‘If I Had a Hammer’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It actually felt a bit like being back at work this morning and -not that I hanker for this kind of feeling on a full-time basis – I quite enjoyed it.

It involved some use of communication skills to try to make use of the return leg of the flights we booked with United Airlines when we moved to Ambergris Caye, Belize last May. We had managed to accumulate enough Mileage Plus rewards to fly Business Class with the return flights ( which we had no immediate plans to make use of) being Economy.

Our plan was ( hopefully still is) to convert the ‘return’ tickets to allow us to fly to Dallas for our ‘home fixtures and fittings’ inspection trip and book ( and pay for obviously) the return flights.

I started off by ‘phoning the United Airlines’ office in Belize City and managed to get a response after a couple of ‘no answer’ attempts. I ran through what I want to do but was dismayed when the chap told me that we can only use the tickets for the booked route i.e.from Belize via Houston to London. No good for us because we don’t want to go back there (well not yet).

I have not given up though because I have completed ( and submitted) the highly restrictive (in the sense that it does not allow you to fully describe your requirement) on-line form. I now wait to see if this works. I somehow think though that we will be buying both the outbound and inbound tickets. Worth the try though.

Anyway, enough of my flirtation with trying to make use of communication skills and on with an update on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As Rose and I were pulling in to our land to park the golf cart we saw a delivery of – yes, you guessed it – rebar.


Will this be enough for the First Floor?

By way of mitigation for mentioning rebar again I have a compensation.


A real couple of birds in love.

As we walked towards our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we knew that work was seriously underway on putting in the forms for the concrete pour for the First Floor. All we could hear was the sound of hammers hitting nails.


Banging a support in place for the western (lagoon) side veranda.

With the form boards being fitted we could more clearly see the shape and size of the veranda.


So much better than trying to visualise what it will look like from the plans.

We could also see that the stairs to the First Floor were starting to take shape.


This time next week we will be walking up them!

Piles of wood were being carried and placed near to our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize.


Pile of wooden supports on the western side.


Alfredo carrying the next support pole for fixing.

The plywood sheets stacked on the eastern (road) side of the house were being moved for fixing as the base for the forms.


And another one.

Just as quickly as they were being stacked they were being moved up to be fixed.


For the western side veranda.


Daniel Camal, our building contractor, making sure that it is hammered into place correctly.


One for the northern side of the house.


Getting it in to position.


Hammering the nails in place.

We couldn’t get in to the Ground Floor to look around because of the scaffolding but we knew from the sound of the hammering that boards for the First Floor were being fitted. With luck we will be able to take a look on our next visit.

For the health and safety conscious here’s a photo showing how they cut a support pole to fit.


We expect to hear the sound of the hammer again tomorrow but if the fine weather continues the pour of concrete for the First Floor should take place on Saturday.

The headline is based on the song by Trini Lopez ( I know that there were earlier and later versions but this is the one that I remember from when I was young) which was released in 1963. It reached number three in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number four in the UK Singles Chart and number one in thirty-six other countries.


  1. Collin Albert says:

    Looks good. Congratulations on your new home.
    My wife and I just bought a property on south Ambergris. We are so excited neither of us slept last night.
    We are now looking for information on the ins and outs of building.
    How was your experience with the contractor?
    Do have any recommendations?
    Any advice about local problems in building, or ways to avoid them?
    Again congratulations , and thanks.

    1. Congratulations Colin. I’m happy to try to answer questions you may have re building on Ambergris Caye. So if you send me your email address I’ll answer the questions you have posed so far. My email address is:

  2. Brad says:

    The build is coming along very nice.
    The guys must be burnt out by 50 with that kind of intense labour everyday.Very physical work indeed and a back breaker I should imagine on a daily basis.

    1. Hi Brad. Yes the build is coming along nicely. Can’t wait for next week to come when the blocks for the First Floor start to get laid.
      The guys do work hard and, given this, you would think that they would ‘burn out’ at an early age, they don’t though. We have seen them in there late fifties / early sixties on building sites around the island.

  3. Trish Peterson says:

    The bucket brigade of concrete to the upper floors IS fascinating. In many ways, amazing what these guys can accomplish without all the fancy equipment used in the States.

    1. Absolutely Trish. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Just need loads of guys called Will on the build! Regards John

  4. kathi moore says:

    The picture of the fellows unloading the rebar – especially the guy in the middle – was compensation enough! But the birds were cute too.

    1. Hi Kathi, think you may have hit on the ‘acceptable face’ of rebar. Need to make sure that there is always a hunky guy in the photo!

  5. Emily says:

    The birds are olive-throated parakeets. Aren’t they lovely? I was so excited the first time we saw a pair here on the island. Now I regularly look up and see large flocks flying by. Once you’ve heard their chatter overhead, it is unmistakable!

    1. Hi Emily, thanks for ‘naming’ the bird for me. We have seen them many,many times on our visits here over the years but until our build started I was never a big camera user ( hardly ever carried one). Kind regards John

  6. Jane says:

    So glad to see that your lot has dried out after last week’s rain. Must make everyone’s job so much easier!

  7. robert vernon says:

    John. Im just wondering what method they will use to get all the concrete from the mixer to the first floor, I think i might import a concrete pump to hire out !!!!
    And yes less rebar more de bar !!

    1. John East says:

      Hi Robert

      The system is playing up this morning so I haven’t been able to post a response to your comment, hence this email.

      The method we been told they will use to get the concrete for the First Floor pour is : Mixer to wheelbarrow Wheelbarrow to house Pour into buckets Human chain lifting the buckets to the First Floor Pour in to wheelbarrow and wheel to area for pouring

      Heavily labour intensive and something I am really looking forward to seeing.

      Kind regards



  8. Mike says:

    Good stuff as usual! As a contractor I am a plan geek. Do you have your plans (drawings, blueprints) posted anywhere?
    Also as a commercial contractor for 30 years I have watched my industry adopt ever more stringent safety standards. For me watching construction in Belize, Honduras and Mexico is like a trip down memory lane….

    1. John East says:

      Hi Mike

      I tried to post a response to your comment but the system is playing up this morning.

      First of all, thanks for the praise re the blog. Really appreciated.

      I did include plans for the some of the Ground Floor and the Water Tank in a much earlier posting. You should be able to find this at:


      And the building techniques are, as you ‘say’, a ‘step back in time’.

      Kind regards



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