Lockdown in Paradise

Everyone is looking forward to a future where we can travel again, where we can see people again, and where we can be together again. It’s the same for us here on Ambergris Caye. It’s a beautiful place to be marooned – no question, but people here still must find ways to survive. That’s a big challenge when so much of the economy is based on tourism.

The COVID-19 epidemic has only “brushed” the country of Belize. We have had 18 cases, with two deaths and 16 recovered.  So as of today we are COVID-19 free which is a huge benefit to anyone looking to travel in the future. The Belizean government acted quickly to impose quarantines on the country, including Ambergris Caye, with extensive restrictions on the movement of people and cargo. Masks and social distancing are strictly enforced. Of course, all of this does not make for great travel-related blogging, but it’s pretty much the same the world over. Bret and I have been making the best of it. The ocean, the sky, the beaches and the wildlife are all still here. Big wildlife, too! April and May are traditionally the best months to observe whale sharks, which, if you haven’t seen them, are mind bogglingly big and beautiful.

Images of whale sharks – courtesy of the Seahorse Dive Shop, Belize (see link below)

Their name might be a little confusing. But whale sharks are sharks, not whales. But they are as big as whales. Some can grow up to 40 feet long. They swim slowly through the water and eat plankton, krill and small fish. At this time of year, they tend to appear in sync with the full moon. These photos, borrowed from the Seahorse Dive Shop, show you just how large these beautiful creatures are. The Seahorse Dive Shop offers courses and tours and are worth checking out here.

We are staying optimistic that life around the world will slowly and carefully return to normal, or an altered form of normal. It will be a while before any proven vaccine is universally available, of course, but when you listen to the sound medical minds, there seems to be an opportunity for us to get our lives back by modifying our habits. This will include additional spaces between people at restaurants and on buses, more frequent use of masks and smaller gatherings. But it should be possible.

As such, I can look at the beauty of spring and summer in Ambergris Caye and describe it to you once again – not as an impossible destination, but one that is now very possible and as always very beautiful.

People often talk about “bucket lists.” I have never really liked that term because it has a certain darkness to it, and we have all seen way too much of that. But I do like to think about “life goals.” There are two things people have learned from the pandemic lockdown. One is that we tend to take much of life for granted – even the boring parts; and the other is that work, for many of us, might be more flexible than we have been led to believe. Now is a good time for us to revisit those life goals.

We are hoping that this inspires people to take some more time off for themselves. To travel, to see things and to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us everywhere. Even before the pandemic, it was still a fact: life is precious.

So hopefully, you and your family will choose to take some time to travel somewhere, and see something that you have always wanted to see. That’s one reason why Bret and I came to Belize in the first place, and of course we would love to welcome you to our particular corner of paradise. But regardless where you identify your dream destination, hopefully you can start to anticipate the opportunity of doing so. We just need to hang on a little while longer, maintain that social distance, and focus on collective healing. The world is out there for you to enjoy, and the time to do so is coming ever closer.

For more information about our beach house properties, please visit us at coastalbreezes.bz, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Bringing Ambergris Caye To You

Since you can’t come to us right now, I want to deliver some Ambergris Caye beauty over to you, and with it, a message of hope.

First, a message of hope

This pandemic is unlike anything we have seen in living memory. Never has the entire planet ground to a halt so quickly and uniformly. This concept called social distancing is unnatural for humans, who crave togetherness and communication, and for the first time are noticing just how strange it is to not make physical contact with others by shaking hands, hugging, or just simply sitting next to each other.

Many of us, in years past, have complained about our jobs, about money, about our political leaders, and we balance that out by looking forward to events that make our lives special. This might be the start of baseball season, or attending a wedding, or planning a vacation. Usually these special events happen during our time off, and we work hard to be able to enjoy them.

At the moment, of course, people are stuck in a kind of Twilight Zone. We don’t know when it will end, and we don’t know what life will look like once it’s over. But I want to remind you of the fact that it will end, and life will return to normal. Think back to what you were doing this time last year – April 2019. If you flip backwards in your calendar to the appointments and events of that month, they probably feel like they happened just last week, not a year ago. Memory is strange that way.

When looking forward into the future, a year seems like a long time. When looking back into the past, it is just a blip. Science is capable of developing a vaccine for this virus. It is an understandable thing. It takes time to develop, test and deploy, but it will come, and given the number of scientists working on it, and the capacity to share their knowledge, it will likely be in operation within a year.

In writing these words I do not intend to ignore the tragedy of lives that have been lost. But in times like these, it is vital that we focus on everything we can do to not only stay physically healthy, but mentally and emotionally healthy as well. So, even though my posts are usually about convincing you to come and join us here on Ambergris Caye, we know that is probably not very possible right now. So we want to come to you. Here’s how.

Our Live Webcam

This is a snapshot from our live webcam.

Do you want to see a Caribbean sunrise? Do you want to see if the tide is in, or whether the lazy palm trees are swaying in the breeze today? Do you want to feel part of the Coastal Breezes family, even if you haven’t visited us yet? Then check out our live webcam. It updates every thirty seconds and looks out over our beachfront yard and the sea beyond. Maybe you’ll even see Charlie, our canine ambassador, wandering by.

Our Instagram Photos

Just one of my many photos posted in Instagram.

I am passionate about taking photos in and around Ambergris Caye. And why not? The whole area is so photogenic. My photos aren’t just about palm trees and beaches, but also the restaurants, the people, the signs, everything that you would see if you came down here. Check them  out on Instagram here, or next time you’re on Instagram, search for CoastalBreezes_Belize.

Our YouTube Channel

A screengrab from one of our short YouTube videos. This is Charlie about to leap into action.

We have a YouTube channel. This is where I post some informal videos, of driving along in our golf cart, walking around the beach houses, even flying to and from Ambergris Caye. They’re real. They’re what you would see if you were here, or more correctly, what you will see when you get here. Visit our YouTube channel here and subscribe!

Zoom Backgrounds

An example of a Zoom background in action. Courtesy Nicole Archer via https://www.cnet.com/news/what-your-zoom-background-says-about-you/

If you are one of the thousands of people who are discovering the world of video meetings while working or studying from home, you might have discovered that brands like Zoom and Cisco Webex allow you to add your own virtual backgrounds so your colleagues have something else to look at other than your living room. To add a virtual background, you need a greenscreen, which is surprisingly inexpensive. Amazon, for example, sells a 6’ x 9’ sheet for $26.20. You simply attach the green sheet to the wall, or order a stand to hold it up, and then tweak the settings on Zoom or Webex to tell it you’re using a greenscreen. At that point you can select any image you want as your backdrop.

What could be better than a beautiful photo of the beaches of Ambergris Caye? We have a bunch of photos available on the website and Instagram that you can download for your personal use. All we would ask is that when someone on the conference says, “What a beautiful backdrop! Where is that?” you tell them it’s from Coastal Breezes in Belize.

So hopefully these four options will allow you to enjoy the beauty of Ambergris Caye even during this period of social distancing and isolation. Hopefully, too, it will inspire you to book a trip as soon as it is physically possible to do so, so that you can breathe in the warm salt air of the Caribbean and pour life back into your body and soul. We, of course, will be here to welcome you when you arrive. Until then, please be safe, stay home, and take care of each other.

For more information about our beach house properties, please visit us at coastalbreezes.bz, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.