The first time we arrived in French Harbour I cringed at the thought of taking a slip. We had only been living "on the hook" for a week or two at the time and after 5 months at Mario's I felt like I'd never want to tie to another dock as long as I lived.
Funny how time changes your perspective. We returned to French Harbour a few days ago and I was shocked to hear myself suggest to the Captain that perhaps we should take a slip for a day. The parts for our outboard motor, originally due at the Fedex depot on the island on Friday, were now due Monday. We haggled and bartered, which is the way down here and next thing I knew we had a low, one-time only, never again weekly rate of $80 which includes power, water, internet, cable tv, use of the pool and grounds.
It is a nice change to step off the boat and go for a walk whenever we want. It is also nice to put the kettle on in the morning without starting the generator first, to have ice compliments of our icemaker and to watch t.v. on the boat for the first time in almost a year.
On our first night here we watched the New Hampshire US Presidential debate and it brought back fond memories of my father and how he loved to watch those kinds of shows. He'd warn us all at dinner, we could watch with him if we wanted to but we had to be quiet as he sat there and made notes, underlining them with a ruler. The ruler was important, he would tell us.
The only news station we receive here in French Harbour (other than CNN) are from California and Colorado but any news is fun to watch when you haven't seen it for so long.
In true Central American fashion our Fedex delivery has slipped steadily from Friday to Monday to now Wednesday at 6 pm and since the office closes at 5 that means Thursday so we do what people are good at doing around here - wait!
Neither of the 2 bank machines in town are working and the lineup in the bank was so long that John gave up and returned to the marina. Of all the places we have visited, this is the worst for getting cash and very few places accept VISA. He returned a little later and waited an hour and a half in line up, part of it outside the bank in the sun, to get to a teller.
The power goes out almost every day, the sound of generators starting can be heard everywhere and of course we lose the internet when that happens.
The culture is very different when it comes to buying and paying for things. Even people who work for the government do not always get paid on time but have to wait patiently for their cheques. Perhaps this is why it is quite often acceptable to pay later for things on the island. This has happened to us a few times already during our short stay on the island.
The owner of the Roatan Yacht Club was murdered last year, at the same time as a marina owner in La Ceiba, a city on the mainland close to here. Apparently there were quite a few "hits" at the time, something to do with drugs we hear, rumours of course. So the marina has been in a state of flux for the past several months with the restaurant and bar temporarily closed.
A new owner is due to arrive next week and slowly there are signs of progress. The hotel is beginning to receive guests, the restaurant has started to serve breakfast this week and apparently will be serving other meals soon (loose term down here). Unfortunately rates are increasing, which is why our haggling for this week's price probably won't work in the future.
The grounds are beautiful with a very long, steep climb from the marina down at the bottom of the hill to the clubhouse and road into town at the top. The internet works except for when the power goes out, which is pretty well every day. Within a few minutes of the power shutting off the generator starts up and life goes on. As I write this the power has shut off and I have lot my internet access. I am waiting to see if my signal returns once the generator starts. One thing for sure - a great deal of PATIENCE is required to live here!
We hope to get out to see some sights on the island during the next few days because the boat is safe and sound here at the dock. We are never totally comfortable leaving the boat at anchor to head out for any length of time. As much as living on a boat buys a certain amount of freedom there are times when the opposite is true. We rarely go out at night because we don't like to leave the boat alone.
However, as the Captain reminds me if I complain about anything, I could be sitting in a cubicle in my pantyhose or shoveling snow and fighting traffic. Washing our sheets in a bucket on the boat, along with all our laundry since there are NO laudrymats on this island isn't so bad when you think about it!