Most people seemed surprised to see our staff zooming around the island on our island bike since they expect a beach with soft sand everywhere, which is not conducive to bike riding. However, since the sand on the island, as almost everywhere in Belize, is composed of coral fragments, a different kind of surface develops when it is compacted and soaked in water for long periods (years). The calcium carbonate composition of the sand (coral) slowly dissolves in water and forms a cement that bonds it into a concrete-like surface, and so our paths and other high traffic areas turn into smooth, hard surfaces that a bike can easily traverse. So we have one or two bikes around for our staff to use when running errands to retrieve gear or find someone, etc. They sell a ‘beach cruiser’ bike model in Belize City, which has one gear and larger tires, so they are perfect for the island.
The one drawback in having anything made of metal on the island is corrosion. Our end of the island is bathed in salt spray from the surf and wind, and everything gets coated with it. The salt film then attracts and hold moisture, so everything rusts out extremely quickly, especially things like bicycles which have exposed steel parts. We constantly have to replace parts, and the whole bike frame generally lasts only two seasons. But our staff love the island bikes, we could never live without them…[photo by Carol Sternkopf]