Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Much Needed Trip Home

After what was to be a short 2-3 week trip back to the States last November, we were finally able to go back home...nine months later. Mischelle had just finished having an MRI done and we wouldn't get the results back for at least ten days, due to the fourth of July weekend, and wouldn't get an appointment with the doctors for a week after that. So we asked the doctors if Mischelle could get away for a short mental vacation.  The time seemed right and she really needed the break from the cancer routine.

We booked a flight for June 29th, on American Airlines, and for only the second time in our lives, we flew first class.  It allowed us early boarding, much better seating for Mischelle (it wasn't too bad for me, either) and of course, all the perks of going first class.  I had planned on shipping several items down to Belize, using our usual shipping company, but flying first class allowed us 6 bags free, between the both of us.  All the stuff I had planned to ship, I could take with us.  The only problem is now Mischelle wants to fly first class every time we go.  Like I didn't see that coming.  It really is a great experience.  Just wish we could afford it every time (or at least every other time).

After a pleasant, uneventful flight through Dallas/ Fort Worth, we arrived in Belize around 2:30pm, but more importantly, before the other arriving flights.  Being in first class, we were the first to disembark.  Our bags and boxes were the first items unloaded from the plane.  Immigration was a breeze.  Now it was time to pay the piper for all the goods we were bringing with us.  The dreaded Customs officer.  I had everything labeled with descriptions and receipts, so I had a good idea of what it might cost, but you never know until you're there.  A couple of fans, 250 ft of 10/3 electrical wire, GFI plugs, plumbing supplies, etc.. All stuff I needed for projects at home.  The total bill...$325.00Bz, or about $170 US.  A lot cheaper than shipping it down.

We arrived home about an hour before sunset.  Home Sweet Home.  Throw the bags in the bedroom, grab a cold beer and enjoy the sunset over the bay.  Oh, is it good to be home.

While it was a mental vacation for Mischelle, it was a working vacation for me.  Hurricane season was upon us and I needed to do some work around the house before any major storms came along.  The upper patio that was built during our last visit, needed to be plastered and the electrical and lights all had to be hooked up.

It is a big change for the lower patio, but it now allows us to start planning for our upstairs patio.

A trench had to be dug, from the front of the house to the pool room, so we could replace the undersized wiring that my contractor had installed to run the pool motor.

And with all the corrosion that happens when you live this close to the ocean,, maintenance is always required.  The breaker box and all the breakers were corroded beyond possible reuse, so all of that needed to be replaced.  I'm sure the pool timer will be the next thing to go.

We had other problems with plumbing that also need to be taken care of while we were here.  Another contractor screw up that needed fixing.  First, it was the problem with a plumbing joint not being glued. Usually not too bad if you are in a American style home.  Find it and fix it.  But with the house made from cinder block, getting to plumbing issues is a completely different story.

We could never figure out why the shower floor was always wet.  The water pump would kick on at 2 or 3 in the morning, when nobody was up.  It was the little things that made us think there was a leak.  Finally it was traced to the unglued joint in the master bathroom shower.  When a quarter inch hole was bored into the block on the outside of the shower, the wall "peed" for an hour.  The block wall was completely filled with water.

After that problem was fixed and patched, it was on to fix the shower drain and a drain vent that was not working properly.  It's always something, but at least my list is getting shorter.

Another must do project on this trip was to screen in the front porch.

Bats were getting into the garage using the porch for an entrance.  I thought that the bats in the area lived on either fruit or mosquitoes, but it turns out they love butterflies...all types.  I found large piles of bat guano and all types of butterfly wings, all over the garage.  One even set up shop, right under the spare tire of the Nissan.  Thanks to my good neighbor Tom, for coming over and washing and then putting a tarp over the Nissan, to keep the bat guano off the paint job.  That would have ruined the paint job, for sure.

This is how the bats were entering, through the unenclosed front porch.  Lots of perching spots for them to hang out.  Plus, it was dark during the day time and no other real predators to worry about.  Sorry, but I'm about to serve an eviction notice.

I had asked around about getting good screen doors made for the front porch and the two bedroom doors. I was surprised by the answer.  Creative Tile, right in Corozal.  They came out, measured the openings and had our screen doors ready to be installed in four days.  The doors are solid, look good and the installation went extremely well and every door fit just as it should, with only minor adjustments.

Now with front screen door in, it was up to me to finish screening in the rest of the front porch.  Finally, no bats are going to get in the garage, or so I hope.

But it wasn't all just work.  We did enjoy a few nights at the local restaurant/bar with all of our friends.  Even though the snowbirds were gone, there is still quite a few full timers that keep the place busy.

It was sure good to be home...even if it was only for a short while.  Now it's time to head back to the States, find out the results of Mischelle's MRI and to figure out where we go from here.