The morning I was scheduled to leave Placencia, I woke up early and took one final stroll down the street, and watched the vendors put out their fresh fruit for the day’s customers. Did I tell you there was only one street? One street, that used to mark the edge of the lagoon, but where dredging has helped to increase the size of the peninsula. I walked back along the sidewalk, the only other paved strip on the sandy peninsula. I saw very few tourists at this time, mostly locals sweeping their steps and working outside before the temperatures got too high.
The flight to San Pedro was not direct. I instead flew back to Belize City and then back and forth from the municipal and international airports. At times, it was only me and the pilot, and I could imagine what it would be like to take flying lessons. The view coming into San Pedro was breathtaking. Small islands, shallow waters, and reefs visible from the air signaled we were close to the main island.
After arriving, I found a water taxi and sped northward along the shores to the Ak’bol Yoga Retreat, a simple and stunning collection of cabins and rooms on the beach. I hastily swapped my luggage for a swim suit and inquired about snorkeling. One hour later a boat arrived to take me and four others to Mexico Rocks. Although I didn’t have an underwater camera, I have linked to photos online of some of the beautiful fish I saw there, like angel fish, trumpet fish, rainbow parrot fish, queen parrot fish, sergeant major, squirrel fish, barracuda, some kind of small puffer fish, and a green moray eel. I was so thankful to have such a great guide to point them out and who was capable of articulating each name with a snorkel in his mouth! (Later in the week, I stayed at the Palms, where I was much closer to town and could more easily wander around at night looking for fresh pupusas to munch on.)
The following morning, my energy level was high and it was easy waking up early, renting a bike and riding 10 minutes into town to find the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) office. When I arrived I found Coqui, the new Administrator, working hard to catch up with work after the long holiday. I received a very warm welcome and a tour of the new space. ACCSD is sharing the office with an architecture and design company, and although it was not finished yet, it was clear that the space would be fun and stylish. They have even found ways to incorporate mangrove plants into the design of the space. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s done!
Coqui is using the move as an opportunity to give the organization a fresh look. When I was there, she was busy collecting and reorganizing files, useful documents, and maps. Currently, she and I are collaborating on a new website for the organization that should be launched soon, once the new logo is chosen. In addition to staffing the office and fielding calls and visits from concerned citizens, Coqui works closely with the ACCSD board members to achieve the goals of the organization.
ACCSD acts as a watchdog group, monitoring new developments and reporting any irresponsible behavior to the government. ACCSD is working towards a master development plan that would include ways for developers to better protect the local environment and be held accountable to the local community. They also work to increase the area protected in the Hol Chan Marine reserve.
I would have liked to stay in Belize longer, as I couldn’t see all the beautiful sites. I will just have to visit again – and when I do, I look forward to catching up with my new friends.
ELAW Office Manager