Sunday, November 15, 2015

Return to Island Life

It has been a long time since I have blogged, partly because the newness of island life has worn off and many oddities have become sort of normal to us, and partly for other reasons. While back in the US this summer, some people asked why I stopped, so this is for them.

We’ve been back for one month. So nice to be settled back into our own place after 6 months of constant traveling, staying with family or friends, and sacrificing the privacy to just BE. Still, we don’t really complain. We chose this lifestyle, and we realize how blessed we are.

Here are some random thoughts and comparisons of our life in both countries:
  1. It is so quiet here on the island. So quiet up on our hill. Very little traffic noise from down the hill, rarely noise from a plane. No construction noise. We do have a lot of noisy roosters early in the morning, an occasional cow mooing down the hill, a weed eater running now and then. So quiet that you can hear the rain approaching through the trees or across the ocean, getting louder as it draws closer. So quiet that you can hear the chorus of birds all around you: parrots, grackles, woodpeckers, vultures, hummingbirds and others that I don’t recognize. 
  2. The airports, so vastly different. The Roatan airport is small, crowded and noisy on Saturdays, not so much on other days. It’s almost like a social gathering, you see so many people you know there to pick up or drop off someone, you stop for hugs and a bit of conversation. Being greeted by airport volunteer greeters whom we know is so welcoming. 
  3. Immigration - much improved in the past few years on the island. We now have agents who speak English! as well as Spanish. The volunteers greet and direct new arrivals, answer questions, keep traffic moving through the immigration lines and they are friendly! Yes, they smile! Residents (that’s us) have their own line which is much shorter than the visitor line. Everyone coming in has their photo taken, compared to their passport or residency card, and are fingerprinted by placing their fingertips against a small screen which is connected to the computer system; I’m not sure why, perhaps checking for criminals? I doubt that most criminals would enter that way. And the computers! Big improvement from even a couple of years ago when no computers were used and it took an hour or more to pass through. And the airport is now air-conditioned throughout!
  4. The price of electricity on the island has dropped by 25% since 2013. We still pay 30¢ per kWh as compared to about 8¢ per kWh in St. Louis. Air-conditioning, clothes dryers, etc. are used sparingly. It has been so hot here since our return that we did use the a/c every afternoon and at night for sleeping. Thankful that it has finally cooled off, although nighttime lows are still in the upper 70s and daytime temps in the mid-80s. Not much variation.
  5. Grocery prices have really jumped here. I’ll write more about this another time, but I was surprised to see the cost of ground beef (Honduran beef) had increased from about $3 per pound this past spring to  $4.17 per pound. Interestingly, I paid not much more for a package of stew meat.  Prices on chicken feet remain very low at about $1.00 per pound and gizzards are comparably priced…not that I intend to buy either one. 
  6. Comprehensive car insurance is cheaper ($278) than liability which runs $300 per year for ANY vehicle and has a maximum benefit of $14,750. Comprehensive is not available for a vehicle older than 15 years. 
  7. Shocked and appalled to see a bag of frozen tilapia from China on the island. Don learned that because the US is now buying much of its seafood from China that the fishing fleet here on Roatan has dropped from around 500 boats to less than 100!!! 

More to come later.

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