Blackout in Belize


Hard to imagine, but this Belize airport was once a jungle

Hard to imagine, but this Belize airport was once a jungle

 Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a small Central American country on the Caribbean coast.  It has a lot to offer in the way of natural beauty, but not much in the way of infrastructure, like paved roads or reliable electricity.  Belize has no generating plants, for example — it buys all its power from neighboring Mexico.  In spite of those liabilities, it somehow became a trendy place to go for honeymoons and so-called destination weddings.   One of the places we stayed was full of guests who were there for those reasons; none of us had been told before we arrived that the lodge where we were staying was under repair due to a recent fire that had destroyed much of the “resort”.  The following is an entry from my travel journal, dated May 16, 2003:

…Several of us attended the marriage of guests Frank and Claire.  Even the workmen took a break from their incessant hammering and sawing to watch the proceedings.  Once the ceremony was over, we jumped back in the swimming pool, there being no reception.  When we got back to the room, we had neither water nor power, so Sally and I sat on our porch, drank a beer, and enjoyed each other’s company.

Eventually a trickle of water came out of the shower head, so we were able to wash off the sunscreen and bug repellent and chlorine and perspiration.  Then we went back out on the porch.  While we were there, two little boys came by on a bicycle.  Suspended on the handlebars were two coolers filled with coconut bread and pies that their mother had made.  We invested a dollar (BZ) in their enterprise, and enjoyed a very tasty small round loaf of still-warm bread.

It was now late afternoon and the power was still off.  The owner of the lodge passed by and informed us that the power was out in the entire country!  They expected it to be back on between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m.  Sure enough, it came back on at 6:32.  And failed again two minutes later.  We were served dinner by hurricane lamp.  Frank and Claire sat with us on their wedding night.  They were supposed to get a romantic dinner on the beach, but since the power was out it was going to be too dangerous for employees to bring them dinner without lights.  They were stuck making small talk with us.

We were given candles and matches to take to our rooms, since no one knew for sure when we’d have electricity again.  Sally and I sat on the beach and admired the play of moonlight on the water.  The juice came back on about 8:15 p.m.  Way up the coast we could see that the rest of Belize was getting power back, too…

2 responses to “Blackout in Belize

  1. Wow, Tom. I was there for that – one of the honeymooners. It was great meeting you and Sally and Frank and Claire. Did you ever get to scuba with the whale sharks?

    • We had timed our visit to coincide with the annual arrival of the whale sharks, but they were operating on their own calendar, so we wound up missing them by a few days. How about you — were you still at Jaguar Reef when the whale sharks came in? Thanks for being in touch again!

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