"THE NUMBER 1 MAGAZINE ON TRAVEL, LIFE, AND RETIREMENT ON THE CARIBBEAN COAST"
Volume II, Number 3
ON-LINE TEXT EDITION
COPYRIGHT 1995 BY LAN SLUDER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Traditional magazine edition with maps and photos also available. Contact Belize First for details.
American flights to the United States. When I left Belize in 1947 to attend prep school in the U.S., it was via TACA to Guatemala City, where I was able to catch Pan American's flight to New Orleans. I recall that the Lockheed, lacking pressurization, could not fly over the towering mountains to reach Guatemala City. It had to fly up the valleys and try not to run into the thunderstorms that would sweep across Lake Amatitlan and into the city in the afternoons of the rainy season. TACA and Pan Am later became locked in turf battles over service to Miami and New Orleans, but I had left Belize by that time.
As an historical footnote, TACA was first on the scene after Hurricane Hattie leveled Belize in 1961. Reed Clary, one of TACA's early pilots, flying a C-46 transport loaded with relief supplies, managed to land at the devastated, tree- strewn Belize airport. It was the first time emergency help had arrived in Belize by air instead of by sea.
Two other airlines started regular service to Belize in the 1940s. British West Indian Airways (BWIA), another of Lowell Yerex's burgeoning air services, provided twice weekly flights to and from Kingston, Jamaica in the early 1940s. Transporteos Aereos Mexicanas, S.A.(TAMSA), a Mexican airline ran postwar service to Chetumal and Merida. TAMSA's flights to Mˇrida allowed a more efficient link to Pan Am's flights, which also stopped over in Mˇrida on their way north to New Orleans.
The advent of air transportation changed life quickly and for the better throughout Central America. Before the airplane, places like Belize were truly distant outposts of the British Empire. Whenever my parents returned to England or Scotland in the pre-aviation days, they took a freighter to New Orleans, then went by train to New York where they could board a Cunard liner for Liverpool. It was also possible, at that time, to take passage to Kingston by freighter then take ship to England from that port. The freighters and the United Fruit Company's 'banana boats' calling at Central American ports were usually equipped with a half dozen or so passenger cabins, providing the only way of international travel before the airplane arrived on the scene.
^^^ Born in Belize in 1931, Neil Fraser now lives in Atlanta, where he operates an advertising firm. He is a widely published poet, and he also is the author of a book on advertising and of many magazine articles on marketing.
INTO THE RAIN FOREST WITH PROGRAMME FOR BELIZE
By CAROL BIGENHO
We found the scorpions on the third night. Someone happened to turn a flashlight toward the tin roof and noticed a dark shape scurrying out of sight behind the wooden rafters. Suddenly the lights were on and the dormitory was filled with the sounds of laughter, screams, and brooms hitting the ceiling.
Finally, reason prevailed. They had been there for the first two nights without attacking anyone. Why should we worry about them now? We turned out the lights and went back to bed.
Soon, the only sounds were those of the jungle, dominated by the trombone-like tones of a Mexican tree frog calling forlornly for a mate from prison in the dormitory cistern.
Our group came to the Rio Bravo Research Station in northeastern Belize from all over the United States by plane and a bumpy three-hour drive on a dirt road. The trip was sponsored by Save The Rain Forest Inc. and Programme For Belize. Each summer they bring groups of teachers and high school students to Belize to learn and to prepare to teach others about the rain forest, its people, its problems and possible solutions.
Our group of 23 ranged in age from 16 to 60. We each paid $625 plus air fare for the two-week trip. Two college students from Belize, who had won the trip in a rain forest essay contest, joined us.
We spent one exhausting week in the subtropical moist forests of the Rio Bravo area and nearby villages, farms, and resorts before proceeding on to a second week of marine studies on Belize's barrier reef. At the research station, wild turkeys strolled on the mimosa lawn and a fer-de-lance snake crossed the path just ahead of us on an early morning bird walk. Clouds of yellow and white butterflies rose ahead of us as we walked to meals or class from the dormitory. In the evenings a tree frog chorus sang as we watched some of the more than 80 species of bats in the preserve flutter overhead and fireflies flicker at the edge of our clearing.
Almost all of our power came from solar panels and a bank of storage batteries. Lights-out came early. We practiced conservation as we washed our clothes and one another's hair in buckets of rainwater from the cistern.
Two vans took us on daily field trips outside the preserve to see archaeological sites, visit villages, and observe wildlife. We heard and saw the howler and spider monkeys that inhabit the forest-covered ancient Mayan cities. We watched the rare jabarus jabbing their beaks into the river mud to find food. We discovered that two golf balls floating in a river were really the eyes of a crocodile.
We often passed recently cut tracts of forest where corn grew or cattle grazed. But some fields lay fallow because their nutrients had been used up.
One day, we visited a Mennonite farm at Blue Creek that sends 16,000 chickens to market every six weeks. Now we understood why corn was planted where the forest once stood. Like Belizeans, we ate a lot of chicken with our rice and beans.
A women's group in the mestizo village of San Lorenzo prepared a tamale lunch for us, cooked over a fire fueled with wood from the forest. The importance of the forests to the wildlife and to the livelihood and daily life of the people of Belize soon became evident. Who were we, coming from a country that long ago cut down its vast hardwood forests, to criticize Belizeans for cutting theirs?
Excursions to Mayan ruins and forest resorts showed us a viable alternative to forest destruction: sustainable economic development in the form of ecotourism, sustained yield harvests, and products made from medicinal plants.
Chan Chich Lodge sits in the main plaza of an ancient Mayan city. Its owner, Barry Bowen, says he placed it there to stop the looting of artifacts by marijuana growers who had overrun the archaeological site. Though a subject of some controversy in the scientific world, in the owner's view the tourism lodge protects the ruins for future excavation, attracts visitors, and provides jobs for Belizeans.
Lamanai Outpost Lodge, located on a breeze-cooled slope above the Rio Bravo, offers excursions to the nearby Lamanai Mayan village, museum, and archaeological site. It, too, brings in tourist dollars and provides jobs.
At the Rio Bravo station, we learned of experiments being conducted with sustained yield harvests of chicle, timber and allspice. Others, such as the Ix Chel Farm and Tropical Research Center, are experimenting with natural medicines for treating such things as upset stomach and insect bites.
Two-thirds of Central American forests have been felled since 1960. In contrast, about 80 percent of Belize's forests remain and most of those are on currently protected lands.
We left Rio Bravo aware of the rich resource that the forests of Belize represent. They offer a chance for economic growth without deforestation. We learned ways it can be done. The challenge now is to convince Belizeans and foreign investors that it is possible.
^^^ Caryl Bigenho is a free-lance writer in California.
MEMBERS OF THE BELIZE ECO-TOURISM ASSOCIATION
For those interested in supporting tourism operators who try to protect the fragile ecology and culture of Belize, here is a list of the members of the Belize Eco-Tourism Association.
As Eco-Tourism Association members, at a minimum these companies subscribe to a code of ethics. They agree to:
1. Present an invitation to all guests to be environmentally and culturally responsible.
2. Eliminate plastic disposables such as cups and styrofoam box lunch containers.
3. Avoid disturbing wildlife and flora.
Membership in the Association does not, of course, in itself assure that these hotels and other companies are green. However, by and large these operators are doing what they can to support sustainable tourism in Belize.
Jim Bevis of Slate Creek Reserve and M.E.T. is the current president. Bart Mickler of Maya Mountain Lodge is vice president.
Projects supported by the Belize Eco-Tourism Association include:
- developing a green code of ethics for hotels and operators
- producing a pamphlet for tourists to Belize which will outline their role in responsible tourism
- lobbying government through the British Tourism Association for new laws for a greener Belize
- researching alternative products and encouraging use of greener items
- publishing and distributing an Eco-Tourism Association newsletter
- providing an endorsement of eco-operators to authors of guidebooks to Belize and to travel writers.
Members as of August 1994, followed by town or district (if in Belize), and note that new members are added regularly:
BLAST Tours, Belize City
Radisson Fort George Hotel, Belize City
Colton House Inn, Belize City
Services Belize, Belize City
Tubroos Tree Adventures, Belize
Spanish Bay Resort, Belize
Backadeer Inn, Belize
Chan Chich Lodge, Belize
Bill Hasso, Belize
Banana Bank Ranch, Belmopan
Martin Meadows, Belmopan
Belize Communications & Security, Belmopan
CariSearch, Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker Water Taxi Assoc., Caye Caulker
Sea-ing is Belizing, Caye Caulker
Maya Ranch Guesthouse, Cayo
Ek' Tun, Cayo
Easy Rider, Cayo
Crystal Paradise, Cayo
David Cryer, Cayo
Maya Mountain Lodge, Cayo
Herman Velasquez, Cayo
Piache Hotel, Cayo
Maya Mountain Tours, Cayo
Snooty Fox, Cayo
Panti Mayan Medicine Trail, Cayo
Duplooy's Resort, Cayo
San Ignacio Hotel, Cayo
Windy Hill, Cayo
Slate Creek Reserve, Cayo
Hidden Valley Inn, Cayo
Blancaneaux Lodge, Cayo
Chaa Creek, Cayo
Westwinds, Ltd., Corozal
Pelican Beach, Dangriga
Lamanai Outpost Lodge, Orange Walk
Jungle River Tours, Orange Walk
Glovers Atoll Resort, Placencia
Serenity Resort, Placencia
Nautical Inn, Placencia
Rum Point Inn, Placencia
Ramon's Village Resort, San Pedro
San Pedro Sun Newspaper, San Pedro
Captain Morgan's Retreat, San Pedro
Caribbean Villas, San Pedro
Dem Dats Doin, Toledo
Magnum Belize, USA
Belize Adventure Tours, USA.
REAL ESTATE FOR SALE
Due to reader interest in real estate, BELIZE FIRST offers the following listings of properties for sale, exchange and wanted. These listings are NOT paid ads. They are being run at no charge as a reader service. Beginning with this issue, we are also listing properties in Costa Rica, Honduras and elsewhere in the region. BELIZE FIRST does not warrant the facts or figures.
For more information, contact the owner or real estate agent directly. If you would like to have your real estate notice run at no charge, please send your notice to BELIZE FIRST, 280 Beaverdam Road, Candler, NC 28715 USA, e-mail at BZEFIRST@aol.com on the Internet. We need your listing in writing. Please include your name, address and phone number.
Individual owners may run up to three properties in any one issue; real estate brokers may have up to six listings. Photographs are welcome. BELIZE FIRST reserves the right to edit listings or to reject any listing without providing any reason. All prices are in U.S. dollars.
200 ACRES: P.G./Cattle Landing area. Rolling hills, low and high bush with a mile of road frontage. 3/4 mile from Caribbean. Suitable for ecotourist facility, agriculture, development. Water and electricity hookups available. Asking $80,000. Toledo Real Estate & Assoc., P.O. Box 73, Punta Gorda, tel. 501-72-2470, fax 501-72-2199.
LOTS FOR SALE, $3,500: Tropical Park, 60 x 118 ft., located near park. Bulk purchaser, $2,500 per lot. Scheffer Real Estate, 24 Gabourel Lane, Belize City, tel. 501-23-4285.
50,000 ACRES CAYO, agricultural, timber and scenic mountain retreat property. Streams, river and highway frontage. $6,500,000 ($130/acre). Sovereign Real Estate, 39A 4th Avenue, Corozal Town, Belize, tel. 501-42-3160, fax 501-42-3157.
357 ACRES. Owner wants to sell entire parcel (clear title). Includes modern hurricane-proof, fully furnished 3 BR ranch-type home located 1 mile from the Caribbean with 1/2 mile road frontage on the main highway. Utilities installed with back-up systems. Land partially cleared, fenced with 30 head of cattle. Flat to rolling hills to mountain property. Plus Ford pick-up in first-class condition. Many extras included. Age and health of owner a factor in selling this at a bargain price of $150,000. Toledo Real Estate & Assoc., P.O. Box 73, Punta Gorda, tel. 501-72-2470, fax 501-72-2199.
25 ACRES: On the Southern Highway, Big Falls area. Rolling hills, 12 acres planted with citrus. Electricity hookup available. Water available from roadside wells. Asking $15,000. Toledo Real Estate & Assoc., P.O. Box 73, Punta Gorda, tel. 501-72-2470, fax 501-72-2199.
SEAFRONT 80 x 150 LOT with 2 BR, 1 bath concrete house, living room, dining room, kitchen. Many coconut and palm trees, older established neighborhood. $72,500. Sovereign Real Estate, 39A 4th Avenue, Corozal Town, Belize, tel. 501-42-3160, fax 501-42-3157.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
CONDOS FOR RENT in San Pedro: One 1BR, 1 bath unit and one 2BR, 1 bath. On beach at Paradise Villas. Fresh water pool, A/C in bedrooms, fans elsewhere. Beautifully decorated and fully furnished and equipped, with kitchens and full-size refrigerators. Daily maid service included. 1BR $125 per night; 2BR, $150 per night, plus 6% tax. No service charges. Local manager greets guests at the airstrip. Free brochure. Contact owner at 36420 Bendel Terrace, Fremont, CA 94536, tel. 510-792-2639, or via Internet e-mail to SusanG7605@aol.com.
HOUSE ON THE BEACH 1/2 mile north of San Pedro town. 3,860 sq. ft including verandas, 2 BR, 2 baths, luxuriously furnished including TV and satellite dish; plus 2 furnished rental apartments and caretaker apartment, shop, storage building, fenced-in yard, pier, asking $295,000, with 30% down. Owner will finance balance for 10 years at 12%. Tel. 501-26-2677.
CASA CARIBE: Village resort community with 1 and 2 BR units. Restaurant, bar, pool, with on-site management. From the $90s. The Windstar Agency, P.O. Box 33, San Pedro, Belize, tel. 501-26-2525, fax 501-26-2497.
BELIZE YACHT CLUB: 2-story resort villas, fully furnished, Mediterranean design, with terrace. Beachfront or poolside - all have access to fresh-water pool, gym, marina and more. Starting at $190,000 to $230,000, terms available. Other beautiful units available at PARADISE VILLAS from $185,000. Suites at MAYAN PRINCESS (formerly Ambergris Lodge) from $115,000. Southwind Properties, P.O. Box 1, San Pedro, Belize, tel. 501-26-2005 or fax 501-26-2331.
WANTED TO EXCHANGE condo in Ottawa, Canada, for property in Belize or elsewhere. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, one interior parking space. Close to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and still closer to The Museum of civilization in Hull. It is worth approx Canadian $85,000. Rents for about Canadian $700 a month. Taxes are around Canadian $1650 a year. Condo fees Canadian $82 month. Never a vacancy. For more information, contact, Jaime Aguirre, 98 Dollard, Apt. 24, Hull, Quebec J8X 3M3, Canada, tel. 819-771-3173.
JUNGLE FARM in foothills of Talamanca Mountains, minutes from the Caribbean. 2.5 acres, three-fourths of which is virgin jungle. Other one-fourth has been planted extensively with indigenous fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, bananas, etc.), coffee, cocoa and coconut plants , and hardwoods like laurel and cedro macho. 20 x 26 ft. house, wood with corrugated metal roof, with two rooms plus kitchen and porch, is three years old. Outhouse, no electricity. Property is surveyed and has all legal documentation. Free access via public gravel road. Beautiful property but not for the fainthearted tourist who cannot live without modern conveniences. $30,000. Contact Paul Hawkins or Cathie Whittaker, 268 Scotchline Rd., W., RR#3, Merrickville, Ont., KOG1NO, Canada, tel. 613-258- 5284.
FOR RENT on Roatan, Bay Islands: Oceanfront, three bedroom house. Premier location, spectacular views. $395 a week, $900 month. Call 512-749-4152.
REAL ESTATE COMPANIES IN BELIZE
Note: Companies here are listed as a convenience to BELIZE FIRST readers. No endorsement of any particular real estate or development company is implied or intended, nor does the absence of a company suggest any lack of endorsement.
Belize Business Consulting Services, P.O. Box 407, Belize City, tel. 501-23-0012, fax 501-23-1048
Belize Land Consultants, Ltd., P.O. Box 35, Corozal Town, tel. 501-42-3195, fax 501-42-3396
Bella Vista Group, 63 Bella Vista, Belize City, tel. 501- 24-4711, fax 501-23-2895
Caye & Country Real Estate Ltd., P.O. Box 258, Belize City, tel. 501-23-5308, fax 501-23-2770
Langdon Supply Limited, P.O. Box 15, San Pedro, tel. 501- 26-2147, fax 501-26-2245 (affiliated with Belize Real Estate)
Maya Landings at Moho Caye, Belize City, tel. 501-23-3075
Playa de Piratas Properties, Placencia, tel. 501-62-3180, fax 501-22-3203
Scheffer Real Estate, 24 Gabourel Lane, Belize City, 501- 23-4285Southwind Properties, P.O. Box 1, San Pedro, tel. 501-26- 2005, fax 501-26-2331
Sovereign Real Estate, 39A 4th Avenue, Corozal Town, Belize, tel. 501-42-3160, fax 501-42-3157
The Windstar Agency, P.O. Box 33, San Pedro, Belize, tel. 501-26-2525, fax 501-26-2497
Toledo Real Estate & Assoc., P.O. Box 73, Punta Gorda, tel. 501-72-2470, fax 501-72-2199
W. Ford Young Real Estate, Ltd., P.O. Box 354, Belize City, tel. 501-23-1022, fax 501-23-1023 (affiliated with Belize Real Estate)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Recent news of Belize and the region:
A new Belize City Hospital, tagged Belize City General and outfitted with US$5 million of new equipment, is set to open early in 1995 on Princess Margaret Drive. The new hospital is much-needed, as the old hospital is widely considered out-dated, too small and lacking staff and equipment to handle the large patient load. In August, the ceiling of the old hospital's only working operating room suddenly collapsed while a patient was being prepped for surgery.
DINES MURDERER SENTENCED TO HANGING
A San Pedro jury of eight men and four women on November 11 found Herman Mejia guilty of the February murder of Ann Reilly Dines and Alan Dines. Ann Reilly Dines, an American citizen and internationally known rose and gardening writer, and her British husband, both Ambergris Caye residents, were brutally murdered in a late-night robbery attempt south of San Pedro town. The jury deliberated about three hours before returning with a verdict of guilty. The judge in the case, His Lordship Judge Troadio Gonzalez, sentenced Mejia, a Belizean originally from Toledo District, to death by hanging.
IRAQIS BUY BELIZE PASSPORTS
Iraqis desperate to reach the West are paying up to $18,000 for stolen or fake passports from Belize, according to news reports. A passport from Belize - a British Commonwealth country considered to be widely accepted and to provide good mobility - brings more than passports from some other countries. A passport from Venezuela costs $10,000 while one from the African country of Guinea might be $7,000.
BDF VOLUNTEERS IN HAITI
About three dozen Belize Defense Force troops, under the command of Captain Juan Teck, joined U.S. and other Caribbean Basin soldiers in Haiti, in the joint effort to restore democracy and Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the presidency of the island nation. The all- volunteer expeditionary force was Belize's first international military mission to a potential combat area since World War II.
TONS OF COCAINE
In September, a federal grand jury in Florida indicted 19 people on charges of trying to smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States. The indictments charge that a South Florida seafood distributor and others transported about a ton of cocaine worth US$220 million