Friday, August 28, 2015

A Boat Named Jenny

One of the first things we did when we arrived in Belize in late May was to start eyeing potential boats for the resort.  One of the first boats we looked at was named Jenny and since we have a very special friend named Jenny we thought it was a given this would be the boat. 

 But due diligence was in order so we kept looking at boats and boats and boats.

Finally we decided to revisit Jenny and Ken took her for a test drive.  Actually we had to hire someone to take her for a test drive since Ken does not have his boat captain license in Belize; Or anywhere else in the world. 
He and John, who will also be our lead fishing guide, took Jenny for a spin. 

Next we hired a mechanic named Osmin to take a look under the hood so he could tell us exactly how much money he will soon be investing in his boat. 
Finally we got up enough courage to purchase Her and we worked closely with the owner, Boris (from Russia) to navigate the title transfer process.  We have collected 3 shrubberies so far and only need one more and we should have this completed.
Currently Jenny is on shore having some cosmetic work done by Jose who is also looking forward to fixing up his boat in the very near future.

We now have a boat that will serve beautifully to cater guests out to the reef for some snorkeling or to the lagoon for some bird watching or to the tarpon hole for some fishing and on and on……..We can’t wait to show our guests around the numerous waters that are so close to our pristine location.
But first we have to learn what this is for?

And build a dock which we are being told will start next week.  We have been told this for more than one week now, but I won’t bore you with the exact number of weeks.  We did manage to get the posts for the dock delivered and this was a very big day on the construction site of Leaning Palm Resort.

We also made a big step towards equal opportunity and finally hired a girl! 

I am thrilled to not be the only girl on the job site and Joan brings some spunk to the day – Love her!

We are making great progress and the things continue to look more and more like the resort we dreamed of every day.  Can’t wait to start hosting guests!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Six Structures Up!

It is a human condition (at least this human) to look ahead and sigh at all the work that still needs to be done when taking on a big project.  

 On occasion discouragement is not a hard thing to find.  Especially when you are also finding spilt coffee, not enough sleep and heavy Belizean hardwood to haul to the beach.   

Occasionally we also find dull chainsaw blades and flat wheelbarrow tires (Ken's Nemesis).

And with a living room like this one to relax in every evening, well........ unfortunately that water bottle is not filled with vodka.

But today we are taking a little bit of time to reflect.  Ken and I landed in Belize City on May 23rd with a few bags.  Our Jeep and Trailer with the rest of our stuff did not arrive and get through customs until several week later.  So it is time to take a moment and note the progress we have made since then, 12 short weeks ago......

We now have all six of our buildings up!

We can boast that all of the wild cane Delroy collected for us is going up in the Wild Canes Bar & Grill!

The road is going in so we will no longer have to lug materials through the jungle and out to the beach site.  

These big things showed up yesterday!  We will soon be bragging about how wonderful it is to have running water.

The Gumbo Limbo Lounge has mud on the walls and amazing views.  We are excited about this space and can’t wait to share it with our guests.

And while our current living space is not the most relaxing place to be the views on the way to work are incredible!

We have gorgeous rivers to kayak in…

Beautiful lagoons to enjoy;

 And our office window has a view of the ocean.  

With all the sea grapes you can eat!

If that does not convince a tired soul that one is indeed making progress then a friendly neighbor is always close by to give us some words of encouragement.

We are indeed making progress and are very excited!  Our motivation continues to be creating a relaxing and fun environment for our future guests.  We can’t wait to show you a great time in Belize!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Cooking in Belize

August has arrived and there is no doubt that it is a hot month in Belize, but that is not the kind of cooking we are talking about.  I was lucky enough this week to be granted access to Myrtle’s kitchen.  
Myrtle is the owner and cook at Jozzie’s.  Jozzie’s is her restaurant serving up authentic soul food on the shores of the Southern Lagoon in Gales Point.  If you miss this stop while in Belize you have missed a lot!  We will be partnering with Jozzie’s to not only offer cooking classes, but Myrtle will be a guest chef at Wild Canes Bar & Grill on occasion.   Wild Canes is the on-site restaurant at Leaning Palm Resort located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

The first thing you notice when arriving for a cooking class with Myrtle is the beauty that Myrtle likes to surround herself with. 

She is undeniably a great cook, but she has gardening mastered as well.  There are flowers and plants and beautiful vistas, and a lot of the ingredients Myrtle uses in her cooking come right from her own garden.  If not from her garden then from the jungle and her husband, Jay, is not unfamiliar with requests to fetch certain items from the jungle.  With a wife that can cook like Myrtle he is happy to oblige.  The second thing you will notice is her enthusiasm for her culture and its cuisine.

Myrtle is famous, even in the United States, for cooking authentic Belizean cuisine and she often caters for events in Gales Point.  But Myrtle likes to take things a step further and creatively weaves in specialties she learned while living outside of Belize and adds them to the authentic recipes she grew up with.  She is well-known in the village for her creative side and it is not a surprise that folks line up to buy her delicacies on a regular basis. 

So some of you may be asking why she let someone like me into her kitchen.  Even Myrtle was questioning her decision making skills, but when I showed up with my own cutting board and knife she breathed a sigh of relief.  At least I would not be destroying her cooking utensils and now she had a dishwasher at her disposal.

Our first assignment was Stewed Chicken and since this was the first assignment she kept the knives safely hidden and we focused on available spices.  She showed me how to use ground ricardo to make a marinade and eventual gravy for the chicken.  Interestingly I had seen this plant previously on a trip to Zanzibar, but there it was being used for lipstick.  Stewed chicken has a nice rich amber color in addition to its delicious flavor and capacity to tenderize the meat.

Next was Coconut Rice and this was when the big guns came out.  Well, not guns, but knives.  Myrtle grabbed her machete and was soon butchering a well-deserving coconut to extract the water and fruit to make coconut milk.  Here I learned that not any old grater will do.  It must be authentically made with old wood, old tin and a trusty nail.

Now back to the stewed chicken.  The meat had been marinating in the spices and was now ready to enter the heat.  Myrtle and her husband Jay have spent some time constructing Myrtle’s kitchen and it is fully equipped for handling all things requiring heat. 

This includes pizza which Myrtle was whipping up in the background while she taught me how to add chlorine to the dishwater so I could continue washing the dishes.

We next sat down to a wonderful meal of coconut rice, stewed chicken, fried plantain, coleslaw (not sure when she made that) and a slice of pizza.  The food was wonderful but in addition the setting was amazing making this well-kept secret of a restaurant more than magical.

Our mission complete, Myrtle sent me home with promises to cook for us in the near future.  I think she was feeling sorry for Ken.

No visit to Gales Point will be complete without a cooking class with Myrtle, but if limited on time at least a stop at her beautiful restaurant on the shores of the Southern Lagoon for some amazing authentic Belizean soul-food.