Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa came to Belize again

We dug into the duffle bag, stored under the bed and dusted off Art's santa suit. He would have enjoyed being Santa for more kids down here, but ended up just visiting with one group. What a lovely experience tho'. We've met a wonderful young couple who have opened a Pancake House in San Ignacio. The restaurant is next to their house, which gives them a nice situation with little overhead, and he's the minister of a small church which is across the street. They get no outside help with their funding, but give most of what they have to the children. The 19th of Dec. they fed 85 children a beautiful breakfast of bacon, an egg and pancakes and made up really nice gift bags for each of them. Art was delighted to share in this experience by being Santa to this excited group. Like children everywhere, they had stars and hope in their eyes as they gave him their wish list along with generous hugs. How we wish we could give each of them at least one special gift. We see the children here as well loved and cared for. It's so common to see a father holding the hand of a toddler, walking down the street. Most of the kids are clean and dressed proudly by their doting parents. So much of what little the parent's make is used for school fees and to take care of their children. Why do so few have so much when so many in countries like Belize, have so little? Santa's magic isn't able to fill the gap.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Early Christmas with friends

We're blessed by having a few, very good friends here. Yesterday we celebrated with a lovely Christmas dinner at Betty & Robin's. The brother and sister-in-law of our friend, Diane were here for a couple of days from Florida. There were about 12 of us enjoying a fantastic dinner with more goodies than is probably healthy. We all pitched in which makes it less stressful for the host. We had a wonderful time just visiting and enjoying the sharing. We even had a round-about gift exchange. The weather turned out to be lovely so we managed "the hill" just fine. I'm so tired of worrying about our darned hill, but at least it wasn't a problem yesterday. Diane will be returning to Florida with her family for about five weeks. I'll really miss her, but am so happy that she'll have this time away.

As usual, I forgot my camera, so can't include photos, but maybe I can get some later.

It's difficult to be away from beloved family during the holidays, but some of the sadness is diminished by the hugs and companionship from dear friends. May we all be so blessed.

Happy Holidays, Gale

Monday, December 19, 2011

Generator problems

We bought a Briggs & Stratton generator because, in the States, it's easy to get parts and they're very reliable. When our generator started to spit oil at us we took it in for repair. The fellows determined that the piston was good but the rings are bad. They just tell you what they need and we have to do the hunting. This turned out to be an almost impossible quest. We left it at Perfecto's shop, in pieces, carrying the piston and as many numbers from the machine as we could find,with us to Spanish Lookout. It seems inconguous that the Mennonites are the only ones in Cayo who carry parts for machinery, other than cars. Seemed like a siple task. Go over, get the part from Universal Hdwr, where we bought it, and return. Wrong! They didn't have it and said they needed better numbers. We visited three stores with the same results. Nada! Ok, back home. We have a three year old phone book in which I found the number for a place in Ladyville that specialized in B & S. They were able to tell me where to look on the machine for the model number. It was hidden way inside. After getting those numbers it turned out they didn't have them either, so we had to resort to ordering them. They might be in this week or after the first of the year. When they finally arrive we then have to figure out how to get them up here. Ladyville is adjacent to Belize City. For now we're functioning on whatever we get from the sun. Thankfully, today is occasionally sunny, so we should be able to get through the night with moderate electric use.

Once the generator problem is solved, we'll then have to assess is our solar is working properly. Hope we didn't damage it by having to pull the batteries down so far. Live and learn folks. These old folks are still learning some really hard lessons. Blessing to all. Gale

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Trying times

If you decide to try to live in Belize you have to be aware that the elements are hard on machines and people, things break and they're expensive to fix or replace.

Today was one of those days that feels as tho' you're being knocked down and every time you try to get up, someone else hits you a good one. We had to take our Toyota Tundra in for repair because, when it was converted over to butane, the fellow jambed the air filter into the headlight, causing a short. I was thinking that my night vision was getting worse, but discovered that one headlight was barely on. Also, we've been down here over two year so it needed a good tune-up. $$$$s.

The inverter for our solar system has been giving us very confusing messages, including no a/c power. We've tried to figure it out from the manuals, but they might as well be in Russian for all the good they did us. We could manage, at times, with the generator as backup, but it started using oil like crazy. The last couple of days it used a gallon of gas @ $10+ and a pint of oil. Took it to a fellow who does small engine repair. Has to tear it down and is probably a bad ring. $$$s.

The solar inverter gave us all kinds of blinking warning lights. (Take a deep breath). Could be bad batteries, bad inverter or who knows what. All huge dollar problems. To get local help we have to phone to Belmopan and hope for the best. HUGE $$$s. I tried to email Backwoods Solar in Idaho, but didn't have the power for the satellite, so when we took the generator in for repair we found a WIFI spot and tried to send. Bummer! AOL couldn't send emails right then. I was ready to scream or have a nervous breakdown. I took a deep breath and we headed for home, stopping to buy minutes for our cellphone so that I could phone the US. I can't sing the praises of Backwoods Solar enough. We bo't our system and appliances from them and they've always been available with patient help.Today Shawn talked me through our problems, helping me make adjustments to the settings. He told me he'd had the same issues with his system and the what we were doing was fine and he didn't see a major problem. Phew! That one was a big relief. I was able to breath again. Still, because it's so cloudy and rainy right now, we won't have much chance of producing solar power, so we'll have to supplement with lamps, but we have hopes that soon we'll be back to something resembling normal.

The trouble with a day like this when you're past earning an income and living not only off-grid, but in a whole country that feels like it's way off-grid, is that unexpected, heavy expenses are really frightening. The pot never get replenished.

We're going to go out (when the road dries so we can get down the hill) and buy a turkey or ham and I'm going to fix a Christmas dinner for us and put this out of our minds for a bit.