Leaving Belize

Part Four // Sea Joy

We are getting very close to finalizing the land sale and the papers are ready for signing with the next phone call. These papers consist of the agreement to sell, the transfere of land certificate, the research of land certificate, a title search, a title to the water line, a transfer of land holding and a land stamp. Believe me, everything gets a stamp on it whether it’s an ink stamp or a for real postage stamp with a hand stamp over it. And they all do it with a hard flourish. The buyers as well have their own attorney and probably similar pages to be signed.

I had a call this morning from Marni. To begin the conversation she told me they were to be gone for a brief time to France. They needed to “get away for awhile” for some R&R. It was hard to suppress a laugh. She then moves on to asking me if we had named our property. It is common practice on the island to name your home and not necessarily by a house number although the road name remains the same. For example our land sat on Coconut Drive, so our address would be —— of Coconut Drive. I tell her yes, it was named Sea Joy. I had taken the words from a poem that Jacqueline Boviar Kennedy had written in her youth. Marni thinks it’s the perfect name and asks if she can take it for her use. I feel a little sting to my heart for what was once ours and she seems to sense it and doesn’t push the subject further. She wishes us luck in our move and we say our goodbyes, knowing it’s probable we will never see nor speak to one another again.

At Your Request

Stepping Back Through That Door

Many of this blog’s readers have inquired several times to me about reading “the rest of the story” about my husband and I’s leaving from Belize. It’s taken me awhile to find my journals of that event, reduce some of the paragraphs to readable and understandable sentences and then to get it processed to WordPress. Beginning tomorrow one of 8 (I think) installments will be published and seen here.

After reading my journal it gave me a clearer understanding of why we were not successful in being islanders. Probably today it’s far easier for those who share the same dream as we did 19 years ago, to make it happen. Infrastructure is now better (well, sort of. Power outages are still common), food availability is now more affordable and easier to get as well as the selection has quadrupled (well, sort of. It still all hinges on transport by sea or air) and accommodations are more modern (well, sort of. It depends on your cash power).

And yes, we have been back to the island post leave. Several times in fact and even house sat for 28 days for island friends who vacationed in the US. All visits reinforced to us why we left and how we saw things much different from the perspective of a vacationer vs. full time residency.

Do we regret the return? It’s always hard to accept defeat. The cost was high and the stress was incredible, but no; no regrets. We tried it and most don’t even get that much. We learned where we really belong and what mattered most to us.

I hope you enjoy the start of tomorrows read….put yourself in my shoes for awhile if you care to and enjoy the ride as they say.

A Late Winter Storm

Flooded road to the historic Clay Creek Bridge

By now perhaps many of you are aware of the terrible late winter storm that we flatlanders here in the Midwest have experienced. It’s not as if we weren’t warned; we were. More than 3 days ahead of the storm it became ‘the news’ of our region. Already cancelations of event closings were being broadcast on t.v., newsprint and radio. It called for the beginnings of very warm moist air pushing up from the South and then colliding with cold artic air 24 hours later. Hence what we received were 2 full days of driving hard rains with high winds. The final punishment was three inches of heavy wet snow. The end result of this concoction was wide spread massive flooding. It was fast and brutal. The ground was still frozen from our unrelenting artic air we endured most of the past 4 months. With heavy rains falling on frozen ground and snow pac it was a recipe for disaster. We witnessed the farm land below us filling rapidly with rain run off from the upper water shed and smaller creeks that empty into the Clay Creek. Low lying roads and some bridges were washed away. Two small communities in our neighbor state of Nebraska were all but washed away. The western part of our state suffered as well, especially cattle ranchers.

Despite the tragedy and losses, there is still beauty after the raging storm died out. Late last evening we witnessed the landing of an enormous migrating flock of artic geese on the flooded fields below us. They came in at dusk and were slow to rise this morning. By noon the noise they were making was equivalent to a football stadium of cheering crowds. It was an awesome site to behold as they took flight once again, heading to their summer breeding grounds to the North.

Thousands of Snow Geese

And this evening we were reminded that a new day will begin again and the Vernal Equinox is but 48 hours away. Hurry Spring!

Sunset on flooded fields

Part 5: Be Careful What You Wish For

Written by Leisa Bailey

Today we will reach Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco, and beyond with our last check point at the next State of Campeche. We turn west a bit more onto a long stretch of heavy, thick black asphalt. It feels good to be cruising again on a smoother pavement. We are a distance from the coast and now pass through flatter land with grazing water buffalo and fields of pineapple and strawberries. We see a small fruit stand up ahead and pull over to the shaded underpass to see what’s available. Rural, nondescript dogs with no ownership are scaveraging for pineapple scraps that a man has thrown to them. None go to waste. He indicates the cost and that he will cut it for us. With his well used machete he quickly slices a small pineapple into perfect wedges with a few strokes of his sharp tool and hands them to us with dripping wet fingers. The flies are buzzing about us as we bite into this incredibly sweet fruit. I can say I’ve not tasted a finer pineapple ever.

We resume our drive and although on our map it looks as if nothing is out this way, it proves to be the most beautiful part of the drive so far. Large dense forest grows up to the road not leaving much of a shoulder to pull over to if needed. There are very few villages now and certainly less foot traffic, if any. I’m feeling the most relaxed that I’ve been since we began this journey. Suddenly we are driving into a cloud of migrating butterflies! They are beautiful with black and aqua markings and it pains us to see them on a collision course with the windshield as the migration goes on for miles. We slow and pull over into a tree sheltered pull off and get out of the vehicle to enjoy all this fluttering about. These lovely creatures are resting on our shoulders, heads and even our feet. An extraordinary experience. Pineapples to butterflies.

Within a few hours as we approach the eastern end of this State we pass several signs for the Mayan ruins in the area and beyond, that we’ve read about. Mauchin, Calakmul, El Ramonal and Becan are some of the larger ones. We see the very white graveled roads that lead into the more hilly areas but we have not allotted time to visit these historical sites. It would be easy to spend days appreciating just one of these ruins. Right now we feel the anticipation of reaching this next state border crossing and want to get through it without incidence.

So far our 3 crossings having been simple and quick. A few questions spoken in Spanish which we typically could not answer but we were able to explain by showing our map and pointing to Belize. This is our final State entry before encountering the largest one at Chetumal, leaving Mexico and going into Belize. We have been advised by other travelers that this perhaps could be a bit slower crossing with the most inquisitive military guards so far. As we slowly slide over the ever present topes that are designed to slow traffic before a stop point, we see but only 2 crossing guards ahead. One is working on a large bus line and having all the under carriage luggage removed. We are directed by the lone remaining officer to pull into a sectioned off area. These crossing guards are dressed in military uniform and carry weapons across their shoulders. I am sitting in the passenger side and this guard has selected me to be the one to talk with him. As my window slides down I am looking into the most beautiful green eyes of a serious looking, darker skinned soldier. He has a clipboard in hand. In perfect English he tells me to step out of the vehicle. I feel rather unsettled, as I didn’t anticipate this. He motions for my husband to remain in the vehicle. He’s a ‘right in your face’ kind of person as he begins asking me to state our business. I only answer the questions in the briefest but polite manner and volunteer no additional information. Never once do his eyes leave mine. He’s almost hypnotic to look at, in a way. He stands before me and says nothing. Seconds tick by before he finally dismisses me with a curt nod of his head and motions for me to get back into the vehicle and then with a flourish he turns and crosses the road to help his comrade with the tourist bus. My hands are shaking yet I feel like laughing as I loudly tell my husband to step on it!

Be Careful For What You Wish For

elevated highway between mountains and shore

Departing Entry Dated:

05.20.2000  0700

We are homeless.  No house, no mortgage…not even a phone and we no longer exist in the AT&T calling world.  And the feeling is exhilarating!

Our spirits are riding high as we are about to embark on a long awaited lifestyle change.  We are anxious to get to our tropical destination; it’s like a surreal dream about to come true.  Our route is laid out before us with the use of maps, penciled notations and a new gadget called a GPS, and contact names along our planned route, if needed.  All that we own is now compressed within the walls of this vehicle.

Our destination is yet another 5 days away from us.  A tiny and beautiful island off the coast of Belize, Central America.  A plot of land we purchased a few years ago to build our island dream home is awaiting our final plans to build on.  But first we need to traverse the eastern costal highways and roads of Mexico, a road trip that requires both of our eyes and minds to be watchful for potential trouble spots.  We aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy, is what we keep saying to each other.  “Crazy, those two are nuts”, is what some people were saying.  Who in their right mind would sell everything they owned, leave family and friends and go off to live on a tropical island in a developing country?  “More money than sense” is what was being rumored we surmised to one another more than once.  With a soft whisper I secretly acknowledged to myself, all the above could be true.

The Mexican costal region is jaw dropping beautiful.  From flat farm ground sprouting acres of pineapple tops to the forested highlands with flitting Blue Morpho butterflies flirting dangerously close to our windshield.  We can see fisherman out in their little dories casting their nets for the catch of the day.  The sea is a blindingly blue sapphire color.  In one small village we encounter the sale of caged parrots along the road side.  Heavy big trucks belch diesel fumes ahead of us as we slowly make our way through villages and smaller cities.  I have to pinch myself to realize where I’m at this very moment in time.

The road curves its way around mountains that proclaim the ruins of ancient Mayan societies.  We cross over the Tropic of Cancer in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and it’s then that I begin to feel twinges and then waves of remorse for leaving all that was familiar to me in my life.  I’ve gone over and over this move in my mind for the past two years yet now I’m beginning to doubt our reasons for doing this.

I’m gripping the steering wheel of our home on wheels when I veer sharply onto the graveled narrow shoulder of this pot holed highway and come to a bone jarring stop.  As the dust billows thickly around our vehicle, I turn to my surprised husband and sharply exclaim, “I can’t do this!  We have to go back!”.

This is a small excerpt from a journal I kept along the way of this true adventure.  One that had more twists and turns than the roads we traveled in getting to our final destination.