Amberris Caye, Belize

Belize's Playground

View from Cayo Espanto, one of the many near-shallow islanders where wealthy foreign investors install sophisticated resorts.
Red Chameleon
Speedboat sets sail from a San Pedro jetty full of passengers.
High tide
Sunbathers and kayakers revel in the idyllic Caribbean Sea off San Pedro.
amazing Cayo
A jetty on Cayo Espanto, an island resort off San Pedro.
One of the many sophisticated resorts that fill the coastline of Ambergris Caye, mainly around San Pedro.
Political banner questions a Belizean policy on the whereabouts of money earmarked for reparations for damage caused by Hurricane Keith.
Comfortable Sanpedense
San Pedro resident rests on the padded benches of one of the many golf carts that roam the city.
21, 2002
Mural sets a deadline for the recovery of a proud and strong Belize: 21, 2002.
absolute vacation
Two visitors to Ambergris Caye bathe in the warm water of the Caribbean Sea, this way from the barrier reef that surrounds the island and much of Belize.
A Network without a Password
A guest at the Portofino resort rests in a hammock between the main building and the beach next door.
Street demonstration in support of the PUP, the People's United Party, normal opponent of the red UDP party, the United Democratic Party.
Things Dread
Political painting in the home of residents of San Pedro encourages the Red Party to vote.
Shallow waters
Golden retriever chases fish along a pontoon terrace at the Cayo Espanto resort.
over the reef
Snorkeler admires the underwater life between the sand and the barrier reef off Ambergris Caye, the 2nd largest in the world.
San Pedro lights
Night falls over the main town of Ambergris Caye, a bathing retreat off the Belize mainland.

Madonna sang it as La Isla Bonita and reinforced the motto. Today, neither hurricanes nor political strife discourage VIP and wealthy vacationers from enjoying this tropical getaway.

Belize City quickly proves to be both unpleasant and threatening, even more so for those traveling with photographic equipment. Transformed into an outpost for drug trafficking in the Americas, Belize's largest city has become used to the frequent destruction caused by the various hurricanes that have already hit the country, and has surrendered to a culture of gangs and violence that drive most common visitors away. . Its semi-ruined and chaotic streets are crossed by sewers and smelly canals and patrolled by bands of Afro residents and superb Garifunas with impressive bearings, deep voices and almost always suspicious intentions. The most welcoming corner of the country was waiting for us and we didn't stay to find out more.

On the way to Ambergris Caye, depending on the depth of the sea, the water changes from green to blue again and again, and we pass through islets full of mangroves and pelicans. After half an hour, there is a white foam mark caused by the surf on the coralline and, a little later, the silhouette of Ambergris. As we get closer, the first front of wooden houses becomes clearer, right next to the beach, from where dozens of aging docks and jetties project.

Ambergris, (sometimes Am-ber-griss and other Amberjis) is the largest of Belize's cayes. It extends for about 40 km in length, in a kind of extension of the Mexican peninsula of Yucatan. The island is protected from the occasional fury of the sea by the second largest barrier reef in the world, which is also its main attraction.

But the reef alone does not work miracles and, when the rainy season arrives, – from June to November – its 4500 inhabitants know that they are at the mercy of nature's whims. The first truly destructive hurricane devastated Belize in 1931, at a time when they were not even baptized. The second was Hattie, in 1961, and the third arrived in 2001, with the nice name of Iris. The last one to do major damage was Richard, in October 2010.

Of course, as the main national tourist domain, the island has priority in reconstruction. Authorities cannot afford the luxury of the Americans and Europeans who invest here having losses and, for that, La Isla Bonita – as Madonna sang it – has to continue to seduce.

Most Ambergris residents live in San Pedro, on the southern tip of the island, where the barrier reef is just 800 meters offshore. It is an undeveloped city with a small airport where visitors and the richest natives land. Transportation is provided by golf carts. There are dozens of them circulating here and there, miniatures representing the size of the city and its humble spirit, the same unpretentious spirit that makes, during the day, many of the inhabitants walk barefoot and bare-chested. 

San Pedro is arranged around three main streets that were previously simply called Front street, Middle street and Back street and the authorities decided, in vain, to name them with real names: Barrier Reef Drive, Pescador dr. and Angel Coral dr. It is between these streets and the beginning of the airport runway that almost all services are concentrated, just a few meters from each other. In the two-story wooden houses of this central area, there are also the main shops, bars and restaurants, as well as the Baptist church.

It's impossible to get lost here. In addition to being small, the city extends on a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea, to the east, and the San Pedro lagoon, to the west – this is indeed a labyrinth of small people. keys, shoals and islets where only the most experienced can navigate.

Any movement in the central area can be done on foot, but to reach the resorts on the outskirts of the city, you need either land or water vehicles. To the north, the route is interrupted at the end of Pescador drive, where there is a canal that is crossed by a hand-drawn ferry and, shortly thereafter, the roads disappear altogether.

With the end of the coconut and lobster industry, the resorts, bars and diving and excursion agencies have ensured the income of many Belizeans. Serving foreigners who enrich themselves visibly at the expense of the beauty of their homeland is not the life many of them dreamed of, but as long as things don't change, it's much better than nothing. In order for the country's economic situation to improve, the government is committed to education and patriotic training for its children. Belize is a country almost as young as some of them and therefore national awareness is something that has to be taught and instilled.

A typical day of classes begins with a lecture by the institution's director. The raising of the flag ensues as a huge choir of children in blue and white uniforms sings the anthem. After this ritual, students head to the dark and cramped classrooms.

The San Pedro school is a perfect observatory of the ethnic diversity that culturally enriches this Caribbean corner which, despite being poor, has attracted and continues to seduce people from all over the world. Along with descendants of distant Baymen, African slaves and children of both, they study mestizo children of Mexican origin, others, Mayans and Chinese, and young descendants of Americans, Canadians and Europeans who brought their lives there.

While discovering San Pedro, we also witness the last moments of a pre-season electoral campaign. The city is still adorned with posters and banners with questions to the ruling PUP – Peoples United Party: “Why was the cemetery land sold? or “Where did the money provided by the international community to recover from the damage of the hurricanes go?”.

On another day, a small crowd of PUP militants and sympathizers came to a halt waving flags, dancing and chanting slogans and chants in support of the party and its candidate. On foot and in golf carts, the main arteries were covered on a circuit that would end with the official submission of the application. Then, it was the turn of the UDP – United Democratic Party, whose much more modest procession, joined, without any problem, the people of the PUP, near the entrance to the Municipal Assembly.

There seems to be a general fair game that guarantees continued fraternization and political stability. The fact that the island, like the rest of the country, does not have valuable raw materials, or investment power, contributes to the ambition to be restrained and the Machiavellian dictators who ruin so many other nations do not emerge. Around here, only one thing is more respected and valued than democracy: the reef barrier. Any conversation leads to the favorite topic of the inhabitants of Ambergris. As with a young employee we met at a diving agency: – “The barrier reef is all we have, friends. We have to protect her like a child!” When they meet, Sanpedrenses tirelessly exchange their latest diving experiences in the different areas of the barrier. Every night, around the national beer – Belikin – or during the endless barbecues in the bars of Front Street, they discuss, in detail, the state of a certain coral stock or where they detected the biggest shoals of barracudas or basking sharks that day. . At one point, we heard two of them proudly report that an American yacht had been fined for running aground and destroying a few meters of reef.

Foreigners can even take more and more portions of the island from them, but at the barrier…not that. Nobody touches the barrier. 

south of Belize

The Strange Life in the Black Caribbean Sun

On the way to Guatemala, we see how the proscribed existence of the Garifuna people, descendants of African slaves and Arawak Indians, contrasts with that of several much more airy bathing areas.

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Dreadlocked Costa Rica

Traveling through Central America, we explore a Costa Rican coastline as much as the Caribbean. In Cahuita, Pura Vida is inspired by an eccentric faith in Jah and a maddening devotion to cannabis.
Corn Islands - Islas del Maíz , Nicaragua

pure caribbean

Perfect tropical settings and genuine local life are the only luxuries available in the so-called Corn Islands or Corn Islands, an archipelago lost in the Central American confines of the Caribbean Sea.
Antigua (Antilles), Guatemala

Hispanic Guatemala, the Antigua Fashion

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Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
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The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Young people walk the main street in Chame, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Itamaraty Palace Staircase, Brasilia, Utopia, Brazil
Architecture & Design
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Mountains of Fire

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Correspondence verification
Ceremonies and Festivities
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From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
patpong, go go bar, bangkok, one thousand and one nights, thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

One Thousand and One Lost Nights

In 1984, Murray Head sang the nighttime magic and bipolarity of the Thai capital in "One night in bangkok". Several years, coups d'etat, and demonstrations later, Bangkok remains sleepless.
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Efate, Vanuatu, transshipment to "Congoola/Lady of the Seas"
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The Island that Survived “Survivor”

Much of Vanuatu lives in a blessed post-savage state. Maybe for this, reality shows in which aspirants compete Robinson Crusoes they settled one after the other on their most accessible and notorious island. Already somewhat stunned by the phenomenon of conventional tourism, Efate also had to resist them.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

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Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Zapatismo, Mexico, San Nicolau Cathedral
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico

The Home Sweet Home of Mexican Social Conscience

Mayan, mestizo and Hispanic, Zapatista and tourist, country and cosmopolitan, San Cristobal has no hands to measure. In it, Mexican and expatriate backpacker visitors and political activists share a common ideological demand.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

Riders cross the Ponte do Carmo, Pirenópolis, Goiás, Brazil
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Polis in the South American Pyrenees

Mines of Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Meia Ponte were erected by Portuguese pioneers, in the peak of the Gold Cycle. Out of nostalgia, probably Catalan emigrants called the mountains around the Pyrenees. In 1890, already in an era of independence and countless Hellenizations of its cities, Brazilians named this colonial city Pirenópolis.
São Tomé Ilha, São Tomé and Principe, North, Roça Água Funda
São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

Through the Tropical Top of São Tomé

With the homonymous capital behind us, we set out to discover the reality of the Agostinho Neto farm. From there, we take the island's coastal road. When the asphalt finally yields to the jungle, São Tomé had confirmed itself at the top of the most dazzling African islands.
Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Hikers below Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California, United States of America
Death Valley, USA

The Hottest Place Resurrection

Since 1921, Al Aziziyah, in Libya, was considered the hottest place on the planet. But the controversy surrounding the 58th measured there meant that, 99 years later, the title was returned to Death Valley.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Camiguin, Philippines, Katungan mangrove.
Natural Parks
Camiguin, Philippines

An Island of Fire Surrended to Water

With more than twenty cones above 100 meters, the abrupt and lush, Camiguin has the highest concentration of volcanoes of any other of the 7641 islands in the Philippines or on the planet. But, in recent times, not even the fact that one of these volcanoes is active has disturbed the peace of its rural, fishing and, to the delight of outsiders, heavily bathed life.
improvised bank
UNESCO World Heritage
Ibo Island, Mozambique

Island of a Gone Mozambique

It was fortified in 1791 by the Portuguese who expelled the Arabs from the Quirimbas and seized their trade routes. It became the 2nd Portuguese outpost on the east coast of Africa and later the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. With the end of the slave trade at the turn of the XNUMXth century and the passage from the capital to Porto Amélia, Ibo Island found itself in the fascinating backwater in which it is located.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

Just 30km off the East African coast, an unlikely but imposing erg rises out of the translucent sea. Bazaruto it houses landscapes and people who have lived apart for a long time. Whoever lands on this lush, sandy island soon finds himself in a storm of awe.
Sanahin Cable Car, Armenia
Alaverdi, Armenia

A Cable Car Called Ensejo

The top of the Debed River Gorge hides the Armenian monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and terraced Soviet apartment blocks. Its bottom houses the copper mine and smelter that sustains the city. Connecting these two worlds is a providential suspended cabin in which the people of Alaverdi count on traveling in the company of God.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

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Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

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Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Maria Jacarés, Pantanal Brazil
Miranda, Brazil

Maria dos Jacarés: the Pantanal shelters such Creatures

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Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.