Monday, June 27, 2011

Our First Tropical Wave

Mischelle and I have now been here in Belize, just short of of nine months, full time. For the most part, the weather has been just what we expected, comfortable during the winter/spring months and hot and humid during the summer and hurricane season. But this will be our first hurricane season, full time. We've been through hurricanes in Cabo, but we could leave after it was over, and our hotel facilities could get us through all but the worse storm. Here, we are on our own. But that statement is not really true. I feel our neighbors are here to help in any distubance, and would go beyond what is need to make sure you're secure. It's just the things that are beyond the normal circumstances. It's a slippery, mushy seven mile drive to town after a good rain. The road has been flooded so that only 4 wheel drive vehicals could make it through to town. There is no immediate help so you better do the best you can to be safe.

We got a small taste of that when a tropical wave came through. Some high winds in the 50 mph range and heavy bouts of rain at times, but overall, not too bad. But it gave us food for thought about how we are going to protect ourselfs.

Our usually calm beach area was totally underwater. There were times you could barely see we even had a seawall.

Now we need just need to get our hurricane shutters we ordered from Home Depot delivered before the first hurricane hits us. And we also need to find space for all the outdoor furniture we have. I guess in the worse case scenerio, we could put all that furniture in the guest room. I shudder to think of all the geckos, spiders and other bugs that have made their home in the nooks and cranies of our outdoor furniture. Next on the build list...a storage shed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Visiting The Local Sites

We had our friend Bruce, visit us from the States, and he wanted to see what Belize had to offer. So we started off in San Pedro for some diving and a little partying. It was just after Easter and the tourist season had come to a screeching halt. The place was empty, and I mean empty. Nobody on the beach, nobody in the restaurants, nobody at the bars, but that also meant there was nobody at the dive sites. We had some great dives with loggerhead turtles, nurse sharks, eagle rays, and the list goes on. Definitely a good time to go if you want pristine diving and only a few people. Not a good time if you want to party.

Then it was on to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. A fun two hour boat ride up the New River that is part Disneyland Jungle Cruise and part Florida air boat ride.

We had to stop along the way to see the monkeys, feed them a couple of apple bananas, then move on to Lamanai. Beautiful birds and lush fauna lined the shores of the river, and the viewing opportunities made the trip to Lamanai seem short.

After we arrived at Lamanai, we sat down and had a lunch provided for us by the tour company, then it was off on a short walk to the ruins. Our tour guide had studied the Lamanai ruins for over 20 years, so he knew a lot of the history, not only of Lamanai, but of the neighboring ruins and their part in the overall development of the area.

The ruins are in fairly good condition and you can still get close to and climb to the top of some of the taller ruins, unlike some of the ruins in Mexico. It is deceptive how steep the stairs are that going to the top. It can be a little bit unnerving to some people, but they do provide a rope to hold on to on your accent and decent.

But the view from the top is amazing, allowing you to see for miles in any direction.

Mischelle climbed to the top of one of the ruins, and her thighs burned for days. It's not the usual step pattern, so muscles get used that don't normally get used.

She's smiling now, but that won't be the case tomorrow!

After a long, but enjoyable day, it was time to take the boat ride back to Orange Walk and head home from there, or at least to the bar near home.

The next day, Bruce wanted to explore the Free Zone and the local casinos. Not much in the Free Zone to do but shop for "knock offs" of just about anything in clothing, shoes or handbags. Not a place to take the wife or girlfriend, if you plan on doing anything else that day. But then again, she could say that about me and going to the casinos. But at least the drinks in the casinos are free....well sort of, if you're lucky.

On Bruce's last day, his flight didn't leave until late afternoon, so we thought it would be a good time to visit the Belize Zoo. It has a very good reputation, especially for being such a small facility. But don't let it fool you on the size. They do a great job on displaying the animals and you really have a chance to get up close and personal. Just don't get too close, as the signs say. Fingers can come up missing if put in the fence at the wrong time.

The zoo does a great job educating the people about the inter-relationship between the different animals, and how as caretakers of the country, they need to preserve the forest and not exploit the resources that are natural to the country.

The zoo was great experience that I would recommend to anyone that visits Belize. But it was time for Bruce to end his vacation and head back home to LA. I'm sure glad I'm no longer in that boat. Back to work on Monday and months before your next vacation. In Belize, I'm on permanent vacation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

At It Once Again

After a few months of no posts to the blog, I am hoping to begin again, with at least a few posts a month. Even comments from Julian couldn't get me back to posting on my blog. I spoke to a few others that also blog and it's not unusual to get blog burn-out or a sort of writers block. But what ever it was, I hope to get back into some kind of routine. There is so much here to blog about, I just need to do it. So here we go. I'll include things from the last couple of months, just to get started again.

Mischelle's mother, Fay, stayed with us until early April. She was here for 4 months, and I'm sure she'll be back soon, probably after the hurricane season. But for now it will finally give us a chance to get settled into routine around the house. We still have a lot to unpack.

We went to Sarteneja for their Easter Day Boat Races. Our friends, Tom and Terri joined us for the drive. Unlike last year, we decided to drive there rather than take the boat. The road out there was recently graded, so the drive shouldn't be too bad. What could take the most time was waiting to cross the river on the ferry. It only holds four or five cars at a time, so if there was a line, we could be there for a while. But as it was, there were only a few cars ahead of us, so we made it on the second ferry across.

We arrived in Sarteneja, after driving for about an hour and a half, and found that the boat from Consejo, with our other friends and neighbors, had also just arrived. The Consejo Yacht Club had entered the Maranatha in one of the races, so there was a large group yacht club members there to support them.

Unfortunately, the event wasn't as well organized as last year, and there several mix ups involving the boat and the captain. Also, the Maranatha was way out of her class, due to the fact that the other boats had brought larger sails and extra rigging, just for racing. So, it turns out that we all just watched from the sidelines this year.

There were not as many booths selling merchandise and food. There was no information board showing when the races began or what classes of boat were racing. It was a two day event, this year, instead of just one, so some of the bands had played the day/night before. It just seemed to be a much quieter affair this year. But we still managed to have a good time, drink a few beers and chow down some food.

After a few hours of walking around the town, we decided to head back to Consejo and finish our Easter celebration there. I was a little disappointed in the races this year, but we will go again next year, and hopefully it will be better.