Life in La Ceiba

Enough with the Panama talk, lets get down and dirty about our regular every day life here in La Ceiba, Honduras.

I was going to write a darker piece telling of the dangers, the health issues and so on, but that is just not my style. In a nutshell, life is life no matter where you are. We get up, eat breakfast, check online communications, do chores, work on volunteer stuff (for Jim it is making calls and doing reports on the computer, and for me it is preparing for activities with the boys at the orphanage), and have lunch. Okay, we may play a game or two as well. Then we go do volunteer work (right now it is mostly all at Casa Del Nino for both of us) and run errands. We also have to buy food frequently because 1) we buy all our veggies and fruit fresh from the street market and 2) our fridge is tiny so there is not enough room to keep extra food. Then we make and eat dinner. In the evenings we do a number of different things such as play on the computer (right now Jim is addicted to the Pirates game on Facebook, and I play the WordPath game some), work on the blog, more volunteer work, or watch TV shows or movies that we have downloaded. If we are lucky we have plans with friends for the evening, either for dinner out, a movie (the ticket now knows us and recommends the movie for us), or drinks out most likely at Expats. And sometimes we do stuff with our neighbors, like make dinner together or do something with their extended family. Most weekends it is usually the same kind of stuff, but sometimes we go away to visit more of Honduras.

So, although the blog posts make it seem like party party and tropical wonderlands…it is not that all the time. And we do all this stuff in extreme heat and humidity…which feels like twice the work. I am not saying we are super dooper busy or our life is hard…it is far from it. I am just saying we are really living a normal life, but in a developing tropical country on the Caribbean Sea.

And here is our apartment, simple, but bigger than we had planned! It is still cheap compared to California but costs more per month than most of the people in this country make. The best part is it came with a landlord that is the best ever!

Please Click Photo Below to view Apartment Photo Album:

Our Humble Hondo Apartamento

Now…let’s talk about some of the more fun things that happen in our regular daily life! Like Semana Santa, Saint’s week to the people of Central America, Easter week to you and me. The difference is that most people get most of the week before Easter off, not just the kids in school! Also, starting the Sunday before Easter, there are religious events in the center of town, and not sure why, big concerts and parties in Zona Viva (basically the night life part of town) every night. It is also the official start to summer in this part of the world, and the weather proves it!

We did not participate in Semana Santa activities every day, but I will share with you what we did do! On the Tuesday before Easter, we went to Pico Bonito National Park right outside of town with the boys from the orphanage for a day at the river. It was a great day, not too hot, but hot enough for you to want to get into the water. The kids went in quickly and some of the staff and most of the volunteers followed suit. The kids had a blast…it was wonderful watching them just be kids and enjoy themselves so much. Jim and I were very worried when the older boys started to jump off high rocks in what was about 4.5 – 5 feet of water, but the staff did not mind so we tried not to worry anymore. A little side bar here, I really think that Americans are way over the top paranoid about anything from letting their kids do stuff like jumping off high rocks into the water to not eating leftovers properly stored in the fridge. It is nice sometimes to be around people a bit more free from the limits we give ourselves.

The staff had packed a huge lunch for everyone, a rice dish mixed with meats and a teeny tiny bit of veggies, very tasty! After lunch the boys swam and played some more. A good day and a good start to our Semana Santa festivities!

Click on Photo Below for the River Day Photo Album:

Semana Santa River Day with the Boys – Easter 2009

Then Wednesday night we headed out to the Zona Viva to see some of the nighttime Semana Santa action going on! We got a nice filling dinner first and then met up with Audrey to check out the music scene. We went to the Salva Vida Party area, and mind you I tried to crash the parties, but they all were open to everyone! What a concept, let’s not leave anyone out! If you are not sure, Salva Vida is the most consumed beer in Honduras. There are 4 major brands of beer here in Honduras all made by the same company. I like it because the name means, “Life Saver!” Ha! Anyway, the Salva Vida party was not a free one, but we went for it anyway. They asked for a whopping 20 lempiras, uh, that is around $1.00! The best part was they also handed you a beer for that price…entry and a beer for a dollar…and no high falutin V.I.P. areas. I just might give up my party crashing habits! Uh…nah!

Salva Vida was advertised everywhere, on the tents, on the tables, the chairs, the fridges, the stage, and even the bathrooms I think! Hey for that price, they could have tattooed my forehead if they wanted! We hung out and chatted until the concert started. It was a popular Honduran band, but I can not recall the name. They played some original music, but it was not typical Latin music that we are used to. They were a rock band, I would say more a pop rock band, and they were very entertaining. We got silly and moved right up close to the stage, with around 15 teenagers. Although it was a popular band, most of the crowd (over a thousand) stood and sat so far away! I may give up crashing, but I ain’t giving up dancing!

After a bit, Jerome, Audrey’s husband, joined us and we all decided to check out the rest of the goings on in Zona Viva. All along the road hippies from Brazil to Canada were selling their wares, mostly hand made jewelry and hand drawn fake tattoos. After we had a look-see we headed for the Heineken and Red Bull DJ techno music party! It was right on the beach and it was techno alright! It was great to hear it because you just do not get techno music much down here. Audrey and I danced and danced and danced and then Jim bought us light up red devil horns and then we danced some more. It felt so good to just dance and be free especially on the beach. We were so hot and I finally figured out why Audrey kept on dancing very close in front of the speakers. When I went to talk to her, the pounding of the music was creating little waves and puffs of air. It was like a sound fan! After dancing myself to exhaustion we left, but the parties were still going and so was Audrey!

Thursday our Semana Santa celebration was very low key. We went to the feet washing mass at the main Catholic Church in town. I was not sure what was going to happen, but I was sure to get my $5.00 pedicure earlier that day. I did not want anyone to have to wash my skanky dirty and in need of polish feet! You see it is hard to keep your feet clean all the time if you are wearing flip-flops and walk in the dirt, gravel and dusty roads every day! Well, to my disappointment the priest only washed the feet of the people in the front row of the mass. But the entertainment value of going to church in Honduras was worth the longer than usual mass. You see, the Priest did not just talk loudly for all to hear him, he yelled as if he was trying to scare the devil out of each and every one of us. Jim said they had the amplifier turned up to 11. I did not feel like I was at a Catholic mass, it was more like being at a religious revival under a big tent with healing and speaking in tongues. Okay there was no healing and speaking in tongues going on, but he sounded like the many evangelical preachers that have built up their own churches here. Sometimes I can hear them from down the street because they do like their PA systems and they like them loud! Anyway that was the only Semana Santa activity we did for that day, a loud sermon in Spanish and some prayers! Hope God could hear me over all that yelling!

Friday we were off for our neighbors Family’s Semana Santa party at their rural property on the edge of town. Gerald and Ramina just bought this property and it is nice. It has an old house that needs work with this giant size pool that needs even more work. But since the work on the pool would not be ready in time for Semana Santa, Gerald decided that he wanted a pool now and bought a 5 foot out of the ground pool that he put in the deep end of the giant pool! Ha…very Honduran! The property is covered with great old large trees and lots of grass, very much like a well manicured tropical park. They had also trucked in sand to make a “beach” play area complete with large shade tents, hammocks and a blow up slide. There was a volleyball net and a small ATV for people to play on as well, a beautiful spot. He plans to make a business out of it for events and such. We went around 2pm and hung out all afternoon and into the night with many of Ramina’s family and some of their close friends. Goodness, I did not know you could have so much fun without alcohol! And I am sure all the parents just loved me because after dinner, which was also around 8pm, I pulled out the little Easter bags I had made for all the kids! Even a barely walking toddler got to eat her candy! We left the hyped up sugar eaters not too long after that! Ha!

Although we forgot to take pictures that day, below are a couple of photos of Gerald installing the new loud speaker system on his truck. You are not Honduran if you do not have this obnoxious loud speaker system playing all types of music loudly all day long! Gerald is very light skinned with light brown hair and looks like a Gringo, which many of his friends call him. When we saw him installing the sound system I said, “Now I know you really are Honduran!” He laughed! He and his family are such great, giving, nice people.

From Gerald's Speaker System
From Gerald's Speaker System

For the day before Easter activities, in the afternoon we donned our bathing suits and headed to the nicest hotel in La Ceiba to crash their pool deck. To our surprise, once we stepped on the pool deck we saw…wait it was like coming home. We saw…our first Honduran and probably only…yes people…this is the truth…gnomes! And not only one but, two all white gnomes holding a tan fish each! I think the many Hondurans enjoying their Semana Santa vacation at the beach thought us two Gringos just crazy for taking the photos we took. Even though we were obviously noticeable with the gnome picture taking, it was a very overly crowded scene, so it was easy to blend in and we were not the only Gringos. I was happy that I got to crash something! There were no lounge chairs so we bellied up to the pool bar and hung out there. Had a tropical cocktail and some ceviche, not as good as mine, but good enough! We hung out and watched all the activity, especially the kids jumping off this little wet slippery cement bridge into 3 feet of water. No one stopped them, and again Jim and I were worried they were going to crack their heads open. No heads were cracked, no necks were broken, no blood was shed and there was not even a single tear dropped. They were just kids having fun without worried parents telling them “No!” every five minutes. After awhile we got in the not so cold pool and met some military guys on vacation from the small American Base south of La Ceiba. After awhile they moved on, the sun was setting and we needed to move on as well. We took off down into Zona Viva where we got some baleadas to eat and a tattoo. Okay, I got a fake sea turtle tattoo to cover the hideous and large staph infection scar right dab in the middle of the front of my right calf. I think I got more stares at my leg from the black tattoo then I did from the scar. I think I have now decided that is NOT where I will get my real tattoo.

Click Photo Below for the Pool Day Photo Album:

Semana Santa – Day Before Easter – 2009

We ended Semana Santa and Easter Sunday with a Sundae! After having a most relaxing do-nothing day, we decide to share a giant dessert for Easter Sunday dinner! We had seen this awesome looking ice cream deal at the Pizza Hut, and finally just had to have it. It was worth it! Get this, the outside of the large cup/bowl was dunked in hot fudge and then rolled in nuts with the ice cream, whipped cream and more fudge on the inside!! Crazy, eh?

From Easter Sundae
From Easter Sundae

After Semana Santa we had a quiet week, ending with the making of what now is Jim’s famous cheese cake. We made it at Audrey and Jerome’s, since the cake was for Audrey’s birthday. Although some of the ingredients are still secret, we did a photo shoot of the making of Jim’s Hondo Cheese Cake!

Click the Photo below for Hondo Cheese Cake Photo Album:

Hondo-Cheesecake Making! April 2009

And let’s not forget Audrey’s birthday, a night out at Expats Bar and Grill with the best birthday cake ever…the Cheese Cake which Audrey topped off with fresh strawberries! We all had a nice dinner and cheese cake which was followed up with the not-so-traditional game of darts! Audrey and Dawn rule!

Click the Photos Below for Audrey’s Birthday Photo Album!

Audrey's Birthday!
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~ by HenderBalz on May 11, 2009.

One Response to “Life in La Ceiba”

  1. I don’t have time to read it all, but Gualala looks fabulous. And I wonder how to pronounce it? Is it sort of like wa la la or gwa la la and where is the accent. Second syllable? This sort of thing may keep me from sleeping!

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