Sunday, May 20, 2012

A tough decision

I haven't posted anything this time about Art being sick again.  It's been tough, but, thankfully he's doing much better.  Still not sure where the problem lies, but hope to get some answers soon.  He's getting some help here, but if test prove that he needs more help, we'll have to get him back up to Oregon to the VA.  This has prompted us to face the fact that Dreamer Farm is getting to be too much for us because of our ages, Art's health and our limited resources to have outside help.  We've had a website created and have put the property up for sale.  Of course we're not holding our breathes, thinking that it will sell immediately, but we need to acknowledge our situation and be practical.  If we do sell, we're not sure if we'll return permanently to the U.S. or find a smaller place here.  We can definitely live in Belize much cheaper than in the U.S., but, as with so many seniors, we have health insurance up there.  A tough decision! ! 

Our website is

Until things change, we're going to continue to love Dreamer Farm, planting flowers and enjoying all it's wonders.     Blessings,    Gale

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Not sure if I posted about this before, but when we first moved in we had an old cooler that didn't work well.  It sat on the veranda as we sorted out our stuff.  When I got around to moving it I noticed a little wax tunnel going into the drain.  Some very tiny honey bees had taken up residence.  It took a bit of maneuvering to get the cooler off the porch to under the house.  If we went too far, they'd not find it and start over somewhere else.  They swarmed around a bit and I have to mention that they don't sting, and eventually found their home again.  Last year we got a large bottle of honey from them, but we just opened it up and found that one side had gotten too hot from the sun and had scorched a large area.  We only got about 1 1/2 cups this time.  

This has been so interesting to me as the honey bees in the N.W. are the large, yellow and black, bumble bees.  They deposit their honey in combs.  These little buys create little beads, the size of a small marble to store their honey.  Rene helped me remove the beads, which I squeezed and set to drain on a rack.  Not hard, just messy.  

These photos aren't very clear, but the surprising thing to us was that it appears that there are two different groups using the same cooler as there was a queen at the bottom and a second one at the top.  She's ensconced in a circular bit of tiny comb, behind the waxy leaf shapes.  Rene told me the leaflike material is insulation.  I'm learning more fascinating things.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rene & the Gillie hat

I was sitting at the table on the veranda when I looked out at Rene, working in the yard.  He's a wonderful Mayan/Mestizo man who's helped us out here for six years.  He's done 99% of the work on the grounds here and has also become a dear friend.  

Anyway, I couldn't see Rene's head as he was working.  I watched him for a bit and then had to laugh out loud.  I realized that, because it's really hot right now, he had bushes on his head.  Who really invented the gillie suit?  The locals of every land know so much more than we do.  With just his machete he can survive in the bush.  

I showed the photos to my friend, Diane, and she said, "why didn't you wait until he moved out from under that branch?"  Then we both had a giggle when I explained that that was the point.  He was the branch.  Love it and both of them.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Answering questions about Belize

The best way to find answers about moving and living in Belize is to make one or more trips down to determine where you'd like to live and what things you'll need to make your life comfortable.  Even tho' the country is small, it has diverse areas offering very different life styles.  

Land  Unlike many Central American countries, foreigners can own property here without having a Belizean partner.

 Most of Belize is for sale.  You can scope out areas with a realtor if you're most comfortable that way, but your best bet for the best price is to get to know folks and ask if they know of land.  Prices are all over the place.  Prices are usually quoted in US dollars.  That's because Belize dollars aren't recognized outside Belize and it makes the price more understood.  

 One huge thing to watch for is that you only purchase Titled landCitizens are allowed to lease land and will often try to sell it.  Don't buy leased land with the idea that they will transfer it to titled land for you.  This can take years, can be very expensive and often just doesn't work.  

Crime The main area of concern is Belize City.  We don't travel there any more than we have to, but find it relatively safe during the day.  It isn't recommended that you travel outside at night.  Some of the best shops are in Belize City, so some trips are inevitable.  

In other areas, theft is an issue.  Lots of folks in the towns have burglar bars.   Dogs are a definite help as most Belizeans are afraid of big dogs.  Gringo's are targets, so we just try to look as tho' we don't have much money, which isn't a stretch for us. 

The smart  is to not leave your house unattended for long stretches of time.  There isn't a lot of work here for folks and many feel that if you're not using something right now, they can make better use of it (steal it / sell it). 

Shopping - We do miss shopping at Costco.  We can find almost anything we want here, we just have to look several places.  There are good hardware stores in Spanish Lookout (Mennonite) and a couple of lovely stores in Belize City for Home Depot type shopping.  We rarely find it necessary to go there.  For a few troublesome things, we can either have a store order them from the US, or I go on the internet and order, having them shipped to a freight forwarder in Houston and they bring them here to Cayo.  Takes time, but it does work.  

 We do our regular grocery shopping at the Taiwanese grocery stores and our fruits and veggies from the outdoor market in San Ignacio.  Some are grown in Belize and lots are imported from Mexico and Guatemala.  
Snakes and spiders and other creepy crawlies -  We really don't worry a lot about them, altho' we do try to stay aware.  Frankly, tarantulas are not a concern.  We see holes where they live, but we rarely see one.  They are extremely shy and afraid, so stay in their holes until night.  

Basically the same with snakes, which are more of a concern.  We don't travel in the deep bush without our friend, Rene.  We had the underbrush cleared in a large area around the buildings, which discourages the snakes.  The only deadly snakes we've seen are ones that Rene has killed and brought to show us.  Icky, but helpful.  We did have a large, non-deadly snake go thru the yard, but it's the kind that eats bad snakes so we cheered it on it's way.  The most wonderful thing for us has been our friend Rene.  He has worked for us for 6 years and is of Mayan ancestry.  He knows so much and tries to educate us and keeps the place cleaned and safe.  

Gardening - Lots of folks have gardens here.  We haven't had great success because we wanted to go organic and the bugs defeated us.  You don't notice them, but they do eat the tiny starts. Also, our place was hacked out of the bush and we are slowly amending the soil for better results.  

Weather -   If visiting, don't come down in late April or May.  It can really get hot.  From June thru October or November would be hurricane season.  Hurricane's rarely make land in Belize.  If they do, it is mostly in the Toledo area or around Corozol.  In the seven years that we've owned our place only one small hurricane came our way.  That was Richard, which came from the east.  We lived for many years on the Oregon coast and the winds got harder there than those that hit us with Richard.  

Our house has screens for windows and wooden shutters that we close with the weather.  

Friends and family - We have a satellite dish for internet service to allow us to keep in contact with family and friends in the US.  

We enjoy our Belizean neighbors, but find that there is a language difference (most only speak a little English) and much different lifestyle.  There are lots of expats here, so, with a little effort, you can make friends.  Here in Cayo we have a once-a-month women's luncheon at different restaurants.  Usually between 20 and 30 women attend.  It's informal and just to get acquainted.  There are quite a few expats here in the Bullet Tree area also.

Medical care - This is the tricky one.  There are physicians here, who have been trained in the U.S., Cuba, Guatemala or Mexico.  For general things, the care is good, caring and immediate.  The hospitals are definitely third world.  There is a new hospital in San Ignacio that was supposed to be state of the art and was going to function as a model for the rest of the country.  Is suspect that it does, but it has no equipment and all the fixtures look as tho' they came from a very sad garage sale.  The problem that we're facing right now is that Art is having some serious issues, so to get better diagnostics and care, we'll probably have to return to the U.S.  

I know that there are lots of other questions, but for now, these might help.  I try to tell things as they really are, but am afraid that it portrays Belize in an excessively bad light.  It is definitely an adjustment to live in a third world country, but there are so many lovely things to appreciate.  We just tell folks that you have to able to accept life here, "warts and all."     Blessings,    Gale