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.


Barbara said...

Hello, Mercy! I haven't kept up with you the last couple of years, but I'm very interested in your new adventure, and wish you all the best. Maybe I'll even see you there!
Love from your BT Buddy!

JL said...

Well you made it there in one piece. It look lovely from the pictures. I think it will present the big adventure that you have been telling the universe that you are ready for. Getting used to the HUGE differences in facilities compared to LA. It's almost as backwards as the UK. Have fun - the blog is a really good idea as well. Jonathan

Lorain said...

Hi Mercy!

Wow! What an adventure! Thanks for including me in your blog! Hope things turn out well for you! Wishing you lots of good times....


summergirl77 said...

Wow Mercy,
Thanks for the wonderful pictures. I wish you the best down there and look forward to checking in on this blog. What a great idea.

RahadyanT said...

Wishing you well in your new adventure. Hugs, Tim

Barbara said...

Hey Mercy, one week before we land on Roatan...then to figure out if there's any way to get to Pidgeon/Jewel Cay! Stay warm!