Bill Graham

Sep 222015
 
Belize bugs often look like they are on steroids and maintain a regular workout regimen but will typically try to avoid you.

Belize bugs often look like they are on steroids and maintain a regular workout regimen, however they will typically try to avoid you.

Belize Bugs and Spiders.

Belize bugs and spiders are larger than we are used to seeing back in Canada, and often look like they are on steroids and maintaining a regular daily workout regimen.  But typically unless you corner them, or stick your hand in a hole where it doesn’t belong, most Belize bugs and other critters will try to avoid you. We are in the tropics however. so you can count on mosquitoes and no-see-ums. How bad they are will depend on your setting, if you are next to a lagoon or other places where water can pocket you will notice a substantial increase in these pests especially just before dark.

On Ambergris Caye and the other Islands.

On the island, (other than pesky mosquitoes and no-see-ums) bugs have not been an issue for us. We have seen a few large 2” long cock roaches, large spiders (pictured), and while there have been several other strange looking bug like creatures that we could not identify, they have never been in our home, although from time to time we have had harmless little geckos or salamanders that needed to be scooted out the door.

Scary looking maybe, but usaually not deadly

It should be noted at this time that while some of the larger bugs are pretty scary looking, they usually are not deadly, although a scorpion or spider bite can cause some serious pain and discomfort, or as I have been told the spider in this picture scrunches up and shoots barbs that will cause a pretty nasty rash.

Snakes

On the island, the snakes are similar to Belize bugs and spiders in the sense that you know they are there, I know because on occasion I have seen dead ones that have tried to cross the road and didn’t make it. Now, maybe we don’t have any issues with critters because we don’t stray far off of the beaten path when walking, and we tend to keep to the more populated areas that Belize bugs and critters generally avoid.

The Jungle of Belize is a whole other world

Living in remote areas and the jungles of Belize is a whole other adventure. You will want to educate yourself on the dangers that surround you. Snakes like the deadly Fer de Lance viper recognized by its “yellow jaw” make Belize it’s home, and while rarely found indoors they are considered aggressive and if encountered by newbies should be avoided at all costs. Also, one of Belize bugs that you should know about and avoid is the Chinch known to spread Chagas Disease. There is a treatment, but it is important to recognize this bug as well as its bite and resulting rash. If undetected or left untreated it can remain dormant for many years (as many as 20) before causing serious organ problems and fatal illness. As a result the chinch boasts the tagline “one bug, one bite, one life”, and is probably the most dangerous of Belize bugs.

Problems with Belize bugs, spiders, and snakes are fairly rare outside of the jungle setting and should not deter you from exploring this beautiful country. Jungle life is quite safe too if you remember that common sense goes a long way here folks. If you are inexperienced with jungle life, hire an inexpensive local guide when you first explore. Your few dollars will be well invested to insure your safety as well as buy the valuable education you may otherwise only receive the hard way on your own.

Need more details on Caribbean Critters

Click on the blue links for more information on what else lurks in Belize. Caribbean Critters has a great site that covers many of the critters in Belize.

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Jul 082015
 
Know your residency options to remain in Belize legally

Know your residency options to remain in Belize legally

Residency Options.


Residency options may not be
on the top of your list when you first arrive in the country, but if staying in Belize is on your short list you may want to keep your options in mind. Upon arriving in Belize you will receive a “Visitor Visa” based on your expected time of stay. The maximum visa issued will be one month. If you need more time, or would like to stay permanently, you will need to renew your visitor visa and pursue one of these three residency options.

 

  • The QRP Program.
  • Permanent Residency.
  • Perpetual Tourist

 
 

Three unique Residency options. Which one is right for you?

 
 

Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program.

To qualify for the QRP Program, individuals must be at least 45 years of age. You will have to prove permanent income of at least US$2000.00/month from an investment, pension, or other retirement benefits. An individual who qualifies may also include a spouse and children under age 18.

Some advantages of this program are that it is administered by The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and can be applied for before even moving to Belize. In addition, once approved you will be permitted to import your personal items and an approved method of transportation duty free. This is a one shot deal and must be done within one year of entering the program. Finally a Qualified Retired Person will be free of income tax.

Some disadvantages of this program are that while you can operate a business. You can never work under this program. You can never become a citizen. Finally, if you choose this residency option, you will need to provide documentation annually proving income, status of dependents, as well as, other proof that you still qualify for this program. Also note if you leave this program in the future, no time is credited towards a Permanent Residency application and you will be required to pay back any benefits received from the program.

 
 

Permanent Residency.

The process to apply for Permanent Residency is similar to the QRP Program but with a few key differences. Firstly, after you have lived in Belize for one full year you will make your application to the Director of Immigration and Naturalization. During this first year you must maintain your visitor visa and may not leave the country for more than 14 days total or the clock will reset.

Permanent Residency is the most common of the residency options. Chosen by people who have not yet reached retirement age but have decided to stay and make a life in Belize.

This process can be more expensive and take a little longer. However, I believe the benefits will pay for themselves in the long run. As a Permanent Resident you will be permitted to work once approved and enjoy all the benefits of a Belizean except you will not have the right to vote. After being a permanent resident for 5 years you may apply to become a citizen of Belize.

Note: Citizens of commonwealth countries need not be approved for permanent Residence to apply for voter cards. You may apply after living in Belize for one year, and at least two months in the district that you apply in.

 
 

Perpetual Tourist

Perpetual Tourist technically should not be included as one of the residency options. It is an option that will allow you to remain in the country legally. A perpetual tourist is someone who continues to renew their visitor visa indefinitely. If you are still unsure about staying in Belize permanently, or if you will only spend a few months a year this may be an option for you.

You will remain a visitor and will not enjoy any of the benefits that the other two programs offer. For example, you can not work or engage in any business activity without the permission of the Director of Immigration and by purchasing expensive permits or work visas. Any belongings you bring to Belize may be subject to high import duties.

NOTE: If you take up full time residence in Belize, at some point the immigration department will insist upon your entering into one of the two residency programs.

 
 

Renewing Your Visitor Visa.

Regardless of the residency option you have chosen to legally stay in Belize. On the day that your initial Visitor Visa expires, your first duty will be to renew your visitor visa. This can be done at your local Belize Immigration and Nationality Department office. The fee is US$25.00/person or BZ$50.00/person and must be paid in Belize currency. After six months the fee doubles. By now you will probably have a good idea of your intentions, and what your residency options are. Here is a link to the visitor visa renewal process.

 
 

Which of the residency options is right for you?

Choosing which of the residency options is right for you, will depend on what your long term plans are. Each program has it’s own unique advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the answers to the following questions will often narrow the choice for you. Will you need to work? Do you want to open a business? Will you bring all of your belongings with you? Your answers to these questions will often eliminate all but one of your residency options.

For more information and to download the PDF on the Qualified Retired Persons (QRP)  Program visit this page of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB).

I regret that I cannot find any links to the Department of Immigration and Nationality. The information contained in this post is up to date at the time of publishing. My recommendation is to visit their office yourself, to get the most up to date information.

 
 

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Feb 162015
 

Pineapples on display at Maria's fruit and vegetable stand in San Pedro Belize. For more information on how to pick a pineapple to purchase, where the pineapple gets it's name, how to grow a pine apple and a tip for a juicier pineapple get more information at https://billdoesbelize.com/pineapples-maybe-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/Pineapples, Fruit or Vegetable?

Pineapples are strange, they don’t follow the rules normally used to determine if something is a fruit or a vegetable. Unlike most fruits by definition, it is developed from the flower of the plant, it does not grow on a tree and does not contain seeds. However it is classified as a fruit and when ripe will turn a golden orange like the pineapple on the top of the pile, at the left side of the table pictured.


How to pick pineapples to buy.

When you pick a pineapple, the first thing to determine is when you will want to eat the pineapple. If you will eat it that day you will want the golden orange one from the top left of the pile. The ones on the bottom of the pile in the center are from two days to a week away.

A little tip: For juicier pineapples, Turn them upside down for 24 hours before slicing.

Why are they called Pineapples?

As we have already discovered pineapples do not grow on a tree like a typical fruit (other than a berry), so it does not grow on a pine tree or on an apple tree. Where did it get it’s name? Well, when the Spanish first saw one it reminded them of a pine cone and they named it Pina, later the English added apple because of it’s sweet taste and the pineapples name stuck.

Where do pineapples come from?

“Pineapple have no seeds”, you may say, so where do they come from? In order to grow a pineapple, you need a pineapple. You will remove the top bushy part, plant in loose soil with aggregate to aid in draining, keep moist, not soaked (it will rot) for two weeks to help the rooting process, but then only add water when it gets dry. After about 18 months the plant should be about 4 ft. high and 4 ft. around with a flower in the center, the flower will become a pineapple over the next six months. Yes, if you do the math a pineapples take almost two years to grow.

Usually one pineapple will yield one pineapple (some people say a second is possible the next year, but never a third). Once you harvest your fruit you will start again with it’s top and can repeat this process up to nine times before the pineapples produced become bitter.

Pineapples are easy to grow.

Anyone can grow pineapples, and don’t worry about the shape the top is in, it will grow. Even in colder climates like that of Canada it will grow inside, just use a good size pot to avoid transplanting later. If you would like to try and grow your own, I have provided this video link.

Since moving to Belize I have eaten a lot of pineapples and love the tangy but sweet taste. I particularly enjoy pineapple pieces with banana slices, for me it’s an unbeatable combination. So grow your own and try it, then let me know how you made out.

Feb 062015
 
Garbage disposal sites pop up as an answer to a temporary Island problem.

Garbage Disposal, A temporary Isla Bonita Ugly.

Garbage Disposal, the ugly truth

As I have stated before, it is my goal based on my experiences to provide an unbiased view of life in Belize. To that end I feel I must present “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. One of the ugly things is the random roads and several vacant lots used for garbage disposal around San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. There is garbage pick up once per week at our house, but the garbage truck (as in most areas of the world) does not remove larger metal garbage like old fridges, stoves, washers and the like. This is a homeowner responsibility. So as an islander, where do you put your garbage? It would appear that most people just find an abandoned road or a vacant lot, and once one person does it, then everyone else will follow suit until one piece at a time, well,  you see get the picture. I have not noticed this on the mainland so in all fairness this is an island problem.

You might ask. Why do people do this?

The short answer is that there is not much choice for garbage disposal for many residents. The first thing to remember is that a majority of families don’t have a vehicle or the finances to pay someone to haul it away. And, even if they could get it hauled away, there is no safe place to haul it to on an island. Ambergris Caye has two dumps for garbage disposal, one at the far north end and a second at the far south end of the island. And while both are getting rid of burnable garbage at night, this  has its own obvious effect on the environment. We are also now realizing through studies that the burial of metals for landfill  is a major source of the ecological problems. Of course it is not that much of a stretch for the imagination that on a sandy island with a six month rain season, as things deteriorate below the ground, the contaminants will quickly leach into the sea.

What can be done to educate and facilitate proper Garbage disposal?

The San Pedro Town Council is beginning to take action and the San Pedro Sun newspaper has been reporting lately on the bad effects of this garbage disposal problem, and have outlined the potential health risks to residents as well as the ecosystem and in particular the marine life on the coral reef from which the island’s economy is derived.

Recognizing this problem The Government of Belize several years ago allocated nearly 1 million borrowed dollars to the construction of a solid waste facility. This transfer station would see to the island waste being removed to the mainland for proper garbage disposal. This facility is now expected to be completed by March 2015, almost two years after the originally expected completion date. Once it is complete one could expect that the problem should not get worse, but I suspect it will take several more years before someone takes responsibility for cleaning up the existing garbage disposal sites and then several years after that before it actually gets cleaned up.

If visiting or moving to Belize

One should not expect to see mounds of garbage disposal everywhere, and these sites are generally out of the sight of tourists (visitors), however they do exist and as a resident or expat I expect you will see them for a few more years to come. I don’t mention this to complain but rather to inform.  And again, although I do find things from time to time that make me scratch my head, I have yet to experience anything that would make me pack up my bags and head back to Canada.

Updated September 28, 2015

Since writing this post on February 06, 2015, I am pleased to announce that the Transfer Station built to facilitate garbage disposal here on Ambergris Caye opened and was inaugurated on July 03, 2015 as reported in this article by The San Pedro Sun

 

Feb 032015
 
The National flag is just one of several National symbols of Belize.

Belize’s national flag was created in preparation of the country receiving independence from Great Britain in 1981.

The National Flag of Belize

Belize’s national flag is the only flag in the world to illustrate people in its design. The flags colors are a blue body with a red horizontal stripe at the top and bottom and a white circle in the center. The red, blue, and white colors are the colors of the two major political parties of that time and still remain so today. The Peoples United Party (PUP) and The United Democratic Party (UDP). The use of the colors of the two political parties on the new national flag was to signify “The Unity of the Nation.”

The Coat of Arms of Belize

In the white circle of the national flag was placed the nations coat of arms. A symbol that in itself reflects much of the history of the new independent nation. The shield in the center is divided in three by an up side down or inverted Y, in the bottom section is a ship under full sail on the waves of the sea representing the arrival of the first settlers. The two upper sections depict the tools of the timber industry a paddle and squaring ax in the left section and a saw and a beating ax in the right section. The shield is held up by two woodcutters with different skin colors to represent the different ethnicity that have built the nation. The one woodcutter on the left holds a beating ax in his right hand and resting on his shoulder while the second woodcutter on the right holds a paddle in his left hand and resting on his shoulder. Above the shield a Mahogany tree grows representing the foundation and basis of the economy in Belize dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Under the shield is the motto scroll containing the National Motto and the Latin words “Sub Umbra Floreo” which in English mean “Under The Shade I Flourish”. Finally a wreath of leaves circles the Coat of Arms.

In addition to a National Flag, Belize has several National Symbols;

The National Flag and Symbols of Belize were selected In preparation of Belize gaining it’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. The founding fathers with the support of the two prominent political parties of the time. In addition to these National Symbols Belize also has a National Anthem as well as a National Prayer.

 

-The Keel Billed Toucan is the National Bird of Belize and my website logo.
-The Black Orchid is the National Flower of Belize.
-The Mahogany Tree is the National Tree of Belize.
-The Tapir (Mountain Cow) is the National Animal of Belize. ( Mountain Cow the local name given to the Tapir may be misleading as it is more related to the horse and is a cousin of the rhinoceros)

 

For more information and pictures of the National Flag and Symbols of Belize visit this link.

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Jan 272015
 
Freedom, Is It In Canada Or Belize?

In Belize you will find that you have more freedom. There aren’t a lot of signs that tell you not to do things, you are responsible for yourself.

How is freedom defined?

Freedom is partially defined in the Merriam-Websters dictionary as; the quality or state of being free: as a :  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.

The Oxford Dictionary defines freedom as; The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants:

Is Freedom in Canada and the USA?

Freedom in Canada and the US is defined by many as our right to freedom of speech. Our freedom of assembly as well as religion. Also freedom to choose a democratic government that encourages the pursuit of our dreams, while providing such inalienable rights as a stable economy, quality health care, protection from foreign incursion, and of course in some countries, the right to bare arms.

How Can Freedom Be Measured?

I believe freedom can be measured by the things we are permitted to do rather than the things we are not. In Canada  there are “NO” signs everywhere.

  • No fires on the beach.
  • No skateboarding in the park.
  • No walking dogs without a leash.
  • No loitering.
  • No smoking anywhere.
  • No texting while driving.

Of course the list goes on and on with an appropriate fine attached to each infraction. Another difference between Canada and Belize is illustrated in the picture of this dock. Look at the end of the dock pictured above. You will observe a 2 foot drop. If you miss your step (maybe while walking and texting) you will land on sharp rocks that will probably cause some injury. In Canada there would probably be someone laying in that hole, and there would be at least one lawyer slipping their business card into that persons back pocket. You could probably overhear the following conversation;

The Conversation.

The lawyer would say, “Are you alright?”

The person (victim) would reply,“I think so, but my arm is really sore.”

The lawyer would say as he passes him another business card,
“Your arm may be broken, you need to go and see this guy, he is a doctor, my doctor, he knows what he is doing.”

The guy then replies, “oh I don’t know, I think if I just go home and put some ice on it, I’ll probably be OK”

The lawyer would say, “You need to sue for damages and your pain and suffering. What if something happens down the road? What if you can’t work? You need to sue, you owe it to your family, don’t you?”

The guy replies “I can’t afford to sue anyone, and who would I sue anyway?”

The lawyer replies, “I will take your case and if I don’t win you won’t have to pay. We’ll sue everyone. The guy who built the dock for not posting a sign to warn you of the drop. We’ll sue the guy who poured the concrete walk and did not install a railing to protect you. Then we will sue the town because the dock is over public water. Of course the owners of the resort need to be sued for not filling in the hole in the first place.”

The guy says, “Yeah but it’s kind of my fault, I was texting on my phone as I walked off the end of the dock.”

The lawyer replies, “Doesn’t matter, even better, we will sue Motorola for making your phone and not putting a warning sticker on it. What were you doing on your phone? Were you on Facebook or googling something? We will want to sue them too.”

Anyway, I’m sure you can finish this conversation for yourself.

Is Freedom in Belize?

In Belize I believe you will find that you have more freedom. There aren’t a lot of signs that tell you not to do things for your own protection. You are responsible for yourself, and have the freedom to do stupid things. You are free to hurt yourself and learn from your mistakes. If you put someone else at risk they will be free to let you know and tell you to stop. If you continue they will also have the freedom to deal with you.

Common Sense

Common sense is a bit more “common” here. People tend to take responsibility for their own actions.  In Belize, if you buy a hot coffee and spill it on yourself while driving down the road, you can’t sue the coffee shop for your carelessness. If you walk off the end of the dock while texting on your phone you should not expect to sue anyone for your lack of attention.
Some will say this is a bit over simplified. You decide for yourself. Is there more freedom in Canada or in Belize?

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Jan 242015
 
Dancing in the street during El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro. and painting up the town, have you ever wondered where that expression comes from?

Dancing in the street during El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro, and painting up the town, have you ever wondered where that expression comes from?

EL GRAN CARNAVAL de SAN PEDRO

“El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro” is a similar type celebration and event to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. This years theme is “La vida es un carnaval” or “Life is a carnival”. It felt like we just got past Christmas and several days of New Year celebrations here in San Pedro, when the town was already preparing for this annual event. It was held over a 11 days and began on Feb.07, 2015 with five ladies competing in “La Reina del Carnaval Pageant” or the “Carnival Queen Pageant”.


El Gran Carnaval Block Party

The following Friday the 13th (what could go wrong), the San Pedro Town Council hosted their annual El Gran Carnaval Block Party at the Central Park. The adjoining streets that were closed down to facilitate the event and there were culturally relevant music and dances held, as well as,  prizes for the best carnival inspired food, drinks, and souvenir booths.

El Gran Carnaval Masquerade Ball

On the 14th or Valentines Day the Masquerade Ball was held with the theme “be masked, be loved, be mine”. The admission is free and again there was music, free shots, and of course plenty of food and drink.

Traditional Comparsa and Painting in the Streets

From the 15th to the 17th there was traditional “comparsas”  (dancing) and painting in the downtown streets which were closed during these events as well. At first I thought that the painting was to spruce up the downtown area. However, I learned later that if you go there, you will get painted. Both children and adults parade through the downtown streets throwing eggs and painting anything not covered including each other. Also on the last evening the men dress as women and dance through the street in a display of role reversal.

El Gran Carnaval Finale

The festivities wrapped up at Central Park on last evening Ash Wednesday the 18th with the traditional burning of “Don Juan Carnaval” and reading of the Don Juan Carnaval Will.

Historical Origin of El Gran Carnaval

As I mentioned earlier, El Gran Carnaval reminded me of Mardi Gras, and although the history seems to be lost on most of the locals I asked, it appears to have arrived here with the settlement of the Spanish and the re-enactment of their celebration of the caraval of CadizThere is not much specific information about the origin of the individual customs on the internet or in local memory. In past times it was generally an opportunity for people to speak out against political and social injustice in a comedic way. The masks hid the identity of those speaking out tongue in cheek. The masks were later replaced with painted masks in Caribbean countries due to the heat, and the painting in the streets grew from there. It became a representation of lawlessness and things being opposite to the norm. Things being opposite to normal times is also represented by the men dancing in the streets dressed up in women’s clothes.

For an opportunity to experience this event for yourself, I have included one of my YouTube videos

 

 

Jan 232015
 

Every morning starts with a walk along this strip of the beach.

Morning walks on the beach

The beach starts another typical morning for us. We got up at 7:00 AM which is when the first flight left the Tropic Air Terminal and flew by our bedroom window as it does every morning. I make my “Bubba Cup” of coffee to go and after our showers, we take the golf cart to the beach for our walk. Now the beach is only a 10-15 minute walk for us, but with Phoebes’ short little legs, the heat some days, and the fact she not a young pup anymore, by the time she reaches the beach she is too tired to walk it. She gets up every morning and in her way lets us know that first thing, even before breakfast, we have to go for our walk on the beach.

The one exception

Tuesday morning is the only exception, that is when when we go to the docks where the Mennonite farmers arrive with fruits and vegetables for sale. If you don’t get there by 5:30 AM they will be sold out of many things and you will be disappointed. But once we get back it’s off to the beach for our walk.

The beach is our local social media.

We run into some of the same people everyday as well as meet new people. Monday it was a local guy we have seen many times on our travels, we would nod and wave to each other in passing, then on Monday we met him and talked a bit. We found he was a great guy who had lots of contacts and was very knowledgeable about a lot of things, from the in and outs of real estate here to good locally priced restaurants. We talked about why some businesses make it here and others fail.

The beach is our gringo gathering spot.

Yesterday we met Neil and Vera, a couple who live on the BC/Alberta border back in Canada (sorry guys forgot the name of your actual town), they bought a place here in Belize near Corozol that they come to each year for a few weeks and were here in San Pedro to visit for a few days. We talked to them for a good hour or so. We exchanged stories on how we ended up in Belize, our experiences to date which have all been good, their impressions of Corozol and our plans for the future. Unlike us they are not all in yet, they still live in Canada but want to retire here in the coming years when their families are grown and out on their own.
Today we met a lady from the New England area of the United States. She was here for a couple of weeks to vacation (visit).  During our conversations eventually people ask, “how long are you here for?” Once they hear we have moved here the questions start. I have found that there are several reasons people come to Belize, in some cases it is just for a vacation, some people are exploring future retirement destinations, some people wish to stretch their dwindling nest eggs or maybe crave the laid back lifestyle here. No matter what the reason their questions are usually similar to the ones that we had.

The beach is our school on Belize

We have learned from the local people and long term expats who are more than happy to answer our questions and share what they know, and, in the case of new expats and visitors, although we still learn new things on a regular basis, we enjoy passing on our experiences and the things that we have learned.For those reasons, as well as it is good exercise, except for the odd rain day our walk on the beach has become a daily ritual.

The beach is great. Right?

It’s natural to assume that a Caribbean country is lined with pristine sandy beaches. Unfortunately, Belize is not. Recently there has been a bombardment of the beaches throughout the Caribbean including Belize. Sargasso is unsightly and even a bit stinky if not taken care of right away. What is Sargasso and where does it come from? Check out this site on Sargasso.

Jan 222015
 

Phoebe needed a place that would board pets as we took a trip back to CanadaWhere can You Board Pets in San Pedro?

Need to board pets? As I have mentioned in the past pets can travel in and out of Belize fairly easily as long as you know and follow the rules. As I have also mentioned in the recent past Lorilee and I need to return to Canada  sometime in April. That started the debate weather Phoebe would come back with us or stay with someone here for the week. There are a few factors to be considered when taking her back. First there is the cost of the flights, then it can’t be good for her to go from extreme heat to extreme cold and then back again so quickly, then there are the medical documents and requirements to be met going in both directions, all that plus the fact that she gets quite stressed while travelling and for several days after. All that been said we decided she should stay. At this point I should mention we lived in Canada all our lives, for over 50 years and after all that time there were only two people Lorilee would leave her little girl with, that was her sister and her mother. Where would we find a qualified person in Belize after just a couple of months?

Yesterday we set out to find that person or organization. There are only four animal organizations that we know of that might board pets, I’m sure there are more but these are the ones that we have heard of  and decided to check out.

Scooby Doo Grooming & pet shop does not board pets but does a great job with Phobe's grooming“Scooby Doo Grooming and Pet Shop” was our first stop. That is where Phoebe gets her hair and nails done. She even got her picture posted on their Facebook site on Nov.20,2014 (she’s the one with the blue tag on her collar). Selini Reyes is the owner and groomer and does a great job with Phoebe every 4-5 weeks. Unfortunately they do not board pets but were happy to recommend “Pampered Paws”.

SAGA does great work with local animals in need. They do not board pets but were able to recommend Pampered PawsThe SAGA Humane Society – Was our next visit, the equivalent to the SPCA and ASPCA in Canada and the US. They have a great reputation in San Pedro for all the good work they do with injured, abused, or stray animals. They also have a not for profit, full service clinic with a full time veterinarian on site and a pharmacy with the most often needed veterinary medicines. I was quite sure that they didn’t board pets but, I figured they would  be able to recommend someone, and they did. “Pampered Paws”.

Pampered Paws was one of two recommended organization to board pets.Next was, you probably guessed it, “Pampered Paws”. They  have a service to groom and board pets in downtown San Pedro. They also have a great reputation for attention and service to animals. We obtained their rates and were assured the dogs are walked several times a day (to do their business, as the guy put it). We quite often see the young fellow that walks the dogs taking a golf cart load to or from their walk on the beach so we were fairly sure it does get done.

The San Pedro Animal Hospital we didn’t think they would board pets but it was on the way home so we decided to stop there for what we expected would be one last glowing reference on Pampered Paws.  The San Pedro Animal Hospital is where Phoebes’ Veterinarian is located. Her Vet is from Canada and is there for a year at which time she will be replaced by another Vet from Canada or the US. They also mentioned Pampered Paws but also told us they also groom and board pets and offer the same boarding service complete with several walks a day. It can even be on the beach for a small extra charge.

San Pedro Animal Hospital also has facilities to board pets. They beat out Pampered Paws only because with Phoebe's medical issues it made sense to board her at her vet.The San Pedro Animal Hospital was the Winner in the end and the organization we decided to go with. Pampered Paws is certainly more than qualified to board pets and even a few dollars a day cheaper for their service, but with Phoebe being on medication for her allergies, and also because she suffers from anxiety when we leave her behind with strangers we thought what better place to be if an emergency came up then with her Veterinarian. We provided them with her leash, toys, a familiar blanket to lie on, and of course her food, treats and medication. The cost was BZ$35.00 per day for a total cost of BZ$280.00 or US$140.00 for the 8 days we were away.

 

Jan 212015
 
Mein (I hope I spelled his name right) is one of many worker that remove the sargasso from in front of the resorts every day.

Mein (I hope I spelled his name right) is one of many worker that remove the Sargasso from in front of the resorts every day.

What is Sargasso?

Sargasso is the seaweed that is pictured and has been accumulating on the beautiful beaches of Belize and throughout the Caribbean for the past few years. It is not often talked about in the tourist pamphlets, or highlighted in resort and real estate ads when pictures of the pristine beaches are inserted.

The “unbelizeable truth”.

In an effort to provide honest unbiased information, I will try to show “the good, the bad, and the ugly” parts of Belize. While we have found only a few procedural things that make us scratch our heads and with an inside voice ask, why? We have not come across many things to categorize as bad or ugly things. I would have to say the seaweed problem is one of the ugly things.

Where does Sargasso come from?

Sargasso comes from the “Sargasso Sea”, which simply put is a floating mat of seaweed several thousand square miles in size. It is located in the North Atlantic and is held together by several ocean currents which surround it including the Gulf Stream to the north. How it gets all the way to Belize is apparently not known for sure, but as always climate change is often blamed for possible changes to the ocean currents and/or changes to the wind patterns that blow it towards the shores of Belize.

Will Sargasso ruin my vacation?

Sargasso should not bother you too much if you move to Belize, or if you are here on vacation to dive or snorkel on the coral reef that Belize is renown for. It is only in the mass pictured right at the shore, the beaches are still beautiful and of course the reef and water beyond is clean, clear, blue and seaweed free. If it does gather in front of your resort while you are here on vacation, don’t fret you will never have to walk very far to find a place to walk into the water or to find one of the long piers Belize is known for to jump off the end of. We have found several places that are always free of Sargasso if we want to go for a swim. We live on the lagoon side (west side), and although we don’t swim there (because I’m told there are crocodiles) we seldom see any Sargasso there.

So who likes Sargasso?

I see Mein the man in the picture every morning as we go for our walk on the beach, he is always busy and while we don’t talk much, we do recognize each other and say hi. He is always smiling, maybe not because he likes Sargasso but because it does provide employment. He and his two coworkers work for the resort where this particular 200 feet of beach is located. Beginning early in the morning they clean this stretch of the beach. There will be a couple of guys doing this in front of each resort or on each stretch of beach where the Sargasso accumulates. It is cleaned up and hauled away to be used for landfill in low lying or damp areas.  Also check out this post from “Belizelogue.com” for the unbelizeable truth on the beaches of Belize.

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