The jungle and the beach

It’s that time of year again when the first real rain of the season comes. And when that first rain comes, that evening is the invasion of the flood flies. Flood flies are flying termites out looking for a new home. When they start, it looks like the movie The Birds outside, as far as you can see it’s dense with flying bugs. We usually have to shut off all the lights and close the doors, windows, place towels under the door, and even run a strip of tape around the door to try to keep them out.  Once they shed their wings, then they just seem to disappear. The next day is usually clean-up day, wings are everywhere. The wings are not the easiest to sweep up because they are so light they just swirl up everywhere. The good thing is that it usually only happens once a year and our house is made of hardwood so termites don’t bother it. No matter how much we clean there will still be wings floating around here for a while.

Invasion of the flood flies.

Last month we had pictures of a single Coatimundi that we thought was eating our pineapples. They are very social animals except when the female goes off to give birth before returning to the group. We assumed that since she was alone that this must have been the case. Well, I think we assumed correctly. Because this morning about 30′ from the back patio I counted 14 of them coming down a tree. And the cool part was that at least half of them were babies.  Sorry, we didn’t get a chance for any photos, but hopefully, they will hang around and we will get some pictures next time. Oh, and since we put up a chicken wire fence around the pineapples we have had no problems with critters eating them.

A cohune pod that just opened.

Cohune palms are one of the largest and most majestic of all the palms. We literally have 1,000’s of them around the property of all sizes. The mature cohunes can get up to 90′ tall and we have measured some fronds we cut at 40′ and I’m sure they get even bigger than that. Right now they all seem to be busting their pod open exposing their flowers to be pollinated. When this happens it attracts a lot of bees and insects to take advantage of the pollen.

Cohune nuts. Golf ball size coconuts.

Soon after that, the cohune nuts will start to form. When fully formed a bunch of cohune nuts will weigh around 100lbs. These nuts have many uses such as extracting the oil for cooking, making soap and lamp oil. The hard outside shell is used in carvings and also for charcoal. The palm fronds are used in thatched roofing (and why not they’re huge) and the heart of the palm is supposed to be a delicacy. I wish we could utilize the nuts, but they have a very hard shell and are too difficult and time-consuming to crack open. On the plus side, cohune trees are a sign of good rich soil and when the nuts fall off the tree the animals seem to love them.

Red Emerald Philodendron

We have a wide variety of philodendrons and other plants around here that will usually produce a flower. At some point, we bought a Red Emerald Philodendron, just because we liked the red vine it had. Well, it finally bloomed and what a beautiful flower it was. Brilliant red with a very white cone in the middle. The flowers around here never cease to amaze us.

Amanda, Darren, Kelley, and Dave just chillin in Hopkins.

Our friend Darren comes down here twice a year and when he does we usually head over to the coast for a few days. This time when he arrived he caught a puddle jumper over to Dangriga and then a short taxi ride to Hopkins. Kelley, our friend Amanda and myself were already there waiting for him for a little fun and sun at the beach.

Not a bad place to spend the afternoon.

We were hoping to go out to an island for a little snorkeling or to do a little fishing, but the weather did not want to cooperate with us. It’s a good thing that the pool bar did not have a problem with the weather because that’s where we ended up spending a lot of our time.

The Serpon Sugar Mill in southern Belize.

While we were down near the coast we did get a chance to tour the old Serpon Sugar Mill that’s just outside of Hopkins along the Sittee River. It was established in 1865 with the first steam-powered device in the country, which started the industrial era here. Prior to this, all the sugar cane was ground by hand in a very laborious process.

The crusher that would grind the sugar cane.

There is lots of equipment on display including the crusher, boilers, steam engine, and other components. After 155 years of sitting out in the jungle, a lot of it is still in remarkable condition.

The steam-powered locomotive that would haul water from the river and move things around.

There is even the steam locomotive that they used to go along the river and get water to run the sugar mill. The locomotive was a two cylinder compound steam engine that drove one axle and in turn, drove the other making it four-wheel drive. One interesting thing about this engine was that the smokestack was hinged so that it could be lowered to pass under low bridges or buildings.

The boilers that produced the steam to run everything.

By 1910 the sugar plant was abandoned as they found the northern part of the country better for growing sugar cane.

The original steam engine that powered the sugar mill.

After a few days on the coast, it was time to head back up to the jungle so Darren could check on the progress of his new home build. He is building a 2 bedroom house on the five acres next to us. It’s coming along quite nicely, but there is still a lot of things to figure out and line up before it will be done. Hopefully in the not too far off future Darren will be coming down to his own jungle home in Belize.

Darren’s new house.

Since Darren was here it seemed like a good time to fire up the pizza oven and invite a few friends over. We usually don’t fire up the pizza oven for just the two of us, as it takes a few hours to heat up and that seems like a waste just to make a single pizza for us. On the occasions we do fire it up, it does make some good pizzas. Well, maybe Kelley and I have a little to do with that also.

A Margherita pizza with fresh garden ingredients.

Time really flies when there is something new and exciting happening all the time. It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years ago yesterday since we made the big move to the jungles of Belize. Besides all the amazing sights, animals, plants and people, we love that our property was a blank canvas to do and design whatever we wanted with it. We feel like it’s a painting of our life, add a little here, take a little away there, then add a little more until we are comfortable enough to put our name on it. The past three years have been an amazing ride for us and we are enjoying every minute of it.

Oh and great news this week… Southwest Airlines resumes flights to Belize on November 7th!!!!!! Hope to see you soon!

5 thoughts on “The jungle and the beach”

  1. Thank you for another post…always fascinating. What a great life!
    Brad & Carol

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