The search for Andy Hunt
Andy Hunt scored 35 goals for Charlton between 1998 and 2000, but was cut down by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a little known medical condition at that time. Hunt originally fell ill with glandular fever but after months of feeling exhausted after training and games during his last season with us, the ex-West Brom striker was finally diagnosed with CFS. After disappearing from the game in 2001, aged just 30, Hunt did make a return under Curbs in 2003, but after playing in a couple of reserve games decided to call it quits.
A year later Andy and his Dutch wife Simone Angel, who was a MTV presenter upped sticks and moved from Greenwich to Belize and bought a large house with a domed roof in the Belizian jungle close to the capital Belomopan.
Following Andy and Simone was quite easy in those early days as they both wrote personal blogs, Andy’s being followed by a host of Charlton fans and bloggers including me, and they also regularly updated their Belize Adventure blog as well.
Hunt chronicled the birth of his first child, talked lovingly of his wife and would inspire many other intrepid travellers to add the little known Central American country Belize to their bucket list. Other than their jungle adventures Hunt wrote about starting a local football team and offered his opinion on a wide range of football issues, especially those involving the Addicks, the Baggies and his first pro club Newcastle.
The writing and publicity all helped, as well as I am sure a lot of hard work, as their Jungle Dome hotel and adventure tours company really took off. But then after a couple of years the trail went cold.
Then the last we heard in 2009 was that the Hunt’s were selling up and moving to Aruba, the Dutch Caribbean island, where Simone’s mother lived. This move allowed Simone to return to work, but there wasn’t much mention of what Andy was going to do and they pretty much disapeared from the blogosphere and public in general.
I had a hairbrained idea that I would get a taxi there, wander inside and talk Charlton with Andy Hunt, who played up front, but realistically in the five days we were here, where we never had a spare half hour, it was never going to happen, so instead I just asked everyone that I met if they knew of the Jungle Dome and the Hunt’s.
The tour guides were the most informed, although they are all based up in western Belize on the Guatemala border, so a few didn’t know much beyond this part of the country. However some did know of the Jungle Dome and some were aware of the owners.
Thing was I was getting mixed messages as to whether there was a change of ownership, and certainly no one knew that there was an ex-Premier League footballer in their midst.
However one in particular was convinced that the owners had left but had come back. So I upped my on-line surveyance to see what I could find. The website is sadly out of date, but I did find an active Facebook page under Green Dragon Adventures which tells a story of the Hunt’s never selling their Jungle Dome and returning from Aruba in 2010 and taking their business onto better and better success.
The Jungle Dome has won the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 5 consecutive years that it has been named in it’s Hall of Fame.
Sadly, I never got to the Jungle Dome, or met Andy Hunt, but I can confirm that the ex-Addick is alive and well in Belize.