Sunday, October 31, 2010
Folks who watch TV may have heard of this guy already. He has an exhaustive list of lectures on math, 10 minutes per lecture, from how to add to way deeper subject matter than I'll ever have time to understand. Hundreds of video lectures. Way back near when I started the blogs I came across Heather who was home schooled and tended to just go do things she wanted to learn about. She built her own cabin on her Mom's land (since sold), rebuilt her van inside and out, went out and got a job as a carpenter, etc. When she was of the age to head to University, she decided to home school herself in University, too. I liked that idea, and wrote a post on what my own personal University might look like. As with many things, I never really followed through with it. The site above really leaves me no excuse not to go back and fill in the blanks on math. I can't even imagine where I'd be if I'd had a resource like this in school. I made a lot of early decisions based on my insecurity with math, such as going to Tech school rather than Engineering or Computer Science. I've been hindered in what I enjoy doing professionally ever since.
Ok, I'm energized. I'm going to go study some Spanish first. I also have a blog post to write about my trip today to the caves.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
It looks empty now, but when all my stuff arrives it will be pretty full. There are two bedrooms off this room, and neither one has a closet.
It feels strange to have more than one room after living in the small single hotel room for a month. As time goes on I adapt and get things more settled.
I don't talk politics or religion or anything near it much. However, I do feel that, for me, the way to help that gives the most positive effect is to help those on the bottom rise up from there. The only charity that I've ever given any direct money that amounts to much is a downtown mission that takes homeless folks in and teaches them life skills as well as giving them '3 hots and a cot' as they say. I'm sure they get religion tossed at them along with it, which I'm not sure is fair considering it's a kind of captive audience. But, it was the best game in town for that kind of thing, from what I could tell. I had hoped that I had found another avenue to give similar help on a more global scale. Truth is, it was easy to just go there and give and feel good. I'm not saying that Kiva is a scam. I need to do more research. And, that is where I fell down. I didn't take the responsibility to do my due diligence to make sure they were really doing work that was in alignment with what I want to support with my money. They may be. They may not be. I need to care enough to look closely.
The apartment is almost ready. It's clean, and all they need to do is hang some curtains in one window and move in a fridge in order to give me the key. I gave them the rent money. It will take about 5 minutes to carry my stuff up the flight of stairs to the room. I call it an apartment, but it's a hotel suite with one large room that would normally have couches, and 2 bedrooms off that. No kitchen. No closets, even. Until my stuff gets here with my clothes rack my clothes will just be put on the floor. A nice bathroom with a tiled shower. Guess I'll head up and see how far along they are.
I got paid for the first time here. I made a budget, which consisted of basically adding up my bills. It feels good to have enough to actually pay bills instead of just figuring out which ones would go on the credit card. I made my first lump sum payment to my smallest card. If I'm really lucky, and my budget is right, I may be able to pay it off next month. It is a lot smaller than the other 3, but it's a start.
In my quest to pay off debt I still feel an obligation to give something to those less fortunate. I have found Kiva (kiva.org) to be my personal avenue. They make micro-loans to individuals in poor countries. The money comes back, and I'll have the option to lend it out again or take it back. You can make loans in increments of $25. I have 4 loans out now, and I'm concentrating my loans in Honduras. Not only is it one of the poorest of the countries, but I have a front seat view of the poverty. I would like to encourage each of you who can spare $25/mo to go to Kiva.org and set up a portfolio. It's at least a start.
I took a picture of my stuff piled up ready to be moved. I was going to take another picture this morning of my new place. I'll try for that tonight. My stuff is closer. An optimistic guess was that it will be here Wednesday. A pragmatic guess was 2 weeks.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tomorrow marks my 1 month milestone, and the end of my relocation money paying for my hotel room. All 3 of the guys (owner and 2 sons) were at the desk at the lobby waiting for me when I came in. The son who speaks English and I talked business, and I move into my apartment Saturday morning. My stuff has made it to this country, but now has to make it through customs. I'm told it will probably be another 2 weeks. So, I'm borrowing a bed until the hammock stand gets here.
I have signed up to take a tour of some commercial caves with the post outing group on Sunday. The write-up of the caves is funny, given that I used to be a caver. Says it goes in for 12K and is still going. Also says to take flashlights as the lights in the cave only go part way. Should be fun in a klitzy kinda of way. It's about 45 minutes away by bus, so I'll see how well I can handle the bus the post uses, and if I want to take any longer trips later.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Diet wise I did ok, but not great. I didn't eat grains at breakfast or lunch, but one of the guys gave me a cookie and I ate it without even thinking that it contained grains and was therefore not on my diet. Again, I had coke, and a Gatorade which proves that this isn't a calorie cutting diet. The only vegetable was mashed potatoes with gravy along with my pork chop at lunch. The other option was a beef stew kind of thing, and I didn't really want that today. I wanted some chips or pretzels or something in the middle of the afternoon, but couldn't think of a snack that didn't have grain. Just now thought I should have walked over to the PX and gotten some yogurt, but didn't think of it at the time. It's going to take the 60 day trial period just to remember to cut out the things with grains that I normally eat without thinking about.
I should study the new Spanish lesson CD that one of the guys gave me. I'm tired, but I should at least make a start.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I find that there are things in my shipment that I am getting a bit impatient to have with me. My paper shredder is one. I'm getting a pile of papers that I don't want to just put in the trash without shredding first. I'm not sure where the nearest shredder is at work, guess I could ask. In the grand scheme of things it's not that much paper yet, so no one would probably be upset about letting me use a shredder there. Which brings me to the fact that in many cases I just need to open my eyes. There are indeed recycling containers in several locations at work. No need to hang on to my plastic bottles in some miss-guided effort to not add needlessly to the trash here. Also, while whining on the blog The Last Straw about 'needing' to drink from the horrid plastic bottles (trash-wise, they are horrid), I was reminded that when she (I think it's a she... could be a he) was in Guatemala last year she used a steri-pen to make the water drinkable. duh. I have 2 water filters at Mom's that didn't make the cut to go in the suitcase because of room/weight considerations. So, I asked Mom to find my filters and mail them to me. I can filter 4L at a time with that filter. If I get more paranoid I can add micro-pur tablets, or buy a 3rd world filter, they do make them. I hate it when my problems are due to my own myopic eyes and/or brain that only sees what I lack and not the solutions that are right in front of me.
Some other things I wish were here are my knitting (to give me something to do other than wander the internet at night) and my slow-cooker so I can cook some soups. In a week or so I'll move up to the apartment and at some time (hopefully soon!) after that my stuff will arrive and I'll be swimming in too much stuff. Then I'll have to find something else to complain about.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I put two of my smaller suitcases, the carry on and the small checked one (which isn't all that small) on the bed last night and emptied them out totally to see what I have here. I found yet another couple of pairs of jeans. What clothes I have here with me should be more than enough to get through this year. I'm just deleting the sales email from Sierra Trading Post (which is actually a good discount clothing store on line) and REI without even opening them. I have discovered that I think I brought 3 sweat shirts with me, and don't really need even one. So they will either be sent back or given away. I'm making notes on what things are in the process of being shipped here that I want to either get rid of or mail back almost immediately, and a list of things that I may use while I'm here but that won't go back with me.
I'm studying Spanish more on-line. I can sometimes tell more or less what conversations are about now, but still can't follow well. I'm almost second nature on the greetings and responses in Spanish. My Spanish-speaking friends here are schooling me on those each day. I also have started studying one of the books to start my Microsoft certifications again. I kind of started that in WA, but the move interrupted it. Keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. I do see that certifications will help me leverage this position down here into another OCONUS (Outside CONtinental US) job when this contract is over. Not sure what I want to do, but should be in a position to take advantage of whatever is available if I can.
A great discovery this week is that the Mexican restaurant on post has SWEET TEA!!! And it's good! A taste of home. They also have good cheap food. It's an alternative to the DFac. There is a couple of Honduran restaurants on post as well, and a goal is to try one of them next week. And so, my focus goes from looking back to looking forward again.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
1. Coffee. I live where coffee is grown, from what I'm told. So far I have been drinking Maxwell House because that is what they have at the PX, and I haven't gotten groceries anyplace else. I need coffee as close to when I get out of bed in the morning as possible. Some mornings here I have had to wait until I'm on post and at the DFac before I've had coffee. Technically, they have coffee here at the restaurant, but it usually isn't ready before I need to leave for work. I now have a coffee maker in my room. It's a cheap plastic one, and I can smell warm plastic while I'm pouring my coffee instead of just nice coffee aroma. I think about how I'm not in the US where they have standards for things like that. But, I drink my coffee gratefully. Maxwell House, plastic smell and all.
2. A Rag. No, not that kind. Just a plain wash rag, not white. I spill things. I wash out things (such as my coffee maker) and want to dry it. It was amazing to me how often I wanted a piece of fabric to wipe over things when I didn't have one. The hotel gives me one white bath towel. I didn't want to use it to wipe up coffee spills, and I didn't want to use my bath towel to dry out my coffee cup. Then I remembered I have my chamois with me - don't know if it's a sham-wow or whatever the cool brand is - and now I'm happy. I use it and rinse it and use it again. It's the little things...
3. Transportation. I have said I'm going car-less. That is not technically correct. I am choosing not to own a car here, and so far I haven't driven a car here. Did I mention the drivers here are crazy? However, I still need transportation. I miss the freedom to just go out and jump into my Jeep and go to a store, or just drive around or go where every I want to safely. The cabs a good for getting to and from work, and I need to stop using it as an excuse to not hit the gym after work because I can call them an hour later just as well. I haven't gone shopping in town yet, and I will be mindful that I'll have to lug whatever I buy home in a cab. I don't need much, but it's the idea. Like cleanliness, it's doable here, I just have to actually think about it. There are lots of bicyclists here. I don't feel safe riding around here because I don't know the culture. I am impressed with how the bicycles are transportation more than sport to the locals. The horizontal structural bar is the passenger seat on the bikes here. I see people who have kids sitting on that bar almost every day. Today I saw a guy with a woman (girlfriend? wife?) sitting on it while he dutifully pedaled along. Looked like he was giving her a ride to work. It also looked like a lot of work for him. The people riding in the back of trucks is very common, usually as many as there is room for. Having a means of transportation here seems to be unusual, and something to be shared with family and friends as necessary.
4. Communication. I have whined about this before. It is tiring not being able to just talk to the vast majority of folks I come into contact with. A large number of Hondurans here do speak English to some degree. Probably more of them speak English than the number of Anglo's who speak Spanish in a US city. I have learned there is a difference between talking and communicating. I can sometimes communicate well with a person where I share no common language words and other times a person who knows words of English I can not communicate well with at all. I have at times been kidded up at home about 'talking' with my hands. Here that is a good thing. It helps me actually communicate. I am working on learning Spanish, and that is one reason I came down here. In the meantime it is frustrating.
I'll probably find more to add to these lists as time goes on. I know there are things I won't take for granted again once I get back home.
I came up with an additional list of things that may not be essential but that make life much easier. I'll post that in the next few days. For now I need to catch up with what's gone on in the last 48 hours in blog land.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
10. Family and Friends: The real reason for the other 9.
1. Water: This was one of the things that set me off, his comment how he 'drinks from the tap'. Good. I did, too, when I lived in the US. Bottled water is a bane of trash and a sign of consumerism in a first world country. I live in Honduras. I am sternly admonished to only drink 'bottled' water. This includes not getting ice in drinks at restaurants, something I still do. I am working towards getting a setup with the refillable 5 gal bottle, but for right now I am using the small plastic bottles of water. I hate that I'm doing this. However, I am more afraid to actually drink the local water than I am of causing trash. Right now I'm in the middle in that I'm hanging onto my bottles since I don't know where the trash here goes. The fact that I also follow a blog called The Last Straw about someone going a year (living in the US) without using single use plastic doesn't help my conscious. Clean water is not to be taken for granted. Hot water is another issue altogether, that I'll cover later.
2. Food: He talks about nice fresh from the local stand food. I wanted to get there when I lived in the US. No packaging, etc. Wonderful. However, that part about being in Honduras again. the X-Pats here talk about not just getting dysentery from the food but also parasites. So far I have not been sick at all. I have been eating almost exclusively at restaurants, first world chains if not at the DFac on post. Yesterday I did eat some fried banannas from a street vendor that T bought while we were stopped at the road construction. He didn't like them, so I tried them. I figured I'd end up sick. I haven't so far. They were like salty banana chips I got in the US. Not a lot of flavor, but ok as an experiment. At some point I'll get up the courage to go grocery shopping, maybe, and perhaps even make it to an open market. Funny, I don't remember being so conscious of flys back in the US as I am here. So, I'll give up on saying that I want nice fresh local market food, and just ask for safe food that won't make me too sick or give me lingering parasites.
3. Cleanliness: I was just going to call this Soap, but there are many parts to this that I'll just lump into cleanliness. Leo doesn't address this at all, which is why I say he is posting from a first world luxury viewpoint. It's not something we have to think about much in the US. Here, I wonder about the tap water I use to rinse my toothbrush with and rinse my mouth out with. I didn't even think about those things until I'd done it a few days and then realized I haven't gotten sick from it. My shower has hot water from a hot water knob. That is unusual down here. Most houses have what is referred to as Suicide Showers. The water heater is on the end of the shower fixture. Wired with Electricity. From what I'm told, you can get a bit of a shock if it's not wired just right if you don't use some kind of shower shoes. This is one of the non-trivial reasons I am staying here at the hotel. Then there is laundry. I haven't seen any laundromats. Here at the hotel I take my laundry down to them and they deliver it back to me in a few hours, clean and folded, sort of. It's not the way I fold them, and the things I tend to not dry in the dryer are put in with the rest. So, I now sort out those things and do them by hand. Not a huge deal, but I do miss my washer and dryer that was in my apartment back in WA. The thing is, I have to actually think about keeping me and mine clean, and plan for it.
4. Clothes: In Leo's list, 2 of the items were his favorite clothes, a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I don't really mean to keep ragging in his list. However, I do need appropriate clothes. Not fancy, or even new. But, my official work requirements are a collared shirt and jeans. I had quit wearing polo's (collared shirt) in favor of nylon shells, short and mostly long sleeved. It's warmish here, though not as warm as it will be in a few months. I pulled out my polo's that I had packed away and not gotten rid of just because I hadn't worn them in a year. Washington State was cool. Here is not. So, my wardrobe is changing. So far, the packed away things are working just fine, and I'm packing away my heavier things for when I go back up to the US. Is it worth keeping this stuff and shlepping it all around. I don't know. I just know that I'm glad I already had what I needed on hand and didn't have to go shopping in the middle of moving.
5. Shelter: Not even mentioned in Leo's list, again from a first world viewpoint it's taken for granted. Here my requirements are safety first. The environment is such that shelter from the outside isn't as necessary as up home, but once it gets hot I'm sure the air conditioners will also get a workout.
6: Safety: In a third world country there aren't many decisions I'm making on a daily basis that safety isn't a serious consideration. From how to get to work, to when I go someplace, to what I wear or carry with me, when and where I shop and what I buy. Safety is the first thing I think about. That is why my IPhone got left in the US, why I don't wear even as much jewelry as I used to (which wasn't much), why I'm thinking about not carrying my day pack that I've carried for years. It is why I'm going car-less. The drivers here are nuts! However, the only way to get anywhere is to drive just like them. I leave it to the taxi drivers.
7. Sense of humor: Without this I would be miserable. I laughed when upon leaving the airport we ended up on a road that was under construction and all the traffic was just driving in the construction area, picking it's way along. Major traffic, as this was a major road. I laughed when I saw cars driving 3 abreast passing on a 2 lane highway on a hill and curve unable to see if there was any on-coming traffic. I laugh as I bite into street vendor banana chips. I laugh (weakly) at how I can't communicate. I just laugh.
8: Faith: When my sense of humor gets strained, I reach for faith. It takes faith to go out of my hotel room each day. Faith not so much that I'll be protected. Faith that I'll have the strength to face whatever happens. And, so far I have.
Gee, I only came up with 8, too. Sorry this is so long. Just had to get it off my chest.
We had been drafted to go to Price Smart in that same area to get ribs and such for a cookout at work next week for all the folks leaving. I said jokingly in an earlier blog post or comment or someplace, that 'there aren't any CostCo's here...' but I was wrong. Price Smart is literally CostCo. the only difference was the number of people (wall to wall) and the fact that I couldn't understand a word anyone said. C. speaks Spanish and so negotiated the details of the checkout lane. Prices are pretty much the same as US, but it is disconcerting to see things cost 800-30,000 since it price is in lemps, which are 18 to the dollar. They don't tend to use coins here, so 1 lemp is 1/18th of a dollar.
We did have lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant. Again, with C to interpret to the waiter I got very good taco's, soft shelled with refried beans and guacamole and grated white cheese, just what I wanted. The waiter was pretty sure I was nuts since this was a steak place and I wanted no meat. I tipped well. I will miss C when he leaves, which is soon.
I am still fine with being down here. I am more at ease with it than I was even in Washington. However, I can tell already that I won't feel any romantic pull of travel to another 3rd world country after this. And I will enjoy my ability to just get into my Jeep and drive, anywhere any time. I show 346 days left on the countdown counter. I will make the most of them, but I do understand the happiness of those who are headed home soon.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Maybe tomorrow I'll do the '10 things I need' post. Some of the priorities in the list have shifted from my experience so far down here in Honduras. Another feature down here I want to post that is unrelated to most other things I post about is the workers I see every day on the drive to and from work. It is a straight, mostly flat 2 lane road. There aren't shoulders like in the US. The shoulders are for the laboring people to walk or ride bikes on. Unpaved bike lanes, if you will. On the Old Fool's blog http://www.oldfool.org/ he really has a thing about 'work bikes'. Ok, he has a thing about bicycles in general. But he enjoys posting pictures of real work bikes when he finds them. It seems that bikes modified to actually haul things are unusual. Down here the bicycles are pretty much all work bikes. Not a lot (read, none) of spandex on the many bicycle riders each day. The primary load I've seen is stacks of wood, sticks and such. Not sure why wood is such an item since heating is not an issue here. Maybe cook fires? One morning I'll try to get a picture for him. It would make his heart glad, I'm sure. Today I even saw a donkey cart. Not a fru-fru painted up cart but a real working wagon with a donkey hooked up to it with some kind of wooden saddle looking thing across his back. I think I've seen that donkey tied up along side of the road on other days. It isn't unusual to have livestock such as a horse or donkey or even a cow tied up to a light pole along the road. Most seem very thin by US standards. It is different down here.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can...
I'm trying to, John. I'm just 20 years late.
Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover...
George, sigh. One of my favorite love songs.
Where did the time go?
You may need to click on it to see that it is an open area with a fountain in the middle with benches under the surrounding trees.
I then turned around and took the picture of the dominant feature in the square around the park. It is an old Cathedral (duh) from maybe the 1500's? A guide came up to me immediately as I was obviously a tourist with money. After my 'no hablo Espanol' he switched to good English. I didn't have but about 12 lemps (lempuras) on me, which is less than $1, so I wasn't in a position to pay to go up in the tower. Next time.
I walked to one corner and was trying to take a picture showing the difference between the newer-looking municipal building (the new paint is the reason it looks newer) and the older looking building next to it. Then I noticed the wiring. How would you like to work on those electric lines?
The rest are just my attempt to take 'artsy' photos. Ok, I'm working on it...
Most of the pictures are of the Cathedral since it was the most photogenic. Just inside the door of the church was this mosaic.
I took some closeups of the side panels since I like mosaics. It looks like pieces of stained glass were used. I wonder how they broke them to get the uniform size.
I'm working on spacing the picture around so they can be seen.
I sat on a bench under the trees for awhile. It was quite pleasant. They had music playing, recorded instrumental pop stuff that was what I grew up listening to. The quality of sound was really good, clear but not intrusive.
I didn't have money to buy any of the ice cream that was being sold by wandering vendors. Later I wondered if it would have made me sick. I haven't yet gotten sick from anything here, and last night I drank ice from the restaurant.
A family came by with 3 kids. The father and kids joined me on the bench. I felt my lack of Spanish as I couldn't even be friendly other than kind of smile.
I did feel conspicuous as pretty much the only female who was there alone. One guy seemed to be sort of following me, which is why I suddenly decided to check out the interior of the church.
I wanted to take pictures of the people, but that seemed disrespectful. Also, there was a guy there with stuffed donkeys on rockers with sombreros who seemed to be taking pictures for money. I didn't want to intrude on his business.
I also would have liked to have had a better camera to take shots of the buildings. However, I don't like being as conspicious as I already am. With a larger camera I would really stick out as a female tourist who was alone. Next time I'll have a map and go walking a bit more around the town. Maybe...
Carlos picked me up when I called him, and in the process of taking another passenger home ended up showing me more of the town. I next door to Pollo Campero and got a meal when I got back to the motel. It was good. No one there spoke English, but we managed to communicate with gestures to the menu and such what I wanted. The cash register takes dollars, and I was given my change in lemps, so I now have about $15 worth if I decide to venture out today. The 2 pieces of chicken, roll, fries and medium size Coke were $5.25 in dollars.
This is going to be a slow process. I am ok with that. I hope you are, too.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
So, this is the thought process I start when I read of yard chores (with the associated rakes and hoes and tillers) and cleaning out of garages (sports equipment, yard furniture, etc) and such. I look around my disheveled hotel room and think 'I don't want the responsibility anymore'. I'm not sure any of this makes any sense. It's just where I'm at this morning. I'm thinking I need some breakfast. So, I have to put shoes on and walk downstairs. Am I cheating? I'm not growing my food, not even buying it at the store. Did I cheat by leaving the country until the economy gets better and I can afford to come back? I don't know anymore. In fact, at this point, I don't know much of anything it seems.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
When I was in Washington, it seemed like I wasn't really living my life, more like I was just waiting. Here it doesn't feel so much like I'm waiting. More like I'm looking out tentatively waiting to feel like it's time to step out and explore, and that that time will come. I'm where I'm supposed to be, I'm just getting centered so I can step out. When I was back in Nashville and in Hot Springs around friends I reconfirmed that being back there with friends is the primary point of the entire exercise. I want to be able to be back among friends without the debt, and free to get out and experience life. To do that, I need to get myself into better physical shape, and start eliminating excess baggage. And, I need to enjoy myself along the way while I do that.
I just needed to remind myself of this today.
I stumbled out of my hotel room, hair uncombed and no shoes, with my camera in hand. The cleaning maids who had been chatting and laughing out in the hallway immediately became silent and eyed me. I tried to smile even though I haven't had much coffee yet. I do have the coffee maker in my room now, so I do have some coffee, a major improvement over last weekend. I wondered to the end of the hall where the balcony is open air. The banner announcing that this is the Plaza Futura blocked any view. So, I padded back to the stairs and went up a floor, pointed the camera out the balcony, and snapped the above shot.
I'll try to do better after more coffee, breakfast, a shower, and a cab ride into town.
Blogspot doesn't like emailed HTML I guess. Livejournal posted the picture correctly from the email. I'll have to work on that I guess. If you see the picture instead of html above, then I figured it out.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I looked at the apartments here at the hotel tonight. I am hoping to just get an apartment here. The larger one would be plenty big even if all my stuff arrives from the US. In fact, I would want most of my stuff. They also have an efficiency type room that has some neat features that would be fine if my shipment gets stopped and stays in the US. I still haven't heard the outcome of that yet. Staying here has many advantages, and few disadvantages. Especially with the 2 bedroom apartment, having guests from the US wouldn't be any problem at all. Well, as in Washington State, the bed I would have to offer might be a hammock...
Work continues to have growing pains as I attempt to integrate into the group. The group that is there will be cycling out by the end of the year. One guy who came in yesterday is the only one that is for sure (as sure as one can be down here) to be here in 3 months. It is a strange feeling. I do admit to having a countdown timer on my laptop at the room here for when my contract is up (357 days...), but all in all I like it down here. This coming weekend is a 3 day weekend, and I intend to get out with the help of Carlos the taxi driver and see the town.
The important thing for now is that I found my socks. I have things in 2 suitcases and a roll away carry on, and there is no rhyme or reason to what is in which one. I had 3 pr. of socks that were floating around being worn or in the wash, but I put the last clean pair on this morning. I did find the gallon ziplock of the rest of the socks hiding in the bottom of one of the suitcases tonight, so I have clean ones to wear tomorrow. Such is my life now that that is about as large an issue as I have in my day to day life. I'm trying to keep it that way.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
One more difference living down here: Google comes up in Spanish, as do a few other sites. It can be disconcerting to see a familiar site pop up in a language I don't understand and have to go from memory of what is where. I'll be glad when I speak Spanish...
Monday, October 04, 2010
The day went quickly. One of the guys showed me around and I finally got a local cell phone, a coffee maker and coffee, and some plastic hangers. I tried to use the coffee pot, and it started smoking. I'll take it back tomorrow. sigh. The cell phone has everything in Spanish. I'm going to find a translator online in a minute to translate the several messages I've gotten. Cell phones are cheap down here, and I'm thinking that the phone numbers don't stay out of circulation long. The instructions for the phone are in Spanish, also. So, I punch buttons and hope for the best. Why is it that in the US instructions are in 3 or 4 languages, and down here when I need the second language version, everything is in Spanish only???
Two other things that I find different down here are that the water faucets turn backwards. Also the doors into places open backwards. In the US, the doors into public place all open out so that if there is a fire it is easier to evacuate, a crowd doesn't have to step back to get the door open. Here, they are push to enter. It's the little things that make a place feel odd.
I called Carlos to meet me after work, and did my evening constitutional walk to the gate. There I came up against a very serious Sgt. who had no intention of allowing me off post alone. Seems I'm supposed to have a buddy. Having a specific cab waiting to take me to my hotel didn't phase him. He talked to my boss, who was not having much luck,either. Finally he said he would allow me to leave, but implied I might be arrested tomorrow morning for being off post alone. sigh. If it's not one thing it's another.
In all of this, none of the problems have been with any of the local people, who have uniformly been pleasant and helpful.
Tonight supper is cold pizza from the Pizza Hut across the street. The desk staff called in my order for me, and delivered it to my room last night. It is basically standard Pizza Hut stuff, and the 2L of Pepsi is a good alternative to the bottled water, since I still (whimper) don't have a working coffee pot,
Here, every day is an adventure. And, I guess that's what I came down here for.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Breakfast this morning has come the closest yet to making me ill. Not too bad, but the tocino (bacon?) wasn't cook well. Mostly I think it is just travel and nerves. Since my laundry is in the process of being done (I assume...) I am waiting until I'm on post tomorrow to get a cell phone and local money. The laundry. Well, they have machines here, and I could not get the guy to understand that I wanted to use the machines myself rather than have them do it for me. I finally gave up and handed it over. It should show up sometime today. I guess this is a good thing, I'm just not used to someone else doing my laundry. However, free laundry, free breakfast, free internet, all included for what rent would cost elsewhere. I'm thinking this is the way to go. I just need Chris, and his Spanish, to negotiate for me. He has primo service and pays not so much. I don't expect as good a deal as he has since I am very gringo and there is what they call the gringo tax here. However, if he can get it to a reasonable amount for me, I'm thinking I'll stay here.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
I'm in my room. The coworkers have done a really fine job of making me afraid to go outside, especially as now it is getting dark. I can't talk to my friends or family. I am wondering what the hell I'm doing so far from home. I'm getting depressed. Oh, right, I haven't eaten or had anything to drink since morning. I have had fear put into me about drinking the water here. I have no local money to go buy some Cokes or bottled water for my new fridge. That would have required going outside, which I was afraid to do.
Logic finally forces itself into my brain. I should go to the restaurant with the friendly proprietor that is connected to the hotel and eat and drink. I'm thinking I'll feel better about the entire situation after that. Tomorrow is another day, says Scarlett O'Hara. I'll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll call a cab and go to post and fix all my problems and all will be well. Tomorrow. I just need to get through tonight. And, that starts with dinner.
I have not gone out of the room except for breakfast. They did a good job of loading me up with fear. Tomorrow I will get a cab and go back to post and do laundry, buy a cell phone, and also buy a coffee maker, as well as find the ATM that gives local money. I'm hoping that the restaurant downstairs will take American money for supper tonight. I'm frustrated at being so new. My negative coworker looked at me yesterday and said 'Everyone's giving you a year...' like that was some kind of put down. Hell, he and his wife are planning on leaving after 6 months. Basically, I'm just frustrated. But, I'm warm/cool enough, dry, and definitely well-fed at this point, so all is good. The hotel guys brought me a small fridge. The outlet near the TV apparently doesn't work since the TV is on a small lamp-type extension cord. So, he got a computer-type outlet strip, and added the fridge on the same extension cord. sigh...
The rules here are different when it comes to driving. No rules about where to drive and how that I can tell, and everyone drives very close to each other. Three or four abreast on a 2 lane road, no problem. However, have your seat belt on and don't talk on the cell phone, and apparently you must have a fire extinguisher and reflective triangle in your truck, or be prepared to bribe the police at the roadblock. Or, hell, just be prepared to bribe the police anyway. So I've been told, anyway.
My experience with the locals has been uniformly positive. Most I've been around speak rudimentary English, which is better than my Spanish so far, and are open to attempting to figure out what I want. However, nothing is taken for granted. I get a free breakfast each day with my room, but didn't know until today. It hasn't been a problem since I can get breakfast at the DFAC (on post dining facility) for $2.25. Coffee is also available down at the restaurant here, so I didn't have to wait until the DFAC after all.
The Americans I work with go out of their way to warn me of all kinds of dangers. I'll be shot in the head if I wait on the free bus to post. I'll be robbed by my taxi driver if I don't use one I 'trust'. I have to bribe the police (see above), although my co worker just 'doesn't stop' cause he's such a bad ass (don't think I'll try that option...). I know they are trying to protect me, but at this point I'm afraid to leave my hotel room.
My cell phone doesn't work at all here. I need to find an ATM and get some local money, get over my fear and go either to the post via taxi or go to the mall (term is used loosely from what I understand). I also need some bottled water for my room, and a coffee maker for my room and at work. I also need to get to post and do laundry.
I'm putting off looking for a place to live. My stuff hasn't left Seattle yet, and I have a month's stay here at the hotel. Once I figure out how to get to work, and how to do laundry, and how to get coffee on an ongoing basis, the hotel will do fine. I get conflicting stories on where I should live. One guy's landlord has a place for $400/mo, and for some more he will put in a security alarm, and an armed guard 24/7. Others say it's not in the best of places, right down town. However, if I just use taxi's all the time rather than buy a car... well... I'm trying to decide. I put off having someone drive me around this weekend while I continue to ponder all this.
My room is basic, but very clean. The restaurant is also basic but very clean. The proprietor of the restaurant was very nice this morning, and very eager to help. The owner's son here at the hotel speaks good English. They don't come into my room to clean or make my bed. Not a big issue. I'm wondering what the protocol is to get clean linen. This hotel is used by most of the folks from my company when they land in country, so I can find the answer easily Monday, and it isn't an issue at this point really. The closet has 4 hangars, 2 of them usable. I pick out my clothes the night before from my suitcase and hang them up.
Now to sort my stuff (haven't unpacked at all).
The only reason I was able to leave on Saturday from Olympia is because of Casey and Travis. They met me for a goodby breadfast, and said they would take anything I didn't want. I was to consider them my trash container. So, I did. They had to go get a truck to hold everything. This was after I had given away 'everything' already, and shipped 'everything', and was loading 'everything else'. An entire truck load went with them. The carrot on the end of the stick for them was that they wanted my vacuum, and I needed to vacuum the apartment before I left, and everything had to be packed and out of there before that could happen. The reality was, they were awesome friends who were there for me, and I won't forget that soon.
Three times on the trip I locked my keys in the Jeep. Well, only one time were they actually in the Jeep, but 3 times I 'broke into' the Jeep. I have said that it's 'only a zipper' but at the Micky D's in Idaho (I think it was...) that first night, I was stunned at how easily I opened it up and had immediate access to where my computer bag was laying in plain sight. I changed it's location. A very nice young man assisted me by climbing into the Jeep to unlock the door. After it was open (and I moved my computer bag) I couldn't find my keys in the console. Yet another check of my pockets found my keys right where they should have been. I knew at that point I was a zombie, but took the lesson not to leave valuables totally visible.
Driving from Mom's to Nashville I stopped at a rest area in the middle of the night and changed from my shorts to jeans because it had gotten cool. When I got to the Jeep I checked my pockets repeatedly, and no keys. I unzipped the back window and crawled up and opened the door. Again, no keys in the console or floor or anywhere. Went back into the bathroom, and they were on the floor by the hand washing station.
The third time I did actually lock the keys in the Jeep in downtown Nashville. Nest, with his long arms was able to reach in from the unzipped side window and open the door. I found the keys in my computer bag, where I'd stuffed the power cords before getting out. Not sure what the lesson in all this was. I'm thinking that it's that I have too much stuff to keep track of, and I need to simplify drastically.
Maybe I'll post more about Honduras later. This morning I'm reflecting back on what I left.