by Alvaro Rosado
Left Belize at 2:00pm as planned on Thursday and arrived in Belmopan at 3:00pm where we hooked up with Hugh Leyton at The Pizza Place. Had a cold one with Hugh and a short but interesting discussion. We were running late so Hugh agreed to drop off Manolo's Sour Sop Seedlings for me and Dorla and I pulled out of Belmopan at 3:30pm. We arrived at Laru Beya at 5:30 pm. just as dark was settling in. After settling in we had dinner with the owner, Ian McField, who is a cousin of mine and one of Ian's friends - Norman Francis who is a guest at Laru Beya. The Quarter Deck Restaurant is first class as is the rest of the property - Laru Beya was ranked #1 out of the 21 hotels in Placencia. Dinner was a real experience - the chef personally gathered info from each of us as to what we wanted and how we wanted it done. I let Dorla choose and we had grilled grouper with sauteed onions and vegetables - yummy!! We settled down in our suite for a much needed nights rest about 10:00 pm. The suite was all that I expected and even more - I would recommend Laru Beya as the best accommodation that I have experienced in Belize - Auxillou Suites, Jaguar Reef and Turtle Inn were good but Laru Beya is #1 hands down.
We were up at 5:00 am. to have coffee and a sandwich before leaving on our fishing trip. We joined fishing mates Ian and Norman at the Laru Beya beach to wait for Captain Cagi to pick us up in Lacy. (photos of pre departure attached). We set out in choppy conditions at 6:20 and after a rough ride arrived at Roberts Caye about 7:10 where we anchored alee to prepare the gear. Lines were in the water at 7:15 with Dorla and Norman manning the lines. At 7:20 Dorla got hooked up and brought in a small Bonito - 5 minutes later she hooked up again and brought in a small Mackerel - we were confident that the fishing was going to be very productive so we released the mackerel as being too small. During the next hour Dorla brought in 2 sand barrows which we released. Norman was still to get a hit and the wind was picking up. About 9:00 Norman brought in a small Barracuda and Dorla lost a lure to something big. The waves were 3-4 feet by this time and we decided to head to Hatchet Caye ( a really beautiful resort - photos attached) for a bathroom break and for Norman to get a bite. By the time we left Hatchet Caye the waves were 4-5 feet so the captain decided to start heading in. After a rough 45 minutes we pulled up under Long Coco Caye and trolled the area under Long Coco and Mosquito Cayes - no luck so we decided to continue trolling while heading back to the peninsula. About 1:15 Norman was getting despondent and suggested that we call it a day and head back in. While we were deciding both lines started singing and Dorla and Norman had battles on their hands. Dorla's battle was short as she lost her second lure but Norman brought in a large Bonito. Dorla was fired and Ian took over her line. The captain circled again and again the two lines started singing at the same time. Norman brought in another large Bonito and Ian brought a monster Bonito within gaff's reach before he lost it. After another circle we decided to call it a day. When we reached the beach at Laru Beya the Chef was waiting for us with a plastic dish - he took instructions as to how we wanted the catch prepared for the night's dinner.
Later Dorla and I went into Placencia Village where we had dinner at D'Thatch - Dorla had fillet snapper and I settled for a Conch Fritters platter.
And thats all she wrote for our first full day at Laru Beya.
Dorla and I already had a commitment for dinner in Placencia so we had to skip the catch of the day at Laru Beya. Today has been a bummer in more ways than one. Woke up this morning with some serious pains in my lower joints so getting around has been difficult and the day has been overcast and rainy. Still managed to get into Seine Bight to check out plans for tonight and into Placencia for lunch at JB's - $7 for a "small" beans and rice (as opposed to Rice and Beans) with stewed chicken - when we got there they had just run out of Gibnut. The "small" serving was still too much for me. Last night's dinner at De Thatch worked out to $30 each as opposed to 2 for $20 at JB's. Food was good at JB's too.. Raining right now but still hoping to get out a bit tonight. Planning to try to meet with a lister in Placencia tomorrow.
As mentioned Saturday was a bummer but staying at Laru Beya took out the harshness of the disappointment. On Sunday Dorla and I went into Placencia where we met Lynn and her husband Doug. We had Lunch at BareFoot Bar and went on to Yoli's Place where we spent the rest of the afternoon. The rains came down again in the late afternoon so we decided to call it a day about 5:00pm. All in all it was a great trip - could have been better but it was great anyhow. On the way back to Belize we decided to take some photos of our departure and the Placencia Road, Southern Highway and Hummingbird Highway. During our hour and a half on the Southern Highway and Hummingbird Highway we met 11 Tankers transporting Spanish LookOut Crude to Big Creek. I tried to get a few photos but they were not that great. We hooked up again with Hugh in Belmopan and I collected 2 plants that Manolo had promised me. The final set of photos are now up at the same photobucket website but I will need to put some titles to them. Dorla took some great photos with her iPad - when we get around to it we will post those on the site. Thanks to all who supported and made the trip so enjoyable.Just finished adding titles to the last of the trip photos.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
Three things I decided to comment on:
1. The Kendall Bridge is under construction but there does not seem to be any sense of urgency - if there were a dozen workers on site there were many.
2. I gathered that The Placencia Resort Project is the largest undertaking ever on the peninsula but something seems to have gone wrong because all work has stopped and only skeleton security crews are on both sites. Apparently hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent of the facility on the Placencia Road but only a few of the structures are complete - maybe 4 of about 50. There are many structures of different sizes in various stages of construction from only foundation laid to only painting left. The situation is the same on Rendezvous Caye where the developer decided to start construction of some 30 condos. Again all in various stages of construction - from foundation only to one that seems to be complete. I have no expertise in this area but my common sense would have suggested that working on maybe 5 buildings at a time and completing those for use to provide new capital would have been a more sensible approach. Information is that he developer was negotiating to buy another caye about a mile away from Rendezvous to house the generator to supply electricity to Rendezvous. Starting another huge undertaking on Rendezvous Caye with many unfinished structures on the peninsula didn't look like a good idea. It is a huge undertaking and there is a lot to show on the ground but very little useable structures. Wish the developer luck.
3. Seine Bight sits smack in the center of huge resorts stretching from Placencia Village to The Placencia Resort halfway down the Placencia road yet there is no local entrepreneurship visible. We tried to get some local food (hudut to be exact) and were directed to the only local restaurant which to say the least did not look inviting both esthetically or hygenically. There were at least 2 Chinese restaurants and a Hungarian restaurant but only one local "restaurant" which hardly deserved the title. Placencia Village does have some attractive restaurants with reasonable prices on the local cuisine.
4. I kept hearing on the media that the Hummingbird and Southern Highways were being destroyed by the heavy Crude Oil Tanker traffic but I did not see evidence of this widespread destruction. There were a dozen or so spots on the Hummingbird with maybe up to 2 feet diameter potholes - unfortunately they are not being repaired and will deteriorate if not attended to.
=======from a friend...
Alvaro, I'm going to check on when the first vehicle came down the peninsula. Hadn't thought about it for a while, and it was before my time here, but I can easily find folks who would remember.
I am of the opinion (previously I was SURE) that while in training at Belize Teachers College in 1960's we - the students - were taken on a country tour and we traveled by road to Seine Bight then walked to Placencia. After our discussions with locals at Yoli's I am beginning to doubt my memory but I too will check with my classmates ( not many of those are left since I was "the baby" in the group) but I think Phyllis Cayetano was in that group and i will check with her.
========from Ray Auxillou:
I remember a Belize Teachers College trip to the Mountain Pine Ridge, Forestry village and going up to Baldy Beacon in a truck and to Rio Frio Cave and the Rio On rapids. We stayed at a colonial government house on top of a hill. That trip at the time, was one of the Government eye opening organized trips, that filled me with AWE of the beauties of Belize, I had never heard about before. It was a wonderful, life changing and in depth look at Belize, which I have never forgot. I have explored the Mountain Pine Ridge and taken tourist tours up there since the late 1960´s with rented landrovers all through my life. NOTHING ever since has replaced that feeling I got from that wonderful trip, organized by the Belize Teachers College and the colonial government of the day. To continue those trips for Belizean penniless young people, is a project I would support from my tax dollars anytime. It changes your life and understanding of the country of Belize and a young persons life and future. It was the most dramatic life changing experience EVER during my time at the Belize Teachers College.
RE: Placencia restaurants, You know its a local restaurant, when they offer dishes such as Somosa, pupusa, curry soup and white rice, tostados and lime juice, ginger lime, etc.
At least out West in the twin towns area.
===============from Lan Sluder:
This may not help much, but from conversations with people in Placencia it seems like the road wasn't open in the early 1970s, but my memory may be wrong about the date.
Seaspray Hotel I think opened in 1962, probably the first hotel in Placencia, and George and Coral Bevier's Rum Point Inn opened in 1974. In those early days most tourists came to Placencia village from across the lagoon.