“Get Behind the Wheel” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First job for Rose and I yesterday morning (well after we had wished each other happy anniversary) was to go to the Tropic Air Cargo office to collect the insurance policy that Willard Young of R F & G Insurance had sent over on the 4.30 pm flight the previous day.

With the policy in our possession( at last) we went straight to Captain Shark’s to give it to Enrique so he could get the permit (and license plate) from the San Pedro Town Council Transport Department.

To ‘allow’ Enrique time to do this I went to Estel’s for breakfast (well,why wouldn’t I) and Rose went shopping. Fair division of labour I would say!

After her shopping spree (sic) Rose collected me from Estel’s and we went to Atlantic International Bank‘s branch in Pescador Drive so that I could make another withdrawal (ouch). Unlucky with our timing because it seemed that most (OK so a bit of an exaggeration) of the businesses in town were making deposits (deposits always take so much longer).

With the banking done we rushed (and i do mean rushed) off to Captain Shark’s to collect our golf cart. Unfortunately we are still waiting for the license plates but this didn’t prevent us from taking it away. And I got to make the maiden journey when Rose told me to get behind the wheel.

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Proud new (co-) owner. Note the colour co-ordinated polo shirt and shorts. Oh, and the flip-flops too!

On the way back to our rented condo I stopped off at the gas station (petrol station for my UK readers) and filled up the tank for BZ$ 58.00. Should last a little while. Especially whilst the bridge is closed.

Once ‘home’ Rose and I focused on the plans for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize to decide where we want our lighting. This for the 3 am meeting we had planned with Rolando, Daniel Camal’s (our building contractor) plumber/electrician.

It didn’t take us too long (we have been through it so many times before) and by 2.15 pm we set off (in the rented golf cart because we were not returning it until the evening) and got to the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge just before 2.30 pm to find that the repair work was progressing very well.

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Pedestrian /bike way very busy.

There has been lots of comment on the island about the bridge and especially that the one/two week repair period will be exceeded. Some believing that it will take at least twice as long. I have a funny feeling that it could be finished by the middle of next week.

As a future frequent user (when our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize is completed) of the bridge I find one aspect of the repairs very interesting. They have dispensed with the girder that ran through the centre of the bridge. This will stop the practice that many of the taxi drivers had of putting one side of the taxi over the girder and taking more than half of the width available. Or if they do, they will have no excuse for not moving over. Anyway, enough of my ramblings.

When we got to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we saw immediately that the guys had finished laying the ‘blocks for the septic tank/soak-away.

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And had applied the first coat of cement.

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Up on the First Floor José and Alfonso had finished fitting the grid for the ceiling of the western veranda.

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And were busy at work fitting the grid for the southern side.

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Rose and I saw Rolando and walked around the First and Ground Floors telling him, on a room by room basis, exactly where we want the light and fan (all fans will have lights as well) fittings. When they are all installed we may well find that we have gone for ‘overkill’ but better to have too much light than not enough is our view.

On finishing our meeting with Rolando we took a quick walk around the rear (lagoon) side of the house to see that the stairs from the ‘master’ bedroom’s veranda are taking shape.

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In the evening Rose and I went to Elvis’ Kitchen (in Pescador Drive) for a celebratory first anniversary dinner in Ambergris Caye and ‘went for’ the buffet which, at BZ$ 50, is exceptionally good value. I rarely take the camera with me when we go for a meal so you will just have to trust me (or not). Plenty of choice and as much as you can eat.

The headline for today’s edition is based on track six of the 2009 album entitled “Fork in the Road” by Neil Young which reached number nineteen in the US Billboard Hot 200 and number twenty-two in the UK Albums Chart.

“Slow Hand” for Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Oh, meant to mention in the previous edition that Daniel Camal, our building contractor, has located where the windows for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize are. Miami! So, a little while yet before we get to see them. Just hope that this does not delay the finish.

Yesterday. as soon as the office was open (8.30 am), I made contact with Willard Young of R F & G Insurance to try to arrange insurance for our golf cart. He was extremely helpful and told me that once he had the necessary documentation from me via email (information/photo page from my Passport, copy of my “QRP” ID card and a copy of my Belize Drivers License) he would get to work producing the paperwork and send it to me via Tropic Air. I already had photos of all that he wanted so it only took a few minutes to email him what he needed.

Thought the processing for the insurance would be relatively straightforward and quick but this wasn’t the case! Willard ‘phoned me three or four times during the course of the day and as the hours went by I had serious doubts that the policy would arrive so that we could get our golf cart.

As the hours passed by my misgivings became stronger and at 3.30 pm Rose and I concluded that we had waited enough and decided to go look at what was going on at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. I hadn’t been driving very long when my ‘phone rang. It was Willard, the policy would be on the 4.30 pm Tropic Air flight to San Pedro. Too late for us to get the permit for our golf cart but… Either Willard had a lot of paperwork to complete for our policy or he has a slow hand when it comes to filling in forms!

Relieved (perhaps me more than Rose – boys toys and all that) by the knowledge that we would get the cart the next day we arrived at our build Ambergris Caye, Belize around 4 pm and after parking our rented golf cart went straight to the Ground Floor to see that José and Alfonso had completed fitting the ceiling grids in the Store Room/Garage.

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The ‘home’ for our new golf cart!

It was still very wet and muddy around the northern side of the house so we looked through the kitchen window of the Ground Floor self-contained apartment to see how work on the septic tank/soak-away was progressing and were extremely surprised to see that not only had they fitted the rebar frame but had started laying the concrete blocks.

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(From left to right) Eduardo, Martin, Nicholas and Angel at work whilst Porfelio looks on.

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The two younger members of the team, Miguel and Apollito, at the ready with the cement.

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Nicholas ‘threading’ the rebar rod through a ‘block.

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And it’s in!

Satisfied with the progress on the ‘tank we went up to the First Floor to find José and Alfonso – now that the cantilever beams have had their finishing coat of cement – fixing the ceiling grids for the western veranda ceiling.

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With nothing else being done on the First Floor Rose and I ‘took’ the scaffold up to the Second Floor where we found Rolando, the plumber/electrician – assisted by Rafael (aka The Frog) – installing the wiring for the sockets, switches and lights.

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Wiring for the lighting in the Master Bedroom begins.

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Our timing was perfect because Rolando had been waiting for us to let him know exactly how many lights we want and where we want them to be. Rose, with the encyclopedic memory she has for this type of thing, was able to answer his questions very easily and quickly. We have arranged to meet Rolando today (Friday) at 3 pm so that we can tell him the lighting layout for the Ground and First Floors.

With Rolando knowing what we want we decided to head off home but on the way out saw that Porfelio had finished laying the blocks for the first flight of the entrance stairway.

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Now for the cement coats!

Today is one year to the day that Rose and I, after leaving the UK, arrived in Ambergris Caye, Belize so I need to put my ‘thinking cap’ on to decide where we will go this evening to celebrate our first anniversary. Wherever it is I hope we go there in our new golf cart!

The headline is based on the single released in 1981 by The Pointer Sisters which reached number two in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number ten in the UK Singles Chart.

“Feeling Good” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Picked up the tile sample that Jesus Cervantes of The Tile & Stone Center had sent to us via Tropic Air on Tuesday evening and with just one look at it Rose and I knew that we had the replacement for the unavailable Real Stone Gris that had been our first choice.

So, with the decision made, I fired off an email to Jesus yesterday morning to ascertain if he had sufficient stock of the tile to meet our requirements. Within minutes I had a response advising that he has 13,000 square feet in stock. We only need just over a tenth of this so what could have been a problem for us has been resolved. And, very quickly.

Then spent a bit of time exchanging emails with FC Exchange to make sure that payment to Captain Shark’s ( the balance for the golf cart we are buying) was being processed. It was, so ‘all systems go’!

At around 11.30 I got an email from Enrique at Captain Shark’s advising that the final payment had been received (FC Exchange is exceptionally quick at processing transactions) and that our golf cart is ready for collection today. We just needed to pop down to the store to choose our wheel rims. So off Rose and I went.

Just the insurance to sort out (will contact R F& G Insurance as soon as the office opens today) and collect the permit and number plate from the San Pedro Town Council’s Transport Department and we will have our own ‘wheels’!

Feeling good Rose and I set off at around 3 pm to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and, because of the walk from the northern side of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge (because of its closure for essential repairs/maintenance work) got there around 3.30 pm.

As we approached the house we could see José at work in the Store Room/ Garage fitting ceiling grids.

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The final room on the Ground Floor.

In to the self-contained apartment where we saw the living/kitchen room area fully fitted with the ceiling grids.

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Through to the ‘master’ bedroom and out on to the veranda to find that the rebar (bet you rebar ‘haters’ thought that you had seen the last of this word!) had been fitted for the stairs.

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Just need the form boards to be fitted and the concrete can be poured.

Next we went up to the First Floor to find Sam applying the finishing coat of cement to the cantilever beams.

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Sam at work on the final beam.

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The beam in the south-west corner already finished.

Just around the corner on the southern veranda Martin was at work applying the finishing coat to the underside of the Second Floor veranda.

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As we walked around we could see that Rolando, the plumber/electrician, has been busy at work running the wiring for the external power sockets (there will two power sockets on each of the exterior walls – so eight in total on this floor).

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Eastern side of First Floor veranda.

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Northern side of First Floor veranda.

Looking down to ground level we could see that the hole (although full of water from the rain) for the septic tank/soak-away had been completed.

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View at ground level.

As we departed our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we saw Porfelio at work laying the last of the blocks to close the gap under the stairway to the First Floor.

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And because only small amounts of cement were required Miguel was ‘knocking-up’ by hand.

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Over by the bodega Angel and Eduardo were creating the rebar (knew I would get another opportunity to mention rebar!) frame for the septic tank/soak-away.

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Just a few more rods required for the base.

The headline is based on track seven of Nina Simone’s 1965 album entitled “I Put a Spell on You” which reached number ninety-nine in the US Billboard Hot 200 and number eighteen in the UK Albums Chart.

“Move It On Over” to Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Woke around 3 am yesterday morning (didn’t get up until around 4.10 am though) to the sound of pouring rain. Exactly the same sound I had gone to sleep listening to the night before. It continued right the way through until around 6.20 am and then returned intermittently for most of the morning.

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A very grey sky at 5.30 am.

Got an email from Daniel Camal, our building contractor, on Monday (in response to one from me) advising that it is OK for us to ‘press the button’ on getting the stuff we have in storage in the UK shipped to us. So yesterday morning I ‘fired off’ an email to Excess International Movers asking them to move it on over.

In his email Daniel also advised that he was going to Belize City to ‘chase up’ on our consignment of windows and sliding doors from the States, place an order for the tiles at The Tile & Stone Center and place an order for light fittings at Benny’s. All of these items being, of course, for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Just as Rose and I were preparing to leave our rented condo we received a call from Daniel advising that the tile we had chosen for the entrance stairs and First Floor veranda was ‘out of stock’ and would take nine weeks to manufacture sufficient stock for our needs. Not wishing to delay things I ‘phoned Jesus Cervantes at The Tile & Stone Center and asked him what tiles he had in stock that closely matched our original choice. He responded positively and advised that he would send a sample to us on the 4.30 pm Tropic Air flight to San Pedro.

With arrangements in place for the replacement tile sample made Rose and I set off to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize. By this time it was 2.45 pm and we were ‘running’ slightly later than normal but luck came our way as we were approaching the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge and saw Rafael (one of Daniel’s guys) in front of us on his bike. Knowing that he would have the truck on the other side of the ‘Bridge we parked the golf cart quickly and caught up with him and managed to secure a lift.

Once at the build we made immediately for the Ground Floor where we saw Nicholas at work laying a coat of cement for the Store Room/Garage floor.

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A walk in to the self-contained apartment and we could see that José had been busy at work fitting the ceiling grids.

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Fitted in the bathroom for the ‘master’ bedroom.

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And for the ‘master’ bedroom too.

They had also finished laying the cement for the floor.

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Final sections completed.

Outside on the veranda we could see that work had begun on creating the stairs (a late revision to our plans) that will provide easier access to the rear garden.

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Base poured and rebar in place.

As we left the apartment we saw José busy at work fitting the ceiling grids for the living/kitchen area.

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José at work on the final room in the self-contained apartment.

On the way to the First Floor we were going to take a quick look to see how the digging for the septic tank and soak-away was going but saw straight away that the heavy rain had put a stop to any work.

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Waterlogged area in front of where the septic tank will be.

Up on the First Floor Sam, assisted by Miguel, was applying the final coat of cement to the cantilever beams.

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On the last of the ‘beams.

Although we knew that there was no work taking place on the Second Floor Rose and I climbed the scaffolding to take final measurements for the walk-in closets that we have to produce our designs for.

Whilst up there we could see just how badly the roof terrace and veranda areas need the final coat of cement to provide the necessary gradient for rainwater to ‘run away’ via the pipes in the veranda walls.

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South-east corner of the roof terrace.

By now it was time for Rose and I to head home and on leaving our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we could see that Nicholas was just waiting for the cement to dry a little before he applied the smooth finish for the floor of the Store Room/Garage.

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The headline is based on the 1947 single by Hank Williams which reached number four in the US Billboard Country Singles chart.

“The Winner Takes It All” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Rose and I have enjoyed a really lazy weekend so far. I ‘say’ so far because it’s a public holiday today so the weekend is an extended one.

We did go to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize on Saturday though and progress continues to be made although until the windows and sliding doors arrive from America progress appears so much slower than it has previously been.

We had been ‘warned’ that this would be the case but nonetheless we still have expectations (unrealistic we know) that we will see material changes from one day to the next. So to those of you that are going to embark on having your home built in Belize (and I suppose anywhere else for that matter) be prepared for the length of time that the final stages will take.

When we got to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize on Saturday we started off looking around the Ground Floor self-contained apartment where we were pleased to see that Martin was applying the final coat of cement to the ceiling for the veranda above the ‘master’ bedroom.

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Rose and I then proceeded to the First Floor and on finding it a bit like the Marie Céleste very quickly climbed the scaffold and got to the Second Floor (we knew that the guys were up there because we could hear music booming out).

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This little unit ‘gave out’ some seriously loud sounds.

In to Rose’s bathroom and we found that José and Alfonso had finished fitting the ceiling grids.

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And they had also finished my bathroom too!

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Out on the roof/veranda areas Nicholas had finished cementing the floor in the south-west corner.

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Having done so the guys were now concentrating their efforts on the northern side of the roof terrace.

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Section of floor adjoining the exterior wall finished.

And the guys were busy laying the next section.

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Now that we have the concrete seat and table up on the roof terrace it is so much more comfortable for us(!) to watch the guys at work. We also get to admire the scenery.

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View to the west – the lagoon.

Whilst we were sitting there the guys were packing up for the day and having said our goodbyes Rose and I followed them down the scaffolding. Before leaving our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize though it was good to see that our store room/garage was being put to good use.

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Just about fits in there.

Before leaving we took a walk around the house and could see that the digging for where the septic tank and soak-away will go had really progressed.

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And around the back of the house, with the landfill underway, the garden is starting to take shape.

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Having finished this edition I am now going to get ready (Rose isn’t coming with me) to go to Pedro’s Hotel to have breakfast with Peter (aka Pedro) whilst we watch the Crystal Palace v Watford play-off final that will decide which one of the two teams get promoted to the hugely lucrative Premier League. The loser stays in the npower Championship. Definitely a case of “the winner takes it all”!

The headline is based on the 1980 single by ABBA which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and number eight in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Walking the Dog” in Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Have spent (more of it yesterday) what seems like an interminable amount of time (the +7 hour time difference doesn’t help!) communicating with the relocation company we are using in the UK (Excess International Movers) to ship some of our old household items and personal possessions to us in Ambergris Caye (as opposed to Belize City) for inspection by Customs.

Haven’t got a ‘yes’ yet, but then again I haven’t got a ‘no’. So it remains a challenge on my ‘to do’ list.

I then turned my attention to trying to obtain further indicative costings for shipping any online purchases (TVs , dinnerware, pots and pans, etc) we might make in the States for our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize. Having already obtained information from Hyde Shipping I sent emails to M A Pariente, Manray Express and Eurocaribe and now await replies so that Rose and I can decide whether to proceed with this approach or not.

We did visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize yesterday afternoon but I got lazy when we got home and didn’t publish an edition of this blog. Deciding instead to publish a ‘double issue’ today!

So without further ado here is what we saw and experienced during the last two days:

    YESTERDAY (23 May, 2013)

.

When Rose and I got to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize around 3 pm yesterday afternoon we again found Martin at work in the Ground Floor self-contained apartment. He had moved to the hallway that connects the two bedrooms to the living/kitchen area.

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Finishing coat of cement for one of the columns in the hallway.

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Starting to look like it is ready for painting.

Outside Porfelio was still working on the stairs but was now applying the finishing coat.

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There was no ‘action’ on the First Floor and not being able to access the Second Floor (no scaffolding or ladder for Rose and I to use) we contented ourselves with a walk around the house and were pleased to see that work had begun on digging the hole for the septic tank.

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It needs to get a lot bigger than this!

    TODAY (24 May, 2013)

Around 8.30 am this morning I received an email from Captain Shark’s advising me that our golf cart has arrived in Belize City and will be available for us either Thursday or Friday next week.

Knowing that we had to go to both Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank to sort out a few things Rose and I decided to ‘celebrate’ (Rose goes out for breakfast rarely) the good news about our golf cart by going to Estel’s for breakfast. Whilst we were there we saw the common, but nonetheless eye-catching, attention grabbing sight of the guy walking the dogs.

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Taking the step in unison.

Following our very enjoyable breakfast we quickly took care of the banking matters and headed off home. Stopping off on the way though to pop in to Captain Shark’s to make certain that next Monday’s public holiday would not affect the delivery date for our golf cart. Don’t want to cancel the one we are renting unless we are certain we have the replacement!

Following a bite to eat for lunch we headed off to Tres Cocos to see how our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize was progressing and were really pleased that (having parked the golf cart) we saw Daniel Camal, our building contractor, in front of us as we were walking across the bridge. Result, we had a lift!

Within minutes – in an air conditioned environment – we arrived at the site and went up the stairs and saw immediately that Martin, assisted by Appolita, was applying cement to the walls in the store room on the Ground Floor.

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Pleased with this we went straight to the First Floor, noticing on the way, that the stairs that
Porfelio had worked on yesterday, were starting to dry out (OK, cure).

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With no one working on the First Floor I climbed (intrepidly) the scaffold to gain access to the Second Floor to see that work had begun on the veranda floors.

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Eastern veranda floor.

Just around the corner I found Nicholas (the happy new father) busily striking lines for the floor of the northern side of the veranda.

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Probably thinking about his new baby son, Nathan Nicholas!

Not far away I could see that José and his assistant Alfonso (aka The Wolfman) were fixing the ceiling grids for the veranda ceiling (or is it roof?).

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Very pleased with progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize Rose and I headed home.

The headline is based on the 1963 single by Rufus Thomas which reached number ten in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Daddy Cool” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up yesterday just before 4 am and managed to publish an edition of this blog before the Internet started playing up. Really strange. I could open and send emails but couldn’t access the web. Denied The Times online there was only one course of action I could take. Estel’s for breakfast!

When I returned to the condo we are renting I ‘phoned Coral Cable (the company we get our Internet and TV services from) to be told that the problem with the Internet was island wide and that they were ‘working on it’.

There was a connection but it was intermittent and getting frustrated with having a connection and then not, I retreated to the beach with my Kindle. And very relaxing it was too.

Thoroughly ‘chilled out’ after around 90 minutes on the beach I returned to the condo and Rose and I had a light lunch and then set off for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and got there just after 2.30 pm.

On arrival it was difficult not to notice that Portfelio was working on the entrance stairway applying the final coat of cement in preparation for when the tiles are laid.

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The second flight.

Moving aside – always the perfect gentleman – to allow us to access the First Floor where, on looking up, we could see that José and, his assistant, Alfonso (aka The Wolfman) were busy at work fitting the ceiling grids for the ceiling above where the stairs to the Second Floor will end.

Seeing that the scaffolding was back I was able to clamber up to see what was going on at close quarters.

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On the western (lagoon) side veranda Eduardo had made a good start on laying the final coat of cement for the floor.

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And on the eastern side the lines had been struck.

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On the southern veranda Nicholas was busying at work laying the second of the two lines that will be used to lay the floor.

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Whilst I was watching Nicholas at work his ‘phone rang. He had got a call to inform him that his first child, a baby boy to be called Nathan Nicholas, had just been born. Nicholas, although obviously excited, calmly (well he looked calm to me) completed striking the line and then proceeded to wash his tools. Daddy cool personified.

This cool persona very quickly disappeared as he changed from his work clothes (using my walk-in closet as his changing room I might add), ran down the stairs and sped off on his bike.

Rose and I send our best wishes to Nicholas (and of course his wife). He is an extremely likeable and polite young man and we are certain that he will make a great dad.

With the excitement over I rejoined Rose on the First Floor and we went down to the Ground Floor to find that Martin – working alone in the self-contained apartment – had finished applying the final coat of cement for the columns in the living/kitchen area.

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Outside the house on the southern (I had noticed this when on the Second Floor) side two guys were busy at work digging a very large hole.

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This hole will be where the final rubbish from our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize will be buried(land filled) and will not be covered until the end of the project.

The headline is based on the 1976 single by Boney M which reached number six in the UK Singles Chart and number sixty-five in the US Billboard Hot 100.