Sunday, May 26, 2013

Plank homes

With a title like Crab(by), my last post is sorely lacking the hits I What can I say? I'm emotional sometimes. Today is a fresh day; the air is fresh; the sun is fresh; the rain came and it is fresh; even the dusty old roads are fresh this morning. So...let's take a moment to look at housing here in Belize.

There are 2 main types of construction in Belize, concrete homes and wooden shacks. I have not built either, but I would assume concrete is more expensive. I am living in a big old concrete home and I love it! If you're just starting out in Belize, and you can afford it, I would say most expats would prefer the concrete route. There are less bugs able to creep in. (The scorpions I have seen have been in or around wooden homes.) It stays a smidgen cooler in the concrete...but if you're looking for cool...try another country. Belize is just 11 clicks off the equator...HOT! The concrete is more like what we are used to as expats...we can sweep our floors and not have little tag a longs stuck to our feet. And...concrete can use your roof as a patio!

The second, and more local way to build is with wooden planks. Some of these homes are just adorable! I have not made friends with anyone who has gone the Mennonite Prefab Home route just yet, so my experience with them is limited to touring one at Spanish Lookout and following one down the highway. (I blogged that day's previous posts for it...scary stuff that home moving...) They seem to be sturdier by far than the homes I am talking about today. Today I am going to show you one of the plank homes built by the guy who stays inside it.

That is very common here. When a person has land, either by inheritance, land grant, or purchase, they will often build a place to live on it. The buildings sort of evolve as the person gets the money to build. (Even the fancy concrete homes will have rebar sticking out of the top...just in case the money grows, so will the house.) The home I am going to tell you about today belongs to a friend of mine from the fish market. About 10 years ago, he went to the town council and asked for a plot of land. He was told where to look and that he could pick whatever spot he liked in the area and build. Well...the area they allowed for him to build on was right off the canal...often flooded, and mostly swamp. So, (as my other friend did on his island), this guy carried in bag after bag of sand until he had built an area dry enough and large enough to put up his house. This is an ongoing project for him. Almost every day, part of his dry land washes away and he is constantly replacing the sand to keep his area dry. He also deals daily with CROCODILES! This guys is half a nut -he likes his crocs. He is proud of his crocs. He has named his crocs. And he carries fish guts from the market to his crocs. His mother lives nearby, and there are days he will attempt to go home and be blocked by his crocs. He turns tail if they refuse to let him pass. He sleeps at his mother's place.

When he started to build, he was the only shack in the area. Since then several neighbors have built nearby, and it is an actual road now. The next door neighbor family is Granny, her daughter, and the daughter's (very tiny) children. I asked about the crocs and the babies...I was told that they grow up knowing not to play in the canal. In the states, this would be akin to building your home at the mouth of a bear cave! Perfectly normal here...They even have a cat! I was told that it is a very clever kitty. Kitty knows when the crocs are about...YIKES! YIKES for the children! YIKES for the kitty! and YIKES for the fisherman when he can not pass!

I am going to post some pictures now...please don't judge these people. They have the same pride in ownership as any of us would for our homes. Possibly more...They dug the holes for the supports to hold the house off the water. They carried the planks to the site themselves. They built, maintain and thrive in these homes! In a moment that touched my heart, an offer so sincere and kind...Fisherman knows Sean and I are scoping  place to build. He also knows we are not as well to do as some of our American counterparts here in Belize...In a touching offer of sincerity, he offered us a place on his land. He offered to help us dry it out, and he offered to let us build a place with him. It brought warmth to my soul. Never have I been treated so kindly by my own countrymen. These people might be "poor" or live in ways we don't understand, but the light of human kindness originates within them. So...again...please don't judge. Appreciate the beauty. Who was it that said, "In order for a woman to be truly beautiful, she must be truly ugly as well." THAT's these houses. Odd to our eyes, but beautiful.
Notice the "porch". As funds become available, it will become a second room in the home.
 The Backyard area we were offered so generously.
 The trash is definitely a problem. Again...try not to judge.
 The neighbor's home. Probably 6 or 8 people live here.
 I was on the porch taking the picture. Note the missing planks, a work in progress.
 Cute pink door they have there!
 You can see the sand that was carried in by hand. This is also the outside of the kitchen building.
 Inside the kitchen...No shiny fridge, no microwaves...just a fire and a skillet.
 Another shot os the sand and the see where it is in relation to the home.
 A hodgepodge of planks... All brought by hand.
 It's a ROAD!
 Just looks like a's dry on it!
 Playing with the fisheye setting on my camera.
 Another fisheye of the road.
 Say what you will...that's beautiful!
 The cutest neighbors under the porch!
 Girls will be girls...and this one is a natural model!
 That's their home in the background...they are playing at my friend's place.
 I don't know why...but I absolutely LOVE this picture! Don't throw the baby out with the bath!
 May flower petals in the canal.
 Without a doubt...the trash is atrocious.
 Hey there you! Peeking at me!
 Another home on the same road. They are built similarly...with whatever is available.
 Looking for Crocs.
 POKING at crocs! He wanted me to get my picture! I didn't get one though. But he survived another day!
Across the canal there are large concrete homes. Not much separation between the "haves" and the "have nots" here in Belize.


  1. I wish I could do something for the man that offered you land. Wow, what heart! He is like the poeple I love most in this world. Does not have much but always trying to give.

    1. You said it Sam! Such a soul! Would share his last meal...amazing guy!

  2. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know your post !

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  3. thanks to shared this woderful information about prefabricated homes. really I love this article,only the theme color I don't like.

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