Thursday, January 31, 2013

Progresso Heights, Progresso Shores

About 15 miles down the ferry road lies the little village of Progresso. Most of the villagers are sugar cane workers--you can tell by the black soot-stained clothing hanging on the laundry lines and the cane trucks parked along the roadside. We had a tasty, filling lunch at the Laguna Grill, across the street from the lagoon.

Village of Progresso
Lunchtime on the Lagoon - Huck and Tom?


A Park by the Lagoon







Laguna Grill











About 1 mile north of the village is the entrance to Progresso Heights: www.progressoheights.com. An open gated entrance greeted us along with a copy of the recent HOA agenda (much time was assigned to delinquent HOA fees). We drove down the little-traveled road, through what appeared to be an old orchard, as we followed the signs to the community center and visitor information.

Entrance Gate
HOA Agenda














As we approached the community center we noticed the grounds were somewhat maintained--areas were mowed and others still had long grasses growing, the roadway itself was overgrown with grasses and at spots difficult to see where the road was, the maintenance area looked underutilized and there were at least 2 homesites that appeared abandoned mid-construction. The community center itself was shabby--the paint was faded, the landscaping was overgrown, and the pool was empty! Remember, this visit took place in January---the peak of the tourist and snow bird season. There was no one on the premises. Posted on the door was the maintenance crew schedule: 6 workers assigned to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday--the rest of the week's schedule was blank--today was Thursday.

Interior signage
Main Entrance Road 










Following the signs to Visitors Center
Still following signs










Community Center

Empty Community Pool

Homesites....mostly in fields, some on the lagoon waterfront. There were a handful of constructed homes that were currently occupied--I say this because there were satellite dishes and vehicles at some of the homes. We are unsure how may sites are sold or for sale. We saw one couple walking, stopped to talk to them and discovered they were snow birds-only there for a few weeks and were waiting for family to arrive soon.

View from Community Center to Lagoon
Vacant home next to Community Center


Homesites







Maintenance Building/Orchard trees











On to  Progresso Shores, a little bit farther down the main ferry road, on the other side of the village of Progresso. This community is marketed a lot on the internet. The sign on the roadside points the way. We drove back to an area, adjacent to a cane field, and barricaded by a rock wall with gated entry points for each of the lots. One gate was open, a sign indicating Progresso Shores and another sign asking to ring the buzzer...we ignored the buzzer and drove on in. We passed 2 rock casitas enroute to a circular driveway in front of a home. Deciding we were trespassing, we made the turnaround and left. We drove along the entry rock barricade wall and quickly came to a dead end. As we turned around, we were greeted at the open gate by the owner/developer of Progresso Shores. He indicated there were 2 homesites already constructed and several more 2 acre estates for sale. We were invited to check out the website: www.progressoshores.com.

Roadside Sign to Progresso Shores
Open Gated Entry to Developer's property


Driveway into Developer's Property


Monday, January 28, 2013

Housesitting?

An interesting opportunity has fallen into our laps.

In chatting with the friendly neighbors, we have learned a lot about the expat community in Corozal Town. Many of the expats are snow birds--they only fly south for the winter months. Many of the snow bird expats are absentee retirement homeowners in Belize. Those who live here year round typically are pet owners. The snow birds' homes can sit vacant for many months, while the residents would like to take a "vacation" now and then, leaving both scenarios prey for petty theft, and the full-timers' in need of pet care.

Out of the mouths of babes---our neighbor asked us if we were interested in housesitting. Actually, never even thought about the idea, until that conversation. Mulling it over, we began to google. Wow, it is an option! It seems there is a huge European market for housesitting and housesitters. One can jump from assignment to assignment (if scheduled correctly) and see the "world"! 

The assignments can range from weekends to years, depending on the need of the homeowner. Each housesitting "job" has it's own perks. 
  • First of all, you are their "employee". Word to the wise, a written contract should be signed by both parties--a job description per se--that way you know exactly what is expected of you during your stay.
  • The salary, if you will, is that you live rent free. Some will require that you pay utilities. 
  • You get to explore someplace new!
Our neighbor has "put out the word" that we could housesit either short- or long-term. Less than 5 days later, we got a call--are we available for the month of March? 

This could be fun!!!!!!!



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mayan Seaside

This 10 year-old development is a 50 acre, 100 - 1/4 to 1/3 acre homesite well planned community! They actually have 5 Mayan ruins (temples?) onsite, unexcavated, but government inspected giving them the "go ahead" to build. The ruins are located within the community park areas that offer a pier, palapas with picnic tables, 2 designated beach areas with ladders into the Bay and about 5 acres of open area that includes shuffleboard and horseshoes pits.


Mayan Ruins
Ruin mounds










According to Art Higgins, the developer, and a resident, currently there are 12 lots available for purchase and 2 homesites. One home is currently under construction. He toured us around the community, the roads are graded and smooth, he pointed out the 2 parks-the central one is about 2 acres with gravel walking trails that take you into a beautiful natural park with a gazebo, the other park is located at the entrance with gravel walking trails too.



Entrance Park
Entrance Park









Central Park
Gazebo in Central Park
Pathway













The community fees are $250/year to cover the common area upkeep. The property taxes are $12-$24/year depending upon the size of the lot. The only other surprise cost would be the $600 to connect to the existing electrical posts-plus the $100 deposit on the meter. The community has a well that most tap in to for backup water--many homeowners have cisterns. One home has a windmill for electricity generation.




Seaside lot at "R" Beach
Picnic areas, horseshoe pits, shuffle board






"Nude" Beach entry

View of homesites around pond

Bayside park and pier, Chetumal across Bay











We were impressed with the thought that went in to the development of this community, the layout, the roads, the parks, the beaches and the common areas. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cars Need Gas!

Funny thing, no matter where you live, your vehicle probably runs on gasoline. 
Ours does too. 

Corozal has 1 (one) gas station. Located on Sta. Rita Road, the "UNO" gas station is a pristine piece of property, white building with blue trimming. The attendants are decked out in uniforms, they offer full service-window washing too! The local price for gas per gallon is $10.82bze ($5.41USD) as of today's post and is similar across the country. Highway robbery! But when it's the only show in town, you suck it up and pay at the pump.


UNO Gas Station Corozal
Our neighbor to the rescue! Discussing the price of gas and comparing the price in Mexico, $3.21USD/gal (only about 8 miles north of here) to the Belize prices,  he interjected that we could purchase "bucket gas."  Bucket gas? We were intrigued...yes, bucket gas is gas that is purchased in Mexico, brought over the border on a daily basis, sold out of  5 gallon plastic containers, poured into a bucket that can be easily handled and then transferred into the gas tank via a funnel. And the price? $4.20USD/gal - TRUE!



From Container to Bucket


From Bucket Via Funnel To Car



Sorry UNO---we're bucketeers now!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Doctor and Dentist appointments

The doctor's office, we were told, is located between the Belize Bank and Frank's Meats-on the side street with the median. It's a little clinic. So off we went on yet another excursion in town. Fortunately, we knew the Belize Bank was on the northwest corner of the town square and the side street with the median was right next to it. We found Maranatha Clinic, the sliding glass doors indicated it was "Open". We passed through the sliding glass doors and a door bell sounded. The waiting room was completely empty, the tv was on. We were surrounded by 6 closed doors, 2 unmarked, rooms 1-3 were exam rooms, and one door marked WC (water closet-restroom). Not a human to be found. We looked at each other and laughed nervously--we realized we didn't know how to bring attention to ourselves in this environment.

Soon, a gentleman came down the outside spiral staircase and entered the waiting room, he paused after we questioned, "Dr. Reyes?" "Yes" was his response. We quickly introduced ourselves and told why we were there. My BP medication is not available in Belize, so we were there to get his recommendation. He took us in to Room 2, it was decked out similarly to a doctor's office in the states, he washed his hands and proceeded to take my BP using an automatic cuff. We discussed my medications somewhat and then Dr. Reyes suggested that my husband and I share his Rx! No prescription was written, just "go see Catherine at Evergreen Pharmacy and she will take care of you." No chart was created, nor notes written--he must have an eidetic memory! We then spent the next 30 minutes talking about the health benefits of Belize and that many of his expats have been able to stop taking their BP pills. The cost was $35bzd ($17.50USD); follow-ups for the same diagnosis are $15bzd ($7.50USD).

Dr. Reyes' Office



Ahhhh, the dentist--everyone's favorite way to spend time! Unfortunately, it's a must do at least twice a year. We are lucky enough to have a dentist office about a block from the apartment. Dr. Glenda Major lives next to her office, has evening weekday and morning Saturday appointments. She not only performs general dentistry but also is a dental surgeon...one stop dentistry!

Entering her office, you are immediately hit with the dentist office smell..that distinct aroma that permeates every dental office. The waiting room is small but equipped with a tv and enough dental wall posters to keep you entertained. Soon enough I was sitting in the chair, surrounded by equipment that was relatively familiar: overhead light, mayo stand, sink, counter and a spitting well! Yes, one of those sinks, next to the patient, where a cup of mouthwash laden water sits on a holder and that little round sink....The cleaning was 100% performed by the dentist, ultrasonic, no scraping in this office, it was a damp experience (water splashing on my face), but quick and the polishing was just like back at home. A brief exam of my past fillings and crowns--done! The cost? $80bzd ($40USD).  6 month reprieve!!

Dr. Major's Office


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ocosingo, MX - Tonina - More Mayan Ruins!

  
We discovered another Mayan ruin site "near" Palenque, so we decided to make a trek for Tonina.

Driving Up Into The Clouds!

The road was bumpy, paved and then unpaved, curvy, washed out on some hillsides, climbed up mountainsides (up to 2700 ft) into the clouds, temperatures dropped about 20 degrees. Villages were scattered about and on the roadside we found a variety of stores: groceries, bbq restaurants, colorful local garments. 


Mountain Road










Vista
Hammock Maker
BBQ!

Roadside Garment Store























As we approached a village that was flanked by date palms, we were accosted by the tope vendors--but this time it was different, the women had strung a flag/banner rope across the road, as we approached, they pulled it up to prevent us from passing the children who were selling food items in baggies, we continued to move forward as the children were knocking on the windows, begging us to buy....wow how aggressive and uncomfortable that encounter was!


Flag Ladies


Three hours from the time we left Palenque, we finally arrived in Tonina. The trip got longer as we drove. It was about 80 miles one way--not the short trip we anticipated.

ANYWAY, this site was impressive. The main temple was one of those that each generation added something on to it, not only was it tall (over 230 feet to the top), but also wider than any we have seen to date. It has 7 terraces, many rooms, small temples, passageways, 3D stelae! A huge ball court with 3D decor. As you climb the temple steps and turn around to view the panorama-there are many unexcavated "things" out there--right now they're little grassy humps, some with trees growing, all just begging to be unearthed. 

This site was too large to explore in one day--we will return someday, stay a couple of days in Ocosingo and explore what we missed!

Enjoy the photos!

Tonina Acropolis

View Of Acropolis Stairway

3D Stelae
Panorama From The Temple Steps

Ballcourt

3D "Decor" At Ballcourt