BEYOND THE BEACH IN BELIZE
Cave tubing in Belize

BEYOND THE BEACH IN BELIZE

Mick Fleming arrived in dugout canoe; Lucy Fleming on horseback a day later. There were no roads to the overgrown farm in the Cayo district of Belize that the young couple hoped to run. Their land was a jungle - literally. "But there was something about the place," Fleming, who was raised in England, recalls more than 30 years later.

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Chaa Creek — started small before “eco” was a word
Kids and caterpillars meet up at Chaa Creek resort in Belize

Chaa Creek — started small before “eco” was a word

Mick Fleming approached in a dugout canoe. “But there was something about the place,” he recalls more than 30 years later. His wife Lucy, who arrived on horseback the day after he saw the overgrown farm, agrees. “This place always had a certain amount of magic -- a pull. I felt it. We were young and crazy -- no money and decided to be pioneers.”

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On to the Cayo District
Our bungalow at Kaana in Belize

On to the Cayo District

The 36-acre resort, which is growing popular with families, also has a terrific pool and a young chef who is said to be among the best in Belize. Most of the vegetables and herbs are provided from the organic garden -- everything from zucchini and peppers to cilantro, dill and parsley. (How about tipsy tequila shrimp or beef carpaccio, homemade pasta or tenderloin? Did I mention the wine cellar? The spa?

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Placencia and Sein Beit
Lolas Art in Sein Beit, Belize

Placencia and Sein Beit

The small (1200 people) town of Placencia is about a four mile cab ride from The Inn at Robert’s Grove. This isn’t a typical resort town -- not yet anyway. We don’t see many souvenir shops or much of any shopping. Some friends we’ve made at the resort lead us to De Tatch, a thatched-roof no-wall restaurant down a tiny meandering street, past one-room houses on stilts.

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A tiny island on the reef off Belize
Roberts Island in Belize

A tiny island on the reef off Belize

It’s just me and the two Pelicans. I’m watching them from my chair on a tiny island -- less than an acre around -- named Robert’s Cay that’s about 20 miles -- and more than an hour’s boat ride in a choppy sea with waves up to five feet -- from the Inn at Robert’s Grove where we’re staying.

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A Week in Belize (after a nightmare in the airports)
Roberts Grove resort in Belize

A Week in Belize (after a nightmare in the airports)

We arrived yesterday evening after typically frustrating flights. First, we had to get our flights changed because of the American Airlines MD-80 inspection mess. That took hours on the phone. We thought we were home free when we were able to rebook our flights on Delta but no such luck. At the airport in New York, we encountered incredibly long lines for check-in and security.

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Volunteering in New Orleans (where they still need a lot of help)
Common Ground Relief effort in New Orleans

Volunteering in New Orleans (where they still need a lot of help)

All along the block in the middle-class Lakeview neighborhood where the Strauss family lives, less than a mile from the 17th Street Canal levee break, are houses in various stages of construction. Some are still boarded up; others are brand new, with flowers planted outside. Fewer than half the houses in the neighborhood are occupied.

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