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PostBELIZE: Carol Bevier and Manatees (Ronald Hilton, USA, 02/27/01 2:13 am)
I have toured Latin America many times, but there are two places I have never visited: Belize and French Guiana. Martin Packard is going to Belize at the invitation of his daughter Jane, Professor of Biology at Texas A&M, who is interested in manatees. I put him in touch with Corol Bevier, who lives there. She sent some interesting information about Belize which I have decided to post in view of the general ignorance about it:
" My husband, George, and I have had Rum Point Inn here in Placencia, the southern part of Belize since 1974. Placencia is a 17-mile peninsula with a wonderful lagoon at its back. This is an area where manatees are quite plentiful. We have recently formed an NGO called the Friends of Placencia Lagoon to help preserve the manatee population as well as the surrounding mangroves which are in serious danger from over development, shrimp farms, a housing scheme and tourism. You ask about the 9 March holiday. It is called Baron Bliss Day and is named for a British gentleman with a Portuguese title who came to Belize on his yacht in the 1920s. He was well received by the local folks, but never actually set foot on land. He left a large trust fund to the country and is buried in Belize City. His elaborate tomb (complete with lighthouse) is the site of ceremonies on the 9th. The trust fund has been used for the Boy Scouts and libraries throughout the country. There is also the Bliss Auditorium which is used for many public performances."
My comment: This must be a unique case of a man who loved a place but never set foot in it until he was buried there. British Honduras, as it then was named, is a very impoverished place, so it looks as though he was motivated by philanthropy.
As for manatees, I have seen only one, but it was scarcely visible because it was lying in the mud in a pool in Brazil. I esteem them because they perform valuable service in keeping channels clean of weeds. They blend with the mud yet they gave rise to the story of mermaids, presumably invented by some sex-starved sailors.