Monday, October 31, 2016

10-31-2016 Halloween Parties

This Halloween we attended a few different parties at bars/restaurants that were all within walking distance of each other. Many of our friends were doing the same, and we had a great time.

Our friend, Janet, as Abby from NCIS

Oli offering free mammograms, and Emma the bike mechanic (appropriate since she rents
motorcycles here)

It's also appropriate that Kelli here is a dog since she runs the local Humane Society

Probably not quite the mammogram Oli was hoping for!

Dorla and Sheik Lea

Cara (in her anti-costume), Marcia (who was trying to be a happy clown, but still looked a little scary to most), and Zombie
Janette (she won for scariest costume)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

10-30-2016 Culture Sunday

We started at Luba Laruga for our Sunday beach walk.

We split lunch at Luba Laruga - Eric had the grilled chicken, and Cara ate the steamed veggies
and garlic potatoes. It was delicious as always!

It was a beautiful day, and lots of people were out enjoying the water at the nearby public pier. We ran into friends here, and
we ended up staying put and never moving on in our beach walk - that's how things go sometimes.  :)

That evening was the first Culture Sunday for October and November. It was started last year by our friends' band, and we
were happy to see it again this year.

Culture Sunday means live music and dancing by local performers, which we love.

It takes place at the main junction in Hopkins, which is called Maude Park, and is right by the bus stop.

Loads of people came out for the event, including lots of our friends, and everyone had a great time!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

10-29-2016 Hopkins Park Fest

This beautiful Saturday was the first ever Hopkins Park Fest, which was a fundraiser for the local school. It lasted all day and
well into the evening, and it was a lovely event. There was a nice variety of food and drink vendors, as well as clothing
vendors and games for the kids.

Face painting was a very popular booth!

In addition to face painting, there was a photo booth, which was also popular.

People arrived on foot, by car or motorbike, and even on horses.

The event was held at the park in front of the school, so there was a nice playground for the children.

And, of course, who doesn't love a trampoline?!

The trampoline was another super popular fundraiser.

There were performers and DJs throughout the day, and in the evening
Paranda Blues played.

Paranda Blues also had some special guest performances. We enjoyed listening for a while, but we had been at the event all
day long (in the hot sun), so we were tired and didn't stay too late.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

10-27-2016 Hopkins Inn Cabanas Open House

Not long ago our friends Will and Leslie took over Hopkins Inn Cabanas, and they have done some recent
improvements. So, they decided to host an open house to introduce the community to what they have to offer.

It was a great idea and a very nice event.

This is an example of one of their cute and comfortable cabanas. A couple of smaller ones are $69/night US,
and the two larger ones (one with two beds) are $99/night US.

There was a good turnout and everyone enjoyed touring the cabanas and mingling over cocktails.

10-27-2016 Belize Anti-Oil Meeting

Unfortunately, Belize's past does involve oil drilling, and even offshore oil rigs, though those are all apparently capped now. However, in recent years the public has become more informed about the issue and the people are resoundingly against more oil exploration/exploitation, especially offshore where Belize is home to the largest living coral reef. The barrier reef is a World Heritage Site, but, unfortunately, that doesn't mean it or the nearby waters are truly safe from more oil drilling.

To give a better idea of what is going on, ONLY the areas outlined in red are protected from oil prospecting. However, any oil
exploration in the other areas (the vast majority of Belize's waters) WILL affect the protected areas as well. As one person at
the meeting said, "Having designated oil exploration areas in the sea is like having designated peeing areas in the pool".
 Hahaha - love that analogy!!! (Photo credit to Oceana Belize)

So, what happened recently that has caused an uproar in Belize, is that the government allowed two ships (owned by TGS, who sells their data to oil companies) to enter Belizean waters and do seismic airgun blasting. No Environmental Impact Assessment was done before they allowed this (there is supposed to be one), and the relevant agencies were not notified of the testing before it started. In addition, the only reason for this seismic testing is to explore for oil deposits, and the people have voted against this, and a moratorium is in place. Thankfully a huge public outcry forced the Prime Minister to send the ships away. But, that doesn't mean it's over.

In the morning Windschief Bar hosted a public meeting about the oil exploration issue. There were presenters from Oceana
 (website), World Wildlife Fund of Belize (website), and the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and

There was a decent turnout, though it would have been nice to see more local tour operators present. Probably because it was
a relatively last-minute meeting it was hard to get the word out to everyone.

Here is a nice documentary about how humans have changed and continue to change the world of underwater sounds, and the impact this has on the aquatic wildlife:

Here is another video about seismic airgun blasting. It's from more than a year ago, and it talks about it being done along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, saying it was delayed. Our understanding is that the seismic airgun blasting is already done now in that area, and those same ships that did it in the US are the ones that came down to Belize and got turned away.

If you really want to delve into the story of oil in Belize, take a look at this detailed report called Too Precious To Drill: The Marine Biodiversity Of Belize.

Whether because of fishing or tourism-related jobs, more than half the population of Belize's livelihood is directly dependent on the barrier reef and surrounding waters. Tourism is the major job industry in Belize, and people come from all over the world because of the pristine beauty here, so it's not just a Belizean issue. It is imperative that we help keep this unique ecosystem intact. If you want to help protect this jewel of Belize, here are some things you can do:

Send a letter of protest to Dean Barrow, the Prime Minister of Belize, through the WWF's website:

Send a letter protesting any further oil exploration directly to Prime Minister Dean Barrow at:
Office of the Prime Minister
Sir Edney Cain Building
Belmopan, Belize, C.A.

Send a letter protesting any further oil exploration to any or all of the following people:

Hon. Gaspar Vega
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, The Environment & Sustainable Development
West Block Building, 2nd Floor
Independence Plaza
Belmopan, Belize, C.A.

Hon. Omar Figueroa
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, The Environment & Sustainable Development
West Block Building, 2nd Floor
Independence Plaza
Belmopan, Belize, C.A.

Hon. Godwin Hulse
Minister of Natural Resources and Immigration
Queen Elizabeth Blvd.
Belmopan, Belize, C.A.

Hon. Jose Manuel Heredia Jr.
Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation
106 South Street
Belize City, Belize, C.A.

Hon. Erwin Contreras
Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce
Ground Floor, Right Wing, Sir Edney Cain Building
Belmopan, Belize, C.A.

Also, spread the word on social media. If you are on Facebook, "Like" Oceana Belize, WWF Belize Saving Our Shared Heritage, Say NO To Offshore Oil In Belize, and Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy, and share their posts about this issue.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

10-16-2016 Sunday Beach Walk

Sunday is often a nice day for a beach walk, and Luba Laruga is usually our first stop.
(By the way, according to the owner, Shannon, Luba Laruga means "before sunset" in Garifuna.)

Luba Laruga is a beautiful spot on the beach with great food and good vibes, and the owner is our friend.

Plus, you never know when you will run into some impromptu drumming - bonus!

The free ranging chickens enjoy the beach as much as we do.

Along the way we heard more drumming at Swinging Armadillo, so we had to pop in. A couple of tourists were getting a
private drumming/cultural lesson. The dancers, seated at the right, were taking a break at this point.

Next stop - Queen Bean...

Queen Bean is another nice beachfront restaurant with good food and great views.

Next stop - Laruni Hati, another nice place where we got a small snack and enjoyed the nice day.

Final stop - Driftwood Beach Bar & Pizza Shack, where we had the free entertainment of watching people try to help a guy
get unstuck from the deep sand. Many people gathered and helped dig, put wood planks under the tires, and jack up the
vehicle. Eventually the black truck to the left got a tow strap and was able to pull the stuck vehicle free.