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April 23, 2011
I wish to send you all our best Easter wishes for a wonderful day of blessings fulfilled.
We were planning to head out yesterday for one of the reef islands but for reasons chose to wait until today. We will go out about 3 hours to to one of the most beautiful of the islands here, supposedly with white sand beach and palm trees. Along its banks and on an island only about 1 mile away, we hope to do some great snorkeling.
It had been overcast and we even had some rain night before last so it has not been good weather for snorkeling but we made the most of it ashore in Placencia.
Placencia remains my favorite place in Belize. It has changed in the 4 years since we were here last and some is for the better. I notice some construction finished since we were here. Businesses have changed hands in some cases but others are still going strong and everything looks in pretty good condition. Buildings are painted so colorfully.
This town is at the end of a narrow strip of land with the open water on one side with beach front along a long area of this little strip of land. On the other side is lagoon area with mangrove swamp along the banks. They have opened up some of the area to make some new marinas and places to build homes with docks along the side. They are quite low to the water and I am uncertain how well the retaining walls will hold up or who will be responsible for maintaining them over time, but the area behind in the lagoon is well protected and convenient for access to the open water.
Many resorts have been built up along the beach part out of town. There are many things for sale as well, just like in the U.S. property has gone down in value of late. Steve and Nancy and we, rented bikes and rode along the road that was opened just a year ago. I would think that road would have made a big difference to this area. While they had a road before, it was all dirt and got almost impassible in wet weather. We experienced it 14 years ago when we were here and the new one is a big improvement. I hope it stays in good condition. This would make it easier to get from here to other parts of Belize and especially to get products to this area. Getting fresh produce now is relatively easy. They bring in trucks which set up at the side of the road in town and there are some permanent market stands available. The grocery stores don’t really carry a lot of fresh produce. As in the rest of the country, most of the grocery stores are owned by the Chinese. There is a large population of Chinese and they are quite industrious and successful here. Consequently, there is some resentment by some Belizians and the Chinese have become a target. Two Chinese women were killed in Belize city for no apparent reason other than that they were Chinese and there was a strike of all the Chinese owned businesses and a big march in Belize City. The government protected the marchers and it certainly messed things up for the two days those businesses were on strike. Not sure that helped their cause with the public’s concern of a Chinese take over but the Government listened. Unfortunately, Belize City is drug infested and quite dangerous. We try to avoid it though it is the best place to get a lot of what you might need.
We don’t see much disturbance here though. People seem to live together pretty well and this area seems pretty safe from all accounts. People are quite friendly though for a lot of people, life is not luxury. Heat and air conditioning are not needed so that expense is not an issue and though I think food is expensive enough, you can buy the basics pretty well.
They do have earth quakes here as well has hurricanes. They had a quake a few years ago and it destroyed the wonderful fuel and dinghy dock that was at the main part of the town. What is left has been cobbled together to get it far enough out to where it is deep enough for the dinghy’s. As it is, you can only crowd a few dinghy’s in that area. Luckily, only about a block further down the shore are a couple of places that welcome the boaters to use their docks. They also have some internet access and both serve food and drinks.
Placencia also has some places where you can do skype but it is still not too great.
There are many items to buy here, just like in Cay Caulker only more choices. The Guatemalan items are most common. The carved wood is the main Belizian item. Of course there are many shops but also people who set up displays by the side of the road or sidewalk. Some women have only a few items for sale and you feel so badly for them as even if they sold all of it, it wouldn’t amount to much.
The main street in the town is actually a sidewalk. Many of the restaurants and business and resorts are off of this sidewalk. There are places that vehicles can come in from the main road close to the locations but you can’t get to most of the places by car. We walked the entire distance along the sidewalk until it ended. Mostly houses and resorts are along the far end while businesses and restaurants are closer in to town.
One of things we enjoy so much in Belize are the great signs you see, often written in the dialect of the locals. They are big on trash issues and often times also express political or moral ideas openly.
There is one home made sign here showing how the locals kept the Cruise line from stopping here. I don’t have any idea what it would do to this sleepy little community but I don’t think it would benefit them very much, especially if once installed, the cruise line would leave. I don’t think boaters like us would like it any longer! Big business has a way of coming back again and again so I don’t know how long they will be able to resist. As it is, there is a Canadian who is trying to add a Casino to his resort about 10 miles up the road but that has been slow and many locals are not too happy about it. The developer had planned on building an international airport here to bring people in. I think that has been stopped. There is a small plane airport here but the strip is quite short. In fact, the road goes around one end of it and there are barricades to stop drivers as a plane goes over the area where the road is. Traffic is not stopped for long or frequently though.
We saw simple small resorts of various prices as well as beautiful first class places. Housing here runs the same way with modest and poor homes as well as those selling for hundreds of thousands and up.
We will be back here by Monday from our trip to Rendezvous Cay and check out Tuesday, position ourselves on Wednesday and check in to Guatemala at Livingston on Thursday morning. Then a new adventure begins for the four of us. Rob and I working on the boat and Nancy and Steve going inland.
We have heard from other of our cruising friends who are doing the Bahamas and Florida and happy to know they too are enjoying this time at sea. It has been great but our thoughts are already turning to the return trip and the time to be back home.
Sue and Rob