THE SAN PEDRO, BELIZE JOURNAL
by: Reef Ransom
THE SAN PEDRO, BELIZE JOURNAL
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.
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.
AT THIS MOMENT
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.
HELPFUL ONE LINERS.
"The sea is mother nature's embryonic fluid."
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.
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 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.
SPECIAL VACATION ISSUE!
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/BZThose 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.
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.
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.
"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:
ONE MORE PILL(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.
From the TAO TEH CHING.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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 www.Ambergriscaye.com. 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.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 Amazon.com 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.
I stood along the edge of the sea one night,
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,
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.
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.
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.
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