The beach and sand flies

This is a ‘special edition’ on my Belize blog. My kids are due to arrive shortly, so I asked on the Facebook forum for advice.

What should I have in my emergency kit?

Of course the usual – bandaid, gauze, antiseptic cream – your general first aid kit. BUT there is more that should not be missing!

Big problem with new arrivals with the soft, untanned, yummy tasting flesh are the sand flies!

I brought along a ‘tropic strength’ insect repellent when I came. Well, yeah … these sand flies obviously can’t read. One evening during sunset I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. My legs were covered in bites. And they ITCH like HELL !!! For a looooong time – a VERY long time! So my advice is to really take precautions in the first few weeks. Once you have this leather skin, they leave you alone (I was told).

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Right now I am using a product called ‘OFF! DEEP WOODS’ by S.C. Johnson & Son. It contains 25% DEET. I am not sure if I want to put that on my skin on a long term base. But for now, anything is better than a week of itching!

 

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Vicks VapoRub is another recommendation (but not tested by myself) to repel Doctor flies & mosquitos and relieves bites of any kind.

 

baby-oil

 

Coconut or Baby Oil – if you don’t mind sand sticking to your skin after a walk along the beach. Tried it, but I felt so sticky.

 

 

avon

 

Avon Skin So Soft Insect Repellent – we have very contradicting information here. Some say it works, others say it doesn’t. I usually have a shower before I go to bed and have used the lotion afterwards. The lotion does have a nice feel to it and I am sure my sunbaked skin can use a bit of hydration. So far I have not been bitten during the night – but that might be due to the ceiling fan running all night.

 

Garlic – either eaten or mixed with beeswax and petroleum jelly as a body rub. I use grandma as a guinea pig – she loves garlic😉

Vitamin B …hmmmm.. Again, some say it works, others say it doesn’t. That leaves me with the conclusion that every person is different. My kids will take a Vitamin B complex for 10 days before arriving. It can’t hurt.


Let’s move on how to treat once you got bitten.

DO NOT SCRATCH – DO NOT RUB !!!

benadrylSand flies – If I am at home, I quickly get my hairdryer and blow hot air for as long as I can onto the area. For good measure, I rub Benadryl cream on. And I have to say, the bites just disappear within the hour. No itching, no swelling. Just a red dot that can be forgotten.

Some people recommended to place a hot spoon on the bite. I have not tried that .. YET!

Benadryl is apparently also good for scorpion bites!

wd40

 

Someone else recommended WD40 for bites (from fire ants) – others say WD40 is toxic – take a pick🙂

 

 

aloe

 

Aloe Vera – cut a piece of the plant and rub it onto stings or sunburn. Apparently it will also repel insects.

 

 

 

baking-soda

 

 

Baking soda and water for bites. Make a paste and let it sit.

 

 

 

bentonite-clay

 

 

Someone else suggested Bentonite clay.

 

 

 

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Apple cider vinegar works great for bites also…….especially fire ant bites. You should have a small spray bottle handy at the beach incase someone get’s stung by jellyfish. Pee is supposed to work too – especially when you don’t have vinegar close by. Ladies will have a problem aiming at the right spot though😉

 

 

 

 

wintergreen

 

 

 

Another tip: Get the green colored alcohol. Has wintergreen in it. Great for mosquito bites and sand fly bites. The wintergreen opens the pores and alcohol does its thing. No itch. Old San Pedrano remedy.

 

 

 

hemp-oil

 

 

Many swear by Hemp Oil

 

 

 

meat-tenderizer

 

And someone else wrote: “Having been stung by a scorpion three different times I recommend meat tenderizer. Make a paste with little water and the spice powder and place on and around sting. It will prevent the fire like pain from going through your body from the site of the sting.”

 

 

 

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NO, not THIS meat tenderizer!!!

 

 

 

 


What to do if you DID scratch?

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Well, if the bite is infected, swelling up and turning into a big red blotch, it’s time to treat it from the ‘inside’. Take an anti-histamine tablet.

cortizone

 

 

And to help the itch use a cortisone cream.

 

 

 


To protect from sunburn is just as important. For the first days I strongly recommend using the highest possible SP factor you can get. Apply it regularly – especially after swimming!

If you plan to go snorkeling, bring some UV resistant clothes. Your shoulders (and your bottom) will be burnt in no time. Sitting in a boat, ensure that your knees are covered! A hat doesn’t just protect you from sunburn, but also keeps your head cool. Do NOT wear a wet hat – heatstroke can be caused this way (happened to me when I was a kid).

I personally do not like to apply sunscreen when swimming around a reef. The oil will get into the water. Multiply this by a few thousand tourists every day and you can imagine what impact that will have on marine life.

Do not touch corals (or any other creatures). Attend a guided tour – it’s worth it! Your tour guides can explain who is who in the zoo …ahem … ocean I mean🙂


 

Okay, you did get sunburnt after all – what now?

Aloe plant – not just good for stings, also helps with sunburn!

Rice vinegar or white vinegar for sunburn. Dab it all over sunburn. Takes away the sting and keeps from peeling.


 

This turned into a real long post😉 Let my guinea pigs arrive and I will update this post with more info – what really helped my family.

Please feel free to comment and share your experience with all of us!

Let’s enjoy the sunshine! <pfffft pffffft – sound of the insect repellent>

 

My second week in Belize

Gosh, I should really blog more often. So much has happened in the past week!

One day I drove all the way up to Corozol. You cross a couple of rivers. I just cannot pass a bridge without looking over the side.🙂 Here and there you see kids swimming in the river.

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Toll Collection … nobody told me about that! Well, it was only 75c. I wonder if that is worth putting a guy into that little hut the entire day long?

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Corozal – It’s a beautiful little town. I did a video, but have no idea how to post it here😦

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There is even a waterslide for the kids! One day I will return and explore the town properly. Unfortunately I had to drive all the way back again. As a ‘newbie’ to the country, I didn’t want to risk driving at night. After a short break at one of the beach bars, I headed back to Belize City.

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Somehow I took a wrong turn in in Orange Walk Town.  The short detour was well worth it though as I had a good laugh when I discovered that sign🙂

A little bit more info about driving in Belize. Yes, generally you find plenty of speed limit signs: 55 Miles – this however seems to be boring on long distances. Some cars just fly by when you stick to the speed limit. Now if you are bored, I recommend you just pick one of those ‘racers’ and follow😉 The locals know where the potholes and speed bumps are. Occasionally you come across a police checkpoint. They want to see your drivers licence. Being a good obedient citizen I had an international drivers licence made before leaving Germany. First checkpoint I presented this document. The policeman obviously never seen this kind of drivers licence before. Yes, it’s in all languages, but it looks ‘alien’. I then showed my normal german drivers licence and he was happy. At the next checkpoint I didn’t even bother with the international licence. The german one was good enough. And one checkpoint later I mistakenly showed my german ID card instead of the drivers licence. Well, that was fine too🙂 It’s Belize – forget those rules! I LOVE THIS COUNTRY !!!

Belize City

Official business made me travel to Belize City. Yeah, everyone tells me it’s more dangerous, but I have to see for myself.

Sadly I have to leave Room 5 at the Rainforest Haven Inn. I will miss the view of the roundabout – there was always something going on: Dogs crossing the busy intersection, bikes driving in the wrong direction, the icecream truck stopping for a few minutes smack bang in the middle of the crossing because a couple of kids wanted to buy… <Sigh>

I discovered that I can use Google Maps on my phone. Type in the route while still connected through WiFi and off you go. Now I will only pass the same building twice before I realise I drive in circles ..haha..

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Highway

My Facebook friends recommended Villa Boscardi. It’s really nice and clean! I have the green room🙂   WiFi is great! The bed is massive! And the aircon … wonderful cool air!

Of course, I can’t sit still for long. So I took a stroll down the road.

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Excuse the lousy quality. I only had my phone with me.

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Pretty path along the ocean

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You can still see the damage hurricane Earl made 2 weeks ago.

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Shopping in Belize City is great! In San Ignacio I only found these small shops to buy groceries. No way that you can buy what you need – you buy what you get!

Just down the road from where I stay in Belize City, is a huge supermarket: Brodie’s

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Brodie’s, Northern Highway, Belize

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They even have shopping trolleys! 

.. and here I thought shopping in Belize would be a problem ..haha..

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After the shopping spree I decided to take a drive around town before it gets too late. Okay, now Belize City definitely reminds me of South Africa! I have seen a lot in my days, but this sight made me stop and take out the camera. I uploaded the picture in it’s original size, so that you can zoom in.

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Have you ever seen a main road going through a cemetery ??? There are even graves in the green that divides the lanes !!!

I think that’s enough for today. 2 nights in Belize City should be enough to tick that town off my list.

More to follow …

Spanish Lookout

The last few days I’ve been driving around in my pretty little car. I drove up to Spanish Lookout, Belize’s largest Mennonite community. Again, this is completely different to what I have seen in Belize so far.  Wide open spaces – farmland.

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The Mennonite women are dressed traditionally in cotton frocks and head scarves. The men wear straw hats, white shirts, suspenders and dark pants. Occasionally you come across the horse-drawn buggies. Looking at the people you would never expect such a booming infrastructure in Spanish Lookout. The buildings are massive and modern.

It is really beautiful up there. Unfortunately the day was very overcast, but I can imagine that the view must be breathtaking on a clear day.

Crossing the Belize River – you can see the pillars of a bridge that never got built.

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A closer look at what is growing ON the trees🙂

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Wood carvings offered on the side of the road.

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BTW, road signs are mostly non existent. That proofs to be a problem if you have no sense of direction – like me🙂 Needless to say that after I passed the same building for the third time, I realised that I am driving around in circles.

On my way back, I stopped in the twin town of San Ignacio – Saint Elena, to grab a coke. And of course, disaster strikes: The car does not start. Not a light or any sign of battery life. Luckily I had the number of my new best friend, Lisa, stored in my phone. Lisa immediately came to the rescue – with leads to jump start the car. Turned out that the connectors to the battery came loose while driving on the sand road.

Once P.F. (short for Pathfinder) was rattling again, I followed Lisa to her new house. It is STUNNING! So stunning that I forgot to take a picture. But I am sure this wasn’t the last time I visited Lisa. She has 3 lovely boys – 2 of them are the same age as my youngest. They will have a great time playing together in the future!

More to follow!

 

Belize – this is ‘home’ now

My 4th day in San Ignacio – When I walk through the streets, the shop owners greet me and ask what I am up to right now.IMG_0125

Everyday I try a new place to eat – except for breakfast! Pops is my favorite place for coffee and toast.

 

And as of today I do not feel like a tourist any longer🙂 I have a CAR !!! A Nissan Pathfinder – and I think I struck a bargain.

 

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Registering a car is pretty simple in Belize – IF you know where to go. The previous owner has to come along (I was so grateful for that!). First you need insurance – you can drive without a number plate for a day, but you cannot drive without insurance! When that is done, you hand in the old plates and get the new ones. The whole process takes about 2 hours (more, if you don’t have a local that jumps the line). I just smiled politely at the people waiting, pretending not to understand what was going on🙂

“Clever me” then asked the old owner to come along while I fill up the car. Every country is different, and I hate it when I look dumb at the gas station. No self-service in Belize. You just stay comfortable in your car and everything is taken care of. I like that ! In Germany your hands stink like petrol after filling up.

And now I am planning the next couple of days. Tomorrow I will be checking out San Ignacio’s twin town, Santa Elena, Bullet Tree and the Spanish Lookout.

The following day I will head down to the coast: Belize City and then down to Placencia. I can’t wait to share the photos with you!

My move to Belize

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After many months of planning I have finally arrived in Belize. My first stop is in San Ignacio – it’s a very central location from which I can explore the entire country.

First impression: Culture Shock!

Coming from Germany you first need to get used to the building style. The houses are very colorful. Blue, green, red, orange, and yellow – just like a rainbow – and all of them could use a new coat of paint. The infrastructure reminds me a lot of South Africa. Electricity and phone wires are above ground on wooden poles. The ground floor of every house holds some kind of a business – a small convenient store, a restaurant, a bar, clothing, furniture or appliances. The owners sit in front of their shops.

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I arrived rather late in the day and was tired and hungry. The 8 hour time difference didn’t help much either. Right after unpacking my luggage, I collapsed into bed at 6pm. Doubts were creeping in: Did I make a mistake? Is this really where I want to live with my family?

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The next day I began my explorations of San Ignacio. Yesterday I only saw the peeling paint on the houses; today I saw the happy faces of all the people. After a decent breakfast at Pops and a chat with the famous Bob I felt a lot better. At 9:30 my new online friend, Lisa, picked me up to check out some apartments. I immediately found a place that would be perfect. A cozy little condo – complete with 2 lovely neighbors. Later on we checked out some cars. Again, lucky first try – 2 possible cars that I need to test drive on Monday. Lisa offered to help on Tuesday with the registration and insurance for the car. My guess is, on Wednesday I’ll be extending the radius of exploration🙂

The kids insist that I check out the beaches, before deciding on our next home. I gave myself 4 weeks to learn as much as possible about the country. If it was just me and my husband, the choice would be easy. Bringing 3 kids and grandma along does make it a bit more difficult. The schools are very important. As a parent you have a responsibility towards the kids and I intend to structure our lives around their education. They are only part of your life for a short time, before leaving the nest.

More from me later🙂

ZenHugs
Ina

New website! http://pattern-collections.com

After many months of planning, I finally had the guts to begin work on a new webpage. The way I categorise patterns in my upcoming book needs to be shared.

Where do you start when you want to identify a specific pattern that you discovered in a tile? Well, normally you can identify what kind of an underlying structure the pattern has. Is it a grid? Or a ribbon? A flower?

To look it up you need to have pattern sorted by framework. Only searching your entire collection of patterns does not help. It will take hours to find what you are looking for. THIS method will limit your search drastically!

Sometimes you have a string that needs a filler pattern. For inspiration you can just call up the section containing only these.

I will write an extensive blog post on the new site shortly.

Until then, visit Blog Logo

Last week alone, I added 3 new patterns from my collection and 9 new patterns from contributing artists.

Vivid being my favorite right now (until I draw the next one – as always)🙂

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ZenHugs
Ina