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In the ongoing Central American Games in Panama, Belize has athletes competing in karate, cycling, softball, volleyball and athletics. So far the national softball team has claimed a bronze medal and in female cycling Shalini Zabaneh won silver in the twenty mile individual time trial on Wednesday. She was beaten by Natalia Navarro of Costa Rica and Evelyn Garcia of El Salvador took third.

Go Belize!

But the male athletes have been under-performing. In the Elite individual time trial, a thirty-nine kilometer stretch, the first Belizean to cross the finish line was Byron Pope, who placed eleventh. The other riders were Christopher Reyes and Brandon Cattouse, who came in eighteenth and twentieth respectively. But in the finals for the individual time trial Pope took fourth place and Reyes was ninth.

SOURCE: CHANNEL5NEWS.com

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Plane crash wreckage

Sir Barry Bowen, well- known Belize business magnate died today in an airplane crash just short of the runway at San Pedro Ambergris Caye according to radio and T.V. news reports monitored here. It is reported that Sir Barry was piloting his Cessna 206 when the aircraft experienced difficulties on landing approach, clipped the roof of a building with its landing gear,and then crashed into a building at a boatyard adjacent to the San Pedro Town municipal airport.

Barry Bowen, 64, deceased

Five other persons were in the aircraft including two children who also perished in the accident which happened at about 5:30 p.m. local time (Belize is minus -6 G.M.T). Sir Barry headed the Bowen group of companies that includes the Belize Coca Cola franchise, the Belikin Brewery (the only brewery in Belize) the Ford Automobile Distributorship, the Chan Chic Tourism Lodge and Belize Aquaculture Ltd. one of the largest shrimp farms in Belize. Sir Barry resided on San Pedro Ambergris Caye and commuted to work in Belize city on his private aircraft. This is a breaking story. The names of the passengers who are believed to be the managers of Chan Chich Lodge are being withheld pending notice to next of kin.

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New BTB Director, Seleni Matus (pic courtesy Channel 7)

Seleni Matus is the new Director of Tourism. Matus replaces Tracy Panton whose contract was not renewed. Cabinet was informed of this decision during its regular meeting today. Cabinet was informed of the award of three Masters Scholarships in education and five partial undergraduate scholarships by Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. The three recipients are Nadera Ross in early childhood education, Lurleen Betson Gamboa in literacy and Paula Lizarraga in special education. An MOU between the Ministry of Education and Bridgewater State College was signed last week. Prime Minister Dean Barrow will hold a press conference tomorrow morning. The Prime Minister will report to the nation on Government’s accomplishments in the last quarter.

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Space shuttle Endeavour touched down Sunday in a rare nighttime landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Endeavour and its six astronauts returned safely to Earth on Sunday, making a rare nighttime landing to end a mission that resulted in the virtual completion of the International Space Station. The shuttle’s on-time arrival took some by surprise. All day, forecasters said rain and clouds probably would scuttle any touchdown attempts. But the rain stayed away and the sky cleared just in time. Mission Control waited until the last possible minute before giving commander George Zamka the go-ahead to head home. The 3-mile-long runway was awash in xenon lights.

In Belize and across Central America a loud and thunderous boom was heard. Some residents reported that they saw a flaming plane like structure engulfed in flames flying through the night skies. 

“It’s great to be home. It was a great adventure,” Zamka said after the shuttle rolled to a stop.

During their mission — which spanned two weeks and 5.7 million miles — the astronauts delivered and installed a new space station room, Tranquility, and a big bay window with sweeping views of the Earth.

Upon touchdown, Mission Control immediately relayed congratulations to Zamka and his crew for installing Tranquility and opening up those new “windows to the world.”

“Welcome home,” Mission Control radioed.

This was the 23rd space shuttle landing in darkness, out of 130 flights. The last time was in 2008, by Endeavour as well.

The 10 men and one woman on the shuttle-station complex couldn’t get enough of the views out those windows, once the shutters were raised last week.

The two new compartments were supplied by the European Space Agency at a cost of more than $400 million. Their addition brought the 11-year-old space station to 98 percent completion.

All that’s left now are four shuttle flights to stock the space station with more experiments, spare parts and supplies. Discovery will make the next trip in early April.

As for Endeavour, this was its next-to-last mission. It’s supposed to return to orbit, one last time, at the end of July.

NASA plans on wrapping up the shuttle program this fall, after which the space station will be supplied by craft from Russia, Europe and Japan. Astronauts will be hitching rides exclusively on Russian Soyuz capsules. The Obama Administration is proposing that commercial rocket companies take a crack at the U.S. ferry side of it, once the three remaining shuttles are retired.

As if to signal the end, Endeavour had no returning space station crew on board.

Over at the space station, meanwhile, computer trouble triggered temporary communication blackouts Sunday.

The station’s three command and control computers kept malfunctioning throughout the morning, disrupting communication between the crew and Mission Control. Until full contact was restored in late afternoon, the five astronauts had to make do without e-mail and their Internet Protocol phone.

Flight controllers suspect the trouble may be related to computer software in Europe’s Columbus laboratory.

To make up for all the inconvenience, Mission Control is giving the crew Wednesday off.

Source: MSN NEWS

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“We’re going over to Belize for the week,” I said. “Where’s the long-term parking?”

We’d driven down to the Mexico-Belize border that morning from our home in Merida in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s only a four-hour drive, and we figured we’d park the car at the border and take the bus into Belize before dark.

However, we hadn’t reckoned on the parking situation at Santa Elena, the border town just south of Chetumal. The streets of the bustling little pueblo were choked with taxis, hired vans, buses, trucks, and hundreds of people crossing the border in both directions on foot. But the place seemed unprepared for anyone who actually owned their own car and wanted to leave it at the border for more than a day.

“I think maybe you can park down there,” said the attendant, pointing down a back street. “Go two blocks, you’ll see a house on the left with a wooden door. Next to it is a big green aluminum garage door. Go in there.”

We drove down the street and found the big green aluminum door. Behind it was Dona Maria.

Dona Maria lives in a small house at the back of a large walled-in yard. Toward the front of the yard, her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren played on the back porch of their own small house in the compound.

We asked if we could park in her yard. “One hundred pesos per day,” she said with a smile. “It’s safe. Somebody is always here.”

“We’ll be gone about six days,” I said. “Should I pay you now?”

“No, that’s OK,” she said. “I have your car.”

So, leaving our SUV and keys with a complete stranger, we rolled our suitcases to the border and entered Belize.

After parking at Dona Maria’s, our next leap of faith was that the hotel we planned to stay at in our first Belize destination, Corozal, would really be there and that the rooms would be ready. We’d found the hotel on the Internet, but we’ve learned that there is often no connection between the photos and descriptions on a website and reality on the ground.

This time, however, we were quickly rewarded for our leap of faith when we settled into the newly remodeled Las Palmas Hotel. Our room was ready, the place was clean and serviceable, and it turned out to be a good place from which to explore Corozal.

For a town established in 1849, Corozal looks like it was built in the 1960s. That’s because it was. The town was founded by refugees from Mexico’s Caste Wars in the 1800s but was completely wiped out by Hurricane Janet in 1955. Today Corozal’s 8,000 residents live in a town that looks like it was built from scratch out of concrete and rebar, which is in fact the case. Here and there are reminders of the pre-hurricane town… brightly painted wooden two-story house fronts in the old Colonial style… but for the most part, the overriding architectural style of Corozal is brightly painted 20th-century Blockhouse.

That’s not to say the town isn’t charming… the people of Corozal are amazingly friendly, and the main pastimes seem to be walking around the sunny streets and tiny main square (filled with playground equipment), greeting other people.

Tiny diners and shops line the streets, along with dozens of Chinese grocery and dry goods stores and several Chinese restaurants. The number of Chinese in Corozal is surprising until you learn that thousands of Chinese came to Central America to escape the Japanese invasion of China just before World War II, and many established themselves in Belize. Years later an economic citizenship program with Taiwan brought even more Chinese to the country.

Needless to say, you can get a good Chinese meal in Corozal… but don’t expect ambience in the “Grand Imperial Palace of the Heavenly Emperor” style. Corozal is more the “Plywood Counter With Four Tables, a Beer Cooler, and a Great Wall Poster” kind of place.

That being said, there are several very nice hotels and restaurants set on one of Corozal’s best features… the long shoreline along the Bay of Chetumal. This huge, calm body of water provides a cooling breeze and a breathtaking view, and it’s the bay that attracts the boaters, the fishermen… and the developers.

Several major residential and mixed-use developments are located on the vast bay around the Corozal area. The locals have seen a lot of projects come and go, and many of them think the most viable current development is about a 20-minute boat ride across the bay from town.

There is a lot going on at this project, including an equestrian center, a condo complex, and a small commercial village. The timeline for full development goes out for years, but the developers quickly established a tidy waterfront casita village on a piece of the project’s best bay frontage. This bit of smart thinking is one of the reasons the locals are impressed with the project. The 1,150-square-foot casitas can either be rented out, used as temporary residences by lot owners while their estate homes are being built, or just plain lived in. The casitas are freestanding with screened-in porches and small yards, and starting at $159,000 they rank as one of the most affordable non-condo residence options anywhere in the Caribbean.

After checking out Corozal, we flew out of the town’s newly improved airstrip to continue our Belize trip. Six days later we returned via the same airstrip, then headed for the border again… hopefully to retrieve our car in Santa Elena.

We arrived at Dona Maria’s about midday. Crossing our fingers, we went through the big green aluminum door… and there was our SUV right where we left it, with Dona Maria sitting in the shade nearby.

“Todo bien, Dona?” I asked.

“Si,” she said, producing my keys from her pocket. “No problems. That will be 400 pesos.” ($30)

I did the math again quickly in my head… six days, 100 pesos per day… and I didn’t say a word.

I didn’t say anything because Dona Maria knew exactly how long we’d been parked in her yard and how much we’d agreed to pay. I think she also knew what a leap of faith it was for us to leave our car in the yard of a total stranger for a week.

I think discounting our parking fee by a third was her way of thanking us for the trust.

I thanked her right back, and we drove home to Merida.

Editor’s note: We’ve just published a new report called Belize: Live the Caribbean Dream…For Less. If you’re interested in a place in the Caribbean sun…but you don’t want to pay typical Caribbean prices…

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Today The Father of the Nation, Right Honorable George Cadle Price turned 91. Born on January 15th, 1919 the former Prime Minister is well respected by most Belizeans for his arduous and visionary contribution made to form a part of Belize’s history. As a young politician, Honorable Price led the peaceful and constructive, Belizean revolution that paved the way to Universal Adult Suffrage, Self-Government, identity as Belize and eventually our Independence. The former leader is a blessing to the Jewel and for that I want to wish Leader Emeritus of the PUP and the Father of the Nation, the Right Honorable George Cadle Price a happy birthday. May God bless our former leader with health and goodwill and may you live to see many, many more birthdays.

Right Hon. George Price, Happy Birthday Sir!!

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Amber is a very busy business woman from San Diego who is looking for a second home in Belize, Central America. She had traveled to Ambergris Caye in the past, and knew she wanted her first vacation home to be on the island and turn-key. The three condos that Amber has chosen to view are at Sueno del Mar, Brahma Blue Island Oasis, and Coco Beach, all located within Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

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