Saturday, October 22, 2011

Just What Does a Cold Front Mean?

Yesterday when I got up, it was cold..  Well, it was cold for us, about 70 F. with a WCF of about 60 F.  I was going to write something fluffy, like about how I could wear one of my bulky sweaters, which I did.  About how I was wearing sock and shoes and not flip flops, which was true. About putting an afghan on the bed and letting Chico sleep with us, which we did.  Then I got serious and decided to write about a cold front means in Central America.

A cold front combined with a tropical depression, combined with the rainy season in Central America means rain, lots and lots of rain.  It has been raining for 8 days, and is suppose to continue over the weekend.  One community in Honduras reported 36" of rain in 24 hours.  That is roughly a quarter of the normal rainfall for the year on the North Coast falling in one day.  Here in Trujillo we had a tourist who died yesterday when a flash flood hit the car she was in, washing her out to sea.  Her body was found today on the other side of the bay near the port.

The Rio Cristales (Crystal River) is normally a fairly benign river.  It is where most of our water come from.  A couple of weeks ago we crossing the river and noted it was almost dried up, explaining why we had no water pressure.   This was Rio Cristales yesterday

                                                           Courtesy Trujillo Noticias
                                                         Courtesy Trujillo Noticias
If you remember, last year the main bridge between Trujillo and the rest of the world was washed away.  It just reopened  last month.  Puente La Burra spans the Rio Aguan and in  normal times it looks like this.

                                                         Courtesy Trujillo Noticias
Yesterday it looked like this.

                                                          Courtesy Trujillo Noticias

The Mayor of Trujillo was out yesterday surveying the situation at La Burra, and this is what he found.  The road leading up to the bridge apparently was not built on an adequate substrata, and is washing away.  Remember this was just opened last month.

                                                         Courtesy Trujillo Noticias
                                                          Courtesy Trujillo Noticias

In the rest of the country a cold front/tropical depression looks like this:

                                                            Courtesy La Prensa HN
A family's home is destroyed.

                                                                                         Courtesy La Prensa HN

A road falls into a ravine, cutting off the countryside from food and other supplies.  These people will have to walk pig trails to get to work, school, or just to buy food.

                                                            Courtesy La Prensa HN
Communities are cut off with bridges washed away, and who knows when this bridge will be replaced.

                                                                                          Courtesy El Heraldo HN
An official from COPECO, the Honduran equivalent of FEMA, on horseback assessing the damage in an area in southern Honduras.  The man in the canoe is delivering potable water, food and baby diapers.  

                                                            Courtesy La Prensa HN
Unlike FEMA, COPECO uses whatever works to get food and other supplies to victims in a timely manner.

Another tropical depression is waiting off the coast to move in when this one leaves.

How were we directly affected?

The bodega is flooded, and the boxes are leaning precariously as the ones on the bottom get soaked.  We will have to repack, but that's okay, because we can use this opportunity to get rid of some stuff we don't really need and check for termite damage.

The rain keeps falling and is so loud at times we can't hear the TV, or each other.

There is no view from the balcony, or at least not the usual view.  That should be the sun shining off the bay.

We have a dry, warm place to sleep.  We have clean food and potable water.  We have electricity for now.  Chico thinks he is in heaven, because he can get on the bed, something that is usually a big no-no.

We are blessed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

We're Making Progress - Moving Day is Closer Every Day

We have reached a point where you can see progress.  I like to brag about the workmanship, because although it is exasperating to live with a perfectionist, it can be an asset when you are building the last house you will ever own.  You cannot imagine how happy it makes us to know  this house belongs to us, with no mortgage, no loan, no debt of any kind..

I guess the place to start is outside.  The railings and security bars are finally up on the balcony, and they are perfect.  Not quite 'N'awlins lace', but close enough to suit us.

This is the west side of the house from the road. It is late afternoon. The door on the balcony goes into the kitchen.  My sink will between the two windows.

The post in the foreground is for the fence.  For now it will be strung with barbed wire just to keep the neighbor's horses and cows out of the yard.  Jose and Marvin have plastered the colonnade, and it is ready to paint. The walls will have to wait 'til another time.

I took this picture to show how large the balcony really is.  The picture explains why the living room is small; we plan to do most of our living out here.  Since the temperature hardly ever gets below 72 degrees, it gives us a lot of outdoor living (read hammock) time.

You can see the security bars on the windows.  The frames of the windows are made of rosita.  Each of them have been planned, evened out, planed, shaped, and put together by hand.  Jose learns very quickly, so once Macho Man showed him how to rip the boards he was able to help a lot.  These frames are bolted into the concrete about 4 inches and the bars bolted into the frames.

This window is looking into the living room toward the portico door.  The picture shows more of the detail of the security bars.  Macho Man is working on the screens.  He is also working on the doors.  Once those are up, we will move in.  We can hang the windows  after we move in.

We supplied the wood and hired a carpenter to make the door from the kitchen to the balcony.  This is the natural color of the wood.  The tabs at the top of the door will be cut off before it is hung.  They are there so if the carpenter made the door too short you can layer in another piece of wood to snug up the fit.  I really like this door.

Lights on the balcony are in, and the wiring is in for the fans.  We have carriage lights at the front doors, upstairs and down. 

One of two hanging lamps we brought from Miramar.  Macho Man hung one at the back end of         the balcony on the east and west sides of.  This one provides light just outside the kitchen door; the other outside the master bath.

The ceilings are up.  We chose knotty pine rather than rosita or mahogany.  We want the house to be as light as possible and both the other woods get very dark as they age.  To me it is beautiful.

There over 600 boards, 1" x3" x10', in the ceiling. Each board  has been worked by hand, first to get it dry because it doesn't come kiln dried from the lumber yard. Then it has to be straightened and the tongues and grooves made. Jose and Marvin hand sanded and varnished each piece before it was hung.  MM showed Jose how to nail it into place, fitting the tongues and groves together. Jose and Marvin did a really good job while MM worked on something else.. 

The master bath.  The shower and tub surround are Macho Man's design.  If you look closely, all the grout lines and all the decorative tiles line up exactly.  There was a lot of effort put into this room.  The base cabinets and mirror still need to be installed and I need to paint it.

The grout lines in the tile from the balcony through the house,onto the rear portico, and down the back steps are all in one straight line.  I told you Macho Man is a perfectionist.

I am blessed. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Medical Care in the Third World.

My sister-in-law had surgery today, and I am appalled at what I observed.  I am so mad I don't know whether to scream or sit on the floor and cry, or both.  I never want to hear another person from an industrialized country bitch and moan about how long they waited in the ER.  Don't tell me how the nurse was mean, or the doctor was rude.  Just shut up and sit down and be thankful for the advantages you have.

Yesterday we were talking to Sis and she told us that she had been scheduled for admission last evening, but had been asked to come in this morning.  There were so many peopled admitted they were putting two patients per bed.  Juan thought she was joking.  I thought he misunderstood her, so I just told him that if they tried to put her in a bed with another patient we would just bundle her up and take her home.  After all, I may not be working, but I am still a nurse.  Just in case, I took my BP cuff and stethoscope with me this morning.

Everything was going well until a nurse came out of the OR with a uterus in a jar the family provided.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  It seems they have no way of doing the pathology in Tocoa, so my nephew will take it to La Ceiba.  It will take a week or more to get the report.  Oh well, at least it was in formaldehyde.

The doctor did not come out and speak to the family.  Neither did the surgical or the recovery room nurse.  My BIL says it is not normal for anyone to come and speak with the family.  We were lucky because there were enough nurses/friends coming and going to keep us informed.

About 2:00 PM the nurses wheeled Sis out of Recovery and to her room.  Let me stop a second, and add some background.  Sis has been a nurse in this hospital for all her adult life, 34 years.  Usually nurses and hospitals take care of their own and make room for a co-worker.  Evidently not here; or maybe they did and that's why she wasn't sharing a bed.

Anyway, when we got to the room I looked inside and I almost fainted.  There were two ladies and their newborns on beds up against one wall, and both babies were screaming.  There was another woman on a bed under the windows who was obviously a fresh post-op and on the other long wall was a second fresh post-op and then Sis's bed.

This was not a big room.  This room was designed to be a semi-private room and it is a five bed ward. You never put pediatric patients, especially newborns, with adult patients, especially surgical patients.  That is a disaster waiting to happen.  This, along with the overcrowding, sets the stage for cross contamination.

The gurney being used was probably last used in the industrial world about 1930-40.  The bed was so old that I don't remember ever seeing one like it.  It was the size of an old gurney, about 25-30" wide.  Forget automatic controls; this one didn't even have the old crank at the foot to raise and lower the head.  You have to stand at the head and manually lift it.  Okay, Okay, call me a spoiled American Gringa.  After all, that is just the gurney and the bed.

When the nurses transferred Sis to the bed, they left her flat on her back.  Most surgical patient are left with the head of the bed raised at least to about 15 degrees, if not higher.  This helps keep fluids from collecting in the lungs and makes it easier to breathe.  Not one of the nurses checked for bleeding or even looked at the bandage.  No one checked to see if the Foley was draining, which is just as well, cause I didn't see one.  No vital signs were taken.  No pillows were put behind her to ease the pressure on her back.  She wasn't propped on her side in case she vomited.  I could go on, but I won't.

While I was building up to throwing my hissy fit Macho Man decided it was time to get me out of the hospital, so he said we needed to go to the hardware store and then home and hustled me out the door.  On the way out I was frantically trying to explain to my niece how to get her mother to deep breathe and cough; how to turn her from side-to-side; how to prop her up, etc.  I was also begging her to take Mami home and I would come and stay for a couple of days.

It is a shame when a medical system has a mission to provide good care to its users but does not have the equipment or the personnel to carry out that mission. It is a shame that many countries have no set standards of care and no way to enforce higher standards.  It is a shame good medical care is not a right of every human being.

Sis is okay for now.  I have no doubt she will fully recover and the pathology will be all right.

We are blessed.  If we have good medical care, we are doubly blessed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Many Views From the New Balcony

Many of my Internet friends, high school friends, and relatives have asked me to show the view from the new balcony. This is just a small part of the pictures I have taken this year

The house faces to the NE.  The balcony is U-shaped and wraps around three sides of the house.  The front part of the balcony is 10' x 58'.  From there we have a panoramic view of Trujillo Bay, the peninsula leading to Puerto Castilla, where Dole owns a facility for shipping their fruits all over the word.  It is the deepest saltwater port in the Americas.  Just beyond there we can see a little slice of the Caribbean.  

This tree is the neighbor's across the street.  Some night I am going over there with a chain saw andd cut the top out of that tree.;-D  The city is down below, but we cannot see it.

On the sides of the house the balcony is 4' x 38'.  Not very large but large enough to put chairs on, if you want to get away for a few minutes.

Here is the view from the from the west side.


The beginning of sunset.  You can't see it in this picture, but we can see the bay through the trees.  Not much, though, so I am considering a midnight chain saw raid here, too.

From the corridor
The neighbor was kind enough to leave the bougainvilla on my side of the fence.  The rest of the garden is his, but I enjoy it.

From the kitchen window

Now to the east.

Capiro, part of the Calentura-Capiro Nation Cloud Forest Park  This is the view from my bedroom window  and the corridor.  The trees in the foreground are mangoes, but not the kind I like.

From the corridor and my bedroom window.  I get teased about being able to pick mangoes from the corridor, and I can with one of those gadgets they make for picking fruit. 

And now the back portico.

Calentura with her head in the clouds.  The people say she has a headache when she looks like this.  Most of the time it means the clouds will drop down to about 2,000 feet and supply the moisture needed by the flora and fauna on the mountain.

Calentura without the the headache.  You can see how high this mountain really is.  No, I don't love this mountain. ;-0   I just like to look at it.    Because this is a national park it can't be built on or destroyed.

The leaves on the trees on our mountains don't change color in the fall, but that doesn't mean we don't have colors.  When the trees bloom they can be pink, red, orange, a pale greenish white, and even gold, like this.

We are blessed.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

José is sick :-(

Yesterday, about 1:00 PM, José, our best worker, came and told Juan he was in pain and needed to go home.  We took him to his house and gave him L100 (about $5.00 USD) in case he went to the ER.  When we called to check on him he said the ER doctor referred him to the hospital in Tocoa because there is no surgeon in Trujillo.  Tocoa is about an hour away by car, about two hours away by bus, over some of the worst roads you will ever see. 

My SIL, Magda, is a nurse in Tocoa, so Macho Man called her.  She says there is only one surgeon on Tocoa, and he is on vacation.  The next nearest surgeon is in La Ceiba, about 3 hours by car,  4-6 by bus, depending on which bus you take.  I think the best deal is for us to put down the back seats in the Xterra and take him ourselves. We'll see.

When Juan called about 9 PM, José told him the pain was coming back, but he was going to try and ride it out until Monday, when the surgeon gets back off vacation.  I am really afraid this young man has a hernia, and I am not sure he can wait until Monday.

If José needs surgery, he will need to stay off work for 4-6 weeks.  We will continue to pay at least a part of his salary so his wife and child won't do without.  We are trying to figure out how to work around him, so we can continue with the construction.  For sure, he will have a job when he is able to return to work.

The next time you want to complain about long waits at the doctor's office, stop and be thankful that you have a doctor close by, not six hours away.  If you need surgery, most likely your need can be met at your local hospital.  If you need to go to another hospital for treatment, and it is far away, most likely you will be transported by ambulance, not told to take the bus for a six hour trip. 

I ask you to pray for José.

Americans are blessed

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Update on La Casa de Sueños

We have reached several milestones on in construction since the last time I posted on the subject.  We have all but finished the painting.  I'm just waiting for a dry day to go do the trim outside.  Juan has started making the window frames.

Marvin and Jose have learned to cut ceramic tile and lay them.

Jose learned how to cut the tile to fit around the columns

The finished job on the balcony floor

The real owner of the house inspects the finished job on the balcony floor

The welder has designed the railings for the balcony and for the security bars over the windows.These railings don't come prefab. The welder has to puut together all the pieces so they fit the space exactly nd everything is on center.

We were very pleased with the design the welder produced.  The only change is that we want the paint changed from glossy to matte

This is a close up of the medalions.  This is a security bar, so the medalions are on every otherd upright.  On the balcony railings they are on every third upright.

This is approximately how the security bars on the windows will look

Today MM started laying the tile in the great room. 

We laid out almost the whole living room floor last night; played with  tile, and moved tile.  This pattern is too busy.  This pattern doesn't show off the decorative tiles.  At 7 PM we said, Eureka, this is it!!!!

We are blessed

A Garífuna Mass

Last Sunday Macho Man, Don Miguel and my Sister-in-law decided to go to the 6:30 PM Mass at the cathedral.  When we got there we found out it was to be a Garífuna Mass.  These Masses are held on the second Sunday of every month.

The Garífuna are the descendants of slaves brought from St. Vincent to Central America in 1797 and the local indians.  They were off-loaded on Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras, or were either thrown overboard or were the victims of the shipwreck of two slave ships, actions taken by the British to prevent an uprising against English settlers on St. Vincent.  They have retained their Arawak language and much of their African culture.  The Spanish forced their conversion to Catholicism but couldn't change their form of worship.

The Mass started with Garífuna music, sung in their own language and accompanied by maracas, tambourines, and wooden drums topped with animal skins, tuned by tightening or loosening straps wrapped around the drums.  There was a lot of clapping, dancing in place, and joyful noise.  You could not help getting caught up in the joy and celebration.  Even the scriptures were read in Garífuna.  I was surprised to find that while I couldn't understand the words to the Lord's Prayer, I knew what was being said and could pray it in English.

Father Felipe conducted his homily and the celebration of the Eucharist in Spanish, which I could understand a little better.  When the bread and the wine were brought to the alter it was done with dancing, waving of palm fronds, singing, and the offering of bowls and cups made of coconut hulls, bread made from cassava flour.  It was truly a celebration!

We were made to feel we were part of the congregation.  When the sign of Christ's Peace was given, many many people came to us and wished us La Paz de JesuCristo.  When the Mass was ended, many people came to us and expressed their thanks for joining them and asked us to join them for worship in August.

I left worship feeling a spirit of joy and jubilation that is hard to describe.  I felt I had neen taught a lesson in the extent of the love of God.  My knowledge base was broadened.  I came away feeling more convinced than ever that there are many ways to worship and God loves them all.

We are blessed.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Fourth of July in Trujillo

Today one of my friends asked if I had seen the American Flag flying from the old American Embassy in Trujillo..  Red-faced, I had to ask where the Old American Embassy was located.  When she told  me it was close to Johnny Glynn's store, I thought I knew where it was.  MM hauled me downtown to find it, and as we approached El Centro, there it was, The Stars and Stripes, fluttering in the breeze.  It was so good to see it, and it made me so proud of who I am.

As luck would have, the Flag was flying from the balcony of Mr.  Glynn's house.  MM has known Mr. Glynn all his life, and I met Mr. Glynn at the grand opening of the new eco-park on Guaimoreto Lagoon.  Mr. Glynn made a really big mistake at the grand opening; he told me anytime I wanted anything, let him know.  Anybody who knows me well knows I am a history buff; and Mr. Glynn is the man to see about history in Trujillo. . 

Mr. Glynn closes his store at 11:30 AM to 2 PM, so he and his employees can have lunch and a siesta.  At 2:10 PM I was in the store, talking to him.   Thank goodness, he speaks perfect English.  He is the second generation of Glynns born in New Orleans and reared in Trujillo.  He is one of the wealthiest men in Trujillo, and I really did not expect him to spend any time with me.  I was surprised when he invited me into his home and we talked about 30 minutes.

Then he gave me a wonderful surprise.  He looked for a copy of a dissertation done by Taylor E. Mack when he was working on his PhD in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at LSU.  He told me he has never let anyone take this book out of his house, and he let ME bring it home to read!  Me! a person he barely knows.  I am so honored.

So, tonight we are going to have hamburgers, potato salad and refritos for supper and watch fireworks on TV.  We are going to go to devotions with a group of young people here on a mission trip. And I am going to start reading Ephemeral Hinterlands and the Historical Geography of Trujillo, Honduras, 1525 - 1950,  A Dissertation.

I am having a wonderful Fourth of July..

We are blessed

Friday, June 24, 2011

Finally, We Are Painting!

It finally stopped raining and the painting began this week, after a slow start.  Jose and Marvin started on the soffits and are painting the trim and columns that I cannot reach.

 I'm pretty sure OSHA wouldn't approve of this maneuver, either.  That is Jose hanging over the edge of the house painting the soffits.  Marvin is sitting on the roof ridge hanging onto the rope Jose has around his waist..  By about 8:30 we had to flatten a box for him to lay on because the lamina was so hot.

Macho Man and I started on the west side of the house because it is shady and cool in the morning, especially when there is a breeze and there is a breeze most of the time.  The paint is a little darker than we thought we had chosen. ..  It is still a very Caribbean color and I like it.  MM is a little hesitant because it is PINK.  He asked Jose how he liked the colors and the answer was, "Casi me gusto."  (I almost like it).  Very diplomatic, don't you think?

We were able to finish the front of the house and both sides Monday.  You can see where Marvin was cutting in the darker color along the top of the posts.  It, too, is darker than what I expected, but we'll keep it.  These are colors we see in our sunsets almost every evening.

We got this far Wednesday before we ran out of paint.  We can't go any further until we can go to Tocoa and pick up more of this lighter color.  Macho Man says we may need more of the dark coral.

This is the front.  It is easy to see the contrast between the two paint colors up top.  We will paint the bottom arches when we get the rest of the paint.  That will happen next week.
Wednesday I painted the powder room.  Jose really didn't like that color.  No, I'm not adding a picture of the powder room.  You can see it when I finish it.

This is our bedroom.  The boys got to the house early and decided not only to cut in the paint, but to paint halfway down the walls.  That made it easy for me to finish this room today.  I can't believe I didn't picture of the finished product.

My next job is the great room.  I have to pick out the color this weekend so we can get started next week.

The boys' next job is to take this wire and staple it all around the house here.

The screen goes from the top of the wall to the bottom of the lamina all the way around the house.  This is to keep the critters out of the attic space whether they have two, four, six, or eight legs, or slither around on their stomachs.  The power stapler gave out today, so the boys will have to use the hand stapler.

 I don't know how they will staple the wire here, because this is directly over this

But Macho Man says they will use this, with Jose on the ladder and Marvin holding it steady.

We are blessed