2010 August - Now a 'working honeymoon' may not seem right or proper; however, this is what Christina and Doug are
doing going to Honduras to "work" for a year. Christina was appointed to the position so that means I am going to have fun.
Well, the trip is paid for by someone else so I guess is it work but for us it shall be fun and adventurous. We both wanted
to live in a Spanish speaking country and so here we go
The Beginning of The Adventure :
6 SEP 2010
My mind was relaxed yet excited with thoughts of our
adventure to Honduras. As our plane took off from Miami airport we could see the blue sky and white puffy clouds over the
Caribbean. Looking down after a short while we surely we could find Cuba far below us. On we went across the Caribbean seeing
small islands until we entered the space over Central America mainland. Honduras
stood below us with its green mountains and hills which, for sure, were near where we would be in a couple of days, Catacamas.
Now we were coming into the airport at Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras; the aircraft banked around in among the hills
coming down to the tarmac easily and rapidly came to a stop. Then we were informed that the Tagucigalpa airport is tricky
and to congratulate the landing pilot since this was his first time landing here, ah, well.
Our Marriage Comes First
25 July 2010 … My New Life Begins
And so it came to pass
that Christina and Doug were married on Sunday, 25th July 2010
After nine years on the Oregon Coast I met a
wonderful woman from Seattle via the Internet, Christina Purdy. We seem to have lead
parallel lives; we both have lived in different places around the world as well has special common experiences in traveling.
We both have been on the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia, through China & Tibet, stayed in Japan, and lived
in Latin America. She has spent several years in places like Japan and Tanzania as an English Christina is an ESL college
teacher, has taught in Japan, and has worked in Africa Habitat for Humanity. Needless to say she is a linguist and speaks
Spanish, Japanese, and Swahili plus some French and German.
We immediately saw some common interests and began
looking for a foreign assignment. Results came this year, 2010, when Christina was accepted as an English Language Fellow
to teach English at the National Agricultural University in Catacamas, Honduras. I am going along
for the as a “dependent” but I suspect I will be as involved as ever in one capacity or another - I am told that
I could coach the swim team, start a Toastmasters club, or even teach English and write for grants - I will probably put up
a table in the university cafeteria with a sign that reads " English Spoken Here". This will be fun and I shall focus on improving
Do look up Catacamas in GOOGLE. There are caves to
be explored and the cloud forest to hike in. We are now living in a duplex on the university campus. But, of course, friends
are welcome to visit. Yes, this is a new Life for me to be filled with new adventures. Watch my web page for a log these new adventures.
Arrived in Honduras
16 SEP 2010
But I digress; every day there is a new experience.
This morning a tarantula wanted to share the shower with me and I am sorry I
did not take a photo of my shower mate, but I need to get on with my day and
so tossed my friend in the trash. Alas, there “House friends” we have to continually discourage. It seems the biggest issue now is Dengue Fever, but no one knows; thus, we do not worry about it but use
mosquito protection. At this moment the power is out but laptop computers
can last quite a while; we seem to have no water for a little time each day, but this too is not bad and we live with the
situation. Now, you may feel that all this is rough and bad but we are eating and sleeping well, we have a refrigerator, a
stove, and washing machine plus some nice furniture – what else does one need. In the USA many folks are complaining
how “bad” the situation is but relative to many places in the World the USA seems quite well off.
17 SEP 2010
The sky’s light was ebbing with only a sliver
of orange in the east. As we walked the blue sky turned to purple with very dark puffs of clouds scattered about. To the north
we would see some lightening and hear the thunder, but no rain came our way. The walking is pleasant as it is warm with a
slight breeze. As the light dimmed we could see among the grass many fireflies with tiny bursts of light, such a fine thing
to observe. Periodically we could hear the chirp of the Gecko. After a day shopping
outfitting our house the walk, cool shower, warmth, and soft be made for a sound sleep.
As so you might ask, how did Doug get here? It was
not difficult but it did take several trips from Waldport to Seattle with my stuff. Then, after acceptance of our foreign
position, the job was to sort, organize, and clear out our stuff then pack and go. I was able to finish the small cabin on
my sailboat and even god sailing before we left. Now the trick was to put our stuff away in the basement or garage since we
had a renter coming in. Yep, I was able to get all my now reorganized boxes of stuff, my sailboat, my row boat, my canoe,
and my car in the garage and close the door. With bags packed we were on our way to Honduras – the story to unfold in
A Special Birthday, Mine
2010 – A personal day to be marked in history, I am 70 years young today
and it feels good with some rejuvenation qualities. We planted four banana trees, went for a swim, wandered the university
hinter lands, and now for a fine spaghetti dinner, tomorrow we shall find some ice cream in the town.
How We Got There
Ok, ok- now I shall begin the real story and catch
up. We did land safely at the Tegucigalpa airport on the 6th SEP.
Sure, enough at the bottom of the stairway was our US Embassy contact who escorted us through immigration and customs was
a snap with only a luggage machine. We were taken to a great B&B, Casa Montes which is not far from the US Embassy. This
is a great place to stay should you find yourself in Tegucigalpa. The food is great and quarters very nice four stars. After
our US Embassy briefing the next day giving us the low down on security, health, city orientation we walked to the center
of the old city and back. The following day we went for a short trip to the local mountains to a neat little village, Villa
de Angeles. We enjoyed watching the school bands practicing for marching in the
upcoming Honduras Independence parade.
Honduras is just about as expected with its “watch
for the sidewalk holes and bumps plus the power pole support wires buried in the
middle of the sidewalk. As usual there are people everywhere, especially walking the little street mall with many shops along
it. There were the usual fast food places, Burger King is big here, and good soft ice cream places There are not many tourists
in Tegucigalpa and we saw only one other foreigner that day. We did have a good sandwich for lunch and their pastries looked
very nice but we declined although I was very tempted. The weather cooperated and we did not have any rain. We had not problems
walking through the city or village but we were told there are places a tourist should not go. Well, there are plenty of places
like that in the USA too, every city has the special areas.
The next day, now 9th of SEP, we were off
early traveling in an Embassy car to Catacamas. The highway out of town for the first couple of hours was quite rough plagued
by rain and trucks and busses creating pot holes and ruts. Then when we came to the Department (state) of Olancho, the road
was a nice cement highway. Did I mention that the last President was from Olancho?
Arriving some 3.5 hours after we started we pulled into the National Agriculture University parking lot and met by Katrina,
the foreign affairs Director, and English teachers and immediately went to lunch. We were to stay in a hotel for a couple
of night since our house was not yet ready for occupancy The next two days were
spent orienting ourselves to the university campus and the town.
On Saturday, 11th of SEP, we finally moved
into our half of a duplex. There was all new furniture, pots, pans, dishes, refrigerator, clothes washer, and microwave. Now
all we needed to do was go shopping for some foot, bottled water, and miscellaneous items like waste baskets, toilet paper,
etc. I suppose this is a “modern” house in this neck of the
woods, but there are a few idiosynchronies – like the kitchen wash basin is in the little room next to the kitchen.
There is the paella where we are to keep a tub of water for use when the water goes out and they gave us a small gas stove
for when the electricity goes out – nice of them.
The following week was spent getting acquainted with
the university. While Christina substituted in teaching a couple of classes I helped with a library automation grant proposal. Our lunches were spent at the university food kiosk which served a good small plate
of chicken/beef/port with rice, beans, and some salad plus tortillas; our drink was often a plastic bottle of cold sweet Lipton
Iced Tea – lots of carbohydrates.
The thousand students all dress in a uniform of jeans
and blue shirt, men and women. Their schedule of studies and work in the university fields and around the university takes
up their day from 06:30 until late afternoon. This is a 4 year institution that focuses on general studies and agriculture
that includes beef cattle and pigs. It just celebrated its 58th year which is an achievement; primary support comes
from the Honduras government plus whatever grants and gratis they can get. Some of the students come from the local town of
Catacamas but most live in dorms on the university grounds. It is a well known university with ties to universities in the
USA. While classes are held in Spanish there is a current push to get all members of the university speaking English. Much more will be revealed as time goes
on. The students seem happy and full of energy. Many of then are from the very rural areas here with full scholarships.
Now Living in Honduras
20th SEP 2010
This morning John (a teacher Natural Resources who had a previous life as a university professor in North Carolina)took us to town
(Catacamas) for some shopping – we needed to pick up a couple of plastic chairs, scrub bucket, and some food. After
our shopping we went to the ice cream shop for my birthday ice cream.
We had purchased a phone Internet connection device
from TIGO on Friday but the start date programmed into the chip was not correct so we returned today and had it adjusted and
it now works. As usual it seems to take two or three times to accomplish any task where others are involved – alas,
such sn the Latin American world; I learned this concept very well while working in Mexico so I just take my time and things
eventually work out. I am impressed, however, compared to my Mexico days that
there exists almost any item here that we have in the States, but sometimes the quality is not quite as good and most likely
all parts are plastic.
Now, onward to enjoy the experience.
22 SEP 2010
We were still asleep when outside our window a person
was calling to us – “hola, senora, hola, buenas dias”. It was our jardinario (gardner) come to work on our
front yard. Well, we thought he was coming at 07:00. Ah, well – spring to and give him the tools to start work. His
bike has his trusty machete tucked in among the bars (if I did that my leg on that side would be a bloody mess). Taking this “wonderful” tool he proceeded to pluch out the crab grass from the broken cement
quickly and efficiently; Christina took two hours to do about a foot that he seemed to do in a couple of minutes. Yep, this
guy has talent.
Now our toilet was leaking a tad bit so the two plumbers
from the University came to fix it since we are living in university housing. This image conjures up one of a tall skinny
man – Don Quixote, he was carrying a bucket of plumbing tools to tilt at the toilet windmill. Then there is his short,
squat, “round”, sidekick – Sancho, carrying the toilet plunger. Now both of these men are earnest and serious
about fixing our toilet. Please note that the tall one is blind, but he sure seems to know his business. Almost all the pipe connections are PVC so it is a matter of putting dope of some sort on the joints to
stop the leakages.
Now while traveling out to one of the experimental
farm plots there is a family that takes care of it. Quite amazing, the man of the
house is also blind but he seems to be able to milk cows, and just about anything else around the farm. He is helped around
by his 9 year old son. So, please enlighten me about the street homeless in the
USA who two hands, two feet, can talk, can see, but yet beg for money?
24 SEP 2010
Tropical storm MATTHEW is coming in tonight and promises
to drop a bit of rain so our newly built water runoff ditch in front of the house should work well. We do not expect horrible
rain and wind. So on Sunday we shall travel out into the beautiful country side. From
our house we can see some beautiful mountains just to the north and we have walked along a beautiful river flowing from them.
A US professor of Natural Resources at our University has promised to take us up into the mountains where he says swimming
in the river is nice and cool.
This afternoon we are going shopping for some more
stuff, like a door mat and mop (essential for our housekeeper) pluse a bunch of food for our party tomorrow evening. I insist
we have a re-celebration of my birthday with cake; besides, it is a good chance to gather some of the local university folks
and celebrate the end of the academic quarter also. It is really fun going to all the different specialty shops looking for
what one needs. The other day we went to the post office for some stamps and the person behind the counter pulled out of a
plastic bag a wad of stamps then proceeded to peel off and sort the ones we wanted. The
town of Catacamas is really quite nice but the siddwalks are narrow as in the old days.
No, I am not bored and in fact I have launched several
initiatives for the University Department of External Affairs (cooperation/coordination) – a needs analysis, investigating
grants and connections, and preparing a couple of short seminars plus working with the English teachers – classes supporting
labs and materials. At the moment this is fun and a challenge and will keep me busy.
My daily swim in the university pool is great and I may even take time to do some reading. On the other hand, Christina and I shall take opportunities to travel near and far in Honduras for a good
25th SEP 2010
Yesterday we spent shopping for some more house things,
had a late lunch, just walked the town of Catacamas getting to know it better, then get food for our party on SAT. We prepared our rotisserie chicken pieces, chips, guacamole, some Fiji’s cheese spread, and drinks. Our house keeper came to help and promply cleaned up the house for our guests. We had a muddy entrance since I have not put some bricks down yet so took my trusty machete and cut some banana leaves to cover the mud as a neat pathway. The housekeeper,
Mirna, made fried Plantains for the party. Christina discovered that these tasty morsels sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar are
really great finger food – try it.
Our part gathered about 10 folks from the English
Department and neighbors. This was a celebration of the end of the university quarter as well as an excuse for me to have
my birthday cake, a nice chocolate one from a local bakery. We then chatted into the night.
Travel To Town, Catacamas
So we move along in our new world getting used to taking
the “Urbano” bus to town and wandring the many shops to find the particular “items” we are looking
for. I will say that the local hardware stores (ferreteria) seem to have just about any hardware item needed. Mind you, the
pipe is all plastic PVC and many drain stoppers are made of pot-metal but they work. Our house is constructed of concrete
brick with plaster so all attachments are made with cement screws.
By the way, the tropical storm Matthew did come through but we were only one the edge and
the known damage was an old tree came down. We heard the crash and great howls from the students on campus where the tree
was. So at the moment we are only getting periodic rain – today it is “cooler” and nice. We relax today
for tomorrow starts a new university quarter and we are now into regular work days.
27th SEP 2010
Jn some countries it takes two meetings to accomplish a goal. Today my new telephone modem
to the Internet stopped working so I needed to go into Catacamas to the TIGO cell phone office. It is easy to pick up a bus
on the highway near our house, and so I waited, but none came. A group of university students were also going into town and
stood right before me and before long they had found a pickup truck to hitch a ride with. Well, now – being of quick
mind, spirit, and body I joined them … just like my old travel days. Sure enough we landed right in the middle of Catacamas.
Yet, the hitching technique still works.
To Post A Letter
I also needed to mail a letter at the post office,
officina de correos. I could easily tell which building it was since it stood on the corner with the steel barred gate open.
The outside walls were in need of paint but needed some refinishing first to fill the hole pocked surface. As I approached the old heavy set woman behind the counter recognized me from the other day when I purchased
some stamps. There was no one else in the place except for another women sitting in a chair that was up against the counter
on the customer side. I bid greetings to each of the ladies. The pair were clearly friends and had been passing the day chatting.
The counter was quite bare except for a small space
before the post mistess where she worked. I presented my letter to purchase stamps and asked for air mail postage to the Unived
States.. Still sitting in her chair behind the counter she could hardly see over she began to rustle through the pile of what
seemed like a miscellaneous collection of stamps. She carefully sifted the stamps finding the set of 5 stamps that would make
up the correct postage. With ease she dipped her fingers in a small pot of glue
and smoothed it on a stamp then placed it on the envelope. This was repeated until all the needed stamps were pasted on hardly
leaving room to see the address. The cost was 33 Lempiras so I handed her 100, but of course she did not have change so I dug into my wallet for smaller bills. We had made the exchange so now she proceeded to
make me a receipt, in triplicate, carefully placing the well worn carbon paper between the small sheets in the receipt book.
Once that was completed the old woman took the postal stamp and pressed it on the letter several times so each stamp was marked. She then put an ink impression on each of the three receipt copies. We had completed
out transaction and I must return to mail another letter to my granddaughters.
Back home I was quite warm from the outing so I took a quick nap then was off to swim 10
laps in the university pool just across the road.. Christina came home from her
first real work day and we put together some dinner over which we discussed our day.
3 OCT 2010
We have not caught up on our sleep yet from yesterday morning, early morning, to be precise
04:30 in the morning. It seems there is a tradition among the university students to set off fire crackers to celebrate the
last 100 days of school and 04:30 was that time. Of course, the sounds were that of a revolution and in a country where gun
fire is not unusual we could only think thoughts of a political situation. We finally figured out the sound was only fire
crackers. Then, then came the loud rock and Latin music over loud speakers. Yep, these folks love LOUD! Music so everyone
in the distant neighborhood can appreciate the significance of the last 100 days of school. Well, this music kept up until
06:30 and peace once again reigned but our minds were now well out of sync with anything approaching local time. Ah, well.
Well, by this morning, now Sunday, all was quiet and we had finally caught up with some
sleep. Alas, so up and off to Catacamas to see the town’s celebration of their patron Saint. We were early for the parade
so we climbed the local hill, up 1600 +|-steps, to the large cross on the top. The face of each 16 steps was painted an alternating
color of purple and gold. As we walked up we cold see the town of Catacamas before
us emerge as a whole landscape. Unfortunately, the valley was smoggy and the distant hills were faded. There were new buildings
and old ones scattered among the neat grid of streets. Down we went to meet our university friends to go the parade route.
Needless to say this was a big day and everyone came out to see the parade. For me it seemed
like the Rose Parade as it contained a number of floats, bands, horses, and the
like. We walked by the street vendors selling French fried potatoes & sausage,
ice cream, trinkets of all sorts, and cotton candy gave great pink color to the scene. Since it was a Saint day some of the
vendors were selling religious crosses and other bead necklaces hanging from two cross sticks mounted on a vertical pole. We made our way through the crowd to an open space where we sat on a large sidewalk
Finally the sound of a police vehicle with siren going very slowly made its way down the
street starting the parade. Now there were marching bands that even had a dance
routine as they played. The parade went on and on, never ending. One group of soldiers marched smartly along then stopped
while one of them set off an orange smoke bomb, Agent Orange? Then they flipped their rifles around pointed to the air and
fired; I think they were blanks, but who knows. There was a group of four wheeled all terrain vehicles zipping up and down
the street raising their front wheels or going along on two wheels, inches from the crowd. All was ok. Now came a group of
horses apparently from a horse club. Some of them pranced sideways while others frothed at the bit from being held back. One
noticeable item was that many of the riders were packing a pistol in their belt. Those in the USA pack them too but hide them. Of course, in Honduras you can see pistol packing security guards at many stores,
some of them even have a large barreled short rifle. Now came the University’s
large float – a decorated flat bed truck. There were several large trucks in the parade and I wondered how they were
going to make any turns with the narrow streets, but they did … with great finesse.
After the parade we made our way to the town square where we ordered Pupuses (fried cornmeal
with cheese inside – very good) for a bite to eat. Still people came a went around us and periodically there was music
and noise all about with confetti floating through the air. Certainly, this was a celebration and for sure tiring. There was
still more to see, like the fair, but the energy just was not in our bodies so off to home we went.
I should describe walking the streets of Catacamas since the sidewalks are not necessarily
flat and even In fact, many streets had a set of different steps from the street to the store with a step as you walked from
store to store. Most of the sidewalks that were flat were quite narrow, often with a power pole in the middle. Of course,
there is the preverbal missing piece of sidewalk that keeps one on your toes else death by stumbling is a natural hazard un
these parts - so far so good as I am alive and well.
Walking along the street right across from a nice apartment building is an old adobe building. You can see the half plastered adobe brick walls, Above
red tiles covered the roof with small tiled overhangs held up with a wooden brace. I wonder what the building could tell in
stories in its 100 years of life. Today no one uses it except for trash.
6 OCT 2010
Today I went to buy some bricks for a front walkway to our house. The brickyard is just
down the road. John, an American professor of natural resources, and took his truck to purchase the bricks for two Lempiras
(about 10 cents) each. Three young boys helped us load the truck up. We then asked mom if we could use the boys to help us
unload the truck. With her ok the boys jumped in the back and off we went. At our house the boys formed a line and we had
the truck unloaded in no time and took them home, in the back of the truck. To recognize the boy’s efforts of work we
paid them some “extra” money and received a big smile from them as we drove off.