Sunday, May 16, 2010

Island Diversions

The challenge of island living is not trying to keep busy as many people seem to think, but allowing oneself to regulate your time so that you can accomplish the long list of tasks before you.

Of course, as we all know, at least of those of us who live here, the #1 challenge is maintenance! The sea and the salt along with the humidity have a way of wearing things down. It is common knowledge that to survive comfortably, one must have 2-3 of everything! Replacement parts are hard to come by and the things that keep our lives running smoothly (electricity, water, propane for our stoves, boats, engines, refrigerators, fans, etc.) are in constant stages of deterioration. Besides mechanical parts, furniture must be re-varnished, houses painted, clothing repaired, computers upgraded, etc., all things that keep us occupied and “busy.”

For those who like the diversion of a hobby as a means of expressing themselves, there are many avenues. Understandably, all of the things I have mentioned previously are necessities and must be tended to. But people like to keep busy with things that entertain, challenge our skills and relax us! We are constantly on the lookout for items to accomplish that end.

Some of us prefer to take up hobbies, and I am speaking of the women here, wherein we turn to hand crafts; sewing, crocheting, knitting, painting, jewelry making -- simply the creation of something out of nothing so to speak. Others like gardening or photography, while some prefer cooking. For those who are either not skilled in any of the aforementioned, there are always sea activities and an abundance of reefs to explore. For those not inclined to any of these things, and I can’t think of a person on the island who does not take part in at least one these activities, entertaining is another way to go to round out one’s schedule.

We do quite a bit of entertaining on the island. As a matter of fact, I have never gone to or held more parties than since I’ve been here. When we lived in the States we were too busy working long hours to get much entertaining in. Oh, we did have some get-togethers with a small group of friends, but those were few and far between. There just didn’t seem to be time to entertain and it was so much easier to go out to a restaurant a movie or an art fair.

Here, things are different and the fact that we are now retired makes all the difference in the world! Staying in touch with some of the almost 60 foreigners who live here seems to be a wonderful pastime and breaks the monotony of the daily routine. Plus, it is a challenge to think up dishes to serve, a possible theme for a party and to prepare for anywhere from 6 to 20 people (or more depending upon the occasion).

We have get togethers just to visit with people that have been gone from the island for a while, for holidays, for birthdays, anniversaries, ladies luncheons or just in order to get together in small groups for quiet chats/discussions. Shown here are some of the wonderful gatherings we have had:

I have given many lunch/dinner parties and have attended an equal amount, some of which are pictured above. It is fun to visit with people that have been absent from the island for a while,t sampling the cooking of other people, and interesting to revisit their homes to see what improvements they have made. Some homes are visited for the first time, for instance a house-warming party, and it is fun to return over the years and see the changes that are being made. Some people use the opportunity to get an idea of what they might want their future home to look like and can glean information on the plus and negative sides of certain types of construction.

One of the fun occasions is when someone has a “Ladies Luncheon.” It is at a function like this that the ladies can talk about hobbies, cooking, home decorating, children/grandchildren, discuss problems only addressed to another female, and experience new recipes made by their hostess.

We recently had one such luncheon at Kate’s home on the far Northeast end of the island near Savannah Bight. Kate and her husband have a sprawling concrete home with a guest house off to the side. They have recently finished their interior decorating and have done an excellent job in picking out colors, furnishings and plants for their home. They have been in their house for more than a decade and recently upgraded their living area with new furniture and finally were able to finish the lovely free standing cooking area.

The day was windy with some rain, but really quite nice considering the sun was behind the clouds and kept us cool. Plus, with the breeze, the bugs were at a minimum! There were 13 people present and Kate has a porch large enough to accommodate a crowd. Here home is quite open and comfortable. Kate is Dutch and her husband Canadian and it is always interesting to see and sample the different tastes of other countries represented on the island.

We had a wonderful time sampling the various appetizers she had set out along with drinks. Lunch was a simple affair but quite interesting. She had a pork soup/stew, warm cornbread (and she makes wonderful cornbread) a beautiful tomato/cucumber/bean salad and a coleslaw and lemon cake and cookies for desert. The small touches make an event and she had plenty of that in her decorating, service and, hey, she even managed to decorate the butter in the butter dish! There was enough food for all and very satisfying!

Thank you Kate for the lovely time, the great food, friendly conversation and for sharing your beautiful home with us,. It made for a wonderful break in the week!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wait! Another Photo

Well, my Blog went to press and immediately thereafter I received this photo of Mr. and Mrs. O'Driscoll and their dinner guests, President and Mrs. Carter.

Just wanted to share it with the group.

Busy Week!

This week was a busy “social” week on Guanaja.

Monday, April 26th, we gave a surprise birthday party for Geri Berner at Manati. Her friends gathered to celebrate her 65th year with a barbeque. Various dishes were provided by those attending and the weather cooperated by being clear but windless. Geri was “properly” surprise but we think she had an inkling that something was up before she arrived. We sang her the Happy Birthday song and spent a leisurely day visiting and extending our wishes for many happy healthy years ahead. Happy Birthday again Geri!

A visitor arrived on Guanaja last Friday (the 23rd of April); former President Jimmy Carter and his lovely wife, Rosalynn came to the island to spend the week bone fishing. President Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. While his term in office is not recognized as his shinning hour, he is, perhaps, best known for his humanitarian work after he left the oval office. Indeed, after he left office he did much to advance human rights and traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections (which he had just accomplished shortly before coming to Guanaja by being in Sudan during their recent elections). He was the key figure for the Habitat for Humanity project and established The Carter Center in Atlanta which has done major work in the eradication of several diseases. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and is unique in that of the 4 Presidents who have been awarded this honor, he is the only man to receive it after leaving the office of the Presidency and one of only two native Georgians to receive a Nobel award.

But to get back to our week. President Carter spent a week on the island bone fishing and enjoying the fine weather. He attended a lunch with a group from Wilmont Bay, took some more time out to enjoy a lunch on Friday at our favorite restaurant, Manati, and then attended a dinner prepared for him by Mr. and Mrs. Bill O’Driscoll.

His visit, of course, caused excitement and the visit to Manati was a thrill for Hansito, Annette and Claus. The President, his wife and guests and all the Secret Service agents assigned to him along with the Honduran Navy appeared for a noon-day German meal. The President seemed to have boundless energy and barely sat down except to eat. They made quite a sight when departing in as many as 5 boats.

The President departed from the island on Saturday, May 1st, which was 29th wedding anniversary for me and my husband. We celebrated at Manati where Claus and Annette prepared had a lovely dinner of steak filet, bake potatoes and salad.

As to other visitors in April; Ann and Jim Mather from Vermont joined our group for a 10 day visit and we had a wonderful time visiting with them. They hope to return, buy land here, build a house and settle into island life.

Martha and Bill Pullum were here in March and again in April when they brought with them family members and a newly wed couple to spend their honeymoon on Clark Cay. During their stay they met with Jeff and Cindy who had been on Clark Cay for some time taking in the sun and enjoying the waters off of Clark Cay. Jeff is a kite surfer who was teaching Bob the sport. The last of the guests departed from Clark Cay and were replaced by friends of Bob and Bonnie from Austin, Texas- Stephanie and Bracy. Stephanie and Bracy will be here until May 10th.

Mr. and Mrs. Conlee and Mr. and Mrs. Smith returned to Half Moon Cay and we look forward to visiting with them soon.

Also, during March, Cathy Springer unfortunately turned her ankle when she stepped into an unseen hole and tore some ligaments. She has been on the mend for about 4 weeks and I am happy to report that she is much improved and is walking without the aid of a special cast she used when she went to La Ceiba last week.

German guests continued to arrive to spend time with Hansito (owner of Manati) and Anke and Berndt. We had many Germany visitors on several sail boats during March/April and I think they really enjoyed the fact that we have a large German community here.

Inge, a good friend of Uli‘s, returned to spend 3 weeks at Casa Tahiti. Inge left on the 28th but we hope to see her return in July.

Hanspico’s daughter, Jasmine, who has been here since December, is scheduled to return to Germany Saturday, May 8th. Her sister, Selayna, along with her boyfriend, Markus, had also been on the island for a couple of months and had left in March to return to Germany. And speaking of traveling Germans, Renate Glanegger left Guanaja for her annual spring visit with her family in Germany. We will all miss her and anxiously await her return.

So, even though we had many new people and returning visitors, all of who have departed, we anxiously await the return of our “summer” residents to spice up our days! Because of the approaching hurricane season, our sailboat visitors will be leaving the area and hopefully some of them will return by the end of November. We have enjoyed their company on Saturday at Manati this past year.

It is great to live somewhere which provides us with the ability to meet people from many different countries, professions and various ages. This exposure has provided me with a fountain of knowledge and a better understanding of how others think and live. Plus it sure adds new conversation to our Saturday gatherings!