The return of the trade winds

05/30/2018 Let’s see if I can pick up where I left off. Hmmm. Nope, no can do. It was way too long ago and I apologize. I’ve been distracted and busy. And hot and sweaty, OMG. If I could market and sell under boob sweat I would be a millionairess. If there only was a need for it. Sad times.

It’s been a super hot month. It was very miserably hot while Trace was visiting, too hot almost. The heat made afternoon siestas a part of the day. He took a lot of photos of the homes we’re looking after and built a website for us. It’s not up and running yet, it’s very involved and detail intensive using a website like this for a novice like me. Being Miss OCD does nothing to lessen the frustration. I will say I get pissed and want to give up and maybe do give up for that particular moment, but I’m back figuring it out some more in no time at all. It’s taking me a long time to get things the way I want them, which is all the same, but different. Some of you get that.

We did manage to have some fun on a few short boating trips. One day Trace and I “boated” to Calabash Bight to check out some guests. While there Trace took some photos but not the ones for the website, he took those later. He and I went snorkeling with Daniel and Stephanie at the Sloth farm, awesome snorkeling in the protected waters of the marine preserve. Another day Trace and I went to West Bay by way of a water taxi from West End because the actual road is so bad.

We ate at Cal’s a number of times just because it’s excellent and it’s 3 minutes away. Who can say no to that? Not me.

Our friends Liza and Mike came from Oregon to spend some time here. They own land in Sandy Bay, about 40 min west of us. The day after they arrived they came down to hang out around the pool and eat some pizza. They brought me some things I ordered and also a bulk foods bag of HOT TAMALES. I have not had them for 5 years. I caught Trace eating them and yelled at him. I told him he could buy them in Seattle, I can’t get them here and dammit! I was being stingy and not sharing. I hid them and allotted myself a certain number (12) each night before I brushed my teeth. They lasted from April 13 to me savoring the lonely last one on May 16th. It was a very sad night.

When they were plentiful

When there was only one.

The the next day Trace and I met Liza and Mike at Pineapple Villas, mainly so they could meet Nidia. She is kind of famous around these parts. After that I took them to the Monkey and Sloth Farm where we held sloths, let monkeys look for bugs in our hair and held macaws and yellow naped parrots. 

These monkeys are named after the cast of Jersey Shore. You know, J Wow, Snookie, Vinnie and Pauly D. Here one is sitting on Trace’s neck.

They are insane, so much fun.

Might be picture of the week. Trace trying to get his camera lens cover from the monkey.

Spying on us, planning his attack.

I so love this photo. Mike is just like, OK, there are 2 crazy monkeys on my head.

She’s found her calling, Liza the sloth snuggler.

My favorite bird. The colors are intense.

Trace took this video while we were snorkeling in West Bay. The fish didn’t even seem to notice the camera on the broom handle (improvised selfie stick). They swam all around it and then pretty much had Trace in the middle of their school. He got some awesome footage. These are mostly Blue Tangs, in different stages of development. Some other fish join the school, there’s even a nice sized Barracuda towards the end on the left.

Having a visitor in the house seemed to confuse the dogs. They got a little panicked (Lola) a few times when Trace would come upstairs. She would have barking fits, carrying on like a velociraptor was coming up the stairs. One time they were so freaked out that Barrio was shooting pheromes out his butt. I’m serious, it was gross and it squirted on the walls. It was like he emptied his anal sacks by himself. Sorry, is that TMI? He was so afraid of Trace that he didn’t go near him during the whole time he was here. Gringo and Max and Lola and the idiot (Highway) were fine with him, not Barrio.

Trace holding Lola, who is a showgirl.

Lola, see? She’s crazy.

Max, Lola and Highway

Our electric company is called RECO. I went in to the office and signed a form to get access to their online bill payment system. They said I would get a password in a few weeks sent to the email address I gave them. A month had passed when I emailed them and said “what’s up, where is my password?” A few days later I was in the pool and my phone rang. Caller ID said RECO emergency number. I answered it and they said, “this is RECO calling to say that we got an email (from me) stating that you (me) never got a password for the online payments.” I said correct. She said, “could I get your email address so we can send the password to you?” I was like, but but, you are calling because you got an email from me, you HAVE my email address. Remembering where I lived, I gave up and told her the address and one month later I have still never gotten a password. I later found out everyone got the same password to sign in with and you then had to change it immediately and sign in with the new password that you created. I signed on with my friends temporary password. It worked. You can’t make this shit up.

I recently had a bug night. My husband was sound asleep and a gorgeous moth with a 2″ wide wingspan landed on my nightstand. I couldn’t hurt it so I captured it and threw it out the window using a cup and a piece of paper. But it didn’t work, I threw air out the window. The moth was on the wall when I went back to bed. Damn! I used the same maneuver but used something hard below the paper. It worked, I carried it outside and set it free. Came back to bed and there’s a beetle on my reading light. I tried to capture it until it flew at me three times. I swatted it down and slammed it with a bottle of allergy pills and mortally wounded it and gave it a proper water burial in the toilet. Then I had to pee and was afraid it was still alive and was going to fly at my ass. I thought of my friend Megan who lives on the other end of the island. She went to the bathroom one night and there was a good sized crab in her toilet. She removed it with tongs. Now I look every time. One of the teachers at Froylan School (where we help out) woke to find a huge boa constrictor in her bed. Honestly, I would have died right there on the spot. Dead as a nail. Just roll me off a boat. I live in the jungle.

There was another beach concert right down the road from us. Trace and I went and ate dinner and stayed for the music. I’m sure he wished he had been an ostrich so he could have buried his head in the sand, totally ashamed that his old lady mother danced almost every song. It’s good exercise. And dancing and wine go well together. I’m sure he doesn’t agree that wine makes me an excellent dancer. .

Trace was photographing kids at the beach before the concert started.

They love cameras and cameras love them. Beautiful kids.

This is Ephrain, Alexi’s little brother.

My high school friends donated money early this year to help do some work at the Froylan Turcios School. Bill re-did the bathrooms and they got the building painted and a door installed. They have working toilets and sinks. My friends also bought the school a volleyball net. Bill gave them a long metal pole they can cut in half and cement into tires to make holders for the net. A few weeks ago I got a friend request from someone named Chris. I looked at his profile, he does stuff like we do so I accepted. Then he contacted me to say he had some groups coming down to do missionary work, could I suggest a school. Well, yes, Froylan Turcios. I told him a bit about the school and introduced him to the Principal, my friend Marlon. After Chris spoke to Marlon for awhile he realized he was the real deal. Being the Principal was not about him, it was about the kids. Now Chris and his organization have stepped in to finish the roof, using the stuff we bought to repair the leaks, they are building Marlon an office, he does not have one and they are building benches and tables and a playground for the kids. I still have about $210 left from the money my class donated, plus another 25 was donated and I’ll put in to make it 250 which is enough to buy the 3 toilets and one of the 3 sinks for the first new school EVER in Pandy Town. The kids have never had a school, let alone a new one. They are in a 3 room building behind the church. It’s crowded and hot and dark. They deserve this. I’m thinking $250 would buy the sinks and all of the materials needed to plumb the bathrooms. I have a new goal.

This is the new school. A very exciting event for everyone in the community.

Update: The Rotary club has said if the school puts in a formal request they will present it to the board and possibly buy the toilets. I have been in touch with Miss Iris and told her if that falls through, I will buy them. If that works maybe we can supply the lights or the ceiling fans for the school. We are on hold but will be doing something for the school one way or another.

A little comic relief. The boys going for a swim.

Barrio and Lola sharing a kennel. They love being in their kennels.

Rainy late afternoon, rainbow producer. See the size of the deck to the back left of the stairs? Well, it’s bigger now.

This is how much bigger. Two days and it was done.

I’ve ordered a 10X16 sun shade for this area, more shade for the dogs and a place to nap out of the sun.

The shaded eating area

Enlarged seating area, soon to be shaded.

North shore view

South shore

Trace and I did a few snorkel trips and saw great stuff each time. Actually, anytime I can get my head underwater is a good day.

Saw this beautiful French Angelfish snorkeling. I swear it was following me.

Quite an overbite

White common feather duster worms

Christmas tree worm

Beautiful healthy coral

A pea or baby porcupine

These tangs encircled us, it’s like we weren’t there.

Blue striped grunt

Stunning evening sky over the south shore.

North shore sky.

Trace and I went snorkeling with Daniel and Steph from Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout. Always excellent snorkeling because it’s in a protected marine reserve.

Common feather duster worms

Spaghetti worms, amazing to watch them move. I’m very curious what they feel like.

They are so fascinating, here is a video on them.

This was a large porcupine pufferfish, it started to come out towards us but changed it’s mind.

Googly eyes on the porcupine puffer fish

This was an awesome find, some type of burr fish. This thing had big spikes sticking out of it.

Four eyed butterfly fish

A live beautiful conch. See the eye sticking out on the left of the shell? It’s a tube. They have 2 eyes, just like us. Sort of.

Beautiful protected harbor of French Caye.

The son..

Daniel and Steph, two of my favorites..really, I love these 2.

Daniel’s grandfathers shrimp boats.

The dogs were going absolutely crazy one afternoon. Highway was jumping straight up, a few feet off the ground every time he barked. The 3 brothers were non stop barking. {I seriously pity a thief coming here, they have no chance.} Bill spotted this guy in the Gumbalimba tree by the deck. He was kind of hidden but I did get a few shots. So gorgeous.

I love iguanas.

They are such beautiful creatures. I think they were eating the berries on the tree.

Their skin looks like the hand beaded animals they sell in Mexico.

Cruise ship passing.

I interviewed Lauren who owns The Roatan Wine Room for an article I wrote for Incomes Abroad, an International Living publication spin off. Lauren recently opened her business in West End. I look forward to making a trip there soon, who doesn’t love wine?

Nidia and I are planning to go to the Mosquito Coast of Honduras for 3 days. The poverty is extreme. We have free shipping for all of the donations to the mainland so we will be able to buy a lot of stuff, like 200 bars of soap, 200 toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes. We take so much for granted. I got an amazing generous donation from some new friends, Nidia and I started planning how to spend it as soon as I called her. Our trip to the coast will not be a vacation. We are going where there is no electricity or running water. I’m a snoopy eater so I’ll have to take enough peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips and hard boiled eggs to last several days. It will not be GLAMPING. It will be an experience that I should get to have. I’m very excited.

The rag tag gang. I’m a sweatball, Bill’s shirt has a hole in it so he tucks it in under his belt to hide it. Poor Trace.

The wind has picked up, it’s crazy windy after no wind for a week. I was making a sandwich and it blew the cheese off the sandwich. Score for the dogs. Great sleeping weather and no bugs.

Today I had a much needed girls day with Jonna. We ran errands, went to the labor board, went to the municipal, found Roatan Provisions where we bought (split) a $52.00 jar of kalamata olives went to lunch, had mojitos. Little more shopping and then home. I saw dishes I wanted but didn’t buy because they were pottery and I will break/drop them. I thought they were the lightweight melamine. Oh well. I got olives.

Trace helped us get the counters downstairs finished with epoxy resin before Chance, Alecia and the girls come on the 12th. So excited to see all of them!

This is in the kitchen

Turned out really nice but now I don’t like the tile at all.

The bar, Trace added some orange to it. Again, that awful tile.

I would say I’ll try to be better about blogging but we all know that’s a lie. I started this Monday night and it’s Friday. I’m done. We’ve had a guy here installing the back splash tile in my upstairs kitchen ALL DAY and the whole place is a mess. There is stuff all over the floors, hoping the counter tops are still OK. Not very thrilled with the tile job, I will be going to see them tomorrow.

I’m publishing this sucker before another week passes. Happy FriYay everyone.

Doña Maria de la Luz

cross your path

10/08/2015 Yesterday morning Carmen and Marilyn were dropped off at my house by Alex, we loaded up the car, sprayed more bug repellent on us on top of the already sprayed bug repellent (I mean, we were jungle bound), Marilyn and I loaded our walking sticks into my car and we set off to meet Nidia at the Roatan Culture Village. We were going to see Doña Maria, the lady we went to see last week but she wasn’t home. I had a bag of stuff for her, shampoo, creme rinse, body soap, air freshener, some plastic cups, laundry and dish soap and some dish scrubbers, plus a used pair (new condition) of Keen sandals for her. Nidia had some flip flops and 3 dresses for her too. She had also asked for some black water dye because she wanted to color her hair. However, she was in for a big surprise. Nidia had arranged for her to get her hair done at Sophiestication Salon and Spa in Coxen Hole. They graciously said they would give her a hair color and cut and mani, pedi for free.

The walk in to her place is challenging in the beginning because there are some very steep, uneven steps carved into the side of the hill. I was so grateful for the walking stick Bill made me that morning, it makes up for not having 2 good knees.

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I didn’t even notice this tunnel the first time I went there. Nidia said it doesn’t go back very far.

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Painting on a twig wall

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Part of the old Culture Village, the bar area was quite large. Love the stools!

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This place must have been amazing.

We  made it to her house, obviously earlier than she had expected us. She was stoking the fire in her mud oven when we arrived. We started getting out the goodies we had for her and showing her what we brought.

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Here she has on her Keen sandals. They will be great for her walking through the jungle to the spring to get water.

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You can’t help but fall in love with her, what a sweet lady.

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This is what her hair looked like before her salon treatment and she is modeling a new dress.

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Nidia and Marilyn with her.

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She was husking corn and said she wanted a corn grinder to make her own corn meal or flour.

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Her broom

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Marilyn with Doña Maria

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Shoe tree

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Entrance to her bedroom. Her new cups and shampoo and creme rinse are on her shelf. The orange bag has her 3 new dresses in it, new  shoes in the black plastic bag.

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Her kitchen. This makes me realize so much about the excess that many people live with, thinking it gives them a better life. It does not.

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She went in and changed before we walked down the hill to my car, bound for the beauty shop.

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Marilyn and Carmen, obviously I didn’t get the blue memo.

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Even more obvious that I got no memo when she changed into blue also. She lost the lock for her front door and ties it closed now. I need to get her a new lock.

We were ready to go to town and she led us off the mountain. At one point I yelled to Nidia, “Why is she running?” She moved so fast down that path and when it came to the stairs I think she jogged down them. I remarked to Marilyn about it and Marilyn tried to make it sound reasonable that she did it so easily because of a lower center of gravity. Yeah, maybe that’s it. We got her buckled in the front seat and off we went to Sophiestication Salon at Plaza Mar.

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She seemed slightly overwhelmed at first. Rightfully so, she was in a room surrounded by mirrors and all she saw was herself.

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They were getting ready to do her hair so the 4 of us went shopping again. Marilyn and Carmen got her metal forks and spoons, a new knife (her old one was so dull Marilyn said you could fall on it), coca cola, meat and cheese, sugar and a container to keep it in, a ladle and some condiments. Remember, she has no electricity or running water. I got her some beans, corn flour, bread, rolls, clothespins and clothesline and a few other things.

We took that stuff to the car and went back to see how she was doing.

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Her hair had all the color on it and they were giving her a pedicure. Look at her expression. Priceless.

Remember, this woman lives in the jungle, she doesn’t even own a mirror, let alone beauty products. Despite the fact that she is probably in the sun much of the day she has exquisite skin, especially for a lady her age.

Marilyn and Carmen and I went to Super Islena looking for a corn grinder and a bucket with a lid. No corn grinder in the several places we looked but Carmen did find a nice lidded bucket to keep the rats out of her beans and flour. We went back to the salon and her hair was being combed out and straightened. SHE LOOKED LIKE A DIFFERENT WOMAN.

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Getting her nails done

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Marilyn admiring our new friend.

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The ladies at Sophiestication Salon worked miracles that morning.

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Just beautiful.

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With the lovely ladies from Sophiestication Salon.

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The transformation

This is the real shocker though, what a change in her looks. She was so thrilled.

donamaria

Just as we were getting ready to leave Plaza Mar it started raining. We got into the car quickly so she didn’t get her new hairdo wet. This time Nidia took us in a different way (so thankful for my AWD Outlander) since it was raining and we had lots more stuff to carry for her.

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Guard shack

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Carmen blazing the trail and lugging a bag of goodies

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Marilyn with Coke and Nidia and Doña Maria behind her. Sorry it’s blurry, I was moving..

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A house on the way, lower level is mud walls.

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Nidia helping get her hair tied up so it doesn’t get wet.

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Marilyn putting her sugar in the critter proof container.  Doña Maria was so excited that we got her more things. We showed her everything and she kept thanking us. It really made for a fabulous day for this sweet lady.

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Nidia and Marilyn helping her to bend over so they could do her hair in a top knot on top of her head.

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Perfect!

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The 4 of us, Doña Maria has her hair covered with a towel

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She took the towel off for this photo.

She was so upset that she couldn’t offer us anything. She wanted to make us tortillas but we showed up earlier than she expected. She must have apologized to Nidia about it several times. It really amazes me that she was so worried about giving us something; she has no idea that she already did, something way better than any tortilla ever could be. Just the experience of spending a day with this amazing woman was so exhilarating. It made me realize that the fact that my kitchen isn’t done is not really a big deal, that no door yet on my pantry is insignificant. She has so little and is so happy.

We also found out that in the 8 years she has been on the island (she came from Olanchito on the mainland with her son and his wife, they were allowed to build a “house” on the land in exchange for being caretakers, his wife must be gone and her son is only there sporadically) she has never been to the east end of Roatan. We plan to take her on a day trip, maybe a boat ride, get her out and away from the jungle so she too can experience the beauty of this island.

Meeting Nidia has changed my whole path on this island. She gives of herself everyday to so many people, she gives her time, her energy and her love. If she needs to raise money for something she does it, with the goal clearly set in her sights. Nothing stops her, no person is insignificant in her eyes. She does so much for the children and the seniors on this island that just being with her has made me a better person. Now I get to share Nidia with my friends, Carmen and Marilyn. They have joined me on several events that Nidia has taken me to. I can’t imagine better people to hang out with and to help Nidia do what she does best, helping those who need help.

After we left Doña Maria we dropped Nidia off at her store and stopped at the new liquor store in town. We each bought a few bottles of wine and sampled some Bailey’s Dulch de Leche, ohmyyummy!! Dangerous stuff. By the time we left there it was POURING. We got soaked just getting in the car. We stopped in Los Fuertes and Marilyn found the corn grinder for Doña Maria in one of the stores. And we got more soaked. By the time we got to French Harbor the rain had subsided so we decided to drag our soggy semi muddy selves into Herbie’s for some lunch. We had a “fried” lunch and drinks and then headed back to Oak Ridge, where I dropped Marilyn and Carmen off. Alex was coming in the boat to get them and whisk them home.

Such a simply fabulous day with 3 fabulous ladies and sweet Doña Maria. Nidia, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of what you do. I love you lots and look forward to more adventures!

****Just a side note: We are looking for donations for the Christmas party for the children. We need to buy about 1000 gifts and then get food and drinks for the parties and some Piñatas for the games. In the past, Because We Care did a food drive and supplied bags of food for the parents and toys for the kids right before the holidays. Last year it was evident that things were taking a negative turn. People were not thankful for what they were given, they were angry because they expected more or different or better. Because We Care works very hard to raise the money for these events and to finish weeks of driving all over the island and passing out things to some (not all) ungrateful people takes a lot of the fun out of it.

This year it’s just about the kids, that’s it. Santa will be available to pass out gifts to all the kids and if we can raise enough $$ we will throw a party for the kids on each end of the island. (The majority of the people we help have no cars or means of transportation). If you are interested in donating please email me @  ledfutt@gmail.com. I guarantee every cent goes to the kids on this island. 

Thank you.