Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Bush (Jungle)

It's lovely to sit on our veranda and listen to the birds.  The heat has also encouraged the hatching of crickets and cicadas.  Sometimes the sounds are almost overwhelming.  It's early morning and the Chachalakas are announcing their locations to each other and the world.  Its a goofy, but wonderful chorus.  

A sadness to me is that more and more of these sounds are joined by those of chainsaws.  Everyone in Belize seems to be obsessed with cutting down the bush.  It gives me a small hint of what must be happening in the Amazon jungles.  Belizeans are obsessed with cutting down every tree, setting fire to what they've cut and planting corn.  The diet here revolves around the maize or hard corn.  They can't seem to tolerate a tall tree.  Traveling to Spanish Lookout, where the Mennonites raise crops and cattle, the land has been totally cleared and it resembles the Midwestern U.S.  The gringos are so afraid of bugs and snakes that they clear the land, forgetting why they came here in the first place. 

When we first started clearing for our buildings, we allowed the boys to cut everything.  We finally realized that wasn't right and had them leave the trees and just clear the underbrush.  This keeps the snakes away from the house, but lets us enjoy the shade of the trees and the residing birds and animals.  The cleared area is to the east of us, which is the direction most hurricanes would come, so we hope to spare the buildings from falling trees.  

The cleared area is probably only three to four acres.  We plan to leave the remaining eight or nine acres in bush as an island of refuge for wildlife.  It's small, but the best we can do.  

It's so wonderful up here on our hill, with the almost constant breezes and the beauty of the bush.  What a blessing.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hard to be sick when it's HOT!

It's been a trying couple of weeks.  I had a really uncomfortable case of stomach flu which lasted for several days, made worse by the heat.  As I've said in earlier posts, there are basically two seasons in Belize - wet and dry.  This year the dry season has arrived a little early.  Our last rain was in mid March and it's gotten steadily warmer since then.  The past week it's reached 100 every day.  Ick!  I have to admit that I don't handle these high temps very well, but I am over my flu.  It's hard to have much energy to do anything outside.  We get up early and take dear Bailey for a walk before it gets too hot.  Not sure if his heavy coat makes him hotter or serves as insulation against the heat.  He's such a gentle giant and I feel so helpless that we can't offer him more relief.  

Our solar is performing beautifully now, so we are able to keep fans going, which offers a lot of help, along with the wonderful breezes that seem to find us here on our hill.  A technician from ProSolar came by and installed a Trimetric meter that will tell us charge in the batteries and he lowered the panels to be at a better angle to the sun.  It's exciting to see the meter read batteries 100% charged. 

 This is the Easter weekend, which is causing a lot of frustration for many of us.  Our observation is that Belize isn't a particularly religious country, but the government declares every possible day as a holiday.  Easter is a 4 day holiday, starting with Good Friday thru Monday.  They've now passed a law that even the Chinese stores must close, which doesn't make any sense.  Why should the non-Christian religions shut down for every Christian holiday?  The government in this tiny country of some 300k folks, seems to want to divorce itself from it's British foundation and passes many laws without much tho't or discussion.  It's sad to sit back and watch them flounder with stupid things, while the infrastructure is in such sad shape.  Wow, I didn't plan to say any of this, it just spilled out.  

It's great to feel better and at least be able to talk to and see friends.   We're doing a lot of reading and I've actually picked up a paintbrush to do a couple of watercolors.  I guess the heat is the nudge that I finally needed.  Feels good!