It’s a Hap Hap Happy Day

Always good to see people happy in their work…

It has been a happy day here too, even if we have not been tying anyone down.

We are feeding an orphan lamb…Oliver…who is a complete tyrant. He sleeps in Leo’s office and at five thirty a.m. on the dot he calls for milk….drinks three bottles. Sleeps.

Wakes again at six thirty..three more bottles. At this point Leo takes him out on a collar and lead to his pen…

Little does Oliver The Insatiable know that once that the nights are fine with the approach of the dry season he will be overnighting in his pen for a while before joining the other sheep …though milk will still be provided until he is independent.

The dogs are well and happy…chickens are laying even if the ducks are on strike…the garden is looking lovely… but it is a hap hap happy day as Leo has decided to give himself a goal to get on his feet properly after his accident.

We are off to Guatemala in December.

We should have visited Guatemala before, when the brother in law came over for a tour of Central America, but we only got as far as Honduras – a country which enchanted me. I am so glad we saw something of it before yet another U.S. inspired coup plunged it into insecurity once again.

BIL wanted to see the Mayan ruins at Copan, so we did that, but I have to admit that Mayan architecture does not do much for me. It might have done more had I not read Terry Pratchett’s ‘Eric’ just before the trip.


Accordingly while BIL clambered about among the ruins all I could think of was a parrot shouting ‘Whotsit’ and The Luggage sprinting up the temple steps  annihilating all in its path..

Better still if we had visited the site ‘El Puente’ before going to Copan.

A subsidiary city of Copan it has been far less explored…but had a superb museum. I was lucky enough to have been given a guided tour by the director of the site…one of the most handsome men I have ever encountered…who put the city into its historical and geographical context for me. Beats a guide book any day.

I preferred the old colonial towns…drowsing in the wake of their history, like Gracias a Dios…once the capital of Central America …now quiet under the walls of the fortress San Christobal

gracias a dios fort san christobal

Coming out of the hot lowlands I can just imagine how those men in their armour and hot garments would say ‘Thanks be to God ‘ on reaching the cool uplands….

We returned by a route which, while marked as a road on the map, proved to be a track…dusty trails, rickety bridges. close your eyes and hope for the best, you name it…but we survived and ended up in Comayagua.. another one time capital, this time of Honduras.

I had wanted to go there to see the oldest working clock in the Americas.

comayagua cathedral 2

It does not look very impressive at first sight, high up on the tower of the Comayagua cathedral, but it is a fascinating piece of machinery.


It is connected by wires to a two hundred year old bell – La Emigdio – which strikes the quarter hours and to a three hundred year old bell – La Conception – which rings the hours.

Popularly supposed to have first been installed in the Alhambra under the Moors, then given as a present to the bishop of Camayagua by Philip II of Spain in the sixteenth century, experts have suggested that it could have been made in that period in what was then the Spanish Netherlands….


With only a week to spare we shall not see much of Guatemala, but there seems to be plenty to do in Guatemala City, if we are not mugged or killed. Apparently casual crime is a problem to the extent that there are armed police on the city buses….

Our lawyer’s daugter was a missionary there a few years ago and was glad to get back to the safety of Costa Rica. I wonder if it was a coincidence that he asked us whether we wanted to revise our wills in any way before we leave…

Still, there are museums aplenty to keep us amused, a botanic garden to explore and squares to sit in while Leo rests. I expect we will survive.

A friend who visits Guatemala often in search of textiles bemoans the replacement of traditional dyes by modern, neon bright ones, but has given me a good address for finding the real stuff in Antigua, once – you have guessed it – capital of Central America until partially destroyed in an earthquake in the late eighteenth century.

As the real stuff will probably be at surreal prices I think I might confine my research to the museums. As one who used, in another life, to spin, dye and weave I am looking forward to  seeing how the Guatamaltecans go about it.


We will try to go to Antigua, however. Now a UNESCO site, it is sanitised beyond belief, but still worth seeing for its architecture…


Having thought that our travelling days were over I am delighted that Leo has determined that they are not.

Things have changed about the way in which we travel though…no more day long bus rides and no more hotels in the back of beyond with polyester sheets. The goal is to get Leo walking confdently again, rather than to slide off the bed and break a hip so we are letting the ‘plane take the strain and have found a comfortable hotel in the city centre in what appears to be a safe area.

Of course, we may be tempting fate by talking about it…Leo could have another attack, there could be another hurricane, I could drop dead…but if it comes off I shall be delighted to be travelling together once again, after all my solitary journeys.

To have someone to whom to say

‘Look at that!’




44 thoughts on “It’s a Hap Hap Happy Day”

  1. This is good news about Leo’s plans for the trip. He clearly isn’t the type who says “I think I MIGHT be able to manage a nice cruise” and so I am certain you will both enjoy your stay in a probably-reasonably-safe area!

    I have never seen any real Mayan architecture, and so Copan looks the kind of place I’d like to visit. Since I won’t be able to do that in the near future, I’ll make sure to buy “Eric,” which I have never read .

    I am not a weaver but have always liked South American weaving; the colours cheer me up on grey days. By the way have you ever wondered why people who live in cold, dark countries like Iceland and Sweden shun brilliant vibrant sunny colours and have such plain and colourless decor?

    Look forward to hearing more about your trip.

    1. Yes, those cheerless colours when you think you would prefer something to alleviate the drabness of the weather…

      ‘Eric’ has only one section on Central American habit and customs, but, as usual, finding myself in the scene as it were, it dominated my thinking.

      I was worrying whether Leo would ever be back to walking properly when out of the blue he said that he thought he needed a goal and, as we had missed Guatemala on BIL’s visit, that would be where we would go. So off we go…

  2. You have another lamb?
    You are going to Guatamala?
    Can you check if the brandy bottle is empty…?
    It really is good that Leo feels able to make a journey like that. And it will be great saying ‘Look at that…’over and over again. Good news indeed!

    1. We do indeed. He will be back with his fellows by the time we go away, and Danilo will keep a good eye on him.
      Guatemala it is…they do a very good rum there, apparently…Zacapa. M lawyer wants a bottle…
      We are making the trip as easy as possible and won’t be pushing ourselves while there, but I am delighted that he wanted to make a trip again.

  3. Have a great time! I haven’t been to Guatemala in 40 years but I still have a couple of blankets that I picked up in Huehuetenango — woven on home looms, with the old dyes. I guess I should take better care of them. Back then Antigua was already pretty sanitized. They should have the best stuff, though. Nice if you’re a shopper. And it may be smart to play it safe, in terms of getting around. Uneven pavement can give you some nasty surprises. Take lots of photos. We’ll want a full report.

    1. I am terrible with photgraphs. Having a good memory for places I don;t think to take them…and then there is all the business of finding the camera in my bag, but i will try.
      From what my friend says, yes, you should take care of those blankets…I shall see what is on offer, carefully avoiding those places that allow tourists to pretend that they are weaving.
      Wow..I wonder .if their uneven pavements can beat San Jose’s uneven pavements. Battle of the giants!

  4. You have made me hap hap happy reading your post, knowing that you are about to make a trip together. And your writings are absolutely “brilliant” or as I would normally say “wonderful”! I can always count on a few moments of pure pleasure while reading your post. I am so glad that we had a chance to visit in your home for now I can place all of you, including Oliver.

  5. Good morning! Good on Leo and great for both of you. Have to admit to being in a similar situation – J is galloping about as per usual and my bloody knees after ops on both are overtaking me as well! Difficult to keep a good and positive attitude. So, once again, I’ll raise a glass for Leo this time for his fortitude and determination – ‘Cheers!’

    1. You’ll get there, I am sure.
      Leo said that because how we ran things had changed while he was hors de combat he felt that he was getting into a role of being ‘the invalid’ so he thought that having a goal to get him moving again might do the trick.
      Enjoy your glass of home made raki….

  6. What hap hap happy news Helen. I can feel your delight at the prospect of enjoying an adventure together, and am so pleased that Leo is feeling ready to get back on his feet again.

    I’ll look forward to hearing all about your trip in due course. It’s a shame you can’t take Oliver with you, Leo will miss those early morning calls. 🙂

    1. You think that Leo is getting up to feed Oliver? Though now he is more mobile I could suggest it…
      I am delighted that Leo thought that the best therapy would be a trip…we might not do very much while we are there…but at least we will be there and with peace of mind as Danilo will be moving into the house to keep the dogs company.

  7. Bright, bright, sunshiny day. I found a friend in tears at her kitchen table, years and years ago. The new band of lambs, led by the kids, had removed the back screen door and taken ownership of the house. Both floors. Happy travels! And do pay attention to that weaving. I look at that woman’s backstrap loom and am made humble.

    1. Poor woman! What a house invasion! I can’t think why people think that sheep are stupid. Our lot are as bright as a waggonload of monkeys. Oliver knows that if he gnaws at the strings which keep the gae to his pen closed he can escape…so if the milk is late there is the tic toc of little feet on the tiles and an indignant ‘baaa!’ as he stands by the stove top. Good luck Danilo while we are away..
      I have a list of museums to see to study weaving techniques before I let myself loose in any markets, but have a feeling that I am going to be blown away by the skills.

  8. I’m happy to hear that Leo wants to travel and you are planning a trip together. I hope it all goes to plan (with a few pleasant and amusing surprises on the way, but no disasters).

    1. It is his idea to get himself back to normal…and I shall very much enjoy travelling somewhere new together even though we don’t plan to do very much. Still…who knows!

    1. Furnishing fabric mostly…I used to enjoy it tremendously.
      Yes, I hope that the trip goes ahead – with his health problems you never know from one day to the other – and that he can make the most of it while not pushing himself too much.

  9. So glad to hear that you are both about to travel again. I hope that all goes well and that you manage to get around with no problems. November/December we have 2 weeks in Nevis and this is followed by 3 weeks in the UK. I suspect the rapid change in temperature will put me back in bed again, it seems to do me in every year and last year I slept all Christmas day!!! Take care and enjoy Diane

    1. A young friend has been trying to show me how to use an EOS camera…by the time I have the whole contraption assembled whatever I wanted to photograph would have walked off…. I am looking forward to it though…

  10. Helen (is your middle name Penelope???) I can feel your joie de vivre! And glad to hear that Leo will be on his feet again before long. I hope it all goes swimmingly and look forward to reading about, seeing pictures of and experiencing through your eyes (reading this made me feel very unwintrily warm) yet another place I would love to visit but know I probably won’t. Travel well!

    1. I don’t suppose we shall be very adventurous and I don’t want Leo to overtire himself, but we havea list of museums and galleries we want to visit.
      I discovered that Guatemala City attracted him when a guide book described it as dirty and dangerous… which means, as far as Leo is concerned, that it must be super!

        1. San Jose in Costa Rica was similarly described…but we were enchanted by it on our first visit…you would walk into an area and find a row of Art Deco buildings. Run down, yes…but still there.
          Years later the city council are busy tarting things up, sanitising the years of neglect which, to me, added their own patina to the buildings.
          Fell for him..oh yes..hook, line and sinker!

  11. Goodness, all these interesting places I’ve never heard of! I’m intrigued by the oldest working clock in the Americas. I’m glad it still works and hasn’t been left to rust and rot due to “funding cuts”. Armed police on the buses sounds a bit scary. I hope you enjoy your holiday without any mishaps.

    1. So do I!
      Mark you, when we first visited Granada in Nicaragua an American neighbour warned us not to walk on the pavements but in the middle of the road….to avoid being mugged. As opposed to being run over, I suppose.
      I liked the idea of he clock coming from the Alhambra…blasted experts, spoiling everything – as Gove would say.
      We have seen some interesting things since moving here…including a wall of petroglyphs in northern Nicaragua which seems not to feature in any tourist guide. A chap we met while travelling told us about it and showed us it. I would still like to go to Colonia Antigua in Nicaragua…once the capital before being stormed by Henry Morgan and his pirates, following the river up from the Caribbean coast. It is now a tiny village served by one bus a day…and I have never managed to catch it.

  12. I’m afraid this is a bit of a rapid fire comment just to say that, as ever I thoroughly enjoyed the post, that I am DE-lighted that Leo is feeling well enough for an adventure and I shall be willing you to have a super time. And to say what a lucky lambkin Oliver is … imagine – he might have been trailing around after that sop Mary with no hope of bottles of goodness to gobble up!

          1. I’ve just qualified as a teacher of English as a second language and I can tell you that any students I teach will have a far greater grasp of grammar and spelling and indeed intelligible English than most of the unfortunate youngsters going through the British system (though Scottish education always was far better in my opinion). The fact that my daughters are all extremely articulate and literate is more to do with how they were schooled at home than at school and I used to tear my hair out at some of the methodology.

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