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Rachel and I went into Gracias today, on a purchasing trip. We left the house at 6:30, along with the men who were heading to the bridge project. They were dropped off at Russell’s house, so they could all drive to the bridge project together in the one vehicle, while Rachel and I could drive around to do our errands and then drive home in the other vehicle.

We had several errands to do in town, including buying groceries. Our little puppy, Nutmeg, has an infection inside the skin on the top of her head, which is looking pretty nasty, so we needed to get some antibiotics for her. We also wanted to see about purchasing a grinder for grinding up coffee beans, as our little electric one has given up. This time we figured we’d get a heavy, local style, manual grinder. We use an electric grinder for our wheat, but we don’t grind up all that much coffee, so we thought we could manage with a manual version for this (the electric wheat grinder isn’t the correct type for use with coffee beans).

After dropping off the men, Rachel and I hit our first stop – the vegetable market. While we were there, Allen called. I figured he’d left something in the car we had, and needed us to drive it out to him at the bridge, but it was worse than that – he needed something from home!

Rachel and I revamped the plan. We quickly finished the grocery shopping by only getting the absolute necessities, and then we headed home. With me driving (I don’t go very fast on the very rough roads – I like my “comfort”) it takes us about 25 minutes to get home from Gracias. We pulled in, unloaded groceries and loaded up the materials Allen needed. We also decided to take Nutmeg into town with us this time, as she might need a shot, and the “vet” (really just the guy who owns the agricultural supply place) would administer the shot for us, if we had the dog along. Otherwise, he’d send the syringe of medicine with us, and we’d have to give the shot.

I dropped Rachel and Nutmeg off in town. Nutmeg is about 3.5 months old, but pretty big, and had never worn a collar or leash before today. She also wasn’t familiar with the traffic and strange dogs of town. She’s a rather timid dog, so she wasn’t going to get into trouble, but she did suggest rather strongly to Rachel that going a different direction, to avoid some strange dog, would be a better idea than going where Rachel wanted to go. Eventually she got used to the new things, and did well the rest of the time. She received liquid antibiotics and also a couple of her puppy shots, for which she was due.

Meanwhile, I headed out of town to the bridge project, in the nearby town of Las Flores. At the risk of making myself sound like a wimp, I have to admit that this was the furthest from home I’ve driven in Honduras, since I started driving here almost two years ago. I have driven to Gracias, and home again, and that’s all. My manual transmission skills are just barely passable, and I haven’t had any reason to go any farther. So, today was the day. I was driving much faster than usual, as this was on the main paved road between Gracias and Santa Rosa de Copan. It was a new experience for me, driving on paved roads. It took much more shifting than I’m used to, as it also involved lots of speed bumps and some ups-and-downs over mountains. One other thing made this trip a bit extra-stressful – I left my cell phone with the kids at home, so that they would be able to contact us in the event of an emergency, so I didn’t have a phone with me. I thought about that a few times, as I struggled with downshifting while climbing hills. I got better over the course of the round trip, though.

After dropping off the materials at the bridge site and returning to pick up Rachel and Nutmeg in town, we headed home, again. I had another “first” in my driving today. We have a gate we have to open, to enter our property, and the gate is located at a very steep spot in our driveway. Usually I call ahead, and have someone from the house (usually Ben) run out and open the gate for me, so I don’t have to stop on the hill. Today, for the first time, I stopped on the hill while Rachel opened the gate, and then I . . . restarted on the hill! And nobody died!

It was a big day for me, and all that was before 11am!