Thursday, September 20, 2007

Belize Letter 14

New Project

I started a new project. There is a 150 to 200 foot wide strip of jungle between land that I have cleared and St. Margaret’s Creek. This creek forms the western boundary of our property. It is a very beautiful creek with rain forest on each side. I have two paths that allow viewing the creek for only a few feet in either direction. Since we can only hear the rushing of the water in the creek from our porch, I thought it would be good to have better access to the creek. I started clearing a trail that will run parallel to the entire length of creek on our property which is slightly over 1200 feet or 4 football fields. This path, when completed, will be an excellent trail not only to observe the creek but also to observe the many birds that are in that area. It will also be a good place to see the plant life in the rain forest. Maintaining this trail will add to the growing list of maintenance items but it will be worth it. As the cutting is well under way, it is nice to walk this path. I have taken some pictures and they are available here.

I even have a video that provide a glimpse of the magnificent beauty and utter tranquility of the stream. (just picture of creek with sound - not much action)

Dog issues

The main living area of our home is twelve feet above ground level. We are always going up and down these stairs. Our dog goes down in order to get to the yard and then back up to get to the main living area. A week ago he stopped going up the stairs. We tried pulling him up with a leash but he would not budge. We tried luring him up with cookies but he still would not climb the stairs and he remained on the lower level. So, for one whole week I carried the dog up the stairs. Carrying a squirming, sixty pound dog that sometimes is soaking wet, up the stairs is not a pleasant task! I decided to close in the stairs. Now he can’t see or fall through the stairs and he is back to making the round trip to the yard by himself.

Property speculation in Belize

There has been some talk on the local FM station about needing to do something about all the real estate speculation in Belize that is driving prices up. They state that this speculation may be good for land owners but some of the poor local people are now not able to afford land and houses. Nearly seventy percent of the land in Belize is set aside as reserves. Building is not allowed on reserves. What will happen is a definite question. However, one should note that all the law makers own property.


I have been having trouble sourcing a DW6000 satellite modem to replace the one that suffered an electrical surge during a thunder storm. This time it’s not a Belize problem, it’s an EBay or Pay pal problem. For some reason, after deciding on one of several DW6000’s available, I placed the order. The address on the final order that was sent to the seller was not the one intended; it was two address changes previous to my present address. This address was no longer in my personal data on EBay or Pay pal, so I have no idea how it ended up on the order.
My credit card worked ok because my credit card was charged. So apparently they don’t do address verification of credit cards. I will be ordering another one and hopefully it will ship correctly. I have gotten all types of programmed emails regarding what I need to do to solve the problem. I think this will take a long time to be resolved seeing as now my emails are scanned and a form email is sent back to me. Humans are not available. I guess they are busy creating more programmed responses. On my next trip to the internet Café, I will have to spend quite a bit of time with EBay and Pay pal, if I want to resolve it. I call the use of automated customer service messages customer disservice! It would be better to do nothing. Both of these companies are probably betting that I will give up due to total frustration.

Belize Independence Day

Tomorrow, 9/21/07 Belize will turn twenty six. It was only in 1981 that Belize obtained its independence from Great Britain. The people have been celebrating all week with parades, sport events, pageants, and the State of the Union address by the Prime Minister. These celebrations will continue throughout the weekend. Independence day is taken very seriously down here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Belize Letter 13

Some leftovers from Hurricane Dean
A few days after Hurricane Dean passed through the very northern part of Belize, we experienced several very severe thunder storms. These storms had lots of lightning strikes. The accompanying thunder sounded like explosions very close to the ground and seemed to be right outside our window. The worst storm hit around three AM. During this storm our satellite system must have taken a surge. The surge protector on our satellite modem and the surge protector on our wireless router both were destroyed. I had a microwave oven plugged in at the time. The oven was not on; just plugged in. The oven no longer works. I have sourced another satellite modem in the states and will have it shipped down along with another wireless router. So until these parts get down here, I have no internet at my house. We happen to hear a public service announcement from our electric company that everyone should unplug all appliances during a thunder storm. I guess we will do that from now on.

Hurricane Felix approaches
On Friday, August 31st, we visited the internet café in Belmopan, to check our email. We saw on some of the news sites that a hurricane was headed for Belize. That day we went home a little worried. We decided to go into Belmopan again Saturday to check the status of the approaching hurricane Felix. On Sunday our local FM station started full time coverage of the storm. Belize was under a hurricane watch and all projections indicated a hit near the center of Belize.

Sunday night we went to bed thinking that the storm was going to hit Belize. We awoke Monday morning and the news was the same. We decided to go to Belmopan again to fill the truck with diesel fuel and get the latest update from the web at the Internet café. All day long and into the night, the news on the radio was the same. Early Tuesday morning I awoke and immediately turned on the radio. To my delight the broadcasters were indicating that the latest report from the hurricane center had the storm not hitting Belize. The storm had continued to head west and would make landfall in Nicaragua and continue on a westerly route to the Pacific Ocean. Although this turned out to be nothing to fret over, during the warning stages, a lot of thoughts go through one’s mind. On the day the hurricane had been projected to hit Belize, we experienced some light winds and torrential rains that lasted until late evening. Thursday turned out to be a beautiful day with plenty of sun and light breezes.

Love FM, the radio station we listen to during hurricane warnings, is great. It gives us detailed up-to-date information on the storm. There are very few commercials during these broadcasts. I wrote about it in my last post and I must say it again; this station is great during emergencies. There is nothing like it in the states. It also is available over the internet.

During a hurricane watch, prices can not be increased. However, stores can reduce prices or give discounts. When the warning first is announced employees must help their employer secure the place of business, then they must be allowed to go home to secure their own homes. We noticed another thing during this Hurricane warning. In Belize liquor is sold in grocery stores. While Belize is under a hurricane watch, no liquor is sold. The shelves that contain the liquor were covered with a large tarp. I don’t know how this would go over in the states. I remember when snow storms were forecasted, one could rest assured that liquor stores would be packed with customers!

Banana Harvest
We harvested the bananas when they were somewhat green. However, within a week they turned bright yellow. They are a type of banana that only gets about five inches in length and they have a peculiar taste. The texture is the same as regular bananas I was use to in the states, but the flavor definitely has an apple like taste. They are called “apple bananas”. The natives prefer apple bananas over what I call “regular bananas”.

Belize has two holidays in September. On September 10, Belizeans celebrate the battle of St. George which kept the Belizeans from coming under Spanish control in the 1798. On September 21, Belizeans celebrate Independence Day. On this date in 1981 Belize was granted independence from Great Britain.

Grapefruit Tree Surgery
I have completed pruning 4 large grapefruit trees. They may have been around twenty five feet tall when I started, but now they are six feet tall. I cut all major braches very short. All the small branches that are entangled with both dead and living vines are hauled off to the compost pile. Within a year these trees will have full foliage and will begin to produce fruit again. Tree ripened grapefruit are great!

Spare time
Without internet, I managed to read “The Age of Spiritual Machines” by Ray Kurzweil. This book is dated (2000), but it is a good read and the author certainly understands how to hold the reader’s attention. I also decided to reread “Snow Crash” by Neil Stephenson. Diane and I also play more gin since the internet is down. When the internet is up again, Diane will return to her favorite game of video poker.

Belize has lots of sports. A lot are televised. Their big sport is soccer. Cycling, canoing, track and field, marathons, triathlons, and some basketball are also reported on in the press. Soccer is televised but it just doesn’t compare to the NFL or the NCAA football games that I enjoyed in the states.