Saturday, March 24, 2012

water pump

Ok, UNCLE, UNCLE - We've had so many repair expenses lately that we've both become somewhat numb.  The less money we have, the more that's needed.  We have been trying to recover from having to buy a new generator and then it was new solar batteries with accompanying expenses.  This last week has been heaven, with enough sun to give us lots of power so we haven't really been worrying about the utilities.  WELL, last night, out of the blue, we lost our water.  We have a 10,000 gallon, in ground, cistern with a 1/2 hp well pump and a pressure tank to supply our water.  The pressure switch showed zero pounds.  OK, now what.  We'd recently had the pump reset and rewired.  I was too upset to even be upset, just numb.  Besides the injustice of it, it was Friday night.  I sent out a call for help with a text message to our electrician/pump guy.  Of course, no answer.  Nothing we could do but start hauling buckets of water up from our plastic tank and worry!  I was so tired this afternoon that I took a short nap (something I never do).  I woke to a sound like the pump running.  Art came in and told me that he decided to poke around and took the cap off the pressure valve.  Inside was a bee and a small nest.  As soon as he removed the bee the pressure gauge jumped to 32 lbs, and WE HAD WATER AGAIN.  What a relief.  I'm so proud of him and we're both so relieved that, at least for today, we won't have another huge expense.  You might be able to hear our collective sigh and see our smiles.  I'm working on making my glass half full again.   Blessings

I know it's not exciting, but I decided to add a photo of the tank for info.  The pressure valve is the little grey box with the two wires extending up.  Such a little thing to cause to much trouble.  G. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

The charm of Belize

My last post sounded somewhat negative and I feel badly about that.  It's true that the roads in Belize are horrible, but that's just one piece of this place we now call home.  There are so many lovely bits to focus on that make it wonderful.  This morning I went to the market in San Ignacio with my dear friend, Diane.  Now when you're a tourist, it's fun to go to the market on Saturday to see all the mosh of people and things.  It's probably not the most colorful market in Central America, but there's lots to see and great produce to buy.  Besides the food stalls that are there every single day of the year, small farmers bring their produce in, along with some Mennonites.  You'll find clothing, plastic, videos, food booths, fresh fish and sometimes farmers selling live animals.  If I want to just shop for produce, it's nicer to go on Tuesday or Friday when the regular vendors get their produce deliveries and things are freshest.   Diane and I like to do our shopping and then stop at Lucy's little place for a cold drink and $2 panada's.  Yum and just a lite snack to get us back home. 

The true beauty of Belize has to be her people.  I'm not talking about the ones in the government offices, or the banks where the slowness and inefficiency can drive you wild.  I'm talking about the gentle souls you see walking along the street or riding their bicycle.  Yes, they can make you crazy when you're driving your car, but when you actually look at any of these folks, making eye contact and smile, you'll be rewarded with a big smile in return.  If we ever leave here we'll miss the fact that almost everyone along our road will wave and smile.  We don't really "know" them, but we give folks a ride to the village in the back of the truck when we can.  We still don't speak Spanish and many folks don't speak much English, but as long as we're friendly and make an effort, up here in Cayo, we find almost everyone will help. 

Yes, even tho' almost everyone has a cell phone and some can use a computer, the houses are simpler and so are most of the people.  It's not uncommon to see a man riding to town on his horse and of course there are the Mennonite wagons.   In most ways, Belize is about 50 years behind the West, but that's not all bad.  Yes, we miss some of the shopping and conveniences of the US, but in many ways, we've been transported back to our childhood when many things were simpler. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

airport trip - Belize roads!

A good friend of ours has really been struggling with debilitating health problems for a couple of years.  His wife was finally able to arrange for his care, his appointments in the US and got him ticketed to Florida.  They had planned to take a taxi in, but I decided to drive them instead.  It costs about half as much, now that we have butane in the truck and I could be there for Diane.  She's so worried that she's making herself sick.  Anyway, we drove into Ladyville to the airport and saw David safely onto the plane.  She'd arranged for wheelchair assistance and they were extremely helpful.  He's now safely in the hospital, getting lots of attention and tests.  We're all praying he can finally get some relief.

I haven't checked the mileage, but it's about 90 miles from Bullet Tree to the airport.  It's a two hour drive.  In the US, that would be not more than a trip to town, but here it's a serious thing.  If you haven't driven in Belize before, you are in for a real surprise.  First, the roads are TERRIBLE.  We all complain that the government wastes so much money, it seems mostly on graft, but nothing on the roads.  There's always talk, talk, talk, but they don't do anything.  It's embarrassing to pick up visitors and have their first impression be Ladyville.  It's definitely a third world country.  We always go north out of the airport and take the Burrell Boom cutoff, rather than going thru Belize City, which takes us past the scenic view of the Hattyville Prison, Ick!  The cutoff road is not pretty, but the road is one of the best.  At the end is a round-about (what a stupid idea) and then we head west on the Western Highway.  At first, the road seems fairly decent.  Two lanes, but driveable.  Thank goodness because the scenery here is depressing.  It's savanna and nothing productive will grow there.  I understand folks have tried to raise lots of different things here, but failed.  I keep stressing to visitors that this isn't the Belize that we know and love.  Just "shut your eyes and wait until we get to Cayo District.  (I have to add the "district" because locals refer to the San Ignacio/Santa Elena towns as "Cayo.")  Once you go past the zoo at milepost 26 (or so) the scenery slowly starts to change.  You start slowly climbing and you see bits of jungle.

On this part of the trip until you pass Belmopan, there are only two villages, Hattyville and St. Matthews.  These would go unnoticed, except that every village has at least one speed bump and/or passenger crossing bump.  These may, or may not be marked.  If you don't slow down to about 15mph, these can be real shock busters.

Belmopan is a couple of miles off the road and not worth taking the side trip.  You cross the bridge over Roaring Creek and then the fun begins.  You would think that since this is the only road east and west and the main road to Guatemala, as well as the way that most inland tourists travel, that this would be the best highway.  FORGET IT!  You travel through at least eight villages, with accompanying sleeping policemen (speed bumps) and the road deteriorates.  Rather than repair, they dump dirt in the holes, which down here is marl, which the rain rapidly washes away.  Sometimes they'll throw a little blacktop patch in the holes, which then becomse a bump.  There aren't lines painted, which makes sense because the edges of the road are broken and they don't put gravel on the sides, so you can flip your car if you drift to the side as the drop can be several inches.  I imagine that Prince Harry was impressed by our lovely roads during his recent visit.  I wish the politicians would quit bribing folks for their vote and spend the money on roads, but I don't see them changing in the near future. 

The additional hazards make the trip very scarey.  We left from Cayo very early so that we would miss the schoolchildren on the road.  They're so sweet, trudging to school in their uniforms with their backpacks, but they're all over the road.  Folks here treat the road like a pathway.  The bicyclists are even worse.  No reflectors, they wear dark clothes and wander all over.  If you should hit someone, not only would you be devastated, but as a gringo, driving, it's your fault.  You pay forever.

The second huge hazard is the Belize drivers.  As David said, it's a blessing that Belize drivers have x-ray vision, because they always pass at a hill or around a corner.  It must be true because, even on these hideous roads, they drive 70 - 80mph.  I just drive my drive, putting along at 60mph as they fly past.

We usually stop at Cheers restaurant to take a break after all this.  Then to Amigo's next door where they raise fantastic hydroponic lettuce.  I usually have to buy some for at least 6 other folks.  Then we toddle home.  After this trip, Diane and I were whipped.  It had been raining for a couple of days, so, of course, I had to worry about the trip up our lovely road.  As it turned out, it was a little dicey, but I made it just fine.  What a  blessing to be back on our little hill, with Art and Bailey and to just relax.

I love Belize, but her roads are not her proudest accomplishment.  We love Belize, warts and all, but sometimes the roads can seem like a pretty bit wart.  Especially when Guatemala and Mexico have decent highways.

Monday, March 5, 2012


One minute we're complaining about it being too hot.  It reached 100 F. on our veranda, in the shade, two days ago.  We were thinking that the dry season had come early.  Now it's raining like crazy and cold.  It's down to the high 50's right now, but the problem down here is that we don't have a way to get heat.  It's usually not necessary.  All we can do is bundle up.  Not easy when your wardrobe is mostly tank tops and lightweight clothes.  It's definitely "weird" weather right now.  Thankfully tho', not as devastating as in the midwest in the US. 

We are so lucky!  We had a barbecue on Sunday (yesterday) afternoon, with 11 friends and ourselves. There were some clouds, which kept it from being too hot.  We had an absolutely wonderful time.  We are so blessed with great friends, both old and new.  Our back veranda is only 8' wide, but it handled everyone just fine and our new tiki torches along with the bug coils kept us bug free.   Good food and great conversations made for a  nice time. Our little house isn't fancy, but it's so comfortable and makes  entertaining small groups a pleasure.  It was as tho' we were being watched because everyone left just before dark and about 10 minutes after the last car pulled out of the drive, it started to rain.  What a blessing.  It's actually been raining ever since.

There's still a little work to do to fine tune our solar system, but it's working!  We have a lot to be grateful for.