Hello-I am new to the message board-this is my first posting.
I discovered San Pedro 2 years ago thanks to Jerry Jeff and Susan Walker and their annual Camp Belize. I was there in January 2002 and January 2003 to enjoy the great music of Jerry Jeff and the comaradarie of his fans from all over the US and Europe, and will be there January 2-January 12, 2004 for Camp Belize 1 and from January 30-Feb 8, 2004 for Camp Belize 2.
However, this was my first trip to San Pedro without the excitement of Jerry Jeff and Camp Belize and was a great opportunity to enjoy San Pedro for a very laid-back and relaxing family Thanksgiving vacation which included my 4 1/2 year old grand-daughter. She had a blast and met a ton of kids her own age, both visitors and San Pedranos.
We always stay at Paradise Villas which I believe to be one of the best older complexes available. We had two excellent and well-furnished units, a one bedroom and a two bedroom. Nellie Gomez arranges our lodgings and is a superb rental agent with whom to work.
I found that little had changed since I was there in January except the road north of the cut seemed to be worse than before, if that is possible, and an excellent new food and beverage emporium has opened, The Stained Glass Pub, ably operated by Jim and Marie, formerly of Florida. I suggest that they have the absloute best cheeseburger on the island for when you need a break from the wonderful seafood. They have a great menu and at least three fresh fish choices most days.
On Sunday afternoon, I went to the Palapa Bar for Dennis Wolfe's jam session/open mike. He had his 12 year old son, Denniscito(little Dennis) on the drums and had a great bass player to back up his guitar, keyboards and vocals while Ruby kept the drinks rolling. Met Bruce from BC's Beach Bar and a lot of other great folks. Dennis did a lot of his own songs from his two CD's and a lot of covers of songs from the 60's and 70's. (Next time you go there, request that he do the Manatee song-it is unique)
After a couple of hours to be sure everyone was sufficiently lubricated, I got up and borrowed Dennis' guitar and did a few songs while he played bass. That was a lot of fun. When it comes to my music, my credo is "the more you drink, the better I sound". It runs from 2:30 PM until 6:00 or 6:30 PM every Sunday and I highly recommend that you check it out if you haven't already.
We did plenty of snorkeling and one fishing trip-caught plenty of fish and grilled them on the beach at Mexico Rocks. My daughter had never snorkeled before and was astonished by the beauty of the reef and the fish there. Spent a half day on Caye Caulker.
It is always such a pleasure to eat breakfast at Estel's. In addition to her great food and how welcome she makes you feel, she plays one of the most eclectic mixes of music on her sound system.
I enjoyed again going to Ruby's early in the morning for a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll and to talk with the innumerable locals who stop there on their way to work. (Ruby's is for sale for $75000 US-that's a lot of cinnamon buns)
Although all of our meals were great, I would say that the Thanksgiving dinner on the 27th at Elvie's Kitchen was outstanding. We had a couple of meals at Caramba's just up the street from Elvie's. It is the quintessential local place to eat, the staff members are terrific, and the prices range from moderate to low.
One night we ate at the Reef acros the street from Caramba. A local guy came in with a guitar, came to our table and introduced himself as a "businessman" and then began to sing and play for us. He was not very talented, but we clapped for him I thanked him. I then gave him $2 Belize as a tip, but he said no, you owe me $20 Belize for the two songs, "I am a businessman". Right. I later saw him in other restaurants doing the same thing. I forget his name, but keep your eyes open for him. Even his first CD will not be worth $20 Belize.
I met a lot of interesting local folks on this trip including Jerry McDermott, original developer of Paradise Villas and father of Kelly who owns Blue Water Grill. He told me that he sold the adjoining property, Paradise Resort Hotel, to a Japanese firm some years ago, and had just signed the contract last week to buy it back from them. He plans to build a condotel there on that site shortly.
I learned from Jerry that interest rates on AC are 12% with 30-35% down payment required and a maximum term of 10-15 years. However, due to liquidity requirements, neither of the banks can presently make loans. As I am a mortgage broker in the US offering rates as low as 5%, this was of great interest to me.
The ferry across the cut was an interesting sight to my family as you may imagine as was the famous Chicken Drop on Wednesday night.
I was apprehensive about the weather as I had not been there at this time of the year before. However, the weather was beautiful 8 days out of 10.
I was sad to learn that I missed catching Jerry Jeff playing at a local bar last Saturday night. I learned on Sunday that Dennis Wolfe was playing at Coconuts Saturday night when Jerry Jeff walked in and borrowered Dennis' guitar to do a few songs. After a while, he left, went home and got his own guitar and came back and played along with Dennis.
If any of you are going to be in San Pedro during Camp Belize 1 or 2 and you play the guitar, bring it along. We have a "pickin' party" on a couple of the nights that Jerry Jeff is not doing a concert. Last year there were 8 or 10 musicians. We sat in a circle in front of Ramon's and played all night to an audience of about 100 people. Everyone played his or her favorite songs as we went around the circle. It was memorable.
I will be at Paradise Villas #20B January 2-12. If you have a guitar, bring it around and we'll make some noise on the island.
See ya down the road, allrightguy.