“A House is Not a Home” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

No editions of the blog published over the last few days. Been a bit tardy I suppose. Not lazy, just tardy.

Obviously I got up , had the ‘must have’ mug (it can’t be a cup, it just has to be a mug) of black coffee and spent my ‘quality’ (well I consider it to be quality time) on the veranda (first floor, western side) with my iPad which provides me with access to the rest of the world. You can travel wherever you want without getting out of your seat!

So whatI have been doing to occupy so much of my time that I couldn’t spare some time to publish an edition or two I hear you thinking (really stupid expression that isn’t it. How can you hear someone thinking?).

Well, I had intended to spend some time clearing some of the debris from the around the house ((the guys had cleared a lot of rubbish (garbage for non UK readers) before Daniel Camal, the building contractor for our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize, ‘handed’ the house over to us)) but we are still coming across bits of PVC piping, off-cuts of tiles, empty plastic bottles, polystyrene food containers, bits of wood, etc. But the rain put a stop to that. Every time I felt the urge to start the clean-up the rain came down. And down. And down (is it really necessary to point out that the rain comes down? I’ve never heard of it going up!).

We continued to ‘do battle’ with Walmart to place orders for the stuff that we want to ship from the States for our new home.

We’d placed orders so many times only to then have them cancelled. I written to Mike Dukes he CEO and then I received emails from Sharon, a Resolution Specialist. So, last Friday morning we placed the orders again full of confidence (misplaced as it turned out) that THIS TIME all would go through smoothly. They didn’t -the cancellation emails hit my In Box in a flurry.

So I checked with my debit card company. No, they hadn’t blocked my card. Walmart had reversed the charges!

Another email to Sharon (copying in the CEO) and within a few hours I received a response from Elena (Sharon had taken a day off) of the Walmart Executive Escalation Unit promising that she would look in to the problem and try to resolve it.

We didn’t get too excited. We’d ‘heard’ this before. Our hopes were raised only to be deflated. Why would this promise be any different? Well it was.

Elena emailed me late in the day to advise that the Billing Department had identified the problem and fixed it and that we should re-order. We were pleased to receive this news but not so pleased that we set about re-ordering straight away but on the Saturday morning (knowing that Elena was working over the weekend -I’d asked in an email) we went ‘at it’ with a vengeance and within two hours (I’ve mentioned before the slow Internet speeds here in Belize) we had completed the process. So, we just sat back and waited for the ‘cancellation’ emails to arrive. Pessimists? You bet after the experience we have had.

But … they didn’t come. Thank you Elena. And Mike Dukes. It’s good to know that a CEO of a major, major company the size of Walmart gets so involved. Respect Mike, respect.

It would be remiss (and very rude) of me to bring this Walmart episode (or is it a serial?) to a close without mentioning (and paying tribute to) the very kind offer of Michael Johnson who has recently started to reading this blog.

Michael is a manager of a Walmart store (I have no idea where) and very kindly offered to “do what he could do” to help us place our orders. I declined his offer (well actually I asked if I could put it on hold. I believed that persistence would (eventually) pay off. I subscribe to the view that Calvin Coolidge espoused :” Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not : the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

I may not have talent. I might not be a genius. But, I am persistent.

We now look forward to all of the stuff that we have ordered because although we just love our new build a house is not a home until you have the creature comforts in it.

Walmart didn’t consume all of my time though. Rose and I managed to open a few more crates and reveal more ‘old friends’. Two of which (it feels like it should be ‘whom’ given that they are old friends!) I will share with you now.


Bought for me by Rose when she I visited Hong Kong (we also ‘took in’ Singapore and Thailand) in 1989.


I got this (I think) in 1993 when I was working for Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper business. Where, by the way, I enjoyed the best years of my working life making many friends, including my best friend (Rose is actually my best friend but you know what I mean).

I spent time (sheltering from the rain on the veranda) watching birds (haven’t a clue yet what they are but in time I will).


Foraging for food.


A study of contemplation?



House building. Been there, done that!


Yesterday (Sunday) Rose and I spent a little time placing orders on-line for our patio furniture and then decided to do what everyone else (well nearly everyone else) on island was doing. Enjoy ourselves. So we took a drive to town for lunch and a few Belikins and on the way took a few shots of other people enjoying themselves on a very sunny Sunday.




As I bring this edition to a close I’ll leave you with a few shots I took this morning of the sun coming up.





The headline for today’s edition is based on the single (released a the B side) in 1964 by Dionne Warwick which (although not a chart success remains one of my favourite songs) reached number seventy-one in the US Billboard Hot 100.


  1. tom e says:

    A big blizzard in upstate NY tomorrow and 23 degrees F today make me enjoy those pics in your blog even more. Also, here’s wishing you control of purchasing items from where ever and maybe simplifying the process for others. Your a trail blazer! :O)

    1. Closest I’ve got to a trail blazer Tom is when I had to wear a blue barathea blazer at school!
      Good luck with the cold weather.

  2. Emily says:

    John, we used to see Roseate Spoonbills when we’d ride our bikes around in Grand Belizean Estates, well north of where your house is on the island. Never saw them as far south as our condo in Grand Caribe. What a wonderful sight to have them right next to your house — they are exotic beauties!

    1. Hi Emily.
      We do feel fortunate. There’s lot of wildlife to see from the house (I often see a family of three raccoons late at night traipsing across our back garden).

      The ‘Spoonbills have been turning up for the last few weeks. It must be a good feeding ground for them.

  3. kristina nadreau says:

    After they accepted then cancelled my order, Target told me that they did not ship to forwarders. I have a Miami address forwarder. I have been a Target shopper since they opened their first store in Edina, MN. The end of a long term relationship…..
    PS love your pics, especially the spoonbills!!!!!!!!! wowowowowowo

    1. Not wishing to speak too soon Kristina it looks as if our Walmart orders are working because deliveries are being made to Hyde Shipping in Miami.

      Pleased that you liked the photos of the Spoonbills.

  4. lifeagain says:

    Thanks John, the photos are fantastic. I got more for my desk top rotation and my picture frame that changes digital photos every few minutes or so. I like the pictures of the kids and families enjoying themselves. The two boy’s out on the canoe knows the best fishing is after a good rain.


    1. Thanks Don. Pleased that you like them.

  5. Trish Peterson says:

    The pink birds are a type of Pink Flamingo. I never saw any when I kived on the island. Awesome!

    1. Hi Trish. Steven posted a short while before you that they are Roseate Spoonbills and after consulting Wikipedia I tend to agree with him.
      Since moving north of the bridge we have seen plenty of them. Maybe it offers more feeding grounds.

  6. Steven says:

    Been reading your blog from the start and finally have something to add. I belive those pink birds are Roseate Spoonbills

    1. Thank you Steven. Just looked it up on Wikipedia and you are absolutely right.

  7. John, reading of your travails with WalMart makes me think that they, or Amazon or another major retailer could do worse than form an ex-pat division that specializes in opening the supply line between their warehouses and the millions of ex-pats living around the world. It is not just that they are losing millions in sale from people less-persistent than yourself. They are losing out on potentially millions from people who would shop more if the whole process were streamlined.

    Well, I’m glad it is all finally on its way. It just shouldn’t have to be so hard to spend money! You should write the WalMart CEO another message and have him open up an online ex-pat branch!

    I have a favorite radio program in the states called “Prairie Home Companion” which has a monologue by the host that begins and ends exactly the same every week. Garrison Keillor starts by saying “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon …” and always end with “And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above average.”

    I get the same kind of “comfort food” feeling every time I read that you got up around 5 a.m., fixed yourself a mug of black coffee and took your iPad out on to the veranda for some quality time. It tells me things are right in the world. The best part is, we never know what will happen between your first mug of coffee and the backgrounder on the song of the day!

    And thanks for all that!

    1. I think you could well be right Bob.

      Just a simple change to their ordering system to allow the use of international credit or debit cards for would-be purchasers that do not have a US billing address would do it. Not too difficult you would think.

      I will put the idea to the CEO of Walmart (given that we know each other so well now!). Who knows he might offer me the position of International Sales Director!

      Oh, and thanks for the kind words about the blog.

      By the time that you get back here we should be fully furnished. I hope!

  8. Jane says:

    The shot from the bridge of the families in the park is one of my favorites!

    1. I enjoy the family shots too Jane.

      Bit slow this morning though. I missed loads of photo opportunities of the children going to school dressed Garifuna and carrying their Garifuna related homework.

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