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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not essentials, but close

At least for me, the following items make life much nicer.

1.  Coffee.  I live where coffee is grown, from what I'm told.  So far I have been drinking Maxwell House because that is what they have at the PX, and I haven't gotten groceries anyplace else.  I need coffee as close to when I get out of bed in the morning as possible.  Some mornings here I have had to wait until I'm on post and at the DFac before I've had coffee.  Technically, they have coffee here at the restaurant, but it usually isn't ready before I need to leave for work.  I now have a coffee maker in my room.  It's a cheap plastic one, and I can smell warm plastic while I'm pouring my coffee instead of just nice coffee aroma.  I think about how I'm not in the US where they have standards for things like that.  But, I drink my coffee gratefully.  Maxwell House, plastic smell and all.

2.  A Rag.  No, not that kind.  Just a plain wash rag, not white.  I spill things.  I wash out things (such as my coffee maker) and want to dry it.  It was amazing to me how often I wanted a piece of fabric to wipe over things when I didn't have one.  The hotel gives me one white bath towel.  I didn't want to use it to wipe up coffee spills, and I didn't want to use my bath towel to dry out my coffee cup.  Then I remembered I have my chamois with me - don't know if it's a sham-wow or whatever the cool brand is - and now I'm happy.  I use it and rinse it and use it again.  It's the little things...

3.  Transportation.  I have said I'm going car-less.  That is not technically correct.  I am choosing not to own a car here, and so far I haven't driven a car here.  Did I mention the drivers here are crazy?  However, I still need transportation.  I miss the freedom to just go out and jump into my Jeep and go to a store, or just drive around or go where every I want to safely.  The cabs a good for getting to and from work, and I need to stop using it as an excuse to not hit the gym after work because I can call them an hour later just as well.  I haven't gone shopping in town yet, and I will be mindful that I'll have to lug whatever I buy home in a cab.  I don't need much, but it's the idea.  Like cleanliness, it's doable here, I just have to actually think about it.  There are lots of bicyclists here.  I don't feel safe riding around here because I don't know the culture.  I am impressed with how the bicycles are transportation more than sport to the locals.  The horizontal structural bar is the passenger seat on the bikes here.  I see people who have kids sitting on that bar almost every day.  Today I saw a guy with a woman (girlfriend?  wife?) sitting on it while he dutifully pedaled along.  Looked like he was giving her a ride to work.  It also looked like a lot of work for him.  The people riding in the back of trucks is very common, usually as many as there is room for.  Having a means of transportation here seems to be unusual, and something to be shared with family and friends as necessary.

4.  Communication.  I have whined about this before.  It is tiring not being able to just talk to the vast majority of folks I come into contact with.  A large number of Hondurans here do speak English to some degree.  Probably more of them speak English than the number of Anglo's who speak Spanish in a US city.  I have learned there is a difference between talking and communicating.  I can sometimes communicate well with a person where I share no common language words and other times a person who knows words of English I can not communicate well with at all.  I have at times been kidded up at home about 'talking' with my hands.  Here that is a good thing.  It helps me actually communicate.  I am working on learning Spanish, and that is one reason I came down here.  In the meantime it is frustrating.

I'll probably find more to add to these lists as time goes on.  I know there are things I won't take for granted again once I get back home.

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