Last Night I Dreamt Of Some Bagel

This blog entry about the events of Thursday, November 22, 2007 was originally posted on November 25, 2007.

DAY 3:  For the longest time, perhaps thirteen years or so, I thought that the opening lyric to Madonna’s Spanish lullaby, “La Isla Bonita” was “Last night I dreamt of some bagel…” (as well as “I fell in love with some bagel…”)  If you Google search that misheard opening phrase, you’ll see that I’m not the only one that grew up with the mondegreen.  Of course, Madonna Ciccione was not dreaming of bagels (at least not in the song) for the actual lyric is, “Last night I dreamt of San Pedro.”  San Pedro is actually a town on the Belizean island of Ambergis Caye, dubbed by the tourism authority as “La Isla Bonita” — I’m not sure which came first, that or the song. 

Before the day was over, I’d go to San Pedro with visions of sugar plum bagels dancing in my head.

THE MORNING BEGAN on Caye Caulker, the more tranquil of the two tourist-frequented islands.  Despite the tranquility, Camilla and I woke up in our respective dorm rooms, feeling a bit cranky.  “I feel that the older I get, the more I don’t want to put up with [being in a hostel],” Camilla admitted.

“Yeah, me too,” I concurred.  “It’s like, I have a job so I don’t have to deal with this anymore.” 

“Brushing your teeth is such a chore,” Camilla said.  “First, you have to find a faucet!” 

I questioned why Tina’s Backpackers Hostel Guesthouse got a “thumbs up” in my Let’s Go guide; usually they are pretty critical about what gets their thumbs-up icon of approval.  For me, the hostel was nice, but no where as nice and organized as the thumbed-up Backpackers Villa Sonnehof in Interlaken, Switzerland, and I figured it was just because of the price factor.  At $10/bed/night, it was amongst the cheapest deals on the island.  (To my surprise, Belize is relatively expensive, with many items costing prices comparable to ones in the States.)  Anyway, Camilla and I decided to move out to a place where the person-to-bathroom ratio wasn’t in the double digits.

We eventually settled on Popeye’s Beach Resort and checked into a “deluxe room” with a big comfy bed, A/C, cable TV, and a two-to-one person to bathroom ratio.  More exciting to me were other amenities that Tina’s didn’t have.  “Oooh!  A table!” I raved.  Camilla opened the bathroom.

“Towels!” we raved in unison.

Popeye’s was not named for a spinach-eating sailor man, but a parrot who lived in a cage in the courtyard.  His owner Ron, also owner of the humble resort, was an older man who had a weird accent, a cross between Canadian and Caribbean. 

“Do you want to use the three wheel biiike?” said Nick, the local who maintained the grounds.  We accepted and scooped our stuff from Tina’s with the bike.  Camilla eventually got her refund from Tina for the unused night she’d already paid for, with not much hassle.  (If not, she would have hustled in with, “Yo Tina, where my money?!”)

GLENDA’S, not Tina’s, was one of the thumbed up places worth going to, for a good breakfast.  Family-owned and operated by Glenda with her granddaughter of the same name, the restaurant was just their family house with a covered porch for tourists to come for a meal.  The family cooked out of their kitchen, yummy breakfasts for the hearty appetite, until they got apathetic about it in the mid-morning.  While they didn’t have bagels, they were famous for their homemade cinnamon rolls, which tied me over until my dreams of last night came true.

In the meantime, I had sugar plum fairies to keep me company, or at least some version of them at the Children’s Day parade that strolled all around town.  All the children of Caye Caulker dressed up, marched and danced to drumlines, hip-hip, and at one point, “Oh Mickey You’re So Fine.”  Lead by teachers (I assumed), each group represented a different part of Belizean life:  jobs, agriculture, famous buildings, sports, etc.

Loosing track of time, Camilla and I missed a mid-day water taxi to San Pedro, but eventually caught a 2:20 one in the nick of time by taking our slow-to-prepare lunches to go.  By mid-afternoon, we landed in San Pedro on La Isla Bonita, and due to time restraints we rented a golf cart to zip around.  San Pedro wasn’t too big after all — half tourist beach town with bars, cafes, kitschy nightclubs, and stores decorated in Christmas wares; and half shantytown where the locals lived in shacks where they hung their laundry out to dry.  San Pedro was a bigger town than Caye Caulker, busier with full-sized vehicles and the pollution that went with them.

But San Pedro wasn’t a dump by any means; with a decent beach, it was nice for an afternoon of leisure to walk around and stock up on supplies.  “We should get ice cream,” I suggested.


“How about the World of Ice and Snow?”

It was at the ice cream shop that I remembered my favorite mondegreen.  “Do you think they have bagels on the island?” I asked Camilla.  We searched for bakeries on the map and eventually got the help of a woman in a gourmet wine and cheese store.  She directed us to Tabu, a bakery/cafe nearby.

“Do you guys have bagels?”

“Yes,” said the man.  He checked in the back to confirm.  “We have sesame.”

“I’ll take one!”

“With cream cheese?”


I had ordered one just before they were closing for the day and I was a happy man, even though it was small by New York bagel standards.  With bagel in hand, Camilla and I went around town to take stupid photos of it:  at the water taxi ticket booth (picture above), at the schedule board, with tourist maps, at the pier, with a lifesaver, and at the beach.  Not surprisingly, most people looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn’t get such a reaction from the three Americans who sat with us on the water taxi back to Caye Caulker.

“Tell them the story,” Camilla told me.

“Well, you know the Madonna song ‘La Isla Bonita?’  For the longest time I thought it was ‘Last night I dreamt of some bagel.’  If you do a Google search, you’ll see that there are a lot of people out there that thought the same thing.”

“Oh right!  [My friend used to think that!]” said one American.  “San Pedro.  Some bagel.  Last night I dreamt of some bagel…”

“Madonna tries to sing it all sultry,” said the other American woman.

“Yeah so, well, here we are in San Pedro on La Isla Bonita.  And I’ve been taking pictures of bagels for the past hour.”

“That’s funny!”

The bagel served its purpose not only for my own stupid idiosyncrasies, but had come in handy later that night when a huge downpour fell from the sky like during a monsoon, thwarting any plans to go out that night.  (Luckily we had American cable TV and stayed in with the Man Vs. Wild marathon on The Discovery Channel.)  The bagel staved our hunger for a while until I finally mustered up the courage to gear up and brave the storm to get provisions from the one nearby store a couple of blocks away.  Camilla on the other hand, was on hand mop duty; the storm was so strong our floor started flooding and the Popeye’s staff was no where to be found. 

In the end, everything was fine, and that night I dreamt of San Pedro… for I knew quite well that I could get some bagels there if I wanted.

Next entry: Are You As Wishful As A Sixth Grader?

Previous entry: Thanksdiving

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Comments for “Last Night I Dreamt Of Some Bagel”

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    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  05:12 PM

  • The little girl with the gun kinda reminds me of you wink

    I dream of NY bagles every day!  Ann may be pretty, but her bagels leave much to be desired.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  06:55 PM

  • you get the biggest one in four counties for those bagel pics..

    Posted by markyt  on  11/25  at  08:56 PM

  • I always heard San Pedro. I guess this comes from growing up in Houston where gringo spanish runs rampant and unchecked.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/25  at  11:03 PM

  • STEPH:  They’re no H&H bagels…

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  11/26  at  01:22 AM

  • GREETINGS FROM FLORES, GUATEMALA… Yes, I’m already a country behind but will catch up soon…

    Stay tuned….

    Posted by Erik TGT  on  11/26  at  01:26 AM

  • I love a good Bagel picture, and your gripping technique “at the beach” is quite something.

    Also glad to see the laughing cow cheese has made it onto yet another adventure.

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This blog post is one of thirty-nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: The Central American Eviction Tour* (*with jaunt to Colombia)," which chronicled a six-week journey through Central America, with a jaunt to Bogota, Colombia.

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