Ambergris Caye -“Concrete and Clay”

The headline today comes from the 1965 ( really showing my age now) No1 UK hit by Unit 4+2. It was released in the USA but never got any higher than number 28 in the Billboard Hot 100.

I know there is no clay being used in our build in Ambergris Caye but it is the closest I could get! I know, must try harder.

Prior to going to the build today we had to renew our monthly Bridge Pass. Given that our build is on the north side of the bridge it makes good economical sense for us to buy the monthly pass.

A round trip costs BZ$10 but the Bridge Pass at BZ$150 allows us to cross the bridge – in either direction- as many times as we like. Even if we were to visit the build only once a day it would cost us BZ$300 a month but our saving is more than BZ$150 because on many days we visit twice.

You get the pass at the Transport Department which is on the top floor of the San Pedro Town Council’s building in Barrier Reef Drive ( the front street).

20121130-171954.jpg

San Pedro Town Council building.

Rose went to get the pass and I went to draw some cash from the Atlantic Bank ATM.

Having got some cash and renewed our pass we headed to build and were pleasantly surprised to find that even though we had heavy rain yesterday evening the road was not too bad. In fact the puddles had contracted .

20121130-172217.jpg

Rose doing her impression of a crab. Must be all that time she is spending on the sand!

When we got to the build it was ‘all go’. The cement mixer was going and the guys were busy wheelbarrowing concrete (aggregate (gravel and sand), Maya cement and water) to fill the forms . The conditions were exceedingly muddy but it didn’t deter them one bit.

20121130-173210.jpg

The concrete was poured into the forms and then two of the guys ensured that it was compacted into the forms.

20121130-180618.jpg

The guys appeared to sense that rain was on the way and put on a spurt. At times they were running pushing the wheelbarrows. Maybe it was a race?

With 4 of the guys ‘feeding’ the cement mixer it was important that the concrete was moved quickly and the 3 guys on the wheelbarrows made sure that this was the case even though the path from the ‘mixer to the build was extremely muddy and slippery.

20121130-181032.jpg

The rain then started to fall quite heavily but it didn’t stop them. They just took off their shirts and carried on regardless.

20121130-182123.jpg

I’d put my shirt on him finishing the job ( you can just see the guys in the background working the cement mixer) !

The long walk ( or run for them) from the cement mixer to the build.

20121130-184453.jpg

After such a hard days work I am sure that the guys were looking forward to going home for a rest. Having watched them in , at times, atrocious conditions they deserved it.

20121130-184834.jpg

The concrete now needs to cure but apparently( good old Wikipedia) humid conditions are good for this.

Tomorrow – weather permitting – they lay the sand and install more rebar ready for the floor of the water tank.

Rose and I had got very wet watching the pouring of the concrete and decided that we deserved a few Belikins so we headed to BC’s. Whilst there we had some of our favourite bar snacks. Meat pies at only BZ$1.25 each.

20121130-190629.jpg

Ambergris Caye -“November Rain”

“November Rain” reached number 3 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1992 for Guns N’ Roses and was written by Axl Rose.

So why use this as the headline ? Well because it seems like it hasn’t stopped raining here in Ambergris Caye for the last few days. And when it rains,it rains.

20121129-074723.jpg

Appropriately dressed for the weather.

When Rose and I first came here 14 years ago a downpour like we experienced yesterday would have flooded most, if not all, of the roads. Since then there has been an investment ( OK not as much as it could/should have been) in paving many of the roads and this has virtually eradicated the problem of flooding on the main roads.

This isn’t the case for many of the secondary roads – some of which are well used – such as Blake Street which leads to and from the Belikin/Crystal Water Depot.

20121129-094039.jpg

Approach road to the ‘Depot from the east.

20121129-094425.jpg

Golf cart virtually aquaplaning.

As an aside, it is to the Belikin/Crystal Water Depot that I go for our drinking and cooking water. You pay a BZ$25 refundable deposit for a 5 gallon container ( you take the empty back for a full one) and then BZ$3.25 for 5 gallons of water. We could have it delivered to our apartment for BZ$4.80 but while I can do it myself I will.

Business must go on no matter what the weather.

20121129-110329.jpg

Beach sellers setting out their wood carvings after the rain.

We headed north to see what work, if any, was taking place on our new home . We expected the roads there to be badly flooded but they were not as bad as we had expected.

20121129-180033.jpg

Road in front of our property looking north.

We slushed our way onto the building site to pleasingly see that work was going on . The guys were finishing off fixing the forms and laying down duck boards ( planks for non UK readers) to run the wheelbarrows over when the pouring ( rain permitting) of concrete takes place on Friday.

20121129-182502.jpg

Final forms being placed .

20121129-183153.jpg

Boards in place for the wheelbarrows.

The rain started again so we put on our waterproofs and got on our way home quickly but en route decided to stop off at BC’s for a Belikin. Just in time as well because the heavens really opened up.

20121129-184123.jpg

Pleased to be looking out at the rain.

Whilst in BC’s we took advantage of catching up with island news by reading the weekly newspaper, the San Pedro Sun. A newspaper which, because of its exclusive interviews with John McAfee, is now known by most of the newsrooms around the world.

20121129-184509.jpg

‘World famous’ The San Pedro Sun.

Here’s hoping for a rain free day tomorrow.

Ambergris Caye – Window Shopper.

The headline (or the core of it) for today’s post is courtesy of a release in 2005 by 50 Cent. You don’t need to wonder where it came from now and can concentrate (!) on the rest of the post.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post ( probably the exertions of the walk south created some strain of amnesia) that when Rose and I met with Daniel Camal, our building constructor, we ran through the windows that we would like .

The house that we are having built in Ambergris Caye, as those of you who have seen the architect’s drawing will know, features a high number of windows because, aside from the light that this will provide, will enable us to see what is around us – and especially the lagoon- from virtually wherever we are.

Across the three floors of the house there will be 26 windows and sliding doors with glass panels of varying sizes. This includes 3 clerestory windows ( we have 4 in the plan but have decided to ‘lose’ the one in our bedroom) which will be situated in the dining area and the bedrooms on the Ground and First floors.

For those that are unfamiliar with clerestory windows they are, in architect’s terminology, any clear window above eye-level. Their purpose is to bring in outside light, fresh air, or both into the inner space. Historically they denoted an upper level of a Roman basilica ( a public building). So now you know.

In a previous post I let you know that with have chosen PGT’s Winguard Impact Resistance windows and doors but what I didn’t know at that time is that none of our window or glass door requirements can be fulfilled from Winguard’s standard ( off the shelve ) range . So all of our requirements will be custom made.

We went to the site this afternoon to see what progress had been made and whether the pouring of cement was still ‘on’ for Thursday but was told that the heavy rain of Tuesday evening had put this at risk of being delayed.

Whatever hopes there were of Thursday being a’pouring cement day’ were washed away ( excuse the pun) when the heavens opened up again . Heavy rain for will most probably mean that at best it will now be Friday before the cement pouring starts . When it rains here, it rains.

So, apologies for the lack of photos today but I didn’t think you would want to see more rebar and forms surrounded by pools of water . I didn’t anyway.

So, just so you get your photo fix below is an attempt I made to capture on film the Mystery Blogger. I think she was on to me though and it proves that I am not ‘ paparazzi class’!

20121128-185131.jpg

And here is a photo taken a few days ago around 5pm at the Water Taxi pier near Cholo’s.

20121129-000118.jpg

Normal service will be resumed on Friday when there will be an abundance of photos. Even if only of puddles!

Keep on running – Ambergris Caye style.

A common sight for me early in the morning ( around 5 for me) in Ambergris Caye is the constant stream of people (Belizeans, expats and tourists alike) out exercising . Some power walk, some jog, some run fast. Some just walk their dog. They all have things in common though.

They are doing their best to get or keep fit. They are doing so when it is more temperate. And they get to see the beach and the coastline at what for me is the best time of the day.

20121127-194903.jpg

One of the early runners just after the sun came up.

20121127-195051.jpg

A cool running style.

20121127-195158.jpg

A cross between power walking and running.

20121127-195327.jpg

The man should always be the leader.

20121127-195453.jpg

I know, they are all running away from me!

Knowing that we had a few hours before our meeting with Daniel Camal, our building contractor, Rose and I decided to go for a walk on the southern side of he island . We got as far as Athens Gate which is around two and a half miles from our apartment before we had to turn around and head back . Along the way we saw some interesting sights.

20121127-211737.jpg

Reclamation of land near Royal Palms.

20121127-212009.jpg

Who needs a guard dog when you have a killer conch to look after your property?

20121127-212236.jpg

Look at the sea grass on the beach when there is no one clearing it.

20121127-212511.jpg

A sea wall in place south of Royal Palms waiting for land fill.

We got back in good time for our meeting with Daniel during which we told him that we want internal doors like this ;

20121127-214340.jpg

And kitchen cabinetry like this:

20121127-214815.jpg

Pouring of the concrete for the water tank for our build in Ambergris Caye will not take place until Thursday.

Oh, the Spencer Davis Group sang the headline .

Drive. Ambergris Caye vehicles of choice.

Rose and I did our daily trip to the building site and, as it has been thus far, it was a hive of activity. A load of rebar had been fitted and work continued on the forms . The piles for where the golf cart ramp will be had also been sunk. No photographs of the work that has been carried out though because there are only so many times you can look at piles,rebar and forms. Even Rose and I are starting to get bored looking at them . Not really but I don’t want to run the risk of encouraging readers of this blog to get their Ambergris Caye ‘fix’ somewhere else!

So, today I thought I would look at something completely different . The modes of transport that differ from the everyday, bog standard, golf cart.

How about these quad bikes.

20121126-195108.jpg

20121126-195822.jpg

And this fiery, multi purpose vehicle.

20121126-200026.jpg

Think this one is carrying too much weight. Look at the near side wheel.

20121126-200150.jpg

Built for the bumpy roads north of the bridge.

20121126-200416.jpg

Tempted by this one.

20121126-200607.jpg

Really tempted by this one.

20121126-200720.jpg

This one was just too quick for me!

20121126-200914.jpg

On the way to the building site we saw the truck waiting for the boat to arrive so that the rubbish could be loaded and taken to the rubbish dump.

20121126-201142.jpg

On the north side of the bridge we saw tradespeople outside Holy Cross School waiting to sell their wares to the schoolchildren .

20121126-201345.jpg

20121126-201411.jpg

Good job that our golf cart has a speed governor fitted otherwise we could have been stopped by the Transport Department .

20121126-201739.jpg

Normal service resumes with the next post but I promise it will not include loads of pictures of rebar!

Oh, and the headline Is based on the 1984 song of the same name by the Cars.

Lookin’ through the windows

Today, a day without any specific tasks to take care of it was, as Rose and I describe such days, a ‘snow day’. Such days for us are ones on which the day will be what it will be . We don’t set out with any firm plans or intentions, we just ‘go with the flow’.

With nothing specially to do we decided that we would make use of the time and review all of the brochures we have collected illustrating the different types of windows available for our new home . The stack we have we obtained from a recent visit we made to Benny’s Homecenter ( Northern Highway, Belize City) and some that Daniel Camal, our building contractor, has lent us.

We reviewed the products produced by Oran ( Barbados based ), Altrium ( Dallas based), Weather Shield (Wisconsin based), Jeld Wen ( Winnipeg based) and Winguard (Florida based).

After a great deal of consideration we have elected to go for the Impact Resistant windows and doors that Winguard manufacture . We are going for single hung windows ( the CA 540 frame) and the SGD 570 sliding glass doors ( these will be for the doors overlooking the lagoon on the 1st Floor and leading from our bedroom on the 2nd floor, again looking out on the lagoon.

We will probably elect to order these from either Trendex or Natural Sales – the two Miami Winguard distributors- and then have them shipped over to Ambergris Caye via Belize City.

We have chosen Winguard because the impact resistant glass, aside from its hurricane protection, has burglar proof merit . This will hopefully mean that we will not need the hurricane shutters that we have been considering that would add US$ 30,000 to the cost of the build.

After making the choice of windows and sliding doors we thought it was time to see what work had been done on the building site after we left yesterday afternoon. So, in the afternoon we drove up to our lots in Tres Cocos .

On arrival we were very pleased to see that all of the forms were in place.

Forms in place on the east of the house ( the view we will get when we enter from the road).

20121125-183732.jpg

Forms had also been completed for the ground floor stairs.

20121125-183953.jpg
Where the stairs will be.

Rose imagining what it will be like to come out from the ground floor apartment .

20121125-184407.jpg

Forms in place on the lagoon ( west) side of the house.

20121125-184658.jpg

Forms in place on the south side of the house.

20121125-184846.jpg

Forms in place on the east side ( the view we will get when entering from the road).

20121125-212332.jpg

That was a crazy game of poker- in Ambergris Caye.

Today sees the introduction of Bar Hopper whose challenge is to visit bars on Ambergris Caye and share the experience with you . Tough gig!

Bar Hopper will , during the travails of the task, have to down a Belikin or three so do make allowances for poor grammar, tardy punctuation and the odd spelling mistake.

To start off this regular feature Bar Hopper has chosen the November Poker Run – an event ( fast becoming a tradition) – that takes place around every 4/6 weeks that involves a host of people hitting 5 bars to draw a card at each one. Omaha hold’em rules apply. The entry fee is BZ$25 per hand and you can have as many hands as you want ( or can afford). On a well attended Poker Run the pot can be BZ$1,000+

Explaining all of this because I am not confident that Bar Hopper will be in a fit state to do so when filing copy!

Trivia Diversion.
The origin of Omaha hold’em is unknown but it was introduced by Robert “Chip Burner”Turner ( an American professional poker player) to William “Bill” Walter Boyd ( another American professional poker player) . Question – are all Americans professional poker players? Anyway, back to the trivia. Boyd at the time was director of operations at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas ( closed in 1988) and introduced the game there where it was initially known as Nugget hold’em.

This is the hand you need to guarantee that you end up with the pot.

20121124-103604.jpg

By the way, the headline comes from the song by O.A.R. ( Of A Revolution) .

And now to the reason for this blog, the build of our home on Ambergris Caye.

Rose and I took the 20 minute golf cart ride to the site after watching Arsenal on TV in a disappointing draw with Aston Villa and we definitely needed cheering up. When we got to the site we found a hive of activity with all 8 of the guys working on the preparatory work that is required before the concrete for the water tank is poured.

20121124-172341.jpg
A hive of activity.

20121124-172749.jpg
Rebar and forms in place for where the ground floor bedroom will be.

20121124-172951.jpg
A close up and personal with the rebar and forms.

20121124-173226.jpg
Rebar and forms in place for the ground floor stairs.

20121124-173447.jpg
Final adjustments on a form.

20121124-173746.jpg
Piles poured or the golf cart ramp.

Bar Hopper here. Have decided to start some of my reporting before I get too inebriated. Just so you can find the bars on the Poker Run I thought I should let you know what they look like in daylight ( might help me to find them again when I am sober!).

20121124-175536.jpg
The Roadkill, first stop on the ‘Run.

20121124-175757.jpg
AJ’s, second stop on the ‘Run.

20121124-180011.jpg
Lola’s, third stop on the ‘Run.

20121124-180609.jpg
Wayo’s Beachside Beernet, the forth stop on the ‘Run.

20121124-181139.jpg
Pedro’s Hotel, the final stop on the ‘Run.

So , the ‘Run started off at the Roadkill and I had a couple of beers ( Belikins of course) and drew a card. Paid my BZ$25 entry fee off course.

20121125-003835.jpg
Me looking at the bar wondering if I can get another one.

We then moved on to AJ’s where it was packed . Great sounds from the live group . Must say that the chicken wings were great.

20121125-004458.jpg
Waiting for the chicken wings.

Think I was left behind.

20121125-005203.jpg

Then moved on to Lola’s for another couple of Belikins and a card.

20121125-005514.jpg
Packed bar at Lola’s . Can I get to the bar please.

Now they tell it me it is time to move on to Wayo’s . Slugged back the Belikin and moved on .

Got to Wayo’s for some more beer . Belikins of course. Managed to get to the bar before it got too crowded.

20121125-010323.jpg

Oh , should mention that I got another card.

Got another Belikin and then told it was time to move on to Pedro’ Hotel where I was ‘ forced’ to have a shot .

20121125-011246.jpg
Oh no, not another one.

Got another Belikin or two and then heard Peter ( aka Pedro ) announcing the winner. It wasn’t me . Oh well, better have another Belikin.

I didn’t win but this is a great fun night spent in great company going to really friendly bars . Really pleased that I got this job. Don’t know though how long my liver will last!

Now, that was a crazy game of poker.