Our Beachfront Home

Our Beachfront Home
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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Retrospect

Well, it's been one hell of a year. A quick recap...


We had Tamara visit, actually arrived in December but stayed a week. We went to San Ignacio where we checked out Xunantunich, did some cave tubing at Jaguar Paw Resort, and finished her stay by going to Caye Caulker for some snorkelling at the reef. After that we started struggling with Access America for the refund due to Air Canada cancelling their flights. This is the month that Elvis finally opened his new store in Seine Bight.


We saw bats in the bedroom, plenty of birds, even more rain. At the end of the month, we sold our grill and moved from Maya Beach to Seine Bight. We continued our struggle with Access America for our refund. They did reinburse us for some of it, but put it on the wrong credit card. They promised to cut a cheque for the remainder sometime in the next 60 days.


First we went to Belmopan where we applied for our residency as our year was up. That was a struggle in itself as there is no set standard and if you talk to two different people, you will get two totally different sets of instructions. We took a mini vacation and checked out Punta Gorda as it was one of the places we had not been to yet. We then settled into the new digs at Seine Bight. We continued our struggle with Access America.


We had Easter and we went to our first Passover Seder, which was wonderful, then my mom's birthday (which we celebrated without her), Bob's birthday party at Lil Bit's place and I did the Walk For Polio. I got bit by a dog in Seine Bight. We had our Police Interview for residency. They started building the road in Seine Bight. We continued our struggle with Access America.


The Village of Seine Bight got a road, Adriane had a birthday, Yoli's had a deck opening ceremony and party, we were finally paid the amount owed by Access America. We checked out some property in Riversdale on May 19th, but later found out the realtor took us to the wrong lot. On May 27th, we went back and checked out the correct property on our own. We continued our struggle with Immigration for residency.


The road continued to North Seine Bight, Lobster Season opened, LobsterFest happened and I did the Walk For Cancer. Our struggle with Immigration continued.


We celebrated Canada Day, Barnacle's birthday, and continued our struggle with Immigration. They managed to complete my application but lose Bob's. Bob's mum passed away, so we went to Victoria for two weeks. First we had to move out of Seine Bight and put our 'stuff' into storage.


We returned from Victoria and moved into the new digs in Placencia Village. We got our residency, Social Security and Voter Identification all set. We applied for internet to be installed in the new house before we left for Victoria and got it on August 20th. They installed the wrong speed but at least we had internet. Not bad for a $605 installation fee!!


We had lots of rain, Barefoot reopened, we celebrated The Battle of St. George's Caye and Independence Day. David Perez reopened his store in Placencia. We received our Social Security cards in the Placencia office.


We went to Dangriga to pick up our Voter ID cards, we celebrated Dax's birthday at the Maya Breeze. We checked out the property at Riversdale again, this time wondering why we were interested in the first place. We found out that we were being billed the wrong amount for the internet and began our struggle with BTL to have the billing corrected.


We started our struggle with Solicitor General's Office in Belmopan to get a Marriage Licence. Like Immigration, it depends on what day it is and who you talk to as to what information you get. We did get our Licence in the end but had to pay four times as much as originally told because we are FOREIGNERS. So why did we go for Residency? TuttiFrutti reopened. We celebrated Remembrance Day and we did get quietly married barefoot on the beach in front of our house on November 28th. We continued with our struggle with BTL billing.


We spent eight wonderful days in Costa Rica on our honeymoon. We celebrated my birthday at Barefoot Beach. We think we finally got the internet billing straightened around. We went to some friends in the village for a Christmas party and we had a wonderful Christmas Day with our friends and neighbours. Christmas Day afternoon we went for a swim. Just yesterday, we hooked up with some dear friends from Victoria who will be coming down to visit we hope. The year is ending on a wonderful note as our struggles seem to be over for now.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and look forward to a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Bob and Sharyn Flindell

Monday, December 21, 2009

Costa Rica - Part 5


We got up to have an early breakfast before heading out on the catamaran tour. We were picked up on time and went down the road to pick up more people as we headed towards the marina.

Front and centre, you can see our catamaran heading towards us.

The two of us.


Our hotel from the sea.

Breathtaking views.

Two-toned blue fish.

Bob and some clown fish.

The tour was excellent and we would recommend it to anyone. We had a great day, chasing dolphins and booby birds, cruising the coast, snorkeling, drinks and lunch and more drinks on board and sailing back to the marina.

After we returned to the hotel, we changed and caught the shuttle down to the village. We wandered around the shops, managed to find a great bar for happy hour. Then we went to the beach to catch sunset.

Surfer's beach.

Sunset over the surfers.


We had our first sleep-in then coffee on our patio before breakfast. After breakfast we walked the trail loop before going to the swimming pool. We were picked up at 1:30 for the trip back to San Jose. It went a little slower than anticipated because the mountains were pretty much fogged in.

We got back to the hotel at 6 pm. Once we got checked in, we wandered around and found a restaurant where we had some of the best shrimp and a couple of bottles of wine. After dinner, we went back to the hotel to make a phone call to the family. It was another early night as we were to be picked up at 3:15 a.m. for our 6:30 flight home.


We were up early, ready for the trip home. We flew from San Jose to San Salvador, then on to Belize City. It was a long day as we got home just after 6:30 pm.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Costa Rica - Part 4


We were up very early for coffee and breakfast before heading out. Debbie and Gary got up to see us off, we are positive it was to make sure we left. They were part of the dance crew the night before. It was a short boat ride across the river to the landing strip.

Here is a picture of the plane that came in to get us. It came down the runway, came to a screeching halt and did a quick turn. There were some young girls from another lodge and their breakfast on paper plates went flying. Everyone was scrambling to catch something that was blowing away. Gary ran for his hat that was blown off.

It was a pretty awesome flight to San Jose as we were above the clouds and flying between the mountains. I was impressed with the views as well as the skill of the pilots.

We were met at the airport by Henry, our driver for the day. He drove us through the mountains along a roller coaster road that took approximately three hours to get to the west coast.

Our hotel was the Hotel Parador Boutique Resort and Spa in Manuel Antonio near the Manuel Antonio National Park, Punta Quepos. It was really a very nice place, a little too fancy for us perhaps. We were greeted at the front desk with a cool cloth soaked in something that smelled nice and a fruit drink.

As you can see the views overlooking the Pacific were spectacular!!

We got settled in and made arrangements for a sail on a catamaran for the next morning. Then we hiked down to the beach. There were a few people there, but not too many and we took a little walk.

Found some yard art, but too big to bring it home with us.

Kids having fun.

Then we had the hike back up... I actually was proud of myself, I didn't have a heart attack on the way back up.

We relaxed in the deck chairs looking at the view when we returned, waiting for happy hour (6 to 7 pm) and had dinner reservations for 7:30.

After dinner, it was an early night again as we would be up early the next morning.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Costa Rica - Part 3


Well, here we are in the middle of the rain forest!! Our guide Hernande comes along at 5:15 a.m. to make sure we are awake for the river tour. First up, we get coffee, we have found that you can NOT get a bad cup of coffee in Costa Rica, they grow excellent coffee here. Of course, you are wired on caffeine for the day.

We head out in a smallish boat, going back and forth along the river, or as they call it, the canal. We saw lots of birds, monkeys and one Caiman (a small crocodilian reptile living in Central and South America).

The shore as we saw it from the boat.

A bird on the shore but the lush vegetation in the background is awesome.

Monkeys swinging in the trees.

More monkeys, they are so high up, we almost missed them.

This bird is like a cormorant and could be one, but I can't remember the name.


The river ahead of us was still as glass.

We returned at 8:00 a.m. for a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, rice and beans, wieners and fresh fruits. There is always fresh fruit at each meal, papaya, pineapple and watermelon. We were quite surprised that we have not seen a banana served at any meal.

At 9:30 we donned our rubber boots and went for a hike through the rain forest. We were very glad that they insisted we wear their rubber boots, as the paths were streams of slippery, mucky mud.

This is one of the trees that you can not tell the age of as it has no rings.

Here is our guide Hernande, explaining to us about the trees, and the hummingbirds.

During our hike we learned some new things. We learned that some trees you can't tell the age of because they have no rings. The reason why they have no rings is that there are no seasons in Costa Rica, just like Belize, they have wet season and dry season and Another thing we learned was that an enormous amount of hummingbirds die of Cirrhosis of the liver. This is caused when people put out sugar water for them and don't clean the feeders every day. On the second day, the sugar starts to ferment and by the third day, the hummingbirds are drinking alcohol. Autopsies that have been done, have shown that they died of liver disease. The second cause of death for them is heart attacks.

Bob's boots after the hike.

After the hike we had lunch and then a 'free' afternoon. We were going to go kayaking, but I chickened out after learning about the crocodiles and caimans on the river. Since then, I have learned that the caiman keep the piranha numbers down. We decided instead to hang around the second pool that is a little ways away from the hub of the lodge. There were three of us, Bob, myself and a new friend named Cathy. We had the pool to ourselves and had a great time swimming, chatting and taking pictures.

While lounging around the pool, Bob got this shot of a Toucan sitting in the top of the palm tree. After a bit, Cathy's husband, Ellis joined us and we had a glass of wine. Then it was time to head back to the cabin to get ready for dinner.

We were a little early for dinner, so stopped in at the pool bar by the restaurant and joined Peter. The special of the day seemed to be margueritas, so we had one each, and then we had another one each. Then Gary told the band we were newlyweds so they played us a very special 'slow' song. It seemed like it went on forever. Then everyone joined in and we did the limbo, and a conga type of dance. It then changed to a huge circle of people taking turns with the maracas, shaking them and doing a little dance, then passing it on to the next person. It was a lot of fun, and after a while the band took a break and the leader came over to us. He told us he had a special wedding present for us. It was one of their cds, and it would only cost us $10.00 US.

After that, dinner was very uneventful and some of us headed back to the bar for more dancing. At one point, Bob and I got up and showed everyone how to "Punta", even though we don't know how. It was a great evening and we were sorry to see it end, but we had to be up early in the morning to catch a plane back to San Jose and carry on to the west coast.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Yes, it was my birthday on Wednesday.

I just wanted to say thanks to my friends that sent me e-cards, to my brother Ken who phoned me, and a special thanks to Deb, Dan, Jenny, and Pam for joining us for dinner and drinks at the Barefoot Beach Bar. We had a great time. Good to see Kathy and John and Steve as well.

We took yesterday off to recuperate but now I am feeling much better. I will get back to Costa Rica Part 3 sometime this afternoon.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Costa Rica - Part 2


The alarm went off at 5:00 and we dressed, repacked and headed to Denny's for a light breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt. The bus was a little late, but only about ten minutes, so at 6:20, we were on the road to Pachira Lodge at Tortuguero. You can't just drive to Tortuguero, you have to either get there by boat or by plane.

We had a great guide, Hernande and our driver, George was very nice. George would take us as far as the river, but Hernande was coming all the way with us. He was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour. We couldn't stop on the winding road for photo ops, but he did warn us in advance when one was coming up. I did manage to get a quick picture of the place where two rivers meet. The one on the right is clear and clean and one on the left is filled with silt.

We drove through Braulio Carrillo National Park where we stopped for a real breakfast at Guapiles, our guides' home town. Just about all of the meals served are buffet style with plenty of choices for those who like to try new dishes. After breakfast, we went for a short walk around the grounds, which were beautiful.

We walked down the path to the river with another couple, Cathy and Ellis and took some pictures.

We then continued on and turned towards San Albert Nueva. In this area we went through many banana plantations, which are not a new thing for us. However, we are not used to driving through gates with guards to get through them. The first one was Chiquita Bananas and the second one was Del Monte. We actually drove right through the processing areas.

They have banana trains which are a series of poles and cables that start in the growing area and run to the processing area. The blue wrapped bunches of bananas are hooked to the cable and are pulled to the staging area. There the workers take them off the hooks and discard the blue plastic. They are put into a wash or bath and rinsed, then sorted and the bananas going for export are rinsed again, before being packed into cardboard boxes ready for shipping.

We all wave goodbye to George as he heads back to San Jose with a bus load of people just coming in off the river.

Here we see Hernande helping Debbie and Gary onto the boat we will take down the river to the lodge. We are about to enter the rain forest.

We cruised down the river and saw plenty of birds.

Here we have some spoonbills watching us from the river's edge.

We arrived at the lodge and after checking in and finding our cabins, it was time for lunch before heading out across the river/lagoon to the village of Tortuguero for a tour of the beach and see where the green turtles nest.

What amazed us most was the beach. The sand is black from the volcanic rock and the waves were huge, a surfers beach for sure.

The pictures don't do justice to the size of the waves, but you get the idea. They told us that this was an extremely calm day. I am not sure we wanted to be there on a rough day.

Here, we can see how black the sand is and it was very gritty sand, not smooth like we are used to here.

After the beach, we wandered around the village and checked out all the souvenir shops until it was time to head back to the lodge. Here is a picture of the local church in the village.

Once back at the lodge there was time for a cocktail before dinner.

Someone, I won't mention any names Bob, let it slip to our travel agent that it was our honeymoon and we were presented with a drink at the dinner table. A hollowed out pineapple covered with fruit flowers and balls was filled with Pina Colada and two straws for sharing. It was really very nice, but now the cat was out of the bag and our fellow travellers knew what was up. After this, it was time to head to our cabin for some much needed sleep.

Costa Rica - Part 1


After an extremely quiet wedding barefoot on the beach, we headed out for the 'honeymoon'. Below are a couple of shots of the peninsula from the air.

Seine Bight as seen from the air. If you look closely, you will see Elvis' new store.

The Placencia Hotel and surrounding area.

Our plane left Placencia airstrip with a stop in Dangriga before arriving in Belize City. From Belize City, our next flight took us to San Salvador and then we continued on to San Jose, Costa Rica. Our flight arrived at about 9 pm and it had been a very long day for us. We were exhausted and very happy to see a pleasant looking gentleman holding a card with our name on it. He directed us to the next man who took us to a private van and drove us to the hotel. The Irazu Hotel & Casino was a very nice Best Western. We went for a late dinner and headed back to the room as we were tired.


We were up and had a light breakfast of fruit and yogurt as we didn't know if we would be stopping along the way. At 9:00 we were picked up and after picking up some other people at their hotels, we were on our way to the Arenal Volcano located in the northern part of Costa Rica. We went to the town of Sarchi, for a rest stop and were able to shop in one of the shops there. Sarchi is famous and has earned the name "Birthplace of Costa Rica's Artisans". We didn't buy anything although there were some very nice carvings, but we were only allowed 25 lbs luggage on one of the next tours. As we continued on our way, we passed through coffee plantations and pineapple plantations. They grow many ornamental plants for export in this area. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in La Fortuna which is right in front of the volcano. Next stop was at the Tabacon Grand Spa & Thermal Resort, where there are thirteen pools and we think we made it to eleven of them.

Sharyn all squinty-eyed.

A nice private pool.

Bob in a calm pool.

Bob under a waterfall. It was all good. After we were finished in the pools, we showered and had pre dinner cocktails around the swimming pool. Then we had a great buffet dinner in the hotel dining room which faces the volcano. On clear nights you can see the volcanic activity which is supposed to be like fireworks. The weather did not cooperate for us and we never saw any volcanic activity, but the trip to the thermal springs alone more than made up for it.

It was a long day, thirteen hours, but more than worth it. We got back to the hotel Irazu about 10:00. Early to bed as we had an early morning coming up.


Okay, everyone wants the story, so we have decided to tell all. Finally.....

It was always our plan to get married in Belize once we got our residency. In August, we became residents......

In early November, we phoned the Solicitor General's Office in Belmopan and asked what we needed to bring in order to apply for a marriage licence. We were told that we needed to bring some photo ID, a copy of our divorce papers and a letter from the Justice of the Peace requesting permission to marry us. I mentioned to the woman on the phone that our divorce papers were scanned in on the computers, would this be acceptable? She asked me if they had the seal of the court on them. I told her yes, she said, no problem, that would be fine. I then asked her how much the licence would cost. Her response was $200 dollars. I told her we were residents and at that point she informed me that because we were residents, it would only be $50.

The next day we hustled our butts up to Belmopan with all the papers and found the correct office, which is the Solicitor General's office, hidden in with the Attorney General's office in the Ministry of Health building. We put a big smile on our faces and showed our papers. The woman said "this is no good, we need your original divorce papers. Ummm, we don't have the originals, we were told to bring these. No, you need the originals. You will need to return to Canada and have the copies notarized and certified as true copies." We were heading out the door when she said, "Another couple had this problem, they got someone in Canada to get the papers and mail them down."

We slept on it and I went back by myself the next morning. I wanted to talk to the highest person I could find. She wasn't very happy as she is Senior Crown Counsel and is a very, very busy person. So I sat myself down in her guest chair and waited. I asked her to please explain to me exactly what we needed to bring back in order to get the marriage licence. She told me that we needed a certified copy of our divorce papers, our passports, the application form filled out and signed by a Justice of the Peace, and a letter from the JP requesting permission to marry us. I asked her who the letter should be addressed to, her response was the Solicitor General. I then asked for the correct spelling of the Solictor General's name and she went blank. She told me I would have to look it up on the internet.

I went outside and phoned my sister Deanna in Canada and had her get us a lawyer, request the papers from the courts, have them notarized and certified as true copies and Fedex the papers to us. Just over a week later, once we got all the papers together, we had the JP (Ms. Louise) sign the letter, certify the application and we headed back to Belmopan.

Back we went, and glory be, all our papers were in order. We were told to go pay $200 at the Treasury Board and come back with the receipt. I said "oh no, we are residents now and it should be only $50." I opened our passports to the back page and showed her. She took the passports and left the room, but two seconds later, she was back. "$200"... okay fine, let's just get this over with. Bob went to pay and came back with a strange look on his face. He had a receipt and in huge capital letters it said "$200 - 2 FOREIGNERS". He handed it over and we were told to come back after lunch for the signed certificate.

I should note that there was another couple applying at the same time. They were not asked to show proof of residency, no passport, no birth certificate, no letter from a JP, and they were only charged $50.

At 1:00 we were waiting and were called in and questioned regarding the Justice of the Peace. Apparently their records were not up to date as Ms. Louise, who is the Senior Justice of the Peace for Placencia and the only one certified to marry people on the peninsula, was not registered with their office. She has been marrying people on the peninsula for over ten years now and they have just realized that they had sent off her Sr JP certificate before registering it. We had to phone Ms. Louise and get a fax number so they could fax her the permission to marry us. This is something new as Ms Louise has never before had to ask permission.

So on the bus back to Placencia, the 2 FOREIGNERS decided to have just a simple wedding in Belize and spend the entire honeymoon in some other country. Bob found an awesome eight day package on the internet for Costa Rica plus return flights.

Last Saturday, we were married barefoot on the beach in front of our house at 9:00 a.m. with Ms. Louise officiating and her sister Ms. Jean and nephew Brian witnessing. We were at the airstrip by 1:30 for the first step of the honeymoon in Costa Rica.