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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Critter,Critter, Critter and Critter


Another week has gone by and while it hasn’t been the most exciting week as far as activities it has been an interesting one overall especially with regards to critters.

Critter 1 – Last weekend while out with friends driving down a back road an individual walked by and told us that he had flicked a snake into the bushes.  So we got closer to the spot and I just had to see the snake so one of my friends reached into the bush with his machete and pulled the snake out of the bushes.  Held up on the tip of the machete the snake was close to 6 feet long.  I’m not sure what kind it was, I thought fer-de-lance but maybe not.  Further research showed to me that fer-de-lance are brown but I also learned that they are other colours.  All I know for sure is that this was a snake and it was a dead one.

I took hold of the machete with the snake on the end and my nervousness transmitted down the blade causing the snake to twitch – and this made me think twice whether or not the thing was dead.    I sent pictures to my kids and both of them came back with ewww.  My daughter said she would be packing and heading back to Canada so quick.

a.k.a. - Tommy Goff

Critter 2 – The next exposure to a critter I had this past week was with a scorpion.  Only this time it was alive and it had decided to visit me in my apartment.  The scorpions here aren’t deadly but their stings do hurt.  I know of one woman who was stung in the face while sleeping by a scorpion and awoke to tell her tale.  So, I heard a bag rustling in the kitchen and when I turned to look I saw my little visitor.  After my initial surprise, because I really don’t know how it got inside, I got up to take a closer look.  These things can move quick, holy crow.  I lost sight of it for a few minutes which meant that I needed to take my appliances and dishes off the shelf under the counter so I could find it.  There wasn’t an option in my mind – I had to find it before I went to bed.  As I removed my appliances I saw that it had taken cover under my stand mixer so once it was uncovered it ran.  Did I say they can move quick?  I got my broom.  And I chased it down sweeping it from under the cabinet.  I pulled it out with the broom and gave it a couple of whacks.  Because the broom has soft bristles it took a couple of whacks to make sure that this critter wasn’t going to find its way to my bed.

Live Scorpion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Scorpion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critter 3 – Next time it was a moth that got into my apartment.  You know the phrase “Things are bigger in Texas”?  Well, Texans ain’t seen nothin’.  This moth had a wing span of 6″ across.  I wish I could have had something to put against it so you could judge for yourself but I figured if I put anything near it that it would just fly away so you will need to take my word for it that it was this big.  It was quite beautiful as well, with its dark colours and patterns across the wings.  I have no idea what kind of moth it is so can’t share that with you.  This one got into my apartment and since I didn’t want it flying around I had to get it out so out came the trusty broom.  I spent the next 15 minutes trying to shoo it out the apartment.  You know how these things flit about so trying to keep a straight track on getting it out the door was quite funny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critter 4 – This critter was just a funny scenario.  Some of the frogs here have suction cups on their feet.  I have seen them stuck to the side of the house and most recently, one was stuck on the side of the truck.  My Canadian friend was a bit squeamish about the frog as she was driving me back to my apartment and it was on the driver’s side of the vehicle.  She managed to get it off the side of the truck but it ended up on top.  While driving she was afraid to put the window down for fear it would jump through the window but the evening warmth won her over and the window was put down a bit.  We got into town and had to make a stop at a store so while there my friend asked one of the guys to get the frog off the truck.  Well, it turns out, this guy was also squeamish with frogs. It was pretty funny watching him try to get this thing off the truck, (remember it has suction cups) – he would poke at it and pull his hand back quickly as if the critter was going to get him.  It was a comical few minutes.

Frog Catching a Ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for those of you who really know me – yes I found a place that has pink walls!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Flora and Fauna

 

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It’ Market Day!


Here in Punta Gorda, Belize we have the open air market at least 5 days a week.  The vendors are usually at their stalls from early in the morning, (and I can’t tell you how early because I am never up that early.)  I just know that the market usually finishes by noon.  One or two stragglers stay to catch the late shoppers like myself.  So this week I decided to try to get there relatively early, and was there by 10 a.m.

The streets were busy, but I have seen them more crowded.  Maybe this is attributed to it being the low season for tourism here in Belize.  There definitely weren’t as many vehicles on the streets as I have seen in the past and in my opinion this is a good thing.  Front Street is a narrow street to start with and with the market and an abundance of people cars are just an additional hazard.  However, in the time I have been here I have not seen, nor have I heard of any problems arising associated with the vehicular traffic.  I live fairly close to the market and with Front Street being a one-way street I am sure I would have heard of something.

Now you may ask, if the market runs 5 or 6 day why would I have a market day?  The answer is simple – I work in my office in the morning, from 9 until noon generally where I encourage drop-in visitors to ask real estate related questions or just to sit and visit with me.   By the time my office hours are done so is the market so I need to make a determined effort to get what I need at least on Saturday.

I pack up my re-usable bag, which hasn’t caught on here at all yet, and away I go.  While the clouds looked like they were going to open up on us at any time, they didn’t.  It turned out to be quite a sunny day and it didn’t rain at all.

Cars on Front Street

I make my way down the street, greeting and chatting with people I know and saying hello to people I don’t.  The market is a place to see people, to meet people as well as to find the freshest produce around.  I had one lady come up to me and ask if I was the “real estate lady”.

So now comes the best part – what did I get?  24 BZ ($12 US) bought me a lot of fruits and vegetables (values approximate for cucumbers, onion, cabbage, cause I can’t remember how many pounds each was).  I got:

  • 7 bananas – 1.00 – didn’t put all in the picture because the pile was falling over
  • 5 oranges – 1.00 – no room on tray for the oranges
  • 5 onions – 5.00
  • 2 cucumbers – 6.00
  • 3 carrots – 2.00
  • 1 cabbage – 3.00
  • 1 plantain – .50
  • 3 tomatoes – expensive at $3.50 lb – rainy season reduces yield
  • 12 kenips – 2.00
  • 5 limes – 1.00

Pile of Fruits and Vegetables

As I had some ground steak defrosting in the fridge the first thing I did was take some of these yummy vegetables and make stew.  Then I tried one of the kenips.  These fruits look like small limes and are about 1″ in diameter.  The inside is kind of squishy stringy texture that is slightly tart in flavour.  The seed is quite large for the size of the fruit.   The flavour and the texture are definitely different from anything I had eaten before.  When I asked the stall vendor about them she just broke it open and showed the insides – just eat the pulp off the seed.  There isn’t much pulp at all and it is a lot of work for such a small reward.  But now I know.  And that is part of the appeal of being in a new place with new foods and new activities to be experienced!

Kenip Fruit and Seed

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Cooking in Belize

 

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Green Drinks


This past Friday night I had the pleasure to attend a monthly event called Green Drinks.  I actually thought the drinks were going to be green, or that we were going to be presented with environmental postulations.  Neither was true, and I still don’t know why it was called Green Drinks.  I will have to find out, as that thought just hit me.

Anyway, the event was held at a place called Belcampo Lodge.  Have I told you before just how beautiful southern Belize is, especially in the Toledo District?  Well, if I haven’t, let me tell you now.  Belcampo Lodge is situated on top of one of the many hills that dot this district giving you the opportunity to look down onto the jungle.  The view is, I don’t know, I have used the word gorgeous so many times that I think I have worn it out.  But that is how I feel. The plush jungle surrounds the lodge as far as the eye can see.  Off in the distance the trees shake and quiver with the activity of howler monkeys as they scamper about through the branches.  The birds, of which there are dozens of varieties arrive from both the north and the south to the delight of avid and casual bird watchers.

Belcampo Backyard

So, this Green Drinks evening was set in this beautiful location, with 2 jaguar carvings standing guard as you enter up the stairs to the main bar area.  There is an outside seating area where guests can sit, enjoy a cocktail, mingle with other guests and just enjoy the view.  It is there that I spent a good part of my evening conversing with two young men who are here from the United States, Ohio, I believe.  The one young man has family here in the Toledo District and he brought a friend with him.  The friend is quite taken with the area and definitely expressed a desire to return at some time in his future when school is finished.

While we were talking one of the young men, Ronald, noticed some monkeys off in the distance in the trees.  I didn’t see them but both of them did.  The visiting friend was again blown away by the experience.     While talking I didn’t consume any green drinks but I did consume a salsa that was mixed with avocado, which turned the dish green.  My drink was a watermelon margarita.  I must say that watermelon has become, in my world, quite a versatile fruit.  Since this was my first time tasting a margarita I have no idea if it was a good one or not.  After talking for a while it was time to have dinner.

The menu consisted of a wide variety of dishes, all of which are grown or raised locally.

I didn’t have any of the coconut rice or any of the yellow split peas – I never liked split peas – but I did have some of everything else.  It was quite tasty.  This was the first time ever having cassava and I quite enjoyed it.  The texture was something quite different from what I have had before.  It was firm but I could bite through it without resistance and the flavour was good too.  Apparently, if prepared improperly, the cassava root and leaves can lead to the production of cyanide which leads to poisoning of the person who ingests it.  However, when prepared properly it is good, healthy and may even had cancer fighting properties associated with it.  Dessert was a choice of one of three items – Maya Chocolate Pudding, Pineapple Crumble Pie or Velvet Apple Pie.

I am a baker at heart and have several times made velvet chocolate cake so when I heard velvet apple pie I was thinking how did they do the “velvet” out of apples?  Well, it turns out that the fruit is actually called a velvet apple and it is the size of a crab apple but covered with fuzz like a peach.  The texture is neither hard like an apple, nor soft like a peach.   Since I couldn’t decide and neither could one of my dinner mates, we agreed to each get one and have half so we could experience both pies.  I had had the Maya Chocolate at the Cacao Fest so I wanted to try something new.  Let me tell you – I think I have found a new favourite pie – Pineapple Crumble.  That was such an unexpected taste – the sweet of the crumble and the tart (not too much) of the pineapple.  What a combination.  I am going to try this myself at home.

After a bit it was time to head out.  Dinner was delicious, the dessert was scrumptious, the wine was just right but it was time to go.  By this time it was 9:30 and we had been at Belcampo for 4 hours socializing the night away.

What was your last sumptuous dessert?  I hope it was as good as mine!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2012 in Miscellaneous

 

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A Scenic Sunday


The first week back has been a week of trying to get back into the groove of things.  Mostly the week was pretty boring, just trying to put things back into perspective – what needs done now, and what gets done tomorrow.  That kind of stuff…And then comes today.

My friend and associate Victor took me out to look at the scenery today.  I want to start making a still picture video about this area and all its beauty so today we were going to look at some of the creeks and rivers to get some pictures.  The places are gorgeous but any pictures I took today just doesn’t do the area any justice.  For some reason, and I just noticed this today, all my pictures seem to look like they are taken on a cloudy day.  Even when it isn’t.  Will need to figure that out.  So I will share with you some of the things I did today.

Sulphur SpringsWhat makes this picture so interesting is  that it is a sulphur spring.  This creek is in the jungle near Big Falls, a few miles outside Punta Gorda.  you can smell a bit of sulphur from the road and the smell doesn’t really get any stronger reaching the source.  At the top of this picture, notice that the water is relatively clear compared to the bottom of the picture.  This is where the water bubbles up out of the ground bringing the sulphur with it.  The water at the bottom is brown and cloudy because we have had rain and the waters have been stirred up.

My friend Victor put his hand into the water at the source and it came out smelling like sulphur.  The smell at this point wasn’t too strong, definitely not as strong as I would have expected.

Sonny and Eduardo

This picture is interesting because of the people in it, 2 gentlemen, Sonny and Eduardo.   As Victor and I were out looking at scenery we came across these two guys who were near a field of cattle, 11 head to be exact.

Eduardo (right) lives in the village of Big Falls and is hoping in the next couple of years to run for the position of chairman of the village.  This is the equivalent of the mayor in our cities in North America.  He is a young man but he believes he would be good for the role.

Sonny (left) was by the fence petting one of the cows.  He was picking grass and feeding it to her and she seemed to really be loving it.  At one point she was trying to lick his hand.  He was explaining to me the types of cows he had including a Brahma bull used for stud services.  The cows looked pretty healthy and meaty compared to others I have seen around.

At one point while Sonny was near the cows I walked over and took some pictures of the cows up close.  I’m a city girl, having never been so close to a cow that was still standing up.  My mother loves the eyes of cows, the soft warm brown liquid pools surrounded by long lashes.  I could see what she was talking about when I was that close.  I walked over to the fence and stood talking with Sonny about his cows.  He welcomed my questions and didn’t seem perturbed at my city ignorance.  He spoke with a bit of pride of ownership.

Sonny and the Cows

So while I didn’t get any pictures today of the waterways in and around Toledo, I did meet a couple more people and I got to see areas I hadn’t seen before.  Amazingly, for all the times that I have ridden down the Southern Highway between Big Falls and Punta Gorda I missed a major element of the scenery.  On the right hand side, not too far from the roadside is a lagoon.  When Victor pointed it out to me today I couldn’t believe I had missed it all these times.  It’s not like it was hidden behind jungle flora – no it was visible from the road and I just missed it.  I didn’t take any pictures of that either because of the rain stirring up the waters.  But we are going back out that way when it hasn’t rained for a couple of days and I will have pictures then.

At the end of the day, I didn’t achieve my one objective of getting still pictures that could be used in a video, but I did have quite the little tour, and I met a couple more people who treated me as if I wasn’t an expat.

Oh, one more thing – I saw this today too.  Can you guess what it is?  Don’t mind the mud on my shoe – that got there trying to cross the creek getting to the source of the sulphur spring…

Tarantula - Squashed

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Flora and Fauna

 

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