One of those low spots was on the street corner across from La Popular Bakery in the Boca del Rio area. There on the corner was as nice of a water/mud puddle you could ever wish to behold. The worthiness of this puddle was not being ignored by the neighborhood youth. Two young boys had carved boats out of left over Styrofoam from some packing crate and they were ďsailingĒ them along this miniature sea. The boats actually had good detail with a deck, tiller and wheel. Several of their friends surrounded them and they all played happily and very much in this Belizean moment. Above in the night sky the half moon gave a daunting glow to the night sky. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 11, 2003.

It is a perfect day with a clear sky, near flat sea and temperature in the low 80ís. Amen. I did some work on my boat this morning, just light maintenance but I need to pull it up and scrape the bottom again. That is a fact of life on the sea. I played my guitar, practiced my Spanish and lounged in my hammock and the day slid right on by. As I passed through town tonight, the streets were nearly deserted. It feels like the tourist count is starting to go back down. We need the season to last longer to make up for a bad January and February, not to mention December and March. Life in paradise can be tricky, think of Adam and Eve for example.

The sweet night air and the magical light from the moon and stars are calling me out. Hope you can feel the magic just like I can. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 12, 2003.

Saturday night has fallen on our Isla Bonito and the air is cool and all around people are ending their work day and planning for Saturday night. The moon is high overhead and has reached about 2/3 full. Light cotton ball looking clouds are streaming across the night sky. Itís another magic night in Paradise. What will the night bring?

I went to Fidoís to listen to Category7, I have been looking forward to hearing the excellent American Rock and Roll they play. I paid my $10.00 admission/2 drink minimum and went inside. 8:30 passed and I was wondering where the band was, so I asked one of the guys that worked there what was up. He told me the band broke up on Wednesday night and werenít playing there. About the same time Barefoot Skinny was on stage playing and he said the band would not be there tonight because the drummer was sick. I donít know which story is true but I tend to believe the first one. Either way I was bummed and felt slightly cheated at the door when they took my money and didnít tell me that the same band that always plays there on Saturday night wasnít there. Could be they thought I was a tourist and wouldnít know the difference, but I did. (Editors note: when the owner of Fidoís found out about this he offered to return the admission). Barefoot is real good for sure, but one guy canít do Santana songs justice. Ah, life in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 13, 2003.

I went to Linoís Meat Market and got a lb. of ground steak this morning around 10:30. On the way home I drove past the Catholic Church and it was over flowing at the doors. It is Palm Sunday and there are lots of confirmations too. All afternoon and through the early night there were celebration parties going on everywhere. On virtually every block at least one home had music blasting, kids playing and adults enjoying Belikins. What a great way to pass a Sunday.

My neighbor and his family went to Punta Gorda to visit family for a week and they rented their house to another family. One of the kids is a little girl maybe 6 or 7 I guess. I stopped for a minute to talk to her because she had a big smile on her face and I was just drawn to her. Her Aunt was close by and told me that the girl couldnít speak or hear. I smiled and talked to her anyway and she smiled back and seemed to understand me. I was struck by how happy she seemed despite her circumstance. I waved bye and came back across the street to my house. When I was 5 years old I had a friend who was one year younger and sickly. He was always getting picked on by some older bullies. I took up for him before I had any ability to really think about it and make some conscious decision to ďhelpĒ someone. It seems ever since I have been drawn to others who need help or a hand with some ďbullyĒ or another. I consider this a blessing and I get a chance to know and learn from many different people from many different walks of life. I wondered how this le girl could express herself not talking or hearing. I decided to give her an art kit I had that contained crayons, paint, brushes, chalk, and some other art supplies. When she got it, I showed her how to open it and she got out the crayons and drew some pretty pictures.

The great orange ball sank away into oblivion and not a cloud was to be found in the sky. Already overhead the moon took center stage. The stars and planets appeared too, just like the other members of this grand play that is unfolding. Where is your part and how is it unfolding? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 14, 2003.

It is a picturesque kind of morning on Ambergris Caye. The day is bright with sunshine and the ever magnificent blue of the sea is glistening on top like someone tossed in tons of diamond dust. The sea is not angry or rolling in any fashion but is calm and sedate with just very small waves from the light breeze.

Just a note that we have been experiencing water outages everyday and night for several days now, a problem that seems to continue to haunt us here in San Pedro. Think about not being able to shower (or worse, finish a shower), do laundry, wash dishes, wash your hands, or flush your toilet. Yes, that is life here in paradise. Why not spend several thousand dollars to come on down and experience it?

After I finished lunch today at Elviís, one of my friends who is a waitress there shared some photos with me. She went home to Orange Walk last Sunday to help with a party to celebrate her Momís birthday. She had photos of all the fun and all her family including her Mom. It looked like a real nice time and I thought to myself this is the part of Belize that I fell in love with. Once again I will say it, the people of Belize are its most valuable asset, the fact that being in Belize is like being inside an issue of National Geographic is a distant second. I am lucky she shared her special time through pictures and conversation. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 15, 2003.

Since we are still without public water supply I took an empty 5 gallon Barry Bowen water jug down to my rain water tank and filled it up to have water upstairs. As I was stooped there watching the captured rain water fill up my jug I thought of how life used to be simpler here on Ambergris Caye when everyone used their rain catch as their main water supply. I thought about how even here we have become used to the comforts of modern society.. I found myself smiling and liking the ďsimplerĒ lifestyle as I shut off the spigot and carried my rainwater upstairs.

The sea was calm and called me out today. I went fishing most of the day. I got back to my dock at about 4:00 and it took about another hour to get the gear in and clean the fish. I went with a friend and we went to the south end of the caye and caught some sardines along the mangroves that are all along the area there. Then we fished in the area between Ambergris and Caye Caulker. I caught a Barracuda trolling with a live sardine and then we anchored and fished with cut bait. The snappers were biting all day off and on and we caught a good amount. The breeze was very slight and it got hot in the mid afternoon. To cool off we jumped in and I looked for conch while my friend speared a couple of fish with a Hawaiian Sling. I saw a turtle while I was fishing. On the way home as we passed Hol Chan I counted about 15 boats including motor boats, sailboats and a small yacht all tied up at the Marine Park. Lots of tourist having a wonderful day I thought.

The night sky is clear of clouds. The near full moon has claimed the sky in the east and the stars and planets have claimed the western sky. The point where they meet seems to be right above Ambergris Caye and that would make perfect sense to me. I lay on my favorite dock and watched the night sky. As I watched and listened to the natural rhythm of the sea, I could feel myself settle into what I can only describe as the cradle, like the cradle of life. Hope you know what I mean. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 16, 2003.

Our island is filling up with visitors for the Easter weekend. Not just American tourist but tourists from all over, including Belize, Mexico and South America. Easter is typically a very full time here. I had a nice Club sandwich at The Blue Water Grill for lunch. The food is really good there and the view is too. They are located in the Sunbreeze hotel right on the beach. While I was there I watched the dive boats all come back in from their morning dives. Tanisha Eco-Tours, Amigoís del Mar and Aqua Dive are all located close by and they were all full of divers.

A full moon graces us overhead and the light from it sinks into the shimmering sea, looking much like someone tossed a glow in the dark fluorescent stick in a swimming pool. Except this isnít a swimming pool.. I look to the heavens and thank the subtle natural way of the universe for letting me be here and for letting me share being here with you. May your dream be your life. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 17, 2003.

I went up to a spot around Buena Vista this morning and spent about 3 hours hanging out and diving for conch. The sea is clear and calm and I nudged Baby Blue up into the shallow spots by the reef. If you pay attention to the breeze, the current and the coral you can get away with this. On a rough or windy day it is a bit more of a challenge. I jumped and spent some time in and among the various types of coral and sea life that make up the second largest living barrier reef in the world. I filled my dive bag with some very nice conch. On the way home I ran out of fuel. I don't like to leave much extra in the tank at the end of the day because it may get stolen. No problem today! I tipped up the tank and opened the cap a few turns to let more air flow and limped into the dock at the Essene Way. I checked there for gas but nothing much is going on there these days and no one had any gas. I walked along the beautiful beach to Captain Morgan's which is the next resort to the south. Of course it is the spot where they filmed Temptation Island for T.V. and it is happening. I found the right guy and bought 3 gallons of gas and a quart of oil and borrowed their gas can to haul it to my boat in. Just a minor setback and not really any big deal. Came on home and smiled as I landed at my own dock. I was hot and I was hungry, so I took a quick rinse and then crossed the river on the hand ferry and had a nice lunch at Sweet Basil. After that I came home and closed my bedroom door for about an hour and turned on my air conditioner. I caught plenty of sun and the day was calm and hot to start with so I was ready for some AC.

It is one of the nights that you can visualize in your mind but is hard to fathom completely in its reality. The sky has no clouds and is full of stars. The full moon is high and dancing on the tranquil sea. A lot of people are out and lots of people are on the island due to Easter. Oh yes, before I forget, a good friend of mine goes out in a small kayak and spears fish sometimes using a Hawaiian sling. He paddles out to the reef and then swims the whole time with the kayak tied on to him with a long rope. He didn't come back until after dark a couple of night ago. He told me he was clear past Captain Morgan's, meaning he swam 3-4 miles as he speared fish. The interesting part is he saw a real big Hammerhead and a real big Bull Shark. They were really beautiful he said, and smart. When they came to check him out they came in with the glare of the sun behind them. Now to me, that is the kind of thing that lets you know you are alive. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 30, 2003.

Easter came and went and with it the majority of our visitors. Everyone expects it to slow down some after Easter and it has. There are still tourists and the dive boats all came in around noon today full of divers. The days have been real hot and hazy. I had to fly to International airport yesterday to get a package out of customs and I noticed lots of smoke from burning of the bush around the airport and farther. I could see where a lot of area had already been charred and burned. I wonder if it is controlled by the Belize Government or just farmers clearing land to plant crops? Either way it was putting lots of smoke in the air and I also wonder if it is adding to our hazy sky? Not to mention it isn't a pleasant sight or smell when you first arrive into our beautiful country. First impressions are lasting. Then when I came back home to San Pedro, our trash dump was smoking up the sky. Yes it is paradise, but it ain't perfect! The nights are a god send with their cooler air and slightly stronger breezes. Tonight along the sandy shore, small waves are slapping at anything along the shoreline and the sea is singing a song with chorus after chorus. I hear the harmony in the background, hope you do too! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 1, 2003.

It is Labor Day in Belize. Many places and of course government offices and banks are closed. Quite a few of other businesses are closed here in San Pedro also. The day was hot and humid and I passed it mostly around mi casa. I held down the hammock, played a few chords on my guitar and planted some vermilions in my yard. I enjoyed lunch out at the Blue Water Grill. The day just sort of melted away.

The night air is cooler and must contain some powerful intoxicating chemical because I feel its effects. I hear some people on the street below as they drive by on a golf cart, they must feel it too. No one escapes its powerful grasp, no one. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 5, 2003.

Much breeze. The wind surfers are in heaven. I see them flying by as they jump the small waves that are inside the reef right now. At least someone is enjoying all this non-stop wind. When I just visited for a week or two at a time like the average tourist, I noticed the blowing sand and felt its sting on my skin as I rounded the corner onto Barrier Reef Drive where the wind was less obstructed. I never really knew the extent of how much of an inconvenience it really is until I began living here. It gets into your eyes, and you breathe it all the time causing lots of respiratory problem.. This strong breeze just kicks it up even more. That is just one of a long list of things that you may not know but should before you jump ship and head for paradise. Just a le reality check. Ah. Paradise, I love it! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 8, 2003.

It has been so windy the last few days. The sand is blowing in your eyes and nose and lungs, the sea is all foamy and slamming against the reef like an angry fist. It isn't prime for trips on the sea but still you can go. I know that one of the bigger sailing boats is not going out right now because of the breeze. Still in all the fury of the wind and the sea I find a natural rhythm that stirs my soul. I find that there is a beauty in this meshing of nature's forces and indeed then there is a meaning to life too. The souls of my feet are longing to feel the cool damp sand along the edge of the sea. Hope to pass you there. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 9, 2003.

It is a beautiful, albeit another "Ground Hog Day" on our Isla Bonita.. I am reminded of my reasons to smile and feel every moment of this day. Live is out there, how much you take is up to you. The wind remains strong and the sea very choppy. I walked down my dock to check on my mooring lines and the sea was very murky looking close to shore, not the usual clarity for sure.. I have some laundry to finish and then I will do whatever comes my way.

The clouds in the western sky sucked in the sunset and above the moon hung lazily in the sky high overhead. The sound of the sea permeates everything, including my very being. Thank you oh subtle natural way of the universe. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 10, 2003.

May 10 is the day that Belizean's celebrate Mothers Day. It is a pretty day. The sky is clear and the sun is shining. The Frigate birds are riding the thermals high in the sky. The sea is throwing small white capped waves up on our shore, a sure sign that the sea is very rough right now. I need to go pick up a few groceries in town. The electricity has been going off through the night and this morning and the water pressure is about half of normal.. Life in paradise, I love it!

Tonight we have a beautiful Night sky. I saw a shooting star and thanked the subtle natural way of the universe for sending me the sign. Hope you got to see it too! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 11, 2003.

I called my Mom and wished her a happy Mothers Day this morning. It is hard sometimes living in paradise because not everyone you care about can live here too. Of course I don't really believe that because anyone who really wanted to live her could find a way. You have to make your way through life here just like anywhere else in the world. I called my Mom this morning for a couple of reasons. One to wish her a happy Mothers Day and tell her that I loved her and I also called because it is important not to put things off in life. You never know what may be your last action in this world. So, for the important stuff; don't wait.

In the dark of night I hear the roar of the sea, at my feet the fretted waves tango and salsa as they slap against the shore. Cocking my head just right I can find the true direction of the domineering breeze, and somehow that, along with the rhythmic sound of the sea leaves me a tiny message. Walking the sandy shore I feel the connection to all my surroundings, I'm in no hurry to make my way home, I'm already there.

The breeze is still strong but has dropped a le bit. The sea remains very foamy along the reef. I spend the afternoon on my veranda and in my hammock, listening to Jimmy Buffett. About an hour or so before sunset the moon was already very high and almost overhead in the twaining skies. It seemed to be saying "Hey, I am center stage here, lets get on with it." And so they did. I walked along the sea and on my dock tonight and the spray from the waves is soaking even the boards of the dock. The benches along the beach in the Boca del Rio Park have been getting waves that leave then soaked, if that gives you a visual reference point. The sea does seem to have calmed down a bit, but even so it is really stirred up and murky to say the least. It will clear fast when the weather.mellows. Until then, we can only make our way along the sandy shore the best we know how. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 12, 2003.

Sounds of this night: First the breeze as it roars through everything. Second the murmur from the reef and third the melodic clanging of the mainsheet against the mast of a lone sailboat tied up at a near by dock. Above in the night sky the moon is nearly full and dances in and out of the thick puffy clouds and cast a ring around itself whenever it is free from the clouds. The air is so wet from sea spray that everything gets a wet film on it and you think it has been raining but it hasn't, this is due to the high winds we have had for the last week. They have escalated the high seas and also carry the spray from these huge waves from the reef where they crash up into shore and our island paradise. The whole thing makes for some incredible magic and if you can feel it, you can be a part of it and use it to create your future. Now how's that for some lunar lunacy? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 14, 2003.

Last night the electricity went off for the entire country sometime around mid-night although I don't know exactly what time it was. It stayed off all night and until after noon today. It was a short night for sleeping and I didn't sleep much at all. I went out on my front porch and laid in my hammock trying to catch some of the cooling breeze. It was a real inconvenience and I admit that I am way too spoiled when it come to small creature comforts like fans and a/c etc. We loose our power more often that we like and every time it goes out the coconut telegraph has the Government of Belize broke and not able to pay Mexico for their current (that is where we buy our electricity at here in Belize). I wasn't the only one who didn't sleep and who was complaining about it as several of my Belizean friends felt the same way. It is paradise all right, but even the Garden of Eden had a few dings. The cool night air is singing a song to me and calling me out. Hope to see you out there in body or spirit. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 15, 2003.

The moon is full overhead. There will be a lunar eclipse tonight I am told. It should be quite a site. Earlier this evening I watched a young boy walking down the street and he was playing with a wooden top. Yes a top, the kind you pull a string and it spins around and stays upright etc. It worked pretty good and looked like he was having a lot of fun. I wondered if the top was home made or not.

The sea has calmed down and I watched two different sailboats pass by out in the blue today. I gave a ride to Pizanno on my way into town this evening.. It seems I always pass through town when he is heading home and he always wants a ride. He is the same as ever for those who know him. This afternoon I spent about an hour sitting along the edge of the sea just watching the whole crazy scene. People walked by, golf cart's and taxi's sped by, churning up the dust that is almost a plaque for the island and out on the sea numerous tour boats were returning to shore from the afternoons activities.

Hot flash, I hear that category 7 will be back, now called category 10. They will be playing at Fido's Courtyard on this Saturday Night. That is cool news for those who like to listen and dance to great American Rock and Roll, me being one of them.

Life is like a walk on the beach. Every step you take leaves a footprint. The things we do in our lives are much like that footprint, sort of a genetic footprint of who we are. If you choose to be kind and helpful to others or if you choose to be surely and mean; either way you are leaving your own unique foot prints on the beach. With this in mind I go to walk the beach and pay careful attention to how I leave my foot prints in the sand.. Whatever beach you are walking, hope you do the same. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 30, 2003

One of the things I like about the Belizean people is their ability to enjoy life. They make the simplest things seem fun, like working on a bicycle or seeing someone they know pass by who they yell at and laugh with. Even the workers who carry and use a shovel all day long all seem to have a happy perspective in life. I find that to be very admirable and I humbly accept the fact that this is being made apparent to me in the smallest of ways.

The morning is partly cloudy and the air is still and thick. It feels like another typical day in paradise. Speaking of typical days in paradise, my golf cart is not running and needs a new switch. They are only $285.00 from Captain Sharks but have to be ordered from the states (3 week delivery time) or I could buy the only one I could find (after an exhaustive search) from another (unnamed) cart rental business for $500.00. Supply and demand is alive and very well here on Ambergris Caye.

The day was slight of breeze and warm. The night is cool and crisp and the breeze is causing the island to dance. I walked along the sea and checked the stars. They are still there, bright as ever and waiting for your eyes.. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 1, 2003.

It is an overcast Sunday morning here on Isla Bonita. Just a little before nine and I am enjoying the beauty all around me and listening to the sounds of the hood here in Boca del Rio. I here the sound of a skill saw, a hammer clanking against something metal and a tractor motor as the second trailer full of beverage goes past on its way to the Boca del Rio Park (the last day celebration of the Reef Festival, I think). Then everything turns silent again until the shrill sound of a melodious blackbird carries across space to my ears and a lone tour guide passes in his motorboat behind me in the river. I sit silently right here in the center. Don't tell me the universe is not what you make it.

I bought the bullet and paid $500.00/bze for my golf cart switch yesterday and it appears to be back on the road again.

Today is the first day of the Hurricane season. If you live on the island you know that all to well. I hope I have very little to say about it this year. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 2, 2003.

A big thunderstorm with strong wind and driving rain came over right about dawn this morning. Its sounds made for great sleeping in weather. The forecast has rain and we are entering the rainy season. The sea remains calm in spite of the passing storm. My golf cart is still on the blink. It left me stranded after a great dinner at Celi's last night. There are so many wires and one or more of them must have a hole in them. Even the tiniest crack or hole can let the salt air in and then they just turn green with corrosion from the point of the hole all the way back to both ends. Many times you can't see it with your eye but when you replace them you see the whole wire has gone green. Maybe today it will get fixed. Just one thing on the long list of "Things that you have to put up with to live in paradise that you don't learn from spending a few weeks a year here and should know before you jump in and move to Paradise". It is a very long list and not meant to scare anybody away, but it does exist. Yin and Yang are right here in Paradise.

A crescent or new moon hangs low in the early night sky. The day turned out to be perfect from a visitors point, sunny, calm sea and slight breeze. If you were working at anything it felt a le warm but still a perfect day. I walked along the beach at dusk and watched the lights come flickering on as the charter boats from TMM slipped into their nightly routine. There really is nothing like sleeping on a sailboat anchored securely at sea. I think you remember the natural rhythm you heard in your mother's womb. And of course that means, "you sleep like a baby." Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 3, 2003.

The morning brought lots of sun and wind. The sea was moderate with a le white inside meaning small wind generated white caps. Not the perfect day for the sea but not a bad one either. The streets of San Pedro are alive with activity, as several groups of visitors have arrived. I chatted for a while with a couple from Maine and another couple from Australia where it is starting winter now. They are staying at Seven Seas just up the beach a bit from me. I got a look at the small resort and found it quite nice. I have been by it front and back more times than I can know ever since it was first built but never went on to the grounds or into the rooms. Inside the 3 story towers that contain the small condos there is a nice pool and a nice area around it with a tropical feel. It is not grand but a nice blend of Belizean style and American comfort. That is how I would describe the condo I saw with its nice 1 bedroom with a/c, a living room/kitchen and a sufficient bathroom. Right on the beach and while not Big Resorty, a very decent place to stay I would think and middle of the road priced also at $100.00/US give or take according to season and direct booking etc. I don't have an email for them but shouldn't be hard for you to find, phone is 501-226-2382.

The magic of the night is all around as the wind rattles the coconut palms and the crescent moon crosses through the dark sky. I am not in need of anything at this moment but this moment. Thanks for sharing it. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 4, 2003.

It is just about 8:30 in the morning and the temperature is in the 86' F. range. I have been doing some projects around the house and my boat this morning and it is already hot. The sea has calmed and it looks like another great day in paradise.

I stopped in to the Pier Lounge for the World Famous Wednesday night Chicken Drop. There was a good crowd gathered around the game board. There seemed to be a lot of talk about who had which number and which number was going to win. I didn't see the winning number drop but it looked like everyone there was having so much fun that they were all winners. Can you imagine if an alien civilization happened to look in on us for the first time at the Pier Lounge on Wednesday night? Well for sure it would make for a better, kinder, more understanding universe. Wonder what they are doing on Jupiter this Wednesday night?

The night sky is creamy, Moon, planets, stars and all that cosmic jazz. Can't you just feel it, the energy of the universe as its hurls through the great void, ever expanding, ever retracting, ever regenerating, and ever exhausting? From my tiny vantage point on this tiny spit of sand in the Caribbean Sea, I can't help but feel it. Close your eyes and you will feel it too. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 5, 2003.

Night wind blasting through the window penetrates my brain, leaving behind a gluttonous fog that makes everything seem hazy. Moist tropical air surrounds my skin and fills my lungs, my being is immersed in damp, dark, primordial embryonic fluid of the universe. A masterpiece is unfolding above as the night sky gives its performance for this night, as sure as each star and planet does the right thing at the right time and right spot, all of us are just the same and life is just an endless plane.

The current was a bit strong along the reef for snorkeling today even though the sea was fairly calm. That can happen. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 7, 2003.

It is a very hot day with the same strong breeze blowing and the same choppy sea and strong current to contend with. I had lunch at one of my favorite spots and sitting across was a couple and the guy looked a lot like Lionel Richie and someone actually came up and ask him if he was. He wasn't and they joked about an autograph. Right after that the lady found a bug under her lettuce and that wasn't too cool. I left before I saw the way it all turned out but it for sure turned a pleasant lunch for them into a less than pleasant experience. I don't have any real comment except we do have bugs here. Also while at lunch I overheard two attractive women who I guess to be around 50 as they conversed. These ladies were really quite pretty and attractive. They were talking about everyone they knew and what type of cosmetic procedure they had had done. No big deal just a small sample of what has become the norm in our society. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 8, 2003.

I went to Fido's Courtyard last night to listen to the latest version of Category X. The crowd was modest and the band was a disappointment. They sounded good but didn't play the same great tunes that they used too as the "other band" and when I left at 11:30 almost nobody had danced all night except for when they played Play that Funky Music White Boy. The music was for the most part really good just not what the crowd wanted I guess.

So that means I was out semi-late and got to bed late. The last thing you want on a Sunday morning after a Saturday night out is to be woke up early. Guess what, the electricity went off just about daybreak and woke me (and many others across the island I think) up. What that means is it is a foggy morning and I don't mean outside. It is a glorious day with steady breeze and slightly choppy seas. The sea does appear to be calmer than the last few days. I am right here in paradise and I thank the subtle natural way of the universe for allowing me to live the dream.

I went up to the Mata Chica cut with a couple of my friends who are visiting and we did some snorkeling. The current was strong but I am a strong swimmer so it didn't bother me. I did have trouble getting all the way up to the reef because of the current and the big waves crashing down. I would swim towards it and get slammed back, swim forward get slammed back. The waves that were slamming me back were coming in sets of 2 and I could make a little progress in between. I really wanted to get up to the reef because that is where to find the nice conch. I got close but the waves were to big and caused a sort of white out in the water when they came crashing down. What made it hard to see was millions of air bubbles in the water after the waves hit. It turned out to be a short harvest of conch but a great time in the sea. The coral makes a lot of small le tunnels and caverns in this area and it is fun to explore them. A huge formation of coral will have an open area that is filled with white white sand and you can find some conch or lobster hiding along the edges many times. For me it creates the kind of feeling a small boy would have exploring things he always wanted to see. I hope you're explorations in life are just as rewarding. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 9, 2003.

I walked the short distance to La Popular bakery this morning for some pastries. One of the things I passed I found very precious and inspirational. On the small front porch of a very humble looking shack, to use an American term, sat an elderly woman. She had white hair and dark skin. I could hear her singing as she sat there on her le piece of the universe and I could see her smile and feel her joy. As I passed she slipped a "Good Morning" and big smile into her song. Her voice wasn't loud but was just the right level of volume for someone singing to themselves and it had a sweet almost holy sound. I took the song to be a religious hymn and continued walking down the street and she went back to being happy and singing. Just one moment in time in San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye in Belize, Central America, Planet Earth, and Cosmic Universe.

There is a swimsuit catalog/ model search going on here in San Pedro. I stopped and watched a photo shot along the beach in Boca del Rio right in front of Capt. Robby's house. Beautiful women in skimpy swimsuits, just another thing we have to put up with here in paradise. There was one male model also.

The day is fine with a stiff breeze and mostly sunny skies. The sea is kicked up a bit more but sure looks enchanting. Spent the balance of the day in my hammock or playing my guitar. Made a run around tonight looking for something happening but found not much. Monday night is only what you make it here in Paradise. I did catch The Punta Boys at the Playador Hotel for a while. The night sky is magic as always and the nearing full moon is on center stage; I am in the wings and loving every minute. Hope you are too! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 10, 2003.

A bright morning here on our le island. The weather is pretty much the same right now with mostly sunny skies, stiff steady breeze and temps in the 90' range. We are late on the rainy season and could use some rain but not the normal long deluge that leaves us like a giant bowl of mud. Thanks for letting me be here for another day oh subtle natural way of the universe.

The day dripped by and I didn't really do much, or so it seems. I met some friends at Caliente's for dinner and it was really good. On the way home I paused and looked to the night sky. There I saw everything that has meaning in life, such as beauty, change, and the simple fact that all the pieces fit together correctly even if we can't always see the entire picture. Indeed, I am a lucky hombre. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 11, 2003.

The nights and the mornings are so luscious here on Ambergris Caye. This morning is no exception with sweet air, a cooling breeze and the sounds of life in paradise. The sea is calm with just a very light chop inside. Out in the blue is has calmed down also and the reef isn't being assaulted by thundering giant waves and the white foam that marked its edge has gone.

I went for a jump in the sea and dove for some Conch. The Conch is hard to find right now, but I still managed a few. The water was fairly calm and the current was just slight, a perfect day for cruising along the reef in your snorkel gear. I saw a Puffer Fish or Chicken of the Sea they are called here and of course the standard tropical aquarium varieties of fish. I looked for lobster, not to harvest but just to see if I saw many. I didn't see any but when the lobster season starts in a few days I know there will be thousands of pounds come in on the first day or two.

A post card night and I wish to send it out to all of you. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 12, 2003.

I stopped and talked with Richie Woods today. He is a wealth of information about the sea and area shipwrecks. He was telling me about the Gold carrying ship the Santiago which went down in this area around 1792 or a bit before then he said. It has never been found and is supposed to have been carrying as much gold and silver as was possible for its size. Richie told me the Spanish used to put clues on their maps as to the location of shipwrecks and would never put the exact location down. He says some old maps give you the approximate whereabouts of the Santiago. Richie is always worth the time for the things he knows about Belize. He also dove with Jacques Cousteau in the 1960's at the now famous Blue Hole. For those who might know Rich he said he was doing good and looked pretty good. There are many treasures around us in life and there certainly are clues to their whereabouts. Hope you find yours. A Near full moon. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 13, 2003.

Friday the 13th and full moon, can't touch that. The day is once again tropically perfect with copious amounts of sun and the steady, ever so steady, breeze. I went this afternoon to pay my water bill and learned that WASA (they have a new name but I am a creature of habit and use their old name) closed at 3:00 on Fridays, never knew that.

Along the moon drenched sandy white shore I walk,
listening to the call of the sea.
I hear much more than I can know,
And only try to understand it bit by bit.

May your lunacy be as mine, a dream of a lifetime. Right here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.


A ton of cocaine, more or less was floating around in the sea recently.

The electricity and water both continue going on and off.

Saw Miss Elvi, Elvi Staines and talked with her. She was doing well.

July 15, 2003.

What can you say about a tropical island that hasn't been said? Sort of a John Lennon approach if you will. I believe that is why I didn't keep a journal last month. I am much like an empty vase at times and I must allow time for myself to fill back up. It was a normal lunar cycle last month with a tropical storm named Chantal hanging around on a track right for us for several days and then turning north away from us. Many things happened but I was not inspired enough to capture them and set them into words. I did discover Coconuts Hotel and their nice little setting on the sea. I can't really say about the rooms but I like the spot for its view and bar and restaurant are both good. They had Jimmy Buffett playing the first time I stopped in and that was a good sign. Great Pina Colada's too! I have passed by the place since it was built and never stopped in. Glad I did. Now for today the sky is sunny and the sea is calm. It did rain hard and pass right over earlier this morning. Tourism seems to be holding its own as is somehow indicative of our le island enigma.

The tranquillizing blue of the sea is in full force and an occasional boat goes skimming past leaving behind a contrasting white foamy wave. The Palm trees are right in tune with the beat of the breeze and this small spit of sand in the western Caribbean Sea is right in synch. Right Here, mi amigos ---Reef Ransom.

July 18, 2003.

The night sky contained some lightening last night and the morning has brought some moderate showers and cloudy skies. I went to town and took care of some small errands and then stopped in at Elvi's for lunch. They had two large groups of people there and just arriving for lunch. One was a church group and there were 40 and the other was a group of 60 and I am not sure what brought them to Belize but it too looked like a group of church folks down to spread the good word to all the poor unsaved folks of Central America. A little cynical? Yes it is. The guys at Elvi's did a real good job of getting me in and getting me my lunch despite the large groups. This is a good time to mention a great bartender and great guy Emil. Emil is the bartender at Elvi's and a fun guy and knows his job real well.

The afternoon is going by slowly which is normal. What will the rest of the day bring to us in life? Just a walk on the beach and a swing in the hammock. Rough duty for sure. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 22, 2003.

Today after a nice lunch at Elvi's I went north along the coast with a couple of new friends from San Antonio, Texas. We cruised along the coast and talked about the development going on and went to about Habanero's and then turned around and stopped along the reef for a jump in the sea. I hoped to find some lobster but only saw very small ones. I did see a nurse shark about 4 feet long as I was poking around in the coral looking for lobster.. I tried to follow him but he was in a hurry. We tried another spot as we came back and still no lobster. I didn't really mind because anytime in the sea around here is better than about anything else in the world. We crept back in to the dock as the day was going down and tucked away another great memory in our mental scrapbooks. Oh yea, one more thing. Those folks from San Antonio sure know how to live; they brought me 3 bottles of K.C. Masterpiece BBQ sauce. Muchos gracias! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 6, 2003.

Hot and Tropical, imagine that. The highlight of the day was seeing the Beauty Queens hanging around San Pedro. They are here for the Costa Maya Festival. My favorite is Miss Mexico or Miss Honduras. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 9, 2003.

My how time fly's. I woke up around 7 this morning. It seemed early so I lay in bed for awhile but I heard the horn from the tortilla cart go by and I figured it must be closer to 8. He was early and it was only 7:30. Now the significance of this is in that the electricity went off at 8 (a not uncommon experience here in paradise) and if I had gotten up at 8 I wouldn't have been able to make my coffee which I really need in the morning. I had just made it and poured my first cup when the current went off. I used to get mad at that obnoxious horn from the tortilla cart but I guess I got a gift from it so I don't mind it now. The moral of the story is: don't hate your neighborhood tortilla salesman because he bears a gift from the subtle natural way of the universe.

It is a fresh feeling morning. The breeze is steady and the air is not so thick, giving it a fresh feel. It looks like a perfect day ahead with sunny sky, lightly rippled sea and palm trees dancing to the maestros beat. I went to bail yesterday's rain out of my boat and was rewarded with a gift from the sea. I found a nice piece of bamboo floating right at the foot of my dock. It is around 12 feet long I guess and it is covered with le bi-valve shells of different types from its journey here in the sea. I brought it home and proudly placed it along the fence to dry and take its rightful place among my other pieces of bamboo in my collection. When or how I will use it is not important. Having it is.

The main event of the Costa Maya Festival is tonight it being Saturday.

The parties lasted till way past dawn and it was quite a blowout. Check it out next year; just be aware that it doesn't really get going till 11 or 12 at night.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 11, 2003.

Pre dawn thunder spread through the air this morning as a bit of a tropical wave approached. It rained very hard about 8 and has since passed leaving lots of billowy thunderstorm looking clouds in the area, all in all, not an untypical day on the island. It was fairly quiet on the island today because of the energy spent up this weekend I think. Just about everybody I saw was or had been partying at an Olympic pace.

Here is your dose of lunar lunacy for this lunar cycle:

There is something I have wanted to do lately, sort of an adventure I guess you could call it, but I have been putting it off; being a bit hesitant. What I want to do is nothing extreme but any true adventure has its share of risk, the unknown and some danger as well as mystery. The other side of the metaphysical coin is the sense of accomplishment you gain from taking on the adventure and its elements and coming out on the backside in some sort of desirable position. What I have learned is that as we live longer than we thought we would when we were in our teens or twenty's we tend to become more cautious about taking on adventure in life. We don't want to take the risk, to rock the boat or chance the status quo. I am not old nor am I young really, but I find I am like this. Now here is the reason that I mention this and the reason that it matters to me. As I reflect back I see the future and I know without a doubt that in life you don't gain anything if you don't embrace risk and take a chance when you know you should. Everything I ever learned or have or had in my life came to me through the process of embracing the adventure in life and taking the chance. Risk it seems is really just future reward in life. The reward may be material but even better if is not because there is no greater treasure in life than to catch an occasional glimpse of how it all works and what it all means.
Magic permeates everything on this night. The full moon is high overhead and is thinly veiled by the passing clouds. Out in the dark is the distant rumble of thunder, left over from the cosmic light show we call lightening. I can only feel humbled by the gift and I know what it means to be the luckiest man alive. May we all feel this way. Right here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 12, 2003.

A really beautiful sailboat, a schooner; ran onto the reef yesterday as it was trying to make it through the channel to come inside. I could see it from the beach here in Boca del Rio but I wanted to take a closer look so I got my binoculars and went down to Ramon's Resort. They have a real long pier and the sailboat was more or less in front of there, on the reef. First let me say that seeing that magnificent vessel caught upon the coral reef is not something that is easily imagined with any accuracy. I was taken by the sight of a man, whom I presume to be the owner/skipper sitting along the fore deck on the starboard side. The boat was pitched to starboard and was healed over quite a bit. On the port side were the sea and the surf and the vast array of possibilities that lie out to open sea. The waves would hit the back side (from my view point) and send spray flying through the air. I could make out the steady spray from what I presume was a bilge pump and the ship seemed to be stable in its precarious position. I couldn't help but wonder what may be going through the minds of the people still on board; as they had not left the ship stating it was their home. For most people buying a big sailing boat and sailing away to paradise would be only a dream. To actually do it and face the adventure was another thing and my heart went out to these fellow human beings and at the same time my admiration for them was growing. One of the guys from Ramon's told me some friends had snorkeled around the boat and it had a good size hole. Holes can be fixed and getting it off the reef was the real problem. I stayed and watched the smaller boats hovering around and the big Tugboat that was waiting to try and pull them free until about 6 and then I decided to leave and hope for the best for them. Tonight as the sun has gone to the other part of the world and the full moon has taken center stage, I can only wait till tomorrow to find out what fate has in store. There are some things you can see and some things you can only know, while in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 15, 2003.

I went to Jade Garden for dinner tonight. They will be closing on this Sunday for the slow season and I needed one more hit of Sweet and Sour Lobster and 2 pieces of the islands best (unfrozen) caye lime pie. This is one thing to remember or know: many places close for the slow season for a couple of weeks or in this case for 6 weeks and while there are plenty of places open you may not get to go to your favorite spot this time of year.. I sat in the screened in area and had sprayed with bug spray before I went in anticipation of mosquito's but they still got me a bit. That is one thing to remember if the breeze is calm like it was today and tonight, spray down before going or you will be dinner instead of having dinner. Now it is around 8ish and the breeze is still calm and the sea is almost without movement. In contrast to this calmness, out to sea there is a lightning display that would rival any major cities 4th of July celebration. It is really cool and sort of draws you out to be amazed by it. On the mosquito issue I will just mention, yes we have mosquito's here, no doubt about it. I am reminded of a conversation I overheard at the International airport a few months ago. A couple was just arriving in Belize and a small group of guys, more or less 20 years old were leaving. You wait in the same area whether coming or going and often I overhear lots of questions from the arriving visitors. The young lady ask about the bugs and one of the men from the departing group (been there, done that) answered by saying that for sure there were no bugs out on the caye. Now this was his first trip to Belize and if he didn't see any bugs then I wonder where he hung out most of the time. The town board sprays on a routine basis and they are worse in the summer or rainy season than in the high season but we always have mosquito's. If the breeze stays strong and steady they can't fly so you don't see them sometimes, but they are here. We are a tropical island after all. I guess the couple arriving in Belize probably figured out on their own that we have bugs. As for the man spouting unfounded new wisdom, well, just try not to be an expert on Belize if you have only visited. I overhear lots of things said that just aren't correct. Hell I have been hanging around here for 21 years and I am not an expert and I occasionally find out things I didn't know or thought to be different. We are of course only human and the adventure is in the journey. Hope to see you soon, bring bug spray. Right Here, mi amigos ---Reef Ransom.

August 17, 2003.

No breeze and very hot. The weather in five words, no talent there. I took my registered golf cart over to the old Boatyard, now called IT to re-register it as is required for all owners of any type vehicle on Ambergris Caye. It took about 10 minutes to fill out the form and get a new sticker for my license tag. Sound like America? Afraid so. I complied but am not so crazy about even more rules and regulations for life here in Paradise.

I got a good look at Mars in the night sky tonight. I am told that Mars is as close to us as it will ever be in all of our lives. With binoculars I got a pretty good look. Didn't see anyone looking back, but you never know, maybe we are as close to them as we will ever be in their lives? Hope you can check out this cosmic event wherever you are, it's all the same show. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 18, 2003.

The morning air was cool and fresh as our breeze came back to paradise. The last few days have mostly been very calm and so felt warm too. As I passed along the beach headed to town the Town Board workers were cleaning the accumulated seaweed from the beach and lots of Italian tourist were playing in the shallow waters or baking in the hot sun. Under one of the small thatch palapa's a couple of local guys were asleep on the benches in the cool shade. Displaying the patient demeanor of one whom is certain of the outcome; Frigates circled overhead as they waited for the fisherman to return, clean their catch and toss the unwanted fish parts out for them to eat. I just went along my way and tried not to let the magic of the moment pass me by.

A little before 8 this night I went out on my veranda to look at Mars through my binoculars. Mars is just up off the horizon but high enough to be the brightest spot in the night sky. As I stood there with Mars in my sights, a pompous gust of tropical breeze blew by my face and my entire being carrying me off to another place and I thought of the "No man is an Island." and then realized yes we are as I felt the same as the breeze and the stars and that beautiful dazzling planet Mars, way out in the universe. I realized we were all the same, Mars, the Tropical breeze, you and me. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 19, 2003.

Woke up to my Tortilla Alarm Clock and had my necessary morning ration of strong coffee. It is another calm morning with just a slight breeze. That means the sea is calm again today and should be a delight for anyone in it or on it. I went to town to make a deposit at the Belize Bank. The line to make a deposit wasn't too bad today and just for fun I timed the entire event to see how long it would take me to make a deposit of one check in my account. The official time was 14 minutes, which isn't to bad compared to busy times with longer lines. Can you imagine waiting for 15-30 minutes in a line to make a deposit in your bank account in America? If that were the norm for a bank in the states it probably wouldn't have any depositors. In a way that is a good thing because it reminds me that even though I sometimes think it is, San Pedro still isn't America.

I went out on the sea this afternoon. Took some friends and we swam and snorkeled and sort of fished. I looked for some lobster in the rocks but saw none. I was surprise that we had a medium strong current along the reef and it wanted to push you back to shore. I saw some of the biggest schools of yellowtail snappers I have seen in a long time. When I first got in I saw the fin of something just jut out of the water up a bit from where I was. I don't know what it was but sometimes when a big predator fish is around the other fish tend to circle the wagons and group up. I did see four Barracuda's all buddied up hanging around looking for some trouble to start. They were all average size maybe 3-4 feet long. While we were fishing I looked up and noticed our position had changed and thought we had drug anchor. When I went to reset it I started to fish in the anchor line and there was nothing on it, only my old rusty chain, which had been attached to the anchor itself because just regular dock line would chafe real easy on the reef. The anchor was gone and I didn't find it. Probably some lesson in there somewhere?

Felt so good from my time on and in the sea that I just stayed at home and had a light dinner, sat on my front verandah, took the breeze and looked at Mars and the other celestial sights. You know you have a true contentment when you no longer feel the need to "do" anything and tonight that is the case for me. Hope you know the feeling too. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 20, 2003.

A couple of my buddies showed up this morning wanting to go fishing. It was a real short hop to dropping whatever else I had planned for the day (some regular old productive stuff) to "Let's go." Gathered my gear and loaded up everything we needed and passed by the local Texaco and got some gas, then off we went. Went north and anchored (with my extra anchor) right on the edge of a channel. Right away I had a strong strike that played out all my line and then broke the line above my steel leader I had on. That was going to be the routine for the day as the same thing happened with my other pole except the line just kept going until it was all gone and broke off on the reel. Both my buddies had similar experience and we were in the right spot for some big fish. We didn't land any of those bad boys though and we only have the memory of the sound of the zzzing of the line peeling off the reel and the rush of adrenaline as the pole bent and wanted to fly from our hands and the complete nosedive let down when the line popped and broke. We did land some small yellowtail snappers and some small groupers (Jimmy Heinz, we call them here) which we put back until another year. We also landed several snakefish looking things and what I call a needle nose, all of which are a nuisance to get off the hook and not on the "eat them" list. Also we caught a small Manta Ray, which we tossed back. Before I knew it the day had flown by and it was time to head home. Oh yes, one thing of note, I found a plastic wrapper with tape all around it that had held a bale of Cocaine.

Both my buddies are owners of substantial business interest in San Pedro and we had quite a conversation about how hard it is for a business to make money here and how many people come down without really knowing what is going on and start a business only to be gone in 6 months to a year. One of the main things you need to know if you want to live in Paradise and make a living is that we don't need any more of any type of business. No matter what your idea is, someone has done it, is doing it, or has thought of it.. The businesses that you look at and think are profitable may not be. Now these are just thoughts and conversation between 3 guys out fishing who know the scene real well, a real true point of view from guys who had no reason to speak anything but the reality of San Pedro. That untainted viewpoint is not an easy thing to get and especially if you are at present an 'outsider' looking for a way in. We all also acknowledged that this reality will not stop more and more people, people with a dream, from coming here and starting more new business's. Now the really interesting part, we all agreed that this is what sustains San Pedro. Just as fast as one persons dream plays out, another person comes with their dream (and money) and replaces it.

Even if the dream doesn't play out taking the chance and having the dream is one of the true treasures of life and you can never be wrong or lost if you follow your dream in life.

So for Renegades and Dreamer's everywhere, Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 2, 2003.

Moments, moments. Precious moments.
A slice out of life.
Less than the flight of the Frigate passing overhead,
Less than the snapper darting about in the blue,
Less than the moonbeams dancing on the sea.
Just the dinging of the bell, the chiming of the clock.
A sudden and fleeting realization of what the moment means.
Past and Future await us all,
Grasping the moment is where we fall.

September 29, 2003.

Slow. Slow. It is the slow season. That's about all you hear wherever you go in Belize right now. Well what does that mean really? Glad you ask. From one man's imperfect viewpoint I will tell you what it means. We have two distinct versions or reality here on Ambergris Caye; one is the reality of the visitor and the other the reality of the people living here.

So for the visitors the slow season means mostly good things but some bad.

1. Discounts on most things from lodging to food to activities including all activity on or in the sea. (Funny thing, I can't think of any slow season rates on Belikins or Pina Colada's though).

2. It means going into Elvi's for lunch at peak time and being one of only a handful of tables with any one in them.

3. It means no wait to use the internet at one of our fine internet cafť's.

4. It also means most of our beach areas will not be crowded.

5. It can also mean that some restaurants on your list of places to visit may be closed for from 2 weeks or more.

6. It means we are in the peak hurricane season.

Now for the residents of Ambergris Caye the slow season means:

1. Days of being able to just sit and watch the world turn very slowly just trying to survive until the high season comes.

2. Layoffs at many places and little or no income.

3. For business owners it means time to fix up, repair and improve your place of business.

4. Hot days that drip by like butter melting in the midday sun.

5. It also means for residents (maybe more so), we are in the peak of hurricane season.

6. Time to take a vacation and travel somewhere else.

7. It is like San Pedro used to be 20 years ago all the time with very few people.

There is a slight haze over the crescent moon as it sits low in the southwestern sky. Life is quietly going on here in San Pedro. It must be doing the same elsewhere in the universe, but at the moment that doesn't really matter. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 30. 2003.

OK my fellow dreamers and schemers, a le reality check of what life is like in Paradise. At 6:00 a.m. I am nearly rolled out of my bed by the sounds of a neighbor's stereo system thumping out more bass than Iron Butterfly ever thought about. This neighbor is behind and off to one side from me and I sleep in the front of my cement house with the fan going which makes a le noise. Still I could not escape the repetitive beat of the Punta style music coming from the sound system of Boca del Rio. I am fairly sure that my neighbor only has one song on one CD or tape because it is the same sound every morning and every night. Next as I struggle not to let my mind take up the driving (though not that musical) beat, I hear the sounds of a power washer from a neighbor on the other side of me. The noise is one thing but along with it, the wind is blowing the spray and the nasty smell it creates as it blast off dirt and god knows what from the exterior of the house right on my house and I start choking a le bit from it. Next at about 7:15, and a bit early this morning the tortilla salesman passes by below with the ringing of his bell. Live and let live is the unspoken creed here, so you just choke, get up early and learn to like Punta Music at 6 in the morning. That is of course unless you want to spend a few Million to get a piece of property big enough not to have neighbors. The average lot width in San Pedro is around 60 -65 feet off the beach and about 100 feet on the beach, just FYI.

Watched 3 young boys walk by carrying a Crocodile around 3-4 feet long this afternoon. Don't know where they were taking it but it was still alive. Life in Paradise, I love it.

Three years since Hurricane Keith was just leaving our shores.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 3, 2003.

I watched the school kids as they waited in the bus (taxi van) across the street from me. They were waiting for the neighbor girl to come out so they could go on to school. They were laughing and talking and so very precious to see. I guess kids are angels and adults are fallen angels trying to get back. It was wonderful to see and I thank the subtle natural way of the universe for the gift.

It is another beautiful, fresh feeling morning, partly cloudy, calm sea and a wonderful feeling breeze to caress our skin. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 5, 2003.

I had an invite to go sailing up to Mexico Rocks this morning. I got up plenty early and had enough time to make it to the dock by 8:30. It rained for awhile this morning around 7:30 and I couldn't decide if I wanted to go out on the sea or not. I wishy washed back and forth and got my gear all ready just in case. I even called my buddy Geraldo to confirm they were going. Yes leaving his dock at 8:30 and then picking up some guest at Xanadu Resort at 9:00. I finally committed to going and left my house assuming I had missed the 8:30 chance at Geraldo's dock but I passed by anyway in case they were on Belizean Time this morning, they weren't. I looked out to sea but could not see El Gato so I headed south towards Xanadu. El Gato was just leaving the dock as I pulled up to the sea and I wasn't going sailing, snorkeling, or fishing this morning. It was of course my own fault and a direct reaction to my indecisiveness. Now, here's my point, which is above and beyond all that really. Every single thing that happens to us in our life happens because we make it happen through our intentions. Actions are just the form in which intention manifest itself in life, not to get to Buddhist on you. Now, knowing this and having it be something you stay aware of and try to live a reverend life by, can be quite a mountain to climb if you let it. Sometimes I do. When you fall short of what you know is the higher possibility, it can be disheartening. The good thing is it can be a catalyst for something good to start and that is the true magic of the universe.

I went to Coconuts Resort about mid day and had a great American breakfast with a Belizean flair. Bacon, eggs and hash browns, all American but add the incredible fry jacks and the pepper sauce and not to mention the great spot right there on the beach and it was a slice of San Pedro in every way.

Man I ate well today as I went to Blue Water Grill for dinner and had the most incredibly good Lasagna. I can't really say enough about how good the Lasagna was so after you have satisfied your lust for snapper, lobster and conch; check it out.

The majestic moon graces the night sky and is swelling each night as she spins towards a full view for all of us here on earth. I can't describe the powerful magic of the night as under these regal celestial beings in the sky, the coconut palms bend in the steady breeze and small foamy waves slap at the thin fragile slice of sand and humanity we call Ambergris Caye. Pause for a moment, use your inner eye and conjure up your version of a magical night on a Tropical Island. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 6, 2003.

It is a cloudy and blustery morning here on the island. Some Tropical weather up Mexico way is streaming some clouds, rain and wind towards us. A good example of how something happening far away can affect things somewhere else.

After I finish my coffee and assess the day I usually go to La Popular Bakery for a sweet pastry of some kind. It is close to my house but more importantly the largest bakery here in San Pedro supplying all kind of baked goods to the public and local businesses. Then from there I like to go up town and stop at Ruby's Cafť to see the girls that work there and grab a glass of fresh O.J., sometimes I get a snack from there too as they have great baked stuff and lunch also. Now, the day awaits.

We had a stabbing incident this afternoon (evening we say here) between two local guys. When Latin tempers flair stabbings (or choppings we say here) are the typical result. Of course the coconut telegraph (local gossip line) has various versions of the incident and why it took place. Could it be the full moon? Sometimes even Paradise is like a Novela. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 8, 2003.

In life we always have a choice we can make. What we say, do or attempt are all tied to our choices in life. When I loose my patience or get angry or upset I make a choice to be like that. Later on, when the chance to act correctly in life has already passed by, I can see the choice I should have made. At the moment I choose to be more aware of my choices. I would like for you to take a moment and do the same. Then make a choice that brings something good into this world. You will certainly feel the power of the universe, your universe when you do this.

Saw Richie Woods this afternoon, he is doing fine. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 9, 2003.

The sun is slowly sinking below the imaginary line of the horizon. Day is yielding to the strong thick cover of night. Out over the Caribbean Sea a full moon is ascending into the dark blue sky. Barely out of the water it seems that it may have risen from the depths of the sea and the last flickers of sunlight give its plump looking face a crimson red hue. This sight is always a reminder of how wondrous the world is and how true magic happens everyday.

I saw more than the average number of really drunk and ornery hombre's on my way home from town tonight. I would know it was a full moon even if I couldn't see it in the sky. The signs are everywhere. Lunar madness, lunacy. I am you and you are me and we are all together. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Otro Cosas de Interesar:

MTV was on the island filming for one of their shows. They did a shoot at The Famous Pier Lounge on a Wednesday past during the Chicken Drop.

The "Catch of the Day" seems to be bales of Cocaine as they continue to float up here and there along the Belizean coast, most recently around Placencia.

The Joy of the Feast is in the First Bite.

There is a "Sports Book" at Sharks Bar now.

October 10, 2003.

Did some time in the hammock and strummed on my guitar this morning. I get another pretty day with slight seas. There seem to be a few tourists visiting us as I noticed an increase in rented golf carts on the street. That is good for the local economy.

Some enchanted evening. The breeze doesn't really blow here on Ambergris Caye like you think of breezes blowing. What it does more, is rushes by and doesn't stop or even let up very much. It is constant more as in air being drawn towards some giant vacuum and not so much a blowing breeze. It keeps you from hearing what someone right next to you is saying unless you have your head cocked just right to belay the wind. It brings you closer to the sound of the universe in its perpetual state of creation. Listen long, let it caress you long, feel it cool your skin and flirt with your hair and you will be under its spell. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

October 11, 2003.

I am leaving today for a trip to the states. I always look for Manatee's in the river as we fly over it landing at the International Airport, didn't see any today. Ahh, America, Land of Cheeseburgers, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Borders, Lazy Boy recliners, and movie theatres. Right There, mi amigo's-Reef Ransom.

November 2, 2003.

Like many other people and business' I took some time off and away from our Isla Bonita. I spent about 3 weeks in the good old USA, which was nice but I am glad to return to my true home today, as in the home of my heart. My flight arrived at International Airport just after 2 and I made my way through immigration and customs to catch a ride on Tropic Air at 3:15. The airport was full of people and that is a good sign for the economy. Most were coming to San Pedro but many were also going to other places like Placencia, Dangriga, San Ignacio and even Flores, Guatemala. The short 15 minute flight over from the mainland passed quickly as I watched from my birds eye view as the charismatic shades of blue from the Caribbean Sea below, lured my mind back to that special place inside of me. The short flight takes you over or close to several of the other Cayes like Mojo Caye, Caye Caulker, and you can see so many others such as Cayo Espanto, Caye Chappell. The sight of the white foamy line that marks the reef, which like a great natural wall or fence runs all along the coast of Belize tells me that the subtle natural way of the universe is as always, alive and well.

I catch a ride with Mark in his taxi and before I know it I am home and the sounds of home seem so sweet. I have heard the cry of the laughing gulls overhead and the sweet cooing of the Turtle Dove many times before, but being away it seems helps to revive the magic of their songs. As with all things, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 3, 2003.

6:00 a.m. and it is a perfectly orchestrated morning here in paradise. A rain storm came through in the night and the morning sky is streaked with clouds that somehow resemble the waves upon the sea as they move across the backdrop of the rising sun. Outside on the streets of San Pedro men and women are passing by on their bicycles as they make their way to work. I hear a series of whistles and then a chiding call from a man on foot as he passes by my neighbor's house for the man inside to get out of bed. Behind me in the river the sound of a small outboard motor signals the passing of a skiff as someone prepares for the day on the sea. The air is clean and feels cool. Slowly the sounds increase as kids make their way to school by bike or foot or taxi, chattering along the way as only school children can and the traffic picks up with the passing of a work truck noisily hauling some construction supplies to a job site. As I observe these events I am reminded of the most precious commodity of Belize. Not the enchanting sea or the majestic National Geographic world all around us but the people. The people of Belize are by far the most valuable resource of this small Country in Central America. I can only smile as the sheer magic of the moment presents itself to my consciousness.

Mucho Mosquito's! The streets are like a four wheelers dream come true. Of course not to may four wheel vehicles's here on the island. That means that if you drive a golf cart or car or tuck you must navigate your way through and around pot holes that could be called ponds in some places in America.. Some of the holes are so deep you wonder if you will sink all the way in when your cart starts through them. For bicycle's it is the same except if you are forced to navigate through a hole instead of around it because of oncoming traffic you may wind up being thrown off like a cowboy breaking a young colt at the ranch. I have seen folks on bikes tossed head over heal off their bike because when the front wheel dropped into the muddy hole it was deep enough and abrupt enough to cause the bike to stop on the spot, but not the rider.

The night sky contains streaky clouds and the moon is sandwiched between them as it travels across our night sky. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 4, 2003,

More rain in the night and the streets and yards and about everywhere has standing pools of water. A lot of people walk and they are at great risk of getting splashed with muddy water as vehicles pass by. I stopped in at Celi's Restaurant at the Holiday Hotel for dinner last night; they just reopened for the season on Sunday last. Enjoyed seeing the girls that work there and they had nice vacations going to visit families at their home towns. On the way I gave a ride to a guy who works at the hotel named John and we talked about the Halloween Bash that they have at the Holiday Hotel each year. First prize was an expense paid trip to Miami and if you like dressing up in costume and partying for Halloween you might put this on your calendar for next year. If you were there then you already know what I mean.

The wind is ever so slight and the Mosquito's are not so bad because the town board sprayed last night. The sea is calm and for the most part flat.. You can feel a le lift in the overall energy of the island as the anticipation of the high season begins to grow.

One thing for sure, even with our muddy soupy streets and hungry mosquito's, there is no place like Ambergris Caye.

The sun has set and it is about 6:00. I stepped out on my front verandah to capture a glimpse of the night and it didn't disappoint me. The moon is a few days from its big show and has risen a good distance above the horizon. I cherish the moment and think of all the people I would like to share it with and then give in to the hungry mosquito's and go inside. I am ready to shower off the sweat and salt and grime of the day and find after getting in the shower that the water is off. Oh well, I told myself and realized I should have know it was off. I noticed it off a le after 4 and I had just returned from town and remembered seeing the water company guys had a line dug up between Boca del Rio and the Center of town. That was a very big clue as anytime you see them with a spot dug up or a big rock in the road as a 'caution' drive around marker you know for sure some area is without water at the moment. The local F.M station, Reef Radio has some nice Spanish music going though, and that somehow helps make everything just as it should be at this moment.

OK, no problem because I have plenty of rain water in my rain vat. It is always good to have a back up plan in life and especially here in Belize. Who needs hot water anyway? I went to Elvi's for dinner and of course it was really good. They have some of the best soups around so check those out when you can. There wasn't much of a crowd and after I finished my dinner, Ms. Elvi's oldest daughter, Gloria sat with me and we talked about how important family is and Gloria told me how growing up they didn't have a lot and her Mother (Ms. Elvi) would bake or cook things and she would deliver them to the customer. "You would go out and sell them?" I asked and she said no they were already sold she would just deliver them. She said she remembered taking them to the Blake family house and going all the way up into the attic of their house which at the time was like a mansion compared to the norm in San Pedro at the time. They were always real nice to her she said and I could tell it was a fond memory. We talked for about and hour and it was one of those times that after we finished I wished I had recorded the entire conversation because the stories and facts get lost as more time passes by and I never remember everything I am told. This has happened to me many times and I guess I could carry a recorder with me all the time because I really never know when the subtle natural way of the universe is going to reveal more magic to me and these times when I am lucky enough to engage in conversations with Real Belizean's about life here before we became Gringo Land are always a surprise. If I did record everything I think it would change the way people act and I have to be content to share what I can with those of you who are interested and keep the rest as part of my own dream, and that is the way it should be because it is up to each of you to live your own dream and create your own magic.

On my way home the electricity went off, all over the Caye and all over the country as well. At first you can't imagine how dark it was and for a fleeting second I got a glimpse of how it was before we had Electricity. Then slowly through windows and doors I could see the flicker of candle light and lanterns, and the occasional golf cart or taxi would pass throwing a strong blast of light and crowding out the darkness of the night for a moment. As the darkness became reality, above in the night sky the moon was about ĺ full and shining brightly down upon our le Paradise trying to show us the light. I sat on my front verandah to catch the breeze and take in the magic of the moment. Low on the horizon I noticed some bright stars and I fixed my gaze on them. Suddenly I could see that they formed a pattern and they looked like a Scorpion, I could see so clearly what I have never seen before, the constellation of Scorpio. It is November so that makes sense. The Electricity came on around midnight and while I was glad for the comfort of the lights and fans, I was also glad for the comfort of knowing this magical night in this tiny little universe we all share. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 6, 2003.

Wow, what a hard rain came in the night, leaving our already soaked island looking like a swamp in the Louisiana bayou. My daily weather report via email says we are under a tropical wave and I didn't need anyone to tell me that I guess. I went down and bailed mi boat as 14 Laughing Gulls (called Laughing Bird by most Belizeans) vied for the tops of 13 posts sticking above the walkway of my dock. It seems there is always one more bird than there is places to roost everywhere you watch them hang.

It's just after 4 in the afternoon on what has been a cloudy and off and on rainy day. As another band of showers started to pass over I was standing out front and watching the sea as it go choppier and full of small white caps and also I was watching the people pass below in the soupy stream that would not really pass as a road but was one none the less. Three young girls go riding by on their bicycles. They were more or less 12-13 years old I think and one had blonde hair, one had red hair and the other had dark hair. They could have been sisters I guess but most likely just friends. They were probably part of the many Gringo families living north of the cut here on Ambergris Caye. Now, the reason I make mention is because they were all three smiling and had the air about them that someone who is doing the right thing at the right moment and therefore living in the very moment and loving it, would have. That is the impression I got and I knew that for a child to live and grow up here it must have a wonderful and profound affect on their spirit. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 7. 2003.

It rained all most all day and all night too. The night sky was totally void of light although I know the full moon is up there. If you were here for this last week on vacation you could have had a lot better weather. It seems the rainy season is very late this year. Fortunately, the God's willing, there's always tomorrow. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 8, 2003.

The attitude is pretty laid back here in Belize. That is one of the things I like about it I guess. Take the fact that for more than a week lots of heavy rain has left the island with water standing everywhere and nowhere for it to go right now. That means in the practical sense you have to walk in, over or through water to get to places like your gate, your stairs, and the little store you shop at. You have to walk through water (unless like some you walk on it) about everywhere. What we do is build little walkways from scraps of boards, rocks, or anything else handy and then they become like a small bridge to the entrance of the store or your gate or your yard. What makes this significant (besides the fact you keep your feet dry) is the attitude towards it, which is really no attitude. Have to walk through water, no problem. Just toss whatever is handy in front of you and walk on that until the water is gone. So simple. Now for my lunar lunacy. I think all the ills and problems of the world could be well served with the same simple approach applied to them and maybe we wouldn't live in a world where the few in power did things and caused harm in ways that none of us as individuals would ever get away with. Meaning what? Make life more simple less complicated. More rain is coming; I need to build a small bridge in the world. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.


Second show added for Jerry Jeff. U.S. phone is 512 477 0036 for tickets. Thanks Debra for the info.

Most restaurants and businesses are reopened for season including Jade Garden (remodeled and enlarged inside, nice), Cocina Carumba (enlarged), Celi's, Sweet Basil and really everywhere.

The Tides Hotel/Patojo's has finished a new pool and deck and looks real inviting.

You can smell the burnt odor of the Island Supermarket fire from about 50 feet away or more and I noticed not so much was burnt but it had to be total loss because of nasty smoke damage.

Giving to a charity in not as pure or powerful of an action as doing or giving something yourself directly to someone who is in need. Know someone who could use a hand? Seek them out and monos on mono create goodness in our universe. Thanks for reading the SPJ.

-Reef Ransom.

November 9, 2003.

I went to Coconuts for brunch. It was sunny enough that a couple staying there was out lying in chairs on the beach catching some rays, rained on me on the way back home from there. Saw a really wide and brilliant rainbow out over the sea. Even all this rain has something special to offer I guess. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 10, 2003.

I have been seeing ads in the San Pedro Sun and Ambergris Today newspapers from restaurants stating they had USDA beef and I have wondered if that was true and if so if the beef was good. About 6 months ago I brought 30 pounds of the finest grain fed beef available from the states and sold it to some friends. How I got it through customs is another story, but I got it here even though it is not allowed without a special license. When I showed it to one of the more popular restaurants and told them the price they told me they already had USDA beef and paid a lot less for it. Someone was bringing it in steadily and it could be purchased in Belize City and all the local restaurants were buying it I was told. I realize there are different qualities of beef and asked to see it. They took me back too their freezer and I looked at then frozen packs of beef. They certainly didn't look as good as what I had brought and when I looked closer it wasn't USDA Beef, but Beef from Canada. Just goes to show you that things aren't always what they seem. While some restaurants may actually have US beef, don't come down for the steaks, try the Lobster. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 11, 2003.

It is feeling like dťjŗ vu as I go each morning and bail the rain water from my boat. This morning at the dock next to mine a couple of the boats were setting low in the water and one had actually sunk and the top of the Yamaha 60 was just barely out of the water. That was from the rain in the night which was often and heavy. That is just a sign of how heavy and often the rain we have been getting is. After that I went to the New Alliance Bank to cash a check someone had written me and it was the first time I had been inside of it. It was very nice and no lines like at the Belize Bank and the Atlantic Bank. Out of curiosity I visited with the Bank Manager about Residential loans and he told me they were currently at 12% and could be amortized over 10, 12 or 15 years. Might sound high compared to America but the other banks in Belize charge 17%. It is a little before mid day and another bank of thunderstorms is coming in. I am wet and soggy, but not moldy. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 13, 2003.

We have had no rain today as the sun sets rather reluctantly in the western sky. Spanish music is coming from someone's radio in the neighborhood and all around the flavor of life is much like the smell of onions, garlic, peppers and red ricotta balls all simmering in a big pot of stewed chicken with just the right amount of chicken fat on the top. A rich Latin flavor that permeates the air and the life I lead. Thank you subtle natural way of the universe for the gift, I humbly accept. I overheard a visitor to isla bonito tell another of our guest how great their dinner and experience was at Victoria House. No surprise to me, but always good for a neutral opinion. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 14, 2003.

As steady rain started at about 6:30 this morning and I crawled out of bed and made some sort of very primitive grunting sound that probably meant "Damn, not more F#&%ing rain!" It isn't really the rain so much but the consequences. People can't work, roads can't be graded, roads can't be kept free of muddy sink holes and huge craters, and it interferes with doing things in and on the sea. Ok, enough about our really late rainy season.

I have been picking Almond's from my Almond tree for several weeks now and also my banana trees have large inviting bunches of banana's on several of them right now. I am just waiting for them to ripen on the tree. Under a dark rainy sky, the sea is a darker shade of blue than you might remember but it is still mostly flat and calm. Boats are speeding by as workers and tourist forge ahead with their daily plans. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 16, 2003.

I love boats. All kinds and types from small dory's to huge ships. I guess I love the most all sailboats and the myriad versions of the common fishermen's boat used throughout the world. Modern, gadget laden monster vessels don't give me the same charge as older more classic or even basic boats do. Here in San Pedro you will find a good number of boats of different types. There is the Mexican skiff, the Honduran skiff, Boston Whaler type, boats from America, Columbian boats, catamarans, sloop sailboats, schooner sailboats, locally made Belizean boats, big fishing boats and occasionally a big fancy yacht or two. It is common to see local fishing boats or tour boats pulled up on the beach as you walk up or down the beach. They are there because it is easy to pull them up on the dry beach using rollers (which can be, round post, butane tanks or anything else that rolls) and they need some work. While sitting there you will be able to watch true craftsmen sand, patch, fabricate, paint and rebuild these boats back to their original condition or better. I have been surprised at how boats that looked completely wasted to me have been transformed to like new. If you are here long enough and see a boat that someone is working on, give it a watch each day you are here and enjoy the process as it unfolds slow but sure. Chances are very good that the man doing the work would be glad to talk to you about what he is doing. Be careful though, you might come out of the deal with a new friend on a beautiful Central American Island in the Western Caribbean Sea. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 19, 2003.

Our sand/mud roads are so bad that the Town Board has started dumping gravel in spots here and there. That is something I would never have expected to see and you would not expect to see either if you came to visit. It seems way strange to drive or walk over gravel here on this sand spit we call an island. Every thing is subject to change in life and our island is a perfect example of that fact. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

There is a beautiful classic twin engine plane sitting at the San Pedro Airstrip. Has a twin back tail and Harley Davidson Emblem drawn on the side. You got to love that and someone who must be living a dream. We get it all here in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 20, 2003.

Here in San Pedro if you want to talk to someone you hail them. If they are going down the street you hail them. If you go to someone's house, on the way to the front door or steps or outside gate, you hail them. No matter where or what the situation hailing each other is very much alive and well. The variety of calls, whistle's, sounds and motions used to hail someone is interesting to study and surely must be an art form. At first as you live here or hang out here you wonder how do people know who's hailing who because of the constant hailing going on. But then you realize and even learn yourself that everyone has their own hailing technique and people always seem to know when they are the one being hailed. You have to be patient and slow down enough to let the acts of hailing show you their system of harmony but this is a great place to do that, so give it try when you can. Gotta go, someone's hailing me from the street. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

November 21, 2003.

Here is another quaint little custom that is prevalent in San Pedro. When you go to the grocery store it is common and perfectly ok to set your milk on the checkout stand and then go get some eggs and tortillas's and set them on the checkout stand and then get what ever else you might need and then go and check out. Mean while other shoppers who have all they want just check out around your stuff and some even put their own stuff up there as they too shop. If you come here as a visitor and go to the store and while you are waiting to check out someone puts a bottle of Flash cleaning agent on the checkout stand in front of you, don't worry because they aren't cutting in, just shopping. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

November 22, 2003.

There is a lot that sits on the river as you come down the street towards Papi's Diner in Boca del Rio that I looked at buying a couple of years ago. The lot had been mostly washed away from tides and hurricanes and needed to be staked off and then a small retaining wall built and filled back to its original size to be of any use to anyone. That was ok and not an uncommon thing to do here as land is so valuable. You might think fill or just sand would be pretty cheap here on an island made of sand and surrounded by sand basically, but it isn't and is fairly expensive. I passed on the lot but someone else bought it and has filled it in nicely. This evening as I passed by, this "new" lot was the site of a fast moving football game (soccer) for the neighborhood kids. I had to laugh at how fast the good people of Belize are at making the most out of what sometimes starts out as not very much of anything. It made me feel good to know that. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 5, 2003.

I have heard mostly good things about the AquaMarina Suites as a nice place to stay. I went by this morning to have a look inside as I have been by it many times but never went inside of the actual property. It was really nice and for the amenities it has really seems to have fair prices. You are beachfront with a full kitchen, central air, dining area cable TV, living room and private oceanfront balcony. The nightly rate right now for one person is U.S. $115.00. I have a friend coming down next week who ask me to check it out for him and I am glad I did. E-mail: and if that doesn't work (imagine that) phone: 501-226-4675. When I was finished I noticed Geraldo and Fido Badillo out on El Gato at the end of their dock. I went out to say hi and we sat around and talked for a while. One thing of interest we talked about was the very negative impact of the cruise ship industry on us. Sometimes the shark/ray alley looks like a football game because of all the boats lined up on each side and also the same at Hol Chan and the reef will not take it and it is without a doubt killing the goose that laid the golden egg. The only reason it is being allowed is because the Government of Belize (GOB) gets a fee from every person that comes and goes. I have nothing against cruise ships but to allow then to stop and unleash their guest on small fragile spots in the world isn't cool. I don't think you see the same negative impacts on places like Cancun or Nassau for example where the size of the cities and the style of life is more akin to having large floating resorts offload all their guest at the gates of their city. We all agreed that "that is Belize" and for sure nothing will be done about it.

The guest going out on El Gato canceled because the early morning was cloudy but it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. The clouds slipped away around 9 this morning and the sun was out all day. That happens a lot so don't let a few clouds in the morning let you loose a great day. The mosquitos remain bad as the breeze is from the back and slight. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 6, 2003.

I saw a 20 foot container setting outside the Island Super Market that burned last month. I take that to mean they will be open sometime in the semi-near future. That is a good thing but let me just mention that we still have 3 good size stores and many smaller ones scattered throughout town. For the best prices and selection try the Super Buy on the back street just behind Milo's office on middle street. Our days have been mostly sunny as of late with the rain giving us a break and the sea is very calm and inviting. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 7, 2003.

I went to Fido's and enjoyed Category X last night. If you like good music it is a must thing to do. You will hear them play songs from the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, The Beatles, and many other classics as well as a few cool original tunes. The crowd was slight and I left about 11 because it was cold and I wasn't really dressed properly for that. One other note as I think about Music. Dennis Wolfe plays at Coconut's Hotel every Saturday night and they always have a good time. I heard (but didn't see) that Jerry Jeff Walker stopped in last Saturday and jammed for a good while with Dennis. That was for sure a bonus. Its all out there, all you have to do is go for it. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 8, 2003.

The year was 1983. I was on ambergris caye for my third trip since I discovered it in early 1982. On my first stay I rode in the back of the old (and one and only vehicle here) British Army Land Rover I guess it was, that served as a taxi when needed; clear to the end of civilization and beyond at the time and stopped at The Pirates Lantern. Back then it cost around $15.00. for one person to stay there in a private room. It became my place to stay from that moment on as I met and came to know as friends the owners and their children. Taft and Rose Elliott owned the Lantern at the time and they had two daughters, Amanda and Fiona. Taft was the perfect ex-Brit soldier with a big reddish Mustache and a proper accent and military air about him. He tended bar and ran the place and Miss Rose cooked and saw to cleaning and other things. Next to the Pirates Lantern in a pretty cool island style cabana lived a lady from Texas named Trish who was a partner in the Pirates Lantern. Trish was pretty cool and I got to know her and she also became a friend. One night I somehow wound up on a le adventure on the sea with Trish and some other friends here from California.

Out from the shore a strange looking boat for this area swung back and forth on its hook as the sea gently slapped at its hull. This odd looking vessel was a tug boat and a man Named Al had brought her down here from the Canadian side of the great lakes all the way down the Mississippi and through the Gulf of Mexico and there she sat. Trish had been invited to go out on the tug and asked us if we wanted to go along. We left in the afternoon and we cruised up and down the coast going no where and loving every moment of it. We drank and danced and partied away inside the surprisingly roomy cabin of the old Tugboat. I should mention traveling from the Gulf down with Captain Al (who was of retirement age) was a younger adventure named Dennis. Sometime after dark we decided to come back to shore and Captain Al took the helm. Before that we had all piloted the boat. We were headed to what I think was one of the only places to dock up at the time which was the pier right in front of Big Daddy's Bar. It was dark and Al was real drunk as we all were. As we approached the pier Dennis said something to Al about if he was ok to pilot the boat and Al lashed back with some seaman type of profanity and basically said its my Boat and the Captain is always fit to pilot his own boat and no amount of Caribbean Rum was gonna change that. And so we made the side of the dock at a speed of around 5-10 m.p.h. ( you convert to knots if needed) and banged up against it with a loud thud and the boat shuddered a bit and we all shuddered a bit and then Al killed the diesel engine and we all went inside and had a drink. It was really a hell of a cruise and the entire afternoon and night was nothing short of a full fledged adventure and a great example of making the most out of the time we have in life. We made our own little world out there and it was full of magic. Trish died recently and I had not seen her in a few years although she was still around Belize just in a different part. I always stopped to talk with her when I was here and I will never forget the time and adventure and moments of life we shared on that day back in 1983. When we leave this earth I believe the Dream that was our life should have a healthy share of adventure and magic moments. Trish is gone but the adventure and memories created by the moments of her life are not. The last time I saw Captain Al and Dennis, they were planning on going on south along the coast of Belize and then up a river to a fresh water lake in Guatemala. If you have an unfulfilled dream in this life you can make it happen and these people, adventurers all; Captain Al, Dennis and Trish Carter are proof of the fact. More so, to live your life in a way as to leave behind parts of your self through adventure and memories is a vital ingredient in the recipe for living the correct life. The moon is full and lights the night. That's my dose of lunacy for this full moon. May your life dream be fulfilled. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 9, 2003.

One of my friends dropped by just before sunset and wanted to borrow my guitar to go with a girl friend over to the park and play some songs and watch the sunset. It only took me a second to notice they were both 'nice up' (Creole slang here for being drunk, smashed, high etc.) and I laughed as they both stumbled on up to my house. They had spent the afternoon in Margaritaville via The Palapa Bar just across the river cut. I happily shared my guitar and they went on their very merry way. Just another reason you gotta love this place.

I love the nights here when the Palm trees twist, turn and spring back and forth from the breeze. When the moon is full and bright like it is tonight you can add moon shadows to the picture and also the knowledge that another dimension exist in the universe other than the first one that comes into existence in our life. Do you know what I mean? Of course you do. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 10, 2003.

I flew to Belize City (just Belize we say here) with my buddy Lucky who is a regular visitor from the states for an afternoon outing at the Princess Casino located there. We caught the 1:00 Tropic Air flight to Municipal airstrip and then took the less than five-minute cab ride to the Casino/Hotel. The Casino was not up to par and I would not recommend it to anyone any more. The machines are worn out and many just did not work. One took my coins and did nothing, while an employee stood right by and watched the whole thing. When I asked about what happened he just shrugged in indifference and did nothing. The entire staff was that way and has no clue how to treat guest of the Casino, or just people in general. I might also add that a large group had taken over the table games and was just in Belize for a few hours from a Cruise Ship. The Casino is catering to the Cruise Ship folks and you might want to check out that schedule before you go in.. If you like Belize or are interested in it as a place to visit, Please do the responsible thing and DO NOT take a cruise ship that stops here. Maybe if nobody books these cruises, which I find almost cannibalistic, they will stop coming here and will go to larger and less fragile places in the world of which there are many. OK, off my soapbox. Just FYI the taxi ride from Municipal to the Princess was $7.00 from airstrip and $10.00 going back from Princess. That's in Belize Dollars of course. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 11, 2003.

Newsflash! As of tonight, Category X is now performing at Barefoot Skinny's newly opened Bar and Restaurant, tonight was the grand opening. The Hammock House is located right past the cut in the river on the North side. I went and really enjoyed the great music of Category X with their great Reggae and Rock and Roll sounds. Category X is still playing at Fido's Courtyard at the moment but I have to wonder how long that will last since Skinny has his own place now. Maybe it will still make sense for them to perform at Fido's too, don't know. I guess time will tell. Either way a special treat and just a couple of blocks from mi casa tambien. Life is sweet here on Ambergris Caye. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 12, 2003.

The day was perfect with a slight breeze and sunny all day. A few dark looking clouds hung around out to sea but never came close to us really. That happens a lot of times where it looks like rain but never does. All around town there are a lot of Christmas decorations up and for sale. As I passed one store in town the Christmas tune "White Christmas" was playing on their stereo.

I met a friend at Caliente's for dinner and the food was really good as it usually is. If you sit outside the view is also very nice. You see, smell and hear the sea. It is easy to become mesmerized by all the small local skiffs at anchor or moored up along the shore as they swing and sway, indifferent to the occasional firm slaps they receive from the rare big wave. There are some mosquitos out although not at Caliente's but elsewhere mostly on the beach. All in all it has been a very excellent day in Paradise. I am sure other perfect days await for you and I hope you come to catch your share. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 15, 2003.

I have a new fishing posse; I call them, which are a couple of young guys who live in my neighborhood who in exchange for doing little jobs on my boat, I take fishing with me. They are a great help loading all the gear and setting the anchor and stuff like that. We went fishing this afternoon. I went up the coast towards Mexico Rocks and fished in the channels from there back to Tres Cocos, which is not far from my house. We caught a few Yellow and Red Snappers but the best fish came from the cut at Tres Cocos where I caught 2 real nice Red's just a le bit before sunset. I was using fresh Conch pieces because the Snappers love that sweet meat. The sea was fairly calm and I didn't see anything unusual while I was out there. Even so, there is nothing like spending some time on the sea to nurture your soul. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 16, 2003.

I could see the light from the sun through my bedroom curtains as I opened my eyes around 7 this morning. That meant the sun was going to be out and along with the fact that I also woke up with the "Everythings gonna be all right" lyrics from Bob Marley going through my brain, I knew it would be a good day. We had rain from around 6 o'clock last night till 11ish or so and I was glad for a nice day weather wise. The sea is calm and the breeze is on break for the moment. The electricity went off all over town (maybe the whole country, you never know) at 8 this morning and came back a little before 1 this afternoon. No worry, after walking on the beach I bailed the le rainwater from my boat, I read from The Mayan Prophecies (Adrian Gilbert & Maurice Cotterell) and then swung in my hammock. That was the sum of my busy Day in Paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 17, 2003.

Yesterday's perfect weather has given way to a strong cold front, which has brought very strong North winds and a rainy sky. The sudden change in pressure has left me with a head that feels like a balloon from my sinus. Despite my suffering, I made my way downtown to Elvi's for lunch. They had a good lunch crowd, which means we have more visitors on the Caye, which is good for everyone's pocket. While I sat there I watched people, visitors and locals alike pass by with coats on and towels wrapped around their bodies trying to stave off the blustery North wind that carries away your natural body heat so effectively. This same mechanism is natural air conditioning when it is hot but makes for mucho cold when it is not like today. You wouldn't really expect to be cold on a Tropical Island but it does happen so bring a light jacket and some long pants if you visit in the winter months. The sea is choppy and I don't see too many boats passing by. I was going to go out and dive for some conch and lobster but I think it better on another day. Until then it is a good day for hanging around the house and reading or watching TV, just another day in Paradise. I remind myself that I am living on an island in the Caribbean Sea and that makes me a very lucky hombre. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 18, 2003.

The day is very windy, overcast and cold. I decided to dress warm and go fishing this afternoon anyway. This cold spell has been around for a few days and is going to be around for a few more so the best thing is not to let it stop you from doing your thing. My fishing posse helped load the gear and we went out to catch a few. Catch a few would not be accurate as we only caught 2 very small Red Snappers. The sea was dark looking, not clear like normal and the cold front must have had the fish nestled away somewhere by their warm cheery fireplaces because we didn't even get many nibbles or bites. We weren't the only ones out there not catching anything, as it seemed to be the rule of the day for all the other fishermen I talked to. By the time we came in at sunset, which you couldn't even see at all because of the thick mass of cold air clouds overhead we were just a le chilly. The breeze was strong and steady from the north and it made anchoring along the reef a slight challenge.

Tonight I reluctantly put on a pair of Jeans, long sleeve shirt over a T-shirt and socks and shoes and went to Celi's for dinner. I had a nice dinner and saw my favorite girls who work there, Sury and Antoinette. After that I came home and pondered the meaning of the universe. Still waiting for the answer. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 19, 2003.

Once again we need long sleeves, long pants and light jackets as those nasty old cold fronts from way up North keep coming down here. I guess you can't blame them if you think about, who or what wouldn't want to be somewhere in the Caribbean. We are getting some partial sunshine today and that helps quite a bit. Just file away somewhere under smart things to know the fact that you may encounter some cool weather during the winter months even here. BRRRRight Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 20, 2003.

The day was clear and full of sun and I was happy to have it. Thank you oh subtle natural way of the universe for the gift. I humbly accept. I wanted to go out on the sea but it was not meant to be. I found that someone had stolen my battery and prop from my boat in the night. I would like to say this was a rare occurrence but it is not and there is no point in calling the police as they can do nothing. I see them riding around in the police vehicles all the time and it looks like they are mostly just playing around, giving friend's rides and stuff like that. To ask, or hope for a regular patrol at night would be too much. That is just a reality here in Paradise. I would venture to guess that this happens every night and all the thefts are related to the use of Crack Cocaine, another reality here in Paradise where bales (yes, bales) of Cocaine float up on shore or are found floating in the sea on a regular basis. I wish they would make the stuff legal and then the profitability would be gone and no one would be smuggling it any more. The users will use it either way so don't think that by legalizing it more people would become crack heads.

I went out about 9 this night and checked out Jaguars Temple, Fido's and the local Palace Casino. Jaguars had an all girl band from Honduras and lots of people. Fido's had Category X and not many people and none were dancing while I was there. The casino was kind to me and then I cruised on back home. The night sky clouded up and a few drops of rain were spit on me on the way home.

I paused by the edge of the magical sea and tried to be aware of the moment only and the small part I (and all of us) play in the universe. I guess, like many people, I seek the rhyme and reason of the universe. Somehow surrounded by all the power of nature as the stars hung overhead and the sea lapped at my feet and the breeze brushed over my skin, I could feel the whole thing and the meaning was all too clear. You can't put the act of "knowing" into words. It is meant not for words but for just what it is: "Knowing". I think you know what I mean? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 21, 2003.

The day was rainy from early morning until about 1 this afternoon. The wind has been very strong and the two elements have made for a chilly day. The sea also kicked up pretty good this afternoon. We have a lot of visitors on the island right now and I am sure most did not expect to be wearing jackets while they walked along the beach. I walked over to bail the rainwater from my boat and took a nice stroll along the edge of the sea when I was finished. The water was murky close to shore from the waves slapping the white sandy beach then withdrawing, as they carried sand back into the sea. I watched a Pelican patiently snatch up some sushi in the shallows by my dock. He moved quite quickly when he spotted a snack and I was impressed with his fishing ability.

Tonight I went to Caliente's for coconut chicken and it was real good. They had a pretty good crowd and I was glad to see that. From their outside dining area I could make out a few stars in the night sky as the small skiffs anchored or moored in front of there rocked to and fro in the sea. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 22, 2003.

There are some really colorful Christmas decorations along the streets of San Pedro. Many houses and businesses have gone all out to decorate for the holiday. The Town Board, the Lions Club and others have collected donated toys and will be distributing them to the less privileged kids here in San Pedro. Christmas here is very similar to the way it is in the States.

The island seems to be full of people. It is amazing how many people think this is a great place to spend Christmas. An informal check showed all the most popular restaurants were full and had a short wait list at some tonight. The business and the trickle down of the Yankee dollar will be greatly appreciated by those who live here and have a business. Still I am spoiled and prefer for purely selfish reasons the slow season when we sort of have the island to ourselves. Also on the plus side along with the influx of money for the average worker here, is the mix of culture that comes with for the most part, very nice folks who do choose to visit us. I guess it isn't such a bad trade for a le wait at my favorite bar or restaurant. The weather turned nice again today and that is another good thing. It was sunny all day with just a gentle breeze. The night sky is full of God's le lanterns and can only leave you with some sense of the marvel that is this universe of which we as a part of create. I love my creation and I hope you love yours too! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

December 23, 2003.

The day brings a beautiful sunny morning here on Isla Bonita. The Jewel we call the Caribbean Sea is shimmering like a large clear diamond and can only elicit a sense of awe for anyone who can see it. In the streets of San Pedro life is pulsing as street vendors sell tortilla's, fruits, seaweed and such and taxi's ply to and fro while merchants open their small tiendas with a smile and anticipation of a busy couple of days before Christmas. Surely Santa will make San Pedro his last stop on his busy night and stay for a few days or weeks even to rest up and recharge his battery. I am headed to the States for Christmas and Santa if you are listening and of course you are because you know everything, you can stay at my house until I get back. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 7, 2004.

It is week one for the Jerry Jeff camp. The coconut telegraph has Garth Brooks and Jimmy Buffett also here and all three playing at Woody's Warf tonight. Have no idea if that is true or not.

It seems the New Year has come and also the first full moon. The event did not go unnoticed but I find it has left me calm of spirit and short of Lunar Madness. Maybe that is the lunacy of it all? To all of you that read the SPJ, I wish for your dreams to be rich and full of life and color, and if they include a certain island in the Caribbean then perhaps our paths my cross and the subtle natural way of the universe will let a little magic out of its bag for us to share. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

Lost Treasure:

In the early 1980's, before San Pedro became a popular tourist spot, it was necessary to tell wherever you were staying or wanted to eat that you would be there for dinner that night. The reason for this wasn't overcrowding but simply because you would be fed like a member of the family and in a family style. You would sit with other guest and more likely with family of the person who was feeding you. Big bowls of vegetables, potatoes, salads and shrimp this or lobster that would be placed on the table and everyone would dig in. Depending on the main course, you would pay maybe 10-12 Belize dollars plus drinks for the meal. My favorite and a fond memory of this was at Lily's Hotel with Felipe Paz shuffling back and forth to the kitchen and making shrimp scampi with just a touch of Belikin beer. Even though you will not find it on any maps, this is for sure "Lost Treasure".

Random Notes:

San Pedro has become so cosmopolitan that we are seeing lots of businesses with neon signs. That is a big change for sure.

Here in Belize the phrase Good Evening means good afternoon. The phrase Good night means have a good night not the end of the night.

The old Hideaway Hotel property remains in transition as the old wooden portion of the property is gone and I am assuming the next Hotel or whatever is being dreamed, schemed or planned. We shall see.

January 10, 2004.

Rain showers are popping up and passing through fairly quickly and that was the case around 4 this morning. The sunrise came and the sky was mostly full of luscious sun until around 1 when another round of showers passed through. The breeze is slight and the mosquitos are happy! I went to Pauly's Pizza for a couple of slices of their good pizza. I usually get it to go but had to wait while a fresh pizza came out of the oven and I started watching the football game on their TV and decided to eat there. It used to be way too hot inside to stay but they added some serious central air a few months ago and now it is quite pleasant. Pizza ovens tend to throw off lots of heat, now that's news! While I sat there I watched all the traffic passing by and there was a lot. Because they close down Barrier Reef Drive (front street) on the weekends at 6 o'clock to all vehicles, you have to use the back street to go back North from town (because front street is one way and goes north) and I watched as a big truck came from the back wanting to turn and go south while a taxi came and wanted to go to the back street and go north, all happening at the corner right outside Pauly's. What happened was the street was too narrow for both vehicles to pass and they both sat there until one of them blinked and put it in reverse and backed up. In the mean time two more taxis and several golf carts had backed up on both sides. Would you expect to see a traffic jam here in San Pedro? I admit compared to someplace like L.A it doesn't compare but all things including traffic, are relative. Remember, the street's of San Pedro were originally designed for only one mode of transportation, your feet and they are just oversized sandy trails between 2 and 3 story buildings on both sides. By the way, Pizza is $5.00/Bze for a piece or you can buy whole ones too. Pauly's is in the space where Mickey's Restaurant used to be before she moved more or less just around the corner on Middle Street.

As I sit here at my computer inside my house I can hear very clearly the reggae music coming from the Hammock House about 2 blocks away and across the cut. I can live with it because it isn't every night and the music is usually pretty good but I know some neighbors who are not too crazy about the noise. That's what happens here, noise is something you put up with and to find a bar has sprung up next to your house is not unusual. Wait I think they are doing a Bob Marley tune; I gotta go out to my veranda and listen.. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 11, 2004.

I heard the wind blowing hard in the early morning hours and I knew that the predicted cold front was here. I slept in, taking advantage of the cool morning. When I did get up the sun was out and it was a nice day. The wind hung around for most of the day and it did rain a little around 5ish but not much and not long. I took my time getting going and then I ordered some Rice and Beans from Papi's Diner and had them delivered. Papi's son does the deliveries as it is a real family operation. There are other places to get great rice and beans around but Papi's has some of, if not the best in my opinion. I watched the K.C. Chiefs play; only problem was, only their offense showed up. Don't know where the defensive unit was. After that I walked for a while, bailed the rain water from my boat and went for a swim. The sea was cold but I expected that and you sort of get used to it in a few strokes. I swam a good distance out towards the reef (not to the reef, you should not try to swim to the reef from shore) and just floated there for a few minutes. I could feel the coolness of the sea, the current and the tropical breeze as they moved me around in the sea. I closed my eyes and I returned to the beginning, to the start, to that place where everything ceases and you catch a glimpse of where we come from and of the magic of this thing we call life. I have said it many times but once again this is why floating in the sea is like floating in Mother Nature's embryonic fluid. I swam back to shore and lay on my dock soaking in the rays and then I slowly walked the beach and back to mi casa.

Tonight the sky is dark and devoid of starlight as a layer of clouds sets above this portion of the Planet Earth. I prepare to rest with the knowledge that I am no different that the drops of water in the sea, no more important. No less important. Whoever and wherever you are, it is the same for you. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 12, 2004.

I have my house being cleaned this morning and that makes me banished to the front porch and my hammock. While I lay there, my mind sort of free formed and I found myself aware of moments in my past. They were mostly when I was young and I noticed even then I didn't like waiting for things to happen and I still don't. It is because I am completely undisciplined and I live my life just like that. This could be one reason I am impatient and expect life to conform to my own vision. You know the exterior world that we have created for ourselves demands at least some amount of discipline. We have to get up for work, pay the bills, file our taxes, stop at stop lights, stay away from junk food, etc., you know the drill. I guess that is good but I know if I had fallen into that giant sink pit (conformity) like all the other dinosaurs then I would not have led the life I have so far and I would never of had the adventures, the loves, the exhilarations, the disappointments, the sorrows, or the joys that I have been blessed with. A wonderful gift and I humbly accept, not fully knowing why I am so lucky.

We had perfect weather today with a sunny sky and gentle breeze. The sea was mostly calm and I wanted to be out on it but I had some other things to do. While the thought is popping up in my mind let me mention that in San Pedro there are five major grocery stores. They are: Island Supermarket, San Pedro Supermarket, Richie's Store, Super Buy and Nancy's Store. Island Supermarket is located across from The Belikin Beer warehouse and past Ramon's going south. San Pedro Supermarket and Richie's Store are located at the fork in the road just a block past BTL and Harmouch's Hardware and right across from each other. Super Buy is Behind Milo's on the back street and Nancy's Store just moved into a brand new big facility about one block south of the Football (soccer) field on the middle street. They all have good selection and more or less the same prices. You may still need to go to more than one to find exactly what you want but most likely you will find it. I should also mention there is almost a countless number of smaller more Belizean style stores located everywhere you go. Don't forget to check them out too. Many times you find better produce or things like tortilla's and such at these smaller tienda's . You will for sure find yourself a little slice of the real Belize.

10:00 P.M. I went to brush my teeth and start getting ready for bed and no water. What a surprise, NOT! The water was off in the night last night and off for most of the afternoon today. I took my shower this night with just a trickle of water because of no pressure but at least there was some. No big deal really, just pretend you are camping and make do. It's still Paradise, just a le thorn every now and then. Without it life would be too perfect and that would make it heaven I think. A small shower is overhead and I hear the rain drops on my zinc roof. The rain is very melodic and I will enjoy sleeping to the sound of the symphony, wishing you a symphony in your life. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 16, 2004.

Morning in Boa del Rio:

A fresh clean air from the sea.
Bright sunny sky.
A thin white line upon the sea, marking the boundary of the barrier reef.
Workers on bicycles pedal to the ferry to pass across the cut.
The sound of a weed eater as the town board worker trims the weeds along the roadside.
I add my own piece of the puzzle as I put on a Jimmy Buffett CD and play it loud.
This is life as it pulsates this morning in San Pedro.
Right here, right now, right away.
Can you dig it?
Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 17, 2004.

At my gate I talked to Luis from E & L Butane about a 92 Camaro he had here in Belize when he lived in Ladyville and how he had supped it up and how fast he could get from Belize to San Ignacio. We talked for about 10 minutes. Then as I continued my morning walk I passed by Oscar's Gym and saw Oscar there. We talked for about another 10 minutes and I was glad to see him because he was in the hospital and very sick and almost died. He said he is doing better and I am glad. Then I saw another friend Abby and he was maintaining his boat, he is a Fishing Guide and owns his own Fly Fishing business called Go Fish 501-226-3121 and we talked for a few minutes. It was a good morning for stopping and chatting about life and small things that happen in it. You don't have to be on an island to do that, give it a try if you like. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 18, 2004.

When I checked my thermometer this morning around 8:45 it was already a warm and balmy 86'. The breeze has dropped to almost none and the sun is blazing high in the clear sky. It is a typical hot day on a tropical island. The sea is calm and the turquoise tinted water is very inviting, another words - it is the perfect day for play at the beach or getting on the sea. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 19, 2004.

Through the honesty of Gaz Cooper at and a reader of the SPJ (Thanks for your help John) my (and my business partner/publisher Mr. Dale's) stolen prop made it home to me last night.. This morning I went to Captain Sharks and bought a new marine battery, marine battery terminals and a few other things I needed to replace from the loss. I hoped to go out on the sea this afternoon but after installing everything she didn't want to crank over. From setting idle I had some green or corroded wires that needed replaced or cleaned. Before I got that finished Geraldo Badillo told me that the Inspectors from the GOB were here in San Pedro today and tomorrow to inspect all boats and issue a permit. The cost is $25.00/Bze per year and this year you could get the sticker for two years at $50.00/Bze. Yes, boats all need to pay the money and carry a sticker here in Belize. The registration was at the Coral Beach and by the time I got going and got there it was about 3 in the afternoon. We tied up along the end of the dock just behind the Rum Punch 2 and waited our turn.. One of the guys on the dock said it looked like China in the movies with so many boats all tied up alongside each other everywhere and every which way. I could see his point. Later after waiting I counted 35 boats waiting and I think more than that had been there and gone. Around 4 the man came and checked us out. Life Jackets with boat name on them, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, life saving ring, 100 feet of anchor line, serial number of engine, size of boat, name of boat and a whole page of stuff. As I finished three young boys were paddling around the end of the dock on rectangular pieces of Styrofoam and paddling around with le sticks. They were having a great time. Don't feel sorry for these poor Belizeans who live in huts or shacks compared to America, they are a happy people and don't really need others judging them to be needy and underprivileged. You can be sure of that.

It was a pretty day and if the weather holds tomorrow I plan to go on the sea. For me that is the same as Christmas for a le boy.

January 20, 2004.

On many days I like to start the morning after I wake up by going to Ruby's Cafť downtown and getting some fresh orange juice. That is what I did on this cloudy overcast cool morning. The O.J. is $3.00/Bze for a nice big glass just FYI. After that I stopped at the post office looking for a package sent to me airmail from the states with an arrival time of 8-10 days. It was mailed on the 7th, 13 days ago and no sign of it yet. I stopped and talked with Lucky who owns Brown Sugar Video store and the Movie theatre also. Then I came back home and did a few chores. After lunch at Elvi's, I and my fishing posse loaded up the gear and went out this afternoon. First we dove for some Conch's. I found 6 that were big enough to take and one with a really nice thick lipped shell. Then we got out the fishing poles and tried our luck. Yesterday while registering my boat Gaby Perez Sr. (great fishing guide and one of the older San Pedranos you should meet, 501-226-2125) came up alongside my boat to register his. I could see he had some Sardines left in his live well from fishing and I ask him if he had extra. In typical Belizean fashion he gave me about 2 dozen or more live sardines and I put them in my live well. We used those for bait and a few that didn't make the journey so good we chopped up for chum. Not much biting though. While we were anchored we cracked the conch and used the parts we humans don't eat for bait. I should say I used the Conch as bait as my posse didn't want to change from Sardines. In about a New York minute (as opposed to a Belizean minute) I had a hard strike as my pole whistled and bent over. I got to battle with a real nice Black Snapper. I have found that fresh conch is excellent bait for all Snappers. Later I had another big one on but he broke the line and gone. Sunset came and we raced the darkness back to shore just winning by a nose. We tied up at the dock and carted all the gear including the prop and battery home to my bodega. One other item we did catch was a magnificent, fiery, orange blossom, scarlet letter kind of sunset. As the waves passing through the channel in the Reef gently rocked the boat we were mesmerized for those few moments in time. The day draws to a close and the final act is cast and once again I am allowed to live the dream of a le boy from Kansas. Today I roamed the Caribbean Sea. Tonight I will lay my head down on my bed on a Tropical Island. I humbly accept. Wishing all of you a similar peace. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

January 22, 2004.

It was the kind of day that when you live here you wait for, with a sunny sky, gentle breeze and calm inviting sea. After some errands in town and lunch at Elvi's, I went out to dive for Conch and Lobster and more than anything, fish. At lunch Ms. Elvi was having lunch also. She looked good and while still using a walker, is really getting around real well. She is an interesting lady and I always enjoy seeing her.

I have many friends who were born here and grew up here and know the sea like the proverbial back of their hands. I didn't grow up here and was born in the U.S. and I don't know the sea like the back of my hand. What I do know I have learned from my friends over a period of time and I am still a novice compared to my mentors. I can get you to some good spots for snorkeling, diving and fishing but there are lots of spots I just don't know. Today I wanted to fish by a barge that sunk a long time ago which is located between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. I have fished there before with my good friend Gaby Perez Jr. (cell phone 501-603-5037) who is a great fishing guide. Yesterday he and his two tourist guest caught over 200 Snappers. I know the approximate area it is in but I don't know the water around there well. I left my dock with the intention of finding the old wreck and catching some big Snappers and Barracudas there. I didn't find it and the fishing around that area wasn't good. I went over by the mangrove between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye and still no luck. I decided to head out to the cut in front of Banyon Bay and try it there. I wound up with around 10 fish and three were real nice size. All Snappers except one big Grouper that took a whole Sardine down his throat and he was damaged when I pulled the hook from deep in his throat. I kept him but would have put him back if he was healthy since they are nearly over fished to non existence.. I landed at my dock just after sunset and the twilight made the moment ever so magic. Pelicans hung around the docks looking for handouts from cleaning fish and far off planets emerged in the nearly dark night sky. I took a deep breath and I felt the rhythm of the universe. It is a friendly rhythm and is everywhere. Can you feel it too? Hope so! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 3, 2004.

It has been a glorious day here in Paradise. The sun has been out all day and the sea is fairly calm with a light breeze to swing you gently while you are anchored on the sea or to caress you while you sun your buns lying on the beach with your toes in the sand. I took advantage of it all and worked around mi casa this morning and then walked to town for lunch and a couple of errands. I caught a ride first with Osmin from Osmin's Mechanic Shop all the way to Harmouch's Hardware and then with Papi from Papi's Diner the rest of the way into town. Osmin has another business he told me about. Every week he and his partner drive a 25 seat Ford Mini-Bus from Belize to El Salvador. Once there, you can do whatever you want, explore, party, etc. and then come back on the next run. The cost is $40.00/U.S. each way and they take their time he says and stop several times along the way to check things out. His number is 501-226-3057 and his shop is just down from Papi's Diner in the Boca del Rio area. The afternoon has gotten hot so I am just out of the hammock and a le break. The sunset will start in about an hour and I am tempted to take a walk along the sea and a swim from my dock, sounds good so I am going to do it right now.

There are many nights here on Ambergris Caye that are nothing less than magical. They will literally mesmerize you into a higher state and cast a magical kind of spell over you that absorbs your entire being. What happens is the breeze will be constant in its embrace of your body and above the night sky will appear to you as a work of art that no other could ever duplicate. The moon will be big and bright and right out in the shadows of the night the chop of the Caribbean Sea sets a steady beat for the entire orchestra of magic to unfold to. Tonight is one of those nights and I am a prisoner. It is one of the things that happen in life that you inherently want to share with everyone, and I do. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

February 8, 2004.

OK, the SPJ is a couple of days late I know. I wanted to wait till now to see if I got to see Jerry Jeff Walker. I tried to get tickets for the show last night (Saturday). I even called Jerry Jeff at his house here on Ambergris and he was real nice but was already over sold for the small space they use at Wet Willies Cantina. Oh well maybe next year. Last night I went out to Coconuts and some members of his band came there and started to Jam with Dennis Wolfe who plays there on Saturday nights. About 10:30ish Jerry Jeff showed up and he had the place rocking in an Outlaw Country Rock sort of way. It was great and Jerry Jeff talked with people and had pictures taken and signed a few autographs. It was great and I didn't pay anything to see it. Thank you subtle natural way of the universe, I am humbled. After quite a few Rum Punches I made my way back home around 1 this morning. Shortly after that it started to rain after what was a perfect day. Jerry Jeff does a lot for the local economy by having his shows here in San Pedro. The streets of San Pedro have been busy with tourist and a lot of them came here for his show. He also played at Coconuts with Dennis Wolfe with no cover charge this past Wednesday. I missed that one but it wasn't meant to be like tonight. It is a fun time to be here so think about for next year, just check his web site for details.

Before I went to Coconuts I stopped in at Fido's and Category X was rocking the pack up (full) house. I was torn but made the right decision for this night.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Lost Treasures:

Walking barefoot on Ambergris Caye, to many stray dogs who litter up the beach make it a messy proposition.

Ransom Notes:

I over heard a heated discussion while I waited in front of the Seven Sea's Hotel to meet someone at their dock. A guest of Seven Sea's had a bicycle stolen in the night. It was locked up on their porch and there was a security guard on the premises. The problem was that the bike rental company wanted the tourist/visitor to our isla bonita to pay for the bike and the visitor didn't think they should have to pay. It seems that another bike had been stolen from there a few nights earlier. At the Police station downtown they have a huge pile of stolen bikes and it is an every night and day occurrence. I don't know who should be responsible for the fact that someone (s) is a thief. I do know it doesn't make for happy tourist one way or the other. I know they could fix the problem by not allowing people to come here that don't have money or work. Most people in Belize are honest and caring but the few, cast a dark shadow on many things. Be aware of what happens if when you lock up your golf cart, bike or whatever here and it is stolen. Do you have to pay for it? I have no idea how it all came out and for all I know Seven Sea's paid for it in the end, I believe them to be honest and not immune to crime here as is no one else.

January has been much slower than everyone expected. The local economy, now 110% dependent on tourism dollars is ailing. Collectively everyone sees it and wants to do things to make it better for tourist, but individually people still do whatever brings the dollar and very little concern is given to making San Pedro a sustainable first class tourist destination.

The Coconut Telegraph is just the local rumor mill and the SPJ is not a Newspaper so when I mention something heard on it, it is not gospel.

I want to mention that I do not claim to be an expert on Belize. I honestly doubt that with all the changes constantly going on everywhere that there is a real "expert" on Belize. If anyone is, it could be Emory King who I had the pleasure to meet in 1992 when I needed some help with a bureaucratic matter and he made a call and my problem was quickly fixed. So please remember, what you read here in the SPJ is just a partial look and one man's view and no more. I recommend you gather information and stories from many sources and then seek your own version of the adventure we call life in Belize. Happy trails and thanks for reading the SPJ. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

If you missed the SPJ last Lunar cycle it is because there wasn't one. The reason: sometimes I just need time to let the vase feel back up so I can pour it out again. As always, thanks for reading the SPJ and I hope to see your footprints being washed away from high tide very soon.

March 30,2004.

I received this email recently and have been thinking of how to respond ever since. I think the questions are common to those interested in Belize and I have chosen to respond here in the SPJ so all may share. As always, remember I express just one man's views and you should always follow the voice inside yourself after considering all the information in life.

Mr. Reef,

I enjoy your articles on life in San Pedro. I was turned on to the island
because of an article that touted it as one of the best places to retire
My wife and I are rather young (30 ish) but sounds so
wonderful. The daily rat race is not all it is cracked up to be, I think I
need to go were the weather suits my clothes!

How did you get to Belize? What would you say would be the average amount
yearly income needed to survive comfortably? Is there a decent amount of
opportunities for an entrepreneurial ex-patriot to make some cash to
subsidize retirement savings? Is land for building a home readily

Thanks in advance for your time. Hope I haven't put you out with all the
questions, just thought it would be good to ask someone who has been

Many Regards,


Hi Michael.

Thanks for reading the SPJ. To answer your questions let me first address the details, like how much money for living here, purchasing land, and making money here etc.

First we have a rat race here also. That is one thing that most folks overlook when they get the glazed look in their eyes of someone who has fallen in love with Paradise. The difference between our rat race and the one in the states is the pace is slower here and the surroundings tend to take the sting out of it most of the time. Everything here is not perfect and if it was it would be heaven, not paradise. It is no doubt paradise but paradise still affords the interaction of good and bad, heaven on the other hand must be even beyond that. So point one, the rat race does not disappear.

Second or maybe should be first is the money thing. It takes a lot more than you would expect or even plan for, for a variety of reasons. In any business you have the basic things to juggle. Inventory, cash flow, annual budgets, employees, expenses, profits etc. you get the idea I am sure. Here all those things factor in but so do other items. Hurricanes, tourist based economy subject to great fluctuations, cultural differences in how things are done, high cost of duties and freight, corruption, excess competition from other dreamers, black market money invested with no need to make a fair rate of return, a shortness in life span for all equipment and tangible items due to damp salt air, difficulty in obtaining permits and licenses and many more that you can only know from jumping in and surviving. I tell people it takes around $3,000.00/U.S. to live here per month and that is living ok and by some standards in a modest fashion. As far as starting a business, I have said many times; there is nothing we need that someone hasn't already done or is doing. I have spent 22 years searching for a business that makes a profit (not just a living) that is sustainable in Belize. In that time I have seen more business come and go than I can remember. The ones that do survive all exist "on the edge" as one of my friends recently said. I see new owners who think a funny name, hard work or cheap beer will make a change in some business that has never made money and even possibly has been sold several times to new unsuspecting buyers. If you do chance upon something that makes some money within a few months everybody will be doing it. Belize is a very small country and everybody is somebody's brother, cousin, uncle or aunt and nothing is really private. Your customs broker, agent or any worker may see you doing well and all your info is happily relayed over a plate of rice and beans and a cold Belikin. That's just a fact of life here. So second point is takes a lot of money to live here and the odds of having a successful business are similar to the odds of winning the lottery in America. The saying is old but true: To make a small fortune in Belize all you have to do is bring a big one. There are those who will disagree and some business are making money. I saw awhile back this issue was being debated in a chat room and a business owner who came down here and started a restaurant said they were making money and they were the Chief cook, bottle washer and bus boy. Starting or buying a business to give yourself a job is not a profitable business. It is a job you paid to get. A profitable business is one that makes money without your doing all the jobs. If you want to buy or create a job for yourself by starting or buying a business that can be done but even it is rare and very hard. In a nutshell, make your money up there and come here to enjoy it and you will be better off.

Third, land and homes are readily available everywhere. Virtually every piece of property is for sale regardless of if you see a For Sale sign, of which you will see many. If you have the money a place to live is no problem.

Now having done the reality checks lets talk about reality. The people that have come here to San Pedro are all dreamers and got bit by the bug that exist here that makes you want to come down and live. I am no different. I admire and encourage dreamers and encourage everyone to follow their dream what ever it may be. To me, not following your heart is a tragic failure. Giving it a try, even if you fall on your face in the white sand and limp back to America or wherever is not failing, it is living and that is why we are all here; to experience all the callings of our spirit.

How I got here is another story. I was living in Tampa, Fla. when a friend sailed his boat down to South America and on the way back he had some mechanical problems and put in down in Southern Belize off the coast of Stann Creek or Dangriga as it is also known. He called me and asked me to freight him some parts and I did. When he returned he told me how great it was here and that was all it took and I came down to see myself. That was in 1982 and I got bit by the bug and came as often as I could for several years and knew I was going to eventually live here. I bought a small piece of land on the advise of Mr. Dale (my publisher) in 1985 and that was the start. I later sold the land in 1990 doubling my investment. Mr. Dale has been here longer than me and he is a valuable resource when it comes to buying property here and avoiding all the pitfalls. He consults with investors by the hour and a few hours with him will probably save you thousands if not millions of dollars and headaches galore. I continued to make money in the States and still do even to this day. I have made money doing many different things here but aside from Real Estate investments the amounts are small and barely pay the expense of living here.

San Pedro is a great melting pot of cultures. It is a place where those who cherish the path less traveled seem to mesh right in. Where ever you are right now, you are living the moments of your life and if you choose to live those moments here in San Pedro or elsewhere in Belize then you are making choices about how and what your life is. That is something I can only wish for everyone. Be aware of the choices, intend your destiny and take the plunge, that is what you are doing now rather you know it or not. Why not do it on a beautiful Island in the Caribbean Sea, where the weather may very well suit your clothes? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom-Renegade Dreamer #1.

April 2, 2004.

The weather today has been post card perfect. The sea is calm and the streets of San Pedro are full of bustle. Went to Elvi's for the Mayan Buffet tonight and it is real nice. I especially like the hand made tortillas. $40.00/Belize and all you can eat. On the way there I passed Pisanno and of course he hailed me for a ride. He wasn't really going anywhere and as usual was loud and boisterous. I give him rides all the time just like I would give anyone a lift that I pass. Pisanno is one of what I call our true Island Characters of which we have a few. He asked me for $5.00 which he rarely does and I hesitated briefly and gave him a five. He put it in his pocket. Grey bushy hair squashed out from under the cap he wore sideways and with his signature stooped shuffle Pisanno, Island Celebrity, Island Character, made his way down Pescador Drive. To where? Only the breeze knows for sure.

Later I made a stop into Fido's and Sharks Bar. Both were fairly quiet but it was a bit early. There are two sessions of night life here in San Pedro. One starts early and ends around midnight and the other starts after midnight and ends much later and many times not till way past dawn. This is especially true on Saturday nights. The intrepid soles take in both and have way too much fun and gain great stories to tell after. Me, I may make my appearance at one or the other shifts or both, but mostly I am like Pisanno and go with the wind. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 3, 2004.

Saturday morning on the island and all the key players are on the job. The beautiful Caribbean Sea sparkles like diamond dust as it gives back the wonder of is beauty to the bright Sun overhead in exchange for the light of dance it gives the sea. The Coco Palms long serrated fingers sway gently to the tune of the breeze. On the streets of San Pedro Varella's big yellow dump truck passes by as well as tourist on golf carts. The mechanic is mechanican, the fisherman is fishing, the ferrymen are hauling, the drunks are drinking, the waiters are finishing with breakfast service and the kids are ever so happy as they ply the sand street on bicycles. The melting pot of life know as San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America is percolating and brewing up another day of magic. I humbly accept. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom

April 4, 2004.

One of the taxi drivers, Chris, came by to buy a pair of Nike Tennis shoes from DAL * MART my publisher, Mr. Dale's little store down below and told us there was a fire at Milo's Ice Factory just now. I guess he had been parked right in front of there. Not the best start to a Sunday Morning.

I walked along the beach and then came home to do some chores. Chores never end in life, only allowances.

I passed by Milo's Ice Factory this afternoon and they had a small fire but got it out, don't know the damage but think it was minor.

This months Lunacy:

The email from Michael referenced earlier in the SPJ gave me pause to review the path that got me here, living the dream, my dream and here's what I noticed. When I was young I had parents who told me I could do anything I wanted in life, I had Aunts and Uncles who taught me many things and even my Grand Parents gave input that played a part in me being who I am. What all the important people in my life taught me above all was how to survive, how to make your way in life. So many times in life while events, good or bad seem to come and go, the key to living a good life and the life you choose is knowing how to cross the muddy creek, or how to take the dusty back roads instead of the Freeway. What got me to Belize? All my life I knew I was going to live on an Island. When I first came to San Pedro here on Ambergris Caye I knew it would be here. From there I just held the thought no matter what and placed it into the cosmic universe and let it happen, much like a fruit ripens on a tree. During the whole event and indeed my fleeting time here on Earth, I have known how to survive. Everyone who has been here for more than a few years shares the same trait. They are natural born survivors. Maybe that is what you need most of all. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Ransom Notes:

The rate for U.S. Dollars had dropped from the official rate of 205 at the Licensed Cambio's and 210 or more on the Black Market to 203. That means you get the normal 2-1 exchange plus a bonus if you exchange you U.S. Cash for Belizean. Then the Casa de Cambio's give you a small commission that used to be 2.5% or more and now is down to 1.5%.

The Coral Reef Hotel is all completed and open. Jambel's Jerk Pit moved from their old location behind Big Daddy's to the first floor. It looks pretty good.

A great fishing guide is Juan Alamillo (501-226-2009). My friend Enrique invited me to go with him fishing last Month and we used Juan as a guide. He knows all the exact spots to toss you line in. I was more than happy with the boat, number and sizes of fish we caught, they took real good care of us. His son Bobby also goes along.

April 6, 2004.

We are in a stretch of great weather. Not too hot, not to breezy. Not too much rain and a nice invitingly calm sea makes this is a good time to visit Ambergris Caye. There are a lot more people so if that matters come later towards the end of summer or in the fall before the high season starts up again. I went across the river to have lunch at Sweet Basil. I like to go once a month or so for the good food and the view of both front and back of the island. I haven't gone over to that side for a while and it was the first time I saw where a new Restaurant called Hamilton's Waterfront Restaurant was ( It is almost across from Sweet Basil except it is on the beach. I have seen their ad and they look like a place to check out and so I will one day soon. Could be they give Sweet Basil a run for their money in that area. I always tell visitors to our little island that Sweet Basil should be on their list of places to eat, don't forget they only do lunch and are open from 11-6.

I went by the post office to check for a package mailed airmail to me from the states 2 weeks ago today that is supposed to arrive in 4-10 days. It hasn't arrived, ah life in Paradise. It is an absolute creamy night and an enchanting spell has been cast by the sly sorceress Mother Nature and it has gotten me under its spell. The calling is too strong and I find I must go out to the seas edge and gaze above at the heavenly wonders and give thanks for all that is this moment. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 7, 2004.

My package made it today, just 2 weeks for a 4-10 day delivery time to Belize from America. Not bad really. I took a visiting relative to Patojo's Scuba Center to learn to dive today. He did real good and loved it. Resort course and a shallow dive is $100.00/U.S. and Certification is $300.00/U.S. Patojo's is part of the Tides Hotel located on the beach just north of town by the high school, Phone 501-226-2283 and web site Did I mention Patojo's last Name is Paz? The Paz family is quite large and with long San Pedrano roots.

The coconut telegraph has a woman being mashed on the street by a vehicle in front of the Town Board office on Barrier Reef Drive late this afternoon. It also says she dies and if so that would be like the third person killed by a vehicle here on this tiny island with a supposed speed limit of 15 M.P.H. in about a year and a half, more or less. I am surprised it doesn't happen more although once every 6-7 months is too often now. Hope it isn't true.

The Town Board placed big round pilings across the street on every side street in the Boca del Rio area and is prohibiting vehicle traffic along the beach except for Golf Carts and Bicycles which can squeeze through the openings in the post. Don't know if this is permanent or just for the big Easter Weekend and the safety of those using the beachfront. We shall see. I also noticed tonight that another new restaurant opened in town. Seasons Restaurant opened above Pauly's Pizza, also above what used to be Mickey's Restaurant before that. Do a test, make a note of this and see if it is still around with the same owners in one year. It might be the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread but the last thing we really need is another restaurant.

A Boris Karloff sort of Moon is ascending through the cloudy eastern sky. The night is active and nothing can match the magic of the night sky. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 9, 2004.

It is a slightly hazy morning and the heat is already settling in. The days are getting hotter now and I guess winter is gone and summer is moving in soon. It is Good Friday and the streets are not as busy as usual as many workers are off for the holidays. The sea is calm and it looks like perfect weather for being here on vacation.

I went to Coconuts Hotel to have lunch at Rasta Pasta. Rasta Pasta just opened there about a month ago and I hadn't been in yet to check it out. I used to love going their when they were located in the Sunbreeze Hotel where Blue Water Grill is now. That was a few years back. Marilyn, the owner has been in Placencia and more recent in Caye Caulker and the Caye Caulker branch is still open. It was real good and the menu has lots of good stuff to choose from. The view is also nice and I put it on my list of spots I like. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner so give it a try sometime. I might mention as I went through town many shops and restaurants were closed for the Good Friday Holiday. Many did open tonight but some remain closed. For these 4 days or so around Easter, accommodations are scarce and while you will probably find something, somewhere, it is better to have a reservation this time of year. San Pedro fills up with tourist from Belize, Mexico, South America, Central America as well as North Americans and Europeans. I might also add that the bars quit serving alcohol from midnight last night (Thursday) until 6:00 in the evening tonight (Friday). The island is really hopping and people are all out celebrating.

The breeze is calm and the night sky is lit up like the great light show that it is. I can sit on my front porch and feel the magic in the air. I don't know why I am so lucky and I think it is better not to question some things. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

April 12, 2004.

At mid morning the temperature is 90' and that is hot. The sea is calm and the breeze slight. I went and filled up my gas tank and now just need to psych myself about the heat and go fishing. The town is getting back to normal (whatever that is) and more places are back open but for some it is still a holiday.

I got out to fish about 2 this afternoon and planned on being out till dark thirty. The calm sea and sunny sky gave way to some choppiness with a few swells tossed in for good measure and dark overcast skies. It seems a cold front is passing over and our weather changed in a Belizean instant. The chop of the sea I didn't mind but the lack of sunshine made it hard to identify area's under the sea and as far as fishing went today all I can say is it is a good thing I don't make my living as a fishing guide. It is a rare occasion to have bad fishing here even on my own without using a local guide but it doesn't bother me too much. Put me in a boat on the sea and I am like a slobbering hound dog, face in the wind out the car window going down the interstate. The night weather has brought just a smattering of rain but lots of groovy heat lighting and thunder to complete the deal. The cooler air is much welcomed and after all, the fish will just be bigger tomorrow or whenever. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 14, 2004.

Just as I start to complain about the hot dry weather Ma Nature sends us a little cold front down from way up North. Yesterday was overcast and cool and today was the same only a le colder this morning and then tonight on my way to town for dinner I passed people with their jackets and long pants on. It actually made for a pleasant temperature today but if you came to soak up some sun it didn't happen.

I saw Patojo out on his dock this afternoon. He has been sick with Chicken Pox and a few days ago felt so bad he didn't leave his house. I didn't' talk to him but he must be feeling better. The night sky holds no sparkling lanterns and the breeze is still from the back which is characteristic of the cold front passing over head. The tourist count is still fairly high and the high season that never really was is beginning to wind down. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 15, 2004.

The cabanas at the Paradise hotel are all coming down, leaf by leaf, pole by pole. They had a sale and sold everything except the real estate. Maybe it is sold also, seems I heard something about it a while back but don't remember. In any event it is a change in the scene and I wouldn't be surprised to see more Villa's/Condo's go up for sale and rent. Just a guess as I have no clue what's going there? Don't confuse the Paradise Hotel with the Paradise Villas right next door. One has modern Villa's, the other thatched roof cabanas.

It was a pretty day and the sunset is a colorful one. The sea was calm and the sun out all day. The streets of San Pedro are not as busy as we begin the down hill slide to what will be the slow season. Seems like we just survived one, they come fast here lately. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 20, 2004.

Life is status quo here in San Pedro. Golf carts are passing by, street vendors are hawking their wares, the smell of Escabeche and Rice and Beans is in the air and the palm trees are dancing to the beat of the breeze. Only thing missing is you! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

April 30, 2004.

I have noticed a trend here on our sandy streets of San Pedro. I see a lot of people driving their golf carts with one foot hanging over the side. It is the left foot of the driver and it just dangles as it hangs over the edge while the driver cruises up and down the streets. I won't say it is a brand new fad but lately I have noticed it more and more. I get a chuckle from seeing it because it is in a small way the epitome of the laid back attitude of Belizeans and indeed Latin American's for sure. The only reason for this dangling foot that I can see is because there is no real need to have your foot up inside the cart and to put it there uses up energy that you could just as easily conserve. Why exert yourself when it is far easier to just dangle your foot? This sort of falls into the manana attitude and I have to say I really like that way of thinking. So the next time you drive a cart here give it a try and you will see what I mean. Right Here (with my foot dangling), mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 4, 2004.

The high season has ended and the streets of San Pedro are not near so busy. The high season was to short and we can only wait and survive as always as we see what the slow season shall bring the local economy. The days are getting hotter and our dusty streets could use some rain.

Lunacy for this lunar cycle: If you come to visit and fall in love with San Pedro and Belize and decide to live here please don't try to change it and make it like America. Don't feel sorry for the poor Belizeans who live in shacks compared to American houses. They are happy and full of love and don't need us to be their salvation. If anything, they could be our salvation. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Ransom Notes:

I often get request to recommend many things and I usually try not to recommend anything or one. People's taste and expectations vary so much I have found it better to let people make their own discovery. When I mention a hotel, restaurant, tour guide, fishing guide or any person or business in the SPJ then I think they are good to use, unless I say different. There are many good places and guides etc. so don't expect to find them all here or from any one person or source.

The SPJ, nor I, accept any payment for the opinions expressed within.

The Hotel Del Rio has purchased the lot behind Casa Blanca (their 2 story cement building) and will be expanding. If you want affordable, Belizean style, clean comfortable lodging on the beach then check them out. Most of the lodging is in thatched roof cabanas.

A reader asks about renting by the month and I replied that you can expect to pay between $450.00-1500.00 U. S. per month depending on the location, size and amenities. Of course there are exceptions to this rule of thumb.

Lost treasure:

Having lunch at The Hut with Patty Arceo and her sister serving you.

The Paradise Hotel.

May 6, 2004.

After a hot morning it started to rain about 1 this afternoon and kept up until about dark thirty (6:30). The sky remained mostly cloudy and I could see no stars. The streets of San Pedro are not to busy and now we all talk about the downhill slide into the slow season. I am not sure if those terms "High" and "Low" season really apply like they used too. The "High" season used to mean everyone was at near capacity and money from tourism was flowing (like sand, the local phrase for it) and the "Low" (or slow) season meant San Pedro was much like a ghost town and nobody had any money, let alone extra. There used to be a big gap between the two but now they both have moderated and we really have less of a gap between the two and the Low season isn't completely dead and the High season isn't as high. What we have is a longer tourist season without the dramatic peaks and valleys; it is more even throughout most of the year. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 7, 2004.

It rained in the early morning hours and again around 8 this morning. The rain pushed off and the day was breezy and hot. Some storm looking clouds passed over after midday but never did rain and life continued on here in Paradise. The sea is choppy and the charismatic contrast of the blue and turquoise colors is just an everyday masterpiece of the great artist who created this world. I accept the gift and am reminded that the actions of any one person are just a drop in the grand scheme and humbly do my best to live the moments of my life as well as I can.

I took my cart to San Pedro Supermarket about 7 tonight to get some skim milk and a few other supplies. As I was closing my gate one of my neighbors, Fredrick of Fredrick's Bicycle Repair Shop walked by carrying his 11 month old son and he waved and said Good Night and I replied back and said hi. Right behind him a few paces was his wife, who is originally from Guatemala and his daughter who is 3 or 4 I think. Fredrick is originally from southern Belize and the village of Dangriga. I offered them a ride as far as I was going and they told me they were going to church. I dropped them just past the store and that was almost half way to town so they appreciated the ride. We chatted on the way and I thought afterward how Freddy and his family was almost the perfect model for the typical Belizean family. Freddy is from Belize, his wife from Guatemala and they have two young children, a boy and a girl, both of which were well dressed and groomed as they headed to church. They live in what many non-Belizeans might consider a shack but are happy and glad to be living everyday. Fredrick works in his shop in front of his home everyday and doesn't make much money but he is truly a rich man. I say it again: The people of Belize are its best natural resource.

Some stars are twinkling at me in the night sky tonight and I watch as a few low anemic clouds roll overhead between them and me. As their twinkle appears when the clouds pass I say "Thank You", for they must be my lucky stars. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 10, 2004.

One of my good friends came by last night to say Hi. He is Belizean and has been in San Pedro for several years. He is smart, a natural born people person, a hustler (in an honest way) and very hard working. He also has some money to work with. He has opened 3 different businesses here in San Pedro. He left this morning for the U.S. for a few months to earn some money. He told me he has tried and tried to come up with a business that you can make money with here and actually get ahead. His story is just one in the files and just another example of how hard it is to have a successful business here no matter how much of an entrepreneur you are, no matter how hard you work, no matter how great your idea is, no matter how good you hustle, no matter how cute the name of your business is. San Pedro is a great place to visit or live if you have the money. To live here and have to make a living is just so much against the grain of things here. Ok, enough of that soap box stuff, just what I see and wanted to share it for those who want real info.

The morning was sunny when I got up about 7. Just a little before 11, I watched a squall come in from out on the sea. It is raining hard as the squall has reached shore. There is something about watching a squall form and then have it come over where you are, that gives you some serene feeling about life and about how things unfold in it. In many ways you can see all the parts of life in the squall itself. There is the beginning, the growth, the good that comes and the bad. There is the track the squall takes and those people and things it affects. There is the cohesiveness of the entire process and the knowledge that everything unfolds in this same way and the dance is more than just a minute in the great waltz. Then there is the end and the squall passes back from wince it came. I started to write I love squalls but then I thought to love squalls is to love life itself, so I write; I love Life. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 12, 2004.

We have had stiff steady breezes and lots of sun to dance on our choppy turquoise water for several days now. It is not at all a bad time to come here for a le holiday. The island isn't very crowded and there are discounts for most things you would like to do. One caution though: the nights are hypnotic and will carry your soul off to another place and you will feel whole and complete and know all the great secrets of the Universe and God and Man and everything will seem perfect and you will know that everything is as it should be for this moment. Here's to the moments of our lives. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 14, 2004.

It's Friday on the island, not much going on. I got up early and was greeted by an energizing fresh cool breeze from off the sea. I went to town and paid my cable and water bills. Then I stopped at Ruby's Cafť for some fresh OJ and then took a slow ride back home through the streets of San Pedro. So much has changed since I first came here in 1982 and I can't make up my mind if it is for the good or the bad. I guess in the end it is like everything in life and has both. It is nice to be able to get the type of groceries we take for granted in America when you want (more or less that is, this is still Belize) and it is nice to have phones and internet and even Cable TV. These are all just trappings of society and progress but they come with a price, like lots of traffic on narrow dusty sand streets and noise and all the vices that come with the typical vacation to paradise. I guess it is all alright (not that it needs my blessing) but while San Pedro is not what it once was it is still a pretty cool place to visit and or live if you have the money. I can't tell the future because my crystal ball has a haze on it from the salty sea air and isn't too clear sometimes. I feel certain that San Pedro is in a state of evolution and the sooner you come to see and experience it the better for you, not that it won't evolve into something just as cool but what we have now and indeed had, are gone or slipping away.

I cruised along the beach on my way back and I noticed two le kids lying on a dock gazing down into the clear sea through the cracks between the planks that make up the walkway of the dock. I don't know what they were watching but they were oblivious to the rest of the world at that moment and as I passed by the le boy inside me wanted to stop and go lay down beside them and see the world through their eyes for a while. I didn't stop and I guess I wasn't meant to be a part of that moment with them but for me this little dark skinned Belizean boy and girl gave a precious gift by their actions. If you have children cherish them like they are more valuable than gold and know that they are the magic of we. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 15, 2004.

We had several lines of thunder storms and heavy rain pass through last night. Today was overcast until mid afternoon and the sea had small white caps inside the reef. I met a friend and went to Rasta Pasta at Coconuts Hotel for lunch. The food is really good and the price is mid range also. I talked with Marilyn (owner) for awhile and it was nice to see her as I have not actually visited with her for quite a while. The breeze is calm and that makes for a warm muggy feeling here in paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 16, 2004.

After another round of attacks on my Zinc roof from the pelting rain last night I got up around 8. One thing about any lack of sleep related to having a Zinc (Tin) roof, it is shared by the common masses. It is overcast this morning and the breeze is virtually still. That means it feels a bit warm and also maybe a change in the weather like we are between two systems. I got out my guitar and in my crude unmusical, untalented style wrote up a song. If it is good or not is one issue and not the most important one but just the simple act of creation, however small can bring a feeling of harmony and connection to the world. As always copyright DAL E HA Publishing like all the other nuggets contained in the SPJ.

Things That Happen.

There's a fair skinned girl sittin by the sea.
A young Creole boy climbs the Almond Tree,
He's real anxious to show off all his tricks,
She doesn't say a word but smiles real quick.

For the things that happen in San Pedro,
I'd gladly give up the rain and the snow
So take me down where I can see,
Little Creole boy climb the Almond Tree and
a fair skinned girl sittin by the sea.
San Pedro's the place that I want to be.

Women walk with bundles stacked upon their heads,
Rasta's paint up many things, they like the color red.
Which way to Elvi's? No he's really dead,
Here we call it Elvee's and that's enough said.

For the things that happen in San Pedro,
I'd gladly give up the rain and the snow.
So take me down where I can see,
Little Creole boy climb the Almond Tree and
a fair skinned girl sittin by the sea.
San Pedro's the place that I want to be.

We have a front sort of settled in and it has brought long periods of hard steady rain to turn us into a giant bowl of mud. I managed to go to Papi's about 12:30 in between the drips and got home just before a steady 3 hour long drenching started. What more can be said about Papi's Diner. It is a True Belizean joint and food. I think you get the best plate of Rice and Beans on the island there (not the only place with good R & B) and that is what I had. While I sat there and ate, Papi's girls who were also waitressing etc., were watching TV and laughing at those guys who go places and try dangerous, stupid things just for the fun of it. I don't know the name of the show but you might. They approached a killer Black Rhino and stroked its underneath and put giant biting ants on their nipples, etc. Anyway the girls were laughing and I was laughing and it occurred to me that this is what San Pedro was like 20 years ago and even 10-15 years ago. It was like going into somebody's home and having lunch and just being part of the norm, completely accepted and the whole thing wholesome and precious. It was nice to have the experience and nice to know all the magic hadn't vanished. Right Here, mi amigo's---Reef Ransom.

May 17, 2004.

The sun has taken control of the sky and the rain has begrudgingly gone on its way. The streets of San Pedro are muddy and the washed out parts have created new "Beach Front Lots" so look for Real Estate signs around the giant pot holes soon. I went to the Post Office and got my mail and stopped and paid a bill. Along the way I stopped at Ruby's Cafť for my hit of fresh OJ. I noticed a few tourist walking the streets and lots of things being delivered to various stores. The younger kids with their blue and white school uniforms filled the Roman Catholic Church and blind Ricky was walking and whistling as he pulled his business (his cooler full of Tamale's and Tortilla's) along the street. Thus life was spilling out all around me this fine morning and I can only say that the feeling you have when you are in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is quite fulfilling. I humbly accept this gift from the subtle natural way of the universe.

Some rain came in about 1 or so and hung around for a while but didn't rain as much as yesterday. In between I went to town and on the way gave a ride to Moses a friend who works at the Palace Casino. As we maneuvered around and through the brown, soupy looking streets he said "This is what we call Belizean Guacamole." I just laughed and dodged another sink hole. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

May 18, 2004.

The rain is gone for now and the sun is out in all its glory. It rained very hard again last night and there is water standing in many places. I just noticed that the Hurricane season starts in a couple of weeks. It seems to come around quicker these days and it is sort of interesting the things I use to mark the passage of time. There is a gentle breeze that rustles the fronds of the Palm Trees and caresses my being. It should be a great day here in Paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 11, 2004.

Been without a computer for a couple of weeks and just got it back from CSM 2000 the computer shop in town. You just can't know how hard the salt air and environment here is on things like computers until you live here for a while. Virtually every single thing you own from computers, camera's, stereos, golf carts, bicycles, clothes and anything made of plastic, metal or wood will suffer and break or wear out at an incredibly fast rate compared to non island environments. The intense sun is also a big factor on anything that it hits every day causing dry rot and plastic items to just almost crumble in your hands. It is good to be back and able to write because for me it is much like a form of therapy as I live this gift from the subtle natural way of the universe which is my life. My Publisher, Mr. Dale has a saying I like: "These are the moments of our lives." I try to remember that when I get mad or frustrated about something and also when I laugh or connect with the magic in life.

Hurricane season started on June 1st and we had a Tropical system out on the sea that passed by finally during the night last night. Before it went by it brought lots of strong wind and rain and the sea was rough and choppy and angry looking. Today we have almost no breeze and the sea has gone flat again. I stopped and said hi to Patojo for a minute this morning as he was loading dive equipment to take out some guest for a morning dive. I think they will have a good day for it.

It is around 5:15 in the evening and from the street below my veranda comes a deep voice yelling "Seaweed", it is one of the many street vendors we have here in San Pedro Town. He passes every night with the same Baritone voice and calls out "Seaweed" as he makes his way from one end of town to the other. What the locals use the seaweed for I am not sure and maybe I should stop him and find out one evening and expand my limited field of knowledge in this area. Still learning and Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 13, 2004.

A strong round of thunderstorms passed through in the early morning hours last night bringing thunder, lighting, strong wind and a good amount of rain to our le island. They were the trailing edge of a Tropical system that has made its way through the Yucatan Peninsula area of Mexico and is entering the Gulf of Mexico to either strengthen or just move on bringing lots of rain to somewhere along the Gulf Coast of America. I went across the river cut on the hand ferry and to Sweet Basil for lunch today. I have to say that while it was good and I still like it, it isn't quite as good as it used to be when the original owner (Mary Ellen) had it. I wouldn't take it off my list of places to eat but I would put it on my list of things that don't stay the same after new owners come in. When new owners come in to any successful business they have things to factor in to the overall equation that the owners before them may have not had, like the purchase price/debt service and in many cases here, additional competition in the related field. Also many times you find new or different employee's and of course new idea's. Again still worth going but just different. Speaking of new owners, I met the new owner of The Pier Lounge today. Her name is Jan Brown and she has been coming here to visit since 1989 she told me. I must admit she didn't fit my preconceived idea of the dreamer type that usually takes the big leap from America to Belize, but she is, so, so much for stereotyping. At any rate I certainly wish her well and imagine she will have to learn the ropes and pay her dues like everyone else who dares follow their dreams to here. Not to be sarcastic but here is another chance to make a mental note and see if she is still here in a year or so, I hope so.

Now I want to touch on some thing's that I doubt will make me any new friends or fans but then I don't write the SPJ to kiss any ones behind. I get ask about lots of things but the two most common questions I hear are: "Is the water safe to drink?" and "Is it safe here?" The water is safe, as it comes from a desalination plant and is filtered much like 'city water' in the states. Most people don't drink it (we have bottled water) because they don't like the taste and some think it has too much chlorine, but it will not make you sick as many people think of water in Mexico doing for example. Is it safe here is a tougher issue. I used to answer yes it is, but anymore I feel the need to temper my answer a bit. Crime has risen dramatically in San Pedro and indeed in all of Belize. It ranges from petty crimes and burglary to theft and murder and it encompasses locals and tourist alike. Now many business owners don't want these thoughts shared for obvious reasons and I have noticed that visitors many times don't like to hear this either, not because they are afraid but because they think the person sharing the real truth about it is trying to keep them out so they can have "Paradise" all to them selves. That is very narrow minded in my opinion and I once again will mention that many people who presume to be experts on life in Belize are only expressing their views from limited visits or time spent here and really I consider no one, myself included to be an 'expert' on life in Belize. There are too many variables for any one person to be able to give a completely accurate evaluation. I see this same mentality/response when people ask about moving here and working or starting a business and some intrepid soul gives what I consider to be a fairly accurate account of the difficulty if not near impossibility of doing that successfully here and the person I will call the "Dreamer" doesn't want to accept the fact and thinks that those of us here just want to keep them out and keep the place all to ourselves. Now let me just make it short and sweet. We have crime here just like any where in the world and it is extremely difficult to make money here either by working or owning a business. San Pedro and Belize is a great place to vacation but living here and needing to make money is not something that I would recommend. The reasons are so many and unusual that I have not the energy to go in to them. So please, keep coming to visit and if you find that your dream to live here must be fulfilled, enlist the knowledge of not just one person or not just opinions from internet chat boards but ask as many people as you can find that really know what's going on and take plenty of time before you take the plunge and find yourself no longer in the kiddy pool but in the deep end so to speak.

While I am purging myself of these burrs under my saddle let me toss in a couple of other things. There must be at least a hundred different great fishing/tour guides here in San Pedro and also many great hotels, bars and restaurants. Just because someone mentions "one" of these on the internet or in person don't think there aren't others. It's ok to use these people or places that others praise but where is your sense of adventure? How will you ever find your own special person or place if you only stay on the ant trail?

The other thing that I see happening and it has taken me over 22 years to see this, is the harm that coming here and bringing "gifts" to people and especially young kids has done and does. I know it seems like a nice thing to do and compared to American standards it looks like the people and kids of Belize are needy but that is only us imposing our own first world standards on these otherwise happy and contented people of Belize. I used to always bring little gifts when I first came down but what I have witnessed is that the recipients come to think that in life things are given to them and that it is ok to expect free things and handouts from foreigners. Yes, I mean even little things like crayons and books for school kids. I imagine some might be thinking I am just hard hearted but I don't say this out of that type of feeling. If you want to give a gift to the people of Belize come and show consideration for their way of living and don't assume that what you have in America or elsewhere is better. Be their friend, talk to them, share your time with them and I believe you and they will be the better for it. Imagine if your kids grew up getting gifts from lots of different people all the time. Please don't confuse what I am saying as meaning doing things like donating to the public library or Red Cross etc. are bad, it is on the individual level that I feel it causes a potential problem. Now I leave you to your thoughts. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 15, 2004.

This is the first day of Lobster season and I saw many fishermen with their hook sticks in their hands as they came back in from the sea. I don't know how they fared at the moment but do know there is Lobster for sale in Restaurants and stores now. I imagine the early morning hours brought many Lobsters in to the skiffs and ultimately to shore and even to Red Lobster Restaurants in the states in due time. Most of our exported Lobster product is sold to Red Lobster as are the farmed shrimp from the big shrimp ponds you see along the coast when you fly in or out of Belize from Phillip Goldson International Airport. Our weather has settled into what is to me a typical tropical weather pattern meaning it starts out with a fairly sunny morning and in the afternoon heats up and the sky becomes hazy and often ends in some rain and for sure lots of heat. Over all the days are good and don't disrupt tourist activities too much and the nights are cool and extremely hypnotic. I love the last hour of the day as dusk approaches because the air becomes cool and you can feel the night coming as it pushes away the hot air from the day. Tonight the sky is partly cloudy but the stars are up there and seem so close that you think you can reach out and touch them. Just be careful, they might burn your hand. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 17, 2004.

The morning was partly sunny and fairly calm. The sea was more tranquil today than it was yesterday as all the whitecaps inside the reef have gone away. Right about 1 this afternoon a tremendously powerful thunderstorm came over the island and brought heavy rain and some serious lighting strikes and of course the ensuing claps of thunder that followed. One of the lighting strikes must have hit something that caused all the phones to stop working, including cell phones also. The storm quit around 4 and the phones came back sporadically around 5:30ish. I went to Jade Garden Restaurant for some sweet and sour lobster and of course the best non-frozen caye lime pie on the island. The night sky is mostly clear and the constellations are etched in the darkness above as they let us know that there is a force greater than man that has made this glorious place that we all share and exist in. It is good to be reminded of this and I have no doubt that there is a magic that permeated all of life and all of us. Tonight I can easily feel it and I hope wherever you are you can too. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 18, 2004.

Yesterday's storm brought a powerful bolt of lighting that struck the BTL (telephone) tower and the phones are out. Mine came on for a while last night so I thought they were fixed but not so, just another tricky day in Paradise. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 21, 2004.

Most phones are back working now, although I hear there are still a few not. You can't take things like utilities and phone service for granted here in Paradise. I fondly remember the days when we had no phones in every home, and not everybody had a digi-cell cellular phone you passed on the street. Oh the times they are a changing. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

June 25, 2004.

The Frigate Bird Song

One Frigate Bird said to the other,
What do you think I would discover,
If I flew out there across the great sea?
Do you think I'd find someone like me?

Well I don't know what's out there,
I'm afraid to find out, better off here.
Why in the world would you want to go?
Everything you need is right here you know.

Now I don't want to be like a Frigate Bird.
I want to go out there and see what I have heard.
Let me fly away from the shore,
Let me find out if there is more!

June 29, 2004.

Let me spout off about one more thing. I live close to the river cut and on occasion I see rental golf carts being towed back from across the cut. They either ran out of power/gas or just broke down and needed a tow back. Here's the deal, I see both Electric and Gas powered carts being towed back and if anyone asked me I would say rent Electric because they are quieter than Gas and part of the reason people love San Pedro is because of the serenity of our little island and gas carts are not conducive to that feeling because they are loud and noisy. Both gas and electric carts cause pollution and both can break down and both can go long distances when properly maintained so why not give the noise pollution a break and use the Electric ones? To me this just seems like the lesser of two evils and just for clarification I have no interest in any golf cart rental companies but I do have an interest in our island Paradise. As always when it comes to things like this, the choice is yours to make. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 1, 2004.

Here's your dose of lunar madness.

The Belizean Soul.

He came down from America looking for some peace of mind,
Swaying palm trees, enchanting blue sea's is what he thought he'd find.

They say he's a Belizean soul,
Born to America but not their son.
Slowly he learned to habla Espanol,
now he likes his punch with a splash of rum.

Now he doesn't worry about what ain't broke,
And he won't turn down a le sweet toke.
Never pays the bank till the Queen comes home,
And he even got himself a digi-cell phone.

They say he's a Belizean soul,
Born to America but not their son.
Slowly he learned to habla Espanol,
now he likes his punch with a splash of rum.

Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Ransom Notes:

Oscars Gym in Boca del Rio by the river ferry has been sold. Oscar was real sick last year and needed some more surgery I think. It is where he had his gym and some apartments and where he and his family lived. I think he had lowered his asking price to around $250,000.00/U.S. and I don't know the actual sales price but bet it is in that neighborhood. The building is all wood (cement is better), beach front (sort of, the park is between it and the actual beach front but sort of a moot point) 3 stories and has rental income when rented which is most of the time. I will miss seeing Oscar and his family around and wish them well.

What we in America call tap water or city water or just plain water is sometimes referred to here in San Pedro as "Pipe Water" because it comes from a pipe.

The "Pipe" water has been off a lot lately and when it is on, often has had minimal pressure. Nothing surprising there, of course the water bill is never late in coming and shows no adjustment for the time we have no water. If you want to complain you can but there is no competition and really no one can do anything about it. We are at the mercy of Belize Water Service. Thank you Government of Belize for selling us out once again.

Belizean slang for "Did you just get here?" is "You just reach?"

Lobster season starts on June 15.

Conch season ends June 30.

I continue to be almost constantly amazed at how many people ask for advise on important issues like buying real estate here and/or living here from persons unknown (or not known well) on internet sites and they seem to accept the info as factual. I can not tell you how many ridicules answers and comments I have seen in internet chat areas that are just plain wrong. Recently I saw someone ask about a particular real estate company and someone responded that they had dealt with them and they were very reputable and everyone that actually lives here in San Pedro knows this company has done things in the past that probably would land them in prison in the states. Folks, don't take advise on the internet from people who though may be well intentioned only come here for a week or two every so often or have had a single good experience with something or someone and think they know what is going on. There is no way you can get the whole picture from what amounts to a few frames out of the entire movie reel. What was it P. T. Barnum said, something about one born every minute?

The San Pedro Town Board has placed a moratorium on new restaurants, deli's or any other food related business. They have done the same for Bars and will not be considering any new license request for either type of business. This will somewhat validate those of us who try to let people know that it is not easy to start new business' here and survive, although it is akin to closing the gate after the horse has left the corral.

When someone says they are "waiting on the Queen to come", it means they are waiting on money. Our Belizean money has the Queen of England on it; remember we used to be British Honduras.

My friend Wharfrat emailed and asks how much it cost to send a container to Ambergris Caye from Houston, Texas. My answer: $2,500.00/U.S. more or less, including Customs Broker and barge here in Belize. Actual price may vary depending on who knows what?

As always, Thank You for reading the San Pedro Journal and as always everything thing contained within is just the opinion of one Poco Loco Renegade Dreamer.

Editors Note: This issue combines a couple of lunar cycles and we lost some of what we thought was pretty good stuff from Reef because of a bad disc. This made us a bit rushed to get this issue of the SPJ out and so we apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors and wonder if it could have been even better than it is. None the less life happens and as always we hope you enjoy and thanks for reading the SPJ.

July 8, 2004.

I was on a Tropic Air flight today which carried visitors from the International Airport out to San Pedro. I really love watching the faces and particularly the eyes of first time visitors as we leave the mainland and start out across the sea. The thrill of seeing the sea change from its brackish brown color that it is just off shore on the mainland around Belize City to the intense crystal clear blue that it becomes in just a couple of minutes flight time is really awesome. It is easy to become jaded to it and seeing through the eyes of visitors brings that special feeling it gives you, back to me also. Even the scrubby, uninhabited little islands you pass over in the air bring smiles and delight to those who are seeing them for the first time. I was much the same and even now after maybe hundreds of times seeing them I still smile and get a warmth in my soul as I know they are like the road signs pointing the way to the treasure of the Caribbean Sea. One thing I might mention and it is a common mistake and one which I made also is that the International Airport is not Belize City but is actually closest to Ladyville and Belize City is around 16 miles from the International Airport, more or less. I hope you get to know this feeling of anticipation that grows with each passing minute of the trip out to the Cayes. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 9, 2004.

Strong thunderstorms are passing through and stay throughout the night. Earlier today between downpours I went to town for a couple of things and I stopped at San Pedro Supermarket and got a coke in a plastic bottle. I stopped outside a business in the middle of town for about 2 minutes and left my half drank coke sit in my golf cart. You guessed it, when I came out someone had taken it. I just laughed to myself and hoped they enjoyed the last half of my by then, warm coke. The plastic bottle had no value and if it were glass I would have sort of understood as the empties are worth a Schilling (Belize 25 cents, U.S. 12.5 cents) and many people scavenge empty bottles and sell them. This is just another sign of our growing problem with crime, no matter how small it is. Let me add, before you dismiss it by saying something like "I live in Atlanta, or New York or Kansas City" or wherever "and this is nothing compared to there"; remember we have just a few thousand people and a police force that does nothing and if they do criminals and even killers wind up getting away with the crime or simply fined a few hundred dollars most of the time. Yes there is crime everywhere, but if you put it on a per capita basis ours is way out of proportion with the rest of the world and no one to report it to when it happens. One final point and then I'll get off this crime issue, is the month of June, 2004 in Belize brought 15 murders and this is in a country with a population of 250-275,000 people more or less. Even more shocking will be how many of these murderers are never caught or if they are, get off in court. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 10, 2004.

The rain continues today and pretty much puts a damper on about everything. Nothing we can do about that except smile and know that all things must pass.

As is my custom I had lunch at Elvi's today. I was told by Gloria, Elvi's daughter that Ms. Elvi had been sick. Last week after returning from a short vacation to Cancun she started feeling bad and had some stomach pains. The family went to find one of our 6 doctors on the island and found all but one were off island and the other was attending a party. He finally came to check on her and had her sent to Belize City to the hospital, where they did some test and found the problem. After a few days she is better and resting in the city with one of her other daughters. I am told she should be fine. It is just one of the things that come with living here but we have no hospital even though over $700,000.00 has been collected from groups and individuals, many who were visitors and spent on who know's what. A hospital has been started but no where near finished for several years now and there is no way the money has all been spent on the shell of a building that stands right now. In my humble opinion the fundraisers should have their feet held to the fire and account for all the funds but that will never happen because they are well known and well connected in San Pedro and Belize. If you happen to have donated money to this project sometime, then you know who these people are and now you know that they just smiled and took your money and spent it. Worse than the obvious (to those who live here) scam is the real travesty which is we have no Hospital and it is a good swim back to mainland Belize for serious medical help. I might add that the doctors we have here all operate clinics and basic health care and even delivery of babies is usually no problem but for serious emergencies you need to survive long enough to be evacuated to Belize City or America. Please join me in wishing Ms. Elvi a speedy recovery! Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 11, 2004.

The morning brings back the sunshine and no more rain for our le island. Sundays start out slowly here in San Pedro and today is no exception. The still muddy rough stretches of sandy obstacle courses that pass for streets are mostly devoid of activity. A few kids are passing by on bicycles and one industrious street vendor has passed by sharing the honking of his horn to alert everyone he is out and ready for business. I am doing some light details around mi casa and waiting on a load of laundry to finish so I may hang it on the line for the ever steady tropical breeze to coax out the dampness and leave me with clean dry clothes for the week. We are definitely in a slower time for life here and it is a time when those that can, close up their business for a while and take trips or do repairs or additions in the hopes of generating more business in the coming season. Those less fortunate or less well planned start tough times and I have already had many requests for jobs and more often loans. Because I am American and have a nice house by local standards I am considered rich by many less fortunate and while I guess I am in that I get to live here in Paradise and don't want for the basic needs, I am in reality "only making a living and not a killing" as my friend Supe from the band The Ozark Mountain Daredevils says in one of his songs.

Sunday night and I don't want to cook so decide to go to town for some dinner. A few places are closed on Sundays so I decided to go to Jam-Bel's Jerk Pit located inside the recently rebuilt Coral Beach Hotel. I had not been in there since they opened and was surprised to learn that they were just one of three locations in Belize. The other two are: by the park and Big Daddy's Nightclub here in San Pedro and the other in Belize City I think they told me. I thought this one in the Coral Beach was the one by the park just relocated. Shows you how easily it is for me to be wrong about something as my assumption just made me blind to the first Jam-Bel's still being there. I was the only one in there and the food and service were ok but nothing that has me raving or in a huff to go back. Nothing was bad either and I imagine I will give it another try sometime. Everyone has different taste and expectations so if you have a chance give it a try and see what you think, you may love it. Also I found the prices right up there with many of the higher priced restaurants in town although certainly not the most expensive for sure. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 12, 2004.

One of the reasons I came to Belize originally was to meet new and diverse people from another culture and to escape the trappings and over regulation of America. Now, I am sure that most of the folks that come here to visit are nice and I would probably enjoy knowing them but I just don't get why anyone would travel to a third world country in Central America and one of their goals would be meeting other Americans they chatted with on the internet. Why not just stay in America and meet down the block at Applebee's? Ok, I admit I am not all that sociable and am much like the guy in the Jimmy Buffett song who "is losing his hearing and don't care what most people say." It's just for gosh sakes there is a whole other world here so why not let loose of those chains that bind us as Americans and see what else exist. Wow, am I on the soap box today or what, let me check; no the moon is not full. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 13, 2004.

The weather and the sea have been calm, which is a nice break. It is amazing though how after lots and lots of rain that causes muddy streets most of which are MIA, how fast they (these muddy streets) can turn to eyeball sandpaper and feel like Nurse Shark skin going up your nostrils. Translation, the sandy streets dry quickly and the dust is a killer on your eyes and entire respiratory system. That is one of the things I used to notice and dismiss as not being so bad when I just visited San Pedro and now know from living here that it is a major irritation and true health hazard.

The activity here in San Pedro has definitely slowed and as you cruise around you will notice lots of workers from waiters, bartenders, taxi drivers, tour guides and more sitting around and often yawning. This afternoon a woman and her son visiting us here in Paradise stopped by and asked who I might suggest they use to go for a snorkel trip. I gave them a couple of places and also suggested they ask at their hotel as all the hotels are linked up with the good local guides and I am not sure you could actually choose a bad guide here as long as they are local. Most of the locals grew up snorkeling, free diving, boating, exploring and fishing this water and the reef the way many of us grew up riding our bicycles or cruising the main drag. The thing that it brought up in my mind was this. The lady mentioned you couldn't really snorkel just off the beach here and I replied, "well yes you can but if you do you will miss the real reason for coming here which is the second largest living (so far) Barrier Reef in the world and that is where you want to go to snorkel and for that you need to hire a guide and boat to take you out the short distance from shore to it." You can snorkel right along the shore and will see some things but nothing like the National Geographic moments you will have out on the reef. I also recommended they go to Hol Chan and Shark/Ray Alley because it was their first time here. Even though this is somewhat like a cattle drive (lots of people going) I think everyone should go at least once.

Occasionally I peek in at the chat board on but I never post there. The reason I never post is because the couple of times I did a few years ago I stated some truths and they were not well received and I was accused of wanting to keep the place to myself (If I wanted to keep the place to myself the last thing I would do is write and publish a monthly journal) and some other stuff that just isn't true. I just want to say again real briefly that don't take what you read on internet sites as being like completely accurate. Even though I think most folks are well intentioned I noticed today some information that was wrong about changing money and about the location of certain businesses. The person posting was giving information that has not been correct for at least 2 years and they just didn't know it I am sure. As always, it is a good idea to find out if there are rocks just below the surface of the water before you dive in head first but check it yourself don't take someone else's word for it who was in the same lake at some point in history before you. Let me also just mention that as far as the site goes it has been a wonderful asset for the people living in Belize who make their way through life by participating in the tourism business. When you come here and go to a restaurant and order a lobster or fish dinner you help the business owner, the waiter, the fisherman who caught the catch and so on down the line to the garbage man who hauls off your lobster shell to the town dump. Its one big chain of events interconnected and also has the double dip of making you feel good as you experience a serious of good events on your vacation and in your life. That's lots of powerful action and good karma. I've told Marty ( before that he has done more good for Belize than he might realize.

Tonight there is some lightning in our night sky and the breeze is slight and the night is quiet save for a few barking dogs in the distance and a couple of Raccoons screeching in my back yard. The Coco Palms are ever so ginger in their stance as the tropical breeze tickles their underside. In short, everything is as it should be at this moment. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 14, 2004.

It is around 5:30 in the evening and the heat of the day is slowly slipping away as the sun dips low in the western sky and a few summery cotton candyish clouds pop up here and there. The breeze was pretty much on holiday all day and that made the 86' F. my thermometer showed this afternoon feel very hot. Kids took advantage of the hot day and calm sea by playing in the water along the sandy shores of our isla bonito. I nearly went into a heat induced coma this afternoon after eating lunch and am just now getting back some energy. I fought off the urge to nap and read a bit which only made my even groggier. The breeze has picked up and the air is cooler and refreshing. Who knows, I might even find the will to head out to Wet Willy's for ladies night later. All things are possible in Paradise. The pace here on the island, much like me; remains very slow and I guess that suits me fine.

What makes an expert on Belize? Do you have to live here? How long is long enough, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 or more years? If you write a book on Belize are you an expert? If you travel to and all around Belize are you an expert? If you have a web site and answer questions about Belize, are you an expert? If you visit Belize once or twice or several times a year are you an expert? I don't know what makes an expert on Belize and as I have said before I am not an expert and make no such claim. I know that the country of Belize (like all of life) is in a constant state of flux and thing change constantly and rapidly sometimes. I see where some times "experts" on Belize have old or dated information and I am no different. What I share is just a porthole view of things that happen here in San Pedro and Belize and I offer them up for you to share and make whatever you may of it. So for what its worth take everything you read or hear with the proverbial grain of salt (what does that really mean anyway?) and then make your own pilgrimage and be your own expert on the Belize that you know.

I stopped at one of the small roadside vendors tonight and bought some bananas. They were 6 for a Belize dollar (50 cents U.S.) and while I was picking them out the vendor behind the stall handed me a small plastic bag and cursed the mosquitos. He told me if he was president (we don't have a president but a Prime Minister) of this country he would come up with a big nuclear bomb and set it off and kill all the mosquitos in the country all at once. I laughed and said yes but it would kill off everything else too. He replied yea but there wouldn't be any more mosquito's to bother him. I guess he was having a bad night with mosquitos. Everything in life henge's upon perception and I guess mosquito's are no different.

If you are considering buying real estate in Belize you may want to take a look at how MUCH real estate is for sale and ask your self why that is.

OK, 10:00 and ladies night at Wet Willies gotta go. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 17, 2004.

I watched in recent months as another new restaurant opened in San Pedro. I had actually looked at and almost bought the property where Mickey's Restaurant used to be and now is the home of Pauly's Pizza. The real estate seemed like a good deal as the owner at the time was motivated and so that meant it wasn't pie in the sky like most stuff for sale here. I eventually passed as I am a patient investor and look at hundreds of deals before I find one I like. The buyer of the property built a second floor above and opened his own restaurant called Season's. I have watched it and noticed they usually have no or very little business and just chalked it up to the normal too many fingers in the small pie we call San Pedro along with a less than stellar location since you have to go up stairs on the side of Pauly's Pizza. Also it is on a side street that most people use for coming and going but are not looking for a restaurant above them from. Last night for some reason I decided to give it a try and I want to tell you it was really good and I would recommend you give it a check out when you come or when you can. The owners are a married couple, he originally from Syria and she from Mexico and he is the cook and a really good one. They have had restaurants all over the world and they had one in New Mexico before they fell in love with San Pedro and came here. They have daily specials like Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn, Caribbean chicken with vegetable rice and boiled plantain or Mexican style tacos with Mexican rice & beans and many more all for just $12.00/BZE. The inside is air conditioned and they have a full bar and really are nice people. I got the impression they are a bit frustrated by their lack of business because they offer the type of food that is not easy to find here in San Pedro and at reasonable prices and still they don't have much business. I hope they hang in there and will be around for awhile for the times when I can't eat anymore seafood, chicken or rice and beans. The owners name is Marone and his wife is Connie. The bar/grill they owned in New Mexico was called the Blue Moon and was located in the "outback" of New Mexico. You gotta love a name like that. Now they have Season's Restaurant in San Pedro, check it out.

Other than that just another hot, slow day that melted away much like a candle in an old wine bottle. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 18, 2004.

Sunday on the island and not much going on. I am doing chores around my house and I went out to my bodega (warehouse or store room in English) to get something and discovered that someone had forced open the small windows and used some long sticks to reach through the small openings and tief (slang for steal) whatever they could fish out and get through the small windows and the burglar bars that cover the windows. These industrious masterminds had placed something below the windows to stand on and got away with all my fishing lures and small fishing gear from my tackle box, some small tools and what else I don't know as I don't keep an inventory list of the contents of my concrete bodega with burglar bars on every window and the one door.

The breeze is blowing nicely this morning and the sun is shining bright although we have a few big puffy clouds in the blue sky. The sea is slight and inviting. This kind of heat and weather tends to lend itself to afternoon thundershowers but you never can tell for sure. It may just look like it and never rain at all. Our dusty roads can use a le dousing of water though. I cut a big bunch of Plantains from one of my Plantain trees and brought it upstairs to finish ripening. Banana and Plantain trees really aren't trees but actually plants but they get so big and most people call and think of them as trees. My 'tree's' have developed into a little plantation in my back and side yards and I love them dearly. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 20, 2004.

The San Pedro Town Board has issued a statement that all boats must be removed from the beach by this Friday the 23rd of July or they will be considered abandoned and dealt with accordingly. I support this move even though I have my boat pulled up on the beach to clean the bottom and do some painting and minor repairs. Pulling your boat up on the beach is a common and almost time honored, God given right here in San Pedro and certainly the true locals have always done it as a way to maintain and repair their boats. The problem is that as we grew many people were making the beach like their own boat repair shop with many boats pulled up and often left there for a long time. The Town Board is trying to keep the beaches and all of town looking nice for our many visitors and it is just another of the many growing pains we are feeling here on our le island. I decided to have my boat brought to my yard to finish the work and also the peak hurricane season starts in August and last through September and should we get one or anything close I would rather have my boat out of the water than in it. I got Down Town Tony Brown to go with his trailer and crew of guys and hoist it up on the trailer and bring it to my yard and unload it on some blocks. The skill in doing this is not something that everyone possess' and the cost for this hard work was $300.00/Bze. I might have gotten someone to do it for a little less but you get what you pay for in life, even here in Belize and I knew Tony would get it down. So at the moment I am a landlubber but legal with the Town Board. Now I just want to watch and see how serious they are about it and if they will really enforce it as I see many boats have been moved but also many are still sitting on the beach. Now, as with most things here in Belize if your cousin, sister, aunt or uncle, etc. are one of the forces that be, the rules may not strictly apply. You gotta love the system though. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

July 22, 2004.

The day was hot and passed by slowly. I went to Season's Restaurant for dinner, my second time going there. I had meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy with corn, nothing like great third world, Caribbean, tropical food. I doubt that it sounds good to you when you come here on vacation and crave, fresh fish, lobster, conch or crab but when your diet consist mostly of these latter items some good American style food is nice to have sometimes. Also the price for the whole dinner was $12.00/Bze or $6.00 U.S. and that is really cheap here for dinner in a nice sit down restaurant with air conditioning even. The owners Marone and Connie are real nice also. After that I cruised along the beach and took a gander at the night sky. A crescent Moon was slipping low in the western sky and the stars were stealing the show with their iridescent sparkle as I gazed overhead and let the gentle breeze blow off the sea and tickle my skin ever so sensuously. After that I knew I had to stop at Papi's Diner and get a slice of Flan to take home and eat. I stopped in and Papi was behind the counter holding his 10 month old Grandson as he played with him and sang him little songs. The Flan is just made fresh tonight Papi told me and he took it from the cooler and passed it back to the kitchen to be sliced up. "Better make it two pieces then," I said and I watched as Papi laughed and his Grandson laughed and I was struck at the preciousness of the moment. I told Papi he was a very lucky man and I thought he was a very wealthy man also. He smiled and said he knew he was and money wasn't everything and sometimes he thought about expanding or opening another location but then he realizes he would just have more problems and money can't buy you happiness. "You need some money in life," he said; "but it isn't the most important thing for sure." I picked up my two pieces of Flan from the counter and paid Papi and as I left I told him I really admired him and I thought a lot of people could learn from him. He smiled and thanked me and started singing to his little Grandson again. I exited into the sandy street and made my way home and knew I too was lucky to have been a part of that moment. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 13, 2004.

The wheelbarrow is very much alive and well in San Pedro and all of Belize. You will see it being pushed down the sand street filled with fishing gear, seaweed for fill, small boat motors, dive tanks, tools, kids and anything else that fits and needs hauling. It is much like having a small pickup in the states, although not a four wheel drive one. I have yet to see a four wheel drive wheelbarrow. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 15, 2004.

In one short timeframe of about 10 minutes I saw a Seagull, several Frigate birds, a Rufus Hummingbird, a Grey Jay, a Pelican, two Banana Quits (they have another proper name I don't know), several Blackbirds, and a Heron. This place is for the birds. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 17, 2004.

Dawn brought a rain storm that passed over the island. Mostly clear, sunny skies followed for the rest of the day. I girl I know named Karla came by my house and needed to borrow some money. It seems her boyfriend was in jail for selling weed and she needed $4,000.00 to bail him out. She just needed some money for food and a room from me and while I don't usually loan money, I knew she was a good girl and I also figured that regardless of how you judged peoples actions, it is a good thing to have some compassion for those in need. I loaned her $50.00 and told her things would get better and I hope they did. Just a little later as I drove my golf cart to town a Spanish Man walking down the street with an older Spanish Woman flagged me down and asked for a ride. I often give rides and stopped only to find that the older lady was sick and they needed to get to the pharmacy. They loaded up and I dropped them in front of the pharmacy they were going to. All the way the lady was sighing "Aye" "Aye" from her pain and discomfort. I guess it was my day to help folks and I am thankful I am blessed enough to do my small part. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 17. 2004.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Earl passed over Ambergris Caye early this morning and we had a lot of hard rain and strong wind all morning until mid day. It cleared out and we were left with filtered sunshine for the afternoon. A little before sunset I walked along the white sandy beach as small waves occasionally slapped at my feet. I noticed lots of plastic trash pushed up along the shore. There was everything from plastic bags, plastic toys, plastic jugs, and plastic handles from wire brushes. Seeing plastic debris along the shore is not uncommon but the Tropical Storm must have been the cause for this over abundance of plastic. I stopped and sat on a bench in front of my friend's old place, Casa Caracol. Ed and Judy Calloway used to own it and they planted a small cluster of Palm Trees in front of it along the beach before they sold and went back to the states. The Palms have gotten quite tall and make a pretty sight. As I sat there on the edge of the sea, I thought of many things. One was how planting those Palm Trees was a good act and a good thing to do in this life. Acts like that are the kinds of thing that really mater in life and we often forget this as we get caught up in the struggle to survive and make our way through life. I hope I remember this from time to time and hope you do too. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 19, 2004.

There is nothing I know as magical and hypnotic as the nights here on our narrow spit of broken coral and shells transformed into sand we call Ambergris Caye. Tonight is no exception. The trade winds are steady and all embracing as they rush over your body, taking with them your body heat. The sky dazzles the eye with planets, stars and constellations. Each one of which waits to tell the story of our universe and indeed the minute details of each and every soul's life under these magic heavens. A crescent moon hangs low in the western sky and looks much like the key which could unlock the magic treasure chest and let all the wisdom and magic that makes this big ball we inhabit so full of mystery and wonder come tumbling down. I humbly await the coming of the answers. How about you? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 20, 2004.

Darkness has descended on isla bonita. From my front veranda, in the distance way out to sea I watch lightning illuminate tall boiling cotton ball looking clouds as they march towards our shore. Below me I see tall Coco Palms flutter in a calypso dance as the approaching winds tickle their undersides. The outstretched arms of the Almond Tree's sway and bough as their crowned tops catch the stiffening breeze. Crimson Bougainvilleas bend to and fro as they brace against the force of the winds Along the smooth sandy shore small waves run in from the reef and ever so gently kiss the soft wet sand as they fulfill their destiny and then quickly and quietly return to the sea. Soon it will be raining hard and the sound of the thunder gets louder and louder announcing boldly the coming of the beast. Under the street lights, oblivious to the pending storm a young boy is having fun as he rides his bicycle backwards up and down the street. I can only sit and watch it all unfold and marvel at its rhythm. It strikes me that we are all much like the waves as they push onward along their course until they strike the shore and then return back from whence they came, their energy to be used again and again in this great concert of life. I know I will be seeing you, along the wet soft sandy shore. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

August 30, 2004.

Here is your dose of lunacy as it is the full moon. First just to say the SPJ is not a newspaper or source of news. We have 2 great local weekly papers and the internet which all are more current sources of news and info. No doubt you may have heard of the Ultra Light Pilot that was killed last week while taking off from the San Pedro Air Strip already. He was one of two adventurous men who each had an Ultra Light Plane and had flown all the way to San Pedro from South America. I only wish to comment on what I perceive to be the character of the pilots. If you have ever had a dream that utterly consumed you then you may have a feel for what drove these men to chart this course with their lives. The thing I respect and admire is that they faced the challenge and the fear and they faced off squarely with life and made it happen on their own terms. The fact that one of them died doing this is surely a sad thing but it may have been even sadder if he had never had the dream or the driving desire to experience his life on his own terms and had lived to be a hundred years old. To be so consumed with something in life that you can't wait to get up in the morning and face the challenges coming your way is truly a rare thing in life. It is with this in mind that I salute the man I never knew, a man, a spirit, who died living life to the fullest. It gives one cause to think. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Ransom Notes:

The exchange rates at the Casa de Cambio's (official government licensed money changers) have dropped dramatically to just 202 or just 202 Belize dollars for 100 U.S. dollars. That is down from 205 which it was for a long time or even more on the Black Market. The Black Market is not any better and almost non existent right now. There is lots of U.S. money around and much of it is coming from the Free Trade Zone. It hardly is worth it to bother changing your money right now and much easier to just us U.S. dollars or travels checks. Everything is changing in Belize and often quite rapidly, except maybe the need to be fleet of foot.

In no particular order my favorite restaurants:

Jade Garden, Elvi's, Blue Water Grill, Papi's, Los Coco's, Season's, Celi's, Cannibals, Sweet Basil, Pauly's Pizza.

These aren't the only good restaurants in San Pedro just the ones I like and I know every one has different taste so I encourage you to try these or any other places you want and find your own list of favorites.

These restaurants are closed during late August, September and October for anywhere from a couple of weeks to two months depending on which one, so keep that in mind. They are not ALL closed at the same time or for the same periods of time.

Jade Garden, Elvi's, Carumba, Sweet Basil, Celi's & The Hammoch House. There may be others but I am not sure. This is typical of our slow season and many places give well deserved vacations to workers and or remodel during this time.

September 6, 2004.

I went swimming off the dock in front of Hotel del Rio this afternoon. The water is warm like bath water and I just swam out a ways and then floated on my back, letting the breeze and the le current carry me where it wanted. After a while I glanced over and saw a large leaf from a Sea Grape Tree beside me. It was doing the same thing, just floating along with the breeze and the current, like me, not caring where it went. The sea rippled from the breeze and pushed us both along. I thought how lucky I was to be like a leaf from a Sea Grape Tree. The subtle natural way of the universe sends messages in many ways. Maybe it is sending you one right now? Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 8, 2004.

I have heard of some efforts to donate items or do something nice to help the Police force here because they are underpaid. Let me share my view on the Police here. First they are not like Police in America. You cannot count on them to respond, they will only do their job if forced or bribed too. They are behind much of the Cocaine/Crack problem here, which translates into the crime problem also, because they often supply the drug. Don't think that if you were being robbed or mugged and somehow you managed to get word to them that they would be of any help. I say these things because I know so many people who have had bad experiences and learned these things to be true. I could site many true stories that would show you what I mean but I will give you just one for now.

True event: A friend of mine owns a business here in San Pedro. About 9 months ago someone scaled a 10-foot tall fence and broke into his store, which had burglar bars all around except for the door, which was solid wood and had two locks. They got away with slightly over $9,000.00/Bze or $4500.00/U.S. worth of merchandise. When the Police were contacted they just said there was nothing they could do. My friend called into Belize City to someone higher up in the powers that be and they in turn called out here to San Pedro and told the local Police to come and help. Because of this the local Police piled into their truck, which they love to drive around and give rides to their friends in and came to my friends business. They stopped in the street in front of the store and he asked them if they wanted to come in and have a look. They said no, they didn't need to and never got out of the truck to take a statement or do anything Police like. My friend did his own detective work and found out who stole his merchandise and where it and they were. The Police still didn't want to do anything and one, a Corporal even hinted that he needed a new laptop computer, which was an insinuation he would do his job if he had extra incentives. Another call to Belize City and then a call back to them got them to go to the apartment where the thieves and stolen merchandise were. What they found were 3 guys who lived there and knew what was going on and were hanging out with the stolen goods but the real crook, the actual mastermind if you will who chipped away the door and lock to get in and actually carried off all the stuff had already gone by boat to Corozal with about half of the goods. Almost 2 days had passed before the Police actually went to the apartment for him. They arrested the 3 guys who certainly weren't innocent but were more stupid and in the wrong place at the wrong time as much as anything and confiscated my friend's merchandise. After 4 months my friend began inquiring about the status of the case, as he had heard nothing except they were going to trial soon. In the mean time, you guessed it the Police were holding his stuff as evidence. Finally after many trips to the Police Station and being told that the case was being continued he was told why. It seems they were not going to go to court until they caught the main guy who was well know throughout Belize as a criminal but still at large. My friend (who was pretty certain that this guy wasn't walking into the Police station any time soon and turning himself in) started asking for his stuff back as much of it was sensitive electronics and he knew it was stored in the shack that passes as the Police station and it wouldn't last long in there with the damp salty sea air. He kept getting the run around after being told they could take a photo of the goods and use that in court. It took four more months for a total of over 8 months to get back anything. The Inspector would tell him to come at a set time on a set day and then he (the inspector who had the only key) would not be there. My friend had made a list of the recovered items as soon as they were recovered and he was now wondering if he needed to give a couple of Blues (Belizean $100.00 bills) to get his stuff back. My friend is an honest businessman and has lived here a long time and was suspicious of the Police and told me he wouldn't mind giving them the Blues but wanted to see the stuff first to make sure it was still there and in good condition. Finally he had an idea and got hold of the Inspector and told him he wanted to bring the local newspaper up to photo the Police helping a local business owner recover their stolen merchandise. The good PR sounded nice to the Inspector. A day and time was set. My friend was happy and went to get his stuff. The lady from the newspaper didn't show but he got back his stuff anyway. Only problem, you guessed it; most of it was gone and what he got was a lot of empty stereo and electronic boxes along with some other small items that were covered with mold from sitting in the wet damp lock up. In the end he said he felt like he was victimized twice, once by the thief and again by the Police. When he said here's the list we made of what was recovered he was told that what he saw was all there was and the Police made a special point to keep him away from the door of the room that held the stolen stuff. What could he do? Call the police?

Now here's the point. This is just one of many true stories and yes the Police are not paid much here, but then neither are most workers in Belize. Even if you doubled or tripled their salary and benefits it would not come close to what they can gain by their illicit actions. There is no one you can complain to or call; after all they are the Police. I realize that corruption occurs everywhere in the world but take off your rose tinted glasses and take a look at where we are. Belize is a poor third world country that is much like the old west in America. Law and order are not that prevalent and it is generally up to the individual to defend themselves and their property. As a tourist when you come here I think you are reasonably safe but just know that this is not home and the rules are different. Use your common sense and avoid situations that increase your chances of having a crime committed against you cause if one occurs, you are pretty much on your own. Even if the Police catch someone they generally almost always get off or pay a very small fine at most. Anyone who disputes this is either so enamored with Belize (and with good reason to be as it is a great place) they are in denial or they have a self serving reason to want to say it isn't so like owning a tourist related business. I have only one rule when it comes to what I write in the SPJ, tell it like it is, kiss no ass and don't sugar coat anything. Do I love it here? Damn straight! Do I think you should come visit, enjoy and even invest or live here? Definitely so if that's your dream. Just know the rules of the game and play your best. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 12, 2004.

Trying to reason with hurricane season. Hurricane Ivan is out there looming in the near distance and in everybody's mind that remembers Hurricane Keith, which was supposed to go somewhere else, but instead decided he liked the looks of Ambergris Caye, here in Belize. You tend to forget that we are just a long narrow spit of sand that has collected over time to form a piece of land that only rises above sea level in a nominal fashion. Walking or riding around Ambergris Caye certainly gives you the feeling you are on terra firma but when a monster like Keith or as now Ivan is lurking about you are poignantly reminded that what we live on is a mere toy of the sea and very transient in nature. Even now with Ivan veering North his wrath stretches from Jamaica and the Yucatan Channel clear across and down here to San Pedro. Presently, out at the Reef where the charged up turbulent sea makes first contact with a deterring force the waves are huge and break over the coral barrier with near indescribable force and shoot foamy spray high in the sky and in towards shore. The waves are so huge and powerful that they are only modestly deterred and they continue straight in, crashing on shore with war like force and ending up anywhere from a half block to a block inland. They laugh at the puny seawalls man has built in an effort to control them and on their return to the sea, they suck out the sand leaving washed away beach area's. In their retreat they deposit tons of seaweed and debris. All this and we are not even in the direct path of the Hurricane. Thank the subtle natural way of the universe that no one is harmed and the damage can be dealt with and could have been much worse. One upside is that all that seaweed can be used to fill low-lying lots. I call it poor mans fill. Only drawback is it really stinks while it decays. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom & Hurricane Ivan.

September 13, 2004.

I took a flight to the mainland and back today and you could see how Ivan, who is thrashing Cuba and entering the Gulf of Mexico, is still affecting our area. All the water in the sea looks like it is being sucked out into the blue (deep water) and away from the shores of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker and Caye Chappell. The sea on the reef side of the Cayes, normally crystal clear turquoise in color, is brown looking as the sand is draining into the sea and causing the coast to be lined with an unusual brown looking water line. In the channels along the reef you can see the same thing as like a giant vacuum, Ivan is sucking everything out and away from the islands towards his eye and into his powerful grasp. Certainly the worst is over but the sea is still angry and the waves are still kicked up on the Reef. I can only guess that they are 15-20 feet or more out there.

One funny thing, on the flight back we picked up several visitors from the International airport. It was a mixed group of what seemed like really nice folks. Most were first time visitors and I was envious of what lay in store for them as they discovered the indelible charm of Ambergris Caye and San Pedro. The part I call funny was that one of the visitors, a Lady from Wisconsin has been her 12 times she said and was giving the newbies lots of advise and information. It was a nice gesture and she shared some valuable, albeit tunnel vision info. She was basically sharing her porthole view of San Pedro and where to stay and what to do etc. Nothing wrong with that. The only thing I smiled about was when she told the first timers that even when it rained here it was only for an hour or two and then it passed on and got sunny. I wish that was true as I have seen it rain for days until you think everything including your skin has grow mold and of course the streets all wash away and it feels like a motor cross track when you go anywhere. This doesn't happen often and primarily in the rainy season, but it happens. Just remember, as always, what I write here is also just my view from my le porthole and it is always best to find out things while looking out your own porthole as we cruise along on this great ship of life. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 14, 2004.

My neighbor came home around 10 o'clock tonight and had been fishing from shore at Mosquito Coast. Mosquito Coast is an area on the Southern part of the Island and lots of locals like to go there and fish from the shore. He waved at me while I sat on my front porch and he held up something for me to see. It was a Crocodile about 3 feet long, which along with 20 fish, he had caught at Mosquito Coast. He had its snout wrapped with some wire to keep it shut and keep from getting bit. Croc's are not that uncommon here and the thing that it makes me think about is, when will I be free diving along the reef and look over and see a big bad boy about 8 feet long swimming along side me? Maybe they won't ever go to the reef but it is a short distance from the shore and lagoons where they like to hang out and not so long ago a fairly big Croc was seen and snagged in the front around the River cut close to Sweet Basil's Dock.. Sometime around 1984 I was down here for a while and I went with a young guy I had met named Ernest to do some snorkeling. He took me to a small Island in the back of Ambergris Caye and I spent the afternoon blissfully exploring the sea life and exotic nature of this remote spot. When we finished I climbed into the small skiff and Ernest pointed out several Crocodiles that had been around me all the time. They never came close and he acted like it was no big deal. I sometimes tell people I swim with Crocodiles, Sharks and Whales and it is all true. There's no place quite like Belize, except maybe a subscription of National Geographic. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 16, 2004.

Not What You Think, Man.

He's got long hair but he don't smoke pot,
When he works up a sweat he doesn't get hot.
He likes to go out drinking but he don't drink a lot,
When you think he's quiet, he'll show you what he's got.
He swings in his hammock nearly half a sleep,
Just ask him a question and he's quick on his feet.

He's an anti man and not what you think,
He's against what is and for what ain't.
If you want to know what he's thinking just see what he's done,
If you think you know his mind you get surprised in the long run.
He'll smile at your perception of what he is,
Cause every time he breaks the mold you'll think gee whiz.

He travels round the world but he's not the type,
To act real worldly or smoke a hookah pipe.
He doesn't think anything is etched in stone,
The breath of life blows notes like a saxophone.
He never fits the mold and when he does,
He'll shrug it off and say it's just where he was.

He's the anti man and not what you think,
He's against what is and for what ain't.
Never hangs around for the paint to dry,
He's got some other thing he has to try.
If you think you can pin down his style,
He'll just charm you and leave you with a big smile.

He's the kind of guy that you can't pin down,
He's a lone tumbleweed rolling through the town.
His life's like the music from a guitar without strings,
While others worship reality he pursues his dreams.
If you know a man like this I'll tell you what I think,
He'll touch your life in many ways and be gone in a wink.

September 18, 2004.

A trip along the beach showed that we still have lots of seaweed and other debris along the beach, at least in the Boca del Rio area. Here along this stretch of beach from Hustlers dock to the river cut is the responsibility of the town board to clean up. They have been working on it along with any locals who want to bring their wheelbarrows and take home some fill but it still isn't finished. There is still a good amount of visible beach erosion that will need filled and smoothed out sometime also. I didn't pass by today but I imagine that the areas in front of the hotels and resorts are cleaned and looking pretty good. Most of the larger tourist spots have their own workers to clean and maintain the beaches in front of them. All in all it is a hot, slow kind of day here in paradise as many folks, locals and visitors are slipping into the fiesta mode as the 23rd Birthday of Belize approaches on this Tuesday the 22 of September. Almost all non-tourist businesses will be closed for the countrywide holiday, which is much like the 4th of July in America. As always, Belizeans know how to make the most out of any holiday and have a true knack, an actual art form if you will, of turning a 2 or 3 day holiday into a 4-5 day or week even, party event. Can't fault that.

I stopped and talked with my friend Butch who tends bar at Patojo's/The Tides hotel for a while. We talked about the property next door to them, which just came up for sale and how they want an outrageous price for it. If anybody wants to come on down and throw some money into the local economy and doesn't mind paying too much here is another "Opportunity". Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 19, 2004.

A transformer in my neighborhood lit up last night around 11:00 and caused the electricity around here to go out. Now that isn't all that unusual and it reminds me of a couple of years ago when it happened almost every night because we were getting no rain and the salt was collecting on the lines and transformers all over the island. You would be walking or driving around at night and suddenly above you there would be a colorful arch of electrical current accompanied by a loud crackle that made you wonder if Dr. Frankenstein hadn't relocated to San Pedro and was hard at work creating someone new. They got that problem solved by replacing the transformers with ones more resistant to the sea air and salt build up. We still loose our current, water and cable quite often here on Ambergris Caye and while it is as life goes, generally just a minor inconvenience, you might try telling that to the business owner who has invested hundred of thousands to millions of dollars and can't do business because the power is off again or the visiting tourist who after an incredible morning dive in the majestic Caribbean Sea is trying to shower so they can catch a flight over to the International Airport and then head home to the States or wherever and the water is off, they may think it more than inconvenient. Now for my part, I just went out on my front veranda and sat in the hypnotic breeze and waited till BEL showed up to fix the problem. The upside was it was a beautiful night and in the darkness the stars and constellations provided a magnificent display of the magic of the universe. Thank you, oh subtle natural way of the universe for blowing the transformer in my hood.

It is a sunny and hot day here on Ambergris Caye. The few wispy clouds in the sky appear to have a reverence for our small slice of Paradise and do not pass overhead giving a clear route so that we may have our full ration of sunshine for this day. Sitting in the cool shade along side the sandy road is a worker who has peeled back the foil from his plastic plate of rice and bean and with his bicycle lying behind him he takes his mid day nourishment and washes it down with a large glass bottle of Coca-Cola. The noise of a gas powered something signals an approaching gringo on an ATV who passes by throwing up the inevitable dust that all vehicles make. The worker just swats at a mosquito and keeps on eating. His shady spot is his paradise and his moment is his moment.

Last time I was in the States, I brought down something I have wanted for a long time, a Weber grill. I am a member of the state BBQ Championship team in the state of Kansas and we won using a Weber smoker/grill. Not to get to far off on a commercial for Weber Smokers or Grills but the design which has the bottom closed off (many others are open) and the fact that the top and bottom are rounded which allows the heat, smoke and moisture to circulate make for a great tool for BBQ. Last night I fired mine up and grilled some Cheeseburgers in Paradise, Brats from the local Smoke house and from the sea, fresh lobster tails. I also tossed on a ripe whole Plantain and everything came out great. I ate the burgers and brats last night and today I had lobster salad sandwich for lunch and made Lobster soup for dinner tonight. The soup was really sweet and for anybody interested here's how I made it.

I diced up about a pound of fresh grilled lobster tails and simmered them in water, which I seasoned to taste with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning and sliced in a small amount of onion. After it simmered on very low heat for about an hour I added some sweet plantain, fresh spinach leaf, a small sliced zucchini, some creamed corn, a small amount of sour cream and then simmered all that for about 20 more minutes. Then I added a small amount of white rice and simmered until it was tender. I had two helpings and can't wait till tomorrow to have some more. Just for the record, fresh lobster tails that are at least 4 ounces each cost $20.00/Bze or $10.00/U.S a pound. The high price is caused because of the export market prices. May all the soups in your life be full of zest. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 20, 2004.

The coconut telegraph has the owner of Belize Bank (Mr. Ashcroft) buying 4,500 feet of beachfront land way up north by Rocky Point. This could be good for land speculators in that area as it is far from everything but with the right amount of clout, influence and money, could become a major Hotel Zone and turn out like Cancun. Imagine if you owned land in Cancun before it exploded. I actually hope it does and have said many times I thing that the area up North, long inactive will turn out to be somewhat like a Cancun or Nassau or Cayman type tourist area. The reason I like it is because it gives a place for something like that, that doesn't' affect the remaining small fishing village charm we have here in San Pedro. It could be properly planned, which San Pedro isn't and while on vacation you could have the best of both worlds and stay at an all inclusive five star resort of your choice and still visit a small Belizean flavored town close by. Of course this is all just speculation at the moment, as far as most of us know. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 21, 2004.

Happy Independence Day to Belize, as of today a young democracy aged 23 years. I proudly put my Belizean flag out for display this morning and it made me think about what a man I met yesterday told me. I was walking along and a guy stopped and in typical friendly Belizean fashion, asked if I wanted a ride. I said yes and hopped in. He told me he was there in Belize City the day they lowered the British flag and raised the Belizean one in 1981. He told me this with a hint of modest pride, which I suspect all Belizeans share to some extent. I came down the following year and told him I wish I could have seen the event. Some things we just have to see through the eyes of others in life and I shall be content with his version and his eyes. Independence Day has brought very fair weather with partly cloudy skies and a breeze so slight that the Palm trees aren't dancing but are acting more like they are being tickled by someone. Midnight last night brought a loud display of revelry and fireworks as the official celebration for today commenced. All over town everyone has flags flying proudly and bbq's and fiesta's are the rule of the day. This is probably the best Belizean Holiday to attend if you can and in my opinion much better than Carnival in February or the Costa Maya festival in August (or is it July?). The only real downfall for coming to visit this time of year is Hurricane season is still at its peak and because of slow season some favorite haunts are closed like Hammock House etc. Palapa Bar, Fido's, Jaguars and Big Daddy's are still open though and plenty of other places for sure. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 22, 2004.

The day brings slightly cool weather with an overcast sky and what looks like rain coming soon. The breeze is slight and from the back which usually signals a changing weather system. The sea is ever so slight with just a slight ripple on its delicate surface, nothing like it was almost a week ago as it was roaring like a caged lion as it drove over the barrier reef and up onto our shore. The sea is much like a baby in that it can be upset and angry and full of turmoil and then it can be calm and tranquil and precious as can be. It follows the natural rhythms of life I guess and so do we all. The secret is to know this and when the tide gets to churning too much to be able to step outside of the rhythm and know it is all just a passing tide. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 25, 2004.

The San Pedro Journal is and always has been for me a labor of love. If it ever ceases to be a labor of love I will stop writing it. The SPJ is not intended to give you Breaking News or reviews or prices on hotels, restaurants, tourist activities or anything like travel guides do. I believe there are plenty of great newspapers, news sources and travel guidebooks available. I do not get paid to write what I write and no one comps me for staying at their place or using their services, in short I am not beholden to anyone to write something nice about them or their product or service because they gave me something for free or at a discount. What I try to give you is just a 'Frigate Birds Eye View' of actual life here in San Pedro and the country of Belize as I, one man with all the cultural drawbacks and all the idiosyncrasy's and all the Midwestern American standards that I grew up with can possibly do. I am an American in Belize and while the scale teeters back and forth I believe I am more Belizean than I am American at least in my heart. I have loved this country for a long, long time. I have loved the people here in Belize for a long, long time. I have seen change. I have seen progress. I have seen life from beginning to end in some cases. Nothing I write is going to survive time and the continuing unstoppable force that we call change. What I write is what is now and what is now is what has already happened and is gone. I understand that you may agree or disagree with what I think, say or the way I interpret events. That is what I think is supposed to happen and if something I write causes you or others to pause a moment and ponder some issue in life then I have done my job. More than anything I want you to know that Belize is a great place to visit, a great place to be and neither I nor no one else can possibly give you all the answers and all the information you need to come here. Those answers are your answers and await those intrepid enough to strike out and seize the moments of your life and find your own magic, not only here in Belize but wherever you may be. It's all magic and it's all your dream, so don't be afraid to let it happen. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

September 25, 2004.

The Government of Belize has reclaimed a large area along the shore in Belize City. They built a retaining wall and dredged the sea for sand to fill the area up with sand and then dumped lots of large stones and rock on top to help hold it in place. What they were really doing was reclaiming lost area that used to be seaside. The area is along the sea near the Fort George Hotel area more or less and close to the new Tourist Village. They have placed old cannons along the boulevard style streets and I was impressed with the way it looked, even though it isn't quite finished. It certainly lends itself to dressing up an otherwise somewhat blighted third World City and I applaud the effort. Belize City is full of culture and history and I, like others have been guilty of writing it off as a place to pass through or only stay there if necessary but maybe that is changing. Give it a look when you have a chance. Right Here, mi amigos--- Reef Ransom.

September 27, 2004.

I mentioned in a past issue of the SPJ that I had some Orchids brought to me and placed them along my wooden fence to grow. Of course Orchids don't need or want soil to grow in but mostly take their nutrients from the air. You usually tie them on a tree or stick or in my case my pimento wood fence and over time they grow white looking roots that attach to their host thus holding them in place. Most of my Orchids did just that and every so often one or two of them will bloom which brings me much joy as they are quite unique and the fragile petal blooms are magically beautiful. I noticed today I have two in bloom and they are both white. One has a double bloom which I think is very cosmic. You have to wonder how something so beautiful can come into this world when it has no obvious source of nurturement. I guess there are some things in life that we just have to accept on faith and not fully understand, and so I do. That is your monthly dose of lunacy and as always I wish you your own adventure and peace in life and thanks for reading the San Pedro Journal. May your Belikins be cold and long. Right Here, mi amigos---Reef Ransom.

Ransom Notes:

Things you COULD do in San Pedro:

Rent a gas powered golf cart and help alleviate the over abundance of peaceful, quiet solitude.

Arrive on a Cruise Ship with 5,000 other people and swarm like a bee on the many fragile eco systems like the reef, Mayan ruins, caves and jungles. Upon leaving you could relax as the Cruise ship downloads all your waste from the ship into the pristine clear turquoise Caribbean Sea.

You could pretend what you did here doesn't matter because everyone else is doing it and after all you are on vacation.

You could donate money to one of the many worthy causes like the guy who pretends to be collecting for the youth soccer team and has no job or means of support.

On a positive note fishing has been good and it seems that the string of hurricanes has driven lots of fish this way and many of them quite large. Grab your gear and come on down before I catch them all!

Just for the time capsule record:

In 2004, A pound of Belizean ground steak cost $5.75, a half gallon of skim milk cost $5.75, eggs are 25 cents each, a loaf of wheat bread from La Popular Bakery cost $2.75 and a Quart of Chocolate ice cream from Manellys Ice Cream cost $13.00, a Kodak 3V Lithium Battery for your camera cost $13.95 and one regular Belikin cost $2.75. All prices are in Belize dollars.

Lost Treasures:

Being surprised to hear a telephone ring in San Pedro.

Walking everywhere because there are no vehicles in San Pedro.

Walking everywhere barefoot because the beach and streets are free from doggie do do.

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