I put this project on the backburner for several years while we had a LOT of ‘life experiences’. We’re not yet living in Belize full time, but we’re inching closer. Our only son is in college now, and we’ve downsized our empty nest in a new part of Florida, Dunedin, on the Gulf Coast.
Things have been equally as busy at Better In Belize, as many more people have joined the community, and a bunch of folks live there full and part time now. It’s really growing into a neighborhood.
I’ll work to transcribe my diaries from our trips to Belize here as posts, but not all eight years have been documented as closely as the first few. You can blame that on internet coming to our little cabin, leaving less ‘down time’.
We’ve been sidelined as well by the global pandemic this past year (2020-2021) but we are hopeful we’ll get back to our little bit of paradise this spring or summer.
This is our last morning at the cabin. (We’ll stay at Toucan House tonight so we can shut everything down and leave at the crack of dawn for airport) The sunrise put on a beautiful show this morning at 5:30 – oranges and yellows and pinks streaked the skies as the round sun peeked up over the cliffs. Then, as teh sun warmed the cooler air hanging around the mountaintops and rivers, a mist shrouded the view of everything beyond the garden/milpa.
The howler monkeys said their good mornings, and the parrots flew by with their loud squawking and screeching. Now, as the sun gently warms us, the sweet song birds and insects have awoken to another busy day in the jungle.
I am very sad to leave, but excited to be back with M. Even with technology, I really miss his physical presence, wisdom & love in person. This adventure is much more fun together. I really can’t wait to be here again as a family.
When we come back in a few months, I’d like to map out the palapa/storage buiding and think about how that will work. We need a bit more space to move here full time, but a lot less space than we originally thought. We need an office/school/crafting place and storage for tools, clothes, etc.
I also want to look into storage options for things we need to keep, like corporate records, that need a more climate-controlled environment.
And most of all, this needs to be a year of serious income generation AND decluttering!!! More later – time to enjoy the morning tea…
One week from today we’ll be heading to Belize City to catch a plane to Orlando. Two very different worlds. There is so much more I want to do here to help build our home & community – the time has flown by without near as much as I hoped to accomplish. I haven’t even finished knitting one sock!
On the other hand, I really feel at home here now, comfortable getting around and dealing with the day to day life, meeting new friends, etc. I’ve also fallen right into the pace of life, and a simpler way of moving about each day – limited food choices and less stuff in general, as well as a smaller living space.
I don’t know what we’d do without the iPod Touch however! So today we’re working on house projects and some web work, then LT and I will make a list of things we want to do before we leave. So far:
- Visit Xunantinich
- Disc golf again
- Swim in river/kayak to waterfall
- Explore our property a bit more
- Visit Martz Farm folks
We went into town yesterday – rainy drizzle day. Stopped by town hall in Benque to renew the Trooper registration which expires at the end of September, but they don’t do it ahead of time, so BT can do it for us. It costs $50BZ/3 months. Seems to be the most expensive part of owning a vehicle here.
Headed in to pick up Ma and check her puppy’s sutures (they were fine) then into San Ignacio for a few errands. Got online at Greedy’s for a bit after meeting John, the Scottish fish man (seafood shop), then we headed out Bullet Tree Rd for lunch at Hot Taco, owned by Phil, who was so friendly and the food was GREAT! I ate three big soft taco’s and a homemade iced tea for $7BZ and finished off with a $1BZ homemade chocolate chip cookie made by BT’s mom B! We’ll be back there for sure.
We dropped Ma off and headed back to Benque where we delivered BT to the big house to work while LT and I went shopping for groceries. We picked BT up and headed out to BIB. Sat with BT and tried to debug a WordPress theme function for awhile and chatted with M online, and finally headed up to the cabin for chillaxin.
We’re not going into town today so we’ll have a lazy morning. I’ll finish the grout sealing and do a bit of cleaning, then we may work a little this afternoon on our fire circle/meditation area and scout out for a good spot for the palapa/office/craftroom/bodega we’ll build on top of our lot.
Just another day in the jungle!
Ten days since the last entry – sometimes it seems like ten weeks! We’ve been busy with day to day living, and got a bit caught up in the BIB stuff. BIB needs another truck for workers to get back and forth now that the school bus isn’t running. So BT found a good deal on a Trooper that his friend R. was selling. We went to look at it with him, and I really liked it, too. However, BIB couldn’t decide and they were also looking at other vehicles for about a week. Workers weren’t coming out and BT was trying to juggle everything with BIB’s Mitsubishi which had troubles of its own. After talking with M, we wrote to BIB folks and said ‘if you don’t want to buy R’s truck, we do!’
They told us to go for it, so we arranged to buy the Trooper. I spent time test driving it and talking with R, and I was thrilled to get a good solid vehicle at a reasonable price. BT took me in to pick it up and to give I. the Mistu for brakes and servicing. I dropped LT and I off at R’s and we had freedom to go wherever, whenever – wheeee!
When we finally got back to BIB and the Toucan House, we found outthe Mistu’s engine had seized up after I. dropped us off because all the oil came out, and BT was stuck in town for two days. LT and I house-sat at Toucan for a few days so BIB wouldn’t be empty. The new BIB vehicle still isn’t ready, but the Mitsu engine should be ready today. We’ve been official transport for BT and BIB in the meantime, returning all the favors we from our first few weeks.
FYI: (divide by 2 for USD equivalent)
1989 Isuzu Trooper – $5900BZ
Title transfer $15BZ
1 year insurance $269BZ
LOVE LOVE LOVE our new Trooper!
True confessions – it’s pretty buggy here in the rainy season. We have purchased sweeps for the bottoms of the doors, but don’t have them in yet, so every night I try to stuff the door cracks to keep bugs out. This morning I woke up to find a neat line of ants marching right into the house. Armed with the citrus cleaner spray bottle and a broom, I started sweeping them back out from whence they came.
We went out the door to the porch/deck, along the deck, up the railing and over, and down the side of the house. I went down under the house and picked up the trail along the front of the house, up along the other side, and finally down a post at the back to the ground. I sprayed citrus cleaner along the whole path, and after sweeping out a few stragglers, the invaders moved on to more a hospitable place.
If nothing else, this reinforces our need to have someone looking after the place while we are gone.
Today was the most challenging day so far. I was feeling very lonely last night – I think partly because BTs lady friend is back in town and it made me miss M, plus it was raining and the lack of transportation was frustrating me. It poured all night long and I was cold and a bit anxious about the rain ruining the electronics, as we hadn’t tested that out yet. When it got to be about 5:30am I went and checked down below and everything was dry so I went to make a cup of tea and we had NO gas!
I checked and the tank felt really light – CRAP. I checked all the lines and nothing seemed remiss so either the tank wasn’t full to start with or we have a gas leak somewhere, or both. I waited til noon to visit BT and told him about it. Why do these things always happen on Sunday – even at home?! To top things off, LT is in a foul mood – his clothes don’t fit and his shoes are too dirty. I am just frustrated at feeling powerless…time to take it back and get my own problem solving skills in order!
After chatting with M, and making a plan to get transportation and gas, things seemed a lot brighter. I was expecting a day of feeling not great, and if this is the worst I’ll face, it’s not so bad.
UPDATE: Got the tank refilled, found a small leak near the fridge, and figured out normal gas useage, etc so we can plan ahead next time -back to sunshine!
Surpise trip into town. BT asked if we wanted to go to town as his friend Ma flew into Guatemala and took a bus home, so he didn’t have to drive to BC airport. It was pouring rain so I didn’t grab my purse, just have $35 in my pocket (BZ, not USD) We’ll see how far it gets us.
We have to hang out until 1pm while BT has lunch with Ma. So far I bought us all a drink (2 cokes, 1 OJ) at the gas station for $6, then a pound of tomatoes at the market for $3 (got a deal, she gave me .50 off) and a fruit danish pastry at the French Bakery for $2 – not to get some burritos at Menchos, maybe a lime juice, too. Hoping to have $4 left over for gelato, too!
Ok, two chicken & bean burritos and 2 lime juices $7 and YUMMY! Next, two medium cups of gelato (3 smalls scoops), 1/2 sour sop and 1/2 strawberry, $4. While we were eating the gelato, BT walked by and said his friends just arrived so we need to hang out yet again for awhile. We’ll go to Greedy’s and get an ice tea. They have expats, free wifi, and a bathroom. With the Kindle and iPod Touch we’ll be all set!
Well, the Kindle browser sucks, but got a bit done. We used the Touch and TalkATone and T called Adam and I called Mark which was pretty cool. BT came by as we finished, and we headed off for home, with a stop at Ma’s so she could get some things to bring for the weekend. We also stopped at the grocery store for spaghetti, tomato sauce, and milk (for baking) which used my last $9 plus .80 from BT. Quite a lot for my $35, and a good day!
I had to stop and think for a minute what day it is. Yesterday was a long day on the road. We left at 7 to take M to the airport in Belize City. It’s somewhere between a 2-3 hour drive but we left extra time. With just one paved highway if something goes wrong like an accident, you just have to wait. We said our sad goodbyes then headed to Bennie’s – think Target Superstore – in Belize City, with BT. Driving into the outskirts of Belize City feels like driving into almost any Florida small town. We got a few remaining items on our list and some butter for BT’s mom. BC is the only place you can get real butter, there is a non-real version available to us here in western Belize. They use protectionistic practices, so other dairies are prohibited from competing. Often we end up with inferior or mono-variety being our only choice. Right now that feels like an adventure, but someday may be something we resent – hard to say. It’s a shoulder shrugger at least.
We made our way to BT’s folk’s place via Spanish Lookout, where we got a few more things (finally, natural peanut butter!) After visiting Computer Ranch, I saw a niche M and I could fill pretty well. We arrived at BT’s folks place as his mom B was making a chocolate pie! I immediately felt at home with both his parents, who are closer to my age. Bt’s dad reminds me so much of a dear friend in TC, MI.
We toured their extensive property which is along the Mopan river in Bullet Tree, just outside San Ignacio. They have a beautiful pond that serves as a holding tank for their water, lots of fruit trees, and other ornamentals. B invited me to the women’s group lunch on the 19th. I’ll see if I can swing that, it sounds perfect for me.
We headed home to find that the excavator had pretty much finished the pond/natural swimming pool. It’s huge, deep and very cool. He terraced the pile of dirt so it sort of resembles a Mayan temple, and you can see the whole milpa (gardens/small farm) from the top. We imagined all the plantings around it, and pond filled with water and some plants and fish, just waiting for us to jump in for a swim.
T & I had a nice dinner but missed M being here with us. We fell asleep pretty early. I wasn’t too anxious at all, but I did move the machete over by the bed! 🙂 Now I am enjoying a quiet misty morning with a cup of tea while T. sleeps in… ahhhhhh…
No firecracker 5K, parade or hotdogs for us today, but it does feel like we’re finding our freedom here. This morning the sun is quickly burning off the mist. I can see the mountain tops and hear the waterfall in the distance. I wonder how long before I stop confusing it with distant traffic on the turnpike?
There’s a woodpecker here that does a quick ratatat at a time, every minute. Guess with all the insects here he doesn’t have to work too hard.
Yesterday Mark got the batteries and charge controller all hooked up. This will allow us to run the generator a couple hours a day then run off batteries the rest of the day. Today he is going to put a small solar panel on to top off batteries & keep them from getting too low when we’re away. Eventually we’ll have more solar to fully power the batteries.
One of my very favorite things we have here is a gas fridge. It’s so quiet – no compressor – and it doesn’t dry out the food like an electric one. It cost a bit more, but well worth it I think.