Here in Belize, the weather is almost always warm and the length of the days doesn’t change very much throughout the year. We don’t have a huge difference in temperatures from winter to spring or summer like some other countries do. But, we do have other things that help us mark the changing of the seasons.
For instance, once the sighting of whale sharks starts to slow down and the turtles start to lay their eggs on the beach, we know it can only mean one thing: Summer is coming and opening day of Lobster Season is almost here!
Sadly, there is a short time that lobster season is closed in Belize. It’s done to protect lobster from over-fishing, and help them reproduce in a sustainable manner. Catching lobster is prohibited from February 15th until June 15th. And trust me, those four months without lobster sometimes seem to be the longest of the year!
Now maybe you think I just look forward to lobster season because all I ever think about is food, and you’d be partly correct. I do think lobster is delicious, especially the kind we have here. Unlike the Maine or “cold water” lobster you may be used to, the Caribbean spiny lobster is not extremely large. It is considered mature, and is most tasty, when the tail is about 8-12 inches long.
And instead of the dangerous front claws sported by its cold-water cousins, the spiny lobster has only two long, spindly antennae and oversized, dark beady eyes. This appearance, similar to an insect, has earned spiny lobsters the nickname of “bugs” in fishermen circles, but don’t pay attention to the nickname. If all bugs were as tasty as our spiny lobsters, bugs would be all I would ever eat!
But to be honest, I look forward the parties and festivals that herald the return of lobster season almost as much as eating the lobster. There are three major parties held the villages of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Placencia in June each year. Luckily, it’s only a short boat ride away from the resort to the mainland, so we can attend Placencia’s three-day long celebration easily.
Scheduled for June 19-21st this year, Placencia’s Lobsterfest started as a small affair many years ago, but has grown to a major festival that attracts people from all over the world. There are many dozens of vendors, all offering lobster prepared in every manner imaginable. From baked, bar-b-qued, broiled or grilled tails, to chowders, kabobs, ceviche, stews, pies, fajitas, and more, the choices seem endless. Of course they can't beat the Lionfish Grill's Ray Caye Lobster!
Placencia’s Lobsterfest also offers a wide variety of ice cold drinks and spirits, as well as other tasty edibles. Of course, no Lobsterfest would be complete without lots of music and live entertainment, carnival games to entertain the youngsters and the young at heart, and plenty of booths filled with local artisans selling treasures.
But sometimes the best part is just walking around and seeing all the people. We always see plenty of old friends, and often make some new ones. It's always a good time. And I can almost always bet that I will find the remains of something tasty at ground level and scarf it down quickly when no one is watching.
Until next time, stay adventurous, my friends!