Thursday, November 15, 2007

No, we haven’t been eaten by jaguars

Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’ll try not to let it happen again…but we’ve just been so busy that blogging has been the last thing on my mind, and answering email has been a close second to last thing on my mind. We haven’t been doing anything earth shattering – if we had I probably would have blogged about it – but we’ve been pretty busy with the day to day stuff of living. But, I’ve now received enough worried emails from people who are either wondering why the blog hasn’t been updated or why I haven’t answered their emails, that I finally decided it’s about time to update the blog.

A few weeks ago, I started corresponding with a woman online about moving to Belize with horses. The woman, Marjie, and her fiancé, Chuck, were planning a fact finding visit to Belize from November 10 to 18, so I invited them to spend some time here, thinking that Tom and Selwyn would have at least one, if not both, rooms done in the second cabin before then. Of course everything still takes longer than we expect, and we were all busting our butts last week to get everything done. Tom and Selwyn were working on the ceiling in the room, and I grouted the shower and did a lot of the clean up and finish work in the bathroom. And, Tom and Selwyn got to work on a bed. Tom decided that he’d use the sapodilla posts he purchased the week before for the legs of this bed, even though he’ll probably choose a softer hardwood for the next bed. But, he wanted to make the rest of the bed out of milady, a beautiful hardwood which is either a light beige or yellowish background with a very pretty pink grain. So, he purchased to wood he needed, and he and Selwyn made admirable progress on the bed.

We weren’t exactly sure when Marjie and Chuck were arriving, which was fine, but Tom considered every hour that they didn’t show up a bonus so they could get just a little more done on the bed. Fortunately for Tom, Marjie emailed with the exact time they were leaving Caye Caulker on Tuesday. Unfortunately for Tom, when I told him of Marjie and Chuck’s ETA, he had about three hours to get the bed into some sort of usable condition and get the room, bathroom, and porch cleaned up and ready for guests. Saying Tom looked like a deer in the headlights when I gave him the ETA is probably an understatement, but despite his look of utter shock, he and Selwyn sprang into action and got the bed put together and stable. I showed up with my bucket of soapy water, a broom, and an armful of linens, blankets, and pillows, and the three of us must have looked like some sort of speeded-up video as we got to work making the room look like it was ready for guests.

Marjie and Chuck arrived right on schedule, and Marjie said exactly the right thing when she looked at the room: “Wow, did you guys get a lot done in the past week!” She had been reading the blog, and even with what she could see from the little blog pictures, she could see that a lot of work had been done. It definitely helped with our peace of mind that she knew what was going on, and wasn’t expecting five-star resort accommodations!

We spent the next 24 hours or so talking, talking, and talking. Marjie and Chuck are planning to do pretty much what Tom and I did, so they had a ton of questions for us about things we did that we think really worked, things we would do differently if we did it again, and about what it’s like making the move from the US to Belize. We were really glad they came, because besides really enjoying getting to know them, Marjie, who is a farrier who does a lot of therapeutic work on horses’ feet, spent most of Wednesday morning working on Nessa’s feet. Nessa wasn’t exactly cooperative, but Marjie is both patient and persistent, and works pretty quickly, so she managed to get Nessa’s feet looking like normal horse feet, and she trimmed the hoof on Nessa’s bad leg so that she can actually use the foot and stretch the tendon, which should help with both Nessa’s comfort and healing. Marjie flew down here with some of her tools, and when she and Selwyn were talking and she realized how difficult it is to get good farrier tools here, she very generously left some of her tools for Selwyn, along with nails, pads, and a few specialty shoes. She also brought fly masks for the horses because she had read about the problems Nessa was having with her eyes because of the bugs, and some toys for the dogs, along with a few other things that are difficult to find in Belize.

One thing she brought isn’t very popular, but unfortunately has become necessary over the past couple of weeks: a muzzle for Nock. A couple of weeks ago, Nock decided that she was going to kill Beli. Every time the two bitches crossed paths, Nock ended up attached to some part of Beli, biting and shaking and growling for all she was worth. Beli is a real sweetheart, and didn’t get the little dog in her mouth and shake her to death, but that meant Tom and I would have to wade in and try to pry Nock off, which resulted in multiple bites for both of us. We had been keeping the two bitches separated, but every once in a while Nock would shoot through a door and get in the same room as Beli, or they’d run across each other outside, and the fight would begin again. We had been trying to keep Nock outside more, which worked until Nock decided that El Negrito was also on her hit list. That wasn’t any huge surprise; the surprise had actually been that the chickens were roaming around the property and the dogs really hadn’t been bothering them. But, Nock was outside with me and I was rinsing some grapefruit off with the hose, and I looked up and she was trotting across the yard with El Negrito in her mouth. I yelled at her to drop him, which she did. I put Nock in the house and went to pick up the carcass. To my surprise, he wasn’t dead. He was laying there like he was dead, on his side with his neck out, one wing up and one down, and his feet just sticking out in the air, but when I picked him up he righted himself and sat in my hands with his head up. I put him in the coop for a couple of hours, and when I brought him out he ran to join the rest of the flock. This happened three days ago, and he’s still not really keeping up with the other chickens and he doesn’t appear able to fly, but he’s eating and it looks like he’ll be okay. Nock, on the other hand, is not okay with the new muzzle. It’s nice for us that we can muzzle her and not have to keep her separate from all the things she wants to bite, but from the way she’s moping and looking like she’s being abused, it’s not nice for her. Oh well is all we can say about it.

The other dogs are all fine. We removed the stitches from the puppies, which didn’t exactly go as we had expected. When we left the vet’s office after their surgery, he gave us a couple of syringes filled with what he said was a mild tranquilizer so we could calm the puppies down enough that we could get the stitches out without dealing with wiggly puppies. I’ve taken stitches out of un-tranquilized dogs before, so I took the syringes even though I didn’t think we’d use them. When the stitch removing day arrived, however, the puppies seemed to be feeling especially good, so we decided to stick them with the needles to keep them quiet. Whatever was in the syringes kept them quiet all right – we had them outside where the light was better, and they both dropped in the driveway within about a minute, and were completely out. We removed the stitches and figured they’d be up and around in a few minutes. Nope. Those two dogs were unconscious for about three hours, and were pretty quiet for the rest of the day. It was a nice break from our usual raucous puppy mornings, but the only downside was that after we decided they weren’t going to come around too quickly, we carried them onto the porch, where they both wet themselves while they were sleeping. But, the puddles cleaned up and the puppies were fine the next day, and now everything is back to normal.

In addition to our bad dogs, we had a Bad Wilton last week. Wilton is the ten-year old from next door, and he is always a perfectly delightful kid. He usually comes over and works with Tom for one morning over the weekend, and he came over last Saturday morning. His parents were both working, and his sister had gone with his mother, so Wilton was home alone. Damion and Olmi knew he was working here, and knew we’d feed him and make sure he was okay, so they didn’t worry about him. After Tom and Wilton finished working, we had lunch and were chit-chatting. After lunch, Wilton said he was going to go home. We asked if he wanted to work any more, or if he just wanted to hang out here rather than going home to an empty house, but he told us that he was going to ride his bike into San Antonio to his aunt’s house, where his grandmother was staying for the weekend. Tom asked him point blank if he was allowed to ride into San Antonio by himself, and he assured us that he was. We know that he sometimes rides towards San Antonio to get ice for his mother, so we didn’t think that much of it. But, we got the real story from Damion and Olmi on Sunday. It seems that Wilton only rides about a mile towards San Antonio to get ice, to the last house on the electric lines. He is NOT allowed to ride all the way into San Antonio by himself. And, he didn’t even leave a note, so when the rest of the family got home, they didn’t know where he was. Elizabeth told them she’d seen him heading towards San Antonio, so they figured out what he did, and Olmi was so mad that they left him there over night and didn’t pick him up until they met at church the next morning. Bad Wilton!

We didn’t find any of this out until late Sunday afternoon, because we spent Sunday in the village of Buena Vista with Selwyn’s wife Hilda’s family. Her very elderly grandmother is quite sick, bedridden and not eating, so Hilda wanted to take the kids to see their great grandmother for what is probably the last time. We volunteered to provide the wheels, so everybody loaded up, including Selwyn’s mother Petranela and sister Nellmarie. Busses don’t run from San Antonio into San Ignacio over the weekend, so as we drove down the San Antonio road, we picked up a whole truckload of people trying to get into town for the day. We arrived at Hilda’s parents’ house just as lunch preparations were beginning, so although Tom and I had planned on amusing ourselves for a couple of hours, we ended up hanging out and visiting and eating with Hilda’s family. It was just like the Sunday afternoons we’ve spent with our families and many friends’ families, except we were trying to understand what was going on in Spanish, which is all Hilda’s parents speak. However, most of the kids are bilingual, and plenty of kids were running around. Despite the reason for the visit, everybody had a good time and we got home in the late afternoon, relaxed and stuffed full of yummy chicken, rice, and beans.

Although last week was absolutely gorgeous weather-wise, this week it has been raining, raining, and raining. Everything is mud, and the trees drip pretty much continuously on our metal roofs, and we’re finding leaks we’ve never had before. We were a little surprised yesterday morning to look out the window and see that Tinkerbell had been attacked by the banana tree. The big banana leaves were holding so much water they became too heavy for the roots in the very muddy soil, and three of the shoots fell on the truck. No harm was done to the truck, and there are still plenty of shoots to provide us with lots of majunches in the future.

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