Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lots of words for not much happening

We don’t have a lot new to report this week, although we ended up being pretty busy last week. Mark from Minnesota was here with a friend, so Tom and Selwyn spent a little bit of time working with Mark on the orange grove property so they know what needs to be done while Mark is in Minnesota. Mark won his first Belize scavenger hunt paper chase, obtaining his citrus producer’s license so the Citrus Growers’ Association will accept the truckloads of his oranges that he hopes to have reaped in the next few weeks. Getting the grower’s license is the same sort of paper game that Tom and I have played for the BTB and our residency applications, so all we could do was smile as Mark was explaining the couple of days he spent running back and forth to Dangriga and from office to office for forms and pictures and paperwork. But, he got the license before he left, so it was a successful trip.

Mark and Tim stayed here on their last night in Belize, and just as we were sitting down to dinner a car pulled into the driveway. It was our neighbor Bol with two men from Colorado who had decided spur-of-the-moment to spend a long weekend in Belize. They usually stay at the Pine Ridge Lodge when they do this, but PRL is closed right now, so Bol brought them here. Fortunately we had enough dinner for a few extras, and we had the rooms made up, so we ended up with guests for the weekend. Tom had to make an emergency run into San Ignacio for more food and beer on Saturday morning, despite the fact that we had just been shopping on Thursday, but that was a small price to pay for being busy doing what we planned to do, and what we want to do, here in Belize.

And, we did a little bit of what we didn’t plan to do, which is just be a restaurant. On Saturday afternoon a truckload of people pulled up to the house. It was the owner of a guest house in Belize City, along with his helper and five tourists. They had set out for Caracol from Belize City in the morning, but didn’t realize how slow the going would be. At about our driveway, they realized they wouldn’t get to Caracol and get back to Belize City by 6:30 as they had planned, so they wanted to call back to the guest house. Since we don’t get cell reception here, we gave them our phone and told them to try to make the call when they were higher in the hills, and to drop the phone off on the way back down. That’s exactly what happened, and around 9:00 on Saturday night they pulled back in the driveway, tired and hungry. They wanted to get on the road, but we invited them in and I heated up some rice and beans from the fridge, along with some barbeque sandwiches and brownies. They all got a drink, a tour of the guest cabins, ate, and they were on their way. Now we’re just waiting to see if we get an email from any of the tourists wanting to come spend a couple of days with us so they can take a little more time seeing the Mountain Pine Ridge sights.

Tom and Selwyn have been working on our Purple Heart bed. They’ve also been putting shelves up in our room, so we can turn the bedroom into a bedroom/office when the bed is done. They had to do a little emergency fence fixing, and they’ve been working with Selwyn’s friend Eric getting the last big cage down. We’re going to keep a few of the panels to use as stall walls when we put the barn together, and we’re going to give the rest to the Zoo for their new Harpy Eagle enclosure.

We now have our fancy new passports, so as soon as we have our police interview and get the paperwork processed, we’re ready for our Permanent Residency stamps. Tom had an appointment with a mechanic in Spanish Lookout yesterday, but when he got there, he found that the whole town was shut down for a religious holiday. Since he was already out, he called the US Embassy to see if our passports had arrived. Technically, he shouldn’t have been able to pick them up for both of us, but because it only took a week and a half, the woman who helped us remembered that we had arrived late to drop off the paperwork, and we had told her that we had come from the Zoo. When Tom told her who he was, she remembered the whole story and told him that it would be no problem to give both of them to him, as long as he had my old passport to be punched, which he did. Now Tom has to go out later in the week to get the truck fixed, but one more job is crossed off our To-Do list as far as getting permanent residency here.

Mel is still hanging in there, although he’s now noticeably weaker day to day. However, he’s still all there mentally, and has taken to going out in the afternoon and sleeping under the house, which is probably the coolest spot on the property. The pups are doing well, and with the weekly ivermectin treatments Beli is almost looking like a normal dog again without all the bald patches. One of Stout’s recent tricks that cracked us up was his latest attempt to talk. He makes all sorts of noise, and frequently gets noises out that can be pretty easily taken as words. We usually get up around 5:30am, so on the weekends when we want to sleep in a little, Stout thinks it’s his job to wake us. To do this, he puts his front feet up on the bed, and starts talking at Tom. We were trying to ignore him, when he very clearly said “Yoo hooo…” We both looked at him and started laughing, but he got what he wanted – our eyes were open and we got out of bed. Nock has become obsessed with lizard hunting again. The lizards love the hot dry weather we’ve had lately, so they were tormenting Nock as she sat on the porch. She finally figured out that all she has to do to open the screen door is to get one of her claws in the wire and pull, so she now watches for a few minutes, then opens the door and goes out hunting. She chases them around in the yard for a little while, then starts work on some digging project she has going under the stairs. Lou is Lou, and I’m still trying to decide if he’ll drive Tom crazy if I leave him here when I head north this summer. I’d rather not travel with a dog – even Louis – but I’d like a sane husband when I get home, and Lou’s whining and pining for me for two weeks might make Tom crazy.

The horses are also doing well. We’re almost through the dry season here, and with a little extra grain and hay, they all seem to have held their weights, and they all look pretty good. Tony is a little ribby, but not bad, and all the mares are within about 50 pounds of perfect. Es and Elphie’s weights are perfect, Glin could use just a little, and Nessarose could lose just a little, but they’re close. They all have nice shiny coats which stay clean thanks to the lack of rain, so they look good.

Unfortunately, Esmerelda is making ME look bad. She’s become a little barn sour lately, and while she’s fine if she goes out with other horses, she’s awful when I take her out on her own. A few weeks ago, she caught me by surprise and turned and bolted down the road for home. That day, I decided to do the old “just make her keep running” trick, so we galloped past the driveway and on to San Antonio. I swear I only passed three or four cars, but for the next couple of weeks, it seemed like everybody I met wanted to know why I was galloping my horse to San Antonio, laughing like a maniac, and kicking for all I was worth. Then she started to act up yesterday, and because she has a nasty tendency to rear til she’s pretty much perpendicular to the ground, I decided to work with her from the ground. I attached the long lines to her bit, and worked on ground driving her. When she was mostly listening to me, I took her up to the property line so I could work her in the same spots where she likes to misbehave. We worked ourselves back out to where the property line meets the road, and where I wanted her to turn up the road, knowing she’d want to go down the road towards home. You can only see the trail there if you know it’s there, and we were having a bit of a tussle as Es tried to turn right, and I was holding her to the left and whacking her butt with the driving whip. Of course, my timing was perfect. First Bol walked by, and wanted to know how he could help. I assured him I was fine, just working on a little problem, and he went on down the road. Then a friend from San Ignacio drove by, caught a glimpse of us out of the corner of his eye, and did a quick U-turn in the road to help me. As I talked to him for a few minutes, with Es pointing up the road and dancing between the long lines, at least half a dozen cars drove by, all pointing at the crazy gringa in the hard hat and half chaps, brandishing a whip and growling at a dancing horse. People who either know me or know horses probably knew exactly what I was doing, but I’m waiting to see who I run into for the next few days wanting to know what the h*** I was doing.

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