San Pedro Town Board creates Expat Expert Advisory Committee

SPTC Creates Expat Expert Advisory Committee to Identify Island’s Problems

** This is our annual April Fools Joke.  Maybe we got ya, maybe we didn’t.  Just poking fun at “my people”.

Every reader of this blog knows that I LOVE this island.  The people, all the unique little things that make Ambergris so special… It’s not an exaggeration to say that this island is a jewel. Dozens of newbies succumb to her charms every day.

San Pedro town beach

But Ambergris Caye is not without problems. 

Be it the large quantities of sargassum washing ashore, daily gridlocked golf cart traffic & congestion, overtasked infrastructure, or the occasional gangland slaying, identifying and implementing solutions to the island’s challenges is a full-time task for the San Pedro Town Board and local officials.  

And for some of these problems, real solutions can seem out of reach.    But a plan to harness confident expertise is now in the works!  Mayor Wally Nunez along with the rest of the San Pedro Town Council has announced a solution for identifying solutions –  the newly formed Expat Expert Advisory Committee, EEAC for short.

Explained Mayor Wally: “Current local solutions to problems are often simple… many rooted in nothing more than practical wisdom that’s been passed down from generation to generation and which at times offer little more than tangible, day-to-day measurable results.” 

“Lots of great solutions simply never get heard, let alone implemented,” the Mayor added.  “Many are quashed from the get-go by overzealous Facebook group Admins who inexplicably block and delete volumes of boisterous knowledge.  Many astute, incisive solutions just disappear when San Pedro bars announce their last call.  We need to give this expertise a venue, these solutions a voice.”

Curious to learn more, I dropped by Carlos & Ernie’s Runway Bay, a popular expat gathering place.  I ordered some DELICIOUS nachos and chatted with a bartender. 

“I’ll witness roundtable discussions that last ALL DAY long,” he said.  “As I mix drinks I’ll overhear great ideas.  What people “would do if they were Mayor” or if they were “the ones making decisions”.  Quite often I’ll be closing down for the night, sometimes cleaning right under the feet of people slumped over from mental exhaustion, still murmuring what I can only imagine are groundbreaking ideas.  Possible solutions that could really make a difference”

Carlos and Ernies

The first public meeting with the EEAC was held at the high school auditorium last week and I went to hear what the committee had to say.  Wearing matching white t-shirts that read “EEAC” with the slogan: “Ya Know What YOU Should do…” committee members were easy to identify as they circulated. 

Let me just say, I was quickly impressed. 

Ernesto Bardlez, Town Councilor in charge of Tourism, Public Utilities & Infrastructure, and Public Relations, a steering force behind creating the EEAC led the meeting off with remarks of gratitude:  “We’re often missing the kind of outside-the-box thinking that comes best from fresh sets of eyes… from people who have just set foot on the island, or in some cases, who have never even been here.  We want to hear what you have to say.  We want to know how you did things back where you came from.”

At the top of the agenda was the current influx of sargassum.  Up until recently, the town’s strategy has focused almost entirely on the prompt removal of sargassum from shorelines.  This involves untold manhours and expense.  And we must admit, the near-endless financial contributions by the Republic of Taiwan only go so far.  

Enter the EEAC! 

An automated collection of sargassum was discussed:

Karen Snyder, EEAC Vice Chair: “I see lots and lots of locals all tryin’ to pick up the sargassum with pitchforks. Back home in Fort Worth (Texas) my grandson Jimmy works third shift at DFW7… That’s what folks who work at the Amazon Fulfillment Center call it… EVERYTHING there is automated. They got robots pickin orders… robots driving, robots hiring, robots firing. Picking up seaweed for a robot would be easy.”

The idea of generating revenue was explained:

Beverly Finney, Realtor and EEAC Chair:  “I’ve been in San Pedro since 2022 – in fact, I met my boyfriend here.  My issue is – no one is monetizing this!  We need to turn it into something that people can use, that can be sold.  It’s what they do in Cancun.  It’s how things work.”

In photo:  Beverly and her common-law husband.

And a bit of colorful history fondly reminisced…

Ray “Big Ray” Flannagan:  EEAC Treasurer: “Do you remember Sundays at BC’s Beach Bar?  I remember it before Charlene & Bruce even did bbq.  I was the one who told them ‘You know what you should do? You should do bbq.’  We didn’t have sargassum back then”

Other solutions such as transforming the decomposing, pollutant-laden seaweed into structural building material, sinking it at sea or disposing of it in space were also voiced.  After the lively discussion, the public was treated to the music of Rompe Raja along with cheese dip and cupcakes.  

Cheese dip shown with traditional plating

Belize Cheese Dip

I left feeling pretty invigorated.   It’s amazing the power a small community has when it comes together and taps into all of its resources.

The EEAC invites the public to their next meeting, Wednesday, April 19th, 2:00 pm at Casey’s Boatyard Bar & Grill.  Top issues to be discussed include reducing the wait time in line for 30-day Visa renewals at Immigration, tips to prevent iguanas from defecating in proximity to pools, and the policing of retail establishments and restaurants to prevent predatory pricing against expats. Buckets of beers will be offered at half price.  


Cheese dip photo from Belize Hub – click for the recipe

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