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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flowers




Not long after I got here I mentioned that I had expected to see more flowers than I was seeing. Turns out that they just hadn't bloomed yet. I took some pictures of the flowers I get to see on a daily basis.




I had never seen a poinsettia actually growing as an outside plant before. I really liked this one, and it was the inspiration for me taking my camera in and actually getting pictures.




Views like this are all over the place down here right now. I'm thinking that I may need this reminder as time goes on. Maybe it is this beautiful most of the year, but I'm not placing any major bets on it.




These bushes are all over the place at work. I enjoy taking walks around and just looking at the blooms.

So that is a flip side of living down here. It was pretty hot today for the first time. However, walking to the gate after work the weather is perfect, warm and breezy as the light is just starting to fade and the shadows get deeper on the hills (mountains?) that surround the area. I'll try to get some more pictures as time goes on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Catching up with Pictures




Here are some pictures from trip a few weeks ago. I lost my camera for a few days, put it someplace 'safe' and forgot where that was. Finally found it today. So, first picture is of a street in the town just north of here.





Second is a pavilion in the park in that town.




Third is me participating in the silliness in the pavilion. Guys set these props up and charge to take your picture. Us Gringos just barged in and started taking pictures since no one seemed to be around. Later a couple of the guys found the photographer and made it up to him with money he should have made for the use of the props.

With talk among the bloggers of computer issues, I am currently pulling a backup image of my main laptop. I'm typing this on my netbook. I like the netbook, but here at the apartment it seems to not do Skype with the same clarity as the Dell. The image just stopped due to a bad sector, so now I do some troubleshooting, and kick myself for not making the backup sooner. At least I won't be off line if that computer breaks.

The following pictures are of my water filter. I was feeling badly when I was first down here about all the trash that drinking bottled water was creating. Drinking the water straight from the tap is not recommended. Finally, when my stuff got here I was able to start using my backpacking water filter, which is a Platypus gravity flow model. I'm thinking about getting an actual water purifyer. First Need water purification system isn't gravity flow, but pump, but takes everything out and also makes the water taste better, which the filter doesn't do. It's $112 at REI, and is on my list of things to get.







The Platypus system uses 2 4L water bags, one for 'dirty' water and one for 'clean' (filtered) water. I don't use the clean bag except to hold the clean end of the tubing. I fill the dirty water bag from the tap and hang it from a hanger in the bathroom and unscrew the top from the clean bag and drop it into a jug sitting on the floor. In a few minutes the water has dropped through the filter to the jug below. I have a separate silt filter to put inline with the main filter, but since I'm filtering tap water I haven't used it yet. this is much better than constantly buying and toting the bottles of water.

Changing topics, I am in the process of sorting my yarn stash and putting it into 2 gallon ziplock bags. These bags are big enough to hold several skeins of yarn, keeping them together and protected. I did not do this before the move. When the truck of my stuff showed up finally that night, after dark, and they opened the doors, all I saw was my yarn and needles all strewn all over the back of the truck. The plastic crates I'd used to store my yarn and knitting/crocheting supplies had been crushed in shipment, and popped open. I was almost hysterical, thinking that all my stuff was equally tossed about and, most likely, lost. So far, only the yarn totes seem to have had that fate. However, I'm remembering some of the other plastic totes that may not have been repacked into cardboard boxes (I really don't remember at this point...) that may have just plain not made it. That rambling paragraph brings me to two requests. First, if any of you see 2 GALLON Zip Lock bags, please pick them up for me and I'll reimburse you for the bags and shipping in a Priority rate envelope to my APO address. Second, for the knitters: I have a lot of partial skeins of yarn, different colors and mostly acrylic. I have no idea what to use these for. If you want them, or have ideas of what I can make and donate, please let me know. At some point I may post pictures of what I want to get rid of.

I think that's it for today.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Be sure to listen to Alice's Restaurant sometime today.  A Thanksgiving tradition.  You Tube has it if you don't have it on CD yourself.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Continued

I'm still here in the IC in Teguc.  Yes, that is short for Tegucigalpa.  I looked up the full spelling on a receipt just now, and I still wouldn't bet folding money I got it right.  So, as I said, I'm still in Teguc.  Catching up more from yesterday, the car wash was very much a 'we aren't in Kansas anymore' thing.  They pulled the Jeep over to the area near a stock tank looking thing and had bucket of soapy water, a hose, and what looked like cut off antifreeze bottles with the top open and the handle still there.  They dipped the modified antifreeze containers into the stock tank and tossed water all over the jeep, used the sprayer on the hose that put out soap like a regular car wash sparingly, and hand washed with rags and the buckets of soapy water, then rinsed with the cut off plastic containers of water tossed over it again.  I swear they went over that Jeep 4 or 5 times.  They took out the mats and hand scrubbed them.  Then they drove back under the large covered carport area and hand dried it, wiping down the windows, opening the doors and drying the edges.  We were kinda in a hurry, and when they started wiping it down a second time we said it was fine and got in.  I swear they were still trying to wipe it down as we drove off.  Definitely the best $4 car wash I've ever seen.

I bought a new HP netbook in the PX on Friday.  I am still going to send back my Asus EeePC to be repaired under warranty, but I want a machine to be out on the internet with while use my good laptop to do some scanning and things I'd rather not be on my machine that's on the net.  So, I spent pretty much all of the rest of yesterday setting it up, downloading the AVG Anti-Virus (free), and Firefox, and Skype and getting it all working together.  And uninstalling the crap, err, extra value software they send these out with now.  When I'm downloading software, the primary technical knowledge I need is on how to uncheck all that extra cr... extra value stuff they want to add to it.  No, I don't want your 'security/search/NY Times Reader/Tool Bar.  So far I liked my Asus better than this HP, but I only paid $250 for it.  I walked the mall a bit yesterday, and I went into the HP store there.  I saw basically this netbook for 8,600 limps.  I used my calculator when I got back and divided by 19 (there are roughtly 18 or 19 limps/dollar) and it is over $450.00 here.  Guess I'll be doing the mail order thing if I want much of anything.  I'll go try to find a 'cheap' flat screen monitor later, but I'm thinking that if I really want one I will order it online.

It's time to go take a nice long shower, and use some of these fancy shampoo and soap and such that they gave me here.  I got my complimentary fruit plate and bottled water yesterday.  Oh, I also went down and had the breakfast buffet here and it was nice, but crowded.  Same basic price, $16 and change.  So far I'm happy with this as a get away.

...  Ok, that was at 11.  The internet died at that point, since I'd been there 24 hrs.  I didn't want to pay, so I just turned off the computer.  I had my nice shower, and then went grocery shopping.  I got some things I'm not sure what they are, and some things I had planned on, and some things I didn't get because it was too much to carry all the way back.  I'll try to take a picture of it all tomorrow.  I'm back home now.  It was an... interesting... drive home.  I'm going to put away my things and try to get organized for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend Getaway

Today I am in Teguc at the InterContinental Hotel.  This is a trial run to see if it will be one of my get away places.  So far so good.  The drive up was eventful.  Three of us in a Jeep Liberty followed C down the road.  I've mentioned the condition of the road to here before, and that the driving is like being a passenger in a Nascar event.  It turns out the C is used to driving in the Middle East, and drives that way.  This fits well with the drivers here, he beats them at their own game.  Trying to keep up with him was even more exciting.  The guy driving the Jeep I was riding in wasn't about to be left behind.

The occasion for them was the fact that everyone but me is leaving in the next 2 months, and the couple I was riding with are trying to sell the Jeep before they leave.  After dropping off a Dell contractor who was riding with C at the airport so he could fly home, we did a sudden stop at a guy who was working around a car and C asked directions to someplace.  Turns out that C knew the folks wanted to wash the car before showing it to prospective buyers, so he was asking a local where to find a car wash.   When C needs to stop, a parking spot is considered a waste of time and he just scooches over in the general direction of the curb.  As cars leaving the airport squeezed our two trucks there was much waving of hands and comments, and finally a friendly handshake and off C zoomed with us close behind.   Once out of the airport we cut around side streets until C stopped near an alley cutoff and pointed down it.  Looking closely there was a hand lettered sign that said some version of Car Wash.  C parked his truck in the street and got out to investigate while we blocked for him in our truck.  Finally he gestured us down the alley, and we pulled into a back courtyard with cars and local Honduran young guys running around.  After negotiations, it was settled on $4.00 for the wash and we got out.  C retrieved his truck from the street and we watched while a couple of the  guys hand washed the Jeep.

On the road again, we stopped at a place to show the Jeep to a reseller.  I had S take a picture of the engines lined up.  I guess if you buy a car you get your choice of custom sized engines?  There were at least 10 of them neatly lined up on the pavement in the covered area.  Then I asked to be let off at the IC before they went off to do more trading and selling.  C pulled into the Marriott.  We decided he knew i needed a bathroom, but I couldn't understand why he stopped there when the IC was within sight.  Turns out that the Marriott has a really nice breakfast buffet and we got there in time.  So, after frantic driving and fighting traffic (we won...) we sat down at a luxury buffet and ate.  For $15 it was really nice.  I was dropped off after the meal, and the others drove off.

More later.  Oh, I forgot my camera.  If S actually emails me the pictures she takes I'll post them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Commets

Comments on blogs are strange things in a way.  I never had many comments here until I started commenting on others' blogs.  Well, I never had many readers till then, either.  At any rate, I find that I feel a need to explain when I comment on a new blog that I live in Honduras.  Mostly because that colors my comments lately.  I feel a bit self conscious as it seems to be bragging, or holding up that I have one of those unusual lives.  In fact, I'm still a bit aghast that this girl who grew up in the cornfields of Central Indiana is somehow in this odd place.  And on other levels, it doesn't feel all that odd to me anymore.  I kind of bounce around with these emotions while I comment.  I do know that somehow I feel like I can hold my head up a bit higher.  Like I actually have joined the cool kids group.  And, I'm not so sure that feeling is justified just because I managed to snag a job down here that pays enough to pay off my debt that I should have know better than to acquire in the first place.  It's all so confusing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

misc

I had the Typical Breakfast.  I feel good that I am starting to communicate somewhat with the Spanish-only speaking woman who now runs the restaurant.  I got what I ordered.  Not to say it wasn't a bit of a surprise.  The typical breakfast is a small cup of refried beans, 1 egg over easy, fried plantains, 2 small hot dogs (not sausage, hot dogs) a helping of 'cream' that I can't quite figure out, and 2 tortillas.  The cream is somewhat runny, and seems to have a base of sour cream with something else added.  I'll ask C and see if he knows.  I love the plantains, and the beans and tortillas are starting to be a breakfast thing for me.  The hot dogs were different for me for breakfast.  However, I'm now full.  This is what I mean about getting unusual things when ordering here in Honduras.

There were a couple of the military guys having breakfast at the same time.  It was unusual for me to hear English, spoken with no discernible Spanish accent.  We talked for a few minutes.

The circus is still across the street.  I'm wondering if this is their winter home, although since there really isn't a winter here that doesn't make much sense.  No one I've asked seems to know how long they will be here, and seem confused as to why I would ask.  The loudspeaker with the recorded carney hawking the show in Spanish is now only on weekends, and stops at a reasonable hour.  I am getting tired of the recording, and do wish them well as I hope they go someplace else.  No signs of that so far.

The hotel does my laundry for free, I just have to take it down to them.  I started doing hand laundry of the things I wanted not put in the dryer.  I also do my socks, as I don't like them turned into one cuff which stretches that cuff and that is how they do it.  The majority of the things I hand launder dry in a little over a day.  The socks take 3 days as they are heavier.  I'm about to see if my ability to communicate gets far enough to just ask them to not 'fold' my socks.  I'm getting brave.  :)

The beginning Spanish class starts the 22nd.  Now both of my bosses are talking about signing up.  This means a more certain ride home at night.  The class will go until 8pm, and that is late by my standards for taking a cab.  I'm hoping for the best.

As I unpack my stuff I find that most of it is the little things.  I have several dozen buttons in little envelopes that come with slacks and blouses.  I'm taking those out of the little envelopes and putting like size and color together to put in with my sewing (when I find that stuff...).  I also have A LOT of hair thingys, ties and small barrettes and combs and whatnot.  I should never have to purchase those things again.  I hate to get rid of them because I do use them.  I'm also going through my pens and tossing those that don't work anymore.  I have a bunch of pencils, and I almost never use pencils.  Those will go into work, I think.  Or, given to a local at work who works with one of the missions here.  Some things I want to get rid of make no sense to give away here, such as winter gloves and such.  It never gets cold enough here to use gloves.  It's the small stuff that takes time to sort through, and is easy to put off because no one thing takes up much room.  It has added up and was one of the big boxes of things shipped.

One advantage of having lived for a month with less stuff is that I really know I don't need to buy much at all this year.  No clothes, no hair ties, no kitchen stuff.  I'm working my way through the 3 large cosmetic bags of face/skin/hair toiletries, so it should be a while until I need to buy that stuff.  Other than food, not a lot else to buy.  It is an odd feeling when I hear Mom talk about going to yard sales and such.  I can't even think of what I'd want.  This is a good thing for me.  Less stuff to move.

Next step

As usual I've spent a lot of the weekend reading blogs.  I am starting to want to make my space here more of a sanctuary.  I just read a blogger who used that word and explored the meaning for her.  The word resonated with me.  At this point I'm not so much talking about a sanctuary from the violence and chance of robbery here.  I have that pretty much under control, as much as I can while living in a 3rd world country.  I'll explore that issue more later.  I have unpacked enough of my things that I'm wanting to have my apartment be more than just a temporary hotel room.  Looking ahead, my lifestyle for the next few years looks to be mobile, if not country to country then at least city to city.  I want to find year to year contracts in different places.  So the 'temporary hotel room' is the canvas I have to work with.  I never have been the type to put art on the walls. Just ask Turtle Lady, who as my resident artist has hung most of the art for me.  I do enjoy color and texture and 'homey' type environments.  So, my project is to create a homey, colorful, textured, comfortable sanctuary that is minimalist and mobile. 

One of the first issues I need to deal with is food.  During the week it's not too much effort to get food, I just eat on post.  On the weekends I have limited myself to the chicken place next door, the restaurant downstairs, or getting a delivery from Pizza Hut across the street.  All of those are getting old.  Pizza Hut and the chicken place are too processed.  The restaurant downstairs is better, but has the issue of lack of communication.  They try to give me what they think I want, which can have a new and exciting combination show up on my plate.  I'm working on my Spanish...  I am putting together a list of foods to get while in Tegus next weekend.  I need my comfort foods.  Luckily I'm going with C who knows Tegus, and who also knows the types of foods I like having lived in the Middle East and knows where to get those foods down here.  Things like humus, lentils, dates.  This part will get better.  But, I have to hurry to find these places as he leaves in a month.

The rest of the sanctuary will be a work in process as I sift through my things.  The hotel is installing a kitchen style sink for me tomorrow.  This is part of attempting to get hot water to the sink in the bathroom.  They really are trying to give me what I want.  The flip side of that is that I don't want to pull much out until that is finished so I won't have people in the apartment.  Also, I think Friday they must have had a bit of a flood while working on the water lines.  I had everything up off the floor when I left for work (habit from camping, in case of rain), so no damage done,just a really clean floor and a single damp paper.  I already have a pile of things to send back, and a pile of things to get rid of.  Small piles, but a start.  What stuff I have here now doesn't fall under the definition of 'mobile'. 

My thoughts are starting to scatter.  It's time to head down for some breakfast.  Then I think I'll look into ordering some foods online from the backpacking sites.  It's a start.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reposting

I tried to post this last night, but lost internet as I hit send.  I'll try again:

Nope.  Not the trip report.  I have a picture coming that I want to include.  At least that's the current excuse.  Basically, now that I have my things here I spend my time either in my recliner or unpacking, not writing.  Also, some things have happened here that I wanted to think about before I write about them.  The guy who arrived a couple of days behind me at work was attacked and robbed this weekend.  He's injured, although I don't have a good idea of how badly.  He's still here in Honduras, and I've already told all involved at work that if I'm hurt they better be working on getting my a$$ to the States because I don't care how good the care it here, I want to go home if I'm hurt.  I'll know more if he comes back to work in a month or so.  Yes, he's hurt that badly, machete's aren't nice things to be sliced with.  He was doing something I wouldn't have tended to do, which is walk downtown alone.  Now I won't be going downtown at all.  I'll head to Tegus to shop.  This happened at noon on Sunday.  I am not particularly worried about my own safety, as I draw my lines pretty conservatively.  That's why I'm not out doing more sightseeing.  I am being even more careful now.  We've been told that from now until Christmas the bad guys are even more desperate for money, so be more watchful.  No problem.  There won't be any trips with the folks on post for awhile as they are now on lock down.  Warm fuzzy (not) that soldiers aren't allowed out in the town I live in because it's too dangerous.  Situational awareness isn't just a buzz phrase down here, it's an essential skill.  So, if my life seems boring while I'm here, this is why.  I'm a home body anyway, so I'm not feeling inconvenienced in any real way.

I found out about a cheap airline, Spirit Airlines, that flys from Honduras to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for well under $100 each way.  Coupled with a Southwest cheap fare to either Kansas City to see Mom or to Nashville to see friends, I can see flying up for a 4 day weekend every few months.  That helps with the closed in feeling.  Also, weekends at luxury hotels in Tegus help break up the monotony.  All in all I'm still feeling ok about staying here for the year.

Back to today.  I have tomorrow off for Veteran's Day.  Early in the morning several of us are getting our Honduran driver's license.  I'm hoping there isn't a test.  I may not drive while down here, but I'll still feel better having some 'local' ID.  No other plans other than to continue unpacking and sorting.  Friday should be slow at work since the soldiers have it as a holiday to make a 4 day weekend.  I did buy a bottle of Bailey's so I'll have a nice cup of coffee later with the only creamer I use.  I gave away what liquor I had in WA before I left.  This is the start of my new liquor cabinet.  Of course, when I leave here I'll give away whatever I have left at that point, so I'll have to start fresh yet again.  Life's tough when I travel around so much.  :)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

All's right in the world

I'm sitting in my recliner drinking coffee and surfing the net on a Saturday morning.  Life is good.  I have a 'free' (included in the price of rent) breakfast waiting on me downstairs whenever I decide to head down, my stuff in boxes waiting for me to go exploring, and a weekend with no issues pressing for my attention.  Oh, and a day this next week for Veteran's Day to go exploring around town if I so choose.  Life is good.

A quick link from The Last Straw ( http://www.bryantholsenbeck.com/blog/ ):  The link I like is from treehugger.com, a site I used to follow every day a few years ago.  I smile when other bloggers put in a link about something cool they found there.  Treehugger is a neat site about alternative ways to deal with energy and trash and  other issues.  This link is a Buddhist temple made from beer bottles, and it's beautiful:  http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/temple-built-from-beer-bottles.php

My buddy Phil has managed to forward our Skype connection to his cell phone, where it comes in to him as a regular phone call.  This is cool in that we used to talk mostly while he drives home from work and now can do so again.  Obviously we don't have the video component since he's driving, and to call an actual phone costs (him) money, although I'm not sure how much.  I am truly appreciative of the technology that allows me to be almost in as much contact with friends up in the US as when I lived up there, even though I'm in Honduras.

Just read a blog on procrastination.  Putting things off until the future.  I look around the (messy) apartment.  I feel my stomach wanting breakfast.  I remember I need to write about the trip last weekend, and some about the unloading of my stuff on Thursday evening.  Guess I should get up, put on shoes and get some breakfast.  It's chilly here.  I went down in jeans, tshirt and bare feet to get some bottled water to make coffee earlier and it was chilly (the floors here are all tile).  I came back up and turned off the air conditioners, that's how chilly it is.  Ok, they are on thermostats and probably hadn't been on all night, but still...  So, I may need to actually put on socks.  Nah, I'll just grab my sandals.  That's my 'it's the weekend' footwear.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Still Here

Just a quick note before Ben calls out the Calvary.  On Sunday night, starting about 10pm, there was a loud pary with DJ in the party room 2 floors above me.  At 11pm I went down and asked how late it would go and got blank looks from the Hotel people.  It went till 3:30am.  On a work night.  Later I was assured that is a once a year thing.  I said 'next time it happens on a work night, put me in a different room'.  Monday and Tuesday after work were spent catching up on sleep.  Wednesday I didn't have internet access, some kind of DNS issue.  Last night my shipment arrived, and I spent the evening  having a nervous breakdown while some very strong guys from the hotel carried all my stuff up 2 flights of stairs.  There is no elevator in this hotel.  The hotel staff does try very hard to take care of me, which is why I'm going to live here.
 
More details, and a post about last weekend's trip, later.  Really.