Thursday, December 30, 2010

Piles of Junk...

Some time this past summer, Jose told me that one of the local resorts was getting rid of an old commercial stove from their restaurant. When I went to look, it was in pretty rough shape.  It was cheap enough that I decided to take the risk we could do something with it. The piles of junk you see below are after Jose had "dismantled" it... I didn't get back to the shop quick enough for a really good "before" photo!

It took a lot of time and effort to rejuvenate this very well made Garland commercial stove, but the end result made it all worth it!  No, we don't (and won't) run a restaurant, but we have always wanted one of these and now it's in our palapa kitchen.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Jankuno Traditional Garifuna Christmas Dancing...

Christmas Day at The Maine Stay...

Thanks very much to Hamanasi Resort for the very nice description below of the Jankuno tradition.

“Jankuno” Garifuna Dance

by HAMANASI on DECEMBER 20, 2010
The “Jankuno” dance is a traditional dance performed during the Christmas season. The dancer wears a mask which resembles an English face topped by a hand-made hat similar to the English naval hats of the 18th century. It is said that these dances have their origins in the days of slavery and were intended to make fun of the white masters and their lack of rhythm.

Dum, du-dum … dum du-dum, is the rhythm of the drum that seems to be coming from across the village. It is an insidious beckoning to become a part of the music. As you draw nearer, the drumbeats become more distinct and there is the rising accompaniment of “shingling” shells. Above the crowd you are approaching is the wild movement of brightly colored feathers that adorn the head of dancers you are yet to see. The urge to be a part of whatever is happening gets stronger.
It is early January, the end of the Christmas celebrations and the final phase of a fortnight of dancing culminating in “Dia del Rey”, observed January 6th (or the weekend closest to that date,) by the Garinagu. It is another activity that helps to validate Dangriga’s self-imposed title, “The Culture Capital of Belize”. picture
You know that the dancing of the Jankuno is drawing near when you see a young man here, a young boy there, gathering colorful feathers, assembling an attractive crown, or putting the finishing touches to the painted face masks that will be worn. You might be lucky to see a fully dressed dancer or two heading in the same direction as you, in search of the drums and their captivating rhythm.
Moving slowly to the front of the crowd you are suddenly faced with 5-10 costumed dancers wearing long sleeved white shirts, white gloves, knee length black pants and the occasional skirt, stockinged feet with black or white shoes. Green, pink or black ribbons criss-cross their chests and wrap their waist. At the knees, hundreds of tiny shells strung into knee pads make that “shingling” sound that accompany the dancer’s every move. The heads are wrapped in colorful cloths and the face is covered with painted masks depicting the features of a Caucasian male.
Inside the ring of onlookers is a loose circle of dancers awaiting their individual turns to perform, beginning with the youngest. With forearms extended, the incessant hypnotic movement of the dancer’s feet matches the rhythm and pattern of the two drummers. But it is the dancer’s movement that dictates the drummers’ beat and not the other way around. Paying keen attention, the drummers know when to pause, when to change the rhythm, and how to keep the flow. Each dancer brings his own unique style and flavor so the dancing is not repetitious. The Jankuno has the added richness of the Garifuna history and culture. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Cabana, Palapa and Pier Photos

The 360 degree panoramas I posted about earlier were done by Ben Kim of Esoteric Vision.  Here are 3 stills he took while doing those shoots. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Funny Dogs in Belize

Taco and Bowdoin
I don't know why we named him Taco... since he's mostly Italian Greyhound! Bowdoin is a typical Belizean mutt that decided to walk down the middle of the Placencia Road and stick his scrawny puppy face in our yard... he has thrived!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fly Fishing in Belize...

Some very nice video and stills of the Placencia area flats. Permit, bonefish and tarpon... go for the grand slam!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Haircut in Belize!

I spent 3 months working at the Hillside Clinic in Eldridgeville, just outside of PG in early 2001. The friendly barber in PG did a great job. Wonder if he's still there?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Belize "Barefoot Perfect" Wedding

On Saturday, December 5th, 2010 Don and Dena Swanson had a "barefoot perfect" wedding on the beach at The Maine Stay, Placencia Peninsula, here in gorgeous Belize. It was a beautiful, simple and elegant ceremony. The weather was delightful. See more photos.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

360 Degree Virtual Panoramas in Belize!

Just a couple of notes for The Maine Stay Blog and Facebook crew... we are in the process of doing some 360 degree virtual panorama tours around the cabanas and the beach. Have a look at some of them here and tell us what you think. The still shots below really don't do them justice

The Deck between the Cabanas

The Pier Palapa at Night

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Belize Friends... Fight Cruise Ships in Placencia!

Hello Everyone...

I hesitate to use our blog as a crusading platform, but this is a critical issue for Belize and Placencia. I really wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I signed today:

Have a look at the proposed plan for Placencia Point put forth by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. Clearly it will overwhelm and destroy the Village as we have all come to know and love it. The vast majority of the folks here oppose this... but big money talks... and plans are apparently proceeding.

For more information and other ways you can help and support this cause, see the link at 

I really think this is an important cause, and I'd like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It's free and takes just a few seconds of your time.

p.s. If you would like to start your own free petition, you can do so at

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Waking Up Is "Fun" To Do...

I almost never do this stuff, but a friend sent this to me and it's worth sharing!

The Singing Anesthesiologists - Listen carefully to the words! These singers are all Anesthesiologists (actually CRNAs) in Minnesota and they can really sing. They are also funny. Here they cover Neil Sedaka's classic "Waking Up Is Hard To Do."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Mountains in Honduras...

Although only rarely this visible from our location on the Placencia Peninsula, the mountains in Honduras form a barrier that sometimes protects Belize from the worst of the storms that develop and move west in the extreme southern Caribbean.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Heavenly Belize" Video and book...

The "coffee table" book and iPad versions of the "Heavenly Belize" video are spectacular. If you are thinking about coming to Belize, these images will probably convince you.  If you have been to Belize, you will want these scrapbook memories in some format! Below are the liner notes from YouTube. I have seen the large coffee table version for sale several places here in Placencia. 
Most people who come to Belize will agree that it is a country of astounding and diverse beauty. But few visitors - and most Belizeans for that matter - are fortunate enough to view Belize through the eyes of a soaring hawk or frigate...or a brilliantly plumed scarlet macaw.

That's the extraordinary vantage point employed by author/photographer Marius Jovaisa in Heavenly Belize. Using an ultralight aircraft originally designed for National Geographic assignments in Africa, Jovaisa travels the length and breadth of the country, capturing images ranging from towering jungle covered mountains and ancient Mayan cities to the 400 foot deep Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef.

Whether you are a first time visitor to Belize, or "born and raised" here, these never before published photographs will give you a deep appreciation of this refreshingly unique nation.
A song by Joint Project
Featuring Tanya Carter and Baltas Aras (Skullman)
MUSIC AND LYRICS: Jarreth Gault, Cory McKay, Alexis Milan. SINGERS: Joint Project - Jarreth Gault (Redman), Cory McKay (Mac), Alexis Milan. GUEST SINGER: Tanya Carter. LEAD AND RYTHM GUITAR: Baltas Aras (Skullman). KEYBOARDS, BASS AND DRUMS: Paul Flores. MASTERING: Paul Flores, Ludwig Studios. PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Marisa Alamilla. GROUP MANAGER: Zane Galvez. PRODUCER: Baltas Aras (Skullman). SOUNDTRACK COPYRIGHT A&M Productions
Don't forget to also look at the "BE ONE WITH BELIZE" VIDEO... 

Friday, September 17, 2010


Well... proud grandparents get to show off!  And we'll get to see Eva and Tate in February when they come for a visit!
Eva & Tate

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Cote and LolaIMG_4624Originally uploaded by traversfamily 
Not to be outdone in the "cuteness" department, my son Kevin posted this shot of their dog Lola and her friend Cote on Flickr. I don't think he'll mind if I share.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hey Dad... Where You Going?

Mina is usually my passenger seat companion in the D-Max pick-up truck... and is always disappointed if can't take her along for one reason or another. Well, now she has another "ride" around the beach and Kokomo... and she can get off whenever she wants to check something out!

Mina loves the "Golf Cart Patrols."

Friday, August 20, 2010


Installing some new speakers today prompted me to listen to some of my favorites...
If you haven't heard Walela... Rita Coolidge and sisters... treat yourself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Maine Stay Super Collosal Sand Rake... (patent pending)

Depending on the wind, tide and other factors (that escape my understanding), we get a fair amount of trash and debris rolling up on our 400 feet of beach. Most of you are aware that the past couple of days have been especially bad... so our crew has been hard at work getting it cleaned up.

This has been made considerably easier recently with the addition of our nifty, brand spanking new, made in Seine Bight, one-of-a-kind, home brew... Beach-Mobile Sand Rake and Beer Bottle Collector (patent pending). Crafted at the The Maine Stay Welding & Fabrication, Magical Ideas and Willy Wonka Invention Workshop... this beauty was conceived by me, and designed and built by Jose Garcia... with Hector Tut, Alejandro Ack and Wonder Dog "Mina," making major contributions to the team effort.

With one or two passes, all that stuff gets raked in to piles for loading and disposal... which, of course is another whole issue and problem. Another set of tines was made and is used to "groom" the rest of the beach.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Simone's family travel Blog: We are back in Belize!!!!

Those of you who used to follow Simone when they lived in Belize will be delighted to know they are back. It will be fun to hear about their adventures and return.

Simone's family travel Blog: We are back in Belize!!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Belize style thank you...

We get lots of nice reviews and thank you notes... but it's really fun to find a note like this scribbled on a piece of paper towel!  Thank you Cecilia and Galen... and we hope you don't mind my sharing this with others.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Belize creatures from the deep...

So here's to the imagination and creativity of local craftsmen in Belize. This is made from a tree root, with a couple of pieces added on, but I couldn't tell where.  It is quite a good replica of the Belize spiny lobster (certainly not to be confused with a Maine lobster) and obviously not a miniature! I'm not sure where we are going to finally plunk this thing... but we'll find a spot. By the way, these guys are commonly seen in the water right off The Maine Stay beach.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Calling All Bird-Huggers & Tree-Lovers...

Well... sorry, I just had to do it. The two books below are quite interesting, at least for two groups. The bird watchers know who they are, and then there are those who visit here and live here who get fascinated with the variety of flora and fauna that abounds. Belize has more than 750 varieties of trees. And more than 600 bird species (and an average of 5 new species discovered annually). Probably not too many folks come to Belize to see the trees, but lots of folks come to see the birds.

The detailed compendium "The Birds of Belize," by H. Lee Jones, is 300 plus fact-filled pages of beautifully illustrated information on these birds, and is available locally in Belize, as well as on Amazon.

"The Trees of Belize," by by Kate Harris, is a delightful look at the 50 of the most common, with beautifully done photographs. She details the tree characteristics, blossoms, fruit and medicinal uses of each... as well as the myths and folklore surrounding them. This one is also available locally, but I don't see it yet on Amazon. 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Belize Water "Lettuce"...

About a year ago, Karen got some clumps of "water lettuce."  Being resourceful and willing to try anything, she used a black plastic bucket about 3 feet in diameter and 14 inches deep or so and stuck it directly in the ground. No holes in the bottom. Filled it with some stones, water and the plants and walked away. Just refilling the water as needed. It has been quite surprising how much these stay in bloom... of course, more so in the rains. 

Pontederia cordata
Family: Pontederiaceae
Pickeral Plant, Pickerelweed, Blue Pickerel

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Kendal Bridge... Southern Highway

Let's talk about the Kendal Bridge.  Two years ago, during particularly nasty Tropical Storm Arthur, which formed off the coast of Belize on May 31, 2008 and quickly moved ashore, dumping as much as 15 inches of rain on the country and in the mountains of Guatemala in early June.

The Kendal Bridge over the Sittee River at Mile 13.7 of the Southern Highway between Hopkins and Maya Centre was destroyed, cutting off road access to points south, including Placencia and Punta Gorda.

The Kendal Bridge was originally built in 1985 with British Aid Funds. It had an over all span of 237 feet, with navigable clearance of 23 feet and carriageway width of 24 feet.

After the bridge was destroyed in the Tropical Storm Arthur flooding, a dirt, gravel and culvert causeway was built over the river, allowing cars, trucks and buses to pass. A few months later, in late October, 2008, the U.S. military provided a temporary replacement bridge, which was never installed. This, for reasons that have never been clear to me.

Since then a steel and wood causeway structure has serviced reasonably well, but it is only several feet off the river when it is at its' lowest point, and with any rise in river level during rains, it is quickly under water. A permanent replacement bridge is planned, but work has not begun on this project.
Tropical Storm Arthur flood that washed away the Kendal Bridge
The initial temporary causeway...

The "more permanent" and current steel girder bridge...

Those of us in the tourism business watch the mountain rains pretty closely on the weather radar and forecasts, and monitor various sources of information to try to keep us and our guests informed.  There is even a Facebook page that folks contribute bulletins of news and tidbits of information. 

Dial 636 here in Belize and it rings some GOB Transport Department office (I assume) apparently set up to provide Kendal Bridge information. I don't know what office, where it's located or who is answering... but the person I've spoken with twice sounded readily knowledgeable. The regular GOB National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) phone is 522-0061 (regular office hours).  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Belize Cell Phones and Internet...

I frequently get asked about cell phones here on the Peninsula.  This morning I responded to a friends' questions and realized that most of the information was pretty "generic." By no means am I an expert with this stuff... and I suspect that many of you may have more current and accurate details... so please add your comments.

You will need a "GSM" phone (that's the network type here in Belize and the most common in the "rest of the world," except US) for it to work in Belize. It takes a SIM drop-in chip. So you can buy pre-paid minutes here in Belize, etc. Also stores your address book/numbers/etc.  They are reasonably easy to come by online... just be sure to buy an "unlocked" one. I found a Samsung (Gravity 2) while we were in San Diego that has a "querty" keyboard... I hate typing in names and phone numbers on the standard cell phone key pads... it's awkward and frustrating!  

Samsung Gravity 2
Samsung Gravity 2

You can get a decent cell phone right here in Placencia for $100 or $200 USD... or less, drop in a sim chip and be on your way... not a smart phone, but it does the job. With four BTL cell towers on the Peninsula, coverage isn't an issue... or maybe it is if you enroll in the "Smart" plan competitor. Too many "smarts" to sort out! On balance I think BTL has the better coverage. But that may have changed.

 I haven't sprung for an iPhone... but they do seem to work here. I am told you can purchase them here (? through BTL) for about $2000 BZE! The iPhone does need to be "unlocked," and they are pricey when purchased without a contract. It seems pointless to me since you can't really (yet) use most of the desirable internet features of any "smart phone" here... at least not smoothly or economically that I know of. 

BTW, Southern Cable TV network is now offering internet service... and is working it's way up the Peninsula. Somewhat less expensive than BTL. I have switched to them for the Cabanas (and replaced the satellite here at our place), and it works well. Several "levels" of speed and price... from about $77 BZE/month for 128k on up. That does not include your cable TV monthly fee of about $40 BZE.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Several weeks ago, our neighbors tragically lost a family member in an auto accident. Seine Bight, of course, is a Garifuna village and one of several in Belize. As part of the healing process after a death, an extended ceremony called a dugu is held.

"The Garinagu believe that unhappy ancestral spirits cause bad things to happen to people, such as making them sick, to get their attention.  The purpose of the dugu is to appease the ancestors, to make them happy, and to heal the living of illnesses and other adversities."

To the beat of drummers, the final night was held, and the haunting sounds of the music filled the air till dawn...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Adventures of Viki Doolittle and Family!

From the wonderful TravelPod Blog 
of Viki Doolittle...

"As usual David and I rise early, about 5 am. My night has been filled with strange and wild dreams but I awaken refreshed and lazy. While I lounge in bed with the a/c blasting, David wanders down to our dock and begins making friends with every person he encounters on the beach. Random fishermen, our guard, kids walking by and of course dogs. There were only about 4 people but David got to know them all. Almost everyone we encounter is black, with rich very dark skin and speak with a lovely sing song cadence. David has a great way in strange places of using that naivety of his to disarm and information gather. As a result, we find out that: no the water is not supposed to be this murky and will clear soon; that yes there are tons of fish to be had and we will have enough lobster to feed an army delivered by dark tonight; town is just down the street; turn our beer bottles in every time we swap out a case and yes the sand flies were biting. David jumps right into the beautiful ocean and swims as far out as he can and can still stand about with his head one foot above water.
I join him about 7 am and the water is unbelievable. At least 80 degrees, probably warmer, I am ready to turn in my hot tub for a life here. Water is still too murky to see anything but we can feel the long sea grass caressing our legs. The ocean here is very gentle, almost no waves but still gray today due to the storms we encountered on the ride down. Large pelicans and pterodactyl looking sea birds glide across Looking back at the house from the water, it is truly a paradise. The cabana is immaculate, set back about 100 feet from the waters edge. In 
Belize, you cannot own the first 66 feet of beach from waters edge back, so our cabana fence starts exactly 66 feet away. Coconut palms sway gently as their offspring roll back and forth in the short surf. It is so quiet and beautiful, I have found the peace I craved.
When the rest of the family start to get up I throw together a quick breakfast of scrabbled eggs with cheese, fried potatoes with onions and of course the requisite fresh corn tortillas and black beans. Washed down with a Beliken or rum and pineapple, I cannot complain and I won't!"

Read the rest of Viki's Belize TravelPod blog entries... 

Friday, July 2, 2010

More Guatemala... Antigua

During our trip to Guatemala City, we had a free day, so a tour of the nearby old city of Antigua seemed appropriate. It is steeped in history, of course, and the ruins and restorations are stunning.  Destroyed many times over the centuries by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and war, it was once the "capitol" of Guatemala. More photos
Above... Study in contrasts in one of the many churches in Antigua.

One of the many beautiful fountains and parks.

More contrasts.

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