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Finding Joy: A Fall Update on My Life, Books, Shows and My Thoughts

 An Update on My Life

The Belize international airport opened a few days ago – October 1st!  Tourists are coming in – though in relatively small numbers.  Many of those returning to Belize are citizens and homeowners, students and business people.  The tourists that visiting are coming back to restricted movement.  To a “tourism corridor” that takes you from the airport to your hotel – and then restricts you to the Gold-Standard lodging unless you go on approved tours.

I’ve heard only good things so far – the process went very quickly and painlessly, homeowners that are SOOOO glad to be home (and quarantined – don’t forget that part!)

For ALL the up-to-date official information on restrictions and protocols, please see the Belize Tourism’s information page.

I wrote a blog post called Finding Joy in Quarantine in Honey Bunches of Oats – an update of the cooking, books, podcasts, TV shows and eating I was doing to keep busy (and sane…mostly to keep sane) in quarantine on Ambergris Caye.

I updated my list of things bringing me joy at the end of July.

*Official stay at home orders were lifted over a month ago but I’m still staying, for the most part, at and around home.

Here are three lovely things right now making me happy.  And the books, TV and podcasts I’m enjoying.  AND the construction going on RIGHT in front of our house that I am…not enjoying as much.  (Being home all the time to watch it…and the dogs barking whenever someone comes to our side of the property…not helping)

I’ve tried twice to buy fresh conch – the season opened on October 1st and I have a number of favorite ways to eat it – but it’s been Sold Out for the first few days.  I can be patient…ish.

Three Things Bringing Joy

Late Summer Mangos – I’m not sure if it is a blockbuster year or just the lower demand (no tourists…less mango-eaters) but 2020 has been the longest, best variety season that I’ve seen presented on Ambergris Caye.  (Mangos grow abundantly on the mainland but very very few trees on the island.)

You can still buy mangos in town right now – GORGEOUS green-on-the-outside mangos that are as good as any I’ve ever tasted.   Sweet and smooth with just a little mango-twang.  If you are not good at picking mangos, just as for help at the shop.  A lifetime of mango experience always beats mine.  I’m sure I NEVER tried a mango as a child.

Blissful Cold Front – Speaking of unusual seasons…the last few days and nights, we’ve experienced a COLD FRONT.  Winds from the NW…temperatures in the high 70s.  A chill in the air.   August, September and October can be dreadfully hot on Ambergris Caye.  It’s not so much the temperature (which never strays far from the mid-to-high 80s in the summer) but the humidity and the lack of sea breeze.  But yesterday?   I was wearing a hoodie in the morning. Bliss.

(We are still keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Gamma – which is dancing around the Yucatan – and other storm systems.  Nothing predicted to come our way but true bliss does not occur until Hurricane Season is over on Nov 1.)

The weather here right now is gorgeous.

Our Beautiful Beaches

High tides and shifting winds have cleared the beaches beautifully.

Yesterday I called Jeff from the beach and whispered to him to come down…there were 30+ bonefish feeding and rolling right in front of me.  I know they’ve enjoyed the last 6 months – I felt like I could pick one up.

New Construction In Our Neighborhood

Again, this falls firmly into the “things you took for granted” before moving to Belize category.  It’s something I never thought about at all – zoning!

To repeat from my last post:  I would call our lot “beachside”.  When Jeff first built the house, there were no other buildings in our little subdivision.  We had Xtan Ha Resort to the south – they are on the other side of our property line – and “bush” to the north.  Over the last four years – 3 houses have been built in our little area (I’ve seen our subdivision called Santa Rita and San Mathilde).  We always knew that over time, there would be building all around us.

At the end of June, the surveyors came…and clearing started.  Someone is building a giant cistern, a 200′ well with RO system and warehouse in front of us.  A 36 foot by 75-foot warehouse on a 50’x100′ lot.

Here was my photo when I wrote originally about this at the end of July.

Now…the steels!  The plywood!  The man hours!  This is one EXPENSIVE warehouse.

Like I said…no zoning in Belize.

Books

I’ve read 19 books since the end of July.  And again, LOTS of really great ones.  I rank them (give them stars) on GoodReads – but here are my favorites.

Cute pic and t-shirt below from Caribbean Citrus Co.

Note:  For years, I struggled with spending so much money on Kindle e-books.  If I bought cheaper books or downloaded those on Kindle Unlimited, I was almost always disappointed.  If I bought all the hot new books, the Bestsellers, I was spending over $10US a book.  And that adds up when you read 50 books or more a year.  I’ve FINALLY figured out a GREAT COMPROMISE!

Kindle’s Daily Deals.  Top titles for $3.99 or less.  New list every day.  And I’d say 4-5 days a week there is a book I’ve ALWAYS wanted to read on that list.  It’s life-changing.

Here are the books that I gave 5-stars to…not because they are literary masterpieces (who am I to judge that?) but because I loved them…and couldn’t put them down.  I did NOT feel that was about War and Peace.  And no…I didn’t finish War and Peace.

I got all these books for $3.99 or less!

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Wedding by Hazel Gaynor  Beautiful story/romance set to the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s courtship in 1950s France.  Makes me desperately want to visit Grasse and the perfume region of France.  Preferably in 1956 but today will do.

Kept: An American House Husband in India  I love a good expat book.  This one is super fun.  And if you haven’t read The Sex Lives of Cannibals Adrift in The Equatorial Pacific about a “house husband” moving from US to Kiribati?  I highly recommend it.  Hilarious.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London  A plus sized blogger goes on a Bachelor-like show against her better judgement.  This is no War and Peace and I loved it.  (I paid full price for this one)

Things in A Jar by Jess Kidd  Victorian England written so beautifully it feels like you are there.  On a detective hunt…that just gets stranger and stranger.  I’ll be thinking about this one for a long while.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Father of the Rain by Lily King – This author is one of my favorites…I loved this book and her next book Eurphoria.  Love.

The Last Train to Key West  by Chanel Cleeton  It’s a great read by the author of …but the history of Key West and Cuba are FASCINATING.  Much takes place during the build up to the strongest hurricane to ever hit the US…this Cat 5 hitting Key West in 1935.

TV Shows

In my last post of this kind, I mentioned my fear of running out of TV and so far…it hasn’t happened.  I’ve broadened our horizons (aka Trying things that before I would have just said YACK…NO WAY to) and found a show or two that we are really enjoying.  I think there might be a life lesson there…

Modern Family:  This is a smart, charming show and I’m not sure how I lived my life this long without Cam, Manny, Gloria, and the gang.  Feel-good pandemic viewing.  It’s also very comforting that there are 201 episodes in total.  No stress about burning thru this too quickly.  We’ve been watching an episode or two most days and…it’s good stuff.

Cobra Kai:  Silly and fun but surprisingly entertaining.  Great music and just an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for this Karate Kid re-boot.  The second season was not as good as the first…but the ending has us GIDDY for season three.   Jeff and I might actually have high-fived.

After soliciting a LONG suggestion list of epic, historical romance movies from my Facebook crowd, I’ve jumped in.  And watched some great stuff.   Guernsey Potato Peel Pie And Literary Society, Reds, Dangerous Liaisons (again), Legends of the Fall, Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement (my fave).

We watched Netflix’s new Emily in Paris last night – the first episode.  It is pitched as the modern Sex and the City.  Ummm…yes.  Without the humor, smart writing, focus on female friendships, and likeability of the characters.  It’s like a girl trying to dress like Carrie Bradshaw might if…ugh.  Emily…you are no Carrie Bradshaw.  But they had me with that promise.  I’m sure I’ll watch the whole thing by Monday.  I am also sure that Jeff wants no part of that.

Podcasts

I’m not sure what I would have done without podcasts or my dogs during this pandemic.  I’m not sure how I lived the first 45 years of my life without them.  They allow me to multi-task…they are so crazy entertaining…and they just feel…more personal…almost intimate.

I’ve listened to some good ones:  Like Canary (I listened to all 7 episodes in 24 hours)

But I also re-listened to the single best podcast episode that I know of: clever, funny, ridiculously entertaining…they take you along on the ride to find a missing song.  Reply All:  The Case of the Missing Hit.

Cooking and Baking

Bagels and focaccia – I’m still making both weekly…if not more.  It is SO nice to have tasty NY bagels in the house and in the freezer.  Life-affirming.

Sophisticated Gourmet’s NY Style Bagels

Smitteh Kitchen’s Foccacia for a Crowd

I also made a delicious moist (sorry…there is no substitute for that word when it comes to delicious moist baked-goods) pumpkin bread.  I found the last 15oz can of pumpkin in town – most certainly leftover from Thanksgiving last year – and put her to work.  SO good.

New Thanksgiving provisions should be coming in over the next month….so I can restock.  Cranberry and canned pumpkin are not year-round products here for the most part.

That’s all from me for now. Have a great Sunday.





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