Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another new experience

Last night I had my new dorm size fridge in the back seat, and needed gas. I went through the main town to get gas and so went the long way around to get home. This is the way with the 21 topes. As I cleared one town and started to speed up after the last tope there I saw something skittering across the road, and had to swerve to miss what I realized was an iguana. So, oxen carts and loose cows and horses and the occassional burro (donkey?), bicyclists and guys on horseback and large buses on narrow streets, kids and dog, and now iguanas. Welcome to driving in Honduras.

I had to lay the fridge on its side to transport it home, so it is sitting for the required 24 hrs before actually turning it on. I'm excited that I may have cold water to drink and can cook and have a place to put leftovers that they won't spoil. I could even get beer to offer guests. Although I may have foiled that one already. Who knew that when I offered to have a guy over for dinner downstairs at the restaurant (in the hotel at the time), and up to my place to play video games on my wii, that he would be surprised that I actually meant we would play video games on the wii. I say what I mean, I can't help it if others read more into it... sigh... there is a reason I'm single. Turns out he really wasn't all that interested in video bowling after all. That and the fact that I only had coffee mugs to drink the wine out of. And no beer as an alternative. Yeah, I don't entertain often. I did go buy some wine glasses.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another Update

It has been a stressful time. Lots of new things, mostly because of living in a different town and driving a car instead of just taking taxis. I've had to drive home after dark, had to stop and get gas after dark. I've learned a short cut down a gravel road to get home, necessary because of the road construction that has the direct route closed. I spent the first 2 weeks driving 21 miles each way to stay on pavement and around civilization, and I will probably go that way whenever it is after dark. It has 17 topes (speed bumps) in a 5 km. stretch. With no real traffic cops they make if physically impossible to speed by putting the topes that will wreck the suspension if you go over them any faster than 2mph. There are 3 more in the town where I live to get to my apartment. It is a slow trip. Add in dodging cows (lots of cows in the roads and streets), oxen carts, bicyclists and dogs and getting over 40mph at the max is really pushing it even on good road.

Work is busy, and I go home and don't do much. I did get the living room all cleaned and arranged last weekend. Pictures one of these days, really. My landlord hung some clotheslines up on the roof for me, so I started catching up my backload of laundry. I'll do pictures of the roof laundry suite at some point. Paging Ms. Belinda: there is something called a pela (pronounced pay-la, so guessing on the spelling). Is that a usual laundry thing in Central America, or is it possibly a Honduran thing. Again, I'll do pictures. Really.

The fan is making nights liveable, temperature wise now as well as making nice white noise. It is starting to warm up, but the mornings are still cool. No rain yet, but it should start raining in the afternoon/evenings in a month or so.

This is just a check-in to say that I'm still here. Oh, and I'm finally one of the cool kids. My blog has started to get spam. It's mostly on the older posts, and the Blogger spam-catcher has caught all of them.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Non-Linear again

I had plans to have the living room completely cleaned and arranged as the project for the weekend. I admit that I chose that one because it is the smallest room with the least stuff. Friday evening when I got home I started mopping a section. I have to move the couch around to get to the floor, and it takes awhile to dry. At that point I hadn't started using the fan to help dry the floor. Hey, I've got all weekend to do a small room, so what the heck.

Saturday morning I realized after my coffee and internet time that I should get a shower and get dressed as my landlord had said we would go get my internet that day. The neighbor upstairs had left a note in English on my door telling me the costs, but I didn't have enough lempira to get it done this weekend. I was showered and dressed when he and a young lady who speaks excellent English showed up. I told them my problem, I had dollars but not lempira. He said he would change it for me. She worked out the exchange rate, and off we went to Cable Color in his car. I asked when it would be installed, since I'm working late shift next week. He said at 3pm that day. Wow.

I came home and took stock of the situation. I had decided I wanted the internet in my bedroom, the one that currently held the majority of my stuff in tubs and boxes, as well as my bed stuffed into the last remaining space. So, I decided to mop the mostly empty other bedroom to start moving all that stuff in there. In the meantime, my landlord is working on the water drip in that bathroom, and has brought his 10yo grandson with him, who is wandering around in all the rooms of the apartment saying, you have a lot of stuff. Not only is his English excellent at 10 yo, he sees me for the hoarder I am. sigh.

The upshot is that my landlord cannot fix the drip himself, so he goes to get someone else. While he's gone I finish mopping most of the room, put the fan on to dry it and call that room good. I'm in the bedroom trying to come up with a plan to move all the stuff that was too heavy for me to lift while I was moving in. From the bathroom where the two men have been working and talking I hear a rush of water. They took the connection apart without turning the water off first. My almost dry floor is now flooded with water. sigh. They get the water turned off and work some more while I mop up the water. I want to cry because I still have a lot of work to do before 3pm, and it's now noon, but I was afraid that would add even more water to the situation. They finally leave saying they will be back on Monday. I get the room dried out and it is now completely mopped, as is that bathroom.

Over the course of the afternoon I do end up getting the majority of the stuff moved from one room to the other, thanks to my small 2 wheel cart. I then find the cable connection in the room I want and clear stuff away from it and mop that section. I sit down to rest, noting that I have an hour to get the last of the things moved out, and here comes my landlord with the cable guy. sigh. Who ever heard of a cable guy doing an installation on the SAME DAY as sign up and showing up AN HOUR EARLY???

After about a hour of looking in the ceiling for the correct cable (no TV, just internet?) and talking to the office, I sit down to test it with my netbook. Literally as soon as I made connection, my Mom called me on Skype. I answered, and the guys were happy and amazed I could see my Mom on the internet. Everyone waved hello across the interwebs, and I saw them out and had a nice fast connection to talk on Skype. This seems faster than the connection I had at the hotel, and it's cheaper by a little. Not quite $100/mo, and I still have the backup TIGO stick usb as a backup for $25/mo.

I got the bedroom all arranged now, mopped and everything. I put the fan pointing directly to the bed, and I was able to close my window. Nice, white noise. I slept like a baby all night. First time in Honduras, I think.

Today I'm taking the military bus to the capital. I'm looking for curtains and something to put in the shower to hold the soap and shampoo. I still haven't finished mopping the living room.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wierd Friends, or Good Examples

When I first went to the most popular of the local restaurants here on post I wasn't eating much meat. If anything is going to upset my system, it's meat, and I still wasn't sure if I was going to get sick on the food down here. It took 3 trips there, and sending my burito back 3 times on the last visit, even with 3 Spanish-speaking co-workers helping me order, to get just a bean burito with no meat. To them, 'no carne' just means I want chicken. It got to the point that they gave me the tortilla, lettus, and tomato, with nothing else. And this was with Bean Burito on the menu and me pointing to it.

A few months after I got here one guy came who is vegetarian. He got that restaurant to where they now realize that some of us don't want meat. Then another guy came here who is also vegetarian. It is now easy to get meals without meat and the locals don't look at me like I'm nuts.

I try to stay away from high calorie food now because I ballooned up 20 lbs when I got here. I have lost most of it, but I try to be careful. I also havn't had a physical in several years, and I don't want to have my cholesterol test come back high when I do end up getting one. So, I'm looking at cutting down on meat. My two co-workers are an inspiration. I can make the excuse that there really isn't a lot of choice in foods down here, not like in the States. I can make a lot of excuses. The dining facility food is a lot of choices in meat and starch and they always have several deserts. I don't have a 'real' kitchen to cook for myself.

Then yesterday I was out with one of the vegetarian co-workers. We went to Chilli's and he was talking about his choices. A lot of times he ends up with an veggie dip of some kind and fries. He got the nachos at lunch yesterday. And he was ok with all that. Makes it kind of difficult to look at my excuses when he just goes and does the whole veggie thing, making whatever consession necessary, except to give in to meat.

So, today I had the chicken and rice, and bean burito for lunch. I'll start with no red meat. I've gone 2 days without it so far. If I think it's 'too hard', all I have to do is look at my 2 co-workers who have managed just fine for a year down here without eating meat of any kind. Getting healthier is not something that would be nice to do, it is something that I have to do in order to have the life I want. No excuses.

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Things are continuing to get sorted out. When I went to take a shower yesterday morning, there was still most of the day before's water in the shower floor. The showers down here are largish tiled enclosures with sliding doors. So, while I knew it was draining slowly, I didn't know it had stopped until I slid the door back for my next shower. Another thing for the list. The dripping connection on the sink is still dripping in the other bathroom, so no workers in so far.

Yesterday I went to the PX and bought a window fan. It is thinner and lighter than the monster window fans I've had for years (which may or may not still be in storage somewhere...). I like it a lot. I plugged it in and it makes nice white noise. After that success, I decided that before bed I would tackle dipping the standing water out of the shower. I got most of it out, dumping it into the toilet, and so I flushed the toilet. The drain then started draining. So, verifiying it again this morning, to drain the shower I have to flush the toilet after the water is standing in the shower floor. I had to flush twice this morning for it to totally drain. Maybe an air vacuume thing or whatever. As long as I can make it work I'm good.

No standing water in the shower, and nice white noise along with cooler temperatures meant I got a good night's sleep. Life is good.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Settling In

Week nights seem to be quieter after 10pm than last Saturday was. This is a good thing. My neighbor listened to his stereo (did I just date myself calling the music electronics by that name?) long enough that I shoved things around in the other bedroom and moved my bed into it. It was just the bass line coming through the walls, but it was enough. I drove in to work in the rental car and it takes just enough extra time that I almost didn't have time for breakfast at the dining facility. Once I got to work, it was non-stop all day.

I turned in the high dollar (relatively) rental car, and rented another one from one of the local (when I say local, it means Honduran) guys on our contract that is cheaper per month. Not as nice a car, but the air conditioning works. When I turned in the original car I mentioned that the air conditioning worked Friday night and Monday morning, but not on Saturday during the day when I needed it. She shrugged and said that yes, when it gets hot it stops working. Ummm. That's when I just say to myself, this is Honduras.

I went to the PX and only bought a mop and broom and bread and some new sponges. With all the wiping down I need to do I figured I need more sponges. Once I take the top layer of dirt off I'll switch to them. The apartment isn't filthy, just a layer of dust on everything. This is a dusty country. I got home and there was a truck (upstairs neighbors) parked in my secure parking area. I called the landlord, and they got the neighbor and we worked out a system. Both cars fit, one in front of the other. So, we will work it out. They speak English and are engineers who are working on projects here on post. The landlord looked at the water leak, and decided it is one of the connections to the faucet on the sink. He says he will have it fixed by Saturday.

I fixed a peanut butter sandwich, got my laptop with my TIGO stick and sat my tail in my recliner and didn't move all evening after all that. Just as I turned off the computer and was trying to decide if I wanted to fix myself some tea using my hot pot, the electricity went off. My first thought was No Stereo Tonight!!! The cloudy and breezy evening meant it was cool in the house. So, I took advantage of all of that and went to bed and had a good night. The cooler temps even seemed to quiet the frogs (which I've been told are actually toads...).

This morning I locked the door to my bedroom in case workers were in the apartment. One thing about down here, there are plenty of locks on everything. I struggled with the gate for several minutes trying to get it unlocked to get my car out of the garage. I was late to post so I didn't get breakfast. I'm waiting for it to be delivered now from one of the local restaurants here on post. So, I'm settling in and getting a new routine. I need more curtains and trash cans and food and such. They don't have any dorm fridges at the PX right now, so no fridge until I get help finding one in town. It will all come together.

I guess I need to post more often to avoid these long diatribes.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


I heard what sounded like someone pounding cadence, or maybe practicing on bongo drums, or maybe something else I just couldn't place. After about a half hour (ok, maybe 10 minutes) I went up the stairs and looked over the creek and saw 2 young boys, one looked about 4, pounding away on a large can or something with some mallets. Precocious, as occasionally they do a fair job at a recognizable cadence. I'm seriously hoping they get bored by evening. Probably just in tome for the frogs to take over.

I don't have air conditioning here at this apartment. I am (was?) hoping that the slightly higher elevation would make up for that. Well, I tend to be an optimist like that. Fans will help. Nice white noise.

Still cleaning and unpacking. So far I've been able to find everything I've looked for. And while I'm a fan of small housing and RVs, and lurk on sites about minimalism and simple living and all that, it is a kick to have several rooms to wander around in. And closets to stash things out of site. Open spaces , smooth tile. I like it. Maybe I can get some of the noise cancelling earphones and plug them into my alarm clock so I can hear that in the mornings. Those and some ceiling fans. I'm figuring that as soon as I get all nice and settled in with what I need to be comfortable here, Murphy will find me moving someplace else.

Hey, the drum recital ended. I can still hear music but it is soft enough to be just part of the neighborhood sounds. I may get used to this place yet.

Looking at my dirty feet

I have imploded in that I just can't get motivated to move out of my apartment. Not even for coffee on the roof this morning. Actually, last night was not a good night. There are, I assume, frogs that start making a racket from the creek that runs next to my apartment building. That goes on from sundown to sunup. There is the normal noise of living in a town. Central America, from what I'm seeing, is not a quiet place. My apartment neighbor has an affinity for loud TV until the wee hours of the morning. Doesn't help that it seems the walls don't block much of the noise. I got up and flushed the toilet (VERY LOUD for some reason) when the rooster was the final straw around daylight. I figure I'd give as good as I got, noise wise.

After a couple of cups of coffee and some Alive I had a better mood going on, so I started cleaning. I have a water leak in the bathroom off the room I had set up as my bedroom. After further investigation, I'm thinking that the shower leaks out the side. So, for the noise and water reasons I'm going to move into the other bedroom. This will take awhile as all my big boxes and tubs of stuff are in there now.

With no air conditioning I move slow. There has been a breeze all day so far, so it isn't bad, but it contributes to me being lazy. I've cleared out the living room, which is in the front of the apartment. It needs to be swept and mopped, but is otherwise done. Even hung curtains at the front window so my neighbors can't see in. I'm skipping over the dining area for now, and have slowly started to scrub the kitchen. I heard a gecko chirping last night, so I've decided that the droppings I've seen are from the gecko and not mice. Until otherwise proven, that's my story. Geckos don't get into stuff and chew, so protecting my food and dishes from them is easier. I will keep everything in plastic or glass containers anyway.

My feet are dirty because I go barefoot in the house, and the floor has cement dust on it (I guess that's what it is) from this place being remodeled. Everything is cement and tile here. Going barefoot is what showed me the water leaking across the floor. So, I'll take a shower in the other bathroom this evening before going to bed. Depending on how much I toss and turn and sweat, I may become a two shower a day person.

And that's all the news from here.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

All Moved

Yes, it was fairly uneventful as these things go. Finished by noon. Everything is still in a jumble. I am now addicted to having a rental car. I seem to have secure parking, at least this weekend, so I'm keeping the rental car until Monday. I may get a monthly rental, it is nice to make my own schedule again.

No picture of me drinking wine on the roof yet. Maybe coffee tomorrow morning. I'm too tired to go back up there tonight. I'm coming down off a week-long anxiety attack. I'm going to put up my bed and take a nap.

Friday, March 02, 2012


I know especially this week I have been doing a lot of rambling about the move. So, in a half hour I will walk in the dark over to the PX and get some things that it occurrs to me that I need that won't be provided by the hotel anymore. Things like TP and bottled water. Then I will climb into a car, by myself, and drive in the dark through the construction zone that is the road to the hotel. Here they move the road around daily, and I'll just try to follow traffic. I do know what most of the traffic signs mean at this point. So, I am definitely out of my comfort zone, since I've only ever driven once since I've been down here, and that was in daylight.

I'm scared about tomorrow's move as well. Scared that I won't be able to find the apartment. Scared that no one will show up. Scared that they will, and I won't be able to communicate with them.

The reality is that I will be able to find things, I have a bilingual friend showing up, and if all else goes wrong, there is no reason I can't stay another week or so, keep the rental car, and move myself slowly. All it takes down here, all anything (and I do mean anything) takes down here, is money. And the cost is in my budget for the short term, anyway.

This is a largish chasm. I'm stepping off in a half-hour. That glass of wine is what's on the other side.

All systems go, sort of

So, I'm assured the guy with the truck will show up, even though I have no name or cell number for him. The second set of guys to help load wanted more than my co-worker thought they should get, so he says he has a couple more now. I still don't know how to find my apartment on a map, and the guy who does know isn't available to help me tomorrow. I have a hand-drawn map. Hopefully I can find it.

I have a car rented. It's nice. I may end up wanting to rent a car for the time I'm here. I have to check out the parking situation. Probably that will mean its a no go since I need secure parking to have one. The car is for tonight and the move tomorrow, and I'll turn it in tomorrow afternoon. Did I mention I'm a basket case? I'm had an anxiety attack most of the day. Just a lot of things down here that are out of my control. This is also an exercise is how I really, really need to get rid of a lot of stuff.

The vision of a glass of wine on the rooftop tomorrow evening is keeping me going.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Well, ummm, not so good news

My taxi driver says he didn't agree to the price, and he wants more than I want to pay to take me back and forth. When I'm on my usual shift, every other week right now, I can take a free bus to work and home. So, even if I have to pay close to what he wants sometimes I still not have to pay anything at least half the time. The past year I have turned down rides home from co-workers in order to have definite plans with him every day to pick me up. There are enough co-workers who live where I'm moving that some of the time I can hitch a ride. The rest of the time I'll pay the extra money for a dedicated cab, but it won't be nearly as much as paying him every day. Loyalty means a lot, but not as much as he wants. sigh.

The original movers weren't available, but my co-worker has found 3 more, and the corporate admin here found me a guy with a 'big truck'. Not sure what that exactly means, but my co-worker will be there with his pickup as well.

As I said, it's non-linear.