Sunday, September 25, 2011


We decided to drive into San Ignacio for breakfast. It's something we always enjoyed doing in the States. Here it's somewhat of a challenge. Most everything is closed except the grocery stores, and many of them close early. Our only choice is Pop's. It's a little hole in the wall that seems to have been there forever. Only six booths, so we had to wait outside, hovering to grab the next one available. As Gringo's we have to stand up for ourselves in line or we'll lose out. We had a nice breakfast with my favorite, fry jacks. Everyone seems to make them a little differently, but I love Pop's the best. I should try to learn to make them, but I really don't like to cook and it's so much better when you can enjoy those of an expert.

The weather is "tween" right now. Threatening, with thunder both to the north and to the south most of the day, but little rain for us. The Mopan river is at the bottom of our hill and it comes from Guatemala and the mtns. It's obvious that the clouds and storms to the south of us are dumping rain on Guatemala because the Mopan looks like the chocolate river in the Willie Wonka movie. The water level is high, but not enough to flood Paslow Falls Rd., which is a blessing, and is a dark red, mud color. We really don't covet land along the river. The potential for flooding is huge. The bugs love the dampness. According to Rene, who lives along the Mopan, the iguana's, which are a protected species, destroy most of their plants. We're so happy up on our hill where we usually have a lovely breeze. It's stifling hot a lot of the time along the river. When the weather is nice and the water is clear, we just pop down the hill and enjoy a dip. The best of both worlds!

We both did some weedeating yesterday so have decided to give ourselves a day off today. Art's reading and I'll probably try to finally finish a panel I've carved of a jaguar. I've really been lazy about my artwork. Discipline isn't my long suit.

I had planned to run errands tomorrow, licensing the pickup and going to the Bank. Those will have to wait a day because, saddly George Price, who lead the country of Belize into independence in 1981 and became the first Prime Minister, passed away this last week, just before Independence Day. Prime Minister Dean Barrow has declared Monday a holiday in memory of Mr. Price.

Hope you are all enjoying a relaxing day too. Blessings, Gale

Friday, September 23, 2011

Adjustment to butane conversion

We've been driving our pickup for a bit now on butane and it's doing beautifully. A problem did arise, however, when we tried to flip it back to gasoline. I've been checking some articles online and read that it's adviseable to start the vehicle on gasoline, at least occasionally, to keep the engine clean. It did start on gasoline, but had no power and wouldn't move. It seemed to be starving. Took it back to LP gas and found that indeed was the problem. It was starving for air. If you have this done, be sure to have this problem addressed. I wasn't there for the dialogue on the problem, but apparently the engine needs more air on gasoline. They installed a switch that will open (or reroute) the airflow when on gasoline. We'll probably have someone else look at it to be sure that this is the proper adjustment. Hope this ends this little project. We are very pleased tho' with the performance on butane and would recommend it to anyone trying to save money on fuel. Now, back to life in Belize!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trip with friends in the newly converted truck

A friend had to fly to the State because his mother isn't well, so I agreed to drive him and his wife, Betty, to the airport. It had rained hard most of the night, so I was really leary about driving down our hill. Art didn't want me to try it, but I'd promised, so I slipped and slid sideways down the hill.

It's a short two hour drive from here to the airport, but we always allow lots of time as the trip from here to Belmopan is hurry up and slow down for villages, buses and kids going to school. From there, Betty, our good friend Diane & I headed for Belize City as I'd never been to the new Benny's. Wow, what a treat that was. It's the first store I've seen in Belize that resembles one in the States. It's like a smaller version of Home Depot. Lots of beautiful items for your home, but few would fit in our little wooden house. Our small rooms and single wall construction aren't conducive to installing fancy fixtures, tile or large appliances. I'm sure I left drool marks tho' on the washers and dryers. We had such a lovely time looking tho'. We then made a stop at Brodie's. They're a little high priced on most things, but they carry so many things that you can't find anywhere else. It's lovely to see familiar brands. Our next stop was great, but please don't ask me the name or where we were, because I was lost. Down an alley, behind several stores was a small warehouse that appeared closed. We were buzzed in (made me think of old movies where they buzz you into a dark door to an illegal gambling hall), but this was a wholesale produce place. It was getting to be afternoon, so pickings were somewhat slim, but we still got lovely lettuce, grape tomatoes, apples, peppers , asparagus at good prices. Our last stop was at Save U. I was getting desperate as it's way too easy to spend more than you intend, but here the prices were too good to pass up. I didn't buy a lot but sure had fun.

We headed toward Cayo about 2:30pm. My concern was that it had rained a lot during the day and our road loomed large in my mind. I dropped each of the ladies off at their homes and then headed home myself. Betty insisted on following me in her old 4x4 truck. I felt badly that I'd let my concern spill over to them. She waited at the bottom of our hill and I headed up. I didn't get very far before I got stuck. The mud is slippery like gumbo and I couldn't find rock. I backed up and tried again. Still no luck. Betty stood by and watched my wheels while I kept trying by rocking just a little. Finally, I was able to get down to a bit of rock and lurched my way up the slippery ruts to the top of our hill. I wanted to stop and thank Betty & let her know that I was ok, but I couldn't stop. When I got home the truck & I were both a muddy mess, but I was glad to be home with my groceries and to be able to just relax. It was all worth it. I had such a lovely time with two truly nice friends.

I haven't had a chance to fuel up yet, but the gauge on the tank shows 45% full, if I'm reading it right. We know that our V8 engine doesn't get good mileage, but it appears that the trip cost about $65bz, where previously it cost about $150 for gasoline and a shuttle is from $180-$200, so NOT BAD! Blessings!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We're driving on butane

This isn't going to be the definitive answer to all your butane questions. Just how we see our conversion. It was a tad cheaper than we'd been told, which was a lovely surprise. We just put a few gallons in at LP gas as they only had the imported butane available for $5.21bz/gallon. Art drove to the BNE depot and filled up with 25.5 gallons for $102bz. ($4bz/gallon). Now the test will be the mpg.

Right off the bat we can see two problems.

1. We've lost some of our load space and the gauges and connection are toward the back, so we'll want to put some kind of a barrier there if we want to haul anything that might hit them. Already ran into that problem when we hauled the old flail over to Hillside welding AGAIN! Yes, that's 3 trips to Sp. Lookout this week.

2. This is a problem for me. The switch on the dash is just the right height that I tend to bump it will my delicate little knee when I get out of the truck. Have done it twice already in one day. Up is butane, down is gasoline.

These are just minor bumps and certainly not significant enough to discourage someone from having the conversion done.

The biggest issue is that, right after we got home the "check engine" light came on. Bummer! Now will have to go to Matus to have that checked. He's the only one with a real code tester.

9/12 This morning Art took the truck to Matus to find the answer to the "check engine" light. Whew! He said it's normal. Just the vehicle's way of saying things have changed. Ignore it! Hard to do, but great to have such a simple answer and it was "free."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Butane questions

I'll know more after Tuesday, but I'll answer a couple of questions right now.
First, most of the people use butane appliances, ie. stoves, on-demand water heaters, etc., so there are lots of places to get butane. There must be at least 10 in San Ignacio alone. We're lucky that BNE just opened a new station on the Western highway, just west of San Ignacio.

The truck will have a semi-permanently installed tank in the bed of the truck. To fill it we just go to a station and they fill it there. Our only problem that we can see is if we decide to put the canopy back on the truck.

I forgot to mention that there'll be a switch which will allow us to run on either butane or gasoline. This will make it easier as we could switch to gasoline if we should ever take a long trip with the canopy on and a load in the truck.

Hope these help.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

butane vs gasoline

We've been struggling with this question for quite a while. I'm referring to switching to using butane to fuel our pickup truck. We love our 8 cylinder, 2000 Toyota Tundra, but it's a gas guzzler. Here in Belize gas has run up and down from $10.47bz to nearly $12 per gallon. In US dollars that's from $5.50 to $6. Ick! $200bz won't even fill the tank. We use the Trooper some, but it's not much better considering it's age. We haven't really travelled much around the country because of the expense. Between the vehicles and weedeaters we feel we're supporting the gas station on Bullet Tree Rd, all by ourselves.

A few years ago, oil was discovered here in Belize. There are several wells in Spanish Lookout, with more scattered around the country. BNE (Belize Natural Energy) seems to be quite prosperous, but we understand that most of the $$s leave the country, as the oil is processed out of Belize and the company itself is Canadian. Anyway, I digress!

A byproduct of this oil is butane gas. Now my knowledge about all this is extremely limited and I was under the impression that butane and propane weren't interchangeable, but apparently I was mistaken. Anyway, at this point, we are focusing on our immediate problem. Imported butane sells for around $4.50 - $6/ gallon, with the local butane from BNE selling for $4/gallon. We've met several folks lately who have converted their vehicles and they couldn't be happier, so off we trudged to Spanish Lookout to check out conversion possibilities. (I still find it weird that the best mechanics are Mennonites. Kind of an oxymoron to my way of thinking). Folks who've had the conversion done claimed to have spent from $1k to $1,400. Of course, when we checked it has now gone up to closer to $2k for the complete conversion, plus a 30 gallon tank as well as some butane. One consideration is that we'll probably get one or two miles per gallon less with butane. Even at that price, with butane being only $4/gallon, we can save enough in a year to pay for the conversion. It's tough to spend money on something so unexciting, but fiscal survival makes it a smart decision, so Tuesday, early, we head off for Spanish Lookout. Here's hoping we'll find ourselves among those smug, satisfied customers. Later,