Thursday, March 8, 2007


After loading the new gas fridge, cleaning the electric fridge in the camper, and restocking it for its new role as a bug-proof dry goods storage cabinet, I took off for my second try at getting lumber – with the bike in the back of the truck, just in case I broke down again. Since I’d been unsuccessful the day before, my list was a little longer, and I started in San Ignacio to talk to Noah about real estate stuff and to see if he really does want to sell his solar panels, stop at the Smart! cell phone store to see why they’re flashing us a message that our March bill is due when it’s already paid (I’m convinced we’re cursed when it comes to phone companies since the only reason my war with Frontier is over is that we no longer need Frontier service), and to go to the most excellent San Ignacio farmers’ market.

I got out of San Ignacio in time to get to Spanish Lookout before noon, so I was able to get most of my errands done there before everybody shut down for lunch. I went to Universal Hardware and bought a 3000 watt inverter so we can hopefully hook the satellite up to a charged battery and not have to run the generator every time we want to get on line, then I went to Caribbean Tire & Battery and bought a battery to charge to hook to the inverter, then I went to the FTC. Since we now have the butane fridge, I was able to buy more perishables at the Farmers Trading Center.

At the FTC, as I was looking at the yogurt I can buy again because we have a fridge, I spotted bags of masa. Apparently you don’t have to get the fresh corn and grind it yourself, although I have no idea if the store-bought stuff is as good as the fresh ground. But, I bought it and will try it, and will then sample corn tortillas made from fresh ground the next time our neighbors make corn tortillas. I was so excited about finding masa that I forgot to pick up the yogurt, which was the reason I was in that cooler. After leaving the FTC, I passed Western Dairies, which made me think of yogurt, which made me remember that I hadn’t put any in my cart, so I checked in Western Dairies to see if they had yogurt. Even though they make the yogurt, they don’t sell the quart containers, so I turned around and went back to FTC. I bought vanilla yogurt there, but it’s not as good as the Cayo’s Own yogurt we were getting from the yellow grocery in San Ignacio, so from now on we’ll pick up yogurt when we got to San Ignacio. I shopped like this when we lived in NY, too – some things from Wegman’s, some from Shur Fine, some from BJ’s, some from Lorie’s, some from produce stands, the butcher, or where ever – but although it’s somewhat necessary to shop that way here since there aren’t any true super markets (even though the Chinese call their convenience stores mini-supers), we have to cover a lot more ground to hit all the stores.

My last stop on the way home was the lumber yard. Tom had given me a very detailed list, with the wood broken out piece by piece for each project. I gave this list to the owner, who figured out how many of what pieces I needed, and then his manager started loading my truck. Tom’s list was very long, and I was little or no help in making decisions about what would work best when they didn’t have exactly what Tom requested. So, we got through one page, and the owner declared that they were all out of everything else, and would have more by the end of next week. I took the receipt he had written up and went in to pay, where the cashier re-wrote the receipt, again by hand, and had me pay. As I was glancing over Tom’s list on my way out, I realized that I didn’t get any 4x4’s, which Tom really needs to build the water tower – and we want water! So, I went back to the manager, who spoke little English, showed him what I wanted and asked if he had any (“Tiene 4x4s?”), he confirmed that they did, and that confirmed my suspicion that the owner had declared that they were out of everything because he was tired of dealing with me. I wavered between sweet and dumb and managed to have the manager load the 4x4s I needed, and by this time the owner had reappeared to hand write my receipt, and I repeated the process with the cashier. The drive home over the Georgeville Road with a load of lumber was…long. We had tied the lumber down, but I still had to stop four or five times to jiggle it around and get it back in place so it wouldn’t bounce or slide out of the bed of the truck. At one point some 2x4s fell on the bike, scratching the rear fork, but fortunately didn’t do any structural damage. I was fretting over having taken the bike, but then realized that if I hadn’t taken the bike, and had broken down, I would have been a very unhappy camper, so I was just glad that Tom had really fixed the truck. It took me almost an hour to drive the 10 or 12 miles home from the lumberyard. Getting lumber here is a little different than running to the Henrietta Lowe’s!

So, we’re making improvements now that we don’t have to limit our materials to things we could take off the property if the sale fell through. The butane fridge is great, although I now have to get a tote bag and try to get everything I need out of the fridge at one time to cook a meal since the fridge is in the second cabin and I’m still cooking in the camper. But, that’s a minor sacrifice compared to not really being able to refrigerate anything because the electric fridge would only cool when the generator was running, and I hate having the noisy generator running all the time, not to mention it’s expensive since it’s burning diesel. Tom and Selwyn installed most of the windows in the first cabin, although they left the big window out of the side so we can use the opening as a loading bay, and they didn’t put any windows in the back wall since we’ll be changing that wall, closing window openings and opening a door opening when we put the bathroom shed on the building.

The satellite is successfully hooked up and working. We can now get email and get online from the camper with the wireless router from the first cabin. Tom managed to Skype his parents and my sister-in-law in Georgia, JB, along with our friend Gonzo here in Belize. The funny thing is it costs $.02/minute to Skype the US, and $.21/minute to make a Skype call in Belize. Right now, the generator still has to be running to give it enough power – this was the problem with the installation on Wednesday night – but with the inverter and battery we hope to hook it up over the weekend so we’ll have quiet wireless.

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