Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some Last Minute Thoughts

It is hard to believe that half a year can go by so quickly. It's time to return to the States for a few months. We've had such a great time here on Roatan; it has truly become our second home. Here are a few last photos.

We so love watching the sun set from our deck and seeing the cruise ships leave for distant ports.

Carlos has my jungle garden in good shape. I love the riot of color that surrounds our house.

Closing up the house for an extended period is always a big job. Don is putting up the hurricane shutters.
In the meantime, I cleaned out the cabinets and refrigerator of foods that will not keep and delivered gift bags to several friends. We also cleaned out our closet and donated a bag of clothes. I also stopped by Britteny's art studio to pick up a painting  she did for our daughter. That is now safely (I hope!) packed inside our suitcase.
We have our bags packed...not a bad job when you don't have much to take back!

 So, we celebrated our last night here with dinner on the beach at Blue Bahia with good friends, Larry, Susan and Juan. Larry and Susan are also leaving the island for awhile.
Larry and I had the fresh grilled Wahoo. Excellent!!!! If you've never had it and get the chance, try it!

                                             Last sunset for awhile.

Clowning around while watching the sun go down. Thanks to Juan for taking this shot.

                                                        The three amigos.

And now, we're off for some state-side adventures! Adios!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Saying Goodbye For Now

Every year it gets harder to say goodbye to our friends and church family on Roatan. It's also difficult to say goodbye to our sponsored kids. It is equally as hard for them.

The kids were all on vacation from school this week because it's Semana Santa (Holy Week). Susan and I had decided to skip tutoring, too.  Susan met only with the 8th graders who are working on a big social studies power-point project and needed to use computers. Once we and Larry and Susan leave on Saturday, the kids will not have access to computers outside of school, so they needed to try to finish up their projects this week. I asked some of the kids to come to the classroom anyway to say goodbye and take some pictures.

                                    Leidy, Carlos, Jeicy and Karla - goofing around.

Susan and I laughed at this pose - a year ago, Jeicy would NEVER have posed like this...too shy. She's obviously feeling more confident these days.

                                            Jeicy and Karla, sending some love.

 Some funny shots. Some of us just weren't ready yet and Susan was quick with the shutter!

                                      Oh well, they never all smile at the same time.

                                                                Leidy and I

I got the nicest goodbye gift today. Leidy called me on the phone! Two years ago she spoke NO English and now she can call and chat with me!! So exciting! She called to tell us "goodbye and have a good trip" from her mom, Concepción. Isn't that sweet? I thought so, too. She asked if we would be back before her graduation (6th grade - a big deal here), and I said "yes, we would". Her mom asked if we would be Leidy's madrina (I think that's right), and walk with Leidy when she goes up to get her certificate. Karla has already asked us as well. What an honor!! Love these girls!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mouse 0 - Don 1

Yes, that's right, Don has emerged the victor in the Mouse Wars. He decided to move the glue trap into the bathroom because we have seen him in there a few times. He put it in the corner behind the toilet. The next morning, there was the mouse, stuck tight in the glue and frantically trying to pull free. Don became concerned that he might actually succeed, so he bonked him with a 2x4 which seemed to do the job, but just for good measure, he threw the trap and mouse into a bucket of water. That is determination!

We are just hoping that the mouse didn't bring family or friends into the house with him. So far, we've seen no evidence.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

We're Off To The Beach

The day finally arrived. The kids had been so excited ever since we announced that we would take all 10 of them to the beach in West Bay to celebrate the end of exams. We had six adults and  three vehicles to transport them. We met at the church the afternoon of their last day of exams. Oh, how they love going to West Bay to Infinity Bay! It is such a treat for them. Their families are not able to take them 5 1/2 miles away to swim. They don't have cars, and they don't have extra money for transportation, especially not for leisure.

We pretty much had the beach and water to ourselves! It was a Friday afternoon - no cruise ships were in. The Semana Santa crowds had not yet arrived. It was wonderful!! The kids were able to use the beach chairs (usually rented for a few dollars) for free. I only had to chase away one teenage boy who was buzzing around Julissa like a bee to honey. Whew! Watching 10 kids is a big job. I was so glad to have 6 sets of eyeballs on duty - well, actually 5 sets. Snider was holding down a table for us in the shade and watching all the bags. The rest of the adults took to the water and spread out. Don took the deeper water and was the outer boundary.

Greicy is blowing up the new green air mattress while Susan adjusts one of the masks for Jeicy.
We had four masks, two snorkels and three air mattresses. The kids were under orders to share. That had to be repeated often. Look at that empty beach!!

Our two youngest kids, Jeicy and Carlos, are swimming between Lynne and I. They do much better when they have the masks and snorkels.

Victor begged to bring the blue soccer ball along, and while they didn't play soccer on the beach, they managed to have fun with it in the water, as Victor is demonstrating above.  They threw it, kicked it, floated on it and even remembered to bring it home! Honduras was playing in the soccer tournament and had just beaten Mexico, so the boys were excited.

 The water was crystal clear and the nice little breeze had blown away the sea lice that had been spotted earlier in the week, so no bites!

     Jeicy, enjoying the green mattress, which had a small hole and leaked like crazy.

                             Jessie and Nelson preparing to take their turns on the mats.

                                            Jessie (I think) swimming to Lynne.

It sure was easier to keep track of the kids with so few people around - like when Karla left the water for the beach. She was pouting about something, didn't get the mat of her choice or whatever. Such drama!

I discovered that the sunscreen I applied was way past its expiration date and got a bit red. The kids all wanted to use the sunscreen, too, and they had the newer bottle. A Honduran woman noticed that and commented that they didn't need sunscreen with their nice brown bodies. I should have traded them.

Outsmarted By A Mouse

Our efforts to catch the mouse in our house have been thwarted repeatedly. We set out the D-Con and when he wouldn't touch it, we tucked little bits of cheese in with the pellets. He picked out the cheese, scattered some of the D-Con on the floor and probably didn't eat any of the poison. We tried again, and this time he may have eaten some of the D-Con, but not enough to kill him. Don set out a good-sized trap and baited it with cheese. The next day the cheese was gone and so was the mouse. Don put out a smaller piece of cheese and the mouse made off with it. Don modified the trap to make it super sensitive (he got his finger pinched in the process), but the mouse won again. This mouse is crafty!!

We found some glue traps in the grocery store, and our cleaning lady said those worked very well. Don put a piece of cheese in the middle of this trap and set it near the refrigerator (where we're pretty sure he's hiding). The next morning the trap had been moved over next to the futon, the cheese was gone and all that remained were some little mouse footprints in the glue. Don figures that he was able to use the metal edge of the futon to leverage himself off.  The next day, I suggested that we put some soft bits of Velveeta in the trap, maybe he wouldn't be able to pull them off. Sure enough, he didn't, but the trap had no footprints; he simply ignored it. Don said "well, maybe he doesn't like Velveeta; he wants the good cheese. So we tried that again. Nope. This mouse has it all figured out.

The mouse war continues.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hot to Cold

This has been a week of extremes on Roatan. We began the week with the hottest day of the year thus far, 94 degrees on our deck. We also had a scheduled power outage that afternoon during our tutoring time with the kids. I suggested to Susan that we do our tutoring from the beach, and she thought that was a fine idea, so, after a very brief English lesson in the classroom, we headed to the beach behind the church. The kids had a great time, of course.

The next day was cooler as a storm system moved our way. By Wednesday we had probably our coolest day so far - 61 degrees and very, very windy. Brrrrrr!! The windows were closed, blankets on the bed and socks on the feet. The remainder of the week was very cool, windy, and rainy. Our jungle garden was happy to get the rain. It was raining very hard on Wednesday, so we did not have tutoring.

The girls and Concepción came up to the house on Thursday to finish their purses. Maria and Jessie were ready to finish theirs, too, so they also came to the house. I gave them the option of sitting out on the covered deck or inside. Maria and Jessie chose to work outside and the rest came inside. That made for a lot of running back and forth for me as I helped each one finish the bottoms of their purses and then add the straps.

                                                  Leidy working on the strap.

 Maria and Jessie working out on the deck. That's little Jesslee leaning against her mom. She is about 4 years old. She was very good despite having no toys to play with.  She amused herself by crawling behind and under furniture and 'hiding'. I would pretend to not know where she was and then suddenly 'find' her. Great fun!

                                       A close-up look and Jessie's colorful purse.

                                  Concepción chose to work inside at the kitchen table.

                                    Julissa finished first, followed closely by Maria and Jessie.

They were so proud, and I was proud of them!! Maria and Jessie wanted to make black purses next, so I sent them home with the black yarn. Oscar has already collected 100 tab tops for them, enough to make two more purses.

Only Karla did not finish her purse. She was the only one who did not take their materials home last week, so she fell behind. I sent her home with what she needed to finish.

We worked longer than usual because so many of them were just about finished and didn't want to stop. At 4:15 we wrapped it up and were ready to go when Karla gave me a handwritten list. I asked "what is this?" She said it was homework that they needed for the next day. It was in Spanish. I asked what it said, and she didn't know. I pulled up the Google translator and entered the list. Domestic abuse, child abuse, violence from freedom of expression, etc. I asked "ok, so what do you need?" They needed to find five examples, photos,  of each category on that list,  then to print them out and hand them in the next day. That did not go over well. I asked Karla why she waited until 4:15 to tell me this. She shrugged. I asked Jessie if she also needed this. Yes, and so did Leidy. I called to Don, who was sitting in the other room writing, and enlisted his help. He was also not happy. He thought we would be working on that until 8:00.  We began finding images, saving them to a flashdrive while Don figured out how to print them using as little paper as possible. I also called Susan for moral support. She agreed that the assignment was ridiculous, given that none of the kids have computers or printers at home. She had already talked to their teachers once about this, and said that another visit seemed in order. What will they do when we are all gone for several months? We asked them that. They shrugged. After about an hour of frantic (on my part) work, we had four sets of five pages of photos (Nelson also needed a set) and I was able to drive them back to the colonia. I felt bad for Maria and Concepción who still had to go home and make dinner.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not Again!!

We had a bit of excitement here this morning. We had the husband/wife team of Carlos and Suyapa working here, as they have been doing every Wednesday since December when I hurt my back and needed help with housework, and when our former gardener, Oscar, disappeared. Suyapa is a wonderful housekeeper, and her husband has proved to be a very hard-working yardman. They needed the income, so we kept Suyapa coming every week even after my back had healed up.

This morning, Suyapa was sweeping the concrete stairs and moved the small bag of trash that she had placed at the base of the steps. As she did so, she saw a rat!! Carlos was thinning out a bed of heliconia where the rat had been hiding, and the rat ran towards the stairs and ducked into a hole under the first step. Don jumped into action, ran into the house, grabbed the can of Mace (police grade, no less!), ran back out and sprayed into the hole. Unfortunately, both he and Carlos made the mistake of breathing and immediately began coughing. I ran to the kitchen door to see what was going on and caught a little whiff which caused me to cough. Don's hoping he sprayed enough of it to kill the rat. I hope so, too!

I did remind Don that he had sworn to not spray that again unless an actual intruder (human) was threatening us, after that unfortunate incident last year involving the howling cat and the pepper spray. He felt this was justified. For good measure, he tossed a handful of D-Con rat poison into the hole.

And, as if that isn't enough excitement, we still have a mouse in our house. It ate a hole in a corner of our screen door and got into the guest quarters/kitchen part of the house. We put out the tray of D-Con but cannot tell that he has eaten any. I haven't found any evidence that he has eaten anything in the kitchen either. Then Suyapa discovered lots of mouse poopoo behind the futon when she was sweeping. She suggested that I put the D-Con there and add some bits of cheese to the tray. She also told me how a mouse/rat had gotten into her house and had eaten the insulation in her stove. Her oven no longer works. Her mouse also had five babies in the walls of the oven. Suyapa took care of that by pouring boiling water on them and then got a cat who killed the mama mouse/rat.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to have Suyapa working here one morning a week. I am so spoiled! She will clean anything I ask her to - windows, screens, cabinets, wood doors - all in addition to the regular dusting, sweeping, mopping,  bathroom and kitchen cleaning. I don't ask her to clean all of these things each week, of course, usually just one extra thing. Whatever seems most in need. She will also clean things that she observes are in need of a cleaning - like the ceiling fans, without my asking. She generally works four hours; Carlos works eight. We pay them both more than the minimum wage here, which is about $15 for a day's labor. Can you imagine getting a maid in the United States to clean, even the most basic cleaning, for $15? I once had to have a cleaning lady in the U.S. and I think I paid her $50. for two hours work.

As an added bonus, Suyapa gets to practice her English and I learn more Spanish. She helps me communicate with Carlos who understand some English but doesn't speak it. It's been win/win for us.

Now I just need to be rodent-free.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Crochet Girls

I began with three students, now I have six learning to crochet. Just recently I met with Jessie and her mom, Maria, for our first lesson. Maria has been very eager to learn to make a purse like mine. As it turns out, she learned to crochet when she was a school girl on the mainland (Honduras) but has not tried it since. She picked it back up very quickly and only needed help from me with adding the tab tops to start a new row the first time or two. Jessie was also a quick student; she needed very little instruction.

                                                               Helping Jessie.

If you're thinking that I look rather sweaty, you are so right! It was very hot this day. Every room at the church and inn was full with other activities, so we went into one of the smaller rooms, opened the windows and turned on the ceiling fan. I was suddenly aware of being really hot when I realized that the power had gone out and the fan had stopped. So, we sweated our way through the lesson.

Since the church was so busy, we didn't have afternoon tutoring sessions. Leidy came down to visit while Jessie and Maria worked. Karla came with her.

Leidy took this photo of me with Jessie and Karla. Leidy really doesn't like to have her photo taken and will seldom smile for one, but she liked being the photographer. The kids love to borrow my camera and run around taking photos of anything and everything.

It was still pretty hot at the beginning of this week, and the church was also quite busy, so I brought  Jessie and Maria back to our house for their second lesson. It was immediately apparent that they didn't need any help from me with the body of the purse. I sent them both home with the materials to work on their own. They will let me know when they are ready to finish the purse bottom and strap. They loved coming to our house to work. Maria commented on how quiet it was up on our hill. She has five children in her house and close neighbors; quiet is a novelty to her.

Here are my "regulars" who come every Thursday. They were enjoying chocolate chip cookies and cokes while working. Leidy has the laryngitis that is going around and had very little to say. Karla made up for it! Karla and Leidy are working at about the same pace and are about halfway finished. Concepción is very slow but doing a nice job. Julissa, in the background above, is completing the last row on her purse. Karla reported that Jessie was also finished with the body of her purse after only two days!! I asked Leidy, Concepción and Karla if they wanted to take their purses home to work on them in their spare time. They all said yes, except for Karla. She would rather come here to work.

Julissa was very proud of her workmanship, and rightly so! She's done a good job. I showed her how to finish the bottom of the purse in our remaining time. We will make the strap next week. Maybe Leidy will be ready to finish hers.

Maria was very excited when I told her she and Jessie were doing such good work and that we would find a market for her to sell these purses if she was interested - boy, was she!! I think Julissa could also sell them and earn some money for her family. Concepción will have to get faster if she hopes to sell them.

I bought more yarn in Coxen Hole earlier in the week. All they had was acrylic baby yarn, but it was varigated pastels and looks nice in Jessie's purse. The shop did not have any crochet hooks. I looked at some other tab top crocheted purses at a shop in French Harbor. They are made by a group of single moms on the mainland and were very nicely done with nylon yarn. They were even lined and had zipper closures. Reasonably priced, too.

I have decided that I will need to bring back better quality yarn, probably nylon, to make the purses to sell. My purse is made from acrylic yarn and is already beginning to get fuzzy and balled up. I don't want to sell anything that deteriorates so quickly.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that Karla is not a fan of Don's old rock 'n roll music. I tried country, but they didn't care for that either. I asked what they liked and they said "Christian", so I pulled up my Christian playlist and they loved it! They knew many of the songs and were soon singing along.
Don brought Nick up to the house this week for his algebra lesson (still noisy at church) and Nick loved Don's rock 'n roll!! Of course, he's an American teen who plays guitar, so that probably accounts for the difference in taste. Don said that Nick actually concentrated better on his math with the music playing! Our house has been hopping this week.