Saturday, May 30, 2009

getting pulled over in honduras

Jose and I left the house this morning just before 9 am to go to a funeral. As we crossed the Blvd. Suyapa, we noticed 2 police officers on a motorcycle pointing at us. We kept driving, because how were we supposed to know that pointing meant pull over? When Jose realized they were pulling us over, he put on his seatbelt (whoops!).

We pulled over in a gas station parking lot about a block down. The 2 police officers approached the car. Jose handed one of the officers his license and registration. Jose asked why he had been pulled over. The officer said that it was because he didn't have his seatbelt on.

"Yes I did," Jose lied. (Quick note to people that don't know how things work here: Please don't judge us for lying to the police. :) It's a different world here. The only thing that would have happened if we had told the truth was they would have expected us to pay a bigger bribe than if we hadn't done anything wrong.)

"I saw didn't have your seatbelt on," the officer says.

"I DID have my seatbelt on," Jose lied again.

"I think that you just woke up and you are still kind of asleep and you didn't remember to put your seatbelt on," the officer said to Jose.

The officer asked his little sidekick, "What do you think? Should I give him a ticket?" The sidekick said, "Yeah, I think you should."

The officer then asked Jose again, "Were you wearing your seatbelt?"

Jose lied again, "I told you I was."

Then the two officers really started to play their little game, trying to get a bribe from us. "What do you think, man? Should I give him a ticket? Yeah, man, you should do it." They were trying to get us to beg, "No! Don't give us a ticket! We'll pay you a bribe instead!" Jose didn't say a word.

At that point I thought it might help our cause if they knew there was a gringa in the car. I took off my sunglasses, lowered my head, made direct eye contact with both of them, and said something to Jose in English. The officer asked Jose, "Where are you from? Are you Honduran?" Jose told him yes. "And her?" the officer asked. "I'm from the US," I replied directly to him in Spanish.

The two officers looked at each other, and then told Jose that he was free to go. Shocking, considering they saw him without his seatbelt, and then he lied to them about it.

I'm pretty sure my white skin and blonde hair had something to do with it. Jose is soo lucky to have this gringa as his wife. ;) hehe

Thursday, May 28, 2009

el terremoto

Word of the Day Thursday:
Terremoto = Earthquake!

(say tEHrrrrrEH-mOH-tOH)
At 2:24 AM this morning (3:24 AM KY time) there was an earthquake off of the northern shore of Honduras. It registered 7.1 on the Richter scale.

(picture courtesy of

In some places I've read/heard that there was 1 death, and in others, that there were 4. I still don't know the exact number. There are some damaged highways, and I heard a bridge collapsed somewhere in the north. From what I've read on Honduras Living, it seems like the people that live on the islands felt it the most.

I live in Tegucigalpa, which as you can see on the map, is pretty far from the epicenter. Jose and I are okay...we slept through it, I guess. We didn't even know there had been an earthquake until we saw it on the news this morning as we were getting ready for work. I vaguely remember hearing Charlie bark in the middle of the night, so maybe he felt it. And I'm so jealous if he did. I survived my first earthquake and don't have any exciting stories to share because I slept through the darn thing. ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Word of the Day Wednesday

Maje (say mAH-hay)

I'm running out of favorite Spanish words to teach you. *gasp* So until I can come up with some new ones, I'm going to use my husband's favorite words.

And I'm pretty sure this is his favorite word because he says it all. the. time.

My online translator defines maje as a guy/bloke. The best equivalent I can think of is man/dude. Por ejemplo:

Hey maje, what's up?
Hey maje, let's go play pool tonight.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

burning season...blame it on the farmers!

I mentioned burning season in yesterday's post about the palomillas. I thought you might be interested in knowing a little more about it.

The culprit of all of the smoke during burning season is from slash and burn agriculture.

It's a method that has been used in this area since the time of the Mayans. Slash and burn agriculture is when you use fire to prepare a field for planting. Cut vegetation is left to dry during the dry season, then right before rainy season, it is burned and the new plants are planted in the ashes.

I have been critical of this farming technique for a long time. I mean, I'm no farmer, but it always seemed to me that burning everything would just strip the soil of its nutrients. Not to mention all of that smoke. That just can't be good for the environment (or my allergies!).

And then last week when we were on our way to the hot springs in Copan Ruinas, we passed a burning field. I asked the driver, "Why do they do that?" His explanation was that the fire kills the disease causing bacteria in the soil.

Hmmm. I was intrigued. So I came home and looked it up. It is estimated that 250-500 million people practice this in 1/2 of the land in the tropics. And evidently, if done correctly, there are some benefits to slash and burn farming:

1. Slash and burn farming resembles natural ecosystems...more so than modernized farming does. Ex: with slash and burn farming, you don't have to remove the trees like you do to accomodate the equipment used in modern farming. Also, fields are supposed to be left to return to their natural state every few years. They sure don't do that in the fields in KY!
2. The "charcoal" left in the soil from the burned plants (the slash of slash and burn) creates a natural fertilizer. A much more environmentally friendly fertilizer than the man-made ones.
3. It does reduce the chances of losing crops to disease.

BUT... notice that I said if done correctly. There is an exception in all of this that applies to Honduras:

1. It takes A LOT of land to use this type of farming correctly because plots of land have to be rotated and left unused for long periods of time. It takes a lot more land than the typical Honduran farmer has access to.
2. In areas with steep slopes (hello, all of Honduras) or in areas with population booms, it is destructive because the "rest periods" are not used for the proper amount of time.

So, after the facts, what do you think?

I have decided that the Honduran farmers should not use slash and burn farming. If you know one, tell him I said that. And then wait for him to laugh at me, because hey, what does this gringa know? Haha.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

the Plague is upon us

A few weeks ago Honduras was experiencing burning season, when fires fill the forests and fields(both man- and mother nature- created), and therefore fill our skies with smoke. So for about a month, the skies were full of smoke. It burned my eyes. And caused a major allergy flare-up. But then we got a few days of rain and it ceased. Finally.

But now, the skies are filled with something else. Bugs. Big, flying bugs. A fellow blogger wrote about these bugs in her town of Gracias, Honduras last week. I was praying we wouldn't experience them here. But here they are.

The sky is full of the palomillas (say pah-low-mEE-yahs). They are evidently a sign of the coming rainy season. They fly around until they land (not sure how long this takes) and their wings fall off and they cover everything as nasty, dying worms. Yuck. Thank God we have screens and they aren't covering my furniture like Faith's house!

Friday, May 22, 2009

the sweet things that husbands do

My husband is not romantic. But sometimes, on very rare occasions, he does something so thoughtful and unexpected that it just makes my heart melt.

On Tuesday when Paige and I left for our adventure, we had to be at the bus station at 5:00 am. I don't have a car. So Jose, who doesn't have to wake up until 7 to get ready for work, took us to the bus station. At 4:50 am. He dropped us off and said he would wait to make sure we could buy tickets. I told him he didn't have to wait and to go home and go back to sleep before he had to work. So he left. He called me 10 minutes later when he got home, "Did you get the tickets? Everything's ok?" I said yes, but I had just realized I left my pillow at home.

You really need a pillow on three 8 hour bus trips. He said not to worry that they would give me a pillow on the bus. I told him I hadn't realized that and ok, to go back to sleep and Paige and I were fine.

About 15 minutes later, he calls again. "Come outside." I go outside, and there he is, with pillow in hand. "I realized that you only get a pillow if you ride first class, and since you aren't, I brought you this."


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Honduras, not a What but a Where

"I live in Honduras," I explained to the operator at Toyota Financial.

"Honduras? WHAT is that?" she asked.

"WHAT is it? It's a Central America," I replied.

"Oh, do they, like, have a different kind of money over there?" I mean, really?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Word of the Day Wednesday

Mochilero (say mOH-chee-lEH-rOH)

Translation: backpacker

For some reason, this word also makes me giggle. Backpack in Spanish is mochila, so it's literally translated into "backpack-er." I'm not sure why this is so amusing, since it's exactly the same in English. But, it is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paige & Hannah's Honduran Adventure

Paige came to visit last week. And we had so. much. fun.

She arrived on Saturday afternoon, and we spent the afternoon running a few errands and getting my house ready for my small birthday party. The party started around 8 or 9, and we socialized all night. The next morning we went on our first adventure, to the national basilica.

So we trekked to the basilica, walked through the cemetery, and then visited the inside of the basilica. But not before Paige got to try bagged water for the first time. !! She was just as excited as I was the first time I drank water from a bag, haha.

On Monday, we made a day trip to Comayagua because Jose had to go there for work. We visited the "oldest clock in the Americas," toured the museum, and then had a couple of beers while we waited for Jose to finish working.

Our original plan was to spend time going to the little towns around Tegus, like Valle de Angeles and Comayagua, until Thursday when we would Roatan for a few days. Well, we randomly changed our minds on Monday evening and I decided that she had to see Copan Ruinas while she was here.

So Tuesday morning, we caught the 5:45 am Hedman Alas bus to San Pedro Sula. We had a "layover" in the bus station for an hour, and then took the bus to Copan Ruinas. The whole trip, including the layover, was 8 hours. Cost: L. 475 ($25)

We stayed in one of the cutest hotels in Copan Ruinas. The original plan was to stay at Hacienda San Lucas, because my in-laws know the owner. But the hotel was closed and the owner recommended Yat B'alam. And boy am I glad she did! It was adorable. And better yet, had the BEST customer service I have ever experienced in Honduras. If you go to Copan Ruinas, you MUST stay at the Yat B'alam (around $75/night)! Tell Rina, the owner, that I sent you! :) She is one of the nicest people I've met here, and the customer service from her and all of her staff exceeded my expectations. She even made the reservation for us to go to the hot springs!!

We spent Tuesday afternoon exploring the little town. In the evening, we had a few too many rum teas, and then decided it was a good idea to buy some Salva Vidas (Honduran beer) to drink on the balcony of our hotel. After we drank those, we decided to go have some more at a little bar around the corner. Let's just say that the night ended with some strange pictures (like, of our feet and stuff), haha, and me threatening to stab someone with a broken beer bottle (I wasn't serious, though, haha) because he made fun of my accent. Ah, it was fun.

The next morning, we made it out of bed without a serious hangover, and headed to the ruins. We used a guide (worth every penny!) and finished in under 2 hours. THEN, we headed to the hot springs. This is the greatest part of Copan Ruinas (besides the Yat B'alam, of course).

You can pay a tour company to take you for around $30/pp. At first, I thought it was going to be a rip off. But in the end I learned why it costs so much...

The springs are about a 45 minute drive from Copan Ruinas, on a dirt road. Then to get into the "spa" portion of the springs, it costs $10. So you are basically paying $10 to get there, $10 to get in, and $10 to get back.

It's one of the coolest things in Honduras that I've seen so far. :) It's a natural hot spring, and someone, ingeniously, went in and built small pools and set up "spa" stations. There is a little area for a mineral mud bath, where you rub mud all over yourself and then soak in the warm water of the pool. Then you slowly move up the hill, as the pools get hotter and hotter (getting closer to the source of the hot water). There is a "hidro massage" area where the hot water pours from a small waterfall and you stand under it. And the whole thing is very secluded. It's like a spa treatment in the middle of the jungle. Ahhh, it was super relaxing.

After that was over, we went back to the Yat B'alan and relaxed for the evening.
The next day, we got up and took the 5:15 AM bus to La Ceiba. It was another 8 hour trip (with a 1-2 hour layover in San Pedro Sula). Total cost, L. 475. We arrived in La Ceiba and then took the 4:30 pm ferry to Roatan. By the time we arrived in Roatan, we were exhausted! (Ferry cost, L. 524.)
Nonetheless, we went out and had a drink with my friends that live on the island. Then we went back to their house and crashed. The next morning, we headed to the beaches early. My friends live in West End, so we took a water taxi to West Bay where the nicer beaches are.

It was paradise, as usual. We took the transparent canoes out to see the coral like Jose and I did last time, and we loved it. It was all fun and good, except for when we went home and realized we were extremely sunburnt. So we called it an early night again, and crashed.
The next day, we took the 7 am ferry back to La Ceiba (cost, L. 500), and then took the bus from Ceiba to San Pedro, and took another bus from San Pedro to Tegucigalpa (total cost, L. 475). It was a lot of exhausting travel, but so worth it for Paige to be able to see so much of Honduras!
The only bad part of the trip was when we were on our way back to Tegus. We got stuck in traffic, in the same spot, for 4 hours because of a wreck. We were both losing our minds what with the man next to us listening to the soccer game, without headphones, and the crying baby. Eventually some idiot gave the baby a whistle, so instead of crying we had to listen to it blow the effing whistle for hours on end. There were some threats by Paige to sacrifice the baby to the traffic gods. Thank goodness it didn't come to that. We made it back, safe and sane, in 8 hours on what should have been a 4 hour trip from SPS to Tegus.

Paige left the next day, :(, to go back to Kentucky. Even though her trip was short, it was so nice to have her here and go on an adventure with her. Come back again soon, Paige!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Charlie's Adventure to Honduras

Charlie is here!

He left Kentucky on April 21st.

This is a picture of him checking in at the airport in Louisville, KY.

My mom said everyone with Continental at the airport was really nice and they seemed very concerned for Charlie's well being.

He left Louisville on a 2 hour flight to Houston, spent the night, and the next morning took another 2 hour flight to Tegucigalpa on April 22nd.

When I arrived at the airport, I was told to head to the baggage claim area. Since I wasn't a passenger, I couldn't enter the area. I found a security guard and explained my situation. He found a customs agent for me. He said, "Yes, your dog is there, and he's been so good! He's very tranquilo and is just laying down in his cage." I thought, "Did my parents send me the right dog? There's no way he's just chilling in his cage. He's probably growling at everyone." Haha. The agent told me I would have to wait outside the baggage claim area until all of the passengers had cleared out. Then they would bring Charlie to me. I waited patiently, almost crying I was so excited, for 20 minutes. The agent came back outside and chatted with me for a while. He was suuuper nice. He saw how anxious I was, and so he took me to the security office where they let me have a security pass for me to go into the baggage claim area. When I got into the baggage claim area, Charlie's cage was waiting by the carousel. I ran up to the cage, with tears streaming down my face, and squealed "Baaaaaby dog! Charlie dog!!!" He started going crazy and was crying to be let out of the cage. I wanted to let him out, but I could smell the urine from 10 feet away so I knew he was probably covered in it.

I had to sign some papers, and pay a L. 50 fee (about $2.50) and then one of the workers carried the cage out to the car for me on a dolly.

When we got to the apartment, I prepared everything to give him a bath before I took him out of the cage. I turned on the water, got the towels and shampoo. When everything was ready, I cut the zip ties on the cage, pulled him out, and ran to the shower with him. The whole bottom part of his body was covered in pee. Nasty. :-/ While we were in the shower, he started gulping the water from the floor of the shower. I swear I think he drank like 2 gallons of water. He acted like he hadn't had anything to drink all day.

When Charlie gets a bath, he generally likes to run all over the house rubbing his whole body on the area rugs (at my parent's house). But in our apartment, we didn't have any big area rugs. So he just rubbed his body all over the ceramic floor. Haha.

About 10 minutes later he found the small rug in the kitchen and rubbed his body all over that.

Then he found the welcome mat, and rubbed his body all over that.

There was wet dog hair everywhere. What a mess!

After he was done "drying" himself, he walked around the entire apartment sniffing of everything. And everytime he heard someone outside in the hallway, he would growl. You see, he had been living in the states with my parents for almost 9 months, and they live in the country where he didn't see a lot of cars or hear a lot of noise. So when he got to our apartment, he was so confused about all of the noise...the cars outside, the neighbors walking up and down the hallway.

He was so confused and nervous, that he followed me everywhere. He was always behind me no matter where I went or what I was doing, just looking at me, like, "Mom, where are we? What are these strange smells? What is that noise outside?" It was adorable. :)

After we had bonded for a little while, I "unpacked" his things. My mom had packed his leash and collar, puppy training pads, and a note in a plastic bag that was taped to the top of the cage. The note explained Charlie's personality, haha, and the times to feed him, etc. She also handwrote a message on the side, explaining to the workers, that Charlie would enter his cage if you just told him, "Bedtime Charlie."

So that's the story of his adventure. :)

He has been here for over 2 weeks now, and he seems very happy. We moved to a new house with a yard, so there is a place for him to go to the bathroom. He likes to guard the house too. He barks at all of the neighbors when they walk by the front of our house. Our neighbor has a guard dog outside, and they have chatted a few times with each other over the wall.

The first few days in the new house we had a few workers there finishing things up. Charlie did not like them, and followed them around growling and trying to bite their heels. It was very funny. :)

Last week I took Charlie to meet my in-law's guard dog Muñeca. I was really hoping they would be friends. But Muñeca is so crazy jealous of Charlie that she barks and growls and foams at the mouth when she sees him. And Charlie just stands there and looks at her through the fence and growls back. So I don't think they're going to be friends. :(

Sometimes I bring him to the store with me if I know I will be here all day. He likes to sit at the door and watch all of the people walk by. He's sort of famous in this commercial center now. ;) When I don't bring him to work with me, people ask me where he is. It's because he's so darn cute. That or it's because people think it's weird that I bring a dog to work with me. Haha.

On Sunday we went to the country house in Valle de Angeles so he could run around. He tried to kill one of the guard's chickens, and in the process, got tons of cockaburrs caught in his fur. The cockaburrs here are so big that I could not pull them out, so I had to cut big chunks of his fur out. Now one ear looks longer than the other, hehe, and he looks ridiculous. But I told him that's what he gets for chasing the chickens. ;)

So, that's what we've been doing the last couple of weeks. So far everything is great. He loves being here with his mommy ;), and I loved having him here with me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Word of the Day Wednesday

Feliz Dia de la Madre!
Happy Mother's day!

Let's break this one down:

Mother's Day is coming up! Sadly, I won't get to spend it with my mom :( because she's experiencing her own adventure over in Costa Rica, where she's currently in language school learning Spanish.

So this post is for her. ;) Feliz Dia de la Madre, Mom!