Saturday, June 7, 2014

The World of Beauty

I recently received some photos of baby porcupines and thought they were so adoreable! I mean who could not resist these cute little critters?








It brought to mind the little creature I spied in Kunzelsau, Germany in 2012 while having drinks with friends at a local wine cellar.  There, crawling across the parking lot was a hedgehog.  I have never seen one live and this was quite something for me.  Evidentially the Germans adore these little creatures as you find carved images of them all over.


My friend picked up the little rascal and held it while I took a photo.  I guess this is like people seeing a hummingbird for the first time!

Another first for me that year was eating a Chestnut.  My friends and I attended a local fair and there we stumbled upon a stove where Chestnuts were roasting in the drawer of the unit.



Never having had a Chestnut we bought a bagful and I was delighted to find that they were a wonderful tasting, mild nut.


The thing I like about traveling - seeing the beauty of nature.  Germans love their gardens and I must admit that they tend them with what is evidentially a loving passion.  They have  limited space with which to use for gardening, but every tiny corner is utilized:



While in Switzerland I saw the most beautiful pine trees that went up for over 150 feet in the air.  There were wild flowers and all types of ground cover to investigate.  The varieties were unlimited and breathtaking in color.












My friends and I stumbled across some beautiful mushrooms and, because of their color, I was convinced that this was one of those that you should not eat.



Even while visiting friends in Berlin, I noted that rooftops are not immune to gardens.  Their entire rooftop was covered in various low growing plants and moss:



Speaking of flowers, I am very lucky.  When I have guests over for lunch, I just go out to the garden and collect a variety of lovely tropical flowers.






I have orchids, hibiscus, lobster claw, Ixoria, ginger, periwinkle, Queen's wreath, Heliconia, etc.  All of which make beautiful tropical arrangements with fern, ti or other various leaves. All of these arrangements would cost high dollars in the States but are mine for the taking.

The world is filled with beauty and wonder and we should revel in it daily!

Out-Dumbed!

One of my husband's favorite observations is "If you can't outsmart them, out-dumb them!"  All the world over this happens.  You think you have made your point and, in effect, outsmarted the other person.  Well, you are wrong.  They will out-dumb you every time and they manage to turn it into an art.

It goes from subtle things like getting your assignment across, setting a deadline they agree to and then it is not done.  Of course there are a million excuses for the lack of activity but, in fact, they have out dumbed you.  They have lead you to believe they understand your instructions, agree with them and will accomplish the outcome in a timely manner.  Not!

But there are other ways of out dumbing people.  Take the government of Honduras.  I have often said that the only way this country will pull itself up, make the lives of their people more productive and their country as well is to educate the people.  But the government knows that educated people are just that!  They are aware of what they deserve, what should be available to them, what improvements or changes should and can be made and they want more equality.

Out-dumb steps in.  The government here offers education.  Catchall: you must pay for all the books (of which there are few), you must buy ALL materials for the classroom, you must pay a fee at the beginning of the year (and I have no idea what this is for) and your children are required to learn whatever is taught them.  Teachers are not paid on time and have low salaries.  They sometimes go months without being paid  Anyone can teach.  If you have the equivalent of a High School Diploma (in spite of what your grades were), you can teach.  There are no instructions given as to how to set up study plans, how to present the material, in fact how to actually teach effectively. No supplies are given, even minimal, to encourage the students to enjoy school and want to study as the teachers haven't a clue as to how to go about this.

The ultimate out-dumbing is occurring right now on the island.  Evidently no one in the Department of Education is overseeing the distribution of lesson plans or materials to the schools, they simply send material on without review and tell the teacher you must teach this.  The 6 year olds attending the public school presently on Bonacca are victims of this out-dumbing.  Tegus has supplied material and a curriculum to teach to the 6-year old children, however, no one evidently bothered checked to see if this material was at their level.  The material currently being taught to the 6-year olds is material that the 14 year old students might have.  These children are told to go home and write a paragraph or two on the rights of women in Honduras.  Remember, these children don't even know how to write, much less spell and cannot print their alphabet yet.  They are told to write a paper on the top 3 tourist attraction areas in Honduras.  These for children too poor to travel and never having seen a book about tourism in Honduras.  Without the aid of a book, they are told to go home and draw a skeleton of the human bodies and point out the various parts and without any previous teaching!  They are telling children on an island with, basically, one season all year round, to draw pictures depicting the seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  This to a group of children who never leave the island nor see a change in season and have not, so far, had access to any books depicting these.  It gets much worse then this but I cannot recall all the over-the-head assignments given to the children.

This action is forcing Mothers to go to the Internet cafe to do research for their children in order to complete the daily assignments.  They are printing out volumes of material to meet these needs and at a cost that they cannot afford.  These are people who have little money to spare.  The children are depressed and crying; they don't want to go to school because they cannot understand what is being taught.  If you want your children to learn the alphabet in order to read, mothers must teach them at home.  The younger children go to school from Noon to 6:30 p.m. at night and now 6 days a week; 4 hours on Saturday.  So, spare time is in the late evening when they should be eating supper and going to bed, or receive help in the early hours of the morning when the mother must be getting everyone ready for the day and the older children off for the morning session of school.

Parents have complained to the teachers to no avail.  The teacher simply brushes it off with "this is what they must learn."  Evidently the teacher has no idea how to teach, what to teach and refuses to try and present material to the children at their level.  So, what is happening?  Due to the negligence and uncaring attitude in the school system, these children are being taught to hate learning while causing great financial problems to the parents plus forcing the children to produce assignments of which they have no comprehension.  One way to "un-educate" the masses for sure.  Out dumbed again.

Now, another example of out-dumbing.  There is a law on the books of this country that NO plastic items (bags or soft drink bottles, etc.) can be shipped to the islands.  In the past this was no problem as islanders went to the store with bags to carry their groceries in and bought some food items in glass containers.  Well, with the introduction of those polluting plastic bags and fresco bottles, plastic hit the island in mass.  Several years went by before the government passed the law and by then everyone was accustomed to using plastic.  Attempts were made a few years back, but not very strenuously, by the Municipal to tax plastic bottles to pay for their ultimate collection, compaction and return to the coast.  Plastic bags were banned but not very enthusiastically.  People were use to them and would not do without them so the government turned a blind eye to the matter.  The folks on the mainland passed a law but laid out no guidelines as how to enforce it!  They left that up to the people knowing full well that people would not concern themselves with this issue when just feeding and clothing your family was first and foremost.  The ordinary citizen had no way of "making" the government officials enforce their law and if the government was not worried, why should they?

Just yesterday this picture appeared on FaceBook:


Evidently the Municipal of Roatan is making a concerted effort to clean up their island knowing full well that getting rid of the garbage is of grave concern.  Mountains and mountains daily of trash build up and soon there will be more trash than space to put it!  So, their effort should be watched with great interest by those on Guanaja and Utila, even on the Mainland.  I would hope that the citizens would keep close tabs on the progress and whether the new "law" is working.  IF it does, and that is a big IF, then the same thing should happen on Guanaja.  However, this needs to be expand to plastic bottles as well.  You can go nowhere in the surrounding waters of the islands without seeing plastic soft drink bottles floating on the sea!  Let's all hope that this succeeds and that the other islands take up the banner!  

Maybe, just maybe we can outsmart them!

Monday, June 2, 2014

More Random Thoughts


I guess I’m totally removed from the world.  Heck, it’s “National Frozen Yogurt Month” and I can’t get yogurt here!  Yes, I know, my friends on the island say, “Make your own.”  But I barely have enough room in my refrigerator for all the necessities like chocolate, cheese, chocolate, wine, chicken!  

Then I look at the news and tell myself, “You live on an island, on foreign soil, so why do you worry about what goes on around the world, especially in politics, because you can’t do anything from here!”  I mean articles on “How to deal with on-the-road emergencies” and the fact that Justin Bieber said the “N” word, and which Hollywood star had her face/boobs lifted certainly are of no real interest to me.  Then, of course there is the world of war and politics of which I have no say for the most part.  Keeping up with politics on the island is of interest to me but, again, I have absolutely no say in what happens here.  I just want to stay on the straight and narrow, keep my nose clean so to speak, and enjoy the people that live here.  If I can help my community, I will.

As to World-Wide news; my friends say, read “alternative news”, listen to “alternative radio stations” instead of the local Fox, MSN, Newsum, CNET, etc. to get a more rounded opinion.  And I think, “Why”?  So what if I learn about all the bad things going on in the world or the things that I don’t quite agree with or get a slanted view?  By listening, just what can I do from here?  Voting is difficult at best when elections are held in the U.S. and then why would I vote in the local elections as I am not there to live with the consequences?  Yes, the Presidential election year is important because I can then vote for someone that I think will help my country and the world. So, I think of the Maxine saying: 


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I do read the news but don’t get upset with what is going on because it is the same thing year after year after year; just a repeat of the same problems.  So, I focus on what is going on where I actually live.  I focus on keeping in touch with people around me.  I focus on one day at a time.

Now I like keeping up with recent medical news so that I am aware of strides made to improve one’s health.  I like reading articles that take me back to yesteryear and reminiscing.  I have no interest in automobile advancements, reading articles on how I can survive retirement (hey, I’m there and have been for 17 years so I guess I have survived), and I have very little interest in 10 obscure facts about Norma Jeane (a/k/a Marilyn Monroe).

My focus - keeping informed with things that are relevant, enjoying life, helping others, keeping my house clean and my body exercised, reading, crocheting, sudoku, visiting, and planning my next vacation.  Shallow huh?  My center is my world and I think it is best if I concentrate on that since I do live on a remote island.  I try to keep in touch with family as best I can as I miss the connection I cannot get just with e-mails.  But, that is all I have so I keep writing them in order to know the things I’m missing out on!  So, I think of cute things to send to my Grandchildren, like:

 Fact:  In the future I'll tell my Grandson's that I am older than the internet.  It will blow their minds forever!


Everyone says “we are living the good life” and I think, the good life is what you make it and we have just as many problems, on a smaller scale, as people all over the world.  Think young, act young, be young, but remember “you are older than you will admit!  HA.


I'm not old, JUST have been young for a long time!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Adding a photo to my "Miscellaneous" post

I just noticed that the photo I copied of Cosmonaut Alex Gerst did not come through on my post so I am repeating the effort here after going through some "saving" techniques:


Just had to make sure everyone saw his gorgeous, happy face!

Miscellaneous

This is a blog with miscellaneous announcements and topics.  So, here goes.

First, Raphael Colontonio passed away in the U.S. about two weeks ago.  Raphael and his wife, Mary, lived in Mangrove Bight for approximately 15 years and had to move back to the States two years ago because of Raphaael's ill health.  Our condolences to Mary and his family.  Rafael and Mary were the only "gringos" living in downtown Mangrove Bight in a small house up on pilings.  Rafael was formerly a butcher and loved making sausages.  Mary was into quilting and sewing crafts.  Mike was not sure what Raphael meant when he said Mary and he lived in a "cat house in Mangrove Bight" He added to the mystery when he described their house as a veritable "pussy palace."  So, we visited them and found they had dozens of cats as pets and took in strays constantly!  One could always count on seeing Raphael on Bonacca Cay on shopping day, standing against the wall at Sikaffy's and greeting everyone with a smile and small conversation.  He will be missed.




Next, good news.  Our local tourist dive hotel, Clearwater Paradise Resort (a/k/a CPR) received two awards for the second time in a row.  The first was Trip Advisor's 2014 award for being one of the 10 hotels in Honduras for excellent customer service and the Trip Advisor Circle of Excellence Award.  Congratulations to Ginger and George.  I must also add that they have finished up apartment above the dive shop, added tank racks to their new 43' Wellcraft Portofino boat and the above-the-ground pool is complete with a deck, solar lights and lounges.




For those of you who want to see more of the boat or an update on CPR, please go to http://www.clearwaterparadise.com/.

Next, there was some excitement on the island about two weeks ago when the anti-drugas, dressed in masks and carrying m-16s, invaded Graham’s Place late in the day, unannounced. They made all the guests move outside while they held guns on everyone and then searched all the rooms and the grounds for several hours. They would not tell Graham who they were or what they were looking for and apparently did not have a warrant or would not show it. Graham found out the next morning who they were. Obviously, the guest were terrified.  They did not find any trace of drugs anywhere. There was a panga (name for a local boat) at Grahams that had not run for several months, they said it was probably used to carry drugs and they seized it.   Graham was totally upset by this intrusion and is in the process of getting a lawyer and filing a complaint.

We have some people arriving and leaving all the time on the island.  Soon several people will be leaving either for the summer, a couple months or 6 weeks.  We will miss them and look forward to their return.  On the other hand, we have people arriving in June and July and short periods and some in August or September.  We welcome Michael Glannegger back to Guanaja.  So even though we have departures, we have arrivals which keep us up-to-date with what's going on in the outside world and new conversation!

I recently had to go to San Pedro Sula to see a new internist.  My doctor had retired several years ago and the only doctor available to me at the time did not have a good grasp of English.  When talking about my heart, even though I can get buy in Spanish, I prefer my native tongue so that I will be totally aware of what is being discussed.  I have great praise for Hospital Cemesa and the new doctor, Dr. Jorge Martinez, who has an office in this complex.  I was impressed with the doctor's enthusiasm for his line of work, his thoroughness, his excellent English, and the fact that he is well-informed.  And, good news, he goes to La Ceiba twice a month so I won't have to make the long trip to San Pedro to see him.   He also told me that a new hospital is in the process of being built in back of the present building.  If you want to see an architectural rending of the building you can go to: http://www.hcemesa.com/?lang=en.   

Dr. Martinez also informed me that they presently have the capability to install pace makers and/or defibrillators, along with other procedures and that they are making advancements all the time and updating their equipment and services.

A group of us are going to a new bar near Mangrove Bight this coming week to check it out.  Run by a man called "Bully" it is on the beach and between Mangrove Bight and Susan's place.

The most excitement, however, was the launching of the Soyuz rocket from Russia.  On board was a Russian cosmonaut Max Surayev and German Alexander Gerst and American, Reid Wiseman.  This took place on Wed., May 28th and we were able to watch it at Manati Bar and Restaurant that afternoon.  What was exciting was that the German cosmonaut, Alexander (Alex) Gerst is a childhood friend of Claus and Annette's son, Roland) and they (Claus and Annette) are good friends with his parents in K├╝nzelsau.  I had met Alex and his Dad at various times when they visited the island and, so, we have been watching his progress for quite some time while he underwent training for the position.  He speaks German, Russian (which he had to learn in 3 months!) and excellent English.  

The launch, flight and docking were all totally successful.  This is a photo of Alex inside the ISS.




So, congratulations to all the cosmonauts and their flawless journey so far.

Also, I read that the American cosmonaut had to pay $71,000,000.00 for his seat in the rocket.  When one considers the expense that is incurred just building a rocket in the U.S., launching it, training, etc., this is probably a bargain-basement price.

I was also happy to see how the three men got along together.  They had great camaraderie, seemed very happy and comfortable together and because of their common interest (science) they were able to, in some respects, avoid the politics of this endeavor.  We wish them much success.  Oh, Roland (Claus and Annette's son) now has permission to e-mail Alex in space!  All I can say is WOW!

And that's it for my update.