Tobacco Caye, where everybody knows your name

Trip Start Apr 23, 2009
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Trip End May 23, 2009


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Flag of Belize  , Belize Cayes,
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who knew being marooned on Gilligan's Island could be so pleasant.  It's the low season in Belize and there were very few resident tourists on Tobacco Caye. That was fine by me. I was starting to develop a possessiveness over the relative undisturbed calm on the island. The sunset last night was amazing so I got myself up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise. I must've been the first one up, it was completely deserted. All the locals gathered around Gaviota's Snack Shop after 7 p.m. last night to watch their television and free movies. There are 2 bars which people hang out in, the Sunset, on Tobacco Caye Lodge's property or Reef's End Lodge's bar at the well, reef's end of the island. Most everyone liked the Sunset, it's bright orange and open all around out onto the dock.

Like Cheers, living on Tobacco Caye is like being in the middle of a sitcom with its own cast of characters.

- George, the defacto 'President' of the island. Works odd jobs and even designs jewelry. Washes the occasional dishes for Raggamuffin Tours when they dock for their 3 day overnight sail to Placencia. Hordes a litter of puppies in his shack.

- Barbara, formerly of Vancouver now running the Tobacco Caye Lodge, the largest resort on the island. Lives with her boyfriend Rustaman. Son Travis is visiting for a bit. Likes to feed the 2 stray dogs on the island with Kibble.

- Lana, owner of Lana's on the Reef. A local institution at 81 this year, married since 1950, has 3 kids,  3 grandchildren one named Stacey and 3 great grandchildren. Makes a mean anything in the kitchen.

- Mario, half Colombian, half Belizean. Formerly a mechanical engineer and worked in a bank in Belize City. Ended up at the University of Arizona (?!?!) for 2 years now the Dive Master at Reef's End Lodge. Works with Art, who also hails from Arizona, formerly an Editor, now retired.

- Phil, drummer from Dangriga, works part time as the bartender at Sunset. Switches on and off with Sid, the other bartender.

- Salvino, Grace and Frank who all work for Lana.

- Joe, lovingly nicknamed Coconut Joe for his ability to amble up palm trees and pick you out a coconut. Works for Barbara.

Sandy and Trouble, the local strays, 2 of 4 dogs on the island. Recently had a litter of 7 puppies. I'm in love with Trouble Jr., the runt of the litter. Sandy will bite anyone who goes near her puppies. Tred carefully.

- AC, boat and tour operator. Used to run tours with Mario and knows all the good spots for fishing, diving, snorkeling, manatee viewing, you name it, he can find it in the area.

- Captain Jack, boat operator for Paradise Lodge and lives above their dive shop.

There's not much to do but snorkel, swim, dive or hang out in a hammock and drink a few at the 2 bars with the locals. We decided on a snorkel tour with AC in the afternoon to see manatees and snorkel the middle of the reef away from the island and spent the morning snorkeling around the Reef's End Lodge's reef. Mario didn't have many customers for the morning so he took us out snorkeling on a free private tour. The visibility is amazing, you can see 50 to 60 feet out into the ocean. We saw turtles, yellow rays, eagle rays, spotted eagle rays, barracudas, rainbow parrot fish, schools of Sergeant majors and every kind of other tropical fish imaginable. That afternoon with AC we spotted 4 manatees in Tobacco Lagoon too!

Stacey had an inkling for Belizean lemon meringue pie and Lana made it for her especially. It was the best slice of lemon meringue pie she'd tasted in a long time. The evening was so hot we went out to the Sunset and hung out with Travis and Mario only to fall asleep in a hammock under the bright bright stars.
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