Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sad Times/Glad Times in Honduras

I hardly know how to start this blog. My heart is very heavy, sad for our friends in Honduras. I have been keeping up with all the blogs and forums where the ex-pats and many Hondurans voice their opinions and report on the happenings in their area of the country. I respect their viewpoint and their reporting as being much more accurate than what is being reported by the world media. These people are IN Honduras, LIVING this story, and monitoring all Honduran news sources. Much of what is being reported by foreign media is not truth.

Here is my summary of the situation:

The Honduran people, the poor, uneducated people, have been grossly mislead by Zelaya. Corruption is rampant here. Votes are easily bought and Zelaya has been throwing around a lot of money lately. There was no coup. There was military intervention, at the request of the Supreme Court and the Congress, to escort Zelaya out of the country - more of an impeachment. Zelaya's efforts to subvert the Honduran constitution by illegally calling for a vote to allow an illegal referendum vote which would then allow for an illegally called constitutional assembly. His purpose was to overthrow the term limit on the presidency and stay in office, ala Chavez. Only the Congress can call for a constitutional reform. No one wants Zelaya to remain in office, not even members of his own party. He forced through the ALBA agreement with Venezuela, Boliva, Nicaragua and Cuba by paying members of Congress $100k each to vote FOR the membership in ALBA and to take the vote while the president of their congress was out of commission, recovering from surgery (he would have blocked the vote). So no one who follows his evil-doings believes that Zelaya will go easily when the new president is elected in November. He has said as much and has the backing of Chavez and is following in his footsteps to become president-for-life.

The Hondurans were happy to have Zelaya removed and many thousands of people have been rejoicing, peacefully marching, with placards praising this action. They have been ignored by the news media who instead have focused on the much smaller crowd protesting his ouster.
Now the Hondurans are deeply saddened by the U.N. condemnation and their demand that Zelaya be reinstated.

I would encourage you to read some reports that ARE accurate if you really want to know the truth.


Lagringa gives many sources and links which are well worth checking out.





Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye For Awhile

Tomorrow we head back to the U.S. after 6 months in paradise. We've been busy saying goodbye to all the great friends we've made here. In the photo above, we're having a farewell dinner with Colin, Ruth, Luce Maria and Rick (who were also leaving for awhile) at the new Mexican restaurant at the cruise ship pier. Fun evening.

We've had a busy day getting the house ready to close up. We have a checklist that we drew up last year - a good reminder of things that must be done. Don hung up the last of the hurricane shutters this morning, so they are all ready to be closed and locked - not only to protect the house in case of a hurricane but also great protection against break-ins. I've been doing laundry, cleaning the fridge and cabinets, checking over what to take back and what to leave. Not taking much but still need to take back the suitcases so we can bring them down full in January. I've been taking mental inventory as we go along of the things we'll need to shop for while home. I'd better start writing them down soon if I really want to remember them! I seriously want a couple of those pillows that stay cool at night. And a salad spinner.

Tomorrow morning we'll get rid of all leftover food items, condiments and anything else that won't hold up under the intense heat buildup inside a closed up house. Also bring in the deck furniture and cover everything up to protect it from gecko droppings. We're leaving our car for friends to use in our absence.

Dennis and Merlin are coming down in a little while for a last visit, and we'll eat the last of the shrimp. In the morning, Bob and Debi will drive us to the airport. Tomorrow night, the Zellers will pick us up at the St. Louis airport.

I'll give you my impressions on returning in a few days.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Birds and Butterflies

This is our last week on the island until January, so we have been packing in as much fun as possible, having farewell dinners with all our friends and wrapping things up.

Debi and I visited the Butterfly Garden yesterday where they have a quite a number of tropical birds as well. Debi is holding the White-naped Amazon parrot. She was demonstrating her bird communication skills when the parrot suddenly began squawking and fussing at her, clearly very angry. She quickly put him down. I said "whoa, Debi! I don't know what you just said, but he sure took offense!"

They had several scarlet macaws. This one is Fluffy. He did not want me to put him down and gently nipped my hand when I placed him back on the tree branch.

The butterfly house is home to about 13 types of butterflies. We saw them in all stages of development, from eggs on leaves to a dying Blue Morpho.

We entered the butterfly house through the toucan aviary where this handsome fellow greeted us. Looks just like the one on the Fruit Loops box, doesn't he?

They had several feeding stations set up with orange halves which made a great photo op.

We found this beautiful shrimp plant inside the butterfly house.

I wish this fabulous parrot had not moved just as I snapped the picture, but he was too intent on trying to squeeze out of his cage. They had a pair of these and I wish I remembered the name. I had never seen one colored like this before. They aren't allowed out to mingle with visitors, not well-behaved apparently.

A Scarlet Macaw.

Timing is everything!

The White-naped Amazons.

It was an amazing afternoon. Very hot and very humid. We were dripping with sweat, but had a great time anyway.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flowers Bay

This photo of Debi and the seamstresses was mysteriously deleted from yesterday's blog. I don't know why or how. Things just happen. Cute suit, huh?

On the way to find the seamstress yesterday, we decided to drive in through Flowers Bay. The sea was really rolling, so of course we had to stop for photos!

I love the windy road through Flowers Bay.

This is near Gravel Bay and the cruise ship dock. You can see the Royal Caribbean ship in the background.

Later in the afternoon, Colin and Kellie came by,picked us up and drove us to Flowers Bay to show us the house they had just rented. This is the view from one of the decks. That's a tidal basin on the right side behind the fence.

There is a small saltwater pool on a dock below their house. Cool place to watch a sunset. Think we'll be spending some time here!

Colin and Kellie leading the way as we tour the property.

Another view from another deck. Pretty neat place. The view from the deck is lovely and it's extremely breezy. That little semi-grassy area is where Kellie's new chihuahua will do her business and Moe will hunt for lizards. We'll be frequent visitors.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Off To Find The Seamstress

Yesterday morning my pal, Debi, asked if I would like to join her on an adventure. She needed to find a certain seamstress in Coxen Hole and have a fitting of an outfit being made for her. The challenge would be in finding the right seamstress. The island-style directions were rather vague and Debi had never been to her shop before. The seamstress had come to the church and measured all the women for the outfits she would be making (without a pattern!). Now it was time to see if it fit. The directions were as follows: "go down Back Street to the alley just before the Carrion store and look for the woman sewing." Intrigued, I agreed to go along. Fortunately, we had just discovered the Back Road the week before when we went to the photo "studio".

That's Debi's car parked in front of the peach building across from the pink building on Back Street. They could have just said "turn by the Pepto Bismol pink building" - it sort of stands out. We got this far and parked, deciding to walk down the alley. Debi consulted her Spanish dictionary for "seamstress" so we could ask for help. As you can see in the first two photos, the alley was full of puddles from all the rain we've had. We carefully picked our way through, avoiding stepping in the water. With my sensitive nose, I was immediately aware that this was a smelly alley. Many areas are smelly here after a rain. But the farther we walked, the worse the odor got. We were fortunate to run into a young woman walking towards us, and she greeted us in English. Debi quickly asked her if she knew where we could find the seamstress and she did. She told us to go down that other little alley, around that house and it was the house right behind there. We never would have found it on our own.

Not only, that, it doesn't even look like a shop until you look in the window. Here's Debi standing in front of the shop.

One of the seamstresses.

Debi checking the fit. Good job! Not only were the women making all these suits for Debi's choir, they were also making a number of identical dresses for a quinceanero party (in Latin America, a girl's 15th birthday is a kind of "coming-out" party - a really big deal). The seamstress told us via hand gestures and in Spanish that the dresses would also have blue sashes, be worn with long gloves and the girls would carry bouquets. These ladies do very nice work. They needed about 30 mins. to make some minor adjustment to the suit jacket and to add the buttons, then Debi needed to come back in, so we left to go wander about in the market for half an hour.

As we were walking back toward the Pepto building, I noticed a stream of oddly colored water in the grassy area in the above photo. Very stinky water.

Here's Debi picking her way through the alley. At the end of the alley, some men were shoveling up the "mud" that had washed down. Ugh. We decided that we would take Debi's car back to the shop when we returned. The smell was just too much for me.

We passed a number of houses just like this one.

As I was sitting in the car in front of the seamstress's shop waiting on Debi, I noticed this little building off to the side. I noticed it because a young girl of around 10 years of age came downstairs from the apartment above the shop, wearing only a large towel and entered this building through the door marked "coco". As I studied the building and the water tanks with the hose running from one tank then under the "coco" door, I realized that this must be a community shower. A short time later, the girl reappeared, looking rather damp and wrapped in her towel.

Debi's standing in front of one of the markets desperately wanting to take a photo of a lovely old woman in a fabulous hat who was shopping inside. It was too dark inside to allow a decent photo and Debi kept hoping the woman would finish and come outside, but she didn't.

We passed these men working under this tent next to the market. They are cobblers in an outdoor shoe repair shop! Neat, huh?

We were lucky enough to find a big hunk of meat hanging outside the meat shop. Don't see that everyday. We love browsing through the markets, there are always interesting people and interesting things for sale.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Off To The Clinic

Ever since Dave and Tracy left, we've been having beautiful sunsets - sorry, Dave!

Today I had my first Roatan clinic experience, and I must say, it's very different from the usual U.S. doctor visit. I've had a sore foot for several days for some unknown reason. I didn't injure it, it just began hurting, then swelling, just distal to the medial malleous (below the inside ankle). Very strange. Getting progressively worse. Time to seek out a doc.

I decided to go to the clinic at Anthony's Key Resort. You can just walk in, never a long wait like at the other clinic. The clinic itself is quite unusual. It's on the grounds of Anthony's Key Resort near the dive shop. Serves the guests of the resort, but they also take non-guests. The highlight of this clinic is the hyperbaric chamber, one of only two in the Bay Islands used to treat decompression or the bends. The resort caters to divers.

So I walked in and, there, in the waiting room was this enormous hyperbaric chamber with chairs lining the room around it. I checked in at the desk got a number and had a seat right in front of this chamber. It looks like a huge L.P. gas tank with port holes! It is big enough to accomodate two divers. Then I noticed that in addition to the television tuned to Honduran soap operas that was sitting atop the chamber, there was another black and white "t.v.". Soon I realized that what I was seeing on the screen was a man lying inside the chamber receiving treatment, breathing through an air regulator like divers use. Holy cow! A very worried young woman sitting next to me was obviously a family member as she kept getting up every few minutes and going over to look in one of the port holes. The girl at the reception desk also monitored the chamber, checking the gauges, reporting to the doctor. Another, older woman came in, another family member, and expressed concern about the man's position. He appeared to be asleep with one leg bent up. The girl monitoring him used a radio-type handset to speak to him, asking him if he could move that leg; he moved the other one but at least he was responsive.

The doctor came out, called my number, and I followed him to a small treatment room where I began explaining my problem. He wasn't much help and apologized, saying that he was not an orthopedist. He suggested I take an anti-inflammatory and if it isn't better in a few days, let them know and they can call an orthopedist to come in and see me. He followed me out to the desk and whispered to the girl. She then told me that there was no charge! Can you beat that?! No charge. Amazing. Of course, I still have the sore foot...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Back Road

We've made two trips into Coxen Hole this week. If we happen to be there around lunchtime, we like to eat at Nardo's, nice breezy place right on the water. They serve a fantastic black angus burger and fries. Yum.

While walking back to our car, I observed this tower sticking up from behind the building across the street. I don't remember ever noticing it before. I would love a shot of it without the power lines.

Today we had more errands to run in the Hole and we picked up our friend, Debi, along the way. We needed to get photos (head shots) taken for residency cards and our lawyer directed us to a photo studio on Back Street (the actual name). We had never driven down this street, thinking it was more like a one-way alley than a street. We found a map (!) of the Hole and saw another road that would likely take us down the hill to Back Street so we could enter it going in the proper direction. This road, Calle Ocho, goes through El Swampo, which really was quite swampy but was drained and filled in many years ago. That is the road you see in the photo above. Houses and shops (lots of second hand clothing stores) line the road.

This is Back Street, narrow, one-way, but nicely paved. We were told there was a wee bit of parking near the building we were seeking. We saw an available spot behind a pickup truck and pulled in, then we realized that we had parked right in front of the photo "studio". This was a stroke of luck since none of the buildings are numbered and we really weren't sure which building had the studio. We had been told that there was a sign, but it was a small one. True.

We climbed the stairs to the second floor studio. One of the young women spoke perfect English. We would have managed ok, I think, in Spanish, but we were able to ask far more questions with her there. The other woman took us into a small room, sat us on a rattan chair and took one photo of each of us with a small digital camera. She then printed out the photos while we waited. Debi thought they were too large for the I.D. cards, so she printed out another smaller set. All for $10.58! While waiting, we chatted with the English speaker and looked at the camera supplies in the display case. They carry regular film, batteries, flash drives, photo albums, picture frames, a couple of digital cameras and glue sticks. Amazing. They also process film. We were in and out in about 10 minutes.

The market was just a very short walk down Back Street, so we wandered around through there. No good pineapples today, but we did buy some nice, small round watermelons and some mangos. Pretty quiet day at the market. Really sorry Dave and Tracy missed this adventure. Just a short walk past the market, Back Street ends at Thicket, the two-way road we usually come in on. Thicket ends at Main Street, which is one-way to the east. Debi had just remarked that because it was one-way, you only had to watch the one direction - traffic coming from the west, when suddenly a taxi backed up through the intersection from east to west! We laughed and laughed at that one.

A couple more errands brought us down near the cruise ship dock. Debi ran in to say hello to her friend, Zenola, while Don and I ducked into the International Pharmacy, where we again found a parking spot right in front of the building. I wanted to check on the availability of some medications. We're losing our prescription drug coverage at the end of the year, so next time we come to Roatan, I'll be buying medications here (cheaper, too). My beta-blocker is not available here, although other brands are, so I'll need to talk to my doctor about options. (This is sounding like a drug commercial, isn't it?) The pharmacy carries a very nice selection of medications and no prescription is needed. I also bought an Ace wrap for about 75 cents. I had given away all the ones I brought with me.

By now it was starting to get hot. A quick stop at the grocery store, and we were all ready to go home for some iced tea and lunch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taking Flight - Canivet's Emerald Babies Leave the Nest

Esmerelda coming in for a feeding.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dave took hundreds of photos while here (no exaggeration!) and a great many of them were of our hummingbirds. The babies were just beginning to stretch their wings and flutter a bit. Esmerelda was still doing frequent feedings. Lots of photo ops. Dave has a much better camera than I and also had the advantage of having a tripod and remote switch, so he could set it all up then move away to avoid upsetting Esmerelda and start shooting whenever there was action.

She really gets that beak in deep and then uses the jackhammer technique of food delivery.

Esmerelda loved sitting in the Pride of Barbados bush by the edge of the deck where she could keep a sharp eye out on the babies. She seemed to become even more protective as the babies grew more active and started testing their wings. Or maybe she just didn't trust Dave and I and our cameras.

Here is the best photo of one of the babies. This is Caribbean, the last one to leave the nest. Chrissy left very early one morning before the light was good enough to take photos. Chrissy was the strongest of the babies, the one usually on top and the most active. She left the nest about 36 hours before Caribbean and she never returned. As far as we know, that was her maiden voyage, and she looked like an old pro as she flew away. Caribbean, was certainly not that brave nor that strong and needed a great deal of coaxing and encouragement from mama, flying up onto our roof on the first attempt. Caribbean also never returned to the nest. Esmerelda checked the nest often for the first day or so after the last baby left and then she abandoned us as well.

We hung up the hummingbird feeder and waited. Soon we began seeing different hummers, but not Esmerelda or the babies. Finally, I heard Esmerelda's very familiar tittering and saw her at the feeder. This afternoon, I saw one of the babies for the first time, still much smaller than the adults and getting more colorful. Maybe one of them is a male. I might be able to get a photo sometime....

Roatan 2009 - Hummingbirds - All photos by Dave Gartner.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back to Gumbalimba

We've been to Gumbalimba Park many times and always enjoying taking visitors there. This was Dave and Tracy's first time. The park is named after the Gumbalimba tree. Tracy was quite fascinated with the tree's smooth red bark. Don is holding up a red cashew fruit with the nut attached. He's taking it to feed the monkeys who love this fruit.

The park has a two large cages of macaws and two of parrots, all rescued or born there. They are released a couple of times each day for free flight; they always return. The best trained and well-behaved ones are allowed to interact with visitors.

I had to lighten up this photo - our guide took it and it was very shadowy.

This baby white-faced capuchin was born at the park and is just a couple of months old. He/she will cling to mama's back for six months before venturing out on his own. His father is the alpha male.

Don holding the baby black Howler monkey.

Tracy with a young spider monkey. She really wasn't too thrilled about even visiting the monkeys, but she enjoyed it once she saw how playful they are.

Dave takes his turn with the macaws.

When you first enter the park, you pass through a cave and you're given a little history of the island. This room of the cave is dedicated to pirate history and has (allegedly) authentic guns and swords from the 1700s on display. Our guide made Don pose with the pirate - ok, he actually suggested that someone should pose with the pirate, and we all insisted that Don do it. He's taken the pirate's flask.

The areas around the lake are beautifully landscaped. We had a great time walking around and got a lot of exercise, too. Pretty big park. We had pretty well finished exploring before several hundred cruise ship passengers descended upon the park. The cruisers don't get the same interaction with the monkeys that we got. Too many people make the monkeys shy or timid and they tend to stay up in the trees. It's much nicer to go when it is not crowded and early morning is ideal.