Friday, September 30, 2011



So, what is the pig-etiquette when meeting Mr. Pig along the open road-stead? As Jonesy and I took a walk through the rubber tree plantation nearby we were intercepted by this hog who came grunting and snorting out of the undergrowth. We stopped in our tracks, unsure of how to proceed.

Now, this isn't a wild pig, but is the future cash income from one of the villagers down the road. We know how to deal with wandering dogs, cats, iguanas, etc. But how do you deal with a hog on walkabout? Do you simply pass him? Nope. When we resumed walking, Mr. Pig faced us and grunted what we thought was perhaps an aggressive warning. After a minute of our pig versus humans stand-off, Mr. Pig turned towards the village down the road and trotted off.

Unfortunately, that was the same direction we were walking - going back to the marina and the boat. So we dropped our pace and followed him at a safe distance until he turned into a family compound and mingled among the barefoot children, skinny dogs, and chickens.

You know how I prefer Mr. Pig? Roasted in a deep pit which is exactly what happens here at the Marina several times a year. This last time was in celebration of Guatemala's Independence Day. Here are some of the staff wrapping up our pig in aluminum foil and banana leaves the night before we eat.

The fire in the pit has heated the tray of water to boiling (to eliminate flare ups due to dripping grease). After a final wrap of banana leaves, the future feast is lowered into the pit. The beast will be turned a couple of times over the night and will be ready by mid-day the next day.

Earlier in the day, my new young friend Gia and I made a visit to the pig while he was being prepared in the kitchen. Looks like the head isn't included in these pig roasts like they are in Hawaii for the luau pigs. Gia wondered where his head went. He was beheaded! But still a lovely pig don't you think?
Not only did we have this pig, but later during the roasting some chickens were added and some extra succulent ribs. The feast was incredible and the house was packed with piggies of the human kind. We were all successful omnivores and munched away on these meats, corn on the cob and coleslaw.

So, villagers please keep growing these creatures for us and we'll do our best not to disturb them while they forage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Zapoteca Sweater and Rum Punch Socks

We have a finished knitted object! After quite literally days of tedious work to carefully weave in all the little loose yarn tails from the 11 different colors, my Zapoteca sweater is officially done.

This warm sweater should fit a 2 or 3-year old at the orphanage in Kazakhstan. The diamond pattern is created by working 2 colors of yarn at the same time in most rows and stranding the unused color behind the stitches on the wrong side. This technique creates not only fun patterning, but also makes a thicker, and warmer sweater as air will be trapped between the fibers. I made the body and sleeves about 1 3/4" longer than recommended in size charts as the little ones in the orphanages tend to be thinner than American/European kids so the length to width ratio is different.

The yarns are Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and were leftovers from my Christmas Stocking knitting adventures last year. Again, I even had leftovers from my leftovers so I knit up a size 2 or 3 Wonderful Wallaby Hooded sweater. This is a really fun knit and is totally seamless! Oh, yes, I did have to weave in a lot of ends but after working on the Zapoteca sweater this was a piece of cake.

Of course there have been socks on the needles a lot lately too. The knitting group within the Motherless Child Foundation is hard at work churning out hundreds of pairs of socks for this winter's delivery to the kids in the orphanages in Kazakhstan. These socks will be included with other goodies for these kids many of whom have never received a gift before these annual parties began. My finished pair is already on it's way to the collection point for the socks to go Kaz later this year thanks to fellow cruiser Pam who is hand-carrying these back to the USA for mailing.

I named these "Rum Punch" because the lace design travels a wobbling path down the leg. Kinda like how someone (who shall remain nameless) walks after she has consumed too many delicious Rum Punches made with orange juice, rum, a dash of Angostura Bitters and the juice of 1/2 a lime.These lacy socks are a new pattern of mine called Rum Punch Socks which were developed for the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group.

Sorry I couldn't get a better photo of the lace, but I had lost my sock blockers on the boat. Thankfully I found them after I moved the big spare jib sail in order to search in the storage locker below for craft supplies. My sock blockers had slid down behind the sail bag. Eureka!
There always has to be a pair of plain socks on my needles to travel with me and for working on while socializing. These are some smaller socks made from 2 different colors of yarn pulled from my stash. Nothing exciting - just warm wool socks for the kids. Now, there is a pair of blue socks on the needles. Always socks, but not exclusively socks. I've never claimed to be monogamous in my knitting.

But my marriage - that's another thing. We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary and we're still having fun. Whenever I need groceries or even just a change of venue, Jonesy fires up our launchita and drives me to town. My job on the trip is to be on the lookout for improvised floats for crab nets (such as empty pop bottles or chunks of styrofoam) and point them out. Also, I make great ballast to keep the bow of the boat down when the wind whips up waves. Over the course of the 2 summers that we have spent here on the Rio Dulce, I have also learned to sit to the port (left) side of the boat to balance it better and to let Jonesy see over the bow.
So, what did I pick up in town this day? Among other things this GIANT cabbage (about 90 cents) from the vegetable vendor which we shared with one of the workers in the marina 'cause it wouldn't fit in our refrigerator. Also, I bought a pomelo (from the fruit farm vendor) which is a sweet citrus fruit that tastes like a non-acidic grapefruit, a stack of fresh, warm handmade tortillas from a tortilla lady, and 3 candied sweet potatoes from the candy boy. These sweet potatoes are cooked with the local unrefined sugar and are so tasty as a quick snack! Oh yeah, I think I'll go slice one up and heat it in the microwave right now...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Copan Ruinas, Honduras

Jonesy and his feathered friends
Road trip! A group of us (6 cruisers) hired a van and took a 4-hour road trip up to see the Mayan ruins in Copan, Honduras. This trip had a dual purpose, 1) fun, 2) exit the country of Guatemala and re-enter 3 days later which gets us another visa to stay in Guatemala for another 90 days. I had a new visa already because I had traveled to the USA recently, but of course I went along for the "fun" part!

The last half of the trip up to Copan was made over winding, mountain roads. Yes, there was beautiful scenery of rural life in Guatemala but the road had been recently washed out in many places by landslides from the recent heavy storm. So it was slow travel over some gravel roadbed and to avoid the rock piles hiding around the curves.
Sure glad I wasn't doing the driving! Plus, we were riding in a passenger van with seats, not a standing-room-only pickup truck which is the usual mode of transportation in these farming areas. Finally, we reached the border and Honduras was in sight! We trotted back and forth across the border to visit immigration offices on both sides and to get our rubber stamps in our passports (out of Guatemala and in to Honduras). Only 10 more miles to go!

That afternoon, after settling into our hotel we all headed out to explore the small town of Copan Ruinas. As is usually the case in Central American towns, everything revolves around a center plaza or park. Here cowboys linger after doing their business in town, and women sell colorful fruits to enjoy. We were very impressed with how clean Copan Ruinas is!

The next morning we all gathered together in the plaza (when in Honduras, do as the Hondurans do) and headed off for the 1 kilometer walk to the Mayan Ruins. Wow! There is even a paved walkway lined with shade trees leading from the town out to the ruins. Amazing. Along the way the local school children were practicing for a parade. As we are all moms or dads, we had to pause to watch. The youngest were about kindergarten age and were so cute trying to keep in lines!

At the ruins, we each paid our $15 US fee for general park entrance, plus we hired a guide for just an additional $25 total for our group of 6. We were told we could have Fidel our guide for up to 2 hours. Four hours later, he was still excitedly sharing his knowledge of the ancient Mayan city of Copan, the culture of Mayans, and pointing out plants and trees that were used by these people. The 6 of us were limply trailing along in dire need of food, and to get the weight off of our feet. He was an excellent guide and we loved every minute of it! Notice that he uses a stick with a feather on the end to point out details so that his hands don't touch these ancient carvings.

We climbed up and down the steps to the tops of several temples, each with it's own history of the king who had it built by the slaves. In this photo you are looking at the ball court in one of the plazas. When the city was occupied, there wasn't grass here, but paving stones covered with a white stucco. The buildings were covered with stucco that was tinted a deep red color! Under the massive tarp is the stairway of the kings. The tarp is there to protect it from further damage by the rains. This stairway has the entire history of this settlement carved into it.

Here's a view of a smaller temple looking down from the top of a larger temple. The surrounding hills are still farmed by some of the descendants of the ancient city. Large Scarlet Macaws can be seen and heard within the park (yes, they do feed them so these birds will stick around).  We found this little 4"  frog hanging out on an alter almost perfectly camouflaged.

All among the ruins were the tall stellae stone carvings such as the one shown earlier with our guide. Different kings were glorified in these monuments and in front of each was a carved alter for sacrifices. Yep, we saw one which had a concave area for the victim's head to rest and a trough for the blood to drain down Eeeww. These Mayans only sacrificed slaves who were captive enemies, not their own people.
I really liked this bat demon carving. There were hundreds of stone carvings on display in the museum. Inside of the open-roofed museum, they have built a replica of one of the smaller temples and painted it the colors that it would have been back in the day. Very different! Of course, I had to "plank" across the center doorway floor. No, I'll never grow up.

The next day we visited Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve which was just 2 km outside of town.
That is where the picture of Jonesy with the birds was taken. He is holding an endangered Green Macaw, a Blue and Gold Macaw, and a Scarlet Macaw. This park exceeded all of our expectations! It was beautiful, quiet (except for the birds) and our $10US entry fee included a guided tour. These birds are mostly rescue birds and there are projects underway to increase the populations of the endangered birds. The aviaries are HUGE structures which allow the birds to fly around and the walkways are smooth and well-crafted.

So how close have YOU gotten to a toucan? Isn't he beautiful? We decided not to swim in the creek at the park as it was still muddy and running wildly from the recent storms, but we did enjoy a cup of fresh coffee made from the beans that are grown locally. In fact, some of the plants in the shade along the walkways were coffee plants, and many other lovely tropical flowers. This spot is a must-see for anyone visiting Copan.

After a wild ride along muddy roads on the local form of intra-town transportation called a  "tuk-tuk", Jonesy pays the driver $1 per person. We hit the hotel for some downtime before dinner. The hotel roof is covered with a thatched "palapa" roof and has tables and chairs. We all would meet up there in the evenings to relax, consume adult beverages and enjoy the views and/or rainstorms.
Here's a picture of Jonesy on the rooftop. Notice the new shirt? We scored 3 shirts for about $1.25US TOTAL at an "American Clothing" shop a few days before we left for Honduras. Can't beat the price - probably somebody had a vacation in Hawaii and wouldn't wear the shirt in the mainland. So it got handed down to the Guatemalans - and us. It's a big business buying used clothing from the USA to sell here.

Dinner out with friends isn't just about the food - it's also about how that food gets to your table! At this little restaurant in Copan, some of it is carried on top of the waitress' heads! Not just full bottles of wine, but also little stoneware pots which have a hot coal inside to keep the refried beans hot for dipping! The grilled meats were so tasty here and of course, the company of friends made it even more special.
So, that was our lovely trip to Honduras and we are now back on the boat in Mario's Marina. We'll go back to Honduras again as there is so much more to do and see there. Next time we're planning to spend more time at Macaw Mountain including lunch in their cafe, walks along the nature trails, and chilling in the stream. We also would like to hang out at the hot springs near Copan and perhaps take a road trip out to other areas where there are interesting Mayan archaeological sites and coffee plantations.
What? No knitting content? No...I really don't have anything to share that is as cute as this little girl riding her mama's feet in a doorway in Copan. Life is good.

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