Norman Eiley's glass bottom boat Southern Beauty on Ambergris Caye, Miss Belize water taxi in the background, also Mr. Nando's  Land Rover, about 1978
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Friday April 24, 2020

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El Fogon Restaurant
Dedicated to the home style cooking of Belizean Creole and Mestizo food all prepared in an open fire hearth (or ‘Fogon' in Spanish).
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Norman Eiley's glass bottom boat "Southern Beauty" on Ambergris Caye, Miss Belize water taxi in the background, also Mr. Nando's Land Rover, about 1978


Southern Beauty.. As a kid it was the first boat I experienced HOL CHAN.. and many trips there after for Easters and summers. I believe Norman built it by hand.

First boat i was ever sick on...multiple times. Poor Tio always trying to explain to me why we couldnt go faster. Lol. He was always very patient.

The land rover looks like a 1948 version and I suspect it's the one that was the first automobile on the island. Was left by the British Army, used as the islands first taxi to carry luggage and tourist from the old Tropic air strip to the Holiday Hotel.

Oscar Aguilar was one of the first persons to drive the land rover which belong to caribeña. Then I believe Don Nando Trejo got his landrover. In the picture provided by 25 years ago's Angel Nunez you can see the landrover with someone sitting inside. Looking at the pic carefully, you can see Oscar Aguilar.

Señor Leoli Varela, Mr. John Eiley, and Señor Enrique Staines. Drawing by Jayson Forman

The first time I met “Miss Belize” (1986)

by Jayson Forman

A usual visit to my grandmother’s house in the village of Burrell Boom entailed waking up at 2:00 am, walking down to the municipal pier where we boarded a cargo boat at 3:00 am captained by either Mr. John Eiley or Señor Leoli Varela.

This was a 4 hour journey to Belize City followed by a 2 hour bus ride.

My brother and I would climb up to the roof to sleep and use our luggage as buffers between us and the incredibly hot exhaust pipe as well as buffering us from falling over the roof into the sea whenever the boat would rock.

So I was confused when it was time to come back because the taxi dropped us off in front of the Bellevue Hotel in Belize city instead of the harbor. That’s when I first saw the famous “Miss Belize” shuttle boat. Señor Enrique Staines was the ticket attendant but it was captained by someone else (I think his nickname was “Sonny”).

This was a superior upgrade from sleeping on a flat roof with no safety rails. There were rows of comfortable chairs like on a jet plane, air conditioning, carpeted floor and proper restrooms.

Huge bonus was that this was going to be a 45 minute trip.

As the engines started, their sounds were drowned out by the song “Push It” by Salt ‘n Peppa. I looked over and saw my friend, Debbie Spain, with a ridiculously large boom box smiling at me. I started lip syncing to the song and bobbing my head to show my approval...

That was interrupted quickly by my mom clearing her throat and giving me that famous “Forman glare” (1 eyebrow firmly arched pointing at you). I said “what?”

She mumbled in such a perfect pitch that only I could hear her words:

“That song is degrading to women and will not be coming out of your mouth!”

Oh boy! This is going to be a long trip is what I muttered (inside my head of course).

To be honest, anyone who has met my mom knows that she is genuinely the kindest, most generous and thoughtful woman. She’s non-judgmental, humble and is the first to offer help to anyone before they even ask. Even if she doesn’t have any advice to offer, she will quietly listen to anyone who just needs to vent and will discreetly follow up to see how they’re progressing.

Her worst character is how determined she is when it comes to keeping secrets. I’ve tired myself out for weeks and she wouldn’t budge. I guess that’s not a bad way to be.

She taught me about loyalty, no matter what and truth first, even if the consequences are negative for yourself because it’s easier to forgive someone who is being honest but challenging to ever trust a liar.

Jayson Forman

Top photograph by Susana Eiley

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