Monday, October 22, 2007

Flora, Fauna, and Flooding

Tom and Selwyn made a lot of progress on the second cabin this week, although it’s not really photographable progress. The bathrooms are completely framed, including the showers. The plumbing and gray and black waste lines are in, and ready to be hooked up as soon as we get the toilets, sinks, and showers installed. Tom’s big purchase in Spanish Lookout last week was a new table saw so he and Selwyn can start making furniture. We may have somebody staying here in November, so our goal is to have a bed for them to sleep in, and a working bathroom. Other than that, it’s all decoration, right?

After finding the coral snake last weekend, Tom was very cautious when he spotted another snake as he and Selwyn were chopping a small path for the water line to the second cabin. We didn’t get a picture, but we looked in the snake book and determined that this week’s snake was a blunt headed tree snake. It was very thin, and its head looked like the head of a poisonous snake, but it was just because its neck was so skinny that its head looked triangular. Besides having a very distinct pattern, its body was elliptical, which made it look even skinnier. Unfortunately Tom had nicked it with the pick ax before he spotted it, so we released it into the jungle but we’re not sure if it will make it or not. Here’s a website with a good picture and description: Blunt Headed Tree Snake

We also found bats roosting (or whatever it is that bats do during the day) in the new bathrooms of the second cabin. After taking pictures, Tom and Selwyn chased the bats out and put up the screens so the bats won’t get used to roosting there.

We haven’t seen them again, so they apparently went some other place to sleep.

I took Tony out for a ride last week and really wished I’d taken the camera. First, we were up on one of the sandy trails in the Pine Ridge and I saw a set of just about perfect puma tracks. It was very cool but a little bit scary because I’d ridden Glinda on the same trail the day before in the very wet sand, and the puma had followed the trail for quite a distance so it looked like the puma was tracking the horse. Then, on the way back down the mountain, despite the fact that it was a beautiful sunny afternoon with a blue sky, there was a perfect rainbow segment in the sky. The angle of the moisture in the air and the sun must have been perfect to create it, and I was in the perfect spot to see it as it was framed between the trees growing on the side of the road. At least the pictures are in my head!

When Tom went to Spanish Lookout last week, he came home and told me that the Iguana Creek bridge was closed because the river was over it. The ferry has been closed for a few weeks because the water has been too high, but this was the first time since we’ve been here that the bridge was also closed, which means that to get to Spanish Lookout from here we have to drive through San Ignacio and go through the hills to get to Spanish Lookout from the other side.

When we went to Belmopan to get our passports stamped on Thursday, I asked to take a small detour to see the water-covered bridge. From the pictures, you can see that we weren’t the only sight seers. Some people were there placing pebbles at the edge of the water on the road to see if it was going up or down, but I think most people were just there to see who was going to try to drive over the bridge despite the high water and what could happen. While we were there, a small truck came from the other side, stopped and looked, and then drove through. The water was over the truck’s door panels, but it made it. Then an oil tanker came from the other direction and didn’t even slow down before crossing the bridge, although after the small truck made it across, nobody had any doubts that the tanker would make it without any problems. That was enough for us, since it really wasn’t safe and we didn’t want to have to face an ethical dilemma about whether or not we should help if someone was swept off the bridge and into the river, since with the low railing and slick steel grate of the bridge, a vehicle being swept off the bridge was a very real possibility.

We spent a lot of time at the end of last week and over the weekend visiting with some neighbors we met from about three miles down the road towards Georgeville. Mark and his wife live in Minnesota right now, and split their time between Minnesota and Belize. This trip, Mark is down here with his father-in-law Don. Mark found our blog when he was looking for information on one of the hurricanes that was threatening Belize, and realized that we lived right up the road from their Belize house. We started exchanging emails, and we were all happy to meet in real life last week and determine that none of us were freaks posing as normal people on the internet. We’ve been comparing notes on living in Belize, and sharing information on where to get what we need to live and build here. Mark’s philosophy of living here is much like ours, so we’ve spent a couple of late nights just talking.

We’ve had to laugh a few times because of how our perceptions have changed since we’ve been here. There were a few things that we noticed the Belizeans doing when we were here on vacation that we could never figure out. One of these things was always using weed whackers to mow their lawns. We figured they just couldn’t afford lawnmowers. Now, we too mow our grass with a weed whacker, because we’ve found that there are so many rocks sticking up from the soil that we’d kill the blade on a real lawnmower in no time flat and it’s easier to just do the whole thing with a weed whacker. We also wondered before we moved here why something was always being burned. We too now always have a burn pile ready to light, and it’s because things grow so fast that if you don’t burn what you can, you’d be overtaken by piles of vines and brush.

Finally, we had to make sure Mark didn’t make too many cracks about Belizeans and their rubber boots, since both Tom and I practically live in ours, just like the rest of the people who live here. When the grass is always wet and itchy, rubber boots are the nuts to slip on your feet if you have to go outside for any reason. I’ve always been a fan of rubber boots, and in New York I called them my outside bedroom slippers since that was about how I’d use them; they lived by the back door, and if I had to go out to the barn I’d just slip them on and I was good to go in snow, rain, or mud, whether I was wearing riding clothes, jeans, a skirt, or a nightgown. When we moved here, I was riding in them one morning and met one of our neighbors on the road. He made a remark about how it looked like I was being assimilated since I had the standard issue Belizean footwear, and I had to confess that I’d brought them from the States. Now Tom has them too, and Mark finally admitted that he too has them to use when he’s here. We’ve all learned not to laugh at how things are done around here, since it usually turns out that they’re done how they’re done for a reason!

When we feed the horses, we tie up Tony, Es, and Glinda so they don’t snort their feed as quickly as possible and then go to try to eat everybody else’s feed. Nessa and Elphie aren’t tied because neither of them would dare to challenge one of the other horses. However, every morning, as soon as they finish, they head over to Tony’s are and take a nap with Tony standing guard.

They generally stay there and rest until we come out to untie everybody and take them out to the grass field.

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