Wednesday, April 18, 2012

San Pedro, Belize

Scott and his Dive Master Israel prepare to head under
water at the Belize Marine Park
One of the many nurse sharks and sting rays we swam
with at Shark Ray Alley
As I mentioned in my last post we had some difficulty anchoring off San Pedro as it is very shallow throughout the harbor. We did manage however and headed into town to check in. Due to the long Easter holidays (Thurs thru Monday) we had to wait until the following morning. There is a lot of paper work to get through. First we visited Immigration, then Customs, and last had a visit from the Naval official and an Agriculture Inspector. They came aboard, ferried back and forth by Scott in our dinghy. But finally we were legal and could raise the Belizian flag.
San Pedro is a really pretty and lively village, the largest town on the islands. Belize has made an effort to keep all development low key and low rise.
This country was British Honduras until it achieved independence in 1964. The population (only 333,000 people) are a combination of descendants of Mayan, African slaves, British and other Commonwealth countries. In addition there is a large number of Americans and Canadians who have moved here to work or retire. It's been a comparatively peaceful nation for Central America and has the highest growth rate in the area.
Scott Free anchored in San Pedro all by itself
One thing that surprised us was the lack on cruisers. We were often the only boat anchored there and no one was in the single "marina". We did have one high class neighbor however. A huge mega yacht anchored outside the reef for 24 hours and the officials that checked us in also went out there. It had 21 crew and according to them, Bill and Melinda Gates were on board.
We met several friendly locals and enjoyed a great trip out to the Marine Park at Hol Shan. We had our own boat from the dive shop, and one guide each. I can't dive anymore unfortunately due to my operation for lung cancer last year so I went snorkeling. I didn't feel so bad however as the viability was excellent and we both saw lots of fish, coral, rays, turtles, moray eels and on our second dive/snorkel swam with lots of manta rays and sharks (thank goodness nurse sharks but they were really big!).
The food is excellent here as well but close to twice the cost as in Mexico. We hung out a bit at the Blue Water Grill as they had a nice pool we could use. Walking through the town is endlessly fascinating. There are three long streets on the Cay and the beach facing the reef. Alleys connect them and every color of the rainbow is utilized. Ginger bread decorates the mostly wooden buildings. Grocery shopping is a full time job as usual. We must have visited at least 8 or 9 small shops to complete our needed list.
No complaints though...
I love these signs. They are so personal. 
The beach at San Pedro stretches along the length of the
village and functions as a road, but without cars
Local vendors ply their wares throughout the town
We had a great Belizian breakfast here with homemade
tortillas, bacon and eggs
The homes, Inns and businesses all are in brilliant colors
Quirky competitions are common here in
San Pedro. This is the home of the famous
chicken drop contest. You pay for a square
and then hope the chicken poops on it.

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