Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lucky 13?

Well this has been a most interesting day. First of all, Henry never showed up with our car last night. No phone call. Nothing. So last night we planned to go to the bank and then pick up the car today, until Merlin came down very early to warn us to stay home. Roadblocks and protesters again. Her workers called in this morning to say they could not get past the roadblocks to come to work. When I got on Facebook, I saw that another friend had been prevented from going to the ferry due to the roadblock. So we resigned ourselves to another day at home. Then Merlin said the protesters were threatening a 3 or 4 day blockade. The Honduran president is also supposed to visit the island today. Is this in conjunction with the protests or something else altogether? Why are they protesting again? I've heard that it is the Spaniards again, not islanders, who are demonstrating and that it has to do with some large construction companies hiring Guatemalan workers after the island officials deported 1500 Spaniards for failing to work. But I also heard that there are other issues involved, like rising prices. Who knows.

As I was sitting on the deck early this morning, I heard someone chopping in the distant row of banana trees (Merlin's property) and then saw a man walking down the hill carrying two large stalks of bananas. He saw me and took pains to get out of sight and ducked around the backside of the hill. Clearly a banana poacher. Not the first time either.

Dennis called down to invite me up to watch Merlin clean and pick crab. I know a good time when I see one, so off I went to help out. Two different people had brought her sacks of crabs on the same day. Her son was pulling the crabs out of a 50 pound feed sack type of bag and had pots on the stove and on the gas grill with crabs being boiled. His wife, Jeanette (lovely name!), was on the side porch armed with a huge metal spoon and a knife and was busily whacking and cracking the crabs. There were more pans of cooked crab sitting around. Merlin demonstrated the technique of cracking the crabs. She pulls off the legs and claws and puts the bodies in a separate pot. Then the legs are whacked with the side of the knife near the joint and then gently pulled apart revealing the meat. The claws are whacked hard with the back of the enormous metal spoon and then pulled apart. Well, I had to try this. Not so easy. The first claw shot across the deck and landed on the step. the second one bounced off Merlin's foot. I got a really juicy claw that spattered my formerly clean white top with brownish clam "fat". Later I shot one right to the cat, who really wasn't all that interested. I soon had clam juice all over me - a big spot on my glasses, splatters on my arm, my top, my shorts and the tops of both feet where a leg bounced off. Seriously dirty work. It took the the 3 of us about 2 hours to crack and pick the crabs. Shawn and Jeanette said the women who sell the crabs only get about L. 70 (about $4.00/pound) for this work, and they also have to catch them which involves chasing them down the road at night armed with a sack and a stick. They really deserve about $20./pound in my opinion. All those pots of crabs yielded a couple of quarts of picked out crabmeat, just from the legs and claws. Merlin was going to do the bodies herself later, but from what I could tell it looked like there was only small amounts of meat in them. Thankfully, she gave her other kids some pots of crabs to take home. She's going to fix the crab "island-style", in coconut milk with plantains and yucca, and we'll have it Sunday for our Mother's Day feast.

I came home to shower, clean my glasses and yucky nails and fix lunch. We had just sat down on the deck to eat when I heard a car pull up in front of our house. Hmmm...sounded sort of familiar. I got up to look and there was our car with Henry climbing out of it. Wow! Were we surprised. We excitedly asked the very apologetic Henry how he had gotten past the roadblocks, but he didn't understand "roadblocks" or "protesters" and we don't know the Spanish equivilents. Don explained that we had not gotten to the bank due to the roadblocks. Henry said "no problemo", the bill was in the glove compartment and we could go by the office and pay "whenever". Just amazing. Try that in the States.

Dennis called to warn us to not even think about going in to the bank today. The protest had turned violent, shots were fired and a building was on fire. The soldiers had been called in from the mainland to restore order. The cruise ship was turned away this morning - this could be really bad for tourism. The last time this happened, the cruise industry warned that if it happened one more time, they were outta here.

So, after 13 days without, we have a car again, but we still can't go anywhere. We are sitting tight until this ugly mess is resolved. Hopefully that will be soon. And I'll bet you thought we would be bored, just sitting around, huh?

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