Whistling Ducks Farm Belize
Experiences and fun stories from a farm in Western Belize in Central America, by two gringas!
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Morning Serenade ... 5:15 am
We got woken today by Magic running outside, barking at a couple of guys who were walking over to our neighbour Emilia's house. Little do we know ... because those guys starting singing, the musical instrument being an accordeon ... Mind you, at 5:15 in the MORNING. They were sitting on her porch, singing their hearts out with Spanish dramatic music. Just so hiliarious. We called our neighbour and asked her who is courting ("hofieren") her :-) And she explained that they were actually singing for a 15 year old boy for his birthday. At this age the boys are considered being at the threshold ("Schwelle") to manhood and it's a very special birthday. The Spanish songs are still lingering while I am writing this (it is now 6am), of course we all got up, since the "human radio" at Emilia's woke us so nicely:-)
Friday, July 29, 2005
More Ducks at the Ducks Farm
More duck babies were born just a couple of days ago! They are beautiful and already started swimming in the pond. Its 15 babies now - some of them are with their real duck mama, the others go with the chicken who sat on them :-)
We noticed that everybody in the area knows us as "The Gringas from the Ducks Farm" (not "Jana and Robbie from the Whistling Ducks Farm"), but I guess its ok ...
I have to go back to work now, as I cut myself some slack these last days, even went swimming one time. With Marion and a friend of hers, Carol, who makes wonderful hand-cranked ("mit der Hand gekurbelt") ice-cream! I had bought a whole gallon of coconut icecream for the party yesterday and the girls liked it a lot!
The Dragon Ladies do Punta at the Whistling Ducks Farm
Gosh, that was a wild party yesterday! We had all the Football Girls from Santa Familia over for a barbecue which I promised them when they win. So around 5 pm the first girls showed up, all prettied up, some with their babies, but we excluded the boyfriends ... they are already 22 all in all ... We only had the two coaches there, our David and "Roaches", who is another guy that teaches them some rules and tricks, then there was Will, the bus driver, who takes them to their games if they play out of town, and Alwin P. the local politician. The only other two ladies were our neighbour Emilia (who did some translating because some of the girls only speak Spanish) and Marion, who brought her keyboard, but the girls weren't really into that kind of music she played (Robbie and I sure did ...) First everything went a bit slow, but as the sun set and they all had had their BBQ chicken, potato salad, beans and tortillas, they turned on their huge Boom Box and started dancing in the house. It was so loud that the dogs came outside and I was getting worried that the cracks in the house would get even bigger. But it was GREAT fun for all of us and I am sure the girls enjoyed themselves tremendously. Maybe we have another party again when they win some bigger games!
Sunday, July 24, 2005
BBQ YEEEHAAAA !
Old School Dreams
I just contacted my old school a couple of days ago, the one I left in 1978 with a secondary school diploma. It is the Salvator Realschule in Munich, and I don't really know why I started thinking about it and its teachers. Well, I got in contact with one of my former teachers (which I didn't realize as she had changed her name through marriage), Gitti D. , who is responsible for the school website and will forward a letter from me to my former class teacher. She is retiring next week, so I hope she has time to write back to me. It is really strange sometimes - I hadn't thought of most of these people for years, and suddenly they crowd my dreams ... Hah, maybe its Old Age, wouldn't that be cool.
My satellite dish is acting up today, but I think its because of the heavy power surges ("Spannungsstöße") or brownouts ("Spannungsabfälle"), which are really bad for our computer systems here. I have a large battery and some devices for voltage compensation ("Spannungsausgleich"), but it sometimes just doesn't do it. The weather at the moment, of course, doesn't really help. Those tropical storm systems, even if they are quite far away, produce clouds at a height that affect the satellites, which in the end boils down to ("hinauslaufen auf") a non-functioning laptop. My laptop.
But it is still working and I just hope I can send all my mails and this blog entry off before the systems go down (which usually happens after a series of voltage "jumps").
Usually, the electricity situation is not so bad, we had a couple of outages, but nothing serious, and its pretty reliable. The water situation is something entirely different: at the moment we have to cope with having water only from 5:30 am to about 8:30 pm, which can be rather annoying. But we are hearing a lot of promises that it is supposed to get better soon ...
Soon? What does "soon" really mean :-) Have I told you about Belize time yet? The article from knowledgeable Mr Lan Sluder describes it perfectly: http://www.belizefirst.com/vol2a.html (do a page search for Belize time on it, it is a wonderful article!).
Well, "soon" for me means at the moment that I need to get back to my workload now, so I can meet my deadlines.
All Work - No Play
Two full weeks of hardly any play time at all - but there is a chance that everything slows down a bit next week. I have one more job to finish and one more waiting in the queue, another big one, 27 pages. I miss going swimming or running around in town a bit - at the moment its just errands and grocery shopping and right back home to the computer.
But no, I am not complaining. I really like my work a lot and we need the money for a lot of projects coming up at the farm, so I just do what is necessary.
Robbie is still busy with the football club. Last weeks game was cancelled, however, due to the threat of Hurricane Emily hovering at the coast. Well, it passed, but Mexico got hit pretty bad, especially the area around Cancun and Tulum. The next one in line is Franklin, but it's too far away from us. We do watch the little news we get more closely at the moment.
So the next game tomorrow should be ok as scheduled. Let's hope the Dragon Ladies of Santa Familia win that one, as well. I promised them a barbecue if they did:-) David came over this moment and told us we could buy fresh pork from someone in the village, so Robbie got us some fresh ribs and a roast. They were just finished butchering the pig ... you can't get it any fresher. We don't eat that much meat any more, sometimes not even once a week, but every now and then we do like a bite of a roast or some bacon for breakfast. I feel a lot better without it and Robbie doesn't miss it so much either. My favorite at the moment is tomato salad with lots of onions and some green pepper (they call it "sweet pepper" here, most probably to distinguish it from the amazingly hot "habanero pepper", which they call just "pepper"). People here buy mostly the Mary Sharp Sauces (excerpt): Produced in the fertile paradise of Belize, her red habanero is considered to be the hottest variety of pepper known to man. Marie has spent many years cultivating an habanero wothy of her recipe. She has suceeded. Or of course any homemade stuff, which is really easy to make as the peppers just grow in the backyards. I really got used to the taste of it, but don't like the really superhot versions, such as "No Wimps Allowed" ("nicht für Feiglinge") oder "Beware" ("Achtung!"), which both have an amount of capsicum oil way above my tolerance level. When my eyes start to water and I can't speak properly any more - that is simply too hot :-)
I also got used to the herb Cilantro ("Blätter der Korianderpflanze"), which was very alien to my tongue at first. But the Belizeans put it into almost every dish, so I got myself accustomed to it. Took me a while, though...
We completed the move of all of Robbie's things out of the "townhouse" into her art studio. Now we need to build some shelves and work spaces for it, because we don't know where to empty all the boxes to. We do know what we do with the empty boxes, though! Sharane will use them all to pack her stuff and move, maybe into our ex-townhouse. Her landlady ("Vermieterin") wants to sell her house, so Sharane has to move out. Sharane just came back from the US and brought a friend with her - at the moment, she is on a island, vacationing.
Our new friend Marion came a couple of times and we saw her at her house in San Ignacio as well, which I think is beautiful, but she doesn't like it because the mosquitoes eat her up so bad. It's up on the hills next to Cahal Pech, in the very exclusive Maya Vista area, with views over the hills and the town. Marion cooks really great, she makes wonderful salsa, bakes her own bread, and last week she made a very tasty pasta dish. We taught her how to play Quiddler, the word game I mentioned earlier in the blog, and she is a lot of fun to play with. You would never believe her age (73) because she is so full of energy and agility. It's nice to have her around and we invite her whenever it is possible.
David is going to work for her once a week, we don't have so much for him at the moment anyhow and she needs someone reliable for her yardwork, so we "networked" the two:-)
Rotary work has slowed down considerably, which is good, because I needed a bit of rest after the two years as the club secretary. But I am still active, helping Johnny R. with his Club Service. I am responsible for the website and I did the weekly bulletin twice, which was fun.
OK, what else is new ... can't think of anything else at the moment, but will surely write as soon as it comes into my mind! Ahhh, I think the rats are all dead now - those ugly roof rats we had! They kept dropping dead during the last week, so I assume the poison helped. We just had to make sure the dogs don't get them before we do!
The duck pond had to be redone a bit, because there were some leaks, but David put a new layer of cement on top and we hope to be able to let them swim around in it in a couple of days.
They will be sooo happy!
Sunday, July 10, 2005
The Dragon Ladies Go National!
Robbie is in Belize City today, with the Santa Familia Football Team. Now, that they are one of the two district winners, they get to play all over the place. Today is the first day OUT and they are playing against the girls in Belize City, at the MCC field across from the Princess Hotel.
Update: just got a call from Robbie: our girls WON 2:1! I bet there will be a lot of screaming when they go through the village with the bus tonight! I also heard there was one bleeding nose but no further injuries.
Had a chat with Karli today, he is doing fine, got his Neem seeds (to grow Neem trees) from Max and Otto. Besides Neem trees to make oil against insects, he also grows Aloe, to make skin lotions, soaps and creams. Everything is in the growing phase but he is already experimenting with a liquid hand soap and we got to try the first samples. Very nice for the skin, and it also cleans and smells good!
Yesterday, all the football girls were at the house. They came in groups of 3 or 4 to have their pictures taken by Robbie for the registration of the national football association. I made them fresh lime juice and promised them a barbecue party when they win their first big game. Well, I guess they will take me up on my word soon :-)
Last week was really busy for me, I had a lot of work (still do), and no time to write the "blog". It was a quiet week anyhow. The pool got finished and was filled with water (and it stayed in!), and Robbie found 2 inch (5cm) long, naked rat babies in one of the nesting boxed in the large chicken coop house. We fed all eight of them to the chickens. They loved it! They also got pineapple skins which were left over after I made fresh pineapple jam one morning. That sure was a wholesome meal they got that day ... I was really surprised how a rat had the chance to build a nest for herself and her offspring ("Nachkommen"). In the middle of the chicken coop! Well, if they didn't eat chicken and eggs, we might have let them live. But so ...
Farm life is really something I still have to get used to. Life out here is so different from what I experienced before. But I also like it. I am closer to nature, closer to animals, also insects, and although I am a lot at the computer, I am still a lot more outdoors than ever before.
Next week we will go and visit Marion Z., she invited us. She also has a computer problem, so we will try to fix that as well.
I will upload a couple of pictures (of the MCC football field in Belize City and of a Neem tree) and then its: back to work.
Monday, July 04, 2005
The Hawkesworth Bridge was actually built in 1949 not 1941 as Jana wrote earlier. Our friend, Richard, told me when I first came to Belize that you are a real Belizean if you walk across the bridge....it is a bit shaky or at least the suspension walkway that runs alongside the bridge is shaky. The bridge itself is fine.
Jana is actually the more proliferate witer. I dabble with it a bit but prefer being out "doing things". But occassionally you'll see entries from me into here.
Today should be a busy crazy day. Friends are going to be moving the furniture from my apartment in town into my studio (which is finally ready). Once I get that organized then the other stuff will be moved in...computers, scanners, cameras, art supplies, books, etc. I hope to be "up and running" in a very short while. I've started pouring concrete and plaster of paris sculptures into molds that I created. Plan to paint them and either sell them or give them away as gifts to friends. I've already spoken to a carpenter about building an art table...showed him a picture from Dick Blick catalog of one that is listed at $2000. He will build one of mahagony for $300 Belize dollars...I'll post a picture when it is built.
Well guess that is enough for tonite...need to catch 40 winks before all the craziness begins.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Girls Movie Night!
Started early with cleaning up the house and getting everything ready for our Girls Movie Night. We invited Emilia, Sharane, Marion and Helen, they are between 50+ and 70+ years old and we plan on watching "The Fighting Temptations", which we saw with Sharane the other day. Sounds like a fun night to me, with lots of music. I have to go cook now so I will write more later. Besides the salad and the little "before dinner snack" I will cook pasta!
Ok, everybody is gone now, it was a nice evening with lots of fun and laughter, good food and a cool movie. Marion did Robbie's and my horoscope charts, at least the short version. She said it would take an hour to really explain the reading. Pretty interesting already. And it looks like we have a really good time ahead!! At least the next couple of years ...
Maybe we all go swimming next week. Marion suggested the pool at the resort The Garden of Eve on the Western Highway. I don't know it but it sure sounds inviting:-)
Woah, I still feel pretty full after our great dinner tonight! I had my currently favorite drink (coconut rum with sprite), Sharane tried it, too. Marion and Robbie hat ideals (home-made variety popsicles without a stick, but in a plastic wrap/"Wassereis, aber nicht am Steckerl, sondern in einer Plastikhülle") and Emilia stuck to water because she is taking antibiotics and wants to be careful.
Helen didn't make it tonight, her boys needed the truck, so she had no transportation. But she told us so late that we couldn't pick her up. Well, maybe next time!
Its 10:30 now so I can work a bit more before I go to bed tonight!
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Tarantula Snack for the Chicken
Yesterday, I forgot to write that Max and Otto, our friends from Germany came by for a short visit. They are only staying 2 weeks before they come back again in November for their extended 1/2 year stay with their wives. They brought us some pretty pareos from my Mum, and two magazines and some headache medicine, which helps me instantly. Can't get it here in Belize, so I was glad they brought it. I will see them again next week, when they need me to accompany them to get some business done and I can help them with the translation.
Gave Angel a bath today, after Robbie cut her hair the other day. She looks so pretty now and fluffy, and feels a lot better, no itching, not so hot.
Didn't do too much work today - I guess I needed a rest - so I went into the chicken coop with Robbie and helped her give water to the birds, watered some of the flowers and Sharane's roses which she left here the other day, and while watering, I flushed a tarantula out of her hole in the ground. Well, I just kept the hose on her and pushed her into the chicken coop, where they all got awfully excited, because that's a really good snack for them! They know exactly how to handle them, so they are not endangered by the poison, and it was really fun to watch them: one carried it around, another one stole it and started running in the other direction and so forth. Only the geese were completely unimpressed, they just held their heads up high and walked away, like they were saying .. Aaaah, child's play!
Later Robbie and I both hung out in our hammocks, Robbie in the shade, me under the trees with a bit of sunshine, both reading books. It was extremely quiet, just some bird sounds every now and then. Robbie saw a strange bird in the sky, and when I looked, I thought it was some kind of huge seagull ("Möve"), which is really unusual for this part of the country. You don't usually find them so far inland, rather close to the ocean. And it was also a lot bigger than a usual seagull, almost three times as big. So we are not sure what it actually was.
Played a game of Quiddler with Robbie, lost ... Quiddler is a really cool word game, short, easy to learn, and we always use the dictionary to look up words, because we want to understand more. It is great fun and we hadn't done it in a while.
Found a huge red ant nest at the backgate and I tried to burn it, together with the log ("Baumstamm") under which they had created their nest. I saw thousands of those red ants everywhere after I poured some grill lighter ("Anzünder") over the nest to set it on fire. Plus at least the same amount of eggs as well. I haven't checked it since. Hope I got them ALL. They leave really nasty marks on the feet if they "get" you. I get little white, itchy, fluid filled spots which last at least a week...
Played another game of Quiddler, lost again!
In the evening, while Robbie was at the football field with our "Dragon Ladies" from Santa Familia, who had a game against the girls from Blackman Eddy, I prepared some of the food for our "Girls Night" tomorrow: I made some tomato, onion, green pepper salad and some stuff to put on toast and grill it as an hors-d'oeuvre. It's a mix of ground meat, sikil, onions and garlic (Hackfleisch, Kürbis, Zwiebeln und Knoblauch).
Played another game of Quiddler, WON this time!
And our Dragon Ladies won 3:1! YAY!
Friday, July 01, 2005
Still working on the Pond
The guys are still busy with the pond, there is quite some work to do, besides building the duck house and the goose nesting area ("Nistbereich"). David had dug out the trench and now they are filling it with cement, rough, so the birds can walk out easily. There is also a flat spot for the baby ducks so they can walk in and out of the water easily. I thought about painting it with pool paint, but that's way to expensive, so we just put some sealer on and hope it will hold it. I can hardly wait for the first water fowl ("Wasservögel") to jump in there and enjoy their new fun pool.
Besides that ... I am working. Had my Rotary meeting yesterday, the regular breakfast meeting, and it was so relaxing, although I did have to do the attendance one more time (finalize the month). I liked the way they set it up: they made tables for every committee with little signs on it, so everyone HAD to choose a committee. A really wise decision. And there was one table with one chair in the corner with a sign on it: RINO. That's for the guys who are "Rotarians In Name Only" ("Rotarier nur dem Namen nach"), who do pay and come to the breakfast, but don't work at all in any committee or group. Pretty funny.
I look forward working with Johnny R. on the Club Committee. It's all about PR, events, members, just everything that makes the club run. Can already think of some neat things to do.
Robbie saw another snake today in the tree next to the kitchen. Her fourth one in two weeks now. One (harmless) was in the barbecue grill, one at our neighbour Emilia, one on the road (which she killed with a stone because it was coming towards our yard and could have been poisonous), and the one yesterday was just in the process of catching a baby bird. The mama bird pecked on the snake and made a lot of noise, so the workers told Robbie and she chased the snake away and rescued the baby bird. It didn't survive, though, most probably too shocked. Those snakes, however, are really ok in general, they don't bother humans or pets, but eat rats and mice and frogs and so help keep the environment in balance. We are trying to get more information, so next time we know earlier, if its a poisonous or a non-poisonous snake and don't kill a harmless, useful one. The Belize Zoo is usually a good source of information. And it's a beautiful place to go to anyhow, great for kids and adults.