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.

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