- Jami Brouillette
Prepping For Christmas Guests
Since we returned from Belize last August, our vacation home has seen it's fair share of activity. We prayerfully made it through the first hurricane to pass through Belize since purchasing our home. We also dealt with water issues and ended up having a new well dug from afar.
With the weather in the states turning cold, people like ourselves are looking for a tropical escape which has resulted in upcoming bookings from December through February. As luck would have it, we have guests arriving just a few days before Christmas.
As someone who loves both the holidays and entertaining, this has caused quite a bit of anxiety for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly grateful that our home has been booked and very excited that a family will be making Christmas memories within the walls of our little piece of paradise. That being said, it's really difficult to get a home ready for visitors when you are 2,800 miles away.
The pressure to have everything "perfect" feels somehow magnified and even more important knowing that guests will be staying over Christmas. The reality is that I've had to accept that I cannot put up Christmas lights on our palm trees and add all of the other special "holiday touches" that I would do if we were there to prepare the home ourselves. Instead, I have had to let my unrealistic expectations go and choose to be grateful for the trustworthy friends and neighbors who have graciously offered to help us prepare.
So, having made it through a "mild" hurricane unscathed, having successfully installed a new well while living in another country, and having people we know and trust prepping the home for us; We were feeling pretty good and thinking "what else could possibly go wrong?" Should you ever find yourself asking this same question: Watch out! There is almost always something else that could go wrong. In our case, that "something" was the pool.
The person that we had "hired" to maintain our pool ended up never doing so. Inevitably, it turned green and became a breeding ground for tadpoles and frogs. Fortunately, another set of amazing neighbors (who we never even met in-person) offered up their very dependable pool guy and he agreed to drain, clean, refill, and care for our pool before our next guests arrive in December. Awesome! Disaster adverted... or so we thought.
During the first week of December, he went to check out our pool and quickly realized that our pump had quit working. This wouldn't have been such a big deal if it had happened in the US, or if we had found out about it sooner in Belize. Unfortunately, we were dealing with a very short time line and it's extremely difficult to get things like pool pumps (and a plethora of other goods) in Belize. If you've been following our journey then you already know a bit about this.
We were incredibly fortunate to be able to find the type of pool pump that we needed in Belize City. Of course, we couldn't simply buy it and have it delivered because....Belize. So, like everything else, obtaining the pool pump turned into another excercise in patience and creative thinking.
Initially, we tried to purchase the pump by credit card over the telephone. After five tries and several fraud alerts from our bank, the person at the pool pump store explained to my husband that the number eight on their credit card machine didn't work... information that would have been good to know before he repeatedly tried manually entering the credit card. When you're a visitor to the country, things like this can be endearing; when you're trying to accomplish something it loses its appeal quickly.
After several more international calls to the store and many calls to our bank, my husband decided that a wire transfer would be the way to go. Those same kind neighbors who volunteered their pool guy happened to be headed, an hour and a half away, to Belize City the very next day and offered to pick up the pump for us! Praise God! Things were finally start to look up! But, we should have know better than to start rejoicing so quickly...
As we set up the wire at First State Bank here in town, they were unable to process the transfer because of an issue with the receiving address. This is because in Belize, there are NO true addresses. Per the pool company's letterhead, the official address read "Past mile marker 3.5 on Prince George Highway on the corner next to the umbrella." People. This is NOT a joke! I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! But there's more...
After finally getting the money sent and showing proof that it had been pulled from our account, the store would not release the items to our neighbors until the money posted to their account. Sure enough, by Monday morning the money had been posted to their account, but we no longer had someone to pick up the pump. On to plan B... shipping.
The shipping company said they could deliver the pump to an office in Corozal about ten minutes from our house. However, when my husband looked up the office it had no phone number and no one available to confirm the drop off. Ultimately, we ended up having the shipping company deliver the pump to our electrician who lives in a small village 20 minutes south of town. He literally stood on the side of the road and flagged the delivery truck down and showed his I.D. to receive our package.
Heaving a sigh of relief, we thought we were finally out of the woods! That is until they were pressure washing the pool and discovered the previous owner had painted the pool with regular house paint. My husband proceeded to use all remaining international minutes on his calling plan trying to locate the proper epoxy coating to reseal the pool. He had no luck.
As it stands, the pool is finally full of water. The new pump is on a timer, and we will just have to wait to reseal the pool with the proper epoxy this summer. Once again, I am learning to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. The pool may not be as pretty as I would like, but the water will be balanced and ready for our guests to swim in.
As we dive into looking for our next vacation rental, it's stories like this that are making us consider condos with HOA fees, so that we don't have to navigate such huge projects on our own. We went into this knowing that it would be an adventure, but we never realized how much we would come to depend upon the kindness of our neighbors and their willingness to jump in and help at a moment's notice. For that I am incredibly grateful.
I would be remiss to end this post without mentioning that we have dates available for bookings throughout the spring and summer. We are offering discounts to friends and family. Feel free to reach out to me directly! www.VRBO.com/2906202