Got a New Home...

9/25/2014 05:44:00 AM | 1 Comment
Dave and Dianna's blog, Winjama - Adventures in Paradise, about living in the Caribbean, Central American paradise of Belize, has a new home.

Please take the time to update your bookmarks now with the new address:

http://winjama.net/blog

We'll go ahead and leave this site up for a month or so. All of the postings and comments contained here at the old location are on the new site. We're still working on some of the behind the scenes formatting and other issues for the new site, so bear with us.

We're using new software, WordPress, so there's definitely a learning curve that we're working our way through. We hope you'll like the new layout and increased functionality. It'll take some time to get everything hammered into shape.

If you find something that doesn't work or behaves in a weird way, please let us know by dropping a comment on the new blog site.

Thanks for your patience.

Cheers,
Dave and Dianna
For better than seven years now this blog has been resident on Google's Blogger servers and using the Blogger software. We actually started the blog in March 2007, about three months before we left up north.

For those of you who want to read the full story, it's there, from the very beginning - packing, moving, and all. In short, the whole nine yards.
Blogger Logo
Overall I can't complain about how it(Blogger) has worked. It does have some limitations, but for general day-to-day use, the Blogger software has done what I wanted it to and more.

Nine hundred thirty nine (939) posts, well, with this one, 940 posts and I can't say there have been any major problems. Over the years, some formatting issues have come up here and there of things I wanted to do but was unable because the feature wasn't offered in the Blogger environment.

I've drooled for a long time over WordPress. It seemed to offer a lot of features that were things I wanted to do, along with a lot of formatting advantages, and some behind-the-scenes tools.
WordPress Logo
But, it seemed that every time I tried to install WordPress, I entered the foggy landscape of murky instructions, poor brain functioning, laziness and the feeling, kind of like in a dream when you're trying to run, but the ground has become a sea of molasses.

At which point, I just backed out of trying to deal with WordPress and became content, once again, to do my thing using Blogger. That is, till a few weeks ago. Suddenly, the light turned on, the fog went away, along with the molasses, and I was able to set up WordPress and actually start doing some stuff with it.

For example, I was able to import all nine-hundred-thirty-nine posts, including pictures and other images (all told, there were about 4,000 images successfully imported). In addition, all the comments that readers have posted (over 1,700 of those) imported fine.

Right now, I'm working on fine-tuning the indexing of all the posts (I'm about a third of the way through that chore), making sure that all the photos are located as I want them with the right captions, and a myriad of other housekeeping items.

I've picked a format that gives the blog a really clean and up-to-date look that I think readers will really appreciate - I know it's easier for me to look at it.

Not only is there new software, a new look, and all that, but there's going to be a new URL, or address for the blog. It will be under its own domain - which it's OK if that doesn't mean anything to you. It's just that it makes the URL shorter and easier to use and remember. It's part of a domain that I've owned for several years now and really, other than some email stuff, have done very little with it.

The new URL is:

Part of that fine-tuning I mentioned is blowing out some of the cobwebs and dust-bunnies that have accumulated in the domain because of lack of use. Maybe I should get a virtual Roomba to help keep the domain clean.

Anyway, I'm guessing that it's going to be a couple of more weeks, give or take, before the new URL is completely ready. One way I've found to encourage myself to complete a task is simply to dive in and do it. So, that's what I'm going to do.

The only downside is that I'm going to virtually drag you along. You'll just have to put up with some missing things for a bit, as and until I figure out how to do them in WordPress. I've still got several hundred postings to go through, one by one, to get the indexing firmed up, along with a bunch of widgets and other plug-ins that I'm figuring out how they work and where on the blog they need to be stashed.

Even though it's not quite ready for prime time, it's up and functioning (I think). So, if you would, go ahead and change your bookmark for Winjama to the new URL above. I probably won't make but a couple more postings on the current URL. I'll put in a simple page advising folks to go to the new URL and I'll leave that up for a month or so. Eventually, I'll pull the plug on this URL and then it'll be all moved to the new site and that will be that.

We look forward to seeing you at the new site.

Cheers,
Dave and Dianna
Well, it's about time I did a follow-up on my back. The short version... I survived. The long version... I still have a manageable amount of pain and that is improving. I'm seeing Dr. Marc Nadreau at Holistic Health Care clinic every week for an adjustment and acupuncture. That's moving me quickly to the land of being healthy.

I'm also seeing Doctors Kishore and Natasha Punjabi at Five Rivers Medical Centre, located on 5th Avenue, near Courts, not only for my back but some other things that I've been dealing with for a few years - hypertension, cholesterol, and thyroid issues. Becoming older is so much fun.

I know there's a few folks who read FaceBook. Against my better judgement, I re-joined FB. I had asked on there if anyone knew of an ultrasound clinic in the Corozal area. The response I got was several rumors and "I think" or "I heard", but no one seemed to have any hard knowledge of one.

Let me be the first to tell you, yes there is one. It's located in the the Northern Medical Specialty Plaza, Ltd. up by Nigel and Jennie's place which is up near the bus yard on College. If the clinic name rings a bell, that's because you've probably been to the clinic of the same name over in Orange Walk. This is a satellite of the Orange Walk Clinic. It's staffed by at least six doctors covering the following areas: OB/Gyn, Pediatrics/Neurology, Ultrasound/Reconstructive/Plastic Surgery with Dr. Ricardo Quetzal, Internal Medicine, and Anesthesiology.

As you can imagine, I've also been getting some blood work done at a nice new and very professional lab, Prohealth Alliance Clinical Laboratory, with Celso Carrera, Certified Medical Lab Technician. They're located in the same building as Five Rivers Medical Centre. There is a pawn shop in between the two locations. I haven't used the pawn shop, but I suppose it's handy if the medical bills become too much.

Without going into too much detail, pretty much everything from the doctor visits, lab test, ultrasound, and anything I've forgotten, has come back as good news. The only thing, and that's being worked on, is my blood pressure is still too high.

An indication of how well things are progressing is that I just spent my first complete day and night without any pain medication since the fall. There was still a bit of pain now and then, but I managed to comfortably get through the night - except for the two hours when we had a country-wide power outage.

One less pill to take. Yay!
Notice the Intertubes being more recalcitrant and obstinate than usual? Yeah, me too. In fact, I can prove it.

All sorts of Websites have provided bits of code to use on your own Website or blog that simulate a page loading, and loading, and loading...

We've gone one better. Our blog apparently found something amiss with the code provided by a couple of them and refused to allow me to insert the code. After the second refusal, I got tired of trying to load the code, figuring I had better things to do. As a result, you don't see the page loading imagery here.

Here, you have to do it the old-fashioned way - you have to use your imagination. Imagine that! Almost like you used to have to do when you read a book.

So, just for today, break out the old imagination and fire away... Slowly, of course. Remember, this is the Intertubes Slow-Down Day after all.

We'll see you tomorrow at regular speed. "Engage!"

Where Do I Begin?

8/29/2014 04:18:00 PM | 11 Comments
The last week and a half has been interesting, to say the least. Let me bring you up to speed on all that has happened.

First, a week ago Tuesday (August 19), I had Balthazar Vasquez and his son/helper come to take a look at a couple of steel screen doors we have on the Mennonite house. Upper and lower on the same end of the house. We were talking about pulling the doors and frames out and them working on the doors to refine the fit and to replace heavy metal screening in the doors themselves. I wanted them to replace the welds holding the screen in place with screws so the screening would be relatively easy to paint/replace on down the road.

We started off looking at the upstairs (front) door. Actually, the first thing I did was to tie up the dogs to prevent any undue familiarity with them and workers. A security measure of sorts. That went fine at first. When it came time to inspect the lower door, which was where I had the girls tied up, I had to move them so that Balthazar could check out the door.

Not even giving it a thought, I disconnected their main chain (they each had a short length of chain to their collars, which in turn were joined to the main chain) planning on moving them all together to the parking palapa.

Big mistake on my part. The dogs, already excited because of Balthazar being there, and now I was trying to move them as a group. Well too much excitement led to a big fight with the three of them. Poor Cindy Lu, being the smallest took the brunt of it. It probably only lasted a few seconds. I managed to get them separated and secured.

Then I told Balthazar that we could start this project on Wednesday morning and eased them out of the property. During all that, Dianna had checked out Cindy Lu, She had sustained a couple pretty good bites but nothing real severe. I bundled her on her leash into the Isuzu and took her to Dr. Sheila, just to make sure.

After getting some pills for antibiotics and such, we returned home. As I was letting her out of the car, things went to hell in a hurry. I had thought in the half-hour Cindy Lu and I were gone, that the other two dogs would have calmed down and returned to normal. No. They immediately jumped on Cindy Lu and a really terrible fight ensued.

I was trying to get the dogs separated, pounding on Deeohgee and Secret, which did no good at all, and then tugging on Cindy Lu's collar, which slipped off her and sent me flying airborne, landing flat on my back across a concrete curb. As I landed, I heard a loud and distinct 'crack'.

My first thought was that I had broken my back. I managed to get up. It didn't feel too bad right then and I helped corral the two big dogs. Cindy Lu had gone over to the other side of the palapa and was lying down. Dianna went over to check her out.

At that point things began to get a little foggy for me. I began to realize that I was probably hurt more seriously than I initially thought.

Dianna said Cindy Lu was bleeding quite a lot if she moved her. I knew I was not going to be able to drive. We called David and Elizabeth and they came over quickly. Dianna and David carried Cindy lu to his car and they took Cindy Lu back to Dr. Sheila's. Sheila immediately began triaging Cindy Lu's wounds. She said we could probably pick her up at five PM.

After they got back from that trip, we (I think) were talking about if I needed to go to the doctor. I opted for the hospital to get an x-ray of my back, assuming that would be the first thing my doctor asked for. Just then, the phone rang. It was Dr. Sheila with the very bad news that poor Cindy Lu didn't make it. Sheila just could not stop the bleeding. Both her femoral artery and vein had been badly damaged in the fight.
Our Beloved Cindy Lu in Happier Times
We just didn't have time right then to start any sort of grieving process. I know for me, the rest of the afternoon was quite surreal. I know I haven't yet acknowledging her loss. It's weird how things can just become so compartmentalized.

David loaded me into their Isuzu and took me up to the hospital. Elizabeth stayed at our place with Dianna.

When we got to the hospital, I was amazed at how fast I actually got in to see a doctor. He asked a couple of questions and looked briefly at my back. I ended up getting an injection in the butt and a prescription for some pills. Altogether, I was in the hospital about 10 minutes. I had completely forgotten to ask for an x-ray and the doctor didn't mention it either.

So, back to the house. By this time, it's apparent to everyone (not necessarily me) that I can barely move. Immediately, we set up camp in the pool house, as climbing the stairs up to our Mennonite house would be almost an impossibility. And this is where we've been living ever since. Except for today, which is the first time I've been back upstairs so I could do this blog bit and some other things.

Early on, we made contact with Dr. Marc Nadreau, a Chiropractor who also is an acupuncturist. I met with him Wednesday, the day after my fall and I've had three or four sessions with him since. I think that's why I seem to be making quite substantial progress toward recovery.

Yesterday, I also visited with Doctors Natasha and Kishor Punjabi, who run the Five Rivers Medical Clinic just north of Courts. They put me on some pain killers and muscle relaxants. Great doctors and great people. Very easy to talk to, and very knowledgeable.

After four sessions with Dr. Marc, my back this afternoon is finally feeling almost normal. I certainly didn't think I would be feeling like this so soon after the fall.

We're thinking that maybe tomorrow we can begin moving back into the Mennonite house. Of course, if the tropical wave coming towards us develops into something, we may be back down to the pool house as our hurricane shelter. Maybe we'll be slow about moving out. Besides, I don't want to jeopardize my back and the progress that's been made with it.

Back to the dogs for a bit. On the one hand, it was a very bad scene with the fight, and with Cindy Lu dying. It would be easy to say, "That's it, they're gone and get rid of Secret and Deeohgee too". But, they're still lovable. There was no malice in what occurred. It's just one of those things that happens in the dog world. If I'd been more like Cesar and had stronger instincts about dog behavior, I would have probably moved them one at a time and maybe avoided the problem, or when we came back from the Vets, I wouldn't have brought Cindy out with them around. But, I didn't and it happened. We still love them and have them around us day and night - even more so, staying down at the pool house.

It's easy to think of relationships with dogs as being so simple, but at the same time, they seem to be some of the most complicated relationships we have to deal with. Some of the recent research seems to bear that out, with the findings of areas of our human brain responding directly to dog activities. I think we're a lot closer to them than we realize. At least with ours, there was never a thought that we would get rid of them - wring their necks, for sure, but not getting rid of them. they're a part of the family.

And I know, Cindy Lu would want it that way too.

Welcome to Corozal

8/01/2014 10:39:00 AM | 6 Comments
What An Atrocious View
Welcome to beautiful Corozal. Guess what the first thing is that you see when coming into Corozal from points south on the Phillip Goldson Highway (formerly the Northern Highway)? Is it the view of the beautiful bay with its ever-changing colors? Hardly. It's an increasingly ugly display of commercial billboards - right on the water side of the highway.

The Corozal Town Council, in their wisdom, doesn't mandate that billboards occupy the land-side of the highway, where they would still be ugly, but far less intrusive to the view of everyone. Oh no. They have to be placed front and center. It really makes one proud to live in a town that used to have an almost unobstructed view of this gorgeous bay.

Billboards, along with a slowly creeping increase of construction on the water-side, is slowly ruining the premier waterfront parks and unobstructed views that have been the jewel of Corozal, and made it such a treat to see.

Now you can get a glimpse of the water, and an idea of how it used to be. One can only hope that Corozaleños, both native and new arrivals, will let the Corozal Town Council (http://www.corozaltowncouncil.bz/) know just how much they appreciate the beautiful waterfront views they now have. Just press the 'Contact' button to leave them a message. I'm sure they'll respond 'right now.'
This post is a result from a comment by Eddy, this morning, asking if the info from a post of mine (Shipping from the States) from April 7, 2009 was still good.

As you might guess, there's a 'yes' and 'no' answer. Some things are still good, some have changed.

Currently, I use Easy Shipping to Belize, LLC for all my shipments from the States to Belize. There's two reasons I changed over to them. One, They are in Florida. California started collecting sales tax on items delivered in California - even if they were to be shipped somewhere else. Since I don't live in California, I saw no reason to pay California sales tax on items I purchased that were delivered to California-based shippers, and Second, Easy Shipping to Belize ships monthly to Belize. Their contact info is:

Amado Mena and Cherry Cadle
Easy Shipping To Belize, LLC
18340 Robinson Avenue,
Port Charlotte, Florida 33948
941-255-1031 (Office)
941-740-2576 (Cell)
501-620-5718 (Belize)email is: easyshippingtobelize@hotmail.com.

Cherry is the person who you generally email or talk to on the phone. Amado, shuttles between Florida and Belize. He does the deliveries here in Belize.

So, having said that, I skim through the previous posting on shipping and keep things as current as I know.

The first two ship by weight (more or less - as much as you can figure this stuff out.). They both are their own customs brokers as well.

The thing that's nice about Easy Shipping, Marage, and Roy, is that they all deliver directly to your door. Sterling has a warehouse over at Central Farm in Cayo where you have to go to pick up your goods.
Others, you have to go to the Port Authority in Belize City to pick up your stuff. That's worth doing once, just to have the experience. It's a trip. Or avoid it and keep your sanity.

1. Marage Shipping and Trucking Service
3720 South Normandie Avenue, Apt. #3
Los Angeles, CA 90007
USA
323-304-8774
Email: marage@corozal.bz (either for Clifford, Darla, or their son, Brinston)
Website: http://corozal.bz/marage/index/en
I've used Marage Shipping quite a bit. They come down quite frequently, by truck from LA to Houston then by ocean container to Belize, and/or by truck to Belize from LA. They act as their own customs broker.
2. Roy and Son Trucking
2620 West View Street
Los Angeles, CA 90016
USA
Nena Pascascio in LA: 323-732-0376 npascascio@yahoo.com
Roy Pascascio's cell phone in Belize: 621-9353
Both Doug, my neighbor and I have used Roy and Son. Doug more than I have. They don't seem to ship as frequently as Marage. They used to ship by truck to Houston to a container ship to Belize. I think most of the companies truck stuff over to Florida and load onto a ship (Hyde Shipping) there. Roy also is his own customs broker.
The last ships by size. I'm not sure if Sterling is their own customs broker or not.

3. Sterling Freight Systems
SFS
Energy Freight Systems
14310 Interdrive East
Suite 300
Houston, TX 77032 USA
Fax: 011-501-824-2325 (Belize)
Tel: 011-501-824-2496
Cell: 011-501-601-8479
Email Dan Roth, Operations: d.roth@sterlingfreight.com
Website: http://www.sterlingfreight.com
Doug has used Sterling to ship a large generator (350 lbs). I haven't used them.
Each district seems to have shippers located in and/or catering to that district. I can't speak to them, as I've never dealt with them. Again, I would recommend you check with other folks in the areas of Belize you are moving to, to see who they recommend.

Hope this helps.