Calico Jack’s Village

Calico Jack’s Village (CJV) is a Belizean project committed to sustainable tourism and community development, and in particular, the development and empowerment of the village of El Progresso/7 Mile, Cayo, Belize. Calico Jack’s commenced as a project in early 2000 led by financier Dr. Ydahlia Metzgen) (“Dr. Ydahlia”) and builder Mr. Chester Williams (Mr. Chet).

After more than 30 years of international public service and public works, respectively, Dr. Ydahlia and Mr. Chet decided to apply Dr. Ydahlia’s financing and knowledge of economic development with Mr. Chet’s in-depth expertise of building and public works to this project aimed at sustainable development in Belize. Dr. Ydahlia and Mr. Chet are educators and developers, interested in sustainable economic development. Calico Jack’s offers guests an authentic Belizean experience on an environmentally conscious property.

The project’s initial location for the first 8 years was on North Maya Beach on the Placencia Penninsula. In 2008, the project moved to Cayo District from North Maya beach in closer proximity to Dr. Ydahlia’s family and starting a new project phase and shift in orientation. (Read article about the original Calico Jack’s.)

The Move to El Progresso in Cayo District

Calico Jack’s new location offers accessibility to the traditional life style of the small farming villages in the area, including the idyllic village of El Progresso (7 Miles) with links to the ancient Maya, indigenous to Belize, Creoles, as well as most recently refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

CJV, El Progresso, is best known for its first-class personalized, exhilarating and safe zip line tours available to both daytime explorers and overnight guests.

CJV also offers accommodations. In this regard, CJV’s location in the Mountain Pine Ridge region of central Belize provides privacy and intimacy and the sights, sounds, and sensations of a tropical rainforest for overnight guests. CJV’s spacious 2 -3 bedroom/2 bathroom villas with kitchenettes provide comfortable and stylish lodging.

Calico Jack’s elegant poolside-restaurant offers excellent cuisine including Belizean and vegetarian specialties to local and foreign guests alike.

CJV via El Progresso Field Station also offers accommodations and meal packages for church, medical, student, research or family groups for up to 25 guests.

Calico Jack’s operations facilitate the financing of training and philanthropic activities for the village of El Progresso.

Dr. Ydahlia, Mr. Chet, and the caretaker management and staff at Calico Jack’s Village are devoted to your comfort, safety, and pleasure, from the adventures you wish to pursue to the food you eat. Even before you arrive, we will know your comfort and travel needs.

Expect our help in mapping out adventures to nearby jungle and reef, and arranging your travel by plane, or vehicle. Expect unpaved roads through Belizean local villages, tropical vegetation and wildlife, and opportunities to exchange stories with fellow adventurers and local residents.

OUR TEAM

Calico Jack’s Village resort is licensed by the Belize Tourism Board and is a member of Belize Chamber of Commerce, the Belize Hotel Association and the Belize Tourism Industry Association.

Dr. Ydahlia
Dr. Ydahlia
Biography: Dr. Ydahlia A. Metzgen

Dr. Ydahlia Metzgen, the principal owner of Calico Jack’s, is a Belizean economist and entrepreneur. Dr. Ydahlia has devoted her life to economic policy and development in developing countries including as a senior level official at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more than 20 years. At the time she retired, Dr. Ydahlia was the most senior ranking woman from Central America in the history of the IMF. Dr. Ydahlia’s goals related to poverty reduction and sustainable development at the micro-level have been inspired by the example of her teacher of 30 years Mata Amritananda Mayi.

Dr. Ydahlia graduated with a B.A. (magna cum laude), an M.A. in economics (with Distinction) from McGill University, Canada, and an MPA and Ph.D. (with Distinction) in Economics and Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.

Dr. Ydahlia’s experiences through the IMF living and working in many countries such as Barbados, Belize, Cambodia, Cote D’Ivoire, Haiti and Lao PDR have been beneficial to her in considering poverty reduction and sustainable development that preserves the best of natural environments. Dr. Ydahlia also managed the IMF’s US$20 billion investment portfolio as well as served as Vice President of International Credit for Merrill Lynch providing her with hands on and technical background in finance.

Most recently, Dr. Ydahlia served for 5 years as a Professor, teaching Economics and Finance at Galen University and as a Director on the Boards of Belize’s Protected Area Conservation Trust (PACT) and Galen University. She currently serves on the Boards of Belize Bank Limited, Belize Bank International Limited and Caribbean Investment Holding Company.

Since her retirement from the IMF, Dr. Metzgen has published numerous research papers on Belize’s economy including the first assessment of the contribution of Belize’s private sector to the economy, a 30-year retrospective examination of the evolution of Belize’s economy to commemorate the Central Bank of Belize’s 30th anniversary, a United Nations (UN)-financed study on water resource management, an IDB-financed study examining wages and compensation in Belize, and UN-financed study examining the impact of the withdrawal of correspondent banking services from Belize and other Caribbean countries.

Dr. Ydahlia returned home to focus on this project that aims at empowering Belizeans in El Progresso to take responsibility for their lives by providing skills and jobs. In this regard, Dr. Ydahlia’s vision is to have Calico Jack’s and El Progresso Field Station serve as a potential model of thoughtful and sustainable development enhancing the lives of Belizeans through training and education grounded in respect for Belize’s natural environment. For this project, Dr. Ydahlia teaches hygiene, cooking, food handling and front and back office skills. She also offers a sustainable economic and community development program during June and July each year for university students.

Mr. Chet
Mr. Chet
Biography: Chester W. Williams

Chester Williams, or “Mr. Chet” as he is called by Belizeans, is a successful builder, innovator, and entrepreneur. For the last 40 years, Chester has been known as an awarded builder of bridges, roads, airstrips, dams, and residential construction. Chester is originally from Washington State, USA and brings to his work a respect for nature and the environment.

Mr. Chet ran a multi-million dollar construction company, C.W.W. Construction, in Washington State. Initially, Chester and C.W.W. Construction specialized in and became widely recognized in Washington State for constructing concrete structures for water distribution and for sewage treatment plants. C.W.W. Construction’s Public Works projects, financed by Washington State and the US Government, expanded to include bridge retrofit and road construction and retrofit. Mr. Chet has been acknowledged by Architectural Digest and also received an award for his work on the Chief Joseph Damn.

Mr. Chet’s pioneering development of a successful beachfront resort on North Maya Beach, Stann Creek District—the initial Calico Jack’s—opened up that area to investment and growth.

Chet’s vision is to bring growth to El Progresso including by providing villagers with skills such as carpentry, mason, plumbing and electrical work. In this regard, Mr. Chet and our team built the resort buildings, the pool and most of the furniture in the restaurant and bar and units. Mr. Chet and our team first built the zip line for which CJV is best known. Whether you are a zip line enthusiast or not, you will enjoy seeing the juxtaposition of the superior construction of the zip line system (including Calico Jack’s jungle lift) and the striking jungle canopy.

Also noteworthy, is that when this project was initiated in 2008, the staff came to work barefoot or in flip-flops. Today most of the staff team drive vehicles or motorbikes to work and live in cement houses with in door bathrooms that they helped to build given the skills they have learned from Mr. Chet and this project. The building of these houses has been financed by zero interest loans provided by
Dr. Ydahlia.

Future projects include the building of a meditation house and gym and a children’s playground.

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“If you want to relax, watch the clouds, just doing nothing and having those still moments is what really happens at Calico Jack’s…”