Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ever flown into Tegucigalpa?

I have, and that is ONE HELLUVA RIDE!

I found this article on www.airliners.net and figured some of you out there might appreciate it.

Difficult Approach + Short Runway = Challenge
By Ryan Bert
April 29, 2001

Tegucigalpa is the capital city of Honduras. The international airport there is one of extreme interest because of its difficult approach and because of its surprisingly short runway. There are many unknown facts about this airport.

Toncontín International Airport is more commonly known as Tegucigalpa airport. Tegucigalpa is actually a misnomer in the essence that the airport is actually located in Tegucigalpa’s sister city, Comayaguela. The runway at TGU is only 6,132 ft (1869 m) long. The airport was built on a plateau in the city. Tegucigalpa itself is situated in a basin between several tall mountains. This unique location allows for some spectacular approaches and interesting landings.

The approach into TGU is breathtaking. Up until a few years ago there used to be a small hill some 200 ft (60 m) from the runway. Planes used to have to fly low, ascend the mountain, and descend into TGU. That hill was bulldozed during the early 1990’s. Now the approach into TGU is just as interesting and not as dangerous. An airplane landing at runway 01 at TGU must circle inside the basin below the mountaintops. It is very interesting to look up at the wing and still see trees and mountains while being banked the other way. After it circles the basin it has only 100-200 ft (30-60 m) to line up before the runway. Because of the short runway as soon as the plane crosses the fence separating the airport property and the highway, it must make contact. The runway has a “displaced threshold” leaving only 5,436 ft (1657 m) of useable landing runway. That short runway, coupled with a 1.06º downhill slope on runway 01, allows for little braking time.

Many accidents have occurred here at Toncontín airport. The most notable one was that of a TAN (Transportes Aereos Nacionales)/SAHSA (Servicíos Aereos de Honduras S.A.) Boeing 727-200 (N88705) into a mountain in 1989. The Boeing 727 had drifted from its VOR/DME to Runway 01. It crashed into Cerro de Hule (Translated into “rubber hill”) some 5,000 ft (1524 m) from the runway. This crashed killed 123 of the 138 passengers on board and half of the 8-member crew. Back in June of 1999, an American Airlines 757 struck the fence that separates the highway and the runway. “It was a difficult ordeal,” said one of the passengers, who was onboard and he vowed not to fly into TGU ever again. A year later he was on a flight into TGU and got teary eyed and scared once the approach began. The most recent accident occurred on February 3, 2001. Fortunately no one on board was injured or killed. The TACA Airbus A320, N465(PA/TA), suffered from a reverse thrust malfunction once on the ground. The pilots are to be considered the heroes. Had they not turned the airplane onto the closest taxiway to the end of the runway, they may have gone over the cliff, which is found only 100 ft (30 m) from the end of the runway.

The runway here in TGU is very short compared with many runways in other countries. It is the second smallest international airport in the world. The actual length of the runway is 6,132 feet (1869 m). It was built on a plateau in the basin that holds Tegucigalpa and Comayaguela. Takeoffs here are really awesome. The airliner sits at the end of the runway with the parking brakes on and adds full throttle to the aircraft. After about 5-10 seconds the pilots release the brakes and you are hurled down the runway and leap into the sky with only a 1000-1500 feet (300-460 m) of runway left. It is an incredible feeling to stand on the outside beside the runway and listen to the RPM’s of the aircraft taking off.

Almost every single landing and takeoff at TGU interrupts the flow of traffic along Boulevard hacia Loarque. There are two traffic lights on either side of the runway that stop traffic whenever an airplane takes off and lands. They do not normally stop traffic for small Cessna’s or other small propeller planes; however, for jets and turbo-props traffic is stopped. The reason traffic is stopped is because of how low the aircraft must get to the ground on approach to TGU. They didn’t always stop traffic though. It wasn’t until a few years ago when a jet struck a passenger bus on approach that they finally added the traffic lights. There is only a 4 ft (1,2 m) tall fence separating the traffic from the runway.

I belive Tegucigalpa is one of the most interesting airports in the world. What a challenge for pilots to land here. How exhilarating it must be to pilot a plane in to TGU. I can’t wait for the day when I will pilot an aircraft into this beautiful airport.

Written by
Ryan Bert
No wonder people applaud vigorously upon landing.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sorry folks, I am on a tangent!

More about trash. I cannot help it. I am fixated.

I've spent the better part of today thinking about the trash situation in La Ceiba and surrounds. I KNOW there is more that can be done.

So, I took a mental inventory of the crap I see on the streets there. Clearly snack bags and candy wrappers are big, and then there are the pop bottles. (Pardon me - that's sooooooda bottles for you non-midwesterners.)

Efforts are already underway to recycle these materials, as you have seen from my previous posts. Now, don't get me wrong, there's still more to be done there. I don't know how many coin-purses, beachbags and camping igloos need to be created per month in order to use up all of that shit in the street, but I'm sure it's a LOT... a lot more than are currently being hurled into the gutters.

(There is also the mindset factor, to be sure.)

But anyway.... the other thing I notice everywhere in the street???

FRUIT WASTE.

It's unbelievable. Mango rinds, banana peels, and the husks of those strange-looking red fruits with the spiny shells... what the heck are the called?

(La Gringa? Help me out here) It looks like this:
















Anyway, here's my idea:

There's tons of farming happening on the north coast. Obviously the biggest is none other than Dole (aka Standard Fruit) growing acres upon zillions of acres of pineapple, just to the west of the city. Aside from them, there are myriad small farmers, some of whom are operating at subsistence levels.

What about providing some sort of compost service? Maybe kids or others could be paid to collect organic waste from the streets and deliver it to some location for composting?

I dunno. I'm sure there's no money in it, and it's nasty work on top of that. Nevertheless, it's something to think about... and the city would smell so much better without rotting fruit everywhere.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Trash Talk!

Okay, for those of you who don't know me personally or well, I have a confession to make:

I am obsessed with trash.

I hate it, and yet I love it.

I hate that we (Americans, Hondurans, and other assorted humans around the world) produce so much of it, but I am fascinated by things like recycling, composting, dumpster-diving, and trash-art.

So, as you may have guessed from my previous post on Basura Bags, (see the links category on the left) I am always delighted to find creative methods for dealing with the incredible litter problem in Honduras.

I saw another cool thing on Utila this past summer, and have been googling my brains out in an effort to locate more info. It was a beach bar (or something) being constructed out of pop bottles.

Well today I found and actual-factual reference to the guy who started doing it!

*happy sigh*

If I ever build a structure in Honduras, I pledge to you all right here and now, my fine readers, that pop bottles will represent at least SOME architectural component. It will go smashingly with my chip-bag woven throw rugs, to be sure.

By the way, if you're interested, here is the company website, which is in Spanish.

See what you can find on the internet?

While searching for information about the store my aunt mentioned in San Pedro Sula, I came across this interesting article about the history of Palestinians in Honduras.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

And now for some pics


This unassuming little house is located one block inland from the Hotel Parthenon, in what I assume is Barrio La Isla. The owner is from Roatan and she built the house for her son who apparently decided that Honduras is for the birds... the asking price is US$65,000.

It's certainly okay, and considering the fact that I have become a specialist in turning crap to cute, I would not immediately dismiss this choice, were it not for what I perceive to be a ridiculous price. Considering the size and sketchiness factor of the location, I would be inclined to offer something in the neighborhood of $30k for this little cottage.

(By the way, yes, those are indeed chickens in the foreground. We gotta get eggs for the crepe batter somewhere, right??)



These are condos (townhomes?) that were recently constructed across the street from that spendy little house. Per my realtor extraordinaire, they are currently going for "150-200."
As I indicated in the previous post, I didn't bother to ask her if that was in the thousands of dollars. I assume so, considering the fact that she never quoted a single thing in lempira.

I find these prices to be rather, uh, interesting.




The above is a shop right across from the central park in downtown. To my knowledge it is neither for sale nor lease at this moment, but I wanted to get some shots because my aunt tells me that she and others have long mused about how it would be a great spot for a restaurant. Apparently the space has seen quite a bit of turnover, so for all we know it may come vacant again in the near term.

It's not my ideal in terms of architecture, but it's a great location, and as you can (kind of) see from the photo, the land to the left is vacant, and it was speculated that perhaps I could enquire as to a lease for use as a patio area. (I am bound and determined to have an outdoor space, whether it be patio or champa [rooftop bar] such that I can employ my rusty container gardening skills onsite.)

By the way, it looks kind of small from the above pic, right? That's an illusion.
It's freakin' HUGE.



See?

It also has parking.

Ho Hum.

I guess if we're hanging around for a number of months as has been recommended, we can wait to see if this place opens up.

It sure is ugly though, I gotta say...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Trip! (And a notice about La Gringa's Blog)

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:

La Gringa's Blogicito is currently experiencing technical difficulties as a result of switching to Beta. Please see LG's temporary blog at
http://blogicito.blogspot.com.

AND NOW FOR THE TRIP:

What a whirlwind! After subtracting nearly two entire days for travel, I ended up with three full days in La Ceiba. They were jam-packed.

Tuesday night:

I popped into the "gringo bar" to chat with the owner. He is clearly desperate to sell. Unfortunately his price, recently lowered to US$18,000 is still too high for what it is. He does not own the location, and so basically he wants me to pay the above price for the "name" (which I don't want, nor do I want his clientele) and equipment... hardly worth $5k in my opinion. Oh, and the owner is also about to leave the country, and wanted a deposit on the place by Friday.

WhatEVER.

I told him I'd ponder the situation and get back to him by Thursday. (In other words, think up a good way to say hell no to the guy.)

After that little chat, I headed over to Maxim's in La Quinta Hotel for dinner. Per Moon Handbooks Honduras guide, it's one of the nicest restaurants in town, vying with Ricardo's for class and quality.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

OMG it was terrible. First of all, the ambiance is reminiscent of a Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet in any nameless suburban strip-mall. Glaring fluorescent lights, dusty fake foliage everywhere, and a bizarre table centerpiece which consisted of styrofoam pears and apples sprayed in pink and gold glitter.

There was no wine list, which struck me as curious since Moon also indicated that Maxim's has an impressive wine selection. Hmm. I asked the waiter if they had wine, and he nodded vigorously. I asked what kind. Tinto y blanco. Uh, okay. I ordered a glass of vino tinto and the surf & turf. In the meantime, I made notes in my journal and watched ants crawl around the table.

Shortly the waiter returned to inform me that there was in fact no vino tinto in the house, would I like blanco instead? Uh, fine. He brought it in a champagne flute.

Next came the bread. Tiny biscuits of the pre-frozen variety, which had clearly been microwaved, as they were molten hot and rubbery. A miniature plastic ramekin of margarine accompanied them. This was an appropriate segue to the surf & turf, which manifested itself in the form of a shoe-leather steak, (tenderloin my ass!) cooked to death, a "scrod" (unidentified whitefish) fillet and some okay-ish shrimp. The ubiquitous broccoli/carrot/cauliflower mix, drowning in margarine, completed the presentation. All in all, quite dissappointing. (But at least I know that my place will HAVE to be a hit, because the food will beat everyone else's in town!)

Wednesday:

Met an American (expat) real estate agent at the Hotel Paris for breakfast. She came wheezing in with a young Honduran woman (associate? helper?) and the woman's toddler in tow. The agent did not appear to be in good health. She sat down and began to tell me about how she just got out of the hospital for pneumonia, and by the way, (noticing my cigarettes on the table) if I smoke she will simply have to leave because she's terribly allergic. Mmm-kay, anyway...

As the associate/helper/whatever lady flirts with the waiter and her kid eats Equal packets and tries to drown herself in the pool, the agent launches into a speech about how there are no good restaurants in La Ceiba aside from Mango Tango, and don't I want to consider buying a buildable lot since most of the buildings in town are way out of my price range? I tell her that I do not want to build. We finish our breakfast and go for a tour.

The first place she shows me is the $90k fixer-upper house that I told her was overpriced. It's less than centrally located, about a block from the stadium on the east (?) end of town. She tells me that it sold immediately, because it was "so cheap." Next stop, a small, two bedroom house in (I think?) Barrio La Isla, one block inland from the Parthenon Hotel. She tells me that the new condos across the street are selling for "150-200." I'm assuming she means in the thousands of US dollars, but I didn't ask for clarification. The house is okay, but only one story and she suggests that I can build a champa on top. The asking price is US$65,000.

Next stop is a vacant lot near the estuary. Small. $80,000. Nope.

Final lap, we go past a lovely (though broken down) wood house right in the center of town. It's enormous. $750,000. I nearly choked. Later I heard that someone had estimated the rehab cost on that house to be in excess of Lps1,000,000. ($50k-ish?) Anyway...

Finally she took me to see the shop called Fiesta Imports, just for fun. That was probably the most useful stop on our tour. I learned that I can buy Tahini and bulk products there. Excellent. I walked back to the hotel, since the agent lived right across the street from Fiesta and wanted to go home.

Hmph.

Later that evening I went to my aunt's house in Naranjal for dinner. When I arrived, she was in the process of garnishing a salad with (gasp!) Morroccan cured olives!!! She told me that there's a shop in San Pedro Sula where you can get a variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean products such as olives and cheeses. I was DELIGHTED! I also learned that pita is available in town, so as far as I was concerned, things were definitely looking up.

Thursday:

Went to meet with the owner of that silly bar and break the news that I would not be coughing up any cash for him the following day. I wished him luck and he wished me the same. That was the end of that.

Walked the town, took pics of some buildings of interest, sweated my ass off. Paid a visit to the Rainforest Gift Shop, where not much had changed since the last time I was there. They had one single copy of Moon Handbooks Honduras Guide, priced at US$30. (US retail is $17.95)

In the evening, I returned to my aunt's house, where she had organized a dinner for me and several of her friends that she thought might have information and advice to offer. Her friends included the director and several employees of an English language school in town, as well as a writer and the wife of a furniture maker from Louisiana. It was a very enjoyable evening, the ladies were all very nice, and had lots to say about living in La Ceiba, and living as expats. (Well, those who were expats themselves, anyway.)

Friday:

I had coffee with La Gringa! She is the cooooooooooolest, but then my readers probably all know this already from having seen her blog. We had coffee at Giarre's and talked about some of her experiences living as an expat in Honduras, as well as the technicalities of transporting things like personal effects, cars, pets, and seeds for gardening. We stayed past the restaurant closing - they had cleared everything away right down to the ashtray and we stil sat there chatting! It was excellent.

After coffee, I raced off to join a happy hour gathering of the Mazapan school at the newly-reopened Expatriates bar. It was soooooooooooo NOT FINISHED! There was no rail on the long flight of stairs up to the rooftop bar, and when my poor aunt reached out to the wall to steady herself for the climb, we discovered that the paint was still wet. (!) When we got to the top of the stairs, workmen were still roughing in tiles. We had to step over them, and still got quite a bit of clay-ish grout stuff all over ourselves. I asked where the bathroom was to wash my hands (the spot where it used to be is now an extension of the new kitchen) and was told that there was no sink as of yet. At least they let me wash my hands in the kitchen.

I learned lots more about the availability of stuff like specialty foods and supplies during this gathering, and also that one of the employees of the school has a wife who recently graduated from Chef school. (And she's not yet employed in Honduras - Yay!)

My cousin's father-in-law advised me to live six months in the country before investing a penny. Interesting. I don't know if I'm patient enough for that, but we'll see how things go.

But the very BEST part of the evening was when he (my cousin's father in law) turned to me and said "you want to talk to a consulate about the residency thing? Hold on." He leans back in his chair and taps a guy on the shoulder at the next table over. "There's two of 'em right here. Why don't you go ask them some questions?"

So I did!

And guess what?

I asked them all the same Qs about whether I should go for rentista or investor residency, they hemmed and hawwed, blah blah blah, until finally one of them was like: "why don't you just get the regular residency?"

Uh...... what? Regular? Regular residency? What's that?

FFS.

I couldn't stop laughing for 5 minutes when I realized that they were serious, and that I've managed to complicate and stress over something completely uneccessary for who knows how many months now. DUH!

And that about sums it up. I left the following morning with a new plan to stop planning so much, and just move down there and see how everything flows.

Whew!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I hate yahoo in Latin America

Why does yahoo mail NEVER work for me in Latin America??

This is truly one of the world´s complex mysteries. The dang thing won´t load my mail page... just like it hasn´t for the past 4 years of trips to Honduras. (A conspiracy of hotels and internet cafes? Who knows?)

Anyway, to those who expected an email from me today (LL) - sorry. I tried. I am alive and well at the Hotel Gran Paris.

Wheee!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Can I just say...

...That today did NOT BEGIN WELL????

Oh mama.

So today is inspection day. (i.e. my buyer is going through the building with an inspector for the purposes of verifying that it's not, in fact, a total peice of crap.)

As I'm going out my front door to give the apt keys to the buyer, I hear the inspector begin a rant about the quality of my concrete steps. Ay, we're starting off well, eh? It get's better! As I'm going back into my apartment, I notice a note taped to my door:

Dear Connie,
I don't know what happened but there's water coming into our
kitchen from above and our ceiling has a big crack in it! Can you
fix?

Sincerely,
Jeanne

Ohhhhhh... boy. I snatched that note off with the quickness and glanced around guiltily.

Why todayyyyyyyyyyyy????

And THEN, the check engine light comes on in my car. I have no clue wtf that is about, but I guess I need to fix it before another potential buyer comes to look at it... grrr...

whywhywhy????

ACK!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Whatever!!!

Can everybody see my page now? Both text and background?

One of my friendly neighborhood bloggers couldn't see the background, so I changed again... hopefully this one works for all!

**BS ALERT**

This was just too funny not to share...

Per my cousin, who received an email from his peeps in La Ceiba (he grew up there) some kind of crazy storm raged over the sea between the mainland and the Bay Islands last night, (or was it the night before?) and people reported a mysterious red light that "hovered" and periodically dipped into the water.

Hmmm...

Also, apparently these things were found on Guanaja:






Clearly the aliens must be allergic to sandflies. That'll teach 'em...

Monday, September 11, 2006

In La Ceiba NEXT WEEK!

Wheee!

I will be in La Ceiba next Tuesday! I figured that five days would be adequate to run around and talk to people, but as I squint at my ticket and really pay attention to the travel days, I realize that what I actually have is THREE DAYS. Argh!

So much to do, so little time...

(BTW, I am trying a larger font size with this post... readability continues to be an issue. Damn computers.)

Now that you all think I'm fickle...

Yep, I changed the blogskin again.

I liked the blue one, but it was impossible to read the comments and I couldn't figure out how to add post titles back in. So, it had to go! This one, incidentally, is a stock blogger template, but for some reason it isn't shown in the choices on the dashboard.

Okay, enough blog babble now, I'm tired of css and html and copy-pasting.

Back to Honduras!!!

MORE LAWYER TALK!

In spite of having emailed more than four attorneys so far, I remain at one response. (The one I pasted into a previous post on residency.)

Many of the messages have bounced back to me. It is soooo frustrating.

So far, the only name that has come up more than once is Felipe Danzilo. I emailed him at fdanzilo@gbm.hn and that message came back to me, so I sent him another message at fdanzilo@honduraslaw.hn. (I found the second one via google... but I have no idea if it's older or newer or what.) I also emailed two Honduras list-servs to enquire as to whether anyone had more current info for Mr. Danzilo.

We shall see...

And then I received a message telling me that I would be "ALOT [sic] happier" if I used a gentleman by the name of Jose Oswaldo Guillen. Per the recommender (is that a word?) Mr. Guillen is a former Secretary General to the Minister of Justice and was an advisor to President Maduro.

So I emailed him too... what the heck?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!

The Bundu Cafe (on Utila) is for sale.

Why can't there be anything like this in La Ceiba?

This is a wayyyyy better deal than "the gringo bar" even though the sale price is higher. The rent is half, and they do FIVE YEAR LEASES, and the place clearly cashflows, even on minimalistic hours of operation. (I've been there a few times, and it IS a good spot.)

AND they have
commercial grade equipment, unlike my dear Bobby at the gringo bar.

I've half a mind to make them an offer... even though it would entail scuttling my plan I had for a La Ceiba tourist emporium...

Argh!

AND THE VEHICLE QUESTION...

How and when to bring a car to Honduras???

After discussing the residency problem with many different individuals, I have come to the conclusion that it will (probably) be best to work through the process while we are IN the country.
But now the problem is - how do we bring a vehicle and some of our more necessary items (computers, my ESPRESSO MACHINE and soforth) when we have yet to acquire the residency dispensation?

According to this article by Wendy Griffin, it is possible (though arduous) to drive your vehicle to Honduras and have it there for some temporary period without "nationalizing" it and paying a bunch. The article, however, was written in 1998... so goodness knows what has changed since then.

Hmmmm....

Saturday, September 09, 2006

READY, SET GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Offer accepted!

Closing 10/16!

I should be in La Ceiba by November 1!

(if not beforehand)

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!

Friday, September 08, 2006

A new look!

I just felt like changing stuff up... especially since I was one of THREE Honduras-bloggers with the same dang template!

(And I really wanted to use that sweet maracas pic.)

I hope it's readable.

UPDATE -

I have no more titles??? WTF???

Okay maybe this blog skin won't last after all... grrr I WANT POST TITLES!

As the anxiety sets in...

I spoke with my Minnesota realtor today, and she said that she anticipates having an offer on my place by the end of the day. Apparently the two interested parties have both enquired with her about writing a purchase agreement.

So why do I feel like I just ate a bag of ice cubes?

Ugh.

Breathe in...

Breathe out...








Okay. I'm better now.

Here we go...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

And now for some pics


Returning to La Ceiba on the Utila Princess... what a view!



I think he's giving me the finger, bird-style.


Yes... that flying insect TOTALLY KILLED A TARANTULA.
(...and is dragging it along happily... to do what? I have NO CLUE.)

What the hell kinda tree is this???



My attempt at artistic photography in Copan Ruinas.



I totally heart mossy rocks.

**Cool Stuff Alert**

I found the potato chip purses!!!

*happy sigh*

They're awefully pricy, but I still want to have a few for the shop. It's such a wonderful concept, and as most of my friends will tell you, I have a bizarre obsession with trash.

Now if only I could construct the shop itself out of littered pop-bottles... hmmm.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

RESTLESS!

I am soooooo ready to go.

It might be the weather, or the fact that I look at the vegetables in my garden and wonder if I should cut them now or later (small zukes rock!) because maybe I won't be around to see them to maturity...

Or maybe it's the fact that my house is ready to go, the showings abound, and my once-vociferous email campaign to people in Honduras is petering out as I am now repeatedly told "well you really just have to get down here to get the answers you want..."

I wanna GO NOWWWWWW!

dammit.

I am bored. I am restless. I still have two cars to sell and nobody's biting. Argh.

Nevertheless, I dutifully tapped out a few more emails today, and am hopeful about gaining further info. The most recent correspondence relates to suppliers for the retail portion of the shop. I emailed a coffee producer (still gonna hit a couple more) to enquire about bulk purchases as well as whether fully-automatic esspresso machines can be used in Honduras, where potable water is an issue. I also emailed another store owner (in Copan, hopefully far enough away to not consider me competition) to ask about her contacts with local villagers who produce unique handicrafts that I would like to buy.

Oh, and of course I still have emails pending (e.g. unanswered) with a few lawyers.

So now I am just sitting around, tapping my foot, hoping for something to happen.

Gawwwwwd, I am impatient!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

EEEEEKS... DRUGS & GOSSIP!

So I'm getting lots of gossip.

Don't get me wrong - this is GOOD, I think. I mean, knowledge is power, right? I am trying to be a sponge... soaking up every detail, every anecdote, every story, every email. It all has value. I emerge from every conversation with a greater, more multi-dimensional perspective on this cliff from which I am about to jump....

...right?

So:

The conversation du jour is about drugs. Or, put more specifically, the illegal drug trade on the north coast of my beloved Honduras.

*inhales deeply to quell the anxiety*

*exhales*

Okay, I'm ready:

So I KNOW that a vigorous drug trade exists in La Ceiba, and of course on the Bay Islands as well. Why, it was just today that I read about some narcotraficantes apparently landing on Utila's strip last May... (As if Utila's police ---[they have police?]--- can deal with a Cessna full of armed narcos.... but anyway, as usual, I digress.)

So I'm chatting tonight with a Ceiba resident, and she's telling me about how the Zona Viva is not only overrun with drugs (yeah I noticed that) but also that the reason real estate is so pricy along that shitty, weedy, buggy, hooker-infested coast (sorry all) is that the NARCOTRAFICANTES are laundering their flippin' dough through real estate transactions along the strip.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh SHIT.

Can I start whining now? Please?

I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to have my business in the Zona Viva!!!

So now it's not only an issue of not being able to afford it, (prices starting above $100k and that's a vacant lot, if you're lucky) but evidently even if I GET a place over there, I'm gonna have to worry about Pablo Escobar's Honduran protege messing with me?

Ayyyyyyyyyyyy... crap.

****Disclaimer****

I know that it's probably not this bad, and others operate there businesses there without getting killed or (hopefully??) extorted... but bear with me here, cuz it's a day-to-day roller-coaster ride as I soak up all the info and become momentarily dramatic.

****End Disclaimer****

So back to the story - in addition to hearing about how the Zona Viva sucks and is scary and all of that, I also got some good gossip about who hates who, and whose restaurant is shitty and soforth.

In some ways, I must say that I love this. I LOVE getting the inside scoop. On the other hand, it's a bit nerve-wracking, because I'm not even THERE YET, and I see deep fissures in this small, expat community. So I cannot help but ask myself - where will I fall in all of this? Am I hearing all sides of the story? (surely not)

Will I get sucked in? (Please God, Noooo!)

I think I need to pop some good old Act II popcorn and watch Letterman or the dependable American hookers outside my building... or something... I gotta relax!

And today... Fun with Residency!

Alright people, I am so thoroughly confused on this residency business I could scream!

If I could get even JUST TWO people telling me the same thing it would be amazing...

Here's the problem in a nutshell:

I cannot figure out whether I need rentista or investor status, nor what the exact specifications/requirements/benefits are of either one. Everywhere I go I hear something different.

So I was under the impression that "rentista" residency was for people (non-retirees!) who had a documentable income stream (from outside of the country) of US$1,000 or more. (I also thought that retirees - "jubilados" - only had to have US$600)

Then I hear from another person that rentistas merely have to exchange US$1,000 into Lemps every month, and that furthermore, it doesn't even have to be monthly like clockwork, but can be spread out over time, for example if you change $5k to do something in particular, you're good for five months...

NOW, I am told that rentista status actually requires US$2,500 per month of documentable outside income.

Mmm-kay....

So let's look at investor status now. What I learned from various documents scrounged up on the internet was that a potential investor had to:

a) submit all sortsa docs regarding the potential business
b) submit a refundable (AFTER ONE YEAR) US$5,000 deposit with the Ministry of Tourism
c) have invested US$25,000 in Honduras at the time of application for status, and
d) ultimately invest a minimum of US$50,000 in said business

Okay.

So....

There are a zillion questions rolling around in my mind about all of the above, so I decided to email some people and enquire about their own experiences. I received a hodge-podge of different answers, but the vast majority of people simply said:

"You need to contact an attorney about these issues!"

Okay, fine. Thanks.

So I emailed three different lawyers, as well as the tourism person at the DC Embassy. I just received my first response from one of the lawyers, and this was it:

It would be in your interest to file for a residency if married before, so
1) retiree=proof of $1500 monthly income
2) investor= proof of $2500 monthly income plus show $50,000 investment in Honduras
With both residencies you can bring household goods and vehicle (along with set fee for each one) and with No.1 residency you can invest in tourism/agricultural projects like anyone else.
Fees for either residency are usually $5,000 and $4,000 to set up corporations with the minimum investment (including all expenses and legal fees.)
If interested let me know. Sincerely, XXX XXXX, Attorney


Ummmmm.... what?

First of all, what happened to rentista? Is it now the same as jubilado?? And second of all, investors now have to maintain an income stream from outside of the country AS WELL AS invest $50,000??

I am soooooooooo confused....


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Exciting Times

Well it looks as though one of my tenants may end up buying my building. I'm trying not to get too excited yet, but he expressed interest immediately when I gave them all the news that I was selling, and then this morning I received an email from him confirming that his mother is going to help him with the downpayment and he will be submitting an offer next week.

Whoo-hoo!

I am so pleased to hear this, because I really want the future owner of this place to love it as much as I have, and to live here and take care of it. He could definitely be that person. My only concern is that he can come up with the dough... he seems confident though, so we shall see!

In other news, I have been emailing with a variety of individuals in Honduras, and am immensely gratified by the positive responses I've gotten back. I mean, I have contacted people who have NO IDEA who I am or what I'm about, and yet for the most part they have been friendly and helpful, recommending everything from attorneys, to advice on residency, to potential businesses I could purchase.

:-)

:-)

:-)

Hooray for nice people!

Friday, September 01, 2006

OOPS!

Uh, well, I guess I'm glad not to be in Ceiba quite yet!

A message from Marco of www.projecthonduras.com:

It was reported in today’s edition of La Prensa that
there has been a malfunction in La Ceiba’s sewage
water system, causing a discharge of untreated sewage
water into the city’s streets and beaches. There
exists the possibility that sewage water will also
pose a threat to homes that are connected to the
municipal water system. The malfunction is due to
damaged pumps in the central collection system. The
municipal government has ordered replacement pumps,
which are estimated to cost Lps 350,000 ($18,400). The
city’s environmental health expert, Bernard Martínez
is advising people to avoid swimming in La Ceiba’s
coastal waters.

Marco