Sunday, June 22, 2008

Orchids in Bloom

Hello and welcome back. I've got a few minutes while waiting at Costa Maya for food to digest and a massage client to arrive so I'm setting up a theme to post another blog. I have lots of pictures to post that I took before I was blogging and I want to show you some shots of the Lobster Festival that I performed at with Tanya, our first official gig together. It was fun, but first some of my favorite pics of this country. Out on the ocean one evening with an incredible sunset (above and below), just minutes from my home. We live on a man made channel of the lagoon on the back side of Ambergris Caye. It is still the ocean but here we have the beach front where the waves crash on the reef and the other side of the Island is considered the lagoon where the rain water mixes with the ocean, but that happens on both sides so I don't quite get it, and its thirty five miles of ocean water all the way to the mainland with thousands of Islands along the way.

(above) My neighbor Bob, from the East Coast of Canada, he's the big guy in the white shirt, came home early from work and invited us to go fishing with him. That is Paul, from the UK and his partner Cindy showing him how big his fish was while Paul tries to convince Cindy's mom, Cheri, who was visiting them from England for four or five months, but that is a story for them to tell, ha ha!
It was such a lovely sunset we stayed out and kept fishing, we didn't catch a single fish, but we all caught crabs,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I should have taken a picture of that, each of us had to shake off at least 2 or 6 crabs that tried to take our bait as we reeled in. They hand on and one even landed in the boat and had to be scooped up and thrown back into the sea, it was so funny catching nothing but crabs. What a line!It was a wonderful evening on the ocean and it was so dark after the sun dropped that we couldn't see our way back home and had to go super slow. The ocean floor inside the reef is from four to sixteen feet deep all the way to the mainland and it rises to form Islands and there are many places where its too shallow to take your boat so you have to know where its safe to go. We made it home but it was fun listening to Paul, Cindy and Bob trying to make out the landmarks in the dark. We all had a great time and now Bob knows what landmarks to watch and he can get home quickly even in the dark. Ha ha!

Here is a new series, my back yard gardening projects, this next shot was taken some time ago. The big tree whose branches are at the top of the photo is now lying on its side after a big storm pushed it over and we stood it up but couldn't get it to stand up straight so we cut the top off and let the side branches become the new leaders. I have two orchid bunches tied to the new main limbs and I'll show you the other plantings I'm nurturing here, starting with my aloe vera planting, which has already been a blessing through two serious sunburns. Never leave home without sunscreen, never! I also have a crown of thorns slip and on the right side of the pot you see that long slender succulent. In the middle is a candlelabra cactus, I may have posted some of these pictures already, I think. Oh well, let me elaborate more this time, bear with me as I get the hang of managing a blog.

Well, Bob's partner at Coral Beach Realty, Fred asked me a few months ago how I get my orchids to bloom, as if I know anything about orchids, but I told him that I water them daily, so he tried it and now his are blooming as well. I've since been told that I can also dissolve some grow fertilizers in a spray bottle and spray the roots with it once in a while as well. It takes a while after the first bloom stock appears before yous see flowers but mine opened a few weeks ago, see below.Absolutely lovely, but quite small... see my hand for a size reference below.

Below is a shot from the mother plant, I got it already rooted onto a skinny branch of wood which I fastened to the tree in my yard with fishing line. Here we are looking out from the plant, along the flowering stem to the blossom on the end.

Below, the same plant with two blossoms opened.

Next I have a photo of two other kinds of Orchids which I purchased already in bloom. I'm trying to root the one in front onto an interesting piece of driftwood and behind it are two more of the same variety that I set into an opened and halved coconut shell. Charlie, my local plant guy, said they would root right into the shell and I could hang the shells on strings. I sold those two to Sunny to hang at Brahma Blue and will have to deliver them to him soon.

At the left of the photo is another variety that I like a lot, it had nearly no roots so Charlie suggested I root it in soil for now and it already had a bloom stem which was damaged somehow and now it is sending another leader out of the same bloom stem (its hard to see in the photo but if you follow the stem from the bell shaped plant on the left growing out and behind the two orchids on the ground, its there.), amazing for a plant with little or no root. I'll have to ask Cindy to take pictures of the flowers if it blooms while I'm in Canada for the month of July.

Speaking of Cindy, below you see her back as she and I take pictures of the full moon rising from our back yard. The following is a sequence of that full moon over a few days.

This night there was some cloud cover and I love the effect so I'll show lots of shots.

I love the look of it with the clouds crossing in front, especially when the moon's surface formations show up in the picture as well. These next shots are with less zoom so the clouds are all lit up.
Well I guess that is enough for this posting, Namaste to all my good friends and many blessings to all special guests. My daughter and I have a special connection with the moon, as a todler she used to say, "that is my moon" and so it is. Now we both look at the full moon and ask it to deliver our love to each other across the many miles from Belize to Winnipeg, heres looking at the same moon.

Much Love Larissa, from Daddy! Good night my dearest, I'll be in your arms in nine sleeps.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pelican Hangout in Belize

Belize seems to be a major Pelican Hangout! They are everywhere so I thought I'd share some pictures. I really need a tripod with me all the time but so far I've only used it from my home. I'll think about that and it too shall come to pass, in Belize time, which is a saying here, that I think is used in every village, town and city in the world. Here it usually means "within a half hour or so on either side of" when referring to the time of day, it can also mean, "within a few months, perhaps after" when referring to getting a job done, depending on the size of job and material requirments. Materials are difficult to predict, everything comes from off the Island and most things come from out of the country. Belize needs to build more manufacturing plants and grow its export business, I think! Its a small country, in Winnipeg where I was born and raised there were at least 600,000 and up to 700,000 people my whole life and Belize has less than 300,000 even now and they are spread out over an area the size of Southern Manitoba, not even!!!

Here they are on the beach side at 8:30 in the morning the day I went for my first day at my first official work day. Yes, I now have my work permit. I flew to Belize Municipal Airport and was picked up and taken to Belmopan and walked through the process by a kind gentleman from Belize City who shall remain nameless, and I am now legal and I no longer am required to get my passport stamped for another month visitor visa and that saves me fifty bucks Bz a month as well.
Emily teaches Yoga at a few resorts, her partner John is the Didgeridoo player I love to jam with and I joined them in a yoga session and later when I shared my news about my work permit coming soon, she suggested I call Costa Maya Reef Resort and apply as Massage Therapist and I did and here I am on my way there.
Ok, that is not me, I'm taking the picture from another Island Ferry Boat, but that looks like me at the back of the boat facing the camera, head and shoulders above the Belizeans. Sorry about the clarity, its hard to shoot on a moving boat. This next shot reminds me of the movie Apocolypse Now! I shot it because there are no buildings, so you can see there is still some beach front property that has not yet been developed.

But it won't be long, the barges are constantly bringing in more concrete, sand and cinder blocks.

One barge arriving full (above) and one leaving empty (below) during the same forty-five minute boat ride.

Of course you also see Sail boats every day as well, sailing along the reef and loving the coast lined with coconut trees. Stopping to drop anchor and snorkel the many incredibly lovely spots where anchors sites are more easily accessible without damaging the reef.

(above) We arrived at Costa Maya Reef Resort.

(below) I am walking up the dock looking at the main offices and restaurant of Costa Maya.

Lovely Maya stylized Totem poles all over the Island, and and incredible amount of good carvers here.

A few days after starting at Costa May, I got a call from Pelican Reef Villas to come and provide massage service. She asked me for my information months ago and this was her first time using me. This resort is south of where I live so I go by taxi and its much quicker and cheaper and more convenient because I don't have to wait for the water taxi schedule, but I love the boat ride so its all good. Look at the pool at Pelican Reef, that rock pile at the back is the bar which serves from both the water side and the court yard beyond.

Lovely landscaping as I walked to my massage station.

(bleow) Looking up the beach to the North.

(above) looking down the beach to the south.

Pelican Reef's mascot.
Its so good to be working. I am also getting more local business from friends I've met here and Cindy, who loves in the suite above me now works at Banyan Bay and she has called me to provide massage services for her clients as well. So far just for emergency service but she is going to apply to put me on the regular use list. Thanks Cindy, if you g to Taco Girls blog you can find a link to Cindy's blog as well. I am going to learn how to put link on and I'll get those on this site for you soon.

Thanks for visiting, hope you like the picutres, come and vsit, ts a lovely part of the planet.

Master Zac, Hot in Belize

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tropical Storm Arthur

Permanent driftwood on the shores of Ambergris Caye at Boca Del Rio, a park by the cut between the town of San Pedro and the Northern part of the Island. This boat is approaching the cut. There is a bridge now but just a year ago they still used a ferry to cross this cut for travel between these two distinct communities.

Well its been a while since my last post. Sorry about that but my internet connection has been unreliable. We finally got our complainst heard but they said we were cut off because we have not paid our bill. The reason we didn't pay is because our connection was so bad it wasn't worth paying for but they cut us off instead of fixing it. I spoke to others on the Island and many are getting fairly reliable service from the same company and others say they wouldn't use them at all. Anyway, I'm still waiting to change companies, its not in my hands because I share a signal with my friends here and split the costs. I'm at work with time between clients to post another blog so here it is. Below is a shot of the Palms blowing in the wind at Toca Del Rio.

I've been getting emails from concerned friends asking about tropical storm Arthur. It was a seven day adventure here and we are still not getting full sunny skies yet. We had three days of rain and then a calm cloudy day while we sat in the eye but unbeknownst to us things were changing while we were in that calm and when we came out the other side, Arthur had grown and it began to rain again, and by nightfall, we had ourselves a good storm. Many were unprepared and I'm told a lot of boats were sunk and one good sized sailboat even washed up onto the shore. I don't have a lot of pictures but I'm including the photos I took last year before and after Hurricane Dean instead.

I had only just gotten my camera and started taking pictures without really knowing how to use it. I'm quite sure this next picture is sunset from my second floor balcony when I still lived at Doyle's place with Sunny. This is kind of the calm before the storm!

I went to visit Paul and Cindy because they were all going a bit nuts making arrangements to survive the oncoming storm. Many who had no place safe to wait it out were gathering at their home and it proved to be the promise of a great party, if you like booze and cards. What it certainly was, was community building and it was wonderful how folks come together to face a crises. Paul and Laurie, the taco's, were sheduled to spend the night and the guest list kept building during that day. I took this next picutre because I thought it looked a bit like a bald headed Eagle cloud. Ha ha! I asked Paul to stand there to reference the size of the tree. It didn't survive the storm, the fronds got so twisted and when we lifted it, we found that there were no new roots and it wouldn't have lived anyway.

This shot shows the cloud without the tree and it looks the eagle is perched upon an opened heart!
I took this shot to show how calm the water is in the channel as the clouds began to form on the horizon. By this time, the waves were starting out to sea, but all was quiet in San Pedro.
It was only a few hours later that the sky was full of clouds, this shot was taken from my balcony back at Doyle's place.

There was a lot of notice that Dean was headed our way. No panic but lots of preperation, it was the first huricane threat of the season and folks were boarding up windows all over the Island and hauling their boats up out of the water. Below is a boat sitting on land behind the old church across the street from where I lived. This yard was the view I came to on the leeward side of the storm during the night to stand on the balcony and listen to the wind. At midnight while the winds howled around my condo, I could still hear the frogs and crickets singing in the grasses, they were louder than the storm, it was quite amazing.
Sunny sent me out to gather provisions for the possibility that we might not be able to purchase food and water for a few days and after we were sure we were all set we went out for a walk to see what was going on and to enjoy it while we could. Below is the path to the Beach from front street between Marina's Grocery store and Zanadu Resort. Sunny and Gill are walking ahead while I take this photo. I love the way the trees form a closed canopy overhead. I ride this path to the sea often and then ride or walk the beach instead of taking the roads because its in my neighborhood and I shop at Marina's a lot.

This next shot shows the Beach front with the waves crashing on the reef in the distance. The sky is overcast but the day is still quite calm.
These two local Rasta men were passing by and they recognized me because I play with Barrington and the Islanders from time to time and the guy on the left is Barrington's brother. He noticed my camera and insisted I take their picture. Notice the sea grass washed up on shore, this makes excellent compost but here it is mostly used as landfill. Bicylcles are the main transportation for many of the locals, myself included.

As we walked towards Crazy Canuks, we saw these guys struggling to haul this huge boat (above) up onto the shore and lended our hands, legs and backs. They had a four wheeler pulling in front and they used coconut trees and PVC pipes to roll the boat along the sand and it was still hard work even with all this help.

I was hoping to take shots of the storm itself but it didn't hit until dark and there wasn't much point. The next day I went out to see the damage, mostly signs down, below...

trees bent over (above)...and many broken branches that had to be pruned and hauled away (below).Then there were still all the boats that had to be emptied of water and placed back in the water (below).

Naturally Sunny was concerned to see the damage at Brahma Blue, here he stands on the San Pedro side of the lagoon taking pictures of Brahma Blue as we board the boat to go across. It turns out the damage was minimal, more of a problem was the week of preperation and another week of clean up and then another week waiting for the construction crews to return to the Island.

There was lots of clean up and many of the boarded windows stayed boarded up until the last threat of Hurricanes ended for the year but it really wasn't very serious. Many piers were broken up and the repairs went on for months as money and time became available. Some beach front structures were lifted off the foundations but no one was hurt and no real serious damage except for the loss of income. Hurricane Felix came a few weeks later and many folk were now gun shy and they left the Island well in advance even and even though Feliz never made it to Belize, not even a rain storm, the damage was done. Papers reported that Belize was hit and the tourists stayed away and so much potential income was lost even though, here on Ambergris Caye the weather turned nice again and the bad weather stayed away until this years first Tropical Storm Arthur hit, just a few days ago. I wrote a story about my experience of Hurricane Dean and sent it to many friends and now here are the pictures to accompany it. I'll end with an attempt at a full moon shot with the palms of the coconut trees on the beach framing the moon, it sort of worked, but I didn't use a tripod so its a bit shaky. So, I was so sure I had more pictures that reflect some of what is going on right now, before and after Tropical Storm Arthur but I'll have to go home and see if they are still on my camera because I can't find them on file in my computer.

Blessings and Namaste, thanks for visiting,
Master Zac, Hot in Belize