Friday, March 9, 2007

Random thoughts

Selwyn found this dove trapped in one of the cat cages. He thinks it probably walked on the ground and managed to get in, and then couldn't figure out how to get out when it was flying. As soon as he released it, it flew off into the jungle.

Morning comes early in the jungle, and traffic at our gate starts early whether the gate is open or closed, locked or unlocked. Thursday morning, Thelma came through the gate a little before 7:00 to see if we were going to San Antonio during the day because her mother needed a ride to the health clinic because Giovanni’s stomach was upset. Today, the excavator who had stopped us on the Georgeville Road on Tuesday night pulled up a little before 6:30 am and came in to see what we wanted done. It was an interesting visit, because it turns out the driver, Mike, is running for a town council seat, and he needs campaign donations so he can have a pre-election picnic for his town. Even though we’re new to the country, can’t vote, and don’t live in his town, he assured us that any donation we wanted to make towards his campaign would be returned tenfold because he’d give us a discount on any work we wanted done, make sure we got any permits we needed, and otherwise take care of us. We didn’t give him a donation and didn’t contract for any work; we don’t want to donate to a political party when we’re not sure what the party represents, and we still don’t know if it’s cheaper to hire a bunch of guys with shovels and pick axes rather than an excavator. At the moment, we’re leaning towards the guys with shovels because we’d rather give more guys money to feed their families, and while it may be slower, they’ll probably do less damage to the surrounding environment than a bulldozer. And most of the guys we can hire for the day aren’t running for any office and won’t ask for campaign donations.

The early traffic isn’t as bad as it sounds. When we’ve visited Belize in the past, we noticed that our body clocks get set to the sun, and that’s proven to be the case now that we’re living here. The sun rises right around 6:00, and that seems to be when most people get up. We set the alarm, but we’re usually at least half awake when it goes off, and even on weekends when we “sleep in,” it’s only until 6:45 or 7:00. So, it’s a pretty safe bet that you can stop by somebody’s house around 7:00 and they’ll be fit to receive visitors. The other thing about the visits is that they take the place of phone calls, which is sort of a mixed blessing. I’m not a huge fan of the telephone, so the fact that no wires come out this far and we don’t get cell reception really doesn’t bother me. However, it also means that if I need a stick of butter, I can’t call the neighbor, ask if they have it, and then go get it if they do; I have to walk over to ask, which usually involves a little more socializing. But, we also don’t end up talking on the phone just to talk and say hi, so we enjoy the face to face socializing that takes the place of phone calls. The early hours also aren’t a problem because everybody seems to be in bed at a reasonable time. The sun goes down around 6:00, so we pick up whatever we’re doing and make and eat dinner. Without TV, we generally talk or read or play cards for a little while after we eat, and we’re ready to hang it up and call it a day by 9:00 or 10:00 pm at the latest.

Not to rub it in, but sitting here in the jungle is so pleasant it’s hard to remember that most of our friends and family are in the cold gray north, and that the season is slowly changing from winter to spring. The locals here don’t divide the year into spring, summer, fall, and winter; instead, it’s the cool season, the dry season, the rainy season, and the hurricane season. I’m sitting in the camper writing, smelling the delicious smell of the blossoms from the tangerine trees, which are now flowering, and watching the hummingbirds feed. Grapefruits and sour oranges, which were at the height of their season when we came here, are now done, and the tangerines are blooming. Who knew that different citrus trees were on different crop schedules, and the crops aren’t dependent on the traditional four seasons? I have to start thinking about planting a garden, but need to talk to somebody first about how much it matters what is planted when since I have no doubt that annual crops like tomatoes and peppers also do better in certain seasons.

Bol says the real nasty poisonwood on my feet is black poisonwood, which is worse than white poisonwood. The white just gives you a bumpy rash, but the black eats at your skin and makes blisters. I thought I just manifested the allergy differently than Tom, but apparently I somehow came in contact with the white and the black, where Tom has only encountered the white. Shortly after Bol told me this, Tom showed me a beautiful piece of hardwood that he was using to make a wide windowsill. He told me it was black poisonwood, and it took him a second to figure out why I recoiled like he’d just asked me to pick up a venomous snake. However, he explained that once the wood is kiln dried, the sap, which is what causes the skin reaction, is gone, so it’s safe to pick up the wood…we hope.

I also learned the difference between concrete and cement. You buy concrete in the bags, and it’s the grey powdery stuff. When you mix it with sand and stones and water, it becomes cement. So much to learn.

We’re now horse owners again, almost. We paid George for half of Esmerelda now that we’ve closed, and will pay him the other half when we get some more Belizean cash, which is difficult without a Belizean bank account. I don’t want to ride her until her front feet are trimmed. Selwyn can trim her feet, but he needs the tools, so we’ll get the basic farrier tools when we go to Spanish Lookout next week. In the meantime, I’ll clean her up and probably start giving her some feed to get some meat on her bones, and get her her shots and wormers. George said he did all that, but he’s not to clear as to when, so we’ll just redo it to be sure since I know how easy it is to lose track, and they don’t even have the seasons to give them a frame of reference here. I’ll have her looking like a little children’s hunter within a month, and then see if there’s an ultrasound machine in this country so we can figure out if she’s in foal, and if she is, when she’s due! Now we’re on the search for another horse so we can go out riding together – when Tom stops cracking the whip and making us work on the place, that is!

I used the corn masa purchased in Spanish Lookout to make corn tortillas for Friday’s dinner of salbutes. They weren’t bad. We won’t know how good they were compared to the traditionally prepared corn tortillas until we try them, but on their own they have definite possibilities. I guess anything tastes good when it’s salted and fried in oil!

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