Thursday, August 20, 2020

8-20-2020 Covid-19 Update for Belize

During the first wave Belize went on super hard lock down and limited the number of cases to 18. Sadly, since lifting the restrictions for July, the virus has begun to explode here in Belize. Here are the recent numbers:

July 31, 2020.      confirmed 48.     active 16
August 1, 2020.   confirmed 56.     active 24
August 2, 2020.   confirmed 57.     active 25
August 4, 2020.   confirmed 72.     active 39
August 5, 2020.   confirmed 86.     active 53
August 6, 2020.   confirmed 114.   active 80
August 7, 2020.   confirmed 146.   active 112
August 8, 2020.   confirmed 153.   active 119
August 9, 2020.   confirmed 154.   active 120
August 10, 2020  confirmed 177.   active 143
August 11, 2020. confirmed 210.   active 176
August 12, 2020. confirmed 296.   active 262
August 13, 2020. confirmed 356.   active 322
August 14. 2020  confirmed 388.   active 350
August 15, 2020  confirmed 452.   active 414
August 17, 2020  confirmed 475.   active 433
August 18, 2020  confirmed 553.   active 511

Here is another interesting info-graphic that the government released about the distribution of cases by age and gender:

So, as of Tuesday, we now have 511 active (533 confirmed) cases of Covid-19
in Belize. However, with 451 under investigation, we are sure to turn up more
cases. Thankfully, there are still no known cases in our village. Update: one
more person died yesterday, so that gives us 510 active cases and 5 deaths. 

So, we are once again in a State of Emergency (through the end of the month, unless they extend it, which is highly likely). The restrictions aren't quite as strict as the first time, but a lot of businesses are closed again, and we are back to 8 pm curfew during the week (Sunday through Thursday) and 10 pm curfew on Friday and Saturday.  Also, the reopening of the international airport has been pushed back. This time most people seem to be taking things a lot more seriously - they are wearing masks and properly socially distancing when they do venture out of the house.

Also, if you want really up-to-date info on the coronavirus here in Belize, you can check out the government's new Covid-19 website/app.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

8-2 to 8-9-2020 Glover's Reef Wedding Trip

Our friends Jon and Shelly were supposed to get married in Hopkins around Easter time, but they had to postpone it because of the pandemic. They couldn't wait until things got back to normal and family could travel here for the wedding, so they changed their plans and decided to go head and get married on the island where they first fell in love. Lots of people just went for two nights, but we decided to stay the week (like Jon and Shelly) since we would already be out there.

The morning we left it started off pouring down rain, and everyone was a little worried. But then it
cleared up and a swarm of dragonflies came out. That seemed like a good sign.

Some people took smaller boats (skiffs), but we took the big catamaran that the island resort owns and
uses to transport guests. It was loaded FULL of people and supplies.

The island we headed to is NE Caye in Glover's Atoll (aka Glover's Reef). At atoll is a ring shaped
coral reef surrounding a somewhat protected lagoon. Glover's Atoll has several islands in the ring.

To get to Glover's Atoll you have to pass through the main barrier reef of Belize. Out here the water is
a beautiful deep blue.

NE Caye is a private island that is home to Glover's Atoll Resort, and it is about 35 miles out to sea.
The main building you see here is the restaurant where there is very limited WiFi, though we never
used it. And, yes, that is a stranded boat on the right that has been abandoned there for at least a couple
of years.

Over-the-water cabins - that first one looks a little lopsided, but it feels sturdy inside and is still rented.

This island and resort is owned by the family of some other friends (and former neighbors when we
did some house-sitting one summer in Hopkins).

The dock to cabins 4 (to the left) and 5 (straight ahead).

Cabin #4 was our home for the week. I think we were lucky to get this one because it had a full
wraparound deck, and you could always find sun or shade as needed.

A view of some other over-the-water cabins from our deck.

The view from our bed. We generally kept all the doors open to catch a nice breeze.

The view from one set of doors.

Our view from another set of doors.

One side of our deck with a nice hammock.

Our view from the back set of doors showing another nice hammock. You can also see our solar panel
sitting out there charging an external battery we used to charge our phones. There is no electricity in the
cabins, so this is what we had to use.

The interior of our cabin. (Pardon the mess - we kind of exploded on the place when we unpacked.) The
hammock inside is where I, Cara, often read books. On the far side of the cabin is a counter that had a
propane-fueled stove. Dishes, pots & pans, etc. were also provided, as well as plastic bins for washing
up (using sea water since there is also no running water in the cabins).

Night view - it was a full moon, which was perfect for the wedding.

Preparations for the pig roast. Jon's family is Filipino, so they were going to have a traditional Filipino
pig roast and Filipino dishes for the post-wedding meal.

A view of the outer ring of reef by the island. 

This bird liked to fish from our dock.

It was a beautiful day for the wedding - warm and sunny, with a slight breeze.

Cabin #9, where the bride and groom stayed. They chose it for this long dock
that Shelly would walk down to the beach.

Setting up for the wedding - simply stunning!

Jon and his groomsmen - the guy just to the right of Jon is Warren, and it's his family that owns the
island and resort.

Flower girls

Ring bearer

Pam, the only bridesmaid that could make it because she lives in Belize.
(Shelly's sister is stuck in New Zealand, and two of her friends could not
come down from the States because of travel restrictions.)

Shelly and her mother, Karen, walking down the dock.

Shelly's mother had come to Belize in March for the wedding, then decided
to stay once the  pandemic hit. Shelly's father could not make it here, so her
mother walked her down the aisle.

The Justice of the Peace had good words for the couple, and Shelly and
Jonathan both wrote beautiful vows .

The happy newlyweds.

Signing the legal papers...

Pam made the wedding cake, and Cara actually helped her decorate it.

Cutting the cake.

It was a lovely ceremony and a beautiful night.

Basically everyone left the next day to return to Hopkins.

We were happy to be staying the week to relax and enjoy the island.

A (friendly) nurse shark - we saw several of these in the waters around the cabanas. One day Eric and
I went snorkeling with Shelly in the channel between our island and the next one, and we saw a white-
spotted eagle ray, a favorite. Eric got separated from us and saw an octopus. Shelly and I got charged
by a reef shark (or possibly a bull shark). Shelly later laughed that after pointing out the shark she
instinctively pulled me in front of her. We clapped our hands and otherwise tried to scare away the
shark (not sure what you're really supposed to do), but I was ready to punch that sucker in the nose if it
came that close. Thankfully, it turned back when it was a few feet away. We hastily swam for shore and
kept looking back behind us. We saw the shark again in front of us because it apparently circled around
to check us out again. Happily, it did not come closer and we made it safely to shore.

A stingray that also liked to hang out in the waters by the cabanas. The waves in the water made it
hard to come out clearly in photos. One night we had another experience that did not photograph well.
All around our cabana were hundreds of bio-luminescent jellyfish that glowed blue in the water. It 
reminded us one one of those lantern festivals with lights floating all around us. It was an amazing sight
 to behold. 

The island had TONS of hermit crabs ranging from tiny to huge. This is one of the larger ones we saw.
The coconut in the background is for scale.

A few other friends stayed to fish a lot to make some money on their return to Hopkins. They caught
loads of fish, crabs and lobsters. One day we had a cookout with stuff they caught.

The island is beautiful, and this conch shell lined path goes all around it.

One of two outdoor showers.

Conch shells a plenty!

Later in the week the winds really picked up. You can tell by the size of the waves over the reef.

One of our many lizard roommates.

We also had a crab visit our cabana one day.

I know, you've seen this view before, but it's just so beautiful and peaceful!

Sunrise on our last morning at the caye.

Alas, it was time to head back to the mainland and reality.

When we returned to Hopkins we learned that there had been a spike in Covid-19 cases, and we are once again in a State of Emergency. Back to curfews and self-isolation. Ah, well, our month of relative freedom was nice while it lasted, and it was good our friends finally got to have their wedding.