Tag Archives: Punta Gorda

And the Journey Continues…

January 28, 2013 I flew back into Belize, exactly 4 months after leaving.  The past 4 months have been quite a roller coaster of activities and emotions but my desire didnt’ stray too far from Paradise.

So my first day back was  almost a non-event.  Back in Toronto yesterday morning the weather was horrendous – we had a snow storm which covered the roads completely so we couldn’t see where the road started and the shoulders ended.  As a result, 3 lanes became 2 and it was interesting to note that everybody drove as if we only had a 2 lane highway.  The snow was coming down so heavily that I visualized warp 9 as if I were on the deck of the Starship Enterprise.  What should have taken about 60 minutes to drive took over 90 minutes to drive – top speed on a series 400 highway was 80 km per hour and that wasn’t often, so no warp speed, it was all visual.  So we make it to the airport and boarded our flight.  We learned later that about 150 flights had been cancelled out of Toronto to various destinations, starting about 2 hours after our flight took off.  We were late taking off as well.  Another first for me was the de-icing process.  The whole process took approximately 45 minutes, which also set us late to leave for Belize.  But I was glad for the de-icing because we had a couple of inches of snow on the wings and on the top of the plane.


So after the flight took off the rest of the trip was uneventful – thank goodness.

Then we arrive here and believe it or not I was recognized by a friend from Punta Gorda.  What a surprise – I guess this is what happens in a small community.  And I feel like I am back home.  Oh, not for the people because anybody who read my previous entries, will know that I do miss my family.  But I love this place.   And I am back, with hubby in tow for a month, and we are going to do a lot of investigating to learn what we need to do to make this permanent.

And I’m not missing the snow either, or the slippery driving or the cold.

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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Moving - in progress...


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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 – Howler Monkey

Thanks to Ian at Hickatee Cottages for allowing me to use his photographs.  His are much better than what I saw today.

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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Flora and Fauna


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Ernesto Is Coming?

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.

Hurricane Ernesto

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.

Extendible Flashlight Open

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?

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Miscellaneous


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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!


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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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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The “Wake” Experience

Thursday I came home from my walk with another fellow Canadian to the sounds of country and western music blaring from the speakers at a house on the street behind us. The sound coming to us is pretty much direct, as right behind the house I live in is an open lot and then across the street is the source of the sound.

They brought in dozens of chairs, built an extra comfort station, and of course, they brought in big-a** speakers, similar to what would be used at a public gathering. We, my housemates and I, weren’t sure what was going on so of course, we speculated. This week the Prime Minister is coming to town (general elections are scheduled for March 7) so it was thought that maybe this was a political rally. I was thinking, based on the type of music that we being played, that it was just a party. But it seemed odd that there would be a party of this magnitude on a Thursday night.

As the night went on, the music got louder, and definitely more varied in style. Hip hop, reggae, country (mostly old), contemporary, latin – music of all styles was played. And played loudly. Finally sometime after 2:00 a.m. the music stopped. I must have been able to fall asleep again to it because I don’t know exactly what time it was. Apparently, the party got rained out. At one point, according to one of my housemates who had a perfect view of the happenings, there were hundreds of people in the streets, visiting, socializing. And I believe it because in my room, with the door closed and facing 90 degrees away from the gathering, I could barely hear the tv program I was watching/listening to even though my computer was only about 18″ away from my face. Yet I could also still hear the din, the noise that is associated with voices of large groups. Every now and then one individual or two would get quite loud and they could be distinctly heard but generally it was just a low roar.

Friday morning when we awoke the street was littered with debris as a result of hundreds of people eating and drinking in the streets. But this was one of the first things the homeowner did – cleaned up the street. If I hadn’t experienced this first hand last night, I would never have known there was such a large gathering at that home yesterday.

Friday stayed pretty quiet. No music, very few people. However, I soon heard that more chairs were brought over which indicated more people were expected. The casket was also brought to the house this morning. Here in Punta Gorda, the people use pick up trucks to carry their dead, and they drive the person around in a procession throughout the community.

Apparently, this type of party a common occurrence with the Garifuna, a local cultural group, to have these loud functions. This merriment is the finish of, apparently, a Novena or 9 days of mourning which is accented by prayer and refection.

The merriment on the neighbour’s part made for a rough night of rest on our part and an even rougher next day, but it was easier to accept once we knew the reason behind the gaiety.

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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Fresh in Belize


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