14 January, 2009

Onward and Upward

Woo Hoo! Guess what we did Monday morning? Doug and Twyla, Dianna and I all went together over to Belmopan for our interview at the Department of Immigration and Nationality.

First though, I took the girls for their daily walk into town. On the way back from collecting the mail, I managed to grab another shot along the waterfront.
Early Fisherman Prepping His Castnet
It took us about 2-hours to make the drive from Corozal to Belmopan, about what it takes to drive to Belize City. It started off kind of rainy, but gradually cleared the closer we got to Belmopan.

When we got to Belmopan, we found a little Italian place for lunch across the street from the Belize National Police Academy. That way we could all ensure we had good, strong odors of garlic just before we went in for our interviews. What were we thinking?

After a bit of fumbling around, we found the Immigration Building and amazingly, a parking spot directly across the street from it.

Doug checked at the main door and found we had to go around to the side entrance for the Nationality and Residence Section, where we sat and waited. Naturally, we got there at about 12:30 PM. Our first appointment was at 1:00 PM, so that meant we still had a good hour and a half wait if Belize punctuality held true.

Here we are all waiting for our interviews. None of us really had a firm idea what to expect. We'd heard stories all over the map, as to what they asked, was there an interview panel, etc., etc.
The Posted Schedule
We checked at the counter, "Was this the right place?"... It was, but they were closed for lunch. We could wait outside, so that's where we waited.

At 1:00 PM, we trooped inside and sat on benches there. We thought it was a lost cause as there were piles of green folders all over - on desks, on top of every filing cabinet, in every filing cabinet, and on top of everything else.

I checked in with the counter clerk who ticked off my name in her log book. Surprisingly, she found our folder on top of one of the file cabinets in about 30 seconds. Wow! Their system really did have a method to the madness.
Showing Lots of Optimism Before Our Interview
Showing a Little Apprehension Before the Interview
At about 1:30, I got called for my interview. No committee, just a single interviewer who only asked 4 or 5 of the most innocuous and mundane questions about our property, why we wanted to become residents, and where we had traveled in the past 10 years. It took about 10 minutes. Dianna was called right after me to the same interviewer.

I came back and sat out front with Doug and Twyla. They were singled out for special attention. They got to go into a private office for their interview. Doug went first, followed in short order by Twyla.
Twyla and Doug Pensively Waiting
We got done - a successfully of course, although Dianna said with her clowning around with the interviewer, that she probably got marked as being "dull" - one of the things that could get you disqualified. As if that was likely to happen with her.

Naturally, while we were being interviewed, it began to rain - at times quite hard. But, by the time we were done, it let up for a few minutes as you can see as the group is leaving the Immigration Building, all quite happy.
What a Relief - It's Over
Immigration Sign
Since we got done with our interviews so early, we had time for a quick trip to Builder's Hardware to do some sight-seeing there. Of course, we weren't expecting to do that, so we hadn't brought our lists of stuff we needed for the guest house. I did get some mildicide for paint and three roller handle extensions.

A bit of a bummer there. While Dianna and I were waiting outside the hardware store, under the awning from the rain, two dogs were running around the parking lot playing. Some asshole came flying into the lot in a pickup and struck one of the dogs who began howling and severely limping away. The driver calmly got out of his truck, took a quick glance at the dog and continued on his way into the store. I asked him (I'm sure in the most calm manner) if he was doing to do anything for the dog. His answer was that it wasn't his fault!

After letting him know what I thought of that answer, we talked to a couple of the workers at the store (the dog had already recovered somewhat and had run off with his playmate). One of the workers said he used to work for the guy and that he treated his workers the same as the dog. I hope he's ready for a bucket-load of karma one of these days.

So, after collecting Doug and Twyla, we zoomed off uneventfully back to Corozal, getting back to our homes about 5:30 PM, just as the light began to fail for the day.

The following day, Tuesday, the workers tackled the roof and worked hard all day, setting up the forms for pouring the roof tying and shaping rebar, and making sure the Polyducto for wiring was all in place.

While they did that, I climbed up to the roof and took a few shots of the surrounding area. Here we are looking toward:
Bob's (our contractor) Place
Robert and Lynn's Almond Tree Inn
View of the Bay Improves
Our Canal Boat Slip-To-Be
A View of the Swimming Pool
Couple of Views of the Swimming Pool
Mae and Craig's Place In the Distance
Our House
A Look At the Drain Field Garden
Here's shots of the work actually being done to get ready for the pour.
Back of the Guest House
From the Utility Room Roof
Completing Forms For Concrete
Bob and Isidoro Completing Wiring Using Polyducto
Lots of Polyducto
Bob Supervising
A Splash Screen Set Up To Protect the Pool Deck From Concrete Droplets
The guys thought they might be able to pour Tuesday afternoon. That wasn't the case as the wiring, Polyducto, rebar and forms took too long to get ready. What concerned me was that they had a whole bunch of guys on hand to actually mix and carry the concrete. Since that wasn't happening Tuesday, they climbed on their bicycles and headed home. No one seemed upset about it.
Ready To Pour - But Not Quite
Later, I asked Isidoro how that worked, as far as their pay. He told me they only get paid if they're moving concrete. It wasn't unusual to have to go home without pouring concrete, and since none had regular jobs anyway, they weren't out anything since nothing happened.

Ok. Wow. This is just one example of some of the (from a Gringo perspective) of the severe labor problems and abuses that are an everyday occurrence in this country. As a former Chief union Steward for our local (Washington Federation of State Employees), I can see plenty of opportunities for organizing in probably another 20 or 30 years. In the meantime, no one seemed upset in the least.

While the guys were working at getting ready to pour, we went across the street for a bit to Mae and Craigs place to see more of the progress of their new place. It's really looking good.
Dianna Just Got Luis' Number
Dave and Mae At the Gate
Kelly, Twyla's Brother and Mae
So, on to Wednesday morning. I unlocked the gate at 5:30 AM and by 5:45 AM, guys started riding up waiting for Isidoro and his crew to show up.

The dogs and I left for our walk at 6:00 AM, and by the time we returned at about 7:10, they were better than half done with the pour.
Mix and Fill, Carry and Pour... Repeat Till Done
Vibrating the Poured Concrete
Humping 5-Gallon Buckets Full of Concrete
 Up and Down Home-made Ladders
Mixing Like a House Afire
Hump and Dump
Hump and Dump - A Young Man's Game
Troweling and Floating the Mix Smooth
Troweling and Vibrating the Mix Smooth
By 8:30 AM, the pour was complete. As these things go, it was a small pour. About another half hour cleaning tools and bodies, and then Poof - No workers. Everyone left for the day. My guess is, plum-tuckered out. I would be, or in the hospital.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My congratulations to the Khufu of Belize. I do believe you are in reincarnation of the builder of the pyramid. Your whole place is a real treasure. Norm