Wednesday, September 21, 2016

9-21-2016 Belize Independence Day

This year marks 35 years of independence for Belize!  Woohoo!!!

A little history, in case you didn't know (according to Wikipedia): Full internal self-government under a ministerial system was granted in January 1964. The official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973, and full independence was granted on September 21, 1981.

Hopkins had a small but nice parade to celebrate Independence Day. A truck pulling a trailer with a big sound system playing
music started the parade at the main junction in the village.

There were girls doing choreographed dances behind the truck.

The outfits here weren't as skimpy as other places that celebrate Carnival.

Behind the dancers were the Hopkins Youth Cadet Corps (which we didn't even know existed).

Spectators joined and followed behind the dancers and kids.

The parade went to the south end of the village.

Then the parade turned around and went back to the main junction, where there was a street
party until sundown. There was supposed to be a flag raising and fireworks at night, but for some
unknown reason that did not happen.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

9-15-2016 Refreshing Day with Uncle Bill and Friends

This day we first dropped off Uncle Bill, Tim and Martha to go cave tubing in St. Herman's Cave while we ran some necessary errands in Belmopan.

It was lunchtime when we picked them up, so we headed to the nearby village of Armenia for some food.

The owner was super nice and we learned that she works here alone every day serving breakfast, lunch AND dinner. We all
had nice burritos with homemade tortillas cooked to order (3 of the 5 of us had second burritos), plus we all had soft drinks.
Our grand total - $23 BZ ($11.50 US)!

Needless to say, we liked El Tipico Fast Food and will definitely be back to support the lovely owner!

This cute little guy was chilling nearby, blending in with the bagged plants.

After lunch we stopped back at the Blue Hole, which is a natural spring that starts the river that flows through St. Herman's
Cave where Bill, Tim and Martha had gone cave tubing.

Tim asked the other couple there (Jose and Darling) how the water was, and the guy said it was "refreshing". Tim went in and
responded something to the effect of "refreshing my a**, it's cold!" Bahahaha!

Tim agreed, though, that once you got all the way in the water was, indeed, refreshing.

On the way back to Hopkins we stopped and hiked to the waterfall at Billy Barquedier National Park, where we enjoyed
another "refreshing" natural swimming hole at the base of the falls. It was a great day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

9-13-2016 Caye Day with Uncle Bill and Friends

Eric's Uncle Bill came for a last-minute, week-long visit with his friends (and neighbors) Tim and Martha. Some days they did their own thing, and some days we had adventures with them. This day we went out to the cayes with our friend Ivan (a.k.a. Easy Breezy), his uncle and another friend. 

Bill, Tim and Martha were staying where we used to live (because it is now a vacation rental property), and the boat came
right up to their beach - how convenient!

Martha and Tim in the foreground - Easy Breezy at the front of the boat

The sea was like glass when we first took off.

Breezy and gang first took us to their family's island, Wishbone Caye.

We wandered around and explored the island.

They quickly scurried into holes when we approached, but there were HUNDREDS of small crabs running around

This is not the boat that brought us here, but it made for a beautiful picture.

Conch shells galore

Don't know the name of this nearby island, but we went snorkeling and spear fishing not far from here.

While we were in the water we saw a helicopter fly overhead - first one we've seen in Belize.

Then we headed to Bread and Butter Cayes for lunch, relaxing, and more snorkeling.

Breezy cooked up the lobster and fish that the guys caught.

This beautiful male Hooded Warbler hung out with us during our visit. Cara was told he is a sign of cooler weather coming,
and, indeed, Google confirms that he is in his winter grounds.

We hadn't been out to the cayes since Hurricane Earl, but it's clear he wreaked a little havoc out here. The back side of the
island was quite eroded, as you can see.

There used to be a dock here.

This poor cabana is barely hanging on.

There were several people hard at work to restore what Earl took away, so I'm sure this cabana will be saved.

That evening we went to Luba Laruga for dinner and drumming - and dancing too, I guess, since Uncle Bill was finally
persuaded to get out there and get his groove on.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

9-11-2016 Hopkins Jouvert

Like much of the Caribbean, Belize has a very multi-cultural past and is still a multi-cultural country, so it is not surprising to find customs adopted from lots of other peoples. Carnival is celebrated throughout much of the Caribbean around Easter time, and in Belize it is also celebrated in September around Independence Day. Jouvert is one of the September Carnival events. (Here is a Wikipedia article about the history of J'ouvert.)

In Belize Jouvert is a street party where people follow dancing behind a truck playing soca music, and they get doused in mud
(boiled for days to purify it, according to the locals). This event is big in Belize City, but Hopkins decided to have its first
ever Jouvert this year. It started at 3 am and continued until sunrise. It was actually supposed to happen the morning before
(on St. George's Caye Day, which celebrates the last battle where the British successfully defended the country from the
Spanish), but an unfortunate incident caused the event to be postponed one day. Anyway, amazingly, without naps during the
day, we managed to stay up all night to enjoy it. I'm pretty sure we were the only non-locals there, but we felt totally welcome.

Around 5 am or so the gathering ended at the beach by the church. At this point everybody goes racing into the sea to wash off
the mud and enjoy the sunrise. (Okay, Eric didn't jump in, but Cara did because she got "mudded" during the celebration.)

We failed to get a picture in time, but we saw a string of young guys, one right after the other, run and do back handsprings all
the way into the sea! And not one of them biffed!

The sea felt fabulous after staying up all night and getting muddy.

Our friend Dirk of Hopkins UnCut was there to document the entire event. Take a look at his Hopkins Village Jouvert photo
album on Facebook
- there are even a couple of pictures of us in there.

When the sun started getting strong everyone departed. We went home and took showers and naps. Of course, Eric didn't get
much of a nap because he had to drive to Dangriga to pick up visitors from the airport. Needless to say, the event threw off our
sleep schedule for a couple of days, but it was well worth it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

5-22-2015 to 8-4-2016 Home Construction in Belize

We were still staying downstairs at our friends' place when construction began on the lot next door. I (Cara) began taking pictures of the process from roughly the same spot (just for fun, I guess). So, this shows the general progression of construction.

(Note: please excuse me if I get any of the construction terms, etc. wrong - I'm no expert, I'm just noting what it looks like to me.)

22 May 2015 - They begin clearing the lot next door using a backhoe.
This was difficult to see at first because I had grown accustomed to seeing lush, green jungle outside the window as I worked.
But, we later became friends with the super nice owners who were building next door, so now it's all good.  ;)

22 May 2015 - Lot clearing

22 May 2015 - Lot clearing

22 May 2015 - End of the first day of lot clearing

23 May 2015 - Finishing up the lot clearing

27 May 2015 - Lot cleared, filled and leveled

20 July 2015 - They begin driving the pilings (quite the sound next door)

26 July 2015 - Pilings driven in, laying the groundwork for the house

2 August 2015 - There is a lizard perched on the wood box in the middle of the picture on the right

11 August 2015 - Framing for the concrete pour

5 September 2015 - Concrete foundation and pillars

13 September 2015 - Framing and building the rooms with concrete blocks

I can hardly believe it myself, but somehow I failed to take any pictures for an entire two months! Sadly, I didn't get any pics showing all the bushwood sticks that are used to support the roof so they can pour concrete up there. You can see just a few of them in the photo above. So, anyway, there is a bit of a time jump here...

8 December 2015 - Concrete roof poured and set, inside room divisions done

8 December 2015 - The hole for this pool was dug by hand using shovels.

31 December 2015 - Smoothing the exterior of the house

31 December 2015 - Pool concrete done, and concrete floor of swim-up-bar ready to pour

8 January 2016

8 January 2016 - Concrete floor poured for the swim-up bar

19 January 2016 - Preparing to pour concrete around the pool and bar

19 January 2016 - I'm sure they removed that juice bottle before they poured the concrete.

28 January 2016 - Concrete poured around the pool, and rough concrete pillar for the palapa over the bar

28 January 2016 - It's looking more like a dipping pool and swim-up bar

20 February 2016 - The railing for the roof deck is up, and the scaffolding is in place to add the palapa over the bar.

20 February 2016 - View of the pool and bar from the roof

15 March 2016 - Palapa being added over the bar

15 March 2016 - Work on the palapa

19 March 2016 - Palapa is finished and trimmed, windows and doors are in, and the base coat is on most of the house.

2 April 2016 - Starting to tile the patio around the pool. Lots of work is being done inside the house as well.
Actually, the house was supposed to be completely done at this point because the owners were coming for a brief stay.

14 April 2016 - Starting to paint the house, but only some trim work is done here

16 April 2016 - The house is painted except for the top deck.

22 May 2016 - Progress on the patio tile work
(By this point we had moved into the village, and I didn't get over here to take pictures as often as I would have liked.)

20 July 2016 - Everything is done, just in time for the owners' next visit. Congrats on your new place, Dean and Janine!

4 August 2016 - Our first chance to enjoy the pool a little  the day after Hurricane Earl!
Dean and Janine were gone by then, but they did get to stay at their new house and enjoy their pool during their visit.
They are looking forward to their upcoming permanent move to Hopkins.