The San Pedro Sun

Aerobics at ABC Pre-School
There is nothing, and we repeat, nothing, cuter than baby aerobics. Well, perhaps a koala snuggling up to a baby panda - but we don't have those here, so exercising pre-schoolers it is. ABC pre-school has had many activities planned and executed for Child Stimulation Month, and one of those activities included a morning of aerobics on Friday, March 23rd. It's healthy, it's fun, the children get out to play, and who can resist a stretch or two to take off the mind from learning those pesky ABC's? Leading the exercise class was Teacher Susana, an internationally certified exercise maven who talked to the children about the benefits of exercise, including the need for proper stretching and breathing. She led the children into their first stretches, slowly easing them into a faster routine.

Ambergris Today

Celebrating Spring Equinox at Caracol Maya Site
Today, Caracol rivals Tikal and Chitzen Itza as a major Maya culture destination. Providing a two-hour tour of the site was Belize's leading archaeologist, Dr. Jaime Awe, who first began working on this site during the 1970's. His total involvement in the project made him the best guide and he delivered a most interesting tour; he is extremely knowledgeable, smart, witty and most comical. It was a privilege to be in his presence and have such a personal and intimate experience. After the tour, night fell on the site and the campers gathered under a tent to enjoy a traditional Maya buffet that included chaya soup, pork and chicken pibil, tortillas, tamales and ducunu. Before bedtime, those eager for more excitement, headed to the main Caana temple to scale it in pitch black conditions. At the top was a celestial experience where it seemed as if the Milky Way was at arm's reach; nothing short of breathtaking and spectacular. By 2:30a.m. the campers were awakened by the call of the Howler Monkeys. Like clockwork they howl into the dead silence of the night; it's an eerie sound while you are asleep in the middle of the jungle, but an amazing experience all at once. Shortly after Maya shamans from Guatemala, Honduras and Belize commenced a traditional Fire ceremony where campers participated in a healing ritual that included embracing the rising smoke and adding candles and incense to the fire that burnt herbs, corn, cacao beans, cinnamon sticks, each a symbol of Maya cosmology. This was the first ever held at the Caracol site. The ceremony ended as the sun gave way above the jungle canopy and rose just behind one of the temples at Caracol, bringing light to the first day of spring.

My Maya 2012 Birthday Experience During Spring Equinox
My birthdays have always been fun and I have celebrated them with the family at home, parties with close friends, social gatherings, bar hopping, a day at the beach, weekend-long events and trips to Chetumal and Cancun. But this year I did something totally out of the box (for me) and spent my birthday doing something I would have never planned for myself and had the MOST AMAZING time and one of the Best Birthdays Ever! This year I went 25 miles into the Mountain Pine Ridge/Chiquibul Forest, pitched up a tent in front of a Maya Temple, scaled the highest man-made structure in Belize during the middle of the night, gazed at a star-filled night's sky atop the Caana Temple, met some fantastic new people and made friends with some other terrific ones, was woken up by the howling of the mystic Howler Monkeys and participated in a Maya Fire Ceremony of thanksgiving and spirituality. All of this took place during Maya Spring Equinox celebrations at Caracol, Belize's premier Maya archaeological. It is one of Belize's most impressive and largest archeological sites and I had the privilege of being part of such an amazing historical event that very few people were part of.

Go Bald, Go Strong for Cancer Awareness Month
Following on the footsteps of the students of the University of Belize (UB) who shaved their heads for the "Baldmiration" Cancer Awareness Campaign, members of the San Pedro Cancer Society have done the same here in San Pedro to kick off activities for upcoming Cancer Awareness Month in April. Founding members of the San Pedro Cancer Society got together at Mar De Colores beauty salon on Friday, March 23, 2012, to shave off their hair in show of support for cancer patients and create awareness for their campaign during Cancer Awareness Month. President Gonzalo Mu´┐Żoz led his group in shaving off his hair while other dyed a streak of hair pink. It was an emotional filled-room, filled with happiness and tears as many of the cancer society members have been affected by the disease, either directly or indirectly. Monica Prevett boldly shaved her hair off after having it streaked pink in support of her partner's battle with cancer, as well as Dina Graniel whose mother has been afflicted with the disease.

Misc Belizean Sources

Learning by Serving, One Community at a Time: ISIS Belize proves its commitment to Serving Belize.
The Institute for Sustainable International Studies (ISIS) has partnered with the village of Succotz in the Cayo district of Belize. This effort provides students with an opportunity to learn while doing volunteer work that supports the needs and goals of the village. The Village Council, two primary schools and a high school, and other village organizations identify projects while ISIS finds student groups and interns to assist with those projects. In early January, 2012, a team of students from Shenandoah University in Virginia, USA, and local students, drafted a strategic plan for the development of eco-tourism in Succotz. The students did an analysis which identified opportunities and issues facing the village in establishing more tourist trade in the village. Suggestions ranged from a highway sign identifying the village to the need for a village website. One theme that emerged from the Shenandoah students' work was that of garbage disposal in the village.

PHOTOS: West Cayo Chess Tournament pictures
Yesterday, at Hode's, the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation had the West Cayo Chess tournament. Belize's future chess champions squared off. Hode's and BTL were the sponsors. Check out the pictures here.

PHOTOS: ATLIB Football Regionals
Danny Chung has some great pictures from the ATLIB Football Regionals.

PHOTOS: Vanessa Awe doing makeup at the Women in Art Fair
Vanessa Awe Makeup Artistry has some pictures up from the Benque House of Culture's Women in Art Fair yesterday. Check out some of her bedazzling work.

PHOTOS: West Cayo Chess Tournament pictures
Saturday, at Hode's, the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation had the West Cayo Chess tournament. Belize's future chess champions squared off. Hode's and BTL were the sponsors. Check out the pictures here.


A Gorgeous Day for a Birthday Party at The Snack Shack
Thursday afternoon was a beauty. The breeze has died down a bit and the sun was The sea looked gorgeous behind this fallen coconut tree. Perhaps I found a new living arrangement... This boat? Barge? Shack on a raft has a For Sale sign on it. In the morning, I headed over to the Snack Shack to a surprise birthday party. I'll be honest...I didn't really know the birthday boy, Pineapple Willy but I had a good time. The water aerobics ladies were hard at work...I was properly chided for not participating. The Snack Shack has some cool events coming up... And people started filling in... Really really tasty food was served. A great fruit platter with a fantastic cream cheesy, sweet and limey dip. Kids would go crazy for this platter.

A hot mess of Belize photos
Last week, I visited Belize for the first time. Kim Simplis Barrow, wife of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, invited me to visit the country as part of a special project we're working on. This trip was quite unlike any other I've been on as far as what I experienced. And not everything was captured on camera. The babies in critical care in the neonatal unit at the hospital. The children and their teachers in the autism classroom, working on some project that involved glue and straws and lots of laughter. The unplanned two hour drive to Cayo just for dinner - and for that matter, ANY pictures of me with Julie Schweitert Collazo and Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons. (Ladies, what were we thinking?) But some great stuff made it in as well. Hopefully I'll have more to share about Belize soon!

International Sources

Planning a trip to Canada or the Caribbean? US Immigration may have other ideas...
New security checks are already in place - even for flights hundreds of miles from American airspace. One million British travellers planning to fly to Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico this year face the risk of being turned away at the airport - at the insistence of the US Department of Homeland Security. New rules require British Airways and other airlines flying to certain airports outside America to submit passengers' personal data to US authorities. The information is checked against a "No Fly" list containing tens of thousands of names. Even if the flight plan steers well clear of US territory, travellers whom the Americans regard as suspicious will be denied boarding. Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, told The Independent: "The concern by the US for its own security is entirely understandable, but it seems to me it's a whole different issue that American wishes should determine the rights and choices of people travelling between two countries neither of which is the US."

Government of Panama Tightens Up Rules To Protect Real Estate Buyers
Bill 421, recently approved by the National Assembly, introduces new measures to limit the abusive practices of real estate developers. The companies that charge a deposit from their clients must now sign a bond (guarantee) with the Ministry of Housing and Land Management. In cases where the promoter abandons the project, this bond will be used to repay client's deposits. In contracts between developers and consumers the clauses which raise the prices due to increased costs of building materials are capped at a maximum of 2% of the total price of the house or apartment, and the developer must be able to prove or demonstrate that the costs of the building materials actually did increase. Also, developers will be required to deliver projects with adequate water and sewer connections and services. (Prensa) Editor's Comment: Good. Finally. The government of Panama can do a whole lot more to protect consumers from the abuses of real estate developers. Many members of the English speaking community of expatriates who have purchased property in Panama have fallen victim to some kind of abuse - the stories are varied and the details change with each individual case, however the overall truth remains. The developers have been taking a "screw you, sue me if you want" attitude for years and getting away with it. It's about time the government finally stepped in to put a stop to some of the abuses. And I love the idea of the developers having to obtain a bond or guarantee to protect deposits.

Last edited by Marty; 11/17/12 10:48 AM.