Sunday, July 29, 2012

Todays forecast: Gloomy enough to ruin plans.

I was planning on walking to Steadfast around 7 o'clock so I could have breakfast at my favorite neighborhood cafe before catching the bus from there at 9:15 and making my way to the Bacab Eco Park near Belize City.

Casita de Amor Cafe, it's been too long.

 I woke up to thunder and rain though, and even when the storm passed, the sky stayed dark and cloudy. I tried to make it down the driveway to catch a later bus, but I knew without having to go too far that I wasn't going to make it the rest of the way without some problems. 
So I'm still home.

I think the excitement of the day will now be making one of these homemade mosquito traps that I saw on the Homesteading/Survivalism's facebook page:

2 liter bottle
1 tsp yeast
1/2 cup sugar
lukewarm water

Cut the top off a 2 liter bottle. Invert the cone and place it inside the straight part of the bottle. Glue the two pieces together. Add 1 tsp yeast and 1/2 cup sugar to some luke warm water, and pour the mixture into the bottle. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that you exhale. The yeast feeds off the sugar and emits the same gas, so the mosquito enters the bottle, thinking it will find food there and is trapped.

Mosquitoes aren't really my problem here - it's those damn, tiny, black flies that are the size of gnats back home, but they suck your blood and leave tiny red dots on your skin. I call them "jungle bugs," and I hope this trap works for THEM!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The problem with making plans....

I finally convinced Trip to go out and DO something with me today - lunch at Mama Noots and a hike up Lower Bocawina Falls.

We went to Dangriga first to pick up the fuel injector pump switch thingy that he needed for the truck, but it hadn't come in yet. Yeah, it should've been in on Tuesday or Wednesday... but this is Belize. We were told it would be there at 1:30.

On our way to lunch, down the dirt road that leads to the park, the truck kept shutting down and Trip would have to get out, mess around under the hood, and start it again. I could tell he was getting frustrated, and sweaty, so I suggested we skip the falls and just have lunch and go fix the truck.

As we were driving back to Dangriga, the guy from the auto parts store called and said the part wouldn't be in until 3:30 now.... so we went to Pelican Beach Resort for milkshakes.

They were set up downstairs for some kind of "event," so we were sent to an upstairs bar that I'd never been in before.

 the "event"

Upstairs view

This year Bowen  & Bowen Ltd is celebrating 50 years of bottling Coca Cola in Belize and in honor of their fifty years of service to Belize, the company has launched a traveling exhibit that encompasses 50 paintings from artist across the country. I saw able to see the exhibit at Pelican Beach today. Here's a few of my favorites.... I took pics of the artists names, but they didnt come out clearly... so if you see this and know the artist, please let me know so I can add their name.

We got the truck stuck in a rut on our way up the driveway and possibly ripped off the entire exhaust system... so plans have changed for tomorrow, too. Looks like I'm going to BACAB Eco Park by myself and spending the night in Belmopan!

Spending time with the locals

I went back to Santa Elena on Wednesday to see Marley and get my dreads tightened again. I didn't get to soak them in the sea before my appointment because of the rainy weather we've been having all week, but I did finally wash them and it felt so, so good. (Pictures soon, I promise)

When I was done at her house I started walking down the back streets to get to the wooden bridge that crosses over to San Ignacio. On my way, I got called over to say hello to a guy who was sitting outside of his place with a few kids. I went over and introduced myself and noticed his horses in the back, so he took me over to see them.

There were a bunch of guys working on his property - some were busy fixing a motorcycle, one was tinkering with a truck, and a few more were in the process of disemboweling a large, dead pig that was hanging from a tree.
I could not stop watching this process for some reason - the whole time I was petting the horses and checking out the awesome view of the river I kept looking back at the pig. I asked Jack (my new friend) how they kill the pigs, but he wouldn't tell me. He said girls shouldn't think about that stuff.

We hung out for a few more minutes before I had to go and meet Janell, and before I left he invited me to stop back sometime to hang out for a barbeque.

I found Janell, her brother, Colin, and their niece, Quvanni near the market and we got a bite to eat at a place called Ko-Ox Hannah (Let's go eat) and then went back to their house to chill for a while.
There were a  bunch of cops roaming around the neighborhood when we got there, so we just sat outside and waited to see if anything happened - a drug bust, a raid, something like that - but nothing ever came of it. I'm pretty sure it's a well known dealer neighborhood, so maybe they were just there to check on things.

One of Janell's friends showed up sometime around 9 o'clock - a really nice, funny girl named Kimberly who I liked a lot. Kimberly's sister had just passed away on Monday night, so the three of us girls went with her back to her sister's wake for a little while. I felt a bit out of place, having never met the girl, so I just stayed outside and talked to the few people out there.

After getting Quvanni back home and to bed sometime after 11, Janell and I decided to go to the casino.
I didn't have much money to waste on gambling so I just gave up $20bz to the first slot machine I sat down at, called it quits and spent the next two and a half hours sipping on beer and eating a chicken burger from the restaurant.

There isn't much to tell you about the casino. There were 3 or 4 poker tables that each had about 5-7 people playing at them, and the rest was all slot machines. I estimated that there were only about 40 people in the whole building, including the staff.

We left there around 3am and I made friends with more stray dogs on the walk back to Janell's. Locals think it's so weird  of me to do that.... but I think everything deserves  a pat on the head once in a while. 

We had wanted to go canoeing on Thursday morning, but I didn't wake up until 10 o'clock and didn't have much time left. Well... I didn't think I had much time left... turns out I did.
 I caught a bus around 11:30 and headed to Belmopan where, when I got there, Trip texted me and told me it was pouring in Stann Creek and that if I came home I was going to have to walk up the hill because the truck wouldn't make it.
I went into the Charishma bar to think about what I wanted to do and ran into my buddy Kingston and his friend Pech from a village up north. We had a few beers and then went to get some panades from one of the street vendors and talk a walk in the park. Pech wanted to introduce me to his mother first, so we went and found her to say hello on our way.
By this time I had decided that I didn't want to go home and had an offer from Bob to let me crash on his couch.

I was clearly not being all touristy while I was out this time. The only picture I have for you is of this tiny kitten that I found in Belmopan on Thursday night when I crashed at Bob's house.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Bugs, Yuck!

I started saving all of our empty glass and plastic bottles, thinking I could use them for future craft projects or storage or something... but Trip has another idea.

Bug collecting. Gross.

He has two beetles, a super tiny scorpion, and three normal sized scorpions so far. And they're sitting on my kitchen counter.

the big one

The tiny guy - I'm clearly not about to take the top off of the jars to get better pictures, sorry.

I've been reading up on scorpions and it seems as though the general consensus is that if you get stung by one, it will hurt like a bitch, but you won't die. Most people don't even need to be treated, they just rinse the bitten area with soap and water and use an ice compress to help the swelling go down. (People who start to twitch and have problems breathing should probably go get some medical attention though, that sounds like it could be kind of serious)

I don't know what his plan is yet with the bugs....but I'm sure there is one.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A quick run to town & Medicinal Herbs of Belize

We were stuck on the hill for the majority of the week again because of the random afternoon rain storms and the mud that comes from those storms - but we took advantage of the few hours of sunshine yesterday morning and went into town for a few things.

I don't know which is scarier - sliding down the driveway and praying we don't slip right off and careen to our deaths, or trying to make it back up.

I had Trip drop me off at the market so I could load up on fruits and veggies since we're still waiting for our own crops to mature...

I always buy from the same guy...I forget his name.

Always a big selection

I saw this sign outside of one of the little bodegas on the main street and went in to see if they had any mint leaves so I can start making myself Mojitos at home..

Talawala - all I've been able to find online about Talawala is that you're supposed to scrape off all of the red bark, soak it in cold water, rinse it off and then soak it again in clean water. You can drink it cold or heat it up and drink it as a tea for high blood pressure.
I don't know if it's a tree, shrub, bush, root.... It might be the same as the Bear Paw Fern, from what I've read - but I can't find anything to prove that.

China Root - This one I found easily, and it sounds like a good one:  
Uses : The rhizomes are bitter, acrid, thermogenic, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, digestive, laxative, depurative, aphrodisiac, diuretic, febrifuge and tonic. It is used in dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, constipation and helminthiasis. It is useful in skin diseases, leprosy and psoriasis. It is used in fever, epilepsy, insanity and neuralgia. It is used syphilis, strangury, seminal weakness and general debility. Detoxifies organs, cleanses blood, aids absorption and kills bacteria. It also stimulates digestion, increases urination, protects liver and promotes perspiration. (info from

Provision Bark - Also known as Malabar Chestnut, Guiana Chestnut and Saba Nut. this tree is sold commercially in the USA under the name Money Tree. It produces large, colorful flowers and fruits. The fruit can weigh up to six lbs, and be a foot in diameter. The seeds can be roasted and eaten.
Provision Tree bark is highly regarded as a blood tonic. A tea made by boiling its bark is used to help anemia, low blood pressure, fatigue and to generally build strength.(info from this helpful web page, Bush Medicine of Belize and Central America)

Gumbolimbo Bark - One of my favorite trees, the Gumbolimbo! Strips of bark are boiled in water and then used topically for skin sores, measles, sunburn, insect bites, and rashes or drunk as tea to treat backaches, urinary tract infections, colds, flu, and fevers. Young leaves rubbed on skin exposed to poison wood can prevent reaction and will sooth itching and speed recovery. (info from Bush Medicine of Belize)

Billyweb Bark - I'd never heard of this one, either, and there isn;t much information about it other than it's used as a cough suppressant and blood purifier.

 Maybe this is something I can work on - compiling a complete list of Belize's medicinal herbs/trees/plants/leaves/shrubs...

They didn't have any mint, but I'm going to Cayo again next week and I think I know where I can find it there. (Wish me luck, I really need a Mojito!)

My tough guard dogs, protecting the truck

Something I thought was weird yesterday was all the compliments my dogs were getting from people about how nice looking, healthy, and strong they are... They all seemed genuinely shocked that someone had tossed them out of a car and left them.
Don't they know that if they treat their own dogs as well as we do, they'll grow up strong and healthy, too?
Everywhere I look are skinny, malnourished, abused dogs that get no love, only rocks thrown at them.
I don't get it. 
(I was told recently that I'm known in the village as "the pretty gringo up on the hill that's friends with all the mean dogs")

 Well I guess that's all I have for you today. 
If the weather is nice Monday or Tuesday I WILL be going to spend a day on Tobacco Caye again - I was instructed to soak my dreads in the sea and wash them once before I go to my next hair appointment on Wednesday... and I'm happy to obey :) 
Maybe you'll get some pictures, too.

Postcards and presents!!

Yesterday was the best post office visit for me yet - 12 postcards, a magazine from my dad, and a little care package from Uzbekistan that included two more postcards, a stamp, and a bunch of little stickers!

From Georgy in India:

A Vallam (houseboat) in Kerala, India, complete with bio-toilet and on-board chef!

The stamps - I can't get good pictures of them unless my camera is on the "text" setting.

From Robert in the Czech Republic

Central Prague - the Vltava River, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle, where their president lives.

Roses and a... half goat, half fish? I don't know what it is, but I like it.

From Peter in Sweden (I think)

The Oresund Bridge betweed Sweden and Denmark. Look this up - it goes underground! Oresund Bridge

I love the ice cream cone, and the fishing lure is pretty cool, too.

From Vera in China

I love this card - the dress, the mandolin, the bench she's sitting on - all of it.

Pretty stamps, too!

And a blurry picture of the cute panda sticker she put on there

From Iga in Poland

Chopin's Monument in Warsaw and the Royal Castle.

No stamps on this one for some reason.

From a 17 year old in China (I don't know here real name)

This reminds me of an old painting I had... which must have been REALLY old because I bought it at an estate sale at the home of a 90 year old man.

Cool stamp - blue sky and water, yellow sun beam, green grass, and a light blue bird

From Roman in Russia

I love this fat little bird! I think it's called a Bullfinch.

The best stamps on one card so far - mushrooms, the beach, a Rapunzel-like chic and two castles.

FIVE cards from my friend Roary in PA, from her travels over the years

Breast/Ovarian Cancer Awareness

A fun, artsy one from Tucson, Arizona

Snowy Bisbee, Arizona

Aaahhhh, Costa Rica. Definitely on my Bucket List

A Long Neck hilltribe woman playing her guitar in the North of Thailand.
Another place I'd love to visit.

All of Aurora's cards had these cute little Aloha stamps on them. Love! (Thanks, Roar!)

From Igor in Uzbekistan

2 postcards, nail stickers, a stamp, and 7 stickers!
Thank you, Igor - I will send something fun out to you next week!

Urban Farm Magazine... from my dad :)

Our greenhouse was built because of the first issue he gave me, I can't wait to see what we get out of this one!

The article Can Ya Dig It? mentions the authors first encounter with trench composting - in the jungles of Central America while staying in BELIZE!

I gotta say, this postcard swapping thing is more educational than I realized it would be. Every time I get a cool card from somewhere I've never been I look up whatever image is on the card and learn something about it.
I bet my Jeopardy skills have even improved a bit because of it.

I also don't know what's up with all the empty space in this post - it looks fine in the draft but when I post it... lots of space. Hmph.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Return of Miss Muffin... and other stuff.


I didn't say anything to anyone when Muffin went missing about a week ago because I had a feeling she'd show up sooner or later. 
A couple of years ago, when we were still living in Southampton, PA, she was gone for just over 6 weeks! 
There had been construction work going on in one of the condos in the complex that we lived in and we think she may have snuck into the work truck for a nap and got stuck in there when they cleaned up and went home for the day.

a truck similar to this - will all those great hiding spots

I had just about given up hope that I'd ever see her again - but then I woke up early one morning and was walking to the kitchen for a glass of water, and there she was. I almost walked right by her, thinking she was just Sugar or Bubby, but I did a double take, stared at her for a few seconds, and then asked her, "Where the hell did you come from?"

She was super super skinny and all she did for the first three days she was home was sleep - but she made it.


That's pretty much how it happened this morning when she came home, too. I heard Trip go into the kitchen and a few seconds later I heard, "She's home!" 

By following her footprints we figured out that she came in through the doggy door out on the front verandah and climbed through the kitchen window - like a little ninja and not waking up the dogs.

Because of the dogs, though, (and the jaguars, panthers, skwash, opossums, and other creatures) Bubby and Muffin are now officially indoor cats. I've already lost Sugar (In Memory of Sugarbear) and I just think it's safer for them to stay in.

 I missed that face!

The "other stuff"

I'm trying a new tea today - Che'il Cacao Tea, made in Belize in Maya Center Village, here in the Stann Creek District.
"Cacao Tea is rich with magnesium, potassium, a high dose of vitamin D, Tannins, Catechins, Polyphenols, antioxidant agents and Theobromine, a natural stimulant."

More things are growing! 
We have a corn stalk growing right outside of our back door (and a whole field down on the hill)

I see corn tortillas in my future

Everything in the greenhouse is coming up nicely, too: radishes, carrots, cucumbers, onions...

Julio and Fernando's sister gave me some seeds from one of her pretty, flowery plants, which are coming up as strong little sprouts.

A tiny Papaya tree

And some Sugar Cane

We started working on the last section of unfinished flooring today - the kitchen! Trip did all of the cement work and laid out the river rock, and my job is to fill the cracks with pebbles (my idea - looks so much better than plain ol' cement!)

We ran out of polyurethane, of course, so this project continues tomorrow after a supply run!

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