Friday, January 21, 2011

Yoga Come to Guanaja!

One aspect of my "former" life in the U.S. is that I had a weekly regime of exercise. With no gyms here, no easy paths to walk or run and no organized exercise programs, I missed this aspect of my life of weekly attendance at a gym to exercise and keep fit.

Finally, a German woman, Anke, who lives on the island 6 months out of the year and who has been practicing Yoga for over 5 years recently went to Thailand to complete an intensive course in Ashtanga Yoga. She completed a 200 hour Yoga Alliance approved teacher training program with Paul Dallaghan at Yoga Thailand ( After completing her course in Thailand she is now qualified to teach Yoga. While she practices Ashtanga Yoga she has planned the class around lessons which are a modified version of Ashtanga, more of a Hatha Flow Yoga which focus on the connection of breath and movement.

Yoga, to me, is almost an art form as the movements of Yoga are slow and smooth, flowing from within in a graceful manner. It is quite lovely to watch someone do their daily Yoga routine and although there are a lot of things I know that, at my age, I will never master, overall I am sure that I will improve my overall health and flexibility by practicing the movements.

Yoga is a system of active striving, mental discipline, and dutiful action. Yoga also introduces the conception of God but this conception is not necessarily a predominant feature in our yoga exercises. The term “Yoga” has many meanings and is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj” meaning “to control,” “to yoke” or “to unite”. Translations including “joining, uniting, union, conjunction and/or means.” It is also possible that the word Yoga derives from “yujir” Samadhi”, which means “contemplation” or “absorption.”

I have read some about Yoga and the practice which had its beginnings in India and is closely tied to Buddhism. There are many types of Yoga and many levels. What I was mainly concerned with was methods employed by those teaching Yoga in order to achieve relaxation, flexibility, strength and calmness. I wanted to concentrate on these areas for my physical body and to reach a degree of relaxation and calmness in my mind. I am not into humming or meditating. My mind is constantly active and to still it and concentrate on one thing in order to relax and calm my inner core will be a challenge.

Anyone that knows me knows I am not one who sits still for very long and am constantly jumping from one project to another, keeping busy throughout the day. I must confess that I will be doing two or three things at a time all the while thinking of something else to move on to. I had a good deal of stress in my job while living in the States before I came to Guanaja and even with the laid back attitude towards life here, I still have a modem of stress, mainly brought on by my own infliction of constant scheduling.

But, back to Yoga. Anke started with a small class of 6-7 people. We meet 3 times a week at her lovely hilltop home. I must say I did not expect to be able to relax as quickly as I did, but I have found that being in a situation where it is the core of the practice, I was able to relax after a few lessons, which was indeed an accomplishment for me.

The Islanders are curious about Yoga and Anke is in touch with some who are, as a matter of fact, quite interested in doing yoga. Hopefully, according to Anke, there may be an effort to put a group together to teach on the Cay. Other islanders, from reports I have heard, are hesitant as they have heard that Yoga is a religious practice and, according to some, it is circumspect as to whether or not they should be taking part in any such practice. While some Christians around the world attempt to integrate yoga and other aspects of Eastern Spirituality with Christian prayer, other organizations have expressed concerns and disapproval with respect to any practices that include yoga and meditation.

I personally do not feel that the practice of yoga and meditation have any adverse results in a person's way of thinking about their religious beliefs. Several years ago, the Vatican warned that concentration on the physical aspects of meditation “can degenerate into a cult of the body” and that equating bodily states with mysticism “could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations.” On one hand I can see where people dedicated to the exercise inspired by Yoga might begin to concentrate more and more on their body and, quite possibly, be distracted by it to the detriment of giving less attention to their religion…..but I really seriously doubt it. In my mind, if one pays attention to one’s body, takes care of it properly, is able to relax and clear their mind, then would it not follow that in this newer, relaxed state they would be happier and embrace all they feel is good as opposed to pursuing “immoral” practices? It is just as well that I’m not consulted when people take opposition to Yoga as I only see the benefits to it and that it just one more way to find peace within ones self. It is not, as I see it, a way to degrade a person's core beliefs and/or morals.

Of course, that being said, why one decides to practice Yoga is a personal decision. For me it is simply a way to accomplish a goal of mine - to live a healthier, stronger more peaceful life.

It will take me quite a while to accomplish the positions of Yoga but I am willing to learn and know that the benefits outweigh the challenge of achieving the various positions. I don't think I'll ever be able (at my age) to do the pose pictured above, but in class, thankfully, we are taught a "modified version" which is something within my realm!

The classes have been refreshing, relaxing and beneficial so far. I returned from the States just last month and caught a cold. With the exercise I was able to relieve my suffering quicker. My cold was gone in just a couple of days as opposed to one or two weeks. I truly believe that the deep breathing, the relaxing and the stretching to increase my body’s circulation cleaned out impurities and helped me.

I look forward to the classes and am happy that Guanaja has found another wonderful aspect of life available to the people that live here! My thanks to our teacher, Anke and what she is helping to attain.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A memory fades!

Just last week as we ventured to the Cay for our weekly shopping day, we discovered that one of the “watering” holes, FiFi Café a/k/a George’s Inn was locked. FiFi Café has been on the Cay sometime during World War II but the actual date is a little hazy.

The above are photos of the demolition of FiFi Café!

I had one photo of FiFi’s that doesn’t show much as you can see above, but then there was not much to see. The building was small, made up of two rooms divided by a partition. On one side you could buy beer or frescas (years ago we could buy baleadas which were cooked on the premises in a cubbyhole where a stove sat). On this side, there was a table for seating and a refrigerator which contained some of the cold drinks. On the other side of the partition were a few bench seats and booths and a couple of small tables. It was crowded and noisy in FiFi but after spending our time a few years ago at the Silver Dollar we had gravitated to FiFi for our weekly sit downs to trade information and/or gossip and news.

Now, we were informed, FiFi Café was closing, the building was getting too dangerous to occupy with rotting timbers and sagging floors. We have not heard just what plans Jack Haylock, the owner of the building has, but since Jack owns the Silver Dollar a/k/a Pirate's Den (where we have met for years), we are assuming that he will rebuild another bar on the location. Guess we’ll have to return to the Silver Dollar for our “International Symposiums” as one individual put it.

My husband searched through some of the old publications we once received prior to living in Guanaja. These publications enabled us to keep up with what was going on in the island before we finally made our move here. One such publication was “The Coconut Telegraph,” a Bay Island Magazine which was published in Coxen Hole on Roatan and came out about every two months, give or take a month. In October/November 1994 an article was published about “Guanaja’s George Haylock III.” It consisted of a lengthy interview with Mr. Haylock and his recollections of life on Guanaja from his childhood.

I found the article to be quite interesting and am going to reproduce parts of it here in my Blog for those who are interested in some prior history of Guanaja. I have only hit on some of the highlights, as the article was rather lengthy. I hope that people will enjoy reading about life on the island from its first days to 1994. I am unable to give credit to the reporter who wrote the article as his/her name did not appear anywhere in the article.

Here are the recollections from George Haylock III:

“If you’re looking for a little history or some legends about this interesting, off-beat place, follow Bonacca’s main walkway and stop by the FiFi Café. Order a cool drink and give a listen to George Haylock III.

‘My father was named George Haylock, Jr., my grandfather was named George Haylock, and my great-grandfather was named Robert Haylock. He was the first white settler on Guanaja.

Robert Haylock came to Guanaja from England in 1856, by way of Jamaica. He held in his hands a grant signed by Queen Victoria giving him title to land on the Mosquito Coast, part of the main island of Guanaja and two of its cays, which now form the main town of Bonacca. He owned the whole works, says George III.’

Robert took a mulatto woman for his wife and began raising hogs and cattle on the main island, but he couldn’t tolerate the sand flies so he built his home on one of the cays. He found that the sand flies bothered the hogs too, and moved them out to the other cay, which is how it got the name, “Hog Cay.” To get from his home to Hog Cay, Robert had to walk through water up to his shins so the other cay became known as “Sheen Cay.”

The name Haylock dates back to the 13th century. Their family motto, “Serva Jugum” means keep the yoke, and the falcon rising on their family crest signifies one who is eager in the pursuit of his objective. Generations of Haylocks from Robert to the present have lived up to their family name and have greatly influenced the growth and prosperity of Guanaja.

According to his son, George Haylock, Jr. was the most progressive of his brothers. ‘He was a dentist. He studied dentistry in Battle Creek, Michigan with Dr. Kellogg (the same as the cereal) in 1901. This is the original saloon, and my daddy had his dentist office right in here’ says George III, waving his cigar toward the other room [of FiFi Café]. In 1911 he [George Haylock, Jr.] won the mayor job here, he won the elections for four years, one right after the other.’

For nearly 60 years, residents collected rainwater or paddled over to Big Gulley to fill their hogsheads (barrels) with Guanaja’s sweet-tasting water. ‘In 1912, my father put the first water pipe here. My uncle Samuel Haylock … was the engineer.’

They built a dam in a creek and laid the first underwater pipeline to Bonacca. To accomplish this ambitious venture, they gathered together every dugout canoe on the island and even some from mainland Honduras. A section of galvanized pipe was placed in a canoe that was then pushed out just far enough to squeeze in another, and then the two boats were tied together head-to-stern. The next section of pipe was positioned in the new canoe and the two pipes were connected. By adding more and more boats, they eventually formed an unbroken chain that stretched from the main island to the settlement on the cays. Once all the pipes were joined, they lowered a red flag signaling the canoes to drop the pipe to the bottom of the sea.

Skeptics at the valve-opening ceremony refused to believe that water would travel under the bay and come out the other end without a pump, and they bet Samuel 50 pesos each that it wouldn’t work. Uncle Sam knew that the pressure from the dam, situated higher than Bonacca, would force the water through. He opened the valve and collected his bets.

George Haylock III was born in 1913 and in 1920 when he was seven years old, his father and his mother along with his younger brother left Guanaja for New Orleans…..George returned to the island in 1928.

Islanders found a seemingly insatiable market in the United States for plantains, bananas and coconuts. ‘A lot of people would sell their bananas, sell their coconuts, get a little money. We had coconut ships come in here. My father was agent for Hills Brothers. We had a big coconut house out here and one was down where there’s that fish house in the middle of the harbor [seemingly talking about what is now known as Alcatraz]. Coconuts went to the States direct from here by ship. We used to go aboard there when the ship’d come in, she’d tie up along the water house and they’d load her, taking a million coconuts out of this place. All the prominent people here had their sailing vessels runnin’ bananas, coconut, general cargo.’

George returned to New Orleans in 1933 and trained as a radio operator, returning to Guanaja to work for the government. Haylock was the highest paid person in Guanaja, earning 90 pesos a month, although he remembers that eight percent of his salary was deducted to pay for the stadium in Tegucigalpa.

Just before the war, Haylock opened a movie house and called it Teatro Venica. People were lined up to see the movies and he had to have two or three shows the same night. However, the rising cost of films and the increasing popularity of television [made] it too expensive to operate.

‘The war started, most of the young fellows went out merchant marine. I didn’t go ‘cause I had this old leg. I said to myself, if they all leave that gives me a good chance to make some money here. So I opened up this little saloon [presumably FiFi Café]. I found some tables my father had, some ice cream dishes, ice cream freezers, and an old iron chist, and I started a little ice cream business in here. …. That was way down in the 30’s, 36, 37, somewhere down there.

I sent some money up to the States, Tampa, and I got some beer, some flavorings for my ice cream, some evaporated milk, it was only $2.98 a case, and we opened with ice cream, a barber shop, a rum shop, we had Aguardiente [made from cane], we even had dynamite selling in here.’

The only way to get over to the north side of Guanaja was to go by boat around the east end or the west end, or you could walk it. Two narrow paths ran across the island, one not far from Bonacca and the other up at Savannah Bight. There was on-going construction on a canal which took many years.

George remembers the beginnings of Guanaja’s tourism business. ‘The first man up there by Posada del Sol, Dick Lundy was his name. He was the first one, came here and dug down the side of that hill and built the motel there, and had some houses up on side of that hill. He didn’t want to leave here, but his wife wanted to sell it. He died up there.’

In September of 1974, Hurricane Fifi wreaked havoc in the Bay islands. More than 20 inches of rain fell and wind speeds whipped over 100 miles an hour. Fifi damaged or destroyed most of the structures in Bonacca but the storm left George’s saloon standing, so he named it the FiFi Café. It’s a popular local hang-out and where you’ll likely find George Haylock III, although he’s confined to a wheelchair these days.”

So, this is the end of an era I guess one would say. I am sure there are many more stories on Bonacca to be told and, if one takes the time to seek them out they are probably going to be captivated for hours!

Here’s to FiFi Café and George Haylock III.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Fluke of Wonderful Weather

We have started off the New Year with amazingly wonderful weather. While this may not mean much to those who have not spent winters on Guanaja, we usually have several "Northers" pass through throughout the winter season and a lot of rain. I think I have commented on the extraordinary amount of rainfall here, especially during the winter months. One December following Hurricane Mitch we had well over 36" of rain in one day! Normally, a 7" rainfall in one day is not unusual.

While our temperatures have been on the cool side, which is more than welcomed to me as an individual whose thermostat is broke, the seas have been very calm and many days, at least on our end of the island, they were running from the southwest whereas they usually come in from the northeast. Sleeping has been heavenly. I generally use only a sheet all year, I now have a quilt on the bed and pull it up over me in the evenings!

The best part of this weather is that travel is much more comfortable. Most of the time, travel during the holidays is rough going. We traverse choppy waters, sometimes 3-5 foot seas or higher, rain and wind arriving at our destination soaking wet. Normally we take a change of clothes along to change into. Forget hairdos and make up, after the "sea bath" you are just glad to hit dry land and get out of the wet clothes.

Of course, transporting food is another challenge. I have learned never to take a two-layered cake, make sure any soup or gravy is low in the pan and well covered so it does not "slosh" out of the container. Iced cakes have to have some type of protection so the icing is not smeared all over, cold foods have to be carried in a ice chest and everything has to be packed well so as not to suffer the effects of a boat slamming up and down in the waves.

We recently attend a party this year to celebrate the birthday of Michael, Renate's oldest son. The seas were calm, the food I carried went in a covered container and thus was no problem. We arrived high and dry and, as they say, "lookin' good." We even took Buckey Boa with us to give to Annette and for my husband to show off to the guests. Buckey was the hit of the party and all in all quite a calm snake. (See my previous blog about Buckey.) I would post photos of the party but I cannot download my camera onto the new computer with out the aid of the electric/USB cord and, unfortunately, I have misplaced it!

We religiously watch the weather reports on the Internet and use NOAA and Wunderground for weather reports. At least it gives us some idea as to what we may expect but is not always totally accurate for this area. However, it is a good base and we can usually plan our weeks activities with some knowledge of what we will be facing on the sea.

This year we replaced the tube lights we had on the dock with a new set. We had the old ones for about 2 1/2 years and in spite of the fact that the tubing had begun to deteriorate, the lights still functioned albeit dim. My husband mounted the new lights on a board above the dock to guide us home when we go out at night and to warn others that there is a dock in the area. They operate, of course, on solar power and out of all the various lights we have tried either on our path or on the dock, these seemed to work the best and have lasted the longest. Many times in the past we have come home without the aid of moon or starlight and believe me when I tell you, our end of the "world" is very, very dark at night. We have missed our dock several times and have had to circle back and carefully feel our way trying to find it. We generally have a flashlight but sometimes, without warning, the batteries die. Another system we can use are our dogs. They always come bounding down to the dock to see who is approaching and with 3 of them barking it is far easier to find the dock.

Of course, with the absence of city lights lighting is more intense and wondrous here.

And traveling in the moonlight, well that is just a whole 'nother experience. Out on the open sea, away from the few lights of the island the moon bathes the water in a beautiful glow and no other lighting system is necessary. The small phosphorescent creatures in the water glimmer and shine beautifully as our boat glides on home. I can truly say that the sea on a moonlight night is one of Mother Nature's true beauties.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good, bad and beautiful

This year has started out with mixed actions.

The bad: First, our boat engine was giving us trouble causing us to miss a wonderful New Years Day party at George and Ginger's place. My husband, after several attempts, finally managed to fix it yesterday and so we are back to being a 2-boat family.

The weather turned bad over the New Years celebration in that the wind picked up and the seas were rough for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Today, in spite of the fact that we could use the rain, it only rained slightly in the morning and now it is overcast and gray. Temperatures have fallen and it was rather chilly this morning when we arose. So much so that we had oatmeal and hot cocoa and I actually put socks on!

The beautiful: I made a cute pair of booties for the expected German baby and my husband found a baby Boa on our dock sunning itself.

The good: If you go to you can see the photos of the snake and some nice shots of a Blue Heron.

The snake came along just in time as Annette had expressed a desire to have a Boa for a Christmas present (and not the feather kind). She wants one to put on her property to keep the mice and rats under control. She squealed with delight when I called her yesterday to tell her we had her Christmas present in hand!

The snake is young and only about 2 feet long but has beautiful coloring and I hope that he/she can survive long enough to grow into a sizable sized snake. Of course the islanders here are afraid of any snake and usually take a machete to it and ask questions later.

The beautiful and the bad: I encountered problems with a new crochet pattern and after two days' work on a lacy vest, I had to pull out all my work and will have to start over! The upside: I now know the pitfalls of the pattern, where the mistakes were made and, hopefully, it should go more smoothly. The pattern is quite attractive and this is why I am determined to complete it.

The bad: A dear friend of mine in Florida has been suffering with walking pneumonia for almost two weeks. She began medication about 6 days ago but has not improved sufficiently, at least in my opinion. I wrote her and told her to return to the doctor and try and get some Cipro. This was a wonder medicine for me when I had bronchitis and should put her back into good health quickly. I miss her sunshine messages, her humor and her sparkle. I just hope she can receive stronger medication and return to a healthier state! I guess the advantage of living here is that if we need a certain medicine we don't have to wait for a doctor to check us out (at a hefty price). We can get the medicine on the Cay at the Clinic or call the wonderful pharmacy on the Mainland and the requested items will be flown over post haste. I know, you will say that self-diagnosis can be dangerous and I agree. But, when one is sick to the point of nothing helping and we know of a medication that will help, we don't have to wait on a doctor or tests. Just so you will not think we misuse medications, we research the Internet thoroughly before using any new medication. With the limited assistance we have here, the Internet, in this regard, is a God send.

One more thing. I did manage to make two new dishes yesterday; one with leftover turkey (Mushroom Turkey Tetrazzini) and a great vegetable accompaniment, Green beans in Yellow Pepper Butter with ground pine nuts. Both were wonderful dishes and something I can add to my recipes. So the New Year has its good points!

Now we just have to train CocoNut not to jump the gate on the porch and to come when she is called - the challenge for the first part of this year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year Once Again!

It's 2011 and in spite of the beautiful sunshine and balmy temperatures we did not have a perfect day!

First, the good things so far about this new year. One, our two lime trees are pumping out limes until we no longer have anyone left to give them to! I have frozen lime juice, used it in drinks, made pies, use the juice as an accent to food, given them away and they are still coming. We did notice that once some of the smaller ones fell off the tree (they were growing in clumps of 3) the remaining limes were able to take up more nutrients and became considerably larger!

We have also managed to stay pretty healthy over the past year and hope that 2011 will grant us the same good health this year.

Next, the weather at the end of the year and today has been perfect. Wellllll, the seas are a little rough and there is quite a wind blowing but the rain has not been coming in torrents - yet.

We had planned to attend a Black-Eyed Pea lunch with George & Ginger of Clearwater Paradise Resort today. I made some sausage-cheese balls this morning to take as an appetizer and we were looking forward to a visit with people on the "other side" that we don't see often.

We headed for the boat with our cameras and standard German Shopping Carrier* in hand, loaded everything up, started up the boat, untied the lines and were off. Well, we were off for about 3 1/2 minutes. Suddenly the engine started sputtering and coughing and not acting right. Since the seas were rather rough we decided that it would be best to head back to the house and take the bigger boat so as not to get caught out in the open sea with no way to propel the boat.

We returned, tied up the skiff, transferred everything to the big boat, cast off lines and then checked the gas level. We did not have enough gas to get us to the other side of the island. Our big boat has been out of commission for about 1 1/2 months as we have had problems with the tilt trim motor. Finally, the other day, my husband was able to cobble together a set-up for the switch that evidently had gone bad and we could now get the engine up and down. So, the boat has sat dockside and we have not kept the tank "topped off." Because of the holiday I doubted very much that any of the 3 stations were open but we headed to town on the off chance that someone would be open. My assumptions proved correct - no gas for sale on New Year's Day. We returned home and I tried to call our hosts on their two separate phones and was sent to "message" and I also tried to call a friend I knew who would be at the luck there either.

We unpacked, I stuck the appetizer in the freezer and proceeded to make own Black Eyed Pea dinner. I called our hosts once again, about 1 hour later and finally got through. It seems they had been trying to reach us because they were worried when we didn't show up. The phones on the island have a peculiar habit of doing whatever they feel like. Many times I'll be talking to someone and my phone suddenly and inexplicably decides that I have talked long enough and I am disconnected. I had no "missed calls" on my phone and no announcement that anyone had called me. Our host offered to come and pick us up but the seas were rough on our side and the distance was too far and I unhappily declined his most generous offer.

I guess the bright side of this episode is that our engine did not act up when we were returning home last night from a New Year's Eve party late at night, in the dark, on rough seas!

In order to make good of a bad thing, I did manage to hit some on-line sales for baby yarn as I am now crocheting baby things for Judith in Germany who is expecting the end of July this year. I have already made a Teddy Bear and a Bib with a cute fish button closure. I want to make a baby blanket, booties, wash cloths, a towel, etc. to send off before the baby arrives.

So, while we were unable to visit with some of our friends on the first day of 2011, especially since this is 1/1/11, a special occurrence date wise, our dogs/cats/birds are happy we are at home and I had time to surf the web for sales! Because I had free time today, I also decided this was a good time to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers a very happy and successful 2011 topped off with a dollop of good health.

The Best of 2011 to Everyone!

*I bought one of these carriers in 2009 on my first trip to Germany and loved it so much that when I returned in 2010 I purchased another one. It is quite sturdy and a really handy thing to have when grocery shopping on the Cay.