Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tropical Storm Arthur Moves over Belize

Unbelievable, the first storm of the hurricane season 2008 had to cross over Belize. Luckily the storm was a week tropical storm that formed Saturday off the Yucatan Peninsula and quickly made landfall at the Belize-Mexico border, dumping rain and kicking up surf.

Weather here in San Pedro started to deteriorate since Friday afternoon and it rained all day Saturday. There was some flooding off the streets and low lying areas. The seas were choppy, but all in all, there was only a lot of rain dumped on the island which was a blessing because everything was covered in dust for the past three months. Now we deal with mud! JeJeJe!

Alma Becomes Arthur

The first named storm of the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Arthur moved northwest across the Yucatan with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph (64 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm formed one day before the official start of the season June 1, hitting land near the Mexican port city of Chetumal and Belize's Corozal city. It dumped rain as far south as Belize City and kicked up strong surf on the popular tourist island of Ambergis Caye.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Belize and Mexico's Caribbean coastline. In the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which includes the popular resort of Cancun, ports were closed and all water sports were banned. Residents and tourists were encouraged to take precautions in coastal areas. Ports were also closed on the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres and in Chetumal.

In northern Belize, the National Emergency Management Organization expected about 4 inches (102 millimeters) of rain and warned of possible flooding around the Azul Hondo River.

Rain and rough seas ruined vacations for tourists in Ambergis Caye.

"I just came to lay in the sun and get a nice tan, but so far there hasn't been any sunshine," said Debbie Fountaineau, a police officer from Lake Charles, Louisiana, who arrived on the island Thursday.

The storm was projected to weaken as it crosses the Yucatan before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical depression early Sunday.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Grupo TACA passenger jet overshoots runway in Honduras; 2 dead, several hurt

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, CBC NEWS Online - A Grupo TACA airplane overshot a runway and slammed to a stop on a city street Friday in the Honduran capital, leaving a pilot and a passenger dead and injuring several others.

Television images showed the plane's fuselage buckled and broken apart in places. The cockpit was smashed under a billboard, and firefighters hosed down at least two cars trapped under the plane's left engine.

More than 7,500 litres of jet fuel spilled out of the plane, and authorities tried to clear away hundreds of onlookers. "The airplane's fuel could cause an explosion, and that would be an even bigger tragedy," Security Ministry spokesman Ivan Mejia said.

"We landed ... and suddenly I heard a really strong, loud impact," passenger Roberto Sosa, 34, told The Associated Press.

Mirtila Lopez, 71, said she was talking to another passenger when the plane "left the runway, hit electric cables from a nearby street and then got stuck in the side of a small ravine."

Weather may have been a factor. The plane landed hours after the passage of tropical storm Alma, which dumped rain and left parts of the city shrouded in fog.

The flight left San Salvador at 8:30 a.m. local time carrying 124 passengers, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It was scheduled to stop briefly in Tegucigalpa and in San Pedro Sula before heading to Miami.

Nicaraguan Harry Brautigam, president of the Tegucigalpa-based Central American Bank for Economic Integration since 2003, was on the plane and died of heart problems shortly after the crash, according to Tito Alvarado, the director of the hospital where he was treated. Cesar Villalta, director of Honduras' military hospital, confirmed that the plane's pilot was killed.

Officials have been struggling for years to replace aging Toncontin International Airport, whose short runway, primitive navigation equipment and neighboring hills make it one of the world's more dangerous landing strips. The airport was built on the southern edge of hilly Tegucigalpa in 1948 with a runway less than 1,600 meters long.

The altitude of some 1,000 metres forces pilots to use more runway on landings and takeoffs than they would at sea level. And because of the hills, pilots have to make an unusually steep approach.

The difficulties are complicated during Central America's frequent downpours, and during the springtime burning of farm fields, which produces smoke that often forces the airport to close for days at a time.

The worst crash associated with the airport came in 1989 when a Honduran airliner hit a nearby hill, killing 133 people.

BEL Works to Restore Power to San Pedro

Power outages are still plaguing the island, keeping businesses at a stand still. Word came to our office that some tourist are checking out early due to the lack of power in some hotels. Only a few resorts have their back-up generators.

Other sources inform us that BEL is using their back up generators in San Pedro to supply power to only a few sections of town. They are sharing the load of power at intervals of 4 hours to different areas of town. But as it is, most areas out side of town have not had power since 1:57am in the morning.

The island is definitely suffering from these power outages and hopefully something is done to correct the problem very soon!Below is an official press release from the power company explaining the situation:

Press Release - Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) advises that it is working to fully restore power supply to San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye following a trip on the system earlier this morning. At 1:57 a.m., power supply was lost to the town following a trip on the system. It was identified that the outage was due to a ground fault between the Maskall Substation and the riser on the submarine cable which feeds power supply to the island. The exact fault is being investigated by work crews, who have been dispatched to the area.

Using the standby generator on San Pedro, power supply was restored by 6:37 a.m. to Feeder 1 and Feeder 2 which includes the central portion of the town. The Northern and

Southern end of San Pedro Town remain without power. Power supply to these remaining areas should be restored by 9:30 a.m. BEL also reports that crews are working to resolve technical difficulties on the distribution systems in other regions of the country. Some villages along the Northern, Hummingbird and Southern Highways and a portion of North Side Belize City have been experiencing intermittent power outages between last night and this morning due to faults on those systems.

BEL regrets any inconvenience caused by these outages and assures customers that the

Company is working to restore power supply to all affected areas as soon as possible.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Artisans Show Off Beautiful Art

From time to time, woodcarvers from the mainland travel to Ambergris Caye to showcase and sell their amazing artwork carved from Coconut Tree trunks, drift wood and exotic wood like Mahogany.

This past weekend one such wood carver displayed one of his biggest piece which involved the roots of a large piece of driftwood. Meticulously carved in detail, stained and varnished, the large carving would make for an excellent centerpiece in anyone's home.

Manatee at Hol Chan Channel

Another great picture submitted to us by our good friend Carlos Ayala of Carlos Tours in Caye Caulker. While out at the Hol Chan channel on Tuesday, May 27, a friendly manatee swam up to the divers and snorkelers. This is a rare occasion as manatees tend to stay close to the coast line near the mangrove areas. They are herbivores and eat only marine plants.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

BEL Identifies Cause of Nationwide Power Outages

Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) has confirmed that nationwide power outages which occurred earlier this morning were the result of a fault on the 115 kV transmission line.

At 7:41 a.m. today, power supply was lost to the National Grid following a trip on the system. The Company identified that the fault on the system was located in the Orange

Walk District and surveillance crews were immediately dispatched via helicopter and road to determine the cause. Using local generation sources, BEL was able to restore power to the entire country by 8:22 a.m.

Power supply was again lost to the National Grid at 9:30 a.m. Shortly after, surveillance crews reported that the cause of the trip was a damaged insulator located on the 115 kV transmission line, approximately two miles outside of Orange Walk Town. Investigations have revealed that the damage was most likely due to the recent extended dry and dusty weather conditions.

Power was restored to Belize City, Ladyville, the Western and Southern Zones by 10:45 a.m. using local generation sources, while power supply to the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts was restored shortly after using Mexico’s supply. Power supply to San Pedro was restored at 11:46 a.m. Crews are currently working to repair the damaged equipment as soon as possible.

The Company also reports that power supply was lost to the Corozal District at 1:46 a.m. and was restored at 8:58 a.m., following repairs to a damaged insulator on the 34.5 kV line. BEL regrets any inconvenience caused by these outages. For more information, please contact BEL at 0-800-BEL-CARE or 0-800-235-2273.

Airlines Reduce Flights to Corozal

After the Belize Airports Authority announced last week that the Corozal Airport would be closed for major repairs for three weeks, both Tropic Air and Maya Island Air have kept scheduled flights to the northern district, but have reduced their number of scheduled flights to three, for the time being.

Tropic Air has the following schedule:
From San Pedro to Corozal:
1. 7a.m returning 7:30a.m.
2. 1p.m. returning 1:30p.m
3. 4p.m. returning 4:30p.m.

Maya Island Air has the following schedule:
From San Pedro to Corozal:
1. 7a.m returning 7:30a.m.
2.10a.m returning 10:30a.m.
3.4:30p.m returning 5p.m.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Extreme Sport Comes to San Pedro

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when I encountered these two men taking advantage of strong winds to engage in the extreme sport of kite surfing. They took to the sky, performing daredevil tricks for spectators at Boca del Rio Park to enjoy and marvel at.

With popularity of the sport increasing in San Pedro, many are taking to this sport. Last year Sailsports Belize organized a Kite Surfing Safari where extreme sportsmen from all over the world came to Belize to surf the most exotic beaches in the country.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Caye Caulker to Open High School

Caye Caulker students will no longer have to travel outside the island to study in a high school since this year Caye Caulker will have its very own high school – Caye Caulker Ocean Academy.

According to the non-profit group’s website (, the school will be called Caye Caulker Ocean Academy; the directors who proposed this non-profit high school are local residents Heidi Curry, Joni Miller and Dane Dingerson.

CCOA will have small classes (no more than 15 students per teacher) and every student will use a personal computer every day. All core teachers have a University or Associates degree and a passion for teaching.

CCOA Enrichment Components include Marine Biology, Small Business Development and Operation, Art, and Music. The schools number-one goal is to educate Caye Caulker students to become young adults with options. CCOA will encourage students based on skills and interests: to continue to University in Belize or abroad, to work within Caye Caulker’s [or Belize’s] industries; or to start a small island business.

The school will cover the Belize Curriculum for all core classes (English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Life Skills, Spanish, and Information Technology (Computers), while using a hands-on teaching approach.

Students will have the opportunity to choose short-term elective classes from the following: PADI Scuba Certification, CPR/First Aid Certification, Jewelry Making, Sewing, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Boating, Windsurfing, and Running. It will also have team sports; and support clubs and organizations such as the Environmental Club, Chess Club, and Student Council.

The School construction is beginning now on land located near the entrance to Puesta del Sol. Classes offered will be First Form, Second Form, and a “Bridge” Preparatory Class (for students who have completed Standard 6, and need extra help before entering First Form). Third Form and Fourth Form will be added in future years.

CCOA is a private, non-profit community high school. The Founders and Administrators are Heidi Curry (Co-Principal, Director of Fundraising and Teacher), Joni Miller ( Co-principal, teacher trainer and teacher), and Dane Dingerson (Director of physical plant). Teachers will be a mix of American, Candadian, and Belizean. For more information about the school visit their website at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Police Dept. Create Youth Development Program

The San Pedro Police Department, under the command of the Assistant Superintendent Dennis Arnold, invited the director of conscious Youth Development Program to resolve conflicts between young people on the island of San Pedro.

The police response indicates that they are not all about incarceration, arrests and prosecution, but also about addressing social problems in order to prevent young persons from breaking the Justice System.

Superintendent Edward Broaster, Director of the C.Y.P.D., met with five parents and five young men on the island to resolve a conflict which had been brewing up for more than a year now. At the end of the day, both the young men and their parents were happy with the outcome.

This move just goes to show that the San Pedro Police Department and the Belize Police Department cares about the social environment and issues involving and affecting the youth.

The San Pedro Police Department hopes that parents take part in the program because the police department cannot do it on its own. The San Pedro Police Department will do its very best to ensure that the Island remains peacefully, tranquil and secure for all to enjoy. Congrats to those parents and youth that participated in the program.

Grupo Bryndis to Headline Costa Maya Fest

Click above to enlarge

Corozal Airstrip To Close for 3 Weeks

Word coming to our office from the Belize Airport Authority is that as of Monday, May 26, 2008, the Corozal airstrip will be closed for approximately three weeks due to necessary maintenance to upgrade the dilapidated strip.

Barbara Miller, Chairlady of the Belize Airport Authority (BAA), told Ambergris Today that their committee recently traversed the entire country to make assessments on the conditions of all the major landing strips under their authority. Most were up to par with BAA’s standards and all were cleaned or will be cleaned of debris. According to Miller, the Corozal Airstrip is the one that needs dire attention, and that the extensive work needed on the strip calls for its closure for at lease three weeks.

On Sunday evening, May, 25, the airstrip will be closed with work starting immediately. This includes total resurfacing, lengthening and widening of the landing strip and clearing of the surrounding area to make for safer take off and landing of aircrafts. This work is being done now in order to avoid the upcoming rainy season.

What does this mean for the local airlines and travelers to Corozal and those en route to neighboring Chetumal, Mexico? Well, Tropic Air says that their six scheduled flights to Corozal will remain the same during this period, only that flights have been directed to an airstrip in the village of Chan Chen.

This is a private airstrip that is located about seven miles south of the regular airstrip in the Carmelita Village, Corozal. Tropic Air employees have visited the strip in Chan Chen and deemed it safe to use. As for Maya Island Air, their representatives say that they will fly to Chan Chen as well, so customers who fly to Corozal on a regular basis do not need to fret. If there are any changes to the schedule both airlines say that they will make announcements.

Travelers heading to Corozal should take into account this new location and contact their personal taxi service providers with the new address for pickup and drop off. For more information contact you can contact Tropic Air at 226-2012 or Maya Island Air at 226-2485.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Candlelight Vigil for AIDS Awareness

It might not be a topic that is most talked about on the island and many people might not know somebody infected with the disease or who has died from it, but HIV/AIDS is definitely a part of our society. With Belize’s increasing status if HIV/AIDS infection per capita in the region, we must all take heed into becoming more educated about the social issues and implications of this deadly disease.

With this in mind, Lighthouse Christian Radio 101.3FM and various churches in San Pedro organized an HIV/AIDS International Candlelight Vigil that was observed on Monday, May 19. Members of the San Pedro AIDS Commission and interested parties joined Lighthouse Christian Radio in a silent walk through the streets of town for a time to remember those who died from AIDS.

With candles and posters in hand, participants of the silent walk made it to Central Park where guests Pastor Ron Magno and Daniel Davis gave testimony of how being HIV positive has affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Pastor Ron is from the Assembly of God in San Diego, California and Mr. Davis is a Director of Ministry in Phoenix, Arizona.
Also present and addressing those present was Mr. Bruce A. Sonnenberg, Executive Director and Founder of He Intends Victory (HIV) who told Ambergris Today that he was very excited to bring the candlelight vigil to San Pedro, as the rest of the world observed the same vigil a day before on Sunday, May 18.

Clive Welsh, director of Lighthouse Christian Radio, gave some insight on ministries on the island that are opening their doors to those facing HIV/AIDS and commented that he is working in organizing a support group for those affected with the disease. For more information you can call 226-4673.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Town Council’s Group Neighborhood Watch Meeting

Steve Spiro, the Chairman of the Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Watch Committee, reported that the Town Council, along with the police and the Neighborhood Watch leaders met to deal with several issues to prevent crime:

1. They identified the higher risk areas that need lighting and are in the process of working with BEL to install street lights.

2. A decision was made to reinstate the curfew for children 16 and younger. The curfew would be 10p.m. and any children unaccompanied by an adult would be taken to the police station to be picked up by their parents. They further agreed:

3. That the law requiring security guards to be licensed would be enforced in October and police would begin verifying that this requirement is met. An application can be picked up at the Police Dept. or go to: and look under Chapter 138:01S Private Security and Investigation Services (Control) Act or you can try going directly with:

4. That ferry boats would be required to maintain a manifest which would be available to police to help them be able to track who arrives or has left the island.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Looking for Business Space!

Rental space for business in town is getting scarce and people are hustling for the best spot to open shop. With this in mind residents with homes in town are getting smart. The trend now for these residents is to tear down their old wooden homes and construct large three story buildings and rent the first two floors, taking up residence on the third floor. This picture shows business spaces going up on Barrier Reef Drive across from the San Pedro Town Council. There are many like these all over town. Like in most cities, the only other way is to go up!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Discovering a Hidden Treasure

The staff of Ambergris Today had a wonderful dining experience at San Pedro's newest restaurant, Hidden Treasure. Why hidden,you might ask? Well, the restaurant is tucked away amongst the residential area of the Escalante Subdivision about one mile south of San Pedro Town.

It was a refreshing experience as Hidden Treasure has very unique environment that is very warm and inviting. The service was excellent and the food was even better. Read a complete restaurant review on Hidden Treasure on next week's edition of Ambergris Today Newspaper.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Suspect Lineup Room at Police Dept. Upgraded

Scott Harnish, President of the NACNW and Marilyn Marx reported to the Chamber of Commerce that they have installed the “mirrored” sheeting on the viewing window and the room can now be used for lineups of suspects for identification.
Emma Carter will donate material for curtains while Graniel’s Construction has done a terrific job with donating time and labor for all the finishing work and their final effort will be the installation of the curtain rods.

Everbody is Reading Ambergris Today

Click to Enlarge

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Costa Maya Fest Draws Near

- Press Release, Costa Maya Festival Committee, May 13, 2008 - The Costa Maya Festival stage this year will light up as international artists from all over the Americas merge to put on a multicultural spectacle on Ambergris Caye for a celebratory week of dance, music, pageant, local and international cuisine. Celebrating our ancestral Mayan culture, the Costa Maya Festival is a week-long celebration from August 7 – 10, 2008 at the old football field. The Festival Committee has done some initial planning and hope that this year Costa Maya Festival brings much focus on the Maya Culture and success to the business community on the island of San Pedro.

Local and international visitors will enjoy a world-class event in beautiful San Pedro. There are traditional and modern dance groups, star studded musical bands accompanied by renown singers. Confirmation has been coming in from all the agencies and pageant production houses for participation. This year festival should cater to the entire family, as each night promises to be a spectacle that everyone will enjoy.

This year La Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant seeks the participation of Panama, with this it will complete the participation of all the Central American countries and takes place on Thursday night with the traditional and anticipated La Reina de la Costa Maya International Pageant. International delegates arriving on August 30th will be hosted in Belize City and then ferried to San Pedro to be hosted at ‘Noche Sampedrana’. The girls will compete in photo shoots, interviews and public meeting for preliminary judging before they take to the stage. Leila Pandy, former Ms Belize who is no stranger to the island of San Pedro will be Head Coordinator in this year’s La Reina De La Costa Maya 2008. Once again this year the Delegates will be hosted at beautiful Ramon’s Village Resort.

It is envisioned that Friday night will have two parts, one the Official Opening Gala which will highlight counties of the Mundo Maya Group entertaining with cultural performances representing their country in a colourful display of costumes and chivalry. The second part will come alive with two mega musical giants representing Dance Hall, Hip-Hop and Punta Rock.

Saturday night is dubbed as International Night and will be no less than rewarding as the Costa Maya Festival brings to the stage a group that is no stranger to the local radio station and on the ear of the listening public.

Family Night is Sunday Night, which will be the closing of Costa Maya Festival. Entertainment will include a popular local and international comedians, music, dance and raffles.

Partners in this year Costa Maya Festival will be Bowen & Bowen and RSV LTD. who have pledged similar support as last year coming in as Grand Sponsors. One of our first sponsors for this year Victoria House and Milo’s Enterprises has come in at Gold and First Caribbean as Bronze. Hotels for the festival are Mayan Princess, Nellie’s Paradise Villas, Martha’s Hotel, Victoria House, Sun Breeze Hotel, Holiday Hotel, Sun Breeze Suites, and Blue Tang.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cellular Plus Opens Shop in San Pedro

Another cellular store has set up shop in San Pedro. Cellular Plus from Belize City opened a branch of their store in San Pedro Town this past Thursday, May 8. With great deals on their opening week, the store was jam-packed all weekend long with customers raiding the store. We heard that they ran out of stocked Iphones on their very first day of business. San Pedro loves all the latest cell phones.

Cresencia Ake crowned Mother of the Year 2008

The San Pedro Town Council organized a fun filled night for all mothers to enjoy this past Saturday, May 10. The Mother’s Day 2008 Extravaganza included announcement of the mother of the year, Mrs. Cresencia Ake, the terrific performances from the local dance groups, Rompe Raja, and the Mayino Show from Merida, Yucatan. The highlight of the evening was the coronation of Mother of the Year 2008 Mrs. Cresencia Ake, whose name was drawn from a list of other candidates.

During the special evening last Saturday, mothers in attendance were also treated to a gourmet turkey dinner, delicious dessert and complimentary drinks. Other highlights of the evening were performances by special performance by the Mayino Show, and local entertainment by The San Pedro Dance Company, Take the Lead Crew and music by Rompe Raja Band.

Read more on Mother's Day on Thursday's edition of Ambergris Today.

Monday, May 12, 2008

DNA Kicks Off Tour

Dino Ink donates to Police Department

On Wednesday, April 30, the San Pedro Police Department received a kind donation of a printer by Barry Goldberg from Dino’s Ink and Toners. “I am very grateful with all the support and business that I get from the community, that this is the way I give back,” said Barry Goldberg, owner of Dino Ink. “I am very happy to give these donations to people who need them the most.”

The Brother printer is a six in one printer, copier, has photo capture center, color fax and PC Fax. Handing out the donation on behalf of Mr. Goldberg was ex-police officer and Dino Ink Office Manager Jamil Trejo, to CPL# 900 Dwayne McCulloch.

The Police Department is thankful to Mr. Goldberg and all the businesses that have kindly made donations to the department. Other donations by Dino Ink include assistance to the San Pedro Town Library, Isla Bonita Elementary and Ambergris Caye Elementary, among others.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Slow Boom in Belize: One Island Stays Funky

South of the Yucatán, community balances growth and atmosphere
- By Kevin Brass, International Herald Tribune, Published: May 1, 2008

AMBERGRIS CAYE, Belize: This island was a sleepy destination for divers and fishermen 15 years ago, when the singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker and his wife, Susan, built their house on the Caribbean waterfront.

These days, high-end residential developments dot the island and it is possible to find a good bottle of French wine in San Pedro, the island’s main town. But Susan Walker, who is based in Texas, is convinced that Ambergris will maintain its distinct island charm.

“This place is just funky enough to keep the people away,” she said. “Funky” is a word often used to describe Ambergris and finding ways to maintain that funkiness is a frequent topic of discussion.

Only a few hundred yards from one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, the 25-mile-long, 4.5-mile-wide island is Belize’s most popular tourist destination. Since 1993, the island’s population has jumped to 12,000 from 2,500, including a wave of Americans and Canadians who bought second homes or retired on the island.

But the water is too shallow for cruise ships and megayachts, and there are few of the all-inclusive resorts that lure the spring-break party crowd to destinations like Cancún or Jamaica.

At the other end of the tourist spectrum, some visitors are disappointed by the dearth of top-end restaurants, spas and glitzy discos. The nearest golf course - and the only 18-hole course in Belize - is on Caye Chapel, a low island about 20 minutes away by boat.

Ambergris is “booming, but it’s booming nice and quietly,” said Chris Allnat, a real estate agent with Pelican Properties here.

Most of Ambergris’s new development is north of San Pedro in an area most of which is only accessible by boat. Last year, a small bridge was built over “the cut,” the nickname for the channel that separates the much larger northern part of the island from San Pedro and the south. But cars are still banned on the one bumpy dirt road that stretches up through that northern section of the island.

There is talk of paving the north road but limiting its use to golf carts, which are still the main mode of transportation on the island. “We do not want it to be suitable for carrying cars,” said Diane Campbell, a local developer. “We’re trying to decrease the number of cars.”

Campbell and her husband, Bob, have built six small residential projects on the island. Their latest is Solaria, a collection of three five-story waterfront houses with wide verandas, priced roughly between $900,000 and $1 million.

Most of the developments on the island are in the 20- to 70-unit range. Government restrictions limit buildings along the waterfront to three or four stories.

“They don’t want to change the feel of the place,” said Macarena Rose, president of the Belize National Association of Realtors, a fledgling group that partnered last year with the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors.

Agents say prices for houses have spiked 20 to 30 percent on Ambergris in recent years, but are still relatively inexpensive compared with those on other Caribbean islands. A two-bedroom, waterfront condo typically sells for $300,000 to $500,000, compared to the $1 million-plus price tags found on islands like St. Bart’s.

With few pristine lots available - many parts of the island are swampy and only stretches offer white sand - in the last three years, waterfront land has jumped from $3,500 to almost $6,000 a linear foot for developable beachfront property in the north, agents say. (In Belize, land is priced by the length of its beachfront and prices are in U.S. dollars.)

For foreign buyers, Belize offers many attractive features. English is the primary language and the currency, the Belize dollar, is fixed to the U.S. dollar. It also offers a liberal retirement program, simplifying the process for foreigners to establish residence and transfer possessions.

Tony Newshel, a New Jersey resident, said “the ease of being in Belize” and the island’s “laid-back” atmosphere played large roles in his decision to buy on Ambergris. Three years ago, Newshel, an avid scuba diver, and his wife, Ginny, paid about $500,000 for a two-bedroom waterfront condo in a development called The Phoenix, in San Pedro.

From an “investment standpoint,” the changes on Ambergris have been “completely for the better,” Newshel said. “The town is able to handle more people, more conveniently.”

Changes include paved roads around San Pedro, two supermarkets and a bevy of new restaurants.

The Phoenix, where the Newshels bought an apartment, is billed as the first upscale development in San Pedro. The 30-unit complex was built by Jerry and Linda McDermott, who ran a popular bar and hotel on the site for 20 years. “We’re trying to create a new niche in the market,” said Mark Maggiotto, the Phoenix’s general manager.

Twenty-four of the 30 condos have been sold since the project went on the market in 2005, Maggiotto said. The six remaining units range from a one-bedroom for $399,000 to a three-bedroom unit for $589,000.

In recent weeks, agents on Ambergris report a slowdown in buying activity as the troubles in the U.S. economy ripple through the market. But sales could get a boost if direct flights to Belize City are initiated from Europe, as is widely anticipated. Last year the main runway at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City was expanded to accommodate bigger jets.

Few on Ambergris doubt that more development is in the future. “I think it’s inevitable,” Susan Walker said.

Mexico-Belize tickets on sale Monday

Tickets for the June 15 World Cup qualifying match between Belize and Mexico at Reliant Stadium will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.

The David and Goliath-style meeting — Mexico is ranked 16th in the world and first in CONCACAF; Belize is 171st and 26th, respectively — will mark the first time a World Cup qualifier is played in Houston.

Tickets will range from $30-$75 and will be available at Ticketmaster outlets, over the phone at 713-629-3700, online at , and the Reliant Stadium box office.

The match will be Belize's home leg in a two-game, aggregate-scoring series. The Central Americans are playing out of the country because they lack the proper infrastructure to host a FIFA-sanctioned match.

Belize reached the second round of qualifiers after a 4-2 win in aggregate over St. Kitts and Nevis; Mexico enjoyed a first-round bye.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Holy Cross Says Thanks

The Organizers of the Cinco de Mayo Extravaganza Fundraiser for Holy Cross Anglican School would like to thank everyone that worked so hard to make this event such a success. A special thank you goes out to the business community of San Pedro for their generosity, especially:

Ak Bol Yoga
Albert & Gladys Eggenberger
Amber Jewellery
Ambergris Delight
Ambergris Divers
Ambergris Today
Art Guild of San Pedro
Art of Touch Art Gallery
Atlantic Bank
Bank of Nova Scotia
Barefoot Books
BC's Beach Bar
Beach N Kitchen
Belikin Beer
Belize Bank
Blue Lotus
Blue Reef Island Resort
Blue Water Grill
Brahma Blue Spa
Captain Morgan's Retreat
Captain Sharks
Caribe Creations
Carole Goudreau Esthetic
Casa Picasso
Casey's Boatyard
Casino Belize
Castillo's Hardware
Caye Caulker Water Taxi
Changes in Latitude
Chez Caribe
Cholo's Golf Carts
Christo's Restaurant
Chuck & Robbie's Dive Shop
Cindy Carlson Reflexologist
Consolidated Water
Coral Beach Realty
Crazy Canucks
Dalia's Store
Dennis Store
Dilzon's Charters
Dino's Ink
Dr. Lerida Rodriguez
El Gato Tours
Elvi's Restaurant
Fido's Sushi Bar
Fido's Water Sports
French Bakery
Gecko Graphics
Green House
Harmouch Hardware
Hofius (Belize City)
Island Divers Supply
Island Dog
Island Mini-Mart
Island Perk
Island Supermarket
Jambel Jerk Pit
Keepin It Reel - Ari & Alberto Trejo
KVS Playland
La Perla del Caribe
Leslie's Salon Pedicure
Liquor Box
Mary & Sherry Guerrerro
Mata Chica Resort
Maya Island Air
Milo's Grocery
Milo's Ice
Mr. Joe's Grocery & Grill
Ms. Letitcia
Nellie's Laundromat
Orange Gift Shop
Palapa Bar
Pampered Paws
Penny's Hideaway Bar
Phils Tours (Belize City)
Pier Lounge
Pinguino Wines
Pinki Knox Restaurant
Polo's Golf Cart Rental
Portofino Resort
Premium Wines & Spirits
Quality Poultry
Quicksilver Messenger Service
R. Meredith
Ralph and Rene
Reef Restaurant
Rendezvous Restaurant
Riverside Tavern - Belize City
Roadkill Bar
Rob & Michelle Kinnon - BRIC Int. Playa Del Carmen
Roberto Guerrero Fishing
Rum, Cigar & Coffee House
San Cas, Ltd.
San Pedro Sun
San Pedro Supermarket
San Pedro Town Board
Save On Groceries
Seaduced by Belize
Searious Adventures
Segway of Belize
Sew What
Sinsemilla Band
Sol Spa
Southside Meat
Spindrift Hotel
St. Anthony's Trading Company
Studio C - Emma Carter
Sueno Del Mar
Sun Breeze Hotel
Sunset Grill
Sweet Basil
Tackle Box`
Tech Transylvania
Toucan Store
Triple J Water Taxi
Tropic Air
Tsunami Skydivers
Vernon Wilson
Wet Willy's Bar & Grill
Wild Mango's Restaurant
Wine De Vine

Extra special thanks go to Dilzon's Charters for ongoing donations to the school feeding program and to Casino Belize for their donation of all of the proceeds from the month of May on 13 of their slot machines.

A Huge Thanks to Sinsemilla Band, Gino, Tanya, John and Zac for their musical performances, Sari Frank and Lara Goldman for their MC/Auctioneering expertise, to Fred and Bob from Coral Beach Realty for their organizational help, Francis and Vernon Wilson, Cullen and Cath Walker, Garrick and Kaylene from Wet Willy's for hosting the event, Marilyn Marx, Sterling Vorus, Linda Carter and the Teachers & Staff of Holy Cross.

An event like this could not happen without the help of our many wonderful volunteers that worked so hard to make this fundraiser a success, a very special thank you to all of you: Carole, Gene, Doug, Karen, Alissa, Jenna, Jodie, Steve, Sheila, Jan, Cindy, Renita, Kristen and Shannon.

And finally, a very special thanks to all that attended the event and continue to support Holy Cross Anglican School. Watch the newspapers next week for a very exciting announcement from Holy Cross Anglican School.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

La Playa Lounge

It was about time that someone came up with this spectacular idea to open a posh new lounge on the island. I give the new Playa Lounge two thumbs up! There are plenty bars, nightclubs and restaurants on the island, but the new La Playa Lounge is something different and unique to the island.

It is the perfect place to LOUNGE. You can kick off your shoes/sandals and relax as you cozy up to the lounge’s comfortable over-sized couches and plush pillows. The ambiance is perfect for you to curl up in a corner whilst drinking your cocktail, chatting with a friend, reading a book or just taking in the beautiful view of the beach.

La Playa Lounge is located across from the Tacklebox and Caye Caulker Water Taxi, where Cannibals previously used to be. Take it from me, if you want to hang out in a different environment, away from all the noise of a regular bar and chaos of the night clubs, La Playa Lounge is the perfect place for you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

DNA Promotional Tour

Local musical sensation DNA (David, Nestor and Alex) kicked off their national tour this past Friday, May 2, with two concerts. The first was held at La Isla Bonita Elementary School which was geared towards school children and the official kick off was held later that night at Jaguar’s Temple Night Club.
The dance competition, La Riena del Tra, was held with contestants shaking their ‘Tra” to DNA’s signature song of their latest album DNA Extreme.

Click below to view DNA’s tour schedule for the entire month of May.