Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Akita in Belize

If you've read some of my entries you'll recognize that I'm referring to Bailey, our seven year old, now overweight Akita. I have to admit that his heritage is somewhat in question. His coloring makes him appear to be part shepherd, but, as our daughter said, when she lived in Japan, she saw "Bailey's" everywhere. Most probably weren't quite his size. It doesn't even matter to us, as he's exactly who and what we want.

Our son & family had an "akita" some year post who was wonderful. He was slow to move and could be somewhat of a lump until someone messed with one of their kids. Then watchout. He was poetry in motion. We watched him put down a rotweiler who was charging in the direction of the family. Sarg, met him, quietly reached up under him, grabbed him by the throat, flipped him on his side and pinned him to the ground. The owner came rushing up and led the crying dog away. Wow, sure glad Sarg was on our side. The kids could crawl all over him an often did.

As I told in an earlier post, I had been searching the Akita rescue sites when I spotted an ad by the Humane Society, including a photo, for Bailey. He was the image of Sarg. Art dashed down to Bend and put in a bid to make a home for Bailey. At five years old he was still a male so we had to wait a day for him to be neutered. Their rules. He'd been picked up at the north end of town, running. The handlers at the pound really loved him and were determined to find him a good home. What baffled everyone was that no one came to claim him. Why was he running? That's actually a question we've never been able to answer. It doesn't appear that he's ever been mistreated, but, as with most Akitas, he's very opinionated, not taking kindly to discipline and he's afraid of thunder and extremely loud noises. Those are things that we've found with most dogs.

Right after we got him, he got loose and took off running. We were heartbroken and looked everywhere for 5 days, putting up posters, etc. We figured he was looking for someone. To our delight and relief, he came home after all that time, thirsty and hungry. We met some fellows working on a house remodel down the road and they told us that they'd spotted him, caught in a pile of lumber, down near the river. One of them was brave enough to go down and pull his leash out and he took off for home. Our home, much to our joy.

I've already related the story of our drive from Bend, Oregon to Belize, but Bailey made it all so much more fun. He's a lovely traveler, bonding with our pickup and enjoying the airconditioning. He gave us so much more confidence traveling thru Mexico because, when officers caught site of him, they'd usually just wave us thru. I don't think I mentioned that, at the time he weighed 110#s. Now, I hate to admit he probably weighs more like 125#s.

Sadly, we can't let him run loose because he will run. He would come back home, but first he'd poke into the bush to check on the snakes and tarantulas or even try to confront the black jaguar that has been spotted around our area. Also, altho' Belizians are extremely afraid of dogs, many would love to own him for that very reason. We've had inquiries about using him as a stud with local dogs and they don't really understand how he could have been neutered.

When we built our little house (600 sq ft) we put a veranda all the way around so that Bailey would have a least a little place to run and also, he can hopefully find the coolest side of the house. We also put him out on a cable in the shade when it's hot.

The whole point of this is that he's not just a wonderful friend, but truly part of our family. He's only happy when he's with us, or has us in sight. Akita's are very quiet, but if he thinks he's being ignored, he'll bark to remind us that he wants attention.

This heat right now is a worry for us on his behalf. I know that he'd be much happier in a cold climate. The surprising thing is that he has an extremely thick coat with guard hairs on his back. He does shed, but his coat remains very thick. We've decided that he's like the bedoins who cover themselves with wool to insulate against the heat. We're watching him closely, but he seems to be managing about as well as we are, drinking lots of water and panting.

I can't imagine living here without him. He makes us feel safe and loved. What a gift.


Ok, you're probably getting bored with my talking about the weather, but hey, it's March and Tuesday it reached 112 and yesterday it was 110. Way too hot for this over-the-hill and not thin lady. All we can do is shut the house up on the sunny side, turn on the fans and sweat like pigs. We told Rene to come in today at 6am (he usually starts a little before 7 and then we'll have him head for home when it gets really hot. This definitely isn't normal for March. Maybe in May, but not now. Hope it doesn't just stay this way. How frightening. It sounds like rain because the trees are dropping their leaves like crazy.

Yesterday I did three loads of laundry and saved the water. I then used what I could save (my washtub sprang a leak) to water the flower beds that I started. Will probably lose all, but have to give it a try. Water is precious.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Right now it appears that the hot/dry season might be upon us. It's been near 100 the last couple of days and the forecast is for more of the same. I know that sounds wonderful to you folks up north, but it's just plain hot. The humidity stays pretty high too so I have moved WAY PAST the ladylike, glowing, to just plain sweating. If indeed the dry season is upon us, it will probably last thru April and May. May seems to always be the most miserable month. We visited twice in May before we moved (you'd think we'd have learned the first time) and both times it was over 100 every day. Starting in June is the hurricane season, which brings thunderstorms and rain.

I haven't posted for a bit and won't include any more right now, as we've been facing a few problems which have been taking most of my time. Stay tuned for more of the life and times of an old couple in Belize.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

More computer problems

I can't believe that I've had problems with my little notebook computer too. After all I went thru with the Dell and finally had to give up, now the notebook I bo't has been giving me fits. There are supposed repair places here, but its hard to trust an expensive piece of equipment to a falling down house with a homemade sign that says computer services and repair. I took it to a place in a building referred to as "the mall" & they have hopefully solved my problem. Had to order a part which will probably take forever. I'm slogging along working around the problem, which is better than not having the use of it at all.

We're back to our regular stuff now that our family has gone. What a joy it was to get hugs, catch up on kids and grandkids and just enjoy being with dear family. Sure miss them.

I've been waiting for the full moon to start my flower seeds. I ordered zinnias, impatiens and petunia seeds and my brother bro't some of his excesses. Wow, shasta daisies, sweet william, cosmos and hollyhocks. None of these are tropical, but sure worth giving them a try. How fun. Art has become a madman with the weedeater. He got the flail working for the larger areas and then is weedeating the rest. I'm trying to convince him that we have to leave some work for Rene. Of course, keeping the property lines clear takes Rene a lot of time so it really isn't a problem.

I've also become somewhat of a mad woman, myself, fighting ants. I'm so tired of waking up to see the tops of trees or whole plants devoured. There's an inexpensive powder that works well and is cheap, as long as I can keep from poisoning myself in the process. Was hoping to be organic, but that's almost impossible surrounded by the bush. We'll keep slogging on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Back in Cayo

We had such a great time in Placencia. The weather was perfect and we all had such fun. The ride back to Cayo was lovely, traveling up the Hummingbird Highway. I was really impressed driving on the coast roads where there weren't potholes everywhere, a yellow line down the center and a white fog line. Here in Cayo we barely heautiful part of Belize with family.

I had written to family to describe our place and let them know that it isn't like our place in the states. I'm proud of our place here, but living with composting toilets, single wall construction and our impossible road had me concerned. I should have had more faith in ourselves and especially my family. They loved all of it. It was so good to be home where we could add Art to the group.

We rented a car big enough to handle the six of us for three days. None of us were too excited about doing the strenuous stuff like river and cave stuff. Instead we visited and ate, went to Spanish Lookout, rode around, visited some more and ate some more. We were unaware that the one car ferry to Xunantunich makes it's last run about 4pm and we didn't arrive there until 3:30. Bummer. They gave us a tad of leeway so we dashed up to the ruins, where my sister-in-law, Jan quickly climbed to the top of the Stone Lady and then we all made a dash back to catch the ferry. Would hate to be stuck there overnight. It is a lovely spot and it was a shame that we didn't have more time to really appreciate it. We took them up to Cahal Pech and fantastic, it is open until 6pm. The site itself isn't as spectacular, but the museum part is interesting and informative. It was fun and interesting and both sites so close to our place.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Snorkeling - Placencia

Art isn't interested in going out on the water, so this trip was my chance to go snorkeling. How exciting. Steve & Jan tried to do a little snorkeling from the beach, but found too much seaweed and few fish. Roger & Heather decided to stay at the resort and just relax, so it was Steve, Jan & me joining a boatload of others for a day of snorkeling on the reef. One thing we all noticed is that in Belize they're not indoctrinated with safety precautions. Non of us wore life jackets. Were told that there were some, but didn't see any. We headed out, once again from the Robert's Marina. We went past several small islands with one or two buildings. Can't imagine how they survive a hurricane as non seem more than inches above sea level. We went out 25 miles to 3 TINY little cays where those who were snorkeling left the boat. Two folks continued on to scuba. We were given the option of blowup vests, which I used. It took a bit to get it adjusted for comfort in the water, but I was really glad I used one. I have to admit that I was a real idiot. I had sunscreen and had my brother put it on my back, but neglected to put any on my legs. What an idiot. I knew better, but was just too impatient. I really suffered for the next several days, but no one to blame but myself.

We had a short talk by a conservation officer about the reef and Belize's rules about it's protection. I was pleased to know that they are taking active steps to protect this fragile resource. Three other boats, much smaller, also had groups snorkeling. This cay is so small that we took up almost all of it's space. Only building there was a barely functional outhouse. Our guides talked to us for a minute to describe where we'd go and that there would be one guide in the front and one in the back, in case we had trouble. They were also wonderful at pointing out things of interest. I was so often at the very back because I wanted to just hover over a spot and take it all in.

Years ago we were fortunate enough to be able to take our kids to Hawaii. I must admit that the reef and fish in Belize weren't as colorful as those in Kauai, but it was thrilling anyway. My camera doesn't work underwater, so I could only look and appreciate. My brother had a new little Fuji underwater that worked beautifully. It's just difficult because everything seems to be moving all the time. We saw tiny blue fish that seemed fluorescent, parrot fish, a few lion fish and even a hammerhead shark that was lying on the bottom.

We came in at noon for a lovely lunch provided by Roberts. They bro't it all in in large coolers that they floated in from the anchored boat. Actually, we were quite surprised at how close the boat could get to the reef, and were told that it had jets and only had a 2 foot draft. This little break was really enjoyable and then we went back out for a tour across open water to a tiny bit of reef that offered a little different view. The open stretch is where I was really glad for the vest. I used to be a fairly strong swimmer, but age and lack of opportunity really lessened my capabilities. Just about the time I was thinking that I'd have to try to just float for a bit and rest, the reef came into view and I was fine. Our guide was a gem and really watched over me. I had a ball. Steve & Jan did great as they each have wetsuits that keep them warm and buoyant.

After our reef snorkeling was over we piled in the boat and went a short distance off another tiny cay to a spot where there's lots of seaweed that's a feeding ground for turtles. Most jumped back in the water to swim with the turtles. We opted to stay aboard and look down on the group. Besides the big turtles the guides spotted a couple of rays too, but they didn't come close enough to the surface to photo.

This was definitely a must do when you visit the coast. I LOVED IT!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monkey river trip

My cousin, Roger, really wanted to have the chance to see a crocodile, so we decided to take the trip up the Monkey River. Robert's Grove has lovely boats and guides. We left from the marina at the Grove and took a few little side channels to view the mangroves. Most are being chewed up on the peninsula by dredging and filling to make way for development, but I was a little more heartened to see they're still thriving to the south.

The village of Monkey River is on the south side of the mouth. The road in stops on the north side of the river, so they only get to the village by boat. We were surprised to hear that the river is fresh water so there aren't any mangroves along it's banks. We were thrilled to view so much beautiful jungle and lots of water birds. Yes, Roger go to see his crocodile, altho' we're not telling that they weren't really big. I suggested that he crop the photos and tell his friends that one was actually 8 - 10 feet long. Hey, a croc is a croc. When we'd gone in quite a long way, we put into the bank and walked along a trail into the jungle with the hopes of seeing Howler monkeys. We hear them a lot on our place, but they stay near the river or where there are mangoes or other fruit that they like. We trekked thru the jungle, but didn't see any monkeys. The jungle is different here, with taller trees, but much less underbrush. We passed huge stands of green bamboo. It's not native to Belize, but is thriving in this lush atmosphere. It's a large timber bamboo.

There were a couple of groups going thru and several fellows trying to spot the monkeys when, all of a sudden, there they were. You'd swear from the volume that they'd be the size of gorillas,but they're actually not huge, but boy are they loud. We were warned to be careful if we were under them as they often throw branches or other debris at those below. It turned out that there were two family groups challenging each other so we were treated to lots of noise. What a thrill!

We then went a little further up the river and the back down, sighting lots more birds and wildlife. We stopped in Monkey River at a little restaurant and were treated to fantastic chicken rice and beans. We headed back, thinking that was the end of the trip when our guide stopped near an island where we watched for manatees. They're hard to spot, but we were lucky to see a couple stick their noses out to catch a peek at us. They feed in spots where there is lots of sea grass.

This was a thrilling trip and it showed us so much more than we'd seen before.

Family at Placencia

Wow, we stayed at Robert's Grove. I have to admit that it's a little outside our price range as we always traveled within the Toucan Trail criteria. Robert's is beautiful and very comfortable. My cousins got a suite so I was able to stay with them. During this whole trip it seemed like we'd be eating one meal and planning the next. Sometimes it seemed that all we did was eat. I didn't take as many photos as I should. I guess I was just too busy looking and enjoying. The sea/ocean in Belize can be messy with debris and seaweed, but the folks at Robert's rake and keep it very clean. What a wonderful stay we had. It was nice to have our truck to bop into the village as the taxi service seemed overpriced and it was quite a healthy walk. We tried several different restaurants & I'm afraid that I can't remember their names. We only had one disappointment at a charming Austrian restaurant at Seine Bight. Lovely service and atmosphere, but the food was disappointing. Steve & Jan have traveled a few times to Europe and one of his favorite dishes is Wiener schnitzel. We'll never hear the end of his disappointment with the fare here. From that point on we'd ask the folks who worked at the resort where they'd recommend. From there on we had only successes.

Through the resort we took two trips. The first was a boat trip up the Monkey River and the second was snorkeling on the cays.

If I can get Steve or Roger to send me some photos, I'll add them. Robert's is a really beautiful place.