Did I ever tell you about the time that my wife threw me a surprise birthday party on Leonardo Di Caprio’s private island off the coast of Belize?
I know what you are thinking so let’s clear that up right away: No, Leo did not attend the party. Was he invited? I don’t know. Should have been. It was his island, after all.
But 20 of my closest friends on Ambergris Cay, where we lived, did show and that was party enough for me.
In fact, it was on a Sunday. I sat on the porch reading the New York Times online when a boat filled with laughing and shouting people pulled up to our dock. They started singing “Happy Birthday.”
That’s when I learned we were going to spend the day on Blackadore Caye.
For a newspaper writer who is a trained professional observer, it is pretty easy to pull off a surprise anything on me. My wife, Rose, did it again this year on my birthday here in San Miguel de Allende, just as she did the first year we were together, at Lake Tahoe.
(Which reminds me, her birthday is coming up in early September. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! But keep it between you and me ….)
We all boarded one of our favorite island transports, the C-Monkey and an hour and a couple of cold rum punches later, we were on the island.
Blackadore Caye is three miles long and barely a few hundred yards wide. If you were to make a movie about being stranded on an impossibly beautiful and deserted tropical island, this would be the place.
I am writing this is because my old friend and Belize blogger Rebecca “Scoop” Coutant just posted yet another blog about Blackadore. I say “yet another” because over the years she and I were constantly posting stuff about Leo’s plans for turning the island into a high-end, environmentally-responsible, resort and residential paradise.
Rebecca recently re-visited the island and reports that it is virtually unchanged. You can read her latest account here.
Frankly, it may never get developed. The more Di Caprio’s partners tried to be responsive to local concerns and be responsible guardians of the environment– well, the deeper into the muck sank their plans.
The whole dream development has been shelved.
Meanwhile, as Rebecca points out, some incredibly shitty and sleazy developments are moving forward at the speed of many a greased palm. That’s just life in a corrupt Caribbean nation, I suppose.
I feel bad about Blackadore. It could have been one of those showpiece developments that define a whole country and could have set the bar high for all future projects. Of course, it would have become a place that I couldn’t even dream of visiting.
As it is, thanks to Rose and a bunch of great friends, we’ll always have Blackadore — as it is now.
Thanks for the memories, Leo.