Into the New Year and I began reflecting on what it has in store and what the years past have brought me. I have been lucky in that my husband and I remain healthy and live a relatively stress-free life here on the island. We have learned not to take things for granted and are pleasantly surprised by simple things in life. Just the other night, while returning from a restaurant where we had dinner, a beautiful ray jumped out of the water in front of our boat. I had never seen a shooting star until I came to the island and the ever changing colors of the sea is inspiring.
Like today, for instance. We were expecting another front to come through. About one and one-half weeks ago, we were hit by a cold front that swept through the U.S. leaving all 48 states with freezing temperatures! It hit us and we got overcast skies, rain and chilly temperatures. If you have been reading any Honduran blogs you will know what I mean. To us, anything below 70 is cold! We have no insulation in our homes, no heat source (except clothing and blankets) and in my house the windows are always open. Having louvered windows is a plus for air circulation and they look nice. However, when wind and rain comes there is no protection like a glass window! We got down to 62-66 degrees Fahrenheit, which means we wore socks to bed and used two blankets instead of one sheet! Now, my thermostat is stuck on high so initially the cool temperatures did not bother me. By the third day when it got even colder - yes, I am using the word colder - I had to put on long pants, socks and a top with sleeves!
But to get back to the point. We were expecting a front and it stalled and turned to Cuba. We had a beautiful sunny day with flat, calm seas. So, because we were treated with a lovely day after so many gloomy and cold ones, off we went to Bo's Island House for lunch. After lunch I strolled along the beach; a lovely stretch of beach that I had all to myself. As I walked I thought about how wonderful it was to hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the sand and the stillness of the air and the beauty in the colors of the ocean. I know why oceans are so soothing. It almost forces calm upon a person and as my mind wandered I reflected on how peaceful it can be here on the island. I definitely recommend a walk along an un-deserted stretch of calm beach where the ocean is gently rolling onto the beach with a soft, sound soothing. Gee, you can't find one where you live, well, come on down we have plenty to share!
Now, back to reality. At present this year is bringing hard times to the people of the island. Fewer jobs, more men leaving to work on ships off the coast of South Africa or to jobs on Cayman and some pulling up stakes and moving to the Mainland. There are far fewer tourists coming here and, thus, the resort owners are suffering. The few people that do arrive have the reefs to themselves and can snorkel or dive in solitude and enjoy the vastness of the ocean.
This year may present a problem for the reefs off Guanaja. Many people have discovered Lionfish in our waters. These fish are not native and if not brought under control may very well cause a chain of events that eliminates some of the native sea life here. The Lionfish is a highly venomous fish and though not fatal to humans the venom can cause extreme pain, vomiting, headaches and possible breathing difficulties.
It not native to the tropical regions of the world, but various species can be found worldwide. Due to a recent introduction, the lionfish has been spotted in the warmer coral regions of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and also in the Caribbean Sea and Red Sea. They have no natural predators, however, they have been found in the stomachs of certain groupers. They generally range in size from 30-35 cm. (12 inches) but In the Caribbean where lionfish aren't native, they can grow to a size of up to 55 cm. Since the reef system is so delicate, the introduction of this fish may cause havoc. Some people visiting Guanaja on their sailboat have caught and killed at least 4 of these fish and have seen many more while diving. They are appearing in many areas around the island. Hopefully the fact that they have a low breeding system means they reproduce at a slow rate, but I have not read enough on this fact to say for sure.
Have no dreams about living here, however. Visiting and vacationing are wonderful experiences, especially if you like diving, snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing un-bothered by the hustle and bustle of the world. The atmosphere here is definitely laid back and for the vacationer, it is heaven. However, dealing with this same type of attitude can be daunting for anyone trying to build a home or establishing a business. One must have a great deal of patience and if you can't join 'em, don't try to beat 'em. You will lose!
I have a lot of plans for this year. Some trips to the Mainland, hopefully a trip to Guatemala, a definite trip to Germany in the fall to attend a wedding of a young lady who grew up here among us and projects that seem never ending!
I have taken on the task of making a double wedding ring quilt for the young lady that is getting married. My quilt making is limited but I saw this pattern and wanted to do it. However, after buying the material and laying everything out, I again read the instructions which informed me that this was one of the most difficult patterns to tackle! Well, at least it did not say impossible! I spend every afternoon sewing on this quilt (or cutting and pinning) so as to accomplish the task by the first of July. In the morning I tend to housework, cooking, laundry and yard work, but the afternoons (except today) are reserved for quilting.
At night, I crochet various projects to give as gift. I just finished a lovely wedding purse for the bride to be. I recently made the project to the left as a gift to a very good friend of mine in the States. Other crocheted items I make as panels to be hung on the wall. I make small clutches, shopping bags and afghans. I still make baskets and greeting cards to round off my activities.
One of my favorite pastimes is reading but I have to set that aside because of my plans. I want to make a tablecloth for my good friend, Annette, whose birthday is this coming Saturday and I have plans to crochet a throw for my couch - as soon as my package arrives from the states with the pattern and yarn!
I relish my retirement and am glad we took it early. But do not let anyone ever fool you into thinking that retirement is boring. Unless you have absolutely no interests or hobbies or skills, you might be bored, but here that is an impossibility.
So, I look forward to a new year of challenge and education! I truly believe that it is important to constantly be learning and opening yourself up to other ideas and this year, I am sure, will be no exception.