October 31, 2007

La Doctora Gringa

dog vaccinesLook at the size of that needle!

Today was another first for me.

Chloe the Rottweiler is way past due for her shots and we don't have a car in which to take her to the veterinarian. Yesterday we took the little chihuahua pups in to the vet for their vaccinations. We have a pet travel bag so it was no problem taking them in the taxi, but what taxi driver would allow us to load a Rottweiler into the back seat? Yeah, right.

I explained our dilemma to the vet and asked if he thought we could give her the shots. He explained very briefly how to do it and off we went.

I think it is not that uncommon for many Hondurans to give their animals shots because you can buy what you need at an agropecuaria (farm feed store). Not so with this gringa! I don't even like to watch. The vet laughs at me when I'm holding the dog for him crying "Eeew! Ouch! Oh, no!".

dog vaccinesThe rabies shot was ready to go but the other vaccination came in two bottles. I was supposed to mix the powder with the liquid. At first, I thought, "How do I get that powder up the needle?" Then I remembered that I saw him suck the liquid up the needle and then squirt it into the powder bottle and shake it to mix. That makes more sense! Duh!

El Jefe held Chloe while I pulled up the skin on her shoulder like I saw the vet do. I was afraid to stick the needle in too far, so of course, the first time I just jabbed her and the needle didn't go in at all. I tried again and got it in further but the vaccine wouldn't come out of the needle. It felt like as if I was trying to vaccinate a piece of leather. At that point, I said "You do it" to El Jefe, but he said, "No, YOU do it." So once again, I had to push the needle in further. Poor Chloe!

She was very good about it and has forgiven me. It is amazing the things you can do when you have to!

Sorry − no video! :-)

October 30, 2007

Karmel was already taken

KramelsKramels - is this a typo?

Hey, I'm easily amused so when I took some photos of a few things in or from the grocery store, I thought I would share them with you.

I got a kick out of these Kramel candies. They are from Costa Rica or Colombia, I can't remember which. My thought was that the name Karmel was already taken, not that anything like a trademark or registered name usually stops Central American companies. We have a Home Depot in San Pedro (no, not the real thing) and an Office Depot in La Ceiba (no, not the real thing, although there are real Office Depots in the larger cities).

Campbell's soupWe used to see maybe two or three varieties of Campbell's soup and now look at this display! We hardly ever eat canned soup but I use it in cooking every once in awhile. Check out those prices, though. At L.47.80 per can (US $2.53), I could go out for a chicken dinner and beverage for less. Surely soup can't be near that expensive now in the U.S., can it? I think I still have some in my pantry for which I paid around L.28 (US $1.48) and I thought that was very high.

Wild riceMy heart stopped when I saw this wild rice. I've been looking for wild rice for 6 years. Then I saw the price and my jaw dropped. L.162 and change for a 4 oz. box, which very likely is rancid or off-flavored anyway. Add the 12% tax that I think would be charged since it is imported rice and that equals US $9.66! I remember wild rice being expensive but isn't that price outrageous? I couldn't bring myself to buy it, but I still think about it a lot. Heheheh.

If I was sure of the quality, I would splurge, but I've just bought too many things that were sent to Central America for a reason, if you know what I mean. So I settled for the brown rice instead (which was also a first in my 6-year Honduran shopping experience). Thinking about it some more, I may just have to go back and get that wild rice. I could just add a tablespoon or two at a time to the brown rice for flavor. I'm having almost as much trouble deciding on the rice as I am deciding on a new computer! What an indecisive idiot I am!

frozen foodWhen we first moved here in 2001, there wasn't much of a selection in La Ceiba of frozen convenience foods except for French fries, chicken nuggets, and refried beans. We are seeing more and more, but man! take a close look at those boxes. They look as if someone fished them out of a dumpster somewhere. I would bet $1,000 (US!) that these foods have been thawed and refrozen on more than one occasion. It is no wonder that many Hondurans look down on convenience foods when they see things like this. I wouldn't buy them.

I took a chance on this Guatemalan "Feta" cheese. Nope, mistake, never again. It was grainy and crumbled into sand-sized pieces. It sort of had a Feta flavor if you could get past the 50% salt-50% cheese composition. I even soaked the cheese in water to try to wash away some of the salt. Yes, I know Feta is salty, but you had to taste this to believe it. Yeeech!

orange orangesMy jaw dropped again when I saw these oranges! What is going on here? If you live in Honduras, or maybe anywhere in Central America, you know that we don't see oranges like this. I'm wondering if they were imported from Florida! Could it be? Why on earth would it be when we grow oranges in Honduras? If you don't know what I'm talking about, the photo below shows what our oranges usually look like.

green orangesA strange thing (a sign of assimilation?) is that the orange oranges looked very artificial to me and I just felt like the green ones would taste better. I wrote an article called Why are oranges orange? if you'd like to know why our oranges are green and yours are orange. Just remember that perfect and pretty isn't always better.

tomatoesThese perfect and pretty tomatoes were fabulous, though. We found these huge, beautiful tomatoes at the vegetable market a week ago. Generally, we see only small Roma-type plum tomatoes and another smallish one that has the normal tomato shape.

I saved some seeds from these beauties to try to grow some, but they were probably hybrids. We asked the name but, of course, it was tomate manzana (apple tomato). I say 'of course' because every variety of fruit or vegetable that is largish and roundish is called apple-something: apple mango, apple pepper, apple melon, apple banana and so on. Oh well, I'll try the seeds anyway and add them to my long list of failures.

I saw these tomatoes and instantly thought: BLT! I haven't had a BLT in 6 or 7 years. Not that I couldn't have. I just haven't thought about it but these tomatoes inspired me. I used these thick, juicy slabs and crunchy toasted homemade bread slathered with Helman's mayo. OMG! The sandwiches were fabulous. El Jefe thought a sandwich of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sounded weird but he was suitably impressed.

Panamanian peppersA few questions for my Panamanian readers: Are these really Panamanian chiles? Are they called Panamanian chiles in Panama? Are they hot? I grew some accidental wild peppers that looked very much like these except they were a little flatter. They weren't hot at all, but had an unusual and not very pleasant flavor. I'm sure the wild pepper wasn't the same thing. By the way, that price works out to US $1.35 per pound.

Speaking of vegetables, an article in La Prensa yesterday reported that 80% of the vegetables and legumes consumed in Honduras come from Guatemala and Costa Rica. I find that just incredible. Wages may be less in Guatemala but I'm sure they are higher in Costa Rica, not to mention the cost of transportation and importation.

Quotes from importers and distributors stated that the Honduran vegetables cost more AND were of a poorer quality. Actually, the term used was "mala calidad" (bad quality). I don't understand what is wrong! This is an agricultural country!

Some of the reasons given by one expert was that Honduras needs more investment and advancement in agricultural technology, but investment won't come because of "a lack of liberty, justice and security in Honduras." The government was also blamed for not offering instruction and training in agricultural techniques now being used in Guatemala and other countries. The government is also promoting transgenics but that is a whole 'nother story and definitely not being done to help the farmer.

Quality and corruption − those could be the two biggest problems in Honduras.

October 29, 2007

What are those readers saying?

The comment page: Just click the box to receive follow-up comments
(Click on any of these images to enlarge them)

Blogger has a new comment feature that you might like. When you leave a comment or question, you can now subscribe to receive follow-up comments on that article by email. (It's about time!)

Receive follow-up comments on one article by email:

When leaving a comment, just click the little box "Email follow-up comments to [your email address]" on the comments page (in the red circle shown above) and you'll receive an email of any later comments that are posted on that particular article.

By the way, you will see your own email address on the comment page (where mine is shown above), but no one else will see it. There is no spam or ads involved with the email notice.

I tried it out yesterday and it worked well. A nice feature is that the email includes a direct link if you want to post another comment. The email also includes an unsubscribe link so that once you have your answer, or don't want to receive future comments on that article for any reason, it is easy to unsubscribe. One drawback is that you have to leave a comment in order to subscribe.

Subscribe to comments on one article with a feed reader:

To read the comments on an individual article in a feed reader instead of email and without leaving a comment, click on the article title and it will open a new page with the article and any related comments. At the bottom of that page, there is a link "Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)" (in the red circle at right). Personally, I wouldn't want to fill up my feed reader with a lot of subscriptions that will soon be inactive so I don't like this option too much.

Subscribe to ALL comments with a feed reader:

If you are really, really interested in the Blogicito's reader comments, you can subscribe to all reader comments. Click on "Subscribe to reader comments" in the right-hand sidebar under the "Subscribe to La Gringa" heading. You'll see all comments for all articles in your feed reader.

How to leave a comment on the blog:

A basic tip: Every now and then, I receive an email from someone new to blogs who doesn't know how to leave a comment. If you are on the main page of the Blogicito, beneath the article you'll see a link that says "View xx comments" (in the red circle at right). Click that link and you'll see the comments page (picture at top) where you can read the current comments and/or leave a comment.

If you are on an individual article page (described above), after the latest comment, you'll see a link that says "Post a comment." Click it and it will take you to the comments page. You'll need a Google ID (not necessarily a Google email address) to post a comment.

How to leave a comment from your email subscription:

Just one more basic tip: If you read the blogicito through a Feedburner email subscription, you can comment on an article by clicking on the article title link. It will take you to the article page. Look for the "Post a comment" link after the latest comment.

Reading over this article, it sounds a tad confusing! It's really much harder for me to explain than it will be for you to do it. Most bloggers love hearing from readers, so I hope that you'll give it a try. Don't be shy!

Let me know if you try this new feature and how it works for you. I think I'll be using it a lot on the blogs that I read, since my blog reading has been sporadic at best lately and I like to know when the blogger responds to my comment.

Did you miss Chloe's video?

Chloe, Rottweiler/Doberman, La Ceiba, HondurasSad eyes means "let me inside"

Yesterday's blog, Home Newspaper Delivery, included a video of Chloe bringing the newspaper to me. I didn't mention the video and video doesn't come through on the email subscriptions, so if you missed it, click on the article title linked above to go to the blog.

Here is a tip for those who
have trouble playing videos: If you have an old computer like me and/or slow connection, and the videos don't play so well on blogs, open the YouTube site in a separate tab or window by clicking on "YouTube" in the lower right corner of the video. When the video starts downloading, click on pause, go off and do other things for 5 or 10 minutes. When you come back to that tab, the video will be downloaded and the red play line should be all the way across. Click play and it will play smoothly.

If you would like to see all of my silly videos, go to user Lagringalaceiba at YouTube.

Spanish tip: What is the Spanish word for 'video'? Video! I love those easy ones. It is pronounced 'vi-day-oh.'

October 28, 2007

Home newspaper delivery

Sometimes Chloe delivers to the studio window

Speaking of newspapers, we have home newspaper delivery where we live. The deliverers drive motorcycles and barely even slow down to toss the newspaper over the fence or under the gate. Daily delivery is very dependable; the time of delivery, not so much.

We generally don't miss the newspaper more than two or three days per year, about the same as when we were in Dallas. The company will even bring a missed newspaper out if we call. We rarely do that because the gas to bring it out costs more than the newspaper so it just doesn't seem right.

Normally the newspaper comes about 7 a.m. There are days when it doesn't come until 9:00, 10:00, or even noon, but that is rare. Sometimes it is a production problem in San Pedro (so they say) and sometimes it is a delivery problem. Some group may have "taken the streets" and won't let the trucks pass, or a bridge may be out or a truck may have broken down.

As long as you don't require your newspaper with your morning coffee, the service is pretty good. You have to be flexible or do what I used to do when the delivery was later in the day − save the newspaper for the following morning. Why not? It was still news to me.

Our current deliverer has a heck of an aim, hardly ever missing that exact spin that he needs to get the newspaper to slide and spin under the gate, stopping right in the middle of the sidewalk.

Some of the prior newspaper deliverers didn't have that accuracy and more often threw the paper over the fence. That was a little more troublesome as we had to search the plants and shrubs for the newspaper. Sometimes we even had to call in "the nose," Chloe the Rottweiler, to help us find it.

Then I got really lazy and taught Chloe to bring the newspaper and put it in my hand − for pay, of course. The reward used to be a homemade chicken-carrot-garlic cookie, but I'm behind on my baking so now it is just a saltine cracker. Some days she is really snotty and tosses it at my feet instead of putting it in my hand, but I refuse to pick it up or give her the "cookie" until she hands it to me to show her who is boss.

Oh, and Chloe has some sort of mental deadline for us to come out and pay her for the newspaper. When we miss the deadline, she chews up the newspaper. Luckily we don't sleep in that late most days.

October 27, 2007

Current events

La Prensa, HondurasNow this is a stack of reading!

Today was my day to catch up on the newspapers that have been stacking up. I have a love/hate relationship with the newspaper.

La Prensa, HondurasOn the one hand, I know I will just get depressed and/or upset reading them, especially when I read so many at one time. On the other hand, I always worry that I'll miss some important news.

On the one hand, since I'm blogging, I feel a duty to be aware of what is going on in Honduras. On the other hand, I get so frustrated that the articles often don't tell the whole story, don't name names, and it seems to me that the most obvious questions are never asked.

La Prensa, HondurasOn the one hand, I read stories in almost every newspaper that would "knock your socks off." On the other hand, if I wrote about those stories, my readers might get as depressed and frustrated as I am and quit coming back.

That is a lot more hands than I have, but you get the idea.

I recently had an idea about how to make the newspapers more succinct and reduce the amount of paper and delivery costs. The front page, of course, normally includes photos of the most shocking murder or kidnap victim or devastating auto accident fatalities, but perhaps page two could include this checklist and probably reduce the newspaper size by 20 pages or so:

RNP (National Registry of Persons) cannot issue birth certificates or ID cards this week because:

[ ] Their equipment isn't working.
[ ] Their equipment is working but they don't have paper.
[ ] They have paper but they don't have ink.
[ ] They have paper and ink but they don't have the forms to fill out.
[ ] The employees are on strike.
[ ] All of the above.

No school today because:
[ ] teachers are on strike.
[ ] students are on strike.
[ ] we have a "cold front."
[ ] it's a holiday.
[ ] vacation.

The ex-mayor of [_____________] was accused of:
[ ] malversion of funds.
[ ] dereliction of duties.
[ ] abuse of authority.
[ ] use of false documents.
[ ] all of the above.

Found innocent of all charges was the former:
[ ] Mayor
[ ] President
[ ] Congressman
[ ] Judge
[ ] Attorney
[ ] Other government employee

A total of [___] persons were [ ]killed, [ ]maimed, [ ]injured in an auto accident with [ ]a bus, [ ]a truck, [ ]a taxi, [ ]all of the preceding.

The [ ]bus, [ ]truck, [ ]taxi driver:
[ ] was killed
[ ] ran away and cannot be identified.
[ ] was too drunk to run away.
[ ] said that his brakes failed.

A total of [___] persons were murdered yesterday by [ ]guns, [ ]knives, [ ]machetes.

La Prensa, HondurasThe following sectors are on strike today:
[ ] Taxi drivers
[ ] Bus drivers
[ ] Students
[ ] Teachers
[ ] Doctors
[ ] Nurses
[ ] Garbage collectors
[ ] Government employees

A total of [______] million lempiras has been stolen/misused/lost in [_________] government agency to date this year.

The price of [_________] has risen [___]%.

The following problem will be solved in 3 months after the formation of a commission of the same old political insiders who have already screwed up the country:

[ ] Dengue
[ ] Employment
[ ] Poverty
[ ] Telephone service
[ ] Housing
[ ] Education
[ ] Corruption
[ ] Electric service
[ ] Government service
[ ] Teen pregnancy
[ ] Spousal abuse
[ ] Health care
[ ] Street vendors
[ ] Crime
[ ] Drugs

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll believe it when I see it.

October 26, 2007

Who's got the button?

Ignave's has one of these boards for every color

Ignave's may have just the button you are looking for − along with sewing and hobby supplies, party and wedding decorations, ribbons and laces.

It is a long, narrow and dark store that is always crowded. You have to take a number to be served.

Ask around about where to buy something along these lines and everyone will tell you to go to Ignave's. I didn't even see a sign outside, but everyone knows where Ignave's is located. It is about a block and a half north of Parque Central on San Isidro.

More photos below in the slide show:

October 25, 2007

Sneak preview: New babies

baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasNew baby chicks born October 20, 2007

Aren't they adorable?

We let Conchita keep six eggs and all six hatched. What fun it is to watch them toddle around the garden and mimic their mother.

More later....

October 24, 2007

La Gringa is nuts for coconuts

Coconut palm, La Ceiba, HondurasBaby coconuts

Coconut palm, La Ceiba, HondurasWe are excited! In another 6-9 months, we may have some cocos (coconuts). We planted two coconut palms about 3 years ago. Before that they lived in a couple of 5 gallon buckets for more than a year.

The one palm is doing very well and has two fruiting branches. Both plants are supposed to be dwarf coconut palms. That is a good thing as I wouldn't relish the idea of climbing to the top of a palm tree to knock the coconuts out.

Coconut palm, La Ceiba, HondurasThe other palm has had a problem forever with a black sooty mold. It's also infested with fire ants which makes it very painful to trim or try to spray it. As you can see from this photo, the fruiting branch shriveled up and died. :(

I need to learn more about coconuts. Supposedly we have one each of green and yellow coconuts. I thought all coconuts were brown − that is the way they looked in the grocery store. What do I know about cocos?!

I love the way it looks like the bottom of the palm is wrapped in burlap. It looks so much like fabric and it is really tough, too. One thing I remember about coconuts is that they can live 80 to 100 years! Amazing, huh?

Coconut palm, La Ceiba, HondurasThis photo will give you an idea of the size of the palm. The other one is to the left of the birdhouse and is about the same size.

The coconut is the seed from which new plants are started. Usually the coconuts are just placed on the soil or just partially buried and left until the coconut splits open and the palm sprouts. I've heard that they are actually pretty easy to start, at least in this climate.

Coconut palm, La Ceiba, HondurasThis photo is from May 2005 so you can see that they have grown quite a bit in only a little over two years.

October 23, 2007

La Gringa is falling apart

Look, ma! No teeth!

Yesterday we were eating a late lunch of Tex-Mex soft tacos (flour tortilla folded in half and filled with spicy ground beef, shredded cheese, lettuce, guacamole, and lots of jalapeños), when all of a sudden I felt a crunch.

Knowing there was nothing crunchy in my taco, I was a little startled thinking maybe it was a piece of bone in the ground beef.

So I delicately reached in and pulled out.....part of my tooth! I broke a tooth! It must have already been cracked because I wasn't eating anything hard enough to break a tooth.

This morning we made an emergency trip to the dentist. As soon as she looked in my mouth, she went out to the waiting room to get El Jefe. I knew it was bad news then, because generally she explains things to me directly (in Spanish) and I understand just fine.

The tooth already had such a large filling that now there is nothing to do but get a crown (which she doesn't think will last very long) or an implant. I'm going to have to see the
especialista (specialist) who only comes to La Ceiba from San Pedro Sula once a month.

Just in case you are wondering, it was a molar way in the back, so at least I won't look like a toothless hag for the next four weeks. Hahah. I should have taken a photo of the x-ray for blog accuracy but when you are in the throes of despair it's hard to think about blog photos. The red line on this drawing is approximately how my tooth broke.

Waaahhhh. I've never had any serious dental work like this done before and I'm scared!

Another reason I'm scared is that long ago I had the most vivid dream that all my teeth started falling out. Every time I opened my mouth to talk or even smile, another tooth would fall out. I can only remember two dreams out of a lifetime of dreams and that is one of them. It was just so real that I always thought it was like a vision of the future or something.

October 22, 2007

La Gringa loves Haylock's


Haylock's is my favorite store in La Ceiba. It is just sooo nice. They sell furniture, kitchen stuff, household items, linens, and lots of pretty doodads. It's only been open about a year and a half. The first time I walked in the store, I actually got tears in my eyes. :-) Reminded me of home.

Their motto on the outside of the store is "Atención, Calidad, Precio" (Attention, Quality, Price). They do have better quality things than many stores and the prices seem good to me, especially considering the importation costs. The service is great and the employees are nice and helpful.

Just recently we bought a table and mirror for the entrada (entryway). Since we don't have a car, we asked if they could deliver. No problemo! It was late on a Saturday, so I didn't even ask when they would deliver the table. I figured it would be Monday or Tuesday. We weren't home more than an hour and boom! There they were with the table.

The owner Karen speaks English fluently and will even do special catalog orders for customers. I guess one thing I like so much about this store is that it is so clean and everything is arranged attractively. I hope they are doing well business-wise. They had a good crowd when we were there last Saturday.

Here is a close up of the mirror. Haylock's imports from....guess where? The U.S. We would rather buy Honduran, but we just can't find things like this made in Honduras.

I don't usually like to talk about what things cost but just for comparison purposes in case you are curious, the table cost L.4,550 and the mirror cost L.2,250, including tax. That's US $240 and $119. The prices seemed reasonable but I'm a little out of touch with what things cost in the U.S. now.

I try to hold back on my addiction for kitchen stuff. When we moved to Honduras, we had a huge garage sale and I had four 4x8 foot tables piled full of kitchen stuff. Despite that, I still brought enough with me to fill up my new kitchen. I've never been a big shopper, but kitchen stuff is my weakness.

Here is a tour of the inside of the store. I put the photos in a slide show because I'm quickly filling up my Blogger allotment for photo space, so once again, if you are reading this from email, I think you'll have to go to the blog (click the blog title) to view the photos.

October 21, 2007

I'm so clever -- Not!

I put this (clever, I thought) little post-it note in my sidebar about a month ago to encourage readers to subscribe to the blogicito by email. Subscribing is quick and easy and if you like reading this stuff about Honduras, you won't have to remember to come back to visit. The blogicito will come to you.

Not very cleverly, though, I somehow screwed up the subscribe link in the process. So no matter how inspired you were to receive La Gringa's Blogicito with your morning coffee, you couldn't sign up. Jeesh! When will I remember to check those links?

Thanks to a frustrated reader who couldn't figure out how to sign up, I was alerted to the problem. Thanks go to Teri, my newest subscriber, for not giving up.

To bring or not to bring, that is the question

I had to bring my antique clocks

One of our Honduras Living members asked for advice about what to bring or not bring when moving to Honduras next year. I started replying but as the message got longer and longer, I decided I should turn it into a blog article instead.

I've heard lots of people − mostly men! ;-) − suggest to get rid of everything, bring a change of clothes, and buy everything you need here. Ha ha! I think in general that is easier for men to do than women. Especially if you are a "nester" like me.
There is no doubt that you will want to reduce your stash of "stuff" because if you are moving to Central America, it is likely that one of the things you are looking for is a simpler life. On the other hand, if you really appreciate the difference between, say, good quality bed sheets or a well balanced chef's knife and the lesser quality ones, you might want to consider bringing them. If your china gives you joy every time you sit down to dinner, bring it!
One of the first questions would be, are you planning on shipping a full container? That will make a big difference in how I would answer your question. If you are shipping a container, you don't have to worry about the cost of sending heavy or bulky things and there is always a little space where you can stash those special items that you were on the fence about bringing.

Another question is whether you will be eligible for a dispensa or will have to pay import fees and taxes on everything you bring. You'll need to weigh the cost of shipping and import costs against buying here with a 12% sales tax and in some cases, higher prices and lesser quality.

If you've taken my advice about coming to visit for 6 months or so, then you'll have a much better idea of what is available and it will be easier to decide if the things you would be looking for are available here and whether it is more economical to bring or buy here.

One of Jen's questions was whether she should bring her clothes dryer. I think she will need a dryer. Line drying is fine when the weather is good but it takes a lot of line space to hang a load of clothes and if you have 3 or 4 loads at a time, you'll need a lot of lines. There are times when it rains every day for a week or two and it might be awfully hard to get clothes dried during those times. Also, you may find that as a spoiled U.S. American − aren't we all? oh, don't kid yourself! ;-) − that you like the soft feel of towels and some other things dried in a dryer better than line drying. I line dry lots of things but I still use the dryer as well.

Good quality major and small appliances are available. If your appliances are relatively new, if you qualify for a dispensa, and if you are shipping a container, you might consider bringing them. Otherwise, you can probably find what you need here. Hopefully you aren't the type of person who needs the latest and greatest new technology in your appliances because it is likely that you will have a hard time finding repairmen. That's not to say that we don't have modern appliances; I'm just saying that the more bells and whistles your appliances have, the more likely that if something goes wrong, you may not be able to have it repaired.

Having spent all day yesterday furniture shopping in La Ceiba with a friend, I would say that there are lots of selections in dining room sets but much less so for big families. Most of the larger dining room sets were extremely ornate and formal in style. If that is what you want, great. If you want a rustic farmhouse style table, you might need to have one made.

In upholstered furniture, it's going to depend upon individual taste. Most of the styles here in La Ceiba are not to my taste. The Honduran style is very big furniture, often ornate with formal fabrics (brocades, etc) and almost always sold in a set with a sofa, love seat, chair, and 2 or 3 tables, all perfectly matched.

Another thing to think about is that, in general, rooms are smaller, especially bedrooms. Your 5-piece king-size bedroom set may not even fit in your new house or apartment.

Quality varies widely. We like good quality furniture but formal and ornate is not really our style. We are looking for more of a casual or tropical look. Lots of the wood furniture is lacquered to a brilliant shine, includes mirrors (!) and gold trim, or is stained so that the wood grain is completely covered, like with paint. I think the beauty of wood is seeing the wood grain but obviously the fashion is quite different here.

We are still sitting here with an empty sala principal (living room)* and will need to do some shopping in San Pedro or Tegucigalpa or the US if we are ever going to fill it to our tastes. So, all I can say is that it really depends on what you like and what you can live with.

I have lots of advice and personal opinions on the matter of what to bring. I'm glad I brought lots of books, especially my cookbooks, craft and do-it-yourself books. I'm glad I brought my hobby and craft things, nice linens, and kitchen stuff (although I sold tons of that before we came also). Kitchens are generally a fraction of the size that they are in the US with much less cabinet and counter space unless you build to your own specifications or buy a really big house.
Definitely bring pots and pans. I haven't found quality pots and pans anywhere, including San Pedro. A few places which had some medium, not good, quality pots and pans were extremely expensive to my mind. I think that I could get a much better quality for a lesser price in the U.S. Guys should bring their tools because quality tools are hard to find and expensive.

Bring some insulated mugs and glasses. You'll appreciate not having your drink drip condensation all over your clothes, lap, and furniture.

Computers and electronics are more expensive here than in the U.S. Computers will often come with pirated software which make it difficult to impossible to keep updated.

Cars are more expensive, but importing a car is expensive and can be a nightmare getting through customs, too. Finding parts for cars that aren't popular here can be unbelievably frustrating, expensive, and time consuming. Can you imagine being without your car for 3 to 6 months while someone tries to repair it? It happens.

In many other areas, the variety and quality of stuff available in La Ceiba has increased tremendously in the past few years. I was very pleasantly surprised at two of the stores that we went to yesterday. The larger cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa will offer much more variety and probably better prices, too. La Ceiba prices for many things are generally higher than in the big cities.
I'm sorry I brought my oriental rugs and much of the clothes that I brought. I really regret bringing two leather chairs. I don't regret bringing a lot of the sentimental things and favorite kitchen stuff that I did. We had room in the container and I think that if something makes you feel happy or more at home in your new surroundings, why not?
So, I can't really answer what is best for you because everyone is different, but I will say that there are a lot of adjustments to make in starting a new life in a strange country and if you have a few things around you that just make you feel good or more comfortable, I think it makes the adjustment a little easier. If you are looking forward to starting fresh, particular brands or styles aren't important to you, and you're willing to adjust to what is available, then leave it all behind.


*Update: After six years of looking on and off, we finally found the perfect, tropical style furniture for our sala principal. Not only was it just the style we wanted, but it was made in Honduras and was the exact colors that we needed for our orange room:

Pull up a chair and sit a spell

By the way, reading this article two and a half years later, I wouldn't change a thing.

By the way again, reading this article again three and a half years later, the only thing that I would add is that if you are only coming for a year or less, don't bring much at all. The hassles and cost of shipping, importing, and transporting are only worth it for your most indispensable items. I've heard from others that it is near impossible to ship your things back to the US or other countries without paying a fortune.

October 20, 2007

Chapala's Juices

Chapala's juices, La Ceiba, HondurasChapala's Juices

Chapala's juices, La Ceiba, HondurasChapala's is a great juice store. In La Ceiba, there is one on San Isidro (the main street) just south of the municipalidad (city hall) and another one near the police station. Maybe some of our readers can tell us if this is a national Honduran chain or only in La Ceiba.

I guess El Jefe indulges a lot more than I do because I've noticed that some of the servers always greet him like an old friend, or valued customer. ;-) Well, he does get into town a lot more than I do and I tend to go for a cold coffee at Espresso Americano.

The licuados are milk based and most are L.20-22 (US $1.06-$1.16). I've never had a licuado because I can never decide on one fruit and usually go for the Especiales (Specials) instead.

Chapala's juices, La Ceiba, HondurasOne of our favorite combinations is the Toronja-Fresa-Piña (Grapefruit-Strawberry-Pineapple) but they hardly ever have it because they don't have strawberries very often. The Papaya-Avena-Cereal (Papaya-Oatmeal-Cereal) is one of my other favorites. Limon con Soda is another one that we like.

Sandia con Limon (Watermelon with Lemon) was a big hit they day we were there. The whole place smelled yummy with watermelon and they had three blenders of it going at the same time. The specials range from L.24 to L.40 (US $1.27 to $2.12)

Sometimes we try to think of a combination that they don't have on the menu just to see what will happen. Usually it isn't a problem. Every now and then El Jefe likes to make up some combination and then make me guess what it is. Usually I guess wrong. ;-o

I do like their juices, but two things bother me. One is that I wonder if they wash the fruit or how well they wash it, because with some of the drinks, they put the citrus rind and all in the blender and then strain the juice. I get freaked out about food cleanliness just in general which is not an easy way to be in Honduras.

Chapala's juices, La Ceiba, HondurasThe other thing is that they don't provide napkins. If you've ever had a cold drink on a hot day in a humid climate, you know how that condensation on the cup will drip all over you. We've been told that they don't provide napkins to save money. Doesn't that seem a little ridiculous? I mean if you can get a straw and a to-go lid, why not a napkin? Jeesh! Anyway, it's a minor but annoying thing.

October 19, 2007

Bye bye Blackie, Rubio, and Niña

Chihuahua puppiesGoing for a prison break

We kept this box in front of the pen so that the pups couldn't get out but mama Zoe could get in to feed them whenever she wanted to. The photo below shows Zoe in the lower right hand corner with Joey and their pups.

Yes, we have a new batch of puppies. Sigh. Call us irresponsible parents. We did everything we could think of to keep Joey and Zoe apart, including keeping one locked up in a pen or keeping them separated with one outside and one inside the house at all times while she was in heat. We were no match for Joey, though. He would fly through open windows (seriously!) and doors.

All that is over now. Joey has been disarmed, deactivated.

Chihuahua puppiesThis is incredible to me, but out of the two litters, a total of eight puppies, seven were male. Three of the eight were black, even though both parents are blond and only one grandparent was black, one was white, and two were blond. Almost all of the pups have Joey's trademark one or two white back toes.

Chihuahua puppiesWe only have the two black puppies left. I call this one Oso (the Bear), because he is a fat rolly-poly little guy and as sweet as a teddy bear. His ears are fully erect already. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago. I'd like to see him go to a family where the children would baby him. See the white center toes on the back foot?

Chihuahua puppiesThe other one I call Junior because he is an exact replica of his older brother Blackie, both in looks and temperament. Mr. Attitude!

Junior is independent and aggressive and likes to start fights with his brothers, but is the first one to run crying like a baby when one of them turns the table on him. Maybe he acts tough because he was the smallest one. I don't think he would be as good around children as Oso.

Chihuahua puppiesWe still have Uno (number one because didn't think we would have him so long), who is such a sweet dog, but we recently sold Blackie and the latest two blond pups. Uno is eight months old. He's the blond one in this photo with Blackie. He looks so much like Joey that sometimes I have to check underneath (if you know what I mean) to tell who is who.

Chihuahua puppiesUno doesn't want to leave us. Whenever anyone has come to look at the pups, he growls at them so, of course, no one wants to take him. These are the only times that he has ever growled. He doesn't growl when people come over for other reasons so I think he knows why they are there. That is Uno in the back of the bed with Joey and Blackie.

Chihuahua puppiesThis is a photo of Blackie with his new mommy. She is so cute and was happy that Blackie licked her face when she held him like a baby. I think they will be happy together. His new papi travels to Panamá now and then and knows of a pet store that has tons of stuff just for chihuahuas. I think Blackie may get his own tuxedo. ;-)

Chihuahua puppiesIt is really hard selling these pups! Even though we had nine dogs for awhile, El Jefe and I both get very sad every time one leaves. The photo and the little snippet of video below is of Rubio (Blondie) just before he left home. Tell me he doesn't know! Look at that sad face. It looks like he's saying, "Why?"

I'll be posting some more Chihuahua puppy photos....one of these days. If you want to see the photos of the last litter of pups, including a video of the birth, check these out:

It's a boy! And another one! And another one! And another one!
Week one puppy update
Week two puppy update
Puppies for sale, I think
Post No. 300
What's up lately
Joey and his posse

Or just use the search box in the upper left corner and search for 'chihuahua'.

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