Typhoid, Flip-Flops, and Lempiras

No, we don’t have Typhoid Fever, but we are taking steps to make sure that continues. Typhoid is a Salmonella typhi bacterial infection that is spread by contaminated food and water. Before we left the US we took an oral vaccine to prevent it. The vaccine is only roughly 50% effective so we have to continue doing the water dance, using drinking water for certain things (like drinking, brushing teeth, making ice, etc.) and tap water for most other things.

In reality, the chance of typhoid in the tap water is probably very near zero. Municipal water here comes from a desalination plant and the only way for contaminants to get in would be a broken pipe. But I don’t have a ton of confidence that a broken pipe would trigger a boil water order in this place. Maybe it would but maybe they’d just fix the pipe and go on about their day. The main reason nobody drinks the tap water here, even locals, is that it is salty – the desalination is not very effective at all. It tastes salty and salt builds up in the pot we use to boil water. You don’t even want to make coffee with it, but I realized we boiled pasta in it and it came out pre-salted!

The risk of typhoid and other pathogens is really less about the water and more about the food, where it comes from, how it was treated, how it is prepared. We prepare most of our own food, in fact we’ve only eaten out once in the first week and a half. But we do want to go out a bit more often in the coming weeks, we’ll just have to trust the friendly Utilians to do the right things in the kitchen. So that’s how we try to stay free of typhoid and other germs, knock on tropical hardwood.

 We take a Tuk-tuk on rare occasions, for $3 We take a Tuk-tuk on rare occasions, for $3

Bob Marley sang, “My feet is my only carriage”; we feel you brother! We walk everywhere! We walk to town (10 minutes each way) for all of our groceries, we walk to the town beach at one end of the bay (25 minutes), we walk to the private beach at the other end of the bay (about the same distance). We walk to the bars, restaurants, and shops in the middle. Walk, walk, walk. It’s a good thing, but I’m wearing out my work flip-flops! I have a “work” pair of flip-flops and a “dress” pair (yes, this is true), and the work pair isn’t going to last long with all these miles. I’ve got skin coming off the bottoms of my feet, quickly being replaced with stronger callouses. I’m also getting calves of steel walking with that flip-flop gait that keeps the shoe on. It’s a good thing, all the walking, I think we’d be getting fat without it and besides, we really enjoy it. I just have to keep reminding Deb to slow down. She likes to get there, to where she’s going, and I’m more about enjoying the journey. We usually meet somewhere in the virtual middle.  Once in a while we’ll take a tuk-tuk, like when my back was hurting, but not often.

 Work shoes / Dress shoes Work shoes / Dress shoes

THE VIDEO told us “you will spend Lempiras” and that was right! The local currency is the Lempira and it exchanges for the dollar at about 23.4 to 1, which makes for some simple math. 🙂 Like a good engineer though, I round to 25 which makes the reverse calculation a 4. So a 500 Lempira note is the rough equivalent of a 20 dollar bill, a 100 Lemp is around $4, and the bills go all the way down to 1 Lempira, which will buy you a sandwich if you have 100 of them.

 Converting Lempiras is simple! Converting Lempiras is simple!

Speaking of the video, we walked by Dr. John‘s house the other day. It is pink/purple and very noticeable. It’s small, very unique, in a great lush green area on the hill, near a baseball field and a school. It turns out he is a real doctor from Ohio who moved down here many years back. Our landlady is friends with him and said he doesn’t practice medicine any more. She said he makes more money selling t-shirts now than he did as a doctor, ha! During the recent holiday, we saw a lot of his t-shirts proudly worn by the tourists around town.

Another note, the night-time thunderstorms here are epic! The rain comes down so hard, so fast, and so loud on the tin roof! And if that’s not enough to get me up and lower the windows, the thunder certainly is – it feels like we’re in the middle of a midnight air raid! As I said, we are in rainy season, but so far the pattern of night-time rain is really very nice. Once in a while it will also rain in the daytime but so far it’s mostly at night.

More than one person has asked how we spend our time, which is a nice way of saying, “What do you do all day, you retired bastards?”. First, you must realize this isn’t vacation. We’re not trying to squeeze in all the excitement we can in 10 days or something. Or, the ultimate irony, trying to squeeze in all the relaxation we can in a week! So with that foundation, our days start off very peacefully in the quiet morning, letting the doggies go out and then back in for their morning nap! Next we will brew some Honduran coffee, check email, maybe do some Spanish lessons or write a blog post.

Then we’ll have breakfast of granola and almond milk or maybe a fried egg on toast with refried beans and some cheese, plus some orange juice. We really enjoy the cool of the morning before the heat. Eventually, we get around to the question, “What do you want to do today?”. Usually, there is a walk to get some kind of groceries – there are no big weekly shopping trips filling a car trunk and backseat. We have to carry all our groceries up the hill to our home. That’s not too bad when you can carry two bags each, but if there’s a bottle of rum (we’ve already restocked on rum and hot sauce!) or something big like paper towels, it can limit how much we carry. Also, it is not common to get everything at one store. We have a panadería for our breads (and sweets!), a small pulpería that has great potatoes, another one for some local products, and the large-ish grocery store for most other food items, also including booze, bug spray, etc. Often on these walks, even though we are still newcomers we are getting more and more likely to see someone we know. On the street, we’ve seen our friend Laura, her friends Callie and Monica, as well as Naomi, Matt, Ryan, and Papa, all of whom we met at a party. So, a few minutes here and there chatting people up before going on our way.

 B-double-E-double-R-U-N Beer Run! B-double-E-double-R-U-N Beer Run!  There is no other place like this place, anywhere near this place, so this must be the place. There is no other place like this place, anywhere near this place, so this must be the place.

So that may take us to late morning and we’ll make lunch soon before “planning” the afternoon. In the afternoons we usually end up in the water. The beaches mentioned above are good, and since the tourist wave left town, the public beach is really becoming our favorite. The water is clear and calm, the views of the bay are great, the beach is clean (this doesn’t happen without work), and the bars let you take your drink to the water. Standing in the water talking, with a cold beer in hand, has replaced our hot tub chats of old.  The prime spot is where a tree hangs over the shallow water so you can sit in the shade or sun, drink a beer and let the world pass you by. It’s pretty nice! We have found some good snorkel spots too, and I’m working on my GoPro video skills.

We’ll go home after 2 or 3 hours, put on some music (we use Spotify here, Pandora isn’t available), and think about supper. It could be a roasted chicken with breadfruit, carrots, and pineapple, or quesadillas with beans, cheese, & onions (add fried plantains); one night we had spaghetti from a jar of Prego. The food preparation is pretty easy even with our fairly limited kitchen.

Deb has perfected a Pina Colada recipe with fresh pineapple, and I have perfected opening a cold beer (my fave is probably Salva Vida, the lifesaver beer)! Our landlord gave us a bunch of limes (like what we would call Key Limes, small and yellow) and we made some excellent limeade with them. Soon after supper it gets dark and Deb starts yawning, but I try to keep her up until at least 9 (I’m not always successful).

So, what do we do all day? Not too much, but it’s sure to be exactly what we want to do.  We do try hard to meet new people. And the people we’ve met are so interesting! You know those maps that people have, where you can scratch off the places you’ve been? I was thinking about doing that, but with the people we’ve met. Honestly, in 10 days we’ve met people from Utila & Honduras mainland (of course), Canada (Alberta and British Columbia mostly), Germany (several), Austria, Australia, and the US of A (many also, but there are probably more Canadians). One young Canadian friend is going into the sailing yacht life with her boyfriend through the Caribbean, then the Panama Canal, the South Pacific crossing, and eventually all the way to Australia, wow! Another guy, an American, retired at 35 and has been a traveler for 4 years. He kept talking about how travel changes you, deep down, and he’s right. Some of these people make our little adventure look very pedestrian, and I think that’s pretty great.

 Love you guys, thanks for following our escapades! Love you guys, thanks for following our escapades!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: “Coconut Tree” by Kenny Chesney and Willie Nelson. Layin’ lowwww, just my baby and me…

Questions on all this? We’d love any questions/comments in the section below!

No Comments

  1. Kevlar on October 17, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Dress flip-flops?! Best chuckle of the morning, and not something I would ever have thought of on my own!

    • Norm Pyle on October 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      And really, nobody is going to notice but me! 🙂

  2. Mark on October 17, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Which are the dress flip flops and which are the work pair?

    • Norm Pyle on October 18, 2017 at 12:29 am

      The dress ones have the cute colorful fringe of course! Plus, they’re Sanuks. 🙂

  3. Steve Q on October 20, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Hey Norm, have you tried a VPN to get spotify, pandora, or XM to work? I was curious. The days sound relaxing. I was curious, have you read any good books? And in honduras, are you finding your money goes farther? The writing is really nice, and I enjoy reading them

    • Norm Pyle on October 22, 2017 at 2:52 am

      Well we don’t need to do anything special to get Spotify, so we’re just using that. I’m reading Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk (author of The Caine Mutiny, The Hope, The Glory, etc.). We were both reading more when the Internet was down for 3 days. As for money, yes, it’s going farther. We spent $200 last week for everything but rent and electricity. That’s pretty cheap living. Thanks for the support!

  4. Paul B on October 22, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Great writing as always Norm, gives us all a great feel for the place. Also being retired, it’s great to wake up, look at my “calendar”, and “plan” the day ☀️?
    Love the photos as well.. wow that is some gorgeous water! If I bring my sleeping pad, is there room on the floor? Lol. ?

    • Norm Pyle on October 22, 2017 at 2:53 am

      There’s room on the deck outside! The no-see-ums will be happy to welcome you! 🙂

  5. sq on November 12, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Norm, it is really interesting to hear how far one’s money can go in Utilla. It’s probably also helpful you don’t have to buy souveniers and other such nick nacks for people back home. i chuckled at your commentary on deeep woods off. Since i tend to be a mosquito snack, i’ve become a snob on bug spray. Off (which i refer to as "on" since it never works on me) is usually my last resort.. Now cutters, that’s the stuff:)

    • Norm Pyle on November 12, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      Yeah, sorry folks, we’re not buying souvenirs for you, LOL! Our expenses are very low here, yes, we just realized we’re paying about 5c a cup for some pretty damn good Honduran coffee (brewed at home). We didn’t even turn on the water heater the first 3 weeks because it was so hot we didn’t want hot water. Now, it’s cooled off into the low 80s and we turn it one for 5-7 minutes and then back off. Electricity here costs about twice what you pay there, so this saves a lot of money and it’s so easy!Also, I love me some DEET, that’s for sure, I don’t care if it’s Off or Cutter or Joe Bob’s Bug Spray. The Deep Woods (green can) is 25% DEET, vs. the orange can that’s only 10% – that might be the difference. The only problem is we have to usually take an extra shower at the end of the day to wash it off.

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