September 13, 2006

Vacant lots everywhere

There is a man weed-eating the vacant lot next door again today. It is the third time in as many weeks that someone has been cleaning up his lot. The first time required two men whacking their way through the jungle with machetes because my neighbor hasn't maintained his lot for more than one year! The weeds were at least 3-4' high (.91-1.22 m.) throughout his property.

I was very appreciative that finally they were cleaning up the lot. I was even hoping that he was clearing the land to start construction of his house. The weeds aren't that bad for us because of the muro (concrete wall) between our properties − we don't have to look at them − but some of these tropical weeds had reached gigantic proportions and their huge seed heads were bobbing above our 10' wall (3 m.).

Honduras does have laws providing that property owners must maintain their lots and if they don't, the cities can come clean it up and charge a big fee and a fine. Like many laws in Honduras, this law is rarely enforced and would never be enforced against important or wealthy people. My neighbor has nothing to worry about.

The hill in front of our house was cut through to make way for the street and sidewalks so our house faced an ugly scar of orange laterite soil in the vacant lot across the street. I beautified the view in front of our gate by planting some heliconias and gingers in front of the orange cliff. It's so much more pleasant to look out our gate and see a splash of green leaves and bright flowers. My helper was a little afraid to do the planting because this vacant property belongs to one of the most important people in town. I joked that we should send him a bill.

These plants are herbacious, easily removed when need be, and make his property look better so I didn't think it did any harm. A friend of mine came over a few weeks later and said, "I know that you planted those flowers across the street!" I denied it. Haha. I see from this picture that I need to do some weeding over there before someone comes with a machete and hacks everything down.

I'd like to plant more on some other lots around here just to make the neighborhood look better. Only about 20% of the lots have houses and it seems that most of the rest are being held for investment purposes. The lots on the east side of ours are for sale, too. I need to divide a bunch of plants soon and I may transplant some there.

I had hoped that the lot next door was being cleaned in preparation for construction but El Jefe informed me that the lot is now on the market. The owner has started building in another colonia (neighborhood). Boohoo! I was hoping to have a neighbor. They seemed like nice people (despite the neglected property) and my nearest neighbors are a block away. Sometimes I get afraid when I'm here by myself at night. It would be nice to have a neighbor nearby.

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