Feast or famine

You can get just about anything you want and/or need in San Pedro. Just not all the time. (Except cabbage. You can get cabbage at any time, pretty much anywhere). That whole local and seasonal eating trend that’s going on with foodies in the US? That’s just every Tuesday here. Except, of course, for the odd assortment of things that we expats can’t live without. Like half and half and cat food.

I’ve learned that, as everything is shipped onto the island, all of the stores stores that regularly stock Doritos, cottage cheese, and dry roasted peanuts get their shipments at the same time. This seems to mean that the shops that carry the specialty items I look forward to are all out of the specialty items I look forward to at the same time. I’ve also learned, by talking to the shop owners, that sometimes they order Fresh Step scoopable cat litter and they receive Fresh Step regular cat litter. And sometimes they have to place the order several times before it actually arrives.

All of this makes it, let’s say, interesting to keep stocked up on the things that I and my cat have grown accustomed to. That’s being fairly melodramatic, but I am on my last bag of Cat Chow with no guarantee that we won’t be switching to Whiskas next month. Fortunately my local guys have learned what I look for, and will even flag me down in the street to shout “We have your cat litter! Come by tomorrow!” They also have promised to keep half and half stocked at all times, so my precious store of Mini Moos that Mom sent may last a bit longer. I may have bought 4 containers of the stuff in the last 2 weeks.

On the feast note, mangoes are back in season! So far it’s just the little golden ones, but I shall be tracking the progress of the different varieties as the spring progresses.

And as we’re on food, I finally started using my oven. Would anyone like to take a guess as to where 350 degrees is?

And lastly, I got a photo of one of the competing pupusa ladies from takeout the other night. I actually prefer the other pupusa lady (more filling, less masa), but they were inexplicably closed on a Thursday so I had to settle for Backup Pupusa Lady. 

That’s it for now!

This is not a cat blog, I swear

But a few weeks ago I gave Pearl one of Mia’s old mouse toys. She played with it for one night, then it disappeared. When Simon was here a couple of weeks ago, he found it, gave it a wash and hung it out to dry. I got a bit of a start when I was hanging my clothes on the line and was suddenly eye-level with a stuffed mouse hanging from a clothespin by its tail. Here she is, reunited.

She cuddles with it on the sofa, then carries it around to play with it

Here’s a video: https://plus.google.com/114904620988491297294/posts/Kqccbb5Xmwq

She still won’t let me touch her, but continues the daily staring in the door routine. She really liked it when I did yoga the other night.

Belize blues

I have to admit, I’ve been a bit down lately and haven’t really felt like updating the blog. The government shutdown pushed back Simon’s next trip back indefinitely, and since I was supposed to be in Cuba and Mexico for three weeks at the end of November it was looking like we were not going to see each other until Christmas. But Cuba is probably off (for me anyhow), so we might be able to squeeze in a November visit. Boo for missing Cuba, but yay for not missing Husband!

That’s not to say that I haven’t been busy! September is a really fun month in Belize (I am  working on that post, albeit late), with two national and one international holidays. And boy do Belizeans love a parade. Work has been good, and I’ve actually made it off island! To another island! And I did make it to the mainland this past holiday weekend as well. Here are some pictures from the last month or so.

Eclectic golf cart anyone?

We finally found a bar with a sunset view, on the lagoon side. Just need to make it back there.

Belizean kitty!

Chinese-Belizean spicy fried chicken and chow mein.

The Split at Caye Caulker

Cute, quiet Caye Caulker

These are the BEST Ramen Noodles in the world. I eat far too many of them.

50% off half and half! Oh happy day!

Oh. Nevermind (I took this photo last week).

And I finally made it to the mainland for something other than work-related activities. My friend Jen and I went down to Hopkins, which is a small Garifuna village about halfway down the coast. We were hoping for some drumming and Garifuna food, but there wasn’t much happening down there this time of year. So we settled for the beach and some rum.

Staying out of the rain while waiting for the bus

And finally, here is my standing desk setup at work.

That’s it for now!

A few of my favorite things

As I’ve been getting a few “are you ok” questions after my recent blogs, I thought I’d share some of my routines and things I like best about living here. Firstly, I have been on a serious quest to find the best ceviche in San Pedro. It’s been tough, but I think after 3 1/2 months I have finally found my favorite. It’s now my Sunday evening ritual to head down to Lily’s on the beach and have a ceviche and a rum and coke around sunset. Sundays are when all of the locals are out socializing, and by dusk quite a few of them are in their cups at the bar next door, so it makes for great people watching. Lily’s ceviche is San Pedro style, with cucumber, carrots, and a side of chopped habenero so you can spice it up to your liking.  And since it’s lobster season, that’s what I go for. I’l have to see if they hold up when conch season comes back around.

I stir in the habenero, then remove it. Woe are you if you forget a piece in there.

Speaking of weekend rituals, on Fridays Cecilia and I usually go down to Caliente for half price margaritas.  As I’ve mentioned, tequila is quite expensive here so it’s really the only time they’re reasonably priced ($7 BZ or $3.50 US). I have to admit, I stick to this ritual even when Cecilia is out of town.

I am officially that person who takes awkward photos of their food. I usually try to be discreet, but it’s difficult when the flash goes off.

After dinner and a margarita, I generally head down to Lola’s pub to hang out with my favorite bartender. He loves sharks and digs our project, so he always makes sure to introduce me to everybody who comes in. And as he knows just about everyone on the island, I’ve got a fairly good chance of meeting them as they pass through the bar on a Friday night. I’m starting to make a few friends and am getting a good dose of local gossip.

Oh! I finally figured out the competing barbeque chicken vendor mystery! It turns out that they are related: the guy I usually buy from (who works at the Post Office for his day job) sets up on Saturday and his mom and auntie cook on Sunday. Usually. And the trick is to get there before noon, because otherwise you’re in for a wait.

Taking photos of people just doing their thing is even more awkward than taking pictures of food.

I mentioned before that I like the little things here that are different than expected. Yesterday I finally tried out a Lebanese restaurant, which is one of the only “ethnic” restaurants here (if you don’t count Mexican, Salvadoran, Mayan, or Chinese). Here is my falafel sandwich, served in a flour tortilla. And hot sauce, of course. When you order pizza they bring hot sauce to the table.

I’ve had better falafel, but the tortilla was excellent.

Ah, tortillas. I’ve always been a corn tortilla girl; however, living here is definitely converting me to the flour variety. I still love the thick, hand made corn tortillas from down the street, but they just don’t keep for more than a day. My local grocery store Richie’s sells hand made flour tortillas, which I suspect are making me fat.

Don’t ever google “flour tortilla recipe.” The word “lard” will be prevalent.

One day I went in to Richie’s around noon, and when I asked the cashier if they had any tortillas left she said, “Mami, would’t you know, a whole load of gringos came in here 10 minutes ago and bought every last one!” Another time while I was checking out, she whispered “oh, I love her shoes,” to me, indicating a lady who was getting cash out of the ATM. “I’m going to take them from her!” Then she giggled maniacally. She gets a big kick out of the giant canvass bag I bring in with me, and likes to hide things in the pockets. I once found a tomato tucked away two days after I bought it.

Finally, butter. Who would have thought this would be difficult? I bought a huge block of butter when I first got here- most stores only sell the stuff by the pound. Anyhow, for about a month I kept getting a distinctly “store” taste in my food, and it was really bumming me out. If you don’t know what mean by store taste, imagine the way an old convenience store smells, and then think of how that would taste. Kind of like a Chinese shop. I was convinced that the store smell was just in all of the packaged foods until I finally narrowed it down to the butter. I tried chopping off the outside, but alas it did not help, and I had to throw out almost an entire pound of butter. I didn’t know what to do, as I couldn’t imagine that the other wax paper wrapped stuff was any better, and I really didn’t want to waste money (and pounds of butter) trying to figure out which brand didn’t taste funky.

The answer, of course, was in the canned food aisle.

I stood there staring at it in the store, right next to the Spaghettios, for a full minute.

This stuff is the shit. You open it with a can opener, and it is the perfect spreadable consistency and so, so creamy. Once open, I have no idea what you’re supposed to do to keep the ants/dust/fingers out of it, but fortunately I have a tupperware lid that perfectly fits over the top. It won’t melt in 80 degree heat, but if you put it in the refrigerator it becomes like marble. Oh, and it’s made in New Zealand. When I’m feeling extra lardy, I spread it on a warm flour tortilla and eat it over the sink.

This isn’t one of my favorite things, but I giggle every time I see this at the store.

I would say it must mean something in Spanish, but the entire label is in English.