Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Floor Pour is Done

Yesterday the forms were set up for the first floor pour. A vapor barrier was put down to stop moisture from wicking through the floor later on. This was the last chance to make any changes to the plumbing or electrical outlets in the floor.

A fellow owner here in the Shores, that I had never personally met but we had communicated by e-mails, showed up to see what was going on. Brian Aho and his friend Eric were down here from upstate New York to explore the possibilities of selling their seafront land on the north side of the Shores and maybe picking up another seafront lot here in the Shores or at least something nearby. So, with not much going on at the construction site, we piled into his rental car an headed out to a couple of lots that he may be interested in, on the road into Consejo. These were bigger lots than in the Shores, but also a little more remote.

Our first stop was to view some land down near our friends, Phil and Jill, at the Bed & Breakfast, Serenity Sands ( They were in the process of getting ready for a visit from Lan Sluder, a well known writer of Belize travel books, but took the time out to share their knowledge of the local properties that were for sale. Jill is becoming a real asset to Belize with all the community service she does and I don't know where she finds the time to do everything she does, with a B&B to run. Her family is behind her 100% and they also put in a lot of time going out to neighboring villages to help those that are in dire need of medical, food or shelter. Her current project is trying to get through ALL the red tape to get four pallets of medical supplies and equipment from Canada to Belize. Getting it sorted out and transported is only part of the problem, and our friends Dave and Kristen, who were here a few weeks ago, are helping to solve that problem. The other problem is the duties that Belize Customs wants to charge, in order to bring the medical supplies across the border. You would think that Belize would want these supplies because not only are they for the Belizian people, but Jill and her family are willing to train the ambulance drivers and police officers on how to use the equipment. As it is, ambulance drivers are just that, drivers. They provide no first aid and if an ambulance is not available, the police are not trained in first aid, and will throw you in the back of their car and drive you to the hospital. I'm sure a few people have died from shock or no immediate first aid. Please contact Jill if you would like to help in any way.

She gave Brian and Eric a tour of their property and showed them a couple of other properties that were nearby. We shared a couple of Belikins with them, talked for a while and then it was off to town for lunch. We went to Patti's Bistro for some good food and discussed some of the pros and cons of the properties we had just seen.

From there, we went out to see some other seafront lots that I knew about just outside of town, then it was back to the Shores to see the completed form work. The form work was complete and all the rebar had been placed. We were ready to go for Friday's pour.

Today, the crew was there at 5AM to start the cement pour for the first floor. By the time I got there at 7:30AM, the job was already one third finished. They needed to start early because this was one of those days where the temps were high and the wind was almost non-existent. But these guys just pressed on. By 1PM the pour was done. Great job guys.

At the end of the construction, the tradition is to invite all the people who had worked on your house, to a big finishing celebration party. Since I am leaving in three days and don't know when I'll be back, I may not have these same workers here on the site when I return. So today, I brought everyone lunch and beers. Well, I brought the beers early, so they could chill on ice, and went back to retrieve lunch at the local store. By the time I had returned, the beer was history, as in GONE. It was a hot day and the beer probably went down really good. It just wasn't the plan. Hope the boss doesn't find out. An hour later, I delivered the lunches and I went around and personally thanked everyone one on the project for their hard work and help. Did they all understand what I had meant? Probably not. But that's OK. These guys did a great job and I just wanted to thank them.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Filling in the Void

Today they began filling the area in between the structural beams. John thought it would require around 40 truck loads of fill to cover the entire house and inside the retaining wall. But George, from Taribo Ind., thought it might be closer to twenty loads, not forty. George won. And so did our pocketbook.

Now they will start tamping down all the loose fill dirt to make the pad for the house floor. Then they will construct the wood forms around the perimeter of the house, so they can start the pouring the cement for the floor on Saturday. After this point, the house walls should go up rather quickly and they will probably start that part of the project on Monday.

And other good news is that George will pull up the tree stumps in the beach area when he has the equipment here to do it. These are the remains of previous times they tried to remove these trees and now just the stumps remain. And they continue to try and grow again and again.

I have spent many hours trying to cut all of the roots that I can find, but there is no way for me to pull the stumps out and load them on any kind of truck or trailer. But once they are gone, it will be easier for me to decide what I am going to do with the beach area.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Work has begun on the main house

After a month doing all the prep work, installing the cistern, pool and retaining walls, the work on the main house has now officially begun. The forms for the structural beams were set up on Monday, the cement pour was on Tuesday.

The tearing down of the wood forms was today. The crew has had a few busy days and the temperatures have been on the warm side, but they just continue to work to get the job done. There are between 15 and 18 guys on the work site everyday, so things do get done rather quickly. Tomorrow they start to fill in the voids between the beams and the areas surrounding the cistern and pool. The estimate is for around 40 truck loads of fill, with each truck load of around 20 cubic yards. That's a lot of fill dirt and will take at least a couple of days to finish filling in all the areas between the structural beams and tamping it down.

The view from the patio door with the unfinished cistern and pool.

The view from the front door

I had a wonderful dinner with Donna and her mom, Jeanne, last night. Filet mignon, bar-b-que chicken, garlic and buttered shrimp. Who says you can't live the high life in Belize. They are good people and I'm sorry to see them go, but I am looking forward to having them as friends and neighbors in the future. It's their last night here in Belize and I'm sure after 3+ weeks here in Corozal, they are ready to go home to start making plans for their new home on Four Mile lagoon. I think Donna is happy with the progress they achieved while she was here and with all the people and contacts that she met. And I think her mom has adjusted well down here and will fit right in to the Belize culture. Good luck to them in the future. And if you haven't seen Donna's blog, Our Belize Planning, just follow the link on my blog. Between the both of us, you should get a good feel of what it takes to build in Belize.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Support Beam Work is Almost Done

The work forming up the support beams is just about complete and they will start to pour the cement tomorrow. The heavy rain and thunder storms that came through the last couple of nights has slowed construction and made a mess at the job site. I just hope that we don't have another storm pass through tonight. The plumbing is just about all in and except for a couple of minor changes, everything is ready to go.

This is when the house build really begins. They will start to bring in all the fill dirt beginning on Wednesday, and that will probably take a couple of days to complete. Then, by Monday, they might be ready to start pouring the floor. That will probably be the last part of the build that I will see before heading home. I wish I could stay longer and watch more, but I've got places to be and people to see. Just talking about it makes me feel like I'm back in the rat race. Maybe I will be, but I will be starting from last place and taking my time. The race goes on without me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another Beautiful Sunday

It's another quiet Sunday, here in Consejo. The air is still and warm, a perfect day to go down to the water, pull up a chair and do a little reading.

Donna and Jeanne are getting ready to leave this week and I am scheduled to leave next week. The time has flown by, but at the same time I feel as though I've slowed down. City life will be interesting but there are a few things at home that I miss while I'm here. A juicy In-and-Out burger, an Italian cold cut sandwich and a good selection of beer. Not much, but it's something you will never get down here.

When I get back, I will spend a couple of days at home and then it is off to Las Vegas for our niece's high school graduation. I will be going from a place with few extras to a place where excess is the norm. What a change that will be. Did someone say "room service". We'll spend a couple of days at the Flamingo and a couple of days at Caesar's Palace. We have tickets to see Bette Midler and I heard she puts on a good show, so I am looking forward to that.

Also when I get back, I will need to learn to live with just one car between Mischelle and I. It's never really been a problem, because most of the time we are together. But there are times when you need a second car. Now that the Toyota is a Belizian truck, we will have to figure things out. We will need another SUV or van when we bring the dogs to Belize, so maybe we'll just get one a little earlier.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is It Friday, Yet?

Here in Belize, Is It Friday, Yet?, takes on a whole new meaning. Nothing. Nada. Nyet. You don't count the days here in Belize, you live them. Friday is just another day here in paradise. Yes, you might want to hit the market for fresh veggies and fruit, or maybe the butcher, for fresh pork chops. But, then again, maybe not. Do I feel like driving to town? Do I need to?

Oh, I remember now. Friday is the day we go to Chetumal, to look at a new window supplier. I was up early, to be at John's house at Four Mile lagoon, by 7AM. The traffic was tolerable. I saw one other car on Consejo Road. It took me 20 minutes to go the 15 miles to John's house. I had to pass 3 farm tractors and a car or two. And that's a busy day on the Corozal roads around the outside of town.

After arriving at John's home, I parked my truck and John, Gusto, Donna and Jeanne were all waiting for me. I was two minutes late and blamed it on Belizian time. Jeanne said it was Jamaican time. I was just glad I was there around the right time. I haven't set an alarm since December 26th. So we all piled into John's truck, with Gusto at the wheel, and away we went to the border crossing.

The border crossing is fairly easy once you know the routine. On the Belize side, you pay the $36BZ or $18US for the environmental fee then take your receipt to the immigration desk, where they will stamp you out of Belize and send you on your way. On the Mexican side, you go into the immigration office and fill out a visa, they look at your passport, stamp it and send you on your way. It's that easy...if there are no lines

So away we went to Chetumal. We stopped off for coffee at the large mall that has a 13 movie Cinema, McDonald's, Liverpool department store and a large grocery store. Just like home. After coffee we made our first stop at what was to be the window manufacturer. Turns out they are just a distributor and only can get powder coated metal windows. Not what we were looking for, so it was off to try and find another window manufacturer.

But after a couple of attempts to locate a manufacturer in town, we found a supplier that was in Tampico. John is going to contact them to see what they may have to offer but he's not giving up on finding one in Chetumal.

John had Gusto drive us around town so we could see what Chetumal had to offer and then it was off to lunch in Bacalar. After a short drive, we ended up at a restaurant at the Cenote Azul, which borders the Bacalar lagoon. This was a beautiful restaurant location overlooking the cenote. The water looked so cool, clear and refreshing. There was a high diving platform that we were dared to go off. I told Jeanne it was she and I that were going to make the first jump. She didn't like that idea so much, but Donna said she might be willing to make the jump. John said he had made the jump before and gave a lame excuse as to why he wouldn't jump this time.

So we went into the restaurant for a wonderful seafood lunch. John and I split a seafood platter that said it was for 2 people. It probably could have fed everyone at the table We had lobster, shrimp, and 3 or 4 different kinds of fish. All of that fish and shellfish cost 400 pesos, or about $31US. Quite a deal. And for a nice change of pace from just Belikin beer in Belize, I had a few Negra Modelos, which went down nice and smooth. It was nice to have a selection of just more than three beers, like it is in Belize.

After lunch it was time for a swim and maybe a jump from the platform. I was up for it and after a little coaxing, Donna was up for it too. Maybe John would jump if Donna and I did. But no. Same lame excuse. So Donna and I both made the 18 foot jump and John showed us his world famous back flip off a 2 foot high dive platform. (See John, you should have jumped with the big kids, just so you wouldn't get sh*t in my blog.)

The Platform Jump

Me after my jump.

Donna getting congrats after her jump.

John getting ready to wow the crowd.

Too much splash on entry, John. The judges only give it a 6.0

Jeanne enjoying the cool refreshing cenote waters.

After the swim in the cenote, we dried off and enjoyed music from some of the local musicians. We did a little dancing and singing, another cold Mexican beer and then it was time to get to our next destination, the Las Vegas Casino, in the free zone.

That was my idea, but I was just planning to have them drop me off and I would catch a cab back to John's house a little later. But I guess I wasn't the only one who wanted to visit the casino. Donna had wanted to see what the casino was like, but I don't think she mentioned it to John, so when I brought it up, John was nice enough to show us around. Nice little casino, but it was kind of quiet when we were there in the early afternoon. So I bellied up to the nearly empty tables and proceeded to gamble away all my left over money from lunch. But I did have a good time while I was losing.

After leaving the casino and doing the border thing, we headed back to Johns' to pick up our trucks and to head over to Donna's place to see the clearing and the filling of her lot. They did quite a bit of work cutting down all that jungle and now they are doing the job of filling it all in. George Greenwood of Taribo Industries, is the man to see for that ( , local no. 501-621-3244). He and his crew worked on our lot and they sure know how to handle that equiptment and move that dirt around.

They have done a good job of filling Donna's lot and it should be ready to build on when she and Jacques are ready. Now comes the fun part of the house design. Good luck.
P.S. Thanks Donna for the extra restaurant pics.