Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oh, The People You Meet

Saturday Michael solved a big mystery on the boat with his battery monitor. He is now getting an accurate graphic reading of how many amps are going in and out of the batteries. That was a great thing as its been a problem he's been trying to solve for months. It took a drill, some wires and the length of the boat to solve. We needed to make a new twisted pair of wires and run them in a different path to the battery bank. All in all it worked pretty well and best of all solved the problem that we have not been able to resolve for a very long time.

So to celebrate the solving of the Link 10 issue and because it was Saturday night in Guanaja, we went to the local eatery, The Manati, here in El Bight. On Saturday it's the place to be as they have a weekly "special" and many of the locals (albeit mostly the gringo ex-pats) come for it. It's always interesting to meet these folks and you have the most interesting and unusual conversations.

The proprietors are a couple from Germany – Annette and Klaus. They've been here for quite awhile and serve mostly German food (schnitzel, roast pork, german noodles, sauerkraut, sausages etc.). They are very nice and interesting and always make you feel very welcome in their establishment.

There are two guys who each live on a boat in El Bight and have been here since we've been coming to Guanaja. Gar is on a boat called "My Way" and he's the local expert on the hiking trails around the island. He used to work as a lumberjack setting chokers, moved to Alaska to work in the oil fields and crossed the Pacific on a boat. He's had some interesting adventures. We passed on a book to him about the the Pacific Northwest Haidas and lumbering and he told us last night he was really enjoying it. The other guy is Brian who lives aboard "Ketch 22" and he is usually quieter. Though last night we found out he's written two books and has a publisher now interested. He's self-published the two and they were at the bar. He also loves music and we shared music stories as well as Barbara's hope to also write and publish. He has a great sense of humor.

The local ex-pats are an interesting group. One guy who was helping to tend bar named Mike, built a lot of large buildings in the St Petersburg/Tampa area. He worked on the city center building in St. Pete, the cruise ship dock in Tampa and the Tampa Bay Performing Art Center. He and his wife have lived on Guanaja for over 11 years. He showed us some pictures he's taken of the hummingbirds that will eat out of his hand. It seems they've been there so long and he calls himself their "sugar daddy." He took some nice photos. He's also a musician – more on that later. His wife makes a local traditional Honduran Garafuna herbal drink called "guifiti" which we had the pleasure of sampling after dinner as a treat from Annette. This is a concoction of various herbs, spices, roots and alcohol. It is said to be a cure-all for everything from high and low blood pressure (how can it be for both??), headaches (I think it gives you one first), flus and colds, mosquito bites - but you have to drink it daily (hmmm- guifiti or mossies??), stomach cramps etc. It had an interesting taste but you certainly wouldn't want to get drunk on this stuff. We had it served in these lovely traditional stone "glasses" that made it probably taste even more exotic.

Back to the characters. Another ex-pat guy who could be running a Saturday Market stand in Eugene, Oregon (though with a tan and tropical attire), has lived here since the 70s. He has a long white haired ponytail, wild shirt and baggy trousers. He has a house with a stream and dam ("I didn't put the dam up , I bought the property and it was already there.") and we're sure a "garden." Old hippies don't die, they just move to the tropics!

Another guy told us about the water table on Guanaja (perhaps he was a burned out real estate agent!). He said the island never runs out of water because it is supplied by an aquifer from the mainland. We also learned about the waterfall on the other side of the island that we've hiked several times. It used to be much larger with a giant pool at the bottom of the big fall. It seems that Hurricane Mitch broke off a large wall and tumbled big rock down the cliff and made the falls smaller and the pool very shallow. He and his wife liked their drinks.

We dined with our friends Beate and Wolfgang from the boat Genesis and their friend Uli from another boat. They are all German and love chance to speak German and eat traditional food here. They were all kind enough to speak English for our benefit through the meal and post meal conversations. We were joined after dinner by Annette (the proprietress) for the guifiti drink and many, many stories of family, growing up, Germany, Honduras etc. It was very interesting and entertaining.

Then, the "live" music started. Klaus (the proprietor) used to play in a band in Germany. He plays bass guitar. Mike, (the ex-pat hummingbird feeder, builder of things in Tampa Bay) plays keyboards. The restaurant has an area set up with amps, a drum set, lots of instruments and microphones, etc. for anyone to join and and play. Unfortunately on this night it was a bass - keyboard duet. The "House of the Rising Sun" was first on the playlist. We needed more guifiti...quick! Then it was "Knocking on Heavens Door" and some other song. It was thankfully a short-set and we returned to the great pre-recorded playlist. But it made for an interesting interlude and we always love a chance to hear live music,

As seems to be always the case, it was an interesting night out in the islands. We safely made it back to Astarte past our normal bedtime.

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