Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in Portlandia

I arrived home the day after originally planned, due to a delayed flight or 2, spent a night in a hotel in Houston and landed just in time for mom and I to swing by the store and head home to meet the family for Christmas.

The Hilton Christmas Tree

When we stopped in Fred Meyer on the way home, it literally took my breath away the moment the doors opened and the flurry of American 'civilization' came blasting out.  The produce department was unbelievable.  The cheese counter had more varieties and blocks of cheese than all of Roatan's stores combined.  The wine selection went on and on and on, shelf after shelf after shelf.  I was in complete shock I hadn't anticipated so early on.  My mental state was on sensory overload.  Too many people and shoppers and options for my little island mind to process.  I wasn't ready for this at all.

I was happy that our only destination for the day was home, to stay inside and be with our family.  Grandma and Grandpa drove over the mountain from Central Oregon, Dad & Barb drove up from Salem and Josh flew up from his new place in Santa Barbara.  We had an excellent time cooking, eating, drinking and sharing our presents and laughs.  I'm so happy, and blessed, that our family has decided to combine as one, and celebrate the holiday all together, instead of separate.  It's really been a blast, this is the 3rd year we've combined the parents.

Grandma and Josh

Mom n Josh

Dad, Barb, Me, Josh

Since Christmas, I've spent all of my time with loved ones, dining and drinking mostly.  It's a social activity most people do when they want to meet someone or sit down and catch up.  So that's what I'm doing while I'm here; eating/drinking my way through Portland.  It's a real treat, there are no micrbrews on the island; and limited options for food, both dining out and in.

McMenamins Reunion

Shanyn and Dustin prepared a turkey (because I complained I missed out on Thanksgiving) and all the fixins for a get together with almost all of my girlfriends and their significants.  We had a blast, chatting, singing, laughing, eating and drinking.  I never tire of this great group of people.  We are a rich, fortunate bunch.

The Loveliest Ladies

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December in the Tropics

I can't believe it's already December!  This excited me for a number of reasons.  In exactly one week, I will be flying home to visit friends and family for a couple of weeks.  I feel very fortunate to be able to stay that long, it's a bit of a strange concept that I have the ability to leave 'home' and stay more than a week without losing vacation time or have to rush back to work!  I'll be working while I'm home of course, just in a slightly chillier office...

I'm also house sitting/cat sitting this last week before I leave, which never would have thrilled me back home, like it does here.  You see, the house I'm staying in is an actual HOUSE, with amenities like Living room furniture, TV, Oven, Washer & Dryer and air conditioning.  You know, that sort of thing ;)  Although I've already begun to realize I've outgrown my little apartment, this should pretty much solidify that realization.  After the new year, I plan to start looking for something a little more 'homey'.

This last week, I got to do some pretty neat things.  On Monday, I met up with 2 brothers, John and Ted, who I actually met here last time I came to visit.  They are from DC, and are visiting for the week.  It was fun to be able to reunite, and catch up.  The 2 of them, myself and my friend Dane rented dunebuggys for the afternoon and went on a mud-filled, puddle stompin, beach racing, sheep hearding helluva good time! We got to see a lot of the island, from mountain tops to little villages, some jungle and some sand.  We had a blast and can't wait to do it again!!

On Friday, Alex and I FINALLY got to dive together.  Our schedules are a bit opposite, so it's difficult to coordinate all of this at times.  As is anything on the island, tricky to plan too far in advance.  We were both really excited to learn that they had scheduled a dive to the wreck on the reef, El Aguila.  You can learn more about the ship here El Aguila is a 200 foot long cargo ship that sunk in 1997.  At the time, is stood nearly on end in the 110 feet of water.  In 1998, during Hurricane Mitch, the boat settling further to the bottom. 

So this was our dive, descending 110 feet to explore the ship.  The feeling of descending 110 feet is really cool.  Unless you are watching the earth (or shipwreck) down below, it's difficult to get a feel for how quickly you are falling.  It's kinda cool, and kinda strange at the same time.  Most of the time, you aren't falling that fast, but it feels like it!  It's important that everyone descend together, as the deeper you dive, the faster your oxygen consumption.  A deep dive such as this doesn't last nearly as long as a typical 40'-60' dive would.  Each diver begins every dive with 3000 psi in their tank.  However, this does not mean that each diver will consume at the same rate.  When I got on the boat, I had around 500 psi remaining.  Alex had 1400.  There are a lot of factors that play into your air consumption, specifically your breathing pattern, and how active you are in the water.  The more you use your arms and legs, the more quicker your heart rate, and breathing, hence the faster consumprion of air.  It's one of those skills you refine the more you dive.  I've come a long way, but am still learning!

We had a great time playing with the giant 'Goliath' Groupers and little Arrow Crabs.  I missed the eel that lives under part of the ship, darn.  I'm ok with that, eel are probably my least favorite underwater creatures I think.  They're just so ugly and vicious looking!  Anyway, our dive was fantastic, we had a good time hanging in the back of the group, taking our time, and screwing around with the GoPro.  I will post the video as soon as I'm finished editing. 

I'm scared to go home to the cold, but cannot WAIT to see my family and friends, and my little Ray Ray.  Other things I'm looking forward to; christmas with all of the family, mom's birthday, spending time at the park with Ray, hanging out in downtown P town, good coffee, a few micro brews, the blazer game, dinner party with all my friends, a little beach getaway and... hair dye. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

As of late...

I haven't written much lately, I often take pics intended for the blog (specifically of my creative kitchen skills), and then never get around to posting them.

Aside from eternal picture taking, I've been working a lot, between the 2 jobs.  Sloooooooowwww internet connection makes work much more time consuming than it should be.  Hopefully this is not a permanent thing.  I try either dive or swim every day.  I don't always succeed, especially now that we are 2 hours ahead of my employers.  When I'm ready to be done for the day, they're just getting back from lunch!  It has its perks too though.  When I wake up at 9, most of them aren't in the office yet.

The weather right now is crazy.  Lots of rain, which brings some comfort.  Sometimes sun, which seems to appear about the time people have given in, and decided to weather the storm and go out anyway.  Ha ha!  I brought a lightweight rain coat with me, and am VERY glad I did.  I love it, it comes in handy this time of year.  No hurricanes have come even remotely close to us.  They say the rain stops about the first of the year.  I'm trying to appreicate it as much as I can, because it's going to be a loooonnnggg HOT summer.

Next week is Thanksgiving.  There are so many expats here, it's celebrated all over the island.  I have a couple of opportunities to spend the holiday with friends here and there.  I'm sure it will be a great time, wherever I end up!

Enough rambling.  Random pics, in perfectly random order!

The prettiest little girl

Kids from a local school came to CoCo View to perform traditional dancing

Loved watching them!

Darell (L) from Seattle and Marcos (R) from Honduras, looking for the owner of this T shirt they found at the bottom of the ocean on their morning dive. 

Same feeder, new guest.

This cute little guy was in my place the other night.  My neighbor probably thought I was crazy when she walked by and saw me crouched down, photgrpahing the wall next to my front door!

He is less than an inch long.  He was soooooo tiny!

I couldn't get anything next to him without scaring him away, to depict size, and explain just how tiny he was.  But this helps, wine cork board in the foreground.  Scared little gecko in the background.
This is Elwood.  He belongs to my neighbor, but prefers my rug for some reason.

Elwood can't be bothered by silly things, like moving when a door opens into him.

Yep!  It's true.  Toaster over cooking, at it's finest.  Not too shabby!

Storm rolling in today

I spent a little while trying to figure out what kind of milk this was.  Vanilla was my guess.  Until the cashier asked me if I liked Oatmeal.  Ok, so now it's Vanilla Oatmeal...??

By the time I got home, it had magically translated itself!  Orrrr, it's in English on the other side!
Alex, waiting for the rain shower to pass.

Currently, my 'desk'.  and my 'work attire', ha ha

Another friendly Gecko, eatin the bugs!

It never gets old

More tasty treats.  All of my fruit & veggies come off the produce truck in town.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

19 Lempiras = 1 Dollar

Lots of people ask if it's cheap to live in Honduras, and how much 'things cost'.

There is no simple way to answer that question, ESPECIALLY given the fact we are on an island, in a third world country.  Things on the island come with a price. You have to consider the fact that almost everything that is here, is imported by boat.It's always a surprise as to how much something is going to cost, due to the fact it's almost 100% import. 

There really is not much production here, aside from a few small vendors; the farm that grows vegetables and herbs supplies all the market's lettuce, the man who makes Rum called Pirate's Grog, the women who cook in their home kitchen and backyard ovens to sell to people on the street, Marble Hill farm who makes marmelades and jellies.  The other day, I bought home made honey in the store, that was bottled in a recycled Rum bottle.  I learned that way to tell if it's pure, and the slower the bubble rises when you hold it upside down, the better quality it is... Talk about buying local!  ha ha

So let's see here; 
5 gallon jug of water 35 lps or $1.20
1 pineapple 30 lps or $1.10
Decent pillow, set of (2)  500 lps or $25
Taxi to the grocery store 40 lps or $2
Bottle of  wine 160 lps or $8
Beer (Local) $2
Cocktail $3
Box of cereal, depends on brand 35-120 lps  or $1.25 - $7
4 Chicken breasts 200 LPS or $10
Pkg of sliced swiss 115 lps or $6
Internet 500 lps/month or $25
Cell phone seems to vary, depending on how often you make calls, which carrier you are calling to or recieving from, etc.  Calls to the states cost me about 4-5 cents/min
Scuba Dive + gear rental between average is around $30/dive with gear
Smoothie $  Yummmmmm  $  who cares!

Rent (1 bedroom basic kitchen & bathroom) $375, includes electricity which is big

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Shipping Address Update

Here's the address for shipping. 

Please make sure to include my phone # & email. 
I am not sure how the system works once the pkg arrives, either I go check with them to see if it's here, or hopefully they will call me.

The cost for me to pickup the package is $4/lb, which covers transport from FL to Roatan and taxes/customs.

(504) 9779-8045 (8 digit phone #)

RAS-600 Sarah Henke
1454 NW 78th ave
Doral, FL 33126

Sunday, October 28, 2012

'Helping people help themselves'

As you know, one of my jobs here on the island is working with a Canadian PR firm, who has established relationships for the purpose of marketing, here on the island with dive resorts.  I am currently responsible for the onsite, social media aspect of their agreement.

Hicaco Fruit, Palmetto Bay Plantation
I've been very fortunate to meet some wonderful people, and have had the opportunity to experience and learn about some really great things.

 Touring an old Plantation-turned-resort while learning about the local fruits, by picking them off the trees and tasting the fresh, fresh flavors or Ciruelas, Hicaco, Noni and Mango, to name a few. 

Spendid Flatworm, Tim Blanton

Scuba diving with an elite underwater photographer, Tim Blanton. who has worked with National Geographic and Discovery Channel. 

Photographing singer and performer Brion James (who I think I mentioned in a previous post), Watching TV commercial shoots, touring multi million dollar beach front condo developments.

Shooting the view of the ocean through the trees from one of the buildings at Grand Roatan Resort.

Most recently, we have partnered with a new development called Grand Roatan.  It was actually started by 2 brothers from Oregon, U of O alums.  Grand Roatan is a breathtakingly beautiful multi phase development on one of the best beaches on the island.  Located in the farthest end of West Bay, nestled among the existing landscape of Palms, Gumbalimba Trees and old coral beds.  There are a lot of really near features about the resort relating to their sustainable eco-friendly approach to the infastructure of the community.  Things such as solar power, recycled water run off, solid concrete buildings and insulation intended to work double duty during the hottest months.

But the neatest feature, by far, is the owner funding the project, Dave Dachner.  Dave has incorporated a way to help the local community and give back to the residents of Roatan, while building this new community, Grand Roatan.  In addition to a school that Dave has already had built on one of the neighboring islands, Hilene, the sale of each condo at GR will fund $10,000 towards the construction of a new home for a deserving native family of Roatan.  The land has already been purchased and cleared, and is currently being prepped for construction.  Families who are nominated and eligible for the opportunity will recieve a long term loan, through the Honduran Government, to fund the remainder of the house (an additional 10k) with a generous repayment plan over an extended period of time.
Dave Dachner explaining to the residents of the island what his next plan is, now that the school (in the background) is complete.

The children of St. Hilene Island, sharing their shells with Grand Roatan staff as gifts before they left.

I had the opportunity to attend an imprmptu press conference, and sat next to Dave as he explained his goal and his vision of the project.  In short, Dave has been very successful over the years in the oil exploration business.  His thoughts are that there is no sense in hanging onto the money to save, and keep in his pocket, when it could be doing its job elsewhere in the world.  So, he shares his good fortune in hopes of creating more opportunities and enhancing lives and community ties on this island, and others around the world.  He knows though, that no good deed goes unpunished, as they say, and that you cannot give away these fortunes for free, or the lesson and the lifeskill will not be taught.  You can only offer stepping stones for those people who want help.  And at the end of the day, all he is doing, is helping people help themselves.

I'm excited about the opportunity to watch this beautiful project unfold and enrich the lives of the hard working people here who deserve it.  It truly warms my heart and soul.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Getting there...

The cooking is improving... slowly.  I feel like I am in cooking rehab.  Like I once knew how to cook, but due to circumstances, I've been robbed of my culinary knowledge, and am starting from scratch again.

It's new pots & pans, news heat sources, limited utensils, etc.  I can tell you one thing, I am CERTAINLY missing my Chicago Cutlery set Dad & Barb gave me for Christimas this past year.  I loved that set, and wish every day it would come walking up the path to my house, knock on my door and say 'Sarah!!!  We missed you too!  We're here to reunite with you on this beautiful island of Roatan.  Let's get to work!!!'.  But, I do not think that will happen in the near future...

Tonight's entree, chicken tostada-y thingys.  Mmmm mmm, they were delicious!!!  One of the best meals I've had yet on the island.  There is some seriously great food here too!