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The November 11th, 2012 issue of The STAR (Cayo) is online HERE

This Week's Stories:

  • Two Burglaries- Cruz Castillo Jailed:
    Good investigative work on the part of officers attached to the Crimes Investigations Branch at the San Ignacio police station has resulted in the recovery of several stolen items and the arrest and incarceration of a man who pled guilty as charged. Police investigation this week resulted in the recovery of several reported stolen items in two recent separate burglary cases.
  • “SteelBob” Remanded:
    As reports of arrest on burglary charges continue, San Ignacio police reports the arrest of a reputed burglar from Ontario Village who stands accused of burglarizing the home of a Santa Elena woman. Acting upon information received, on Thursday, October 25, 2012, San Ignacio police visited the Hillview Area, Santa Elena Town, home of Shasha Aguilar who reported to the police that her house was burglarized by two male persons.
  • Cristo Rey Boys Jailed:
    Two boys from Cristo Rey Village, Cayo, could very well spend Christmas and New Years in jail on remand on an aggravated burglary charge. Gary Tullock, 66, retired US National, residing at Hill Bank Farm in Cristo Rey Village reported to San Ignacio police that at about 7:30 pm on Friday, October 26, 2012, two armed, masked male persons entered his house, through a back door, held him up and demanded money.
  • Awaiting Instructions from the DPP for Fifty Cents:
    San Ignacio police is tonight holding onto the notorious Mark Anthony “Fifty Cents” Conorque, the third individual wanted in connection with the October 12 attempt murder of Assistant Superintendent of Police, Amin “Sheriff” August, which occurred in the policeman home village, Esperanza, Cayo. The police reports that Fifty Cents was arrested earlier this week by Orange Walk police on a robbery and firearm charge. He was allegedly taken to court in that northern municipality and was remanded to prison.
  • Belize Host Twelfth PANCAP AGM:
    Belize hosted the Twelfth Annual General Meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) from the 24-26 October 2012 at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City under the theme, “PANCAP Forging New Paths.” An Official Opening was held to welcome the visiting delegates on the evening of Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at the Old Belize. Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin presented brief remarks where he highlighted the present situation of HIV and AIDS in Belize and the progress that has been made by the Government of Belize and its various partners. Minister Marin also underscored the importance of sustainability of the partnership and commitment to ‘Forge new paths’ among its members.
  • NDACC Highlights Drug Week In Dangriga:
    The National Drug Abuse and Control Council (NDACC) in partnership with the Dangriga Town Council planned a week of events to observe Drug Week from 22-25 October, 2012. NDACC visited with various primary and secondary schools in Dangriga town where they conducted educational sessions on the harmful effects of drug abuse. The highlight of the week was a poster competition and a walkathon. Delille Academy came out victorious in the poster competition taking away all top three prizes with their depiction of a Drug Free Community through colorful artwork.
  • World Mental Health Day 2012:
    The Ministry of Health celebrated World Mental Health Day under the theme, “Depression: A Global Crisis” on October 10th with an official ceremony at the BTL Park in Belize City. During the short ceremony, opening remarks were done by Dr. Claudina Cayetano, Psychiatrist of the Mental Health Program and contributing remarks by Dr. Gerardo De Cosio of PAHO Belize.
  • Support The Kontiki Neighborhood Association Attend The Family Fun Day This Sunday:
    Like other parts of the community, the Kontiki Area of San Ignacio Town has had its share of crime the most prevelant of which is burglary. The community has been organizing itself to tackle the crime situation in their neighborhood. For this purpose the community has formed the “Kontiki Neighbourhood Watch Association”.
  • Crime Control Council Concurs with New Crime Measure:
    The Crime Control Council met today in Belize City and, after intense discussion, has given its concurrence with the Minister of National Security’s decision to declare ‘special areas’ in accordance with Section 12(1) of the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act. The meeting was attended by all members of the Crime Control Council as listed or appointed under Section 25(1) of the Act, except for a Justice of the Supreme Court and a Representative from the Ministry of Human Development. Members present included the Chairman of the Crime Control Council, a representative of the Opposition, the CEO from the Ministry of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), The Chief Magistrate, representatives from the Solicitor General’s Office, The Council of Churches, the Bar Association, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and the Women’s Issues Network of Belize (WIN Belize)
  • Haiti Appeals For International Help After Storm:
    The Haitian government has renewed calls for international emergency aid to help the country deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. There are fears of food shortages after the hurricane, which hit on 24 October, damaged many crops in southern Haiti. Aid workers and officials are also on alert for an increase in cholera cases in the wake of widespread flooding. More than 50 people were killed in Haiti, which is still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake.
  • 7.4 Earthquake Rocks Guatemala:
    A 7.4-magnitude earthquake has struck off Guatemala's Pacific coast, reportedly killing at least eight. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina declared a national alert and advised people in affected areas to evacuate tall buildings as a precaution. Officials said roads had been buried in landslides, and it would take 24 hours to fully restore links to the region. Frightened people fled from offices and homes around the region, as buildings shook from Mexico City to San Salvador.
  • Barack Obama Re-elected:
    President Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney. America's first black president secured more than the 270 votes in the electoral college needed to win. In his victory speech before supporters in Chicago, Mr. Obama said he would talk to Mr. Romney about "where we can work together to move this country forward". Mr Obama prevailed despite lingering dissatisfaction with the economy and a hard-fought challenge by Mr. Romney.
  • Puerto Rico Wants To Become The 51st State Of The US:
    Voters in Puerto Rico have supported a non-binding referendum to become a full US state. The measure will require approval from the US Congress, but President Barack Obama has said he will respect the vote. The island is currently a US territory, which uses the dollar and whose citizens travel on US passports. But it does not return senators to the US Congress and is represented in Washington by a non-voting delegate.
  • Velasquez Accused of Betraying Trust:
    A tour guide from the village of Bullet Tree Falls, Cayo was today remanded to the central prison in Hattieville as he stands accused of burglarizing a house, under his care, in his home village. San Ignacio police reports that on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, Skip Billings, 60, retired US police officer presently residing on Bishop Desmond Street in San Ignacio town reported material day, when he visited the home of Connie Stafford, left in the care of Martin Velasquez, situated in Bullet Tree Falls he found that the house was burglarized. Billings reported to police that the stolen items included a gold necklace and gold nugget both valued at $3,000 along with a Dewalt brand vacuum cleaner valued at $250.
  • John alexander Watler has Dont It Again!:
    The great Belizean writer and story teller, John Alexander Watler has done it again with his latest novel, The Bomba Codex. In this, his latest masterpiece, Watler weaves an intriguing plot and in so doing he holds the reader’s attention as he connects the pieces of the puzzle spanning the jungle of central Belize to the metropolitan streets and high life in America returning to offshore destinations in Belize where it all comes to a head. His accounts of the events seem real as Watler merges the characters and their activities with the illegal trading in drugs and Mayan artifacts spanning locations known to the Belizean reader. The writer’s skill makes this reader frequently stop and wonder: “Is this a real life experience of the writer?”
  • Hundreds Of Rescuers Search Wreck In Guatemala For Earthquake Survivors:
    Hundreds of rescuers are sifting debris of wrecked towns for survivors of Wednesday's earthquake in Guatemala. The 7.4-magnitude tremor, the most powerful to hit Guatemala since 1976, left at least 52 people dead, many more injured and thousands without power. President Otto Perez Molina told the BBC that 22 people were still missing and as many as 10,000 houses may have been rendered uninhabitable. Most of the damage was in San Marcos region, near the border with Mexico.
  • Coming Soon - Santiago Castillo Store:
    A new “superstore”, in the true sense of the word, is coming soon to the west. The building, being the home of the latest addition to the Santiago Castillo chain, is rapidly nearing completion on Eve Street in Santa Elena Town. While we are yet to interview the mastermind behind this latest accomplishment, Hon. Santino Castillo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, we venture to predict, by its well known reputation, that the store is bringing new hope to the people of San Ignacio, Santa Elena and surrounding communities.
  • PM Dean Barrow In Honduras:
    Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow arrived today inTegucigalpa accompanied by his wife, Kim Simpliss Barrow and an accompanying delegation in order to hold talks about various bilateral topics and sign three agreements in the areas of tourism, health and cooperation. Prime Minister Barrow was received at the Hernán Acosta Mejia Air Base, by the Presidential Designate Victor Hugo Barnica and the Vice Chancellor Mireya Aguero de Corrales, where he addressed the press to express a few words of thanks for the reception; “Its a great pleasure to be in Honduras in order to forge and further strenghten our friendship, ties that have traditionally existed between our two countries. In Belize we have Honduran residents and we gladly welcome them to our country.”
  • Health Tips For Cold And Flu Season:
    10 natural ways to ease the common cold: Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to fight the common cold. We have no way to attack the virus itself. When we get a cold, all we can really do is make ourselves a little more comfortable. These tips won’t cure the common cold. But they might make you or a loved one feel just a little better while you recover.
  • Belize Water Services Advisory:
    Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) has been made aware of the company’s name having been used to commit fraud at a business in Spanish Lookout over the weekend. This business was given a fake cheque as payment for materials supposedly ordered by BWS, with the preliminary communication having been done by e-mail using a made-up g-mail account. Businesses are advised to be on the lookout for such scams.
  • Upgrading Land Management System:
    The Government of Belize signed a loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on November 16, 2009, in the amount of US$2,500,000 to finance the execution of the Land Management Program Phase III (LMP III). The Project is for a period of three (3) years and is in its final stage of development. The objective of this Program is to consolidate and expand land management services country-wide, to improve quality, efficiency and access to all Belizeans. The LMP III consists of three components: (1) Expansion of the Parcel-Based Land Information System; (2) Improvement of Urban Land Information; and (3) Support for the Provision of Modem Land Management Services.
  • Another Baptist Pastor Child Sex Scandal:
    The “local Baptist Church in your area” as it is referred to by Dr. Bob Roberts, has not yet recovered from the mid August, Pastor Norman Willacey, underage sex scandal, when up comes another allegation of sexual impropriety against another pastor from another local Baptist Church. The report coming out of Belmopan police informs that shortly before noon on Monday, November 5, an 11 year girl, accompanied by her mother, visited the police station and reported that Julio Cesar Garcia, pastor of the Frank’s Eddy Baptist Church is alleged to have had sexual contact with the child, not once but twice.
  • Future Entrepreneurs To Display Marketing Skills At Marketing Expo:
    Students of the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences Marketing Class of the University of Belize will display their marketing and creativity skills at the University of Belize Annual “Marketing Exposition” from 9am-3pm on Tuesday November 13, 2012 at the Princess Hotel and Casino, Belize City. This year’s exposition is envisioned to be more challenging and exciting with the University’s emerging entrepreneurs competing with established entrepreneurs for the best booth presentation, building brand awareness, promotional strategy techniques and building customer relationships.
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Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Doctor Love – Too Much togetherness?
She is newly in love, and scared to lose the best thing that has happened to her. How much togetherness is too much before love becomes smothering?

Paraplegic cyclist Jerome Flores is excited to finish Reef Ride 2012

Woofer: Amazing Legs
Wet Willy's is usually a visual feast on ladies' night & Dennis' friend drags him along one night, where they appreciate a pair of amazing legs indeed

Man found shot on Northern Ambergris Caye
Police have confirmed that a male US National has been found shot to death. It appears he was shot last night and was found this morning at his residence in northern Ambergris Caye. The Sun is on the scene and will report as soon as info becomes available.

Misc Belizean Sources

Garifuna Week in Belmopan
Every day this week, there will be festivities in Belmopan in honour of Garifuna Settlement Day. Monday morning, from 9:00am until 3:00pm, Paul Nabor will be performing live at Builders Hardware. Most other nights will have drumming or similar festivities. "Paul Nabor will be at Builders Hardware Ltd performing LIVE on Monday 12th November from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ..... everyone is invited to come out and meet this great Belizean Legend and King of Paranda in person!!!!"

Cayo's Cahal Pech and Parrot Nest
Cayo got some good press in this article. The Parrot Nest Lodge gets a good review, and Cahal Pech is shown in pictures. Benny's Kitchen, which is a great stop for lunch during a long canoe ride, also gets a good review. Pacz Tours gets rave reviews for their canoeing and ATM tours. "Next on our agenda, was a trip to ATM Cave. I had told the other guests at Parrot Nest how much fun the ATM Cave was, that they decided to go with us. PACZ Tours picked us up at 8 am, and we headed for the cave. After about an hours drive, we reached the entrance to the park. There we gathered our helmet, lunch and water provided. And then we start the 45 minute hike to the cave, crossing the river three times. Oh, did I mention that this cave has a river running through it? YEAH, how awesome is that?!"

Cayo's Gaia Riverlodge Opening
Five Sisters has been upgraded, and now has a new name, Gaia Riverlodge. Gaia Riverlodge is located in the Mountain Pine Ridge area, near the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, and right next to Big Rock Falls. It's considered to be the new sister property of the Matachica Resort and Spa. "The eco-resort property has seen upgrades to its 16 cabanas, which now have hardwood floors, bathrooms with hand-painted Mexican tiles and panoramic windows or private verandas."


Minister weighs in on bus operator’s plight
Janene Hamilton has been fighting to get the Transport Department to address her proposal for a shuttle run in the Ladyville area. So far her pleas have fallen on deaf ears and as a result Hamilton has taken to the airwaves to highlight what she feels is the Ministry’s total disregard and disrespect. When Love News caught up with Minister of Transport Edmund Castro yesterday in San Pedro, we asked him to comment on the situation and his response was simply that Hamilton is in the wrong business. The recently formed Belize Coalition for Justice issued a release in support of Hamilton in her fight with the Department of Transport. The Coalition says it has reviewed Hamilton’s case and found that the removal of her bus runs was done without just cause and procedures. It goes on to say that in light of Ms. Hamilton’s application to service areas in Ladyville that are not being serviced by other operators and the fact that her route will not collide with other buses travelling that highway, they stand in full support of Ms. Hamilton’s proposal and call upon the Minister and The Board of Transport to be fair and allow her to immediately commence servicing that area with this well needed service and niche market that she has carved out to serve her community. The release goes on to echo the sentiments that Hamilton has expressed to Love news and that is that the Transport Board is proposing that she charge an amount that will not allow her to succeed and the fact she is being set up to fail.

Man accused of sex with 15 year old girl
Twenty-three year old Adam Choco, a salesman of mile 1 and a half on the Northern Highway, who allegedly had sex with a 15 year old girl was charged with carnal knowledge when he appeared in court today. He was remanded into custody until December 13. The incident occurred on Monday, November 5. The girl reported to the police that she went to Choco’s residence and he had sex with her with her consent.

Baptist Association distances itself from man accused of sex with underage girl
Earlier this week, forty six year old Franks Eddy resident Julio Cesar Garcia, widely reported to be a Baptist pastor was arrested and charged for carnal knowledge after an eleven year old girl accused him of having sexual intercourse with her on two separate occasions. Since the news exploded unto the headlines, the Baptist Association has been silent on the issue. Today, they broke that silence with a seventy four word press release. Because of the brevity of the communiqué, we’ll read it verbatim. It says, quote: “the Baptist Association of Belize wishes to let the public know that contrary to what was on the news, Mr. Julio Cesar Garcia is not the pastor of Franks Eddy Baptist Church and not even a Pastor within the Baptist Association of Belize but only a member of the Baptist Church in Belize City. The Pastor of Franks Eddy Baptist Church is Pastor Oscar Aguilar. The Association strongly condemns the action of Mr. Garcia.” End of quote. As we have reported previously, Garcia was formally arraigned on two counts of carnal knowledge when he appeared in the Belmopan Magistrate’s Court. He was remanded to the Hattiveille prison until his next court appearance in January. The eleven year old girl from the same village who attends the Frank’s Eddy Government School told police that Garcia had sexual intercourse with her on two separate occasions last week. The girl told authorities that the first sexual encounter happened on the afternoon on Sunday, October twenty eight, inside the church building in the village. Four days later, Garcia is reported to have repeated the sexual crime, this time inside of his house.

Trio of teenagers detained in murder investigation
Police have detained three teenagers in connection with yesterday’s murder of fifty four year old Dennis Williams. According to the police press officer Raphael Martinez, the three detainees are all eighteen years old. Police have also recovered what they believe to be the murder weapon, a Taurus brand nine millimeter pistol with five rounds of ammunition. Just before noon yesterday, two men entered the Tree Star Quality Chicken outlet at number forty six Vernon Street, allegedly with the intent to rob the establishment. During a struggle with Williams, two shots were fired, fatally wounding him to the upper part of his body. Police investigations continue.

Five Blues Lake dries up
The Five Blues Lake national park in the Cayo district is a ten-acre natural wonder neatly situated in the tropical rainforest of southern Belize. But tonight a phenomenon which was first observed about six years ago is back. Virtually all the water from the lake has disappeared. According to the president of Friends of 5 Blues Lake, Mario Perez, the collapse of the lake is a cause for concern. According to Perez, the last time that the lake dried up, it took three hundred and forty four days for the water to return. Unlike the incident in 2006, Perez says that this time around, much more water has been left on the bed of the lake than the last incident. Love News will have more on this phenomenon next week.

Salvation Army launches Christmas Kettle Appeal
If you’ve been feeling the chilly weather and listening to Christmas music already blasting on the radio, you know it’s a sign Christmas is almost here. But it’s also a sign that a specific organization will start to raise funds for the needy, so if you think you hear those sleigh bells ringing don’t get it wrong, it’s actually the bell calling you to sponsor a cent or two or even more for the Salvation Army’s Kettle. This morning the kettle appeal was launched in front of the First Caribbean International Bank on Albert Street with greetings by the Mayor of Belize City Darrel Bradley. Regional Commander of the Salvation Army in Belize Major Joliker Leandre told Love News about the kettle appeal initiative. Country Manager of CIBC First Caribbean Bank, Glen Smith told us about the partnership of the bank with the Salvation Army which today yielded fifteen thousand dollars to the organization. The kettle will be place outside major business places like Brodies on Albert Street and Phillip Goldson Highway, Hofius, Augusto Quan, Angelus Press, Save U and K-Park. According to Major Leandre, there will also be barrels placed in different locations for the donation of toys. Christmas Kettle will also be placed throughout Belmopan.

Teaching stewardship
The Battlefield Park in Belize City was this morning overrun by students of All Saints Primary School. The students were taken there by their teachers to clean up the area as part of a school-sponsored activity to teach the value of stewardship. Shannon Martinez is a Standard Five teacher at All Saints Primary School and she told Love News about the overall objective of the activity. And the children, all Standard Five students enjoyed the break from the classroom. They told Love News that they were happy to be involved in the exercise. According to teacher Martinez, other activities are scheduled for the rest of the month, which has been declared as stewardship month by the Anglican Diocese in Belize.

World Pediatric Project working in Belize
The mission for visiting Pediatric Surgeons from the U.S under the World Pediatric Project ended yesterday at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. Representative for World Pediatric Project in Belize, Milagro Garel informed Love News that this is the third year that Belize has general pediatric surgeons coming into Belize to offer their services. Patty Lang, one of the pediatric surgeons from West Virginia told us that her colleagues who are involved with the World Pediatric Project encouraged her to join in and make the visit to Belize. She told us of the cases she encountered here. According to Garel most of the funds come from World Pediatric Project with the exception of accommodations here in the country.

Additional charges in stolen goods case
A man from the Cayo District was sentenced after he was found guilty of handling stolen goods. Correspondent Elaine Berry reports.

San Ignacio man jailed for illegal firearm possession
A twenty one year old man from San Ignacio town has been sent to jail after he pleaded guilty to firearms charges. Danny Sagastume who lives in the Santiago Juan Layout area was arrested after a search of his house on Thursday afternoon resulted in the discovery of a sixteen gauge shotgun and sex matching cartridges. Police say the fun was found tucked under the zinc ceiling of an outdoor latrine in the yard. The cartridges were found inside a plastic bag. Police say that at the time of the arrest, two women were also arrested and charged for the offence of keeping an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. Sagastume, however has plead guilty to both charges, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison on both charges with the stipulation that they are to run concurrently.

New and upgraded airport for San Pedro town
The upgraded San Pedro municipal airport was inaugurated on Thursday. Love TV’s Natalie Novelo reports.

Miss Garifuna PG this Saturday night
Miss Euremei Peini Garifuna contest will be held tomorrow night in Punta Gorda town. Correspondent Paul Mahung has a preview.

Remembering those who sacrificed for peace
Each year on November eleventh, the world takes time to remember the armistice ending World War Two. It marked a victory for the Allies and a complete for Germany. And each year along with the remembrance comes a tribute to the men and women from Belize who made the ultimate sacrifice all for the sake of world peace. Love Tv’s Marion Ali reports. History records that although the Empire of Japan was already at war with the Republic of China in 1937,[2] the world war is generally said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany, and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and most of the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth.


Keep your eyes peeled
If you keep your eyes pealed in San Pedro, you can always find cheap street food. In my case yesterday, it was a roadside barbecue stand near Ambergris Lake Villas on my walk yesterday. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had found dinner and walked across the road to get some. I got 2 barbecue chicken dinners with slaw and beans for $8 bzd each, which is a great price considering most street stands are at $10 on that meal.

A Rib BBQ Cook-Off at Estel's Dine By the Sea: First Annual?
Yesterday, my friend Kevin invited me to an impromptu BBQ rib cook-off being held at Estel's. The prize? $800! He was competing with three other participants (one from the island, one from Kansas City and one from Oregon) to name the best ribs on the island. An idea the four of them cooked up over many beers earlier in the week. Sounds like fun to me...I headed out. But before I get started let me paint a picture for you, possibly a frame-work for the 2013 Ambergris Caye BBQ Cook-Off/Beach Party/Live Music Week-End bash that this small event (and one of the competitors) got me thinking about. BBQs lining the front street, the air thick with the smell of smoke and good sauce, people out sampling, drinking beers, buying cute t-shirts and enjoying a fierce competition with locals and enthusiasts from around the world in ribs, chicken, best sauce, whatever else can be BBQed...maybe side dishes. Crown the BBQ King or Queen of San Pedro. This could be as big as LobsterFest! Maybe...2013 Smokin' San Pedro International BBQ Competition or 2013 Belize Grill & Chill International BBQ Competition or let's keep it simple - the 2013 San Pedro Scoop International BBQ Competition... I think it could be huge. What do you think? We can always work on the name later though I do lean towards the last choice. Let's get back to yesterday's contest and some pictures of Estel's, one of the most beloved restaurants on the island and everyone's favorite breakfast joint.

Caye Caulker - The Island of Flashing Smiles
How didn’t I know about Caye Caulker? I guess it’s one of those places that people don’t talk about because they want it to stay exactly the same. I get it. People don’t want this Belizian island to get over run with visitors or the hostel rates may go up. Or, God forbid, the rum punch shots might not be free anymore I apologize to those folks for writing a blog post but here it is. I want people to know about it because it’s the place in the world where the most people have ever smiled at me. People here are seriously happy! Caye Caulker is a short water taxi ride from Ambergris Caye (or about a 45 min water taxi from Belize City.) There is a great debate online arguing which island reigns supreme between Caulker and Ambergris. That debate is moot in my opinion because when one has cars and the other doesn’t (Caulker) the dynamics are not equally comparable. Ambergris is pretty big and has fabulous sandy beaches. It gets points for the sand in your toes, drink in your hand resort feel. But, IMHO, it loses points for feeling big cityish with golf cart traffic jams. The only traffic on Caulker are the boats coming in with their daily catch.

International Sources

A Chocolate Tour of the Caribbean
ONE morning on St. Lucia, as I was waking from beatific dreams, I discovered that I had turned into a luscious, ripe cocoa pod. Or so I imagined, borrowing freely from Kafka’s opening line in “Metamorphosis.” For three decadent days, I had been eating chocolate-stuffed liver pâté, cocoa-encrusted kingfish and, for breakfast, cocoa-and-cashew granola. At night I drank cocoa Bellinis. I indulged in a cocoa oil massage, hiked through cocoa fields and created my own chocolate bar. Dawn consistently carried the pungent aroma of cocoa trees, because I was staying on a verdant cocoa estate — and sleeping in a cocoa pod. Well, sort of: Hotel Chocolat, a boutique property in St. Lucia, features not rooms but “luxe pods,” where even the magnificently minimalist décor (rich mahogany floors, ivory-colored bathroom with open-air shower) evokes the essence of chocolate. Hotel Chocolat’s union of tourism and agricultural development, specifically its devotion to all things cocoa, is part of a budding movement across the Caribbean. You might call it choco-tourism. From Tobago to Dominica, Grenada to St. Vincent, the Caribbean cocoa industry, which has roots in colonial times, is being revitalized. This is excellent news economically: With free trade having all but destroyed the islands’ banana and sugar industries, fair-trade farming initiatives are a welcome boon.

Photos: A Tropical Trail of Chocolate Treats

WU Alumni have scheduled trip to Belize
The Washburn University Alumni Association has organized another group trip that is sure to impress. This time they will be indulging on a five night Western Caribbean cruise abroad Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, to Belize City and Cozumel. The trip will be 5 nights long, extending from November 24-29, 2012. The group will be meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There will be a welcome reception on the evening of departure as well as a cocktail party on the second evening of the trip, giving everyone a chance to mingle. Prices for inside cabins begin at $369 per person for double occupancy and you will have other cabin options available to you at a higher rate, if you desire. Air fare is not included in this price. You simply have to make your own reservations to Fort Lauderdale and meet everyone onboard the ship! What does this trip have to offer? Belize City is located between Mexico and Guatemala, and is often called “The Jewel,” because it has the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and has a very modern Caribbean charm. There are also many miles of tropical rain forest to take in and explore. Cozumel is an island off of the eastern coast of Mexico that is always being explored by its visitors, looking for gold and silver jewelry in the shops of San Miguel. This island is one of the best snorkeling areas in the whole world; the waters around the coral reefs are breathtaking and are definitely a sight to be seen.

Why the Maya Fell: Climate Change, Conflict—And a Trip to the Beach?
Maya Empire, seemingly swallowed by the jungle after centuries of urban, cultural, intellectual, and agricultural evolution. What went wrong? The latest discoveries point not to a cataclysmic eruption, quake, or plague but rather to climate change. And faced with the fallout, one expert says, the Maya may have packed up and gone to the beach. But first came the boom years, roughly A.D. 300 to 660. At the beginning of the so-called Classic Maya period, some 60 Maya cities—each home to between 60,000 and 70,000 people—sprang up across much of modern-day Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. (Explore an interactive map of key Maya sites.) Surrounded by pyramids, plazas, ball courts, and government buildings, the urban Maya discussed philosophy, developed an accurate solar-year calendar, and relished a thick, bitter beverage made from cacao beans: the world's first hot chocolate. Farmers, too, were riding high, turning hillsides into terraced fields to feed the burgeoning population.

Last edited by Marty; 11/16/12 11:52 AM.