Tuesday, April 29, 2008
In an amazing twist of events, last week marked the third landing of Cuban exiles on Belizean ground in only four months this year. For some reason, more Cubans are making their way to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye as they flee from their native land looking for refuge.
This time around, eight men and three women landed in front of the Holiday Hotel in downtown San Pedro in a much smaller vessel than previous groups prior to them. They were all covered with diesel fuel.
More details on this story on the Thursday, May 1, edition of Ambergris Today Newspaper.
Monday, April 28, 2008
The mighty paddlers of the Belize Bank team managed to win the Ambergris Caye Lagoon-Reef Eco-Challenge for the second time in a row. The two-day kayak challenge around Ambergris Caye took place this past weekend (Saturday & Sunday).
A large crowd gathered at Central Park, where a beach party and grilling competition took place on Sunday, to cheer on their favorite team.
It was another successful year with over 20 teams taking on the challenge. A complete review of the rave and a picture gallery will be available online at www.ambergristoday.com this Thursday with the paper hits the streets and our website is update. Stay tuned!
Friday, April 25, 2008
The meetings produced very encouraging and productive sessions serving as a springboard to strengthening further discussions with the airlines. Strategies presented were the development and addition of new or increased services to Belize from the USA by carriers currently serving Belize and those that have not yet realized the Belize potential. Similar sessions are being scheduled later in the year with other airlines in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
From April 1 through to April 4, the traveling delegation met with Continental Airlines in Houston, Texas, with Spirit Airlines in Miramar, Florida, with Jet Blue Airlines in Forest Hills, New York, and with United Airlines in Chicago, Illinois.
“With increased interest in Belize as a premier destination, increased hotel investments, greater tourism promotion, and improved airport facilities at the International Airport, Belize is poised to attract greater airlift from existing & new markets,” commented Director of Tourism, Tracy Panton.
The BTB and BACCL have entered into a three year agreement with Intervistas Consulting Inc., a consulting company based in Ottawa, Canada for an Airline Development Strategy for Belize. This strategy will identify air service deficiencies, provide recommendations for priority routes and formalize the business case for presentation to potential new airline partners.
Intervistas Consulting Inc. was formed in 1999 as an independent employee-owned consulting practice and has developed airline strategies for St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and various cities in the United States and Canada. Martin Copeland has 35 years experience in the aviation industry including 20 years in senior management positions with two international airlines where he specialized in route planning, code sharing alliances, marketing and airfare analysis.
The traveling delegation included Mr. Martin Copeland of Intervistas Consulting, Mr. Enrique Hoare, Operations Manager and Mr. Lindford Rosado, Financial Controller both of the Belize Airport Concession Company Ltd, Mr. Mike Singh, CEO in the Ministry of Tourism, and Mr. Lloyd Enriquez, Registrar of Hotels of the Belize Tourism Board. -Press Release, Thursday, April 17th, 2008 -
Mr. Perez of the Popular Tortilla Factory informed Ambergris Today that their supply of corn flour (Maseca) will run out by this Sunday, April 26, leaving his business in limbo.
He explained to us that license to import the corn flour from Guatemala was awarded to another person and this is slowing down the process of bringing more Maseca to the country. If an agreement cannot be settled between the Guatemala producers and the new buyer in Belize, the fate of corn flour importation to the country could be bleak.
So for now, Mr. Perez explained that he would have to lay off most of his employees as his factory would be with out the main ingredient to produce his popular tortillas. Affected would also be the restaurants, private homes and other private businesses that depend on the Popular Tortilla Factory. And how about the food vendors who sell tacos, tostadas and pupusas? They are all in danger of losing business.
In addition to all of this, there is rumor that the price of corn flour will increase by 25% which would definitely raise the cost of tortilla. There are about five tortilla factories on the island, of which only El Patio Tortilla Factory on Pescador Drive produces their tortillas from ground corn processed locally. So if the minsa (corn flour) tortilla is your favorite, plan to prepare a meal that you eat with the tortillas as it might be your last for a long time.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
This past weekend I traveled to San Ignacio, Cayo and became a tourist in my own country. I had never had so much fun exploring my own land, Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret, as they say. I am usually heading off to Chetumal or Cancun for the long weekend.
I have visited many areas of my country, but they are usually one day trips which have me back home the same day. This time I managed to experience an entire weekend of exploring San Ignacio, Cayo, as my friends and I rented a car and took off on the Western Highway. It was both relaxing and exciting at the same time.
The drive to Cayo was very easy with signs all they way to San Ignacio Town; and the highway was very well kept – a smooth ride. Cayo is simply amazing. I got to relax in the picturesque setting of the Cahal Pech Resort Village. Perched atop a high hill, the view overlooking the entire town was breathtaking.
I got to visit the nearby village of Spanish Lookout, a Mennonite community that is simply amazing; you have to see to believe. Teaming with livestock, orchards, plantations, fields, the center of the village is a long strip of businesses that make you feel as if you are in the US. With large supermarkets, grain mills, car/truck dealerships, tractor suppliers and repair shops, tire companies and wholesale dealers, the village looks more like a self-sustained city.
Exploring the Mayan ruins of nearby Xunantunich and swimming in the Mopan River was another part of our adventure in Cayo. Climbing the ruins of Xunantunich and overlooking both the Belizean and Guatemalan landscapes you imagine yourself living like the Mayans. The view from the top of the main temple is surreal.
After burning up the calories climbing the ruins we concluded the day with a refreshing swim in the Mopan River. We joined some boys who swum themselves from a rope into the fresh water along the river bank on the side of the road. Pure bliss!
So the next time I have some free time, I am definitely planning to take my friends on another trip inland into the Belizean wilderness, instead of the urban jungles of Chetumal and Cancun. Much fun and relaxation can be experienced in my own country. Viva Belize!
Cradled in a Picturesque Valley
Between the Macal and Mopan Rivers ....
San Ignacio and sister-town, Santa Elena make up Belize's second largest urban area. The two towns are separated by the Macal River and Belize's only suspension bridge, the one-lane Hawksworth Bridge (Built in 1949).
Together the towns have a combined population of about 20,000 including: Creole, Mestizo (Spanish-Maya), Lebanese, Chinese, Mennonite, Maya and other cultures. Both English and Spanish are spoken, plus a myriad of other languages.
Known locally as "Cayo," San Ignacio is located along the Western Highway about 70 miles and 90 minutes drive time from Belize City. Teeming with Guatemala-bound travelers, archaeologists, peace corps workers, North American retirees and thrill seekers, "Cayo" is a unique blend of America's Old West and tropical backwater with frontier-like wooden shops on narrow streets.
Burns Avenue is "Main Street" and a good place to begin a tour of the town. Most days it's a busy thoroughfare with lots of people walking in the streets. Burns Avenue and the adjacent streets are packed with shops, hotels and places to eat where hospitable townspeople mingle in restaurants, bars and wooden shops with colonial era architecture of days gone by.
Things to Do....
Excursions around San Ignacio include a short trip to nearby Cahal Pech, a Maya archeological site. It's a quick cab ride or a 20-minute uphill walk from town. Macal River canoeing is very popular. Stopovers include a Blue Morpho butterfly-rearing facility and "medicine trail".
The Iguana Conservation Project and baby iguanas are located at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. Rent a bike, walk or jog 1.5 miles along scenic Branch Mouth Road to the "Hammock Bridge" where the Macal and Mopan rivers join up. From the shaded river bank, you can watch for wild parrots along with lazing iguanas and enjoy a swim in the heat of the day.
Venture to the Mountain Pine Ridge on the way to Caracol, or travel to Succotz Village. Another mile gets you to Benque Viejo and Hydro-dam Road where the journey continues on to Chechem Hah, a cave filled with Mayan artifacts. From Benque Viejo, it's one mile to the Guatemalan border. Bullet Tree, 3 miles northwest of San Ignacio, is where the road to El Pilar, another archeological site, begins.
Other Cayo area activities include: Horseback Riding, Birding, Canoeing & Kayaking, and excursions to other nearby Caves and Ruins, including Tikal and Flores in Guatemala.
Saturday is the Busiest Market Day
Here you will find vendors from the small towns and villagers selling their wares and locally-grown fruits and vegetables. You can get good buys on bananas, papaya, pineapples, oranges, mangos, coconuts, avocados and other tropical produce.
Cash advances, internet, real estate, travel, and auto rentals are some of the Business Services available in San Ignacio.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Party Leader Briceño Names Senators
Leader of the Opposition Hon. John Briceño has announced the appointment of three Opposition Senators who will take their place in the House of Representatives on the people’s business.
The are: Hector Silva Sr. from Cayo District, Corona Villafranco from the Stann Creek District and Eiden Salazar from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
These Senators were chosen after weeks of consultation with PUP supporters, Executive Committee and the Caucuses of the People’s United Party. The Party Leader is confident that the choices reflect the new policy of inclusiveness of the PUP, ensuring a wider scope of representation for party supporters countrywide. (Complete story on Thursday's edition of Ambergris Today)
Monday, April 21, 2008
San Pedro High School took to the streets on Friday afternoon after winning the National Food and Nutrition Quiz last week. The students were very proud of their team that represented them and begged for a parade to celebrate their national win. Congratulations SPHS for a job well done.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Undoubtedly crime is on the rise countrywide and San
But crimes are still on the rise. It is to be recalled that for the Christmas season the BDF was brought to San
We at Ambergris Today fully support the use of the BDF. A few citizens are afraid that they are not as courteous as the police. “They are trained to kill,” according to a few. Aren’t they better described as trained to shoot to protect the people and the country? And isn’t that what an escaping criminal deserves in order to be stopped?
Cast your vote online if you think that the BDF should be brought back to the island to curb crime. Online poll at www.ambergristoday.com
crime. Online poll at www.ambergristoday.com
This weekend, my new neighbor-to-be cast his concrete roof. What was impressive was the amount of man power it took to do such a complicated task on the second floor. What's happening now is that many new homeowners want concrete homes to feel safe during the hurricane season, but don't like the flat look of a poured concrete roof. What many are doing is designing fancy roofs, like this one, and making them concrete instead of wood. The job is more complicated, technical and EXPENSIVE. But I guess, if you can afford it, it is good to go the extra mile to make your house look good and feel happy about it.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The first official meeting of the Costa Maya Festival Committee took place last week which confirmed and solidified that the 16th Annual Festival is on for the first week of August 2008.
From August 7 to the 10, the Costa Maya Festival stage lights up as international artists from all over the Americas merge to put on a multicultural spectacle in Ambergris Caye for a celebratory week of dance, music, pageants, food and drink.
Celebrating their ancestral Mayan culture the Costa Maya Festival is a week-long celebration. This year the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant seeks the participation of Panama to complete the participation of all the Central American countries.
Local and international visitors enjoy a world class event in beautiful San Pedro. There are traditional and modern dance groups, star-studded musical bands accompanied by renown singers.
A lot of the preparation has commenced including the booking of not one but possibly two international entertainers. The committee wants to cater to both young and old and is looking to book entertainers that will appeal to both age groups. So expect an even more spectacular festival than previous years.
As always, the festival is not possible without the kind donations of sponsors. So please dig deep into your pockets and give as much as you can to the annual festival that gives back tremendously to our island. More updates to come soon! (www.ambergristoday.com)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Word has it that the production of minsa (corn flour) tortilla will no longer take place since government is no longer allowing the importation of Maseca to Belize. In speaking with Mr. Domingo Perez of Popular Tortilla we found out that indeed the government had seized the importation of Maseca from Guatemala.
“I cannot say that we will seize production, but I am in a state of limbo since I only have a supply that will last for about two weeks,” commented Mr. Perez. If the production of Minsa tortilla is stopped, not only will Mr. Perez be affected but other businesses and residents that use the product as well.
According to Mr. Perez many restaurants and hotels purchase tortillas in a vast amount on a weekly basis. A rough amount of 3,500lbs is consumed weekly on the island. If Maseca is no longer permitted to be imported another alternative will have to be found.
Jerry Jeff Walker will be offering exclusive "local" pricing for his concerts here in San
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
A New Computer Lab Would be Fab!
- Press Release - Holy Cross Anglican School announces the 2nd Annual Cinco de Mayo ‘Faces of the Future’ Charity Extravaganza, a fundraising benefit for the Holy Cross Anglican School. Wet Willy’s Bar and Grill located on the Hustler Tours pier is hosting this wonderful event on Saturday, May 3 from 11a.m. - 9p.m.
A computer lab is urgently needed by the Holy Cross Anglican School to ensure that national curriculum standards are met and to enable children to participate in important extracurricular activities, which provide them with opportunities to develop additional skills using modern technology. All proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will help Holy Cross provide this much needed computer lab.
Due to the huge success of last year/s Cinco de Mayo, Friends of Holy Cross have decided to make the event double the fun. From 11pm – 3 pm will be a Beach Party. Come and join the fun with bouncy tents, delicious food, piñatas, exciting games and prizes for all the family.
Anyone looking for a good bargain is bound to find a treasure at a huge yard sale. Amazing items will be raffled throughout the Beach Party event. All of this has been organized by the wonderful Holy Cross teachers and will happen right on the beach in front of Wet Willy’s dock.
From 3p.m. onwards, the community is invited to come inside Wet Willy’s Bar and Grill for the charity event. Supporters can participate in 50/50 draws and Live Auction. Excellent entertainment from local bands will keep everyone tapping their toes all evening.
Some of the items available at the auctions include: Romantic dinners at Blue Lotus, Casa Picasso, Christo’s and Portifino, massage and beauty treatments from Brahma Blue, Carole Goudreau Esthetic and Sol Spa and use of a boat that takes eight people, including a Captain for a whole day’s personalised trip.
Bring your family and friends to this once a year Cinco de Mayo ‘Faces of the Future’ Charity Extravaganza. Who would think that you could have so much fun in one place and walk away knowing that you’ve done something wonderful for your community.
To volunteer, donate items for the auction, raffle or yard sale please contact the School office on 226 – 3456. If you are in a band or a musician and are able to volunteer during the day, please do get in touch. But if you believe in children and education, please be there.
The San Pedro Business Association would like to update you on what has been happening, please take the time to read through the following newsletter....
"Amazing, great, wonderful, must happen again – these were some of the many comments on the first ever Savor San Pedro Food Festival Block Party. Held last Saturday January 26th, 2008 at Central Park, many were absolutely delighted to enjoy the variety of great dishes offered by restaurants around town. Hosted by the San Pedro Business Association, this one-of-a-kind festival had the night filled with music and mouths watering from blocks away. It was definitely an evening of great fun, tasty eats and thirst-quenching drinks that pleased the enthusiastic crowd." The first ever Savor San Pedro Food Festival did just what it was intended to do as the good food and festive atmosphere enticed visitors as well as the community to come out and enjoy a fun evening at the park. With round happy bellies and our fill of music, art, and entertainment, everyone is eagerly awaiting next year's festival."
Continuing in the spirit of creating community events and attractions, keep in mind that the culmination of the Annual Ambergris Caye Lagoon-Reef Eco-Challenge will be at Central Park on April 27th where the SPBA will be sponsoring a Block Beach Party starting at 10:00 am. Festivities of the Block Beach Party will include a grilling competition. Awards and prizes will be given for the best BBQ Ribs, Best BBQ Chicken, Best BBQ seafood and Best Decorated Booth. There will also be awards given for the Best "Drink". There will be a DJ all day and live entertainment. Community fun and games are the priority for this event. Remember that space is limited so please book your booth today, or inquire about the BBQ and Bartender Challenges by calling Rebecca at 226.4474
San Pedro Lobsterfest 2008 kicks into high gear on June 14. With the resounding success of the inaugural Lobstefest 2007, this year's event promises even more with a weeklong celebration. The schedule of events for Lobsterfest 2008 is as follows:
- June 14th: 'Meat & Greet' Festival Cocktail Party and Brazilian Rotisserie at El Divino (Banana Beach).
- June 15th: First Day of Lobster Season Catch Competition and all day Beach BBQ (starting at 9:00 am) at Fido's.
- June 16th: Portofino Resort hosts the exclusive 'Lobsterfest Feast' Evening
- June 17th: Victoria House hosts the 'Dine under the Stars' evening
- June 18th: Pedro's Pizza 'All you can Eat' Lobster Pizza and Ceviche event and Lobsterfest Poker Tournament.
- June 19th: Mambo Restaurant at Matachica Resort is the setting for a special themed event.
- June 20th: Blue Water Grill hosts a special evening
- June 21st: 'Lobsterfest Town Block Party' and Arts and Crafts Fair in Central Park.
Booth space for the Block Party on is now available to be booked on a first come, first serve basis. There are 2 "levels" for the booths this year. Regular Booth Locations are $350 and the Premium Booth Locations are $500. If interested, please contact Rebecca at 226.4474 to book your booth locations. Also, nominations for the Lobsterfest King and Queen are now being accepted.
Policing: Superintendent Arnold has provided the SPBA with a list of the officers assigned to the various neighbourhood watch associations. There are four officers assigned to each association and the leader of each association has a list of the officers and contact numbers. Superintendent Arnold has done a foot patrol of the Tres Cocos area with their area members. He would like to do a foot patrol in each neighbourhood watch area to get familiarized with area, its residents and their concerns. It has also been suggested that each area form a phone tree. If anyone has questions about the neighbourhood watch group in their area SPBA secretary Rebecca Arceo can be contacted at 226-4474.
The SPBA has requested a meeting with Minister Heredia on the immediate question of "Can we get BDF back on the island?" If so the SPBA needs to know what is needed from the association to make this happen. Central Government did provide 4 officers from the elite Dragon Police Unit over Easter weekend. The SPBA arranged for lodging and food for these four officers during their stay.
Garbage: The SPBA Secretary had the opportunity to discuss the Trash Bin project with Dr. Will Lala. Dr. Lala explained that the bins will hold about 27 gallons and they have been designed in way that will be easy for the garbage collectors to utilize. Any members wanting to contribute to the Trash Bin Project spear-headed by Dr. Lala can send checks into the SPBA and we will get them to Dr. Lala.
April General Meeting: The next SPBA General Meeting will take place on Thursday April 24th at 1:00 pm at El Divino. Please e-mail in requests for items to be put on the agenda.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Rumors reaching Ambergris Today, is that taxi drivers are preparing to raise the taxi fares. The move is not by drivers individually but by the taxi associations of San Pedro as there have been two increases of gasoline and diesel over the past month. If this is to happen soon, hundreds of pedestrians who live far out of town will suffer a big dent in their pockets.
FACT: To verify this rumor we called on the chairman of The San Pedro Taxi Federation, who informed us that there is a move to get all the taxi associations to agree on a unified fee for all taxis. This could mean some of them going lower to match others or going higher. Ambergris Today will inform everyone when the taxi fees have been agreed upon
Rumor No. 2 Electricity fees going Down
So while the rumor is that taxi fares are going up, the good rumor is that the cost of electricity for consumers is going down. Word on the street is that the Barrow Government will get BEL to lower its rates by as much as 50 % because the company is making a whopping 32 millions of dollars profit every year on an average. This would mean that a household paying $300 per month would now pay only $150.
FACT: Although BEL has asked for a 15% increase, the Barrow Government has denied this request. On the contrary, press secretary for the Barrow administration informed the nation that the government is committed to reducing electricity by as much as 50% or close to that. We also recall that prior to the election, Election Banners in San Pedro promised a reduction of electricity, telephones rates, butane gas, as well as the GST. We are hoping for some news on this from relevant authority.
Rumor No. 3 Sanpedrano Senator:
In recent history we have had Sanpedranos as Area Representatives, Ministers of Government, Member of the British Empire, or similar high honor positions. Very reliable sources tell us that another Sanpedrano will join he list of high offices when he is sworn in as Senator. We wil get you the full scoop on next week’s edition of Ambergris Today Newspaper!
On the morning of Tuesday, March 25, Jose Guardado 31yrs naturalized Belizean laborer of Honduras residing in the San Telmo Area, San Pedro Town arrived at the Poly Clinic complaining of pain in his throat & abdomen, diarrhea and vomiting. He stated that all this was as a result of a drink he had taken from a man known to him only as Pajarito around Friday, March 21.
Guardado was flown to the K.H.M.H. in Belize City for further emergency treatment on Wednesday, March 26, and on the late hours of Monday, March 31, he succumbed to his ailment. A post mortem conducted on his body certified the cause of death as “Acute Lungs and multiple organs failure due to chemical intoxication”. The specific type of chemical however is yet to be determined by laboratory tests. The person mentioned by Guardado was located and detained for questioning; he admitted giving the deceased a drink out of a bottle he had picked up. He was released pending advice from the D.P.P. after a review of the investigation file.
Police Report Case (ii) Death by Asphyxia
About 11:40a.m. on Friday, April 4, Police visited Amigos del Mar Dive Shop on the beach front where the lifeless body of Gordon Burke Stroud, 63yrs Canadian tourist was observed with no apparent signs of injury.
Initial investigation revealed that about 11:15a.m. that same morning Stroud was one of 11 Canadian tourists on a diving tour at Tuffy/San Pedro Canyons located east of town, when he emerged out of the water after deciding to discontinue his diving. He appeared not to be feeling well and despite saying that he was okay, the tour guide made his way to shore after noticing him going unconscious. Upon arrival at the dive shop he was examined by a medical officer who pronounced him dead. A Post Mortem examination conducted on his body on Saturday, April 5, certified the cause of death as “Bronchial Aspiration Asphyxia due to Chronic Emphymia, Asthma type”.
Friday, April 11, 2008
The eight feet will be measured from the ground landing of any stair case. The need for this provisional is self-evident as the density of vehicles on the island compels the Town Council to regulate traffic flow.
(Pictured above is Nasser Store, one of the many grocery stores that have alloted space for parking in their building plans)
“Lightning” struck twice for the owners of Tienda Los Caminantes, as on Tuesday, April 8, at about 12:30 p.m. the store was robbed at gunpoint again by two red skin creole male persons. According to reports both men were armed with what appeared to be 9 mm guns. One of the men held the cashier while the other searched the cash drawer.
Total amount of cash taken was $1,300 and $700 in phone cards. The men were unmasked and made their escape on bicycles. Reports have it that they were seen heading south of San Pedro past Victoria House. Sources tell the newspaper that the police were late at the scene of the crime because they were onsite at another incident where a water vessel was engulfed in flames. Both incidents seem to be linked, according to sources. Police are still investigating the matter. If anyone has any information concerning these cases please call the police station at 226-2022.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The Belize Tourism Board is pleased to announce that the
In a video address aired at the recently held World Conference on Responsible Tourism held in
In his acceptance address The Minister pledged his full support for the development and implementation of an environmentally friendly Tourism Strategy for
This will be the largest conference of its kind to be held in
The main purpose of the visit is to increase awareness to our Mexican neighbors of what all we have to offer. Many Mexicans know of Belize, but are not aware of the high quality resorts, restaurants, dive shops, and tour operators we have.
Mexican media visiting San Pedro for the week include Masada Travel, Radio Kiss FM, Reforma Newspaper, TV Yucateca and Turistampa Travel Agent Newspaper. (Complete story on Thursday’s edition of Ambergris Today www.ambergristoday.com)
Monday, April 7, 2008
Pastor David Freeman and his team from Texas were in San Pedro this past weekend for the Living Word Church's Festival of Hope. Pastor Freeman is known for his Pentecostal Preachings and Passion for Souls. He is a church builder, both spiritually and physically. The team from the US came to San Pedro upon the invitation of Pastor Ian Saldivar of the San Pedro Living Word Church.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Nobody ever thought we would get to this but San Pedro Town now officially has a traffic rush hour. And if you have to get from point A to point B, remember to take into consideration traffic delays or else you will be late to where ever you are heading.
I got stuck in traffic twice this morning and got to work almost 40 minutes late. For one thing there was a traffic check point on front street that delayed EVERYTHING! Second there was a deliver truck that lost its cargo of steel rebar and another that got stuck between two parallel parked vehicles. Oh, and then a guy crashed his bicycle on the back of my car. Not a very good morning for me.
I am saddened to say that traffic has taken over our busy streets, as San Pedro grows in leaps and bounds into this tourism hot spot. But, you can still find peace on our beaches and in the outskirts of town. But don't get me wrong, San Pedro is still La Isla Bonita and a great place to relax. I am just venting my frustrations through this blog.
-from the Editor