Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Return

We're back! After a six month absence, we are back on the island, enjoying the warmth of the sun, the sound of the surf on the beach and relaxing outside on our deck, in January, in the midst of a tropical garden. Ahhhh!

It is always hectic preparing to leave right on the heels of the holidays and having had a houseful of family for the previous week. We decided to delay our departure for a few days to allow more time to put away Christmas, cleanup, pack and take care of all those last minute chores. We even spent the night near the airport which was lovely and allowed us to relax a bit and get a little longer to sleep in the morning. We simply got up, got dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee and the  4 a.m. shuttle and were whisked to the airport. Flying out on a Thursday morning was a huge improvement over last year's Saturday, January 2nd departure where the chaos nearly caused us to miss our flight. This year, the airport was pretty quiet. We checked our bags and sailed through security (only Don got scanned), arriving at our gate with plenty of time for Don to enjoy some Dunkin Donuts and catch up on CNN.

Uneventful flight to Houston. Great breakfast at Ruby's Diner outside the international terminal (the BEST breakfast burrito!). Delightful seatmate on the flight to Roatan who was returning to Honduras for a high school reunion. I was still incredibly tired from the hustle and bustle (and lack of sleep) of the previous couple of weeks and had hoped to nap on the plane, but that just didn't happen.

Our return was fraught with the usual host of glitches that we have come to expect. Despite recharging our Honduran cell phone before leaving the States and adding a new phone card, we could not complete a call.  I tried to call our friends, Bob and Debi, to say we landed early. Fortunately, Bob was waiting for us with our car. We dropped him off at his shop, gave Debi a big hug and took off. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we realized that we still had Bob's keys so we ran back by his shop and dropped those off (since we couldn't CALL him).

Our house looked absolutely terrific. Debi had hired Stephanie and Kendy to clean the house and, boy!, did they ever!! And Enrique scrubbed the mold off our white concrete stairs and scrubbed the heck out of our deck. It was spotless, inside and out!! Love those people! And Debi for arranging it all. Such a blessing.

We soon realized that our internet service had NOT been restored and we could not call HughesNet since our phone wasn't working! We couldn't call family to let them know that we had arrived safely, and we couldn't call Bob and Debi to say we were just too tired to come over and celebrate Epiphany with them and were instead going to bed.

Our U.S. cell phone can only be used on the wi-fi setting in Honduras since we are not willing to pay $5.00/per minute to use the cell tower transmission mode. Without internet, we didn't have wi-fi service either. Our only recourse was to drive up to French Harbor, get the cell phone re-activated, get the internet re-instated, do some serious grocery shopping at Eldon's and refill our propane tank.  That didn't start out too well. The Claro store wasn't open yet, the HughesNet office wasn't open yet, and when we came out of the grocery store ladened with cold and frozen foods, our car wouldn't start! Thankfully, that moment of panic was short lived. Don has able to wiggle the battery cables and eventually it started. we decided we'd better keep the car running during our remaining stops and then hurry home in case this car was set to be squirrely all day.

The internet office was open and Carolina determined that there was a problem with our credit card. Yes, because the office in Tegucigulpa was trying to use the wrong card. I gave her the correct information and she said service would be restored right away. Off to the Claro store. After a long absence, the sim card must be replaced or minutes added to reactivate the phone. I had added minutes but it still wasn't working. The girl checked something on her computer, tried the phone, and Viola! It worked. I bought an additional phone card while there. Don took the gas tank next door to have it refilled and we went home.

Still no internet. Don thought maybe the signal was being blocked by our fish tail palm that is now taller than the roof, so he began trimming. This was no easy feat and I wish I had grabbed my camera. He leaned the ladder up over the deck railing, braced against the wall of the house and was leaning way out, armed with a machete, whacking at branches. That wasn't good enough, so he screwed the machete handle to a four foot board and leaned out farther, trying to reach the tallest branches. Good Night!! I ran over and stood on the last rung of the ladder as he leaned out farther and farther, praying the whole time that my weight would keep the ladder from tipping over the railing. (see, those cookies paid off!!) The board soon broke, leaving the machete embedded in a branch way out there. I grabbed our heavy rake and he used that to retrieve the machete and hold the branches closer so he could finish trimming. Whew! We both survived that adventure!

Called Rachel to check-in and learned that my mother was quite upset that she had not heard from us. Called my parents. My mother was out; talked to my dad and reassured them that we were fine. Made a couple of other local calls and then, ran out of minutes!! What!? Good grief. Thankful that I had bought the additional phone card.

No signal, so he scrubbed the dish. Nope. Nothing. Called Carolina. She said it would be restored soon and would call me. The system came back on just as we were preparing to go meet Bob and Debi for dinner. Don quickly tested it. Yes, it was working! Yippee.

The car worked, the phone worked and now internet. But wait! There's more. Later, I discovered that I couldn't connect my new laptop; I needed the security key for our wireless network. Well, that opened a big can of worms. Don could not find the notebook where he had all that information recorded. He could not access his router to pull up the information; the connection kept timing out. He was getting more and more frustrated and angry. It had been a long day. But, I was able to use my U.S. cellphone to call Rachel and Lance and beg for help. Lance was able to hack in, take control of our computer and fix the problem. Love that man!!

We were too tired to do any more and simply went to bed, thankful to be able to communicate again.


  1. I love it that Lance's hacking skills saved the day (the very loooooong day!) What an adventure, and I'm thrilled you're back and arrived safely! Say hi to the monkeys & sunshine (and sand) for me, ok? :)

  2. now that you are all connected, wired up, and stocked with groceries it can only get better from here on in!!

    we are thrilled to have you back. thanks for joining us for pizza last night. was great to catch up. xo