Shopping in Belize…Shopping in the US from Belize and more photos…

Karel’s Barber Shop doesn’t open until 10 am.  We’ll come back next week for Tom’s much needed new “do!”  Of course, we’ll post photos of that!

It was a fine day. We love the charming little village of Placencia.

Once again, Estevan appeared at our door promptly at 9 am to drive us to Placencia Village for our weekly errands which this week included a haircut for Tom, a trip to the fish market, a stop at the drugstore, a visit to the vegetable stand and finally a trip to the largest of the grocery stores in town. 

Tommy’s Restaurant.  Guess who got a kick out of this?

The neighbors on either side of us are from Minnesota and Friday night we’re having a Minnesota Potluck dinner making the shopping expedition all the more enjoyable.  What would we find that would be reminiscent of Minnesota?

As it turned out, the barbershop doesn’t open until 10 am and the fish market was out of fish.  We asked Estevan to drop us at the end of the peninsula, leaving us to walk the full length of the road through the village, stopping along the way. Next week, we’ll arrive later for Tom’s haircut and again check with the fish shop nearby.

Another quaint shop along the main road in the Village.
Cooler today, the walk was pleasant and relaxed. With Estevan picking us up in two hours from the larger grocery store at the opposite end of the peninsula, we had plenty of time to take photos, stop at each of the several small grocers along the way looking for ingredients for the items we’d planned to bring to the potluck dinner.  We kept the dishes simple knowing certain ingredients may not be readily available.
 Tom, outside the grocery store where we shopped today.

Shopping.  A necessary part of life.  Unless one lives on a farm, weaves their own fabrics, makes their own clothing, doesn’t use any toiletries, doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t require any medications, and on and on.  We shop.

Some of us enjoy shopping in stores, others online, others both, others not at all.  I lean toward the online category.  Tom falls into the “not at all” category.  Back in the US a year could go by without stepping into a mall, preferring the anonymous lurking online comparing prices, products, and reviews

Local clothing well priced on display outdoors.

With a plan to go pick up a box of necessary supplies at the UPS store near the pier in Miami on April 13th, where will also ship our excess luggage to my sister Julie, we’re busily placing our online orders. 

 The local pharmacy, at the top of the stairs.

How will we receive our items without paying the $10 per box/per day fee that UPS charges to “hold” purchased items?  We’re having the approximate 10 boxes shipped to our mailing service in Nevada, Maillink most of which have free shipping.  They’ll store all the items until we instruct them online, to open all the boxes, place every item into a larger box and ship the larger box to us to arrive at the UPS store in three days.

Check out the verbiage on this sign.  Love it!

The potential cost of this box:  $65 plus perhaps $20 additional in case UPS receives it a day early, holding it for two days.  While we’re port we’ll pick up the box and bring it aboard the ship.  This maneuver increases our cost for the items by about 20%.  We can live with this. 

An indoor clothing store filled with local fashions.

You may ask, why not rent a car when we disembark the ship for the eight-hour layover in port and drive around and buy the items?  Ten items, ten possible stores, the price of the rental car, the gas, the day spent feeling stressed is why to avoid that scenario

Notice the colorful signs on this corner, pointing in every which way to other businesses.

Plus, many of the items we must receive in the box will include the rental of the XCOM Global MiFi device we’ll be using while cruising for two months and later in Italy for the summer. 

Cowfoot soup is on the menu today.

Another example is my favorite tea, Pouchong, an Oolong tea introduced to me by my son Greg  (thanks Greg!) a number of years ago, the only tea I drink.  We gave up many favorite items when we left the US.  I gave up many favorite foods when choosing this strict way of eating.  I was not willing to give up this tea!

Omar’s Restaurant, covered in flowers and vines.

But buying the tea in itself presents a problem. One of few companies that stock this tea, (one cannot find this tea in a tea store) is a well managed, customer service orientated online store, Adagio Teas which I’ve used for years.

The Placencia mail delivery vehicle!

Last week I visited their site to place an order for enough tea to last me for the next six months, which amounts to one pound of tea at $58 per pound.  With no room in our newly revised luggage for a greater amount, I figured they’d send it anywhere in the world where we can receive mail, not necessarily in Kenya or South Africa.  This requires careful planning.

The Placencia Post Office and Social Security Board.

With a new mailing service address, I updated my shipping and credit card billing address in their system as I quickly breezed through the checkout process as I’ve done so many times in the past.  A message appeared: “we aren’t able to process your order.”  Duh?

One of two banks in the Village.

My first reaction was that I made an error in entering the credit card number, the expiration date, or the little 3 digit number, that I had entered in the appropriate fields. I re-entered all the information. Again rejected. 

 The local cemetery in the village.

Immediately, I brought up the website for that particular credit card to make sure the past payoff had in fact processed. Every month we pay off all of our credit cards to avoid interest charges and also to keep them free to use when our cards don’t charge exchange rates fees.  We’d recently charged several upcoming cruises.  Perhaps, they hadn’t processed the incoming payoffs.

Organic, pesticide-free produce.  We purchased this entire batch for US $12.

Nope.  A credit of ($.97) appeared on the account.  There’s no reason for the transaction to be rejected.  I wrote an email to Adagio Teas, almost panicking. What if my teas days are over?  I’ve tried dozens of other teas.  None appeal to me.

Within a few hours, I received this response:

“Hi Jessica,

Thank you for your message. Could you provide a little more information?  It would help us to know the billing and shipping addresses you are using, and whether you are trying to place the order from outside the U.S.
Last year we had a large number of international fraud attempts, and we put in place more stringent fraud prevention measures. You may be getting caught in these measures, but we’re happy to help figure things out.
Please visit us again soon, and let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
Adagio Teas

OK. I get it. Their system detected that we’re in a foreign country, Belize, and the transaction was blocked. I wrote back to them immediately. They entered my email into their system as “safe.” Yesterday my order went through using the same credit card. The tea is en route to Las Vegas to be among the items to be shipped to us in Miami. Once again, Adagio Teas provided fast and courteous customer service.

A well-stocked pharmacy.  I needed to buy a pair of reading specs for reading Kindle on my smart phone while in bed after the contacts lenses come out.  $10 (US) for an adorable pair in white.  With no TV in the bedroom we read books.  We do adapt, don’t we?  For the first time in years,  we’re both are relaxing enough to enjoy reading novels.

I knew about this risk while in the early planning stages of our worldwide travels.  This is the first time I’ve encountered it.  Its time to begin thinking about acquiring a VPN, a virtual private network that reroutes the connection to create the “appearance” of the inquiry coming from the US, an entirely legal and convenient tool used by many expats and businesses. 

With plenty of food on hand for our share of the Minnesota Pot Luck dinner on Friday night and for our dinners over the next week, we’re rather content.  Tonight we’ll have a homemade meal of more coleslaw, which I made earlier to ensure it’s well chilled, fresh steamed wax beans, and a big platter of sautéed locally made sausages with buttery caramelized onions.

Tomorrow is our 18th anniversary. Our plan is to dine out but with so much good food on hand, we may decide another night’s dinner at “home” is a perfect way to celebrate.