24 February, 2013

Sight-seeing in Carmelita

Well, actually, just outside of Carmelita. This is what went down.
David Writing His Journal
But, first a small digression. The photo above is just before we departed on this epic journey. It shows David, Dianna's brother, working diligently on his journal of his trip from Colorado to Belize and back. Of course, like any good man, he waits till the waning minutes just before departure to return to the northern climes to begin work on the journal. Not a problem. He'll simply fill in the gaps after he gets back. Ok, now back to our story.

We were cruising along, Dianna and me, Vivien, our neighbor across the street, who was along for the ride, and David, Dianna's brother, who had been visiting us from Colorado, and who, we were taking down to Belize City to the airport as his vacation away from the cold and snow was coming to an end.

All was going very pleasantly till we had just passed through Carmelita and I noticed the A/C wasn't quite as cold as it had been. I looked at the temp gauge and it had gone up quite a ways but not to boiling over... yet.

I turned off the A/C and the temp went back down to a respectable level. I thought, hey, no problem. We were on our way to the Riverside Tavern for lunch before we sent David on his way. I'll just let the Isuzu cool down while we're there, and add some water to the cooling system when we come out and all will be well till we get back to Corozal.

A minute or two later, I glanced at the temp gauge again and this time, it was working it's way down to cold. That's not right", I thought and announced to the crew that I was pulling over and stopping right now.

Just as I moved over to the shoulder of the road, the engine died and we coasted to a quiet stop.

I jumped out and raised the hood. It was immediately obvious something bad had occurred. Rusty spots all over the engine and everything in that compartment. Not a good sign. But I was still hopeful that it was a simple thing of overheating from low cooling fluid.

Of course, we still needed to get David to the airport. Just in front of us about 50 yards or so was a bus stop, and of course, someone was waiting for the bus. Dianna and Vivien decided they were going to take David, jump on the bus and take a taxi to the airport. Vivien had gotten instructions from Julie a few days ago on how to do all that, so there was a deal of confidence in the air. I was going to stay and see if I could get it re-started. I was also going to contact Rick Magana, our mechanic, to see if by chance, he could come to our rescue (he couldn't. He was tied up for the day), and finally, I was going to contact Denis, Vivien's husband, to see if he was willing to subject himself and their Isuzu to more abuse by coming down and towing our Isuzu back to Corozal.

Carmelita to Corozal
According to Google, the distance is 36 miles from Carmelita (B) to Corozal (A). We were at least five or six miles south of Carmelita, so the tow job was in excess of 40 miles. Whew!

Thankfully, we had stopped beside a farm (Green Land Farm) and the head farmer drove his tractor over and chatted with us. He offered some good advice on adding more coolant to the engine so as not to crack the block or warp the head, etc. He also said that if we decided against towing, that we could put the Isuzu inside his fence, up near the buildings with his other vehicles till we could make arrangements to get it moved.

Bus Stop and the Farm
Dianna, Vivien, and David had gone to the bus stop, and in conversation with the young man waiting for a bus, found out that a bus was due any minute now. So, they retrieved David's suitcase and day pack and made it back to the bus stop shortly before the bus arrived.

In the mean time, I had contacted Denis and he was on his way. Nothing is easy. He had to make arrangement with Doug to pick up Eve, Denis and Vivien's new doggy from Dr. Sheila, the local Veterinarian. and get some petrol.

By then, the bus had come and gone, taking everyone who was at the stop with it. That left me alone on a wind-swept hill on a wide shoulder with a dead Isuzu. I had always thought that traffic on the Northern Highway (now renamed the Phillip S.W. Goldson Highway). That, at lease is the impression one gets as you cruise down the highway. Sitting stationary beside it, that is much different. It actually has quite a bit of traffic. Oh, sure, there's times when all you hear is the sound of wind gently wafting along, then there's at least a few cars and trucks moving along. Maybe not busy, but certainly steady.

I waited for about an hour and a half till Denis showed up. Thankfully, the breeze stayed constant, so waiting wasn't too bad. Plenty of sunlight, heat and breeze. I also had a bottle of water to swill and take the dust from my mouth.

I also put the time to good use. I tried cranking the engine. If I could get it to idle, then I could add water, a little at a time and see if it could hold the water, or if there was a definite leak. Well, as it turns out, I couldn't get it to idle. As soon as I took my foot off the accelerator, it would die. So, my option then was to add water a little at a time, crank, add some more, crank, etc. I managed to get a good gallon in the radiator. Things were looking up.

About then, I decided to put the radiator cap back on and see if it would finally allow me to start it up and keep it running and hold the coolant.

I fired it up and immediately had a horizontal geyser from about an inch below the radiator cap on the inside of the engine compartment. I quickly shut it down and knew we were not going to drive the Isuzu back to Corozal.

After Denis arrived, we debated whether to wait there for the girls or to tell them to take the return bus all the way to Corozal.
Official Name of the Farm
While we were waiting, we took the good farmer up on his offer of putting the Isuzu in his equipment yard. Denis had gotten a nylon tow rope from Rick and that was what we used to tow it, oh, about 500 feet or so. It was good that was a far as we were going with that, as I could see it stretching quite a bit as Denis towed me. We locked it up and I left my name, address, and phone number with the farm workers to give to the Farmer (he had gone to a meeting in Carmelita itself). The farm is about five or six miles south of Carmelita, itself.

After getting the vehicle secured, we decided to go into Carmelita and see what we could scare up in the way of lunch.

Right around this time, I got a call from Dianna that they had made it safely to the airport, and had gotten David all squared away.

Denis and I found a small restaurant about a hundred yards off the highway, but decided against that as we wanted to be able to keep an eye for buses so we could make contact with the girls again, so we went a bit further north and stopped at a little roadside shack, Bam Fast Food, where we had rice and beans and stew chicken, with cole slaw and some great homemade 'peppa' or hot sauce.
Denis Enjoying the Shade and Lunch
As I waited for the meals to be put together, Denis hoofed it over to the grocery store to get a couple litres of water so we could wash the dust out of our throats and wash the chow down the hatch.

Turns out the meals were excellent. Really tasty. In fact, Denis and I both highly recommend stopping and having a plate of rice and beans. After a hot day on the trail, it's hard to beat. We sat at a picnic bench beside the joint under the shade of a sea grape tree and had a nice relaxing meal. We kept watch for the girls too.

A bit later, we got a call from them, that they were still at the air terminal and were going to have lunch before coming back our way. Denis and I joked that the next call we got from them would be that they decided to go shopping after lunch.

It was  probably about an hour after we finished our lunch that we saw them getting off from the bus, but back by the first restaurant that we had looked at. So, we jumped into Denis' Trooper and headed to them.

After collecting the girls, we started back to Corozal with an uneventful trip. After we arrived in Corozal and they dropped us off, Dianna and I realized just how pooped we were. I think we hit the sack around 6:30 PM, more or less.

Enough of an adventure for one day, for sure.

Well, one can't get too much of a good thing apparently. First thing Saturday morning, I remembered there was a sign on the highway north of Corozal advertising a towing service. But, naturally, I had never written down the number. I sent out an email to the Men's Group asking if anyone, by chance, had the number. Of course not. But, Alan, Wendy, and Maria all called back later on with the number, for which I thank each of them for taking the time to do that.

I called the number and talked to the guy who answered (I neglected to get his name). Turns out, indeed, he does have a tow truck - he has two of them. A flat-bed car carrier, a winch-type tow truck, and a car dolly. Plus, he has about 30-years of experience with towing vehicles and, as he told me, he will negotiate for competitive prices for towing.

I thanked him for the info and promised I would get the word out to everyone (note to self - don't forget to do that). By then, and as a result of some other emails, David (of David and Elizabeth - too many Davids around here) had offered to tow the beast back here to Rick's shop.

I also talked to Denis who had gone into town to take care of some business, and offered to pick up anything that I might need. I asked if he could see if he could find some sort of official tow rope sort of thing, other than the stretchy thing that Rick had loaned us.

In the meantime, David came over and we got ready to go. I gathered up some nuts and bolts and chain, so we had some stuff to work with to rig up a towing apparatus, a bottle of water, my shades, keys, and phone, and we were ready to go. Just needed Denis.

As luck would have it, Denis had checked at Lano's Hardware, but they didn't have a tow-rope. He then went on to 'Triple-C' Hardware, and low and behold, they had exactly the tow-rope I was visualizing. Yellow nylon strap, about three-inches wide by about fifteen-feet or so long, with two heavy-duty hooks at either end, perfect.

When Denis got back, we jumped in David's Isuzu (too many Isuzu's too) and headed for Carmelita.

About an hour later, we pulled up at the gate to the Green Land Farm. Of course, it was locked up tighter than a drum. And of course, there was no phone number on the sign or on the gate. So we just beeped the horn. I told David that his horn was just a 'tad' wimpy. However, the farmer did hear it and drove his tractor down to the gate to open it up for us.

I think I may have embarrassed him by giving him $20.00 BZD as payment for looking after my vehicle. Oh well. I told him to buy some beer with it. He provided us with a couple of metal bits and nuts and bolts, so eventually, we got the towing rig hooked up and we were ready to go.

David asked me what speed I would be comfortable with him going. I said, probably somewhere around 30 to 35 MPH. He thought that was pretty good. So, we started off and although it was rough at the first couple times to slow down, etc., we soon got the hang of towing and being towed. I'm pretty sure we managed after a bit to get the speed up to 50 to 55 MPH which helped get us back to Corozal in good time.

Took A Photo Underway
Speed bumps, cane trucks, taxis, and buses all did their best to impede us but we managed to out-drive them all and made it back to Rick's first in good shape. We dropped off the Isuzu. Rick is Seventh-Day-Adventist, so Saturdays are his Sabbath and he was nowhere around. I left the keys for him and we headed on down the road to our homes.

I invited David and Denis in for some cool Belikins and to cool off in the pool. David wanted to get back home, but Denis and Vivien came by a little later and joined Dianna and me in the pool. A good end to a good day.

 For a bit of a different take on part of the adventure, here's Dianna's brother, David. He sent an email after he got back to Colorado.
Glad to hear that you made it home OK. I hope the Isuzu will be up and running in no time.

As for my little adventure of Rin Tin Tin, let me tell you the saga.

As last we met our heroes, they were stuck on the side of the road by the little town of Carmelita.

Dianna, Vivien, and David were able to take a bus ride with the kindly assistance of the Belize transportation system. The bus was filled to the brim by the time they got to their destination of Belize City (actually it was Ladyville, on the northern edge of Belize City), where they were able to take a nice taxi ride to the airport.

They enjoyed a nice lunch and did a little shopping. David spent too much and Dianna was kind enough to lend him a $20.00 US (important note to remember in this adventure).

David had some time to kill so he did not go through security right away.  Eventually, the crowds started growing so he decided to enter the security area. On the other side was about the same assortment of shops and a little cafe.

Then an announcement was made. The flight to Belize City was delayed.  His flight would not leave until 5:15 PM. This did not seem to be a problem as he thought he had 2-1/2 hour lay-over in Dallas/Ft Worth. The flight came and took off nicely, landing in Dallas at 8:05 PM. His connecting flight was to board at 8:50. Only forty-nine minutes to clear customs and make his connection. He ran his little legs of till they bled - at least it felt like that was what was happening. Customs did not care that he had a connecting flight. But American Airlines were so kind and gave him an orange envelope that was marked 'Express Connection'. It expressed nothing. He still had to run what seemed like a marathon. Just as they were closing the doors on his flight to Colorado Springs, He just made it.

The flight was uneventful, except for all the people sneezing and coughing.  Ahhhh! He arrived at 10:15 PM. He looked for an ATM and withdrew $40.00, found a taxi and proceeded to his apartment. The taxi ride cost him $45.00. So, thanks to Dianna who saved the day again.

I really did enjoy my stay at the Rider hacienda. I will write more as I get the pictures into my computer. All is well here. Nobody broke in and cleaned my house. Bummer.


Can you imagine it? $45.00 US for a taxi ride for probably less than 20 miles. Wow!


Anonymous said...

It certainly was an adventure. If I'd known you guys were considering making us take the bus all the way back to Corozal, we would have gone San Pedro.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Vivien,

I knew it! We wouldn't have 'made' you take the bus back all the way. We just thought of the comfort, and not having to transfer from the bus to Denis' vehicle, and well, you know...
San Pedro? That would have been unfair. It's not easy to get good rice and beans out there.


Corozal Dave said...

Hi Dave, it's Corozal Dave writing. I agree too many Dave's in Corozal, they just keep coming, no stopping the invasions of "Dave's" :-)
I did want to thank your for showing your electric powered gate and the advice to go to Capital. I bought the drive motor and drive rail? from them. They only had one left and it was the heavy duty one, meant to move up to 1000lbs. Cost almost $2000.00 BZD, then across the street I hired a gate builder installer recommended by Capital to build the gate(out of galvanized steel) and install it. He should be starting the work next week. I can hardly wait to try it out for the first time. It will have to wait as I have an operation here in Canada on March 20th, then 8 weeks to recover and I'll be back in Belize. Thanks again for the leads and advice, Dave

JRinSC said...

Hi Dave,
What a mess, of course this kind of thing only happens on trips -- never at home. Hope the repair doesn't cost too many Belikins!!

Just curious -- how are Perry & Michelle doing these days. He had such a great blog and then once he actually got moved in all postings stopped. Honestly, were I he, I would probably have done the same.

However, I would feel better if I knew that they were just too busy enjoying life up across the bay from you to worry about blogging.

Lorenzo said...

what an adventure

Lorenzo said...

what an adventure

JRinSC said...

I hope it is just Internet connection problems and not computer or personel problems keeping you from posting this month.

Concerned lurkers are just curious!!



Anonymous said...

I have just stumbled across your blog via google, of course looking for local insight on Corozal. Your top story there looks like quite the ordeal! Ah.. but handled with calmness and great improvisation! Actually, here in the states, can't say as I could share many stories of ease with AAA service.., sounds like you guys did okay.
I decided to start at the beginning of your blog and work my way up. I am on June now, but had better get ready to go to sleep(it's 5am! oops) and continue tomorrow. Great reading thus far! I am glad to have found your writings! Thank-You, -molly

JRinSC said...

Just checking on you??


Dave Rider said...

Hi Corozal Dave,

Good luck with your gate project. I think you made the right choices.

I trust the operation went smoothly. We were thinking of you during that time.

I haven't posted anything - all related to the car... I wish. No, it was mostly due to the fact that my laptop decided to take a holiday and quit, necessitating acquiring another from up north, and then setting it up without losing data. Seemed to take forever. Anyway, I now have an NAS drive and multiple Terabytes of storage. Not that I need that much, but as cheap as it is, why not. I also had a couple of large hard drives just sitting in a drawer, so I put them in an enclosure and amazingly, everything works.

Looking forward to seeing you on your return.


Hi Julian,

Car problems, PC problems, what's next? Aahh, I probably don't want to go there. It has been a long time since I posted. Got some good stuff to write about too. When your laptop dies, it really hamstrings you. I could have posted using my iPod, but then I could have hit myself with a hammer too. Who wants to do either one?

I haven't seen Perry and Michelle for quite some time. I do get reports from the sailing club that they're active in, so I know they're still around and doing things. I wish they had kept blogging as well. Plenty of news to go around, I think.

About your other comment - 'concerned lurkers'... Love it!


Hi Lorenzo,

thanks for the comment. Yes, it was indeed an adventure. I'm glad it turned out as good as it did. I thought it was a little weird, the following day (towing day), I read in the news that there were a couple of incidents that same day with folks being assaulted/robbed while broken down along the highway. Glad I slipped through the neer-do-well's net.


Hi Molly,

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. It's definitely a labor of love. I never dreamed it would continue on for so long. I just couldn't figure out how to stop. Anyway, it is a lot of fun (when all the equipment works properly), so I'll continue cranking out stuff... A thunder of keystrokes and a hearty "Hi-Oh Underwood" and off into the sunset they go. Well, something like that anyway.

Thanks for commenting.