Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Belize glows with pride again as yet another of our Belize eco-warriors earns International recognition by winning a major conservation award in England from Princess Anne. Hon Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development was this years prize winner of thirty thousand pounds, donated by the William Blake Charitable Trust.
Alamilla has been selected for the prestigious Whitley Award for inspirational conservation leadership for her work to protect the Maya Golden Landscape when she was Executive Director of the Ya’axché Conservation Trust – a post which she left after the election in February to become a Senator-Minister.
Although Alamilla has been noted in the past for her more terrestrial work, she is very much linked with last year’s winner of the same award, Dr Rachel Graham, who is Belize’s resident Shark and all round Marine biologist who will not allow her to take her eye off our precious reef in her current position.
Congratulations Lisel – it has been too long since you visited Caye Caulker, come back soon!
The time is fast approaching for the season where locals and tourists alike need to ‘Beat the Heat’! From mid May the wind drops and the water turns glassy. The off-shoot of this is that our tropical island looks even more beautiful than ever as the bright sunshine brings blues in the ocean to a dreamy effect and the water is warm and inviting. However, those wishing to navigate even the smallest of activities on the island will find themselves dripping in sweat and exhausted at the same time.
So here is our top tips for everybody to enjoy the gorgeous weather!
1) It may seem obvious but any activity undertaken on the water has to be the No 1 choice!! Scuba diving and snorkeling activities are everybodies top choice to cool down their personal thermostat and at Raggamuffin, we agree!!
2) And this is a favorite too – sitting in the water at the Split with your choice beverage in your hand. From soda to the crazy green Lazy Lizard Juice the cooling water around the Split, along with the funky music, is definitely an excellent way to beat the heat! Please note that do no carefully monitor their intake ie too many Lizard Juices, may feel the effects of another kind the following day!!
3) For those that want to see around the island or even for those who have errands to run, the only way to get around the island would be by bike or golf cart. We do not recommend stealing anybodies vehicles but rental prices are extremely reasonable for both. With the wind blowing in your hair and the streets being as smooth as they have been recently you will most definitely forget anything about the heat!!
4) For those needing a little more ‘extreme’ in their life there is always the option of renting a ‘jet-ski’! For those who are on a budget the ski’s are rented by the hour and believe me, even 10 minutes on a jet ski is enough breeze for the entire hour!!! This means that it is possible to rent the ski as a group and divide the cost and the time evenly – thus allowing for everybody to enjoy this exhilarating way to travel on the water!
5) And for those who feel that they want to push their tired and sunburnt body just a little bit more, there is always paddle boarding. The flat calm days are best for this sport as it therefore requires much less effort!! The slower pace of the boards will allow those on board to catch much more of nature than those who rented the jet-ski!! – Plus is is totally environmentally friendly!!
6) Ice cold coconut water .. there is something so very cooling about coconut water and we here have fresh coconut water in abundance here on the island – just ask the ‘Coconut Man’!!
And there you have it … 6 very good reason to come down to Caye Caulker and enjoy this absolutely gorgeous weather!!
For anybody that has spent anytime down the famous Split, they are likely to have bumped into it’s infamous canine customer, Massive!!
Massive can be found most days at the Split, many occasions he brings his friends but he will guaranteed to be there, with or without company. This special character is famous for his desire to swim in the water at the split – whether it is hot or even on the coldest day of the year, Massive still loves to jump into even the fastest moving areas of the split.
His favorite game is to play ‘fetch’ with coconut husks. On many instances he will drop a coconut husk right next to you and then point himself towards the water. For those that are unfamiliar of this routine, soon they will get the message and the repetitive game of to and fro becomes a small ‘spectacle’ for any onlooker.
And yes, Massive does have a very loving home and owner – Tom Brown – but from an early age, Tom realized that this extremely charismatic dog required a little more than the family home – the Split – and therefore Massive leaves the house early every day, only to return home for dinner at sunset – It only happens on Caye Caulker!!!!
With perfect fishing conditions, our wonderful Ish went out fishing with his long time friend Esley Usher (Eslito) yesterday. Both men are highly experienced fisherman and therefore the ‘outside of the reef or the deep sea’ on a windless day was beckoning these two sea lovers with their 400ft of lines!!
Early on in the day Ish’s Rock fish or Black Grouper as it is called caught the line and for almost 2 hours Ish spent trying to haul this 50lb fish on to the boat. At what seemed like almost the end of the fight both fisherman saw the 12ft long Bull Shark that was lurking around the boat. Quicker than they imagined the shark attacked the Grouper and in one bite, cut the fish in half!!!
The photo above of Ish and his half eaten Grouper tells the story – poor Ish, he had a lot less to eat that night than he originally expected!!!
Caye Caulker Dive Masters are excited to hear that they now have a fully qualified Dive Instructor’s Instructor and Trainer living here on the island!
Chip Peterson of Belize Dive Services traveled to Florida last week for some intense training to qualify him for the privilege to be able to train Dive Masters up to Dive Instructor. Previously for potential Caye Caulker DI’s had to leave the island to train in either Belize City or even Honduras so that the Scuba Dive Instructor (SDI) can take them through the heavy course work that is entailed to Instruct. The fact that there is now a source of training and qualifying on the island allows far more of our Belizean Caye Caulker Dive Masters to move up the proverbial ladder to achieve the high standards that they are all capable of!
In addition to this, now Caye Caulker can too attract the tourist that also wants to study to be a Dive Instructor. This in turn brings additional revenue to the island as hotels and restaurants benefit from the increase tourism!
Congratulations Chip – Caye Caulker thanks you!
The highlight of a child’s year as a 6 year old attending the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic School is their school trip. For those who are unaware of the process for these activities, the Government schools are heavily under funded and for many of the children’s necessities (including their holiday celebrations and excursions) come very much fall on the parents. PTA committees are set up for each class to offer assistance by raising funds through a variety of events such as food sales and raffles- thus has been the process for raising the funds for this specific trip.
The Belize River, once a location for the logging industry, now a tourist attraction in its own right as the lush forest that fringes the river holds dense flora and fauna. Such was the choice of Infant II for their school outing last week – a decision that had been made some months ago by the parents and one that did not disappoint.
The morning was a sultry hot morning with little to now wind as the entire class was accompanied each by a parent (and may be even an additional child) for the 7am departure at the water taxi. There was definitely excitement in the air as this particular excursion is one attraction not undertaken by many of the Caye Caulker residence and therefore eagerly awaited. After an a minor mix up with boats, we were off at a slightly later than anticipated 7.30am to Belize City. There was a small change of boat in Belize City (plus a quick toilet break for those who required it) and we were off to our destination – the mouth of the Belize River itself.
On route, just to show that this class was truly blessed, a small pod of Bottle Nose Dolphins decided we were their interest for the morning. For this class, many of whom had never seen a dolphin before, were mesmerized by the families display around the boat as they swam around us for some time!
And then we were on to the Swallow Caye Reserve – home of the wonderful Indian Manatee. Our boat was too big to be ‘poled’ through the actual reserve itself so we went around, however, this did not stop all on board (after our wonderful dolphin display) feeling that luck was on our side and a manatee sighting was almost expected. For manatees today was not the day for us, not without trying – perhaps that will be next years school trip??
The boat slowed down to a snails pace whilst traveling up the meandering river and our fantastic Tour Guide, Dario, took us through the sights and sounds of this majestical place. As we travelled we we learnt about the trees and animals that we encountered on our journey – turtles, huge iguanas, many crocodiles sun bathing in the hot sun and even a family of howler monkeys. When we were not watching the animals in this habitat we were studying the trees from mahogany to bukut and bullet trees and the list goes on!!
The sun was hot and there was little wind and after well over an hour all were tired but more than happy with what they had seen. The journey’s end was the Black Orchid Resort in Burrell Boom up the Belize River. From here were were served lunch under the shade of the trees beside the river. The children, although many had been slowly feeding on snacks throughout the morning, still found appetite for the healthy portions of burgers, chicken fingers and even rice and beans, all washed down with grape juice!
After lunch finished the pool beckoned. We had not been expecting any water relief but a few had hoped for a swim break and brought their swim attire in hope (or some would say in efficient preparation for the tour!!!). Those that had were rewarded in a swim in the pool – those that had not (which was the majority), fell into tears!! Very soon, the resort managers broke their own rules and allowed these hot and excitable children jump to do something that they do not do very often on Caye Caulker – swim in a pool – and for most of them, they were wearing only their underwear!!!
This water relief on an extremely hot day was quite the icing on the cake for the children (and many of their siblings) of Infant II as it cooled them off for their hour and a half journey home by boat, directly to Caye Caulker.
For many the boat ride was an opportunity to take a quick sleep but definitely for all the journey back for these weary adventurers was more subdued than the journey up the river!!
Last week we touched on the work of the Belize Shark Project and today we will continue.
To summarize, the shark population in Belize has decreased alarmingly here in Belize due to overfishing. The BSP intends through research, education and regulation to stem this decline and therefore to sustain healthy and functional ecosystems.
Education is high on the priorities for Rachel Graham (Belize’s resident shark expert/ aquatic Jane Godall and pioneer of the BSP). Due to Rachel’s successful work in protecting the magnificent Whale Sharks off the coast of Belize and Mexico she won the 2011 Gold Award from the Whitley Fund for Nature based in the UK. These funds she channels back into education in her community by two pronged approach.
Firstly informing those currently within the industry of the importance of the sharks in their ecosystem – meetings were held in both Caye Caulker and San Pedro the beginning of this month. And then secondly and equally as importantly to educate the youth of the Belize that sharks are not to be feared but encourage them to protect them for the future of their ocean.
Yesterday was one of those special days for 20 students from Punta Gorda traveled down to Belize City for a weekend of their dreams. Their original destination was the Shark and Ray Alley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve but due to the unexpected strong North West wind, the trip was re-routed to the slightly smaller Caye Caulker Marine Reserve Shark and Ray Village.
Their vessel was the limosine of the water – Belize Dive Services, Maera and therefore their ride out was smooth and without problems. The students and their three teachers, oblivious to the difference in reserve were still absolutely delighted at their very first experience out with the numbers of stingrays and of course the sharks. All students successfully got into the water and interacted with the marine life and conquered their fears whilst gaining confidence that these sharks were indeed nothing that they should fear.
As if icing on the cake .. the students, as a reward for their good endeavors, were brought back to Caye Caulker for lunch at 88 West. After lunch and all the chatter about their morning each student received a certificate by Rachel that titled them as a ‘Belize Shark Ambassador’!!! And then their final ride home and back to Belize City.
Previously students from Sarteneja had undertaken a similar day out to Hol Chan. If you want to enjoy their experience, click here for the video for this wonderful day.
These small but pivotal steps towards educating our youth in Belize plays a huge role in the safety of these very much endangered creatures – thank you Rachel, the BSP and BDS!!!!
One of three lovely ladies that took our three day island hopping adventure down to Placencia made this video of the tour, but mostly of the amazing Caye Caulker!!
The creator of this video, Dejah told me – ‘I took a chance even though I don’t camp, swim, like to be outside, or eat any type of fish, but you all figured out how to make a tour where a girl like me could have a good time.’ We are glad that we made you happy Dejah!!
We thank Dejah for taking the time to compile her memories together so that we can share!!!
It seems long ago now (8 years ago if my memory serves me correctly) that ‘cowboy’ Patrick sat in the Raggamuffin office with his neatly braided hair and announced that he wanted to become Captain Patrick!! Like a man of his word, he made himself indispensable and has very much guided and motivated those who followed him with the same inspiration.
Patrick is part of the old guard of the Raggamuffin crew (he is our family) .. he has grown from boy to man and flourished right in front of our eyes and very much a favorite with office, Tour Guides and passengers alike. Patrick’s future looks equally golden with his future wife at his side it looks like Australia will be a huge part of his future – lucky Australia – but we have not lost him quite yet!!
Today he turns 30 years old and we will celebrate accordingly – Raggamuffin style! For us now, we want to wish a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY for this old boy and wish him many more wonderful birthdays to come!!
Paige returned back to the island yesterday after over 8 months away. Paige was instrumental, along with Ariel Samara, in Raggamuffin’s internet revolution just over 18 months ago and therefore we are very happy to have our friend and co-worker back!! Paige will only be here but for a few months but in that time, we will definitely put her talents to good use. Paige is an excellent photographer and put together most of the Raggamuffin crew videos so watch this space as we have some excellent ideas to entertain you!!!
Although Paige has been missed by all on the island and indeed she missed us, it was Captain Patrick that she was really here to see and indeed she will be celebrating with him tomorrow for his 30th Birthday!!