Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tom & Selwyn 1, Fer-de-lance 0

And we expect to maintain the shutout status on the fer-de-lance population around here. Tom and Selwyn were clearing the jungle away from some of the cages behind the second cabin, and Tom spotted a small snake in the path around one of the cages. They had just walked past a sinkhole and Selwyn had jokingly said that the cave was where the fer-de-lances live, and Tom spotted the snake, which was only about a foot long and about a half inch in diameter. Neither of them was carrying a machete, so Selwyn told Tom to keep an eye on it and not let it get away, and he ran back to the cabin in search of a snake dispatching tool. Tom wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do to prevent the snake from leaving, but fortunately it didn’t move in the time it took Selwyn to grab the digging bar, which he used to chop off the snake’s head. I was in San Antonio when this happened, and as soon as I pulled in the driveway and said hello, they had to lead me into the jungle to show me the carcass, so now I too know what a fer-de-lance looks like. Selwyn was surprised that Tom spotted it because their colors are great camouflage for the leaves, but we suspect that Tom is more likely to see them than non-colorblind people since his eye spots shapes and patterns that are out of place rather than focusing on color.

When they weren’t killing venomous snakes, Tom and Selwyn continued the effort to rid the first cabin of termites and make it so they won’t move back in after it’s sprayed. Tom talked to our neighbor, Damion, who will spray the cabin sometime this weekend, so before that’s done, Tom and Selwyn removed a few of the non-hardwood boards from the cabin, and worked underneath to jack the cabin off each of its supports and insert a thin piece of zinc between the support and the cabin floor. This meant the better part of the day crawling around under the cabin, which is three to four feet off the ground, with Selwyn unbolting the brackets and jacking the cabin up, then Tom would insert the zinc, nail it down, lower the cabin, and reattach the bolts. This system worked until Selwyn got a little ahead of Tom with the unbolting part of the process, and when Tom went to insert a piece of zinc, the whole cabin shifted a little. Tom actually had to tell Selwyn to slow down, and it was Tom who was exhausted at the end of the day, falling asleep at the table when it was my turn to deal in our nightly cribbage game. I reminded Tom that he’s exactly twice as old as Selwyn, which he said he’d already realized. In fact, he pointed out that Selwyn will have learned exactly what to do so Tom doesn’t have to crawl under the second cabin, which is even is lower than the first.

After a week of gorgeous weather, it was raining in the morning, of course – we had a week and a half of bright sunshine and perfect 80 degree days, so it had to rain on the day when we needed to hang laundry. It cleared up by late morning though, so I managed to get a week and a half’s worth of laundry hung up around the camper and on the porch of the second cabin. It was still a little damp in the evening, but since Friday is supposed to be a nice day, it should be dry and ready to fold by lunchtime.

Because we spent so long in Spanish Lookout on Wednesday, the beer and water distributor was closed when we went by on our way home. We’ve found that the small village of San Antonio seems to have almost everything we need, so after lunch I loaded up the laptop to update the blog and check email at the internet cafĂ©, the empty case of Belikin bottles, the empty 5 gallon water jug, a sample nail so I could get 5 pounds of nails at the hardware store, and Ofelia and Rosa, who wanted to go into San Antonio to work on the computer. As I was pulling away from the corner after picking them up, we saw a man in a uniform walking down the road from San Antonio towards the corner. Rosa and Ofelia quickly filled me in on who he was – the policeman from San Antonio, who is their Uncle George’s cousin. They waved to him, and he waved us to stop and talk to him. Ofelia and Rosa chatted with him in Spanish for a minute, then looked at me with big eyes and told me that he wanted to talk to me. He walked around to my side of the truck and asked me to confirm what the girls told him, that we were buying the cat farm. I confirmed this, and gave him my name and birth date. We discussed what was happening with the cages the Zoo had removed from the property, and he informed me that his commanding officer in San Ignacio had told him to check on the status of the case, so he had walked the three miles from San Antonio to the corner. I told him what I knew, and told him that Tom was working on the property and would probably be happy to talk to him. The policeman wished us a good day, and wandered up the road in search of Tom, who told him the same thing I had told him.

Rosa, Ofelia, and I went into San Antonio and did our computer business, then went in search of a case of Belikin stout. Selwyn had told me that the main store in town did not sell beer, but he told me where to get it. The store that sells beer is just the bottom floor of a house converted into a small grocery/clothes/shoes/housewares/decorations/beer store. It was a good thing Ofelia and Rosa were with me, because I would never have found the store since it’s at the end of a long driveway off the main road through town, and isn’t marked in any way. The owner also doesn’t speak much English, so it was nice to have Ofelia and Rosa along to tell her what I wanted. She did not have a case of stout, only lager, and since Tom really likes the stout she directed us to a bar a few blocks away. Like the store, the bar isn’t marked, but Ofelia also knew where the bar is, so she led me on a shortcut through people’s yards to get to the bar. As we were walking in the bar’s gate, some men on a stoop across the street yelled to us that the man wasn’t there, but that they thought he might be at home. We did an about face and went back through the yards past the store to the man’s house. He wasn’t there, but his wife thought she knew where to find him, and she wandered off up a street on the other side of the main road. About ten minutes later she returned with her husband, who confirmed that he did indeed have a case of stout in the bar, so he walked with us back to the store where we’d left the case and Rosa. He picked up the case to refill it, and Ofelia told me that we were to sit on the benches outside the store and wait for him to return. He was back a few minutes later with the full case, which he loaded into the truck. When I asked him how much, it was about $15BZE more than what we pay for a case at one of the stores in San Ignacio, and about $20BZE more than what we pay at the distributor. But, after all the hiking back and forth, I didn’t have the heart to say I didn’t want it, so I coughed up the money and bought the beer. When I returned, Tom and Selwyn were outraged that I’d paid as much as I had, but we finally decided that the best course of action is just for Tom to get it at the distributor when he goes to San Ignacio.

We think we’ve figured out the mail system here. There’s no rural delivery, and the small post office in San Antonio doesn’t even have PO boxes, but if anybody needs to send us anything, send it to us, General Delivery, San Antonio, Cayo District, Belize, Central America. It’s important that you specify Cayo District, since there are San Antonios in other districts in Belize, and write out “Central America” because people tell us they’ve had mail floating around in California for months when someone sends something from the US with the “CA” abbreviation. If you send us anything, please give us a heads up via email so we know to go in and ask for it, since we probably won’t be checking regularly unless we’re expecting something. And, if you send us anything new (and we may be requesting that a few people send us things), please take it out of the package and label it as “used” on the customs forms so we don’t pay more for customs than for whatever item we’re getting.

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