Slickrock logo

The early days in Placencia, Belize

By Slickrock Adventures on December 5, 2012

When we first started running sea kayaking tours in Belize we were kind of inventing things as we went. There wasn’t anyone else doing it and there were no examples to follow.

Our first trips launched from a sandy beach just past the end of the sidewalk in the little town of Placencia. Our guests would camp there the first night and then the next morning we would set out in our sea kayaks loaded with gear that we used for camping on a variety of island beaches several miles offshore on Laughing Bird, Water, Silk, Pumpkin and Ranguna Cayes.

What was then the cutting edge of Caribbean sea kayaking tours in Central America has now become a very popular itinerary operated by a number of different outfitters. And in the intervening years, we discovered Glover’s Reef and developed our eco resort out on Long Caye. But we still remember fondly our roots in old Placencia, so it was a pleasure to recently receive an email from Patrice Kelly, who used to live in Placencia back in the day.  Patrice and her partner, Tom Giblin, developed a small resort called Serenity Resort along with the only airstrip on the peninsula as they had the only backhoe in the area. She has some stories to tell! Here are a few excerpts from her email recalling the early days in Placencia:

So you remember Placencia in the “early days”…that would be mid to late 80’s. We built cisterns for water and brought generators for our electricity.

Rum Point had the only phone. We brought a giant satellite dish and had the only TV at the time. We also brought a cement mixer, which men from Seine Bight had never seen before and didn’t want to use as they thought it was spooked by evil spirits. Dennis was our cook and Florita (both from Seine Bight) was our main housekeeper. Max (Mayan) was our Main Man. We loved him like a son although he probably never knew.

We built 12 cabanas with barrel tile roofs, each with a kitchenette and shower, hot water heater in back of each. Two were doubles to accommodate large groups/families. We also built a main dining room, meeting rooms, a manager’s apartment and a gift shop. We even had a drive-thru entrance. Yes all buildings were blue. That was some sort of a trade deal Tom worked out with someone. We also volunteered paint and labor to paint school house the same blue as it was in rough need of paint and some new trim.

At Serenity Tom installed a sprinkler system and sod to keep dust at a minimum. He also dredged and filled (my oh my lots of government paper work and money paid out along the way…you know… the “blue eyed” price to do business in Belize) across the road as we owned that property also. We built the “Bamboo Room” and some good sized docking slips. This was in addition to building the landing strip. As I mentioned no backhoe in sight so I bought him one for his birthday! We were crazy in love with each other and nothing seemed impossible!

Patrice eventually moved to Florida and Tom remained in Central America following his dream and passed away years later. But her memories of their days together building their resort in Belize are still fresh and alive. Thanks, Patrice, for sharing this with us. — Lucy