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.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Posting some new pics today. This is from a couple of days ago when I met John and Barbara and went to Utila with them. Pic of them walking down the "main" street in town. Kid holding a fish, maybe lunch for the day? Pic of me on the dock in front of John and Barb's house with the Cay in the on that to blow up and see HH in the back there. A pic where you can see a 4 wheeler which is one of the few modes of transpo on Utila along with golf carts and a few mini type vans which are usually taxis. No cars at all on the Cay, which is really cool. I've probably never been anywhere in the world where there is such little airborne pollution! Big Yellow house is the Cafe Mariposa, which I hope to try someday. At the top is Drifter, Victoria & Henry's (V&H from now on) cat, more below about this nutburger!

It has been real interesting meeting people, mainly divers staying at the little backpacker's hotel next to HH, called Hotel Kayla. It's run by Kevin, who owns Captain Morgan's Dive Operation. For $5 a night, you have a bed in a room you might share with two or three others, and a bathroom you all share, and a main room with a TV/DVD player and a little set off to the side is a dry erase board and community table where the divers hold the written part of their certification classes. I do not remember seeing if there was a kitchen. Some of the divers who stay there were coming over every morning to HH to get coffee and a bagel or fried egg sandwich. Got to know a few of them. Bogdon is from Romania, which I thought was so cool since my dad was born in Temeshvar, Romania and he knew where it was! Then there was Maria I think..she was from the Czech Republic. Most of you know that I was seeing a very famous Czech NHL player many years ago and when I mentioned his name to her, her eyes lit up saying he was SO famous in over there, that put a smile on my face. I tried some of my very bad Czech on her..she corrected me of course! Then there is Derek, who came to use the Internet every day and when I mentioned where I had just moved from...La Mesa/Mt. Helix, in San Diego, CA, he said he lived in Mt. Helix for about a small world! I've also been talking to Frederick, who is French-Canadian, what a cutie. He is a dive master for Captain Morgan and we've had some great convos about life in general.

I can't believe I've only eaten out once since I've been here, and that was with V&H one night. I don't even know the name of the place, but right now there are only two places to eat out on the Cay. I had lobster, which was only about $6! It was not anything like Maine lobster, it was Caribbean lobster and was cut up in this yummy sauce. With rice and some bad french fries which I didn't really eat. It was a deal for the price, that's for sure.

Those that know me well, know that I LOVE to eat out, cook and just generally am a big time foodie. I am also a bit of a celebrity chef groupie! I miss my Food TV Network! All we get here and it comes in pretty bad sometimes is CNN, TBS, TNT, Disney, The Weather Channel, and a few religious Spanish stations. I LOVE TV so it's hard missing all the shows I love to watch...and DVR. But H & V have plenty of DVD's which I'm watching and they have the first 4 seasons of House which I never really could get into back in the states as I felt all the episodes seemed too much alike for me. But I started watching it last night..guess I'm a captive audience!

To see what I like to watch, you can check out my My Space page at I'm sitting here listening to my favorite old morning radio show on the Net, Mark and Brian from KLOS in LA. Been listening to them for like 20 yrs. They just announced two of my favorite new shows were cancelled, Pushing Daisies (SO original, so of course it couldn't last long!) and Dirty, Sexy, Money...a fun soap opera type show with Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh and Peter Krause from the great HBO show, "Six Feet Under".

Ok, I digress a bit. I know this blog is supposed to be mainly about Utila and living on the Cay, but it's also about me, me, me!! And some of you don't know me that well, so I'm telling a bit about myself too.

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN! It was sunny this morning when I woke up and I thought maybe I could get in a snorkel, but we're right back to rain as I write! Bummer! I'm not a rain loving person, it stops you from doing things. Like I was also going to lie out on the hammock on the porch here and read a book for a bit. Another time perhaps.

I was also looking forward to John and Barbara stopping by, but you can't get on your boat and come across the harbor in this weather unless you really have to. Barb told me she came by yesterday, rang the bell out front but I didn't answer. Oh, I was here, but I was taking probably only the 3rd nap of my life! I never take them because mainly, I'm never tired (even though I only get like 4-5 hrs sleep a night..not by choice, but by menopause!) or something always has disturbed my drifting off, so I gave up on them a long time ago. But I need to start doing them as getting that little sleep is not good for many things including memory and losing weight..yep, that's what Dr. Oz says and that man is totally right on about many things. Many reports are showing that to be true also.

I'm taking care of V&H cat, Drifter. He is a ball of energy which I guess most indoor cats have since they don't have the great outdoors to expend it in. He is allowed to go out, but rarely chooses to do so. Sometimes, he just spends about 2o min running up and down the hallway from the Living Room to the Den at lightening speed! Sometimes he jumps up onto the computer table, onto another file cabinet and then onto the top of the door! You should have seen him trying to catch a moth the other night...that was on the ceiling...and he got him! He is not a very affectionate cat, but Victoria thinks that may be due to him having been dumped in a trash can before he should have been taken from his mama. She fed him with an eye dropper! But he does love a good face wash, which reminds me of Sheba, the Calico I just lost earlier this year at 19 yrs old! She loved a good old hockey style face wash too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rock Fever...Already!!!

Did you guys know that you can click on all the pics on here and they get GINORMOUS?? My friend Jeff told me that today, I had no idea! So if you really want to see details, click away!

Well, I finally got off the rock today! This couple, John and Barbara, who are friends with my bosses, live across the harbor in this amazing round wooden house. It was jaw dropping when I got inside. Decorated impeccably with furniture and decos from Nicaragua. The couple are from New Mexico and spend about 5 wks at a time out here every few months. They came and picked me up in their boat which was nice. I only met them once a few days ago and they said they would come get me next time. People mean what they say out here!

It is SO nice across the harbor. They live on the Southern tip of Utila. I sat and had a beer with them before 11 am! And most know that I'm not much of a drinker, so to have one that early...well, I figured why the hell not?! They also had the cutest 7 month old goofball of a dog....just loved him!

We also went into "town", which is downtown Utila. Basically looks like one built up alleyway. Lots of businesses, motor scooters, golf carts, etc. Went into Bush's which is like a bigger market than anything here on the Cay. But Barbara said they didn't have much today. Still got some stuff I hadn't seen here. Mmmmmmm....bacon!!

HH looked fairly dry today. No rain thank the gods! I was actually able to hang laundry....yep, that's right, HANG laundry. I really don't mind doing that. It smells better that way too.

The cat I'm watching for my bosses, Drifter, is a cutie, but not a very affectionate cat. Victoria said he comes up onto their bed and stands on their chest in the morning. I figured he wouldn't do that to me since I'm new around here. But early this was this cat standing on my chest! Geez, I could barely breathe! It was funny.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hard Rain Gonna Fall

Well, it got so bad we had to not only close HH yesterday, but the owners, Victoria and Henry decided to close for the whole 2 and a half weeks they're gone back to the states. Sounds like I'm on a paid vacation now, eh? Not totally. When it's raining this hard and the water is seeping in, I have to go back and constantly wring out the towels laid down everywhere. And there are a lot of them!

Soon as it totally dries out here, Henry's right hand man is going to get in there and repair things. Didn't make sense to stay open to the public with all that going on. Even the gym had water seeping up through the rubber mats!

Meanwhile, V & H left this morning, but had to wait up until the last minute to see if their plane would take off, but I guess it did because they haven't come back yet! I'm staying at their place and watching their cute kitty, Drifter. Have a pic of him but will post later.

Took me part of the day to move all the things from my house to theirs. They put a new front door on my place, but it keeps swelling up and they have taken it off and shaved it twice already and it still won't close. I'm told not to worry about things left in the house, but I moved almost everything out of there just in case.

All our employees have been so helpful coming to help me mop things up. One of them even brought me a plate of food! Fishballs, rice and beans...yumm!

So, ugly weather, time off and can't snorkel...bummer!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crazy Weather!

This is my first real tropical storm I've ever been in. Bad enough that we had to close HH today. While the place is built like a rock, we still had water seeping in in many places and have used every available towel to mop it up. The wind is HOWLING around the building like you wouldn't believe! But that is due a lot to the way HH is built.

The Net is a bit unstable to day as well. Even though we're on satellite, it goes off and on. My house is dry which is a minor miracle considering they told me it was leaking like crazy before I moved in, but they patched it up as best as they could, and it needs a new roof. I was actually surprised when I went home after work last night and found it dry.

But it's cold here now! I've never experienced being cold in the Caribbean. Since I only have a cold shower, I haven't even taken one the last couple of days...too damn cold! It supposedly has this little heater button on it that makes steaming hot water come out and then you have to mix it with the cold or something like that..but like a lot of things ain't workin'! Welcome to life in the Caribbean!

I heard about all the fires in So. Cali. My heart goes out to all that lost their homes. My son is a firefighter and sometimes gets called out to really big forest fires if they need him even though he is stationed down in San Diego and is a federal FF. But I think he told me he won't get called out to those anymore since he is now stationed at a different location. I still worry about him when he does go out.

Henry, my boss, took me out to see Mariner's Landing yesterday. This is the land that him and Victoria bought and are selling as residential lots. He told me that it took 17 men, 3 months to clear it all with machetes! And it is stunning beach front property. I will be helping them to promote and market it once they get back from the states..that is if they can even go! They are supposed to leave tomorrow, but the weather rules all! We will see. Another storm is supposed to come in behind this one. That will be such a bummer for them as they have such great plans to go to New Orleans, Dallas and Cali.

Ok, will write more to go wring out towels from all the water around here!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here are some more pics. Kids playing on the public dock in front of HH. People eating at our lunch counter. A view off the top Yacht Club floor on the day of our opening..hence the balloons. And employees in our new kitchen getting things ready for the day. Our pirate at the top of the stairs to the HH and he also has a "voice" that speaks! It really scares the little kids...pretty funny. A pic of Victoria and some of our employees.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I remember when Bonaire was the smallest place I had ever been to. About 12,000 people. Well, the Cay has about 600! Talk about everyone knowing your business! I'm a big city girl, so this is going to take some getting used to.

I don't know how many houses are here, but it only takes a few minutes to walk from one side of the Cay to the other. Attached are some pics of the walkways.

There are about 5 little mom and pop markets here. What's so cool is that you can buy just half a carrot or green pepper if you want. I wanted some BBQ sauce today, but didn't want to buy the whole bottle, so they poured a little bit in a plastic baggie for me and I just think that is so cool. Especially when you're single and you can't use up larger portions quick enough.

I was just watching some of the local kids playing earlier. For them catching and cleaning fish is some of their play. Or I guess their parents are teaching them the family trade. Was kinda weird watching them holding these big sharp knives with no parental supervision...yeah, like we'd ever see that in Los Angeles!

Some of them just sat and watched me work out in the gym today. These little cuties are like 6 yrs old or so. School is out now. I think they only go up to 6th grade here? Most don't go across the bay to Utila for higher education because they don't have a boat to get across. But the mayor of Utila just gave a bunch of money here to fix up the local school.

Victoria is selling a Utila Cay cookbook, the proceeds will go to fixing up the park. Not like any park we're used to seeing. I should have the pic on here...the blue metal benches under the blue roof. Most of the men sit under there and just shoot the breeze.

I went snorkeling the last couple of days. It was really pretty under there with a variety of sea fans and all the corals, brain, elkhorn and many others I'm not good at remembering the names of. Same for the fishies. Most of the fish I've seen are the same I've seen before with a couple of exceptions that I've got to look up. Waters are SO warm and wonderful. But I'm still sweating away here and this is their winter! I don't know if I can handle the summertime here. Bonaire was pretty hard to handle for me when I first went in July and they don't consider themselves a very humid island! Yikes, we'll just have to see if I even last that long.

I have to admit, I would like to get over to Utila to see what it's like over there. Was hoping that would be easy to get to, but I guess not. And even if I did want to go over there at night and check out the social scene, there is really no one coming back at night in a boat in the dark. So, the true test of all this is can I handle being this isolated for a long period of time. The HH has kept me fairly busy so far and at night I just look forward to going back to my house and watching DVD's. You only get about 7 channels here...CNN, TBS, TNT, Disney and the Weather Channel and a few religious Spanish stations. Thank god Victoria and Henry have a TON of DVD's to choose from!
Oh my....what a big orange moon coming up tonight! One of our employees said that means good weather...we're definitely having that already!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting here, living here and working here!

Don't know if it's possible to have more changes in one's life as I've had the last year. Lost my home of 25 yrs in Los Angeles, moved down to San Diego to be near my son and hopefully find a job and move to my dream destination of Ocean Beach, a small hippie-like beach community in SD.

I spent 3 months looking for a job to no avail. And I mean EVERY kind of job! But when bosses are telling you that they're getting 200-300 applications for each position, you know you've got some serious competition! And just as I'm cursing the flakiness of everyone on Craigslist in my job search, I find a position in the Caribbean that sounded perfect for me! From Craigslist??!! No way! Yes way!

I find an ex pat (Americans living in another country) couple from San Diego who moved to this remote island that I've never heard of (and I'm somewhat savvy on Caribbean islands having visited quite a few) asking for help in managing and promoting this new building and residential properties they are developing.

First let me talk about the island and then I will get into the actual property I'm working on.

I'm in Honduras, in the Bay Islands. You might have heard of the largest Bay Island of Roatan...well I'm not there! I'm on the smallest Bay Island of Utila. Well wait, I lied, I'm not even on Utila! I'm on a small cay about a 10 min boat ride from Utila! I'm in what they call the Upper Cays, or Jewel and Pigeon Cay..but the locals (Cayons) just call them the Cays. Utila is called "Town".

I'm used to the slower pace of life in the Caribbean having spent quite a bit of time on the island of Bonaire, one of the top diving destinations in the world. I fell in love with that island and go back every year for like a month at a time. Incredible snorkeling as I don't dive. I have lots of friends who live there and many who visit the same time as me. Many of my friends who live on Bon have asked why don't I move there. I replied...well, I think I would get "rock fever" and would have to get off the island every so often. My friend Annie lives part time on Bonaire and part time in Cape Cod. That kind of life sounded ideal to me. But, like most islands, it's not easy to find work there.

So that just gives you an inkling of how screwed up our economy is that I had to take a job in Central America! And in an incredibly remote place..with no beach on it! WHAT?! No beach you say? Well, at least that is what I said! Because everyone that knows me, knows that I'm a TOTAL beach freak. The Cays have nothing but houses built on them...not really one grain of sand to lay out on. Oh, there is Water Cay, which is a 10 min boat ride away and is supposed to have beautiful white sand beaches on it, but I don't have a boat to get there myself. I would have to pay someone to take me there, or eventually I will have my bosses take me there. If I had anytime to spare, which I currently do not have.

Oh, just have to stick this in here. I can cross flying in a VERY small plane off of my bucket list! I have always wanted to do that and from La Ceiba to Utila I was on a 6 seater. It was so exciting! Flying across the water with a pilot, a German couple and me. Very cool. Scratch that off the list.

Ok, let me tell you a little bit about my job and then some more about life here on the Cay. Victoria and Henry are my bosses, but really, they are more my peers. They are very cool, laid back people that are very easy to work for. They both left high paying careers to sail around the world. But they found Utila and haven't left! They first bought the properties to develop and we're talking 10 acres of beachfront which they've sold 8 lots so far, and that is on the South shore of Utila. Then they built Harbor House (HH) which is the bldg I'm helping them with on the Cay which is basically right across the bay. There are also several private Cays around here where you can rent the whole Cay and they have a house on it.

HH is the ONLY modern building on the Cays. It has a gym on the first floor, a pirate themed (AAAARRRGGGHHH!!) cafe and an Internet business center on the second floor and a Yacht Club and soon to be an upscale restaurant on the third floor. Most people here do not have Internet as it costs $300 to install and about $50-60 a month! And this is a third world country, so most can not afford that here. So they are thrilled to have an Internet place to go to. We have 3 computers here and a hook up for your own. And it's only a Limp a minute. Oh yea, they have Limperas here as their money and it's 18.89 limps to $1. So one Limp a minute is CHEAP!

We will be also promoting ourselves to the dive operations on Utila who come here to dive. They said their divers are looking for healthier places to eat and the Internet to use when they come onto our Cay.

The people here on the Cay are so nice and helpful. Almost everyone speaks English and they all speak Spanish. You'd think after living my whole life in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles that I would speak Spanish by now, but my Spanish is muy malo!!! But I'm gonna learn it, that's for sure.

They only thing that has me a little nervous right now is that Victoria and Henry are going back to the states on Tues the 18th and won't return until Dec 6! And we just opened 5 days ago! Oh ya, we had a ROCKIN' grand opening last Sat....3 days after I arrived. Over 100 peeps showed up and we had a DJ, food, liquor and a lot of fun..but we worked hard. In fact, I've mostly been working like 10-13 hr days the first week, but Henry and Victoria work even more.

The last few days Victoria had me come in later so I could snorkel. I did and it was great. We are actually at the end of our rainy season and it looks like I just missed a lot of it right before I got here. Other than some rain, it has been very sunny and beautiful the last few days.

I was offered a house in my deal with them and it wasn't ready when I first got here. It's pretty rustic and even though they lived in it when they first got here and they still rent it, it needed some fixin' up before I could move in. Mainly the electricity was totally screwed up and they pretty much rewired the house. Some new furniture and paint and it was ready to go.

But the first few nights I spent in an apt that is attached to HH. It's very nice and new. One night I heard some scratching noise in the bathroom. I'm not new to things like this in the Caribbean, so I bravely stepped in...and there was a big blue crab in my shower! I grabbed a towel, a pot to put him in and ate him!! Ok, not really. But I did throw him back in the ocean...damn he looked tasty! I'll eat some of his cousins I'm sure at a later date!

I finally moved into my place about 4 nights ago. Cold water only. But again, I'm used to that from Bonaire. Hey, the Cays only got 24/7 electricity 5 yrs ago! They did have generators back then, but this is supplied by a power company and I hear it ain't cheap. I do have to pay for that myself and when the time comes I go buy the card and put it in this box in my bedroom...weird, huh? But because of that lifestyle they had for so many years before the power company, this whole place closes up about 9 pm..and peeps are up EARLY here! Thank god I'm up early too because it gets kinda loud with everyone getting in their boats...most are fishermen here, that's how they make a living..if they can afford a boat.

It's really a cool little place, gorgeous waters and corals and fish..but for some strange reason, the locals throw some, not all of their trash in the waters. WTF?? Victoria has tried to school them on that, but to no avail. I just don't get it. They have this beautiful place with incredible looking waters and they do this. I just want to organize a clean up day around here! But it would have to be more like a clean up month I think!

Here are pics of my house and the rooms (hey, some have asked to see that!) and a pic of the blue crab that showed up in my shower. And also a pic of Victoria and me from our opening day. Most of my posts won't be this long, but I've been here a week already and I didn't get started until today.