Saturday, April 30, 2011

Parents Visit & Returning

I know it's been a while.  There has been a LOT going on.  In my last post I talked about my parents coming to visit me.  We had a wonderful time together.  So much happened, and I would love to say that I'll go and post in detail everything, but in all reality it's never going to happen.....

Some highlights from their time in Honduras:

They bought us a water tank.  I guess they weren't too excited about saving water in buckets for more than half the day.  We LOVE it.  It's SO nice to have water running 24 hours a day.  We have it set up so that we are using the water from the tank all the time, and when the water goes out two valves need to be turned and then Marco's parents also have water.

I found a store close to the bus stop in Santa Rosa that sells Cheddar Cheese!!  Now this may not be big to some people, but I'm so excited.  We all like cheddar cheese and knowing that it's only a short bus ride (1.5 hours) away instead of longer ride of 5 to 8 hours is very nice.

My parents experienced the market (and got starred at a whole bunch).  They were here over Semana Santa which is a pretty big holiday in Honduras.  The market was almost as busy as it was during Christmas.  I'm not sure my parents have ever been blatantly starred at that much in their entire life.  Seriously.  People three feet away had no problems just stopping and looking right at you for an EXTENDED amount of time.  We lost track of how many people actually followed my Dad around.

We went swimming in Gracias and visited the castle.  Around where we live there are lots of natural hot springs.  We went to one of the bigger swimming holes in Gracias.  As always people stared.... we couldn't figure out why, was it because we were foreigners, because we were big or because we were wearing swimsuits (apparently it's an oddity).

We planted fruit trees and flowers in the backyard.  We got some dirt (which was totally harder than it should have been) and a bunch of flowers and fruit trees and planted them in the area I've been working on in the back yard.  It's a really good start.  In a few years it's going to be beautiful!!

We went for a few drives around Lepaera.  This was so nice.  Life without a car is not exactly fun, especially when you've had access to one your entire life!!  We checked out some of the surrounding villages and even went across the valley to take some pictures of Lepaera.

Visited the Copan Ruinas.  I was a little skeptical about this one.  There seems to be a lot of hype, but it was actually pretty cool.  If the pool at the hotel had been a little warmer I might have made the argument to stay at the hotel instead and go swimming, but it was pretty chilly, so we ventured over to the ruins and were not disappointed.  We had a guided tour which was good he gave us lots of information but moved VERY quickly...  it would have been nice to stay and ask more questions, but as things were it all worked out for the best.  By the time the tour was done the kids were ready for naps (aka meltdown time).  I loved the big ceiba tree that was 400 years old and the tunnels were pretty cool too.  I'm glad we had a guide... I would not have liked getting lost down there.

Experienced life in Lepaera.  My Mom wanted to learn lots while she was visiting.  How to wash laundry by hand, how to prepare and grind corn to make tortillas, how to make corn tortillas & pupusas & flour tortillas, how to sort and cook beans, how to sort, roast & grind coffee, how to cut out a dress (and skirt) without a pattern (only measurements)....  At one point I remember a phone conversation where my mom said that maybe I should wash my own clothes so that I would have something to do..... then she came here and she took back everything she ever said about it.  My parents saw the poverty and tried to help where they could.  They saw how we live and how others live and I think they gained a greater appreciation of life and things in the US (especially the roads..... they leave a LOT to be desired here) They got to know our friends and played a LOT with our kids.  They got to know the kids again (they've changed a lot in 6 months).  We watched afternoon rainstorms wash the garbage down the road.  We sang Happy Birthday by candle light.  Marco & my Dad hung lines in the "laundry room" so that when it rains our clothes can dry.  They made plans for a kitchen counter so we can install the sink (apparently doing dishes in the bathroom sink isn't fun!)

San Pedro Sula & the Coast.  We spent the last two nights of my parents visit in a B&B/Hotel/Hostel in San Pedro Sula.  San Pedro Sula is just a FEW degrees warmer than where we live in the mountains.  It is necessary to have AC there.... at our place it's a luxury that adds to the electricity bill.  Getting around San Pedro is a little difficult, we had Marco's sister's husband meet us after we entered town and guide us to where we were staying.  We relaxed in the air conditioned rooms that evening and then headed out to the coast the next morning.  We drove toward Puerto Cortes and then headed to Omoa.  We had wanted to find a nice beach in Omoa, which looks like a laid back beach town, but there weren't any beaches.  So we kept driving... we saw a sign "Cabana's for rent" and tried to find them.... It was a little difficult, and a few u-turns later we finally found them..  We ended up in Masca with the beach to ourselves.  It was beautiful!!  My dad said it was "20 minute sun".  We got a little burned that day.  When we were out in the ocean it was sand, cabanas, restaurants & pulperias, and then green tropical mountains in the background.  I could see why some people go on vacation to places like that and want to stay.

Wow, this blog is longer than I had planned..... it's a good thing the kids are still sleeping.
After our little stay in San Pedro Sula, the kids and I said 'See you later, Daddy' and made the trip with my parents back here to the States.
I am torn at being back here.... not only because I miss Marco, but I am experiencing a bit of cultural shock.

Here are a few of the thoughts I had after we got back....

-Everything is so clean and shiny.
-The roads are SO straight and flat!!
-My parents home is so beautiful and decorated SO nicely (not childproof, but beautiful.)
-Cooper thought walking on the carpet for the fist time was a little weird.
-The fridge is so big!
-There is a kitchen sink!! and a dishwasher!!
-The bed is so soft on bottom & top (mattress and blanket).
-I have SO much unnecessary stuff in boxes.

I am re-addapting, but things are a little weird...  Sometimes its almost as if that life in Honduras was a dream, that Cristina didn't really do our laundry.... that Orfito wasn't really Maria's best little friend... that the dust wasn't there... that we didn't have eggs and beans all the time....     But it did happen, it all still exists and we're going to go back.  Life is different there.  It's relaxed, adaptable, poor, sometimes hungry and shoeless.... Here things are so fast.... don't be late to this, do 101 things before 2 in the afternoon.  There are a lot of good things in both places...  I love that in the States things get done, people move, but I also love that in Honduras, it's OK if things don't happen now.  I'm going to have to do a lot of thinking/soul searching/pondering/praying/etc. to figure out what I want my life to be like, and then try to adapt and keep those things in my life no matter where I end up living.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Heat & Packages

Yesterday I made spaetzle for dinner.  The recipe calls for eggs, flour, and milk.  Three ingredients that we have here.  It was good.... although I'm not sure what I would pair it with.  I followed the recipe and method over on smitten kitchen.  I will probably make it again..... but NOT anytime soon.  The method for cooking is kind of involved and requires a bit of stovetop time, and it's just too hot here. 

Here is a picture of the thermometer we got in a package* yesterday from my parents while I was cooking.

Just a tad on the warm side. 

The kids liked them though.... so we'll give it a go, perhaps on a day we're feeling a little chilly.

*the package....
Oh glorious packages.  My parents sent this one to us a while ago in hopes that it would get here before Coopers birthday.... only a week late.
It was filled with all sorts of wonderful things.  Toy cars, shoes, towels, shampoo & conditioner (my hair smells so good today!!) brown sugar (!!!), books (for me), an awesome wooden pedal-less bike for Maria (she's been uber-jealous of Orfito & his bike for over a month now), our juicer, little baggies of melted chocolate chips (I guess it was a little too warm for them), a little fan that does a big job, the thermometer, cereal (now my parents will have an option during their stay if they don't want to eat beans again), cadbury mini-eggs (Happy Easter everyone!!) .... it was a WONDERFUL package.  Like Christmas all over again!  Thanks SO MUCH Mom & Dad!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Cleaning..... and visitors.

We moved all the furniture and cleaned the floors.  And it feels SO good.  We moved beds, couches, tables, fridge, stove.... everything, and swept and mopped.  I love the feeling when the floors are clean.  Especially here.  The floors get dirty so easily.  The kids spill, shoes are worn inside, dust is ALWAYS coming in... it's a constant battle.  So I relished the 10 minutes after we moved everything and got it all clean, because I know it won't last.  Tomorrow (heck, even later this afternoon) I'll want it to be done again.

We've also been dusting cobwebs (another constant battle here with all the spiders) and working in the backyard a bit more (although if I took another "progress" picture you'd all be like... what work?!?).

Why the deep spring cleaning you might ask?  Well, my oh-so-lovely parents are making the trek to come down and visit us.  (Seriously, it's kind of a trek.... everytime I've looked you can only get flights that are overnight, which are not exactly fun.)  And with visitors coming we want things to be their best.  Not that my parents really care what the backyard or inside for that matter look like.... they just want to see the grandkids.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cost of Living

Electricity : 500 Lempiras ($26.50)
          (includes lights (CFL's), refridgerator, shower heater, one free standing fan, tv, radio, computer.)

Phone Bill: 500 Lempiras ($26.50)
     House phone: 2 Lempiras per minute to the USA; 3+ Lempiras per minute to cell phones in Honduras
     Cell phones: varies;  for 1 Lempira you can get 3 minutes of talk time to the USA, less minutes to cell phones in Honduras.  Most cell phones are pre-pay.  We have two, the first is from Digicel, it cost 250 Lempiras for the phone and then you buy minutes or recargas (recharges).  The second phone was one that we got in a trade and had to activate it which cost 60 lempiras.  Marco brought a phone from the states and they wanted 900 Lempiras to activate it... I'm not sure what the diference is.

Internet: 490 Lempiras per month ($25.97)
The internet is kind of like the phone.... as in you pre-pay and it is a USB device that has a chip that fits into a phone.  We've checked for a grounded internet, but that is not available here.  We have Claro and you can recharge for a day, week, two weeks, or month.... the longer you recharge for the cheaper it is.

Gas for stove: 260 Lempiras per tank ($13.78),  the tank lasts us around 2 months.

Food: 100 Lempiras per day ($5.30)
This is what we budget for our family. Two adults, a toddler & a baby (who eats just as much if not more than the toddler)  We have oatmeal, cornflakes, or pancakes for breakfast.  Lunch is generally rice, vegetables and some kind of meat.  Dinner is generally beans, eggs, corn tortillas, cheese, & cream.
I will do a different post where I show the cost of individual food items.... it's interesting to see the differences in cost (ie milk is 18 Lempiras per liter, which works out to just less than a dollar, and to make things easier, lets say there are 4 liters in a gallon.... thats $4 per gallon of milk!!!  Double what I paid in the states.) 

Diapers &; wipes:  52 lempiras ($2.76) for 12 diapers; 190 Lempiras ($10.07) for 50 diapers; 165 Lempiras ($8.74) for a bag of 144 wipes.

Drinking water: 17 lempiras ($0.90) per 5 gallon jug
We go through 2-3 jugs per week.
Garbage pickup: Free

Water: 40 Lempiras ($2.12) per month

No Car
No Insurance
No Mortgage
No Cable TV

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cooper's 1st Birthday

The kids feel miserable.
Cooper's got 4 teeth coming in.
Maria has some sort of rash all over her body.
Both don't feel like eating.
And both are down for early naps.

This isn't what I had planned for Cooper's Birthday.
I had wanted to take a bunch of pictures... but I'll settle for lots of cuddling.
I had wanted to make something special for dinner, but we just might have cereal, because it's easy and won't interrupt cuddling time too much.

Some things I'd like to remember about my One year old little man...
He is precious.  He is a happy kid. 
He is walking about 40% of the time.
He's got a funky crawl.
He still has his receeding hair line.
He's got a little dimple in his right cheek.
He loves taking "baths" in the red bucket.
He does NOT love it when Maria takes his toys away.
He loves Maria.
He loves music and singing and dancing.
He's not a very good eater... and he's not a very good sleeper.... but he's still happy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

... and I thought ONE day was a lot.

It's 8:50 pm and we still have water.
It's wonderful.... BUT
I wonder if it is because the people up the hill from us don't have any water.
They haven't had water for 8 days.
8 DAYS!!!
(now doesn't that just make me feel bad for griping about not having it for ONE.)
One of our friends who lives up there came and washed her families clothes in our pila today.
Then she & her son had a make-shift shower too... UGH!  I just can't imagine 8 days.
That means hauling water for flushing toilets, laundry, washing dishes, having showers....
That's a lot of water to haul.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Curry Soup

My sister-in-law Rachel posted a recipe a while back for Curry Soup.

I've always been a little afraid of curry.... but I had seen both curry & coconut milk in the "grocery store", and with our limited ingredients here I decided to give it a go.

Her recipe called for:
sweet potato
stock or bullion
salt & pepper
coconut milk
optional: chicken or tofu

We don't have sweet potatoes here.... and the apples don't look that great...

So my modified version has
salt & pepper
coconut milk

and I have to admit.... I'm in love.  SO YUMMY!!!  The coconut milk adds SO much flavor & dimension.

For the kids...
they don't eat chunky veggie soup well, so I threw theirs in the blender and they gobbled it up.

I also made some breadsticks tonight.
Bread recipe's are pretty much all the same...
water or milk, yeast, sugar, salt, flour, & maybe butter or oil...
I've found that my breadsticks turn out the BEST if I make the dough a day in advance, throw it into a big plastic baggie, and into the fridge overnight.  The bread turns out lighter and chewier.  Mmmm...

Friday, April 1, 2011


Today it's another hot one. Not as hot as yesterday, but still hot.

Speaking of yesterday.... they never turned the water on.  Well, maybe they did, but it happened before I woke up at 6:30.  Each day I fill up 2 five gallon buckets, a ten gallon bucket, and another tub thingy that is probably around 5 gallons.  All we had by way of water was the 10 gallon bucket that was leftover from Wednesday.  Now this isn't our drinking water, but it is the water for the kids baths at night and flushing the toilet.  I do the dishes when the water is on because that's just easier.

Today I woke up early(er) 6ish.  I told myself that if the water was on then I'd do the dishes (from the past 2 days - ick) and fold the laundry.  The water was on (yipee). So the dishes got done and the laundry was folded before the kids woke up (miracle).  I made sure that one of the first things I did was fill up all the buckets.... and it's a good thing that I did.  The kids got up, we had some cereal, danced 3 songs, colored for a couple minutes.... then I go to get in the shower....  yup. water's off again!!!!  Cold shower from a bucket it is. 

One of these days.... if we happen to be here long enough...  we'll get a water tank.