Monday, February 28, 2011

Family visit

After living in Belize for over a year and a half, we have been delighted to have a family visit. I worried and planned for over two months to make it a memorable experience for my brother, Steve and his wonderful wife, Jan, and two of our cousins, Roger and Heather (brother & sister). We all grew up in Washington state, altho' still many miles apart, so visited frequently as kids. Of course, this visit went by way too fast. Belize blessed us by showing them her beauty and warmth. My cousin Roger lives in New York and the rest of the family lives in Oregon. Both coasts have been suffering severe cold, so they were given a warm treat here in the jewel.

The difficult thing about living across country borders is leaving family behind. Not only is it expensive to travel, the customs/immigration bit can get quite tiring, confusing and just plain frustrating. It's not like traveling in country where you could put older children on a plane and meet them at the other end.

Initially, they all flew to Placencia where they stayed at Robert's Grove. I drove down the next day. Art doesn't like the coast and preferred to stay up here with Bailey. Another consideration was that our truck only holds 5 people. After a wonderful 5 day visit in Placencia, we traveled up here to Cayo for the remainder of their stay.

I was overly concerned that they'd find our life here primitive and uncomfortable, but they all seemed to enjoy themselves. They were all such good sports to accept using a composting toilet. They also adjusted to just screens as windows and waking up to the parrots socializing followed by the chachalacas letting the world know where they were. It can get pretty noisy at daylight.

Art & I were so proud of Bailey. He's so social when he knows that someone is family or friend. He'd say his how-do-you-do's and then lie down wait for an invitation for a scratch or a walk. He's wonderful company.

I'm so grateful that they could come down for this visit. My brother and I have been very close and I couldn't love Jan more if she'd been a sister. I communicate via email with our cousin, Roger in New York and have never lost that family connection. He's incredibly smart, talented and generous. I hadn't seen his sister Heather for several years, but we fell right into the family stories and hugs.

I speak about myself in all this, but Art is at the center of all the family stuff. He's such a quiet but charming host and always fits right in with anyone.

It was sad to put them on the shuttle to Belize, but hope they will come back soon. Note: up here we have William who owns a shuttle service. He's interesting and a very good driver. We've found it's much less stressful and actually cheaper to use his service rather than drive to the airport. Gas here is very expensive (currently $10.50bz a gallon) and the trip takes about 2 1/2 hours one way.

I didn't get a tag on the photo so, it's L to R, Jan, Steve, Roger and Heather with Art peeking back at the front.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Handrail project update

I'm frustrated today as I wanted to work on the handrail project, but it's raining and the Tati is wet, so hard to clean. I putter with this project when I get a little time. Art has been helping me with some of the frame and has even enjoyed stripping the bark off some of the spindles. It's like whittling. Tati is interesting. It's a vine so some of it is very flexible. There's a variety of it in almost every tree. Some of the pieces Rene has bro't us goes up high in the canopy and blooms. We've been smelling and seeing the sweet bloom, but didn't realize what it is. The yellow flower is known as Witches Comb. We're not cutting anything close to the houses so that we can enjoy the flowers and the fascinating shapes.

This photo shows that I'm getting a little more carried away and enjoying the wonderful shapes. I'm having fun.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Redstart and woodpecker

Finally able to catch the little redstart. This was the first time that he sat still for even a few seconds.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sharing Belize

I wish there was some way to share what I see every morning. What a joy to sit at the table on our back veranda, with a cup of coffee and sweet Bailey at my feet, and watch the jungle come alive as the mist rises. In a way I feel guilty that we're experiencing such glorious weather when the States are struggling with miserable storms.

I catch fleeting glimpses of the little redstart warbler. He's as fast and erratic as the hummingbird. Much of the time they're only a sound or a movement in the trees. Then that flash of color. The tiny black & white warbler is an occasional visitor. The parrots start their day as the mist rises, but the chachalacas wait for the sun to be out to start communicating with each other.

I look out on our paths, mottled by the sun, that meander through the trees. The hammock invites us to lie back, relax and look up into the trees. I've made labels for the medicine plants along the paths, for visitors, but actually for me too. Rene was having to keep reminding me of the names. Sometimes I think my memory is a sieve, leaking out more than it's taking in. Anyway, the labels help.

We're so pleased by the way we positioned the house. The front is towards the east and gets the morning sun, which helps get rid of the nighttime dampness. The back is shaded by the trees so it never gets really hot. If there's any breeze at all, it comes around the north end of the house and keeps the area around the table cool.

The beauty and gentleness of it all is like a soft prayer.

Art & I love to dream and plan. If we had the money, this would make a lovely retreat. Imagine a thatched roof cabana, nestled at the edge of the trees, surrounded by flowers. The Mopan river is at the bottom of the hill, inviting you to cool off. We envision an outdoor kitchen where we could share a cool lime drink from the fruit of our trees, or a meal. What a dream.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My current project

Wow, I'm finally feeling better. It's great to be able to have a conversation without coughing my head off. Actually, I've been doing fairly well, keeping busy, just not doing much visiting. I'm not very good at being sick and staying in bed. Ick! I much prefer to keep trudging away.

I've been concerned because the guest house is 8' in the air and we only have a handrail on the veranda. I saw some of the wonderful Ta ti that Rene bro't out of the bush and asked him to find a bunch for me. I can't tell the difference between the kind that will rot day-after-tomorrow or the kind that lasts for years. I know he thinks I'm a little crazy, but, bless his heart, he responded with huge armloads. I'm slowly peeling the bark off pieces and installing spindles. OK, before one of you hollers, I know it's not code. For heavens sake. This is Belize! There isn't any code here in the bush.

When we built our recycled, handbuilt, log house in Oregon, we struggled, but it's to code. A couple of disappointments were that we found wonderful clawfoot tubs, but couldn't use the original faucets because of code. Some time in the who knows past there was a fire in Chicago and water siphoned back into their water system, so you have to have the faucet 1" above the water line. Anyway, we survived because we had a wonderful inspector who tho't we were crazy, but loved our project. Hallelujah! One of the beauties of Belize is that you can be creative and get away with it.

If we should have guests with small children, we'll put up the temporary wire mesh to protect them. For now, I just had to give this a try. It's going to take me quite a time to finish, but I'm enjoying it for now.