Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sean and Mischief...
I'm discouraged. Sigh...I don't know what to do with this house! When we bought it, we bought it from Sean's brother and the taxed amount of that sale was $1. Sean's brother had owned it for several years, and had made many improvements to it, including re-wiring several rooms. Since we have had it, we have replaced all the floors downstairs with high quality hardwoods and ceramic tiles. We have had a new 40 year roof installed, and have replaced the furnace, water heater and all the stuff in the basement. The conundrum for us is this... We never had it reassessed. We continued to pay itty bitty taxes, and now this is biting us on the bottom. This place is worth Waaayyy more than it's current assessment. Reassess and pay higher taxes from a foreign country? Sell with the current assessment and lose our butts? Remember folks...Sean is flying out and I'm going to have this to deal with by myself. My "Sigh" didn't do it...How about SIGH...nope. Still not enough. I'm making progress with all the little things that need finished up, I guess I'll just put the gloom and doom discouragement underneath the push and power of harnessed fear and plug away... SIGH. Not even a big pink sigh will do it.

So we've determined that we will fly into Belize rather than drive. That leaves us to determine which of our worldly possessions are important enough to bring along. Obviously we'll bring our clothes. I will bring both Bibles (mine and the easy reader one we read from each morning). The kiln is gone for obvious reasons, as are the 1000+ ceramic molds. Furniture is easily replaced, and everything except our family heirloom furniture will be sold. I'll store the Campbell beds and my daddy's chair at my Grandmother's house. They are over 150 years old and have held more of my ancestors than I could remember. But once the "keeps" are kept, what do I do with all the other junk! I have Christmas ornaments out the wazoo, entire sets of dishes, so many wicker baskets that I could start a wicker and more store... It's almost February for pete's sake! One simply can not have a yard sale in sub zero temperatures... Right this way folks, we have a queen sized master suite under this snowbank, and here is a deep freezer for sale...Of course it works! Doesn't it FEEL cold? ;)

And the cat! Dear sweet Mischief...all 23 lbs of him (and counting). Belize allows our domestic animals to enter with a vet clearance so he'll be going. But what happens to him once we get there? He's mutantly large and around these parts, he's quite the predator. BELIZE HAS OCELOTS, JAGUARS and some other wild big cat the JAGUARUNDI! If the local animals don't gobble him up, will he be OK? I'm thinking he'll learn to love the indoors. SIGH

Time is ticking by
I am sticking by
There's no need to cry
It's all feed to my

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yesterday I shared with you the reasons we are not taking our big US gas guzzlers to Belize. I hinted about the forums I found and the friendliness of them (or lack there of). I think that today I will expand on this topic and discuss the 3 that I check each day.

The first This page has forums and links to local weather and news. I find the news and weather to be valuable to me, but the forums are slow at best. I have seen no new posts on this forum since the beginning of January. Pretty boring once you have read all the posts you want to see.

Next I found is a little more active and the people on this forum are generally supportive and kind to one another. I read it daily, even though it is not exactly full of active information.

The other daily read on my forum list is By far the most active forum. It is also by far the most informative. And unfortunately, the snarkiest. I find that there are some people who (possibly with the intent of providing accurate information) lean toward nay saying. There is not much support between the active posters. I have made some "friends" on this forum, and this is terrifying! I hope the people I have interacted with are going to prove supportive to us, but I fear their wrath should I post something silly or impossible. I just kind of lurk and read. Until I get on the ground and face to face with these posters I fear them like the debate team fears the cheerleaders. And those of you who have known me since high school know that is a fear I have gripped for 25 years!

Weather I make lifelong friends on the forums or not...I vow that once I'm more well versed at this "relocate to another country" stuff I will not become a forum bully! I have spent years with a mind my own beeswax attitude. I don't gossip. I try to build people up -not break their spirit. I think I'll push my way into the inner circle of the forums and then cheer on the "debate team". The cheerleaders have enough support. Just like high school. LOL!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Self portrait taken just now..thought you all might like to see what I look like today...
Yesterday I was able harness my fear and use it's energy to power through a bunch of home repairs. Go me! I finished the trim in the bathroom upstairs...and painted my son's room. When we bought this place, I allowed the kids to pick any color they wanted for their bedrooms. Abby has painted her room 3 or 4 different color schemes in the last few years. Right now, It is Turquoise and steel grey...They look nice together and her room will wait. But Ben...Ben picked one color scheme and has stuck with it. It was Forest Green with brown and black camo spots! I'll spare you all the metaphors about camouflaging the camouflage... And this right on the heels of my new "open" self who blogs! It would take more than a coat of paint to cover over my thoughts...

Anyway, back to my story. We had just reached our savings goal, and were ready to move forward with our move forward. All along, I have been voraciously reading any written words about Belize. I found forums, and pages, and sites! Some were more uh...friendly and optimistic than others. (That's a whole other post.) I even looked up stats in my old handy dandy set(s) of encyclopedias! I have one set that is older than the country of Belize! It thinks that Belize is still Honduras! My fact finding has been great! If you know me, then you know I love to read and learn...I found myself downloading laws and bills from the Government of Belize Web Portal. Fitting. I am the only US citizen I have ever met who watches live congressional hearings on cable as if they were action packed adventure movies. Why not also be the only one who reads the entire law structure of Belize?!? Let me tell you, it's a little dry, but very informative!

Through the government site I learned that our plan to buy a motor home and pack it full of stuff to drive the 3000 miles to Belize through Mexico might not be a good one. I knew the roads were not paved in most places. But heck...I was raised in the Laurel Mountains! 25 years ago, there were a lot more red dog roads than paved ones there too! With a 1978 International Scout, 4 wheel drive, standard transmission, high clearance auto...there is never a reason to be stuck anywhere! But I hadn't calculated duty. Duty. DooDee...KaKa.

You see, the Government of Belize (GOB) views our US autos as luxury goods. And as luxury goods, our autos are subject to up to 63% duty. So if we bought a 20K motor home, and tried to drive it into Belize to keep it there it would be almost 13K! There are loopholes in the law...just like all laws. We could bring it in and say we were only keeping it there for a month. Then we wouldn't have to pay the duty. After that month, we could extend it's stay for up to 6 months duty free. But eventually, we would either pay the duty or get rid of it. As we are looking to set up residency in Belize, I don't think that our first move should be to avoid the law. Pay up or fly in. I think we'll fly and buy some one's old beater when we hit the ground. That way our round trip ticket is all we're out. GOB requires that all visitors either pay them an amount they have determined it will take to ship you back out to your native country if need be...or that everyone enter with a ticket home. I believe that our airline ticket home will be essentially useless, unable to book, but still way cheaper than a $33,000 motor home. Once we have established residency, we will fly in and out of Cancun for 1/3 the cost. After all, we should have a Belizean Beater to drive by then!

Monday, January 28, 2013

This morning...I would like to discuss fear. Like any other slimy underbelly emotion, fear retreats from open and frank discussion. I know I said that I would try to make this blog chronological, but today I have to skip ahead to the present and push down these black fingers of fear that are trying to flow through my veins and to my heart. If it takes hold, I fear my fear.

Today's fear is sponsored by home repairs. Sean is leaving for Belize ahead of our planned July exodus. (More on the how and where he's going to come...) But his early departure leaves me to prepare our home for sale or rent. When you live in a home for 10+ years, you tend to overlook the little things. Things like... the last time we painted, several of the outlet covers came up missing. I've been meaning to pick up replacements for the last three years...done yet? Not so much. I put down ceramic tile in the kitchen and great room and have not gotten to the baseboards as of yet. After all, the tile job only took a total of 4 years to complete, I had all the time in the world to polish it off. (sigh) The siding is damaged where Abby and her friends ran into the carport with a tractor and pulled 1/3 of the house down on themselves...I'll need a new porch light too. I have a shed filled with 1000 ceramic molds weighing in at a cool 75lbs each. No one wants them. I have a kiln that everyone wants, but it strikes fear in me to sell it. It's my ace in the hole job opportunity here. If all else fails, sell ceramics. I have a 40 year book collection that fills an entire room, floor to ceiling! I'm living to regret my choice to have a home library. I have a friend that wants them all, but this friend has no truck. I'll be hauling them to her...just another day. Appliances can stay, clutter must be cut. What does a person do with 15 argyle sweaters in the Caribbean!?! And I'll be handling this without the benefit of man strength. Man strength is physical...thankfully my female strength is boundless! Mental Mommy...we all know one.

I'll write more soon...right now, I have screens to replace, a sink to resurface, dry wall to repair, Craigslist ads to post, bedroom doors to paint, sheds to empty, and even maybe some stuff to pack.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thank you all for the unexpected views!
Who'd of thought that THIS is news!

I've always written - just for me.
I've never opened up to see.

I've got a verse, about a curse...
The writer's work is alive
Only in their death or worse
It never does survive.

But here it is! It surely lives!
Amusing, confusing.

... I have gotten many more hits on this blog than I ever predicted. I figured that an occasional dreamer would log on and out of the cubicle. I thought a mom would look when her baby was napping. I never dreamed that the very people I have spent 40+ years building walls against would be my readership base. Welcome! I promise to write as though no one is looking... It's tougher than you think. It's going to require that I open up... Oooh scary! Scarier than moving 3000 miles to an undeveloped nation.

In the beginning...

In order to make this blog sensible, I will attempt to follow our journey to Belize chronologically. We have always known that once the twins(15) finished high school, that Sean and I would relocate to another country and spend some years living another type of lifestyle. We have both lived in various parts of the US and although there is a great difference between Georgia swamp and Pennsylvania mountains, it just is not different enough to satisfy our need to see and experience. No matter where you are in this country, there is a WalMart, a McDonalds, and a strip mall with in a few minutes drive. Our last forray into the US countryside ended abruptly when I was called home to care for my ailing mother. My brother and sister had put down their roots. I, as the rolling stone, was called on to come back to Pittsburgh and be sure Mom's last years were safe and comfy. So I found myself in Southwest PA (again). I wouldn't trade those 2 years for a lifetime of airline tickets! Mom and I laughed and cried and even got drunk out of our minds together. I was blessed to be there in the last few hours when all the age of her years smoothed from her face and she shone like a beautiful young woman again. (I realize it was from the swelling, but it effectively allowed my mother to look like she was 30!) When she left this world, I (even at 40 years old) couldn't help but feel like an orphan. My father had passed away when I was a teenager, and now the only thing left for me was my children. Life looked different to me. The buck stops here, with me. If I do nothing, nothing will happen. I lost Mom on Thanksgiving Day 2011. Quite apres pos... It taught me just how much I have to be thankful for.

But her death became the catalyst for my life! If we wait for the kids to graduate, then we may never have the guts to go! Each day is all you have. TODAY I'm planning to live my dreams. TODAY I'm going to show the kids the world is bigger than WalMart Supercenter...TODAY! I began planning for our escape. It was easy to get Sean on board, no grass grows under HIS feet! As for the kids....My Daughter, Abby, is a lot like her Mama...she's up for any adventure, tough as nails, adaptable. But her twin brother, Ben...He's a typical American teen. I don't know how I did it, but I raised one that feels without US gluttony, he might not have enough. More on them later....

We looked all over this planet for the place for us. Europe is too much like the US in that everything is available to you at a price. NO ONE wants to move to the Middle East. Africa intrigues us but the indigenous languages are not available on Rosetta Stone. (LOL joking) Mexico isn't the best place for our family...not to toot my own horn, but the girls in our family are quite good looking and forced slavery is not in the plan for us. We settled on the tiny Central American nation of Belize.

Why Belize? For starters, there are no WalMarts or McDonalds....It doesn't make the "Big Mac" index for cost of living comparisons. If one wants a burger, then one must prepare it on your own cook top. I was raised on a working farm, and I look forward to raising a few chickens, goats, and planting our food. Also, the "official" language is English, aalthough Spanish and Creole are widely spoken. My high school Spanish will come in handy for sure, but even without it, we should be able to make our way around. The climate of Belize is great for me! I have never felt a day that was too hot. This should allow for year round farming. Although we are not relocating to make a million dollars, I'm in my 40's and Sean is in his 30's...we are far from retiring. We needed a place that would allow us to (eventually) work. Belize allows expats to work, if the employer is willing to jump through the right hoops to prove that there was no one available locally to fill the position. Belize also grants work permits for people willing to invest their life savings to open a business that will eventually produce jobs for native Belezians. Land is affordable in Belize. Although Sean has dreams of finding the right parcel on the Caribbean Sea, I'll be just as happy inland some. We figure we'll need at least 6 months in the country to find the right parcel for us. So we started saving. We figured 6 months of expenses in US costs would translate to better than 6 months south of the border.

Once we reached our goal of cash savings, we started to look more closely at our travel plans. That's when things got really interesting! Check back soon and I'll continue my story.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

March to your own drum....

As long as there’s been time, there has been rhyme.
Someone metered and rhythmed and hummed.
Someone beating and living who drummed.
And on and on it becomes the song.
The very heartbeat. Our very heart beat.

Hang on folks! It's going to be a bumpy ride! My fiancee Sean and I are taking my teenaged twins and relocating to the Carribean country of Belize!