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A weekend trip review to the island of Roatan, Honduras!

Remaxvipbelize : Island nature

Dave, Chris, Sonia, and I went to Roatan, Honduras over the weekend–the goal being to add another country to our of our lists as none of us have been there, and to compare it to Placencia, as it has a lot of the same features.

Remaxvipbelize: Weekend trip review to the island

Honduras gets a bit of a bad rap online as being very dangerous; the highest murder rate in the world. We did not go to the mainland for this reason; we heard enough reviews from other travelers that unless you go with someone who knows what they are doing, you might want to stick to Roatan. I can’t speak for the mainland (although I have heard it is quite inexpensive but a lot of poverty) and we will go at some point-but we only had a quick weekend so there wasn’t time for all of it.

It is a bit hard to travel around Central America in that your options are, rent a car and drive where there can be stops/roadblocks that you can’t always know to be legit (and you shouldn’t really drive at night anywhere due to road conditions and safety, take a rickety bus that is not for the faint of heart, or fly on the puddle jumpers, which is pricey. There are ferry options but when you get to the mainland you still have to find a way to the main cities which can take a full day in some cases. You need to have an abundance of time, energy, patience, and a sense of adventure for most options–we chose to fly this time for time’s sake 🙂

We flew on Tropic Air Friday afternoon to Roatan, and it was gorgeous as you fly in–it is hilly, green, and has beautiful turquoise water. The airport looked first world, few crowds due to low season right now. We got right in a cab and went to West End–there are many neighborhoods and over 100,000 people on the island alone (that is almost 1/3 the population of Belize!) on an approximately 25 mile island (about 1-2 miles wide). West End is the most touristy section–safe, you can walk to everything, a lot of fun to be had. Our main concern was being able to walk to the beach and to the fun downtown area, and I would recommend this neighborhood for that. West Bay is close by and also has a walkable area, but not as big. It has resorts higher up in the hills so the views are great, but a lot more hill walking.

**Please note, some of the pictures I used I had to snatch from google because some of my pictures didn’t turn out, but they were images that represented reality 🙂 )

How it looks as you fly in:
Remaxvipbelize: Beautiful Island Nature

We stayed at Sunset Villas, it was very nice and reasonably priced–two king sized bedrooms, two bathrooms, in a nice condo unit with a view of the pool and sea.

Our room view:
Remaxvipbelize: Our Room View

We all felt that the downtown area was really fun, very festive, beach-town, everything right on the shore. It has a slightly more developed feel than Placencia, more chains, everything was in English (Honduras is Spanish speaking on the mainland but Roatan was run by the English at one point, and the Kriol English stuck). I think we were expecting it to be more rustic and more exotic or Spanish feeling than Placencia, when it was far more tourist-centered. In Placencia, everyone hangs out together, there are not really tourist parts and local parts (it is a lot smaller-but gives you a more authentic feel as well). We felt safe the entire time and there were all ages hanging out together, and we explored the entire island. I cannot imagine feeling unsafe at any part of the island, we even drove right through many small towns and villages where we were told were maybe a bit rougher. One other comparison is that Roatan is thick with greenery and Northern-looking trees–in Placencia you see water, beach, and palm trees everywhere you look. Roatan had more oak and pine trees (at least that is what they looked like to me!), less water views than Placencia, less palm trees. Here are a few pictures of Sunset Villas and mains street in West End:

remaxvipbelize: West End Village
Remaxvipbelize: Village Road View
Remaxvipbelize: Festive, beach-town

We swam in Half Moon Bay Beach–very clean water, no waves, in a bay (hence the name), great views of the hills around. It looks and feels very exotic, Central American/Caribbean. Placencia’s beach by comparison is much bigger/wider, we do have more sea grass problems, but we also have relatively big waves for the Caribbean, which I prefer, but everyone has their preference:

Remaxvipbelize: Half Moon Bay Beach
Remaxvipbelize: Half Moon Bay Beach clean water and no waves
On Saturday, we rented a car for $50 us for the day, and spent the day touring the island. I highly recommend this–renting bikes was impossible to find, and I can see why–between the hills and the fact that there are no sidewalks, it would be dangerous to bike. You can see the whole island if you rent a car, and as long as you can tolerate skinny roads with a lot of turns, most anyone can handle it. There are only a few main roads and you can’t get lost. 

We went to the Iguana Sanctuary, which was SO MUCH more fun than it may sound :). You walk in and a great group of people, Susan and Sherman being two of them, will tell you anything you want to know about iguanas, monkeys, fish, lobsters, boats, etc. We were able to feed the iguanas, and as you can see from the pictures, it was scary and freakish to have hundreds of dinosaur looking creatures, stepping all over each other to get at you and your leaves:
Remaxvipbelize: Iguana Sanctuary
Remaxvipbelize: Dinosaur looking creatures in belize
Remaxvipbelize: Freakish to have hundreds of dinosaur
Remaxvipbelize.: Welcome to the Famous Archs Iguana & Marine Park
They have a few adorable monkeys that you can touch–and they will steal your sunglasses if you are not careful–this guy was ready to reach and steal—
Remaxvipbelize: Adorable monkeys
Too cute 🙂
Remaxvipbelize: too cute monkeys
There is a growing lobster nursery and a tarpin fish cage, which Dave and Chris ended up getting in!! I would NOT get in here:
Remaxvipbelize: Tarpin fish cage
But they did:
Remaxvipbelize: Tarpin fish cage, which Dave and Chris
It was a really fun way to spend a couple hours. Sherman also explained that they reason you see so many “shipwrecked” boats–like this–
Remaxvipbelize: shipwrecked boats
Is because they attract fish and lobsters. It is a pretty cool feature of the island, and while we didn’t get out and snorkel too much, this would be a great vacation activity there. 
The next day, we went to see the Red Mangroves on a boat tour–this was very worthwhile. You will feel like your canoe boat will not make it through the mangroves—like this—
Remaxvipbelize: Red Mangroves on a boat tour
The mangroves are impossibly tangled!
Remaxvipbelize: Red Mangroves
And while we didn’t see much wildlife, this is always possible in the mangroves. We were able to swing from a rope in the trees, and swim in the gorgeous bay:
Remaxvipbelize: Swing from a rope in the trees
Sonia and Chris not having any fun:)
Remaxvipbelize: Sonia and Chris not having any fun
Random Honduran fisherman that you see often:
Remaxvipbelize: Random Honduran fisherman
We ended this day at a place called the Hole in the Wall, which is a true hole in the wall. For $25 you can get all you can eat lobster tail….and we ate all of the lobster tails 🙂 This was a fun adventure, make sure you ask about the spooky story about the house behind the bar…
Remaxvipbelize: Hole in the Wall
We also spent a lot of time at a bar called Sundowners, which is a very well known bar for good reason in West End. It is without a doubt, the prototype for all tiki beach bars; if you are into this kind of thing, and I am, this was the beach bar of my dreams. The setting, chairs, cheap drink prices, fun crowd, great guitarist, beach bonfire, everything about it was perfect. Touristy or not–I don’t think you could help but love it here. We went twice and would have gone again!
Remaxvipbelize: Sundowners
Remaxvipbelize: Tiki beach bars
Sunset at Sundowners…
Remaxvipbelize: Sunset at Sundowners
Overall, we wished we had more time, with a couple extra days, we would have taken the ferry to La Ceiba and then made our way to San Pedro Sula. Taking the ferry and renting a car would have been much more economical than flying. 

Roatan is awesome and well worth a trip. A comparison if you are trying to decide between Belize and Roatan–a trip to the mainland in Honduras may only be for the truly adventurous, while in Belize you can experience many facets of vacation in one trip–jungle, ocean, water sports, Mayan ruins. In Roatan, you can do all this as well, but you are on an island. If you are a hard core snorkeler and are happy with a small area with a great tourist vibe, tons of energy, you would like Roatan. Belize is more laid back and rustic, more local flavor, Belize has no chains and maintains a charm that can’t be bought or built. The charm you find in built up beach areas definitely has its place, and Roatan was more exotic than Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head for sure 🙂 You will know you are in a Central American/Caribbean atmosphere, but just less of the local authenticity in Placencia. Both places are fantastic for their own reasons!
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Some Eye Candy pictures of Placencia :)

Remaxvipbelize: A beautiful place to have breakfast

Sometimes pictures are just better than words. The weather was great this past week, the sargassum FINALLY is going away, there were some spectacular sunrises, so here is some great beach eye candy–especially for those in parts of the world where cold nights and sweaters are becoming normal again :(!

A beautiful place to have breakfast, happy hour, or drinks…Singing Sands up in Maya Beach…the aesthetics here are really something and worth a trip for one day!
Remaxvipbelize: A beautiful place to have breakfast
Remaxvipbelize: Belize  beautiful place
Remaxvipbelize: Belize beautiful pool side
Remaxvipbelize: Belize beautiful Sitting area
Remaxvipbelize: Belize beautiful Sitting area to breakfast
Some gorgeous sunrise and sunset pictures from the last week….
Remaxvipbelize: sunset View
Remaxvipbelize: sunset View
Remaxvipbelize: sunrise View
Remaxvipbelize: gorgeous sunrise and sunset
Remaxvipbelize: gorgeous sunrise and sunset
Some shots from the Belize Ocean Club Pool party Sundays….
Remaxvipbelize: Belize Ocean Club Pool party S
Remaxvipbelize: Belize Ocean Club outside nature
Remaxvipbelize: Belize Ocean Club outside nature
Remaxvipbelize: Belize Beach Bar
A shot from the bar at Barefoot Beach Bar….
Remaxvipbelize: Barefoot Beach Bar
 Some lovely flowers growing in rainy season….
Remaxvipbelize; Flowers growing in rainy season
 More eye candy of the Maya mountains over the lagoon side…..
Remaxvipbelize: Maya mountains

Our visitors have all said, the pictures don’t do it justice. I will try my best to capture how truly pretty is is down here, but come see for yourself!!!

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Crime in Belize & Other Things People Worry About

Remaxvipbelize: Belize Hotel View

Now that we are booking guests, I am seeing the concerns and questions people have about coming down to the Caribbean. (Such as Crime in Belize) This is going to read more like a book report and not so much for entertainment, but still was an important blog post I have been wanting to write 🙂

The most common concerns are:

Is there a lot of crime in Belize?

Are the bugs bad?

Are the critters in general bad?

Can I get good wifi?

Are there a lot of power outages?

How bad is rainy season/is there a chance of a hurricane?

I did about a year of research on Belize before moving here, then asked a thousand questions to expats who lived here, and then have lived here pretty much since February. This is not a lifetime of research but a decent sample size 🙂

Crime in Belize — How safe is Belize?

Belize is sometimes shown as ranked #6 in the world for unsafe countries. This number is truly disproportionate. Belize’s murder rate is 44 out of 100,000. BUT as is widely claimed most of these murders (up to 60%) are in Belize City, southern, where the gang violence happens in a small pocket. Crime rates are rather hard to find, but here is some actual evidence for crime:

Remaxvipbelize.: Crime in Belize List

Let’s look at where I live, Placencia. Placencia is in the Stann Creek District. This is the 2nd largest district. There are about 35,000 residents but that doesn’t include people like me, here on a (long term) tourist visa, OR the number of the 300,000 visitors that come to Belize every year. (not including the 700,000 cruise ship passengers.)

The murder rate is 17/100,000 for my district (6 murders in a population of 35,000). This means, if you ONLY count ACTUAL residents,  for the whole year, for the WHOLE DISTRICT. Again, this isn’t counting the fact that the population swells during high season, or the people like me, who essentially live here.

THIS FACT MEANS——-this rate is about the same as visiting Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or Cincinnati, Ohio. When is the last time someone said, I can’t visit Milwaukee, the crime rate is just too high??? And please check out the rates of rape and robbery. If we compare it to a city I picked randomly, Cincinnati, the rate of rape is 11/100,000 in Stann Creek vs Cincinnati’s rate of 63/100,000. Robbery–Stann Creek-57/100,000….Cincinnati-582/100,000!! And the population of Cincinnati is not thrown off by huge tourism swells or long term expats. The rates would be even lower if you included these populations, but that would be pretty complicated.

Robbery denotes theft by force. There are non violent thefts here, and if you leave your stuff out in a third world country, where people don’t have much, yes, your stuff will be taken. I have had one thing taken in my time here, which was a case of empty beer bottles that were left out to be recycled. My friend that visited left a ping pong game out on his veranda which was taken. You certainly want to be aware of where your stuff is, and hide it away. I have heard that it is common knowledge here, that if you leave something out, you must not care too much about it, which makes it fair game. Good to know 🙂

Remaxvipbelize: Robbery

Anyplace will feel safe to you, until something happens, of course. But I cringe when people hear a crime report and say, well take that place off the list, too dangerous! It is healthy to be suspicious and overly cautious when in a new place (in my opinion 🙂 ) Look at your own home town statistics–because you know the town, it feels safe. But burglaries, rapes, etc are happening there the same as here. Most people DO tend to be more cautious on vacations, and Belize has areas in every city where there are tourists walking around everywhere, lights, and a feeling of safety. I wouldn’t walk the streets at night, alone, ANYWHERE, or flash a bunch of cash anywhere, or leave my cell phone out in plain view when I am not near, and I use those same rules here. THE VAST MAJORITY of travelers anywhere–have a good experience and are not victims of crime. The tiny percentage that do have a problem, are publicized to the max, and unfortunate people use this as an excuse to not have any adventures in their life outside of Myrtle Beach or Disney World (and crime happens there too!!!). This is not recommended 🙂

Remaxvipbelize: Myrtle Beach or Disney Worl

Are the bugs bad? Critters in general?

I HATE bugs. I hate getting bit, and if I feel something brush against me I freak out. With that said, the bugs down here are not THAT bad. The ants are a problem. You will see ants every day down here, and worse if you don’t treat for them, or you leave any food out.

Remaxvipbelize: HATE bugs

The mosquitos have not been a problem except for very recently, because it is called “mauger season” where the wind really dies down. Because of the constant awesome breeze off the Caribbean, it keeps the bugs at bay, except for a small portion of the year. Wear some DEET an move on 🙂

Remaxvipbelize: mauger season

Sand fleas-I have had three times since February where I felt sufficiently attacked by sand fleas to be really sad about it. All three times, I was out after a rain, at dusk, and I was sitting on the ground or in the sand. It left about 50-100 bites on my legs that made me miserable for about 2 days and then they went away. They itch like hell. If you have no self control, like me, you will turn them into scabs and be sorry you did it. I got smart and use anti itch cream now, and I am careful to put baby oil on my legs at high risk times.

Remaxvipbelize: Mosquitoes Bites

Other bugs–I see bees and other large flying insects but they seem to not care that much about me. I have heard of people getting bit by Bot or Botless flies, which are pretty gross. They can swell up and be itchy. There are a lot of geckos around, which just don’t bother me, they don’t want anything to do with people and they eat insects.

Remaxvipbelize: Other bugs

I will admit–since February, we have had one tarantula, one scorpion, and one small snake on the property (outside!!) There is also something large living in the tree above Dave’s truck that poops like a small child all over it. Occasionally Dave steps in a fire ant hill by his truck. We have dealt with termites here, they live everywhere, but this is not a concern of a guest, you will never see one, hear one, and they have no interest in eating humans. I have also seen a total of 5 cockroaches in our places. We treat for them so we only find them when they are dead. As gross as they are, they don’t want to eat us. They are just freakish with a bad reputation.

Remaxvipbelize: scorpion

To summarize, as a guest, unless you seek out a wildlife adventure, you are likely to see some regular old boring ants and maybe a gecko. If you see anything beyond that, remember that this will be a good story you can tell later, and nothing will hurt or kill you. Case closed.

Remaxvipbelize: Wildlife adventure

How are the wifi and power outages?

I have read countless complaints about both. I honestly am either lucky or only reading the complainers or outliers. The internet has been as good as at home, and the power has gone out a total of three times, for a total of about 15 minutes. *yawn*

How bad in rainy season/chance of hurricanes?

Rainy season I have heard can be pretty depressing. However, we are in rainy season now, and what I have experienced is a Cleveland summer. Frequent rain and clouds, but better than Cleveland, it rains hard and quick and then is over, not a dull, grey, drizzle all day. I’ll take rainy season any time over the weather in the Northern US. There is plenty of sunshine, very little temperature fluctuation, and the sun dries the rain up quickly. It doesn’t stop us from doing anything. As for hurricanes, it looks like Belize by history is susceptible to a big one about every 30 years. We are due in about 15 years. Go ahead and make those travel plans.

Remaxvipbelize: Rainy season any time over the weather in the Northern US

So what IS bad??

OK what IS bad is the stupid sea grass. It is flat out a pain in the butt. It has been one of the things I would say is worse than I expected. We are lucky (sarcasm.) enough to be experiencing Sargassum right now, which won’t leave, and it is flat out gross. (See my earlier post.) It is STILL HERE. It smells, it is dirty, it is ruining the shore, and you can’t even get in the water. You can’t even rake it because it will come right back. We hear it will be another week or two at least, and I heard a rumor that Placencia is bringing in a sea grass expert. I think where we are, in a slight bay, is getting it the worst on the whole peninsula (yay me!).

Another thing that was bad in early summer were the jellyfish. Because we are so close to the reef, when the tide is right, those little jerks float right over and invisibly enter your personal space. They can turn a pleasant swim into a blood curdling race for the shore. I hate them, Dave and I have both been stung. Dave mutiple times :(. Good news is, this isn’t Australia with box jellyfish that kill you, but it does suck to be stung.

Remaxvipbelize: Australia with box jellyfish

The heat–it is freaking awesome here between 4pm-10am. Awesome. Breezy, comfortable, pleasant, no air conditioning needed. However, on most days, between 10am-4pm, you feel as if your IQ has dropped 40 points and your energy level is that of an 80 year old. It is especially fun when you can’t get in a water because of the Sargassum, or the jellyfish chase you out. You just have to figure it out and we have lived with it; if you have a sense of humor and can plan your day accordingly, it is part of the fun.

I am sure someone living here will have feedback or thoughts and I would love to hear what I left out 🙂

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Placencia Reviews —Tiger restaurant, Humane Society and St. Georges Caye Day!

Remaxvipbelize: Miss Belize

This is more of a wrap up of some fun events over the last week, especially for people looking at a typical week in the life of an expat down here! Here’s some PlaceWe met a few friends last night at the new Tiger restaurant–it is the newest restaurant on the peninsula. It is just north of Seine Bight on the beachside. It is truly amazing from the moment you walk in. The atmosphere is extraordinary-check out these pictures…I was thinking about adjusting the colors, but that red hue is what it really feels like!

Remaxvipbelize: New Tiger restaurant
Remaxvipbelize: Newest restaurant on the peninsula
Remaxvipbelize: New Restaurant atmosphere is extraordinary
Remaxvipbelize: New Restaurant enjoying food with friends

Everything is open air–it feels like you are really somewhere exotic 🙂 I highly recommend the homemade mojitos–the Tiger one has a spicy kick and the ginger one was excellent, they cut the mint and peppers off of plants outside for each drink!

As a funny side note, when our friends arrived we noticed that 4 of the guys had on what must be the Placencia uniform–blue button down shirts? 🙂

Remaxvipbelize: Placencia uniform

Here is a picture of our group; for dinner, they offer a choice of three appetizers and then fish, chicken, or pork for your meal. The rice is served family style and is awesome–comes with a sauce to put over top, a side of exotic vegetables, and your main dish. Everything was great!

Remaxvipbelize: Picture of our group
 After a few mojitos:
Remaxvipbelize: After a few mojitos

Earlier this week, there was a celebration in the village for the battle of St. George’s Caye, which is a really fascinating story:’s_Caye

Our friend Faizal was kind enough to send me these pictures of the parade: (as a side note, Faizal and his family have a fantastic story you can read about here:

 Remaxvipbelize: Our friend Faizal
Remaxvipbelize: Belize National fire service
remaxvipbelize: Pictures of the parade
Remaxvipbelize: Miss Belize
Remaxvipbelize: Belize Cap
Remaxvipbelize: Placencia parade

And finally, the peninsula has a great presence in the Placencia Humane Society–like the Rotary club, this only exists because dedicated and passionate people give their time and money to help the animals down here, that suffer greatly without their help–they catch and spay/neuter stray cats, perform miraculous changes to the beach dogs, provide foster and adoptions, and so much more. I was lucky enough to be able to spend the day with them yesterday, at the monthly clinic. Here were some of my favorite stories from yesterday:

This sweet boy was adopted by a lovely family. You can’t see it very well but he is a bag of bones, a pit bull, who was left starving by somebody. He is unbelievably sweet and was giving everyone kisses despite his obvious malnutrition….I bet he will look much different after a few weeks in his new family’s care 🙂

Remaxvipbelize: Beach dogs
Remaxvipbelize: Dog adopted by a lovely family
This little guy came in and was such a character, and so was his owner :). This stud has apparently had dozens and dozens of pups…and he had really disproportionately large “organs” that just had to be seen to be believed 🙂 Here he is with me and Shannon; Shannon was so awesome all day with the animals 🙂
Remaxvipbelize: Dozens of pups

Here is Wiley and Ralph….Ralph was so huge and took over the room in no time 🙂 He was completely unaware of his size and was like a cartoon…

Remaxvipbelize: Wiley and Ralph

Here is the website for the Humane Society….donations are VERY VERY appreciated!

The next upcoming couple weeks will be more typical expat stories….but we are trying to put together a trip to Honduras shortly, so stay tuned 🙂

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Belize — 2nd fastest growing tourist destination in Caribbean by CBS!

Remaxvipbelize : Tourist destination in Caribbean

A great news week for Belize…last week Belize was ranked as the second fastest growing tourist destination in the Caribbean…

Then this week, CBS News ranked TWO cities in Belize as the best cities in invest in international real estate!!

I had a very eye opening moment when I posted these on facebook, in two large Belize expat groups. The group was less than excited about the articles; fact, most had quite a negative reaction! At first I thought, maybe Belize and other expat spots attract people who tend to see negatives, that is why they leave their home country. Or maybe living outside the US gets to you after a while and makes you get a bit jaded! But, it was neither–it was Cayo that was picked as a new expat hotspot, and the people who move to Cayo to NOT want this on the tourist/expat map, they do not want it to change, and are happy with it as is! The worry is, Belize is on the verge of blowing up into another Cancun.

This means, row after row of high rise resorts, lessoned character of the town, strip malls, chain restaurants, everything Disney-fied–where everything is sparkly clean, new, and also predictable. (ie, for some people, BORING/understimulating/not challenging/etc!) I have always disliked how whether you go to Jamaica, Cancun, Aruba, etc, you tend to stay at your all inclusive, and end up just seeing your beach and pool. You could be anywhere, and are not really experiencing a new culture, taking any sort of risk, or having any real adventure! (I realize this is just fine for some vacations as well, and I would enjoy this at times too!!)

A birds eye view of how Cancun’s peninsula looks:
Remaxvipbelize: Cancun's peninsula
vs how Placencia looks:
Remaxvipbelize: Placencia
And while sometimes you do want the predictable comfort of  high end resort, like this:
Remaxvipbelize: Belize predictable comfort of  high end resort
In Belize, this is more the scene 🙂
Remaxvipbelize: In Belize

There are barely any buildings over couple stories tall here, everyone hangs out together, it wouldn’t even be a trip to Belize if you didn’t spend time doing all of the activities in the village you are in. Just last night, it was Battle of St George’s Caye Day, and we went to Barefoot Bar to check out the celebration. It was packed, with great energy and a ton of fun. Tourists, expats, and locals all hang out together and everyone is so warm and friendly. You can walk around the village safely and not worry. The crime here is very, very low–of course in ANY country you can find stories of vacations gone wrong, but it is rare here. I can certainly see why Belize is popping up on everyone’s radar, and can personally say, that after building a small resort here, we are already over 50% booked through March-and we aren’t even technically open yet!

Now if we can just get rid of the Sargassum and get on with it!!
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Sargassum seaweed craziness on the beach + Review of Dragonfly Moon!

Remaxvipbelize: Bar Restaurant

It is getting pretty quiet on the peninsula right now. We knew coming in that September and October are really slow months, because the weather is typically at its worst, the breeze dies down, it gets muggy, bugs get worse, and a lot of restaurants and businesses take weeks to months long breaks this time of year. We have had a LOT of rain the last few days, and on top of that, something called Sargassum has taken over the Caribbean Sea! Shores all over the Caribbean, Florida, Texas, etc are getting hit with it, and we haven’t been spared.Sargassum is a sea grass that links itself together out in the Sea and is a barrier for turtles and other creatures. Because of increased temperatures in the Sea, a huge island of the stuff “broke free” and so islands and islands of the grossness are washing up on shores. It is messy, smelly, and I feel really badly for anyone coming here right now for their idyllic beach vacation :(. Thankfully, while it is really bad this year, it is temporary and doesn’t mean that some disaster is going on 🙂

Here is an interesting article about it from just north of us, in Ambergris Caye:

There are great pictures of it in that article, and here are some pictures that I debated sharing, because it is so bad 🙂 but I will, because it is fascinating!!

It is 30 feet out from the shore!
Remaxvipbelize: 30 feet out from the shore!
Remaxvipbelize : Beach-sargassum
 A close up of the grossness…
remaxvipbelize: Close up of the grossness
Remaxvipbelize: Islands of the grossness are washing up on shores
And a reminder of what the shores NORMALLY look like!!
Remaxvipbelize: Shores NORMALLY look like
Remaxvipbelize: Shores beautiful natture
In happier news, we finally went to dinner at Dragonfly Moon…this restaurant looks like it should be on Miami Beach; someone with a great eye designed it! Amy was our server and was wonderful.
Remaxvipbelize: Miami Beach
Remaxvipbelize: Dragonfly Moon
Remaxvipbelize: Bar Restaurant
 Our server Amy 🙂
Remaxvipbelize: Our server Amy
The food was fantastic! There is a page of Dim Sum–I think it means little food, and you can try plates of little buns and dumplings….
Remaxvipbelize: food was fantastic
The atmosphere and indoor bar are great too. I would definitely put this on the HIGHLY recommended list when you come! Especially after getting your fill of chicken and rice, this is such a refreshing change 🙂
Another new restaurant with exotic food has opened, called Tiger, and we will be reviewing that shortly 🙂
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What is it actually like to move to paradise, and leave your life behind?

Remaxvipbelize: Beach Nature view
 I think it has been long enough here to have some thoughts on this topic. We have lived here pretty much since February. I think about this topic every day so it was time to put the thoughts on paper!

Here’s what it is actually like to leave your life behind and move to paradise.

The best things about moving to an exotic place

1.) It feels SO GOOD to know that I can disconnect from cell phones/mail/an actual address and not freak out. I used to get so stressed even on vacations about what I was missing, what deadlines or bill pay dates I might be overlooking, what emails or calls were building up, etc. People say living somewhere is not like vacationing there–that is true!! It is better!! You are FORCED to give up a lot of connections to what seems important.
Remaxvipbelize :disconnect from cell phones

2.) It also feels GREAT to let go of stuff-this is an obvious answer but it is VERY true. I can now get around with just a few suitcases and I am really careful about buying anything that won’t fit in 350 square feet. I admit I do have a small storage closet at home but I don’t even know what I am missing in it. I got rid of my beloved car and house, I gave away many things that felt really important to me. I don’t miss anything!! I do need my cell phone, computer, and my dog, and maybe some clothes. Everything else I can really live without.

 Remaxvipbelize: More I need more!

3.) Not having that itch in the back of my head that I am wasting time or not doing something really cool with my time on the planet. Everyone’s goals and comfort levels are different; this dream of mine is not the dream for everyone. There are many discomforts involved as well–but for me, I dreamed about living on a beach since I was a teenager and spent a lot of time daydreaming about palm trees and warm weather. I always got mad this time of year that I was preparing to hibernate for yet another depressing winter. I would think at every milestone date that I wasn’t doing anything new or different, and my behaviors weren’t matching what I really wanted for myself. After my move to paradise, this feeling has dissipated 🙂

Remaxvipbelize: Beach side nature view

4.) I already mentioned this, and I don’t mean to be smug, but I HATE HATE HATE winter. This is the first time in my 37 years that I will not have impending doom this time of year that winter is coming and everything sucks. I used to get very upset when weather would ruin things because great days were few and far between. Now I don’t bat an eyelash!


5.) I have also gotten a feeling of confidence in overcoming all the objections that make a person NOT follow their dreams. I DID give up a lot to come here and I was really scared and insecure at times, but I did it anyway because I trusted my gut. It has made me better able to set boundaries and limits and say no, and be more bold and confident.

Remaxvipbelize: Feeling of confidence

6.) The international friends we have made down here, and the ability to walk down any night of the week to a beach bar and meet new people has been spectacular. I love people and new friends, and we have made some friendships already that make us feel at home. We had a barbecue before our last trip to Cleveland and nearly 20 people came, from all walks of life and all over the world, and I am able to think about and talk about things I didn’t even know I was interested in!

7.) Some randoms–the sound and smell of the beach everyday, wearing beach clothes and never having to dress up, being tan, walking or biking everywhere, being around tourists in great moods, seeing my dog able to be outside all the time without shivering and also bringing him everywhere with me, seeing and hearing palm trees, and farmer’s markets…among many others 🙂

8.)Really getting a chance to start over with new routines, rethinking what goals are really important, not getting caught up in the grind and boredom, (really a complete lack of boredom), seeing what I am really made of and pushing through challenges in a new way.

What I miss… 

1.) Air conditioning.

 Remaxvipbelize: Air Conditioning

2.) Feeling clean all the time.

Remaxvipbelize: Feeling clean all the time

3.) Calling people when I feel like it and not thinking about the bad connection on my cell.

Remaxvipbelize: Bad connection on my cell

4.) Whole Foods.

Remaxvipbelize: Whole Foods

5.) Of course, family and friends. This is the biggest. Especially after this last spectacular visit, the easy connections, history, old inside jokes, comfort level….we really, really, miss them.

6.) Cleveland has been on fire and is pretty much awesome in every way. It has shed its bad attitude about itself and new fun things are happening all the time. We missed the boat on our timing there.

Remaxvipbelize: Cleveland

7.) Target-the store. I love going to one place and knowing what I am going to see there. It is a crapshoot here and you can’t count on finding freaking anything.

8.) That comfortable routine that I said I hated….I knew when it was time to work, when it was time to relax, there was a comfortable stability in that. If I have an off day here it is up to me and only me to pull it together-no external structure.

Remaxvipbelize: Hot Mess Party of one your bar is available

9.) Knowing that if there is an emergency, the US is where you want to be. It does sit in the back of your mind that the police and medical presence here is not what we come to expect in the US.

Remaxvipbelize: Come to expect in the US

10.) Good roads 🙂 and, good drivers with police to enforce them.

Remaxvipbelize: Good drivers with police to enforce

11.) Knowing that if I see a stray dog, I can call someone and get it taken care of. Here, you do occasionally see animals that are hurting and if you have a soft spot for them, it is like watching a Sarah Maclachlin (sp?) commercial that you can’t turn off. Same of course with poverty…

Remaxvipbelize: See a stray dog

12.) Not having to worry about getting passport stamps and other residency requirements that we take for granted as a citizen.

 Remaxvipbelize: One Arrival Immigration

13.) For Dave’s sake he would say–FAST FOOD!

Remaxvipbelize: I'm lovin' it Fast food

14.) Indoor gyms.

Remaxvipbelize: Indoor gyms

These are not weighted in any way, some are a big deal and some are not. Overall….I am ecstatic at this choice. I would never have gotten rid of the itch to move away, and no matter what happens, Our move to paradise has been worth it 100%!!!!!

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Placencia Vacation review from a first-timer! Inland Blue Hole, cheap eats, motorcycling….more!

Remaxvipbelize: De Tatch Restaurant and Bar

We are back to Belize after a couple weeks away, in Cleveland, OH, to attend weddings and connect with family and friends!!!We realized that our bodies did in fact adjust to the heat here, because 80 degrees felt COLD in Cleveland! Ridiculous! And now we have to readjust to heat index of 100. At least now we know it can be done. I am not sure how long it takes….will start to run that experiment…, onto our Placencia Vacation review:

Right before we left, we had a good friend here-Ray. Ray is a PhD and a very analytical person, so we were very curious what he would think of Belize. We had a great time with him and he stayed an extra week after we left to explore by himself. He wrote a vacation review for us, that I think would be very helpful to those coming down! Things to know about Ray….he has been all over the world, so he has places to compare Belize to; Ray is very “frugal,”:) and he is a germaphobe. So, if you can relate to any of these experiences(/issues), you might find his outlook helpful for your experience 🙂

Hey Laura and Dave,

While you have been up in the US, I have been enjoying life down here in Belize.  Most of my time is consumed by reading on the hammock and eating from the really non-tourist restaurants.  My top three of the local fare restaurants are Mary’s (next to the soccer field), Vern’s (in Seine Bight) and Mim’s (one minute from Caribbean Beach Cabanas).  Other than eating and reading, my most interesting day since you left was a motorcycle excursion.

One place I knew I had to see, before I left Belize, was St. Herman’s Blue National Park.  The Blue Hole is a geological anomaly, created from the collapse of a limestone cave.  The pictures I saw of it looked amazing and I had to see it for myself.  How to get there was the main question I had though.  Options included, a formal tour guide with transpiration, renting a car, a school bus converted into a passenger bus, stealing Dave’s truck or renting a dirt bike.       
Remaxvipbelize: Blue Hole National Park


Remaxvipbelize: Jungle Trail
Although I had never rode a motorcycle before, this was clearly the option for the adventurer in me.  So with a youtube video on how to ride a motorcycle under my belt, I set off.
Remaxvipbelize: Motorcycle
The ride there was a great part of the fun and no matter what form of transportation you take, the views along the Hummingbird Highway of the mountains, streams, farms and jungles are incredible.
Remaxvipbelize: Hummingbird Highway of the mountains
The Blue Hole beauty lived up to the descriptions (no filters were used on my pictures), with an Audubon Society representative on-site (Jermio), who had a wealth of information on geology, animal and plant life.  I took a dip in the hole and then moved on one mile down the road to St. Herman’s Cave .
Remaxvipbelize: Information on geology, animal and plant life


Remaxvipbelize: Blue Hole


Remaxvipbelize: Large hole in the side of a cliff or hill


Remaxvipbelize: St. Herman's Cave
With an admission fee of 4 USD, you receive access not only to the Blue Hole, but also to St. Herman’s Cave (Amanda is the Audubon Society representative there).  You can take a free self guided dry cave tour, which I did, or a tour guided tubing trip, which can be arranged when you arrive.  In the same area as the cave, there are also paths to a lookout tower.  If you like to hike mountains/jungle, it is a must do, but it is not ideal for the inexperienced hand can be skipped if short on time (also the 1/2 mile steep route is actually 1 mile and the 1 mile less-steep route is actually 2 miles).

I still had daylight left and needed to refill my gas tank.  So I shot up to Belmopan and grabbed some food at the Belmopan Market.  The market was not glamorous, but definitely worth the fifteen minute drive, to get some local fare.

Remaxvipbelize : Belmopan Market
Remaxvipbelize: Food

At that point I had a race with the sun, to get back to Placencia before dark.  The sun won, I lost and I had about an hour of night driving…it was worth it though, as I made a number of quick stops to investigate some lodging around the Blue Hole.

I made it back, safe, sound and exhausted.  —-Ray

You read that right….he watched a YOUTUBE video on how to ride a motorcycle (never having done it before) and then took one out in what is known to be a very dangerous place to motorcycle…..NOT RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!

Ray also enjoys places that would be considered, affectionately, hole-in-the-walls. He lived in China for years while in school and is used to paying a dollar for a full meal…..his choices are always spot on for cheap, good (clean plates), food. 🙂 Ray also left me the following paragraph as advice for people that found his adventure something they would like to do, this would work well for anyone checking out different parts on Belize on their trip!

Advice for future CBC guests on a two day excursion to the Blue Hole and Cockscomb Basin:

If you want to do a two day/one night excursion, here is what I recommend. Leave Placencia around 8:00AM, hit the Blue Hole, then St. Herman’s Cave and if time allows, shoot up to the Belmopan Market for an afternoon snack.  Then head back towards the Blue Hole and stay at either the Sleeping Giant (very nice with a beautiful pool and prices ranging from 100 – 500USD) or the VERY RUSTIC Yax’Che Jungle Camp (you need to definitely have a sense of adventure to stay here as there will not be many other tourists and you are literally in the jungle).  The next day, wake up early and do some bird watching (make sure to have receive some bird advice from the Audubon Society representative, at the Blue Hole or St. Herman’s Cave, the day before).  Get on the road by 10:00 or 11:00AM and head back towards Placencia, but plan to stop at Cockscomb Basin for a few hours.  I did not have time to stop at Cockscomb, but from what I have heard from Doyle, it is worth the stop to see waterfalls and wildlife.    

Thanks again for the great feedback Ray and we can’t wait until you come back! 

In other news…..we have 6 weeks to finish the new verandas on the cabanas.. finish some custom furniture on the inside…then our first guest comes in early November! We can’t wait. We missed our Belize friends and want to thank Sue and Carlos for taking such great care of Sticks! (he is still mad at me for leaving). 

We are also going to be doing some fun excursions in the next 6 weeks….including Long Caye (Blue Hole), Roatan, Honduras, and Tikal, Guatamala! Stay tuned!!!