Health Issues When Living Abroad

The number one question we get from prospect buyers is “why are you selling?”. This is a reasonable question that all of us always ask ourselves when looking at purchasing a property. It comes from wondering if there’s something wrong with the place, and also it is just plain curiosity! Our first reason for selling is regarding health.

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Picture copyright of Blue Buddies

Before making the “big move”, don’t forget to spend some time researching and exploring all that is health related.
1- How am I doing personally?
2-
Do I have insurance that will cover me abroad?
3-
What health care is available in the country I am moving to?

If you currently have insurance, you need to ensure that they provide ‘worldwide’ or ‘overseas’ coverage. Many insurance companies do not offer it, or have different range of restrictions and exclusions. They might tell you you’re covered, but for how long? Many policies will cover you abroad but they have a maximum length of time that you are allowed out of the country until the coverage stops.

If you don’t have insurance, it is easily available to purchase online. Take time to do some research and there are good resources over the internet. A site I like is Insurance To Go as they give you a comparison table of their different plans, coverage, premiums, limits and deductibles. Many other websites out there will also give you that information.

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Now be ready for the questionnaire people. This is 2008 and it shows! On one questionnaire, they asked; “Have you ever had a headache. If yes, explain below”. Now, can anyone answer ‘no’ to that? So here it is… if you answered ‘no’, you lied and that can be used for refusing to cover/pay a claim. Now if you answered ‘yes’, that can be used for refusing to cover/pay a claim on the grounds of ’pre-existing condition’! Here’s another one; “Do you have any tattoos? If yes, provide size and location”. Hmmm, pretty hard to lie there! So if you do, I imagine any type of blood related illnesses or diseases could be ‘rejected’! And on that questionnaire, they also asked about piercings! But that questionnaire seemed to be unusual. Health insurance applications are generally pretty standard.

When studying coverage, do not waste time with little things like a broken arm. Something like that can be fixed pretty much anywhere and paying for it won’t ruin you! Instead concentrate on more important issues such as ’Emergency Air Evacuation’ to the nearest facility in your country and/or their network. In case of such as a car wreck, a heart attack that leaves you immobilized, you might be in need of urgent and special (expensive) care that is not available in the country where you live. Coverage to look more into are those that can ruin you financially such as cancer, liver disease, anything that would require long term and specialized treatments. So don’t fret about a broken leg or a tooth cavity!

And very important, don’t forget to “always” carry your insurance card with you in case you are alone and unconscious. That can save your life as with this card the medical attendants can immediately call the right place.

As for us this being a reason for selling, we have found out we are uninsurable! Well, they will let us pay the premium, but due to some pre-existing conditions it seemed to us that there would be very few things that they would cover. Being in our mid-forties, we have decided that it is something to consider seriously and relocating back to Canada is our safest bet. The other important reason to relocate has to do with telecommunication problems when living in a 3rd world country.

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 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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

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Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator

When designing your solar system, there’s a very important factor that should not be omitted, as it can very well make or break the amount of electricity you are capable of producing. It is to figure out the best placement of your solar panels/arrays for maximum performance. Finding out which direction and angle your panels must face will allow you to determine where to locate them, and then you will be ready to decide the type of mount you will need; roof, fixed mount, tracking mount etc.

Making your own sun chart is quite easy and fun. The website I use is by Jürgen Giesen and has great user-friendly tools.

All you have to do is enter your location data, mainly your coordinates (you can obtain your coordinates from a GPS, an Atlas or I believe even from Google Earth), and it creates an easy to read sun map with key information such as the number of hours of sunshine, its intensity etc.

Sun Map for June 24, 2008
Click here to enlarge

Sun Map for December 24, 2008
Click here to enlarge

Above are two charts for my situation, located in the Cayo District of Belize (17º N – 88º W, just North of the equator). I created a chart for June and one for December. With these results I was able to conclude that I needed for my panels to be able to do a full tilt and or swivel since the sun is slightly north in the summer and quite south in the winter.

For the end result, our solar panels are on fixed (bolted in concrete) ‘Belize custom made’ steel tri-pod style base mount with a rack that holds 6 panels and has a manual crank mechanism that allows us to tilt to a 90 degree angle and rotate 365 degrees. In North America, your solar array will be facing toward the southern half of the hemisphere at all times of the year.


Another important factor that will affect the efficacy of your charging power is obstructions. When orienting solar panels, it is a bit like orienting your dish for TV or Internet Satellite; you don’t want anything in their way like branches, buildings, trees, mountains… So that is why our solar system is set up in our 3 acre orchard. It is also important that your solar panels are accessible for cleaning. If your panels are tilted at about 45 degrees or more and it rains once in a while, it’s not too much of an issue. But if your panels are flat mounted, dirt will accumulate and build up far easier.

These are just some of the basic things that need to be considered when setting up a solar system. With some research and talking to your local alternative energy supplier or someone with an existing system, you will be able to obtain more insight on the do’s and dont’s of solar.

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 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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

Living In Paradise! But… Where Is It?

A whole lot of people refer to beautiful white sandy beaches, warm and tropical climate places as ‘Paradise’. Note that only people who have never lived in any of these kinds of places use the ‘P’ word!


Ambergris Cay, Belize

I have searched some online dictionaries to find out what their definitions of paradise is. I have found that there are a few descriptions of the word and that each religion and belief have their own. But in the more generic meaning, there is a consensus of the main definition.

According to The Free Dictionary.com it is ‘a place of ideal beauty or loveliness’ and ‘a state of delight’. The Merriam Webster returns this; ‘a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight’. And according to me, paradise is a word for which there are as many definitions as there are people on earth! We each, as unique individuals, have our own vision and idea of what paradise is.


Sunset behind my house

My vision of paradise is easy; it’s a place that is perfect (now that’s another word with lots of definitions…)! So, the weather is always clement. In my paradise, I would have the power to control it! There would not be any floods, earthquakes or any natural disasters ever. Next, no diseases or health issues, and no one would ever go hungry. Of course, there is no crime. In the local language of this serene planet there are no words for rape, abuse, murder, child pornography, theft… because it just doesn’t exist! And the doors have no locks. Actually, locks don’t even exist either! On planet paradise, these things have never been thought of or heard of! It is also a place where everyone is kind and loving. There are no criminals, scammers, thieves, abusers… Everyone is gentle, and smart too!


Pure harmony, no matter what we look like!
Copyright – Pictures
furnished to
The Cat’s Meow by Phyllis Montoya in Santa Fe, NM

So for me, paradise cannot exist on planet earth. Or can it? Besides controlling the weather and eradicating diseases, what if every really bad person on the planet were to disappear all at the same time, like flicking a switch. And from that moment on no woman, child or anyone would ever get raped or abused, no one would get robbed, and you can forget about carrying those stupid key chains! But if this was to happen, could there be a shortage of people to keep the planet going?

My point on this post is not to dampen the spirit of people who refer to those exotic places as paradise, because in many a days, when I lay in my hammock while reading my book and listening to the birds and the creek, it sure does feel like it!

What is your vision of paradise? Tell us in the comments and let’s see what is in your dream!

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 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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

The Invasion Of The Flood Flies

At the first rain, following a drought, the flood flies invade! Those ‘flood flies’, which look a lot like ants, are ‘winged termites’. They are about ½” to 1” long and have 2 sets of wings.

This is a phenomenon that occurs a few times a year. This year it happened on May 29th, when tropical storm Arthur brought a deluge on Belize. The last time it rained here at Barton Creek was on March 5th. Everything, including the jungle, was very dry, dry enough that a lot of wildlife were lower in the mountains, nearer the creek.

On that day, the rain started in the early afternoon, and it came down hard! But it felt so good as you could feel the dust being washed off everything such as the trees, the rocks, the truck, the house… it smelled so clean. But, in the early evening, at dusk, the little pests arrived!

Here’s a very good video by Calvary Chapel Murrieta. After clicking on the link, then click on ‘flood flies’.

Since we had already experienced this invasion, we were aware and got ready for it. We made sure all screens were tightly in place and used masking tape around the windows’ handles where there are small gaps. We also closed the door early. But even with all that, those annoying bugs still found their way in. Within minutes we had a few hundreds in the house, but it was very minimal compare to what you can have if not prepared. They fly around lights and people, bump into you, crawl on your skin and are extremely irritating. Fortunately, they do not bite or sting! After just a few hours, they drop their wings, and start crawling all over the place…

CRAWLING ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER AFTER IT’S LOST ITS WINGS

… on the floors, furniture, ceiling fans, just about everywhere. The next day, all are dead, and it is then cleaning time! That is also quite exasperating as those wings are very small and light and therefore a nightmare to sweep.

HUNDREDS (THOUSANDS?) OF LITTLE WINGS EVERYWHERE!

But the best is that our water tanks are now full with the best water source when living off-grid. And the worst on this occasion is that some parts of Belize got hurt really bad and are still in the process of cleaning and rebuilding.

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 ~ Living in Paradise! But… Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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

How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country

After having lived as an expat for the last 22 years in 5 different countries, I am starting to get the idea!

There are rules expats should always live by, no matter where they’re from and where they now live. Those rules are simple and basic but so very important. First, picture the expats that live in your own town or city and ask yourself what you expect of them.

-Learn the language
-Respect the culture(s)
-Do not criticize (as you would think of an expat in your city that dislikes and criticizes everything… if you don’t like it, then leave!)
-Adapt (you don’t have to lose your own culture, but there are times when you must adapt or back off. As an example for me, I live in a Mennonite community, therefore when I walk on the road or go to my neighbors’ house, I cover myself below the knees, below the elbows and no cleavage…
-Be open minded whether it is cuisine, traditions etc.
-Be aware of the laws and respect them
-Be aware of the way you make yourself portrayed

Then, simply apply those rules to yourself!

As an expat you will stand out. You can be disliked quickly (remember, there is no second chance to make a “first impression”) and it can be hard to recover. So approach your new life slowly, be reserved, listen and observe more than speak at first. This will help you understand the people and their culture, and will prevent you to judge too quickly.

Depending on where you are moving to, the language is often the most difficult thing to conquer. If you only speak English and are not inclined to learn, then it would be wise to choose an English speaking country. But if you wish to learn a language, immersion beats any school, books, CDs etc. Immersion is, as far as I’m concerned, the best way to learn. You need to be patient at first as it will be slow going. But once you are starting to be able to communicate you will learn faster and faster. Again, don’t get discourage as it will slow at first, which is totally normal.

Your main tool is your dictionary. Start by making a thorough list of keywords (I suggest about 50 to start with) and learn them. So if you are going to build a house for example, your list should include such words as; hammer, saw, pliers, wrench, pick ax, screwdriver, nails, screws, feet, inches, wood, cement… To learn these words, set a reasonable goal for yourself. You can start with 5 words per day and adjust as you go.

You also need a list of the main verbs; have, doing, to be, need, looking for, how much, going, to go…

You then integrate a verb with a word. Let’s take “need” and “hammer”. With only those 2 words you can safely go to a hardware store and ask for a hammer!

As time goes, you learn more words from the people around you and eventually, by listening, you can start making sentences. Shyness is the biggest deterrent and you should not be. You will make mistakes for sure (it is impossible not to), but the local people will appreciate your efforts and will eventually become your best teachers! And what better way to make friends than those people who are enthralled to help and coach you.

And remember that every day is a new learning experience, especially in a foreign country!

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 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
9 ~ Living in Paradise! But… Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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

The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle

Belize has a variety of Mennonite settlements spread throughout the country. Each of the communities vary in the degrees of strictness and live a slightly, to very different lifestyle, from the way of the 1900s to modern as in today’s technology and lifestyle. All have retained their unique dialect of an amalgamation of Dutch and/or German. Most Mennonite communities support their own rigorous school system and elect their own leaders.

One of the largest communities is the well known Spanish Lookout located on the north side of the Belize river in the Cayo District, approximately 10 miles from San Ignacio. Excellent business people, they are very prosperous providing much of the country (sometimes all) with an array of products and services. When building in Belize you will get acquainted with them very quickly. You can purchase almost everything you need from appliances, furniture, farm equipment, tools, hardware and accessories, electrical and plumbing supplies to groceries. One store, the Farmers Trading Centre (known as FTC), is of the same principle as superstore where you can get it all.

AERIAL VIEW OF SPANISH LOOKOUT


Photo copyright John Banman

This community also has many producing industries from dairy (cheeses, ice cream, milk…), to livestock, poultry, agricultural, beautiful wood furniture, all types of windows and doors which can be custom ordered.

The Spanish Lookout community is sweetly nicknamed the ‘Mechanites” as their lifestyle is very similar to ours in the fact that they use electricity, drive vehicles and use all mechanical equipments.

There are several Mennonite communities in Belize, two being at Barton Creek. Even those two differ enough in their way of life to be described separately. There is Lower Barton Creek, located nearer the Western Highway and Upper Barton Creek, located in the remote area of Barton Creek. This settlement can also be referred to as “Amish” as their lifestyle and beliefs are very similar; strict and conservative.

The population of the Upper Barton Creek Mennonite settlement is approximately 350, which includes Greenfield who together form one community. By the age of 40, most married couples generally have an average of 10 children per family.

They are quiet and peaceful people who live off the land. The Barton Creek community produces a large amount of the vegetables you find at the outdoor market in San Ignacio. Each family works very hard for the community and for themselves. They make their own clothes (the men in dark bib-trousers, long sleeved shirts, suspenders, and straw hats and the women in conservative pioneer style long dresses and bonnets), collect their food from the land, harvest honey, raise cattle, goats, pigs, and chickens for meat and eggs. Also produce butter and cream, make their own laundry soap and so much more. Canning is also very important as they do not have refrigeration. Monday is my day to visit, along with my dog Cluso, we do our weekly shopping for eggs and veggies. I also get the purest (totally organic) and most delicious butter, honey and peanut butter!

Their mode of transportation is still the horse & wagon.

There is nothing more soothing then laying in bed waking up slowly and hearing the horses & wagons go by… now this is the only kind of traffic that I find very pleasant! Sunday is their day of worship and the entire community gathers at the village church. On their way to church early in the morning, many of the families sing as they ride by and that is also a beautiful sound to wake up to!

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 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
8 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
9 ~ Living in Paradise! But… Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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

The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle

Thinking of relocating your city house cat in the jungle? Cats are adventurous creatures and adore walking the trails with their servant (yes, that would be me!). They are great survivors in the jungle. One of the best hunter mammals, catching a bird is not that hard! What they catch mostly are geckos (lizards), frogs and all kinds of flying bugs.

So, if you’re thinking of relocating your city house cat in the jungle, it might be more challenging for him. In order to better survive in the outdoors, climbing trees has to be second nature, which makes the city cat much more vulnerable. The domestic cat does have predators and dangers lurking around such as snakes, scorpions, poisonous spiders, Tayra which I have seen one stalking one of our cats, and a few others. The other problem is that those adorable domestic rodents love to chase and catch some of those possibly harmful critters!

Our cats were born and raised in this environment, so they are quite familiar with all of it. I once read a story in the Belize Forum about a city house cat who moved to the east coast of Belize with its servants. One fatal day, the cat saw a large boa and was intrigued. With its instincts off, he approached to investigate what that was. And, the worse did happen…

I BELIEVE I SEE SOMETHING OVER THERE…

YEP, I KNEW IT!!!

But even the local cats are not immune to being prey or getting injured. Audrey, also called Lit’l Bear, got home one evening in terrible pain and very agitated. She was jumping, twitching, scratching and biting herself. Her breathing was fast and really hard with her mouth open, plus her hearth was beating a million miles an hour… I looked her over and could not find any wound or blood. This lasted about an hour or so and then she slowly came back to normal. She is now just fine… I believe it might have been a scorpion sting! I got so scared of losing my sweet, stunningly gorgeous, little girl…

If a small animal survived a scorpion sting, it’s a good sign for people! Some scorpion stings can be fatal, but fortunately those kinds are extremely rare or not around. So a scorpion sting won’t kill you, but it sure will cause great pain for a short time! Here is a short and informative article from Belize Magazine.com about scorpions.

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 Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
7 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
8 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
9 ~ Living in Paradise! But… Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
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