“Just a Lil Bit” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

No long preamble or ramblings before I get in to bringing readers up to date with our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.. Just to ‘say’ that I had a very lazy morning/early afternoon on Saturday watching the Huddersfield Giants v Catalans Dragons Rugby League game followed by a ‘visit’ to Australia to watch Queensland play New South Wales in the State of Origin game. And a brutal game it was too.

As was the weather. Very hot and hardly any breeze. Don’t want you to think that I am complaining though. Just take it as a layman’s weather report.

Knowing that we were going on a Poker Run in the evening Rose and I went to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize earlier than usual and got there around 1.30 pm, not long after the guys had returned from lunch (some of them cycle home for for their meal and then cycle back – doubt that they get much more than thirty minutes to eat).

When we got there it appeared that nearly everyone was on clean-up duty. Brooms and shovels at work in all areas. We did see some signs of progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize though but just a lil bit.

The small walls on the entrance stairs had had the penultimate coat of cement applied and just now need the finishing (smooth) coat before the handrails are fitted.

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First flight.

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Another view (looking down) of the first flight.

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Second flight.

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How the walls will look when the finishing coat has been applied.

Inside the house the Sheetrock (plaster board) for the ceiling in the kitchen/dining room areas had been refitted following the successful test of running water through the pipes and they were applying joint tape and joint compound in readiness for the finishing coat of cement.

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Shouldn’t be able to see the joins!

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In the early evening (it starts at 6.30 pm) Rose and I met up with our friend Frank who had come over from the BATSUB (British Army Training and Support Unit Belize) base at Price Barracks, Ladyville to go on the Poker Run. Frank had brought with him ten young soldiers who are here in Belize for a six week posting. We had a great time (didn’t win, again) but boy can those soldiers drink!

The headline is based on the single released in 2005 by 50 Cent which reached number three in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number ten in the UK Singles Chart.

“Do It Again” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up around 4 am yesterday morning and really did not do much more until around 10.30 am than just sit on the veranda with my friend the iPad. I know it’s sick but I still like it. One day we all get old and slow and can’t do the things we once did so easily ! Just sorry that it has happened to my iPad a lot sooner than I expected. Could be the way I have treated it because Rose’s operates perfectly?

At 10.30 am we drove our friend Dave (he is serving as a member of BATSUB), his wife Wendy and daughter to the Maya Island Air terminal so that they could catch the 11am flight to Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport.

After dropping them off Rose and I headed to Estel’s. Me for a late breakfast and Rose for an early lunch. Following our meal we did a spot of shopping to buy some vegetables ((we much prefer to buy them on the day we ( don’t know why I used “we”) are going to cook them)) for our dinner and then headed back to the condo we are renting during our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Once ‘home’ I took care of some administrative work – the main thing being to complete the Standard Liability form (for insurance) for the stuff we are shipping from the UK – and then spent some time with my book (only four hundred pages to go).

With the emailing out of the way Rose and I were ready to set off to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and got there shortly after 3 pm and went straight up to the First Floor and on the way there saw that work was underway to finish off the entrance stairs.

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Mini wall for the stairs to which railings will be fixed.

Once up on the First Floor we found José and Alfonso fitting Sheetrock (plaster boards for UK readers) for the ceiling in the kitchen area. They had fitted these previously but had to remove them for when they ran water through the pipes to test for leaks. The test was carried out in the morning and no leaks were found so, José and Alfonso, had to do it again.

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José pushing the ceiling grid up to the correct position.

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Alfonso and José re-fixing a board in to position.

Up above us Rafael (aka The Frog) was applying masonry sealant to the wall for the landing that leads to the Master Bedroom.

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The Frog at work!

He had already covered the opposite walls.

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Wandering in to the Utility (my) Room we saw how good the windows look now that the protective sheeting has been removed.

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And when they are open now the breeze comes through.

Not being able to access the Second Floor because Rafael (aka The Frog) was working close to the scaffolding (oh by the way the guys had removed the ‘duck board steps that I mentioned in yesterday’s edition – so they weren’t there for carrying the sliding windows up) we went back to ground level.

Once down there we could see that they had applied the finishing coat of cement for the walls between the entrance stairs and the Ground Floor.

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Just the walls for the entrance stairs and the front of the house is finished.

Around the corner the guys were busy finishing off applying the final coat of cement for the Ground Floor northern exterior wall.

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Nicholas working on a cantilever beam.

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And the rest of the guys ‘hitting’ the main wall en masse.

On the western (lagoon) side we were able to see how nicely the wall that he guys had finished the previous day was drying out.

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Just the stairs to do now.

The headline is based on the Steely Dan single that was released in 1972 and reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.

“Mother’s Little Helper” for Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Didn’t get up until 7 am yesterday morning. A real lie in! Probably the consequence of going to the Roadkill Bar the previous night and having one (or two) drinks too many!

I awoke with a clear head though. Which was just as well because I had received some draft schedules for a contract from an ex-colleague in the UK that he wanted me to review. So with the essential mug of black coffee made I knuckled down (not until II had read The Times on-line of course) to reviewing the drafts on my iPad on the veranda (I find that it helps me to read something first and make a ‘mental note’ of sections that I believe need some form of amendment).

I had nearly finished my ‘read through’ when the heavens opened up and the rain really came down. The timing of the downpour was nigh on perfect though because it ‘forced’ me indoors to complete the review and ‘mark up’ my comments on my PC and email the revised schedules to the UK.

By then it was noon and time to ‘catch up’ on my In Box where I was pleased to find that we are going to get a rebate from the company we have stored the stuff that we are shipping from the UK with. Prior to departing from the UK I booked storage until the end of August (allowing for overrunning on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize). With the build going virtually to plan our stuff is being collected by the moving company (Excess International Movers) on the 2nd July. Result!

Next up in my In Box was an email from my nephew Bradley with some photographs of his son Cody. Apparently he is fed up being his mother’s little helper and wants to come to Ambergris Caye and be a member of the team building our house. We would love to see him but doubt that he would do much work. I doubt we would be able to get him away from the huge sandpit that our back garden currently resembles.

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“I don’t want to be mother’s little helper. I want to be Bob the Builder’!

It was now well after 1 pm so I rustled up breakfast (more like brunch I suppose), shaved, showered and dressed and by 2.45 pm was ready to ‘hit the road’ and go visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

We got there shortly after 3 pm and after fighting our way through the mosquitos went up the ramp to the Ground Floor where Josê and Alfonso were busily fitting plycem boards for the ceiling.

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Only a few boards to fit. Obviously Josê didn’t want his face in the photo! Or was he trying to tell me something?

Hearing the sound of running water I looked to my left to see a ‘tap’ protruding from the external wall of the Pump Room. They had got the pump and filtration system working and can now use water from the forty-five thousand gallon water tank that ‘sits’ beneath the house.

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Red arrow ‘marks’ the ‘tap’.

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Look at that lovely water.

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Pump and filtration system installed. And working!

Walking very quickly through the Ground Floor self-contained apartment we got to the ‘master bedroom’ and looking outside saw that a group of the guys were hard at work applying the finishing coat of cement for the western (lagoon) side exterior wall.

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The ‘deadly duo’ of Nicholas (L) and Martin (R) taking care of the section above where the sliding window for the ‘master bedroom’ will be.

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Eric , as seems to becoming the norm, taking care of the lower section.

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The guy whose name I haven’t found out yet working on the area near a cantilever beam.

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Team shot.

Walking around to the southern side of the house we could see that the guys had already finished that exterior wall. Just the northern wall to go now.

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Ground Floor southern exterior wall finished.

On the northern Ground Floor exterior wall one guy (I promise I will try and get his name today) was working alone.

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Finishing coat of cement around the windows. The main wall next!

More than satisfied with what we had seen at ground level Rose and I went up to the First Floor where we found that the guys had made some additions to the scaffolding. They had added some steps. Angel told us that they had done it so that Rose can access the Second Floor more easily (how sweet you are probably thinking).

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Scaffolding with ‘steps’.

I am a bit more cynical though. I think they are there for when the guys carry the sliding windows up to the Second Floor. Time will tell! In the meantime it does make getting up to the Second Floor a lot easier.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1966 by The Rolling Stones which reached number eight in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Beautiful Day” from Ambergris Caye, Belize.

First thing I have to ‘say’ in today’s edition is “Happy birthday”. This message is sent to my little sister Chris (or, if I am serious or want to tell her off or put her ‘in her place’, Christine). Miss you lots Chris and Rose and I cannot wait until you come out here and stay with us. The self-contained apartment in our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize is just waiting for you. Have a beautiful day Chris.

Now on to today’s edition.

Up early yesterday morning at just after 4 am. Obviously went to sleep too early the previous night. So, made a mug of coffee and took the iPad out on to the veranda to knock-out yesterday’s edition and then I settled down to read The Times online.

Then spent a little time trying to get my iPad to accept a download from the SD card from my camera but wasn’t successful. I fear that the iPad may be terminally ill.

During the course of the morning I received a response from Benny’s to the enquiry I had made about fluorescent light fittings (I realised the previous day that we (I) had omitted to choose a light fitting for the store room/garage on the Ground Floor). It didn’t take long to make a choice. Light fitting decisions now finally completed.

Around 1.45 pm Rose and I took a drive to Daniel Camal‘s (our building contractor) wood shop which is located in the DFC area to see what progress had been made on the cabinetry and doors.

Moses (brother of Angel and Nicholas who are working on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize) showed us around the workshop pointing out the various pieces that they are working on.

All doors are finished and now just need staining and the glass varnish finish applied and they are well on the way to making all of the vanity units and the kitchen cabinetry. Once these have been completed they will start work on making the internal stairs that will link the First and Second Floors.

We were very impressed with the quality of workmanship that we saw and set off to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize in a particularly ebullient mood and got there shortly after 3 pm.

As we walked towards the house we found Josê marking a plycem board for the ceiling for the ‘open’ area on the Ground Floor.

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Hearing voices from the Pump Room I wandered over to find that Rolando, assisted by Rafael (aka The Frog), was installing the water filtration system and pump for the forty-five thousand gallon rainwater collection tank that ‘sits’ beneath our house. The plan is to test the pump sometime this week.

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Rolando slightly out of shot cutting wires.

Up the stairs to the First Floor and we found Martin and the new guy (still haven’t found out his name) applying the finishing coat to the western (lagoon) side exterior wall.

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Martin on the sponge work.

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The ‘other’ guy on the high bits!

Just around the corner on the northern side the finish around the clerestory window was being applied.

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A few feet away we could see how good the finish was around the kitchen window.

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For the sake of this edition I then took my life in my hands and clambered up the scaffolding and walked across the duck board to gain access to the Second Floor.

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Through the scaffolding.

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And on to the duck board. Balance like a trapeze artist!

Once up there I found Nicholas, Eric and young Miguel applying the finishing coat of cement to the western (lagoon side) wall where the two sliding doors will soon (please Daniel) be fitted.

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Miguel and Eric hard at work with the sponge.

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Nicholas making sure that the joint between the wall and the ceiling is silky smooth.

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Nicholas at close quarters.

The headline for today’s edition is based upon the single released in 2000 by U2 which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and number nineteen in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Car(t) Wash in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

After writing and publishing yesterday’s edition of the blog it was around 6 am. Just the right temperature before the heat started to build up so I grabbed the bucket and my new chamois leather. The perfect time for a car(t) wash!

Started with the hose. Then the soap suds, paying special attention (and putting in more effort) on the seats (they just get so dirty) and then a hose down to clear the suds (and remaining dirt). Then it was the turn of the chamois and the ‘cart looked a treat. As I stood there admiring my work the heavens opened up and down the rain came. Sod’s law. If there is ever a shortage of water on the island they just need to get me to wash our ‘cart – ergo, the ‘rainmaker’!

With the ‘cart washed it was time to have a shower ( yes, I did go out before I had a shower), shave and get dressed. Then breakfast. And all the while the rain continued to come down.

Around 10am though I got recompense for the Sod’s law incident when the rain abated and I was able (without getting soaked) to go to Gekko Graphics in Buccaneer Street to get the Application /Booking form that Excess International Movers (the company that we appointed to ship the stuff we have in storage in the UK) printed. Once printed I filled out the form with the required information, had it scanned and filed to the memory stick I took with me and returned to the condo we are renting. Once ‘home’ it was a simple matter of emailing the completed form. Our stuff will now be collected on 2 July and should be delivered to our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize around the middle of August.

Around 3 pm we collected Dave, a friend of ours who is serving as a member of BATSUB on the mainland, and his wife Wendy and daughter Laura who are here in Belize to spend a few weeks with him as the end of his tour here draws to a close, to take them to have a look at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and we got to the site at around 3.20 pm. We parked the ‘cart and very quickly fought (OK a bit dramatic) our way through the mosquitos to the Ground Floor self-contained apartment.

We took a quick tour (quick because it felt like we were being eaten alive -and they appeared to particularly ‘like’ Wendy) of the apartment they will get to stay in if they decide to come and visit us and headed up to the First Floor where we saw that Rolando had been busy in the Utility (laundry or ‘my’) room running the wires for the control box.

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A maze of wires.

Not seeing any of the guys but hearing their voices over the background music playing we wandered around to the northern side of the house to see that nearly all of them were applying the final coat of cement to the exterior wall.

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Young Miguel and Martin in the foreground.

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Miguel stretching to finish the cantilever beam.

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Eric taking care of the lower wall.

Not being able to get any closer to the action we decided to take a walk around the back of the house.

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Rose showing Wendy the back garden (well it will be a garden one day!).

The mosquitos struck again so we thought it wise to take the scaffolding to show them the Second Floor. On the way though we saw that Josê and Alfonso were busy at work fitting the plycem boards for the ‘exposed’ areas of the Ground Floor.

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Coming along nicely.

Once up on the Second Floor we saw that Miguel had been sent up there to help the new guy (I will find out his name today) to finish off ‘making good’ the northern veranda wall that they had been working on the previous day.

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Wendy in the background enjoying the ‘mosquito free’ area.

The headline is (loosely) based on the 1976 single by Rose Royce which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine in the UK Singles Chart.

Apologies if the quality of the photographs is not very good. My iPad is ‘playing up’ (technical term) when I try to upload from the SD card. The challenge is to sort this out today.

“The King of Rock and Roll” in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Following our mini-trip to Chetumal Rose and I enjoyed a really lazy day on Sunday. I think the excesses of the Lobsterfest Block Party caught up with me!

We were both back to normal (this is not an invitation to readers from the UK to question my normality) by yesterday though and especially after I had taken breakfast (awfully English expression isn’t it) at Estel’s.

When I got back to the condo we are renting until our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize has been completed I got hold of my book ( The Covenant by James A Michener (yes it is taking a long time to read but it does run to 1,238 pages)) and went to the beach, chose a lounger and enjoyed the book, the climate and, I suppose, the overall ambience.

Looking at the position of the sun (since moving here I have stopped wearing a watch) I realised that it was about time ( OK my stomach sent me a message too) to pack up the reading and go for lunch. So I did. And a loverly chicken soup it was too!

Rested and fed it was time to visit our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize and we got there around 3.15 pm, just as the guys had finished their afternoon break. So it was straight up the stairs to the First Floor for us where we found one of the guys (another new one to us) applying the final coat of cement to the ceiling beams near the living room area.

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Just outside on the northern veranda Martin was applying the finishing coat of cement around the clerestory window.

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With not much else going on we decided to access the Second Floor via the scaffolding (the sensible route to the top floor until out wooden staircase is installed) but climbed carefully because above us we could see Rafael (aka The Frog) working from a duck board.

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Rafael (aka The Frog) applying joint compound/sealant to the ceiling above where the staircase will be.

Outside on the veranda Rolando was busy at work marking where the down lights will be fitted.

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Just hope that the view of the lagoon didn’t distract him!

He had already marked where the lights will be fitted in the Master Bedroom.

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Lines for the lights ‘struck’ on the ceiling. Wiring for fan with light already in place.

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Close-up of the lines that Rolando had ‘struck’.These lights will be placed accurately!

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Holes cut for the lights either side of where the headboard for the bed will go.

Outside on the northern side of the roof terrace we found young Miguel and another guy (another new one) making good some rough spots on the wall.

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Just around the corner Eric was finishing off the low wall ( French navy railings will be fitted to stop Rose and I walking off the terrace).

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Since the guys have had a good level of protection from the elements we have noticed that there is an MP3 player (or something similar) playing on every floor. Music everywhere. We like it by the way.

On the way down from the Second Floor we got the opportunity of seeing how the concrete table looks after having the finishing coat of cement applied for the base.

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Back down on the First Floor Martin and Nicholas were finishing off the windows on the northern side of the house and, as always, Nicholas was singing along to the music. He is the king of rock and roll on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize!

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As we were leaving the house we popped in to the ‘master bedroom’ on the Ground Floor in the self-contained apartment to find Angel applying the finishing coat of cement around the clerestory window.

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Angel trying (not very successfully) to appear as if he is not posing for the photograph.

To his left work was taking place in preparation for the fitting of the sliding window

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And just outside were Josê and Alfonso fitting the plycem boards for the ceiling under the First Floor southern veranda.

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The headline is based on the single released in 1988 by Prefab Sprout which reached number seven in the UK Singles Chart.

“Day Tripper” from Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Regular readers of this blog may have wondered why there were no editions for the last few days. Very simple reason really. I took some days off because Rose and I went to spend a night in Chetumal, Mexico.

We set off on Thursday morning when we caught the 8 am (well, it didn’t actually depart until 8.30 am) San Pedro Water Jets International service.

We booked a return ticket at BZ$150 a ticket but because we were only staying one night we would travel back to San Pedro via Belize Express Water Taxi. The two companies operate the service on alternative days . Both companies operate the Chetumal to San Pedro route with a scheduled departure of 3 pm and only a slight difference in timing between the two for the San Pedro to Chetumal service with San Pedro Water Jets International scheduled to depart at 8 am and the Belize WaterTaxi service scheduled to depart at 7.30 am.

Both companies work together to cater for customers such as Rose and I who, because of our travel plans, wanted to use both companies’ services for our trip. Nothing could be easier to book a ticket to ride from Ambergris Caye to Chetumal.

In addition to the ticket price -depending upon your status eg visitor, resident, Belizean, “QRP”,etc- you have to pay BZ$10 Belize Port Tax per person for each leg of the journey and may have to pay (status determines this) an Exit Fee Tax of BZ$ 37.50 per person (we didn’t because of our “QRP” status). You also have a fee of BZ$ 55 ($295 Mexican Pesos) per person Mexican Immigration Tax.

It takes around ninety to a hundred minutes to complete the coastal journey.

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You need to allow around a further thirty to forty minutes to have your luggage checked (by a sniffer dog) and to pass through Customs. Once clear of Customs it took us only five minutes in a taxi to reach the Los Cocos Hotel where I had booked our one night’s accommodation for the equivalent of BZ$ 114.

It’s a reasonably priced, clean and well appointed hotel that is centrally located so that you never need to spend much more than the equivalent of BZ$ 3/4 wherever you want to go in Cheutmal.

Rose and I dumped our bags (a small back pack each) at the hotel and then headed off to visit the Walmart and Chedraui stores in the Plaza Las Americas. Oh, and the Burger King for lunch. I know how to spoil Rose!

The stores have such a range of goods when compared to Ambergris Caye that it creates the feeling of being a kid in a sweet shop – you want everything! But you can’t.Why? Well because you have to pay tax on it if you take it back to Belize.

In the evening we enjoyed a very pleasant meal (Rose had spaghetti bolognese and I had sirloin steak) which we complimented with a nice bottle of Chilean wine.

The next morning (Friday) after a very filling (and inexpensive) breakfast at the hotel we spent a couple of hours at the Sam’s Club store marvelling at the prices (so low) for the goods on display. So, if you have masochistic leanings and live on Ambergris Caye this is the trip to take!

We took a taxi from the store to the ferry terminal cleared Immigration and Customs in both Chetumal and Ambergris Caye uneventfully and were back in our rented condo by 5.30 pm (we ‘gained’ an hour when we re-entered Belize).

Ambergris Caye to Chetumal. A relatively inexpensive trip to make which Rose and I found to be very enjoyable.

Whilst we were away though we did wonder what was going on at our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize so that when we drove up there yesterday afternoon we did so with a fair amount of excitement and anticipation. Well, we had been away for two days!

On arrival we went straight up the stairs to the First Floor and in to the en-suite bathroom (for Rose’s handicraft room) to find that the guys had applied the finishing coat of cement for the walls of the shower area.

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And had finished the recessed shelf too!

On the northern veranda Porfelio had just finished cementing in the windows for the kitchen and the utility room.

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At the back (lagoon side) of the house they were just finishing off the floor where the sliding windows will very shortly be fitted.

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We just knew though that the real changes to be seen were up on the Second Floor so we clambered up the scaffolding as fast as we could (taking care though of course).

Climbing up the scaffolding there was a paint like smell and as we reached the top we could see that the walls for our bedroom had ‘lost’ the cement colour. They were white! It wasn’t paint though. The guys had started applying the acrylic masonry sealant.

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Starting to look like a bedroom now.

Hearing the sound of a roller we took a look in to Rose’s walk-in closet /bathroom where we saw Rafael (aka The Frog) at work.

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Vanity unit area nearly finished.

Outside on the veranda/roof terrace one of the guys (one that Rose and I have never seen before) was applying the finishing coat of cement for our table.

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Looking more like the finished (OK, nearly) article now.

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Only included this one so you can see the view we will get from our seating area just a few steps from our bedroom.

A walk around the roof terrace and we were really pleased to note that aside from the external walls where the sliding windows (western wall) will go all external walls had received their finishing coat of cement.

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Southern wall.

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Northern wall.

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Eastern wall.

So much had been done and we had only been away from our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize for two days. We need to go away again!

Feeling extremely happy with what we had seen Rose and I headed home where we took a shower (separate ones!), got dressed and went for an extremely enjoyable night at the San Pedro 2013 Lobsterfest Block Party. Think(!!)we got home around 12.45 am.

Oh, the headline is based on the 1966 single (released as a double A-side with “We Can Work It Out”) by The Beatles which reached number five in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the UK Singles Chart.