Easter Sailing Regatta
In Sartenaja, Corozal District
On Easter Sunday the quaint fishing village of Sarteneja holds their annual Easter Sailing Regatta. Five of us packed into the Silver Bullet around 7AM to drive the 30 miles of bad road to Sarteneja. About 20 other Consejo area residents boarded Gayo's boats for the 12 mile boat ride, directly into a 15 knot wind for about 40 minutes of moderately pounding chop. Gordon and Ileana Stout had the best idea, flying across the bay at a comfortable 1000 feet, taking about 15 minutes airport to airport.
The road between Consejo and Sarteneja isn't in the best of shape, especially with the long dry season turning the freshly graded marl surface into a a blinding dust storm with each passing vehicle. The Pueblo Nuevo Ferry had a small lineup of cars waiting to cross, adding about half an hour to the trip.
We planned on breakfast at Donna's place in Copper Bank, however it was not open. There was a slight delay at the Laguna Seca Ferry making the normal 1 1/2 hour drive into closer to 2 1/2 hours. It was a beautiful day and we were in no hurry. The view at Laguna Seca is worth the few extra minutes waiting for the ferry.
By the time we arrived in Sarteneja everyone was ready for some food. The first restaurant we came to was a little hole in the wall called Chez Didi. The sign said closed, but the door was open so Jeff went in a asked if they were serving breakfast. The proprietress said she would serve us, even though she had not planned on being open. She did not expect any Gringos to attend the Regatta and she doesn't serve the basic Belizean menu of beans and rice. She cooked up a very tasty omelets and scrambled eggs. The coffee was the best I've had in a restaurant in Belize!
The main street on the water was blocked off. We parked on the South Side of town and walked into the heart of the festivities. There were surprisingly few venders, with most there selling food and drink. There was one vendor selling clothing and (artist's name), a well known painter from Sarteneja had a nice display of nautical themed paintings. Both appeared to be doing a fairly brisk business. No one had "Easter Regatta" t-shirts!
We spent the first hour or so walking around, seeing the sites, running into people we knew and a few we didn't.
What we really came to see was the boats. There were several classes of beautifully maintained wooden sailing craft.
After walking the village a few time, we settled down to watch one of the races. Our location wasn't too good for seeing most of course, but it gave us a perfect view of the very exciting finish. The winning boat at first seemed to loose all advantage, only to come flying from several boat lengths behind to finish with a very comfortable margin. It was an impressive display of sailing skill and racing tactics.
A group of the Consejo residents that traveled by boat were looking for a good meal. We recommended Chez Didi. They all reported their meals were excelent.
The trip home was uneventful, until we were about half way across the New River on the Pueblo Nuevo Ferry. The cable was unraveling. the operators, using a uniquely Belizean technique, quickly affected repairs. The delay was only about five minutes. It was an interesting end to a very enjoyable day.
Photos By J. McMaster, Wayne Williams and Ed Mclean