Saturday, March 24, 2007

A scare

Every Saturday, I demand that Tom and I do something besides work on the property, at least for half a day. We spent the morning catching up on email and blogging – finally, and at least for now we don’t owe anybody any emails, and the blog is up to date as of yesterday including pictures. After we don’t bother to get online for a couple of days we’ll be behind again, but for now we’re on top of it and we had all Saturday afternoon to do our recreational activity.

It isn’t really recreation, and it is on the property, but we decided that it was a good time to take a hike and walk the boundary of our back 21 acres, which we hadn’t yet done. I’d ridden Esmerelda through a trail on that lot and had spotted where our property line crossed the trail, but that was as much of the lot as either of us had seen. The caretaker of a neighboring property had shown us the boundary marker after we had walked the other lot’s boundary. We were a little annoyed and had intended to ask that landowner to remove the fence, but after walking the line today, we realized that the fence is on our lot line, most likely erected by the previous owner of our property. We started with that line and walked to the top of the hill, where the fence takes a turn and Tom saw a boundary marker. I somehow missed that marker in my search for the trail I had seen crossing the horse trail, but we couldn’t find a trail so we retraced our steps back towards the feeder road. Before we hit the road, we found a path heading on to our property, so we took that until we hit the horse path. We went down that path and found property line, and hiked back towards the first line we had walked. The path hasn’t been maintained in a while, so it was rough going, and it seemed liked we hiked for a very long way. We went up and over one big mound, and were then in a valley starting up another big mound, and we decided to turn back. We retraced our steps, crossed the horse trail, and fairly quickly found our other corner marker and line. We had not been able to find where that line hit the feeder road, so we followed the line out to the road and found the boundary marker hidden behind a boulder in a place where we would never have found it looking for it from the road side. So, we’ve now hiked almost all of that lot line, and will go back when we have a spare hour or so and try to walk the line where we turned around. The 21 acres is a nice hunk of jungle with a few paths through it in addition to the boundary path around it, and at least for now all we plan to do with it is use it for hiking and riding.

We returned from our hike, exercised, and I made a pan of butterscotch brownies. When we had been hiking past our neighbors’ houses, Ofelia had come out and told us that her mother, Marta, had invited us for dinner at seven. She said there was nothing I could bring, but I’m unable to show up for a dinner empty handed. The neighbor families don’t drink alcohol, and wine is ridiculously expensive here, so our normal US contribution to a meal of a bottle of wine isn’t an option. While all of the women have ranges with ovens, they tend to mostly cook on their wood hearths, so they don’t make many baked goods, so anything sweet and baked is usually appreciated. So, showered and cleaned up, we headed off to our neighbors’ – our big weekend outing for dinner!

Dinner turned out to be a little tense. Only Marta and Julian (parents of Ofelia, Rosa, Iris, Hector, Marixa, and Zulmi) and Olmi were there. The girls, Hector, and Wilton (Olmi and Damion’s son) had gone to visit their grandmother in San Antonio, and Damion, Olmi’s husband, was on a field trip to Old Belize for guide school. Marta, Julian, and Olmi speak the least English of all the adults next door, so they were left with us without a translator. We’re all learning how to communicate with each other, so it was okay, and we actually ended up laughing about the effort to learn each others’ languages as we talked about things like the similarity of saying “tiene hambre,” which is “I have hunger/I’m hungry,” “tiene hombre” which is “I have a man,” and “tiene hombros,” which is “I have shoulders.” I think I said I have all three, but what was really funny was Tom saying he had a man. We also had a good laugh at Marixa’s expense, because the poor kid has chicken pox, which are going through the San Antonio school. She’d been sleeping, and Marta woke her up to give her more medicine, and was trying to explain to us what’s wrong with her. As soon as I saw her I said “chicken pox,” and they all said yes. I then said something about calling it “pollo pox,” which they all thought was very funny, although that’s not how they say it.

As we were eating and talking, Marta was looking more and more tense. Not only is Marixa sick, but the rest of her family was MIA. We finally understood that all the kids and Damion were supposed to have been home at 7:00, and by this time it was 8:30 or a little after. Since Damion had their car to go to school, they had no way to go out to see where everybody was, and when we finally figured out what was going on Tom offered to take Julian and drive to San Antonio to look at least for the kids. They met all of them in the back of Damion’s truck right at the San Antonio town line, and turned around and all came back together. Then the story unfolded. Damion and Marta’s elderly grandfather, who lived in Guatemala, died on Tuesday. Somehow this story got mixed up with rumors of an auto accident, and the story that got back to San Antonio was that the bus that had taken the guide school students to Old Belize had been in an accident, and Damion had been killed. Damion had returned late from his trip, but the bus was not involved in an accident, and everybody was fine; however, the family didn’t know that, and they were trying to find out what happened and trying to decide how to break the news to Damion’s wife, Olmi, and his sister, Marta, and the rest of the family still at home. When Damion finally showed up, they figured out where the wires were crossed, and started to head home, just in time to meet Tom and Julian on the way in to town. All’s well that ends well, but Tom and I headed for home and left the entire family talking quickly, loudly and a lot about the trauma of the miscommunication.

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