Finally able to breath again

Water gushing out of the water line as a burning tree lays across it.

As soon as the last post went out, the fires in the mountains right behind our village got really bad. Besides burning up all the hillsides, the main water line to the village was threatened by the fire. They did all they could to protect it, but they couldn’t stop burning trees from falling on it. The village put out an urgent plea for anyone who could volunteer to help fight the fire. When the burning trees fell they either broke or melted the water line and that cutoff the supply for the entire village. Thanks to all the hard-working individuals, they hauled more pipe and equipment up the hill and had the water line repaired and back in operation again by the next day. Then two days later the fire took a turn and headed back towards the pipeline, but they managed to keep it contained and away from it this time.

Friends coming together to form a burrito assembly line.

We really wanted to help somehow, but we are getting too old to climb a mountain and fight a fire. So about 9:00 one evening we came up with this idea that we could make food to help feed the people who are actually fighting the fires. Burritos were the perfect choice because they are very portable and don’t really need to be warm. We called up a local restaurant that evening and asked if they could make us 100 or so flour tortillas. We told them what they were for and they had them ready for us first thing in the morning. So we talked to a few neighbors and all got together the next morning to form a burrito assembly line. We just happened to have a bunch of meat in the freezer, another friend made refried beans and another had loaves of banana bread. We also ran to town to pick up a bunch of bags of chips and a truckload of water bottles. We managed to get it to them just before noon and other volunteers hiked it up the hills to the guys fighting the fire. It was a small gesture but the village said that it was greatly appreciated.

A burned hillside along the road between our place and the highway.

After about two weeks of fighting the fire around our village day and night, they had won the battle. The fire was out and there was no more threat to the village. There were still a lot of other fires burning all over Belize, a big one in Pine Ridge just up the road from us has already burned 34,000 acres. Plus another big one down south that has destroyed a lot of cocoa farms and all the other smaller fires that seem to pop up every mile or so. They said that this is one of the worst fire seasons in Belize history. A lot of farmers lost their entire crops and orchards, plus all the damage done to the jungles and animals around Belize.

The well-needed rains have finally arrived.

The sad part is that a lot of these fires were caused by farmers burning their fields and then letting it get out of control. Even though there are fires everywhere and you can hardly see through the smoke, we still see people burning leaves or garbage in their yards. It’s really sad to see all the burned landscape around the entire country. The rains have finally started to come and everything should green up pretty quickly, but it will still take years before all the trees to grow back.

This would be a more beautiful picture if the sky was blue and not filled with smoke.

Amongst all the wildfires and forest devastation throughout the country, there is still some beauty to be had. This picture was taken at a park in downtown San Ignacio across from Hodes restaurant. Usually, we will see only one color of tree bloom at a time. We have never seen four different colors of trees blooming all at once and right next to each other. Can you imagine if they were to plant a mile or so of trees like this along both sides of a road somewhere?

A big colorful tree in our driveway over the garage.

Once the smoke cleared and the sky turned blue we noticed this big orange tree right over the garage. We have never noticed it in the past years, so maybe this was the first time that it actually bloomed. We are not sure what kind of tree it is, but if we ask around I’m sure we will get an answer.

Looks like fresh pineapples and mangos this week for breakfast.

It’s pineapple season at our place! At this point, our pineapples are not as big as in years past because of the drought and very hot weather. But there are a lot of them and they are delicious. With all the rains we are starting to get, the ones still on plants should plump right up in the next few weeks. The animals have gotten to a lot of the ones that were not protected by our electric fence, but there are still plenty for us.

A bunch of one gallon bags of cocoa waiting to be processed.

Like I said before, we have been picking a lot of cocoa. With the high temperatures and everything else going on, all we’re doing at this point is drying the beans and then sealing it up for later. So far we have at least 30 lbs. of dried cocoa beans ready to be processed. Once everything calms down, we will be able to get back to making delicious dark chocolate again.

The farm lot is looking good.

Ruben has our farm lot planted right now and it’s looking good. He has corn, bush beans, chiles, and tomatoes. A lot of the farmers around here have been suffering because they depend on the rain to water their crops, and it’s been a very hot and long dry spell. Our farm lot has water running to it, so this is not a problem for Ruben to keep his crop looking good and healthy. In another month or so he will begin to start harvesting. He will keep some for his family, we will take a little, and the rest he will sell to the markets.

Darren, Ron, Rhonda, Patrick and Dave enjoying some beers at Mango Fest. Kelley is taking the picture.

Darren came down to spend a week at his place before we headed over to Hopkins for a little beach time and to escape some of the smoke. Hopkins had Mango Fest going on the weekend we were there, which was just a big party to celebrate everything mango. Ron & Rhonda along with Patrick, who owns the Flying Pig Bar in Placencia came up for the day to join us.

Mangos everywhere you look.

Right now is peak mango season in Belize. Everywhere you looked around Hopkins there were trees just loaded with mangos. The sad part is that everyone has mango trees and most of them are just letting them drop on the ground and rot. I guess you can only eat so many mangos before you get tired of them.

The view from our patio. The water was so calm that you could not see the horizon line.

This time in Hopkins we stayed at Hopkins Bay resort on the north end of town. Earlier this year we found a deal where you pay for one night and get two more free, and you can’t beat a deal like that. Anyway, one morning Kelley and I decided that we would go for a dip out in the calm Caribbean Sea. We were about ankle deep working our way out when we noticed a log floating about 50′ from us. We watched it for a while and then it disappeared under the water. We thought logs don’t just sink like that, could it be a crocodile right there near the beach where we were getting in the water?

And I thought we only had to watch for sharks while swimming in the ocean.

Kelley went and got her big camera and sure enough it was a 7′ crocodile swimming just 50′ from us. We followed him down the beach for a while until he was far enough away from us and we thought it was safe to get back in the water. We were fine in the water, but every time a piece of seaweed or something would touch us it gave us the heebie-jeebies. So we decided it was best if we got out and sat in the pool and looked at the beach.

The last month and a half were not the best down here, but all is good now. The weather is better, some rains have started, the plants are looking good again and we are getting back to all the things we love about this place.

Happy Fathers Day to all you great dads and hope to see you soon!


8 thoughts on “Finally able to breath again”

  1. Hi Dave & Kelly. Good to hear the fires are subsiding. We don’t associate jungle with fire…seems out of place. Our fire season in AZ hasn’t been too bad, yet. Sounds like the price of chocolate may be going up. Happy Father’s Day!

    Ther is a new addition at the android phone. If you take a picture of an object, such as your tree, open the picture in your gallery, hold down the home button, draw a circle around the subject with your finger, and the program will five you an idea of what kind of tree it is. That is what I just did with your picture.
    I’m glad to hear that you both are safe. It was an amazing idea to make burritos for the people fighting the fires. You are good people.

  3. Happy Father’s Day Dave!! Glad to hear you’re safe! Sometimes it takes a village and you two are best to make that happen ! We miss you in our little village too!
    I’m staying in a planting farm in Pa for the summer and so fun to grow and eat your own nurtured crops! Love all your stories and beautiful photo! Hugs to both of you! Belize is lucky to have you!

    1. Thanks Carol. Yes all is good now. Anytime you want to come down here for the summer you know we have a place for you. Our great neighbor who just finished building is from PA. Wouldn’t that be funny if you were at his farm.

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