Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Search of Red Hibiscus

September 26, 2009

Saturday morning cool and clear. I am up early as usual. I read a bit and go downstairs to the treadmill and do my 20 minutes. Then I finish the laundry I started on Friday, tidy the kitchen and sit down with my coffee to make my list.

We are going to the bank and then to do some shopping. I am writing Spanish phrases from the Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish phrasebook that Johanna provided for me. With draw = Sacar dinero 2,000 Lempira (about $100.00). And “can I have smaller notes” = me lo pueda dar en billetes mas pequenos. Followed by, I need US dollar check = necessito dollar cheque. I also carry a little card next to my bank card that Debbie provided me with it says: Los siento = I’m sorry, No entiendo = I don’t understand. No se= I don’t know, Quiero = I want, and Necessito – I need. I use this little card a lot. It will cost $50.00 to do an electronic transfer to my US account so I have decided to send a check to Johanna once a month. Both require that I make a monthly visit to the bank.

I have a list for Office Depot, box cutters (2). I already have one and two more is all I want. I cannot supervise more than three, tenth grade boys, cutting card board shapes with a razor sharp knife at the same time. Crayola Markers for second and third graders, binder clips to go with the newly cut masonite drawing boards that were delivered Friday, pocket folders (hard to find here), ultra fine point sharpee pens and pencils complete the list for this stop. I have another list for the DaVinci art store and a short list for the grocery. Debbie has two things on her list, one Office Depot and the other “flowers”.

We stop at the bank first. Saturday is a busy banking day since so many people are paid on Friday or Saturday. We drive by the main bank that handles international banking and find it closed. So we try a branch of “Bac Bamer” located in a small shopping mall. We were told it opened at 9:00 and to get there early. We arrived at 9:50 and were 9th in line….the bank does not open until 10:00. We are given a number when we enter and take a seat in one of the rows arranged facing the 5 teller windows. Within 10 minutes our number flashes on the electronic screen over the teller windows. Debbie finishes her transactions and then helps me with mine. At last I have my own Lempira in my pocket and am not dependent on the Bank of Debbie. But unfortunately they cannot make a dollar check for me from my dollar account. So I will have to leave school on Monday to take care of this. ARGH!

We zigzag up and down and around to get to the Office Depot, I find everything on my list and check out, all by myself, and wait in the car for Debbie – who loves office supply stores and can wander up and down the isles indefinitely. From there we head for the Da Vinci art supply store but take a detour at the Café American for a frapaccino. We sit outside and watch the one dark cloud in the sky move toward us. Debbie has spotted an art supply store just a couple of shops down from the Café American. We finish our treats just as it starts to rain so we run on into the art supply store the Don Quijote. There, we meet Jose Leonardo Nolasco Blanco, General Manager. We browse and I take notes on what is available and costs. Jose Leonardo is very helpful and offers us a discount when he finds out we are teachers. He asks if I give private lessons as he has many people “you know people with dollars” who ask him if he knows people who give private art lessons. Something to think about since the school is considering organizing a Saturday workshop schedule as a way of advertising the school. I leave with some conte crayons, some water color paper and as a “bonus gift” from Jose Leonardo, two small sheets of canvas paper that can be used in a computer printer.

Before we zigzag across town again to DaVinci art supply which has items that Don Quijote does not, Debbie says, “Flowers!” and we head for the mountain road.

Winding and climbing up and up I get new views and sights. My ears start to “pop”. We pass several “mountain resorts” and open air restaurants and get a closer look at the trees that cover the mountainside. At the top of a large tree next to the road are two huge black birds with longish necks. These must be the large birds I see circling over the city. I ask Debbie if she has ever found out what kind of birds they are. She tells me she thinks they are vultures, and that when she was told that she said, “oh, no! I don’t like vultures” and was then told, ”ok call them condors”. So, whatever, vultures or condors they are magnificent in the air but a little homely on the perch.

We are in search of a nursery. Debbie has filled the balcony with potted plants but wants some color. The geraniums she bought have not bloomed well. But the double yellow hibiscus has been giving us quite a show. Now she wants just a single red hibiscus to go with it. After about a 20 minute climb up the mountain she pulls off to the nursery. We walk the narrow paths through the plants, ooo’ing and ahhh’ing but no Red Hibiscus. Down, down, down the mountain, zigzag across town to Debbie’s favorite lunch spot – Subway- the one place I can order for myself (pretty much).

On to DaVinci, up, down, around….it is closed! Flowers! We have passed several street flower vendors and Debbie finds her favorite and pulls in. Oh, a feast for the eye! All kinds of tropicals, birds of paradise, protea, and exotic things I have no names for. Debbie gets a bundle of stargazer lilies, six or eight stems and an arrangement for the table. I have a lesson with flowers for the second and third graders so I need a variety of shapes and centers. I get a bundle of very long stems (about 3 feet) with light purple bell shaped flowers along the stalk, eight sunflowers and a dozen different colored Gerber daisies, all for about $10.00. What a treat!

We head for home with our back seat full of parcels and the trunk full of flowers.
The rest of the day is spent, arranging flowers, reading, snacking and watching TV…. AND Debbie figures out how to get me reconnected to the internet which has been off since Thursday night so I can send this out to All of you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To the Beach, To the Beach

Yes! We made it to the beach!

Debbie's staff were determined she get a beach holiday and took over the planning. After three days of phone calls plans were set for a Tuesday morning departure to Roatan Island and the Mayan Princes hotel. Our flight from Tegucigalpa was direct on Taca airlines and in just over an hour we went from the cool breezes of the mountains to the hot and sunny beaches of the Caribean.

As we drive across the small island to our resort we pass small pastel painted houses or cottages with all colors of bougainvilla climbing around them. They look a little like a jumble of those little "pillow mints" that were put in party favors back in my youth. The names of hotels and shops catch my eye, The Elizabethan Inn, The Twisted Toucan, Purple Turtle and Bananarama Dive Shop.

I will not gild the lily. The resorts are back to back and belly to belly along the west end white sand beach. Our resort is lovely. The pool beckons but is only about four to five feet deep and very warm, stewing in the caribean sun. For $10.00 a day, day trippers can buy access to the hotel beach front and resturant and bar. The first day the pool is full of children and families. The second day must have been the end of their holiday and we had the hotel to ourselves with only one or two other rooms occupied. The mornings and evenings (before mosquitos) were lovely. The afternoons so hot we were driven inside to read in the airconditiong.
Our mornings were spent snorkeling in the coral just a short walk down the beach and a short wade into the water. Sadly you had to swim past a lot of dead coral, victims of our human curiosity. Further out was a wonderful display of color and variety of shape and so many friendlyand curious fish. They would swim right up to my mask and seem to stare in and say, "hello, where are you from". I no sooner put my face in the water than a ray swam right in front of me. I remembered to put sun screen on all the places that would be exposed to the sun (in the Maldives I forgot that one snorkels with the bottom up) so my two days of snorkeling were pain free.

The flight back was uneventful. Coming home from a beach holiday is never as much fun as the going out is. A pictures is truly worth a thousand words and these will have no heat radiating from them and can be viewed in absolute silence with no music blaring from the resturant kitchen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Early Holiday

Thursday September 10, 2009

2:45 p.m.

Last period of the day. The third graders are on the playing field that is terraced just below the art room and next to the outdoor cafeteria/snack bar. I love to hear their play voices - from a distance.

Word has just gone around school that we will start our Honduran Independence Day Holiday early and extend it beyond the planned four day holiday till the end of next week. The ministry of health finally got to us and has shut the school down due to flu. The two large American International schools were shut down last week and this week. We have been shutting classes down - that is keeping students in a grade home for five days if two students from that grade have reported flu. The 9th, 11th, and 6th grades have all had their turns out. Now we have one confirmed H1N1 case and the school will shut down until September 21.

I have 10 days ahead with no school. Debbie and I missed our island holiday opportunity by not getting reservations early enough…everything is booked full. Not too disappointing since many of those will be students and families from our school and others. A beach holiday needs to be QUIET.

We will look through the tour books tonight and see if we can come up with a plan. There is some kind of Picasso exhibit at the city museum and there are some day trips possible from here into the mountains. We may even find a mountainside bed and breakfast to enjoy. Of course a list begins to form minutes after the news of bonus off days is announced. “Oh, I can get my Dick Blick supply order completed, lesson plans made for the rest of the quarter and maybe more, type up my journal notes, set up group emails lists, clear out the 2013 emails in my inbox, raise the hem on a dress I brought with me, read one of the four books I have started, work on a couple of writing projects I have started, paint.” See how I can suck the fun out of a surprise holiday. I will hope that both Debbie and I stay healthy throughout so we don’t have to waste any precious free time being sick. Although, Emilio (third grader) did turn his head when he sneezed last period he did not cover his mouth in any way and the fan was blowing in my direction….Ah well. We shall see what the next few days bring.

We have a fridge full of food and drink at home and it just might be good to hibernate for a couple of days. Hmmm bonus days….what shall we do, what shall we do?