Oh man guys, the excitement is real! There’s an energy in the air, it’s almost palpable. Things are happening, things are in the works, and it feels like this high season is going to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. I, for one, am hyped up for the near future and all that is going on this month. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been up to and the local happenings around town.
BTIA’s new board, upcoming events, and re-launching The Breeze
Back in June Placencia got a newly elected Village Council of passionate action-takers and the spirit of community and change was infectious. Last month the local BTIA selected their new board and guess what?!? I get the honor of serving on it!!! I’m stoked to be part of this committee and learn from time-tested leaders in the tourism sector here; it’s an awesome group of people who are crusaders for the community while wanting to present the best tourism product we can and market our destination in the smartest way possible. The BTIA’s welcome and information center is fully re-open now and operating with a 3-person staff. The local monthly publication, The Breeze, is back in circulation– a wonderful information source for both visitors and locals alike. Contact the girls in the office about advertising prices, article submissions, or classified ads and don’t forget to pick up your copy when they come out each month. At the moment the BTIA is in full Mistletoe Ball planning mode– it is THE event of the season and so much fun. Held at Umaya Resort this year, December 10th! If you can’t attend in-person you can still buy raffle tickets (same as Lobsterfest, message me and I’ll coordinate for you). After the holidays they’ll keep the momentum going with Sidewalk Art Festival in February.
Shooting the ‘Firemen of Placencia’ 2023 Calendar
Look out! Hot stuff comin’ through! This past Friday we shot for the 2023 Placencia Firemen Calendar, a new fundraiser we’re trying this quarter. If you’re a frequent reader you know I’m on the board of the Peninsula Volunteer Fire Department as fundraising director. The funds we raise go to supporting our local Fire Department which is under-funded by the National Fire Service of Belize. Our big annual event is Floatchella and that pays for supplementary fuel and miscellaneous expenses throughout the year that exceed the budget that NFS bestows upon our local department. In other locations when a department uses their allotted petrol budget for the month (for example) they simply can’t respond to more calls until the next billing cycle- that will never happen in Placencia because the PVFD makes sure our guys are equipped and supported to do their jobs no matter what. Maybe you’ve noticed that we don’t have fire hydrants… anywhere on the peninsula. We have mobile pumps and lengths of hose that we can run from the sea, lagoon, or someone’s pool, to fight fires with. One of our two pumps is broken. We’re at half capacity to respond to an emergency right now so this calendar is meant to raise funds to fix the inoperable pump. We’re hoping to have 300 calendars printed and in hand for early December. The cost will be $25bz a piece (message me for bulk discounts of 10 or more) and the guys had a fun time making it. Here are some behind-the-scene sneak peeks but they won’t be nearly as good as Ashley Swierczek’s professional photos in the actual calendar.
Monkey River Rescue
Remember the massive community effort to Save Silk Caye? Well, Eworth and the gang are doing it again! This time they’re saving 2 homes in Monkey River Village. Same idea: natural fill seawall (encased rock, then sand bags, then replant trees to solidify the fill under the root structure) at an angle to hopefully create a catchment. I’d never been to Monkey River before but I knew a bit about its history as a once-thriving port town. It was the epicenter of life and commerce in southern Belize before there were roads and when the banana plantations were king. Pollution and disease forced the cash crop to move on and with it, many of the population relocated in search of jobs. The village is struggling now with many about 30 families left and no Police or Medical services. The effects of the unregulated farming are still being felt years later through sediment run off polluting the river and major erosion. They’ve already lost their whole sea-front block. I was told there used to be a municipal dock, police station and clinic where there is just water (and massive septic tanks half surfaced) now. The ocean’s edge is lapping at the back door of two occupied homes; meaning that they both flood any time there is inclement weather. I don’t know that the seawall is the solution, it sort of seems like a bandaid on a sucking chest wound, but it might just buy these two families some time. It might be the solution that this current generation of villagers needs and that’s a worthy enough cause. Just as before, it is a grassroots movement and community effort. Collective manpower and sweat equity are building this land up. I’m so grateful we had the opportunity to play a small role in something like this again. It was awesome going to Monkey River for the first time, not as just-another-tourist passing through but as a neighbor. The kids had a great time playing with different friends in a new location and I enjoyed listening to the Monkey River ladies gossip and cut-up among themselves while we all worked side by side. Eworth is doing one last final push/ community work day to try to complete the project on Sunday so if you can haul sand bags or carry boulders… come along!
The coolest new cave tour in the country
Hoooooollllyyyyy Smokes! Okay, I got to be an honorary tour guide and tag along on a discovery tour with Barefoot Services for a new cave tour they’re premiering this season and IT. IS. AWESOME. It’s a full day of kayaking through not one, but TWO freaking cave systems! I love Barefoot as a tour operator because they’re always re-inventing their inventory to offer the coolest experiences in the country from Placencia. They don’t just stick to the same old standard half-day tours that everyone offers, they’re more of an excursion concierge and they’ll tailor adventures to you and your group’s interests and activity levels. If you’re vacationing on the peninsula or even in Hopkins, Barefoot is the go-to operator for any tour you can imagine (and one’s that you can’t imagine!). This new cave kayak tour deserves it own separate post but here is a glimpse at a few of the DOZENS of photos I took. I’m obsessed!