26 November, 2015

Thanksgiving in the Tropics

Our third Thanksgiving in Belize and the first one that we have not hosted a large gathering.  That makes this the first Thanksgiving in our retirement that is not frenetic and harried; for that I am thankful.  We do have a feast for two in the works:
  • French 3 bean salad in Belizean avocado boats
  • roasted butternut, onion, jicama, and tofu
  • grilled chicken breast
  • mashed potatoes
  • cheesy biscuits
  • caramelized ripe plantain (from our plants) in port reduction topped with mascarpone for dessert
  • prosecco to accompany all courses

We are also thankful that our beach is recovering, and thankful that we had the wits and means to stop the erosion.
Lots of sand under the end of the dock again.
 I estimate that we have gained back about 1/3 of what we lost.  A rough calculation is that we recovered about 72 cubic yards of sand.  And we still need to recover another 144 cubic yards to be back to where we started.
You can walk on the beach again.  Some of the sandbags still show, especially where we piled them high under the tropical almond tree, but most have been covered by new sand.
Last year we planted 25 palm trees and almost all of them died in the fierce and unrelenting east winds that lasted for about 6 months.  We are trying again.  Another 25 planted and this time we are putting little windbreak fences in front of each one.
Mason and Jovanie working on the windbreaks.
The windbreaks are made from palmetto trunks.  Palmettos grow very quickly and their trunks are quite straight; perfect for sustainable harvest for fences, etc.
Nine or so palmetto stakes pounded into the sand 3 feet and 3-4 feet above the sand to protect the young palm trees.
We planted some very close to the water and some a little farther back.
A few more palmetto stakes to add.
Once they get established, the palms close to water's edge will be another line of defense from the crashing waves.  And all palms will be good windbreaks, too.  The nice thing about the palms is that we started them from our own yellow dwarf coconuts, so we didn't have to buy them - the first time or the second time!

Dennis did some research and found that cocoplums, which grow wild along the seashore and are prolific in nearby areas, are also good at stabilizing the beach and providing shelter from the wind.  You can't find them at plant nurseries, so we got a friend to pick a bunch of fruits for us and we are trying to start them from seed.
Grow little Cocoplum seedlings, grow!
We hear that the success rate for the seedlings is low, so Dennis planted about 100 seeds from fruit that we cleaned.  We'll see how it goes.  They are in a raised bed so we can tend to them and get them to a nice size before we set them out.  We will probably make palmetto windbreaks for them too.  The palmetto stakes should last several years, plenty long for the cocoplums and the palms to get established.

We finally had a break from the rain, but the Monkey River Road is well and truly flooded after 35 inches of rain in November.  The Monkey River was more than 16 feet above flood level for several weeks, which totally floods the unpaved road.  Yesterday was the first day land vehicles managed to get through for at least 2 weeks.  But the road is still too bad to get our wood flooring delivered by road.  So we used 2 of our boats to bring it down from the contractor's place of business in Placencia.
Look how low the boat is riding in the water!  It is full of very heavy Santa Maria tongue and groove flooring.
Normally, the trip from Placencia takes about 30 minutes, even less when sea is this calm.  With this heavy load, the trip took about 3 times that long.  But now the flooring is here and as soon as the flooring crew can get here, next week probably, they can start installing the floor in the addition.  Good timing since Dennis has almost completed the wiring.

Do you ever see things your pictures that you didn't expect when you took the picture?  At first glance this looked like a big shark fin!
Did a shark photobomb me?  No, but a swallow did.  I was just taking a shot of the pink clouds sailing on the sea at dusk when this swallow flew by.
And here is another unexpected sight - a Mayan ruin in the distance.  Make that Mayan ruin-shaped cloud.
Mayan castle in the sky.
 Sunset yesterday was a real beauty.
The black speck at the bottom of the blue sky is a little commercial plane flying south to Punta Gorda.  The last flight of the day since none of the airstrips have lights or radar for night flights.
I'll end this post with one last sunset photo.
Very dramatic!
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American family and friends, and to everyone who is thankful for the wonderful things, large and small, in this world.


  1. Good luck with the palms Wilma. The palmetto trunks look perfect wind-breaks.
    Beautiful sunsets; and if only I lived nearer. Thanksgiving menu sounds delicious. lol

    1. Thanks, Keith. Once the palms get about 8 ft tall they should be OK and the palmetto stakes should last that long. That's one of the great things about the tropics - things grow really fast! And Keith - you will always have place at my table, just show up any time.

  2. Beautiful menu for your Thanksgiving Wilma and equally beautiful photographs. I would love the recipe for that bean salad with avocado - the whole menu is so foreign to us over here.

    1. I am planning to do a post this weekend on our food supply and hurricane preparedness, and will include the 3 bean salad "recipe". Glad you liked the photos. Cheers!

  3. Great that you can grow your own palms. Hope the wind breaks let them get established this time.
    Beautiful Sunsets, wonder if clouds in the shape of Aztec temples have a special name.

    1. Our first dwarf yellow palms were given to us by a friend about 9 years ago. They start bearing coconuts at around 4 years and very prolific. We have more coconuts than we can use and often give them away. Once these new ones start bearing, we may have enough to sell commercially if we can find a good way to market them.
      That cloud was incredibly symmetrical; I have never seen anything like it! "Pyramidal Cumulus" perhaps? That has a nice ring to it!

  4. Stunning sunset photos Wilma and I still fantasize about having a beach like that to walk along outside my front door.

    1. Thanks, Derek. We usually have enough evening clouds to make for dramatic sunsets. I wake up every single day still thrilled that this is outside my front door.

  5. Yes Wilma, we are so lucky and very thankful for having the views that we have. Did you capture the rainbow the other day? Happy Thanksgiving

    1. I did see a very faint rainbow over the sea the other day and then several to the west in the early morning rain showers. At this point I am happier to the see the sun. I think today is going to be perfect!


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