Gary Guinn

Literature of the Ozarks

Caye Caulker, Belize

When we wake, birds whistle and chirp and screech, a dog barks from somewhere nearby, and the sun lights the top of the palm tree at Wish Willy’s, the outdoor restaurant in front of the cabana. The mosquito net over the bed billows inward, pushed by the fan we keep aimed our direction most nights. I listen for a while, then get up and makeĀ  coffee, rummage around for a little breakfast. Caye Caulker.

Mary Ann gets up, I get a cup of coffee, and we go to the front porch of the cabana, check our email, think about riding bikes down to the south end of the island. Caye Caulker is 4 miles long and 650 yards wide at its widest. The caye is split about halfway down by a water passage cut by Hurricane Hattie. The split, about fifty yards wide, frames the north end of the village, where we are staying. So we are at the northern tip of the southern half of the caye. The Lazy Lizard, an over-the-top tourist bar that we avoid, sits right on the split, a really nice area for swimming.

Maurice, a big Belizean with the standard dreads, who owns and runs Wish Willy’s and is the husband of Monique, our landlady, comes down the steps from their apartment above the restaurant and gives us a big piece of dark, super rich chocolate cake with pecan sauce, warm and chewy. A mouth explosion that reorients the world for a few seconds. So that’s where he got the belly. Well earned.

Monique’s dog Scruffy lies on the porch at our feet. One of three that roam the property, all good natured and keen to be petted. We love that Caye Caulker is so laid back and low key about everything. Development is encroaching here, but the streets are all still sand/dirt, there are no cars, just golf carts, and we can eat at small street stands or from street vendors with just a grill on the side of the road. Lovely local food.

Colors. We love the colors. Bright pink, rich blue, turquoise, startling orange and yellow, green. The houses, shops, signs. The old wood plank docks jutting into the ocean from the sand. The still, green water at the shore, the white line of surf at the barrier reef, the dark blue of the deep water beyond. Sitting in canvas chairs in the shade of a palm at the beach, reading, dozing, looking, walking in the shallows, looking. Morning on the Caye. Di island, Mon.


  1. A winter storm is barreling down on us here in Iowa. It is expected to bring eight inches of snow and wind gusts of fifty miles and hour. Are you sure you and Mary Ann wouldn’t rather be here?

  2. Well, Roger, even though we would love to sit around a warm fire with you and Gwen as the storm descends, especially since we both got a little sunburned today, I think we will take the proverbial rain check.

  3. Sounds so relaxing! I’m envious!

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