Sunday, August 27, 2006

Green Eyed Spanish Girls

Cousin Rose came over the other day with a stack of old old photos from the 50s on up from Caye Caulker back when it was a fishing village of 100. The plan is for me to photograph them with my nice new camera and to burn CDs for everyone. There weren’t roads in those days, the houses were connected with picados, or little trails between them. From Blue Wave Guesthouse to the split it was all mangrove. No roads meant no cars, not that there are many now – just 5 for the whole island. The main transportation around the island was feet. As I sifted through the old sepia tone photos of lovely Spanish girls and babies, clapboard houses, handsome men, happy children. I asked Bigness for a technology timeline, which he confirmed with his older sister Ilna.

It inspired me to do this series of sepia tinted photos of modern day Caye Caulker. (These photos look old but are new, the old photos will be posted on later entry) We’re still about 2 decades behind Ambergris Caye in development (thank goodness), and part of the reason is that there is no, or very little prime beachfront property for sale. Back 100 years ago when Caye Caulker was first settled, 3 main families lived here. The Alaminas, the Reyes and the Marins owned it all, still own most of it and it’s not for sale. Did I mention... its not for sale?

Technology Timeline:

1957 the first outboard engine came to Caye Caulker via Melvin Badillo. It was a 9 HP. Before that it was only sails. If you wanted to go the 21 miles to Belize City and it became calm calm calm, you could spend 3 days paddling.

Belize gained its independence from England in 1981, and it was only after independence that Caye Caulker got electricity. Somehow I don't think that's a coincidence. Bigness remembers his father’s general store, right here on the same spot that the gallery and cafĂ© is on, being lit with coleman lanterns at night.

Phones followed electricity in the 80s and for quite a time, there was only 1 community phone for the whole island. Emergency announcements were made on Love FM radio. I listen to Love FM in the mornings when we are out in the bush and still hear announcements like “Will Mr. Cletus Jones please contact his sister Mary Tillet in Dangriga” announced over the airwaves.

Tourism came to Caye Caulker in the 70s with the hippie trail finding its way through Mexico and Guatemala to this island paradise. Some of the hippies stayed and married locals, had children, homesteaded, some left with their Cayo Hicaco husbands or wives for Canada, England and the U.S. You see them come back at Easter, Christmas and summer vacations, accents diminished, but easily slipping back into Kriole like a favorite sweater, bringing with them green eyed Spanish girls.


Guyana-Gyal said...

You know what I find we yearn for places like this, yet we develop, develop and develop concrete jungles.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, your sense of humor and your pictures.
I was in your shop in Feb with a friend who was doing the sky dive thing on AC. I love Caye Caulker, I can see why you settled there.

Ale said...

sight for sore eyes!

cream said...

What an idyllic place, Lee!
And to think that electricity only got there after 1981 is quite amazing!
Yes, I echo Gigi's feelings and hope that Caye Caulker doesn't get spoilt by developers!

Rainypete said...

It looks so timeless. It'll be interesting to see what the differences are after all these years.

Caribbean Colors said...

Deb, next time you're here say hi!
TYTYTYTY, I don't think this island can sustain heavy development. We jsutdon't have the elevation or the space for all the waste that is produced.

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