Friday, December 26, 2008

HH Xmas Party, Party on Water Cay, Where I hang

Drifter just chillin'
Local kids putting on a Xmas play at church on Xmas eve
On the way back from Water Cay, one of the girls from Spain
Fooling around on the way back
BBQ pit on Water Cay
Cassandra the Monkey Girl
Lovely bunch of coconuts Vero just swinging and eating
The gang at Water Cay
Braiding Edoardo's beard
Enjoying the day
Alex our cook and host, and some friends
Cooking the barracuda under the fire pit
Anka and me. She is a divemaster and g/f of Alex
My cute new friends from Germany
Was a beautiful day on Water Cay
Who says it doesn't snow on the Cay?
The mayor of Utila, Alton Cooper and me
HH Xmas Party
Employee Xmas Party at HH
Chowing down
My famous sweet potatoes/marshmallows upper left
This is the view from Captain Morgan's Dive Dock
where I spend my spare time snorkeling and reading
Another view from the dock

I hope you all had a great Xmas and for some, I hope you are still having a great Hanukah. I had a couple of fun days off. On the 23rd, we had our employee Xmas party. Turkey, roast beef and a lot of trimmings. It was fun and the place looked lovely all decorated.

The next day I went with 23 other divers to Water Cay. We rented a boat, took over a load of food and partied. Alex, one of the locals, brought over a bunch of barracuda wrapped up in foil, buried it under the fire pit and cooked them to perfection. We also had food left over from the employee party and more food the divers made...too much food for sure. I guess sweet potatoes and marshmallows is a very American dish, as no one had had it before and it was a big hit at the HH party and at the Water Cay party. Soooooo sweet, almost like a dessert.
Was a very nice cosmopolitan mixture of people from all over the world. Germans, Spaniards, French, Colombian, New Zealanders, Canadian, American and Cayon. My Spanish is getting a bit better, but is still muy malo.
Some stayed the night...ummm..unless there is a camper to stay in, I'm outta there and I did go back with others who I guess felt the same. I tell ya, that boat ride back (about a 10 min ride back to the Cay) was the highlight of the evening. Just beautiful with all the stars out and a balmy night. Just what you would expect in the Caribbean.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Haunted Howling Winds of Harbor House, seasickness, and good food..the missing of it.

Finally got to go out on the dive boat yesterday with all my new diver friends. I think what I like most about living here is meeting people from all over the world. Spent part of the day and a meal with this young Irish couple, very nice. It was my first full day off since working here.

So the boat...why am I in constant denial that I get seasick? I know I do, but not always. But the rolling waves were a bit much for me. I was fine when in the water, but once on board and moored waiting for the divers to come back up....ugh. No tossing of cookies, but just more like...get me offa this boat. Saw a lovely rainbow on the way out too. There is just a lot of wind here most of the time. I've been wanting to take a nice pic looking down into the water off the dock that I sun myself on and snorkel off of, but it has been too choppy lately.

Was nice to finally dive somewhere other than off the Cay here. I saw a few Black Durgeons, A Queen Angel (did you hear that Darlene?!) and some French Angel Fish. I was told they're all rather common out here.

I might have mentioned in one of my older posts that the winds around HH sound amazing when it is really blowing. I've decided to call them the HAUNTED HOWLING WINDS OF HARBOR HOUSE. Just sounds cool, doesn't it? I was thinking it had a lot to do with the unusual dimensions of HH and the winds just love curling themselves around it. When I was in here late at night a few weeks back making sure nothing got flooded, it was actually creepy in here because of those winds. I bet some sound guys would love coming in here and sampling those winds to use in a scary movie.

Man I gotta tell ya..I am just dying for a decent meal. I have not had any really good food since I've been here. There are only two restaurants here, The Fishburger and The Cay View. They are just mom and pop places with a few things on the menu..while not bad, they are way over salted. Not a bad thing when it's wicked hot and you're sweating like crazy and need to replace those fluids. But damn, my blood pressure must have been spiking after a couple of the meals I had there. But hard to complain when a full plate of food is under $4...but I guess I just did. I've been cooking too, but with very limited things you can buy in the little local markets've got to be inventive. I think I'm finally getting sick of my own conch soup. And now that I found out they're being overfished, I won't be eating it anymore.

I would love to have a meal at some of my fave local places in LA and SD that I miss. The ribs at Dr. Hogly Woglys Tyler Texas BBQ, the chicken picatta at Fabrocinis (both in LA), anything at Craves or Yogurt Time (amazing Pinkberry type yogurt AND sushi, ya I know, but WAY fresh) and Phil's BBQ, all in SD. I live in the land of fresh fish here...can't believe I haven't had or made my own sushi! But without wasabi..why bother?

Ok, my bitch session is over, time to go enjoy the little bit of sun we're getting. Currently reading "Alice Waters and Chez Panisse"....oh yeah, a book about food and the most famous restaurant in the US.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Roughing it on the Cay, Wondering about my next destination...and bread

Here is a picture of Victoria, Barbara, Me and Marilyn at Barb's house a couple of nights before Barb and John were leaving to go back to the states. This was from the turkey dinner I wrote about on the last post. Barb's ever present (on loan) parrot Paco likes to party with us. He belongs to her neighbor Bobby, who lives in the big hunting lodge type house. She says it's the first thing she does when she gets to Utila..goes next door and gets the parrot. Bobby is hardly ever there, and Paco gets lonely. Lucky parrot. Barb is a hoot. So is her friend Marilyn, we had a lot of fun talking up a storm that night, and burning the marsmallows as previously mentioned.
Speaking of tired of it raining. Well not today thankfully. But we actually had 5 days of sunshine, got to snorkel and lay out a bit...then the rains and winds returned.
It's cold here! Ok, maybe 67 doesn't sound cold to you, but again, when you're in the Caribbean...that's cold. And Henry finally got my suicide shower working....oh yeah, I said suicide. And that's not my term for it, it's a commonly used one here. You flip on this little switch and the water gets hot...and then it gets really hot..and then..well, you know where I'm going with that. So ya gotta kind of toggle the switch back and forth and you burn a little, you freeze a little. But last night I went home after work, got all lathered up head to toe and it stopped working..had to rinse off in cold water when it was cold outside and in the house...ok, that's about as much as I want to rough it.
On one of the nicer days, I went into Utila with Roger, my friend who lives next to all of the above. He picked me up in the big inflatable boat....pic on a previous post. That thing hauls ass. Was my first time having a few hours in town. I was on my own. Ended up at this bakery...of course. Had some incredible homemade walnut, raisin bread with Nutella on it...yumm! Sat and talked to these young girls for like an hour on the front porch of the bakery. We had this great convo about traveling and their adventures. Seems they were walking on the beach in La Ceiba one morning...La Ceiba is on the main coast of Honduras..and they were robbed in broad daylight by gun point! Bad guys took their cells, iPods, money..but left them unharmed. Wow. Said they had been here 4 months already. One girl was German, but didn't have much of an accent. The other girl was American. They were about to go get tattoos and invited me to come get one with them..I'm like....hmmmm....did that 27 yrs ago...don't really have the bug to do that again. But thought I would walk with them in that direction. That's when I found out they were only 16 yrs old!! They were exchange students living with local families. Again, wow. I just never had the opportunity to do things like that when I was their age, or didn't know it existed. They seemed older, like at least 18 or 20. Traveling definitely makes you more sophisticated...ok, maybe not sophisticated, but ya know, more mature. Can't wait for that to take effect on me.
I then strolled into this little food place and found out they could make me a loaf of sourdough bread. I was pretty excited about that. See what happens when you travel to far away, remote places? Bread becomes an exciting thing. Well, the bread here in Utila and on the Cay is just that mushy Wonder bread type stuff..which my Mother always said when I was growing up...any bread that you can roll up into a little ball is not healthy to eat. So of course I was always trying to do that with the bread I could get at my friend's cool I thought..and then I would pop it into my mouth...pure orgasmic carb overload. This young Irish guy was running the place and said to come back in two days and he would have a whole loaf of crusty sourdough bread for me. 70 lempiras, about $3.50. Henry went into town two days later and picked it up for me. Not bad..not sour enough though. But the loaf was so big and hard...could seriously knock someone out with that. Popped a slice into the toaster with some butter and a bit of salt on it...was heaven.
It's been extremely slow at HH this week. This is the low season here and they don't expect it to get real busy again until Feb. A bunch of crusiers came in yesterday. You could see them moored out in the harbor the last couple of days. 4 boats..none of them knew each other, but they all ended up coming in together. I met my first batch of cruisers on Bonaire a few years ago and I just really dig these people. They always have a bit of that, I've dropped out of society and I'm loving it kind of air about them. Would love to do that...if sailboats didn't make me seasick. Yeah, I know I dress as a pirate for the Ren don't tell nobody, ok?
Have to admit I'm feeling more comfortable in some ways here. I seem to know most of the locals now and they know me too. Many have asked how long I'm staying and seem to be comforted by the fact that I'm here till the end of Jan. Don't know why that is, but that's cool. One asked today when I'm coming back after that..and I said I'm not. He seemed surprised. I said I have to look for work anywhere I can get it these days.
I even have an offer to possibly go to New York which I'm waiting to hear more about. But awfully cold there this time of year. But again, I will go where there is work. Because as I'm sure you all know, and the media keeps pounding it into our heads, there is work, but too many of us looking for it. I read on the CNN web site the other day that there is this 29 yr old marketing woman who has been applying to over 40 jobs every day for the last year with no results. Bosses telling her they're getting 500 applicants for each position. Remember I said that in one of my first posts on here? So she put her resume on a t shirt and is standing on the corner advertising herself! Now that's what I call thinking outside the box. Bet she gets an offer just from being on CNN and showing some ingenuity.
This is why I will consider taking a job almost anywhere. I'm getting offers of places to crash in Hawaii (where work would be even harder to find), New Jersey (2 different friends) LA, Las Vegas, and New York. But ultimately, I'm doing affirmations to end up back in San Diego where I've wanted to live for many years now and I will eventually. I'm even looking into professional house sitting situations..who knew there were web sites for that?
Victoria, Henry and I talked this morning for a long time. She mentioned that I need to be somewhere with more people and I couldn't argue with that. This place is just not for everyone, and I agree in the long run, not for me. So, I will just do my original commitment here and fly out on Jan where, I'm just not sure yet.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Back to work, Turkey and Xmas lights

Pics of an incredible sunset over the Cay (a bit blurry..taken from a moving boat!), view from my back porch and one of our employee's Tracy's dog..she says Frisky is the oldest on the Cay....14 yrs old!

V&H made it back just fine, no weather glitches. They brought back all kinds of cool stuff for HH. So, of course that meant back to work today for me. We are way slow in the cafe due to the fact that a lot of people don't know were back open again. But they sure seem to know the Internet is back up! Ah, the lure of the glowing screen.

Last night the 3 of us went over to John and Barb's house for that turkey dinner we never made. We also celebrated Norman's birthday, he's one of the locals. Also made friends with their neighbors, Jeff and Marilyn. Marilyn makes such a mean vodka/cranberry/pineapple, that I had to tell her to put my cranberry in it. Damn that drink got me lit!

I finally got to make my famous sweet potatoes with marsmallows, which we promptly burned all the marsmallows on because us girls got talking and drinking of us said...doesn't that smell like burnt marsmallows? Uh, yeah. We literally scraped off most of the burnt part and it still tasted pretty good.

But the dish that had everyone talking was my conch soup. I only made if for the first time a few days before that. I was walking down the pathway here and one of the local Garifunas (very interesting culture, asked if I wanted to buy a little baggie of conch for L50...about $2.60. Geez, that sounds like a drug deal. I was like, how the hell do I cook this stuff? But there was a recipe in the Utila Cay Cookbook that Victoria is selling and I tweaked it a bit. First though, you have to pound the conch (pronounced konk) so it's kinda flat, then you have to boil it for awhile until tender. Pounding was a crack up. Nothing like flying conch in your kitchen. But I added cayenne and honey to it, and that gives it that sweet and savory taste I love. Then yesterday, that same Garifuna guy (he's hip to my sucker buying now!) asked if I wanted to buy a MUCH larger bag of conch, to which I said let me see it, really sounding like a drug deal now. This bag was way full and was 200 lempiras=$10.50. Froze some of it and made a batch to bring to dinner. Norman said it was the BEST conch soup he's ever had! Hmmmm...wonder if that was Norman or the cerveza talking? But everyone raved over it. I don't think conch is that easy to get back home, but sure would like to make it again.

The rain is really getting old here, but when I saw a ray of sunshine yesterday I grabbed my snorkel gear and practically ran down to the dock only to find that the water was like a urine colored golden yellow! Yuck. Turns out sometimes the channel drains here and puts all this dirt into the way was I going to tempt fate. Divers said it is about 5 ft deep but they get under it. Of course today, while it is sunny again, and I'm's a beautiful blue again.

Xmas underway here and a few houses do it up light wise, just like back home. It's kinda comforting. I even bought some lights from a store on Utila..where no one spoke English...kinda proud of myself that I was able to purchase my lights and a little wreath with my espanol..which is muy malo. So, this Jewish girl is able to kinda put up the Xmas cheer...too bad there are no menorahs around here..I don't think so. I grew up celebrating both. What can I say? My Dad's Dad was a rabbi, but my Dad didn't like all that strict stuff. He loved the decorations of Xmas so I was the lucky girl on the block that got the 8 days of Hanukah and all these gifts at Xmas too!

Friday, December 5, 2008

O.J., ferry breakdown, pedis & lack of privacy

Thank god for the Internet. I have been listening to my favorite radio shows based in Los Angeles on there. Mark & Brian on KLOS (been listening for over 20 yrs already) and Frosty, Heidi and Frank on 97.1 FM Talk. I was listening with rapt attention to the O.J. Simpson trial as they played the live feed on Mark & Brian. All I can say's about time that smug, arrogant murderer goes to prison...for a loooong time. Looks like it will be at least 15 yrs for him!! YES! Justice FINALLY served for that MF'er! Not that I have any strong opinions about it or anything. I've just been following all his antics for 13 yrs..since he obviously murdered his wife, Nicole and Ron Goldman. Goldman's parents were in courtroom. I can't help wondering if they feel any satisfaction at all in this verdict. At least he's off the street for a long time....being the obvious criminal he is. I love how the judge said, she couldn't decide if he was ignorant, or arrogant...she decided he is both! Love her! Karma baby....payback is a bitch!!

On a more local note for me, weather is still bad and I just heard from one of the locals that the ferry from La Ceiba to Utila has broken down. This could be bad news for V&H who are supposed to return on the ferry tomorrow. I wonder if they will have to charter a plane to get back. I'm currently moving all my stuff that I have at their house back to mine. I will miss their crazy cat! But I can come visit anytime I want if I'm up for the abuse.

I used Mr. Donald's water taxi yesterday to get over to Utila for a much needed pedicure. Hey, I already had all my fake fingernails removed before I came here....that was hard enough. But the toenails were starting to look like a gargoyles worst nightmare..had to do it. The taxi....$3 RT, the pedicure....$7, the relief to have toes looking normal again? Priceless.

It is so weird walking out of the house and the locals asking me where I'm going. I'm just so used to being such a private person in my daily life, but it's a way of life here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Trip to Water Cay, Semi Automatic Weapons and my Crafty Shell/Wood Thingies

I can't believe it's Dec 1 already! And how awesome is it that I don't have to deal with holiday rushes anywhere?! Nice.

There is this big rivalry between the Cay and Utila baseball teams. Forgive me if I mentioned this before...memory is what it is, which ain't much lately. But the Cay won the "world series" last night and they came back on the boats whooping and hollering. I could hear them coming across the harbor! Funny aside, most of the locals have told me their favorite baseball team is the LA Dodgers! Some of them love the fact that I'm from there. At least someone in this world is happy to hear I'm from Los Angeles, ya just never know. And the Utila team has a regular baseball field to practise on, whilst the Cay has nothing even close to that, no less having any grass or dirt anywhere.

Anyway, the neighbor next door came over to forewarn me that there would be some firecrackers and maybe a gun going off to celebrate the win. Hey, I'm from the San Fernando Valley, gun shots are one of the ambient noises where I'm from! Along with searchlights, know, searching for criminals in our backyards..but I digress. He said last time Victoria freaked out and no one had warned her.

So, I was braced for it. But didn't tell me there would be semi automatic weapons going off!!!!! Geesh!! And literally..right next door! I could tell they were shooting off into the ocean, but it was RIGHT NEXT DOOR!! I tried to stay calm...but I sure can't say that for Drifter...who disappeared somewhere in the house for quite awhile. I always feel bad for animals anywhere when people shoot of firecrackers and stuff.

Here are some pics from a little side trip yesterday with John, Barb and their friend Hank. We went to Water Cay which I heard is THE beach in the area and good snorkeling. Didn't bring my snorkel gear, so will have to check that out another time. While there was fine, white sand there, it was kinda trashy. Barb said she had heard that it wasn't cleaned up after the Sun Jam Festival from last July. That's a techno music festival that FOR SURE you will never find me at, not being a fan of techno. Yuck. John was bonefishing right from shore and caught one, Hank was carving a stick and Barb and I lollygagged (jeez, thought I would NEVER get to use that word in my life!) in the water and generally just got to know each other better. We talked about what amazing lives we've both lived and how we're both supposed to be writing our life stories...maybe we can encourage each other a bit with that.
So, pics are from the boat (Barb, John and I), the sign on the beach at Water Cay (notice it says no spearfishing and no picking coconut!) a view of Sandy Cay, where there is a private home that a friend of theirs lives on, a fisherman in his boat, a couple of views of the Cay I live on from a different angle, a picture of the Honduran flag that is on the dock of a friend's house, and some pics of my little hobby..shells and driftwood.
Little story about my arts and craft. Since I love shells so much, having been an archaeologist that specialized in identifying artifacts made from shells, I started collecting them on Bonaire my first time there. I made these cute little things with driftwood and gave one to each of my friends on Bon. Later they told me they all fell apart. Seems glue from a glue gun just is no match for the humidity of the Caribbean! Sooooo..this time I'm determined to make them to speak. I bought Gorilla glue...supposed to last through time will tell. Cute, huh? Oh ya, Barb? If you read this blog before I see you again, that small one is yours!
Finally got out to eat for lunch yesterday...called dinner here..or it is supper? I get confused about that..but lately, I'm easily confused. I went to the famous fish burger place and it was ok..not bad..good french fries. Hadn't had anything fried in over a month.....was starting to have withdrawls over not getting enough grease in my diet. Satisfied that! But my new friend, Frederick..cute, young French/Canadian divemaster here..was having a BBQ plate that looked awesome....have to try that next time. For me to eat out only twice in a month..has be a personal best when it comes to the foodie in me!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Out of Hibernation, Thanksgiving, New Friends

This big city girl is not good at isolation, and being from Los Angeles, I'm NOT used to a LOT of rain. But that's all it did pretty much for a week straight..rain, rain, and guess what? MORE RAIN! Even the locals said this is a lot of rain for the rainy season. I was going out of my mind being cooped up. There is only so much you can be on the 'puter even though it was somewhat work related, and watch DVD's, or read books and do crossword puzzles. I NEED HUMAN CONTACT!

And with my new friends Barb and John being across the bay, we could only email back and forth all week, which believe me we did! We were going to have a Thanksgiving Day dinner at their place, and went back and forth with some recipes, but John got sick the night before and plans changed. I went with my new friend and caretaker of that big house in the pic above, Roger and his girlfriend Gladys, over to Utila for an ex pat dinner at the Driftwood Restaurant. And what a great dinner it was! They pretty much had all the fixin's including my fave, yams with marshmallows! I had met some of these people at the HH grand opening, and it was nice talking to some new ones. We also went to pick up Roger's boss and his grandson, the guy who owns that big house above (looks like a hunting lodge, doesn't it?) and we all went to dinner together. Was too short a time, but I was grateful to get out. Pics of the inside of that house and a pic of me at their bar which is outside over the water..pretty cool, eh? Another pic of me on this big tire the owner brought over from Louisiana where his kids grew up playing on that..I thought that was really neat.
The ride over was another thing! It was raining pretty good and we all got very wet, but hey, it's water....we can always dry out. We went over on that inflatable in the pic above...that thing cost $25k! Wow! Cute pic of Barb feeding the parrot from her mouth. The parrot actually belongs to Bobby, the owner of the big lodge looking house next door to hers. He is lonely I guess, so every time John and Barb come to Utila, the first thing she does is go over and get the parrot!
There are some pics of the Driftwood, food, people and the bar. Pic of me holding my favorite of pineapple. For those that know me, I was never much of a fact, only discovered I liked that drink about 4 yrs ago. I got so sick on cheap wine (Thunderbird and Ripple!) when I was 13 yrs old, I was not really able to drink again for years. Then I got sick on Jack Daniels and Tequila years later and didn't drink again for many more years. I'm good at doing aversion therapy on myself....if I could just do that with some food, that would be awesome!
Hey, I need to clear something up. Some of you seem to think I'm working at a resort..HH is NOT a resort. It's a commercial building with the amenities I mentioned in the first post. And V&H also own land across the harbor, called Mariner's Landing that I'm trying to help them sell.
Cute piccy of Drifter the INSANE! That's my new name for him. He goes full speed around the house to let out his ya ya's I guess!! He climbs up on the top of a doorway to get in that little space..and sometimes he attacks me from there or when I just walk across the house!!
Barb just emailed me to say they are feeling better over there and are coming by later today. We're going to a restaurant on the other end of the Cay, the lower Cay actually (Pigeon Cay), that is called The Cay View Restaurant for Herman's BBQ. Really love fave along with Sushi. Oh btw, I live on the Upper Cay, also called Jewel or Suc Suc. I can't believe that I really haven't gotten out more and gone to a couple of the few restaurants there is on the Cays here..I do love to eat out, but am trying to save some dough.
Ok, I actually have a sunny day here and I'm going to take advantage of it. Going to go snorkeling. Have been finding some fun shells and driftwood for my things I like to make. Pics to follow of my little crafts in next post.