I’m still in the process of catching up, so I’m going to include a somewhat disorganized blog entry with all the notes of things I intended to write about over the past couple of weeks.
Selwyn was off for the week between Christmas and New Years since he worked a couple of weekends before Christmas and banked some days. It was kind of quiet but the local kids being off from school kept us on our toes with wanting to visit. Wilton came over to chop so that he could buy fire crackers for Christmas, which is kind of like July 4th here with fireworks for the holiday. I’ve read that the firecrackers are intended to scare off the evil spirits, but somehow I don’t think that’s what’s going through the boys’ heads as they light the firecrackers and wait for the bang. Wilton also buys good clothes to wear to church with the money he earns here, so he’s not totally frivolous with his money. We like to see the kids be proud of what they buy with their hard work.
With Tom and Wilton both working at it, more chopping is getting done. The place looking a bit more inviting, and we’ve cleared further up the road so hopefully people can see our driveway a bit better as they are heading out of the Pine Ridge.
We started clearing back towards the cage we intend to use as a barn, and found some more fruit trees we have to de-vine so we get more mangoes and citrus. We’d been told some fruit trees were planted back there, but the undergrowth has been too thick to walk through until now, much less get close enough to the trees to see what they are. We’re hoping that if we get the vines cleared off now we’ll get some fruit from the trees this year.
We’re not, however, lacking for fruit right now. The big grapefruit tree that I mentioned before is still bearing an incredible number of grapefruits, so we’re eating at least one or two grapefruits a day, making juice, and giving them to anyone who will take them. And, the three grapefruit trees in the horse pasture look like they’ll have even more grapefruits this year than last, and they’re starting to ripen. We also have a couple of orange trees that didn’t bear last year loaded with fruit this year, so we’re looking forward to lots of citrus in a few weeks.
Tom and Selwyn finished the sapodilla bed just in time for Mom and Dad. It still needs a few more boards for the back of the headboard which Tom is picking up in Spanish Lookout today, but that’s only cosmetic, and it worked just fine. Those hardwood beds are solid, and everybody who comes in tries unsuccessfully to shake them. We’ve even had a few people ask if they’re bolted to the floor!
Fuel here is now $BLZ8.20/gallon ($US 4.10) and regular gas is still hanging in just under $BLZ10.00/gallon ($US 5.00). With no jobs/income we wish we still had Shawn and our road cart to go to town and back since it costs so much to drive.
Tom finally got his 4th haircut since we have been here just in time to look respectable for his parents’ visit. It’s not so bad when he lets his hair grow since he gets it cut pretty short each time.
I’ve been working on getting the 2 mares to work more like horses from the US – bending and listening to the riders aids other than just yanking their heads around. Many thanks to Karin for coming down and giving us pointers on what to start working on with the 2 pasture queens that can get quite opinionated at times. We will need her to return in about a year (or less) to keep our horse program under control.
With the cabin getting close to complete – the list of things to do is now down to one page – we working on the official things we have to do to open our doors to the public. I have to apply for a food handler permit which involves acting like a dog and submitting a stool sample. We also have to talk to our neighbors and the town chairmen around here about getting a liquor license, which has taken a bit thinking on our part. A full liquor license is relatively expensive, and we only want to serve alcohol to our guests, so we questioned whether it was worth the price. We have the option of a “mountain cider” license, which is about half the price and allows us to serve only beer and wine. We also considered operating on a BYOB basis, but right now we think we’re going to bite the bullet and just get the full license. We know that a lot of our guests will want to sample the local rums, and if we want to serve them, we need the full license, and we’re nervous that if we did the BYOB thing the authorities wouldn’t believe that the alcohol in the bottles that would inevitably be left here wasn’t being sold. Plus, there aren’t any liquor stores in the Mountain Pine Ridge, so our guests couldn’t just run to the corner for a six pack of beer or a bottle of something. When we have the food handler license and the liquor license, we can register with the Belize Tourism Board, which helps both us and them since it allows Belize to track how many tourism businesses are operating, and it offers all sorts of public relations opportunities, including links directly to our website – which is still in process since our internet problems brought all work on that to a dead stop over the holidays.
We’re also getting very close to being able to submit our application for permanent residency since we’ve been here continuously for 1 full year as of the 20th of this month. We have all the forms, including forms which must be completed by a doctor who gives us physicals. The only thing that may hold us up submitting the applications before the end of the month is that we found that we need a certified copy of our marriage license, which currently lives in Tom’s parents’ safe deposit box in Florida. Since they were here until Monday, we didn’t have access to it until they got home. Then, they have to get it out, get the certified copies, and snail mail it to us, and there’s no telling how long that will take. We’re going to try to have everything else ready to submit when that piece of paper gets here. The only fly in the ointment is that we read the fine print, and found that although the number of days we’re permitted to be out of the country between when we submit the application and when residency is granted is unlimited, we can’t be gone for more than fourteen consecutive days. This isn’t a big deal, except we figured we’d be heading north sometime over the summer, and we weren’t planning to be limited to two weeks – but we’ll see when we get the cards and maybe it won’t matter, and even if we don’t get the cards, two weeks will give us enough time to at least visit some of the many people we want to see.
Right now we’re told that the application process is taking six to eight months, but that’s likely to change after Belize’s general election, which is scheduled for February 8. Lots of people have been applying for citizenship so they can vote in this election, and that’s been keeping immigration pretty busy. You’d think this would mean that the processing time would be faster after the election, but we just don’t know because we know that immigration has been pressured to get as many citizenship papers as possible processed so more people can vote, so they might just want to slow down and take a break after the election, or they may have a backlog of permanent residency applications which have been pushed aside in favor of citizenship applications. Only time will tell, and it will happen when it happens, as we’ve learned is the case with many things here.
The other thing that’s happened around here that we believe has been influenced by the election is that plans for running electricity to this area have been on and off. Surveyors came out and planted poles and were surveying individual properties in 7 Miles, but then we heard that the surveyors have disappeared. So, right now it doesn’t look like electricity will get here any time in the near or not so near future, and most of the long time residents around here aren’t getting too hopeful.
The road has also been pretty regularly graded lately, which is probably due to up coming elections. It’s nice to have “smooth” roads that we can go about 35mph on! The only problem is that with all the rain and the fact that they don’t/can’t roll the roads after they grade them, the same holes appear in the road in a week or two after the road is graded. But, we enjoy it while we can, and we’re glad it prevents a little bit of wear and tear on Tinkerbell.