Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Jess’ Blog – Sailing, Sunning & Snorkelling on the Caribbean Sea

On March 13, 2011 in Caye Caulker, News, Ragga Crew

Sunset

In early March I embark on the 3 day sailing adventure with Raggamuffin Tours. It was the thing I had most been looking forward to doing since booking my trip to Belize at the beginning of the year….and I wasn’t disappointed!

We boarded The Ragga King early in the morning with nothing but blue skies above, and set sail bound for Placencia. There were 13 of us on the boat – 7 Scandinavians, 2 Brits, 3 Americans and me, the Aussie. A mixed bag of passengers from across the globe, but all with the same intention…. to have an amazing time on the Caribbean Sea.

On our first day we fished from the back of the boat, and stopped twice to snorkel while on our way to Rendezvous Caye. The snorkelling was incredible at these stops. There were no other boats around so it was very private. The coral formations at the first stop are the best I have ever seen. After the second stop we had all worked up a decent appetite, but thankfully our lunch had been served up and was waiting for us when we hopped out of the water….now that’s service!

We reached Rendezvous Caye at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. This small patch of sand surrounded by the reef, with a few coconut trees scattered across it was to be our home for the night. It was the type of tropical island that you would see on the front of a post card. Perfection. First things first we had to set up our tents on the beach while there was still some light, and after that was done we sat back with a rum punch in hand and watched the amazing sunset in front of us. After snacking on some delicious shrimp cerviche, the Captain served up our dinner. It was a feast of fish – that had been caught by one of the passengers earlier in the day – along with lots of vegies and rice. There wasn’t a thing left by the time we were done. The night ended around a campfire, toasting marsh mellows, listening to one of the boys play his guitar and sharing travel stories with each other.

Fire tobacco caye

The next morning I got up early to watch the sunrise and to go for a nice swim to wake me up. I really couldn’t think of a better way to start the morning. Well that was until the amazing breakfast was served. We stuffed ourselves silly again, packed up our things and boarded the boat for another day of sailing. The snorkelling was equally as beautiful on the second day, and we managed to catch 2 BIG barracudas on the lines (plus what the captain caught spear fishing). Besides being in the water, I spent my day working on my tan and reading my book. It was so nice to just sit back and relax and enjoy the beauty around me – always with the sweet sounds of reggae filling the air.

We arrived on Tobacco Caye later that afternoon, and I headed straight to the beach bar for a nice cold beer to cool me down. Again we set up our tents and got organised and then sat back and relaxed on the dock together. The crew opened the “boat bar” and served up more cerviche for us. Then after dinner we all gathered around to watch some live Garifuna drumming performed by the locals. They were incredible! The captain got us up one by one and showed us how to dance punta – well try to anyway. It was a lot of fun. The whole group hung around the bar till it closed, and then took the hint to head off to bed.

I woke in a slight rum haze on the last day, and slowly gathered my things together to get ready for departure. It was a bit sad knowing that the trip was almost over. That day was the hottest of the three, so I piled on the sunscreen and found my spot on the boat. There were lots of laughs along the way as the recounted things from the night before. Everyone had really gotten to know each by this stage. We stopped three times this time because of the heat so that we could cool ourselves off in the water. I helped to pull up the sail after one of the stops which made me feel like a professional sailor.

We reached Placencia at 4.30pm and reluctantly hopped off the boat. The trip went so fast, I didn’t want it to be over. I said my goodbyes to everyone and swapped email addresses, put my backpack on and headed on my way.

Raggamuffin’s overnight trip was such an amazing experience, and I will never forget it. The crew were fantastic – being both professional and fun. I felt like every aspect of the trip was so well thought out, and I enjoyed every moment. I would definitely recommend it to everyone who visits Caye Caulker, and hope to be able to do it again myself one day.

Thanks Raggamuffin!

A Trip to Hopkins for Reynolds

On March 09, 2011 in Belize, Caye Caulker, News, Ragga Crew

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Early on Saturday morning many of Reynolds’ friends and family began the journey down to Hopkins for the end of his Nine Nights celebration (a Garifuna memorial service) – This is considered the family’s final farewell to the spiritual double of the dead who is believed to remain in the house after the burial. It is only now that his trip to the other world begins. This service would generally occur nine nights after the burial, but in this instance it happened later.

We all definitely had mixed feelings on our way there. We never would have missed it, but it certainly began to bring up old feelings from when Ren passed, and at a time when we were just beginning to come to terms with the whole situation, so it was difficult for us. It was hard to know how we would feel when we went back his grave, but we just wanted to be there to set our friend free.

We went to Reynolds’ family home soon after arriving in Hopkins to visit his Mother and the rest of the family in order to show our support. It was while we were out the back of the house talking to Aunty Jane that Patrick turned to all of us and said “Jasre is here” – for those who don’t know this is Reynolds’ beautiful daughter, the joy of his life. We hadn’t seen her since just after the funeral as she had left the island with her mother, and we had no idea that she would be there. It was such a blessing to see her laughing a playing along the beach with the other children. She is looking more and more like her father, and you could definitely feel his presence all around her. It was a wonderful moment.

Beautiful JasreRemoving the pins - Releasing the spirit

The celebrations began as the sun went down. People gathered in the front yard and listened to the Garifuna drumming as well as to a DJ who played songs for Reynolds that would awaken his spirit. We talked, drank rum and shared our memories of Reynolds throughout the night. And at midnight we gathered around a table cover in pieces of coloured cloth and paper that was set up in the middle of the yard to represent his grave. As part of the Garifuna culture we each took the time to search through the pile of fabric and ribbons and remove all of the pins that were attached – this is done as an act of releasing the spirit. This is what you can see on top of his grave in the photos above. The cloths were then packed up into a box, ready to take to the burial ground at sunrise. The music and celebrations carried on till the early hours of the morning and could be heard all across the town, which was otherwise in a sleeping silence.

Then as the sun began to light up the horizon we made our way to the cemetery for the final service. This was the hardest part. We gathered around Ren’s yellow and white grave, where he is buried above his brother, and placed our hands on him and lost ourselves in prayer and thought. Only the sounds of a drum and a wailing family member could be heard, which only added to the already sombre moment. As the drummer eventually left the cemetery we were left in silence. None of us really knew what to say. It was still all so surreal. Even almost 4 months down the track it is still impossible to believe that he is gone, and we were again left asking ‘why’? Why did he have to leave us? We will never be able to get an answer to that question, but over time the acceptance and healing will bring us some peace. We kissed his grave and said our goodbyes to our friend and walked away knowing that he is now truly free. It was heartbreaking to have to leave him behind. We headed down the beach on watched the end of the sunrise…. The beginning of a new day.

Keep resting in peace Ren. We love you.

February’s Photo of the Month

On March 02, 2011 in News, Photo of the Month

rendezvous caye

Once again we had some really incredible entries for our Photo of the Month Comp, but it was hard to go past this stunning picture of Rendezvous Caye taken by Jessie Cripps. The colors are just breathtaking. Great work Jessie! Your photo will be up as our facebook profile picture for March.

Thank you to everyone who sent their entries through. All your photos were wonderful. Keep the shots coming this month!

Happy Birthday Charlie!

On February 25, 2011 in News, Ragga Crew

Despite the possibility that she may not be thrilled about me announcing the arrival of her birthday to the world, i simply couldn’t let Charlie’s special day just slip by unnoticed. Therefore i do promise not to mention any “numbers” in this blog, but i will however use this message to send our love and best wishes to her today.

Mother, wife, boss, friend, mentor, comforter, advice-giver, support system, party girl……Charlie means so much to so many people – both on Caye Caulker and around the world – and we wish nothing but the best for her today and everyday.

So Happy Birthday to you Charlie! May this next year of your life be everything you have dreamt it to be. One filled with love, laughter and good times.

………..Now let the celebrations begin!

Full Moon Party on Caye Caulker

On February 24, 2011 in Caye Caulker, News

Drumming Full Moon Party

On Saturday night the south side of Caye Caulker was left practically bare as we all migrated over to the north side of the island for the full moon party hosted by Eclipse Productions at the Driftwood hotel. People had been talking about it for days – especially us locals who are keen for something to do other then go to the regular nightclubs here. It wasn’t only Caye Caulkians that attended the party, but people from San Pedro, Belize City and tons of tourists as well.

To transport all the Raggamuffins over we used Jimmy and Charlie’s boat, as well as Raf, Jermain, and Simeon’s boats. The only ones who couldn’t be there were Kimani, Jahlee and Lil’ Shane who were out on the sea working an overnight trip.

The place looked amazing as we walked up the dock. A lot of work had been put into it. The two levels were lit up with lights – the downstairs was the main bar and upstairs was purely for dancing. Outside there was a sitting area, stripper poles, bonfires and a bbq….they thought of everything.

By 10pm the place was packed, with more people arriving every hour by boat. The crew hung out on the beach together for a lot of the night, talking, drinking and enjoying some live drumming. If we weren’t outside then we were up on the dance floor busting a move….cos that’s how we do :) .

We all left at different times throughout the night – Some heading home for bed around 1am, and some staying on and partying till 5 in the morning. Everybody enjoyed themselves a lot…..but then again we always have a good time when we’re together.

We’re all definitely looking forward to the next party that is held at Driftwood!

A Day @ The Raggamuffin Office

On February 18, 2011 in Caye Caulker, News, Ragga Crew

During business hours there is rarely a moment of silence at the Raggamuffin office.
As soon as the doors are opened, it is all hands on deck to get things ready for a day at sea.

Edith, Cary and Charlie work hard in the office booking people in, fitting gear for the passengers heading out on one of our tours and just making sure that everything runs smoothly. Mean while the Captains and crew bring in their boats, clean them up, do the shopping, load the boats and pack the gear.

Likkle Malik (Raggamuffin’s dinghy) runs back and forth constantly – normally with lil’ Shane in Control – taking the crew, supplies and passengers out to the boats. The whole crew works together and gets things done. They all know what they have to do…..But in amongst the work, there is always time to have a chat and a laugh together. After all their job does involve sailing along the reef in the Caribbean Sea, so the mood is always nice and relaxed.

By 10:30am all the passengers are seated around the office, eagerly awaiting their departure.
When everything is ready, one of the girls will do role call and let everyone know which boat they will be on – Ragga Queen (the blue boat), Ragga King (the red boat), Ragga Gal (the yellow boat) or Ragga Prince (the green boat). The Captains collect their passengers one group at a time and walk the down the dock to their boats, collect everyone’s shoes and put them in a bag, untie the ropes and set sail on the barefoot cruise to Hol Chan.

With all the hustle and bustle now out at sea, the girls take a breath and get ready to start planning for tomorrow.

Just another day at the Raggamuffin Headquarters!

Love Is In the Air On Caye Caulker!

On February 15, 2011 in Caye Caulker, News

There was a general feeling a love across Caye Caulker yesterday with the celebration of Valentine’s day. The color red and heart decorations displayed in shops and restaurants set the mood on the island. Happy couples filled the restaurants looking for a night of romance – The men handing over gifts of flowers and chocolate to earn extra brownie points :) There was just a good feeling about the place. Most headed to i&i for a dance afterwards.

What did you do to celebrate? A nice dinner date, or maybe even an anti-valentines day party?
Well whatever you did everyone had Raggamuffin hopes you had a wonderful night!

Happy Valentines Day!

One love. One heart.

Dice’s Short Visit Back to Belize

On February 12, 2011 in News

Dice and his family

I am sure that many of you know the energetic and vivacious Dice (Keith) from having him on your boat during your tours with us……But what you might not know is that for the last year he has been living in Canada with his beautiful wife Erin and adorable 9 month old son Nathan.

Dice headed to Canada in the beginning of 2010 to be there in time for Nathan’s arrival into the world, and after months of enduring Canada’s freezing temperatures they arrived in Belize for a family holiday to thaw out and to introduce us all to his little boy. Everyone was thrilled to see them and we have all taken full advantage of smothering Nathan with kisses.

No doubt Dice has loved being back on his island with his friends and soaking up the sun. Days at The Split, and nights out with friends he has definitely made the most of his 4 weeks here…….and has slowly gotten his color back :)

And as he heads back to Canada it will be sad to say goodbye, but no matter how far away he may be this will always be home, and we will always be here for him. We are all looking forward to there next visit. Hopefully it wont be too far away!

Video – Raggamuffin’s Full Day Tour to Hol Chan

On February 08, 2011 in News

Have a look at this awesome video of our popular full day snorkeling trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, filmed by the guys at underwaterallyproductions.com!

Introducing James – The Newest Member of the Ragga Crew

On February 03, 2011 in News

James

James joined the team a couple of weeks ago, so we just want to take the time to introduce him and give a bit of his background info for all of you to read so you can get to know him.

Although originally from down south in Sittee River, James was living out on Caye Caulker for 2 years, 7 years ago and worked as a dive instructor at Paradise Downs along side some of his fellow Raggamuffins such as, Edith, Jermaine and Ellis. James says that he is really enjoying being back on the Caye and working at Raggamuffin now because he has been able to reconnect with most of his friends from when he was living out here before.

More recently James was working at Blackbird Caye Resort on Turneffe Atoll, again as a highly talented dive instructor, before moving back to Caye Caulker 3 months ago.
A dive instructor, qualified tour guide and boat captain, James has a great passion for being both on and beneath the water, and definitely has the skills to match!…………We only have the best at Raggamuffin :)

After being with us for a few weeks James says that he is really enjoying his new job. He loves that Raggamuffin offers such unique tours and that he is getting the chance to learn the ropes on how to sail – a new experience for him.

We are really grateful to have James on board, and everyone agrees that he certainly has the “Ragga Style” needed to work with the rest of the crew! We couldn’t be happier!

Welcome James!