|One of the first things we did after arriving dockside here at La Punta, once Diamond Lil was plugged into the “luz”, or electricity as we know it, was to disassemble the ugly, old, rusty Coleman 2 burner camp stove that has been sitting on top of our electric stove in the galley for the past few months and haul the large propane tank for the barbeque back to the perfect, out of the way spot up on the flybridge where we usually keep it. The only place to keep it close enough to hook up to the Coleman stove but not in the way was in our spare bedroom. When Jim and Jeanie visited we used the more convenient but also outrageously expensive small propane tanks so they wouldn't have to share their room with the large tank and trip over the hose constantly.
What a relief to look down from where we sit at our table in the cabin and not see the eyesore in our otherwise attractive galley. We had just returned to our boat after being invited to a neighbour's house for a Good Friday cocktail and were about to bake some delicious coconut shrimp in the oven when the town went black and became instantly quiet. Good Friday celebrations, which had been in full swing, ground to a halt, well most of them anyways. We spotted the odd bonfire along the shore and heard car speakers start up at a fraction of the volume of the previous festivities.
As boatfulls of families began returning home in the darkness of the night, we sighed and climbed up to the flybridge to drag the ugly old, rusty but useful propane stove out and haul the big tank right back to where it had been before we so wisely decided to put it away. Now, a week later, we have returned to the old set up. “No luz” is a common refrain down here. The situation is far better than it was last year when power outages occurred almost daily, but this last week, since Santa Semana, we have experienced several outages.
Two nights ago I had taken my first dozen cupcakes out of the oven (it only holds that many), made our tea and put the second dozen cupcakes in the oven when the luz went out. The fish enjoyed the second batch of half baked cupcakes. This particular outage was caused by a fire on a pole half way down our cay and the power was out from 7 pm till 10 a.m. the next morning.
Last night we managed to roast a chicken in the oven without losing the power. Because we only have 15 amp service to the boat we cannot use the oven and burners or microwave at the same time. So the ugly, old propane stove once again is a part of the family. I boiled potatoes and steamed veggies on it while roasting the chicken in the electric oven. Then I shut off the oven and warmed some leftover stuffing in themicrowave, juggled my veggies and potatoes and made gravy on 2 burners, and when it was all ready, turned the oven back on broil for a couple of minutes to heat and brown the chicken. Voila, a delicious chicken dinner with all the fixings, broccoli and carrots from French Harbour, green beans from West End and chicken and potatoes from Oak Ridge. It takes a lot of shopping to pull together a meal that is not chicken, rice and beans, believe me. Cupcakes and hot, decaf tea for desert and we were happy campers.
As I write this, the luz is once again out. We are self contained on the boat and can get by without it. Our new tigo modem gets us internet when the luz is out, because the internet here doesn't work without power. So we keep a 50 lempira ($2.50)tigo card to load on to the modem in case of a prolonged outage. Yesterday morning we loaded it around 9 a.m. because we thought it would take longer for a crew to come to this remote location to fix the burnt pole. However, by 10 a.m. the power was on. When it went out at 9:15 this morning I hooked up the tigo modem and am writing this on borrowed time. We have heard that 24 hours time can last as long as 48 hours so time will tell.
The public transit is inexpensive on the Island and we have taken a couple of trips to French Harbour and one to West End. We went to the bank machine, picked up our mail that Samantha so kindly forwarded to us in French Harbour and shopped at Eldon's which wouldn't impress any of you back home but is loaded compared to the stores in Oak Ridge. We visited freinds in West End and chose from the best selection of produce on the island which is sold from the back of pick up trucks along the street. We dined on a good old American burgers and fries at Rocket Burger and headed home. The bus ride each way was 2 hours long. One bus took us from Oak Ridge, through the Garifuna town of Punta Gorda, which lies on the north coast of the Island and down island to Coxen's Hole. It is a scenic trip but I was on the wrong (shore) side of the bus and not the beach side so I didn't get many pictures. Coming home my memory card was full so I didn't get pictures then either, even of the perfect sunset over the flat calm water. SIGH! The bus drove so slow that John and I joked that we could walk alongside it and keep up. John suspected that it had something to do with the loose steering. We sat in the back seat and listened to the windshield washer motor (no washer) run the entire way.
From Coxen's Hole another bus took us to West End, a trip we have taken many times. The first bus ride, about an hour and half cost us 35 lempiras each, or about $1.75. The 2nd bus trip, about a half an hour, cost 20 lemps each or about a dollar. Bus is a vague term, sometimes it is a bus, sometimes a van, always with a lot of creaks and grinds and strange noises. NOT like Canada where vehicles need to be certified. Four wheels and you're on the road here!
Yesterday we walked around the end of the Bight to Pandy Town which we can see across the water from the boat. It is a black community where mostly English is spoken. We found one surprisingly well stocked store which we plan to shop at once we get our wheels back. By our wheels, of course, I mean our dingy. Without it we are lost here in this water based community. There are water taxis available but nothing beats our own dingy for exploring the area. Mom and Dad have shipped us a 2.2 hp motor and the gasket for the 15 hp is on the way. In the meantime I have attached two videos that I made last year when we stayed in Jonesville. With our dingy we were able to zip between Jonesville and Oak Ridge and many other small communities, all joined by a series of canals and marked channels.
The music has come back on at the grocery store across the canal from us. Whenever they are open (and we have luz) the music is on. Sometimes it's reggae, sometimes it's Spanish music and this morning it was mellow gringo 60's type stuff. It's always great and it sets the mood of the place for me. However, over on this side, still no luz.