Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fun With Water and Friends

Last night we had dinner with our pastor's wife, Tia (standing next to Don) and Bob and Debi. Tia's husband is in the States attending a pastors' conference, so we had invited Tia out for dinner.  Just as we were about to leave to go pick up Tia, our pals Bob and Debi arrived. I was puzzled for just a second and then realized that they had mixed up their days and arrived one day early for our dinner. Ha Ha! No matter. We just invited them to come along with us, and they did. It was great fun.

I spoke too soon about hoping our water problems were over yesterday. I was standing in the shower, suffering through incredibly low water pressure, hair full of shampoo, legs still lathered up from shaving when the water just stopped. Noooooooo! What dreadful timing! But then I noticed the big bucket of water that we had filled earlier in the day, just in case. Whew! It was too heavy to pick up and pour over my head, but I was able to bend over it, scoop up water and pour it over my head and splash it on the rest of my body. Not great, but I got most of the soap washed off.  
Don went up to investigate the new connections, but everything seemed ok. Suddenly the water returned, so he was able to get a shower. 
He decided to go ahead and fill up our new water tank so we would not run out again. He turned the valves and let it fill while we were out to dinner and the tank was full when we returned.
This morning he again inspected everything, walked under the house testing all the valves and connections. He finally decided the problem was the regulator, which was metal and rusting anyway, so he removed it. Dennis had installed it thinking that our water pressure was too high.
And viola! Good pressure again.
The washing machine filled in the normal amount of time instead of the 43 minutes it took with the last load - that's 43 to fill for the wash, 43 to fill for the rinse PLUS the actual wash, rinse, spin.
I'm very thankful since I have a lot of washing to do in preparing to close up the house.
All was good.
Then Dennis came down.
Seems that when Don closed the valve to allow our tank to fill, once it had filled, it backed up the water in the lines and filled Dennis' tank to overflowing. The float doesn't detect and stop backwards filling apparently. Oops! Lesson learned.

Hummers at the feeder

The hummingbirds have really taken to the feeder Kristin gave me for my birthday.
They've even gotten used to the frequent presence of an anole hanging on the feeder (upper right photo)
and, to some degree, have learned to tolerate one another and share the feeder.
They're going to be very confused when the feeder comes down and
goes into storage until January.
Until then, we'll all enjoy.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

The Countdown

I really can't believe that this is our last week on the island for this year. The time went by so fast. We're going back a couple of weeks early for a very special wedding, our son's childhood best friend is getting married. We can't miss that event!

We're trying to make the most of our last week here. The car seems to be running ok (knock on wood) and  I'm apparently over my stomach virus that spoiled my weekend. I'm just happy to be feeling "normal" again. We've been setting up dinner dates with friends, some for dinners out and some for meals at home to use up the food in the freezer. 

Don now has our water storage tank set and the water lines connected. He just needs to tidy up the area and he's done. We promptly ran out of water once he had the lines reconnected. Seems Dennis had neglected to refill the other tanks up the hill and didn't realize that we were that low on water. He pumps water up from the well everyday and usually keeps the storage tanks full, but because the other houses serviced by those tanks are currently vacant, he hasn't been as careful in checking water levels. He switched us over to the other tank, and we were soon back in business. Our tank has valves that can be closed off allowing the tank to fill with water or both left open to simply let water flow through it. It should prevent us from running out of water.

Carlos is here working on our yard, trying to get it cleaned up a bit more before we leave. He'll work an extra day or two for us this week. We'll have to make arrangements for someone to come clean and trim our jungle every few weeks while we're back in the States.

There are some last minute gifts to be picked up. Rachel has asked me to pick up some rainforest rumcakes (for her)  and a Honduran cigar (a gift for someone else). I'll get to that tomorrow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Sunset Anniversary

Yesterday was our 38th anniversary. It was another really hot, humid day without a breeze. We deliberately chose an air-conditioned restaurant for our romantic dinner.
We got to West Bay in time to watch the sunset and then
we had dinner at The Vintage Pearl.
We weren't disappointed with either.
The Vintage Pearl is a pre fixe restaurant, a set price for a three course dinner. They offer a choice of only four entrees with sides,  soup or salad and dessert. They also have quite a nice selection of wines. It's not cheap, but the food was excellent, the presentation beautiful and the service was wonderful. And it was air-conditioned! Our waiter, Adam, has traveled all over Central America and southeast Asia and was so interesting to talk with. We want to go to Bali now after hearing his adventures.
It was a delightful evening.
And our car started everytime!
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Demise of the Umbrella

We discovered these eggs this morning while moving some things around.

This will give you an idea of how small they are. That's my Blackberry phone laying next to the eggs! I'll bet you're wondering what kind of eggs they could be. I'm guessing they're gecko eggs. We have lots of geckos both inside out outside our house. We have a new crop of tiny little geckos about one inch in length. Are you wondering where we found the eggs?

Inside this shaggy looking umbrella!
You've probably seen this umbrella in many of my photos of our deck. I loved it because it looked like a thatched roof - so tropical. After a couple of years of intense sunlight, the thatching was rotten. The stuff would come off with every bump or breeze and blow all around. It also sticks to damp skin extremely well.
We haven't been using the umbrella for awhile and just had it stored in a corner of our quarters. Don had to pull it out today so he could climb up and put away some things that we are storing for our friend, Kris.
As long as we had it out, we decided it was time to dethatch it and see if it was even salvagible, so I got out a seam ripper from my sewing kit and starting pulling out stitches, then I was able to rip loose a section at a time.

We filled two kitchen trash bags with the thatching. Our very damp skin was covered in the stuff, too. We didn't find anymore eggs inside the umbrella, thankfully. We're testing the naked umbrella. It doesn't look as good, that's for sure. I probably wouldn't have tried to save it if we could easily obtain another umbrella, but I've never seen any for sale on the island.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More of the Same

Yep, you guessed it. More car trouble.
Don's tightening up the battery cables and our friend Rick is sitting in the driver's seat periodically trying to start the car. We're parked at the new mall in French Harbor and had just finished eating lunch at Caribbean Pizza (very good, by the way). We came out, got in the car and...nothing.
We had spent the morning running errands without problem. We picked up Rick and Luz and also John from the catamaran moored near them and drove to Coxen Hole where the guys did some banking and I bought beans, tomatoes and another phone card. No problems with the car.
We drove up to French Harbor, dropped John off by Hybur Marine to buy boat parts, and ran up to the HughesNet office and a few doors down and renewed our car insurance. We wanted Luz along to translate because the woman at the HughesNet office understands English fairly well but can't speak it too well. Our contract is nearly up and we wanted to explore our options.
Next stop, Eldon's for a few groceries. Rick is throwing a big birthday bash for Luz this weekend and needed several things. We noticed the shelves are not as well stocked as usual (although they did have a fresh supply of Bimbo bread!) and wondered if the tropical storm was the cause. John had told us that there are a lot of large trees, logs, out in the ocean that are interfering with shipping operations. Then we went over to the mall for lunch. The car had been behaving itself during all these little hops, but when we came out after lunch, it wouldn't start. I was so glad Don was along and that he had brought his tool bag. It wasn't an easy fix either. He suspects that the battery cables just need to be replaced. Finally, he got it started and we headed home, dropping off Rick and Luz along the way. I'm not going out alone in that car again!
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A Moment of Panic

This is such a restful view - it's hard to imagine that anything could cause a moment of panic, but I had one yesterday. I went over to help Debi with some computer issues and drove our newly repaired Rav4 to her house. The a/c was really cranking out the cold air, so much so that my glasses fogged up when I got out of the car at Debi's house. It's been so hot and humid with lately and no breezes.

After a successful resolution of her computer woes, we decided to hop in my car and go visit the vegetable truck in West End. We locked up the house, hopped in the car, turned the key and....nothing. Nada. Zip. What now!?!
We got out, raised the hood and looked under there. Looked at the new battery. "Why won't you start?", I asked. Carlos (who works for us part-time and Debi part-time) came over and looked under the hood with us. We indicated that the battery was "muy malo. No trabaja." Carlos jiggled the battery cables and I'm thinking "he's 18 years old, he's never driven a car, his family can't afford a car; wonder if he has any idea what he's doing." I tried to start it again. Nothing. 
We looked to see if I had an battery cables. No. We looked to see if Debi did. No. We called Marco over and asked if he had any cables. No.
Bob wasn't home to assist us.
With that we closed the hood and went in the house. 
I took a deep breath, exhaled and called Don. I asked if he was sitting down. No. I suggested that he might want to. I explained the problem and what we had tried. He took it fairly well, I thought. I suggested that he call Fredy and see if he could come out and look at it. He finally agreed.
Debi and I sat out on the deck and played a came of cribbage to pass the time while we waited.
Bob came home, so I called Don and offered to come pick him up. Turns out that his phone quit working right after he last talked to me; he hadn't been able to call Fredy or me. He did want us to come get him so he could try a couple of things before calling Fredy.
So we did and he did and the solution was so simple. The battery cable was loose!
Who knew?
(Perhaps Carlos did know something after all, but with the language barrier wasn't able to convey it.)
Why was it loose? Who knows.
The moment of panic had passed.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Going With The Flow

That's what you have to do to survive living on this island - go with the flow. Life is lived at a slower pace. People are used to waiting. Things seldom start on time. The power WILL go out. Your repairs will take much longer than anticipated and the job may not be done right. You get used to it or you go crazy. It takes a bit of adjustment every time we return to the island after our 6 month absence, but it does make life here more enjoyable.

Our weekend began with our car being returned, the battery being dead and me having another day without a car (day 6). I also had no wifi signal on my blackberry phone that I use to call the family back in the States. Couldn't go anywhere and couldn't make my usual weekend phone calls. Not to worry. It sort of forced me to finish up the painting and get the kitchen done. The cloud cover kept the temperature down, making it a pretty nice day to paint.

Our much welcomed rain of the night before also produced a bumper crop of insects that found their way inside and dive bombed us as we attempted to go to sleep Friday night. We turned the lights back on, got out the flyswatters and got to work. Finally, we had eliminated most of them and were able to get some sleep. So, Saturday, after I finished the painting, I had piles of insects to sweep up and a floor to mop.

A cooler day meant I could use the oven without passing out. I was inspired to make taco pizza with my homemade crust, a job that takes about an hour of mixing, kneading, rising and baking. It was worth it.

Sunday morning the power went off, as it so often does on a Sunday morning, usually for some routine maintenance. Generally it is only off for a couple of hours. Don had just turned on the coffeemaker with our remote bedside switch when the power went off so only about 4 cups had dripped through. We learned later that this scheduled outage was expected to last about 6 hours and come back on around 11 a.m. We were thankful that our church has backup generators so the fans were running during worship. It was a hot, muggy, still day. Many people were also without water because the pumps couldn't run. It would not have done much good to have showered before church anyway; we were soon covered with sweat.

Lunchtime came and still no power. We usually go out to eat after church anyway and certainly wanted to this time. It's best to not open the refrigerator during a lengthy outage. We thought about who would have backup generators, be able to serve food and possibly be cool. The Hungry Monkey came to mind. They're located in West Bay, about 6 miles from our house. We were planning to go to the beach in West Bay anyway, as we usually do on a Sunday afternoon, so we got our swimsuits on, pulled on our coverup or shorts and shirt and set off. As we topped the long hill by the canopy tour, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the mountains on the mainland 40 miles away. We had never witnessed such a clear view of them before. It was truly breathtaking. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me.
I could have kicked myself!! Actually, my camera probably would not have been able to do it justice anyway - the distance is just too great.

The Hungry Monkey was open and cool,  and we were happy to find some friends already there. After lunch, we made our way down to Infinity Bay to wait on the gang from church. Everyone was glad to spend the afternoon there, sitting in the shade, visiting, snorkeling, walking on the beach. There wasn't much of a breeze there either and still no power, but we made the best of it. Around 3:30, we heard a cheer erupt - the power had finally come back on, after 10 hours.

You learn to take these things in stride. I don't mean this to sound like a big complaint; these are just minor inconveniences which don't outweigh the joys of being here. All in all, we're pretty content.

More Adventures With The Rav4

About a week ago, our recently repaired radiator sprung a leak - in the same spot that had been soldered. Last Monday it went back in to the shop, this time to Fredy, the young man who had welded the leak in our air-conditioner and not to Rauel who had soldered the radiator.  Fredy said he would remove the radiator and take it up to Las Fuertes, another little community up island, to a guy who specializes in radiator repairs. All the taxi drivers use him and our friend George, who is a taxi driver, had highly recommended him.

Don showed Fredy some other problems, like the recently replaced fan that quit working.  Fredy noticed that Rauel had replaced the fan with one that was too small. He said he would take care of that, fix the hood latch and call us when ready.

Friday he called. Don went to pick up the car and it wouldn't start! Someone had apparently left an interior light on and run down the battery. Fredy had one of his workers bring out another battery.  Then, with a big grin on his face, he said "don't try this at home", turned the battery upside down, and placed it atop the car battery so the plus terminals made contact as did the minus terminals.  He motioned for his guy to start up our car!! It worked, but wow! dangerous method.

Don paid the extremely reasonable bill ($215.00) and drove it home. Fredy also washed our car and even used those paper covers to keep the inside of the car clean, just like they do in the States. Never seen that here, though.

A little later that day, I wanted to use the car and it wouldn't start. Wouldn't even pretend like it wanted to. Great. Don called Fredy and he said he would come out and look at it (does your mechanic make house calls?) to make sure that it was only the battery. He did and it was just the battery. He swapped it out with an old, but still usable battery. After lunch Don drove in to the shop, picked up Fredy; they went to the auto parts store and got a new battery which Fredy then installed. Cost of the new battery: $132.00.

So, now we have our car back and it's working great. No more leaks, the air-conditioner is working very well. Hopefully no more problems this year. We're only on the island two more weeks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Goodbye

Our friend, Kristin, is leaving the island today. 
This photo was taken last week when we celebrated her birthday at Eagle Ray.
Kris is, of course, standing in the center. Clockwise from the left: Lynne, Luz, Kris, Debi, Tia.
I love how the cook (in the orange shorts) is in the background and that's our waitress sitting at the counter behind Kris, having her lunch!

It's always sad to say goodbye. We've had some good times.
Yesterday Kris packed up her little cottage. Lynne and her hubby, Don and our friend Olman helped move Kristin's things to Lynne's bodega and to our house for storage until she returns.
Afterwards Kris treated all of us to pizza at the place down the hill from us.
Don and Olman rode, standing up, in the back of Bob's pickup. You can do that here.

We were all thankful for Bob's pickup. We did get our car back yesterday but, of course, there was a glitch. The car wouldn't start. Someone at the shop had left an interior light on and it drained the battery. The mechanic brought out another battery, carefully connected it DIRECTLY to our battery and held it upside down above it. At his signal, another guy then started our car. Freddie grinned and said "don't try this at home!" No joke. Dangerous. But, it is Roatan.
Anyway, the car started and Don drove it home without problem and parked it beside our house.
When we next tried to start it, nothing! Dead as a doornail. Don brought out his battery charger. Wouldn't take the charge. Obviously we need a new battery.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Sunset Collage

Here's a collage of some shots taken of the magnificent sunset last night.
Thanks to mi amiga, Debi, for showing me how to make these collages!
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West Bay Sunset

Last night when our friends called to ask if we wanted to go to West Bay to watch the sunset, grab some dinner and listen to a favorite local musician, we jumped at the chance. We'd been without our car for only 2 days, but we were happy to get out and go.
We were so happy we did. The sunset last night was just unbelievable. Here are just a few of the photos that I took.

The sky stayed colorful for a long time after I took this last shot. Ribbons of yellow, pink, and orange streaked the sky.
But, our food had arrived and it was time to eat. It was a spectacular backdrop to our meal.
We felt very blessed.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Driving into the Sunset

No, we didn't literally drive off into the sunset - that would be crazy! We had dinner guests last night and had this lovely sunset as a backdrop for dinner on the deck. Later, Don drove one of our guests home and when he returned, he parked the car up on the flat spot on our hill. As he exited the car, he heard a familiar hissing sound. Sure enough, our radiator had sprung another leak. Actually, it's the same leak; the weld or solder obviously didn't hold. So, it's back to the shop for yet another repair job. It's fortunate that most of these repairs have been cheap ones. But we are getting tired of them, so we've been thinking more frequently about replacing this car. We're not here much longer this year, so we're just trying to hold it together for a few more weeks. We really don't want a repeat of the end of last year's stay when the car was in the shop multiple times, one time for 13 days, and the last time our car disappeared when the mechanic was fired and took our car home with him (fortunately our friends found and retrieved the car, but it still wasn't fixed). At least that problem seems to be solved; the air-conditioner is working great!!
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Banana Eating Lizard

Underneath this plastic bag is a stalk of bananas hanging on the deck to ripen. We've had to resort to covering the stalk to keep the anole lizards, grackles and bats off them.

This cute bluehead anole really wanted a banana. We had left one banana exposed because the lizards had already been trying to nibble on it.

I had to sneak up on him on the other side to get this picture of his head peaking around the stalk. Notice how he's managed to peel back a bit of the banana skin!

He's actually licking his lips! That bit of red is his tongue. He was really enjoying his banana.
If you're thinking that these sure are small bananas, you're right! These are apple bananas and they only grow to around 4 inches long. They really do taste a little like an apple, too. Nice and sweet. So good. Just ask Mr. Anole.
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Fire-breathing Dragon at Sunset

We were out on the deck watching the sunset a couple of nights ago and were stuck by how much these clouds resembled a dragon.

As the sunset progressed, the resemblance grew.

It looks like the dragon has swallowed the sun.

Even his eyes are glowing with fire.
Very unusual sunset.
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goodbye For Now

The last sunset of Rachel and Lance's visit. After a crazy day of running around in the heat, we opted to stay in and have an easy dinner on the deck - nachos! The clouds had been gathering and a little rain began falling as we took our first bites. We quickly moved our chairs back under the covered portion of the deck and enjoyed the rain and the nachos.

Last breakfast on the deck.

Dad and daughter.

Rachel gets in one more photo of the hummingbirds (and little lizards) on my new feeder.
Despite the sunburn the kids both suffered early in the week, they had a terrific time and got in 7 dives. We went along on one of the more shallow dives and snorkeled out along the reef. It was pretty cool to see the divers below us. The dive shop only charged us $5. each to snorkel. What a deal!! We'll be doing this again.
Rachel and Lance already can't wait to come back.
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The Last Day

Rachel and I took an early morning walk on the beach with pal Debi.

As we passed a small pulperia (store) on the road to the beach, these little puppies came running out to greet us.

We took the kids to Gumbalimba Park and while they were playing with the monkeys, we wandered down to the beach and found a nice spot to sit and wait.

Cruise ship day so the shops near the pier were open. We stopped by Bob and Debi's shop for some souvenirs. Rachel wanted another hammock chair and by the time we got into Coxen Hole, Debi had already scouted out the other shops for the best prices. She got a really good deal for Rachel.
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The Anniversary

After a great breakfast at Rudy's, we met Bob and Debi at West Bay for a morning snorkel.

Rachel's testing the water. No cruise ship people yet...the beach was just waiting. We swam way out past that furthest pale stripe (sand bottom) looking for turtles and rays. Saw one hawkbill turtle, no rays today. Lots of very large, colorful fish including parrotfish of all kinds, huge grouper, sea stars, angelfish. The water looks relatively calm, but there was a strong wind and current which made swimming back a real workout.

Happy 5th anniversary!!
We took them to the Argentinian Grill for dinner. Dennis and Merlin joined us there.

We look pretty happy even though we were picking up the check.
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More on The Visit

Rachel and Lance had not been to the island in 18 months and were anxious to visit all their old favorite spots. This is sunset in West End.

Dinner at Tong's (fabulous Thai food!!)

Rachel's sunburn after a day out in the boat and in the water! Ouch!!

They celebrated their 5th anniversary while here. We started the day with breakfast at Rudy's.
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