Monday, January 28, 2008

Dog-gone cute!

Our dog, Ruby, is just so cute and sweet. Many people use their blogs to keep friends and family up to date on their growing children. As we have no children, we will take an opportunity to share our 5 month old's development! You can see by the before and after pics that Tom still enjoys cuddling with Ruby on the floor. Now there's just more of her for Tom (and me too) to love!

Ruby in October

Ruby this weekend

Ruby participated in her first dog party up at the river this weekend. She went swimming with her mom, Porsche (pictured below), her best dog-friend, Fischer, and of course her favorite people friends. After her first venture down some rapids, Ruby was a bit more cautious in her swimming for the rest of the day. I escaped with only minor scratches all over my body. (Despite Ruby's thinking, I was not an island oasis in the middle of the river). Her mom (the dog kind) was very protective and helped her out a few different times. She's looking forward to her next outing!

Ruby also spent some time relaxing out on the back porch this weekend. Here, she's trying out the new hammock I picked up in Copan.
Finally, I wanted to share a video of how obedient Ruby can be. Most of the time, she listens when we call her to come, sit, lay down, and stay. We're working on the barking at people on bikes, but she's really pretty good. She's also got an addiction to toilet paper, tissues, and napkins that we're having a hard time breaking. It's tough this week because Tom is sick, so there are hundreds of Kleenexes around the house. She just loves that wet papery feel!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Girl Who Spelled...

When I was in 3rd grade, one of my favorite public-library movie rentals was The Girl Who Spelled Freedom. This made-for-TV movie (based on a true story!) was about a Cambodian girl who came to live with an American family and ended up winning the big spelling bee championship. Thus, my infatuation with spelling bees began.

This week, I was asked to be a caller at the National Spelling Bee (for all bilingual schools) here in La Ceiba. They wanted a native English speaker to pronounce the words for the students. By luck of the draw, I was assigned to 4th grade.

Yesterday morning, I showed up at the National Spelling Bee and was greeted by a giant tissue-paper bee (Think pencil eraser with a small square of tissue paper, dip in glue and stick to paper). This bee was at least 20 feet tall... They go all out here!

So my story of the day... After calling about 200 words for my 17 4th grade finalists, I pull the next word. Here is a script of how it went down...
Karine: Your word is "flicker"
Child: flicker? Can I have it in a sentence?
Karine: Flicker- I watched the candle flicker in the darkness. Flicker
Child: Can I have another sentence?"
Karine: The lights will flicker as the electricity goes out. Flicker.
Child: Can I have a definition?
Karine: Flicker- to burn unsteadily, shine with wavering light . Flicker.
Child: (Sigh) Flicker. F-U-C-K-E-R. Flicker.
Karine: I'm sorry, that is incorrect.

I had to work pretty hard not to giggle. I held it together. The final word that determined the champion was "vague" ("Vague v-e-g Vague.")


We were sad to leave Antigua, but we had heard that Copán Ruinas, Honduras had its own charms. So, we hopped into a mini-bus and headed back across the border into Copán . Here are a few highlights of this final leg of our trip...
Since the streets are cobblestone, and the terrain is hilly, instead of standard taxi cars, they use the tuk-tuk in Copán . Here's Tom after he hijacked one.

On our first night, we rested our volcano-weary muscles in the jungle hotsprings at Luna Jaguar Spa. This place was awesome. In fact, it was possibly the highlight of my Copán trip! We arrived at dusk, and were led through a gorgeous jungle path to these sulpheric hot springs which came bubbling down the mountain. Luna Jaguar Spa has created a small round rock hot tub in the middle of it. So we sat in the jungle by candlelight in this fantastically hot pool. Again- it was awesome. The pictures are a bit dark, but you can see all the steam and jungle...

We spent the next morning visiting the ancient Mayan ruins in Copán . The kingdom was established here around 159 A.D. and the empire was at its peak between 425-822 A.D. Artifacts and buildings from ancient Mayan civilization have been found all over Central America, but here we were able to see several buildings in their still "buried" (under trees and some dirt) state, as well as restored architecture. It was very cool! We even saw the scene that Honduras chose for its 1 Lempira bill...

Later that day, we visited the Parque de Aves (Bird Park). There, we spent some time learning about and interacting with our local feathered friends.

On our last day of vacation, we headed out on a horseback ride up the mountain. It was picturesque and beautiful.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tom's Favorite Photos

Karine did a great job recapping the action with words. I am sort of lazy, so I just want to post some of my favorite photos....

I know that a lot of our friends and family have been like -- how are things going with Tom's mustache? Well, here we are relaxing together at the San Jose Cathedral Ruins in Antigua. I am not sleeping, just blinded by the sun.

This super cute picture of Karine was taken at a pizza place in Antigua. While we were there we saw a couple of guys come in and check their handguns. I don't know if they were banditos or just a couple of guys who like to walk around with guns in their pants.

There are so many beautiful things to take pictures of in Antigua. But pictures of buildings can be kind of boring, so I always encourage Karine to get right in there with the 500 year old architecture...

Antigua is such a beautiful city. Even the trash cans are attractive. Sometimes I feel like we don't even have trashcans in Honduras. If you didn't guess, the Spanish word for trashcan is BASUERO.

I really liked the bathroom at the pizza place we went to in Antigua. So I took a couple pictures of my mustache in the mirror.

I am pretty sure that this is a picture of ancient toilet ruins protected by barbed wire. This is where monks had their private moments in the 16th century. Now this nice toilet is off limits to the public. I had to go too.

Here are a couple of my favorite lava pictures.

Sunset. Lava. Dog.
Last picture. Antigua is full of beautiful fountains. Here is the fountain from the central square. It has water shooting out of boobs. Karine told me that it was okay that I say that.

Christmas Break!

We’ve officially taken our longest vacation ever (well, together as a married couple anyway- we really like vacationing) . Three whole weeks of fun- and we still like each other! We took a little time off of blogging to discover some of the riches Central America has to offer. Today we will re-cap our three weeks of adventure for all of our blog readers

Week One: Nelson Family Fun! After spending Christmas in La Ceiba, our family went out to Roatan for a little island fun. There we enjoyed a canopy tour where we zip-lined through the jungle on cables and harnesses.
Post-canopy tour was the SNUBA adventure. No, this is not a typo- snuba is a combination between scuba diving and snorkeling. While attached to air hoses and scuba mouthpieces, we dove down to 20 feet underwater while still breathing- no special training required. While the men were out catching some gigantic fish (our freezer is very full now), my mom and I spent some time on the beach eating chocolate chip cookies and reading some books. We spent our last evening eating some of the fish the guys caught- specially prepared by the fisherman’s wife- and enjoying the sunset.

Tom and I came back to La Ceiba to see the Nelsons off and to check in on Ruby. She spent her Christmas break staying with her mom. The dog reunion was a great success. Ruby and her mom played so hard that our pup actually injured her leg playing so hard. She’s limping around on 3 legs today, but we keep encouraging her to rest it up. She was happy to see us, but a little sad to lose her best playmate ever (and the people who took such great care of her.)

Roatan part II was a bit rainier than the week before. We went back with the intention of completing our scuba diving certification, but the weather didn’t cooperate so well. Nevertheless, we’re happy for an excuse for another weekend trip sometime soon to get under that open water.

We left the rainy beaches for some chilly Guatemalan culture. At 5 am we boarded a bus in La Ceiba and 17 hours later, we arrived in Antigua, Guatemala. This beautiful little colonial city is located just 45 minutes outside of Guatemala City. The city has worked hard to restore the Spanish colonial vibe, complete with courtyard cafes, fountains, and some cool ruins. Our hotel was charming, and even had a Jacuzzi on the rooftop terrace where we enjoyed the sunset.

While the city itself was charming, and a welcome break from the typical Honduran food, perhaps the highlight of our Antigua visit was the hike to an active volcano. After being dormant for a century, Pacaya violently erupted in 1965, and has been actively erupting ever since. Our trip included a one-hour drive up to a village at the foot of the volcano. Upon arrival, we hiked with our group up the 3 kilometer path up the mountain. This was a challenging hike at times, as we climbed over (cold) lava rocks for 30 minutes of the 1 ½ hour ascent. We were rewarded with an amazing sunset on some lava rocks that were melting people’s shoes. Even more exciting was the hot lava that was oozing down just 4 feet from where we stood. It was hot- but really really cool!

We loved Antigua, and will definitely return.
From Antigua, we traveled back across the border to Copan Honduras. More about our Copan trip and some of the awesome highlights tomorrow!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Roatan Part II

So, we had so much fun with my family out on Roatan that Tom and I decided to go back right away! We went out there to do our Open Water Scuba certification. After 5 days of wind and rain, Tom and I have passed the written test, and cleared our masks and breathed underwater in a tiny swimming pool. We have not yet done any of this in the sea. Some may call us wimps, but we decided to leave and try some other weekend. All flights and ferries leaving Roatan had been cancelled for the past 2 days because of the weather, and we were excited to learn that the ferry back to La Ceiba was going to start up again today at 2. We got on the boat, and took it as a sign of things to come when the boat guy passed out barf bags to every passenger. Luckily, my brother had left us with some Drammamine and it helped us survive the rough ride in much better shape than some other unfortunate passangers.
We're glad to be home and having fun thinking of the places we might go next... It's such an andventure!