Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday--Officially one week of living here!

Another great start to the day. Dave got right to work this morning with Victor. It is another HOT one...here they are hard at work...
I could hear through the window, Victor teaching Dave how to speak Spanish...what I keep hearing is "muy caliente!!"

As I was using the porch for a little yoga, I caught this sweet picture....and was thinking about how Sticks would like to be in Rex's (we call him that anyway) paws for a day...total freedom, hanging out with his pack, doing whatever he wants (getting dirty!), and maybe Rex would want to be in Stick's paws, always being sheltered and pampered...lol. Based on the peaceful and happy demeanor of both dogs I would say they are both feeling ok about it. :) They enjoy their staring contests anyway.
I went for a little bike ride into town for groceries. I am trying to keep track of what I spend to compare it to the US. You can spend a LOT of $ if you buy US brands here, but if you buy basic rice, beans, local spices, cheese, tortillas etc, it seems like your $ goes a long way. Belize (bz) dollars are 2:1 to US dollars. Today I went to a farmer's market and then Ming's Supermarket, and spent about $60 US or $120 bz. Here is what that gets you:
I had to buy more bug spray and coffee, which are more expensive items (about $5.50 US for a huge bottle of bug spray, and about the same for Belize coffee--which is excellent!) So, taking that $11 out means for $49 I also got:
5 roma tomatoes
2 bunches cilantro
2 plantains
1 head lettuce
12 eggs
1 lb ground beef
3 bags beans
5 different spices (also not a normal purchase, but I am experimenting!)
2 big waters
1 liter diet coke (healthy yeah I know :-/)
3 blocks cheese
1 big container yogurt
1 pineapple
1 yam
8 tortillas
12 corn tortillas
1 aloe drink (yum!)
2 green peppers
2 onions
So, would someone mind going to the local Giant Eagle/Kroger's/Shop n Save/whatever, and buy the exact same things, so we can compare??? lol
My best guess is, at least in Cleveland prices, this would have cost me around $90 (if you add in the bug spray and coffee). Yay for saving an imaginary $30!  

In my fun play kitchen tonight I am planning on making tacos with the ground beef, tomatoes, onions, cheese, lettuce, and yogurt for sour cream substitute. Also a salad with lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro. Making my own dressing because it is too expensive down here :)

One more fun Placencia thing....there are no addresses here! Our address is Caribbean Beach Cabanas; Placencia Sidewalk; Placencia, Belize, Central America. This is just wild to me! We went over to the Post Office our second visit and met Dyna, who said, now that I know your faces, just come ask me if you have mail (?!?!?!) I love it! The other day I apparently left my bike lock there. Dave stopped in and Dyna gave it to him--she knew it was mine, and I couldn't help but think about how CHARMING this aspect of small village life is. :):):) Here is a fun picture of our post office--you can walk there from our house:
A high point of my day today was chatting with Sarah and Shannon from Cleveland :) Miss them a lot and it was so good to hear their voices :) Anyone who is out of the country should look into kakao talk--a free app that lets you call, text, and send pictures....again....FREE!! And the connection was great today.

Anyway, it was a breezy, cooler, uneventful evening. It looked like rain for most of the day, It sounds like the 3rd week of May starts the night showers, then rainy season. I am very interested in experiencing this rainy season I hear about!!

And one last thing that happened today, we have a guy named Mr. Cal who rakes our beach every week. (If you don't rake, you get sand fleas lol...just don't think too much about that(!)) Anyway...about that sea grass....I was about done with the sea grass, I couldn't win. I had asked Mr. Cal about it, and in ONE HOUR, Mr. Cal got rid of all of it!!! He is magic, or from space, or something!! Anyway now you don't have to walk over sea grass and weird gross stuff to get in the water.....Awesome!! And, I didn't have to do it! Even better :)

Good night! xo

Tuesday Fun!

Dave thinks that Placencia is a bit like a(n) (awesome) Hardy Boys mystery....the rules are different than home, the ways to get things/get things done are different and sometimes even "mysterious", and there are twists and turns about every hour. He lost a worker yesterday and then our neighbor introduced us to a new worker who seems great.  I was running out of books and awesome neighbor, Marsha, lends us some books that I really wanted to read. I realized we had very little to eat, and then Jose shows up selling chicken empanadas and cheese buns....very inexpensively, and I mean where do you get awesome food right in your back yard??
I had a moment today where I thought, yeahhh this doesn't suck. :) I went to get more coffee this morning, and turned around, and saw this:

My makeshift desk....looking out over the sea, with hammocks and beach towels hung on the door, with Sticks enjoying watching the world go by, specifically his puppy friends and Mayans selling baskets and carvings. Now before you accuse me of bragging, add this to the picture-there is little air conditioning down here, and today there is little breeze, so as I sit here it is about 90 degrees with high humidity. It is so weird how you do get used to it though! Real feel was 114 degrees today...lol
 This is how 114 degrees feels....couldn't describe it better myself.....

We went to our second Rotary Club meeting in the afternoon... the Rotary Club meets under a palapa at Yoli's, on the water, and everyone looks like they are meeting for lunch on vacation. The last time we went, a guy was there from the Placencia Marathon, and they had raised money to send kids to high school, because without paying tuition they can't go--now THAT is meaningful!! Here are some pictures from the lunch meeting:








We had an awesome afternoon....after Rotary we met up with 2 new friends, Tammy and Bernard, who have an amazing story...they also have a blog about driving around Central America, staying in a tent on top of their SUV!! Check it out here...
http://caoexpeditions.com/2014/02/14/driving-from-the-usa-to-belize-or-vice-versa/

Then on the way home, we ran into new friends Sue and Carlos. They let us know about a happy hour at Miraposa...with a POOL...which we will be taking advantage of very soon :)

In random news, someone posted this link that the happiest countries in the world are in Central America...specifically Belize!...it is refreshing to live in a place that gives itself positive feedback (although that may be shifting in Cleveland!)
http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/wellness-and-renewal/photos/worlds-top-10-happiest-countries?page=7

I can see why. We got home, and our lovely neighbor Marsha, says, come on up for a Belikin! So we did..and stayed for 2....3......here are the lovely views from her wonderful home....Caribbean Beach Cabanas are to the north, the one with the red roof...and check out that sunset!



We then went home and had out first blackout....but thankfully it only lasted a minute....but it was PITCH BLACK! Thankfully we have no air conditioning to fret about :)

I couldn't post this last night due to my computer acting up. More later! :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

First real work week :) Monday!

I admit I did not have the usual feeling to starting the week....no matter how much I have liked my job or looking forward to my week, there is something like clockwork that makes you feel down on Sunday nights, and blah on Monday mornings. Not here!! I have to say....it felt very light and happy!

Dave bounced out of bed, got his first delivery of wood, and got right to work. Lucky for him, (!) it was the hottest day yet with almost no breeze :) At one point he brought an electric fan outside to stand in front of. His guy ended up showing late, so I had to help by holding a hose as he mixed and shoveled concrete into the new post holes. I even got to wear my bikini and get some sun. I didn't find it to be that tiring, but what he was doing looked hard. (:)!!!) When he asked me later to water the plants, I could see that it really was hot out. It was nice to have the hose.
Here he is looking, looking warm:
About 4 hours later Dave was on the verge of delirium so hopefully he can find some good help.  I meanwhile, exhausted myself writing posts on various Belize and Placencia groups, to find some contractors, laborers, tools, etc for Dave. I am sure he appreciated me running out to tell him about all the connections I was making on his 70th shovelful of dirt. I have never seen so much sweat! Great Job Dave! :) lol

On a positive note, the internet is pretty awesome. Within a few hours, I had a huge list of contractors, laborers, and other connections--I have a lot of respect for people who moved to other countries before this luxury, what I was able to do in a half day would have taken months of connections I would guess.

I also was able to find 3 awesome people to dog-sit Sticks....met two of them today and it was mutual love at first sight with them and Sticks. Sticks also showed signs of delirium from the heat...but he just got to sleep it off, and got ice cubes...it only looks like he shoveled concrete:

On another note, last night I heard him start crying and he had gotten his back foot caught in his long ear fur. Sad as I was to do this, I gave him a haircut, and it really looks terrible. He is part papillion (I think) and HAD the cutest long silky tail and ears.....but now he looks like a kid with a homemade haircut with the bangs too short and crooked. He is still cute but...wow. I found out there are no dog groomers here, so bad haircut is here to stay.

Thank you to our great neighbor Marsha who brought over fruit today early on, then a very thoughtful book signed by the author about living in Belize--it is so invaluable to have this kind of neighbor :) I also was excited to hear from Bebe and Sandy who will be here in June, more new neighbors!

It was so hot today that the front palm tree gave up a couple of its branches....hmmm who is going to move those?

 Here is the stump that won't die.....hopefully it will be gone by 2016.

It was also so hot today that I realized....I haven't worn makeup in 2 days :) Anyone that knows me knows this is about the craziest change that could happen to me. I walk around all day with dirty feet and fingernails, no makeup....I will be unrecognizable soon!

Later tonight I had stopped into the casita, after all his hard work he was rewarded by answering all the phone calls I set up for him (you are welcome!), while simultaneously answering emails, paying for our roof back home, and texting with his manager of his building back home :)  I have a lot of energy from the day so I hope he pulls it together so we can hang out now.....lol.

Good night!!!   xo

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Quiet Sunday :)

Sundays seem to be pretty quiet here, many locals go swimming and have visits but it is overall very relaxed.

Shocking to those who know us, Dave and I turned down an opportunity to go to a pool party at a local resort to instead do manual labor. OK more shocking for me than him, but I spent the morning with a workout on the porch, then I cleaned the windows in the cabana--which is a JOB!! Every shutter is covered with dry salt water. We did some window repairs, landscaping, more beach clean up (I decided 2 garbage bags a day is what I can handle....but there seems to be 10x that much beach grass washing up every hour??), and Dave dug some holes for the new foundation poles. I also sat and scraped old paint splatters from the front porch. How jealous is everyone of my Sunday????

By 3 pm I had done 6 hours of work and was sorry I didn't go to the pool :) Oh and I am in charge of pulling up old roots from a cut down palm tree. More laundry as well...here are a couple pics from the morning, first one is an attempt to show the "fun" bikes we are rolling around town in (yes, that IS a plastic crate secured to the back), as well as the outdoor laundry fun times:
Dave has figured out that some flowers have to be cut to get the plants fuller, so here was our classy substitute for a vase:


We then had a visit from the Belizean/Portugese/Italian artist, Walter, who will come in June to do a mural in the cabanas. He is awesome :) I think everyone will want one of his pieces, he really captures Belize. I also made a quick bike ride into town to get some food for the day; today we ate rice, beans, eggs, pico, and fruit for breakfast, and rice and beans for lunch. I am limited on my cooking choices-- but I am making my first attempt at meat tonight--some chicken tostadas. It was going to be quesadillas, but as I read many times, you cannot get your heart set on anything being available at the grocery store. They have burrito wraps 90% of the time, but tonight, only large flat corn hard shells :) Tostadas it is, yay! We did end up having a beer (ok 2) on the beach and watched the local families swimming. Sticks had a blast as usual. I also caught him kissing one of the female dogs today, he was sticking his head off the side of the porch-gross/cute....?

Dave has a laborer coming tomorrow at 12 to start pouring concrete and they plan to do a full days work. We realized that you have to come to a FIRM agreement about price before labor :) I will be doing more windows and more general clean up.....so who is the first to visit with these crazy fun times!!! :):)

A last close up pic before demolition of the casita:
 Here is a pic I caught on the way home from the store, from the back of the property, looking into town--beach and the property would be on the left, this is looking South...
 A gratuitous picture of Sticks having fun on the beach.....Dave put his bottle down for a second and I happened to catch this funny moment.....and how about the chihuahua sized palm tree???
Happy Sunday everyone!! xo

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pretty Awesome Third Full Day!

Today was our third full day here. Already a ton of things have happened, most notably--our last guest with the old owners checked out, leaving us the three units to get totally up and ready. We reorganized and cleaned the unit we are in, Sol (the one on the left in the pic below), and Dave is getting ready to tear apart the "casita" and make it into our temporary house while we build a larger owner's home in the back. It will be about 400 square feet...:)...however right now I am living in 300 square feet so I won't know what to do with all that space. Here is a picture of the casita (the little green one in the back), the old owners were using it as a storage shed:
Some other random funny things--I got stung by a jellyfish, as I was actually talking about how I was glad we had vinegar and benadryl in case we got stung :(. It was crummy but now I am less concerned as it lasted about an hour and wasn't that big a deal.

Dave has made a couple connections with local guys who want work, and they dragged in a bunch of cement tonight. We also had the houses sprayed for bugs because wow....there is a HUGE difference between the bugs in Ohio and the bugs here. :) You can't leave a crumb (or dog bone, or retainer, or pretty much anything) without the ants finding it. Oh, and there is a pack of dogs (very sweet) that are obsessed with Dave, and God knows what kind of fleas they are carrying....on the agenda tomorrow is putting flea meds on all the strays that hang out here. Brought the latex gloves for that fun task :)

We visited the Placencia Humane Society today and we will be volunteering... wonderful group of people! I will be adding a link to our website as if you are visiting, ANY pet supplies you can donate is very appreciated. They do a lot of hard work in difficult circumstances down here.

Dave has started ordering the wood and supplies for the project which will be great. I spent time cleaning the beach today....there is an amazing amount of sea grass (and plastic bits) that wash up on shore daily. There are properties here that have a flawless shoreline, I don't know how they do it. We should start a contest to keep me motivated and I think it might be a full time job :-/.

We also met an incredibly good artist today who makes the most wonderful oil paintings...hoping to have him do some special touches on the cabanas. We had a great dinner last night with Chris, our real estate agent, his girlfriend Sonja (One of only two architects on the peninsula!) and had a great time with Pam and John, the owners.

We are learning how to do laundry by hanging it outside....such a learning curve! We are getting used to taking two rusty old bikes out for errands, no car yet,  and I am learning how to cook in a kitchen that feels kind of like a play kitchen from when I was younger :) I went from this kitchen in Lakewood, Ohio:
To this! Yep that is ALL of it :)

Can't beat the view....but having one pot, a foot of counter space, a tiny fridge, etc is a challenge :) But finding the food at the farmer's markets, buying what you need for just that day, eating everything fresh and simple, and looking at the Caribbean while you eat is something that will take a while to get sick of!

Here is one of my favorite pictures thus far of Sticks, our chihuahua--the pack of dogs are all very sweet and respectful of him...and weirdly they seem intimidated! They shy away from him which is just the funniest thing...
You can bring your dog pretty much anywhere....I took him on a long bike ride, to the grocery store, to the bar last night, he loves it. He is winning everyone over and really loves it down here. He has adapted this crazy chihuahua grin that he NEVER did in the cold!

OK enough for now! Good night!

Friday, April 25, 2014

First Blog Entry! The longest I will have ever left home...

I am starting this blog on the second day of the longest time I will ever have been away from my home! I grew up in Northeast Ohio, near Cleveland. I went to college and grad school at the University of Akron, only 45 minutes away. The longest I have ever left was for maybe three weeks!

A year ago, my husband Dave and I went to Costa Rica with some friends. On the last day, he looked at me and said, I don't want to leave! I was feeling the same way. I think that is not unusual, and plenty of people dread going home to their regular routines after an exotic trip. However, we kept the idea alive the entire year and spent hours pouring over whether it was realistic to uproot our lives to go to Central America. We decided that it was reasonable to at least have a home that we could visit in the winter, as Cleveland winters are brutal.

Dave is self employed and develops properties and homes for a living, and I had a mental health counseling private practice with two friends. We waited almost a year to visit Central America again--and all of our research said Belize was the best fit for us. The real estate is based on British law, they speak English, it is a quick flight, there is no squatter's rights, the real estate is booming in that it is one of the quickest growing countries in the Western hemisphere, the locals are charming, and it looks like a postcard of a beach town!

We visited the Cayes (pronounced keys) first on our trip this past March. We loved it, the action, business, development, tourism--and we placed a bid on a beach home. The owner decided to up his price by 50% so that didn't work for us :). We then rented a car and drove all over Belize, seeing what feels right. We are ridiculously decisive people--it is either a yes or a no for us, and if it is a yes, then there is no questioning it! We didn't have that feeling of certainty again until we hit Placencia. Placencia is a small village on the tip on the Placencia Peninsula, and it is almost 20 miles long. As soon as we hit the turn on the peninsula, we looked at each other and said, this is it.

We met with a (super fun) real estate agent, Chris, and had seen a property online that we were really excited by while we were in San Ignacio. The property was called Las Amigas, and it was a breathtaking 1/2 acre on the Caribbean. As soon as we stepped on the property, that feeling of certainty hit. We haven't questioned it since! That was about 2 months ago.

Now, here we are. We sold our home quickly, I left my practice :(, moved into a tiny one bedroom in an apartment building Dave owns, packed up 4 suitcases and our Chihuahua, Sticks, and just got here for good 2 days ago. It has been emotional, overwhelming, completely exhilarating, life changing, and probably a bit crazy!

I had been searching for a blog to keep me connected to Placencia while we were back home, and there wasn't ONE I could find! My goal of this blog is not only to document our experience here, but to do my part to introduce visitors to what I believe is a VERY special place on the planet. Special enough for me to leave a place a love, with people I love, for the hope that this adventure would bring about an experience for a lifetime. I don't know what our future looks like exactly--a lot will depend on our success and luck down here! I am SO excited to capture this experience as I have spent a lot of time daydreaming about the very life that I am currently living!  Not all posts will be this long :) Feel free to comment or ask me any questions! Our new resort name is Caribbean Beach Cabanas of Placencia. You can find us at www.caribbeanbeachcabanas.com or our facebook page,
https://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanBeachCabanasofPlacencia.

Hope to see you all in Placencia soon!! <3<3<3 Here are some of my favorite pictures so far...