Kenny: Belizean Construction Worker or High Beam Gymnast?

When does your home building project turn into a performance?

When one of the workers uses fancy foot-work from high work spaces.

His name is Kenny and he has worked on many projects in Belize.

It shows.

He enjoys the challenge of scaling the heights where other workers would never go.

When asked if he feared heights, he calmly shrugged from his 10-foot high 2×4 perch and quips, “I’ve been lots higher than this.”

His fellow workers know full well and nod in agreement while commencing in typical construction banter. The giggling is infectious.

Below are some of the awkward, and at times, poetic positions that Kenny found himself in during this typical work week.

Enjoy the artistry, skill and sense of calm that Kenny displays.

Kenny has no problem measuring precisely from atop his wooden perch.
Kenny uses a bit of down time to rest while balancing on a 2×4. There really was no place else to go.
Leverage and balance are needed when trying to hammer from the top of a palapa. The heat and plenty of sweat doesn’t make the job any easier.
Kenny simultaneously balances and holds two 2 x 4 studs in a centered position to form the pitch of the roof. He sat and held it for about 5 minutes while his co-worker, Fred, measured and made slight adjustments to get the perfect angle. It probably felt like much more than 5 minutes to Kenny.
Holding the pitch takes strength and concentration while Fred measures. Kenny would hold it steady until the correct angle was drawn onto each board so they could be cut correctly … and then held again while it was nailed into place.
Hammering causes plenty of vibrations while Kenny tries to balance and hold a 2×4 into place with a vice grip. These planks are made of a Belizean hardwood, much heavier than the pine used in the U.S.
Expensive industrial zinc sheets were used for the roofing and had to be cut while in place using an angle grinder. Hot sparks flew into his legs, but Kenny held steady until the job was done.
Toes, knees and contorted muscles are all needed to steady yourself while measuring and marking at the very tip of the roof line. Not much to grab onto if you slip from this position, Nothing but concrete floor below you.
Their tools may not be the best, but teamwork and a desire to get it done right are key traits of a Belizean construction team. Here, Fred and Kenny feel the heat of a 95-degree day as they assemble the zinc roofing for our palapa project.
Even when Kenny was lucky enough to be at ground level, the team still took advantage of his long legs and arms to hold high framing into place. No rest for the weary.
Acrobats like Kenny need to be able to handle any tool at any angle.
The July Belize heat wears on any worker, especially during the early afternoon hours when many other workers take off of work for an afternoon siesta to escape the hottest part of the day. Kenny took a quick lunch and was right back at it to get the job done on time.
The team got done on time and was treated a feast of Relleno, a local dish of stuffed Chicken, stuffing and more in a dark tasty spice broth. Kenny used the time to ask question after question about Trump, American politics and share his views about the current state of America from his vantage point.

Casa Blanca By the Sea Hotel: A “Great Buy” or a “Black Eye” in Consejo?

Casa Blanca Hotel view from the sea
Casa Blanca By the Sea in Consejo.

Imagine bringing your boat up to this pier on the Northern tip of Consejo looking to experience Northern Belize.

The Casa Blanca Hotel looks like a jewel, inviting you for a night stay or two, for a few cocktails and some great Belizean food. You can’t wait!

But then you realize that the cast iron gates are chained. You can’t get in. The place is empty and you’ll need to find other parts of Northern Belize to whet your whistle.

Casa Blanca by the Sea is for sale.

The location that hosted local conferences, and tourists for a number of years is now empty due to the owners’ unforeseen circumstances.

It’s weird to read the reviews on tripadvisor.com. It’s also confusing that the same listing invites you to check out possible stay dates.

But that’s what happens when you close rather abruptly and the owners want to put it into the hands of someone who can take it on.

I know what you’re thinking. “I bet I can make a go of it as the owner of Casa Blanca!”

I thought the same thing when a local real estate agent showed us the place during our recent trip to Northern Belize.

Karen Wilkinson of Corozal Belize Properties in Consejo Shores told us the sad story of how the Hotel came onto the market. She showed us the rooms, the land, the bar and the kitchen.

You could still envision a bustling business within its walls.

Enjoy this pictorial of our tour and decide for yourself if Casa Blanca is worth a look.

THE ROOMS: COMFORTABLE AND INVITING

Mayan Door Carving
Each door of the dozen or so hotel rooms invites you in with a Mayan carving on it. No detail is spared to make this an inviting hotel.
two levels of rooms
The rooms look over the sea from the top or bottom levels. The sea breezes hit you smack dab in the face as you scan the horizon from your balcony.
room interiror
The rooms are fully and smartly furnished, complete with ceiling fans and some with air conditioning.
The featured suites boast comfortable wicker furniture and large window access to the Caribbean Sea.

THE GROUNDS ARE CHARMING AND SPEAK TO OPPORTUNITY!

Palapa dining
A full palapa has seaside dining written all over it and has weathered the storms wonderfully. A small palapa sits at the end of the sturdy pier and entice those who want a more private dining experience on the Sea.
Parking
The cobble stone courtyard area is perfect for parking and a late night stroll.
Land to the West
Vacant land to the west of the Hotel could be used for lawn games such as futbol or volleyball or could be used for future development of private cabanas?
Seawall palapas
Shade palapas serve as nice shade spots along the sea wall, offering a great view of Chetumal about 2 miles across the Bay.

ADJACENT HOME IS A BONUS!

Adjacent Home
A two-bedroom home sits empty across the street from Casa Blanca and was used for the Hotel manager. A full workshop also is on the land and provides a perk for the absentee owner to offer to his on-site management.
The adjacent home comes fully furnished with plenty of space.
Bedroom
The master bedroom in the adjacent home is quite cozy and would make a perfect place for the on-site manager and his family to call home.

DINING, SERVING AND ENTERTAINING AREAS

Although the kitchen, bar and indoor dining area on the ground floor of the Casa Blanca Hotel were too dark (no electricity at present) to take decent photos, make sure your tour of Casa Blanca includes some time in these areas.

The kitchen is large, well laid out and boasts all of the stainless steel appliances needed by any full-service restaurant. All are included in the price of the Hotel.

The bar is rustic and expertly made from local exotic hardwoods, while the dining area is fully furnished with complementary wood tables and chairs.

An office area also serves the owner and/or manager a comfortable air conditioned area to attend to daily administrative tasks.

THE VERDICT: “BLACK EYE” OR “GREAT BUY”?

As you see from the pictorial above, Casa Blanca features everything a thriving Hotel and Restaurant needs, such as great sea views, perfect sea breezes, a nice design and an infrastructure that could be sustainable with a bit of tender loving care.

According to local real estate sites, the reduced listing price for Casa Blanca is $799,999 USD at the time of this writing.

From our visit, we assessed that the price seemed like a bargain based on the quality of the construction, the layout and location.

Of course, any possible investor should get a hold of the financials of the business when it was in operation and thoroughly investigate the future tourism potential  of the area.

Bottom Line: Although at first site, we determined that it has potential for the right investor, it was above our budget.

The longer Casa Blanca sits vacant, however, the work required to get it back into operational condition will increase.

The assessment of whether it is a “Black Eye” for the area, or a “Great Buy” for the right business person should be left up to the person who does extensive due diligence.

Have you viewed Casa Blanca? If so, give us your opinion below.

Do you have information that will help inform future investors, please add to the discussion below.

Did you ever stay at Casa Blanca? Tell us about your experience below!

Here are a few links to start your research:

A Belizean Artist’s Interpretation of the Trump Presidency

 

It adorns the 6-inch wide post of Quidi’s backyard palapa, lending color and serving as a conversation piece for all those who visit to play domino’s or relax after a day of work.

Quidi boasts about it with all the pride one uses to describe his favorite tattoo. And he’s animated as he describes how it came into being.

It’s colorful and quite a piece of art, but what does it represent? Is the story behind it just as interesting as the artwork itself?

You bet.

Quidi is a lifelong Orange Walk town resident known as “Quidi Cas” by many who know him.

Quidi is known as the Crocodile Dundee of Belize and here helps his brother, Netty, break in his pony.

I’ve hung with him every time I’m in Belize. I’ve been on Canoe trips on the Caribbean Sea with him.

I remember stopping on the road side on Old Northern Highway after a tour of the Altun Ha Mayan ruins.

He spotted a local with a python around his neck out in his yard and just had to stop. It was my first experience with voodoo-like powers this man used to control this large snake. But that’s a story for another time.

I’ve also been under Quidi’s palapa to listen to the banter of local domino contests and watch him expertly grill an 8 lb Red Snapper.

I’ve also shared a few Belikin beers with him under that tin roof. And it’s also a great place to slam down a few Orange Walk tacos or tamales.

This whole red snapper is seasoned well and ready to be masterfully grilled on the grill under Quidi’s palapa.

That’s what you do with your brother-in-law.

And I’ve been under his palapa on numerous occasions when Ian Fabro rode up on his bike after a day of creating his concrete artwork for local businesses.

Ian Fabro and his family reside in Orange Walk town in Belize, where his art is on display throughout the country.

A thoughtful guy with a flair for the creative, Ian has spent hours sharing his artwork, talking politics, and just enjoying a beer or two.

You can enjoy more of his artwork on his facebook page here.

More cement artwork that doubles as lawn furniture at the river cabins in Orange Walk.

You can see his colorful work all over Belize. And because it’s concrete, his furniture, signage, spindles and custom artwork is made to withstand the Belizean heat and sun.

This concrete outdoor patio furniture by Ian Fabro features mayan figures and resides at the Gran Mestizo Resort in Orange Walk.

I wasn’t there when Ian quickly created the artwork on Quid’s palapa. According to Quidi, he created it with some extra paint he had from his last job.

After listening to Quidi rant about the prospects of Trump being the Republican nominee for President, Ian whipped out his brushes and painted his creation in a matter of minutes.

Ian listened as Quidi picked Trump to be the U.S. Republican nominee back when their were still 16 candidates in the field.

If you know Quidi, you know he is passionate about politics and let’s that passion spew forth as he opined on American politics.

Blood Money
Blood Money was Quidi’s race horse that was hit by a vehicle on Belize Road. This plaque is featured above the door of the palapa, a tribute to his beloved horse.

I wasn’t there when it happened, but I’m sure that Ian had different thoughts on the U.S. election.

He didn’t say much, but just took out his brush and let his artwork do his talking.

Quidi explained the painting to me like this:

“That is Quidi Cas … ME … at the very bottom … smoking some weed”

“Now follow the smoke up from my weed”, Quidi waves his hands in a smoky flutter and moves them up to widen his hands, before quickly pointing back to the painting.

“Look, it’s a lamp of a genie forming out of the smoke!” He spoke in a slower version of Kriol to help the gringo understand.

Then he widened his arms as he yells, “Then out of the genie lamp swirls the head of evil Donald Trump!”

He laughs as he points to the evil details within the head of the wolf head doubling as the likeness of Trump.

“Yah Mon,” Quidi quips, “Ian tells his stories like THAT!”

As he points again at the snout of evil Trump, you could tell that Quidi was just as proud of the painting as he was about predicting the outcome of the U.S. election.