Sunday, March 29, 2009

The German Invasion

While we have foreigners on the island consisting of  people from Germany, England, Holland, Canada, the U.S. and Texas and, at one time, from France, Italy and South Africa, the biggest community is the Germans.  There is also a large population of Germans on the mainland.

Some of the Germans on Guanaja have been here over 20 years.  They own business, provide construction consultations, run farms or, in one case, ran the Hofbräuhaus, a famous German restaurant in Munich.  I have found the Germans to be friendly, clean, hard working, intelligent and persistent.  

Saturday is a special day here when many people meet at the German bar and restaurant, Manati.  The owner, Hansito (Biber), is a tall, well-bred, multi-lingual man with a great humor. The restaurant is run by Claus and Annette who provid typical German fare for all.  One is greeted with a big smile and friendly people at Manati and they have a reputation for good parties, good food, good music and fun.

Saturday was Hansito’s 50th birthday and he had made plans to throw a huge party.  It was an open invitation for all with free food, beer and rum from Noon to 6 p.m. You have to have a cut-off  for the free stuff at some point as Germans tend to go all night and into the next da
y with a party!  Hansito had a special bar-b-que grill built (in the photos seen here, the ladder in the one photo was removed before cooking commenced).

Among his German friends from the mainland, Bertie, an accordion player, was on hand to entertain.  Also for entertainment, Ian (and English man living in LaCeiba) came to play the keyboard, Claus played the bass, Mike the harmonica and a couple, Grant and Candy from one of the anchored sailboats, joined in with Grant playing electric guitar and Candy singing.

Hansito installed new lights along the dock and was creative enough to turn big plastic flower pots into shades for the lights!  He put a temporary bar outside to handle the crowds and arranged to have a lot of ice brought to Manati to chill the beers and provide ice for cold drinks. The temporary bar was a lovely old, carved bar owned by a former U.S. citizen of Guanaja, Bill Miller.  

Geri, a U.S. Citizen living here with her husband Al, decorated the bar with streamers and miniature motorcycles, a vehicle of passion of Hansito‘s during his younger years.  I made a board with various birthday greetings referring to his entrance into “old age” and gave him a framed picture of the restaurant.  Many friends brought presents and wishes for many happy years.

One lovely lady was probably the best-dressed at the party, and I could not pass up the chance of taking her picture. Isabell, Andy Veverica's wife, really shined!  Then we had Mr. Bill who dressed up his hat for the occasion!

For the main fare, they cooked two pigs, baked homemade bread (stored in a large ice cooler) and local women provided side dishes of salads and beans.  For the brave of heart who dared traverse the rough seas, some arrived drenched but thirsty.  Others, who walked or came a short distance, arrived thirsty.  Those already there were thirsty.  Yeah, you got it, a lot of thirsty and hungry folks! So, two of Hansito’s friends cut up the hog for serving about 1 p.m.  It had been cooking since 1 a.m. and was delicious. Another hog was cooked next door at another cooking pit and both were cleaned to the bone by the time the beer ran out!

People started trickling in and by about 3 p.m. the place was jumping.  Some of Hansito’s friends came from Germany to celebrate, some from the mainland and one woman we all knew and loved was Angela Cooper who came from Canada for Hansito's birthday.  Angela left Guanaja almost two years ago with her husband, Michael, and, unfortunately, after a difficult bout with throat cancer, he passed away about a year ago much to our sadness.  Angela came back to see all of her friends once more and to wish Hansito a Happy Birthday.  Seeing her smiling, lovely face one more time I am sure filled many people with great joy!

About 5 p.m. the free beer ran out and everyone left the outside area and came into the bar to buy drinks.  A special boot shaped glass which held 1 liter of beer was presented to Hansito and he drank in gusto.  There is an old German game associated with this glass; it is passed around and everyone takes a drink from it.  As the liquid gets closer to the bottom the last person to finish the beer then has forced the person before him to buy another round since he didn’t drain the boot!  

The band started about 5 p.m. and the music was wonderful.  They played for about 3 hours, took a short break and then played until about 9:30 p.m.  At that time we were down to about 24-30 people and Bertie, Claus and Ian (who by then had gotten his accordion out) serenaded Hansito and his friends around a corner table with German folk music.

We had great weather, wonderful food, good entertainment and friends to visit and time to sing Happy Birthday to our host and wish him many more years of happiness.  The only friend of Hansito's who was not impressed by all the going on was his dog, Messy!

Again - Happy Birthday Hansito (Biber) and Many More!

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