2.13.2009

No Leche Aqui (and other stories)

If there was any doubt that I am a City Girl born of City Folk, it's been erased by my parents, who are currently visiting. Yesterday dad was driving along the Mountain Road with Mike. He saw a large animal ahead and said, "Look, there's a cow." Mike replied patiently, "John, that's a horse."

In a strangely parallel universe, mom was riding with me and the babies along the Dump Road. "Look kids," she said with great excitement. "There's a sheep!"


"Goa" answered Hayden with certainty. A goat.

No one knows their farm animals better than a two-year-old. Mom said, "Oh, that's right."

I'm not trying to embarrass my darling parents, but simply to remember my own roots. We come from a place where roads are paved and the only chicken crossing them is an extra on his way to a movie shoot. It's a rare pig or hen that I call by the right name as I drive through our island wilderness now.

It's a much simpler life here, and also far more complicated. This week the island is out of milk. (Maybe I should talk to that goat.)

No fresh milk to be found, and the supply of boxed milk is dwindling. I'll be mixing powdered milk by the end of the weekend. Not that there's anything wrong with that. At least we have clean water to mix it with. But it shows how the basics can get taken for granted.


Shopping for produce is different than at home, too. On a good day, you can chase down a fruit truck and buy directly from its crates. Generally these trucks have purchased their fruits and veggies right off the boats, so they are the freshest around. By the time the same stuff reaches the markets, it's shriveled and ugly.


So I'm always grateful when I find myself in the same place as the fruit truck, and if I also happen to have money in my wallet. Because of course, they don't take credit cards. Roatan is a cash economy. Here's how a favorite hangout, the Twisted Toucan, reminds their customers of this:





OK, but remember that it takes 18.9 lempiras to equal one dollar. Try figuring out whether a pound of beans, four onions, two canteloupes and a watermelon for 160 lemps is a good deal or not.

But the most complex part of our current terrain is located 1/4 mile outside of Palmetto. The Hill. Requires four-wheel drive in locked position to keep from sliding down sideways, or worse. Uh-oh, say Delaney and Hayden. They've seen heavy trucks stuck in the mud on several occasions. Fortunately, we've gotten up and down each time safely, but it's a hold-your-breath slip-sliding-away kind of maneuver. This photo is from a few months ago; sorry to say no bulldozer has appeared recently to smooth the way. We're holding out hope for manana.


In the meantime we'll keep brushing up on our barnyard vocab and mixing scrambled eggs with heavy cream. Eventually a boat will come in with milk and the road will get graded. Til then, buenas noches. And Happy Valentine's Day.