Sunday, January 31, 2010
Here's what lead up to this catastrophe. I had too many photos stored in iPhoto on my computer and not enough storage space. First step was to add extra memory. Then we realized that wasn't the kind of memory needed. The internal memory, the start-up disk, was nearly full. I already had my photos backed up on an external hard drive but, to my dismay, they were on there in wildly random order, not in neat folders, so it was formidable trying to find anything. I did not realize that I should have moved the entire iPhoto library, not just pictures, to the hard drive. And besides, that hard drive was too big to carry around in a purse or bag if I wanted to show my pictures to someone while traveling. I needed to get the entire library off the computer's internal hard drive.
The next step was to get another, smaller external hard drive, one that could easily fit in my purse or even a pocket. This time I tried to carefully follow the directions Dave gave me. I loaded the pictures from the bigger, bulkier hard drive back onto my laptop, which caused the "warning! start-up disk nearly full!" messages to pop up again, but had to be done so that I could then load everything onto the new, smaller hard drive. But, somehow, I messed that operation up and started reloading iPhoto back onto the laptop, so I cancelled that operation. Back to the instructions and finally, I had everything copied onto the new hard drive and eliminated the library from my computer.
Everything was working just fine until the connection to the hard drive crashed and the pictures disappeared. Whenever I tried to open the library, I would get a message saying "rebuilding thumbnails". This was probably a good thing, I reasoned, but alas, it was not. I made the unfortunate decision to just eliminate some extra stuff that showed up on the new hard drive when the library was trying to duplicate itself and then when I opened up the library, I got messages saying "rebuilding the thumbnails" but no pictures. And, to make matters worse, I was still getting messages about the start-up disk (internal hard drive) running out of space. Aiyiyi!
I called Dave who suggested that I go online and search for solutions since he doesn't use iPhoto (probably for a good reason, huh?) . So I searched and read and was finally ready to act. I then discovered that I still had 3 copies of the iPhoto library, two of them on the start-up disk and one on the external hard drive. Good grief!! I just really wanted one! But, after carefully reading sage advice from Mac experts, I knew how to eliminate the two on the start-up disk, so I drug them to the trash and then emptied the trash. I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was learning.
Then I opened up the library via the external hard drive. Ah! all the thumbnails had recreated themselves; surely everything was ok. Nope. It wasn't. The thumbnails were mostly all there, but many of the photos were not. When I clicked on a thumbnail (tiny picture), it produced a dotted outline with an exclamation point in the center. Turns out that when I made that unfortunate decision to eliminate some "extra" stuff, I actually eliminated some of the links to these photos. Permanently. More agony.
But! Remember the other, bulkier hard drive? Left that back home in the States. I also had most of those older photos additionally backed up on CDs, also back home in the States. My hope is that when I return, I'll be able to reload those photos and re-establish the links to the thumbnails and then everything truly will be ok. Oh, I hope so.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
I had the first load in the washing machine when Dennis called to report trouble with the pump on the deep well...and, to make matters even worse, the two huge (750 gallon) water tanks that collect and hold rain water were empty. Our house and Chuck and Tia's house have been using mainly rain water, while Dennis's house and several others are getting theirs from the well. When the rain tanks are empty or low, he refills them with well water. Well, that explained the lack of water pressure while filling the washer. In fact, I'm not sure there was ever enough water in the washer to fill it.
Dennis said the pump has been acting up, leaking and/or clogging the filter. He's repaired a leak in the pipe a couple of times already. He was heading in to town to get all the parts he would need to replace the pipe and calling an electrician to come out to work on it tomorrow. So, virtually no water until it is fixed. And we can only hope and pray that it gets fixed right the first time.
Hmmmm. So now I had a load of wet clothes through the wash cycle and ready to go into rinse mode, and no water. I took them over to our friends' house on the beach to rinse them and spin dry. And I washed out enough underwear by hand in water from our hot water tank to last us a few days. Everything else will have to wait.
We picked up drinking water from our friend's house and we have enough hot water in the tank for a couple of quick showers, but we'll have to be very careful otherwise. Water is one of those things that we Americans take for granted, and we've been very blessed to have adequate water from the deep well and rain water up on our hill, courtesy of Dennis and Merlin. Others on this island are not so fortunate, especially on the beach where the water table is so low that often they cannot drill wells. In areas where there is community water available, it is often not safe to drink. In the colonias, where mainland Hondurans are establishing communities, water is a big problem. There are water ministries who are attempting to dig community wells for them, but with hundreds of families sharing the water, conservation is still vital. Most people on the island buy their drinking water in 5 gallon jugs and use community water, if it is available, for washing, laundry, and cleaning.
So, while life on an island is a dream come true in many ways, there are still challenges associated with living here. Hopefully our water crisis will be resolved in a day or two and I can finish the laundry. Until then, I'm making every drop count.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
After breakfast, we walked along the beach, up past Sueño del Mar where we found this sign hanging in a beach bar.
It turned into a very hot day when the winds died. We spent the afternoon hanging pictures and putting up more hooks in the bathrooms and closet, as well as some decorative hooks for hanging hats and the like. I also spent considerable time being very technologically frustrated - more on that another time.
Last night, we picked up Kris and headed to the Oasis to grab a bite to eat before the movie premiere. Yes, that's right...a movie premiere...right here on Roatan! The movie, Tranquil Seas, was produced by Tim Blanton, a diver and photographer who has lived on Roatan for 15 years. This was filmed and processed in high definition and is visually stunning. It reminded me of Planet Earth or Blue Planet. It was filmed in various places like the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, Australia, North Carolina, Mexico, but 40% of it was filmed right here in the Bay Islands reef. His focus was primarily on macro photography - tiny, colorful fish as small as 1/4 inch long. There was a voluntary cover-charge to see the film; the money went to the Roatan Marine Park to help support their work. With nearly 100 people in attendance, over $1,500. was raised. A fun evening.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Earlier in the day, we met another of Kris' friends, Olman, who was the security guard at her condo last year. He is another delightful young man, speaks only Spanish, but was learning English from Kris while also teaching her Spanish last year. We had such a great time practicing Spanish and English over pizza, that we agreed to meet again next week and probably every Monday for more lessons. Olman works 12 hour days, 6 days a week; Monday is his only day off, but he seems happy to share part of that day with us gringos.
In between these visits, I took Kris over to Bob and Debi's to pick up a house key. She's going to house-sit for them while they're in Florida, then she'll move into her newly rented apartment. She's busy packing and cleaning while I write this. It will be a bit quieter for all of us.
Monday, January 18, 2010
This was the first time for our houseguest, Kristin, to snorkel from "our" beach. She enjoyed the variety, too. She's been reading through my fish reference book, identifying the different types. Our newest sighting was a large spiny urchin, about the size of a baseball. We also enjoyed sitting Chris's wooden pier afterwards and watching our friend, Merlin's, grandchildren playing in the water.
For two nights, we had clear skies studded with the brightest stars we've ever seen. It is always amazing to us, especially after living the past six months in mostly urban areas with too much light pollution.
I had hoped we might snorkel again yesterday afternoon, after church and lunch, but a storm blew in just before noon. It is supposed to be a quick in-and-out kind of storm, so perhaps we'll get to go today. We also had interrupted satellite service yesterday, so sketchy internet connection. I was able to call our son on my Blackberry via wi-fi, but towards the end of our conversation, the connection was failing. Dave's birthday was Saturday, but we didn't get to talk then, other than to say "happy birthday"; he was taking Tracy to Chicago where she was flying out with a group of students, bound for 12 days of study in Belize.
The humidity is incredibly high this morning and it is still cloudy. The windows were fogged and are now dripping! They're still in need of washing to remove the sea salt residue that collects. I'll get to that after we finish scrubbing the mold off our white concrete stairway!
Life in the tropics. We love it! You just have to learn to go with the flow. We brought plenty of books and are pretty content to curl up on the deck with a good read, and plenty of movies to watch, if we have power. No cruise ships in port today...might be a good day to go into West End and maybe snorkel....
Friday, January 15, 2010
French Harbor about the need for school supplies for some of the
children. Many families cannot afford to buy the supplies needed,
especially if they have several children. Don and I decided that we
could help meet this need, so when we went in to Coxen Hole to run
some errands, we took a walk up Market Street and down Back Street to
the office supply/school supply store. The woman who waited on us
spoke English and was able to help us pick out the correct items.
and blows hard, water leaks through. None of the bookshelves appear to have been damaged. The library is in a very nice municipal building
built in 1996. It does not appear to be very well maintained, though.
Joan said that is often the case. Buildings are built, projects are
started by one administration and then neglected or abandoned by the
next one. She does not know if she will still have a job after the new
administration takes office later this month. Her job is a political
appointment. I do hope she is able to stay on; she seems like such a
good fit for the job.
We asked where the books come from, are they donated or does she have
a budget to purchase books? Many of them are donated, some were
purchased. The paperbacks were all donated and she runs an exchange
program for them, or they can be purchased for about $1.00 each. She
had a decent selection of hardbound fiction for adults and paperback
books for younger children in English, lesser amounts of non-fiction,
and a fair amount of reference materials used mainly by the children
for their homework. She has the textbooks they use available; many of
them cannot afford to buy their books.
Some items they really need: computers and a copy machine. None of
these children have access to these, outside of the library, and often
need to use a computer or make a copy of something for their homework.
The libarary has very few computers and only one copier. Joan donates
the paper for them. She said they could really use a few more
Another need is for books in Spanish. She's getting more Spanish
speakers coming into the library wanting to check out a book and she
has perhaps 20-30 books in Spanish, some fiction, some non-fiction.
She would really like to have more to offer. I told her that perhaps
we could help her with this. Don and I love to read, and we love
to encourage others to read. Perhaps when St. Louis has their big book
fair in April, we could have our daughter go shopping for Spanish
books. Joan said that we might be able to ship a box of books to
Roatan through Hyde Shipping for free; she knows the owner's daughter.
So, I'll see what we can come up with and then contact her for help
with shipping. There are so many ways to help out on this island;
we're happy to be of service.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The apartment was on the ground floor of this three story building and was obviously being used by the security guard. One thing that sounded good about this place was the security: five security cameras in operation and a 24-hour watchman. We prefer the watchman to be outside, watching. He must get bored doing that; he had quite the stash of movies and a DVD player inside, food in the fridge, clothes in the closet, wet towel draped over a chair, a book on the bed. But, we were told, he doesn't live there. Good to know. More good and bad points: Kris loves to fish and would be able to fish right from the dock. She also loves to swim but was advised NOT to swim in that bight. We got the impression that some of the islanders houses on the bight just might be dumping raw sewage into the water. Ugh. It's called Mangrove bight for a good reason; it is surrounded by mangroves and during the rainy season, becomes quite swampy, and smelly. He told us the mosquitos can be pretty bad. Kris wasn't too enthused.
We learned that the owner had a second apartment for rent on the road to West Bay, but Guillermo insisted that the boat club was a better, safer place for Kris. We decided to drive over there and look at the location anyway, liked what we saw, so we called Guillermo and asked to see inside. The watchman came up and let us in the locked gate. It does set beside a busy road, but it is built on the side of a steep hill going down the hill, so it was actually pretty quiet. Wow! What a difference. Beautiful carved and painted entry doors with huge carved Chinese figures standing beside the doors. Much bigger place, much nicer. Huge kitchen with enormous, commercial size double refrigerator/freezers and restaurant size stove with an oven, a separate ice-maker. Very nice. Built on two levels with circular stairs inside. Larger rooms, lots of windows, surrounded by decks on both levels, more furniture. Beautiful wood floors with inlaid designs on the main floor, tile floors on the lower bedroom level. Lots of interesting built-ins. Kris liked it very much. And the price? Exactly the same as the other apartment. $600/month!
The security guard lives in his own tiny house at the top of the hill beside the locked gates and seemed to be a very pleasant young man. Kris called Guillermo and said she would take it. On the way out, the guard gave me a cutting from the gorgeous purple bougainvillea growing over the fence.
We had invited Bob and Debi for dinner, so we went home to start preparations. Kris made a great chocolate cake for dessert. We had a lovely evening, visiting with friends, sharing our day's events.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
It started raining just as we headed down the hill. Debi was waiting beside the road, with her umbrella up. By the time we reached Coxen Hole, the rain had stopped. We dropped Debi off at her new souvenir shop and Don parked the car at the International Pharmacy next door. Kris had not been in to see Bob and Debi's shop yet. We found Bob standing outside the shop, chatting with a man whom he introduced to us as Dave, from Ontario, Canada. Dave was from the Norwegian Cruise ship in port. We talked for a little while.
I left them and went to the pharmacy to get some drugs. Nice being able to just walk into the pharmacy, ask "do you have Inderal?", they say yes, hand it to you and charge you only about $6.00 for 50 tablets. No prescription needed. While in the pharmacy, Dave came in, just checking it out, and began asking me questions about moving to Roatan, building a house there, all the hows and whys. We chatted so long that Don came looking for me, then he and Dave got into a big discussion on life in Honduras. I finally left when Kris came in looking for us. She and I wandered around in some of the shops and walked out on the pier looking at the cruise ships. There were four ships in today. Way too many in my opinion. It was pretty crazy with lots and lots of people, taxis, loud reggae music, etc. The cruise ship people were all chilly, too. Many were walking around with the Norwegian blue and white striped towels wrapped around their shoulders. Lots of Europeans onboard that ship.
Don and Dave finally ended their discussion when I popped in to say that Kris and I were going to walk on down to Warren's. Don came with us. He went into the bank, got in line and then realized that he had not brought his passport with him. No passport, no transaction. Well, at least we still had some cash. Kris stopped at an ATM to get more money (she doesn't have a bank account there yet). I went on into Warren's to pick up a few grocery items. Then we walked over to the Flying Fisherman to see what kind of fish they had. Kris wanted to make fish tacos. The boats will be in tomorrow and she will call us if they have an mahi mahi. On the way back to the car, Kris bought some beans from a street vendor and some nice big shrimp. Yum.
Don had been looking for the auto parts store that supposedly carries the brake light bulbs we need. We didn't see any parts stores anywhere around the bank. Dennis had told Don about another parts store a bit farther down Main Street, so we drove that way looking for it. I finally spotted a concrete wall with auto type logos painted on it, so Don stopped and parked the car. We still weren't sure that this was the Demsey place that Dennis described, but as we walked into the yard and I looked at the sign hanging sideways inside the wall, I saw the name "Demsey" in small print at the bottom of the sign. And they had our brake lights! Woo Hoo! A good day all in all.
Monday, January 11, 2010
First thing we encountered was a police checkpoint at the bottom of our hill in front of Bella Napoli pizza. Fortunately we were turning right, not left, so we avoided it. That wasn't really worthy of a photo, but the next one was.
As we neared Coxen Hole, we saw another roadblock of sorts: a mattress standing on end, blocking the westbound lane of the road. As we passed it, we saw that it was being held up by a man on the opposite side AND there was another man lying on the pavement. Just then, a police car pulled up with a brief "whrrrr" of it's siren, and the man lying on the road sat up with a big grin on his face. We didn't stay to see how that turned out.
Third: another police checkpoint outside the airport, but we weren't stopped. Actually, this is a fairly common occurance, especially outside the airport.
Fourth: In Las Fuertes, kids standing in the middle of the road at both ends of the "business district" collecting money in large plastic jars bearing a picture of someone. This is not an uncommon way of collecting money for someone in need of surgery or some other type of help. This stretch of road is typically congested with cars and people and this collection just made it more so.
Fifth: (this was a good one) we came up behind a pickup truck whose bed was loaded with police carrying automatic weapons and sitting in the midst of them were two young women who didn't look at all happy. Very curious.
We returned home just ahead of the big storm that was rolling in and thankfully had enough time to unload the car before the rain began. It rained so hard that it actually plugged up our electronic rain gauge, forcing water into the battery compartment, so we're really not sure how much rain fell on Saturday, but since Monday we're showing 6.48 inches recorded rainfall. The storm is blowing out of the NNW at 35+ mph with seas up to 11 feet. We haven't spent much time out on our deck, which faces NW for obvious reasons. The lowest temperature we've seen thus far is 63 degrees and yesterday's high only around 71 or 72 degrees. We're all wearing socks, long sleeves, sweaters. Sounds funny, I know, to all of you in the States battling below zero temps, but that's chilly for the tropics.
We're also experiencing power surges, outages and high voltage readings. Our APC unit was acting up yesterday and when Don checked the voltage, it was running at 138 volts, so we unplugged his PC and the router to avoid damaging the computers. When the voltage is that high, the pump from the well will not run. Fortunately, with all this rain, there is plenty of water in the rain collection tanks to supply the houses up on our hill.
Rainy day activities: Kris and I spent the afternoon loading some of my music onto her iPod and looking at her pictures from Italy. We now have a film library of over 400 movies and t.v. series seasons on an external hard drive that Rachel and Lance gave us for Christmas, so Don watched Blade Runner. I don't usually like futuristic/sci-fi movies, which is why I opted to help Kris instead. It's also a good time to be running the oven, so Kris made a big batch of granola and I baked muffins.
Someone asked me about Kris and I guess I haven't made it clear who that is. Kris is Kristin, our friend from Montana, whom we met here on Roatan early last year and then visited in Montana in July. She returned to Roatan the same day we did. She didn't yet have a place rented, so we invited her to stay with us while she looks for a suitable place to live. She's a good cook, so we've been sharing the meal preparations.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
We've also been pretty social this week, visiting friends around the island. We dropped Kris off in West End to visit with friends and then drove out to West Bay to visit former neighbors and friends, Colin and Kellie, before they leave for a 10 day visit to Florida. They've moved again, now staying in the fabulous condos at Keyhole Bay. Kellie still has Moe, the crazy cat we've often cat-sat, who seems to have settled down. He did not attack our feet or nip either one of us. Kellie has also acquired a dog, a chihuahua named Cosita who is smaller than the cat...a lot smaller. Kellie greeted us at the door with Cosita in her arms, dressed in a sparkly little outfit (Cosita, not Kellie) and immediately led us to her room to show off the rest of Cosita's wardrobe. Cosita is such a tiny little thing, she probably enjoys the warmth of being dressed in little outfits. She is very sweet and lovable and apparently gets along pretty well with Moe, now that he's reconciled himself to the idea that she's not leaving anytime soon. He's probably thankful that Kellie doesn't try to dress him as much, although she did try to stuff him into a little black tuxedo-looking vest outift; he wasn't thrilled.
Colin's latest housekeeper/cook prepared a wonderful lunch for us: curried chicken breasts, rice cooked with curry and spicy black beans. Delish! Colin now has his boat club up and running and was taking a client out on one of the boats. He invited us to go, but we declined this time - I'm fighting a bit of a sore throat.
After we picked Kris up, we drove her back to Sandy Bay to look at a house that will soon be available. It didn't seem to be a good choice for her though. Not sure she would be safe enough in that spot. So, she'll stay with us and keep looking. She'll be housesitting for other friends the last half of this month which will give her more time to find something suitable.
Don had a men's dinner/fellowship event at church last night. Kris and I went to Bob and Debi's for their Friday night pizza and fun. Great pizzas, homemade crusts - so good. Debi had purchased Blindside from the movie pirate, so we settled in to watch. Excellent movie. If you haven't yet seen it, you should.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
We were quite excited to see the sun pop out - first time since our arrival 6 days ago. This certainly called for a walk on the beach, so we ate a quick lunch, grabbed our cameras, sunglasses and hats and took off down the hill to the beach. This was the first time our friend, Kristin, had walked on the Sandy Bay beach, so it was fun to show it to her. Don found a lovely, unbroken conch shell that had washed ashore at the last high tide.
We had not walked long when Don noticed these very dark rain clouds moving our way. We were just about to turn back when the rain began to fall, luckily just a gentle sprinkle.
The clouds looked ominous so we decided to get a move on it.
It was a short walk, but we enjoyed every second of it.