Sunday, March 29, 2009

BE ONE WITH BELIZE




A beautiful travel presentation on Belize. "Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

YOUNG BELIZEAN MAN DEPENDS ON TEXANS TO STAY ALIVE


Christopher Bowman

A young Belizean man, 21-year-old Christopher Bowman is counting on a prayer and medical miracle. He was diagnosed with a massive blood tumor that if left untreated will kill him. The tumor is so big that doctors in Belize are afraid to operate.
Mr. Bowman was brought to Dallas, Texas last September by a family friend, Mr. Mark Carroll, looking for ways to help him.
According to Mr. Carroll, doctors at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas may try to help him with an experimental surgery. 
A benefit banquet will be held on Sunday, March 29, 2009 at Caribbean Grill in Farmers Branch, Texas.
 Benefit Banquet
 Belizeans united in Dallas/Forthworth cordially invites you to join us for dinner and light entertainment in honor of  Christopher Bowman. Your support in this event will be a great contribution to assisting a young Belizean man in need of dire medical attention. Your support of Belizeans United in DFW continues the progress and the mission to launch futures every day. 
                                                        Contact:
Dan Garcia, President-    469-831-9572  
Ashley Burn, Public Relations Director -972-805-3887
Sunday-March 29, 2009: 1 P.M. to 5 P.M.
Caribbean Grill
3068 Forest Lane, #111
Farmers Branch, Texas 75234


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

VIEW FROM CROOKED TREE VILLAGE

WILLIE "BILLBLACK" CADLE: GOING GROCERY SHOPPING
CAUTION!! OBEY SPEED LIMIT AND DRIVE WITH CARE
ROAD UPDATE :LOOKING GOOD!! FROM THE SHORES OF CT LAGOON TO THE FIRST BRIDGE
BEAUTIFUL CROOKED TREE LAGOON: ALONG THE BIRDS EYE VIEW COAST
ALL PHOTOS BY JOHNNY GILLETT

Monday, March 23, 2009

PLAY BALL


Crooked Tree Gov't School Youth Softball Team
(Front Row L-R) Sherilee Nicholson (daughter of Sherla Adolphus) Daniella Lightburn (daughter of Dynamae Westby Lightburn) Zipporah Gomez (daughter of Raquel Cornique) Elma Wade ( daughter of Anna Gillett and Alden Wade) Jasmine Lauriano (daughter of Eric and Vero Westby Lauriano) Ellie Adolphus (daughter of Rochelle Adolphus)

(Top Row L-R) Roshani Tillett (daughter of Arnold and Paula Tillett) Zhanae Jex (daughter of Martha Card and Jerry Jex) Jessica Gillett (daughter of Clarence and Winnie Wade gillett) Carolee Wade (daughter of Aldamae Gillett Jex and Eldon Wade) Tonya Swasey (grand-daughter of Mrs. Elsa Crawford Swasey) Sabrina Reid (daughter of Sharlett and Alvin Crawford) and Amber Wade (daughter of Anna Gillett and Alden Wade)


Playing with confidence is often the difference between success and failure. For members of the Crooked Tree Gov’t School Girls Softball Team everything just feels right. Hitting the ball and making plays seems simple and stress-less. In Crooked Tree Village, softball is still a great spectator sport and the “Girls” team has a lot of great fans.

Principal Verla Jex of the Crooked Tree Government School said she is very excited about her girls’ team outstanding performance in the Belize District Rural Primary School Softball Competition. “Our girls need to know when they have achieved a set of goals, so that they can remain engaged and enthusiastic”.

On Wednesday, March 18, 2009 the team won overwhelmingly by beating three of the best teams in rural Belize. They ousted “Burrell Boom” 13-3, demolished “Ladyville” 13-2 and blew “La Democracia” completely away 16-nil.

This Wednesday, March 25, 2009 they will take the competition to Rogers Stadium in Belize City to face the Belize City teams for District Championship. Principal Jex is confident that her girls have a good chance of winning because they are very courageous.

Coach Alden Wade and Anna Marie Gillett said that they teach the girls drills and skills to motivate and inspire. The team also gets valuable team work and life lessons from the assistant principal, Winnie Gillett and teacher George Tillett.

Crooked Tree School also has a boys’ team, but they did not fare off as well as the girls; they were eliminated from the qualifying game.

Principal Jex said that many of the families cannot afford the uniform needed for the children to participate in the games and as a result, the boys’ team has to play without their uniforms. “We have been very fortunate to have the girls’ uniform donated by Michael and Angela Crawford Webb of the Crooked Tree Village Resort”. If anyone would like to contribute to the teams, you can e-mail her at- verlajex@yahoo.com. The cost of uniforms for a full team is BZ$1000 or US$500. Your contributions would be very much appreciated.


Friday, March 20, 2009

NEW VILLAGE COUNCIL IN CROOKED TREE VILLAGE

Photo by Becky Crawford
 New Village Council Officers: (L-R) Denvor Gillett, Sherolyn Webster, Churchill Gillett and Rudolph Crawford

Photo by Johnny Gillett
(click on photos to enlarge)     

Mr. Churchill "Leslie" Gillett,Village Council Officer 

The Role of the Village Council

We all know that life in a Belizean village is a heavenly experience in which the neighbors are always friendly, exotic fruits are everywhere (mangos, mamie, cashew), fresh fish readily available, (crana, tuba, baysnook) and prime game meats (deer, gibnut, armadillo) adorned every table and the hardest decision you have to make is whether to relax after sunset in the company of cashew wine, berry wine or a cup of black tea. Of course, anyone who has actually spent much time in the villages knows that just below the tranquil surface of every rural community lies grave differences over things like money, crime, religion, sex  and, of course, politics.

It can be argued that the heart and soul of Belize lies not in its cities and towns, but in the villages.  Approximately half of Belize's population live in rural areas and with the National Association of Village Council and the Village Council Act, together these tools gives local councils more power, so that Village leaders can bond together to advance their common interests.

Village Councils, armed with the Village Council Act (VCA) have been given a great deal of authority and responsibility. Because of this act, Village Councils are responsible for the administration of the village. 

The council, not just the chairman or an officer, are the first point of contact for anybody wanting to conduct business within the community or the village. They are in charge of the financial matters and are responsible for public property, for sanitation improvement and management, for fighting crime, the maintenance of streets, roads, and infrastructure and advancement of economic opportunities. The entire council has a wide range of responsibility, which also includes responsibility for land within the village and the surrounding village areas. So, with the Village Council Act, villages are equipped with a law to insure that people in the villages have a voice in the conduct of their affairs.

In addition to the VCA, there is the National Association of Village Council, which is actually mandated by the Village Council Act. Where individual Village Councils may have difficulty speaking for themselves, they can be spoken for by the District Association and at an even higher level, by the National Association. So it really represents a coming together of the voices of all of the villages, speaking through their District Associations, and their National Association.

Each Village Council serves a three year term of office.

Now this brings us to the situation that has been festering in Crooked Tree Village for the past two years. The Village has been without a council because of the elected officers’ differences with the chairman. You cannot have the chairman and the officers working to counteract each other; it’s just not going to work and in the end, who is going to suffer? The people and only the people! Politicians will argue day and night, but if the people do not get together and work out their differences, the village can lose economic opportunities. The people of Crooked Tree Village have put their trust in electing a council, a democratic process, and the Village Council is suppose to reflect their interest as to what is best for the village.

Crookedtreeans did not give up and on Sunday, March 15, 2008 with the District Association Officer, Mr. David Wade in attendance, a by-election was held for the election of new officers. The new officers have now pledge to work with the Chairman of the Village, Mr. George Guest and the remaining councilor Mr. Dione Crawford.

The new officers are: Mr. Rudy Crawford, Mrs. Sherolyn Webster, Mr. Denvo Gillett, Mr. Edwardo Ortega, and Mr. Churchill Gillett. They will serve out the remainder of the three year term, when new elections will be held on April 1, 2010.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

VIEW FROM CROOKED TREE VILLAGE

Continue to follow the progress on the causeway. Here you are approaching the causeway from Crooked Tree Village. Highway sunshine!! Please obey the speed limit sign and drive carefully.

Notice the difference in height and width of the road.

        Please click to enlarge: All photos by Jane Crawford, DVM

Approaching Crooked Tree Village

Sunday, March 15, 2009

EARTH HOUR: DO YOUR PART FOR CLIMATE CHANGE


Today is one of those days where the idea to talk about something I don't normally talk about popped into my head. 

On March 28, 2009 at 8:30 p.m., millions of people in over 75 countries and 500 cities will come together to make a change by turning off their lights for one hour-Earth Hour to help save our planet.

I believe that each of us can make a positive impact to fight climate change. By coming together, we can send a message to the rest of the world showing that we, as Americans, care deeply about this issue and are working to find a solution to our escalating climate change.

Many of us are aware of the effect melting glaciers are having towards climate change and the erratic weather patterns. Climate change is already impacting life on our planet; this is real and we must act now to alter the course of change.

Many cities around our planet have already committed to “Earth Hour” 2009. Cities in the U.S. that will be participating are New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami and Nashville. We will join cities of the world like London, Paris, Copenhagen, Moscow, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Dubai.

Many organization, NGO’s, astronomers, celebrities, and recording artist are all endorsing Earth Hour.

Earth Hour was first celebrated two years ago in Sydney, Australia. There 2.2 million people and thousands of businesses turned off their lights for one hour. In March 2008 an estimated 36 million Americans, with over 500 cities participated worldwide.

Earth Hour captured the lights going out at some of the world’s most iconic landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, Times Square, The Eiffel Tower, The Coliseum in Rome and even Google home page.

Stories were featured on Time.com, NPR, CBS Evening News, Good Morning America and many leading news organization.

Do you part by linking this article to Earth Hour’s community on your social network site like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Hi5. You can learn more at www.earthhourus.org

EARTH HOUR-TAKE ACTION-VOTE EARTH!  PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW!

Friday, March 13, 2009

CROOKED TREE VILLAGE ROAD PROJECT UPGRADE

All photos courtesy of Johnny Gillett



The upgrading of the Crooked Tree Village causeway is underway by the Ministry of Works. The civil works in this first phase consist of widening and elevating the causeway from the village to the first bridge. The main objective is to have a two lane, all weather road all the way to the Northern Highway. After this first phase, additional funds will be allocated in the budget for the new fiscal year starting April 1, 2009.

Here you can follow the progress of the new road on both sides of the causeway. Eventually, the width of the causeway will be 30 feet.

Friday, March 6, 2009

BELIZE ALL OVER


THE BLUE HOLE
Today is partly cloudy, hot and humid, so grab your snorkeling gear and let’s jump in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean.

Renowned for its Maya ruins, waterfalls and dramatic rivers, Belize is fast becoming a must see destination in Central America. With the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere hugging almost the entire coast, it’s splendid and numerous sand cays, mangrove forests, and coastal lagoons, together earned a place on the exclusive list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Blue Hole, Belize’s most famous atoll, is approximately 50 miles east from Belize City. The almost perfectly circular limestone sinkhole is more than 1,000 feet in diameter and 412 feet deep. The hole is the opening to what was a dry cave system during the Ice Age; when the ice melted and the sea level rose to about 350feet, the caves were flooded, creating what is now one of the “Must-Dives” spot on our planet.
The area consists of several national parks and marine reserves, including Bacalar Chico; just north of San Pedro town, Laughing Bird Caye National Park; south east of Placencia Village, and Glover's Reef Marine Reserve, which is the southernmost atoll in Belize, amongst others.

Endangered species such as marine turtles, West Indian manatees, American marine crocodiles and a vast population of birdlife live in relative harmony along the barrier reef, avoiding the visitors and being carefully watched by conservationists who are keen to protect the reef's natural habitat and spectacular beauty.
HALF MOON CAYE
Half Moon Caye Wall and Long Caye Wall at Lighthouse Reef are two of the best Atoll dives in the Caribbean.


Half Moon, located at the southeast corner of the Lighthouse Reef, is home to 4000 red footed Booby birds, and hundreds of Frigate birds. The island and the surrounding waters, was the first reserve to be established by the Natural Parks System Act of 1981 and are completely protected by the law. It's a National Monument and a World Heritage Site.  


There's an observation platform in the middle of the bird sanctuary, and in the spring you'll see the fluffy Booby Bird chicks that seem larger than their parents! Bird enthusiasts will enjoy dozens of other species that inhabit the sanctuary. Bring your binoculars!


Besides birds, Half Moon Caye is home to huge hermit crabs that scuttle around the underbrush. For a demonstration of animal camouflage, try to spot the Wish Willy and Iguanas lying still in the branches of the Ziricote trees. Some of the iguanas are five feet in length, and don't worry, they're harmless, and keep to themselves.


Half Moon Caye has two distinct areas. The western side consists of dense Ziricote and Gumbo forest. This is the main animal/bird sanctuary and covers 30 acres. The other 16 acres has wide open sandy beaches scattered with palm trees.


Half Moon Caye is the perfect stopover for honeymooners - it's hard to believe there could be a more romantic place on earth! The area is also excellent for snorkelers since the dives sites are located close to shallow reef formations. If you are planning on a visit, keep in mind conservation and preservation when you dive and snorkel among the corals and sponges that are in an almost virgin state. 


CAYE CAULKER
Caye Caulker is a small island village (5 mile long) located one mile west of Belize’s Barrier Reef. The population of the island is approximately 1300 and has a distinct Mestizo Mayan culture, and several other cultures; the Garifuna, the Creole and Mennonite are all represented here. English, Spanish and Creole are the lingua francas.



In terms of tourism, Caye Caulker is second only to San Pedro, but it still retains a small island charm. The town is still very intimate, except at Easter and Christmas time when native Belizeans descends on the island for holidays.


If you think you’ll get bored here, think again. The adventures are endless!
The most popular attraction is snorkeling and what better place than at the world’s second largest barrier reef! For day trips, there are tour operators, with lunch included. The most popular trips are Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley where you can get up-close with sea turtles, Moray Eels, stingrays and of course, swimming with Nurse Sharks.
You can book these tours and trips with Ragamuffin Tours on the island. And if your pleasure is more leisurely, they also offer a three-day sailing adventure to Placencia Village in Southern Belize.


Are you getting hungry yet? Well, there’s lot to eat and drink to fit every wallet. You can splurge with freshly grilled seafood, Belizean dishes or better yet, for the budget-conscious traveler, hamburgers, tacos and burritos can be had for as little as BZ$2.00.


If you are wondering how you will get to this island, well wonder no more. You can fly in from the Belize International Airport or the airstrip in Belize City. A round trip ticket cost Bz$140 and flights depart every 2 hours.


Most people come by the way of water taxi or Ferries that run every few hours from Belize City. The 45 minutes trip cost Bz$15 each way and the last boat leaves the island at 6 p.m. 
PLACENCIA VILLAGE
Placencia Peninsula is situated in Southern Belize, and is home to three Villages; Maya Beach, Seine Bight and Placencia Village. This nature lovers paradise have some of the best beaches in Belize and its residents claims it to be the oldest continually inhabited Village in Belize. It was reportedly founded in the early 1600’s by English Buccaneers. The Villagers are very friendly and laid-back. They are often seen walking around barefooted and they would go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your stay in their Village.


 Getting to Placencia is either by road or air. If you have the time, driving is very picturesque and most of the roads are in good conditions.


Wondering what you can do in Placencia? It’s the perfect place for relaxation! Everything on the peninsula is calm and stress-free. Main Street is simply an elevated walkway, one mile long, and it’s listed in the “Guinness Book of World Record” as the narrowest street in the world. You can find a number of accommodations, restaurants and gift shops along the walkway.


Placencia is world renowned for its offshore fishing and because the world’s second largest barrier reef is just offshore, snorkeling and diving are excellent. The phenomenal blue waters are perfect for water sports like kayaking and sailing or you can hire a boat to the near-by Laughing Bird Cayes, a National Park.


There are numerous tour guides in the Village that can take you to nearby nature attractions like the Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve, Maya Ruins or exploring the Monkey River.
Belizeans from all walks of life descends on the peninsula for its annual Lobster Fest, held in June. The festival is filled with music, games, and Belizean beers and of course, food-- lobster in every form imaginable.


Accommodations range in prices from the very luxury resorts up the coast, to the inexpensive bed-and-breakfast inside the village. Restaurants are in abundance and seafood is amazingly fresh.


So, come on! Let’s go to Placencia and kick off our shoes!!
CLICK ON PICTURE TO ENLARGE

CROOKED TREE VILLAGE
Welcome to Crooked Tree Village, a neighborhood of friendly people!!
Believe it or not, Crooked Tree is actually an inland island. It is surrounded by Revenge Lagoon, Northern Lagoon, Western Lagoon and Spanish Creek. Crooked Tree is located 33 miles north of Belize City and two miles off the Northern Highway, connected by a one mile causeway.


Crooked Tree has become known as a wildlife sanctuary and its annual Cashew Festival. The sanctuary is managed by The Audubon Society, after the Forestry Department, in 1984, declared the area protected under the Wildlife Protection Act. The sanctuary is home to the famous “Jabiru Stork”, the largest bird in the Western Hemisphere. The Jabiru has a wing span of 10-12 feet and is listed as an endangered species. Around the lagoons you will find many other birds feeding on the abundant food resources that the lagoons provide; the Great Egrets, Kingfishers, Ospreys, Black Hawks and many others. The entire area is a must for international birders.


The traditional way of life for the Villagers has always been hunting, fishing and farming. When the area was declared a protected sanctuary, the Villagers viewed it as a declaration of war, as they felt that their livelihood and lifestyle is being threatened. A compromised was reached with the Audubon Society, whereas, the Villagers were allowed to hunt and fish on a “needs” basis to meet their domestic demands.


The Cashew Festival is an annual celebration of the harvesting of the Cashew Nuts and is held the first weekend in May. The festival started with one man’s vision, Mr. Rudy Crawford who initially thought that his Village could be self sustaining. The festival is a community event to market their local products from the Cashew crops and includes roasted cashew nuts, cashew wine, cashew jam, cashew cake and an assortment of local delicacies. Preparing the nut is a very lengthy process which requires a lot of patience. It is roasted over an open fire, after which it is broken from its outer shell and roasted in an oven. Because it is so time consuming, it makes it very expensive on the open market.


Here’s a list of visitor’s information and sanctuary rules from the Audubon Society.        
Entrance fees are Bz$2 for nationals and BZ$8 for non-nationals.                             
Opening hours are 8 a.m-4:30 p.m.


To help maintain the sanctuary's pristine condition, we ask that all visitors observe the following regulations.


Please register at the visitor's center. Please do not harm or capture any animals or birds.  Please do not collect or remove any plants or trees.  No fishing or hunting for non-nationals. No firearms allowed.  Do not litter and please leave trash in bins provided.  


Please stay on the trails and boardwalks. Bring sturdy shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent and plenty of water.           


No matter what time of the year you visit, Crooked Tree Village is a pleasant experience with friendly people and natural beauty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
LAMANAI
With camera in hands and eyes focused, we set out last June 2008 from the Village of Carmelita, via the New River Lagoon to the Mayan site of Lamanai. Lamanai is one of Belize’s largest ceremonial Mayan centers. The name “Lamanai” comes from the word “submerged crocodile” in the Mayan language. The trip down the river is scenic, and we were ready to capture the many species of birds, howler monkeys, bats and yes; crocodiles.

The site is situated along the New River Lagoon and the central area covers approximately half a square mile. It features Mayan architecture of temples and palaces dating from 1500 B.C. and 1500 A.D. periods. Lamanai during these periods encompasses all of Belize’s major phases of Mayan civilization. The central area, plus the other minor structures covers over 950 acres.

The massive main temple is the largest Pre-classic structure known in the Mayan world and one of the longest occupied Mayan cities.
A trip to Lamanai is well worth it and make sure to bring along insect repellant.
CARACOL
This Mayan site Caracol (The Snail) is the biggest in Belize. It is located in the Chiquibul Forest, Cayo District and was discovered in 1938 by loggers. Caracol covers 30 square miles of thick jungle, five plazas, an astronomic observatory and archeologists have identified over 35,000 buildings. The most imposing among them, a massive pyramid, (Caana) is capped by three temples and rises over 140 feet (44 meters) above the jungle floor and is considered the tallest man made structure in Belize.

In 1986, an elaborately carved stone was discovered which described a victory by Caracol over Tikal, located over 60 miles away in Guatemala. This discovery positioned Caracol as the supreme Mayan City. It is estimated that over 200,000 or more Maya lived in the area when this City reached its peak around 700 A.D.

Today, Caracol and the surrounding area are rich in tropical flora and fauna. Archeological excavation and reconstruction of the site is ongoing during the dry season.

This site is definitely worth a visit; it offers a glimpse into Mayan life. On your way out, make sure you check out the visitor’s center, you will find a number of photographs and diagrams of the site, along with artifacts and a recovered ceremonial altar.

Monday, March 2, 2009

VIEW FROM CROOKED TREE VILLAGE

Along the shores of Crooked Tree Village Lagoon
All photos by Johnny Gillett
Lining up the heavy equipment for road work