Monday, May 17, 2010

Belize - PART 2

So I left our story of Belize in the Altun Ha ruins. Very interesting, very hot, very bug infested...your typical jungle rain forest setting...felt very Lost-like there.

After viewing all there was to view, we boarded our bus for the trip farther inland to the "resort". Said loosely. At the Black Orchid resort, we ate, bought a souvenir or two and boarded our boat for our Rio Wallace tour. Again, Mah-lisa was our tour guide (below in the bright yellow shirt) and now we were in the blazing sun on the river instead of in a hot, shady jungle.

Leaving the Black Orchid "resort".

On our river jungle ride we saw Howler Monkeys (look closely in the tree branches).

Crocodiles of all sizes.

and Orange Iguanas.

And then we headed back out to the open sea,,,the Caribbean Sea that is

We were dropped off back at the tourist area in Belize City (again behind the gates away from the criminals) where we did a bit of shopping.

Then it was back to the ship for our usual night of dinner, shows, and bed. Papa seemed to enjoy his birthday day in Central America.

I aim to please.....Grammy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

CRUISE---Belize, CA (that's Central America)--PART 1

So after our disappointment at Roatan, we sailed on to Belize for our next stop. But first since the next day was Papa's birthday, I had arranged a surprise celebration the night before at dinner.

It was a surprise, even to me--I thought they were bringing the cake to our room that night---but Papa enjoyed it. We had made arrangements for a special dinner the next night on his birthday at the Steakhouse restaurant on the ship.

So back to our story....We were quite apprehensive about this port of Belize. We had been scared about the crime. The CD (Cruise Director), John, said if you don't have an excursion planned, through Carnival,,,,,just don't get off the boat. There is a tourist area at the pier but once you walk through the back "gate", crime is rampant....supposedly.

Papa and I, however, enjoyed Belize to the fullest. We had signed up for the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins excursion and then a ride down the Rio (that's River in their "language", English, oh well) Wallace. We were to be gone ALL DAY and we were ready. DD and SIL were going cave tubing (DD asks "Wonder if there are 'things' in the water?"). Cracker and the Weatherman didn't really have plans but we were not to worry.

But first we had to get there. Belize has the second largest coral reef in the world around the island so we had to drop anchor about 5 miles out and were tendered in from the cruise ship. Again, Carnival has this process down pat. We had specific orders to meet at various places on the ship according to the plans you made. Deboarded with our excursion group, and then we went from the tender boat straight to our excursion bus....the criminals weren't even able to access us whatsoever. We were kept safe.

Here we are tendering to Belize City.

Where the criminals reside....just outside the tourist area.....although they weren't showing their faces to us!!

Our tour guide was Mah-lisa and since Belize used to be known as British Honduras, she spoke with (as well as all the country) a very pleasant English accent. And informative. For the next seven hours, she told us about the country, the people, families, school systems, the political system, roads, economy, animals, Mayans, ruins, rivers, the ocean, coral reef, even the children's love of Fruit Loops cereal. That girl knew some stuff and I'm sure she doesn't get paid at all what she is worth as a tour guide.

Here are some pictures of the Mayan ruins part of the tour.

and did I mention I'm a faller? I was completely terrified up here and notice this absolutely horrifying staircase. The Mayans were very small people but they have a huge step. It's a wonder I didn't experience a Belize hospital during this day!

AND you'll notice Belize is going to be in Parts---it was a long I'll finish with the rest of tour a little later......

Kind of a tired Grammy....

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cruise Interlude--Part Two CON'T---The Gas Company

So, as I was still struggling with this allergy crap, I had to wait one Friday afternoon for the gas company to come out and put a new meter in at the city house.....sometime between 12 and 6 p.m. So the guy shows up at 3:30, puts the new meter in and then informs me that he is detecting a gas leak somewhere....possibly in the ceiling in the basement....doesn't have time to look for it, because he is off at 4, shuts my gas off and tells me when I get it fixed to call and they'll come back and turn the gas on.....THIS IS ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON....I can't possibly get anyone to fix this over the weekend.

OH and he told me the connector for the gas stove was also not up to code.....I informed him that THEY (the gas company) put that on 5 years ago when we had the gas turned on....."well, that's what they used to use but not any more".....AGAIN, I CAN GO to Home Depot and get such and such a connector and have that reconnected when the guy turns the gas back on. This Gas guy was something. He went from "gotta tear out the entire basement ceiling" to "maybe gotta tear out the front yard to see if that's where the leak is"......GRRRRRRRR. I never smelled anything and he explained that the leak is so small, I probably wouldn't smell it, nevertheless it is a hazard and must be fixed.

Anyway, when Papa got home, he called the Toxic Avenger (Polly's husband ), who knows heating and cooling and plumbing and carpentry and all sorts of wonderful things and THANK GOD, he is certified in such things as gas work, who knew?! They talked things over and made plans to meet the next day.

So we went on down to the country house and then Saturday morning Papa drove back up to meet the Avenger. He didn't think we had a leak, but thought maybe the guy was in a hurry and didn't do this or that (sparing you all the details) and that caused gas to register. Avenger didn't have some sort of chemical required to check for leaks that day, his tank was empty and couldn't get filled until Monday....So Monday he was coming back out to see if he can figure out what was going on.....

So we were once again communting from the country house to work, 62 miles one way. Was up at 4 a.m. Monday morning to drive up and drop Snoopy off in the yard at the city house and hopefully the problem would be resolved that day.

HA, but ROUTINE laughs in my Avenger arrived on Monday with his special tank and did indeed find a minute leak in the basement ceiling in the laundry area that doesn't have the ceiling tiles and he easily repaired it without having to tear anything apart. He also procured a new stove connector to install but that ended up being the wrong size, so we agreed that he would exchange that on Tuesday and finish up and we would commute for another day.

Tuesday afternoon all was completed and I called the gas company to see if I could get an APPOINTMENT (HA) for after 4 that day when Papa would be home from work, to turn on the gas. They tell me I have to go on the emergency board for a "turn on" and it will be 20 minutes to 2 hours for an installer to show up and why don't I call them as soon as I get home and it would be taken care of.

Papa got home, verified that everything was done and calls to say he's coming to pick me up from work (we've been car pooling while commuting from the country) and to go ahead and call the gas company and we would be home before 20 minutes passed. Done.

WE WAIT....FOR THREE HOURS and at 8:00 p.m. I call them to find out what's up and "they've been busy, we are on the emergency board and the first available person will be there" I asked when that would be, she put me on hold and then returned to tell me ABOUT TWO HOURS--10:00 p.m. I was just speechless. Papa and I talked, we had to go back to country that night...his car was there....all our meds were there, my make-up bag, and all the groceries for the city house were still down there, so it wasn't like we could wing it one night and go down the next night, we needed too much stuff. Not to mention no gas, it was getting cold in the house, no hot water for showers and we couldn't cook anything.

So he calls them back about 15 minutes later to tell them forget it for that night, we would reschedule for the next day as we needed to leave as it was getting late. They tell him that someone was dispatched already and is on the way (15 minutes earlier they were telling me 2 hours!) but the guy won't be there for another 45 minutes. He told them OK, but if he's not here by 9:00, we're leaving.

So, of course, 3 minutes to 9 he arrives. Comes in put some sort of register on the meter, looks at the gas heater that is in the family room part of the basement (doesn't like the valve although Papa said it was checked and it's fine, no leaks).

Looks at Avenger's work, takes his sniffer thing around, no leaks....checks the stove and that's ok. Lights all the burners, lights the top and bottom ovens, all's well. Takes the next 20 minutes trying to light the pilot for the hot water heater. Turns the furnace on. Another round with his sniffer thing. Back to the basement heater...thinks it's leaking but can't get it to register that it's leaking (DUH, IT'S NOT LEAKING.....) Still doesn't like that turn on valve for it.

Papa has been standing by the cabinet where the meter is and it is ticking like an alarm clock. He asks if that's normal. No.....goes to the meter, starts taking pieces and parts off it if to make it stop ticking. Then announces we need a new meter--this one was just installed on Friday and hadn't been turned on before then!! We just gave each other horrified looks, like it was going to have to be another scheduled job.

THANK GOD, the man had one in his truck. He goes out and gets the new meter. Comes in, disconnects the stove, the hot water heater, and the furnance and the heater downstairs, switches out the meter and hooks up everything again but turns the gas valve off on the downstairs heater, because he's still convinced it's leaking although not registering......wrote that up and left at we have to, I guess, get the valve on the heater replaced in case we ever have a fire, might be an insurance issue, but Papa can still turn the valve on and use the heater whenever he would like to.

We jumped in the car and headed to the country. In bed by 12, back up at 4:30 because I had to be at work at 7 for breakfast meeting....and just as I'm about to walk out the door....can't find my glasses. TORE THE HOUSE APART and finally found them under the corner of the bed,,,,who knows, my country home ghosts playing tricks I guess. BUT THE GAS CRISIS SEEMS TO BE OVER FOR NOW.

Then a funny......the next day,,,,a news alert came out "A three-alarm blaze at the Laclede Gas building in downtown St. Louis broke out about 8 a.m.".....I WAS TOTALLY INNOCENT.

Grinning Grammy

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cruise Interlude - Part Two -- The Fall

Yep, I'm a faller. I think we've established that, haven't we. And I think I've mentioned that this Spring my allergies have been on overdrive and I was sick for almost three solid weeks with them. Head, chest, ears, everything but that has finally settled down and I finally threw in the towel and started getting allergy shots about two weeks ago, which will continue for about the next year or so...once a week........

So in the middle of the allergy attack, we had an issue with our Gas Company (next blog!) and then I fell!

I'm painting on a Saturday night in the bathroom in the country. The front room of our two room bathroom which is easy enough. I just have solid walls, one window and then the wall with the light fixtures, mirrors, and vanity. I'm about 3/4's done and went and got a chair to do the tops and above the mirror and one minute was standing on the chair and the next minute, I swear, the chair just disinegrated under me into about 10 pieces and I hit the floor before I knew I was falling and landed on my back NATURALLY.

The same back where I cracked my pelvis last August and am still going to see the chiropractor regularly for adjustments, taking pain pills and muscle relaxers for, and Dr. Magic is going to start giving me nerve blocks for. He thinks 9 months of pain is entirely too much and he has these magic shots......

Papa comes running in when he heard me scream and proceeds to yell at me out about destroying the chair----from his mom and dad's kitchen set-----he's sentimental like that.....I couldn't move, he is screaming at me, I'm in tears, IN PAIN, and covered in paint as well. I was holding a roller and a brush when I fell.....I cleaned up the paint when I could stand again; he removed the chair pieces.

I took a hot shower, took the max of pain pills and muscle relaxers and couldn't find an ice bag, so laid with a bag of tator tots on my back and pretty much passed out by 8 p.m.

Before I passed out, Papa did ask if I needed to go to the ER....between gritted teeth, my response was "DON"T TALK TO ME" and then........(here's where you all can laugh).....he brings in the big, full size ladder from the garage "so I can finish painting when I feel better".....I turned off the light in his mid-sentence. The ladder disappeared from the bedroom the next day

The next morning, I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to get out of bed, but was surprised when I did and was just pretty sore, but not in pain like the last fall. I was sore for a couple of days and then went to my regular chiro appointment and told him this sorry tale of woe. He checked me out and determined I just did some soft tissue bruising and he didn't think I even needed an x-ray. Explained that because of our constant work, we might have saved me from alot of damage because I'm more flexible.

Whatever...I escaped the bullet it seems. A couple of days later, Papa and I were getting ready for work in the half-painted bathroom and I just mentioned "you know you are finishing this room, don't you?" Without a second of hesitation, he answered, "Yep, I'll take care of it this weekend." And he did.

Signing off for now,
Bendy, Flexible Grammy