Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I missed sending out a Merry Christmas greeting to everybody last week, but this week I have the time to post our Happy New Year wishes. We can’t believe we’ve been in Belize almost two years, but it’s been two good years, and we’re hoping for the same for everybody in 2009. Happy New Year!

New Wheels

We finally had to suck it up and do something we’ve been putting off for too long – buy a companion for Tinkerbell. Before Christmas, Tom was leaving San Ignacio with our guests, and Tinkerbell quit. Tom managed to get her into San Ignacio, drop her off at the repair shop, and rent a SUV to get everybody home. No harm done, but it can’t happen again, and Tinkerbell just isn’t completely dependable any more. So, Tom did some quick research, visited a few car dealers, and managed to find a good deal on a new 2007 Isuzu D-Max, which is a small, four-door, diesel, 4WD pickup truck. It hardly seems like a truck since we’re so used to Tinkerbell, but it has a much better suspension, and a four door cab that can hold four comfortably, with seatbelts for six. It seems like a car, but that’s probably a good thing since it’s easier to get in and out and passengers don’t bang their heads on the ceiling as we traverse the rough roads around here. Tom picked it up the day before Christmas and picked up our Christmas week guests, Mike and Stacie, on its maiden voyage, and then took everybody for a Mountain Pine Ridge tour to Rio Frio Cave, Rio On Pools, and Big Rock as a Christmas outing.

Mike & Stacie

We just had an incredibly eventful week with Mike and Stacie from Santa Clara, California. They spent the first part of their Belize vacation diving from Caye Caulker, then spent a night at the Belize Zoo where they pronounced the night tour “awesome” but delivered the sad news that Ellen, the black jaguar, had just died of cancer. From the Belize Zoo they went cave tubing at Jaguar Paw, and Tom picked them up there in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. They met the very tired, muddy, and happy CheChem Ha adventurers in San Ignacio, and then we all returned to the farm for dinner. On Christmas, everybody went to Rio Frio Cave, Rio On Pools, and Big Rock, and then came back for our traditional standing rib roast prime rib dinner with twice baked potatoes.

On Friday (Boxing Day here), Mike, Stacie, Dave, and Tom all went to Actun Tunichil Muknal, aka the ATM Cave, and spent a good day exploring the Mayan underworld with Gonzo. Saturday we saddled up Tony, Es, and Glin, and Stacie, Mike, and I packed a lunch and went on a trail ride to Sapodilla Falls. We had the usual pleasant ride through the jungle, and then arrived at the falls to find, for the first time in my experience, two other horses already tethered in the “parking lot” at the top of the falls. The horses were from Blancaneaux, and as we were hiking down the trail, the Blancaneaux guide and his guest were hiking out, so we had the falls all to ourselves for lunch and a swim. As we were getting ready to leave, a group of local people came in and were sitting downstream for us. We waved and said hi as we walked by, and didn’t think any more of it until we were almost at the top of the trail when I heard “Mrs. Tom, Mrs. Tom” behind me. It turns out one of the men in the group was Antonio Mai, the chairman of San Antonio’s water board and warden of the Elijio Panti National Park. He worked with Tom on the water line up in the hills near Hidden Valley in March 2007, and when one of the men with him told him that I was “the girl from Chac Mool [the previous name for our property], Mr. Tom’s wife,” Antonio ran up the hill behind us to meet us. He told us all sorts of things about the park and its history, invited us to ride with him sometime to a cave in the park, and taught us a little bit of the Mayan language – how to say “white man” (Mike), “white girl” (me), and, when Mike pointed out that Stacie is Chinese and not white, “yellow girl” (Stacie). He also told us a few myths of the jungle about beings who lure people into the jungle for various mischievous reasons, and we spent a half hour laughing together.

Early – and I mean early – Tom dropped Mike and Stacie off in San Ignacio and they left for an overnight tour to Tikal, Guatemala, where they had a good time exploring the park and archeological site. They took a zip line tour Monday morning, did some shopping, and we met them in San Ignacio Monday evening. We all went to dinner at Benny’s, a restaurant that serves Belizean food in the town of Succotz. We had empanadas, tostadas, garnaches, and salbutes as an appetizer, and then sampled each other’s dinners. Mike ordered chilmole, a black soup with chicken and a boiled egg, Stacie had cow foot soup, and I had pibil, which is a sort of pulled pork. All were delicious. Tom, not being an overly adventurous eater, ordered fried fish, so he got to eat his dinner without having to share!

On Tuesday we headed down the Hummingbird Highway to Caves Branch, where we’d signed up to do the Black Hole Drop. The four of us had signed up, but Stacie woke up in the middle of the night with a strong feeling that she shouldn’t do it, so it ended up that they went to the Inland Blue Hole and St. Herman’s Cave while Tom and I did the Black Hole Drop on our own, mostly because we hadn’t done it before and thought we should do it so we can advise our guests. Stacie was very wise to trust her instincts, because it was an awesome trip, but difficult for a few different reasons. The hike to the Black Hole, which is a 300+ foot sinkhole in the middle of the jungle, was tough. It takes over an hour in good conditions because the terrain is very hilly and rocky, and the hike is mostly up hill. On Tuesday, it was raining off and on, so the hike was made even more difficult because the trail was very muddy, and very, very slippery with lots of steep drop offs at the edge of the trail. It reminded Tom of working on the water pipeline, and he was glad all he had to carry was a day pack with water and rappelling gear and he had two hands to climb up some of the steeper portions of the trail. Not counting guides, there were nine people in the party, and by the time we got back to the bus at the end of the day, five of the nine had fallen on the trail and were covered in mud. Tom and I were luckily not among the fallers, but we were also pretty muddy because doing the drop itself meant sliding backwards off a mud-covered limestone overhang. After getting buckled into the rappelling gear and clipped to the ropes, my stomach was in my mouth and I was shaking despite my pep talks to myself about how people much less athletic than I am had done this. I informed the guide that I was NOT going to look down, and he just said, “That’s fine, now lean back, push off the rock, and feed the rope up.” I did as instructed, swung down below the overhang, spun a 180 on the rope, and forgot all about being nervous. It was an incredible experience to be hanging out in space, basically at ground level, looking up in one direction at the jungle rising above me, and looking down at the top of the canopy below me. I slid slowly down through the canopy to the bottom of the sinkhole, not because I was afraid to go fast, but because I wanted time to absorb what I was seeing as I dropped from one world to another. Tom had descended on another rope at the same time – although a little more quickly – so we landed almost together at the bottom of the sinkhole. We joined those already down and watched the rest of our party descend, with everybody, without exception, awed by the experience. The guides fed us a great lunch, and then we hiked around the bottom of the sinkhole, climbed up the side where it was a little shallower – but still a very tough climb which included a very rickety ladder – and hiked down the muddy hill and back to the point where we met the bus to take us back to the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. Click here to see a description of this trip – sorry, but we forgot our camera, so we can’t wait for more guests who want to do this so we can go again and remember the camera!

By the time we got back to Caves Branch, Mike and Stacie had caught a ride to Belize City, where they were going to catch the water taxi to go back to Caye Caulker for a couple more days of diving and snorkeling. Stacie had completed her diving certification before they headed inland, but the certification dives focused more on skills than on seeing fish and the beautiful coral formations on the reef off the coast of Belize, so they wanted to try to get a couple of more days of reef time before they had to head home. We’re sure Mike and Stacie will be back to visit Belize!

Dave & Tamis & kids

In the last blog entry, I briefly mentioned what we’d been doing with our friends from Seattle, Dave, Tamis, and their kids Mia (5), and Evan (9). After that entry, we had another week of adventures before they had to leave the Saturday after Christmas. Although Tom took them to the airport while I went with Mike and Stacie on a trail ride to Sapodilla Falls, we both found that evening that we really missed hearing kids’ laughter coming from the cabins. We were amazed how attached we could get in just a little over two weeks!

Although we’re still really missing them, we can look back on the time they were here with nothing but pleasant memories. We did so much I can’t possibly go into detail for all of it, but Dave is an awesome photographer, so I’ll just include a few of their pictures.

We found that when the adults wanted to hike somewhere, the best thing for Mia and Evan was to put a saddle on Tony and toss them up. They liked riding, the adults liked walking a little more quickly, and Tony is always a good sport.

One day we saddled up and headed down the road to the Butterfly Ranch, where we saw many beautiful butterflies and learned a lot – more than we knew there was to know – about butterflies.

Another day we took a hike through the jungle and to the vista overlooking MET and the road to 7 Miles.

It’s a nice hike through the jungle to get to the vista, and the view is gorgeous once you get there.

Tom and Selwyn took everybody to Barton Creek Cave, where they paddled into the cave and then swung on the rope swing at the Barton Creek Outpost’s swimming hole.

Late one afternoon, the boys – Dave, Evan, and Tom – took off for Big Rock. They swam, jumped off the rock, and then hung out and watched the sunset, hiking back up the trail just as it was getting dark. Mia was distraught that she had missed an adventure, but fortunately she got to visit Big Rock on Christmas Day and see that she hadn’t missed all that much, at least as far as she was concerned.

Mia was much happier at Rio On Pools, where the Pools are kid friendly and the slides between pools are adventure enough for a small person. The whole family went there twice during their stay, and would have gone again if they had been able to stay longer.

On Christmas Eve, I went with Dave, Tamis, Evan, Mia, and Selwyn on a tour led by Gonzo and his friend Becky, a ceramics archeologist (sorry if the title isn’t quite right, Becky!) on a tour of Chechem Ha Cave.

We saw lots of fascinating artifacts, tons of cool cave formations, and got to climb through some very narrow passages in the cave.

I, unfortunately, used Selwyn as a crash landing pad on one of the descents (thanks, undependable knees), but Sewlyn was okay and I was just muddy. What’s new? It wouldn’t be an adventure is I wasn’t covered in mud!

When we got out of the cave, we had a delicious lunch. It wasn’t the main course, but we got to sample a freshly roasted armadillo – which was surprisingly good. It tasted like chicken, of course.

Although we had a lot of other adventures, we also had some welcome downtime. Here’s Evan snoozing in the hammock with Nock.

To read about the adventure from Evan and Mia's point of view, visit their blog at

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Busy Season

The past week has been crazy busy, and a whole lot of fun. We’ve had three separate parties of guests, and we’ve had – and are having – a blast with all of them.

First, we had Jon, Karen, and their son Myles from Philadelphia here for a couple of days. One day they went to Barton Creek and canoed into the cave, and on their second day they packed a lunch and visited Rio Frio Cave and Rio On Pools.

Then we had Bobby, Andy, and Steve, all from Ohio, here for a couple of days. One day they took a horseback ride through the jungle and the Mountain Pine Ridge to Big Rock Waterfall with Selwyn, and on the other day they went to ATM.

The day they left, Tom picked up Dave, Tamis, Evan, and Mia at the Zoo and took them shopping in Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio – a real taste of life in Belize. Since then, they’ve toured Xunantunich and Barton Creek Cave, stopped at the inland Blue Hole on their way to Hopkins, and spent an overnight at Jungle Jeanie’s By The Sea in Hopkins. They have another whole week of adventures lined up before they head back to Seattle.

About the only bad thing that’s happened lately is that poor Recona was “attacked” by army ants. We always tie her under the house by the steps at night because she’ll spend the whole night patrolling for and barking at the multitude of armadillos around here, and because we don’t want her to be jaguar bait. We woke up at about 5am one morning to Recona shrieking by the door. Tom grabbed a machete and ran outside and found that her entire area was overcome by army ants, which were biting her just because she was in the way. Tom unclipped her and got both of them out of the army, and Recona rolled in the mud while Tom sprayed her with bug killer. She was a muddy, stinky mess, but after a bath later in the day she didn’t seem to be any the worse for the wear. Phew!

We have a couple of busy weeks lined up with more guests coming in on Christmas Eve and staying for a week, and a steady line of guests expected through January and February. We’re having a blast running our business and taking care of guests – it doesn’t even feel like work!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Belize Zoo 25th Anniversary

Tom spent this past weekend at the Belize Zoo's 25th Anniversary Celebration. While there he...

...saw the unveiling of the harpy eagle statue donated to the Zoo.

...watched the harpy eagle wedding.

...helped John, the Tropical Education Center Manager, Wilford, an assistant at the Zoo and TEC, and Miss Murial, the Cook at the Zoo.

...and had an up-close encounter with Junior Buddy, the Jaguar Ambassador at the Zoo, with Sharon and guests who stayed at the Zoo for a night and then drove Tom home, Jon, Karen, and their son Miles.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Great picture!

John and Cindy, our guests over Thanksgiving weekend, emailed this picture of two aracaris in the give-and-take palm right outside our cabin. It's too good to not post! Thanks, John and Cindy!


As I was standing in the kitchen making dinner last night, I felt something go plop onto the top of my head. And move.

My first thought was that it was a bat, which we occasionally get in the cabin. I didn’t want to put my hands to my head to brush it off because I was afraid it would bite me and I really don’t want rabies shots for Christmas, so I didn’t move and very calmly (I thought, given the circumstances) said loudly to Tom, who was working on the computer in the other room, “Tom. Come here. Immediately. You need to get this bat off my head.”

I pulled my collar tight around my neck so it couldn’t go down my shirt and bent over so Tom could see the top of my head. He started to laugh, and then brushed at the “bat” and I felt it jump to my shoulder. I turned my head to look just as this turnip tail gecko jumped to the kitchen door and scurried up out of the dogs’ reach. It paused long enough at the top of the wall for Tom to get the camera and take this picture, then disappeared back into the ceiling where it can continue to do its job eating scorpions and spiders.


It’s been very cool here the past couple of days. The high temp has been in the 60s, and every night has been in the 50s. We know it’s nothing like what all of you in the Great White North are enduring right now, but it’s very cold to us. Even the dogs are feeling it; Louie managed to make me wrap him in my shirt which kept us both warm, and all the dogs have been doing their best to get into our skins.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Thanks to everyone who emailed Happy Thanksgiving wishes to us! I’ll be catching up on emails over the next couple of days, so you should hear from me.

We had a great Thanksgiving. Cindy and John, a couple from south of Syracuse, New York, were here for the holiday, so even though it isn’t an official holiday here in Belize, it was a holiday for us. Tom, Cindy, John, and Selwyn spent the day exploring Caracol, Rio Frio Cave, and Rio On Pools, and I spent the day doing what I always do on Thanksgiving – cooking, which is something I really enjoy.

A number of people asked via email if the holiday was celebrated here, and as I was cooking I was thinking about how even though it isn’t officially celebrated, I think this is the first Thanksgiving, probably in our adult lives, when we’ve really had time to stop and think about how thankful we are for lots and lots of things. When we were kids, Thanksgiving was just a couple of days off from school, which was an event to be celebrated, but we didn’t think much about giving thanks for anything. When we got out in the real world, it was still a long weekend, definitely a good thing, but I don’t think we ever even took the time to think about the real purpose of the holiday. We were always too wound up about something else – work that didn’t get done before the holiday, travel plans for the long weekend, worry about the weather for whomever was traveling, the expense of traveling, deciding where and with whom the holiday would be celebrated, making food, fretting about other people making food, stressing because we couldn’t be in more than one place at a time, wondering if everybody would get along and behave themselves, worrying in advance about all the stresses associated with the holidays, and…all the rest of the things grown ups worry about on a regular basis, but probably more at holidays.

Here, in the quiet of my kitchen, I actually thought about all the things I give thanks for on a regular basis. A big one is that despite the great distance between our family and friends and us, we manage to remain close, thanks in part to email and modern technology, but mostly to all the people who matter and who make an extra effort to stay in touch with us like they do. Some have even traveled here to visit, for which we’re very thankful, and we’re thankful that we’ve both been able to travel and visit family and friends. On the subject of people, I’m also thankful for all the people we’ve met here who have become friends, and just for the people that regularly take a little extra time and effort to make things go easier for us and everyone else. I’m thankful that we found a place where can live happily with our animals in a beautiful warm spot in the world, and share that place with others. I’m happy that our business is going well, and that I was spending Thanksgiving not just cooking, but doing a job that I love to do at the same time, and that Tom was out sharing Belize with our newest friends and also working and having fun. For the first time in my life – no offense to former employers intended since I’ve always liked my jobs – I was able to understand how people could say that even if they won the lottery, they’d keep doing their jobs. In fact, we feel sort of like we’ve won a lottery living and working here in Belize, and we’re thankful for everything everyone has done for us over the years that enabled us to get here, including Tom’s parents who sent us here on vacation. Little did they suspect what would come of their kind action! We can only hope that those around us can find as much to be thankful for as we do – and if they can, we’re truly thankful.

Congratulations to Selwyn!

It’s been a long haul with a lot of paper chasing, but Selwyn finally has his tour guide license from the Belize Tourist Board. He’s taken all the classes, done all the internships, snipped through all the red tape, and he’s finally a tour guide. We received notice that his application was approved, and the next day had him do his first tour, taking our guests Cindy and John to Caracol and then to Rio Frio Cave and Rio On Pools. Nothing like jumping right in! John and Cindy said he did a great job – of course! – and Selwyn is now brushing up on all he needs to know to tell our next wave of guests all they want to know about Belize.

What’s New?

The answer around here, not much. We’re continuing work outside, landscaping, planting, and trying to get good grass in the pastures for the horses.

Speaking of horses, we haven’t had any Lodo pictures lately, so here’s the newest.

We call him the little Beach Boy because his mane, forelock, and tail are black, but he gets bleached blond tips from being out in the sun all the time. You might have to blow up this picture to see it.

We’re still watching him grow, although we’re a little distressed about Elphie, since she’s almost two years and he just turned five months, and there’s not a whole lot of difference in their sizes. Because of the perspective of this photo he’s not quite as big as he looks in comparison to her, but he’s still way closer to her size than he should be given her age. Plus, he’s a solid little fellow; when we pat him, we don’t feel any ribs or even fat, just a solid little guy.

The only thing that happened of any interest is that Tom broke his thumb, just in time for needing to get ready for guests we had over Thanksgiving. Tom is really embarrassed, because he didn’t even get a good story out of the happening. He was in San Ignacio and met two people he knows in front of the police station. They were walking in front of the station, right in the middle of town, talking, and he just slipped and fell into the two-foot-deep cement ditch that runs in front of the station. And it was on a Thursday morning, a week before Thanksgiving, so he couldn’t even pretend it happened when he was out partying in town!

He went behind the police station to hose himself off – he knew where the hose was from working there – and then rounded the corner and ran into our friend Escandar. He said Escandar took one look at him and asked what was wrong, and as soon as Tom showed him the thumb Escandar whipped out his cell phone and called his orthopedic doctor in Santa Elena, who took Tom immediately. He then sent Tom for x-rays, which showed that he’d completely broken the bone in the first joint of his thumb, which turned out to be a good thing because his thumb nail acted as a splint so a cast wasn’t necessary. He sent Tom home with some pain medication and instructions to keep the hand elevated. Tom, of course, had to finish his errands, so he came home with a very swollen, bruised, and sore-looking thumb, but he was then pretty willing to follow the doctor’s orders (except take the pain pills – they messed up his stomach). A week and a couple of days later and it looks a lot better, although it’s still bruised and swollen.

The only other “exciting” thing to happen is that we got a good long look at a male green honeycreeper in one of the tangerine trees. We hadn’t seen one before, and when we looked it up in the bird book it says it’s another uncommon sighting. It looks like what the Joker from Batman would look like if he were a bird. This website has some good pictures.

We also seem to have a hooded warbler nest right outside the kitchen window since we’ve had lots of baby hooded warblers fluttering around, and Dad seems to be in the habit of perching on the cage right outside the window and checking out what I’m doing in the kitchen. Aren’t they striking?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NBC Today Belize video link

Here's the link to NBC Today's videos. The one called "Wildlife in Peril in Belize" is the Belize Zoo feature, but there are also a number of other pieces about Belize. Look for the Matt Lauer "Ends of the Earth" segments.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Driving Pony

Thanks to the great weather for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot with the horses. I’ve taken all four saddle horses on long trail rides almost every day for the past couple of weeks, and one day even managed to convince Selwyn and our friend Gonzo to ride with me. That was a funny ride for a couple of reasons. First, as we were riding through the jungle chatting, Selwyn started to laugh. I asked him what was funny, and he said he’d explain later. The next morning I asked him what was so funny, and he asked me if it had registered how the three of us were talking. I was puzzled, but when Selwyn asked what language we’d been speaking, it registered that Selwyn had been speaking Creole, Gonzo was speaking Spanish, and I was speaking English…and we were talking to each other. I’m definitely the weak link of the three of us since those two are fluent in all three languages, but I’ve learned enough Spanish and Creole relating to things we frequently talk about – like things in the jungle – that I had no trouble keeping up. The funny thing was we didn’t even realize we were doing it for quite a while, and then only Selwyn realized. The other funny thing with that ride was that we ended up doing a short stretch on the road right at the time people were driving home from their jobs at the resorts. Since Gonzo and Selwyn are guides and have lived in this area for their whole lives they knew most of the people in the vehicles passing us, and I’m out on the horses enough that most people know who I am. We could see a lot of people doing double takes when they realized who we were, no doubt wondering why the gringa who’s usually out bombing around in the jungle on the horses all by herself suddenly needed not one, but two guides!

Besides riding the saddle horses, I put Elphie back to work. Our training philosophy is to just do a little with the young horses from the time they’re babies, so that nothing we do really surprises or scares them when we start training them. Since we’ve had Elphie we’ve been doing things like putting a saddle and bridle on her, ponying her on trail rides, and over the past few months I started ground driving her. She had a month or so off between the rain and a cut on her eye that we were watching, but she’s been doing great with everything, so after ground driving her around for a little while, I decided to see what she would do if she had to pull something.

We didn’t bring much driving tack with us when we came here, and she’s so small I don’t think most of it would fit anyway, so I’ve been, umm, creating tack as we go. We use an old trail bridle with rope for the long lines, and I’ve tied some baling twine on an old English saddle where the stirrup leathers would go. That keeps the lines at about the right height so they run along her back rather than tangling around her neck. When I decided I wanted her to pull something, I put another baling twine loop below the long line loop, took one of our longish English girths and rigged that up as a breast collar with the ends through the baling twine and another piece of baling twine running over the saddle to keep the “breast collar” at the right height. As a drag, I found a five gallon bucket with a lid, and put a chunk of coconut palm log in it for weight and noise. I put a piece of rope through the handle, and I dragged it up and down the driveway a few times while leading Elphie. She shied away at first, but quickly got used to it dragging beside and behind her on both sides, the side where she can see as well as her blind side. Then I hooked the rope without the drag to the two ends of the girth/breast collar and leaned on it to see if she minded having weight on that. She was great about that too, so I tied one end of the rope to the buckle on the girth, ran it through the handle on the bucket, and then ran it through the buckle on the other end of the girth with a long tail sticking out which I could hold as I drove her so I could let go and let her get away from the bucket if she panicked.

She was great. She dragged the bucket all over the property, walking and trotting, and never even spooked. Tom was working on the computer in the house, and when he heard the big noise he came out and was surprised to see me driving Elphie around with her very calmly pulling the very noisy bucket behind her. It was a little hard for me because the bucket would bounce and roll as we hit rough spots, and I kept having to jump it as we turned – although next time I’ll know to adjust the lengths of the long lines and the rope holding the bucket so the bucket stays ahead of me. We’ll probably pony Elphie into Barton Creek at some point and see if we can find a Mennonite to make a simple driving harness for her. She’s almost two so we don’t think she’s going to grow a whole lot more, but we’ll wait a bit and then Tom can build a little buggy for her to pull. We’re bummed that she’s so small because she’d probably make a great little trail horse since she’s so quiet, but we think she’s too small for me to even get on and ride. There’s a guy in town who works with horses and who is very small, so we may talk to him about backing her so kids could ride her, but we’re not sure he’d want to work with us to do it (cowboys don’t take advice from girls), and we don’t know if he’ll believe us that since we’ve been working with her since she was a baby, backing her will probably just be a matter of getting on and riding. We’re afraid that he’ll want to “break” her Belizean style, which means a big-ported curb bit with three inch shanks instead of my big fat eggbutt snaffle, lots of kicking and whipping and yanking on her mouth, and the general philosophy that you need to scare the sh*t out of a horse to break it. It might be a good test to see if she’s as quiet as we think she is, but we don’t want to do it to her; she’s just too sweet. We’ve even considered just finding a kid to see what she does, but horse accidents happen because people do stupid things, and putting a kid on a never-ridden horse probably counts as a stupid thing.

Hidden lines

Finally, after more than a year and a half in this cabin, we’re getting rid of the hoses and extension cords that have been running over the ground supplying us with water and power. The water is now running up and down the hill in a 2” pipe with valves to keep it where it belongs and moving in the right direction, and the extension cords are being replaced with real electric cable run through PVC. Tom and Selwyn dug the trench mostly with a pickax and shovel, although they had to pound through a few good hunks of limestone with the sledgehammer. The white spot you can see on the side of the trench near the house is pulverized limestone. I think they wanted to take the sledgehammer to me a few times because I got great pleasure out of yelling off the porch and asking them if they were sure the trench was deep enough to get the water pipe below the frostline. Then I’d go in the house and giggle and leave them pounding the rocks. Seriously though, both Tom and I are getting great pleasure out of being here right now since we’ve had an exceptionally beautiful week, and we’ve talked or emailed a few people in the US who have told us that the weather in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states has been awful.

As I sat here typing…

I’m writing this blog entry sitting on our screened porch. I heard a flapping and looked up, and this Blue Crowned Motmot had just landed on a branch right off the porch. He looked at me, I looked at him, I grabbed the camera since I was in the process of downloading pictures for the blog anyway – and managed to get this shot of him getting a good look at me. Sorry for the graininess – the picture is taken through the screen with our crappy old camera. This bird’s name comes from the hooting “mot mot” call he makes in the early morning just before the sun rises, which is our wake up call every morning. You can’t see it in this picture, but these birds also have distinctive “racket tails,” so called because they pull all the quills out of their tail feathers except for a “racket” right at the end.

Belize to appear on NBC’s Today Show

Tom stopped by the Zoo last Tuesday, and everybody was buzzing because NBC’s Today Show had just been there over the weekend filming for a feature scheduled to air on Monday, November 17 or Tuesday, November 18. From what our friends at the Zoo said, the feature was about the Zoo, but now the whole country is buzzing because the spot is on all of Belize, so the Today Show crew were spotted all over the country – which is even better.

So tune in to the Today Show this Monday and Tuesday, and if you miss it then, I’ll post links on our websites, and I know a link will be posted on the Zoo’s website – and probably on every other Belize website.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bye-bye, C-Zero!

The camper, also known as C-0 since our cabin is C-1 and the guest cabin is C-2, has made it to its new home. It’s silly, but we were a little sad to see it go. It definitely didn’t owe us anything. We packed all of our belongings in it to make the two-month road trip from New York to here, lived in it during our trip and for the first four months we were on this property, used it for our shower for a little while after we moved into the house, used it as guest quarters until the guest cabin was habitable, loaned it to our neighbors for shelter while they were tearing down their wooden house and building a cement house, and used it for storage until the shop was done.

Four or five months ago I responded to a query on line about whether anyone had a camper in Belize that they were willing to rent or sell. A couple from Oregon, Gale and Art, are in the process of moving to Belize. They own land in Bullet Tree, which is just the other side of San Ignacio, and they were looking for something they could put on their land to live in until they have another shelter built, and which they could then use for storage. The camper isn’t much, but everything works and the price was right, so we made a deal that made us all happy. We were just about to move it when the rains came, but Gale and Art were happy to go with the flow, and finally yesterday Tom got it out of here and situated where Gale and Art want it on their land. We were worried about getting it out of here to the Western Highway, and about getting it back to and parked on Gale and Art’s land, but Tom took his time and made it, with everything intact. We hope Gale and Art find it as comfortable and useful as we did, and that they appreciate the fact that they just bought a camper that is on at least its third incarnation. Not bad for a 32-year old tow behind!

Things We Ponder in Belize

Maybe this is a sign that we have too much time on our hands, but here is an example of the types of things we ponder here.

Why do bats arrange themselves so neatly when they sleep during the day? Whenever we look at these bats, they’re always parked almost equidistant from each other. Sometimes the line goes around the corner, and then the bats around the corner are arranged with the same distance between them.

I don’t want to take my boot trees out of my good tall dress riding boots, but these boots need trees so the ankles don’t break too much. So, for the past week or so, I’ve been trying to figure out which liquor bottle is the best size for my boots. At the moment, I’m leaning towards the Caribbean White Rum. The One Barrel bottle is too fat, and the Bel-Mer wine bottle is too thin. It figures that the Caribbean White is the right size, because that’s the one type of bottle that we don’t save for the local beekeepers since it has one of those stupid dribble tops that don’t detach. Guess we’ll just have to finish another bottle of Caribbean White.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Drying Out

The Flooding of 2008, as the Belize media is calling it, seems to be over for the Cayo District, although serious flooding is still occurring in the Belize, Orange Walk, and Corozol districts to the north and east of here. Tom made it home on Saturday, and by the beginning of the week we were able to get in and out to the Western Highway without any trouble. The road crews have been very busy repairing washouts all over the country, from washouts like the ones between here and the Western Highway, and major washouts on the Western and Northern Highways. Spanish Lookout became accessible Thursday afternoon over the Bullet Tree Road, and just this weekend most of the low lying bridges are expected to finally be above the levels of the rivers.

Here are pictures of the washouts that prevented Tom from getting home last Friday night.

This is the culvert that washed out in Cristo Rey. You can see how far the water has eroded the road bed under the roadway.

This is the view from the top. The road drops off on the side that is flooded, so you can see that the washout under the road took out a pretty good chunk of support.

Just outside of Georgeville, a private road goes up the hill. The water came down that road and down the Georgeville Road in the flash flood mentioned in the article in the previous blog entry, and washed big rocks into the road, as well as a lot of loose gravel and a significant amount of mud.

Even when the flash flood subsided, water was still running down the road, covering it in many places. Tom said a lot of water must have been running down the hills to move the rocks he saw in the road.

The wet weather was pushed out of this area by a front that moved in from the north. We’ve had a very nice week with lots of blue sky and pleasantly cool temperatures only in the low 70s during the day, and the high 50s at night. We’ve had a little more rain just last night and today, but we’ve been able to get lots of outside stuff done this week. Tom and Selwyn finished putting up the fence to divide the back pasture into three paddocks, and we’ve started turning all six horses out to graze for a few hours every day since the ground is now dry enough that their hooves won’t do too much damage. Tom and Selwyn have also been nipping off the tops of the grass in the new pasture so we can get enough seed to plant the second half of the middle pasture and the front pasture. Selwyn seeded half the middle pasture before the rain started, and while the rain washed some of the seeds to low spots in the ground, it looks like some of it has taken and the front half of that pasture is starting to get green.

Selwyn also weed whacked the grounds, so it doesn’t look like we’re being overtaken by the jungle again. The camper is due to disappear this week. We sold it to some people in Bullet Tree and we were just about ready to deliver it when the rain started. We hope it’s finally dry enough this week that we can get it to where it should be.

A few weeks ago we planted coco in front of the guest cabin, and that has really taken off and makes it look like we’ve made at least a feeble attempt at landscaping. We’ll have to dig it up eventually, but then we can either plant something else, or, since it grows so quickly, plant some more coco. We planted it this time just because it does grow so fast, it will make the place look nicer for this year’s tourist season. I also planted a row of papaya seeds behind the coco, and to my surprise they sprouted.

Selwyn’s mother gave us a really good papaya a few months ago, and when I said how good it was she told me to save the seeds, dry them, and then plant them. When she gave us another papaya, I took out the seeds, washed them, and then put them on a plate on top of the refrigerator for a couple of months, stirring them around when I thought of it. They looked all moldy and dusty and I didn’t think anything would happen when I planted them, but they sprouted. We left some in front of the guest cabin, gave some of the seedlings to neighbors and friends who wanted them, and moved some of them to this spot where one of the big cages used to be and where we’re now planting different kinds of bananas along with the papaya seedlings.

Tom hasn’t worked with the boys from next door for a few weeks between being busy with guests and the wretched weather. Today, however, was dry enough that they’re out chopping property line. Tom says the boys (Ronald in the back row, Wilton and Hector in front) are doing a great job, and it’s a much more economical way than the way we originally got the line chopped through a very expensive contract with Bol, Selwyn’s dad.

Animal Update

I finally got brave enough to take Tony out for a ride. I correctly predicted that things would have fallen in the trails with all the wet weather, so despite the fact that he’s slow as mud, I took Tony rather than Glin or Es because it’s easier to chop with him than with either of the mares – I can actually chop high stuff from his back if I’m careful, and if I have to get off, I don’t have to worry about him turning and running for home (Es) or sticking his nose out to see what I’m chopping (Glin). Plus, when Tony gets stuck in vines he stops and does what I tell him to get out of the tangle, where both of the mares tend to go straight up when that happens. The mares’ method is actually more efficient as far as getting unstuck, but Tony’s way is definitely calmer and safer. The trails were still pretty wet, and some of the trails seem to have turned into hopefully-temporary streams even though it hadn’t rained in a few days. Seeing the condition of the trails after a few days without rain made me feel less like a wimp for not going out before this – part of me had wanted to ride and was telling the other part that I was being a wimp for listening to Selwyn’s caution about flash floods, but it looks like the caution was well founded. It was really nice to get back out in the jungle, and a few good wildlife sightings enhanced the ride. I saw a flock of aracaris feeding in a trumpet tree, which I haven’t seen for a while, watched a collared forest falcon fly through the canopy, and was accompanied for a short way along one of the trails by a hollering troupe of howler monkeys. I was looking for big cat tracks since we’ve heard more rumors of a jaguar in the neighborhood, but the ground was actually too wet to hold any tracks. The birds are reminding us that while it’s getting cooler here, it’s getting much cooler in the north and we’re seeing a lot of the migratory birds. We’ve had a noticeable increase in warblers, thrushes, and tanagers, and the Birds of Belize book has been well used as we try to identify the new arrivals.

Recona dressed up as a purple-eyed dog for Halloween. Really, what happened was that she got a botfly infestation right around her eye, and her eye was looking more and more swollen. Fortunately we’ve learned to recognize the symptoms, and we’ve come up with what seems to be an efficient way of treating it. I’m not sure if it’s available in the US, but here we can get a purple spray that is an antiseptic, antibiotic, and insecticide. It’s great for all the little scratches the horses and dogs get because it cleans the wound and keeps the bugs off the wound. It’s really great for botflies, because it kills the larvae in the animal, and keeps the breathing hole from getting infected. We just spray it or wipe it on the infected spot, and in a day or two the larvae dies and the breathing hole scabs over. All we have to do is pull off the scab. Sometimes the dead larvae are attached to scab, and sometimes we have to squeeze the spot and the larvae come out in a gob of pus. It must feel good to the animals to get it out because they never complain or try to pull away. We squeezed five very small larvae – about as long as a grain of white rice, and about a quarter of the diameter – out of Recona’s face, and she never pulled back or snapped at us. Fortunately, we haven’t yet had the need to try this method on people, but it’s certainly easier on the animals than the way Selwyn removed the one from Tom’s arm.

This weather has been tough on the animals. Recona and Ness both had botflies, and I feel like I spend half the morning running around and taking care of the rest of the animals. Elphie cut half the eyelashes off the eyelid of her good eye, so I’ve had to treat that carefully. Lodo has a scrape on his leg and a cut on his nose, both of which require purple spray at least once a day, which involves both of us getting purple spots all over since he hasn’t learned to just stand still yet. All the horses have rain rot, and have little clumps of hair peeling off their rumps, and I’m just waiting for them to get scratches or thrush, which they’ve somehow managed to avoid so far. Recona has a swollen foot, and we’re not sure if it’s another botfly, or if she has an out of joint toe. Good news for the dogs is that we’ve found that Frontline Plus does kill Recona’s fleas, so all five of the dogs are scratching a whole lot less than they were a month ago.

We feel very badly for people with lots of animals, because if we’re having this range of difficulty with animals that are basically our pets, we can’t imagine what the farmers with herds of cattle, sheep, and pigs need to do. We have heard that lots of farmers lost crops or pasture – which quickly adds up to tens of thousands of dollars for them – but as far as losing animals in the floods or needing to provide extra veterinary care, the news seems to be mostly good. The government is telling farmers that they should vaccinate their livestock against black leg disease, an infection that seems to be more prevalent when the weather is wet, but we have not heard of any big livestock losses due to this disease.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tom’s next project…

…is going to be building an ark. It isn’t raining now, but it rained most of the day yesterday and all last night, it’s still gray, and the weather report is for showers through tomorrow morning. Yesterday, Tom went into San Ignacio to do some construction things at the police station. He’s working with a community group that is trying to form good relations between the police and the community, and since he can’t attend a lot of the meetings because they’re at night in town, he’s chipping in by building a wall in the police station so they can have a private meeting room. Somebody else donated the building materials, and Tom is donating his time.

Anyway, he wasn’t home at 7:30 last night, and I started to get a little worried. I, of course, had visions of him trapped in Tinkerbell upside down in a torrent of rushing water. I turned on the computer and the satellite to check email and Skype. He’d emailed at 7:00 saying he was stuck in San Ignacio because both roads to here, the Cristo Rey and the Georgeville Roads, were closed due to flooding – so my awful visions really weren’t so far from what could have happened. He emailed later to say he might have made it through after he ate his dinner last night, but when I scanned the news sites this morning, I was very glad he remained in San Ignacio for the night. When I’d started to think about him being so late coming home, I realized that I hadn’t heard any traffic on the road, and the news sites confirmed that both roads were closed.

This is from the Friday newscast about the San Antonio/Cristo Rey Road:
Rene Montero; Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Area Representative Cayo Central
“Since this morning the causeway from just outside Cristo Rey was washed away. We have the personnel from the Ministry of Works working in the area but it seems as if though it is very difficult to fight against nature as soon as they fix it the water just wash it away. I would want to advise people using that road to be extremely cautious because that creek is constantly going up. And although we have the personnel from the ministry of works it is very difficult to keep up with it because the water is very strong. It’s constantly raining from 7 miles, San Antonio, Cristo Rey, Georgeville and if this continues I think the people in Georgeville has to be very cautious because the water is coming very strong from the Mountain Pine Ridge.”
Late this evening NEMO Cayo closed off the roads to Cristo Rey, Mountain Pine Ridge and Benque Viejo as water continues to rise in those areas and the access roads have been compromised. Back in the Belize River valley area the focus is on the Crooked Tree causeway and residents along the river where water levels continue to rise. We spoke to area representative Edmund Castro this evening about the conditions in his area.

And this is from Channel 7’s newscast about the flash flood on the Georgeville Road, which is the site of the big washout a couple of blog entries ago.

One good thing about this weather – I’m catching up on blogging and email!

Friday, October 24, 2008

If you're even thinking of coming to Belize...

...check American Airlines. They're having a great fare sale to get to Belize. I checked round trip from Boston and it's $261, and round trip from Atlanta is $140. Sorry, Tim, LAX is still pretty expensive, as is Rochester.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Still Raining

It’s still raining. The floodwaters in the western part of Belize where we live have started to recede, but all that water has run through the rivers to the eastern part of the country, which is now having flooding problems. And it’s still raining. And meteorologists expect it to continue to rain for the foreseeable future, thanks to a big blob of wet weather sitting in the western Caribbean. The country’s meteorological department is issuing a daily flood forecast, and while they’ve observed that the flooding in the west has gone down, they’re not making any promises that it won’t go up again if this rain continues. This is their forecast for our area for Saturday based on where water levels are now, and what they expect of the weather between now and then:


We’ve had a couple of breaks of sunshine over the past few days, but it seems that within a couple of hours it clouds up again and starts to rain. We wake up and hear rain on the roof at night, and in the morning we ask each other if that really was rain, or if it was just part of a bad dream…and every morning we’ve determined that it wasn’t just a dream.

In the lowlands around here, people are starting to think about moving back into their homes, or whatever remains of their homes. But, they’re keeping an eye on the skies and the weather reports, and keeping their options open. Here in the highlands, it’s just muddy – mud like even our NY horse friends wouldn’t believe, nor would our Vermont relatives who even have a season called Mud Season when all the snow melts and turns everything to mud. It’s impossible to even walk down the driveway to the road without getting muddy, and doing the horse chores results in mud smears and splatters over at least 80% of our bodies.

We’ve said to people that we’ve never seen anything like this, and that while we knew Belize had a rainy season, nothing led us to believe there would be this much water. The response from Belizeans has been that they’ve never seen anything like this either, and while everybody expects rain and mud and some flooding in the rainy season, this is way beyond the usual.

But, we can’t do much about it. We now understand why people build their houses on legs here; if we had a basement, it would have been flooded a week ago. Our biggest concern is the horses, since the town of Spanish Lookout is flooded and cut off from the rest of the country, and that’s the only place we know of to buy horse feed and hay. The feed stores in San Ignacio usually sell it, but they get it from Spanish Lookout too, so supplies are dwindling. However, we’ve learned that horses love avocados, and we have two trees that are dropping quite a few, so between avocados, some time in the new pasture every day despite the mud, and the good old “tie the horse to a rope in the ditch” trick, they probably won’t starve.

We’ve been very impressed with how people are responding to the flooding. Everybody seems to be helping everybody else however they can. We have not heard any reports of looting, and we’ve heard lots of reports of people helping each other. People with boats are helping others get in or out of their properties, and sometimes shuttling supplies across rivers when needed. The government seems to be stepping up to the plate and keeping NEMO crews where they’re needed, and keeping the road crews doing whatever they can to keep the roads passable – although they obviously can’t do anything about bridges that are still under 10+ feed of water. In reading the reports of what’s going on in the rest of Central America as a result of this weather, we feel very fortunate to be in Belize where there haven’t been any casualties, unlike some of the other affected Central American countries. Regarding the roads, we’re glad to see that the two roads we use to get in and out of here are on the list of roads that are both being watched now so they’re kept passable, and which the government is planning to continue to work on when this stretch of bad weather is over so they won’t wash out so quickly if this happens again.

Mark and Don made it out, and actually flew out of Belize City a couple of days early. They left here on Monday, knowing that if they waited flooding would only get worse towards Belize City. They had to drive over the flooded Roaring Creek Bridge, which Mark said was a somewhat creepy experience when he looked out his car window and saw a man rowing a boat right next to him and not much below eye level. The bridge was flooded, but the police were letting high vehicles like SUVs and trucks cross. Mark emailed when he got home to Minnesota and said it was raining there too – but he was still glad to be home.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Besides the Rain…

We’ve been staying busy with Mark and Don, who arrived a week ago Thursday. They’ve been staying here despite Mark having a house down the road because he fired his caretaker, who wasn’t taking much care of his place, and Mark has felt awkward hanging around his house and watching the caretaker pack up his eight kids and farm animals and get ready to vacate the premises. He’s had a lot of business to take care of while he’s here between straightening out the caretaker situation, doing what he needs to do for the next orange pick, and trying to open a Belize bank account for all of this, but we did manage to have a little fun before the deluge began.

Last Sunday, we went up to Caracol. Mark and Don hadn’t been there before despite multiple trips to Belize. Fortunately we went before the rain started so the road was still passable, and it ended up being a beautiful day. We found that the BDF isn’t requiring Caracol visitors to go with the military convoy, although they do offer an armed escort in your vehicle if you want it. Because we were already cramped in the front of the truck, we declined, but had a brief moment when we second guessed ourselves. When you’re almost to Caracol, you go down a long windy hill with a lot of washouts just before a concrete bridge over the river. As we came down the hill and around the last turn, we saw an old Suburban parked sideways across the road, blocking the bridge. This was the area where a number of robberies happened a few years ago, so Tom and I both, as we found out when we talked later, did an immediate inventory in our heads of what we had that was stealable, and what plan for resistance was practical. Fortunately, the Suburban was just turning around – although that’s a really weird place to turn around – and we just had to squish over to the side of the road so they could head up the hill with everybody in both trucks nodding and waving and smiling. We have no idea what they were doing, but our heart rates were all back to normal by the time we got to Caracol.

We made Don, Mark’s father-in-law, climb Caana. We told him that he didn’t have to climb any of the other temples, but said that he should climb Caana since there’s no way to truly see how big and impressive it is from the ground.

Despite two fake knees, Don made it up and down safely and said it was worth the climb when he got to the top.

Wet and Wild

These pictures say it all. Belize is flooding. A tropical depression (TD16) formed about a week ago in the Western Caribbean, and during all of last week moved along the north coast of Honduras, then into Honduras and southern Guatemala, where it stalled, and continued dumping massive amounts of rain on Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvadore and Belize. Rain started here Monday and continued through the week, and by Friday things were pretty wild with water levels rising in all creeks and rivers almost to the point where they were when Hurricane Mitch, the last big hurricane to hit Belize, blew through in 1998.

Tom was out with our guests on Friday, and they barely made it home because the creek running through Cristo Rey and into the Macal River was over the bridge, and some vehicles were choosing to turn around and head back to San Ignacio. Mark, Tom, and Don chose to drive through and made it, but said they were almost stuck again when they got to a point on the road just before San Antonio where a flooded spring had turned the road to deep and heavy mud.

The buses were already stuck, but thanks to Mark’s Prado’s high suspension and 4WD, they made it through.

On Saturday morning we decided to head out and see what was happening in the rest of the Cayo District.

We weren’t even sure if we could get out, but although the road was bad, the Prado was able to get around the washout on the Georgeville Road. We headed towards San Ignacio down the Western Highway and decided to see what was happening with the ferry to Spanish Lookout.

We couldn’t even get as far as the ferry because the river had formed a branch and was running through these cow fields and across the road. We watched an Isuzu Trooper drive through the flood, but decided not to risk it since we had no burning reason to get to the ferry.

When we got into Santa Elena, we joined a lot of other people looking at the Macal River where it usually flows under the low lying bridge to San Ignacio. The bridge is entirely submerged. If you look at the two phone poles in line with where the road should be, the bridge starts where the second phone pole is sticking up from the water.

We got in line to drive across the Hawksworth Bridge and parked on Burns Ave. near Celina’s. This is the view from the San Ignacio side of the low lying bridge.

This is the market, which is usually well above the river.

And here’s a peek between a couple of buildings on the square where the taxis and buses line up. These buildings are now riverfront on the market side.

After we left San Ignacio we decided to drive through Succotz and into Benque to see how high the Mopan River was.

It was up and rising, and was already crossing the road in a few spots. If you look at the “FLOODING SHOT” threads on this BB, you can see that it went up even more overnight and this morning, and the Western Highway is impassable through Succotz and Benque.

All but the highest bridges are covered. In fact, the only bridge I can think of that isn’t flooded is the Hawksworth Bridge. According to the flood report, even the bridge between Belize and Guatemala at Benque/Melchor is under, and possibly gone or damaged depending on the rumor. The bridge at Roaring Creek is under, and we’re hearing mixed reports as to whether it’s passable. We know from the flood report that Spanish Lookout is cut off from the rest of the country, and if the Roaring Creek bridge isn’t usable, that means San Ignacio is cut off as well.

While Belize is being cut into pieces by raging rivers, things are generally quiet up here in the hills. It’s possible that we (“we” being the Mountain Pine Ridge and the villages of San Antonio and 7 Miles) may be cut off by road damage from the flooding, but we saw yesterday that the road crews are working to prevent that where possible. When we came home yesterday afternoon, we decided to come through San Antonio even though we’d heard that the flooding spring had washed out the road.

The road crews were there dumping gravel and big rocks and running heavy machinery over the road to firm it up, and they said that their next stop was to fill in the washout on the Georgeville Road.

The sun was shining briefly yesterday afternoon, but shortly after dark it started raining again and it rained all night. We’ve had showers, some heavy, off and on today, and the weather report looks very bad with another big wet tropical depression sitting in the Caribbean just off the Belize coast. The forecast is that the depression will continue to dump rain over the country for at least another two days, and it could turn into a tropical storm. So, we’ll be keeping up to date on what’s happening in the country via the internet, and hoping that the rain stops soon.

All that aside, we’re doing fine up here in the hills. Yes, it’s wet, and we have standing water in places we thought would always be dry, and the wet mud is everywhere. Nobody we’ve talked to has any dry shoes left, and if people don’t have dryers, they don’t have any dry clothes. Taking care of the animals is an endurance test as we slog through the mud, and the horses aren’t too happy about all the rain and mud. Little Lodo was cold on Friday, so Tom and Selwyn built a little shelter, and we haven’t seen him shiver since then so apparently he’s using it although we had a colt/woman mud wrestling session when I tried to drag him into it for the first time. The water from the pipe is running brown because the rivers and streams are all running so fast, but we just shut it off to our tanks and have been collecting rain water – and there’s no shortage of that. We have enough food up here that if we are cut off for a period of time, we’re not going to starve.

Our biggest worry is that Mark and Don are scheduled to fly home on Thursday, and we’re not sure if they’ll have any difficulties getting to the airport – but at this point, there’s no sense worrying about four days from now, and if we have to come up with a plan before Thursday, we’ll figure something out. This is our road about a mile from our house. It used to be two lanes, or at least two cars could pass.