Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Super Belize Contest - Great Prizes for the Winners!

So here we go, a simple little contest to turn your collective brains into mush for the coming new year. Prizes will be as follows:

First Prize, a copy of the fabulous book "Heavenly Belize" by Marius JovaiĊĦa, an absolutely beautiful book of awesome aerial photos of Belize. ONE lucky (and clever) First Prize winner is out there somewhere.

There will be 5 Second Prizes for some pretty brainy people as well. You'll have a choice. Winners can choose from a book on Birding in Belize, a guide to diving and snorkeling in Belize or a general tourist-type guide book to Belize. 2nd place book prizes may differ somewhat from the publications's all based on availability. I'll ship to you via. Amazon.

All you have to do is describe your impression of Ambergris Caye, the Jewel of Belize. You don't have to mention the words "Belize, Ambergris Caye, San Pedro" or anything like that (although you can if you want). This is good because your description MUST be written in Japanese Haiku style poetry which only gives you a limited number of words and syllables to use. For those of you too lazy to Google it, "Haiku" poetry consists of 3 lines. The first line must have 5 syllables. The second line must have 7 syllables. The third and final line must have 5 syllables.

So, for example, you could write:

Winter sun warms bones
Here on Isla Bonita
Frost free night ahead

OK, that was pretty average, you're going to have to do much better than that to win! Hopefully you get the idea, though, 5/7/5 syllables.

Email your entries to us at I will acknowledge receipt of each entry with a quick "Got it, thanks!" The contest will run until January 15th which I believe is the cut off date for most people to have already broken their New Year's Resolutions. No need to include anything other than your name and your poem. I'll only need your address, phone number etc. if you end up being a lucky winner so that I can ship your prize to you.

If you like what you see on our Facebook page and you haven't "Liked" us already feel free to do so, it'd be much appreciated. You don't have to "Like" us on Facebook to enter. Also, "Liking" our Facebook page won't increase your chances of winning, it'll just increase our number of "Likes" but we'd be grateful nevertheless!

Contest Rules: More than one entry per person is allowed. Be creative! No swearing, at least in your poem(s). Prizes awarded to the funniest, most original, cleverest poems out there. Poems not following strict Haiku style can't win but if you send an entry in and it breaks this rule I will email you to let you know so you'll have a chance to edit out the error. Yes, I'll read them all! Entries must be in by 6pm Belize Time January 15th 2013. English only, I don't know any other languages. Sorry.

Winning entries will be published on this blog on January 16th 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Super Business Bargain on Ambergris Caye

You've seen this here before, it's the Ladybug Plant Nursery. For me this is the Real Estate Surprise of my 2012. Actually, more than just one surprise:
1. The owner slashed the price from $125,000US to $45,000US.
2. No-one has yet made an offer.

The owner, Catherine, has said she'll listen to just about any reasonable offer. She's selling for personal reasons. Obviously one cannot warranty the success of any small business but the price of this particular one is so reasonable I think it has people thinking "Why so low?"

Ladybug only makes modest profits but that is because the owner admits she doesn't put the time and investment in that is really needed to make it buzz. On the other hand...think about much would it cost you to start a business like this from scratch...with no guarantee that you'd make any profit at all? Getting a business like this, with a substantial plant and equipment inventory and a decent customer base at such a super low price is just about unheard of on Ambergris Caye

IMO, this is a sleeper. Any hard working green fingered entrepreneur could make this little gem really shine. You'd never make a fortune on it but it has the capability to be a super little business making a decent profit each month. Perfect for a semi-retired couple looking to stay busy in Paradise.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Grand Caribe snowman wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2013 set to be a GREAT YEAR!!!!!!

Thought of the Year for 2013 (apologies to those who have thought of this before, I don't know who you are, I've never seen it before in the media or on line and so as far as I am concerned it's an Original Thought by me).

So, we have 2013 upcoming. Thirteen. An Unlucky number. Consider this...on January 1st 1914 I bet a lot of people in the world were thinking "Thank Goodness 1913 is out of the way, we are in the clear!......."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Belize's dumb tourist policy vs. Nationals of India

India is the 2nd most populated country on the planet. Its economy is growing almost as fast as China's. While India does have a huge poverty problem it also has a massive, and growing, middle and wealthy class of people.

India is a democracy and it doesn't support terrorism. For its size and especially size of population, one would have to say that India is one of the LEAST controversial countries on the planet.

So, why does the Government of Belize make it impossible for Indian nationals to visit Belize as tourists? Currently I am dealing with some Indian folk who want to come to Belize to see if they would like to invest in real estate. Just like any other person visiting for the first time they want to see if they like it here first. Essentially they'd be coming as tourists, at least initially.

But Belize won't let them enter the country until they prove that they are here to invest. This, of course, is stupid. Why can't Indian nationals be allowed to visit as tourists first, just to see if Belize is for them? What is the reason for Belize's policy vs. India?

I need to know...for now I'll just say that it's STUPID.

The photo below is of famed Indian actress and model Freida Pinto. I personally want to see more people like her in Belize!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A GEM of a Beachfront Home on Ambergris Caye

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

McAfee and his anti-Belize rants....hurtful to the Belizean people?

A friend of mine emailed me a while ago...he was wondering if the John McAfee saga would hurt Belize. It appears the answer is a resounding "No" with possibly even the opposite effect. Go to ...not so much for the story, but for the reader comments. I'd say Belize comes out of this just fine.

It is noticeable on Mr. McAfee's own blog that all dissenting comments are "moderated" out. (When he first started the blog most reader comments were negative vs. McAfee).

I saw a McAfee news article on CNN on line the other day and went to the reader comments....almost all posts were negative vs. McAfee....almost as if they were of the opinion that McAfee was a few virus definitions short of a full software update. In fact, here's one of those articles...go to the reader comments and laugh!

Mr. McAfee's attempts to hurt Belize (and by definition her people) with his endless blog rants seem to have had the opposite effect. A few days ago Mayor Danny Guerrero said he thinks this is the best thing to happen to Belize in years. He has a point.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Video of our 20 minute stroll Grand Caribe to Capricorn, Sunday 9th December 2012

Beautiful wading birds and chill-out iguanas on our 20 minute beach stroll from Grand Caribe to Capricorn for lunch on Sunday.

Ambergris Caye is such a beautiful place to live!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Unit E8 at Grand Caribe

Here's the walk through video of Unit E8 at Grand Caribe. Fabulous views from the veranda at the end of the video. It's all one scene, a walk-through the unit with no breaks or editing. If this unit becomes available for sale the owner has said he's willing to do great seller financing!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surprising Wildlife Sighting on Ambergris Caye!

Concentrate on the two small trees...look at the foot of the trees as the camera zooms in. What an amazing really surprised me! Make sure audio is turned up.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy....why so much damage?

Why did Hurricane Sandy, which made U.S. landfall as a Category 1 storm last Monday, cause so much terrible damage? Winds were in the 70's with higher gusts. To people who live in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye these are not exceptional wind speeds. We have seen several storms in the last few years with similar winds and we've suffered only relatively minor damage. This year Mahahual, which is only 60 miles north of San Pedro, took a direct hit from 90mph Hurricane Ernesto and suffered relatively minor damage. Mind you, in 2007 the same Mexican town took 165mph Hurricane Dean and got flattened.

The same Hurricane Dean gave us 80mph winds which gave us a 18 hour power outage and a few downed tree limbs. That was it....less than 48 hours to a full recovery. In some parts of the U.S. North East it is said that it will be weeks or months before all power is restored. Let's look at the many reasons for the disparity in damage between recent storms which have hit our island and the U.S. North-East:

1. Storm size: Sandy was monstrously large, 1000 miles across and with damaging winds spread over 200 miles in diameter as it made landfall. The tropical cyclones which have affected Belize in the last 10 years have been much smaller in size, even some have been a bit more powerful wind-wise.

2. Storm surge off an open sea: We have our coral and limestone Belize Barrier Reef, the North East Coast of the USA has deep ocean and sand dune barrier islands. Protection wise there is no comparison. Most of Sandy's damage was from surging salt water.

3. the U.S. North East the lunar tides are measured in  feet. New York, for example, sees a 5 - 6 ft tidal difference each day and it's not an exceptional range by any means. Some parts of the U.S. North East see even greater tidal ranges and Sandy hit during a full moon.  Here in the Caribbean tides are measured in inches. Again, Sandy's main weapon of destruction was the massive amount of sea water which surged ashore at high tide. Imagine if San Pedro had a 5ft tidal range each day........

4. We're used to storms and so much of our construction is geared to taking a hit. Mind you, make no mistake, a strong Category 2 or above storm giving us a direct hit would cause plenty of damage. Category 4 Hurricane Keith in 2000 was no fun for us at all, direct hit, lots of damage, it was weeks and months to a full recovery. We lost our (wooden) house. In the U.S. North East the homes are all built close to the ground. Most "totalled" homes were done in by the surging waters...look at aerial photos of Sandy's aftermath and you don't see missing roofs caused by strong winds...all of the damage is at ground level from the sea.

5. In the last 30 years U.S. coastal areas have seen massive development. There are literally millions of new homes inappropriately located for the type of construction they're made from. There are some really low-lying areas where huge luxury home subdivisions have been created...some from reclaimed land. And the homes are built to ground level. In a part of the world with such high tides and no barrier reef protection one has to shake one's head at such unfettered and badly planned development. It's one thing to create such housing in low-lying areas, it's quite another not to raise the buildings off the ground on concrete columns in order to protect against storm surge damage. (This is why I shake MY head at the DFC subdivision here on the island...everyone here knows what will happen to it one day...naturally it was built by government...most private individuals would not have been so insane to have planned it that way).

The U.S. and Canadian North East has had its fair share of storms over the last 100 years. it only takes a deviation of a few degrees to cause a storm to make landfall rather than go out to sea. People talk about climate change causing Sandy. In reality Sandy was just another Atlantic hurricane which made an unfortunate turn of a few degrees. This caused it to make landfall where it did. Need proof of this? Look at the storms which have hit Halifax, Newfoundland and the vicinity, in the last 100's of years. Did "global warming" cause these storms to hit the cold north east?

Our good wishes and prayers go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. We hope your recovery takes a lot less time than is currently being predicted.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why Won't Reef Village Developer Hand Over Titles to Owners?

(Long post but worth a read, all the way to the profane end!):

Reef Village is a development which has taken its share of flak over the years. But, the units are nice and airy, the finishing work is adequate, it's in a great location and the prices appeal to a wide range of buyers. So, what has gone wrong there? Why does it have the appearance of a failed development when in reality people who own and live there are very happy?

Much of the angst has to be directed at the developers. There are a lot of homeowners who have paid in fully for their units but have not received title. I know a really nice couple who own a villa there. They have been promised their title now for well over 6 months and it has yet to be handed over. THE DEVELOPER HAS THE TITLES but for some reason he is holding on to them and making excuses as to why he wont part with them.

To the best of my knowledge he's not trying to borrow money using the titles as security...that would actually be a criminal offense. It looks like he is hanging on to them for reasons of leverage but I can't put my finger on why he would do this.

I call upon the developers to issue the titles to those owners who have paid for their units. There is no reason for this nonsense. If I was a homeowner at Reef Village I would be making this a criminal issue, not a civil one. In Belize once you pay for a property you have to be issued title because that's what it says on the contract. Withholding title is a form of theft and fraud. It is time for the developers to say "Thank-you" to their buyers for their trust in investing there and not "Fuck You" by withholding titles.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ambergris's almost perfect - but not quite.

Is it perfect here on Ambergris Caye? It's close but we do have our problems and I don't want to sugarcoat them just because this is a real estate themed page. Everyone knows about the crystal-clear waters, the incredible marine life, white sandy beaches and the warm friendly people but we do have our problems. Tourists and potential buyers know about them and feel them acutely at times. Here's what I want to see get fixed in the next 3 years:

1. Drug dealers in town and around tourist spots such as bars. Get rid of them, we don't need them giving our tourist guests harassment at all hours of the day. Drugs are ILLEGAL in Belize but if a tourist wants to score some pot perhaps he or she should go and look for it rather than be confronted by it every step they take. Drug dealers  and drugs pretty much account for 90% of the crimes committed on the island. I'd love to see them eliminated altogether, it isn't going to happen but let's at least keep them away from our valued tourist guests.

2. Our roads: The government, both local and national, need to pave our arterial roads without delay. These roads are an embarrassment to tourists and residents alike. Heck, the Romans built roads in Europe which are still there more than 2000 years later. By "Arterial Roads' I mean the road from the bridge to Las Terrazas, the road through San Pablo to the end of DFC and the road which runs past Pedro's through to the gas station. Once these are done then 99% of the population of Ambergris Caye will be no further than a few hundred feet from a paved road which will certainly make for pleasant journeys for our residents and tourists alike.

3. Our beaches continue to be trash strewn in places on the island. It doesn't look good. Private landowners need to keep the beach in front of their property clean otherwise they should be billed for the Town Council to do it.

That's it! For now.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Great Free Service on Ambergris Caye! We'll make sure your property tax bill gets paid!

Now for the good news about paying your Ambergris Caye property taxes. As some of you may know from experience you mail your check to the San Pedro Town Council along with your property tax statement. And then.....nothing happens.
The check is or isn't cashed but no acknowledgement or receipt is forthcoming from the Town Council. We have seen this time and time again.

If you don't live on island, next time you want to pay just email us at We'll get it done for you. Scan and email a copy of your title or your last tax statement (so we know it's your property!). We will get the latest tax statement from the Town Council and scan/email it to you. 

Now you just mail us a bank draft (cashier's check) made out to "San Pedro Town Council" and not only will we ensure the bill gets paid but we will also email you the receipt along with a NEW tax statement confirming the payment.

Our fee for this service is ZERO. No catches, no gimmicks. It's 100% gratis. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Paying Your San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Property Taxes

About time I wrote it's some sage advice on paying your property taxes here in San Pedro. This is a long post, bear with me:

1. Go to the Property Tax desk.
2. Ask for your computerized tax statement EVEN IF YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU HAVE TO PAY.
3. If 'The System Is Down" and they can't print out a statement then find out when it'll be working again and WALK OUT.
4. If the

property tax person prints you out an up to date statement (ie. the system is working) take it to the Cashier and pay your tax bill.
5. VERY IMPORTANT: Take the receipt back to the Property Tax desk and have the tax person input the amount paid into the system and print you out an updated statement showing a zero balance.

Here's why all of this is so vital: Over the past few years the Property Tax system has been subject to frequent outages. Paying your tax bill and getting a hand written receipt is no guarantee that the Town Council will later input it into the system. At a later date you might end up paying twice over simply because it's easy to forget you paid in the first place. Or, you might sell the property and the closing agent gets a statement from the Town Council claiming you owe taxes even though you've paid.

If you're living abroad it's even harder because now you have to send in your check and hope the San Pedro Town Council credit your account. We have seen lots of the time they fail to do so.

More on this subject tomorrow. I will have good news for you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Really Great Deal For Small Business on Ambergris Caye

Here's a FANTASTIC deal. "Ladybug Plant Nursery" has been drastically reduced in price...from $125,000US to an incredible $45,000US. The business makes a modest profit. There's room for more profits for someone with a real love of plants and a dedication to working hard. for details!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Getting a Great Return on Investment on Ambergris it can be done, The Answer At Last!

OK, you’ve been very patient. Here’s how you can make a great short-term return on investment which is ALMOST 100% guaranteed to work: Buy a piece of land at THE RIGHT PRICE. Built a small and totally charming house on it and sell the package for a nice profit. Sounds too easy? It isn't but it's also not that hard and it's within the reach of any serious small real estate investor. Read on!

1. Everyone knows that real estate is all about Location, Location and yet more Location. Ambergris Caye is a pretty good geographical location but some parts of our island are better than others. Pick a great residential location on the island as this plan is residential in nature. In this case I will select the Tres Cocos area of the island, generally reckoned to be one of the finest residential subdivisions on Isla Bonita. (There are other great residential areas too…Holiday Lands, San Pablo Canals, Boca Ciega). All have great locations, they’re all close enough to town for easy access but all peaceful areas too…do not make the mistake of buying cheap land too far from town).

2. Again, we’re using Tres Cocos for this example. Look for a building parcel which is being offered at a great price. By “great price” I mean $55,000US or less. It doesn’t have to be beachfront (well, it can’t be at that price!) but it DOES have to be visible to passing traffic and would ideally be located on the main road which passes through Tres Cocos.

3. Found the property? Buy it! Pay cash, get the title in your name.

4. While all of this has been going on you’ve also worked on some great plans for a small and very charming and simple little island house. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 850 square feet under roof, nice little covered veranda of about 120 square feet. There are one or two great guys on Ambergris Caye who can draw superb plans at very reasonable rates. Expect to pay no more than $3000US for a full set of great building plans along with planning permission from the Ambergris Caye Planning Committee assured.

5. Find a great contractor. We know a few, it won’t be hard for you to find them. They’ll build your house for about $70US per square foot. included in that figure is the caveat that you’ll be buying most of the finishing materials yourself in order to get good discounts from suppliers. To get this rate you have to avoid expensive luxury finishing materials for the kitchen and bathrooms. Instead of granite and marble, for example, you’ll be using something like hand painted Mexican Talavera tiles and basins for the bathrooms. It’s really beautiful stuff but also quite inexpensive in price.

6. This part is very important. The exterior of the house must be utterly charming with tons of “curb appeal” when it’s finished. I would suggest a Mexican style exterior, arches, curves, a rough stucco concrete finish and a colourful, bright paint finish. You want people driving by to stop and take notice.

7. So, let’s add this all up. You bought the land for $55,000US or less. Built the house for $70,000US including plans. That’s an investment of $125,000US. Sell it for $199,000US or thereabouts. Even after paying a real estate commission and covering some unforeseen costs you still get a return on investment of about 40%.  How many homes are there in Tres Cocos for sale for under $250,000US? And, if there are any, how many are actually worth the money? Your house would sell like the proverbial hot cake because it would be utterly charming, right?

8. There’s actually a way you could greatly increase your percentage return on investment if you can qualify for a bank loan. Buy the land for cash, borrow the money from a local bank for the construction. If you can get the house built and sold within 18 months here’s how the profit would stack up. You’ve paid $55,000US for the land, $3000US for the loan setup fees and about $11,000US in interest assuming you use the whole 18 months before selling. That’s an investment of $69,000US for a profit of $45,000US, about 66%.

9. Now some of you are going to ask me “If this is such a sure thing, how come you’re not doing it yourself.” Two answers to that question: (a) I’m already pretty busy and (b) I’m thinking about it.

10. So, what can possibly go wrong here? Well, we are in the Hurricane Zone…… obvious calculation that everyone investing in the Caribbean takes. Hurricanes have visited before, it could happen again, one day it probably will. But, chances are good that you’ll avoid disaster during the relatively short period of this little investment project. And, if you do suffer a storm related setback the chances are good that it’ll just cause a delay rather than end the project.

Email me at if you have any questions!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting a Great Return on Investment on Ambergris it can be done, Part 3.

OK, I am going to reveal the answer. Tomorrow.

In the meantime, for those of you who might be thinking "Buy land, build and sell condos"...that's not the answer and for two reasons:
1. Anyone who follows developers and developments on Ambergris Caye knows there have been quite a few failures. Either the developer has retreated broke and destitute or he got rich because he ran off with the condo 
buyers funds and left everyone else in deep poop. 
2. Being an honest condo developer is beyond the financial means of most folk and my plan for real estate investment success is something within the reach of almost anyone who is considering purchasing property on Ambergris Caye.

My plan involves making honest profits without hurting anyone. Stand by ...all will be revealed tomorrow. A will require a little effort by the investor to make it work. One other clue: The reason it's not a 100% guaranteed money making idea (although it's close) is that things can happen that are completely outside our control.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting a Great Return on Investment on Ambergris it can be done, Part 2.

Part 2: Is there such a thing anymore as real estate on Ambergris Caye which one could buy and reasonably turn a good profit on in, say, 1 - 2 years? By "Good Profit" I mean a 40% or more return on the total investment.

To keep you in suspenders for another day or so...I can tell you that opening up or buying a business is a possible option for a great return on investment. But, it's not GUARANTE

ED to work under almost any circumstances and it's not the answer to yesterday's question.

Business acquisition or start up on Ambergris Caye is a good way to possibly make great money and many people have succeeded. But we have seen many such ventures fail for one reason or another. So, disregard that as the answer to the original question.

More later.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Getting a Great Return on Investment on Ambergris it can be done, Part 1.

Is there such a thing anymore as real estate on Ambergris Caye which one could buy and reasonably turn a good profit on in, say, 1 - 2 years? By "Good Profit" I mean a 40% or more return on the total investment.

Believe it or not there is a way. I can tell you it does not involve buying cheap and selling high after a year or two. Those days are over. There's more to it than that. All I will tell you this evening is that I know how it can be done and that if it's done right success is a near certainty.

I will have the answer for you over the next couple of days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hummingbirds at Grand Caribe on Ambergris Caye

They drink the sugar water from our feeder in about 3 days flat. It was about time we videoed them.

There is some really cool wildlife on Ambergris Caye, we'll try and showcase some of it in the coming weeks.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Avoiding Other People's Mistakes on Ambergris Caye

Last week I received an email from a condo owner at Brahma Blue on the West side of Ambergris Caye. She wanted me to value and list her unit. I thought about it.
Access is by boat only.
Swimming in the "sea" there is an adventure as it's really "lagoon" waters and thus full of biting sea-insect type critters.
The development is only half completed (there were two buildings proposed, only one was

The development is largely in bank receivership. Actually this last bit is OK. Our experience is that when a bank in Belize has to take over the developers train wreck they generally do a fantastic job keeping the grounds and buildings in fine shape while they try to figure out ways of selling off the remaining units.

Can you guess why I didn't list it?
I have a ton of sympathy for people who were utterly duped by these West lagoon side developers - Brahma Blue is not the only one - but I believe firmly the chain of suffering should end right there and not be passed on to the next unsuspecting investor.

Our island has a lot of really great developments well worth looking at...Brahma Blue and the other stuff on the West Side isn't any of them.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Super 2 bedroom condominium home on Ambergris Caye!

Living and Dining area of this great 2 bedroom 2 bathroom unit at Ambergris Lake Villas
Click on the photo or link above to go to our web page listing of this super 2 bedroom 2 bathroom unit at Ambergris Lake Villas. Owner is highly motivated and you should definitely consider making any reasonable offer.

More San Pedro Bird life! Ibis on Ambergris Caye

We're getting our traditional high September tides on Ambergris Caye and the birds are taking advantage. Some ibis having a very good time exploring our temporary wetlands.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grand Caribe, Ambergris Caye, Night Photos

Michaela at Grand Caribe has been wanting to get a professional photographer in to take high quality photos of Grand Caribe especially at night. Well, tonight he came, he has an incredible reputation for taking absolutely stunning photos of the great resorts of the world. I can't wait to see them. Michaela is going to be in photo bliss when he's all done.

In the meantime your humble corespondent got his tripod and camera and took a few snaps. For now, this is all you get.

Click on them to view them properly, they're pretty big.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Playa Del Carmen All Inclusive Wedding Anniversary

So we're staying at an all-inclusive resort, "The Riviera Princess."

As my wife and I are here because it's her Wedding Anniversary I granted her request to see the live show on our first night here. She begged me by twisting my earlobe very hard. I found out it was a  dancing show which would include my least favorite style of music, namely Salsa. (For those of you who would argue that "Rap" should take that dubious honor remember, we're talking about "music.")

As you can imagine I was dreading the whole thing.  A dancing "shake your booty" competition featuring fat and not so fat male tourists. A dance troupe consisting of 6 professional male dancers and only 4 professional females. Presentation of baseball caps to bingo competition winners followed by said winners doing the "We Are The Champions" wave to Queen's classic song under severe prodding from the Mexican M.C. What an awful offering this would be!

It was all quite good and I enjoyed it enormously. They were repeating the same show tonight but my wife didn't want to go......

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My wife was born on Ambergris Caye but for some reason.....

.....she wants a holiday abroad. So, we're off for a few days to Playa Del Carmen. Gonna lock ourselves into an all-inclusive laze-fest. 

I'll be answering email, naturally. Have to take care of my faithful clients!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Putting Belize In Perspective - The Superbond

A Study in Belize Sovereign Debt… Superbond.

As of march 2011, Belize’ s total national debt (both external and domestic) was US $1.016 billion, an amount equivalent to approximately 75.3% of GDP.
The face value of the Superbond (the total public external commercial debt of Belize) is roughly half that amount, or $544 million USD. This was issued by the country of Belize on international markets in 2007, and would bear interest-only for 12 years, with maturity in 2029. The coupon on the country’s so-called Superbond went to 8.5 percent this year from 6 percent, as part of the bond structuring. The current price of Belize’s dollar bonds due in 2029, was 34.83 cents as of August 20, 2012.

That gives a current bond value of approx. $350 million US.

To put matters in perspective, the government of Greece has taken $305 billion (with a “B”) of bailout loans from the European Union and IMF since May 2010. This is in addition to the negotiated debt write-off of additional billions.

In contrast, Belize has no burden of poverty.

While neighboring Guatemala has a population of 14,750,000 (2011), the population of Belize is only 356,600 (2011). Guatemala’s population is 41x greater than that of Belize, in a land area only 4.7 times larger. (Population density of 351 per sq. mile
versus 40 per sq. mile). Belize has the 4th lowest population density in the western hemisphere (behind Canada, Guyana, and Bolivia).

Belize is a net exporter of citrus, bananas, sugar cane, and other fruits and vegetables.
Belize is a net exporter of shrimp, tilapia, cobia and other fishes.
Belize is a net exporter of petroleum…one of only 27 countries in the world, among oil-trading nations.
Belize exports 5.5 times its domestic consumption of petroleum.
46% of Belize is National Park and Marine Reserve, one of the highest percentages, if not the highest, anywhere in the world.

The 256-acre island of Caye Chapel in Belize, recently sold to the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Qatar (SWFoQ) for an amount at or above $42 million US. The island will be developed as a flagship Four Seasons Resort - the first branded flagship resort in all of Belize. The total development cost is projected to be $180-200 million US. Equal to more than half the current bond value of the Superbond.

That helps to put matters into perspective.

This is the same group (SWFoQ) that last year purchased Harrod’s department store in London, US for £1.5 billion ($2.376 billion US). You read that right….Harrods department store, taking up one full city block in Knightsbridge, sold for 7 x more than the current value of the Superbond, and almost 1.5x the total national debt of belize. That helps to put matters into perspective. (They also made a failed bid to purchase Manchester United football team for the same amount…£1.5 billion.)

The country of Belize has a total marketing and advertising budget of $6 million US. This includes the combined efforts of the Belize Tourism Board ( BTB), the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), and the Belize Hotel Association (BHA), and other sources. (By comparison, the Dominican Republic has an annual marketing budget of $71 million US.) In January 2012, the Four Seasons luxury hotel chain unveiled a new website that cost $18 million to develop. 3x the total marketing budget of Belize…and 1/10 of the current bond value of the sovereign
That helps to put matters in perspective.

Overnight visitors to Belize overall, were up 9% for the first half of 2012. Those visitors arriving through Goldson (Belize) International Airport were up 13.8% for the first 6 months of 2012, year-over-year. 2012 tourism numbers are the highest on record,…in excess of the previous highs of 2006 and 2007.

Belize has hired New York-based law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP to advise the government on the restructuring of the bond. Cleary Gottlieb is the same firm that was hired by Argentina in its debt structuring following the country’s default on $95 billion of bonds in 2001.

Sources in the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, have said this week that the missed interest payment on the bond was a deliberate negotiating tactic under advisement of their counsel. Belize has offered three different debt renegotiation scenarios, published by the Central bank on August 8, 2012. Those various scenarios would result in a lowering of the current bond value from 34.83 cents to 20-22 cents. The answer likely lies somewhere in between the current value and what has been proposed.

The debt restructuring in Greece earlier this year resulted in a price of 29 cents on the dollar, by comparison.

It should be noted that Prime Minister Barrow was the most successful, and arguably best negotiator and most accomplished attorney in Belize, before becoming Prime Minister. He has hired the top law firm in the world for negotiating sovereign debt matters, to advise the government on the restructuring.

At the end of the day, there are very few countries in the world that realistically can sell a few of their several hundred islands, or a few hundreds of thousands of acres of native jungle, in exchange for wiping out the total sovereign debt.

That too, should help put matters in perspective.

(This article written by By John D Turley August 29, 2012)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Coast of Ambergris Caye from Basil Jones North all the way to the Southern Tip.

Next time I think I'll have the window open. 

Some Corrections to the Belize Page of "Live and Retire Overseas" is a very informative web site giving potential retirees lots of great information. There's a very good Belize section which was written in 2009 and updated as recently as this year. There is the odd inaccuracy, though, which The Pelican Team will attempt to bring to the attention of the Live and Invest Overseas.

We will need to point out that our Transfer Tax (ie. how much of the purchase price you pay to the Government when you buy a property) is just 5% and NOT "10% plus 2% Attorney Fee." In most cases you would not even need an attorney to assist with land transfer. There are great real estate paralegals who will execute the transfer for a fixed fee which in the vast majority of cases is far less than 2% of the purchase price.

We were flattered to see a photo taken by one of your humble Pelican Team bloggers appear on the Belize page of this excellent retirement newsletter.

Why Ambergris Caye, Belize?

Very good Retirement Newsletter, this from Live and Retire Overseas.

Ten years ago, the government of Belize enacted legislation to allow Qualified Retired Persons (QRP's) to obtain permanent residency in this country. In many ways, this program is the most efficient route to foreign residency anywhere in the Americas. And, while the QRP visa allows you full-time residency, you can enjoy the benefits of being a QRP even if you spend as little as two weeks a year in Belize.
Belize's QRP program offers not only the equivalent of a U.S. Green Card to foreign residents aged 45 and older, but it also grants a host of other incentives designed to encourage foreigners to come and bring their money. These incentives include a permanent exemption from all Belize taxes, including income tax, capital gains tax, estate tax, and import tax on household goods (up to US$15,000), automobiles, boats, even airplanes. The only requirements are that you or your spouse be 45 years of age or older, that you consider yourself to be retired, and that you show that you have at least $2,000 a month in income to support yourself in Belize (from a pension or some other regular income).
In practical terms, the "consider yourself to be retired" requirement means that, as a QRP, you can't apply for a work visa. This is not to say that you couldn't do international, Internet, or even local Belize business as an entrepreneur. You just can't take on traditional "employee" work.
Under these circumstances, the benefits of the QRP program could be significant, especially if you have active business income from outside the States. In this case, as a non-resident American, your first US$92,900 (or US$185,800 as a couple) in foreign-earned income would be exempt from U.S. tax. And, again, as a QRP, you're also exempt from Belizean tax.
For more information on qualifying as a QRP resident in Belize, get in touch here, or access our Belize Country Page.
More soon,

Kathleen Peddicord
Publisher, Live and Invest Overseas
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye panoramas.

A couple of stitched panoramas taken a couple of days ago on a Tropic Air charter. The pilot, Scott, was marvelous, as are all of our Tropic Air and Maya Island Air pilots. Think about it..every time you're on a flight and they land safely you owe them your life.

Click on the photos for big 'uns.

This is the San Pedro Town Center.

The Phoenix to San Pedro High School

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apple vs. Samsung...a tainted jury?

Consider the verdict today in Apple's battle with Samsung in a U.S. court. Nine carefully selected jurors found that U.S. giant Apple now has a patent on rounded corners, among other things. Basically if you produce some sort of mobile device with a rounded corner you're infringing on Apple turf and your products may be banned from the U.S. markets.

Now, I can only speculate as to the high qualifications of each juror which enabled them to come to such sweeping conclusions in Apple's favour on the correct answers to 600 questions they were asked to ponder in this case. Let's look at what those juror qualifications might be:

1. Some were carefully selected because they probably didn't have good enough jobs to go to. Or at least they were selected because their jobs were so lousy they couldn't come up with excuses good enough to get off the duty.

2. Most probably own Apple devices. No conflict of interest there then, no sir!

3. Most were probably not illegal immigrants, although these days in Obama's USA you never know. This means they were all U.S. citizens and were therefor already biased to handing a verdict and a fat cash award in favour of poverty-stricken U.S. company Apple. Those damn Koreans with their awful fat little dictator making the population starve to death....oh, wait, that's ANOTHER Korea although anyone too stupid to get off jury duty probably wouldn't know that.

So as you can see there is no way we can say the verdict today was tainted in any way. Although I suspect Samsung will probably feel they have grounds to appeal starting with "The Jury were all as thick as bricks" and going on from there.

This was a very bad day for competition in the U.S..It was definitely worse than any verdict handed down in the past in favour of previous Apple competitors such as Microsoft who somehow now seem all warm and cuddly in comparison to the Apple monopoly-seeking juggernaut.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Very Affordable Ambergris Caye condominium for sale. Great area, just 10 golf cart minutes from San Pedro Town Center.

Proof that a comfortable condo on Ambergris Caye need not cost a fortune: Comfortable ground floor condominium in well-regarded residential area of Ambergris Caye. Less than a mile and a half to San Pedro's bustling town center.
The unit is one of only 3 in this condominium building.
Pictured furnishings included. This condo comes with a good sized kitchen. Central air conditioning.
Ample storage space in bodega which could be converted to condo use if required.
Cute private fenced patio area in front of entrance. for details.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Google Earth and Ambergris of them is OUT OF DATE!

Google Earth really is state of the art stuff with its  street level cameras, 3D topography. It's the space age personified, an amazing tool for everyone looking to get an idea of the layout of a mysterious new destination they might be visiting. 

Don't take the Ambergris Caye aerials too literally, though. This is Grand Caribe according to Google Earth. I guess the bush grows quickly in the Tropics.

Seriously, Google, please put some updated photos of Ambergris Caye on your otherwise fabulous Earth program. Imagery 10 years or older really is pathetic. Which spacecraft took the photo, was it Sputnik?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to Ambergris Caye Properties For Sale

OK, we have entertained you enough for now with posts of pretty girls, night views and opinions....back to some serious property listings! 

100ft by 400ft pristine beachfront investment property in stunning Robles area of Ambergris Caye, 16 miles from San Pedro Town Center. $150,000US, super investment. Click here for details and photos.

This beautiful oceanfront parcel is located 9.5 miles north of San Pedro Town in the Habaneros subdivision. It's Lot D14. It's just a couple of hundred feet from Brightwaters Beach Resort. All high elevation, fantastic value for money! Asking just $245,000US for 90ft of pristine oceanfront by over 200ft depth. Click here for photos and more details.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Can You Trust Trip Advisor?

Why must you be careful when using "www. tripadvisor .com" to research hotels? It's because a lot of the reviews are totally bogus because ANYONE can post. This includes people who have never used the hotel in question.

 Some reviews are overly positive. Often it's the hotel plugging their place using multiple Trip Advisor accounts. Some are negative to the point of slander. Quite frequently it's people who know the hotel owner, perhaps, and have a grudge. 

 If you want a much more accurate idea as to whether you should stay at a hotel then use the Expedia or Travelocity reviews instead. Those sites only allow you to post a hotel review if you have actually booked the hotel through them and completed your stay.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ambergris Caye....a True Paradise!

Anyone know these beautiful and friendly girls? I was just walking the beach and I noticed them at Grand Caribe this weekend and snapped these totally random shots. You see amazingly gorgeous people like this all the time on our Isla Bonita, you really should visit!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another Evening at Grand Caribe, Ambergris Caye, Belize

nice dinner party scene....taken from our veranda at Grand Caribe this evening.

A good day at work on beautiful Ambergris Caye

What a great day it was today. Had some quality showings this morning. Better still, late this afternoon I was able to save another couple from making what would have been a financially disastrous real estate purchase. 

Some real estate agents on this island will say ANYTHING to sell a piece of swampland in the middle of nowhere with no prospect of it being any use for anything. The best way for real estate agents and brokers to make a great living on Ambergris Caye is to tell the truth, even if the truth is sometimes something their clients won't want to hear.

(photo above has nothing to do with this post except just like the article it happened today, this evening, actually).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ambergris Caye...taken from our balcony at Grand Caribe...Boat Dancing In Storm

Hope the lines hold! Taken at 10:00am on Wednesday 8th August, this is the "tail" of Hurricane Ernesto making this boat do the conga. First few seconds are a bit shaky.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ambergris Caye Avoids Hurricane Ernesto (or the other way around)

This is it, Hurricane Ernesto causes 20mph winds on our island. The views you see here taken around 3:00pm on Tuesday 7th August. Snorkeling on reef not recommended.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Well, Someone Has to Live Here and it Might as Well be us!

The view might not be quite as agreeable in a couple of days. Our little friend Ernesto looks like it'll give us some mucky weather from Tuesday for  a day or two. At least this video will show you why we live here! Taken Sunday August 5th 2012.

Better News on Tropical Storm Ernesto

A day later and Tropical Storm Ernesto is forecast to make landfall over Belize...but as a tropical storm and not a hurricane which is a relief. There's a very good chance it might yet dive south and miss us more or less altogether.

Once it has passed you might like to check on your insurance!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

That Time of The Year

Every year we have to go through something some call "Hurricane Season." Some folk, including real estate agents, like to say that we don't get many hurricanes in Belize. Be that as it may - and it isn't because we've had our fair share - it's important to realize that it only takes one of these nasty buggers and your life is back to "Square One"....unless, that is, you are properly prepared.

 So, how can you prepare for a storm? It's easy, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER INSURANCE. Insure your house, condo, golf cart, personal effects, and even insure your boat. Although, if your experiences with boats are anything like mine just sell the damn thing right now. Make sure the insurance coverage reflects the true replacement value. Under insuring is false economy (or "Plain Daft") and is not recommended. 

 If you think you can't afford insurance picture this: Imagine how you'll feel when a hurricane is taking dead aim at Belize and your hard earned uninsured assets are in the way. Whoops. Too Late.