There are very few sidewalks in San Pedro, nor cars. Most of the traffic is golf carts, bicycles, and pedestrians.
The safety factor runs from risky to hazardous, as most drivers are either first-time tourists, or locals who drive like maniacs. BTW, octogenarians pushing walkers are worth a full 35 points!
I have developed the routine of having a rum and coke with my meals. Rum is the local export here, and is cheap by law ($6 BZD for a 40 0z-er). Nonetheless, the restaurant charges $6BZD for a 1-oz shot.
Not very economical, says I, so I went out to buy a bottle for myself. As fate would have it, and government, (both of which are trying to bankrupt me), the booze store was closed, so I ended up buying one from the local convenience store ($18 BZD).
When I got back to the hotel I poured myself a shot, and WHOOO! This stuff has to be 90% proof!
Noise continuous to be an annoyance. That boom box sound – loud enough to be heard over a stand-up fan – went on until about two or three AM. Since I have an alleyway behind my room, I have no idea where it’s coming from, but it sounds like a subway constantly running through.
Mind you, when the temp is 31C with a 10 – 15 mph breeze, you can wash one minute and dry the next. It’s an outdoor launderer’s dream.
The one constant here – as it is 90% of North America – is noise: loud, mind-numbing, gratuitous noise.
There is some nearby idiot with a ‘boom box’ that sounds like the guns of Navarone, and in about a mile of beach there are no screaming kids except outside my seat at the restaurant.
This morning, one of the feral dogs (of which there are many) came into the restaurant looking for something to eat, and the waitress started to put the run on him until I told her that I’d rather have dogs than kids, and bought him a takeout order of bacon and eggs.
Latins are boisterous, too. Even if they are shoulder to shoulder, they can’t seem to carry on a conversation at less than a shout.
They also have a love for reggae/rap crap, which has all the subtly of a sledge hammer with words, so I spend a good deal of my time grinding my teeth.
After last night’s fairly major blow, the storm drapes were still up when I went for breakfast this morning. In addition, there are white caps in the bay, and the water is literally boiling out on the barrier reef.
Most restaurants along the beach are patio-style with a very small interior – if any at all. My hotel room, for example, has no glass; only screens with adjustable metal shutters. I mean, who needs windows when the temperature only drops to 22C at night?!
Today is Thanksgiving. The Belizeans celebrate it with the Americans. The restaurant pictured below (where I eat most of the time) is serving Thanksgiving dinner – jerk turkey with all the trimmings, and steak and lobster. I am going for the latter, but I’d love to try the jerk turkey.
I’ve been playing pack-up-your-things-and-run-inside all day, but so far I haven’t gotten wet.
It’s strange, but on an island there is no thunder and lightning (that I’ve experienced): Just black skies and sheets of rain that reach the water. In addition, it only rains, etc., for about 30 min. max.
Ambergris is not a typical example of living in Belize. The scenery is beautiful, and the temps divine, but the prices are top buck for 3rd world.
Still, I’d like to live here. That’s a combination of wanting to put Wynne’s Ontario and Trudeau’s ‘white-knight’ Canada behind me, and – on the other hand – the draw of gorgeous vistas and 29C temps.
Rain again. It has rained for the 5th consecutive day, and I’m wearing out my computer – not from writing, but from carry it back and forth inside.
The rain isn’t a problem if it’s coming straight down, but it is invariably accompanied by strong winds that blow it inside the veranda.
Coincidence: The chap who moved into the room next to mine grew up in Orillia.
Incompetence: I brought two rain panchos with me, and neither one of them work properly. The hang over the shoulders well enough, but the rest is all open. They’re not sewn properly – which isn’t a surprise.
Just got back from having an appetizer which they call “lunch.” Two of them would make a meal.
It’s a rainy day, but fortunately not overly windy. The odd drop blows inside, but I am still able to work outside.
As I mentioned last day, The Inn is basic but clean and comfortable. I am particularly pleased that it has a refrigerator for my insulin, and that I am able to access the shower (very cautiously, mind.) Instead of a tub – which is useless to me without a transfer bench – it has a step-over ledge. Therefore, if I position the walker beside the toilet, and hang onto the taps, I can step inside.
Presently I am at breakfast. I have had to switch restaurants from the cheaper to the more expensive because I couldn’t access the toilet in the former. This one is no hell either – the seat nearly fell off of it while I was using it just now – but at least I can get at it.
Things are laid back here on Ambergris. The crew that was shingling this little roof (something that would have taken a few hours in Canada) took nearly a week to do. They are quick with a buck, though. It doesn’t matter that the U.S. dollar is worth 2 to 1 BZD because the price of everything is double as well.
By the way, the Canadian dollar is supposed to be worth about $1.50 BZD, but by the time the banks get finished taking their pound of flesh it’s worth about $1.38! The Loonie must be one of the poorest performing currencies in the world thanks to Harper and now Trudeau. Moreover, I just read the news that the stock markets are down as well. I did well saving and investing my money reasonably carefully, and now a bunch of numbskull politicians and multi-million-dollar corps are bleeding me dry.
I have been thinking of moving farther up the coast where it is cheaper – perhaps Corasal. However, it is not quite as easy as all that. It involves packing up and taking a boat, plus finding a hotel that is not asking an arm and leg in rent. So it takes some thinking.
The one thing that is consistently good is the temperature. In my experience, it very seldom varies by more than two or three degrees from 27C – even at night – so I am able to work outside until 11:00 PM, or so.
With that sort of schedule I am making good progress, and anticipate that the rewrites to Two Irish Lads will be finished on schedule for the March 17th market.
I left Belize City at 9:30 AM, Thursday – not reluctantly I might add – and boarded a water taxi for Ambergris. Originally I had in mind a regular ferry boat with decks and such, but that was not the case. Rather, it was a very utilitarian-looking craft built for speed and not comfort (as my lightly padded bottom can attest.) What with the hard plastic seats, and the bucking of waves, one-hour-and-thirty-minutes took quite a toll on my derriere.
The Conch Shell Inn
The Inn is a modest but reasonably honest establishment: The $50-a-night I’m paying would be reasonable if the Canadian dollar wasn’t ‘Harperized’ in order to manipulate his re-election. It is clean and comfortable, and the manager (Kit) is wonderful at coming up with whatever you need. Mind you, everything in this neighbourhood is tourist-priced, so you are paying top buck everytime you purchase something (i.e. $18 BZD for breakfast, which works out to be about $12 CAD.)
However, the view is divine. I don’t compare it to any tropical scene I have seen before, because they are just pictures, but this is real: Beautiful sea-scape, interesting and charming architecture, and pastel colours everywhere. Plus, there is a constant and varied traffic passing by.
The temperature is also ideal. It is hot in the sun, but where I work there is a constant breeze that is better than any AC ever designed.
Which brings us around to my work station. I work on the veranda 90% of the time. Yesterday we had a bit of a tropical depression blow through, but otherwise I worked here until 12 midnight. There are no bugs that I have encountered, and Kit has set me up with a table and light, so it’s full speed ahead with the novel.
No money from the government (figures!)
No money has come through from the government – re my disability benefit – so that stupid woman who was my accountant has cost me big money on account of her divorce. Something in the vicinity of $1,000 – $1,500 (so far) I figure. Nonetheless, I intend to see this work/vacation through.
Would I live here full time? Yes. Not in a tourist area like Ambergris, but perhaps Placencia or Carosal. A $100 BZD is worth about $70 ‘Harperized’ Canadian, so prices are affordable, and as 3rd world as this country may be (in some respects) it is still more livable than Wynne’s Ontario.
I don’t know how it is, but every trip I take south comes with an adventure (read “trial”). Take this latest one for example.
My schedule was to fly out of Toronto at 6:35, and so I left a wake-up call for 2:30 AM. consequently, I arrived at the airport at 3:45 – I like to be early in case something goes wrong ( experience) – and everything was fine until I suddenly remembered I had forgotten my insulin back at the hotel. PANIC! So into a cab with an extremely good driver, and he drove like A.J. Petty back to the hotel and back to the airport in what must be record time.
However, by this time the place was packed, and it took nearly 15 minutes to find an attendant with a wheelchair. Panic #2. Finally a wheelchair was found (4:15 with boarding time at 5:50), but now we had to clear security – which was particularly slow – not to mention the gate was in the farthest corner of the airport. Panic #3.
Nonetheless, we made it, and my compensation was to sit beside a landscaper from Mississauga who fell into the movie star category of rugged outdoors-hunk.
The flight was smooth as well, and so everything was fine until I got to Belize City – cab fare from thed airport $50 American.
The ‘beautiful’ Bachelor Inn Hotel
Belize City is one big slum, and (in spite of the beautiful photos) the Bachelor Inn is in the slummiest corner.
When I contact them previously I was assured it was handicap-accessible, and that there were rooms on the first floor. Well, yes, a handicapped person can get in the front door, and ‘yes’ there are rooms on the 1st floor – they’re just not available for rent!
However, there is an elevator – circa 1910 – that only owner/manager (an oriental woman who would have made a good used car salesperson) can operate. So up to my prepaid room I went ($68 CAD).
Not surprisingly the room matched the district. It was ‘Spartan’ to say the least, and filthy. The washroom featured a toilet and wash stand without a mirror, and in one corner there was a shower faucet sticking out of the wall; a loonie-sized drain; and no shower curtain. That was the shower.
The living room featured three pieces of furniture: a refrigerator; a filthy sectional sofa (that I wouldn’t sit on); and a bed. The bed had one sheet (not blankets) which was so thin I could literally see through it. Therefore, I used towels to cover myself for the night.
To get down from the 2nd floor I had to go to the top of the stairs and yell below, hoping that someone would hear my plaintive call.
Little ‘Mrs. Helpful’
Not surprisingly, the oriental lady used-car salesperson had a friend who was “velly helpful … good person … she show you around.” So nothing would do, but I had to meet this ‘velly helpful’ she.
Well, ‘Mrs. Helpful’ arrived with five kids in tow, and invited herself to dinner with me (after hubby collected the kids, of course), and over dinner (the most expensive dish on the menu – I ate fish and chips) she proposed she would come to Ambergris and ‘look after me.’ I think she meant my wallet, but neither wasn’t to be after I told her that I had been looking after myself since before she was born, and could manage ‘velly well’ without her ‘help.’
The boat ride
Mercifully the waters were calm – thank goodness – but just as we were coming into San Pedro one of the motors conked out. Therefore, we limped into port rather unceremoniously.
Belize is not cheap
The Canadian dollar may be worth $1.50 Belizean, but the Belizeans have simply jacked the prices to compensate. Therefore, breakfast is $28 BZD. Moreover, I took $100 BZD out of my account yesterday, and it showed up on my Canadian bank statement as $101 CAD (?). Gougers at both ends.