“Happy birthday” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up around 5 am yesterday morning and spent some time – with my mug of coffee – reading The Times on-line. Then set about tackling the In Box and then turned to sending emails. One of which was to the Belize Tourism Board to find out when Rose and I can expect to receive our QRP (Qualified Retirement Program) I.D.cards, without which we cannot submit an application for permission to import a golf cart.

Next off was an email to Daniel Camal, the building contractor for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize , to wish him a very happy birthday.

Then spent a fair amount of time exchanging emails with Benny’s (for our lighting requirements) and The Tile & Stone Center (for our tile needs). Choosing is taking far longer than we contemplated. Before we knew it though it was time to head off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On arrival we could see Edson applying cement to the underside of the eastern (front of house) First Floor veranda.


Ably assisted by Miguel who all of the guys are trying to impart their knowledge to.


Miguel receiving advice from Edson.

We were very keen though to see how our bedroom and bathrooms were progressing so climbed the stairs and then made use of the scaffold to gain access to the Second Floor. Once up there we could see that Zapeda, his son Eduardo, Sam and Eric were busy at work applying the finishing coat of cement.


The ‘cubicle’ where the toilet in Rose’s bathroom will be positioned is finished.


As is where the vanity unit will go.


The shower.


The doorways.

The guys were busy applying the finishing coat for our bedroom.


The northern wall (where the headboard will go).

And the guys were busy working on the southern wall.





Outside the house Martin and Nicholas were applying the second coat of cement to the exterior of the western (lagoon) side of the First Floor veranda.


Martin about to put the feather edge to work in the north-western corner.


And in the south – western corner was Nicholas on the trowel.

No work today because the guys have the day off for the 1st May Public Holiday. A day off that they thoroughly deserve.

The headline is based on the single by Stevie Wonder which was released in 1981. Although it never charted in the US Billboard Hot 100 it did reach number two in the UK Singles Chart.

“P.S. I Love You” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On Sunday the morning was spent getting ready for the Arsenal v Manchester United game. We dominated the first half, scored a goal (OK it was from an offside position) but then gave away a stupid penalty to let them back in to the game.

The second half was more a case of us making sure that they did not score again and we achieved this objective. Two points dropped but, given the opposition, I consider it more like one point gained. Three games to go and we cannot afford to drop any more points.

At lunchtime we popped next door to the Seahorse Bar (located at Coconuts Caribbean Hotel) to support the fundraiser barbecue for the San Pedro Sailing Club. A really good turnout and, as I understand, over BZ$ 1,000 raised. We did our bit by having barbecued chicken for lunch!

This morning Rose and I focused on tile selection and I fired off an email asking for information (price, dimensions and availability) to The Tile & Stone Center and another one to Benny’s regarding the light fittings that we have chosen. Nearly there now with our selections having made our decisions regarding choice of wood colour for the stairs, kitchen and bathroom cabinetry and the doors.

Feeling quite pleased with our morning’s ‘work’ we decided to head off to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and on the way there stopped to pick up some soft drinks for the guys which we gave to Alfredo to hand out as soon as we got to the site so that we could go take a look at what had been done in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment. Not a great deal but the cavity for the shower valve in the en-suite bathroom for the smaller of the two bedrooms had been ‘made good’.


Oh, and the aperture for the sliding doors in the ‘master bedroom’ had been prepared.


And the cavity for the ‘master bedroom’s en-suite had also been ‘made good’.


On the First Floor Porfelio was busy at work chipping away excess cement from the aperture for the central of the sliding doors.


Not so busy though that he couldn’t organise the scaffolding to be moved so that Rose could access the Second Floor.

Once up there we saw Nicholas and Martin applying the second coat of cement for the base of the western (lagoon side) of the veranda wall.


We hadn’t been up there too long when Angel asked us if the ‘blocks that had been laid our were in the right position for the concrete table.


We sat down on the seat and tried the ‘table’ out and suggested a slight change which Angel immediately took the measurements for.


With this adjustment underway we ventured in to Rose’s bathroom to find that the seat in her shower had been created.


And the recessed shelf had been cut to the required size.


A few feet away from us Zapeda was applying the finishing coat of cement to the doorway to Rose’s walk-in closet.


In the background the music was playing making use of an innovative and inexpensive speaker.



Told you the guys are creative.

Outside Martin had started to use a small feather edge on the base of the western veranda.


And Nicholas had repositioned the scaffolding to start applying a coat of cement underneath the veranda.



Extremely satisfied with progress Rose and I climbed down the scaffold and went to our golf cart where we saw that one of the guys had left a message on the bonnet.


We think it was his way of saying p.s I love you for bringing me a drink.

The headline is based on the single released in 1962 by The Beatles (it was the ‘B’ side) which reached number seventeen in the UK Singles Chart in 1962, number ten in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1964 and number four in the UK Singles Chart in 1982.

“Wish I Could Fly” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Yesterday was much the same for me as every Saturday during the football (soccer for American readers) season is – me on the sofa glued to the TV.

This Saturday my football gluttony consisted of Manchester City v West Ham, followed by an intense (well for me anyway) period of switching channels frequently to keep in touch with the Barnsley v Hull and Wigan v Spurs’ games (with Spurs unfortunately scoring an equaliser to snatch a point). I then watched the Southampton v West Brom game. And, as if that wasn’t enough I then saw some of the Newcastle v Liverpool match. Good job Rose doesn’t mind football!

In between I managed to fit in breakfast and a snack for lunch.

With the football ‘out of the way’ Rose and I settled down with our tile catalogues and the photos we have taken to try to make our selections. After much deliberation we have chosen the tiles for the Ground Floor self-contained apartment and have narrowed down the ‘beauty parade’ for the main areas of the First and Second Floors to five tiles. The plan now is to reduce the list of five to one and make the choices for the veranda areas and our respective bathrooms by Monday.

By this time we were more than ready to take a break from our deliberations and go see what was going on at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and got there around 3.30 pm.

On arrival it was patently obvious – because the ‘mixer was in ‘full swing’ and there were guys at the top of the scaffolding tower – that the focus of attention was the roof where the final coat (the smooth coat) was being applied.


I took a quick walk up to the First Floor to see if I could gain access to the roof via internal scaffolding up to the Second Floor but it had been removed for use at the back (lagoon side) of the house. So, knowing that we couldn’t gain access via the external scaffolding (because it was in constant use) we had to satisfy ourselves from watching the action from afar. It’s at times like this that I wish I could fly.

Around the back of the house we could see one of the guys finishing the roof in the south-west corner.



Look how close to the edge he is.

The scaffolding in the north-eastern corner of the Second Floor was being used as the delivery point for the buckets of cement.


Angel and Sam on bucket duty.

At ground level the oldest and the youngest members of the team were keeping the cement coming.


Porfelio (the oldest) on wheelbarrow duty filling the bucket held by Apollito (the youngest) with Miguel (the second youngest) ready with the pulley.

Daniel Camal, our building contractor, was up on the roof directing operations.


Daniel in the light blue sweat top .

We couldn’t get up there but it was obvious that it was all ‘go’.


If you count carefully you will find that there are nine guys up there.

Knowing that we were not going to get up on the roof Rose and I satisfied ourselves by wandering around to see what else had been done since our visit the previous day.


Second coat of cement applied to the north-west corner of the exterior wall of the Second Floor veranda.


And the south-west corner.

Work was underway fitting the shower valves.


En-suite for the smaller of the bedrooms on the Ground Floor.


Bathroom for the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) on the First Floor.

Nothing to do with the build but if you are in San Pedro today why not pop along to the Seahorse Lounge at Coconuts Caribbean Hotel and support the fundraising for the kids of the San Pedro Sailing Club – all proceeds from the barbecue go to the ‘Club. The fun ‘kicks off’ at 11.30 am.

The headline is based on the 1999 single by Roxette which reached number eleven in the UK Singles Chart.

“It’s Goin Down” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

A really lazy, do nothing morning for me yesterday. Up too early (what’s new) finishing the latest book I have been reading (this one by Robert Ludlam) because the Internet was ‘down’. That gave me an excuse (who needs an excuse?) to go to Estel’s to ‘feed’ (food and their Wi-fi).

The rest of the morning (the Internet had resumed) I spent reading and responding to emails. A bite for lunch and it was time to go to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Rose and I got there around 2.30 pm and seeing that the scaffolding had been moved from the southern side of the house went straight up to the First Floor and saw where it had been moved to. The western (lagoon) side of the house.


Nicholas and one of the younger guys starting to erect the scaffolding.


Starting the scaffolding on the south-west corner.


“Feels secure”.


“Time to tighten the bolt”.

A walk in to the First Floor and we could see that the scaffold was back to provide access to the roof so up I climbed where I could see that they were busy ‘striking the lines’ for the final coat of cement. This coat though has to be applied so that each section has slopes to take the rainwater to each of the six internal downpipes that run down to the water tank under the house.


Measuring the distance between the drains.



Checking the gradient for the slope.

With the line in place it was time for the young ‘apprentice’ to lay the first bit of cement.


A study of concentration.

On the southern side of the roof another line of cement was being laid.


To ‘go’ with the two lines that had been laid in the centre of the roof.


Lines running west to east.


One of the six drains.

When the roof is finished with the slopes there’s only one place the rainwater is going, it’s goin(g down!

Whilst up there I got to talking to Edson – careful not to interrupt his work rate though – about where he gets his tools from. I was not at all surprised (given how I have seen them recycle stuff so often) when he told me that he had made them from salvaged items.


Float made from a ‘marker’ used by fishermen that had been washed ashore.


Cement ‘finishing’ sponge (held in place- to stop the wind taking it – by the float) was once part of a seat in a boat.

Leaving the guys to carry on in peace I went down to the Second Floor to see that they had filled in the hole where the air conditioning pipes for the Master Bedroom had been fitted a few days ago.


“Much better”.

And they had started the corner seat for my shower.


On our way to and from our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize Rose and I have seen Carlo and Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill taking shape (and at speed) and yesterday the sign went up in readiness for next weekend’s opening.


Difficult to miss.

The headline is based on the single by Jung Joc released in 2006 which reached number three in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Deja Vu” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Another trip to the Dental Center yesterday but I won’t bore you with all of the (gory) detail. This time I caught the Belize Express Water Taxi 8.30 am service to Belize City for my 10.30 am appointment. Apart from a different water taxi service everything was the same as the previous day. Deja vu.

After just over three hours in the chair and with a mouth that felt exceedingly sore I got the 3 pm boat back to San Pedro where Rose was waiting for me so that we could take a trip to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

We thought that by the time we got there the guys would be cleaning their tools and getting ready to pack up for the day but pleasingly we were wrong. They were applying the finishing coat to the Second Floor exterior veranda wall and it had to be finished. No coming back the next day to finish it off!


Four of the guys working in a fairly tight space.


A better shot.


Rafael (aka The Frog) busy with the sponge.


And Martin, on the left in the photo, with a more conventional (well at least for me) float.

Inside the house most of the attention had been directed towards making the window apertures the correct size.


Sam working on the south facing window in the store room.


Clerestory windows on the Second Floor, following Zapeda’s work on them, now the correct size.

I have mentioned before how innovative the guys are and the latest display of this is the clamps that they make to hold form boards in place.


Forms clamped in to position around the middle of the three clerestory windows.


A clamp ready for use.


First Floor kitchen window (north facing) finished.

The electrician/plumber had also finished fitting the pipes in the First Floor bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) that will take rainwater to the water tank.


Talking about the water tank, I happened to notice the overflow pipes. Should have noticed them long ago but …


On the southern side of the water tank.

The guys finished off plastering the veranda wall, cleaned their tools, got changed and headed off home.


The first ‘wave’ (those that got changed the quickest) on their way home for a well deserved rest.

On the way home Rose and I popped in to BC’s for a beer ( I needed to find out how the teeth would handle the cold liquid!) and whilst we were there the moon was rising.


The photograph doesn’t do it justice. It was wonderful.

The headline is based on the 2006 single by Beyoncė ( featuring her husband Jay-Z) which reached number four in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the UK Singles Chart.

“Wasting Time” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Dental appointment yesterday to have the crowns fitted so up early, breakfast at Estel’s and then the 8 am Caye Caulker Water Taxi to Belize City for my 10.30 am appointment at the Dental Center with Doctor Pedro Habet. Getting used to this routine now. Me, not you, I mean.

Got a result at the ticket counter when the young lady let me exchange the two return tickets I had from last week (Rose and I got a plane back) for a return ticket. A fairly empty boat so I had no trouble getting a seat near one of the doors (providing a nice cooling breeze) and the boat docked just before 9.30 am. All was going swimmingly.

A stroll around to Brodies in Albert Street to pick up some provisions that are not always available on Ambergris Caye and then caught a taxi to take me to the dentist. And with time enough to spare to stop off at The Tile & Stone Center to pick up a printed copy (will be a lot easier to browse than the on-line version) of the Daltille catalogue. It was going so well.

Arrived at the ‘Center twenty minutes early for my appointment and settled down to look at the tile catalogue when I heard the young lady on Reception duty telling me that my appointment had been changed to Thursday. Apparently I had been sent a message to this effect. Having now thoroughly checked my In Box and Messages on my ‘phone I know this not to be the case. Four hours of my day gone. I hate wasting time.

I managed to catch the 10.30 am ‘Taxi so was back in the condo by noon to ‘fire off’ a suitable worded email to the Dental Center. The service had been exemplary up to this point. They responded quickly, and positively, to my note, and are going to reimburse me with the costs I incurred for my fruitless trip. With matters resolved it was undoubtedly time for Rose and I to head to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

When we got there we saw that Alfredo, in addition to keeping the cement mixer supplied, was busy at work removing excess cement from the first section of the external staircase.


In the store room Edson was applying cement to the apertures where the windows will shortly be fitted.


Around the other side of the Ground Floor Sam was finishing off the window aperture in the smaller of the two bedrooms of the self-contained apartment.


Having seen all there was to see on the Ground Floor we took the stairs to the First Floor where Rafael (aka “The Frog”) was busy at work reducing the size of the eastern veranda wall to match the (now) correctly sized southern veranda wall.


“The Frog” in action.

Not far behind him in the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) the electrician/plumber was fitting one of the pipes that will take rainwater to the water tank under the house.


The pipes will eventually be ‘hidden’.

Around the other side of the First Floor Angel was applying cement to the kitchen window that he had cut to the correct size the previous day.


The window I will get to look out of a lot when ‘doing’ the dishes!

Back to the southern side of the First Floor (definitely get to do a lot of walking to prepare for this blog) and we could see that they had applied a coat of cement to provide coping for the southern veranda wall that they reduced the height of the previous day.


Looking much tidier now.

We couldn’t access the Second Floor again because the scaffolding is not in place (the only way to reach the top floor is via the scaffolding on the exterior of the house) but looking up we could see Zapeda busy at work with an electric drill cutting one of the windows to the correct size.


Honestly,Zapeda is ‘on the end’ of that drill.

Seeing all that we could see inside the house we took a walk around the back and on looking up could see that they had started to cover the ‘blocks at the very top.




Not for the faint hearted or those suffering from acrophobia .

Below them Eduardo was finishing off the last of the cantilever beams .


And as we left our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we could see that Edson was doing the same for a cantilever beam on the Ground Floor.


The headline is based on the single released (from the album “Devil Without a Cause”) in 2000 by Kid Rock. The song reached number thirty-five in the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

“Get It Right Next Time” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up way too early yesterday morning at 3 am. Why? Well, I fell asleep on the sofa just before 10 pm the previous night. Not complaining though because I really do enjoy the quiet of that time of the morning. Just the wind rustling the palms and the sound of the ocean.

Gave me plenty of time to send ‘how are you’ emails to friends in the UK. And get responses back. I don’t want to go back there but it is nice to keep in touch and know what is going on.

Then spent a fair amount of time looking at tiles. We are going to deliberate quite a lot on tile selection because we are going to have to live with what we choose.

In between 9 to 11 am we showed two couples around the condo we are renting because it is up for sale and it is a condition of our rental agreement that access /viewing is available. This is not at all onerous though. The viewers – so far – have all been very polite.

After taking care of this Rose and I took our Kindles down to the loungers on the beach and ‘chilled out’ ( stupid expression really for a temperature that was in the high 90s) until it was time to go look at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

We got to the site in Tres Cocos around 3.15 pm and when driving on to the land could see that Edson was applying cement to the last of the exposed ‘blocks at the front of the house.



Starting off on the Ground Floor we could see that they had started chasing out the ‘blocks in the en-suite for the smaller of the two bedrooms for the shower.


A clean-up was also in progress by Alfredo who got busy with the broom and shovel in between ‘feeding’ the ‘mixer.


A much tidier kitchen/living room.


Alfredo with his ‘custom model’ broom in the ‘master bedroom’.

Up on the First Floor Nicholas was busy reducing the size of the southern veranda wall which had been built too high.


Just under an inch to come off.


Nicholas covering his nose and mouth with a ‘T’ shirt to keep out the dust.


And off he goes.

Around the other side of the house Angel was cutting away ‘block to increase the aperture for where the kitchen window will go.


View from the inside.


And the outside.


Note the improvised ‘chisel’. A bit of piping with a nail. It works though.

So, most of the action we had seen so far had been of a corrective nature. Bet that they get it right next time!

We couldn’t get up to the Second Floor because the scaffolding had been moved so we took a walk around the house in the hope that we could see what was going on up there. And, there was action.


Rear (lagoon side) of the house.


Eduardo applying cement to one of the cantilever beams.

Around the southern side of the house Nicholas, who by then had finished reducing the veranda wall to the correct size, was working with Martin to cover the underside of the Second Floor veranda with cement.


Seeing this we went back up to the First Floor.


Nicholas with hawk at the ready.


And Martin doing his stretching exercises!

Around the front of the house Porfelio was finishing off the veranda at the top of the stairs.


And Edson was applying the last of the cement to the exterior wall in the north-east corner.


At 4.45 pm it was nearly time for the guys to clean up their tools for the day so we said our goodbyes and headed home.

The headline is based on the 1979 single by Gerry Rafferty which reached number thirty in the UK Singles Chart and number twenty-one in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Shades of Gray” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Didn’t really do too much at all yesterday morning apart from use the Daltile website to try out different tile combinations for my bathroom.

The site contains a great little tool that enables you to choose a photograph of a bathroom layout (or upload one of your own) and then choose tiles from the catalogue to see how they look. After ‘playing’ around with a host of different colour combinations and tile types and sizes I think I have made my choice. I am going for shades of grey (gray for American readers).

Rose and I then took care of general household chores and then pulled together a list which details what fitting is for which room e.g sinks, fans, taps, etc, and sent this to Daniel Camal, our building contractor. With that important task completed we had a light lunch and headed to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On arriving at the site we went straight to the First Floor to see that Angel was busy removing block and cement work to make the northern facing window in the Utility Room the right size.


A much slimmer looking Angel who told us he lost around 10lbs working in the water tank last week.

Outside Martin and Nicholas were working from scaffolding to apply the second coat of cement to the exterior of the southern wall of the veranda.


Martin at work with the feather edge.


Nicholas with the trowel and hawk.


And then the feather edge.

Daniel had arranged for the guys to move the scaffolding that provides access to the Second Floor so that Rose can get up there so that’s where we went next. It would have been rude not to have used it!

Once up there we could see that they had enlarged the concrete seat in the north-west corner of the roof terrace.


“That’s more like it”.


If you look closely you can just see the previous size.

On the same side of the house they had chased out the block and cement to fit the pipe work for the air conditioning (they had forgotten to run the pipe).


And were busy fitting it.


Rafael (aka “The Frog”) on the outside.


And the plumber/electrician (I think his name is Roberto) working on the inside in the Master Bedroom.


Around the front of the house Edson was working from the scaffolding to apply the second coat of cement to the exterior wall.


And Porfelio was finishing off the coping for the eastern veranda wall.


Inside in the shower area of Rose’s bathroom they had marked out the size for the recessed shelf.


And Eduardo was busy at work with the hammer and bolster.


As we were leaving our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we could see that Martin and Nicholas were nearly meeting in the middle of the First Floor veranda wall.


And Edson had nearly finished the bit of the exterior wall he was working on.


The headline is based on the title of track six of The Monkees’ album “Headquarters” which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 200 in 1967.

“Heroes” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

What I thought was going to be the high point of my morning yesterday turned out to be quite horrible . Watching Arsenal struggle against a ten man Fulham team. It was tortuous. Only two good things to say about it really. We won the game (and secured three points). And it eventually finished. Never thought I would so look forward to seeing an Arsenal game end because we were so inept.

For some welcome relief I resumed reading “Calico Joe” by John Grisham. A completely different style of writing for him but, nonetheless, very enjoyable. This restfully whiled away a few hours before it was time for Rose and I to head for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Because we were going on a Poker Run in the evening we got to the build around 1.30 pm and it was hot, really hot.

A walk around the Ground Floor self-contained apartment and we could see that further work had taken place to prepare the apertures for the windows that will be installed relatively soon.


Window above where the sink will be.



External view.

Up on the First Floor Alfredo was clearing the rooms of rubbish and was busy using the brooms that are being ‘kept in service’ by some repair work!


For those difficult places to get to ?


With the broom he has been using for years (“Only Fools And Horses” fans will understand this).

Looking up to the Second Floor I could see that I could gain access (haven’t managed to get up there since last Tuesday) so up the scaffold I went (the distance between the scaffold and the floor is still too large for Rose to attempt this).

Once up there I could see that the guys were working on the southern veranda wall.


Nicholas applying cement to the exterior wall.


Levelling the cement with a feather edge.

Whilst Nicholas was busy on the outside Martin and his ‘apprentice’ were fitting the form work for the coping for the veranda wall.


A walk around to the western (lagoon) side and I could see that they had applied two coats of cement on the Master Bedroom walls.


Walking in to see how Rose’s bathroom was progressing I could see that the guys are making good use of one side of the walk-in closet.


Think it might look a bit different when Rose gets her clothes in there!

In to the bathroom where I could see that cement had been applied there too.


The wall between the toilet and the bath.


Where the bath will be positioned.


And the shower area.

I couldn’t gain access to my bathroom because the guys were busy at work in there so I climbed down the scaffold and returned to the Ground Floor to find that the guys were in the final stages of finishing the water tank.


Wall of the water tank.


Inside the water tank.

I mentioned earlier how hot it was yesterday but down in the water tank it was even hotter. Like a sauna. How the guys worked down there in that heat I will never know. They are heroes.


Me down in the water tank.

When we got home Rose and I thought it might be interesting to see how closely the house compares with the concept design that Strukture Architects Limited produced back in 2011.


Concept design for the rear (lagoon side) of the house.


The actual build incorporating the changes we made to the Ground Floor.

The headline is based on the song ( it was also the title track of the album) released in 1977 by David Bowie which reached number twenty-four in the UK Singles Chart.

“I’m Down” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Spent a bit of time yesterday morning researching a door lock that we had been told about . It’s the Millennium Ultimate Lock. This is the lock that we will be using on all external doors on the Ground Floor and the First Floor of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize..

Then spent a couple of hours on the PC trying out different tile combinations (the website I used allows you to see what the effect would be) for my bathroom. I have found what I want but now need to find out if they have them in stock. Fingers crossed. If not, it is back to the drawing board!

With that out of the way I then arranged the wire transfer for the fifty percent deposit for the golf cart that we have ordered from Captain Sharks. Using FC Exchange (the foreign currency exchange ‘house’ we have been using to convert sterling to US dollars) this only took a few minutes.

Time out for lunch and then we headed to Tres Cocos to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to review progress.

Walking from the golf cart there didn’t appear to be a lot of guys around. Alfredo out front clearing rubbish and one guy working in the living/kitchen room area of the Ground Floor self-contained apartment. He was creating the recesses that the windows will fit in to.


Should provide for a tight and secure fit.

In the bathroom for the ‘master bedroom’ the ‘blocks had been chased to create space for the water pipes for the shower.


In the hallway the electrician/plumber was securing the water pipes to the ceiling (these will be hidden when the sheetrock (plasterboard) is fitted.




With Apollito sweeping out the Utility Room there were only two of the guys working on the First Floor. Where were all of the guys?

We could hear sounds on the Second Floor but I couldn’t gain access so we went back down to the Ground Floor where , following some gesticulation by Alfredo , the mystery of where all the guys were was solved. They were working in the water tank!

With the camera held securely and some gymnastic movements I’m down. There is some lighting down there but not what you would call bright. The low ceiling – its around three feet eight inches from floor to ceiling- mean the guys either have to work sitting or stooping.

There were five of them – Sam, Oscar, Angel, Edson and Porfelio- cementing the walls of the water tank.





Not an area to be working in if you suffer from claustrophobia!

Needing some fresh air – and I was only down there for around ten minutes – Rose and I then took a walk around the back of the house.


View from the sea wall.

The headline Is based on the B-side (“Help” was the A-side and reached number one in both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart) song by The Beatles which was released in 1965.

“Maybe I’m Amazed” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

No edition published yesterday because of trips to Belize City. So two days without an edition!

On Tuesday it was an all day visit (first appointment at 10 am, a 30 minute break for lunch and then back in the chair at 1.30 pm for a three house session) to the Dental Center. Five temporary crowns fitted and the elusive nerve removed from the root canal.

At the end of it my mouth felt how a pin cushion might feel but the treatment is nearly reaching its conclusion. If the laboratory can produce the crowns in time then next Wednesday could be my last visit.

Yesterday Rose and I caught the 8 am Caye Caulker Water Taxi for our shopping trip. The mission to choose the tiles -floors (interior and exterior) and walls- for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

We arrived at 9.30 am and it was straight to in Albert Street so that we (well Rose really) could see what material they had for blinds ,curtains and curtain lining for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.. Now you know why the bedroom on the First Floor is going to be Rose’s handicraft room!

With that done we met Michael at 10.15 am (just outside Brodies) who I had pre-booked (if you know you will need a taxi for a few hours this is the best way to do it – you can negotiate an hourly rate) to run us around.

First stop was to look at the quality of mirrors at Fabro’s Glass Limited in Victoria Street and to find out if they can bevel the edges and drill the holes for fixing to the walls ( for our bathrooms they will be full wall mirrors over the vanity units). They can. And at prices that are not too bad and in a good timeframe.

We then went to the Tile & Stone Center in Barrack Road, Creative Tiles on the Northern Highway and Benny’s, also on the Northern Highway. In each of them we made selections of tiles we liked, took photographs of them and recorded the price per square foot. In the next few days we will review the photos and our notes and make our selections.

A quick visit to the Brodies store across the road from Benny’s for some provisions and we were ready to head home. And for this we got Michael to take us to the Municipal Airport where we
caught the 2.30 pm Tropic Air flight to San Pedro.

Even though the departure was slightly late we were back in the condo by 3.15 and, after storing the stuff we had bought in Brodies, headed off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize (stopping off first at the San Pedro Town Council office first to renew our bridge pass, by 3.35 pm.

When we got there I must have had a stupid look on my face because Rose asked me what was wrong. Having not been there since Tuesday I was just taken aback. “Maybe I’m amazed’ I replied (OK so it’s a bit corny but I was struggling for a song to use in the headline!).

Irrespective of the tenuous link to the headline I truly was pleased with what I saw. They had started on the veranda walls at the front of the house and it just made it look a lot better.


Edson was covering the First Floor veranda wall.


Low veranda wall in front of where the double door entrance will be.

Above him was Oscar working on the Second Floor external veranda wall.


It was immediately obvious that there had been a fresh delivery of cement. Enough for applying the finishing coats for the internal and external floors, walls and ceilings.


The entrance stairs are now really starting to ‘look the part’.


Even Porfelio admires them!

On the Ground Floor they had tidied up the hatch to the water tank.


The tank needs cleaning out and the hatch cover fitted and it is ready to start collecting rainwater. Look at the form used.


Previously used as a form for the stairs. Recycling at work again.

Forms had been fitted around doors and windows on the Ground Floor.


Door to the bathroom of the ‘master bedroom’.


One of the windows in the living/kitchen area.

On the First Floor Angel was working on one of the window apertures so that it is the right size.


Slow work.

We couldn’t access the Second Floor because the scaffolding was not close enough to step safely on to the floor (the guys are accessing the Second Floor via the external scaffolding) so we took a walk around the outside of the house where we were really pleased to see that they had started to apply cement to the external walls of the verandas on the southern side of the house.


Looks so much better when the ‘blocks are covered. Even if it is only a thin coating.

On the northern side of the house the external veranda walls now only need the finishing coat.


Around the back (lagoon side) of the house up on the Second Floor we could see Eric fitting forms for where the sliding doors to our bedroom will go.


And they had started the land filling down by the sea wall.


The headline is based on the song recorded in 1970 by Paul McCartney shortly after he left The Beatles. It was released in 1976 by his band Wings and reached number ten in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number twenty-eigin the UK Singles Chart.

“Better Days” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Started the day by reading The Times on-line and was immediately mildly wound-up ( an English expression meaning “in a state of tension”) when I saw on the business pages that Sly Bailey, the former CEO of Trinity Mirror (the last newspaper publishing group I worked for in the UK) had received a pay-off of around £2.3 million for ‘loss of office’ (asked to leave).

Why should anyone be rewarded for failure – the share price declined by 87% during her tenure. I just find it obscene. Apologies. Rant over.

Really hopeful that my mood would improve and thought that lunch at Pedro’s Hotel while watching Arsenal versus Everton in good company would facilitate this. Well the company was, as usual, exceptionally good. And so was the food. Regrettably Arsenal never really got in to second gear and the best we could do was get a nil, nil draw. They have definitely had better days!

After lunch Rose and I went to Captain Sharks to make the final arrangements for the golf cart that we are ordering and were given the good news that it could be with us within as little as four weeks.

Feeling so much better Rose and I headed off to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and as we parked the golf cart noticed that another golf cart was just behind us and the couple got out of the cart and introduced themselves as Grace and Randy, two readers of this blog who intend to also build on Ambergris Caye.

With introductions out of the way Rose and I showed Grace and Randy around our soon to be home and did our best to answer their questions. They were keen to meet Daniel Camal, our building contractor, and fortunately he arrived at the site just as they were about to depart but in good enough time to make arrangements to meet them later in the evening.

After Grace and Randy had departed Rose and I made another tour of the build but this time rather than describing the layout and answering questions we looked to see what further work had been carried out. And, as always, were pleased with what we saw.

Much activity was taking place cleaning the place up.


Alfredo clearing rubbish at the front of the house.


Apollito ‘dumping’ the rubbish near the sea wall. Useful landfill.

Also in front of the house two of the younger guys were sifting the sand in readiness for the plaster mix.


Slow work but I am sure it will be ‘fine’ sand (excuse the pun).

On the northern side of the house we could see that the lower part of the First Floor veranda had been cemented.


On the Ground Floor in the ‘master bedroom’ we could see that Sam had finished tidying up the clerestory window.


Looking much better.

He had also created mini columns near where the sliding doors will soon be fitted.


The areas around the power sockets had also been finished ready for plastering.


Walking up to the First Floor we could see that yesterday’s pour was curing nicely.


On the First Floor most of the energy was being directed to removing rubbish.


Angel at work with the broom in the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room).

To enable Rose to access the Second Floor the guys moved and rearranged the scaffolding and were on hand (as was I by the way) to make sure that she had safe access. Once up there we were very pleased with what we saw.


Wall built in Rose’s bathroom to separate the toilet and the bath.


Other side of the wall where Rose’s bath will be positioned.


Recessed shelving in Rose’s shower nearly created.

The headline is based on the opening track of Bruce Springsteen’s 1992 album entitled “Lucky Town”.

“I Like It, I Love It” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up way, way too early yesterday morning at 2.45 am. The consequence of going to bed too early the previous night at just after 10 pm. This after I had dozed off in the chair. I like to get up early but this is ridiculous. Message to self – stop going to sleep early at night!

Caught up with the UK and world news with The Times on-line and then set about taking care of administrative stuff. First off being an email to Atlantic International Bank Link requesting a bank draft for the sum of US$ 1,950 payable to the Belize Tourism Board so that I could make the final payment for acceptance in to the “”QRP”.

With acceptance for “QRP” I can now order a golf cart (I still have to get a Belize driver’s license and permission to import the vehicle but these should be mere formalities – hope that these are not “famous last words”) so next off was an email to Captain Sharks to place an order for the model/type of golf cart that Rose and I are going for. A Club Car XRT 850 (gas) with the ‘flip,flop’ seat.


Exactly the version we are ‘going’ for.

I have spent a lot of time looking to buy a cart in the States and shipping it to Ambergris Caye but after doing the cost analysis we have decided to pay slightly more and purchase from Captain Sharks. The price difference isn’t that great and we will have enough to do arranging and tracking the movement of our other stuff in to Belize.

After a few other emails it was time for breakfast and then a bit of time getting ‘stuck in to’ The Racketeer by John Grisham (good book by the way) and before I knew it I had an email from Atlantic International Bank Limited with a template letter for me to reproduce, print, sign and take to them for the bank draft to be produced.

Rose and I quickly took care of this and at 1.45 pm received a ‘phone call informing us it was ready for collection so off we set to the branch in Pescador Drive. With the bank draft in hand we then went to the Belize Tourism Board office in Barrier Reef Drive.



After handing in the bank draft and receiving receipts we were informed that we are now in the program. Our ID cards will be with us in around two to three weeks. I like it, I love it!

Feeling really pleased with ourselves we then set off to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and got there around 3 pm to find that they were using the cement mixer that Daniel Camal , our building contractor, had bought from Matt King an ex neighbour (and fellow Brit) of ours because the one that they usually use was. ‘sick’.


“Remember this one Matt?”.

Outside the house the final forms for the entrance stairway were being fitted (the handrails will be fitted in a few weeks time).


In the en-suite bathroom of the ‘master bedroom’ in the self-contained apartment Sam had applied the second coat of cement to tidy up the column in the shower area.


And in the other bathroom he had ‘made good’ around the pipe work.


And he had started fitting the forms in place for the clerestory window in the ‘master bedroom’.


Up the stairs to the First Floor where we could see that Angel had been working in the area where the fitted wardrobe will be in the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room).


In the living room area Oscae and his colleague were finishing off applying cement to the walls where the stairs will eventually be fitted.



Really pleased (well Oscar is at least) that we decided to have windows at the top of the stairs (Second Floor).


“This window is really handy!”.

We couldn’t gain access to the Second Floor because Oscar was using the scaffolding that we normally use as ‘stairs’ so we went outside the house to see what was going on and found Nicholas busy at work fixing the forms in place at the base of the First Floor (northern) veranda wall.





Forms in place.

As we were leaving the guy was just starting to pour the forms for the base wall of the stairs.



The headline is based on the 1995 single by Tim McGraw which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart It also reached number one in the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart and was number twenty-five in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Fantastic Day” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up early yesterday morning and decided that I would go with the Kindle first. On Friday I reached a crucial stage in The Litigator by John Grisham and I just needed to know how the story would end. Thirty minutes later I knew – book finished. A book up to the normal standard of Grisham.Based on the legal profession with plenty of twists and turns.

Book finished and I switched to my In Box where I was surprised but very pleased to find an email from Roshel Godfrey of the Belize Tourism Board advising me that I have been accepted in to the Belize Qualified Retired Persons Incentives Retirement Program(“QRP“). Acceptance six weeks after my application. Great news.

I just now need to make a payment of US$ 1,950 and Rose and I (Rose as my dependent) will be issued with our ID cards and we officially enter the ‘Programme. We can then order our golf cart and arrange to get our goods shipped from the UK.

Buoyed by this good news I made and ate breakfast and then watched Arsenal come back from a goal down to beat Norwich City to move to third place in the Premier League, above both Chelsea and Spurs.

Entry in to the “QRP” and a win for Arsenal. What a fantastic day!

With the match over it was time to go to the Belize Water Taxi terminal to collect our friend Dave ( he is serving at Price Barracks as a member of BATSUB) who had brought two of his colleagues ,Matt and Wes (in Belize for three weeks to provide driver training for new vehicles recently shipped here) over for a weekend in San Pedro. The ‘Taxi had arrived by the time I got there and they were on their first beer of the day (it was 10.30 am after all!). With these finished I took them to Pedro’s Hotel where they were staying for the night.

Around 2.30 pm Rose and I collected Dave and Wes (Matt had decided to lounge around the pool) for a visit to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Dave’s last visit to San Pedro had been before Christmas (just after the floor for the First Floor had been poured) and he was amazed by how much had been done since then.

We started with a walk around the house and on the western (lagoon) side looked up to see Edson working on the cantilever beams on the Second Floor.


We then proceeded to the Ground Floor self-contained apartment where we could see that the guys had been busy applying a levelling coat of cement around the doorways.


Doorway to the Master Bedroom’s en-suite bathroom.

Up to the First Floor to find Angel using the feather edge in the area of the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) where the built-in closet will eventually be.


In the hallway we could see that the doorway to the closet (mud room) was starting to take shape.


And in the dining area the clerestory window aperture looked much tidier.


In the Utility Room they had finished installing the pipe work for the washing machine and had ‘made good’ the area around it.


Dave, Wes and I then climbed the scaffolding to the Second Floor ( the distance to the floor was too large for Rose to safely go up there) . Once up there we could see that cement had been applied to the top of the veranda wall. A sort of coping I suppose.


In Rose’s bathroom there was evidence of the recessed shelf in the shower starting to take shape.


We could also see that the guys (probably Zapeda because he is ‘team leader’ for the Second Floor) had started to chase out the concrete blocks where Rose is having a wall built.


The wall will be between the toilet and the bath.

With the tour of the house over (but not before Dave had ‘booked’ the apartment for a return visit with his wife Wendy when his tour here ends) we went to BC’s. The rest, as they say, is a blur. I just know though that these Army guys can drink!

The headline is based on the 1982 single by Haircut One Hundred which reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart.

“I Love This Bar” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Yesterday evening when Rose and I were driving back from our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we ‘bumped’ in to Carlo Segura. Carlo is one half of the (deadly) duo that is opening a bar & restaurant on the opposite side of the road to TMM. I broke (sounds dramatic doesn’t it) this news exclusively with a ‘teaser’ in last Tuesday’s edition and followed this up with further information in last Wednesday’s edition. Yes, you read it here first!

We complimented Carlo on the speed of the build and how good it looked and he very kindly asked us if we would like to have a closer look and we accepted with pleasure.

It really is a very impressive layout. And all designed by Carlo (obviously with professional help for the plans that need to be submitted for approval to build). He appears to have thought of everything. And a bit more!

A covered seating area at ground level with ten picnic style tables. Great for eating a meal and having a drink while you watch and listen to whoever is performing on the stage that will be in the corner.


The seating area.

A dedicated barbecue area.


Nice and close to the kitchen.

A novel raised seating area that will enable customers to watch the Tropic Air and Maya Island Air flights take off and land.


Ernie Canelo in the ‘observatory stand’.

And the main building where the bar, store room, kitchen and restrooms will be.


Ernie standing roughly where the thirty-five seater bar will be (construction on this started today).


The kitchen. Note the large serving hatch.


The restrooms. Gents on the left, ladies on the right.

They have also provided for a large sized parking area and have plans to have a children’s play area.

Ernie will look after the bar and Carlo will have responsibility for the food and entertainment.

They are aiming to open Carlo and Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill on 5 May but I have a funny feeling that it will open one day earlier for the Floyd Mayweather fight.

A bar that appears to have everything. I love this bar!


Oh, and the view from the ‘observatory stand’.

The opening cannot come soon enough for Carlo and Ernie. Me too for that matter.

But what about the other build, our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize? Well Rose and I spent some time in the morning finalising our decision on lighting and then focused on looking at the wood samples that Daniel Camal, our building contractor, had given to us. We made really good progress and now only have to choose for Rose’s bathroom and the bathroom on the First Floor.

Feeling pleased with our progress we set off for Tres Cocos and got to our site around 2.30 pm and started to head to the First Floor but could see that Sam was at work in the store room on the Ground Floor.


Sam working on the column.

We then headed up the stairs to the First Floor to find Porfelio working on the clerestory window.


In the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) Angel had finished applying cement to the area that will eventually be the closet in which Rose will keep the majority of her materials.


Note the handmade stepladder .

Out on the veranda Edson was cementing the cantilever beam.


Much cooler in the shade!

On the way up the scaffolding to get to the Second Floor I could see that Oscar had finished applying cement to the southern wall of the stairwell.


And when I got to the top of the scaffold I could see that he had started work on the Second Floor.


Out on the veranda Nicholas was working on the interior veranda wall on the northern side.


Getting his line


Checking that it is level.


After applying cement checking the tension.


And then the float.


Finally the feather edge .

Further down the wall in the north-east corner Martin was using a really small feather edge on the base for the railings.


He then set about fixing the boards that he would work to .



The headline is based on the single released in 2003 by Toby Keith which reached number twenty-six in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

“I’m Sorry” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Spent a bit of time yesterday morning finalising the ‘agenda’ for the meeting Rose and I were having with Daniel Camal, our building contractor, at 3 pm at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. This didn’t take too long because we are now trying to focus the meetings on a few things. And this is becoming increasingly easier as the build progresses.

As part of the meeting preparation we browsed the Internet again to ‘screen grab’ a selection of light fittings – fluorescent for the store room, pendants for the internal stairwell and recessed for everywhere else. Oh, we are also having pendant lights over the breakfast bar but we have already chosen them.

With the preparations for the meeting out of the way I took my trusty old Kindle down to the dock in front of our rented condo and got stuck in to reading The Litigator by John Grisham. I am now heading towards the finale of the book and it is becoming more and more difficult to put it down. I had to leave reaching the conclusion to another day though because it was time to head off for our meeting with Daniel.

When we got to Tres Cocos Daniel was already there so we started our meeting straight away. But only after he had given us nine samples of different stain treatments for the cabinetry. We are now in a position to make our final choices and can then move on to making final decisions on the granite colours/finishes we want and next Thursday it is off to Belize City to choose the tiles.

First item on the ‘agenda’ was discussing the light fittings and with Daniel’s guidance we now know what we are going for. We then – well after Daniel had arranged for the scaffolding to be moved to provide easier access for Rose -made our way to the Second Floor to ‘hit’ the remaining ‘agenda’ points.

These didn’t take too long either. We showed Daniel where we want the seats and recessed shelving in our respective bathrooms and Rose described what type of wall she wants in her bathroom between the toilet and the bath. We also described and showed Daniel how we want the concrete seat in the north-west corner of the veranda to be extended. We now have to work out exactly where we want the concrete table and what it’s dimensions are to be (probably a task for Sunday).

With the meeting finished it was time to review progress and given that we were already there we started this on the Second Floor.

Zapeda was busy at work in Rose’s bathroom ‘striking the lines’ for the course of cement that will be applied.


Immediately to the left – where the column is – the wall that Rose wants will be built.


Line already struck where the sink/vanity unit will go.

Out on the veranda Eric and Eduardo were busy applying cement to the exterior wall and it was here that it was necessary for me to say I’m sorry to both of them. Why? Well, in recent editions I have inexplicably transposed their names.


Eric at work.

Here is a photo for which I did get the names right!


Eduardo on the left and Eric on the right. Think I have got it now!

Down on the First Floor Porfelio was working on the column close to where (to the left of it) the breakfast bar will be situated.


And in the Utility Room Rafael , aided by a colleague, was fitting the pipe connections for the hot and cold water feeds for the washing machine.


“Is it level?”.


“Is it the right height?”.


“Let’s get started”.

Back in the living/dining area I could see that they had ‘made good’ around the air-conditioning pipe that had been cut and refitted the previous day.


Much tidier.

By this time – they don’t hang about – Porfelio had started on another column.


And a few feet away they had started to move the scaffolding so that Oscar could start cementing the walls at the top of where the stairs will be.


Trestle on its way up.


It’s there.


And now the tools.


And away Oscar goes.


And when he goes, he goes!

Elsewhere on the First Floor work was taking place on other walls.


The Powder Room.


Angel at work in the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room).

Exiting the house we could see that they had erected scaffolding to tackle the exterior northern wall of the Second Floor roof terrace.



A clearer (although more distant) shot.

A walk around the back (lagoon side) of the house and we could see them working on the exterior walls.


Plenty of action going on everywhere.

The headline is based on the 1960 single by Brenda Lee which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number twelve in the UK Singles Chart.

“Between the Lines” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The day started off with me doing what I should ave done yesterday – posting the latest edition of the blog. The disciplines instilled in me when I worked in the newspaper publishing industry are sadly now not as rigidly followed by me as they once were. I am now retired though!

With the edition published I got ready and went for breakfast – yes, at Estel’s – before catching the 8 am Belize Express Water Taxi to Belize City for my 11 am appointment with the dentist to have my stitches removed. Just before I left Estel’s I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a voice saying my name. I looked up to find that it was Wes, a reader of this blog for a couple if months. We didn’t get a chance to say much to each other because I had the ‘Taxi to catch and Wes was having a last breakfast at Estel’s before setting off for home. Brief though it was it was really good to meet him.

The time in the chair this week was really short in comparison to my last visit. Doctor Pedro Habet didn’t take hardly anytime at all to remove the nine stitches – and painlessly (for me and him!) too – and take impressions of my upper and lower jaws. Next week the replacement programme starts (two sessions a day) and this will run for weeks. Nearly there.

With such a quick visit to the dentist I was able to catch the noon ferry (this time I used the Caye Caulker Water Taxi) to get back to San Pedro and once again witnessed how they do things in Belize. We had left the mooring and were heading out when the boat slowed and went in to reverse to go back to the ‘Terminal to pick up three passengers! Imagine a bus in London doing this!!!!

Rose was parked up in Barrier Reef Drive waiting for me when the boat docked at 1.40 pm) and we headed straight away to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As is customary for us now we proceeded to go from floor to floor to see what had been done/what was going on.

We started off at the Ground Floor first (sort of sensible really) and were pleased to see that the electrician had been busy installing the ‘boxes’.


Light switch box in the column in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment’s kitchen/living room.


Light switch and power point boxes in place where the sofa will go in the kitchen/living room.


Cable box installed for where the TV will go in the kitchen/living room.


Box installed for the light switch just inside the entrance to the self-contained apartment.

A quick look in to the store room and we could see that the guys were really serious about using this as a changing room.


Somewhere to hang the clothes. And note the small mirror!

Up to the First Floor and en-suite bathroom to the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room) was being rendered.


Loading the hawk.

Next to the Utility Room which Edson had been rendering yesterday and there were obvious signs that the electrician had been at work.


Pipes connected and control box installed.


In the hallway Edson was at work in the closet/mud room.


Edson striking the lines in the closet/mud room.

On to the living room area where Oscar was rendering between the lines that he had struck earlier.


Applying the cement.


Using a feather edge (or Darby) to level off the cement.

On the other side of the room (dining area) the electrician was cutting the air conditioning pipe to the required size.




Up the scaffolding to the Second Floor where Porfelio was removing the firms from the roof of be veranda.


Porfelio removes a support and Eduardo disposes of it using the quickest route!

Not far away Eric was applying cement to the exterior was to the left of where the sliding doors of the Master Bedroom will be.


Eric at work with a feather edge.

And all the while Miguel, the youngest member of the Second Floor, was keeping everyone supplied with cement.


“Send it up then”.



“There you go”.

The headline is based on the title of the album by Janis Ian which was released in 1975. It reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 200.

“It’s Getting Better” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

My time on the veranda yesterday morning was very pleasant. The good, strong breeze made it very enjoyable

I spent a fair bit longer reading The Times than I usually do. Lots of coverage about Margaret Thatcher who sadly passed away on Monday.

She had her ‘lovers’ and her ‘haters’ and I am decidedly one of the former. Through her policies I and many of my ex-colleagues enjoyed some of our most enjoyable times working in the UK press industry.

Rose and I spent the greater part of the morning ploughing on with our searches on the Internet to make selections for the fixtures and fittings for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. It has been a laborious task but we are getting there. We now only have the light fittings to choose but we have narrowed this down and just need the advice of Daniel Camal, our building contractor, to make the final choices.

With the list drawn up – model number and price- and screen grabs for every item I took time out to reacquaint myself with The Litigators by John Grisham that I had started reading last week. For those of you who are fans of his but have not read this book yet it is up to his normal standards.

Fully relaxed we then had a quick bite to eat and set off to review progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and arrived there just after 2.30 pm. We have taken to getting there around this time so that the guys have had around three quarters of the day working on stuff.

The first thing we noticed was that the rebar frame for the base for the handrails for the lower level of the external stairs had been fixed.


Only needs the form now and it is ready for pouring.

The forms had been removed from the bases that had been poured the previous day and we can now see the stairs taking shape.


The top of the first flight.


And for the second flight.

At the top of the stairs Porfelio was busy at the entrance (where the double doors will eventually be fitted) with a hammer and bolster knocking of the uneven bits of concrete before the next course is applied.


A walk in to the house and we could see that the plumber had been at work putting connections in place for the air conditioning unit in the dining room area.



On the other side of the ‘room’ (the living room area) the lines had been ‘stuck’ for the next course of cement.




A few feet away the electrician (he is the plumber as well) was knocking off rough areas of cement around the electric boxes (for the light switches).


Around the front (eastern side) of the First Floor they were applying the second course of concrete in the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room).



Angel knows the importance of this room!

Seeing that work was progressing well it was time to head up to the Second Floor where Zapeda has control ( they split the guys in to groups with each group having ‘ownership’ of their floor). Once up there I could see that they had started work on applying cement on to the Master Bedroom walls.


Eduardo ‘striking’ his line.


And Zapeda ‘striking’ his.


“Is it level?”.


“Yes, I think so”.

In the background Zapeda’s son Eric was screeding the walls in Rose’s walk-in closet.


Believe me they are Eric’s feet in the Wellington boots!

Everywhere I looked I could see that it’s getting better.

Satisfied with how things are going on the Second Floor it was time for a walk-around the Ground Floor and ground level (another team of the guys (primarily comprising Martin, Sam and Nicholas) have accountability for these areas). There I found Martin in the kitchen/living area of the self-contained apartment.


Fixing the levels for the next course of concrete for the columns.

Down below, in addition to and in between mixing the concrete for all of the teams Nicholas was busy removing uneven areas of concrete from the ground level wall.


The headline is based on the 1969 single by Cass Elliot which reached number thirty in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number eight in the UK Singles Chart.

“Blinded by the Light” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Didn’t feel that there was anything really interesting to publish an edition about yesterday. That statement,of course, assumes that when I do publish an edition it is of interest!

A rather uneventful Sunday apart from watching Spurs drop two points with a draw against Everton. Disappointing that they only dropped the two points because at one stage it had looked like they were going to lose all three.

With the game ‘out of the way’ Rose and I then turned our attention (again) to browsing the Internet. This time to narrow down our selections for door furniture (doors and kitchen cabinets), fans and lights. Making a choice on lighting has been more challenging than we had imagined it would be.

One reason for this is that we hadn’t considered the lighting needs for the stairwell which, because of its design, for part of it will have a floor to ceiling height of over thirty feet. It was only when walking around the house on Saturday that the realisation of this came to us.

Our current thought (and I doubt that we will veer away from this) is to have pendant lights set at varying lengths. The challenge though will be to make sure that nobody is blinded by the light!

Today started off with much of the same. No, not watching Spurs drop two points (sorry to say) but trawling the Internet for house fittings. Slowly but surely though we are getting there and one by one we are crossing the various items off our list.

You (or me at least) can only spend so much time looking at light fittings and so it came as a more than welcome relief when Rose and I took the drive this afternoon to take a look at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Arriving there at around 2.30 pm we were once again ‘greeted’ by the sound of the concrete mixer in action and the happy face of Alfredo ‘feeding’ it.

We could see that one of the guys was working on the external stairs so while Rose went to look around the Ground Floor I walked around to the northern side of the house to find Martin and Nicholas fixing form boards in preparation for the next course of concrete for the external veranda wall of the First Floor.


If you look hard you can see Rose looking out of a window.

Further down the scaffolding was Rafael who was screeding the wall.


Knock-up the concrete.


And on it goes.

It wasn’t long before Nicholas demonstrated that he has no fear of heights


Climbing through the scaffolding.


And over the next one.


To the end of the scaffolding.


And nicely balanced to fix the form board in place.

Hearing noise I walked around to the back (lagoon side) of the house to see a pile of wood. They had started removing the acrows and forms from the Second Floor.


Much of this will be recycled and taken to the build that Daniel Camal, our building contractor, is working on not far from the Palapa Bar.

Looking up I could see that they were using the quickest route to ‘bring’ the wood down to ground level.


Ready to go.


And it’s on it’s way!

Realising that there was ‘action’ on the Second Floor I took the stairs to the First Floor and then climbed the scaffolding to find them busy at work.


Acrows in the Master Bedroom removed and only a few ceiling form boards to go.

Whilst up there I saw the simple, yet ingenious, way that they pass nails from one floor to another.


“Down they come”.


“Got them”.

I then wandered ( climbed the scaffold) down to the First Floor to see further pipes being fitted.


Pipe being cut to size.


And fixed in place.

Elsewhere on the floor Edson had begun ‘striking the lines’ in the Utility Room.



A walk to the front of the house and I could see three of the guys busy working away in the bedroom. Well, what is going to be Rose’s handicraft room. Obviously the guys know that Jose Mourinho is an imposter. Rose is really the ‘special one’!


There may only be two guys in the photo but believe me there were three of them working in THE room.

Walking down the external stairs I had to be careful not to get in the way of the guy pouring the concrete base for the handrails.


Before leaving our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize I wandered around to say goodbye to the the guys and am really pleased that I did. Had I not done so I wouldn’t have seen Nicholas and Rafael doing their impersonation of Siamese twins.


They were actually fixing a form board in place!

Feeling pleased once again with progress Rose and I made the drive south to our rented condo.

The headline is based on the song (written by Bruce Springsteen) by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six in the UK Singles Chart.

“Rock and Roll” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First of all apologies for the lateness of publishing today’s edition. Just couldn’t whip up the enthusiasm yesterday evening. But up this morning bright (well it was dark outside actually) and early and ready to ‘rock and roll’.

Spent the early part of yesterday morning (the game started at 8 am here) watching Arsenal in an away game against West Bromwich Albion. Dominating the game from the start ‘we’ went in to a two goal lead and looked to be heading for an easy three points. That is until ‘we’ gave away a penalty and the offending player was sent off. With determined (and at times lucky) defending Arsenal hung on to secure the win. Just need to stay there for the remainder of the season now to secure a Champions League place next season. “Come on you Gunners”.

Before bringing you up-to-date with progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize I need to say ‘thank you’ to two of the readers of this blog. The first ‘thank you’ goes to Robert (a fellow Brit living on Ambergris Caye) who correctly pointed out that the guys are currently rendering the walls and not plastering them. I knew I was wrong but for the life of me could not remember the correct term.

The second ‘thank you’ (sic) goes to Harry the Hornet (he used to be a friend of mine in England) for pointing out that I should have used the word ‘purposefully’ and not ‘purposely’ in yesterday’s edition. Wish I could say it was intentional!

Rose and I set off for Tres Cocos at around 2 pm and on the way there stopped off to buy some soft drinks for the guys. I took a guess and bought twenty bottles. One each for Rose and I and the remainder for the guys ( I guessed right because there were eighteen of them). Just over BZ$ 35 for the lot – a relatively inexpensive way of saying ‘thanks guys’.

On arrival at the site Alfredo took the bottles and handed them out and the guys took an impromptu (short) break. They deserved it!

Rose and I started off on the First Floor and could see that good progress on rendering the walls had been made.


Dining room area wall (northern side) rendered.


Angel in action rendering the kitchen wall.


Edson (in the foreground) putting the scaffolding in the hallway in place.


And then started to render.


‘Is that level?’


‘It will be now’.

A walk outside and we could see that the form boards for the base of the western (lagoon) side of the veranda had been removed to expose the concrete.


A walk to the front (eastern side) of the First Floor and we could see Oscar at work rendering the wall of the bedroom (Rose’s handicraft room).


Rose is watching Oscar!

Close by we could see that the line had been set for where forms will be fixed to create the base for the handrails for the external staircase.



A close-up of the line.

With the line in place work had begun on making the form.


Pleased with what we had seen we climbed (we are getting quite expert now) the scaffold to the Second Floor and saw straight away that the forms for the base of the veranda walls had been removed there too.


North-east corner.


Western (lagoon) side.

Eric was rendering the veranda wall on the northern side.


The concrete mix for this course is really quite ‘heavy’ in water content.


Up on the roof was Eric’s father, Zapeda, so I climbed the scaffolding to see what he was doing.


Rendering the course of concrete blocks that form the small wall on the roof.

As we descended the house to leave we could see the guys busily cleaning their tools before they set off for a well deserved day off.


Angel cleaning up.

The headline is based on the single (it was the fourth track on the forth album) by Led Zeppelin which reached number forty-seven in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Something To Think About” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

With the mouth feeling less sore this morning after showering, etc I headed off to Estel’s to see how the gums would stand up to some crispy bacon. Just fine is the answer. Not back to their best yet but getting there.

Whilst sitting there waiting for my breakfast to arrive I fired off a couple of emails to the golf cart dealers I have been communicating with. The simple message being a request that they ‘sharpen their pencils’ (for those that have not come across this expression before it basically means ‘improve your offer’ which, in my case, means reduce the price).

Found out when I got ‘home’ ( well to the condo we are renting) -when I went on to Facebook – that on the table next to me at Estel’s had been Wes and his wife. Wes is a subscriber to this blog and has posted a few comments . Small world. Or at least a small restaurant!

Didn’t really do anything too much when I got back to the condo apart from starting to read The Litigators by John Grisham . A book by him that I have yet to read. Had a bite to eat for lunch and then it was time for Rose and I to head off to review progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

We got there at around 2.45 pm and could see that there was a lot going on.


Rose purposely heading towards the stairs.



Form work being put in place for the concrete pour to create the base for the handrails for the staircase.


Plastering above the entrance on the First Floor.


‘Lines’ struck for the second course of plaster in the dining room area on the First Floor.


First course of plaster being applied for the hall on the First Floor.

I cannot recall if I have mentioned it before but my late Dad used to be a plasterer. And a very good one at that ( and this is not filial pride). Had he been alive he would have been intrigued ( or maybe amused) at the way plaster is applied in Belize ie flicked on the wall with a trowel. My Dad, who I watched in action many, many times ,used a trowel too. But he spread the plaster on the walls. A bit like buttering a slice of bread. Totally different techniques but the end result is the same. Think my Dad’s technique was a bit quicker though.

Anyway I digress, back to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize . Up on the Second Floor we could see that Eduardo had finished plastering the wall that we saw him start yesterday.


External wall to my bathroom on the southern side of the house.

And Zapeda and his son Eric were hard at work plastering the external wall of our bedroom and the stairwell.


Father and son team levelling off the plaster.

Down on the Ground Floor pipe work had been installed.


A ‘maze’ of pipes that will be hidden by the ceiling for the smallest of the bathrooms in the self-contained apartment.


Pipe work for the powder room and en-suite bathroom on the First Floor being installed.

And Sam was plastering the ramp.


Lots going on.

On the way to the bridge we saw Daniel Camal, our building contractor,heading in the opposite direction – he was going to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. We stopped to have a chat and he asked us to let him know what light fittings and fans we want . Something to think about.

On the way home we stopped to spend a little time on the beach and saw a building of another kind. A replica of a Mayan Temple that some children had constructed out of sand.


Budding Daniel Camal’s ?

The headline is based on the 1969 single by Hank Williams Junior which reached number thirty-six in the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

“I’m Doing Fine Now” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Got up this morning with the mouth – following the dental work yesterday – feeling a lot less sore. The gums beld a little early on but I’m doing fine now. Even so I thought I would start off today’s edition going for a sympathy vote!

Started the day by comparing quotes for golf carts purchased in the ‘States versus one purchased on Ambergris Caye. Providing that I gain acceptance to the Qualified Retirement Program (“QRP”) I can import a vehicle absent import tax and the saving of this levy allied to the generally cheaper purchase price in the ‘States can make this a financially attractive proposition. Obviously if we elect to take this route I will need to organise shipping but I have already got a quote for this from Manray Express, a fairly new freight forwarding agent based on Ambergris Caye.

Rose and I then moved on to checking the bathroom and kitchen items that we want and then entered them in to a spreadsheet, along with screen grabs , for forwarding to Daniel Camal our building contractor. Hopefully every thing we want is available . If not it is ‘back to the drawing board’.

With the administrative side of the day out of the way Rose and I were more than ready to go and see our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize so we set off and got there at just before 4 pm.

With the sea wall poured yesterday (photos later) we could see straight away that the focus was back on to the house and a general clean up of the site.

When we got up on the First Floor Porfelio was in the final stages of laying the concrete for the base of the western (lagoon) side of the veranda wall (this wall will be predominantly vertical handrails – with this design our view of the lagoon from our living/dining room area should be reasonably unimpaired).


At just over sixty Porfelio is the ‘senior’ on the build.


Veranda wall base finished. Just needs to set now.

Work had also started on applying a second coat of cement on the other veranda walls on the First Floor.


Northern wall.


Southern wall nearly finished.

Seeing good progress on the First Floor Rose and I, via the scaffolding, proceeded to the Second Floor where Zapeda and Eduardo were applying second coats of cement to the external walls.

Working to a line the guys apply cement vertically around eight inches wide. This then gives them the level (thickness) to work to for the rest of the wall.


Eduardo ‘striking’ his line.


Levelling it off.


Zapeda checking that the ‘line’ (thickness) is right.

With that done Zapeda set about putting the wire in place on the wall (southern side) that he would be plastering next.


With his line set his son, Eric, started removing loose cement from the course that had previously been applied.


Around the front of the Second Floor the base for the north-east corner of the veranda ( this will also be predominantly formed by vertical handrails) had been laid.


A peer over the veranda wall and we could see that the base for the section of the veranda that will feature handrails at the front (eastern side) of the house on the First Floor was being laid .


And it had also been laid on the western side of the Second Floor (again the dominant section of the veranda wall will feature vertical handrails so that we get a good view of the lagoon from our bedroom).


Daniel Camal, our building contractor, arrived whilst we were there to collect some bush sticks (they use these as acrows) for the build that he has started not far away from our build. Coincidently Daniel’s newest client, Kris,is a long time reader of this blog.


Load on board.


And the bush sticks are on the way to be used again. Recycling in action!

From our vantage point on the Second Floor Rose and I could see that the forms had been removed from the sea wall


so we went down to take a closer look.



Close up and personal!

Standing on the sea wall the rear of the house seemed so far away ( it’s around one hundred and fifty feet away).


Rose and I then set off for home feeling that we had had ‘another good day at the office’!

The headline is based on the 1991 single by The Pasadenas which reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.

“Walking on the Chinese Wall” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Had a follow up visit to The Dental Center today to see Doctor Hernandez for further work on the dental implants I am having fitted. He comes to Belize City from Guatamala City once a month.

With a 10 am appointment I had time to grab a breakfast at Estel’s (the hearty ‘last’ breakfast) before catching the 8 am Caye Caulker Water Taxi that got me to Belize City by 9.40 and then a short taxi ride saw me arrive for my appointment on time.

The appointment lasted just over ninety minutes during which time Doctor Hernandez fitted five implants on to the screws that he fitted when I last saw him just over four months ago. For three of the implants he had to cut my gums to expose the previously fitted screws and then apply stitches (these will be removed by Doctor Pedro Habet when I visit him next Wednesday)to close the gums around the implant. Graphic enough for you ?

One thing is for sure and that is that when I left The Dental Center my mouth was feeling decidedly sore. Not so sore though that it prevented me from visiting Brodies (in Albert Street) to pick up some provisions that are either not available on Ambergris Caye or are very pricey. With the shopping done I walked to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi terminal and, after waiting for around 60 minutes, got the 1.30 pm ‘Taxi to San Pedro.

The boat docked at 3.20 pm and Rose was there to meet me so that we could take the stuff that I had bought back to our rented condo (some of it needed to go in to the refrigerator). This didn’t take too long and we headed off to Tres Cocos to look at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On arrival we could hear and see that the two concrete mixers were in operation.


Roadside ‘mixer in action.


And the one near the house.

There was lots of concrete being mixed but nothing going on in the house. A quick walk around the house and we could see why. The guys had finished installing the rebar frames and forms for the sea wall and were pouring the concrete for it.


Northern ‘arm’ of the sea wall poured.

With such distances to cover from the ‘mixers to the pour – around three hundred feet from the roadside ‘mixer – there were six guys on wheelbarrow duty. I have mentioned it before but the strength and fitness of these guys continues to amaze me.


One going for a refill and one going to the pour.


The final walk to the pour for the southern ‘arm’ of the sea wall.


And then the long walk back to the ‘mixers.

Zapeda was controlling things for the southern ‘arm’ of the sea wall.


“Come on guys”.


The southern ‘arm’ of the sea wall ready to be poured.


And the wheelbarrows keep turning up.




And the youngest of the guys, Apollito, all fourteen and half years of him!

The size of the sea wall looks so large even though it is only seventy-five feet wide. It’s going to be a bit like walking on the Chinese Wall when it is finished!

Around the front of our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize the ‘mixer teams continued to keep the concrete coming.


“Now which bag shall I go for next?”


The second youngest guy (do not know his name yet – the challenge for today) with two buckets of sand. In the background is Rafael (in the ‘sun hat ), aka ‘the Frog’, entertaining the guys with an impromptu dance.

Daniel Camal, our building contractor, turned up with much needed supplies of shingle.



And the unloading begins.

Rose and I didn’t wait for pouring to be completed because Zapeda – in his broken English – had informed me that it would not be finished until around 7 pm but instead headed off home really satisfied with another day of good progress on our house.

On the way home we saw the continuing progress of the bar and restaurant I mentioned in yesterday’s edition. It takes shape by the day and I understand will be open for business sometime early next month.


It’s a joint venture by Ernie the head barman at BC’s and Carlo who used to work there and will be called “Carlo and Ernie’s”. They are both great guys and I wish them every success with their new venture.

The headline is based on the 1985 single by Phil Bailey which reached number forty-six in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“All Right Now” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Apologies to regular readers for the ‘break’ in publishing but with no work on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize -because of Easter – there wasn’t a lot to write about without either you or me, or all of us, finding it boring.

The fact that there was no ‘action’ on the build doesn’t mean to say that Rose and I ‘shut off’ from thinking about our new home because we didn’t. It seems like we spent the vast majority of the four day Easter holiday agonising over what toilets, sinks, taps (faucets for the non-UK readers) and showers to choose. You would think that it would be relatively easy . Perhaps it should be. But that hasn’t been the case for us. We got there in the end though. With this ‘out of the way’ we can now start turning our attention to tile and granite colours. Can’t wait!

Being the beginning of the month, today was ‘pay the bills day’ and this entailed a visit to Atlantic International Bank Limited in Pescador Drive. Learnt (never too old to learn) a couple of things whilst I was stuck in the very long queue. First lesson is that you should avoid going to a bank the day after a public holiday. Should have realised that the bank would be busy. Why should Belize be any different in this respect to the UK.

The second lesson I learned is that if you are sixty-five years of age or older then you can go to the front of the queue. I only know this because I challenged someone who I thought was ‘queue jumping’. They soon put me right!

Anyway, enough of the educational part of my day and on to what progress has been made on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Rose and I couldn’t wait to drive up to Tres Cocos today. Little doubt that we were both suffering some form of withdrawal symptom. Going there six days a week for the last five months has definitely created a habit which was sorely put to the test because of the four day Easter break. A break which as far as our guys were concerned only lasted three days. We found out when we got to the build that they had worked yesterday. And we didn’t know this until today. Bummer.

We really should have guessed that they had been in yesterday when we arrived just by seeing what had been done since our last visit.

Form boards had been fitted to the verandas in readiness for plastering.


First Floor north- eastern section of the veranda.


South-eastern section of he veranda.

Channelling (well perhaps a bit more than channelling) had commenced to connect pipes.


Eastern wall of the utility room.


Western wall of the utility room.

They had also made good progress on fitting the form boards for the verandas elsewhere.


First Floor western (lagoon) side veranda.


Second Floor north-east corner.


Eastern side of the Second Floor.

They had also put the forms in place to pour concrete to correct the size of the northern facing window in Rose’s bathroom. It should (will) be the same size as the eastern facing window but they made it too big.


The correct size.

A walk – well not so much a walk, more a clamber down the scaffold – to the First Floor to see that holes were being created for the overflow pipes for the First Floor veranda.


In the north-eastern corner.


Nearly there in the north-western corner.

A look towards the lagoon and we could see that they were hard at work on the sea-wall.




Oscar virtually up to his neck in it!

As I said earlier,we had really missed our daily visits to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize but I knew that all was well when Rose told me ‘Its all right now’.

On the subject of builds there’s another bit of construction going on opposite TMM. Work has been going on for a couple of weeks now and the building is shooting up. Understand (bit of an exclusive here – more information to be revealed in future editions) that it is going to be a bar & restaurant .


Working in to the dark. What will the final build look like?

The headline is based on the 1970 single by Free which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart and number four in the US Billboard Hot 100.