Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thankful

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving in Belize Thursday the 30th by hosting a small dinner party for our nearest neighbors, who are all American, and also Richard and Joy who live on site here and help us manage the place.  The guests included Craig who lives about 3/4 mile up the beach from us, Laquita and Bill who are housesitting at SteppingStones about 1/4 mile up the beach, and Chery and Sam who recently bought the MonkeyHouse about a mile to the south of us.  It was also the first Thanksgiving in Belize for Laquita and Bill and for Chery and Sam.  Everyone brought a contribution to the table and we did it up right with turkey, gravy, dressing, roasted root veggies, cauliflower soup, broccoli casserole, homemade bread stuffed with cheese, cranberry sauce, peach cobbler, pecan pie, and pumpkin cookies. Of course accompanied by lots of fine liquids.  Dennis and I certainly enjoyed it, and it seems our guests did as well.

November is almost at its end and this is only the second post I have managed to make.  Who knew retirement would be so busy?  I have plenty of things to blog about, like this gorgeous moon.  For the full moon and the next 3 nights it had a distinct pink cast to the color that was quite unusual.  It just looks plain orange in the photo, but in person it was a lovely salmon color.
Night after November's full moon (the Beaver Moon).  I wasn't able to quite capture the distinctly pinkish tinge to the color. 
Some of the other things to blog about are the plants that can be seen along the jungle trail we made.  The photo below is of the trunk of a dead tree that is supporting all kinds of epiphytes.
Tree along the jungle path.
Lots of birds have been passing through, too.  And there has been new activity at the hummingbird feeders.  
Juvenile Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.  The next photo shows how I know it's a male. ;-)
He's getting the first of his ruby feathers!  They really glow like that when the light is at the right angle; I didn't enhance the color at all.
All kinds of interesting things going on.  I'll do my best to post more frequently.

In the meantime and in the spirit of the holiday I will simply say that I am thankful that Dennis and I can enjoy our new life in Belize; I have never been happier or more contented.  Here's wishing the same for each of you.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wanted: Lotus Esprit Amphibious Vehicle

I mentioned in my last post that the Monkey River Road was flooded.  Monkey River Village itself was flooded, too. Here is a satellite view of Monkey River Village, the end ofMonkey River Road, Black Creek, and Englishtown (where we live) just north of  the mouth of Black Creek, with Black Creek proper to our west.  
The sinuous Monkey River winds along south of the Monkey River Road.  At the mouth of Monkey River, the dirt road ends in a parking lot with a small dock.  On the south side of the mouth is Monkey River Village.  A handful of dwellings are on the north side of the river.  a little farther north is Black Creek .  Our place (red asterisk) is at the south of the area called Englishtown, and Craig's place (orange asterisk) is at the north end.  
The village has no paved roads or sidewalks (the road ends on the north side of the river and the village is on the south side), but does have houses laid out in lots along "streets" and paths across public areas.  
There are close to 40 households in the village along with at least 1 bar, 1 church, 1 school, 2 guest house/hotels, and several places you can buy a hot lunch.
Even lower than our place, the village is only a few feet above sea level and is also bordered on 2 sides by the river.  With as much rain as we had in just a few short days, it is easy to see how the village gets waterlogged.  Richard took the next 2 photos with his phone October 28th. 

 
 
Ironically, with the road flooded, the village ran out of "pipe water" (Belizean for municipally supplied water).  How did that happen?  It was only about 6 or7 years ago that the government provided funds for the village to install its own well, water pump, water tower, pipes, and water meters to the inhabitants of Monkey River Village.  The well and pumphouse are about 3 miles from the village on the site of a natural fresh water spring; otherwise, a well around here will hit a water table that is brackish rather than fresh.  The water tower is a little removed from the well and pump.  Prior to this setup, villagers relied on rainwater just like we currently do.  The pump is turned on and off manually, which means that someone has to go to the pump house to turn it on and then go back to turn it off once the water tower starts to overflow - a very low tech system.  The village has an official Waterboard who oversee the operation, meter reading, and bill collection. But with the road flooded, no one could get to the pumphouse to turn the pump on.  The solution to this problem?  Go by boat!
Take the boat up the Monkey River (which, remember, is in flood!) to the farm at the bend in the road.  Drive the boat up the boat launch and down the driveway to get to the road.  Then drive the boat down the road to the pumphouse!
The next 2 photos were also taken by Richard on the boat trip to the pumphouse.
Crossing the flooded farm by boat. 
Going down the road in the boat.
 They were successful in getting the pump on and water to the village.  You do what you gotta do, eh?

Meanwhile, back in Englishtown, we had a little flooding from Black Creek at the rear of our property, but it receded quickly.
Black Creek water edging onto our property from the west.
 And from the east, we were getting pounded by the sea.
The waves were so high, they were breaking over our dock.
The rough sea brought a lot of things to the beach.
This sea heart was deposited right at my feet by a wave.


Cubic yard after cubic yard of dead sea grass was washed ashore, along with plastic trash of all descriptions and some little treasures.
The lovely sea purse was mixed in with dead sea grass and a plastic bottle cap. 
We always have the sea grass raked up to use as a soil amendment.  Basically our "soil" is just sand, so organic material is a great addition.
The occasional golfball-sized Valonia ventricosa was in the sea grass too.
 I loved spotting Valonia ventricosa.  Valonia, also called sailor's eyeball, is a green alga that is normally attached to something hard like coral or rocks throughout tropical waters.  The stormy waters must have detatched quite a few of them.  They are very cool organisms.  Each ball is just a single cell covered with a cell wall that looks like glass!  I got a little carried away trying to take photographs that do them justice.
With a little help from Picasa photo editing, I tried to highlight the metallic sheen of the Valonia.
This single celled green alga is home to other organisms that grow on its surface.
After more than a week of stormy, rain-filled nights, we finally got some clear and calm weather.
I love the sea when it is calm and flat.  I can spend hours mesmerized by subtle greens and silver colors.
 After several days of clear calm weather, the roads and villages dried out.  And that means - 
The guys unloading our lumber.  This is boat-load 1 of 3.
 You got it - we can get our next construction materials delivered.  Work will soon re-commence on the cabana.

If anyone has a lead on James' Lotus (seen in "The Spy Who Loved Me") for a good price, don't hesitate to let me know!  I have some sea hearts and sailor's eyeballs I could trade ...

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