When We First Arrived

Ole “Betsy” our dug-out canoe.

When we first arrived in Belize all we had was our dug-out canoe, a few tools, and the clothes on our back. We were in search of a new way of life and adventure where we could live off the land and escape the reality of what the world had become. We’d spent a lot of time looking for that perfect piece of property where we could grow our own food and live a more simple life.

What would become our new home.

Eventually, we met someone who told us that he needed to catch a ship out on the coast that was sailing in a few days. The only way he could make it to the coast in that amount of time was by taking a boat down the river. Well, we happened to have a boat and he had a piece of land that he wouldn’t be needing anymore once he caught that ship. So a trade was made, he got his boat and we got a piece of jungle property for our new homestead.

The best way to get around the jungle when we first arrived.

Getting around our new piece of jungle property was very difficult at first since it was heavily overgrown. The easiest way for us to get around the property was to climb a tree and swing on the vines through the treetops like Tarzan and Jane. This worked out great for us, we were able to get a birds-eye view of the property and decide where we would start clearing for our new home.

The lizards were so big that they looked like dragons.

Once we started clearing and were able to walk on the ground we saw many animals that we had never seen before. There were monkeys, wild cats, snakes, pacas, armadillos, anteaters, and huge lizards. When you are swinging through the treetops I guess you don’t notice them, but we needed to be on the ground now, so we just had to deal with them and learn to live amongst them.

Our first shelter allowed for a lot of airflow.

The weather, for the most part, was very good and sleeping under the stars was great, but then came the rainy season. At this point, we decided that we needed to build a shelter to help keep us dry. It only took about a week before we had a nice practical shelter that we could call home.

Cooking was very simple and everything had this wonderful char flavor.

There was no room in the shelter to build a kitchen so all the cooking had to be done outside over an open fire. At that point, all of our cooking utensils were fashioned out of wood sticks we had found in our travels. A kitchen inside of the shelter seemed very impractical because one small spark inside and that shelter would go up fast and we would have to spend a whole week building another one.

As long as it looked edible we ate it.

Times were tough in the beginning, water was plentiful, but food was another story. We had to scavenge the jungle for anything that we thought was edible. Some of the wild fruits, berries, and mushrooms were very tasty, but others left a very bad taste in your mouth.

Preparing the soil for our first garden.
Within weeks our crops were doing great.

Scavenging for food was getting very tough as we found out that a lot of the things we were finding to eat were seasonal and not always around. We did notice that the soil around here was very dark and rich looking so we made the decision to put in a vegetable garden. With a good garden, we wouldn’t have to go looking for food constantly and we could actually grow things that we like to eat.

It didn’t take long before we had more bananas then we knew what to do with.
The pineapples were starting to produce and supply us with food.

Once the vegetable garden was in and doing well it was time to plant some fruit trees that would not take much care, but would provide food for many years to come. First of all, we planted bananas, because they will just keep producing lots at a time and bananas are a good and healthy food. The next thing was pineapples, just like bananas, pineapples will keep producing if you separate the plant or replant the tops. Then we went crazy and planted just about every type of fruit tree you can imagine including coffee and cocao.

Not just a clearing for our new home, but wood to cook our daily meals.

Now that we would have a constant supply of food it was time to clear an area where a bigger and more permanent home would go. This one took quite a bit longer than a week to build, but it had an indoor kitchen. So now life in the jungle is good and we are thriving. We do miss swinging on the vines through the jungle and every so often we do think about giving it another try. But with all the food from the garden and an indoor kitchen, we have now put on a little weight and we just don’t trust the vines anymore.

The End

I hope you enjoyed this little fictional-non-fiction story.

7 thoughts on “When We First Arrived”

  1. You are true pioneers! My husband and I have developed raw land in Oregon and built houses in very rough environments but never in the jungle. BRAVO! I can just imagine what you went through….truly I can. You are real troopers! What a sense of satisfaction though to look back and see all the progress you made. I’m proud of you (and I dont even know you). You inspire me and probably everyone who has ever met you.

  2. OMG – love this! Photos are awesome in the vintage look. Your story is very entertaining! You missed your calling Dave! You can be a novelist! Love & miss you guys!

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