My mother had a brown thumb. She was very talented at things like typing (90 wpm!), speaking perfect conversational Spanish, and throwing one heck of a party. But gardening was just not her thing. In fact, one year for her birthday my brother Dub and I chipped in and bought her a book entitled, Plants You Can’t Kill. Of course, being a super mom and a very gracious lady, she opened the package and exclaimed, “Awww, thank you so much. It’s exactly what I wanted!” Yeah, right.
But as soon as Thanksgiving was over each year, for my mom, a botanical miracle occurred. While Daddy was climbing into the attic to pull down ornaments, snowmen, nativity scenes and Santas, Mama was as the local garden nursery buying poinsettias. She loved them and believe it or not, amazingly, both of her thumbs turned green as she managed to keep them all alive throughout the holidays. We always had a gazillion of them placed strategically around the house in shiny foil-covered buckets. And that wasn’t all. We had poinsettia tablecloths, glasses, decorations for the tree, plates and even bath towels. One year she hit pay dirt and came home from the A&P grocery store with poinsettia toilet paper. While most people complain that their family trees have a few nuts, or lemons, or even bad apples, ours was no different, with the exception that every December each crazy branch was smothered in poinsettia leaves.
For us, gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
During this season of Thanksgiving we want to THANK YOU, our followers and readers, our family, for being such important persons in our lives.
We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season.
~John and Anel Ryan
Once upon a time there were two critters.
Monty, the master canine, is a fluffy, coal-black, chow, collie mix whose favorite activities include suppertime and barking at anything on the other side of the fence.
His brother, Mango, the supreme feline, is a snow-white ball of fur (except for a few patches of orange), whose favorite things are cardboard boxes, licking frogs and aggravating Monty’s tail.
These brothers from different mothers happen to live on an awesome property along the Mopan River, right smack dab in the beautiful jungles of Belize.
When you live on the road like we do, it’s easy to meet a lot of people. This is a really cool thing. However, when you live on the road, like we do, making close, personal friends, the kind you can call on at any hour to advise or help out with the latest mess you’ve gotten yourself into, doesn’t come easy. That’s why we consider ourselves so blessed to have made close, personal friends here in Belize that will remain in our hearts and part of our lives forever, whether we see them or get to be with them ever again.
With that said, I’m switching gears.
Have you seen the movie Book Club? It was released this past year and stars Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenbergen. With headliners like these it piqued my interest. The characters are all about my age, kinda whacky and love to read books. I knew I had to see it.
This was a story that was written last Halloween while we were still on Isla Vieques, Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. No electricity, no running water, no cell reception and no Internet. Thus, no posting! Halloween came and went and this one didn’t make it to the website. So we thought that we’d share it with you this year and hope that you enjoy!
Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with an eagle? Or have lunch with a buzzard? Hoot with the owls? Or even have a bird-day party?
We did, so we did.
We got personal, had lunch, hooted and partied with some pretty incredible flying creatures at the Belize Raptor Center (BRC) here in San Ignacio. We love birds, especially the colorful beauties we’ve seen here.
The BRC was started in 2015 and it rescues, treats, rehabs and, in some cases, is able to release injured birds of prey. But a very special few remain at the Center, because of permanent disabilities. These “resident raptors” are a vital part of the BRC family and are the superstars of the Center’s educational efforts.
With the ever rising cost of pharmaceuticals, many of us have turned to the power of herbs to mend, improve, ease, soothe and even cure what ails us. Maybe I should say “turned back” to the power of herbs. Think about it. Healing with herbs has been around for a long, long time. When our pioneer ancestors tended to earaches, bumps, bruises, upset stomachs and other illnesses, they didn’t have corner drugstores. Instead they relied on common sense and gardens, as well as, pantries well-stocked with herbal remedies.
Roughly 25% of the world’s medicines are derived from exotic plants that are found right here in Belize. Here, it’s referred to as “bush medicine” and many of the remedies have Mayan origin. In fact, many native Belizeans prefer the use of various local plant leaves, seeds, roots and flowers before even considering a trip to a doctor or hospital.
The most impressive thing about these natural cures is that often a trek through the jungle is not necessary. Many grow along the roadside, in vacant lots and in people’s yards. You just have to know where to look and what to look for. Or you can find an expert herbal medicine woman (or man) to guide you through where to find each plant and even help you prepare these herbal cure-alls..
We found such a paragon when we met Kim Ringland.
Did you know that in the United States, a typical American will eat their weight in chocolate about every 10 years? Fascinating, huh?
Americans, on the whole, consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year. Ladies and gents, that’s billion…with a capital B! That averages out to over 11 pounds per person each and every year. The U.S. produces more chocolate than any other country in the world, but the Swiss consume the most, followed closely by the United Kingdom. Wow!
I love chocolate. Always have, always will. But, to be honest with you, I’ve never given much thought as to where it comes from. I’ve always been aware that there was such a thing as a cacao bean, but frankly, prior to being here to Belize, I couldn’t have told you whether they grow on bushes or trees. I was choco-challenged!
After visiting with Adrian and Elida at Ajaw Chocolate in San Ignacio, Belize, I’ve turned into a choco-maven and have learned to fully appreciate this wonderful bean and its riveting history.
There are a lot of perks to having good friends that are chefs.
For example, they are always trying out new culinary delicacies and you get to be their guinea pig. They know everything about the best local eateries, as well as where to find the best, or hard-to-find ingredients, for anything you might want to whip up yourself. Their kitchens are well equipped and super clean. Their passion for food and cooking fills you with awe, and you never, ever want to turn down an invitation to eat at their homes. Ever!
In May, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at Remo’s, with a group of friends here in Belize, by entering a Mexican food cook off. The proceeds from the event benefited a local animal welfare group called CAWS (Cayo Animal Welfare Society). This is a wonderful organization and we were glad to help and be part of the event.