It has been more than 3 months since I posted a new entry on this blog. The death of my mother back in May simply took the wind out of my sails. I had originally started writing this blog for her so she could keep up with me even when I was traveling. One of the last things she said to me was “Have you written more on your blog? I am tired of looking at that ugly turkey!” Sadly, I didn't get another entry written before she died, but I’m ready now to continue with greater frequency. And although I hope to meet Mother’s high standards for blog-worthiness, I make no promises regarding ugly birds! ;-)
Dennis retires in 4 weeks! We are in the last days of living here in
. Our house has not sold yet. But we are fortunate in that a colleague at
work will be "between houses", so to speak, starting in December. So he will house sit for us until May. It is not a good idea to leave a house unoccupied
during a Rochester
winter; that is an invitation for some sort of disaster like a furnace
malfunction that leads to burst water pipes or worse. I will be working halftime and telecommuting
until March, when I will return to Minnesota
until I retire at the end of June. I
hope the house will have sold by then; we shall see. Rochester
It has been a while since I described our place in Belize. In the Google Earth shot below you can see a small village of about 200 people labeled "Monkey River Town". The photo is rotated so that north is to the right. Just of north of Monkey River Village (MRV) (it is now too small to be classified as a town) is the Monkey River. The monkeys of reference are black howler monkeys that live in the surrounding jungle. To the north of both the river and the village is the Monkey River Road (MRR), a ~15 mile long dirt road cut through the jungle that connects the village with the nicely paved Southern Highway. Notice that MRR ends on the north side of the river; there is no bridge or other road that goes into MRV, so the few cars owned by village residents are parked at the end of the road and residents and visitors cross the river by boat. There are many more boats owned by MRV residents than there are cars.
Farther north of the river is a creek called Black Creek. The dark color is due to the tannins extracted from the leaves of the mangrove trees that line the edges and fill the surrounding marsh. Our place is at the south end of a mile stretch of beach called Englishtown. In the photo below from 2005, there is no sign of our place yet, but you can see Steppingstones, a small fishing resort owned by our neighbors Sue and Chris Harris. That little spec of white jutting out into the sea in the middle third of Englishtown is their dock. Our newest neighbor in Englishtown, Craig Pearlman, is at the north end of of the beach. They are opening a bar and micro-resort called Bare Bones Beach Bar.
I took the shot below with my 300mm lens while standing on our dock and facing north. You can just see the edge of our dock in the foreground, then the palapa at the end of Steppingstones dock, and in the distance the sign for Bare Bones Beach Bar. Check out the link to Bare Bones.
A similar viewpoint but a little closer to shore, using a normal lens shows our lovely beach in the foreground (below) with the palapa at Steppingstones a speck in the distance. Look how clear the water is. The darker patches are where seagrasses are growing.
Back the end of our dock gives a nice perspective of our place. That is our cabana with the red roof.
The cabana is on 12 ft tall concrete piers to keep it above storm surges and get us higher than the worst of the insects. The footprint of the cabana is 33x30ft and 10ft of the width is the screened in veranda, leaving us with interior living space of only 20x33ft. The area below the cabana is screened by canes. We did that originally to hide the ugly black plastic water vats that store rainwater as our sole water supply.
We were pleasantly surprised at how much the cane defined the space below the cabana. We use it for all kinds of things. We decided to pour a floating slab of concrete to make the space even more useful - for example to store our belongings that will shipped down early next year. We will add an extension of a nice bedroom suite to the cabana, but until that happens, we don't have enough room for the furniture we are bringing down. Below you can see Joe, who lives at Craig's place in North Englishtown putting the broom finish on one section of the slab. The slab will be poured in 9 independent sections that won't adversely affect the earthquake minimizing nature of the matrix foundation that I described in a previous post. Thanks for sending the photos of the progress, Craig.
In the shot below you can see a slab in mid-pour. The sea is about 30 feet away on the other side of the red hibiscus.
In the meantime back in Rochester, we are packing things up, getting vaccinations and a health certificate for the cat, getting things like a cell phone signal booster that we can't get in Belize, filling prescriptions, servicing the car, etc. Max (the cat) and I will fly to Belize December 13. Dennis will drive our car, pulling a trailer holding 2 pallets of gear, to the Alabama gulf coast where our shipping agent is. That trip will take about 3 or 4 days. He will leave the car and pallets with the agent and then rent a car to drive to Atlanta. He will fly from Atlanta to Belize somewhere around December 18. The shipped items will get there sometime in January of February. That's the plan, Stan. Stay tuned to see how far off track reality takes us!