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  • Writer's pictureJami Brouillette

Paint Supply and Demand

As we were deciding whether or not to make an offer on this house and what to do about our kids‘ schooling next year, a very wise friend gave us the best advice and we have been reminding each other of her words ever since. She said: “Whatever you decide, commit to it one hundred percent and know that it won’t be perfect.” After spending two nights in a hotel room, we woke up on Saturday determined to get some serious work done on our new house and accomplish as much as humanly possible. We finally had power and usable, running water, as well as a crew of landscapers hard at work on the outside of our property. We were ready to focus on the inside of the home.

My husband, having worked as a painter during his college years, is both efficient and precise; so we knew that he would be doing all of the painting and I would be doing all of the cleaning. Armed with paint swatches from Pinterest and a color palette inspired by the Caribbean Sea, we made yet another trek down the dusty, pot-hole lined road from Consejo Shores to the only Sherwin Williams paint store in all of Corozal town. We were in good spirits and looking forward to purchasing all of the paint before the long weekend. Having discovered that the following Monday was a holiday, we were especially looking forward to accomplishing all of the painting since the local businesses would be closed and we wouldn’t be able to purchase anything else for the home.

Much to our dismay, we arrived at Sherwin Williams to find that they only had four cans of paint available in the entire store! F-O-U-R! We were beyond shocked! Those Pinterest paint swatches felt so ridiculous that they were almost laughable in the moment… almost. In case you’re wondering why on earth we didn’t just call ahead to find out how much paint they had available, I should probably back-track a bit and explain that we had no cell phone or internet service so wi-fi calling was not an option. It was truly beginning to feel like a laugh or cry moment and I was leaning toward the latter.

Unable to disguise the disappointment written all over my face; the store manager explained to us that, although they had just received a shipment the day before, paint is in high demand and goes very quickly in Corozal town. To make matters worse, we were only able to use two of the cans of paint because the colors that I chose were all so light. Our initial plan of getting all three bedrooms ready immediately changed. We couldn’t get all of the paint for the bedrooms that day and we knew that we would have to switch gears and focus on the common areas.

Our first (very American) reaction was to become upset and frustrated at the lack of availability and supply of not just the paint, but truly EVERYTHING we needed to get this house functioning again. As the day progressed, we both realized this inconvenience and adjustment to a new culture and way of living is the reason why we wanted to take on this adventure in the first place. Our entitled approach to every facet of life was constantly exposed during this trip. Hopefully, by seeing this project through to the end, our family will appreciate all of the things we take for granted in America on a daily basis.

By explaining our predicament to the store manager, he assured us that another truck load of paint would be coming in on the following Tuesday; which actually turned into Wednesday afternoon. This meant there was no time to paint the bedrooms before flying back home. Wanting to make his customers happy, he wrote down all of the colors that we wanted, reserved the paint, and promised to mix the colors for us when the next shipment arrived.

True to the Belizean character that we have come to love, the store manager didn’t stop there. He proceded to make calls to the Sherwin Williams located in Belize City (more than two hours away) and got them to mix their last two gallons of available paint for us. He then had an employee load a pickup truck with the two additional gallons of our chosen paint colors along with some basic ceiling white and instructed him to drive the paint to us. The plan was to “meet in the middle” at a gas station in a neighboring town, approximately forty minutes or so away from Corozal town. It was still less paint than we needed, but it was enough for Dan to get a good start on the painting while I focused on the cleaning. We had NO other option but to pay for the paint before actually receiving it and trust that they were being honest.

So, we headed off for the gas station. The whole way there, Dan and I kept looking at each other and saying “Are we really doing this?! This is nuts!” Fortunately, when we arrived at the gas station, there sat the little grey pickup truck with our paint in the back just as promised. I could go on and on (and on…) about all of the times that we were not able to get the supplies that we needed throughout this trip; the countless treks back and forth down that dusty, bumpy road from Corozal town to our little community in Consejo Shores; and the very real struggles that come with putting a home together in Central America when you are used to all of the conveniences and luxuries of North America. I could do that, but I’m afraid that it would still never truly capture the experience and anyone who reads this blog would miss the REAL point of sharing these adventures.

I don’t want my writing to turn into nothing more than a timeline of us rehabbing this house. I want to somehow find a way to truly capture the generous and trustworthy spirit of the people of Belize. Although it was incredibly frustrating to waste so much of our precious time driving back and forth attempting to get the supplies needed, we were still able to complete a great deal of work considering our short timeframe. These accomplishments were only possible because of the connections we made with good, kind, hard-working, local people who wanted to help and wanted to see us succeed. There was always someone willing to lend us their trailer, their ladder, their time, or even just a listening ear. Words of encouragement and quality recommendations were endless. Each day I was reminded of why we chose Belize in the first place.

Because of these wonderful new friends that we made along the way, we ended each day exhausted, yes; but more importantly we ended each day with full, grateful hearts. Our goal for this trip was to get the house functional enough to bring our kids back in July. I’m happy to report that we were able to do that; but more importantly, we are leaving with a peace of mind for the safety of our property and a renewed faith in this crazy decision of ours. My hope in sharing this wild journey is that someone else will be inspired to chase a ”crazy dream” of their own; whatever that may look like. Just go for it and don’t look back! No questions asked. No turning back. One hundred percent. 💯

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