Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Devil is in the Details

I always miss out on all the fun. Miss Barbara informs me the new Prime Minister for Belize, the Honourable Dean Barrow was in the store for a few moments after giving his speech taking a turn about town, getting to know Caye Caulker. I think I’m safe in saying that we hadn't seen hardly any major politicians on Isla Carinosa, until election time. Years pass and if we’re lucky the government ignores us.

“What would you do if the Dean Barrow wants to stay in the Beach House?” I asked Bigness.

“Charge him double” he answered, a fomer hardback PUP supporter, (now claiming to be "None of them P's) and continued to grumble about government this and government that.

“Hey, you don’t understand government interference until you’ve lived in the U.S.” I try and explain to him the chokehold that taxes have on the American people. But he doesn’t want to listen. He longs for the old days when Caye Caulker was just a village of 100, with picados between the houses, no roads, no electricity or tourists, no engines on boats. Just sailboats and lobsterfishing. And poverty. The good ole bad ole days. The oldtimers are leaving, selling up, leasing out their property and moving inland to the Belmopan area.

A rare site, a helicopter buzzes up and down the island a couple of time around 10 a.m.
“Is that the BDF?” I ask Bigness
“Does the BDF have a helicopter?” Bigness answers a question with a question.

I figured the Prime Minister would stop by to say Hi. The gallery is not easy to miss, centrally located between the beach and the street, just over from the central park and basketball court, next to the police station and right next to the most photographed sign on Caye Caulker “Drugs are Illegal in Belize”

The afternoon that the Honourable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister for Belize, came to Caye Caulker, I was fighting my way out of the village to get to a wedding to photograph the Costarican/Ecuadorian Latina (gorgeous) bride.

As I was leaving, he was arriving and the village was in lockdown, all the police serious, dressed up in their best uniforms sharply creased, nobody running jokes.
“Nobody to pass tru.” the police lady said
“But I’m your neighbor” I reminded her as she took a second hard look at me, gave a little laugh of recognition, and motioned me to pass.
I have never seen so much traffic on Caye Caulker. Bicycles, golf carts, gawkers and walkers.
It looked like San Pedro.

As I headed out of town I focused my attention on what would be the best way to get to this remote location south and west of the airstrip, off the grid. Driving, biking or walking the orchid trail which snakes around the southern point of Caye Caulker is like an episode of survivor. There is no way the motorcycle would make it over the rickety bridge through a particularly swampy area. I couldn’t walk it with a 50 lb backpack of photographic equipment and laptop. Riding down the airstrip is out of question, at least for me, until after dark when no planes land. So the only solution for me and the motorbike was to cut through the Puest del Sol area and Pelican Point subdivision and hope that there would be someone there to help me heist the bike onto the less rickety bridge to cross. Step careful, pay attention, don’t look down, I told myself. Don’t be nervous. Midbridge I remembered lovingly the Pelican waterproof camera case I lusted over on Calm yourself. Did I remember to take my pill? Look at those toes, girl you need a pedicure. Eyes back to the front, keep moving that motorcycle. Focus on getting there.

I defied death once again.

I was only 15 minutes late even with waiting for help to cross, and taking Island Time into consideration, that’s not bad. It was o.k. since the bride had a clay mask on her face and the hairdresser was still doing some serious work to her nearly waist length hair. The bride was trying her best to adjust to Island Time, and to remember the sign that said “Go Slow”

You see, if you go slow, you don’t sweat so much.

The guests arrived by boat, and next time, I’ll consider doing that too. I’m not into extreme sports. I would come in a row boat.

The wedding was at the Yoga Center, located off the grid in the quietest most serene part of southern Caye Caulker. My friend Sallytheyogateacher (hereafter referred to as Sally) and Sallyshusbandjohn (hereafter referred to as John) started this project several years ago. And now they are living the dream. Built bit by bit on frequent trips to Caye Caulker over the years, the center opened for its first season last year. Its so quiet, all you can hear is the breeze.

The wedding was a first for them (family wedding, good to practice on) and I can see how this facility could become an amazing conference center, that is, if they can stand the interference in their lives. Tough call. They now spend winters on Caye Caulker and Spring/Summer/Fall in Maine. Having the best of both worlds didn’t come cheap, fast or easy. They thought out this project way before the first shovel hit the sand. How do you live off the grid with solar power, generator, rain water cisterns, and not pollute the environment? They are doing it, living simply, creating the least amount of garbage as possible, yet still having some creature comforts.

I left late, after the cake was cut, the bouquet and garter thrown. My job was done They partyied on until late, the DJ thump thump thumpin, booties shakin their bon bon. I picked my way down the trail to the airstrip and then let’er rip. I got up to 30 mph on the way home.

So, next time you’re here between the months of January and May, check them out. If walking or biking, take the beach path south until it looks like it ends, then turn right onto the orchid trail. Make sure you bring water and slather on the bug repellant. With walking over the rough spots and riding slowly the rest, it should take you about 20-30 minutes from the village. Or you can take my route through the Puesta Del Sol area by going down Back Back Street until you get to the lane just before the airstrip. Take it right and just keep bearing left until you see the barge, the bridge and the gas pumps for boats. The bridge has a gate at each end, and there’s usually an attendant to help you. If not, make sure you close the gates after crossing. After crossing you’ll see the trail head ahead of you. Cross the airstrip (look both ways for landing planes) and look to your right. Just head down it and you’ll see it. If not, at least you’re in the neighborhood and can do a shout out. They are the only John and Sallytheyogateacher on Caye Caulker.


Anonymous said...

Wow! That was really neat. I must make a special trip there when I get there....I think Dean Barrow is dreamy. I hope he does a good job for the country. MB

Caribbean Colors said...

I'll make sure I tell him the next time I see him.

Anonymous said...

Lee, the photos are amazing! My mom and I did yoga when we were there in January with Sallytheyogateacher and it was fabulous! We cheated and had lulu the taxi driver take us. It was a bit bumpy but worth the drive. What a beautiful venue for a wedding. Thanks for sharing! Christie

Hayden said...

wonderful photos!

Anonymous said...

Lee, the photos came out beautifully! And it does look like a fantastic spot for a ceremony. We're still planning on the Caye Caulker wedding in Feb!

Caribbean Colors said...

I just finished editing the 600+ photos, whew! Then I make a CD and index and ship it off.

Anonymous said...

I found you on the web and read and your postings, you are a very good writer with a sense of humor. I really enjoyed reading your blogs. When someone has a wedding on Caye Caulker, where do the 40 family members stay??? You can email me at:
Nice meeting you,