30 Days, 7 Countries, 80 Pubs, ​Killarney / Southwest Ireland

Dublin was all I had hoped for an so much more, and nor just because of the awesome beer and food we enjoyed. Dublin was super friendly, and I mean everyone we met. In every pub we frequented, usually crowded, it seemed like there was always that Irish guy or gal that would jump up and offer us seats at their table. I actually thought I would be happy to get out of the big city and on to rural Ireland, however, I actually could have stayed a month!

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Yep! That was going to be me :), driving on the wrong side of the road

But the plans were in place, and my excitement was growing to rent my vehicle and head to the Southwest countryside of Ireland. Let me first explain about car rentals in Ireland and my final decision. My plans for many months included renting a Ferrari and driving the Autobahn for a few days on this Europe trip.  Those plans changed when we found it was better for us to ride the Euro train at that point of the vacation, so the “red firestick” was out. The fact is this was probably a good thing, because for years while living in San Diego, I owned a Porsche, and ended up selling because of all the speeding tickets.

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 This is what I should have rented!

So, I needed to rent a vehicle in Dublin to drive for three days in the country. I decided to make an advance reservation for a BMW M3 6 speed, because why not? When we arrived at Dublin Airport on our departure day in Dublin,  to the car rental, they successfully talked me out of the BMW, and into a Renault SUV.  For so many reasons I was happy with this vehicle, brand new, 60 kilometers on it, and it was a 6-speed manual, oh boy. FYI, we used Eurocar Rentals, because the rates were not only good but full insurance fairly cheap. They also didn’t expect the $3000 “deposit: that they did for the Ferrari.

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If you think this is easy, try it sometime!

Now you need to understand two things when driving in most European countries, everything is backward. Nor only is the steering wheel on the right side of the car, and you shift with your left hand, but you drive on the left side of the road. They will tell you when you pick up your rental, that after a couple hours, you will drive like a native.

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When you pass another driver, and you are sure a collision is imminent! 

You will not!

I’m not going to go on about this, other than to say, whenever a car came at me on the right side, I prepared for a collision, and the entire time I drove, for three days, my wife had mini-heart attacks, constantly.

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 Who knew Vikings were a major part of Irish history?

So off we went onto the major highway to our ultimate destination of Killarney, Ireland. We had a three-day rental in a room above Murphy’s Pub, which is quite famous. On the way, we decided to stop and check out the town of Cork, which everyone said we should if possible.

 

Cork is a small waterfront town, with quite the history behind it. I had no idea that it was a Viking Settlement hundreds of years ago but quickly learned. There is an excellent Viking Museum in town which of course fascinated me, swords and all.

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The Vikings have landed they shouted!

While I was fascinated with the Vikings, Marsha was fascinated with another famous find, the Waterford Crystal Museum/Store. We could have done a guided tour, but opted for a self-guided stroll, without my ever taking out my wallet. How about that?

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Wife Marsha just had to drag me around this place 🙂

Of course, we did manage to find, yes, you guessed it, a fine pub, with awesome food and Guinness on tap.

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Unbelievable, there is a “Murphy’s Pub” in almost every town in Ireland!

 

Then we were on our way to Killarney and the object of my immediate dreams, Murphy’s Pub where we were staying. We arrived and after a bit found a place not far from Murphy’s to park in a large parking lot. Now, that lot was full but after driving around in circles for 15 minutes a spot did open. It was Saturday so I just figured everyone was shopping or something. We dragged our bags down the street to Murphy’s and entered the front door, directly into the pub.

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After checking in at the bar, a waiter helped us with our bags, up three flights of stairs to our room, The room was actually pretty nice, good comfy bed, nice bathroom, and a view of the back beer garden, which we never used because of all the rain.

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Our home for four nights, and soon to be an “Irish Biker Bar”!

 

We quickly found out why everything was so crowded, there was a multi-country bike rally coming to town that afternoon. We got to watch as hundreds of motorcycles drove into town, and later hung with some leather chaps and chappies in the pubs. Although they were a “rough-looking bunch”, the fact is they were very entertaining and fun. We actually talked U.S. politics and had a great discussion. In fact, I became such good friends with one of the bikers, he paid Marsha and my bar tab!

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Yep! Here come the 100’s of bikers, many of which I will be “tippin the pint” with.

The next day we decided to head out for another “exciting drive” on rural roads. After an hour or so of us both gasping and holding our breath, we pulled up in the parking lot of Dingle Distillery in Dingle, Ireland.

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Yes, banners advertising I will be spending days with leather biker hicks in bars.

No, it wasn’t a name brand like a Jamison, but rather a startup distillery, actually only about three years old. That being said, did we ever get an education about whiskey and gin! Of course, being in Ireland, they don’t call it Scotch Whisky, just Whisky. This new business struggled at first, not having the funds to get off the ground, and compete with the “big boys”. But, let me tell you how they not only accomplished that in short order, and then some. You can’t sell Scotch until it has aged in the barrel three years and one day. As they needed funds to pay employees and buy equipment, they came up with a novel idea.

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They sold “futures”, “Founder’s Barrels”, at $1000 per barrel, and that’s how they came up with the capital to start, with local Dingle investors. After the three years and one day, all investors with their names on the barrels can do whatever they want with the barrels of whiskey.

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This was one really cool distillery. We did shots of Dingle Gin!

Now, then there is the already well known and now famous Dingle Gin, after only a year. Gin it seems can be sold after only a year, and these guys produced an awesome and tasty gin. I know because we had a few “tastings”, straight and with a local tonic. As we progressed through Europe, we not only found Dingle Gin in stores but also on Europe airlines and trains. These guys broke the mold and came out swinging. If you love Gin and Tonic, I suggest you keep an eye out for Dingle.

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Of course, after sipping Dingle Gin, we needed to find a pub for lunch, and that we did.

Later that evening we dined in, of course, another pub, with our biker friends, and we’re extremely happy we were able to walk back to our room.

The next day it was off for another driving adventure into the countryside, in search of adventure.

 

Cheers till we maat agaib.

 

Gary …..the Pirate

 

 

 

 

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30 Days, 7 Countries, 80 Pubs, My Europe Vacation-Dublin, Ireland

The adventure will start in Dublin, Ireland. I was thinking I could do a post on each country, but not a chance, too much to talk about, too much territory and destinations to cover. So here we go.

 

Boarding our British Airways flight in Miami bound for Ireland jumpstarted my excitement for what was ahead. My wife did an excellent job getting us upgraded on the flight, awesome roomy seats, and super services. The flight we were on was direct to London, England for a plane change to Dublin, Ireland International Airport. We would arrive in London at 6:40 AM in the AM, and connecting “hopper” would get us into Dublin at 9:50 Am, giving us a day to rest and “bar hop”.

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                                               Dreaming of Irish Beers

Helpful hint: “Both England and Ireland use the Pound Sterling as currency. We hit a currency exchange booth at the London Airport so when we arrived in Ireland we would be prepared.

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  One of the first pubs we checked out after our Game of Thrones Tour

I will tell you for a cross Atlantic flight to Europe, or any long flight, upgrading to 1st or business class is highly advisable. You may get a bit shocked by the price increase, but if you factor in getting free extra luggage for it, it is well worth it. Also, having additional leg room, reclining seats, internet and movies, no-cost food and beverages (yes, booze too), why not?

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Wife Marsha enjoying a fine Irish Ale.

Although we had plans and reservations for our week in Ireland, and other countries in Europe, my thoughts keep roaming to two specific pleasures ahead on this leg of the trip. Guinness Stout and Pig Knuckles. After three years of drinking the only real beer available here in Belize, Belikin, I was mentally salivating for the taste of a freshly poured Guinness. I also knew that there would be so many other beers available in Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany, and happy to have extra holes in my belt!

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Can you say another pub in Ireland?

You might be asking yourself, “what’s with the pig knuckles”? Last time I was in Munich I ate dinner at an excellent restaurant, and it wasn’t until on my way out I saw the “knuckles” in the window. More on that in my Munich post.

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The Pirate King has his Throne and Pirate Queen

I had made our arrangements for Dublin in the epicenter of everything happening, Temple Bar, at where else but the Temple Bar Apartments, just across from Cow’s Lane :).  This location put us within walking distance of not only great dining but all the best and famous pubs.

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So lucky this “Road Show” movie sets was in Belfast while we were there.

The next day we had booked two seats on the famous “Game of Thrones and Giants Causeway Tour” with Viator. If you have not watched this TV series, you are definitely a minority. The tour departed at 6:30 AM, and was a whole day adventure, and well worth the cost. As wife Marsha booked this tour, and there are choices, I had asked for one that didn’t make you dress up in silly “period” clothes and carry wooden swords for photos. Believe me, there are not only those but tours we saw that did that and put you on draft horses for photographs.

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Marsha with the “Ara’s Needle Sword” from the series.

Our Game of Thrones Tour was awesome, taking us to sites we recognized from the series, and explaining how the scenes were filmed and how. We also toured the Giants Causeway, which I have to admit was not so much interesting to me, as it was a rocky shoreline, with massive cliffs, much like the shoreline of Oregon where I came from. That being said, it was impressive.

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Giants Causeway….get my point?

The best part of the experience in my mind was the Game of Thrones Exhibition luckily on display in Belfast.  It’s located in a mega portable building, and houses all the props used to film the series. From outfits of the characters to weapons, and even the model dragons and “Thrones” used in the series. You can easily spend two hours engulfed in GOT history, reliving moments and even get photographs with actual film props used in the production.

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The next day was the big checkmark on my “world bucket-list”, our Guinness Storehouse Experience.

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One almost down, one full to go 🙂

I had made an appointment for our tour and tasting experience, which included a lesson in how to properly pour a tankard of Guinness Stout, perfectly. From the time we entered the historic building, till pouring that nectar of the gods, it took about an hour or so. There are six stories to this building, and we choose the stairs each floor, however, there are elevators. The ground floor has the store and ingredient information, 1st-floor brewing tanks exposition and a cafè. The 2nd floor is the general tasting room where you can do a tasting, but not pouring experience. The 3rd floor is basically all advertising and general information.

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Marsha at “school” with “teacher” watching like a hawk!

That brings us to in my “heaven”, or the Guinness Acadamy Connoisseur Experience” as they call it. Here we enter a private room where there are four “pouring stations”, each with a group of about six students. Your “teacher” explains how he or she will be pouring the brew, and why it is so important to pour correctly. She (in my case) then teaches you how to pour a “perfect pint”, which has an exact official time to pour of 119.5 seconds, exactly. Then it is the students turn to pour a pint correctly, while she watches, and trust me, these people are picky.

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  I graduated 😉

 

After you have poured your “perfect pint of gold”, you receive your certificate of completion and proceed to a table to enjoy that honorable pour. As lady luck would have it, our teacher asked Marsha if she would like the extra point that she had poured as an example. As I am blessed, my wife told her that I would so much more enjoy it than her, and I was rewarded the 2nd pint. Oh, the love of a good woman, for sure.

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Marsha in front of one of the dozens of ancient castles we toured in Europe.

As far as getting to know the area’s and sites around greater Dublin, and of course all the good pubs, we used the “Hop-on-Hop-Off Busses”. Most of the major tourist locations have these, and our first experience was in Dublin. They run all day long into the early evening and have many stopping points at attractions. If the weather is good, sitting in the upper level of the “double-decker”, gives you a better vantage point. The nice thing is, if you get to an area you want to explore, you can “jump off” and get on another, which usually make stops every 15 minutes or so.

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The Irish Riverdance Experience, quite a show, and super haunting songs.

On our last evening, Marsha had purchased us tickets for a “Riverdance Show”, which I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited about, but after all, it wasn’t just my vacation. We boarded a small transport bus and were taken to an amazing location for this performance, a combination golf course, and horse racing track. The performance lasted about a couple hours and was comprised of world renown dancers, as well as excellent instrumentals. My most favorite part was a musician who played the “Irish Whistle”, a very simple and old musical instrument I had never experienced. It produces a haunting sound, and I immediately recognized the sound as being used in various popular modern music, especially movies.

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Bought one of these whistles and book for my grandson Fisher 🙂

 

All in all, we totally enjoyed our stay in Dublin, visiting and sipping in many pubs, meeting so many local’s, enjoying so many traditional Irish dishes. The traditional Irish breakfast is such a filling treat, eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and sometimes french fries. Our favorite breakfast place was the Stagedoor Cafè. Then there’s bacon and cabbage, and of course, Irish Stew which I enjoyed many times in many pubs.

I don’t believe there was one pub that didn’t have live Irish music in the late afternoon/evening. Pubs are always crowded, and finding a seat at a table or bar can be a bit frustrating, but I never felt like an “outsider”. Many times we were invited to sit at a locals table, or staff went out of their way to find us a table. This was not just in Dublin, but throughout South Western Ireland over the next few days, but you will hear more about that in the next blog about our experiences driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road!

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One of the many Irish musicians playing in pubs.

So that’s it for Dublin, Ireland, and there was still so much more to talk about. Only on the first blog post, and already I’m thinking “book”?

Stay tuned for the next chapter, about renting a car, sitting on the wrong side of the car, driving on the wrong side of the street, all over southwestern Ireland. We will visit Killarney, Cork and other special destinations.

Until then, May your thirst be a great one, and your pour a quenching experience,

Gary

 

 

 

 

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30 days, 7 Countries, 80 Pubs, My Vacation

Buenos Dios All,

It is finally time to change course in my travel blog, from my adventures of building a new home in Belize, back to traveling the world. Finally, our house is completed, and my 3rd book about Belize, “Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly, is in processing for release.

Finally, the time has come when I can actually leave my home because there are no contractors or workers doing shit, finally!

Please check out the photo’s I include various countries and experiences. They are there to give a small “taste” of the blog posts ahead.

And so it begins. Wife Marsha worked hard on our itinerary, this is the cover page below.

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         Our 30-day Itinerary for Europe, June 2019 

My wife Marsha and I have been planning our European vacation for the past six months or more, for a 30 day trip across Europe. She made all the travel plans, flights, trains, bus tours, and hotels, and I made all the Air BnB reservations, wine excursions, dinner reservations, etc. Some will say that the most exciting part of a vacation is in planning. I say the most exciting part is the doing, and the successful ending, and not running out of money!

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          Train Station, Milan Italy, we had just exited this “Bullet Train”

I will be taking you on a wild ride, not by country, but by city/town/village location. The experiences we had in every country add up to a wealth of knowledge that I want to pass on to you. Our successes and some “fails” with hotels and Air BnB choices, will offer you the experience you can only get from being there. For instance, when a listing says an apartment is a short 10-minute walk from a train station or only four flights of stairs. But, it provides a top floor balcony with stunning views.

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The Famous Rialto Bridge, Venice Italy, the city I call, “Stairstepper Heaven”?

What they don’t tell you, is that 10-minute walk, carrying all your bags in 90-degree heat, up and down stairs to 5 bridges over canals will kill you. Add to that your iPhone GPS won’t pick up satellites because the pathways are 3 ft wide and five stories high, so you are lost. When you get to the apartment building, and maybe are met by someone, the stairways are dark, narrow, and hot. Climb four flights of stairs, carrying 100 lbs of luggage in 90-degree heat, and tell me you want to climb another fifteen steps to a rooftop view, in the sun.

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Everyone should know the story of David (statue by Michelangelo), who killed the giant with slingshot and stone. Like they say, “it took big ones” 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, these were minute issues of a fantastic 30 days in heaven, but trust me, no trip is perfect, especially to Europe.

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The “Ladies” on South Beach Miami, Florida

So, we were off leaving on a hopper flight from Placencia, Belize to Belize City, to catch our flight to Miami Beach, Florida. We would spend the afternoon and night there, then catch out British Airways Flight to London, then on to our first destination, Dublin Ireland.

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A Pirate Size Margarita on South Beach, Miami, my first “Pub” on the crawl 🙂

I’m not going to talk much about my Belize flights, other than I love the new Belikin Beer bar in Goldson Airport in Belize City. In one happy word, draft!

The flight to Miami is about two hours on American Airlines, and with our upgraded seats, my legs didn’t cramp or fall off. The booze service was quite nice, and the time passed rather quickly as my wife and I giggled over what was to come.

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Wife Marsha and I at a private Champagne Tasting, in Champagne Region, France

Arriving at Miami International was a not so bad experience, quickly moving through customs and grabbing a cab to Miami South Beach. Yep! That’s right, our hotel was on South Beach Miami, the “sin city” of Florida. I hadn’t been here for over twenty years or more and was anxious to see the changes. It wasn’t long before I got an eye full of flesh, prompting the question, “did these ladies forget to get dressed this morning”? And, the term “junk in the trunk, under a see-thru dress” constantly passed through my mind.

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Everyone should recognize this, but wait till you hear where our BNB was located.

I started my trip with my first “pub” right on South Beach, a super Cuban Cafè on the boardwalk.  What else would a Pirate order than a mega size Margarita and a Corona sticking in it upside down?

In the morning, like early, I boarded my British Airways Flight to London, not my final destination, just to change planes to Dublin, my first actual European destination.

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Nothing quite like a 10 PM Romantic Cruise on a gondola in Venice, Italy

My blogs will continue from the next one about Dublin to all the cities in Ireland I visited. Then they will proceed on to Scotland, England, France, Germany, and then Italy. On the journey, I will experience with you, Temple Bar of Dublin, as well as the Guinness Factory. Onward on the journey, you will join me on a Game of Thrones Tour, Outlander Tour in Scotland, a stay at the Waldorf Historia in London, a private tour of Stonehedge, the Pouve in Paris, private tour and tasting at Dom Perignon in Champagne. These are just some of the experiences, and I have not even touched a week in Italy, or festival in Munich.

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Tasting awesome wines in Monticello, Italy, with my “little tasting glass”

So, hand on to your seats, “like” this blog to get the upcoming blogs, and learn what it’s like to do Europe in 30 Days, and then there are the 80 pubs on a mighty crawl.

Chao,

Gary (The Pirate)

 

 

 

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Building Your New Home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly

      The Story Ends, but Yours is Just Beginning

jpeg for blog6x9_BW_400 Gary print cover Belize       

 

 

Hello All, 

I am sure from the emails and txt’s I have received the past few months, that I have many readers awaiting the release of my new book, Building your NEW HOME IN BELIZE, the Good, Bad and Ugly.

I really wanted to wait until the entire house was completely finished, however, it is now about two years into it and the final obstacle is still not complete. You know what I am going to say, the frickin 6-panel folding kitchen “pass thru” window still not installed.

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Another double lot available on the Caribbean Sea

As you know, the incorrect window was installed by my first “builder” and was finally ordered my actual excellent builder Nelson Montalvo here in Maya Beach. Regretfully, the company he ordered the correct one from in Honduras, we found out went bankrupt! Supposedly the window is built and they were awaiting shipment of the specialty tracking and hinges.

Well, that’s been many months waiting, and the frustration level has peaked from frustration to just plain anger.  At this point, I am just accepting the fact that the large kitchen window will never open.

Did I ever advise you to select your “builder” very carefully? Wasting 8K on an incorrect order like this window can add up to a bunch of funds wasted if he’s an asshat? Not to mention frustration, disgust and yes, hate.

So, that being said, what a perfect last chapter for the book,

Ending the building of our house with UGLY!

The book is almost finished compilation, will go through multiple edits, and then a final edit by my Editor/friend at Central America Living Magazine in Costa Rica.

And then when its all completed and ready to go, it will be released on Amazon as a paperback and eBook, along with many online bookstores. This will take a couple months, so hold on.

And you will be the first to know, so stay tuned.

Gary….The Pirate

 

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Lots directly on the Caribbean Sea on the Placencia Peninsula are still available for under 250K. Contact Marsha@1stchoice.com for info, and to start building your dream.

 

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Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly

via Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly

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Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly

jpeg for blog6x9_BW_400 Gary print cover Belize

Front and Back Cover of my new book, designed by Nada.

It’s very exciting being this close to publishing my 3rd book about life in Belize, Central America. This latest book with plans for the “book launch” end of this month is taking some interesting turns, but I am hopeful that It will still launch on time.

For the first time I actually hired a super Graphic Designer to produce my book cover, both front and back. I am so very pleased with Nada, and will be giving her credit in the hardcover book.

As you might already know, this book enjoy’s the same name as this blog, and is based on this blog’s posts. Of course there will be a great deal of extra stuff in it, how to locate your best land and house deals here in Belize, contacts for just about everything, where to find stuff and more. As you might suspect, I am also including a chapter just on the builders I would suggest you contact, their history, references and contact info. That is probably the biggest plus or minus of your building experience. Most homes built here go thru at least a couple contractor builders to actually complete or repair your home.

One of my challenges is the conversion of all my WordPress blog posts with tons of photo’s to the correct format used in print books and eBooks. Regretfully, I am at the mercy of the companies I am using for these processes, as well as my editor and publisher.

However, I just wanted to give you all an update on the release, and let you know it is really coming soon, to bookstores in hard copy, Amazon in hardcore as well as an eBook.

 

Cheers,

Gary…..The Pirate

 

 

 

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Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly that can happen.

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Pyrates Paradise Paella on my Vision Grill, overlooking the Caribbean, for evening with good friends.

As things come to an end here at Pyrates Paradise with our home build, I can honestly say I would do it all over again, knowing what I learned of course. Little things like finishing patches on outside walls, correcting some drainage issues we have discovered during heavy rains, and adding some additional electric boxes are some.

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Paella finishing touches, chicken, sausage, shrimp and of course, spiny lobster.

 

Of the multiple design flaws we encountered, the un-needed kitchen window, the wrong height roofline over the outdoor shower, there was another major mistake. If you build a home in Belize, or anywhere that experiences major rains, make sure your home design especially over your outdoor decks includes an overhang.

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Note the roofline isn’t extended over the deck. See added gutter installed under floor edge.

The outside deck on our outdoor shower side isn’t covered by the roof, thus massive rain and water not contained and removed by the rooftop gutter system. We recently had to hire a contractor to install gutters on outside edge of floor to send runoff out to sea.

Another issue with original “builder / general contractor” arose after we had to call for service on our air conditioning system. After three repair calls, where they found a fuse blown in the outside unit, the 4th call found a burned electrical panel in the AC unit.

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Top unit is original to bedroom AC unit. Bottom ecox is new replacement unit.

I called our builder Nelson Montalvo who actually built our house about the issue. He informed us that the AC units originally installed, were purchased by our “original builder/general contractor” at a local store. I asked him if he had ever used this brand and he said no, they were a cheap brand, that he only used “Ecox” AC Units, and had never had a problem with them.

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This is new great room AC unit, that is now programable, and has direction adjustments.

He said he gets his units from one of the major stores in Belmopan, Aggregate Hardware, where we purchased our whole house Generac generator. We drove the 1.5 hours up to Belmopan and purchased the replacement AC unit and had it installed. It works more efficiently, more effectively, and has more useful features. Yes, we paid more for this one than the original, but we live in the Caribbean, and good AC comfort can be essential. If it is to you, its a major appliance you need to pay attention to.

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This is the burned electrical unit in original Delta AC unit. Repairman said the compressor overheated was dangerous situation.

We are a couple weeks from the final project that needed to be corrected, the replacement of our large, 6 panel window in the kitchen. Along with that, the beautiful granite counter that has been laying on the deck for the past year gets installed under the window out on the deck. After more than a year, we will finally actually be able to open the kitchen window!

And for one of the final times I will say this. It is extremely important to choose the best builder in Belize, and I mean the Builder, not a “general contractor” to build your new home. Don’t be fooled by a smile and friendly handshake just because he is from Canada or the U.S. and speaks english. Chances are he can’t speak Spanish, and does not communicate well with those building your house. Believe me, it will be a Belizean Builder that builds your home, one that works with Belize suppliers and knows what works here, not just whats cheap. The book I will be publishing end of this year, will have recommendations and Bio’s of the Belizean Builders I believe are the best here on the mainland. I have seen their work, I know the owners of houses they have built, and I wouldn’t recommend them, if I wouldn’t use them myself.

And at that point I do believe this blog will take a right hand turn, back to its original venue, world travel. At that point the entire blog will be published as a book I have been working on called, you guessed it!

“Building your new home in Belize, the Good, Bad and Ugly ! “

Keep an eye out for the announcement of its released which appears to be occurring in December, on Amazon and other companies in eBook and print form. As I speak I have a well known Graphic Designer, Nada Orlic, designing its cover, my Editor panting, and three publishers anxiously awaiting the first draft.

 

Until our next meeting, start planning to visit your dream, and finding your paradise.

The Pirate…..Gary

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Happy Halloween everyone !

 

 

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