ex-pat

The rain came down and . . . phffft!

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The rain came and went on Friday and with it, the lights went out. For a while. Still, the rain brought the dusty roads under control and brought much needed water to dusty buildings and plants. All is fresh and new again.
The rain came and went on Friday and with it, the lights went out. For a while. Still, the rain brought the dusty roads under control and brought much needed water to dusty buildings and plants. All is fresh and new again.

Friday was gray. Muggy. Windless. Wet.

And powerless.

Shortly after the rain began, the lights went out. With startling efficiency, a sign went up downstairs: “BEL: Emergency power outage. Power restored at 6:30 p.m.” Read the rest of this entry »

We got mail! File it under: Be careful what you wish for . . .

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It took five weeks, but our first forwarded mail from the U.S. has arrived. Guess who the first piece of mail was from?
It took five weeks, but our first forwarded mail from the U.S. has arrived. Guess who the first piece of mail was from?

Be careful what you wish for …

Our first bundle of forwarded mail arrived last week.  It had been about five weeks since we set up a forwarding address and, so far, the one piece of mail that had arrived was a letter from Spain from Rose’s daughter, Caira.

I was getting kind of anxious.

Caira’s letter was sent directly to our new address in Miami, not forwarded. So we knew that part of the system worked. But what about all those utility bills and bank statements and political mailings from California? Where were they?

Before leaving the States, we’d set up a forwarding account with Rob Henke at San Pedro’s Mail Boxes Etc. This gives us a U.S. address in Miami — actually, a PO box and a street address, which I thought would come in handy for online purchases. The account also gives us an address in San Pedro, at Rob’s business, to which all our Miami mail is sent on Thursdays.

Don’t look so startled.

I like the idea of once-a-week mail delivery. It is so “African Queen” meets “Island in the Sun” meets “Only Angels Have Wings.” Now, if I could winnow Facebook and e-mail down to only once a week. OK, once a day ….

Poor Rob. Even though he promises to e-mail you when you get mail, my sad disappointed face that kept showing up to open the empty mailbox must have got to him. He promised to run a check on our mail.

Rob, like a patient bartender, kept saying “It sometimes takes a while for the mail to start flowing in. But after the first mail arrives, you’ll be deluged. You’ll see.”

So the dam broke last week.

Ironically three of the letters were from the U.S. Post Office to Rose, asking her to confirm that her forwarding address is correct. But the letter on top? The first one I saw when Rob handed me the packet?

From the IRS.

And it was kind of thick.

Oh, crap.

C’mon, TurboTax, what happened? You and me, buddy, we worked so well together this year. You with your constant reassurances and gentle prodding and me with my exhaustive research and documentation. You said we would get a refund! Not a thick, ominous (Is there any other kind?), letter from the IRS!

Thankfully, it was no biggie.

It took five pages to point out that a single 1099 form was missing from my filing. I don’t know how, since it was all-electronic. A quick photo copy and letter drop in the San Pedro post office and the form was on its way.

And I was back to riding my bike,  imagining myself as Cary Grant in a rickety mail plane flying through tropic storms to some  remote South American outpost where a world-weary Jean Arthur (as played by Rose Alcantara) anxiously waited for me.

By the way, our direct mailing address is:

Bob Hawkins or Rose Alcantara

c/o Mail Boxes Etc.

Suite 186

San Pedro Town

Ambergris Caye, Belize

 

Or, you can reach either of us by e-mail:

robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com

rosealcantara@sbcglobal.net

I know that some day we are going to want a local phone but so far the need hasn’t been that great.

Our iPhones are on permanent airplane mode for now. We use them pretty much only as WiFi communication devices and cameras. WhatsApp is great for WiFi-based  texting, voice messages and even photos. Rose and I both have Viber for phone calls but I haven’t tried it yet. Rose uses that and iPhone FaceTime to keep in touch with her kids, Jon and Caira.

For a guy who spent more than a decade snorkeling in the deep end of the digital pool as a technology writer/editor and online news editor, well, I’ve become pretty ambivalent about it all.

Outside of this blog, writing weekly postcards to my three-year-old grandson, Brody, is state-of-the-art communications for me.

 

Belize! We’re ready! Here we come! … Uh, almost ….

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Our bags are packed, we're ready to go. Standing outside the station in the snow. Rose got an amazing amount of her life into the two bags on the right. That's my duffle bag on the left. I think we're both going to manage well for the first year in Belize.
Our bags are packed, we’re ready to go. Standing outside the station in the snow. Rose got an amazing amount of her life into the two bags on the right. That’s my duffel bag on the left. I think we’re both going to manage well for the first year in Belize.

All bags are packed and sitting in the garage waiting for a Feb. 12 departure date for our new life in Belize.

Rose,  seasoned world traveler, managed quite well within the self-imposed two bag limit.

With the help of our readers I actually managed to slim my life down so that all I need fits within the green duffel bag. I will have a carry-on bag for a few changes of clothes and electronics, documents, etc.

By the way — Duffel or duffle? Both spellings get a workout. Duffle gets 6.05 million citations on Google. Duffel gets 5.77 million, but 6.4 million for “duffel bag.” The Belgian town of Duffel is where the coarse fabric was first used, in the late-1600’s, to fabricate … wait for it … duffel bags. I shall stay with duffel bag.

Class dismissed.

So, I got really schooled — in the very best of ways — by blog readers on what to pack and what to leave behind. Read the rest of this entry »