Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some things never change .... ? !

People, by nature they say, are reluctant to change and, for the majority, fight it tooth and nail at every opportunity.

I have seen "similar" situations played out in various parts of the world and it just tells me that people are the same all over, no matter where they live.

For example, I have found here on the island, on the mainland of Honduras, in cities in the U.S. and Europe, wherever there is a doorway, people stop, block the way for others to chat, give greetings, say goodbye or whatever strikes their fancy. I try, especially when I'm departing from a plane, to I wait and perform my hugs and kisses of greeting away from the ramp where everyone is exiting. Also, when people are waiting to board the plane they all swarm to the attendants' desk waiting anxiously to board. Now, I ask you, we all have assigned seats and only one person at a time can walk down the isle and they board us so that we don't have to jump over other people to get to our seat. So, why the rush? Years ago, when we came to Honduras, seats weren't assigned and everyone rushed to get on first so that they could put their carry on luggage in the overhead bin. Of course, most of the people returning to Honduras carried about 4-5 extra shopping bags per person and overhead bins were filled up quickly. Now, however, with assigned seating and a limit as to what you can take on the plane, that should not make people over anxious. But they are still operating on former experience from pass flights! They just won't change.

Change is being forced upon people every day vis a vis the computer! It is a constant frustration to some people (understandably so) to have to re-learn computer commands that they have become accustomed to. Thankfully, I worked as a legal secretary in an office and short cuts with the computer were a real time saver. As an example, one of the easiest functions: copy and paste. I click on the portion of the text I want to copy, scroll down to cover all I want and then use "Control + C". I then go to my blank screen or wherever I want to insert and do a "Control + V" and there it is. I do not have to right click, go down the list, click on copy and then go to the second screen, right click and click on paste. Plus, before I go to the next screen to paste, I can hit delete to delete that portion I have just saved. I usually do the delete after I have pasted, just in case something goes wrong however! It saves a few seconds, but makes life easier. The same for when I type my sign-in name at a site. The minute I start typing the word(s) I use, the same word pops up below my typing. Just click on it and it is entered! More time saved. I could go on and on but then some people never worry about saving time nor using a short cut because it would mean change.

When we came to the island, we had to make a lot of changes, i.e., the way I cooked, the conservation of electrical power and water, even to the point of scheduling when we would bring things up to the house so we could do it all at once, with our helper present, and not have to run back and forth to town because we forgot something. List making was way up on my list now which meant changing my thinking from running to the store for every little thing or just jotting it down for my next shopping date. I had to change my plans for any craft item if I could not get something and had to use a substitute. Living here, we have all become great at substituting, which means changing our thought process. Of course it also means I have to remember to bring my list! Another change in my life!

Honduras is in a political conundrum which is going to take a lot of work by the people to retain the democracy 80-90% of the people want and to rid themselves of a thoughtless President and to establish a new President with their elections. No matter what the world may think, the Hondurans know what they want and, in spite of outside pressure, I applaud them for not straying from their course. The downside is that people, again as they do all over the world, have decided that even though the upcoming election is important, all the candidates are bad (although none of these people we have spoken to understands just what any of the candidates stand for) and, therefore, they are not voting. Change is at hand and Honduras has a chance to make a difference but it needs the voterse to get out, take an interest and vote. I explained to several people who stated they would not vote that if everyone had that idea and if the party wanting a communist rule convinced their people to go out and vote, that party would win and they would be stuck with a President leading them into communism! If they want a democracy, they must change their way of thinking, read up on their candidates and vote so as to let the government know what they want. With the ouster of ex-President Zelaya, Honduras has a chance to make some good changes and get their government back on track by improving the lot of the people. This requires change - are they up to the challenge? I hope so.

One more stage of change is attitude. I have noticed that people all over the world have the same problem. Thankfully it is the small, tiny minority who are like this. There are people out there that have no interest in their job and make life miserable for you when you have to deal with them. They just cannot see that changing jobs would make a difference in their life, even if they would have to go without a job for a while. They prefer to sit at their desk, run their cash register, fill out paperwork, etc. all the while making whatever they have to do for you a long and arduous task. What a wonderful place it would be if people would remember that their job is to serve the public, generally speaking. A smile always does more for business than a frown and improves every one's attitude. Maybe some people are just stuck with a frown on their face in the their heart.

I am sure that everyone has faced changes which, for the most part, has not been easy. But, eventually we have to change because change is part of our makeup - I mean, we aren't monkeys any more are we?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hog Plums

Yeah! It is that time of year! The hog plums, most commonly known as "hobos" (the "H" is silent) are ripe and dropping to the ground.

This little fruit has a unique taste which may be described as a cross between peach, orange and a red plum, but I'm not an expert when it comes to sorting out flavors. It is something I look forward to every year. Around August/September the fruit ripens and falls from the tree. The plums are about 1" to 2"in circumference and bright orange-yellow in color. The first time I drank the juice on the island, I was bowled over. So now, every year, I anxiously wait for our 7 hog plum trees to start dropping fruit. I was informed too that this fruit is exclusive to the island as no one on the mainland had seemed to hear of it. Yet, again, maybe they call it something else.

The trees are really tall, so picking the fruit is out of the question. As you can see, in the photo above, the hobo tree, the one in the middle, is quite tall. The branches are at least 30-40 feet from the ground. Of course, one or two of my trees are not full grown but picking this fruit is not my choice, as the ground will become covered with them in a short period of time. Below is a photo of the beginning of the dropping of the fruit, with a few plums on the ground.

Of course, as in all fruit on the island, it is mostly seed and it takes a lot of these little suckers to make enough for a half-gallon of liquid sunshine! My worker will bring me sacks of these fruit for me to wash and then squeeze.

The women of the island put them in a huge bucket or pan with water and then squeeze them with their hands, which becomes very time intensive and laborious. I have two ways of doing it. One, I can put them in a "V" shaped colander and then smash them with a wooden mallet that is specifically shaped for the colander. Or, two, I can place it in the top of my huge kettle that has a special insert for steaming the fruit and collecting the juice in the bottom. Depending upon how many hog plums I have in a day will determine which method I choose.

Of course, then my day is devoted to juicing the plums. Once I have obtained the juice, it is just a matter of placing it in Zip Loc bags for freezing. I once made jelly with the juice, but since we don't consume a lot of jelly at our house, I do not do that anymore. I still make a jar or two and like to make it up like a hot pepper jelly to use with cream cheese on crackers. Yummm!

One year I decided to sell the juice already prepared and packed in Zip Loc bags. Everyone was very enthusiastic about wanting some; not so enthusiastic about paying for it! The second year there were less buyers and I decided it was not worth my time and trouble to try selling it on the Cay, even though people still ask about it. They figure if it grows free here, why should they pay for it even though someone has done all the work for them!

If you ever get to Guanaja this time of year, remember to get some Hobo Juice, a/k/a Hog Plum Juice. Or, stop by my house and enjoy a ice cold glass of a taste you won't forget!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Random Thoughts

I've never reported on the goings on of the people on the island and started thinking that some people who read my blog are interested in what is happening here and now.

So, here goes!

First, Sept. 5th, we all celebrated the wedding of Roland Rumm and Rodie (a Guanaja citizen). They have been together about 3 years living and working on the island of Cayman and decided to make their union official. The wedding was attended by lots of locals and us "gringos". Claus and Annette cooked a whole hog for the affair and salads and accompaniments were provided by many of the women guests. As it always goes, the food was great and there was little left at the end of the day. The bride was gorgeous and, as you can tell from the photo, the groom was smiling and proud. A further photo of the whole family is shown below.

Congratulations are in order to Darien Conlee of Half Moon Cay. Darien studied for and took her test for Honduran citizenship and today, Sept. 8, 2009, is attending a swearing-in ceremony in the capital of Tegucigalpa. Yeah team! Now she doesn't have to be bothered with her residency renewal anymore!

Our fingers are crossed for Captain Al. Captain Al is one of the "original Gringos" who came to Guanaja many, many years ago and settled here, got married, had two children (one of which is a grown man now, married with children and runs the business) and ran a dredging business, the airport bar and was an all around source of information about living on the island. Capt. Al (as he is lovingly known) is now 81 and recently suffered a stroke while in the United States. He spent time recovering and returned about a month ago. He has had trouble for the past 5-7 years with failing eyesight and his hearing isn't all that it once one but you will always see a smile on this big giant's face! He is doing better now that he is back on blood thinners but a problem with his back has cropped up and he has been absent from the Saturday crowd at Manati. He did briefly attend the Rumm wedding and we all wish him the best.

Another note, we haven't heard a word from Linda Murski who had to leave the island August 15th to fly to Texas where her Step-Mother, Beryl, was ill. We all hope that she and her Step-Mom are doing well and that they got Beryl back on her feet.

Sad note, too, was the news of the passing of Anke's father, Helmut, in Germany. After a long bout with throat cancer, he passed away last week. We all extend our sympathy to this warm, witty, happy and intelligent man's family.

We didn't get our yearly summer visit by Joan and David Cobb this year. They were planning to arrive in July but David ran into a few health problems and ended up having surgery on his heart valve in Cleveland, Ohio. He came through with flying colors and, from all reports, is up and around doing what he does best - smiling! The doctor was not happy with the thought that he might be spending some time on an island without easy access to medical assistance so he and his wife returned to Zagreb, Croatia and, hopefully, got a much needed vacation touring parts of that beautiful country. From e-mails I've received, they are both back at work and looking forward to making their return trip in December. Good luck to the both of them. We certainly missed them this summer and will all look anxiously to their return.

And, this summer, only 1/2 of the Monroe team showed up on the island's shores. Dick Monroe
arrived sans Jennifer. Apparently, their youngest was getting ready to go off to college when he got stage fright and his Mom decided to spend the last "free summer" with her off spring. We hear they had a fantastic time while Dad returned to Guanaja to make sure their island home was still functioning. We enjoyed visits with Dick during his brief stay and look forward to both Dick and Jennifer's return soon.

Among some of the local news, Globalnet (the local inter-net service) was down for about two weeks. Evidentially lightning struck the roof of its offices on the mainland and they were scrambling to get back up and running. I know everyone was dismayed at the time it took, but everyone seem to take it in the spirit of manana!

Kate O'Driscoll returned from a trip to Canada where she saw many of her friends. She spent some time with Angela Cooper who once lived on the island with her husband. Angela has since relocated to Canada and after the death of her husband keeps busy with her immediate family and her lovely apartment. We all know that Kate's husband, Bill, is very happy to see her back, as are we all.

Another "islander" who was gone for quite a while this past winter was Renate. A German who lives on Hendrick's Cay with her husband, Hans. Renate had to return to Germany due to a problem with her rotor cuff in her shoulder. After several months she returned to our flock not any the worse for wear! We are all happy to have her smiling face back and wish her well with her physical therapy swimming!

Due to the economic crisis in the States, we haven't seen near as much of Bill and Martha Pullum who use to fly here at least up to twice a month. They have been busy building townhouses at Brick Point but had to slow down and wait for the economy to rally around. They were here for a few weeks last month and we were most happy to have them back. We look forward to their return possibly in October and wish them the best in their endeavor.

Also, a Minnesotan, Dale, who is building a home near Bo Bush's Island House returned for a few weeks to frolic in the sands of Guanaja. Dale has been constructing his "concrete castle" here for the past two years but is in no great hurry!

Another couple on the scene, who are also "revamping" their property near Bo's, is Eric and Tami who hail from Florida. Eric gets down here more often than Tami who must keep the business running so Eric can go off and play! My husband and I made a stop over to their house on the "other side" recently before the couple had to leave and we had a nice visit. We look forward to their return and hope that when they come back they'll have time to come over for lunch and meet some other islanders!

There were many more "summer" visitors here this past season, too numerous to mention, but we had a wonderful time with all of them and as always continue to await their return when we can once again renew friendships!

Of course the political scene regarding the ouster of President Zelaya has everyone captivated. It has not really affected the island but we are all looking forward to the upcoming elections and hoping that everything will return to "better than normal."

So, that is the latest. I'm sorry if I forgot anyone and hope you won't be upset if I did.

Well, that's life on the island!