Our first morning in Ambergris and we hit the ground running. First: off in search of breakfast. Having already made fast friends with the time share guys for Captain Morgan’s Retreat, we were already ‘in the know” about where to find good, cheap eats. Travel Tip: If you have the patience to weed out the bull sh*t and the obligatory “pitch”, timeshare salesmen are the best source of information about where to eat and drink well and economically. Low season, lean times and voracious drug habits necessitate this self-preservatory skill among this particular set. We went off in search of a spot called “My Secret Deli”. Secret… indeed. Deli…not so much.
The restaurant consists of a cramped residential kitchen and an attached eating area with two tables and a Coke machine. Brightly colored oil-cloth dressed the tables protected by a thick clear plastic sheet. Oddly enough, this was precisely the dining experience we were looking for: a good, honest home-cooked breakfast all for $6.00 and a generous tip.
After our feast of strong coffee, scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, refried beans and bready warm “tortillas” we headed out to rent a cart and explore.
Pinguino's Fine Wines
Colors of the Caribbean.
All A We Da One Mel Spain.....of course.
The intoxicating smell of downtown San Pedro: chicken and charcoal. Heavenly.
We meandered through town a bit and down to the sandy road that hugs the east side of the island. Here we found "D' Surf Shack", without question the most expensive internet café I have ever utilized. While the view past my monitor was stunning, it didn’t warrant the staggering $7.00 usd per hour we paid to check our email.
I got some shots from the pier as Rob took his turn on the internet.
We finished up as quickly as possible and continued our wanderings across the bridge onto the north part of the Island. Ambergris seems poised on the crest of a wave of big development. Unlike Playa del Carmen which is a mere 45 minutes from the major international airport in Cancun, the island is not so easily accessible and as such, has been spared most the ravages of huge foreign dollars. There are some condo complexes and residential resorts being built on this part of the island but nothing like the level of building we are seeing on the Riviera Maya. Local government has not seen fit to improve the roads on the north end so most properties north of the bridge are best accessed by the ferries that run regularly from the piers in downtown SP.
My darling husband enjoys driving a golf cart like an ATV so I spent most of the trip hanging on for dear life rather than snapping pictures. I did manage to get him to slow down for a few.
The view from the bridge to the east.
A fine welcome.
This little guy was making a meal from the seeds dropped from the bird cage above. He was completely non-plussed by our presence.
Local school children playing soccer at the Anglican School.
We headed back through town to check out the south end of the island. The south end is pretty remote with a few homes dotting the east caostline. Pretty but desolate. Rob let me drive for a bit (yippeeeee) so no pictures. On the way back we stoppped at Fido's Sandbar for a few beers. Chatted up the manager, Dave and Tom ( if I got that wrong, I apologize. Maybe Cindy or Laurie will correct me) and met Tucker, the newest Ambergris resident, a stout yellow lab from Texas. We had the distinct pleasure of watching Mr. Orlando work his magic on a beautiful, smart young coed named Chelsea. Mr. Orlando is wiley septogenerian and retired television director who can list "The Jeffersons" in his credits. Wildly entertaining.
The pool at the neighboring Royal Caribbean Resort also used by Fido's patrons. (FYI - "Royal" seems to be a bit of a mis-nomer as the "resort" resembles a cheerfully painted army barracks.)
After a fair number of cold Belikins we said our goodbyes and headed back to town. On good advise from Dave and Tom(?), we were sent in search of a man named Hilly Boo. Hilly Boo is a local captain who runs a fishing charter and was rumored to be one of the best. After some trial and error we managed to locate his shack inland on the lagoon off of Back Street. By this time it was quite dark but I managed to get a few pictures of the neighborhood. Not too many tourists past dark here.
A local joint.
Cooking up the day's catch.
Reservations made for a day of fishing on Sunday, we returned to our room, freshened up and headed north up the beach to meet our frinds Cindy and Paul at a favorite spot, Wet Willy's. We passed a cemetery along the way. An oceanfront final resting place. Nice.
We met up with our pals Cindy and Paul at "Wet Willy's". We've known Cindy and Paul since before they were Cindy AND Paul. They escaped the craziness of Playa del Carmen a few years back for a more laid back island lifestyle. We miss them and were so excited to be able to visit with them and meet their Ambergris family better known as "The Brat Pack"
"Wet Willy's" has all the makings of a great bar. Superb location at the end of a pier, great view, a long, well stocked bar, plenty of room to move and live music. What more could one want? Well, I'm saying it here in the hopes that somehow, someway it will be heard by the owners of this potentially awesome bar. Please, I beg you, if you are going to feature good live music, invest in a sound system with more wattage than my bedside alarm clock. And that's all I have to say about that.
The local band "Out of the Blue" sang their hearts out with popular renditions of well known, well liked songs that got the crowd up and dancing. They were very enjoyable. This I know only because we had the pleasure of listening to them play again the next evening at the new (well amped) casino. More on that later.
Feeling famished, we bid our friends goodbye for the evening and went into town to find food. We ended up at a restaurant on Middle Street called "Caramba". The menu was a mix of Caribbean and Mexican fare and absolutely delicious.
This ceviche was prepared differently than what we have in Mexico. In addition to the ubiquitous white onion, and cilantro, it had chunks of carrot rather than tomato marinated with the conch in lime juice. There was just enough heat from the habanero peppers and a hint of spice that we could not identify but was "cinnamony". Rob, continuing his pursuit of finer fried fare, ordered the conch fritters which while moist and tasty did not rival those at Fido's.
Tender grilled conch slathered in sweet onions served with creamy coleslaw and rice and beans cooked in coconut milk. Yummo!
Rob went for the shrimp in coconut sauce. Yummmm.
The food was well prepared and flavorful, the service prompt and friendly and I can't wait to go back. Again, the menu prices were a bit steep, but the food was terrific. Well done "Caramba"! Stuffed and sleepy, we passed on returning to the late night frivolity and returned to Lily's to sleep and recharge our batteries for the next day.
Saturday, I got up early and let Rob sleep in. I wandered up over to the local coffee shop (watering hole/source for local news and gossip) "Island Perk" and bellied up to the bar for a stiff latte to jump start my morning. I introduced myself to the barrista and fellow ex-pat, Sharon, and we passed the time trading secrets about the lives, past and present, of certain Ambergris residents who we now count among the members of our ex-pat community in Playa del Carmen. (Ya'll know who you are.) It turns out, Sharon herself had originally planned to move to Playa before landing in Ambergris and never leaving. I am starting to understand why.
I finished my latte and headed back to wake the slumbering beast. We decided to give "Lily's Treasure Chest" a try for a late breakfast. The food was good but forgettable and priced in line with the location, $20.00 for the two of us.
Trying to wake up.
Although Belize is not know for it beaches, we were pointed toward a small resort at the south end of SP called "Ramones Village". We spent a pleasant, quiet afternoon reading, swimming and sipping Belikins in the sun. While the loungers are reserved for the use of the resort guests we laid out our pareos and made ourselves comfortable in the sand.
The beaches in Belize are different than we have in Playa. The sand is hard-packed. Good for walking, running and even biking...not so good for lounging on. Still, we had a lovely. relaxing afternoon at "Ramone's". You couldn't ask for a prettier spot.
Our plans for the evening were to meet up again with Cindy and Paul and their friends at the newly opened casino. Not a big gambler, but a big fan of Vegas and all things shiney, I was very excited to check out this new venue. Not excited enough to take any pictures, but certainly excited anough to drink all the cheap wine wine in the house. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. I'll run through the highlites.
1. Meet Paul and Cindy and friends upstairs at the casino.
2. Drink wine.
3. Watch "Out Of the Blue" perform again.
4. Watch nutty old people dancing like Elaine on Seinfeld.
5. More wine.
6. Dangerous golf cart ride overloaded with passengers to Fido's.
7. Meet up with Skinny and English Sean visiting from Playa.
8. Still more wine.
9. Listen and sing along badly to "Red Rocket".
10. Yet more wine
11. Dance badly like Elaine on Seinfeld.
12. More wine.........
This is where I leave you. If you would like to see pictures of the evening, Cindy's friend and fellow blogger Laurie (tacogirl) was kind enough (sober enough) to take photos and document the evening. If you really feel you must, click HERE and scroll down. It looks like I had fun.
Stay tuned for Part 4 - Yet to be named