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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Subject goes here

Can't come up with a subject.  This isn't the second part of the trip, unless I wander into a story or two from it.  While I was at Mom's I tried out her mini washer.  It's something called a Wonder Washer  http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000BTDNEK/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new  (forgive the ugly links, I'm not high speed with it like Ben is).  It looks like something just to sell on TV (that's the 'brand') but for someone who only has a few things to wash it has it's advantages.  It will do a day's laundry for me or Mom.  Then she also had a spinner to spin the water out  http://www.amazon.com/Mini-Countertop-Dryer-Clothes-Portable/dp/B002HT0958/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1  , and this is what makes the deal work.  By spinning all the water out the clothes take very little time to dry hanging on a drying rack.  Even a pair of my heavy jeans dried just fine overnight.  So, I ordered a set today.  I have to have them shipped to Mom's, then she will have to ship them to me.  If they make it though Honduran customs without being stolen, I'll be able to do my laundry here in the apartment without going up and down 3 steep flights of steps.  There are other, more automatic versions of this, but weight and ability to pick them up and move them around are some of the key points this setup gives.  For Mom, being able to move them easily is key since she doesn't have any place in her small apartment to let them sit out, so they live in her closet between uses.  For me, being able to ship them around to wherever I am will be the big plus.

I'm slowly waking up.  I didn't sleep a lot while at Mom's.  I've paid for it since I've been back.  That and the fact that I napped on the plane and bus trip home had my back and legs sore from being curled up so much.  I am inspired to clean here, and to sort and get rid of/send back as much as I can to get mobile.  I'll see how much of that gets put into practice in the next few weeks.

Trip, part 1

It's Saturday morining early, and I'm finally going to type up the blog entry about my trip.  I have a large mug of coffee brewing.  I use a single cup coffee maker that is set up to make 2 mugs at a time if I want.  I just make one, but the water resevoir is big enough to get a nice large mug made.  The coffee maker is made by Black & Decker, and I haven't seen any since I bought this one 5 or more years ago.  Why is it that suddenly no one makes a nice single cup coffee maker anymore?
My trip:  I bought my ticket to fly out of San Pedro Sulu instead of the capital of Tegucigalpa for some reason that made sense to me at the time.  The issue with this was that while I had a free military shuttle to the airport in Teguc, I had to find my own way to SPS.  A quote on a Taxi was $265.  Yes, dollars.  That includes both trips, and it's a 2-3 hour drive.  Reasonable on one level, but more than I wanted to pay.  While researching cheaper taxis, someone pointed me to one of the Government guys (civilians who live on post) who had taken a bus previously.  I talked to him, and he said the fare was $7 each way.  More to my budget.  He isn't some kind of daredevil, but is cautious, and he traveled alone.  So, I asked my local Honduran friends about the Rivera bus, and it got good reviews.  The Hotel staff said they would take me to the bus terminal at 5:30 am on the day I left.
The morning of the trip I was all packed, dressed except shoes and doing 'one last thing' around the apartment and thought I had 5 minutes.  There was a knock at the door, and the front desk guy motioned that my ride was waiting.  He grabbed my carryone suitcase while I scrambled for my shoes.  It was still very dark and there wasn't much traffic at that time of morning.  We pulled into the 'terminal' which was a place that on my own I'd never go near even in the daytime, being behind a wall and crammed full of large busses down in the middle of town.  It wasn't a passenger terminal, it was a 'bus' terminal!  There were a very few folks waiting in the dark lighted by one light, and a guard cradeling his shotgun.  Seemed quiet enough, and so I told my ride I'd be fine.  At 6 we loaded up and drove out to the road.  Since my Spanish is not good I was glad the bus turned north at the highway, towards San Pedro Sula.
Note:  It is now Sunday morning, and Charlie has expressed a definite lack of faith that I'll ever post about my trip.  I'M WORKING ON IT!!  :)
The bus trip was amazingly uneventful.  However, as they kept stopping and picking up folks, and then stopping and letting folks off as we went through the mountains I was concerned.  I finally asked as the ticket guy wandered by getting payments and while my Spanish was totally not up to the task he finally convinced me that the trip took 3 hours total.  We were 2 hours into it at that point, or really 2.5, but I had been warned that the 6 am buss took off when it had 'enough' passengers or 7 am which ever came first.  We left around 6:30.  By 10 we rolled into the terminal in San Pedro Sula and I walked into the bus terminal.
 I have learned that the best method of getting to where I want is to just look lost.  Some enterprising person, usually a kid or young man, will grill me about where I need to go.  This time was no exception.  When he finally understood 'airport' he said taxi, and motioned me to an older guy who was a taxi driver.  We negotiated on the price, which basically meant that the kid agreed with the driver that the highish price was indeed correct.  I shrugged and said ok, and with the driver pulling my rollng carryon we headed down the hall.  Soon another driver ran over and was angrily talking to my driver and kept trying to get the bag away from him.  My driver didn't say anything, just kept walking and dodging this guy's attempts to grab my bag.  I really didn't want to go with an angry driver, no matter how 'right' he might have been.  We walked past a policeman who was keeping peace at the taxi stand and the angry driver appealed to him.  The officer looked at me, I said 'airport?' again, and he motioned me to go with my original driver.  We got loaded into the taxi while the other driver was still yelling at the police officer.
It was a bit of a driver to the airport, which is outside of SPS a ways.  The $15 fare was actually reasonable by US standards, and since I'd paid less than $5 for the bus ride I was feeling good about it all in general.  I got to the airport in time to check in (no checked bags), eat breakfast and head to the gate.  I skyped with Turtle Lady awhile, but felt conspicuous since I didn't bring a headset and so our conversation was out in the open.  The flight started loading an hour before takeoff.  If you fly international with Continental, get there early!  They also looked through everyone's bags again, actually opening them and doing a visual check.  The rock I was taking to my aunt and the small piece of a branch of guava wood that I was taking to my uncle made it past the inspections.
The flight went well, and I got to Kansas City on time, found Mom and my aunt, and headed to the storage unit where my Jeep is housed.  Mom gave me the copy key that she had made and I unlocked the door to the unit and got into the Jeep and turned the key.  It turned over but didn't catch.  Several attempts later, with no luck in starting the Jeep, I'm getting comments from my peanut gallery about how I must have forgotten how to drive my Jeep!  We called my uncle who has been driving it every month for me.  We go over all the possible interlock issues - brake, clutch, etc.  I have juice, it just won't start.  sigh.  I get back into Mom's car and my uncle says he'll come out the next morning and bring it to me.
This is enough for this post.  I'll cover the return trip next.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back home again

Home in this instance is back in Honduras.  I enjoyed my time back up in the States.  I'll post more later.  Really.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vacation

I'm at Mom's in Kansas City.  I've done lots of driving, visiting, and going to the casinos.  I got in on Thursday evening, and I go back on Tuesday.  I'll write more details later.  I took a Honduran bus from the town where I live to the city the airport is in, a 3 hour ride.  But, it was $3.50 one way rather than the $265 for both trips that a taxi would cost.  Both Mom and the casinos are happy I'm here.  I did discover that a regular copy of a key won't start my Jeep, I need one of the original ones.  My uncle had to go back and get it from storage the next morning and drive it to Mom's since when we stopped on the way from the airport the night I got in I just couldn't start it.  Durn modern electronic things.  My Uncle had the only original key to the Jeep that I currently know where it is.  I'm thinking I took the other one to Honduras and forgot to bring it back.  Oh, well.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Back from hibernation

I've been quiet lately. I still write blog posts in my head during the day, I just haven't written any of them down. I was sick for a week with a cold. When I got well I could feel the 'well-ness' as a new reality, as concrete a feeling as the sickness had been. I had a lot of catching up to do. Especially at work. Now, I'm caught up more or less.

There have been small shifts in my mental state and I guess I've needed time and space to incorporate the change. Nothing large. I've been down here 4 months now. Seems so much more mature than being newly arrived 3 months ago. I'm sorting and repacking my huge piles of stuff that I have here and wondering how the heck I'll get a lot of it back to the States. I sent a 'Gorilla Box' (brand name) foot locker of stuff back a couple of weeks ago and just got an email from my Mom that it arrived. I'll take inventory of the condition of it's contents, and start sending more stuff back. I am getting rid of some things. I've found most of the things that I thought hadn't made it down here. It's just a matter of time till I do have something not show up at the other end. A friend ordered a new Blackberry phone, and the package came in as 'damaged' and when he opened it there was no phone in the box. The place he ordered it from is sending a replacement. We'll see if it gets here. Luckily, most of my stuff isn't anything that would sell on the thieves market.

I've had a few 'what the heck is this middle-aged hippie geek from Nashville doing down here in Honduras' moments. Sitting in a conference room waiting for a meeting to start and listening to the local Honduran admins chatting in Spanish that is still gibberish to me, I had one of the moments. I think that going back to the States I will feel it as a concrete PLACE in a way that I wouldn't have been able to before. I'm headed back to visit Mom in a few weeks. I'll only be there for 4 days. I'm a bit afraid that if I was to stay longer I wouldn't come back down here. It's not that I'm unhappy, it's just so different. I've told friends that I want to go back and drive my Jeep wherever I want, take a walk down a town street at night, alone, go to the casinos, and, oh, yeah, see my Mom. That is pretty much the truth.