Tuesday, October 26, 2010

After Richard

Things sure could have been a lot worse. We've spent most of Tuesday & Wednesday cleaning up debris. First on the list was getting the gutters cleaned out. Rene had done it about two weeks ago, but now the roof was almost solid bits and pieces. During the storm the water poured over the gutters, dumping water everywhere. Since we collect the water from the roofs for our cistern so it's really important that we keep them clean.

We both worked in the yard, cutting up downed trees and limbs, raking and piling.
Barely made a dent Tues., but Wed we got help from a neighbor and got most of the larger pieces picked up. Rene was working on his other job, but will be here Thurs. & Fri and will have to work cleaning the perimeter fences. That will be a huge job.

The picture of a pile of debris isn't very impressive, but when you see that we are making about two dozen similar piles, it mounts up to a lot of work. Art's shoulder and my back keep trying to remind us that there are younger bodies out there who should be doing some of this work. The thing is, it's our yard and our budget and we enjoy knowing that each thing we do hopefully makes our little place better.

We've checked up on all our friends here and blessedly, we all came out about the same. Lots of trees down, but no damage to houses or other buildings. It's amazing that there was no loss of life in Belize due to Richard. Lots of property damage tho' and I hate to think about how devastating the loss will be to the citrus industry. They did a flyover and most of the trees are still standing,but the oranges and grapefruit are on the ground. Just a couple of weeks away from harvest. I understand that there will probably be government help for the growers, but I feel for the workers who were looking forward to finally having work. There's almost no work here in the little jewel and now Richard has destroyed an important lifeline for so many.

Once again, we're so greatful that, when a hurricane finally did hit Belize straight on, that it was Richard.

Hurricane Richard

For the first time since Hurricane Hattie in 1961, Belize was in the direct path of a hurricane. Richard made landfall from Belize City on the north to the Toledo District on the south. It kept heading due west, on to the Cayo District. Bullet Tree Falls Village is about 3 miles NW of San Ignacio in Cayo.

We spent the late afternoon with several friends at the home of a lovely couple who are new friends. Doris is German and Walter is Austrian. Besides being about the nicest people you'd ever want to meet, she's an incredible cook. They invited several couples over as a thank you for making them welcome to the community. I won't even try to describe the food, but she must have cooked for a week. Everything from a German beef stew, ham, vegetable casseroles, fruit salad and the most incredible homemade cheesecake. Yum! Anyway, we all had a delightful time, but the rains were starting and we knew that Richard was coming our way, so we headed for home. As we came down Paslow Falls Rd., we passed a street light (there are only two)the light went out and homes were dark. The electricity ends about a half mile before our road heads up the hill. It was a slippery drive up, but we made it fine.

We don't have real windows in our houses, only screens. We closed most of the shutters, just leaving a couple open to the back. We moved the truck into the middle of the drive so that if a tree went down it wouldn't be hit. We then settled down to watch a couple of videos. The beauty of being off-grid is that we can stay functional when the infrastructure is hit. Of course, that's only as long as our system isn't hit too.

Having lived at the Oregon coast, where the winds are cold and can really slam hard, we went to bed and slept soundly. Yesterday morning we woke to quite a sight. We were very fortunate to not suffer any damage to our buildings, but boy did the trees get pruned. We lost quite a few and have branches EVERYWHERE.

We walked down the road and there were several trees across. One was a huge Gumbalimba that was actually uprooted. We loaded our little chainsaw and some other tools into the truck and went to work. One blessing is that the Gumbalimba is very soft and cuts easily. At one spot it had a diameter of at least 2'. That sweet little Stihl handled the job just fine. I must admit the job just about did us in tho'. It's hard to admit that we have limitations. We got the trees cut up and moved, but both of us have strained muscles.

We had a phone call from our friend Diane, who said that some fellows came by from the "government" and were cutting trees for folks who needed assistance. Such timing. We had cut the trees that were the immediate problem, but there was a tree over the road leading to our neighbors place. A truckload of about 8 guys came up and made short work of that tree. They were having a good time, laughing and working. Turns out they're from the village, just helping out.

Today we're heading out to see what damage there was to the cleared property. When Rene comes next we'll have him take care of the property line fence.

We're so fortunate that the hurricane that finally decided to hit little Belize head on, was just a category one. We're also extremely pleased with the design of our buildings and where we chose to place them. Our little place and this old couple fared just fine. And Bailey too!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Since we haven't had company, we don't use our guest house. We occasionally use the bathroom when the need arises. Lately, we've been sharing it with this little guy. It's so small that I first tho't it was a moth. We appreciate bats for their insatiable appetites for mosquitoes. They can regularly eat twice their body weight in the bugs every day. I hate to shut this little fellow out, but hope it stays nearby. Since there is so much vegetation around we didn't think that there would be a lack of places for them to reside, but may decide to build a couple of bat houses to ensure that they hang around.

I was surprised when I got this one in my viewfinder to see how little it's face is. It looks like a little fox. But check out those arms. Hope it keeps munching away in our vicinity.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Ok, even tho' I've mentioned that we're not young kids, I had to giggle at my mention of Wilt Chamberlain as a hint. I have to admit that I'm not a basketball fan, so don't know the names of many players. If we want to watch a good game, we'd prefer to catch a girls high school game. Now that's competition. Anyway, decided I need to include a photo of the two of us, enjoying our little piece of the world. One blessing is that we've discovered where to buy COFFEE BEANS! Yum.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

View from our veranda

I had hoped that when we moved from the really cold winter climate that I'd finally be cured of my bronchitis spells, but they followed me. I've actually been surprised to hear how many folks have sinus and breathing problems. I guess it's because the air is humid and heavy. Anyway, for whatever reason, I'm having a case of the punies. Not much energy so I'm sitting on our back veranda, drinking tea with honey and just enjoying the view. It's so peaceful, with small, unseen birds flitting around in the trees and just a gentle breeze keeping it from being too hot. I'm not very good at just sitting without reading or doing something, but today I'm really savoring the view. The pictures don't begin to do it justice, but I want to share anyway.

Below the guest house we're clearing the bush from about a 1/2 acre, in the same way as this view. We all call it our "park". When it's finished, I'll try to post photos of it too. I love the trees, so we're just chopping the bush. Peace, dear friends.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Today was busy, as usual. We ran errands in town, one of which was to once again take a weedeater in for repairs. When we got home we both headed outside to work. It was such a lovely day for working. Not hot, just fleecy clouds. This is perfect weather.

We're slowly clearing the bush under the trees below the guest house. Rene is using his machete to clear the bush and I'm using a pitchfork to rake the debris. The bush is a haven for scorpions, in the rotting wood, and snakes. Today, Rene bro't us a female yellowjaw that was lurking in a pile of debris. He had nicked her when he was chopping. He wanted us to see what one looks like before he killed her. She was about 2 1/2' long. I asked how he could tell that it was a female and he noted that this one had a fairly long, thin tail. A male has a shorter, wider tail. I hope I never get close enough to take note of the difference.

Rene is incredible in the bush as he spent nearly 25 years traversing the country, in charge of survey crews. He is so tuned to all the movements, that he seems to see everything. He warned me today to please stay out of the uncleared, low bush. I tend to forget the dangers and plunge ahead. Wearing gloves & boots can't protect me from all the creatures.

Bailey and I seem to be cut from the same cloth. We can't let him loose because he doesn't recognize the dangers. He proved it yesterday when I put him in the yard on his cable. He was jumping around, trying to get at something unseen and barking gently. When I got closer I saw a huge tarantula skittering away. Bailey just wanted to play with it. Oh joy, a new fuzzy toy. Bless his little Japanese/Gringo heart. He catches frogs and just puts his nose on them and then watches them hop off. Coming from the mountains of Central Oregon where we don't have poisonous bugs or snakes (the rattlers are at lower levels), we tend to just blunder our way around.

Anyway, thanks to Rene, we are getting an exciting education in the realities of the jungle. When we finish clearing the bush in the back, I'll try to get a couple of photos.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I've tried to not be negative in my entries. We really do love our place and are so happy that we made this move. We've worked hard to build and create a place where we can be comfortable and where family and friends can too. It's been a labor of love and joy. The idea of moving to the jungle and living off-grid, where we aren't hostage to an unreliable infrastructure has really been satisfying. I'm still not going to tell our ages, but I'm sure we're older than most folks who have made a similar move. We just feel that you're never too old to dream and accomplish.

One thing that we've found here, and I'm sure it's probably the same in most of Central America, if not the world, is that folks move here for lots of different reasons. Many from the US are frustrated with the government and have very negative attitudes. Some are literally running away from legal problems and lots just want to hide. We're here mostly for economic reasons. We haven't been able to sell our house in Oregon and we can't afford to live there on our retirement income. We can afford to live in Belize, even with our current repair expenses. This is a very sad commentary on the current economy. The recent census reports from both the US and Belize found the widest gap possibly ever, between the haves and the have-nots. I doubt that there's much of a middle class left. We do have a very small circle of wonderful friends here who share some of our interests and concerns.

Our problem is that, we knew that we'd miss our family, but had hopes that they could come down and we could manage to go up there periodically. The reality is that the economy has stripped all of us out of any expendable income. We're all just struggling to survive. We miss so much being even a little involved with our grandchildren's lives. They're growing up so fast. Our daughter's two boys, Quiet Max, our oldest will turn 15 the end of this month. He's a sophomore in high school and loves his classes, especially algebra. Tyler, 13 is in the 8th grade and is our talker. He's finally having a good time in school and can't decide whether he wants to go out for the school play or basketball. We're hoping for the play as he isn't exactly a Wilt Chamberlain. He has enthusiasm tho', so will put his all into whichever he chooses. We've lived near them their whole lives, so our move has been difficult for all of us.

Our son has three children. They live about 5 hours away from us, in Washinton State. Rex is 14 and is a terrific student. He's so smart,loves to read and has such abilities. Hope he taps into them. Charlie, 12 is definitely his own person. He's taking Judo and loves it. None of them communicate much, but he wrote that he broke his collarbone, but no information. Kids! Then there's our beautiful Jessie May. She's 7 (or is it 8? I'm sorry Jessie, you're growing up so fast). There's no question that she's a girl. She loves pink and is so bright and loving. Our son just remarried to a wonderful lady. We're so happy for them, but sad that we don't get to be involved in their lives even a little bit.

Then there's my wonderful brother & sister-in-law. I miss his creativity and sharing our life experiences. His lovely wife, Jan is such a blessing in all our lives. They've been so supportive, even about our crazy move. They never fail to keep touch via phone or email.

The crux of all this is that, if we could sell this place, we'd move back. The separation is just too difficult. We do enjoy and appreciate our Belizean neighbors, but, no matter what, there'll always be an unfillable gap because we're Gringos. Our experiences are so totally different. I'll always be "Miss Gale", which makes me slightly uncomfortable. I know it's similar to using Mrs. but still makes me feel different.

Because of our financial worries, we've put both places up for sale hoping that one will sell soon. Then we'll be able to figure out where our future lies. For now,we're loving our place and continuing to maintain and improve it as we can.

Never quit dreaming.