Friday, September 25, 2009

Second thoughts!

We’ve now been in Belize for 5 weeks and have faced our “cold feet” dilemma. My gosh, what have we done? We’re still camping in our guest rooms. Hauling water from the Rotoplast, no electricity, except the 2 hrs a nite we allow ourselves with the generator and IT’S HOT! We’ve been here before when it’s hot,, but we’ve been where we had ceiling fans to make it bearable. That’s another thing we don’t have – ceiling fans! I can’t believe that we’re actually hoping it will rain. It’s difficult to phone home to Oregon and hear that it’s 80 during the day and 40 at night. Here we’re lucky if it’s below 80 at night. Our poor non-complaining Bailey, just looks at us with a soulful look to say, WHAT IN THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING, BRINGING ME HERE! He ‘s actually wooled up again for winter just a couple of weeks ago, but now his system has realize that it’s not going to snow here and he’s dropping hair like crazy. Of course the biggest complaint is that we seem to be blowing thru money like drunken sailors (sorry if that offends anyone).
Art and I have had a couple of worry sessions together, asking ourselves if this was really such a good idea. We’re realizing that we’re not Wonder Man/Woman and that there are a lot of things that we don’t know how to do. Did we bite off more than we can chew? We really don’t know diddly squat about how to install our solar. We relied on Backwoods Solar to advise us on what to buy and now we’re staring at all this good stuff and don’t have clue what to do with it. Why can’t I be “Bewitched” , twitch my nose and have everything just pop into shape?
We now have a cistern that was filling when it rained and a pump, but how to install it? We are really dumb when it comes to all this off-grid stuff, but we want to learn. It’s just hard to slowly learn while you’re doing without.
A nasty dilemma has been the road up to our place. It’s a 60 foot wide “government” road, which we’ve been told we can’t touch, but it’s nothing more than a dirt track which gets very slippery when wet, not allowing anyone up who doesn’t have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. This has been a huge matter of frustration for us.
A really tough one is when we phone home. I know, we wanted to spend some time just worrying about our own problems, but can’t turn off our love and concern for our kids and grandchildren. We hear the “we miss you’s” and the ups and downs of their lives and feel that we should be there for them. What really tugged at me was talking to our grandsons and then to our daughter, Kris. We chatted for a bit and then she wanted to go check on our grandsons because Tyler was crying. He’s a big boy and doesn’t cry anymore, but we’ve always been around for them and now we’re not. I hate that part of this. On the other hand, we are relaxing and enjoying being “retired.”
We really miss our wonderful friends and family. Our neighborhood potlucks are fantastic- great food and delightful people.
Ok, we’ve hashed over the negatives and realize that they are real, but we looked at all this before we made this move. Granted, reality is a lot more difficult than theory, but most of the building/adjusting stuff will get resolved and a real life will set in.
We’ve found a terrific friend who has a large solar system and has agreed to help us install ours. We also have great young men who have worked on building our place ,who can do the hard stuff like putting the solar panels up on the guest house roof. We know that our system is fairly small, but we’ll use it first and improve it later.
Our wonderful builder, Amelio, has been studying about our cistern pump and can install that, help with our minimal plumbing and do much of the wiring. See, some of this stuff will fall into place. We took the plunge and had an internet dish installed on our bare shell of a house. That has been one of the greatest bits of comfort to me. We can keep in contact with the other world called the US.
We found a fellow to put in a driveway, of sorts, and a parking area so we won’t get stuck in our own yard, and when he gets time (so Belizean)he’ll bring up a grader to fine-tune our area and bring up a load of gravel for the government road (to heck with “don’t touch it”) so that we may find the way up to our place less unfriendly and intimidating.
We’ve made friends here in Belize over the last few years as we made trips down to explore and make improvements to our place. We were just invited to a brunch with a lovely group, some we knew already and many we had never met. It dampens somewhat, the pain of missing our old friends.
When we step back and look at what we’re creating here and how we want to spend the next few years, we realize that we made a good decision. I’m sitting at our makeshift table, it’s hot here, and I can hear the thunder from the clouds working their way around us, but I feel that rain will come soon. Rather than worry about putting in wood for the winter, or getting the snow blower serviced, here we’ll worry about wet and dry.
OK, we’re putting our second thoughts away for another time and plunging forward, like we had good sense. We know that some will try to scam us, because we must be “rich Americans” LOL, if they only knew, and we’ll have a few “downs”, but over all, it feels exciting and right for now.
Love to you all, Gale

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our stuff arrives


I have to preface this by saying that I was afraid of going into Belize City, so kept putting off going into the BTB to finalize our QRP. Not sure if I mentioned that I got an email when we were on the road saying that we had been approved, but it wouldn’t be final until we went into the office and paid the fee. (Of course)
I got a phone call from Roy (our mover) that the container with our things and others, would be traveling thru Customs in 15 minutes. Wow! Did we have our QRP papers? Of course not. All we could do is tell him to do his best at getting us thru at a minimal cost. We brought down our solar system, including batteries, DC appliances, some furniture, tools and LOTS OF BOOKS! These books included several boxes that we want to donate to a school here in Bullet Tree. I won’t go into the details, but I will say that Roy got us thru very gently. Thank you Roy.
Roy Pascascio (Roy & Son Trucking) and Nena, are wonderful. He actually handled this door-to-door. What a relief. He took a chance coming up here in his very large Isuzu box truck. It’s only rear wheel drive with duals in the back. Of course, it rained the night before, so as you can imagine, he couldn’t make it up the hill. We were all going nuts trying to figure out what to do. A neighbor who has a lumber mill with a couple of huge loaders had helped us before, but this time, neither piece of equipment was functioning. We couldn’t stand to see our sorely missed items stranded on that slippery slope, so, TADA! the Toyota Tundra to the rescue. We hooked a chain on our truck and helped the big truck enough to get up. Boy did we feel powerful.
Roy had a couple of fellows with him and we called to Rene for help so altogether we had about 6 guys offloading our things into the Mennonite house. I knew it had to have a function sooner or later.
I have to admit that we’re still not into our house yet, so haven’t unwrapped most of our things, but so far, except for one chair, everything made it in great shape.
We did have one little hitch which may be of help to someone else. We were bringing down a very small, very old, Kubota tractor. It’s not much larger than a lawn mower. Well, it got held up by US Customs as we had to have a NOTARIZED BILL OF SALE. We had a receipt that had everything spelled out on it, but that wouldn’t suffice. We had to contact the seller (who happened to be our next door neighbor in Bend, and have him write one up, get it notarized and get it to us or to Roy. It went slightly astray, so the tractor and rototiller are coming on the next load. Not sure how we’ll fare with customs, but will have to wait and see. It’s actually a 1980, so definitely for home use, not commercial.

Friday, September 18, 2009

work continues

I'm not a very good blog updater. Sorry about that. We've been awfully busy, just trying to keep up with running errands and buying (spending) for our project. I can't believe the stuff we're continuing to learn. Wire sizes, direct current is a whole different animal, conduit, wiring & pipe for the cistern and the list goes on. Seems that we fairly live in Spanish Lookout. For all our friends and family who haven't been here, SL is about 10 miles from Bullet Tree if you go either by the crank ferry or take the back road which will shake your teeth out, or 15+ miles if you want to take a better road but travel further. With gas running at about $8.65/gallon bz, the shorter routes usually win.

We're still in the guest house, but are making headway. The boys should be finished with the basic construction this weekend. Then it's our turn to get a few tasks done, ie finishing the floors and the ceiling.

This Monday is a holiday and there's all sorts of excitement. They're celebrating Belize's independence, I think 28 years ago.

Right now I just want to update with a couple of photos of our progress. Hope you enjoy our little adventure.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My office!

Just so you realize just how sophisticated we are down here, I want to share an overview of what I have to do to publish these posts. First, before we had much more that a skeleton of a house, I was tired of wandering around, trying to find a WIFI site (there are maybe three in San Ignacio) or finding an internet cafe that had a connection that didn't take hours to make, so we jump in and had Computer Ranch fellows come out and install a dish. I still find it hysterical to look outside and see the dish on a zinc roof, surrounded by jungle trees. 21st Century here we come!

Now for the fun part. This connection is in our little house, but we're still in the "guest house", so I pack up the laptop, turn on the generator which we only run for two hours each night and I trudge over with my laptop and flashlight to my Office. I have to find where the fellows left the extension cord to plug in my receiver (which I keep in a cardboard box to keep it dry and clean) and away I go. Right now I can hear the crickets, cicadas and the generator and can see the lightning moving off to the SW. Cool, but weird.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Noise - part 2

The “chicken frog” was funny. There are now 2 of them, occasionally chatting with each other during the day. Not a problem. We’ve been taking it all in stride and enjoying the humor and strangeness of the sounds. What an adventure.
It’s now 2am and the humor is gone! We must have a goose in the trees. What is it? Now it’s a boy on a bicycle, honking his infernal horn. Blat, blat, blat –blat—blat, blat, blat. Oh my gosh. It’s another frog, only this guy only comes out to serenade his hoped for love during the night. Ugh! It’s the most incredible, LOUD, sound. It envelopes the night. Now it changes to sound as tho’ he has his head in a metal drum. Honk, honk. Sometimes I can hear an answering honk, off in the jungle. Sure wish he’d take the hint and go to her. Maybe this one is the female and she’s waiting for him. Can’t imagine what that serenade would sound like. Occasionally the chicken frog on the roof decides to compete, but his little clucking sounds can’t begin to cut it.
At 4am I’m now fully awake, trying anything to block out the cacophony of frog sounds. Wrapping the pillow around my head has no affect. I can hear Bailey scooching under the bed, pushing his head against the stored suitcases. I hear his disgusted signs as he’s also trying to sleep. Visions of our lovely house in the cool mtns of Oregon dance thru my head. What have we gotten ourselves into?
Magically, at about 6am, the honking diminishes, now to be blocked out by the hoards (I know they’re flocks, but they sound louder than a mere flock) of parrots come alive. They seem to love to spend the night in some of the trees to the south of our house. The crescendo of sound is impossible to ignore. All right! I’m up. Good gravy. When we lived in the “real world” I loved to stay up until midnight, watching TV or reading, then to get up about 7:30 or 8am. Here, if you want to get any sleep at all, it’s lights out at 9 – 10pm and up at 6am.
Through the day we’re so busy trying to make this our home that we rarely pay attention to the competing sounds of the Brown Jays, parrots, and once in a while a Toucan. Our generator & the boys pounding in nails add to the cacophony of our jungle home. Anyone who thinks the jungle is quiet has never been here.