April 25, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
Here we are back in lovely Placencia after an eventful Easter. Lately I have been learning that making plans is a good thing but anticipating that everything turns out the way you want only causes inevitable disappointment. Instead, make plans and observe what actually does happen and enjoy that.
This trip to Rendezvous Cay was just such an experience and in my wildest planning, I don’t think this would have been the result and if it had not been the case, more is the pity!
Cat-Eau and we left on Saturday about noon and the day clouded up and the winds were blowing on the nose. We each took a different route to get to our destination and Chat-Eau got in ahead of us. We got to sail about 8 of the 18 miles. Our goal was Rendezvous Cay but as they got there they noticed a lot of construction on the island and what looked like barricades to the anchorage so they diverted to the island a mile beyond called North Long Coca Cay. We had wanted to do some snorkeling at this location anyway.
My disappointment was that it was so cloudy and windy and too late that day to snorkel and we would probably not get the island time that I was hoping for either because of the construction. I was upset that we even came as it seemed like it would be for nothing!
The next morning on the net, we found out that Rendezvous Cay was private and they were now building a resort there and North Long Coca Cay was also having dredging done to fill the interior with sand and it too would be a resort. Well, we thought, now we won’t be able to do what we had hoped but at least we would go for a snorkel.
Rob wanted to go ashore at Rendezvous Cay anyway, so before going snorkeling we went over to check it out. When we got there, it was indeed under construction and we saw two guys raking the very long wide beach area. They said it was OK to come ashore. As we wandered and saw where they had made retaining walls to extend the land mass of the island, we were met by another worker who asked if we would like to see one of the villa’s being built on the property. We were excited to go in and look at this beautiful place. It has two “Master” bedrooms and baths, a small kitchen and a living area that opens to a small infinity pool overlooking the open water. It is about three weeks from being finished and it looks first class all the way. Very luxurious with wonderful materials in the building of it. There will be several such villa’s available on the island. Eventually there will also be a hotel like accommodation and a small docking area, primarily for the boats to work out of the island for diving or transport to the mainland. It is located in a very convenient area where one can get from island to island or to the reef or even the Glover’s Reef atoll by fast boat in a very short time. Abundant snorkeling and diving are within sight of the location. The island is full of mostly palm tree vegetation and lots of white sand. Of course the place is not at all ready for visitors but they are making progress. I guess it is owned by the same Canadian and Italian guys who are owners of the hotel where they are trying to build the casino and the ones who want to put in the international airport here in Placencia.
We were so happy to be able to see the resort. (Check out Rendezvous Island, Belize on the internet, you might find something on it.) Before we left, the guy who had taken us in the house and answered some questions asked if he could buy some Coca Cola from us if they came out on the boat. He said they would be going fishing that afternoon as though they had food, they had no meat and they would like the cokes for dinner. There were 4 guys on the island and it seemed such a lonely Easter for them. Nancy and I talked and both being of like mind in ways of hospitality, we got the agreement of our fellas and asked the 4 workers if they would like to join us for an Easter meal at mid afternoon. They happily accepted though one had to stay on the island to guard it.
We had a great snorkel after that and Rob and I took a turn around North Long Cocoa in the dinghy before returning to the boat and starting to get things ready.
The three guys came out just on time paddling on a small Sunfish sail boat without the sails. I don’t know how they made the mile trip. If we had known, we could have come to get them. At any rate, they made it and brought their contribution. They brought a bucket of green coconut cut so that they could easily be tapped for the water and the jelly like interior of coconut. They had been rendering pork skin when we were on the island and so they brought that fried crisp pork skin as well.
We had a wonderful time visiting and finding out about the three of them and the island and what is going on there. They live on the island for a month and then go home for 2 weeks. They do have refrigeration and TV and DVD’s on shore but otherwise they just rake the sand and plant and take care of the trees on the island and fish. They are paid about $17.50 U.S. per day. I would guess that their room and board are taken care of. The longer haired older guy, age 33 and single, did all the talking for the other two. He was quite articulate and full of information. One of the other guys was 23 and the youngest was only 16 years old. The one left behind on the island was the oldest and supervisor of the 4.
We learned some things about the economy, some of the big names in Belize business and industry and some things about the people and regions of Belize. It was clear they had a strong connection to Belize and pride in it’s people and what it had to offer. One of the things we learned is that North Long Cocoa is owned by the same Usher family that has Merisol resort on Glover. When we were there, we had heard about an island he was developing as a fishing camp so maybe this is the one. As we drove around the Usher island, one end of the island has a shelter to sit and enjoy the water and the view. Our two boats were just beyond that. The water goes from very deep and dark blue to shallow and sparkling greens of so many shades. I had to take a picture.
For dinner, we served pork tenderloin with a red wine/cherry sauce, Nancy’s sweet potato casserole with lots of butter, coconut rum and pecans on top, Cuscus and tossed salad. We had a Sara Lee Cherry Cheese cake for desert that Nancy picked up while doing land travel. We added some dark chocolate candies.
They guys enjoyed the meal even though they had never seen Cuscus or tasted cherries. Since Nancy and I had no Easter Baskets to fill this year, we sent them back with a complete meal including a beer for the guy who stayed behind plus Nancy made some mac and cheese and put in some canned hams and I made fresh cinnamon rolls, half went to them and Nancy and Steve and we got the rest. I also sent a can of chicken to add to the Spaghetti sauce and pasta that I sent with them. I also sent a loaf of home made bread. They said that their DVD’s were getting boring since they watched them so many times so we gave them the ones we had already watched (minus the chick flicks) plus the TV shows we had already finished watching. It was probably at least 40 hours of programming. That evening we noticed their light was on pretty late. Nancy and Steve stayed and we watched a couple of movies so we were all enjoying movie night.
I was getting more windy and choppy as they left and they were now loaded down with all the food so two of the guys got in Steve’s boat with the food and the last guy got in with Rob and they towed the “sail boat” back to the island before dark.
While we were invited to go visit to their main land homes, we knew that it would never be possible but it was nice to be invited. We are unlikely to see these three again but sharing this day was very meaningful for us all. Many times in our boating life, something like this has happened and it makes it the most special of moments and the most lasting memory. Sharing that day with strangers was not anticipated (in fact we had planned to return to Placencia that day) but it was the best thing that could have happened.
Tomorrow morning, Steve, Rob, and I will drive with another Manta owner who lives here to go check out of Belize. Though it would be faster to go by ferry, he is driving the hour long way by car and in the long run, it will be less expensive. I want to go just to see some of the country side. Then Wednesday we leave to spend the night outside the Rio Dulce river and Thursday morning we will check in to Livingston, Guatemala. Nancy said that she is already getting our accommodations on their boat ready for us by cleaning out drawers, etc. A week from today, they will leave for Antigua inland for about 5 days and we will start to get our boat ready in earnest.
We are looking forward to connecting with a friend, Chris, who was a single hander when we met him our first year of cruising in 2003. He is now with Kelli who we met two years ago. They are starting a business up the Rio and he has been very helpful. We hope to spend as much time as possible with them and anticipate more when we return in December. It is nice to have someone we respect and trust who knows what is going on and can give us good advice.
Hope you had a wonderful day yesterday to relax and enjoy the people you love or become friends with people you didn’t know before. Will probably write next once we get settled up the Rio! So many plans! Wonder how they will turn out?