Thursday, August 23, 2012

We made it to Oregon

I've been dreading this trip to Oregon, but Art's health has necessitated it and this time I feel I needed to go with him.  All the long walking in the airports had me worried for him.  We ended up hiring a shuttle for the trip to Ladyville as no one was going on the same day as us.  We have to start coordinating our trips to save money.  One neighbor left on Tues., two left on Wed., we traveled on Thurs. and another left on Friday.  I'm hoping on our return on Sept. 6th we'll be able to ride-share.  We flew United (the old Continental) and had a fairly successful trip, by today's minimal standards.  By that I mean that they don't even offer free snacks any more.  Pay please.  We flew to Houston/ San Francisco/Pasco, Wa..  I arranged for a wheelchair to get Art thru the terminals.  He really objected and felt he could handle it, but the reality of Houston made him agree.  We were awfully glad.  He was treated with great kindness and courtesy and we were freed from waiting in long lines.  The glich that gave us a lot of concern was that we only had a 50 minute turn around in S.F.  The flight from Belize was  smooth and we arrived about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but then our next flight, to S.F. was delayed as they had to wait for the flight crew, which was coming in on a flight from the east coast.  Ouch!  We were delayed over 1/2 hours, which really caused me a lot of stress.  Even tho' this wasn't an international flight, we still had to navigate the terminal.  The flight attendant requested that passengers remain seated so that all of us with tight connections could get off first.  Didn't work!  I plunged my way thru the aisle and dashed to the desk as I could manage and, hallelujah, the next plane was also delayed, waiting for a flight crew.  Art followed me with his faithful wheelchair and we actually had time to sit and catch our breaths before our next flight.  I felt badly as our son was waiting for us in Pasco and we ended up one hour late, arriving at 11:30pm.  He had to go to work early the next morning.  It's wonderful to see him and his three kids, Rex, 15, Charley, 13, and Jessie, 10.  We're visiting here for 3 days and then head for Oregon to my brother's and the VA visits.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What storm?

Ernesto was heading towards Belize so we all buttoned up our places, businesses closed and the farmers worried and prayed for their corn crops.  We didn't close the shutters on our house because it would get too warm.  Tho't we'd jump up and close them when the wind started.  Before heading to bed we had a couple of very short rain showers, but little wind.  We were so surprised to wake up and realize that something must have worked because the storm veered to the north and then west again and totally missed Cayo.  Ernesto wasn't interested in us and passed us by.    The Mopan river is muddy, but hasn't risen much, which means that Guatemala didn't get much rain either.  Rene was here today and all smiles.  He said their prayers were answered and they're now hoping the corn will continue to grow towards harvest.  We appreciate our blessings. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ernesto-tropical storm or hurricane

I'm so pleased that we made our trip to San Pedro last week.  What luck!  The previous week Betty hadn't felt well and this week, well, here comes Ernesto.  We've had sunny and fairly mild weather, for Belize, but starting last evening, we're starting to get clouds and occasional rain.  We've all been watching the progress of this tropical storm, either via radio or internet.  It's really helpful to be able to track storms thru the National Hurricane Center or several weather sites.   A few days ago it looked as tho' Ernesto was heading NW and would take the usual course of hitting the Yucatan and Cuba.  As of yesterday it's changed to a westerly direction which puts Belize at the edge of it's path.  By the time it leaves Honduras it is expected to reach hurricane status. 

There isn't a lot we can do and we hope that the projection of 65mph winds holds true.  If so, we'll be fine.  The real worry is the rain.  The edge of hurricanes brings about 12 inches of rain in a short time.  If this continues to Guatemala, then the Mopan River will rise to flood level.  Most gringos want to have river property.  It's an obsession.  For us, we wouldn't trade our hill for riverfront.  Our main concern will be Paslow Falls Rd.  The government hasn't seen fit to work on it and it fronts on the river in a couple of places.  That could mean the road will wash out.  As a precaution, we sent the old Trooper (car) home with Rene.  If we can't drive out, we can walk over the hill and have a car to get to the store.  We closed the shutters on all the window in the guest house and will close the ones in our house tonight or whenever the wind starts blowing.  Right now it's calm and very muggy.  

Most businesses have closed or will close at noon.  All government offices closed until the storm has passed.

For us a storm can be an adventure or a worry, if strong, but for the Belizeans, it's heartbreaking.  Their diet consists mostly of carbohydrates in the form of rice and corn.  The corn crop right now is nearing harvest, with cobs just starting to fill.  This storm will wipe most or all of it out.  Corn isn't strong and the wind will knock it over and the rain will rot it.  I asked Rene when they can replant and he said probably in early November for a Jan. or Feb harvest.  In the meantime, they'll have to pay dearly for imported corn.  We'll see what happens. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Trip to San Pedro

I've drawn and painted some, most of my life, but never really allowed myself to give it much energy.  Mostly out of fear and being a chicken has caused me to keep it to myself.  I've finally quit finding excuses and am having a ball just dabbling away.  Once you get started it gets a little addictive.  I love the children and the "faces" of Belize and am trying to capture them on paper with watercolor.  It's a tricky medium here in the tropics because of the humidity, but what fun I'm having.  

Art's been encouraging me to try to sell some, but it's daunting to decide how, where and how much.   I decided to take some where the prospects seemed the best, which is San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.  I asked two of my dear friends to go with me as I hate going to Belize City and don't know my way around.  I read that the water taxi's dock is by the swing bridge, which I'd never seen.  Turns out it's next to the route we take to make our annual trek to the Tourist Board to renew our retirement status, so now I know.  The funny thing is that in six years, neither Betty, Peggy or I had ever been to San Pedro, so we were off on our adventure. 

I was worried about leaving my truck overnight in Belize City.  There's a parking lot across the street from the taxi, but when I told them we'd be staying overnight, I was told they would take my truck to a secure lot.  It was the owner of the taxi service, so I took a chance and agreed.  Good choice as it was at his house and surrounded by a concrete wall.  I'm tired of being hesitant about things, so am trying to plunge ahead.  Hey, we moved to Belize, didn't we?  Get a grip girl and GO!  The water taxi is a small jet ferry that can probably seat about 40 to 50 people.  We headed out to sea with a short stop in Caye Caulker and then on to San Pedro.  This is where most of the tourist money goes.  It's funky, touristy, but fun.  There's water, sand, snorkeling, fishing and diving to attract the energetic.  We found Ruby's which is a reasonably priced, clean hotel, on the beach with a room that would accommodate the three of us.

 I had researched galleries and decided on one that sounded promising.  I wanted to walk around without my portfolio to check things out.  So glad I did, as I didn't like the gallery I intended to visit at all; neither the look or the philosophy.  How disappointing.  Continuing on, we did discover a beautiful gallery which looked professional and perfect.  The owner was out of the country, but I showed the sales fellow photos of my work and he encouraged me to bring my paintings in the next day.  Cutting to the chase, I did and ended up leaving a few.  Prices won't be good, but it's a start.  I'm hoping that others will enjoy my faces of Belize so that I can afford to buy more supplies.  

Getting this settled, we had a blast visiting most of the small shops, ogling the beautiful things that we don't see in Cayo.  We all agreed that those shops probably wouldn't prosper in San Ignacio as we're more a destination for trekkers and the hiking boot set.  We ate seafood and had expensive, but fantastic ice cream and had a ball.  I forgot to mention that there are very few cars in San Pedro.  The streets are narrow, but golf carts are everywhere.  There is definitely "traffic" it's just smaller vehicles.  We walked and savored everything.  

When we got back, we had to take a taxi to get the truck, but it was safe and sound.  We headed back for home with a short stop for lunch.  The trip really flew by with continued conversation and laughing.  We had such a great time.  I can't imagine better companions for my quest.  Besides having so much fun together, they were so supportive of my work and pushed me to jump in and approach the galleries.  These two ladies, along with our friend, Diane, who is in the States, are the core of my friendship family here in Belize.  We all agreed that we'd hate to live on the Caye, but it sure was fun to visit.  

Now it's back to painting.  (Just a note - I've decided not to post photos of my work until I can figure out how to do it in such a way that they won't be copied.  I've learned from experience that you can put so much of yourself into a work to have it stolen.  It seems to get easier every day).