Saturday, December 5, 2009

What Have I done to Myself?

I must have asked myself that question a thousand times over the past three weeks, but it is getting better, day-by-day. Macho Man and I decided many years ago that we would retire to his home of Trujillo, Honduras. About the middle of September everything began to come together. My Honduran Residency came through after almost three years of waiting; and, we suddenly had a buyer for our home in Florida, which had been on the market for that same three years.

We packed up our household, contacted an international mover, and the race was on. We were contracted for a 40-foot container, which we filled without a problem. We had eleven boxes left over, which we shipped separately. For three weeks, the joke was, "Where is.....?" "It's in a box, on a ship, somewhere."

The eleven boxes arrived this week. The 40-ft container is on a ship, in the Atlantic, somewhere. We are almost through unpacking the first arrivals, and finally we have real plates to eat on, and real glasses to drink out of. If it is not unpacked now, it will wait until Monday, because I am tired.

We bought an old Ford pickup, so we do not have to rent a car. Juan will be using the truck while we are building. I can't wait for the Xterra to get here.

We are renting a 3-bedroom, 4-bath condo. It is part of the Villa Brinkley, a local hotel, and is the home of the former owner, Peggy Brinkley. Because of poor health, Peggy sold out to a new owner. We have access to all the amenities of the hotel, including the pool and gym. In case you are thinking we are living in the lap of luxury, let me dispel you of that idea. It is a very nice place, but it has its faults, most of which can be laid to an absentee landlord and a property manager with no real authority to make changes.

The kitchen in most Honduran homes has no hot water to the sink. Honduran women believe that you get arthritis by putting your hands in too much hot water, and only a gringa would want hot water in the sink, or anywhere else in the house, if the truth be told. The sink in our kitchen is a bar sink, not a kitchen sink, and it leaks. Peggy ate at the hotel and never had to wash anything but maybe a glass or two and a coffee cup, so I do understand.

I have never gotten sick eating at my in-laws, and now I know why. My sister-in-law, Magda, recommended a dish soap that she uses. It looks and smells like a paste made of Comet and bleach. No respectable germ could survive the combination of this soap and the friction of a steel scrub pad. Still, I am heating water to wash dishes in, just like Daddy taught us when we went camping.

Never assume that the electricity in a Honduran house is grounded, unless you were overseeing the electrician yourself. The first time I went to cook, I put on a pot of beans, and when I went to lift the lid of the pot, I found myself sitting on my rear in the kitchen floor. I thought it was the cook top, which was rather old and dilapidated. I pitched a fit, and the landlady found me a two-burner hot plate. Juan plugged it in and I reached out to take the top off the beans again. Back on the floor I went. Now we realize the problem is in the wiring. Back to the landlady, who tells us the new owner is aware of the problem, but it would mean rewiring the whole building, and he is not inclined to spend the money. We now are the proud owner of a six-burner gas stove.

Honduran bathrooms are notoriously small. Think cruise ship or RV. We do have hot water to the bathrooms, when we have water, which is most of the time, so far. The problem is water pressure. Homes built by gringos usually have a cistern and an booster pump to maintain acceptable water pressure. Others have pressure which can range from a good flow to a trickle, depending on the day, the time, and how many people are using water at the time. Villa Brinkley has neither cistern nor booster pump. Casa Ramirez will.

We have windows everywhere, and the arrangement of the three floors creates a heat chimney which funnels the heat out, ensuring that we have excellent ventilation. That's a good thing, because only one bedroom has AC. It is also the only room in the house with glass in the windows. The rest have screens. I am not quite sure what we are suppose to do if it turns cold, and it does turn cold at times. So far the heat has not been a problem. We do have floor fans, which we use mostly to keep the mosquitoes away.

Today, I washed and picked through 5 lbs of beans, getting rid of small rocks, bits of straw, beans that didn't look good, and also critters. The maseca (corn flour used for tortillas) and the rice come with weevils. Your choices are to sift the weevils out of the maseca and wash the rice, or consider the weevils extra protein, I am washing and sifting until I can get some bay leaves to put in the canisters.

That being said...Since the first time I came here in 1987, I have felt that Trujillo is a very spiritual place, especially here on the mountain Calentura. There is a pool up the mountain from us called La Piscena de la Virgen (The Pool of the Virgin). Supposedly a statue of the Virgin Mary was found there by a poor person, and since then good things are reported to happen.

I only know that when I sit on the balconey I can become very still and listen to that still, small voice that is my spirituality. I can see the way Calentura always has her head in the clouds, or the way the light changes the way the bay looks, and I know I am home.


  1. oh my friend...I'm so so sorry but I just laughed out loud. remebering my pain and 'shock' with that horrid hot plate over on that corner of the counter.....OUCH!! When I read it to Thad he immediately said "OH NO We should have warned them!!" I'm so so sorry that I forgot that...SO SORRY!! We got borrowed an oven from the school the few weeks we were there. I'll try REALLY hard to think through anything else....but we were sad to hear about the water pressure. That was never ever a problem in the bathroom on the center floor for us!!
    I'm so excited about your blog and to read of your adventures!

  2. I will just say I never heated the water for dishes...just too lazy with too much going on. And we never got sick. I did let the dishes dry completely or I would dry them if we needed them. Something I learned in Africa. So one day if you are in hurry and don't have time...just know we never got sick!!

  3. Yeah, Rachel, you and I need to talk!

  4. Congratulations on your move and your new blog. You are off to an excellent start. I'm looking forward to more!

  5. Thank you, LG. Your support and advice are always welcome!!

  6. Stop by my house, I bought out all the packages of bay leaves from the local Food Lion last year before I went back. SO I still have a good 15 or so packs of dried bay leaves on my spice shelf.