Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Cat!!

Laura and Rachel, aka The Cat

Today is our daughter's 33rd birthday, so to honor her I thought I would post some of my favorite photos of her. Fortunately for you, dear reader, most of the older photos (pre-2004) are still in photo albums back home, not on my computer, so I had a limited selection to draw from.

I love this picture of Rachel (on the right) and her lifelong friend, Laura. They loved playing dress-up. We bought a box of old hats at a garage sale and they had great fun with them.

Rachel smooching Grandpa.

Rachel and Lance, ready for lifeboat drill - Caribbean cruise 2004

She has an endless supply of funny faces.

Her wedding day - only a slight annoyance!

Ready to dance!

Love this - told her the monkey really brings out the blue of her eyes. Roatan 2008

You have brought us much, much joy, love, and laughter in your 33 years. Good memories. May the Lord bless us all with many more wonderful years together. We love you!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jerk Chicken!

This has nothing to do with chicken - it's just a cool picture I shot yesterday afternoon. You can see that it is raining out at sea in the dark patches.

Today we have lots of sunshine, no rain for the first time in days. Julio is hard at work on the yard. Every now and then there are some big, dark clouds popping up, so rain could still be in our future.

Today, after grocery shopping, Don decided he wanted something different for lunch, so we went to the Blue Parrot. This just reopened as a Jamacian restaurant, and everyone has had good things to say about it. The Jamacian cook has not arrived yet, but whoever is cooking now does a pretty good job. I ordered the jerk burger after hearing Merlin rave about it - and it was fantastic. My tongue is still tingling.

While we were sitting there waiting for our food to come out, this rooster and a couple of hens came walking into the outdoor dining area. Clearly this rooster is operating on a different time schedule, because he hopped up onto the railing and began crowing! That brought the owner out to shoo him and his entourage away, but not before I got this shot.

On the way home, we had to slow down for a large green iguana crossing the road. Wildlife everywhere.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Sunset Between Rains

We actually had a very cool sunset last night - sat right down onto the water, with just enough clouds to create interesting swirls in the sky and neat stripes across the sun.

We had a lot of rain overnight and again this morning. The clouds and sun keep trading off. Right now the sun is shining on part of the ocean and coupled with the wind, creating these silvery caps on the water.

More clouds are lurking around, though, ready to douse us again.

The jungle is threatening to take over our yard again. Our favorite gardener, Julio, showed up at 7 a.m. today, in the rain, wearing his poncho. As soon as the rain let up a little, he went down the hill and began cutting back the vegetation. He's actually gotten a lot of work done, despite frequent rains.

Yesterday we tackled advanced numbers in our Spanish class. And now I understand why I don't always understand the sales clerks and vendors when they tell me the price - the numbers change. For example, one hundred is ciento...two hundred is doscientos....three hundred is trescientos, etc....but then, all of a sudden, 500 and 900 decide to be different from everyone else and become quinientos (where I expected cincocientos) and novecientos (instead of nuevecientos). Ay yi yi! And sometimes you run the two numbers together without y (veintiuno) and sometimes you don't (treinta y tres). Why?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And More Rain....

It just keeps coming. Rained hard all night. Very cool, too. By nightfall it was already dipping into the 60s. It has stayed cool today, too. Our power went off last night during the storm and stayed off until dawn.

Merlin came down early this morning - she often pops in around 7 a.m. as she's taking her brisk morning walk up/down the hill. She was distressed to learn that the leaf cutter ants ate her entire garden. Every tomato plant. Every pepper plant. Everything. And all her plants were doing very well - just loaded. Now all gone. We're hoping the ants won't discover our tomato plants. We have two in a large pot on the deck; Don just transplanted five more into the front flower bed. We'll see how long they last.

I've just come from the meat market where they got in a shipment of meat and cheeses. The cases were empty last week. I was able to buy some U.S. ground beef for almost $5.00/lb. Don't know what it's selling for in the States these days, but this seems pretty high. I'll have to ration it again. And I got five large, ripe tomatoes for about $2.50 from the farm truck. I got to practice my Spanish on the produce guys, too.

We are learning our numbers in Spanish, more advanced numbers (we all know 1-20) and how to add in Spanish. That was our homework for today. Can you believe it?! It will be useful though. We had a visitor in our class Monday. Freddy. He's a civil engineer here working on paving the roads (I seriously gave him a round of applause!) and wants to learn English for his job. It was interesting asking him questions in Spanish and having him answer us in English. I told him I was a terapeuta fisica. We love our class.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lobster Claw

This is a "lobster claw" heliconia. I didn't realize until this morning that Merlin even had this type of heliconia blooming on her hill across from our house. She had one of her gardeners cutting some to take inside and had him cut some for me, too. She said it will last for weeks inside! The vase is Leinca pottery, made in Honduras.

After a beautiful, clear morning, the clouds have moved back in, the temperature has dropped to a cool 74 degrees, and it is threatening to rain any minute. My friend, Tia, came up and visited with me this afternoon, sitting out on the deck and enjoying the view and the breeze. She doesn't get much of either, living at the church. I've written about this before, I think...she and her husband, Pastor Chuck, and their children also run a small hotel connected to the church where mission teams stay and they live on the premises, so she's never far from work or home. I'm pretty sure she enjoyed her little break from the routine today. I know I did.

This morning, as I was hanging up laundry, I heard meowing, and I wondered...could that be Moe? Yup. I looked out the gate and there was Moe walking down the retaining wall toward me. I guess he just decided to come visit since Kellie was in school and maybe he was lonely up the hill without an ankle to bite. I gave him some water and he drank, a lot. I got the feeling that he had been outside chasing lizards for quite awhile. I wondered what to do with him...I had sent all his food back home with Kellie and Colin. My phone wasn't working, so I couldn't call. I thought the chances of Moe letting me carry him back up the hill without shredding my arms were nil. I finally decided to walk up there, see if Colin was home, and see if Moe would follow me. He did! And Colin was home. I suspect that Moe will be a frequent visitor now...we have more lizards here than up the hill (he's caught most of the hilltop ones, or scared them away). I just hope he can avoid the dogs when they're out.

I picked Kellie up from school this afternoon and had her look at my phone, hoping that she could somehow fix it. She did. I had fiddled with it all morning and got nowhere. She fiddled a couple of minutes, not really sure what she did, but it now works, so I'm happy.


Monday, February 23, 2009


Our hillside - looking over the deck railing

About the time I think the rainy season is over, it rains. Of course, in the tropics it does rain all year round, just not as much at a time. We've had 1.7 inches in the past 24 hours. It is green and lush and very beautiful.

The rain did stop long enough for Debi and I to begin our new beach walking regimen; we walked for about 45-50 mins. this morning along the Sandy Bay beach from church almost to the Bay Islands Beach Resort. We had an escort of 4 or 5 dogs, all friendly, who helped keep away any unfriendly beasts. Debi brought her camera, but I had forgotten mine, so no pictures.

Debi and Bob were going to French Harbor today, so I rode along. I needed to stop by Arlie Thompson's insurance office to drop off those papers proving that our car was legally brought into Honduras. Bob and Debi just got their residency and needed to drop off some paperwork with their lawyer, but she was out sick today.

We both needed some groceries, so a trip to Eldon's was in order. We learned that we both actually enjoy grocery shopping and both dislike clothes shopping, especially trying on clothes. We were also thrilled to find a couple of odd things at a neat little shop across the road from Eldon's. I finally found the flashlight bulb that I've been searching for, and Debi found a replacement carafe for her coffeemaker. Huzzah!

By the time we finished with the groceries, it was raining hard again. We still stopped at one of the pickup trucks selling produce alongside the road and despite having an umbrella, I got pretty wet. I got even wetter unloading my groceries from their car into my car and then from my car into the house.

Then I had to go up the hill to check on Kellie who stayed home from school today with a one-sided swelling below her right ear along her neck. Don't think it's mumps, and she's had the MMR shots. Drove her down the hill to see Wenda, a retired Canadian nurse, and she also didn't think it was mumps. We're both thinking viral infection of some kind. Wenda suggested taking her to the clinic bright and early in the a.m. and having one of the visiting U.S. pediatricians look at her.

We have part two of our Spanish exam today - the oral part, so I need to practice some more. Oh, and it is pouring again. Guess I'll be wet....again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunset Duel

Another stunning sunset last night. Kellie and I had just finished a game of Rummikub on the deck when Don called our attention to the developing sunset. We quickly grabbed our cameras and began shooting. This rapidly became a game of dueling cameras as we compared shots. My camera has a built-in sunset filter which enhances the colors. Kellie's camera seems to take more unfiltered shots, so we had a good natured argument about whose pictures were the best.

The sun is beginning to move north. I can already tell the difference in the sun's position when setting up my shots. I told Kellie she could get a really interesting frame for her sunset by shooting through the "hole" in the tree's branches (on the left in some of the photos), only to realize that the sun had moved too far to the right (or north) to do that anymore.

We loved the second shot - with the vividly blue sky and puffy, white clouds (unfiltered), just a bit left (or south) of the sunset. We had another lingering display of colors after the sun touched down.

Kellie's dad returned today - we picked him up at the airport after church and lunch. Then we packed Kellie and Moe up and drove them up the hill to their house, in the downpour. I'm sure Moe will be happy to be back home where he can come in and out at will. I know Kellie was very glad to see her dad and probably happy to get back to her own room.

We just might miss them...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Great Ant Invasion

Late yesterday, we noticed this massive army of black ants swarming over our steps and up the side of the road. Thousands and thousands of them.

They rolled over everything in their path.

They didn't harm anything except insects - they did eat the army of small ants and any other bug that got in their way. I was really hoping they would find and eat all the leaf cutter ants. And that they would not find their way into the house. They didn't.

Kellie, the leaf princess, and Moe, who didn't care for the leaf on his head.

Kellie and I finally watched the pirated copy of Marley and Me. It was very obviously video taped from the second row of a movie theatre - one of the front row seat backs could be seen in the lower right corner of the screen all through the movie. The sound was off a little, sometimes it sounded like it had been recorded in a different room - possibly the bathroom, having that sort of hollow sound that comes from hard, tiled surfaces. The sound also didn't quite match the video. And parts of the video looked flat, one dimensional. This is the first movie I've seen that has so obviously been pirated.

Kellie thought the book was much better than the movie. Guess I'll have to read it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More on Moe


I've been laughing myself silly over the antics of Kellie and Moe. Kellie has been trying to secure the deck railing so Moe can't escape. She has cardboard woven in between the bars and pieces of lumber pushed against the cardboard. Every time she lets Moe out, he instantly finds a new way to defeat her system. The lure of lizard-chasing is just too powerful. Moe is timidly interested in the monkey-la-las running around, but really likes the little anoles the best. Kellie has been very determined to improve her set-up, but I think she may have finally given up after 4 or 5 escapes in a row.

I came home from Bible study last night to find Kellie and Don sitting in the sliding doorways on either side of the deck, Kellie with Moe, and Don with a very attractive black female cat who was trying to woo Moe. He wasn't too sure what to think about her - I guess he's a bit too young for that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Roatan's "Vibrant" Markets

Inside Zenora's little shop

Debi and Amy inside the new mall

calm road before cruisers hit the street

Debi and 2 young followers approaching a shop

Debi and Amy at Sharon's Sweet Shop

Yesterday I joined my friend Debi as she gave her houseguest, Amy, a tour of the markets in Coxen Hole. The cruise ship industry refers to them as "Roatan's vibrant markets". Last week we had visited the markets where the islanders shop; yesterday we focused on the new mall opposite the Port of Roatan cruise ship terminal and on the little shops lining the road.

Debi's friend, Zenora, (in the top photo) has a small shop inside the mall, so we went there first. She's a great resource for where to shop, how much to pay (island price, not tourist price), and where to grab a good lunch later. She also allowed Debi to park at her house, off the road. Nice lady.

As we were walking around from shop to shop, we managed to pick up two little boys who followed us around. At first they offered post cards for sale, when we declined, they just kept following us, asking if we wanted to buy this or that at the various shops. Finally, they asked if they could have a dollar for school supplies. We are opposed to just handing out money; we don't want to encourage begging, but aren't against buying things for them. Debi said she often asks one of her islander friends to suggest a needy family whom they can help. Great idea. The kids here all wear uniforms, even to public schools, and each school has a different uniform, very specific right down to the type of black shoes that must be worn. If the family can't afford the uniform, then the child doesn't go to school. They must also buy their own books and all other supplies. So, you'll often see children outside the shops asking for donations for their school needs.

Zenora had recommended a stop at the sweet shop where one of her church friends cooks island food. We had ice cream first - I had melon and it was yummy. We decided to just order a taco to round out our meal. The "taco" was actually more like enchiladas, 2 corn tortillas filled with a generous amount of shredded chicken, rolled, then fried (!) and topped with shredded cheese, cabbage and a delicious red sauce. All for $2.50! Delicious.

We got so much sun, that we decided that the fair Amy (from Canada) had better find some shade for awhile and I needed to get home to study for Spanish class.

We had our first exam in Spanish class. Leonor awarded us points based upon our dialogue with one another, then our responses to her questions. I got 9/10 and Don got 10/10. Next week, we each have to get up before the class and talk about ourselves - all in Spanish, of course, for the remainder of our grade.

Don just came back from getting gasoline - $3.24/gal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beach Walk

Moe, on lizard watch

West End - looking for the veggie truck

Sandy Bay

The beach in Sandy Bay

Yesterday was a beautiful day - sunny, warm, breezy - then some afternoon clouds. Don and I did some grocery shopping in the morning and looked for the veggie truck in West End, but apparently he was still making his rounds. We stopped at Alba Foods to get American hamburger, but they were out until next Tuesday. Actually, they were out of most things. Plaza Mar had cat food but no cat litter. Wonder where you can buy that?

I met my friend, Tia, at church after lunch and we went on a long walk down the beach and sat on the dock in front of Tranquil Seas and talked. That was the cloudy part of the day - much appreciated! It was quiet and peaceful on the dock, perfect for visiting. As we were walking back to the church, the sun poked back out. I love that - the water is so beautiful in the sunlight, all shades of blue and turquoise. By the time we got back to church, it was almost time to pick up Kellie at the school next door, so I hung out in the church's coffee shop and enjoyed a mocha granita.

Moe has been itching to get out onto our deck. We are all a little concerned that he will get off the deck and be difficult to retrieve. Last night he spied a lizard and his tail was swinging back and forth, so Kellie opened the door to let him out. He zipped out so fast and had a little anole in his mouth in a flash. There it was, hanging from his mouth with its tail swinging around, legs twitching. And there was Kellie, scooping Moe up and squeezing him to release the lizard. I couldn't grab my camera in time to snap a picture before he dropped it. Boy, that little anole was off like a shot and went into deep hiding. Moe did manage to sneak off the deck, too, and jumped through the gate and up into the flower bed where he continued to terrorize lizards until we caught him. Such fun!

Tomorrow - pictures of the "vibrant markets" of Roatan!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunday - revisited

Our friend and houseguest, Kellie

The beach in front of Infinity Bay

More of Tabyana Beach

Infinity Bay Resort/condos

Infinity Bay courtyard

Here are the photos from Sunday afternoon's snorkeling/swim session at Infinity Bay. This resort and Lawson's Rock are two of the places the rich and famous stay. We just visit.

I forgot to mention Don's conversation with Ms. Peggy (the nurse who founded Clinica Esperanza) on Sunday morning. They were discussing malaria as several others in our church may have contracted it. She said she doesn't really believe in wasting time taking the blood test for malaria. She said the symptoms are obvious, the treatment is cheap, may as well just get started on the drugs. Then she said, "of course, you could just drink gin and tonic - the quinine in the tonic is the same as the quinine in the anti-malarial drugs and acts as a good preventitive." !

Our friend, Dennis, said he knew that bit of local wisdom, in fact, that was why he drank gin and tonic. He would just drink the tonic but it tastes so awful that he has to add some gin to make it drinkable (all said tongue-in-cheek - typical Dennis).

So there's your tip for the day!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Super Sunday

These photos were all taken at Lawson's Rock, an upscale condo development not too far from the church and where we had lunch again at Que Tal after church. This time I was ready with my camera and the sun was cooperating beautifully. Kellie wants this to be the new Sunday tradition, lunch at Que Tal after church. We asked another friend, Kristin from our Spanish class, to join us today. While eating lunch, some other friends walked in - Debbie and Charles, from Virginia or the Carolinas, who are back on the island for a month or so.

Church was wonderful yesterday. Colin preached a great sermon, reminding us that our God-given gifts were not given to us for our own enjoyment or benefit but rather to help others, and that if we just say "yes" to God, he'll open doors, give us what we need to do the work he was planned for us. Colin offered his own testimony of how God has done mighty things through him and provided for his needs as well, just because he said yes. He was filling in for Chuck who is still recuperating from the malaria and dengue fever (he's up and about but not back up to speed). The new mission team was there, lots of new faces. Also met some of the medical volunteers who are helping out at Ms. Peggy's clinic - Dana, a pediatrician from Ohio, and Amanda, a physical therapist from Seattle. Really enjoyed our conversation before and after church. I told Amanda that I would pop over to the clinic this week and continuing talking about what the needs are in terms of physical therapy. Some neuro-peds, which neither she nor I have any experience with, is apparently a big need.

At lunch, we all decided that snorkeling was in order! Colin had meetings scheduled at Infinity Bay and Kellie wanted some company. We talked Kristin into coming along as well. There was a great rock n roll band playing all afternoon and Colin now has a commitment from them to play at one his charity fundraisers in March. Cool! We snorkeled way out through the deep channels and noted a number of "caves" or deep niches in the coral canyons that would be fun to explore. Saw a nice puffer fish, lots of parrot fish. Later, Kellie and I got in the beautiful infinity pool which is only for residents and guests, but Colin knows all the staff and gets permission for us to use the pool. I'll share some of those photos tomorrow.

Kellie and Moe will be staying with us this week; Colin is going to Texas for a huge fundraising benefit for the abused girls' home he is going to build here on the island. I should have many adventures to share!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


The first photo was taken on our deck. The second is a view of Half Moon Bay from our table at the Argentinian Grill where we had dinner last night. Great dinner - lobster and filet mignon!! And very reasonable, too. It was a lovely night. After dinner, we strolled on the beach and down through West End before going home. Nice.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yo quiero una cracker?

We encountered these beautiful parrots at one of the open markets yesterday. This vendor had set up "shop" outside a building along the street and had mostly clothing for sale. We bought red beans here - they were the nicest beans we saw anywhere - for 16 lemp or 80 cents per pound. I loved the second bird with the blue around his head and tips of feathers. He also had some pink/red under his wings and tail feathers. He was a bit more shy than the yellow-naped parrot who climbed onto Debi's hand.

We went to the movie night at church last night and saw Fireproof. Fantastic movie!! I cannot say enough good things about this film. Great action, good acting, wonderful storyline about a firefighter who's marriage is on the rocks, and it delivers a tremendous message of hope. If you have not yet seen it, I encourage you to do so. Even the kids seemed engaged by it.

The church is a good place to take in a movie - they serve free popcorn and punch! They draw a pretty good crowd, too. There were several Spanish-speaking people from the colonia (movie had sub-titles, so if they could read, they were ok), a new mission team who had just arrived, and many of the church regulars attended. Towards the end of the movie, Don was getting bitten on the legs by mosquitoes or something, so the minute the movie was over, he hopped up and said "I'm getting out of here - they're eating me alive!" And he wasn't kidding, he had lots of bites. He said "I hope these aren't the malaria carriers". Yeah, me too. This morning, the bites had nearly all disappeared!

I'm so happy to report that my sis is back home and doing well following her cardiac cath and stent placements on Thurs. Thank you all for your prayers on her behalf.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Market Day

The narrow "street" through the market

Traffic jam on that narrow street

After the jam cleared

Debi buying 8 oranges for 10 lemp (50 cents!)

One of the meat shops in the market

One of the nicer vegetable vendors in the market

I was sitting on the deck this morning, checking e-mail, enjoying the delightful breeze, when my new friend, Debi, stopped by to see if I wanted to go explore the markets in Coxen Hole with her. Yes!! I was ready in a flash. She drove - brave woman. Traffic was quite heavy on Thicket, the road entering the Hole and when we got to Main St., we saw the problem - Main was blocked off for some reason and everyone had to turn right. We soon learned that they were setting up for a carnival for tonight. We parked along the street and walked back, stopping to talk to people along the way, like the fish vendors.

The top picture show the narrow alley-way type of road that runs through the market. The cars were so backed up because that was also blocked off at Main. Some of them finally backed up - not an easy feat. Some of them must have eased out behind the barracade because the street finally became relatively empty (photo 3).

We popped into the little shops lining the street, just to see what they sold. The very first shop we entered sells fabric! Just what I had been wondering about. They sell all sorts of sewing notions. Good to know. I need to make a dust ruffle for the guest room bed.

The next shop carried an eclectic assortment of things from nail polish, curly lightbulbs, hair scrunchies, to heavy pad locks.

At the end of the block, we entered a big building - the Mercado Municipale, kind of like a Soulard Market for you St. Louis readers. Lots of little shops and stalls inside selling clothing, shoes, toiletries, and mainly, fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. The fourth photo is Debi buying her bargain oranges. There were 3 meat vendors, like the one in the 5th photo. They have more meat in the freezers behind this man. Sometimes, they'll have a side of beef hanging from a hook in front of these stands. This man was shooing away the flies (not too many!). His meat looked more thawed out than the vendor next to him. Good prices: 35 lemp per pound for T-bone or rib eye steaks ($1.50!!) We are both slightly apprehensive about buying here, although many gringos swear it is excellent meat.

The last photo is another vegetable vendor section and they had really nice looking produce and great prices. I bought broccoli, cabbage, jalapenos, peanuts, corn, cucumber, green tomatoes, mangos for about 100 lemp or $5.00! Out on the street, I bought 2 pounds of fresh jumbo shrimp for $9.00 and 4 pounds of red beans for less than $3.40.

Good shopping!