The signs that Christmas is growing near are subtle here in Roatan. After 5 years I finally convinced the Captain to allow me to string garish Christmas lights on Diamond Lil. I also wound a string of them up the trunk of a large palm tree on our lawn, something I loved in Florida. The first night we plugged in the lights we could hear the children from Pandytown across the bight gather on the shore to ooo and ahh. Life is very simple here and they were content to stay there for hours, until we turned them off, which I did early, feeling guilty for sending these poor little children home to ask their struggling families when Santa is coming.
Boats stopped and we heard Spanish words, we know several of them but you didn't need to, you could tell they were happy to stop and sit and just look at the lights. Yup, simple here.
Fireworks, not pretty sparkly ones like in Canada, but loud, bomb like ones and gunfire is not an uncommon sound at night. I had to laugh after our colourful lights went on for the first time and we heard a couple of shots and John said "Oh great, a new target" We are lit up like the old Eatons store in downtown Toronto.
The next day my friend Eulina told me that she took her mother to church and the pastor in his sermon denounced the use of Christmas lights as a waste of money, contributing to the coffers of Reco, the despised electric company here, which charges rates higher than what we pay in Canada, to people who earn a fraction of what we do back home.
So I asked my friend "Do you like the lights?" and she said "oh yes girl, I love them, you leave them up, they're beautiful". And we sat out back and watched the pretty lights reflecting, not in snow, like I grew up with, but in the water, different, but just as pretty. Sorry pastor.
Many of the gringos and cruisers coming here to Roatan like to help the community in different ways. There are a group of American doctors called the floating doctors who arrived recently after a stint in Haiti on a boat and are dispensing free health care and thousands of dollars of supplies to the needy islanders. My friend Pat, here on her sailboat from Pennsylvania with her husband Randy is an RN and she has been volunteering at the medical clinic that the floating doctors are conducting in our little town of Oak Ridge. She loves the work and the stories she tells me are unbelievable. Ignorance runs rampant, babies receive coca cola in their bottles and diabetes is prevalent. Women believe that they need an antibiotic shot after each period. These are just a few examples of the challenges the islanders face.
Pat enjoys her work and got us involved with another project, cleaning up and repainting the school that our friend Norma teaches at. Norma is a wonderul, warm Honduran woman who married our Canadian friend Larry from BC a few months ago. A tiny 2 room schoolhouse with a separate tiny kidergarten room, with a huge pile of garbage that the tide continually brings in piled in the back serves for kids up to grade 6. The walls inside one of the two rooms were dark red and yellow so they repainted them a nice light color. We missed the painting day but went earlier that week for the clean up day.
We all need to do a little something here and it's nice to help out in small ways.
We have a great circle of friends, an odd bunch, thrown together here all far from home with differences but much in common too. We're like a the group of doctors from Mash, from all over, far from home and ending up closer than we would ever have imagined. BJs Backyard BBQ, actually IN our backyard, hosts great jam sessions and this Sunday was no excpetion. I always think of Donna and Steve and Donald and our friend Mel who may arrive her one day on his boat, and how they'd love the jam at BJs. Lisa and Betty are coming in February and I can't wait to share a week of our island life with them.