Monday, June 21, 2010

U-Turn to US

We were in Guanaja enjoying ourselves and watching the weather for the opportunity to make a comfortable trip around Cabo Gracias a Dios. That's why we were still there when we heard of a few reasons why we might want to return to Maryland. That's how we ended up back at the shipyard in La Ceiba that we had so gleefully escaped only shortly before. This time we paid for bottom paint removal, worth every penny. So while we're away, the boat will be drying out; we'll put on a new barrier coat and bottom paint when we get back in the fall.

We took the 'most luxurious' Hedman-Alas bus from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula's airport. Apparently luxury means tall seat backs with fresh covers freshly applied, and silence, which is indeed a luxury, since lots of buses show kung-fu movies in 'surround sound'. But where was the steward with the canapes and champagne?

We ourselves felt more like checked baggage, or hazardous materials. Couldn't buy a ticket without a passport, couldn't change seats, couldn't touch our own luggage once it was checked (note to self: next time, dress for arctic cooling); had our photos taken before boarding. Turns out H-A worry about hijacking/kidnapping; they'd want to know which passenger it was/had been in seat 23C. This isn't something that happens on the chicken buses. Or maybe this was the 'chicken' bus.

Then, we spent hours propped upright in the airport waiting for our red-eye flight. The reward was a hypnotizing view of bright moon over cloud banks as almost the entire plane-load of passengers slept, not unlike a nice night passage. And, ya know, it's only 888 miles/2 hours to a whole 'nother world.

In Ft. Lauderdale at daybreak we could barely stop remarking on how clean, that is, free of trash, and orderly, the landscape was, and how pink, and plump, were many of the locals. We knew this, but had forgotten. Tri-Rail expeditiously zipped us north for a brief visit with the only family I have whose memories are longer than my own.

Within hours we were in a car driving ourselves at 60 mph, as if we'd never left. We tried to sneak down to Goodwill for clothes that weren't so 'nautically' bleached and frayed as the ones we arrived in, but they were closed for Memorial Day. No problemo - everyone in the US has clothes they want to get rid of. Just as well too, I wouldn't know how to dress myself if I had to chose from the entire clothing universe.
We ate in restaurants that had entrees other than something-and-rice-and-beans on the menu. We shopped in supermarkets stunning in their range of stock.

And with a big-screen TV, we got the full effect of the oil spill and of all the spiteful arguments surrounding it. How quickly we adapt.

Clearly we would need a car of our own, and a cell phone. It took a week in Florence, Alabama during a visit with Doug's family and friends to organize both of these things. We used to laugh about the questions you have to remember to ask before making a deal in Central America; well, it's the same in this world too.

After a few false starts we had to buy the phone at a Walmart. Next, I need to learn to text without looking at the numeric keys. It will be like learning Morse code; an exercise in temporary technology, but possibly good for me.

After several further adventures (future posts) we finally got to our sweet little house on the creek in Maryland. I can tell you that in all our travels, there are few places that can compare.

Considering that the sprawl of greater BosNyWash has tsunami-ed Kent Island, I'm grateful that so little has changed within my frontal periphery (although lots outside it).

The weather is perfect. The crabs are running, honey flow is still on, peaches are in season, local 'lopes, sweet corn, and hallelujah, real, fragrant, tomatoes, are starting to appear. We're getting settled in for a social spell in The Land of Pleasant Living. But first, a visit with my remaining bees.

'My' bees have been on their own for two winters. Nobody told them they had to built rectilinearly, so they didn't.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I've never been to a rodeo ([from Spanish, from rodear to go around, from rueda a wheel, from Latin rota] says, and maybe that's still true despite the hours I spend at the fairgrounds out next to the airport in La Ceiba, Honduras a few Sundays ago. What I did see was bull-riding, and horse riding, in separate rings. I don't know what standards exactly the men in white were trying to express as they glided around above their horses but the atmosphere, broad-brimmed hats, kerchiefs etc all had a strong whiff of Seville.

The bull-riders just wanted to stay on for seven seconds, and their circles were much smaller and more frantic.

Here's a hapless bullrider whose boot got hung up somewhere and was dragged around the ring before being rescued.

There was one man in particular charged with diverting the bull after the rider was dumped. I was a little offended by his clownish, disrespectful-of-the-bull manner, except when the bull really got his attention.

This mule and cowboy team was the real worker of the day, calm, steady, effective, good at lasso-ing, also the only cowboy I ever saw wearing glasses.
The fancy-prancy horses occasionally appeared, but their saddles didn't have horns and their riders were only good at sitting still and exuding 'cool'.

Otherwise the fairground events closing the Carnival of San Isidro were pretty typical of a Maryland county fair, bovine division, with food tents, souvenirs, cows and horses on display.

Every time this vendor came around I wondered what his t-shirt was about. Dole?Standard Fruit? It says 'Warren Buffet Our New Top Banana'

UPDATE: From one of my smart friends "Is a play on the fact that Fruit of the Loom went bankrupt back in 1999 and in 2002 Berkshire Hathaway bought the company. You may or may not remember that the human fruits were part of one of the more classic TV ads of all time [Wiki side note: the grapes were once played by Academy Award-winning actor F Murray Abraham!]" Thank you Michael!

Here's my souvenir of the rodeo; a new hat. It's got some really stiff clear coat treatment over woven 'palm', not a very boat-friendly hat, but it will be very light and comfortable while it degrades in Ann's hat camp.

More rodeo photos here:
Sure is nice to have a fast-loading internet connection - Thanks Jim & Jackie!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carnival of San Isidro

Back in La Ceiba, we arrived during one of the biggest events of the year, the week-long carnival of San Isidro, reputedly one million in attendance from throughout the country. It ended with a parade on Saturday and a rodeo on Sunday. I'm not sure what happens at night, but during the daytime parade people were very well behaved, even demure, compared to, say, St. Thomas.

Horses featured more than I had expected. One of our routes in Roatan took us near a stable where we occasionally saw these artificially pacing horses. It was beautiful to watch, if you closed your mind to how the horse might normally have behaved, and the fact that chains and hobbles were part of the training regimen. The horses' chins are pressed to their chests, and they prance a peculiar high-kneed gait, flinging their hooves out and around instead of straight up and down, sometimes frothing at the mouth and under the reins.
For the rider, however, the point must be to look insouciant and effortless. A martini in a stemmed glass of course would not spill, although I don't think these riders drink martinis.
Okay, so it's an artificial definition of beauty, like women in high heels, of which there are also a multitude.

Men, to appear attractive, often only have to be make money and spend it freely, which seems relatively easy compared to walking funny most of your life!

The carnival was street food

and toy vendors







At the head of all these floats are a few people with brooms and 'boat hooks' to lift the numerous power cables over the peacock feathers and other obstacles.




And, the picture I missed, the person who picked the pocket of a casual acquaintance who should have known better than to carry everything in his wallet, in his back pocket. All part of the adventure, folks!
The whole photo file is located here