“Come Fly with Me” to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Yesterday started much the same way for me as any other day. Up at 06.15 hours. OK a little later than normal but I needed the extra sleep given the ‘exertions’ (or was it the Belikins I had drunk?) the previous night on the Poker Run.

I chose the western veranda on the first floor (I think this is likely to be my usual ‘venue’ of choice) to savour my first mug of black coffee of the day and catch up on the news via The Sunday Times online.

I moved inside just before 07.30 hours (having unlocked the store room/garage at 07.00 hours for Rubio and Mike so that they could get their tools)to watch Newcastle United play Arsenal. Not the most exciting of games. In fact it wouldn’t be unkind to describe it as dour. But I didn’t care. Why? Because Arsenal secured a win, courtesy of a headed goal by Oliver Giroud.

That’s three games undefeated since we got our TV. I think The Arsenal may have found a new, lucky charm. The power of TV! I hope the unbeaten run lasts as long as the TV although out here that might not be too long!

I’ll bring you up-to-date on the progress of our fence later in this edition (please be patient and don’t skip to the next bit!) but first want to ‘introduce’ a few more photos kindly provided to me by Melissa and Ken Fellure. This time focusing on what air travel to Ambergris Caye was like twenty to thirty years ago.

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The old Maya Air (forerunner to Maya Island Air) Arrivals and Departure building .

How it has changed (and grown).

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A Cargo office too.

And what about Tropic Air?

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From this to

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this.

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AWESOME.

These CUTE little buildings just cried out “Come fly with me”.

WOW. Stop. What’s happening to me? I’ve used CUTE, AWESOME and WOW in one edition. Is someone putting ‘blogger-speak’ capsules in my coffee?

Anyway, let’s get back to the fence.

The day started with Rubio and Mike focusing on placing the posts for the roadside part of the fence/entrance gates.

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Mike digging the hole for one of the gate posts.

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And it’s in.

So on to the next one.

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With the posts in for the roadside section they then moved to the sea wall to start work on that section.

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Post for the south-west corner.

On to the second post.

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And the third.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the track of the album of the same name released by Frank Sinatra in 1958 which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 200.

“Friends in Low Places” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Out on the first floor western (lagoon side) veranda by around 05.30 hours yesterday with – yes, you’ve guessed- a mug of black coffee and my iPad. I spent around an hour out there -just enough time for me to catch up on the news via The Times online and have a second mug of coffee.

I then decided that I deserved a breakfast – an Estel’s breakfast – so I showered, shaved and got dressed (adding a sweat top to my usual attire of ‘T’ shirt and shorts because it was a little breezy and there was a chill in the air – don’t know that I am now equipped to handle the weather in the UK at the moment) and took the drive to ‘Town. A less bumpy ride than it has been of late because they have carried out some more repair work on the road to the bridge.

I was ready to go when Rubio and Mike arrived to recommence work on the fence so I unlocked the store room/garage so that they could get their tools and left for a very enjoyable breakfast. They always are at Estel’s though.

By the time I got back home Rubio and Mike had made really good progress on the fence for the southern side of our lot and had completed fitting the horizontal posts that they started the day before

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Fence on the southern side running from the road (eastern side) to the lagoon (western side).

and had started work on the northern side.

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Rubio, although measuring everything twice, works quickly and with Mike fetching and carrying the posts

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the horizontal posts were fixed in place at a fair old lick.

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My observation of the guys working – I am quite getting used to watching as opposed to ‘doing’ – was interrupted when I heard a noise around the front of the house. I walked around the veranda and saw that it was a guy pushing his motorbike in to our lot.

I shouted down to him and he explained that it had broken down as he was on his way to work. He asked me if it was OK to leave it on our land whilst he went to work, promising that he would return with the parts to get it going again. When I told him that he could he looked up at me with a big smile on his face and thanked me and then told me I was his friend. Now I truly can say I have friends in low places (OK its a naff connection but I have wanted to use this song as a headline for ages).

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All the while Rubio and Mike continued work on the fence, working their way along the northern side of our lot.

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Around 15.45 hours my friend from earlier in the day returned with his friend and they set about replacing the broken chain on his bike

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and it wasn’t too long before he was on his way, waving happily as he left our lot.

By this time Rubio and Mike had finished for the day (most building workers here finish at 16.00 hours on a Saturday) so I took a walk to the sea wall to see how the fence was taking shape.

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Although Rose and I were going on a Poker Run I still had time for a ‘sit and chill’ on the veranda as the sun was getting ready to as goodbye for another day.

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A quick shower and shave and a set of fresh clothes and we headed off for the Poker Run and had a great time. Starting off at the Road Kill Bar, on to Luna Loca ((the place to go on a Saturday night if you like (and I do) 70’s,80’s & 90’s music that has been ‘funked up’ (great music selection by Chris Skorwid)), then on to Lola’s Bar, Wayo’s Beachside Beernet and finishing off at Pedro’s Hotel. We didn’t win (again) but had a fun night.

Don’t know if this is an EXCLUSIVE or not (because it has been fairly common knowledge for nearly a week) but Caribbean Villas has just been bought by a consortium headed by Peter Lawrence (aka Pedro of Pedro’s Hotel) and the new owners take over around the middle of next month.

I am sure that changes will take place fairly quickly and I know that a new, much enlarged, bar on the beach is on the ‘agenda’.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1990 by Garth Brooks which reached number one in the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and number thirty-six in the UK Singles Chart.

“Imagine” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Hopefully you all had a great Christmas. Rose and I did. The first in our new home.

I know that it was Christmas but there was nothing much different for the start of the day for me. Usual routine. Veranda, chair, mug of black coffee and the iPad. Wait. There was a difference. I had a new iPad. An iPad Air.

I can’t say that it came as a surprise. Why? Well, I bought it for myself.

The ‘old’ (given that I have not had it for quite two years I shouldn’t really call it old) one has served me well but a lot of the original functionality has gone. Rose blames me for this saying that I just don’t look after things. Me? I think it’s the weather conditions. It’s funny though that her one works as well as the day she got it. Long before I got my one too!

In the previous edition I showed you a couple of the presents that Rose gave to me. It didn’t end there though. Oh no. She bought me a pair of Belizean style house slippers.

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I know they are Crocs but who needs a pair of sheepskin lined slippers in Belize? And the cushion soles are just great for tiled floors and our wooden staircase.

On Christmas morning after breakfast we basically just lazed around until it was time to go to Pedro’s Hotel for the Sad Bastards Christmas Day Lunch. The food, as always, was superlative and the Secret Santa Present session was good fun. And (obviously) the wine and Belikin were flowing and everyone had a great time. So much so that I ended up speechless!

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Peter (aka Pedro), Andy and me doing our three (not very) wise monkeys’ impression. I’m the one that dressed for lunch – a long-sleeved shirt!

We stayed for a while after lunch – maybe a shade too long – and watched the opening set by The Cover-Ups before we took the long, winding and bumpy ride home to sleep, very well. Think the Belikin may have had something to do with that!

Boxing Day came and went without too much eventful happening. Oh apart from Arsenal coming from a goal down to triumph over West Ham by three goals to one. Since we have been able to watch our team on our own TV they are undefeated! OK so it’s only two games but …

Yesterday, with the holiday break over, work resumed on the erection of our fence starting off with a delivery of more wood. Treated pine to save you asking.

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Mike then set about carrying the planks to the side (southern) of the house and before too long it was neatly stacked.

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Whilst Mike was stacking the wood Rubio had started preparing wood for the horizontal posts and with Mike finished they began fitting them.

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“Bring another post Mike”.

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As Rubio and Mike worked their way along the southern side of our lot it was not too difficult to imagine what it will look like when the fence is in situ.

In bringing today’s edition to and end I’ll leave you with another of Melissa and Ken Fellure‘s photos from ‘way back when’.

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The old Police Station when it was virtually on the beach.

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‘Home’ of the old Police Station – how it looks now.

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How the Police Station looks today.

The headline is based on the single released in 1975 by John Lennon which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and number three in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

It’s Christmas Day morning so what am I doing here on the first floor, lagoon facing (western side) veranda ? Writing this Christmas Day edition of the blog that’s what! Told you I can get a bit OCD didn’t I.

I will let you know what yesterday held for Rose and I (if you are interested) but first I just want to say “Have yourself a merry little Christmas ” (OK that’s the song title for the headline out of the way!).

I mentioned in yesterday’s edition that I got an early – and most welcome- Christmas present that arrived in the post. Well yesterday Rose and I got some more early presents when Ofel Flota turned up at the house around 10.00 hours with Moses and Pablo. And our bed. And our night stands. And (yes there was more) our curtain rods. None of them were wrapped but who cared!

But it got better than the stuff just being delivered because Moses and Pablo assembled the furniture and fitted the curtain rods ( I now know what Rose is going to be doing after Christmas. Making the curtains!).

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Our curtain rods.

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One ‘down’, five to go!

Whilst Moses and Pablo were busy at work Ofel’s other guys continued work on our fence and concentrated their efforts on installing the final posts for the southern side of our lot.

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Louis measuring to make sure that the post has been sunk to the right depth.

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Rubio measuring and marking where the horizontal posts will go.

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Louis with only one post to go and ready to head home for Christmas.

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Looking good.

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Southern side finished.

This morning Rose and I opened the Christmas presents we had got for each other and Rose, as always, included something that she had made just for me.

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Soap. Is she trying to tell me something?

Santa had also chipped in with festive mugs for us each.

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Very Christmassy.

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And mine gets its maiden run!

When Rose opened her presents she found the bag she always wanted.

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No expense spared! OK, so they gave it to me but it’s the thought that counts. And the colour suits her. And she goes there a lot. And not everyone has got one. Have I said enough?

The headline for today’s edition is based on the version recorded by The Carpenters which was track four on side one of their “Christmas Portrait” which was released in 1978. The album reached number one hundred and fourteen in the US Billboard Hot 200 chart and one hundred and four in the UK Albums Chart.

“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” -San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Well in today’s edition I bring things virtually up-to-date. I ‘say’ virtually because although I am covering some of what Rose and I experienced yesterday I am not covering everything.

As journalist, picture editor, sub-editor, editor, editor-in-chief and the publisher I have total say so over what goes in to an edition. Don’t worry though, I’m not morphing in to some kind of second league Citizen Kane, it’s more a case of holding a little back in case I run out of things to write about. Sort of building up a library.

In the last edition I told you that Ofel Flota‘s guys had started work on the fence that we are going to have around the lot that our house ‘sits’ on. Before I bring you up-to-date on this work though I have got (I know I don’t have to but … I want to) to let you know just how much better my ‘me time’ is first thing in the morning.

Since the container arrived I’ve had my own chair to sit in (or is it ‘sit on’? – never quite sure). It’s made my mug of black coffee and iPad time so much more enjoyable. No more having to carry one of the only two chairs that we had for our first nine weeks (quite uncomfortable chairs actually) out on to the veranda.

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My ‘comfort zone’ at around 05.00 hours. Note the mug (it has black coffee in it) and my iPad.

Before I go much further I want to ‘say’ a very public (and this is about as ‘public’ as I can get) “thank you” to Louise Gow (a long-time reader of this blog from the UK who also is going to move to Belize) for my first Christmas present.

In the summer I happened to mention in an edition that one of my all time favourite books (I read it again and again as I approached my teens) was Forward Arsenal by Bernard Joy. Louise informed me that she had managed to get a copy of it on eBay and would give it to me when she visited Belize in November.

Unfortunately the timing just wasn’t right for Louise and I to meet so she posted it to me before she left Belize to return to the UK and since then I have been checking our PO Box every couple of days only to be met with disappointment. That is until yesterday. It had arrived!

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The envelope wasn’t on for long before …

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the content was revealed. I know what I will be reading over Christmas. THANK YOU Louise from a very,very happy me.

It’s true that Rose and I have been busy since the container arrived but not so busy that we couldn’t take a little time out to erect the Christmas tree. Our first since moving to Belize.

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With the tree up it really does look like Santa Claus is coming to town.

Anyway, let’s get back to the construction of our fence.

Ofel’s guys started off on the northern side of the house and after striking the lines and cutting down some branches of trees that were in the way set about putting the vertical posts in.

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A close up.

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Constantly checking with a spirit level.

As the day wore on so the line of posts grew.

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Post bolted securely to the sea wall.

And then the guys started setting the posts for the fence for the southern side.

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First one in.

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And they are off!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the version of the song by The Jackson 5 which was released as a single in 1970 and reached number forty-three in the UK Singles Chart.

“Back When” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Instead of starting today’s edition by regaling you (well I think some of you find it amusing) with my early morning exploits- you know, black coffee, etc – I thought I’d start off by including another of Melissa and Ken Fellure’s pictures from yesteryear.

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The Barrier Reef Hotel in Barrier Reef Drive (front street).

One of the first meals that Rose and I had when we first visited Ambergris Caye was back when The Barrier Reef Hotel was operational. We had dinner on the veranda and if I recall correctly it wasn’t the greatest cuisine I’ve experienced but the atmosphere and the view (Rose of course -she was as ‘tasty’ then as she is now) were tremendous.

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How it looks now.

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Heritage Bank standing just where The Barrier Hotel used to be.

In the previous edition I told you that our container of stuff was delivered on Wednesday morning and that Lloyd and two of his guys carried the parcels to the areas of the house that we had designated for them. So it just remained for Rose and I to rip open the boxes (carefully of course) and place the contents in position in their new ‘home’.

We went ‘at it’ like demons and very soon we were surrounded by cardboard boxes and it was becoming very difficult to move. So remedial action was required.

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Empty boxes stacked in front of the ground floor apartment.

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And then a bonfire! Our vacant adjacent lot sure comes in handy.

I should mention (don’t really have to of course but I want to) that two of the first boxes we unpacked contained our mattress and a box spring. Time for the air mattress to go back in the bag. It had served its purpose but …

We spent the rest of the day opening boxes but didn’t complete the task so resumed the next morning (after a very comfortable night’s sleep – OK the bed hasn’t been made and delivered yet but …) and after a full day we eventually completed unpacking. And I had another bonfire!

On Friday morning I spent some real quality ‘me time’ on the first floor, lagoon side veranda with a mug of black coffee and my iPad. And a proper chair (photo to follow in the next edition – can’t wait can you!). A mattress and a chair. Oh the bliss. So good that I very nearly didn’t feel like going to Estel’s for breakfast! It was good but not that good so I made the bumpy journey to town for my second bit of self-indulgence of the day. It’s a hard life!

I hadn’t been home long when we heard the sound of a lorry (truck for non-UK readers). The first load of wood for our fence was being delivered.

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It didn’t take Ofel Flota‘s guys too long to unload the lorry (truck)

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and then start moving it

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to the southern side of the house.

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With the lorry (truck) unloaded and the wood nicely stacked the guys then set about striking and setting the lines (using fishing line) for the fence for the northern side of our lot.

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‘Guide’ frames in place to run the line.

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Lines ‘run’.

And then they starting digging the holes for the posts.

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Exciting isn’t it. Better than a soap opera! TO BE CONTINUED …

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 2004 by Tim McGraw which reached number thirty in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one in the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

“Waiting in Vain” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

In yesterday’s edition I promised(sounds very magnanimous of me doesn’t it) that I would bring you all (anyone would think that I have an audience of thousands ) up-to-date with what’s been going on for Rose and I. So, without further ado I will start to do just that.

On Tuesday morning I caught the Belize Water Taxi 07.30 service to Belize City and on arrival at around 09.00 hours caught a taxi and went straight to the offices of Caribbean Shipping Service (this company acts as agent for Hyde Shipping, the company we used to bring our purchases over from Miami) to pay the invoice so that our container would be released.

As an aside I must mention (well I don’t have to really but it might be of interest to some of you) that if you are in Belize for any length of time and think that you might be using the Belize Water Taxi service quite a bit it could be worth your while joining the Rewards Program. It will cost you BZ$ 10 to join but thereafter you get discounts off the normal prices. For example a return ticket from San Pedro to Belize City normally costs BZ$ 50 but as a member of the Rewards Program it costs BZ$ 48. OK so it’s only a BZ$ 2 saving but … it adds up over time. So am I a member? Keep meaning to fill in the form but haven’t quite got around to it yet.

Anyway,sorry for that little diversion, let’s get back to the purpose of my visit to Belize City on Tuesday – the inspection, clearance AND release (sounds like it was imprisoned doesn’t it) of our container.

After paying the invoice I headed (I’d kept the taxi waiting for me) straight to the Port of Belize to meet with Milyn Gomez our Customs Broker and a day of excitement, not!

I wish that I could spice or glam up the process that followed but I can’t. My literary and creative skills are not that good. A descendant of Wilhelm or Jacob Grimm I’m not. Suffice it to ‘say’ that it was a painfully, numbingly boring process.

I just stood around whilst various people headed off to different offices with my paperwork and every so often I was told that my container would be taken to the Queen’s Bonded Warehouse soon. Live in Belize for a while though and you get to realise that ‘soon’ has a different meaning to what you are used to it meaning.

The lunch break came and went and I continued to just stand around waiting. I felt like I had waited so long that I might be waiting in vain but then Samuels aka “Buck” returned to find me – just waiting- and gave me the great news. Yes, our container was on the move.

“Buck” and I walked to the Queen’s Bonded Warehouse and got there just before the container arrived.

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Backing up to the dock/inspection area.

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In position.

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Break the seal.

“Buck” and two other guys (I paid each of them BZ$ 50) then unloaded a sufficient number of packages to create a pathway for the Customs and Excise Department officials to inspect our consignment.

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The officials then carried out an inspection and found nothing in the container that wasn’t on the list of items that the Belize Tourism Board had approved as being absent of tax and duties. Maybe it was my imagination (it can be a bit vivid at times) but they didn’t look too happy that they didn’t find anything in the container that shouldn’t have been there.

With the inspection over it was to close the container doors

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and for me to lock it with the padlock I’d taken with me.

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With the container locked I jumped in the cab of the lorry (truck for non-UK readers) to make the short journey down the road to the Caribbean Queen barge.

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The antiquated (and well worn) dashboard of the cab.

Within minutes the driver was reversing on to the barge

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and unhitching the trailer with our container.

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Beside us another barge was being loaded with building materials and fruit/vegetables.

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Ready to be loaded next were fourteen new golf carts for what to me seems like Carts Belize,one of the golf cart hire companies on Ambergris Caye.

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Just in time for the busy Christmas and New Year period.

I don’t know if this is an exclusive or not but the driver told me that last week he loaded a forty foot container on the barge to Ambergris Caye for Steven Seagal. Not seen him on the island yet but …

By now it was close to 16.30 hours and time for me to head home but after hanging around all day I just couldn’t face the thought of a crowded water taxi back to Ambergris Caye so I took a taxi to the Municipal Airport and caught the last flight Tropic Air flight of the day.

The next morning (Wednesday for those of you that are interested in this type of detail) at around 11.00 hours the container arrived at our house where we were anxiously waiting for it.

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“Don’t go by”.

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Driver testing that our driveway (I use this description very loosely) was firm enough to take the lorry(truck) and trailer.

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Rose unlocking the padlock.

We had organised it for Lloyd and two of his guys to be there to unload the container and take the packages to the areas of the house that we wanted them in and within two hours the container was empty and it was time for Rose and I to start opening the parcels.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1977 by Bob Marley and the Wailers which reached number twenty-seven in the UK Singles Chart.