Thursday, January 10, 2008

Catching up on the holiday weeks

Selwyn worked over time to get some comp time for the holiday weeks, so he worked his last day of the year the Sunday before Christmas, and didn’t start back until January 3, 2008. This left Tom and me on our own, but we found plenty to do to keep us busy. Because Tom’s parents were coming into Belize the Sunday before New Year’s and were planning to spend New Year’s Eve at Five Sisters Lodge just up the road, Tom and I wanted to make plans to have dinner with them and their tour group up there on the 31st. We didn’t have any email, and we don’t get cell reception here, so we decided it would be worth a few hours to ride the horses up to talk to them in person. We packed lunch, saddled up, and hit the trail. We went up the long way, and found Five Sisters via the trails with only one wrong turn, where we fortunately met a couple of women who were guests at Five Sisters and who were kind enough to tell us we were going the wrong way before we had too much backtracking to do. We talked to the concierge at Five Sisters, made our plans, and lunched down at Big Rock, all by ourselves. We rode home via the fire road, and were shocked at how much quicker it is than the road. If you don’t count the time it takes to take care of the horses before and after the ride, it’s almost quicker to ride up there on horses than to drive!

The Sunday Tom’s parents arrived, we parked our truck at the end of the driveway so we could at least wave as they went past in the tour bus. Tom had been doing some garden work down by the road even before they were expected, just in case they came by early, but about 15 minutes before we thought they’d go by, I grabbed a couple of chairs and a beer for Tom and went down to set up camp at the end of the driveway. Damion came over from next door, and the three of us were talking when we heard the bus rounding the corner at the Junction. As they got close to our driveway, the driver braked, and we saw the whole busload of tourists peering at us out of the bus windows, with cameras flashing. Tom’s parents jumped out the door on the far side of the bus, and we had a very happy reunion right in front of the bus – we weren’t going to risk moving and having the bus drive away without them! We then reloaded them onto the bus, stuck our heads in so their fellow travelers could see what these crazy kids who moved to Belize who they’d been hearing about for two weeks looked like, thanked the driver and their guide for stopping, and waved goodbye with promises that we’d see them the next afternoon.

As planned, we went up to join them and their group for dinner, and had a great time. It was a little strange because the rest of the tour group – about 15 people – all knew us, but we had to really work to remember their names. We were Exhibit A at dinner, and spent a lot of time fielding questions about how a couple of gringos are adjusting to life in Belize after spending our lives in the Northeast US. By the end of the evening, we had remembered all the names and felt like we knew everybody, and came home hoping that everybody would keep their promises of staying in touch with us via email, and having some of them come to visit when we’re up and running.

A little before 8:30 the next morning, New Year’s Day, the bus dumped Mom and Dad out at the end of our driveway. Actually, the driver was going a little fast and missed the end of the driveway, but finally got the bus stopped about halfway down our pasture fence line. We had brought their big suitcase home the night before, so Tom only had to lug the little suitcase up the road. We took them to their room, showed them around the cabin, gave them a few minutes to get settled, and then they came over to see our house. They were halfway through the two-room tour when Ofelia from next door showed up, asking if we wanted to live spontaneously and take a trip with her family to Xunantunich. Mom and Dad, after a two week activity intensive tour of Central America, were sort of looking forward to a quiet day, but we figured we’d better seize the opportunity, so we cleaned up and headed down the road. We ended up with 18 people loaded into Tinkerbell, heading down the San Antonio road and through San Ignacio to Xunantunich. It wasn’t exactly the 18 passenger bus they’d been riding for the past two weeks! Mom and Dad got to experience the ferry crossing, then we drove up the hill and explored the site, which they could appreciate since they’d been visiting Mayan archeological sites throughout Central America. Best of all, the family had packed a lunch, so when we got back to the parking and picnic area, we had a great lunch of tamales which the women next door had spent the entire previous day making, and yummy yellow cake. We loaded our stuffed bodies back into Tinkerbell, and headed home. We weren’t sure what we were going to have for dinner that night, but that problem was solved when we dropped everybody off because we found out that Olmi had stayed home and made chicken, rice, and beans for us for dinner so Mom and Dad could sample some traditional Belizean food. We really appreciated this not only because it solved the problem of not having anything defrosted for dinner, but because Olmi did this despite having made an emergency run into the hospital the previous day because of a nail puncture on her foot which had become infected. Her foot was better than it had been on the previous day, after a tetanus shot and a day of antibiotics, but it was still pretty swollen and red – but that didn’t stop her from making a delicious dinner and inviting the four of us into her home to share it!

We haven’t done a whole lot since then, since the weather has been really crappy – very cool, and very rainy. Mom is even wearing her long underwear, and the rest of us are in long pants and long sleeved shirts! We have, however, managed to drag Mom and Dad around so they can see how we live, shopping in Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio, and walking around some of our property. We’ve had to can the idea of going to Barton Creek since we don’t think we could drive in across the bridgeless creek, and we haven’t gone swimming at Rio On Pools as we planned because it’s been too cold to swim, but we’re having a fun visit anyway, trying to catch up on not seeing each other and talking face to face for over a year.

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