Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cayo's new welcome center

The welcome center/ town square is finally finished in downtown Cayo, and it is SO nice.  I love walking through on Saturdays on my way to the market.  Before, it used to be a dash across the bus parking lot and a quick scuttle past some dodgy characters who inhabited the equally dodgy small park.  Now it is a leisurely stroll down curving paths, past water fountains and tidy landscaping.  And even better, now there are outdoor cafes where you can sit in the shade and take a break.  This development has really elevated the tone of downtown Cayo.  Not only is it beautiful, but it also has wheelchair ramps, cross walks, and PUBLIC BATHROOMS.  I think this town center will set the standard for new building projects in Belize.

I played tourist today so I can give you a virtual tour :)

The approach from the market starts with nice sidewalks and a roomy avenue.  This is where buses pick up and drop off now.

On the right is the welcome center.  It isn't open quite yet, but I was lucky enough to get a tour from the manager.... and I forgot to take pictures :(  But let me tell you, it is niiiiice.  Slate and river stone floors, mahogany, and a really cool ceiling design that looks like jungle vines.  They have an exhibit up of pictures of Cayo from a hundred or so years ago.  I think this building will be where tourists can come and get free info about area attractions.  The statue is a giant toucan.

Continuing on the right are two large buildings, connected by a nice porch.  One is a new restaurant, Fuego, which should be opening soon.  The next will probably be a restaurant too.

Looking to the left, you can see the public bathrooms (!!!).  Those of you who have not been to Belize will not understand how big of a deal this is.  Let's just say that if I was in Cayo and really needed a bathroom, my previous choices were to either go to a restaurant and buy something so I could use the bathroom or go home.  I haven't been inside yet, but they look really nice from the outside.

The front side of the bathrooms is a stage, and in front of the stage is a plaza with really cool fountains and seating covered with trellis.

Unfortunately the fountains were not turned on today because they were having a craft fair.  But they are the kind that shoot up straight from the ground and drain back through the pavement (you can see the grates in the picture)-- ie perfect hot-weather kiddo playground.  I checked with the manager, and the water is filtered town water, so safe to play in :)

 Behind the stage/plaza area are several small cafes.  Right now there are only 2 open, a pizza place and a Mexican restaurant.  They are always packed, people really enjoy spending time here.

And as a bonus, here is Burns Ave, the main street in Cayo.  After it was repaved (and they found that burial ground) it was decided to keep the street pedestrian only.  The restaurants now seat people outside, and in the evenings tourists and locals love to stroll up and down.

That is the best part of this renovation, in my opinion.  The area has become a draw for families, and now families play in the park during the day, and take walks down town in the evenings.  It has become a true town center. I hope other towns (Benque, please?) can follow San Ignacio's example and create such beautiful areas.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...