Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction

~~Part 1 of 2~~

Building in Belize, or in many other 3rd world countries, there are not many (if any) building codes to abide by. This lack of regulations gives you freedom, but it also brings disadvantages as labor, such as plumbers and electricians, do not have to be certified, therefore anybody can (and do) claim to be anything they want. Problems may not necessarily arise due to a lack of knowledge, but they will sometimes due to carelessness and ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude.

This article covers many areas involved in the building process; Plumbing, Electrical & Wiring, Roof, Gutter & Down Pipes, Concrete Work , Clearing the Land, Burning, Daily Inspection, Tools & Equipment, Paying the Workers & Contractors, Hardwood House Coating. This post was getting quite long, so I divided it into 2 parts. As best I could, I listed each point in order of the building progression.

CLEARING THE LAND ~ There will be clearing to do, how much depends on where you’re building. In the jungle, it is a very important factor as the forest is very lush and dense due to the sub-tropical rainforest climate. Most guys here are very very good at clearing (chopping with machete) and fast. The problem is that they can be ‘too good’ and cut valuable trees unnecessarily. You must clearly mark the area you wish to have cleared and visibly mark the trees you wish to keep. A good way to mark those trees is by tying white cloths around the trunk at eye level. Don’t just point them out, really mark them clearly!

burning

BURNING ~ Branches, leaves, and even trees are constantly falling throughout the year. Also, your garbage is in two categories; what you will burn and what you will take to the dump. For those reasons, your ‘burning’ area(s) is a permanent feature on your property and should be carefully selected. What to keep an eye on is that workers have a tendency of making piles too big, creating too large a fire. They also love using igniter fluids such as fuel or crude oil because it’s easier and faster! And finally, the best time to burn is at the end of the day when things are dry from the all day sun, but moisture will come soon (once the sun has set) and prevent the fire from remaining or spreading.

CLEANLINESS OF WORK SITE ~ From the start, your work site can get pretty trashy. The work crew will just throw things (bent nails, used saw blades, empty containers or pretty much anything they deem as garbage) everywhere and don’t bother cleaning until the job is done, which is many months away. Be on that from the get go by providing trash cans and explain how easy and quick it is to clean up at the end of each day. Nearly everyone won’t like you at first for that, but as time goes, most will appreciate working in a clean site (especially if there’s a cold beer at the end of the day once in a while!). One major issue is non-burning garbage in the burning pile. I have picked up so many used circular saw blades in that pile! Even after several reminders, once in a while you will still find a metal can from a lunch box! Also provide broom and dust pan to clean sawdust in the house, and have a spare dust pan as they get lost, or break, easily!

concrete

CONCRETE WORK ~ Almost anyone you ask will say; Oh yes, I do concrete! (And I am sure if you ask, he also does plumbing and electrical ♥). An important thing to look out for is the proper ratio of sand/cement/water. Depending on what work you are doing, the type of sand and the rocks content is also very important. The use of rebars and reinforcement is essential for the sturdiness and longevity of pilings on buildings, retaining walls, stairs…

 

PLUMBING ~ Plumbing in Belize is quite simple, using standard PVC piping and accessories, which comes in schedule 40 or 60. Schedule 40, being the thickest one, is highly recommended as PVC will dry and become brittle over time. Also, all pipes that can be buried should be. When your worker is cleaning with the machete, those pipes can be vulnerable as they swing those machetes pretty hard! Also, if a tree or a rock fall, your pipes are protected. In this department, there are quite a lot of things to lookout for.

~ Many ‘plumbers’ don’t use the solvent before applying the glue. In one instance, a plumber dropped a fitting in the dirt after applying the glue, did not clean it and attached it to the pipe!
~ There are two types of PVC glue, one being for hot water pipes. They often will use the basic glue on all pipes.
~ They also are not big in the use of unions in strategic areas. They are a life saver when you need to clear a pipe or drain.
~ Vents on drain pipes are essential for proper drainage, and many guys don’t use them.
~ Another issue is ‘inclinations/grade’. Many guys have a hard time understanding the principle and your drain pipes might not be inclined enough or if at all. This problem of understanding inclinations is also an issue when doing gutters, shower tiles, roadways and ditches.

ELECTRICAL / WIRING ~ The custom in Belize, the Caribbean and Central America is to run wires outside walls and ceilings. So if you want your wires inside your walls and ceilings, don’t take it for granted and keep your eyes open. Unless you are totally 100% confident in your electrician, inspect all splicing as they often mix wire gauge and/or colors. Inspect all connections to outlets and switches as you will probably find some stray wires, unnattached ground wires, and loose screws. As for installing electrical hardware, I was amazed when our ‘electrician’ opened the box for the A/C unit and the first thing he did was trash the instruction/installation manual! Over time, I have found that it is standard practice not to follow, or trash, any instructions they find!

roofing

ROOF ~ Our roof is undulated metal sheets. Installing this type of roofing is quite simple and straight forward, but we did run into one problem. When installing the screws, which have rubber grommets for sealing, one guy was screwing them in so tight that the grommets would get crushed and split. This will sooner than later cause leaks. Once we saw that, we inspected each screw and ended up replacing a number of them.

So this was part 1, and I hope some of those tips can come in handy for you! You can read my 2nd installment, which includes; Hardwood Coating (interior/exterior), Gutters & Drain Pipes, Tools & Equipment, Daily Inspection and, Paying the Workers & Contractors.

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
16 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
17 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2


 

Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction

~~ Part 2 of 2 ~~

This post is part 2 of a two part series talking about construction in Belize and other Countries. If you haven’t yet, read part 1 of 2.

HARDWOOD HOUSE COATING AND MAINTENANCE ~ Coating the wood will help preserve its colors and beauty. Outside walls in the sun, if not coated with a UV protectant stain, will quickly turn grey. Before coating, clean off dust and debris and make sure that all pencil marks are removed. This may sound stupid, but a friend of ours was not there when they coated his house and now he has permanent measurement on his balcony walls, right at eye level too! Since the inside of our house has 16’ ceilings and is quite large, we opted for coating using a spray gun. We were lucky with the guy we hired as he did an excellent job. The first coat was applied in the morning and the second coat a couple of hours later in the afternoon. If we had done this by hand, it would have taken several days. Being in the jungle and having a wood house, fighting bugs is part of the routine. So before coating I also recommend spraying all wood surfaces (inside and out) with an anti bug (termites, worms etc.) chemical such as Dursban, which is easily available and comes in many types for different applications. Once your house is completed, regular spraying is recommended (monthly or less depending on the season) to prevent any bugs from moving in. These chemicals also help keep out other bugs such as scorpions and spiders.

GUTTERS & DRAIN PIPES ~ As stated in part 1 of 2 ~ Plumbing topic, inclination/grade is a concept many guys do not grasp. So check the grade throughout with a level. Also the joints/connections must be sealed with silicone, which if you don’t tell them, there are good chances will not bother do. Due to the high volume of water when you get a good tropical downpour, ensure that the gutters’ drains are large enough to handle that volume.

TOOLS & EQUIPMENT ~ Carelessness is big and can get costly. Check the oil in your generator yourself as it is not unusual that they let that go dry. Also, using the wrong fuel (regular or diesel) in engines, or the correct mix of fuel/oil as for the weed trimmer is another thing to keep your eyes on. A bad habit most have is to leave things lying around, and often in the rain. And last but not least, breaking things. Be ready to fix a lot of stuff or ensure you have a good repair man in your area to help with those!

DAILY INSPECTION ~ Inspect daily, or as often as possible so that problems can be rectified in time, without having to undo too much to fix the mistake. You must also ‘see for yourself’ and not take their word as lying is second nature for many!

PAYING THE WORKERS & CONTRACTORS ~ If you are planning on building, I am sure you have done research and have heard a few stories, some not too good. When it comes down to money transactions with financially struggling people, it is always risky. But when dealing with a reputable company, it is quite safe. When hiring and paying workers by yourself it is another story. As you probably read somewhere, it is advised not to pay your workers until the job is completed and that makes sense. Here‘s one that happen to me. I had a guy on a contract that would take about 8 days and we agreed on $70 per day. I gave him one day pay in advance and paid for the supplies. At the end of his fourth day he asked to be paid for the days he worked so far. So I replied that we agreed that he would get paid at the end of the job. Then he started whining about how the rich gringos don’t care, that he has a wife and kids and needs to buy food and so on. So I gave in and paid him for 3 days. Once the money was in his hand, he then announced to me that for him to complete the job his daily rate would now be $100! So I just told him to get the %*^&# out of here and to never set foot on my property again! You will run into these types of situations and they are not fun to deal with. Unfortunately, many of them do not understand the concept of long term employment, possible references to other people who plan on building, being true to their word, and respecting their employers. Also, when hiring workers directly, not through a contractor or company, make sure Social Security gets paid. It’s the law, as it should be, and it is very important for the future of the country. For more information on Social Security in Belize, visit the Social Security Board website. It is a very well built website that includes all information you need, procedures, forms, and more.

In closing, a big struggle with workers is communication. Even though Belize is an English speaking country, many workers (from Guatemala and Honduras for example) do not speak English (or some do when convenient!), and Spanish is almost as widespread. But even without a language barrier, establishing a rapport with your worker is still hard to achieve sometimes. Mix a bunch of masculine gender Gringos and Latinos, egos are high! Those I have seen succeeding in developing a good relationship are the ones who can listen as well as talk. It has to be 2 way communications in order to exchange ideas and knowledge. The Gringo has the technological knowledge, and many ideas. The Latino has knowledge of the country and its custom and probably has many ideas that you ought to listen to! Listen to your workers’ suggestions as it might just be the answer you were looking for. Then it’s easy for you to build upon his idea, while inquiring for more suggestions. And when you are of different countries and cultures, you learn even more. It’s a great combination, but not necessarily an easy one! With mutual respect, you can learn so much from each other.

I am sure there are hundreds of other things to look out for and that anyone who’s ever built in Belize (or in any similar country) have a few good stories of their own! Please share them in the ‘comments’ section.

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
16 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
17 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2


Home Schooling When Living Abroad

There are thousands of people who live in remote areas and have to home school their children. There are also thousands who live in cities and suburbs and who actually chose to home school. And throughout my travels, I have discovered another large community which is sailors. It is quite surprising the number of families that live on sail boats (or other types of boats) and travel around the world. Here’s a blog from one such wanderer “Floating Classroom“! Here in Belize, my neighbors at the Barton Creek Outpost also home school their children.

I didn’t know anything about home schooling until I moved to Barton Creek. It got me curious and I did some investigating. I have found that there are just over 1 million children in the United States alone who are being home schooled. There are many good websites who provide incredible tools and resources, so anyone can entertain the thought of homeschooling. Personally, what I would fear the most (if I had children) is the discipline and will it must take… one of the parents becomes a teacher. Imagine going from “mom and daughter” to “teacher and student”.


Copyright: Cartoon by Mr. Fish

The first thing you have to do is get yourself organized. Study and reading material, reference books, and worksheets, supplies etc. are some things you gather before you move as during the move, and the adaptation period, things will get busy! Having an organized schedule will make your life much easier and will also help keep the kid(s) in a structured environment. Planning for 1 month or 6 months takes about the same time, so plan for at least 6 months. I found good resources for schedule templates, curriculum, worksheets and many other teaching aids. Below is a printable blank world map for Geography homework I found at Home Crusaders Website.


Map: credit of Home Crusaders

Books and all the material are heavy and bulky. A type of carrying case I recommend is a sturdy shipping case or plastic bin with seal. It is extremely practical as it seals against the element so you keep the moisture (and crawly critters) out to preserve things vulnerable to humidity. And it also can be used as a table wherever you are at. If you will have internet access at home, it makes things easier as you do not have to carry as much. In most places you can find internet cafes. Depending on the frequency you can visit the café is another important factor in your overall organization and material gathering.

Here are some very good resources to get you started:

http://homesheart.blogspot.com/
http://www.homeschool.com/
http://www.schoolexpress.com/index.php
http://members.aol.com/usteach/forms.html
http://www.abcteach.com/
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/
http://www.calvertschool.org/home-school/
http://www.design-your-homeschool.com/How-to-start-homeschooling.html

And of course there are thousands more. There are also a lot of blogs solely about homeschooling. Blogs can be very good sources as they are written by individuals who are living it. Their writing is true and real as they are not doing it on a business point of view, but for sharing with others. Also, joining an online group or forum is always a good idea for help and support between members.

And last but not least, is to schedule exercise time. Not only is it essential for the kids, but it is also very good for you! Here at Barton Creek, playing in the creek is the best gym. I do not have children, but exercise daily while playing and spending time with the dogs. With areas from ankle deep to a 15’ swimming hole it is the best way to end a hot day in the jungle!

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
16 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2

To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad

When you move to another country, there can be one of two ways of doing so. It is that you are moving with a company (employment relocation) or that you are doing it yourself, on your own, or with your family (such as retirement).

In the case of employment relocation, more often than not, your traveling and moving, expenses are covered by the company and your lodging is acquired by them as well. So it is not a concern for you. But when making the move on your own, to buy or to rent deserves your full attention.

It is a very good idea to visit the country you have chosen at least twice before moving. The first time, go for fun; explore and look at everything, talk to people, discover as much as you can. If you are not sure of the area you would like to settle in, then you rent. But if you know exactly what you want and where, research both rentals and real estate. Thanks to the internet, research is quite easy, although it is time consuming. There are many online resources such as:

~ Forums geared to specific countries, or ‘expat’ forums where all countries are discussed. There are many out there but not all are good. When entering a forum, look for the stats, which will tell you the number of members, visitors etc. Next find out if the forum is active (lots of posters and daily interactions) by reading through the threads menu and specific threads.

~ Real estate and rental websites (hundreds, if not thousands, to browse through!)

~ Government website to look up ownership, immigration and other laws

~ Blogs (like this one) from people living abroad, or who have lived abroad, and share their experiences. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to use the ‘comment’ field. Bloggers love corresponding with their readers!

~ Tourist/vacation related websites have lots of info about the country in general.

Before you buy, here are some things you need to know, or be able to answer:

► Real estate market. What kind of prices am I looking at.
► Laws (different countries mean different laws)
► Expat ownership laws (which in some countries may vary from laws that apply to locals)
► Purchasing procedures, requirements and time frame. What are the extra fees beyond and above the property price itself.
► Do I use a realtor, a real estate broker, an attorney… It is very important to find someone you can trust with your transaction and money. Ask for references.
► Political and economical state of the country. Semi to long term investment value.
► Will I have clear title of my property?
► Am I allowed to remain in the country for as long as I own? What are the immigration laws and different programs for expats?

Once you are familiar with those points, it is then time for your second visit to meet with the contacts you have made during your research and view the properties that have peeked your interest. You can then safely make your purchase and feel confident about it.

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2

Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree

The Black Poisonwood tree (Metopium Brownie or Metopium Toxiferum of the family Anacardiaceae) is also known as Chechen, Chechem (Mayan name), Coral Sumac, Caribbean Rosewood, and Cedro Prieto. It is found throughout Central America, the Caribbean and the West Indies. This tree produces beautiful decorative wood used for carving, wood turning, furniture etc. But it has a very powerful defense mechanism against people!

This form of defense is a highly irritating sap, and when human skin comes in contact with it, the result can be quite an ordeal. It starts with a redness, (like a bad rash similar to poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak and the rest of them…) but often will develop into itchy and burning blisters, and is extremely painful. Depending on the amount of sap and how quickly you treat it, it can remain a rash and be gone in just a few days, or it can develop into a 1st to 2nd degree burn(s). Plus another interesting thing, in my husband’s case, nothing major happen for 3 days, but then on the fourth day he was covered! When you scratch (and you will) and then touch another part of your body (or someone else’s), the infection can easily spread. The picture below is of a hand (mine) and an infected arm (my husband’s) with blisters. The pictures are not that bad, but for the squeamish, you may not want to click it!

That was extremelly painful and lasted for a few weeks. To get it that bad is rather rare though. Usually you only touch the bark of the tree and hopefully treat it immediately. It is then a mild rash and in a very limited area. In that particular case, we did cut lots of trees, which means that the sap was also in the air, landing all over our clothes and body. It was also a very warm day and we were sweating a lot… perfect way to spread it all over your body!

Pictured on the left below is the bark of the Black Poisonwood tree. The black stuff (the sap comes out of the tree clear, but upon being introduced to oxygen it then turns black), which actually looks a lot like tar, is the poison. You do not want to touch this tree at all, but especially the black spots. The leaves of the tree can also be toxic. Now even after the tree is chopped down and dried… it still can be just as potent. In the saw mills when cutting the wood, the dust can have the same burning affect. Or even when you are just burning off a pile of old logs, the smoke can also spread the poison. Pictured on the right is the Gumbo Limbo tree (Bursera Simaruba of the family Burseraceae), which is the natural antidote of the Black Poisonwood. The tree sap relieves rashes, stings and burns. A medicinal tree, tea from its leaves is use to treat fever, low blood pressure.

~~~~~~~~Black Poisonwood ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gumbo Limbo ~~~~~~~~~~

Gumbo Limbo trees grow in the same area of the Black Poisonwood trees. If you have touched the Black Poisonwood, the first thing to do is to find a Gumbo Limbo tree. And as soon as possible you must wash the area very well with any oil dissolving substance as just water and regular soap will not remove all of it (I have also read somewhere that WD40 can be quite effective). You cut a piece of the Gumbo Limbo bark and wipe the inside on the affected area. Hang on to this bark and reapply several times early on. What you can also do is boil the bark, add powdered vitamin C to the boiled water to make a paste that you apply on the burn. But in an extreme case as in the picture of the hand and arm, it is way past the Gumbo Limbo power! You are now dealing with 1st or 2nd degree burns and believe me, it is atrocious. Medicated, anti-itch first aid cream helps relieve the burning and itching and also helps keeping the infection down. And in some cases, as in my husband’s, antibiotics and a steroid medication are in order! I myself used a Sunburn Relief Gel with lidocaine, tea tree oil and aloe vera and it was very soothing and cooling!

One more trick… if you are going to cut or handle Black Poisonwood, apply the Gumbo Limbo to your face, hands and arms before you start. This will provide a good protection as it prevents the sap to stick to your skin. Obviously, we learned that ‘after’ we had to deal with those trees! Not a lesson that we will soon forget!

The Black Poisonwood is hard, dense and very decorative. Here’s a Black Poisonwood Handcrafted drum by Greg Gaylord of Drum Solo


Photo credit Frankie Frost

And due to the high risk in harvesting this wood, it is pricey. Hey, maybe we are sitting on a gold mine here?

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2

Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle

Will your pet, no matter what, catch fleas and ticks in the jungle? It’s a definite yes. But, with scheduled upkeep, it is possible to keep it to a minimum. You can do a combination of little things that brings positive results.


Tick pic copyright of RangerDJ.com ~ Flea pic copyright of ehow.com

Ticks and fleas are bloodsucking parasites who attach themselves to the skin. There are a large variety of species of both ticks and fleas, and many are known to carry diseases. One of the more common one is Lyme disease. Here’s an excellent article by The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station if you want to learn more about ticks. And eHow has good info about fleas.

We have four cats and two dogs in a tropical lush jungle environment, so dealing with those parasites have become part of our life. After some trial and error, we have come up with a combination that has worked out best for us.

For the kitty cats, I do the 30 day squirt between the shoulder blades with a product such as Advantage® and Frontline®. If you buy online (which I do as these products are very expensive in Belize) please make sure it is genuine and not a fake which can be inefficient but most importantly, harmful to your animal. I also brush the kitties almost daily with a fine tooth brush which keeps their coat clean and fluffy. They play outside a lot, but they cuddle in bed with us too, and rarely do I find fleas or ticks.

Sammy & Watson

Hey Sammy, lets go chase the other kitty cats!

Now the dogs are a different story! Since they are mostly outside, and like to sleep in the dirt and roll in the grass, it is more difficult to keep under control. In addition to treating the dogs coat, you also need to treat his sleeping and living quarters. The dogs get a monthly shot of Ivomec® and B/12 vitamins. A year ago I had never given a shot to anything, and didn’t really like getting any myself. But now I’m a pro! In Belize, you can buy medications, syringes etc. for your animals. At Reimer’s Feed in Spanish Lookout, a nice guy directed me to the different treatments and instructed me on how to administer the injection. My first time I was very nervous but it turned out to be real easy. Then a neighbor started bringing me her dog every month, and now she too does it herself!

Watson’s sleeping quarters under the power shed

Spraying their sleeping quarters is crucial. Watson likes to sleep on the shed’s porch or under the shed. To keep him off the ground, under the shed is lined with wood pallets. These areas get sprayed with a product called Bañol® (which also controls other local parasites that burro into their skin and cause them to scratch until the skin is raw). Mixed with water, using a yard sprayer, we spray the porch and the pallets. Since this product is also to be used to bathe dogs, we spray him at the same time (watching out not to spay the eyes/face or genitals). For the surrounding areas around their sleeping quarters, we keep the lawn mowed short and also spray a mixture of bleach and water. As for the frequency of the spraying, it all depends on the season and the weather. Being on a creek, the dogs swim pretty much daily, so they also get a regular bath with herbal flea and tick repellent soap. During wet season where it is harder to control, we also use Fipecto® Spray which is good for dogs or cats.

You may have to experiment with different procedures and ideas, and also ask the neighbors what their tricks are. But it is important to keep on top of those parasites as they are very uncomfortable to your animal(s) and if left untreated, can cause skin infections and sores.

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2

Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country

Here follows from my previous post, Health Issues when Living Abroad, reason #1 for selling. So reason #2; the inability of having proper telephone/fax services, and toll free numbers.

A professional business requires good, dependable, and affordable telecommunication services. And all better if they can provide toll free numbers from USA & Canada.

Phone/internet service in Belize is provided by Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL), and in many areas there are not even any services, including cell phone signal. BTL is the exclusive telecommunication provider of Belize, and when a business has a monopoly it is usually not economically wise for the people of the country. Competition brings controlled regulations, openness, quality of services and competitive prices. So in the case of BTL, they can do, and charge, whatever they want. BTL long distance rates are currently some of the highest in the world. Depending on the time of day and the plan you are on, calling to the USA cost between .43¢ to $1.26 per minute. Calling to Canada between .25¢ to $1.08 and to the UK between .35¢ to $1.59. That is one issue that greatly affect doing business in Belize, or in any similar countries, making it difficult and sometimes not viable.

But when you are off-grid and have a reliable internet access, there are several good options such as Skype or Gizmo, and new technology like Magic Jack. Most of them work quite well, but obviously, not like a good old land line! We have experienced a few and are using Skype full time. Here are some things that you are able to do:

-Skype to Skype chat (type and voice). As long as both parties have downloaded Skype, this service is free, in real time, and very reliable. This would be the best quality.

-Video/webcam chat

-Incoming phone call/number. You can currently choose a phone number from 21 countries. When someone calls you, they are actually calling the country of your number and it rings on your computer wherever you are in the world. In our case, in the middle of the Belize jungle!

-Conference calling. Once with a relative in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and 2 in Calgary we had a conference Skype voice chat with web cams where we could all see each other. Trish in the UAE carried her laptop around and gave us a tour of her house! It was awesome, and free!

-Land Line Calling. This feature allows you to call any landline (or mobile phone) in the world, from your computer, at very affordable rates. The rate is based on where you are calling, not where you are calling from. The plan we are on cost US $3.00 per month and provides unlimited calls to USA and Canada. Calling the UK cost a mere .02¢ per minute! Unfortunately this service can sometimes be spotty and really depends on your internet connection speed and quality. I believe there can be factors on the land line end that also affect the quality.


2 samples of a Skype window

Those are just a few things you can do. There are many more features available. One downside is that toll free numbers are not available.

Unfortunately, those that get their internet connection through BTL are unable to use most of those VoIP services as they have been blocked. So in addition to charging horrendous amounts of money, they also stop you from other amazing, more affordable, options. There are many other countries, such as the UAE and China that block those VoIP services. If that isn’t a form of dictatorship, I don’t know what is!

So Skype through satellite internet is awesome to talk with friends and family! For business, unless those you are communicating with are colleagues that already know you and your business, it can work okay. But unfortunately it is not suitable for conducting business dealings with unfamiliar people and building new contacts as there is a slight delay in the transmission. Similar to a VHF radio, only one person can talk at a time, otherwise it disrupts the connection and neither person will be able to fully hear what the other one is saying. So when you’re talking to that person with whom it is already tough to get a word in, this makes it even more difficult!

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
9 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
10 ~ Living in Paradise! But, Where Is It?
11 ~ Solar Panel Placement & Sun Chart Creator
12 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
13 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2