May 30, 2009

Then there were five (Honduran earthquakes)

5th Honduran earthquake May 2009#5, a 4.5 offshore earthquake on May 30, 2009
Map: USGS Earthquake Center

Friday night a brief, but noticeable tremor came through about 8:29 p.m. Then at 12:34 a.m., a bigger one came rolling through our house. Not a bad one. I would estimate only about 3 seconds, just long enough to rumble a little and rattle the windows. Even the dogs are starting to get used to it. Most of the aftershocks where just a little shake that seemed to come out of nowhere. The later one I could feel it coming from one side of the house and pass through to the other.

A little later I checked the USGS Earthquake site and sure enough! Honduras had another 4.5 offshore quake at 12:33 a.m. Interestingly, each of these earthquakes, no matter where they were, took one minute to get to our house in La Ceiba, Honduras. Only the first one hung around long enough to really scare us.

The epicenter of this one was 75 miles NW of La Ceiba and 80 miles NNE of San Pedro. It looks like this one was about equal distance to the island of Utila and the cities of Tela, and Puerto Cortes on the mainland. Only 13 people have filled out the Did you feel it? questionnaire so far, compared to almost 1,100 who responded to the 7.3 earthquake, so I think it was a non-event.

I asked our Honduras Living group if anyone else felt it, but I guess most had gone to bed or were tired of talking about earthquakes, because only one person responded from La Lima. I hope I'm not sitting on a fault line all by myself. ;-/

The Honduran death toll is now at seven. I don't believe that these aftershocks have done any significant additional damage in Honduras. The newspapers have not even mentioned the additional four earthquakes. Things are very much back to normal for the vast majority of the country. For updates on the casualties and damages, check La Prensa. I've read all the newspapers and La Prensa seem to have the most earthquake coverage.

Related earthquake articles:

Make that four Honduran earthquakes
Not one Honduran quake, but three!
Earthquake - The first time the earth moved for me, then again and again and again
Terremoto! 7.1 Earthquake in Honduras

May 29, 2009

Make that four Honduran earthquakes

Honduras earthquake May 29, 2009Fourth Honduran earthquake, May 29, 2009
Source: USGS Earthquake site

I finally got to sleep about 3:30 a.m. on Friday, the night after the first earthquake − only just in time to be awakened by Pancho the rooster! ;-) Once I got back to sleep, I was so sleep deprived that nothing was going to wake me up and I mean nothing...

Not even another earthquake! Yes, that's right. Another 4.6 earthquake struck at about 6:51 a.m. on Friday. This one was the closest yet, only 35 miles (55 km.) southeast of La Ceiba and was a land quake rather than an offshore quake, like the previous three. Looking at a more detailed map, it appears to have occurred between Olanchito, Yoro, and Pueblo Viejo, Olancho.

Honduras earthquake May 29, 2009

Amazingly, I've seen nothing in or on the Honduran news about this one or the other two which occurred after the first. Granted, they were smaller, but it seems to me that they deserve some mention. Apparently the media does not keep up with USGS Earthquake site as many are still reporting the original quake as a 7.1, even though it was revised yesterday to a 7.3.

Personally, I think the Honduran government and media are torn between making more of the situation (for foreign aid purposes) or down playing it (for tourism purposes).
Sorry, that's my cynical side showing again. ;-D

I'd like to encourage anyone here in Honduras, or elsewhere when you feel an earthquakes to complete the short, simple questionnaire "Did you feel it? − Tell us!" on the USGS site. I assume that the USGS uses that feedback in their analysis, but it can serve another purpose, too. People looking for information about the earthquake effects in smaller areas for which there might not be much in the news can review those results and at least get a general idea about how severe the quake was in that area. It's a public service. ;-)

In order to complete the questionnaire, you'll first need to find the page for the specific event that you felt which is probably easiest from the map. Click on the event to see when that earthquake occurred. If it is the right one, click on the "Did you feel it" link.

Keep in mind, though, that the USGS is currently reporting some of our Honduran earthquakes at the wrong time! The actual times are one hour earlier. To make matters even more confusing, on some pages (like the Spanish version) the same quake is shown at the correct local time and others (English version) it is not. I've written them to point this out and I hope that some of you will, too, so that they will correct this information. After all, a scientific site should not have errors like this!

If you should happen to be reading these earthquake articles later, it may be that the quake ratings have changed. USGS continues to modify the rating as more information is obtained. Additionally, if you read them more than a week after they were written, I think that many of these links that I've given you will no longer function since they are currently posted under a "recent events" URL. Historical earthquake events can be found at .... well, that is a difficult site. At the moment, I cannot find the list that I saw early. Sorry, you are on your own.

To summarize, the USGS Earthquake site is a complete moving target! Very annoying when you are trying to link to information. If anyone knows how to get a permanent link, I would appreciate the information. − Not that I'm expecting any more earthquakes, but you never know, right?

Here is a summary of the recent Honduran quakes (times are UTC, not local) from the USGS site:

y/m/d h:m:s
MAP 4.6 2009/05/29 12:51:03 15.359 -86.463 10.0 HONDURAS
MAP 4.5 2009/05/29 02:45:44 16.118 -87.591 10.0 OFFSHORE HONDURAS
MAP 4.8 2009/05/28 09:06:25 16.353 -87.377 10.0 OFFSHORE HONDURAS
MAP 7.3 2009/05/28 08:24:45 16.730 -86.209 10.0 OFFSHORE HONDURAS

Related articles:

Not one Honduran quake, but three!
Earthquake - The first time the earth moved for me, then again and again and again
Terremoto! 7.1 Earthquake in Honduras

Not one Honduran quake, but three

3 Honduran terremotos
May 29, 2009, a 3-quake day
Map: USGS Earthquake site

Would you believe that as I was writing the last article about my Honduran earthquake experience, at 8:46 pm on Thursday, I thought we had another aftershock? However, much later while looking at the USGS Earthquake site again, I found that we actually had had another earthquake, rated 4.5. This one was also offshore about 60 miles (100 km.) NNE of La Ceiba.

Looking further, I saw that the aftershock we felt shortly after the original quake was actually another 4.8 offshore quake at 3:06 a.m. (The earthquake site does not reflect Honduras' actual time zone. They may think we observe daylight savings time because the times they report are one hour later than actual times. Sometimes we do observe DST in Honduras but only when we feel like it and we reserve the right to stop in the middle of it if we decide to.)

The aftershock that we felt at 11:18 p.m. felt much stronger and lasted longer here in La Ceiba than either the 4.5 or 4.8 quakes. I kept expecting it show up on the USGS site but it hasn't.

And finally, the USGS has apparently reclassified our original quake from 7.1 to 7.3 on the Richter scale. The Honduran news has not reported that change, but that is what I'm seeing on the USGS website now.

Related articles:

Terremoto! 7.1 Earthquake in Honduras

Earthquake - The first time the earth moved for me, then again and again and again

Make that four Honduran earthquakes

May 28, 2009

Earthquake - The first time the earth moved for me, then again and again and again

Honduran mountains near La CeibaLooks more peaceful than I feel

Now for my own personal reaction to
Honduras' earthquake early this morning. I've only been on the fringes of one very mild earthquake here in Honduras so I'm practically an earthquake virgin.

I was up very late last night trying to catch up on my email. I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed when the earthquake started. I heard a thundering roar and the windows started rattling. Initially I thought it was just a storm blowing in. Just the other day a similar thing happened − I heard a roar getting louder as it came closer which, ironically, I thought was an earthquake at that time. That time it was just a storm.

I looked toward the window and realized the windows were rattling wildly though there was no wind. Then the walls started rocking back and forth and then the ceilings and the floors. It was really stronger than I had imagined it would be. I could see the 8" thick concrete walls moving! It was as if giant bulldozers were ramming our house and LOUD! I was stunned and spent more than a few seconds standing there thinking, "So this is what an earthquake feels like." (Oh, how I wish I had thought to grab my video camera so all of you could experience it, too!)

My dogs, who always follow me to the bathroom, were all wide-eyed, open mouthed, looking around wildly for the source of this craziness.

I kept expecting it to stop any second but it didn't! It was so strong that I finally jerked myself out my shock realizing that those walls or ceiling could come caving in on us. I rushed out of the bathroom to find El Jefe out of the bed, sort of bent over and holding on to the heavy nightstand, while in his sleepy stupor he tried to digest what was happening. I said, "It's an earthquake!"

We looked at each other for a moment, I think both of us were thinking it would stop any second, then I asked, (calmly, believe it or not) "Should we go outside?" "Yes!" He grabbed my arm and literally pulled me out of the room and down the stairs in the dark. I pulled back long enough to flip on the stairway light switch because at that moment I was more worried about falling down the dark stairway and breaking a leg than I was about the house caving in.

The dogs were scrambling along with us, though it took some encouragement to get them to come out of the house. Chloe the guard dog was on the front porch, frantic, jumping two feet up in the air and very glad to see us, I think.

Once we got outside with the dogs huddled around us, the movement stopped and the neighborhood was quiet. It seemed to me that the shaking lasted more than a minute here in La Ceiba, but I could be way off on that estimate. You know how time seems to stand still when your adrenaline is pumping. El Jefe also said that he felt like he was moving in slow motion but really he was anything but slow as he was pulling me out of the house.

We talked about hoping that our house was not damaged and wondered where the epicenter was located and just how bad it was and whether people were hurt. He looked around the house and didn't see any obvious damage. I suggested that he call his mother to make sure she was all right in El Porvenir. She was scared but fine otherwise. I couldn't wait to get to the USGS earthquake site to find the answers to at least some of my questions. That didn't happen until much later.

When we first went back up to our bedroom, I had the sensation that the floor was not level. I walked around while J was on the phone. After a few seconds, I realized that there was nothing wrong with the floor. My legs were still "rubbery" and shaky from the shock/fear/tension.

El Jefe mentioned today that our bedroom is probably not a safe place to be since it is upstairs above the garage. The floor was strongly reinforced but it could crack and collapse.

chihuahuas, HondurasOne funny thing: My chihuahuas annoyingly always want to go into the bathroom with me when I'm preparing to go to bed. Well, after the earthquake was over, after I found I had no internet connection, and after we checked the TV stations (only CNN en Español had some brief information), I went back into the bathroom to brush my teeth. The dogs wanted no part of going back into that room where the earthquake occurred! They came to the doorway but turned around and ran back to their pillows.

There was a strongish but quick aftershock* maybe about 30 minutes after the initial earthquake. El Jefe said that he felt several others but they must have happened during my few minutes of sleep during the rest of the night.

I got very little sleep last night. First because I was nervous and couldn't sleep and later it seemed that every time I dozed off, the rooster would crow, the chi's would bark, Chloe would bark, I would hear something (a boom once), or something else would wake me up! I guess we were all skittish.

We don't seem to have any major damage to our house and for that I am very grateful. We didn't have anything fall or break, but then we don't have a lot of little doodads around and most of our furniture is heavy. The sheet rock ceilings are separating from the walls. Pictures on the walls were crooked. Initially, I started to tell Arexy to be sure to straighten them after she dusts, but then I realized it was probably from the earthquake shaking the house, not Arexy. ;-)

Speaking of Arexy, she had no damage at her dad's house or any to speak of in her neighborhood. She also noticed no damage on her trip to work today. Just as she arrived here about 8 a.m., though, an aftershock occurred which scared her. J told her that the aftershocks are common.

It's so disorienting! Your mind is used to figuring the most logical explanation for things that are going on around you. The windows rattle and my mind says that it must be the wind or Chloe scratching and bumping the windows...but wait! I'm on the second floor. It can't be the dog and there is no wind. My legs go rubbery again. I don't like this at all. I want it to stop!

11:18 p.m. ~ ANOTHER aftershock! It rolled and rumbled through from one side of the room to the other. I heard something outside. The windows rattled at my left. I felt/heard the movement coming toward me. My chair rocked and I rocked in it. I hollered something profane. Then it continued on to the other side of the room and the windows rattled on that side. I held my breath deciding whether I should get up and run or whether it was over once again.

My legs turn to rubber again and my stomach is queasy.

Stop! Please stop! I need to sleep.

* See corrections/updates here: Not one Honduran quake, but three

And then there were four: Make that four Honduran earthquakes

Terremoto! - 7.1 earthquake in Honduras

El Progreso, Honduras earthquakeBridge destroyed by earthquake in El Progreso, Honduras

La Ceiba, Honduras, Breaking news − Not! But it would have been! The earthquake occurred at 2:25 a.m. last night in La Ceiba. At 2:35 a.m., I was at the computer to a) check the USGS Earthquake site, and b) to write my blog article! Unfortunately, while the power and cable TV only went out momentarily, the internet connection went out and didn't return until after lunch today. Darn! Can you imagine the extreme frustration of a dedicated blogger wanting to be the first to investigate and write a breaking news story with no way to post it?!

Update: the earthquake was reclassified as 7.3 on the Richter scale.

Honduras earthquakeImage from: the USGS Earthquake center
Click the map to view an enlarged version.
Click the link for more detailed information.

The earthquake epicenter was in the ocean about 39 miles (63 km.) NE of the Honduran island of Roatán, only slightly further NW of the island of Guanaja, and about 75 miles NNE (125 km.) of La Ceiba. It was also felt all over Honduras, in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua. As shown on the map, La Ceiba was barely outside the intensity area VI. The Bay Islands were in intensity areas VI and VII, the entire north coast, including San Pedro Sula, was in intensity area V, while the rest of Honduras was in area IV.

Since I couldn't access the internet, I spent the entire morning watching all of the Honduran television stations for the latest news and have these hokey TV photos to show you. Channel 10 was heavily using Google Earth in their presentations! Impressive! Additionally, the online newspaper sites are now so overloaded that I can't access the latest information. I'm getting the 'acceso denagado' message on every page I try to open. I can see the headlines but the articles won't open. Aaargh!

As near as I can tell, the worst physical damage was the loss of a bridge on the major highway in El Progreso between San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. This was the old bridge, which is shown in the photo at top, constructed by the French in 1963, and a newer larger bridge, constructed by Japan after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, is right next to it.

El Progreso bridge, Honduras earthquakeBoth were in use, one-way each direction. There will be no problem using the larger bridge as a two-way bridge provided it is not damaged. I'm not certain whether the damage shown in this photo at right is on the new or the old bridge. Latest word is that the larger bridge has been reopened. Hooray for the Japanese! (Update 5/29/09: I found out that this photo reflects damage on the newer bridge, which has since been reopened. I hope whoever analyzed the safety of the bridge knew what they were doing! This bridge gets heavy traffic.)

Honduras earthquakeSix deaths and 19 injuries have been reported, primarily to people who were asleep in their beds when a wall or ceiling fell on them. From my notes, one death each was reported in Tocoa, Trujillo, La Lima, Yoro, and Gracias. Many minor and a few more severe injuries were reported.

These numbers will change as more information is known by the Honduran authorities and media so if you wish to keep up to date, please check the Honduran online newspapers, which will probably be more accessible later tonight or tomorrow. (See the links page at the top of the blog.)
Please keep in mind that the Honduran newspapers often grossly exaggerate the effects of such natural disasters.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras earthquakeFour churches, the court building in San Pedro, and some houses in several different areas of Honduras were damaged. A few houses collapsed completely and in many cases, for various reasons, it is thought that these particular structures were mal hecho (badly constructed). Some of the muros (concrete fences/walls) that fell were obviously poorly constructed even to our non-expert eyes, i.e., they had virtually no foundation in the ground and insufficient vigas (structural supports).

San Pedro Sula, Honduras earthquakeA few San Pedro Sula colonias were without electricity. I was amazed that our power and cable were interrupted only momentarily here in La Ceiba. The main highway approaching San Pedro was cracked down the middle of one lane with one side of the road being raised 8-10" above the other. There were also some reports of phones being out so if you are having trouble trying to reach someone in Honduras, don't despair.

Once again, I was impressed with Marcos Burgos, the Commissioner of COPECO (national emergency preparedness agency). He talked on the news for about 20 minutes, without notes, giving full reports of every area of Honduras. He seems a man dedicated to his job.

Honduras earthquakeWe were very lucky that this happened at night and in the area that it did. The USGS stated that being relatively shallow (only about 6 miles or 10 km. deep), the quake had the potential to be much more severe than it was. Overall, I believe that the damage was minimal. Not a consolation to those whose houses collapsed or family members were killed, but all in all, it could have been much, much worse.

To put things in perspective, this is from the US Geological Service earthquake site regarding a similar size earthquake:

"A magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred near the Guatemala, region 358 km southwest of the location of this earthquake on February 4, 1976 (UTC), with estimated population exposures of 80,000 at intensity IX or greater and 1,017,000 at intensity VIII, resulting in an estimated 22,778 fatalities."

In the case of Honduras' earthquake, intensity areas IX and VIII were in the ocean.

The video of damage on the news primarily showed the same 3 or 4 structures over and over again. I'm sure that we'll see more reports as time passes. Honduran TV stations do not seem to have on-site reporters in outlying locations, not even for emergency reports and cell phone photos or videos, a fact which astounds me. Heck, I would volunteer to do it for them and I'm sure many others would, too! After seven hours of watching TV, I have yet to see a single on-site report from Roatán which was much closer to the epicenter.

Reports from our Honduras Living group members from many parts of Honduras confirm that with a few sad exceptions, earthquake damage was relatively minor. Several houses and some roads were damaged in Roatán. It sure was scary while it was happening.

El Progreso bridge, Honduras earthquakeMany people are concerned about travel to or from the SPS airport. Steve, our Honduras expert in San Pedro Sula, reported that if the larger El Progreso bridge is closed, there is an alternative route through Santa Rita which will add a minimum of an hour to the trip for those who need to travel to or from San Pedro Sula and the rest of the north coast of Honduras. We only have one highway across the north coast so when a bridge goes out, it can be very difficult to access other parts of the country. (Photo: La Prensa, Honduras)

By the way, there were reports of a tsunami warning, too. The original warning has been canceled. It is definite that there is no risk of tsunami!

The USGS Earthquake site has several maps charting various aspects of the earthquake. If you felt the earthquake, you can give your experience and view the results of other people who responded in various charts and tables. I suppose that this helps the USGS in their research and statistics. The Earthquake site is a good site to bookmark for future reference. It has information in both English and Spanish almost instantly whenever an earthquake has occurred anywhere in the world.

Next: My own personal reaction to the earthquake.

Related articles:

Not one Honduran quake but three
Make that four Honduran earthquakes

May 27, 2009

Pet Peeve #473

That egg is definitely broken.

D - E - F - I - N - I - T - E - L - Y

Not definitly. Not difently. Not difinetly. Not defenitly. Not deffinitly.

And certainly not defiantly! Unless you are rebellious instead of certain about something.


I definitely like ice cream.
I defiantly refuse to eat chicharrón.

May 22, 2009

Processing the coconut meat

coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasNice thick layer of coconut meat!

After opening the coconuts and eating our fill coconut meat right out of the shell, we were left with six coconuts. El Jefe stuck the cleaned coconuts in the fridge. Not wanting to chance the cocos going bad before I got to them, I decided to shred and freeze the meat right away.

coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasOops. This is the coco that El Jefe opened and he, unlike Carlos, left the hard outer shell on it. No way was the veggie peeler going to handle that. What to do, what to do? I got out my trusty rock and smashed it down on the coco. Absolutely nothing happened.

coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasEl Jefe said, "Wrong, wrong, wrong." He demonstrated that you smash the coconut into the rock mid-air, not vice versa. He got it open, but it was still a lot more work to get the meat out of the shell than with Carlos' method.

I'm completely coconut-ignorant. Growing up thinking that coconut comes already dried, shredded, and pre-sweetened in a handy plastic bag, what can I say? It's my deprived upbringing.

grating coconut in the Cuisinart, La Ceiba, HondurasThe last time I shredded coconut, I just chopped up the meat in the Cusinart food processor. While that was okay, I realized that the texture was much nicer on the coconut meat that El Jefe shredded by hand.

Being too 'technically advanced'
;-) (translation: 'lazy') to shred it by hand, I tried using the medium shredding blade on the Cuisinart on the first coconut. It processed the meat in no time, but the shreds were a little too large, so I ended up chopping them a bit more with a knife.

grating coconut in the Cuisinart, La Ceiba, HondurasThen I tried the small shredding blade. Just right. I shredded five coconuts in less than two minutes. (El Jefe was impressed!) The coconut meat was nice and thick and the six cocos gave me 9 cups of shredded coconut.

The whole time I was thinking about all the things I want to make with coconut. I want to try making some coconut oil, which is said to be a health wonder, but apparently it takes about 10 coconuts to make a cup of oil. Right now, I just feel too coconut-stingy to use that many cocos for oil.

I also want to make coconut milk for soup. Lots of seafood soups, and tapado (a meat stew) are made with fresh coconut milk as a base for the broth here on the north coast of Honduras. Yum. But here again, you are basically extracting the liquid (with a lot of work) and throwing away the coconut meat later − or feeding it to animals. I just don't feel coconut-rich enough for that yet.

I toasted two cups with a little sugar so that if and when cream* ever becomes available again in La Ceiba :-{ , I'll be all ready to make my toasted coconut ice cream again (which, by the way, got rave reviews from Jonna).

coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasAll the recipes that I've seen on toasting coconut call for toasting the shreds in the oven for 10-15 minutes. That MUST be for dried packaged coconut as it took almost 40 minutes (at 350° F) for the coco to change color. The moisture content of fresh coconut (60-70%) makes a big difference. Also, the oven loses heat each time that I (frequently) took the pan out to stir and turn the shreds to prevent scorching on the bottom. It turned out much prettier than last time, eh?

toasted coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasFunny, but El Jefe was pooh-poohing the toasting effort the whole time. "I don't know why you bother." "It's going to take hours." "What is that supposed to do anyway." "Blah, blah, blah." However, when he later found the toasted coconut cooling in the fridge and grabbed some to taste, he said, "Man! I could eat this whole containerful right now." Nah-nah-nananah. I told you so.

Still on my to-do list: Making coconut milk, coconut oil, macaroons, coconut shrimp, tapado, sopa de caracol, and a coconut cream pie. Since we are planning on harvesting more this weekend, I had better get on the ball with some of this cooking.

*Finally found cream again since I wrote this! I originally used to look for it in the dairy case and of course it was never there. Then I found the tetrapacks of UHT cream in another area of the store. When the tetrapacks of cream disappeared, I finally found Nestle's canned cream. When that disappeared, I was lost. Who was to know that that Anchor cream in tetrapacks was now available in the dairy case? I quit looking there years ago. They are always one step ahead of me.

May 21, 2009

Harvesting and opening the coconuts

yellow coconuts, La Ceiba, HondurasBeautiful coconuts

We had two dwarf coconut trees, one a yellow coconut and the other a green coconut. The yellow coco was sickly and the fronds were constantly covered with a yucky black mildew looking stuff. It flowered but the cocos aborted without ever producing a single one. It was also infested with fire ants making spraying and/or trimming off the infected fronds a difficult and painful thing to do. I wanted to cut down the yellow palm before whatever it had infected the good coco. El Jefe did not want to give up on it.

The green coco was lush and healthy and grew taller and faster than the other. It was a beautiful sight swaying in the breeze. At one point, it had more than 50 cocos in various stages of development. I was salivating over it. By the way, 'green' and 'yellow' refer only to the outer covering. The coconut inside has the same brown hairy covering that you are probably familiar with if you buy them in the US.

coconut after lethal yellowing, La Ceiba, HondurasLo and behold, the tables turned. The beautiful, lush, healthy green coco apparently contracted lethal yellowing disease. (Sharon of Feather Ridge from Guanaja Island, Honduras, has an excellent article about lethal yellowing.) In no time at all, it aborted every single coco while every frond expired one by one and the whole top just died and fell over. We are left with this depressing stump which is pleading for the machete.

Meanwhile, the previous ugly step-sister has recovered and thrived and is now loaded with coconuts. (Never listen to La Gringa when it comes to coco palms.) We had a mini-harvest the other day.

Carlos, La Ceiba, HondurasCarlos, a former worker, had come over to move a few banana plants for us. He was showing his prowess in opening and cleaning coconuts. This guy is good! When he was finished with most of them, all I had to do was use a vegetable peeler to scrape off that last thin coating of brown around the outside. With other methods, you still have the problem of getting the meat out of the shell. Not this way! I'm all for the 'opener' doing all the hard work and handing it over to the cook ready to go. ;-)

Since Peter from the Central American Forum had showed us videos of he and his wife opening coconuts the Philippine way, I thought it would be interesting to show the Honduran way, or at least one Honduran's way. ;-)

Peeled coconut, La Ceiba, HondurasCarlos wanted everyone to know that this coco was particularly hard and he didn't get it quite as clean as the others. He also mentioned that El Jefe's machete is in need of sharpening. El Jefe took his turn, too. We're going to be inviting Carlos over to share in the coco stash in return for cleaning more of these coconuts! This guy is good! In my opinion, those bags of pre-shredded coconut that you buy in the US should cost about $20 each.

I was glad that there was enough background noise that you can't hear the camera person munching away on a hunk of coconut meat in the background.

Opening the coconut video:

Opening coconut with machete, La Ceiba, HondurasWhen you see things like this, don't you have to wonder what was that first person thinking who decided to spend hours with a rock and a rock-hard coconut just to see if there was anything to eat inside? If I was stuck on a deserted island with a coco tree, I'm afraid I would starve to death before I ever got one opened.

Tomorrow: Processing the coconut meat.

May 17, 2009

My favorite plastic bags (so far)

Crocheted pink plastic bag, La Ceiba, HondurasPretty in pink bag

Crocheted pink plastic bag, La Ceiba, HondurasThese photos are of two of my favorite crocheted plastic bag bags. I was trying to arrange a photo a little more artistically than I usually do (by plopping it down in a chair and snapping a photo). In my mucus-induced brain fog, I couldn't decide which photos I liked best, so here are all of them.

pink bags for crochetingThe pink bag supply came all the way from Indiana, USA! Aighmeigh sent them to me. Thank you, Aighmeigh! I'd love to get more of these pale pink bags but since they were a special bag for breast cancer awareness month in October, they probably aren't still available. The purple and hot pink writing on the bag made for nice purple and pink flecks when crocheted.

Crocheted pink plastic bag, La Ceiba, HondurasHonestly, this bag turned out so nicely that I would use it for a purse! I had to make it small because there were only 32 pink bags and the mostly bright colors that I have made the pale pink looked washed out.

I lucked onto TWO of these muted pinkish-purplish and green striped bags that I thought looked great with the pale pink with purple flecks. I was worried the whole time that I wouldn't have enough and would have to rip it out and redesign it, but I ended up with an extra ONE INCH of the trim bag and about a bag and a half of pink left over. Oh, happy day. Sometimes things work out the way you want them to.

Sherbet stripes plastic bag, La Ceiba, HondurasSherbet stripes

Sherbet stripes plastic bag, La Ceiba, HondurasThe striped bag was an effort to use a bunch of very small, very thin, different colored striped bags. I winged it and ripped out and restarted this project so many times. I wasn't entirely happy with the way the bottom row turned out. I crocheted the sides of the bag horizontally and connecting them to the base as I went along was difficult to do neatly.

I figured out a way to make a sturdy round tube handle that I like very much. It has a nice feel in the hand. The bottom of this bag matches the handles. I ran out of the plain white bags and used strips from a different heavier bag for the trim around the top. It actually worked out well since this bag is very soft and supple and the heavier trim helps to hold the shape.

Sherbet stripes plastic bag, La Ceiba, HondurasSince I've been sick for almost 3 weeks :-{ , I've been doing lots of crocheting and have several more bags to show you soon, including the 'manly man' bag I made for my contest winner, Don Ray in Panama.

By the way, I'm on my third round of antibiotics. This one is also used to prevent anthrax, tuberculosis, and the plague! Seriously, Medline says so. So if this one doesn't work, I think I'll just kill myself. I am a mucus factory. If mucus could be sold by the ounce, I'd be a millionaire many times over. In two and a half weeks, I've only been able to sleep through the night one time. Man, did that feel good.

May 15, 2009

A bucket of chicken

bucketNot your everyday bucket of chicken.

A bucket of chickens
A bucket of chickens.

Don't worry, the chicks were only in there momentarily for transporting outside.

No chicks were harmed in the making of this blog.

May 14, 2009

Even the chickens don't lay on Mondays

Ni las gallinas ponen An old Honduran saying explaining why you can't get anything done on Mondays.

May 13, 2009

Eucalyptus trees in El Porvenir

Eucalyptus trees in El Porvenir, Honduras
El Jefe tells me that these Eucalyptus trees were planted to suck up the excess water from a formerly swampy area in El Porvenir.

Eucalyptus trees in El Porvenir, Honduras
Eucalyptus trees in El Porvenir, Honduras
Eucalyptus trees in El Porvenir, Honduras
Aren't those trunks amazing? I've never seen such colors on a trunk before.

May 12, 2009

The little bag of crochet supplies

little crocheted plastic bag
El Jefe seemed to be getting a little annoyed with all my plastic bag crocheting paraphernalia laying on the table all the time. 'Keeping things in order' is a strong Honduran trait. Leaving half-finished sewing and craft projects and supplies laying around is a strong La Gringa trait. To appease him, I took up the habit of stuffing it all in a little, flimsy plastic bag so the table would look a little neater.

Then it came to me! What am I doing? I should have a plastic bag bag to store my things in.

My all time favorite plastic bags are these bright pink and yellow striped bags but they aren't real common. I don't have enough to make an entire bag with so I made myself a mini bag to store my scissors and hooks and notes.

Ain't it cute?

I wonder where the idea for the little circle decorations came from.....

Hmmm, could it be this?

May 11, 2009

There is no such thing!

Cottonelle double rollsObviously a trick photo as there is NO SUCH THING!

This is one of my and El Jefe's pet peeves. Often if you ask about something in a store and they don’t have it, the clerks won't tell you, "Sorry. We don't sell that size or brand or color or whatever" or anything remotely like that. They will tell you that there is no such thing, that you are wrong, that they know what is available in the entire universe, that they have talked to the distributor, and the thing simply doesn't exist, never has, never will. In other words, you are stupid for even asking.

Size 9 sewing machine needlesPlumber’s putty - doesn’t exist.
Size 9 sewing machine needles - no such thing.
Ceramic tile adhesive - nope.
10-watt sewing machine light bulb - they only come in 7-watt.

El Jefe recently bought some toilet paper. We like Cottonelle and it is sold here. The import stores will often carry the double or triple rolls which are more convenient both for storage when stocking up and for not having to change the roll so often. The grocery stores have on occasion sold the double rolls, though I've never seen the triple rolls at the grocery store.

El Jefe asked a clerk in SuperMega if they had double or triple rolls. She instantly said there is no such thing. He said, "Yes, there is." She said, "No, you are wrong." He insisted again that there is such a thing and said that we buy the double or triple rolls at Fiesta all the time. He mentioned that we had even bought double rolls in that store. "Impossible. We have never sold them and I've talked to the distributor and there is no such thing." She said, “You must be thinking of something else." As an added challenge, she dared El Jefe to buy it and bring it to show her.

Hah! By that time, El Jefe was so annoyed with her ignorance and inability to accept the fact that she just might not know everything in the universe, he made a special trip to Fiesta just to show her. Of course − wouldn't you know it? − Fiesta was out of double rolls as well.

10-Watt light bulbWhy is it so hard to just simply say “No, we don't sell that” or even − I know this is impossible to hope for − “I didn't know there was such a thing but I'll check into it”. Even more far fetched would be “I'll be happy to order that for you and call you when it comes in.” I gave up on that many years ago. I have heard those sweet words regarding some high ticket items, but almost never have seen any follow up on them.

El Jefe once even retorted, “Why are you asking for my phone number? You know you aren’t going to call me, don’t you? Don’t waste my time.” After her initial shock, the girl started giggling because she knew, too, that she had no intention of ever calling him.

If a store don’t sell something, they don’t sell it. I can and do accept that. I know that it isn't easy to import things to Honduras. I can understand that there might not be a market for the things that I’m looking for − though I have to believe, based on expansions of the two largest import stores in the past couple of years that there is a market here in La Ceiba for many imported products.

BUT, why clerks feel the need to convince the customers that the thing we want doesn’t exist, I have no idea.

Any ideas on this one?

May 10, 2009

Another lizard and one saved from the stew pot

lizard, La Ceiba, HondurasCan you see the lizard?

lizard, La Ceiba, HondurasChloe was sniffing, whining, and running circles around the chicken coop the other day. My first thought was a snake or opossum, though opossums and the various other related animals are usually out at night. From the upstairs terraza, I was able to spot this lizard hanging on to an elephant ear stem high above Chloe's head. I don't know what kind it is, but if anyone does, I could give a better title to my article.


Speaking of lizards, we protected our environment again the other day. A guy was throwing rocks up into the large tree in the vacant lot next door. I said "Stop him!" to El Jefe, since the only reason anyone throws rocks up into a tree around here is to knock down an iguana for the stew pot.

El Jefe called out, "What are you doing?" The guy slyly said that there was a pichete in the tree. Pichete is the local name for less valued lizards which are considered pests (not by us).

"Pichete?", asked El Jefe, knowingly. He says that no one would eat a pichete.

"Well.... an iguana" said the guy.

El Jefe told him to leave the iguana alone, that we try to protect them here and the naturaleza (environment). The guy gave him a dirty look and went back to his work 'cleaning' the lot (read: macheteing every living thing down to the soil level to make it uninhabitable for any form of wildlife.)

He probably thought we were only saving the iguana for our own stew pot.

May 9, 2009

Good cookies

Florentina cookiesPretty Florentinas

It takes a lot to impress me with store-bought cookies.

Florentina cookies are really good. These 'grown up' cookies are made in Mexico and cost L.31.53 (US $1.67) for 12 cookies* here in La Ceiba. First of all, I was impressed with the elegant look and lovely golden color. Second, they aren't too sweet. Third, the texture is light and flaky. These are strawberry filled. I wish they had an apricot or pineapple filled because I think I would like that even better. La Gringa tip: They taste even better if you refrigerate them first.

Florentina cookies

I'm sharing this find with you expats, but if the store is out of stock the next time I shop because of La Ceiba expats, I'll have to reconsider my generosity in the future. Leave some for me! ;-D

I'm eating one right now. Mmmm-mmm good.

Warning: Lean back away from your keyboard while you eat these cookies.

* On my last shopping trip to SuperMega, I discovered that it is cheaper to buy three small packages of four cookies each than it is to buy the large package of a dozen cookies. Strange, huh? This is not a rare occurrence. Never assume that it is more economical to buy a larger package than an equivalent amount of small ones. It often isn't.
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