Today we rode into San Pedro a bit later than usual so we could eat lunch in town.  I'd been craving ceviche, since I hadn't had any since arriving here in late August, so Lily's sounded like the perfect place to enjoy the breezes on the beach and get my fix.

Before lunch we rode to Maria's fruit stand, where we seem to end up nearly every day.  The family that runs this place is so incredibly sweet and generous to us, nearly always giving us a few little extras since we shop there so frequently.  During the slow season, I am sure they are happy for every customer.  Yesterday our bonus was two glasses of incredibly fresh squeezed orange juice, and today Maria threw in an onion, a stalk of celery, and a few green onions in addition to the vegetables and fruit we purchased.  While we were packing up our goodies, Jose came out to show us his turtle.  Such a cute little thing, and Jose obviously adores him.  
Picture
Jose of Maria's Fruit Stand and his turtle
Picture
Our next stop was Lily's Treasure Chest for lunch.  Barry got his egg fix by ordering the breakfast burrito, which was actually two burritos with a nice side of fresh salsa, and I got the fresh fish ceviche.  It was a huge serving and so deliciously fresh and caliente y picante to the tongue!  I wasn't able to finish the entire plate but did eat all the fish and as many of the vegetables as I could.  Many of the folks who have reviewed Lily's on TripAdvisor.com have said that this is the best ceviche on the island, and it certainly coud be.  YUM!
Picture
A fantastic setting for a meal
Picture
That's what I'm talking about!
Picture
Our bikes parked along the fence - convenient!
 
This morning after our run, pool-down, and breakfast, we were getting ready to head to town on errands when we heard Bernie roll up in the tractor.  Fortunately, when you're retired and living on an island, dealing with slight changes or delays in plans is much easier than when you're on a tight schedule in the US and have to go to work each day.  So we put our errands on hold until afternoon, and Barry pitched in and helped with the sand moving and raking, while I observed and took photos.  The end result was a nice fluffy beach in front of Chico Caribe instead of hard-packed sand and rocks (ouchie on bare feet) from construction.  A really nice improvement!
Picture
Bernie is an old hand with tractors from his Texas ranch experience
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Barry spreading the sand -- so much for lounging in a hammock! :)
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
The finished product (looking north)
Picture
The finished product (looking south)
Picture
Barry is a tireless worker -- even interrupted a brief pool break to help a little more!
After all that excitement, we headed to town on our bikes after lunch.  In addition to buying some fresh veggies and Belikin beer, we picked up our local checks (or "cheques" as they call them here) at the Belize Bank.  We'd ordered these several weeks ago, and they took a bit longer than originally promised, but at least they finally came in.  We also placed an order for some "business" cards at Gecko Graphics.  In our case (since we're not running a business), these are just personal cards with our contact information and this blog's address to share with people we meet here.  We'd spent some time yesterday designing them, which was quite fun, actually.  We added some palm trees and a bicycle with a basket graphic to them, to represent our lifestyle here.  They are supposed to be ready no later than Friday.  Fun!

Finally, we bought Paisley a new red leash at this cute shop as the clasp on the one I'd bought before we even brought her home from the breeder in 2008 had broken a couple of days ago.  Cost was $14.50 BZD ($7.25 US), not bad at all.
Picture
Still decked out in Independence Day regalia, Pampered Paws is THE place for dog gear on the island (and grooming/boarding besides).
 
Picture
Looks like limes to me
Today we spied what looks to be a lime tree near our pool, on the other side of the concrete wall.  The lot on that side is vacant and beautiful jungle at this point.  Perhaps all the limes aren't so high up as the ones we saw. This will require further investigation!  Also today, Barry learned how to crack open a coconut.  Since he doesn't have a machete, this took a bit of work, but he was rewarded for his efforts at last.  As there are many coconut palms around, this is a great new skill to have.  I drank most of the coconut water, and it was delicious.  He cut out all the coconut meat and grated some of it for our chicken and vegetable curry tonight for dinner.  Mmmmmmm!  Fresh grated coconut on top was truly the perfect touch. 
Picture
Picture
Paisley always tries to make herself useful
Picture
Picture
Just like on "Survivor"!
Here are a few "cute Paisley" photos.  She is really enjoying the beach here.  She goes into the water to cool off, plays in the sand, and pretty much wants to be outside all the time.  Most afternoons we have a fetch session, and she runs like the wind after her ball, getting herself completely sandy all the while.  We almost always have to dunk her in the water afterwards, and she really seems to enjoy being dried off on the dock.
Picture
Jumping for her ball - her vertical leaping ability is quite impressive!
Picture
Sandy smiling face
Picture
After a rinse-off
 
Today the Grand Caribe folks moved a huge tree trunk (presumably a palm) that had washed up along the seawall out of the water and across the beach to prevent golf carts from parking and turning around in front of Chico Caribe.  This is just a temporary fix as the "road" next to Chico was only intended for construction and will eventually be closed off to motorized vehicles so none will even get to this point on the beach.  We were eating lunch on our veranda after our bike ride into town for groceries, so watching this "beach logging" provided some fine drama.
Picture
Pulling the log from the sea
Picture
An easy job with the right equipment
Picture
Bernie directing Mr. Kus, the driver
Picture
The finished product
Today was an excellent day for wind, as you can see from the palm fronds in the photos above.  With strong easterly breezes, the waves were roaring over the barrier reef and beyond.  The next two photos show the difference in the sea state at the reef offshore and beyond versus inside the reef, where there are really no waves, only tiny wavelets on occasion.  This makes for some great swimming for Paisley, along with boating, kayaking, and snorkeling for the rest of us, but Belize is not a place to come to surf! 
Picture
Waves at reef and beyond are crashing...
Picture
...while the shoreline remains flat and calm
 
No, not that kind of shots!  Just a few photos from our day. :-)
Picture
Lovely double rainbow to the west after a major thunderstorm early this morning
Picture
Our building is the tall one on the far left as seen from way down the beach on our walk with Paisley. We liked the view, the cloud formations, and the birds on posts!
Picture
Cormorants drying their wings
Picture
Our dinner - baked fish with mango-banana salsa, coconut rice, zucchini, and peppers. Yum!
 
Today, the first day of fall (though one would never know it here with a high of 93!), we had to renew our tourist visa for the first time.  This is required on a monthly basis for all visitors who are not in the QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) or permanent residents.  We plan to apply for permanent residency eventually, but that requires that we be in the country for a year, so until then, we must go monthly and have our passport stamped for another thirty days.  The cost for this is $50 BZD ($25 US) each for the first six months, and $100 BZD each thereafter.  We can reset the clock by leaving the country for a certain amount of time near the end of your six-month period in order to avoid the higher fees in the second six months.  I see a trip to Mexico in our future!  

Fortunately, the renewal process is easy as the immigration office is right in downtown San Pedro, and nicely air-conditioned too, I might add.  On a morning as hot and humid as today, that was a welcome stop!  We did lose a few days off our first thirty as normally this coming Monday would have been our day to renew, but September 23rd has been declared a national holiday due to the recent death and Monday's state funeral of George Price, the first Prime Minister of Belize, who was very beloved in this country and often called "the Father of the Nation".

This afternoon Barry got our new valance installed in the living area to cover up the roller shade beneath it.  It's a simple, but nice, addition to the room.  We were lucky that Kate at Sew What had the same fabric that the curtains for our sliders were made of.
Picture
Picture
Kate also shortened our bedroom curtains for us, so now they don't get in the way of the dresser:
Picture
This afternoon I also planted the basil I'd rooted in a glass, at my mother's suggestion.  Thanks Mom!  Hope it will do well out on our veranda.
Picture
My very tiny garden
Here are a few other photos from the past week that didn't really fit in anywhere else:
Picture
A little "iguana" carved by Hazile, one of the workers here. Really cute, I thought!
Picture
Dangerous-looking holes in the pedestrian portion of the bridge to town. Hope they fix them soon!
Picture
Grocery shopping at Super Buy South
Picture
Picture
Shopping at Caye Supplies
Picture
The sunset is blocked by buildings, but we get a nice afterglow from our southeast-facing condo.
 
Today was Belize's Independence Day, 30 years to be exact.  This was a HUGE holiday and cause for celebration here, and we were delighted to be a part of it.  We walked into San Pedro town to take in the parade, which began at around 2 pm.  The roads were absolutely deserted prior to the parade start, because it seemed that nearly everyone in town was either IN the parade or AT the parade, so the golf carts were mostly all parked, and all we saw on the way there were locals walking to the parade, like us.  Since today was a national holiday, there were no dump trucks or other commercial vehicles around.  What a pleasure!
Picture
Walking to town on a hot day without much breeze
Picture
Front Street, where food was being cooked and sold. The smoke way down the road was from chicken being grilled.
Picture
Emily on Front Street
Picture
Middle Street, normally very busy, was a ghost town
Picture
Other direction of Middle Street
Once we got to town, we staked out a spot on Back Street, where the parade began.  We watched the entire parade from here, and it was such a great time.  I've never seen so many smiling faces, dancing bodies, bright colors, or enthusiasm anywhere.  The sirens, drums, and music were loud, but it was well worth taxing our eardrums a bit to be a a part of the fun.  Barry took a zillion pictures and said it was the best parade he'd ever seen.  I concur!

After the end of the parade went by, we started walking back to our condo, only to realize that the parade had now wrapped around to the Boca del Rio beach road, our route home, so we got to see much of it again!  It was a hot and sunny day, so the marchers didn't seem quite so fresh by this point, but there was still plenty of cheer in the air.  We were delighted to see one of the cooks, Cherette (I hope I have spelled this right), from Grand Caribe all decked out in a very fancy purple butterfly costume, dancing and marching in the parade.  She saw me before I recognized her, and gave me such a friendly wave.  Living on a small island is a neat experience as you actually see people you know when you're out and about!

Here's a slideshow of the parade photos Barry took.  I think you'll agree that the colors are incredibly vivid.  He did a great job at capturing the experience!
On the way back, we decided to stop in at the Palapa Bar, just a hop, skip, and a jump south of Grand Caribe, for some liquid refreshment, as we were hot and tired.  This proved to be a great decision, as a bunch of people arrived soon after us to liven up the atmosphere, and we soon found ourselves enjoying conversation with an interesting young British woman, who was on "holiday" with her boyfriend for five months!  They had started in Mexico and were going to wind their way through Central America, then South America, followed by New Zealand and Australia.  What a tour!  She said that they had scrimped and saved and worked extra hours for quite a while to save for this long trip, which is the type of thing that is rarely done by US citizens.  She was planning to work in Australia for six months before returning home to England after that.  Very cool!  

Interestingly too, one of the workers at the Palapa knew of us and that we'd been on the island for 3-4 weeks, even though this was our first time stopping in since we moved here in late August.  Word really gets around on a small island!  Here's a photo he took of us there:
Picture
It's hard to tell from this photo, but this palapa is out over the ocean - such a lovely setting!
Picture
Palapa Bar -- an Ambergris Caye tradition
 
Picture
A Great Egret, we believe
First, a follow-up.  In yesterday's entry (http://bebelize.weebly.com/1/post/2011/09/sunday-cycling-adventure-and-a-stormy-afternoon.html), I blogged about the horrible area of murky water on the road north that Barry rode through and cut his leg on a wire in, but I was too chicken to attempt.  I'm happy to report that his leg seems to be just fine, but he was determined to get back up to the scene of the crime to take some photos so everyone could see just how icky and non-navigable this area was.   So after our errand ride into town today, he continued riding north until he reached the other side of the area that he rode through on Sunday.  And here it is:
Picture
Picture
Picture
As you can see, with all the debris and swampiness on either side, there's really no way to go around it.  I'm still really glad I didn't attempt it as you can't possibly see either how deep it is or what evils might be lurking in it.  Would you have ridden through it?  

Now to today's activities.  We took Paisley on a nice long walk this morning, and she was accosted by a couple of dogs at El Pescador, a resort up the way a bit.  One brown dog was not very friendly towards her, but this young black one wanted to play.  Still, it intimidated Paisley a bit, so she kept escaping into the water.  She really has learned to love the sea here and goes in to cool down frequently when we walk.  
Picture
Picture
She likes lying in water of this depth on her belly -- so refreshing!
Picture
A natural swimmer
After the walk and breakfast, we rode into town for a couple of groceries and to pick up curtains I had hemmed and a window valance I had made.  On our way there, we stopped for a brief chat with our buddy Raphael, a security guard at The Phoenix, where we stayed for our 25th anniversary in May 2010.  Raphael is from El Salvador and doesn't speak a lot of English, so we try our our rudimentary Espanol on him, and he very generously encourages our meager efforts.  I'm currently going through the Pimsleur lessons on the computer, and Barry had already done quite a few of these lesson while in Chapel Hill.
Picture
This was the first time Raphael had seen our "Carros" (cars). Yep, our bikes are our cars here!
After buying bread, OJ, and cereal, we headed over to Sew What to pick up my projects.  Barry decided that the valance would do best strapped across my handlebar basket rather than on his rear rack, so we covered it in trash bags and strapped it on.  I got a few funny looks, but really, you see folks carrying all sorts of stuff on their bikes here, but they are usually locals, and we still look like tourists to most people, I'm sure.
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Going over the bridge north of San Pedro (aka "the cut")
Picture
Picture
Fortunately, I got everything back to our place with no problems, though I did have to go through quite a few puddles on the road.  Not disgusting like the mega puddles farther north, though.  Yes, this is Belize in rainy season!
Picture
Negotiating the huge puddles by Reef Village
Picture
This one was deeper than it looked
Finally, here are a couple of other miscellaneous shots from today...
Picture
Paisley's new obsession = hunting crabs under the Chico Caribe dock. She hasn't caught one yet, thankfully.
Picture
Paisley with Van Gogh, Picasso, and a Grand Caribe stray. Van Gogh & Picasso belong to other owners at Grand Caribe.
Picture
A large iguana Barry encountered on his ride up north
Picture
A cute bunch of small bananas we bought at Maria's yesterday. So much more flavorful than the larger ones. The one on the left is a "standard" size banana for comparison.
 
Picture
We took a long Sunday bike ride after walking Paisley, hitting the pool, and eating breakfast.  This ride proved to be quite an adventure, and not always in a good way.  We headed far north up the beach, as we'd done several times before on previous trips, but this time, once we got several miles up, the beach was in pretty bad shape.  I had to walk my bike quite a bit because the beach was all cluttered up with seagrass and debris in places, and there was the usual soft sand at several of the resorts, rather than the usual packed sand that is easy to ride on.  In soft sand, your tires start spinning as you attempt to plow through, and often you lose all traction and have to put a foot down before you fall.  It gets old when this happens over and over on a ride, so we prefer to avoid areas like this.
Picture
Pretty, but not the best for riding
There were also a couple of places where we encountered unfriendly watch dogs.  Large dogs running towards me barking angrily scares the bejeebers out of me, and one particular place, I knew I didn't want to have to ride by twice since the dogs approached quite ferociously.  Barry scared them off, but I still didn't feel comfortable encountering them again.  
Picture
One of the few friendly dogs we encountered
To avoid the dogs and bad beach areas, we decided to take the unpaved "road" off the beach back to Chico Caribe at the turnaround point.  "Road" is in quotes because in places it is more like a trail, and is really intended mostly for golf carts.  When we first started back, the road was in great shape, a nice packed sand trail, and we also had a tail wind, so it seemed like we'd just sail back to our destination.
Unfortunately, we eventually got to a place where the road widened and was packed down and rutted by construction trucks.  There were deep depressions, but no water at first.  Eventually, puddles appeared, then the puddles grew into small ponds.  We could get avoid most of these by zig-zagging and going around the edges, but at one point, there was no way to avoid riding through them; and the standing water was fetid, muddy, and dark.  Barry plowed through some of this, but when I saw that his bike was about a foot deep in the water, I couldn't make myself attempt it.  I just knew I'd get mired in the mud and flop over sideways into the dank, stinky cauldron of who-knows-what kind of evil.  Just couldn't do it! 

Sorry for the lack of photos of this part; we were too busy trying to figure out how to cope with the situation to take any at the time.  Barry has threatened to ride back up there to take some, so stay tuned!

So, I turned back and started walking my bike through property that appeared to have a side cut-through to the beach.  We had already gotten by the doggie trouble spots we'd encountered heading north, so I figured if I could just get to the beach, it would be mostly smooth sailing getting back home.  About this time, a dog from the house whose yard I was trying to cut through saw me and starting barking loudly and running around the yard.  Crap!  I guess just about everyone in Belize who lives in a private home has a large watch dog to dissuade would-be thieves.  I felt pretty helpless, but the dog never actually came after me, and no screaming homeowners appeared, thank goodness.  I have to say my heart was racing.  Just what else could go wrong?

This:  Barry came rolling up beside me, none too happy since he'd had to turn around and come back through the putrid water once he realized I was not going to attempt it.  He showed me that he'd gotten a rather long scratch on his leg when a piece of metal wire in the nasty pondwater wrapped around his wheel, then slapped him on the leg.  He needed to hightail it back to the condo to get it cleaned and some antibiotic ointment on it, so he took off down the beach at top speed to tend to it, and I rode as fast as I could behind him, but he was out of sight almost immediately.

Fortunately, the scratch wasn't too deep, so hopefully all that will be required is the ointment and the large bandage we put on it and it doesn't become infected.  I don't think we'll be riding the far north route again until dry season.  What a fiasco!

This afternoon was much calmer but very wet.  Normally when it rains here, a shower or squall passes over quickly and the sun soon makes another appearance, but this time a tremendous storm blew up with much wind and sideways rain, and bands of rain and strong breezes continued to move in all afternoon.  We never saw the sun after mid-morning, and it actually got quite cool by mid-afternoon, by Belizean standards.  The outside temp hit a low of 73.5, which was the coolest since we've been here (even overnight), and with the wind and rain, it actually felt a bit chilly!  We hope that tomorrow will bring a nicer day, but after all the rain today, the road into town is sure to be full of puddles.  Ah, rainy season in Belize!
Picture
 
Picture
Ugh.  Don't you hate it when you write a whole lot of whatever, be it an email or a blog post, hit a key, and it goes "poof"?  Well, that just happened to me.  It's my own fault as I should have been saving all along.  Weebly does not do this automatically, and it's something I am prone to forget when I get on a roll.  I was simply removing a caption for a photo, hit the backspace key, and back I went to the previous page, with all the work I'd done on today's blog entry gone. I tried everything, but it's just gone.  I guess I should start composing these entries in a separate file that autosaves the text, so at least I wouldn't lose that part.  I'll do that from now on, but for today's entry, I'll be brief.  I just don't have it in me to rewrite the entire posting.  
Picture
Barry installed this magnetic doorstop to keep our front door from SLAMMING shut when the breeze is blowing through. Thanks to our Grand Caribe neighbor Kyle for this useful gift!
Picture
We had our windowsills tiled today by the good folks at Grand Caribe -- this will prevent the paint getting gouged when the windows are removed for washing. Plus it looks good too!
I rearranged the living area furniture today.  Now we have an even better view of the sea, which is rightly the focal point of the room.  Here's the old arrangement:
Picture
Too much space in the middle of the floor...
Here's the new arrangement:
Picture
Better view -- though my photography doesn't really show it!
Picture
And now for something completely different...
Picture
A delicious veggie pizza we made for dinner -- Barry's crust was amazing!