Last Day at Caye Caulker

The sea breeze runs through the palms, and the palm fronds whisper and chitter above us. A fresh wind that cools the skin. Sun bright on the water, shades of aquamarine, stretching out to the barrier reef, a long white line of surf before the dark blue deep. Sitting, looking, breathing is a sensual experience. The scent of the sea, the white sand, the scattered kelp along the shore. Our last day on Caye Caulker.

Every morning dark Belizean coffee from Maureen at Ice-n-Beans, just behind the grove of palms we idle under. Just before noon a Bellikin Beer, Belize’s own brew, to cool our palate, stir the belly for lunch. Street vendors–Kareem at his grill, Raul at his cart, Andre and Chenille at their shack by the street–the food so good we moan and groan as we eat. Chicken and pork and rice and beans and slaw and plantains and homemade tortillas–we buy one plate, eat our fill, and give leftovers to the dogs. Five American dollars, nine at the most. Always the talk and laughter with the vendors, and walking away feeling sweet, alive.

Each night the old wooden dock jutting out through the mangroves on the back side of the island into open water. A dozen people sitting and talking quietly, watching the sun slip slowly into the water beyond the sailboats anchored in the bay. A round surge of orange, a bright trail running toward us, the scattered dark grey clouds tinged with pink and red. A Belizean man standing in a flat skiff paddles by, framed by the scene, cameras clicking from the dock.

And tonight, Maurice, a wizard with blackened snapper, honey-brandy sauce, and grilled vegetables, here at Wish Willy’s in the yard of the cabana. Red and white strings of lights laced above the tables. Music drifting, easy laughter, the smoke from the grill, the aroma of chicken and fish. Everyone sipping a Bellikin. Maurice cruising, slow, keeping it going for thirty people. Island life.

Tomorrow the ferry to the mainland, Belize City, then a bus down to Hopkins, a village on the southern coast, south of Dangriga. I miss Caye Caulker. It got under our skin. That first morning, a week ago, when I woke up and stepped out onto the porch, Marvin, big smile and dreads, raking the sand, said to me, “Don’t worry, be happy.” So we didn’t, and we were.


Published by Gary Guinn

Retired English professor. Dog lover. Craft beer lover. Occasional writer.

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