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Monthly Archives: August 2012
Last week I had a young lady visit me at my home. Her name was Jennifer and she came by to see if I wanted to order a chicken dinner as part of a church fundraiser to help the poor. So, being the soft-hearted person that I am, I bought two dinners. The fundraiser was to take place at the church on Saturday, August 18 starting at 10. Well, I couldn’t go because of have a prior meeting engagement and I told this to Jennifer. She told me she would bring the chicken to me on Saturday. We also got talking a bit about her and her dreams. She told me that she finished 2nd in her grade at her school – she just finished what we in Canada call grade 8. And since she did so well, she pretty much had the choice of where she could go to high school. But she told me that because of financial issues with the family she might not be able to go. Her parents could come up with the tuition but not money for textbooks, uniform, writing materials. So I told her I would put on my thinking cap and see how I could help her out.
I gave her the money, put my name on the ticket, and waited until Saturday. True enough, on Saturday my chicken was brought to me but since I was tied up on the call I couldn’t talk with her. She returned on Sunday and we talked a bit more. She wants to become either a nurse or a teacher – both noble professions and definitely necessary here in Belize. She wants to go to high school in Belmopan and she will move in with her sister. This way she can get the help with homework that she thinks she might need.
To help her and other girls like her in Punta Gorda I have created a fundraising initiative with all the proceeds being put towards providing funding for Jennifer and other girls like her who can use our help. Please visit http://igg.me/p/210125 to make your contribution. I have set the initiative for only 30 days as school will be starting soon. When the campaign is finished I will post the results. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures too. If you are unable to help financially, please help by forwarding the link to the website – tell others, and let’s make this a successful campaign!
Over the past few months I have written several times about creatures that I have come across since I have been here. Those creatures have included snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, frogs, Howler Monkeys, and spiders. Some of the creatures are venomous and some aren’t but it is important to know which is which so you can be protected.
When my husband and I made the decision to come here one of the things we did in preparation was to research the types of animals we might run across. We wanted to be prepared. Back in my neck of the woods in Ontario the worst wildlife I had to deal with was mosquitoes. When I travelled up north then I had to be concerned with bears and snakes, and of course deer flies, black flies, and more mosquitoes. Those deer flies and black flies were painful and they generally travel in swarms.
But, as I didn’t travel up north very often these types of natural interactions were not part of my daily life. Here in Belize, though, that is a different story. I have come across 4 scorpions since being here, 3 of them alive. I have come across 3 snakes, two dead and one alive (just a small one in the back yard). I have seen a dead tarantula on the road.
I was visiting with some friends one day and the subject changed to the bot fly. The bot fly is pretty common right through to Canada, also called the gadfly or the warble fly. I never really knew anything about these flies until I got here though. The bot fly of Central America lays its eggs on mosquitoes and when the mosquito lands on you the hatched bot fly larva falls off and burrows its way under your skin, where it munches merrily away on your muscles. After learning of this one, I spent a few days researching and let me tell you the YouTube videos are gross.
And the ants – those things bite and sting, and just generally irritate my skin. I don’t know if it is just me but apparently the type of ant I am accusing of stinging me doesn’t bite. Yeah, well tell that to the little beasts.
The ants and spiders and scorpions that I have come across have decided to invite themselves into my home. This is where research is really important. You need to know what to do if you get bitten, how to treat yourself, which ones are venomous to people and which ones aren’t.
Whenever I have ventured out to the jungle I have always gone with at least one person carrying a machete. I haven’t seen anything during these jaunts that I would run from but I certainly would not want to go in unprepared.
I write this post, not to scare you away from visiting Belize, but to ensure that you are prepared to enjoy your visit. I went weeks before I saw any wildlife and it was a couple of months before my home was invaded by the scorpion and the spider. When you decide that you are coming to Belize, do your research about the wildlife that you may possibly come across. While some of them are more toxic to people, others are just magnificent. Listening to the Howler Monkeys brings a smile to my face. I have seen a female toucan, and I have seen so many different varieties of butterflies and dragonflies. I researched the type of animals I might run across before I came here so it wasn’t a surprise when I saw something that could inflict a great deal of pain on me.
Remember, knowledge is important. And the more knowledge you have about the area you are travelling to, the less likely you will be surprised by what you find when you get there.
Right now I am staying more in the jungle than I have been since being in Punta Gorda. And this is how come I finally got to see them. Oh I have heard them a few times, and I have heard them really well in the last couple of weeks but today, I saw them. Just down the road is the eco-lodge called Hickatee Cottages where there is a troop of Howler Monkeys that have taken up residence. It was these monkeys I heard today. Loud to the left but to the right, further in the distance was the sound of another troop of monkeys.
Howler Monkeys are quite loud; they definitely produce more decibels than you might expect from something its size – they range in size from 22 to 36 inches with their tails being the same length. Consider this – the sound from a single monkey can travel up to 3 miles (1 source I read said 30 miles but I find that hard to believe, however the Guinness Book of World Records has clearly recorded that the sound has been heard at 20 miles away) so they are quite noisy creatures and are apparently the loudest land animal.
So you can imagine the sounds that this troop that lives in the jungle out behind Punta Gorda town have been making. I wanted to capture it for you so I took my blackberry out and did a voice note recording of it. As I can’t post mp3 files here on the blog I will post the video on my business facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/BelizePropertyCenterSouth.
Thanks to Ian at Hickatee Cottages for allowing me to use his photographs. His are much better than what I saw today.
Ernesto – According to NOAA – (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) – Ernesto, up until today, has been classified as a tropical storm – TS Ernesto. Today NOAA upgraded its status to that of a hurricane. It is moving very slowly towards the Bay of Honduras, which is the indented area between Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. So far the trajectory doesn’t take it across Punta Gorda but that could change as it gets closer. Projected landfall is Wednesday morning.
Punta Gorda is in the section coloured by light pink (and for those of you who know me, are you surprised?) So the question is – what am I going to do about it? As we all know, Mother Nature is going to do what Mother Nature is going to do, however I am going to prepare for what Mother Nature has coming my way. To the best of my abilities, that is.
First, I am going to make sure I am able to eat for a few days just in case I can’t get to town because of flooding. (Oh, at the time of this writing I am house-sitting for a friend and I am a bit towards the back of town down a dirt road)
I am going to make a couple of batches of tortillas. These are good with peanut butter and banana rolled up and are healthy and filling. I am also going to make some oatmeal raisin cookies. I just have to have my sweets. I will make sure I have several large bottles of water available, frozen even so that I have relatively fresh water for a couple of days, just in case the water supply is affected. And I will make sure I have enough fruit and vegetables available that I can eat raw.
Second, I am going to do what I can to ensure I have communications for as long as possible. From this point forward until after Ernesto does its worst, my electronic devices are going to be plugged in whenever possible. My blackberry will be my connection to the outside world and I sure hope that BTL – Belize Telemedia Limited – has redundancy built into its systems, both here in P.G. and in Belize City. Otherwise, all my planning here will be for naught. My Kobo is also going to be charged as much as possible. This handy little book reader can go for several weeks on one charge but of course that is entirely dependent upon how often I read something. If there is no electricity for a few days, this little electronic book reader will become my new best friend. And who knows, no electricity? I might be forced to clean!
Still on with communications, the electrical outlets in the house are about 15 inches off the floor and the floor is about 18 – 20 inches off the ground so there would have to be a lot of water outside before I see it coming inside but to better ensure the integrity of my electronics, all adapters are going to be lifted off the floor – I don’t want them shorting out so that I can’t use the devices after the storm passes.
This is all I can think of for now that I can do to prepare. Food, drink, communications – 3 key elements in my life.
Oh, and thanks to darling hubby I have 2 LED flashlights that can be used as room light as well.
Once before have I felt the effects of a hurricane and those effects were from 2,000 miles away. A few years ago a hurricane went up alongside Nova Scotia on the eastern coast of Canada. Winds and rain in southern Ontario were attributed to that hurricane. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but this time it is different; it’s a lot closer.
I just hope the house stays together. Fortunately there aren’t many trees directly around the house. Imagine house-sitting for somebody and they come back to find it gone or damaged!?!?
I know there are tips out on the internet for hurricane preparedness – what to do, what to get ready etc., but are there things that I should or could be thinking of that wouldn’t make it to the top 10 list? Things that would have made the time just a little less unsure, or scary?