Photo of the Day – Week 49

Taking my nephews running through park sprinklers and running to look at evening Christmas lights… all in the same week?    

The Unexpected Thing That Happened in Honduras

At the end of September, I walked to the grocery store in the Honduran capital’s outskirts.  The next day I sat for a few hours in a port-city.   That week I put a few miles on my shoes on one of the country’s Bay Islands. However, most of what I know about Honduras I learned from a guidebook.


Because five days into a minimum five-week visit to Honduras, the unexpected happened.

Did You Know…

September through November is hurricane season in Caribbean.

Even before my trip, tropical storms had been brutalizing the eastern seaboard and Caribbean islands.   Due to past experience, I know the havoc storms can wreak on a trip.   I dug deep into the policies Insure My Trip (an insurance search engine I always use for trips 3 months or less) proffered.   I read fine print, being sure I found every mention of the word “hurricane” or “storm.”

When is it too late to buy travel insurance? After a storm has already been named, for one!

Hurricanes. Awesome from space, not so great on the ground or sea. When a hurricane looks like this… it’s almost always too late to buy travel insurance.   photo: pixabay

It took awhile to find a policy that covered “trip interruption” a la hurricane.   Even then, it only covered you if the policy was purchased within a few weeks of the trip.   Purchase too far in advance?   No coverage.   Purchase after a storm has been named?   No coverage.   We all know insurance companies work hard to cover as little as possible, and this situation was no exception!

Quick interlude: y’all know travel insurance often covers both medical issues abroad as well as things that ruin or cripple your trip, right?   If not, check out Travel Insurance 101: Do You Need It?

So anyhoo”¦ thirteen days before the trip, I wiggled into the tiny window of hurricane insurance protection I’d found.   I took out a policy with Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, the best compromise between quality (good reviews) and price.   Also, I was quickly sick of reading insurance company fine-print, and they were the first company that had what I was looking for.

Should I buy trip cancellation insurance? Well, if you're traveling during heavy-weather season, it's definitely worth considering!

Just exactly how much is this travel insurance fine print going to cost me in the long run? Am I really going to get what I’m paying for? photo: pixabay

A few days before I took out the policy, I met someone at the Tiny House Workshop I attended who had also been to Honduras.   He brought his Lonely Planet for the country to a coffee date, and I gratefully devoured it.

Doin’ Me Some Book Learnin’

(If you don’t want to learn about Honduras, skip this section.)

Turns out colonialists have been taking what they pleased from Hondurans since at least the days of good ol’ Chris Columbus.   Here’s what I learned:

  • “Hondurans” is kind of inaccurate.   Apparently citizens identify first with their ancestry, then maybe religion, and then  Honduras.   E.g. It’s said that Hondurans in the Bay Islands and Miskitu coast sometimes have more affinity for the UK (who controlled parts of Honduras through 1860) than Honduras itself.
  • When Columbus finally managed to land in the Americas, it was a Honduran Mayan he kidnapped to act as his local guide.
  • The conquest years decimated 95% of the indigenous population.
  • When a local man — Lempira — successfully organized a resistance to forced servitude, the Spanish colonialists responded by importing African slave labor.   To this day the county honors Lempira with its currency: Lempiras are what you spend in Honduras.

    Is travel health insurance worth it? Maybe. In countries with affordable medical care, like Honduras where the Lempira is the currency, you might be able to pay out of pocket. Unless you get badly injured.

    The man himself… photo: twitter

  • Although Honduras declared its independence in 1821, hard times didn’t end.   Some of you know “Banana Republic” as a mid-scale clothing brand.   However, the term was first coined to describe a tropical country where bananas dominated exports to the tune of 80% – controlled, of course — by companies based outside the country.
  • Two fruit companies — Dole and Chiquita — built a duopoly in Honduras.   In their bid for industry domination, they picked sides politically.   The face-off led to dirty deals, a promised railway that never materialized, and land grabs that left Hondurans without access to food.   Years later, they would succumb to pressure to return the land”¦ but only after they realized it would make the company’s life easier.   Why deal with the problems and risks involved in owning and caring for land when you can convince a farmer to give you an exclusive contract and deal with the hassle?   Score!

    Is it necessary to buy travel insurance? Well, that depends. Usually, yes. It's a gamble not to, especially if you're traveling to the tropics!

    Banana republic – not just a store at American malls.

  • As the workers absorbed banana pesticides that were banned in the US for causing migraines, vision loss, infertility, cancer, and birth defects 1for god sake, people.   If you’re going to buy bananas at all, please pay the tiny bit more for organic.   It’s better for you and for thousands of farm workers, they endured a few decades of dictatorship, a few decades of rebuilding democracy, then another few decades of dictatorship.   In 1980, the people finally prevailed, getting back a congress and electing a president.
  • That didn’t stop the banana pesticides or change the fact that only 11% of the land in Honduras is arable (suitable for growing crops).

    Is it necessary to buy travel insurance? Necessary? No. Smart? Absolutely. Especially if it's a short trip, travel insurance is really, really affordable and covers an enormous amount of stuff!

    Unlike Hondurans who had little way of protecting themselves from being dispossessed of their arable land (and ending up in places like this), you can protect yourself from financial hardship with travel insurance! photo: pixabay

  • It also didn’t get rid of their super-poor neighbors with even bigger problems.
  • It also didn’t keep child refugees who’d escaped to the U.S., internalized American entitlement, hit endless barriers in their quest for the American dream, and turned to the only lucrative life available to them — crime – from finally being deported back to their relatively lawless homeland.   The gangs for which Honduras and El Salvador are now famous, the gangs that give the Honduran capital the moniker, “Murder Capital of the World,” were born in Los Angeles.   An aggressive deportation scheme from 2000 to 2004 saw the return of 5,000 criminals per year, bred on U.S. soil, and dumped back into Honduras”¦ a place where the average daily wage might cover a restaurant meal..

Acts of God?   The Unexpected:

Right before the astronomical influx of criminals in Honduras, a hurricane named Mitch destroyed the foundation in which Hondurans had been investing.   It’s said the storm erased 50 years of progress, taking out every single bridge in the country and destroying 70% of roads and crops.

I didn’t find out about Hurricane Mitch until after I’d already purchased my hurricane protection travel insurance..

On my fifth day in Honduras, I woke to clear skies.   Another hot and humid 85 degree day brewed on the eastern horizon.   The storm that would hit later that morning ended up being a personal one”¦ also covered by travel insurance.

Should I buy trip cancellation insurance? An easy question to answer when you're traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season. Little did I know I my trip would be cancelled for an entirely different reason.

When I bought trip cancellation insurance (bundled into travel health insurance), this is the kind of “storm” I was expecting. photo: pixabay

While I sat on a shady porch swing getting a few hours of work done, I got a message from my little sister — a registered nurse.   She was sitting in a hospital emergency room waiting for damage evaluation.   My grandmother had just had a stroke, future unknown.

The point of this whole trip to Honduras was to spend some quality time with my mother — the first ever mother-daughter trip of our lives.   It was the first of seven trips I hope to add to my bank of Mom-memories over the next several years — seven being the number I think we can reasonably fit into the remainder of her mobile life.   (If that doesn’t make you starkly aware of just how short life is, maybe this will.)

"Should I buy flight insurance?" I asked myself as I planned a trip with my mom. Answer: for hurricane season in the Caribbean, yes! But to our surprise, that's not why we ended up using our flight insurance.

While we didn’t as much water time in our cut-short trip as we’d hoped, our wallets didn’t suffer as much as they could have.   I’m so grateful we answered “Should I buy flight insurance” with a resounding “Yes!”

I cried when I explained to the SCUBA school owner what was happening back home.   My mom cried when I pulled her aside on the SCUBA training dock to tell her what had happened to her mother.   She teared up again as we drove to the ferry, passing all the island attractions we had just added to our bucket list.   She’d been looking forward to this trip all year.   The grief of facing her mother’s mortality and the loss of our trip hit her in wave after wave as we made our way to my grandmother’s bedside.   I was numb from too much travel and focused on logistics.

The biggest irony: on the flight home I watched airplane TV.   The final scribble in my Honduras trip log is a note-to-self to try and find a song that caught my ear on a TV show:

I guess the universe has a sense of humor?   Or maybe it’s a yin-yang thing, my attention being caught by an uplifting song on a day that was definitely not “The Best Day Ever.”.

Do I Still Hate Travel Insurance?

Regular readers know    I don’t love insurance.   Of any kind.   It seems like such a scam.   A ploy.   A way to profit off of people’s fears.   My adversaries call me an idiot.   (And I am, technically, an idiot.)   They say that insurance is the best thing to happen since sliced bread.   They say it’s an incredible first-world privilege to be able to take the risks involved in home ownership, travel, driving a car, and being alive and pay to have the potential consequences mitigated.

In my late teens and early 20’s, as a relatively healthy person who had narrowly escaped several calamities, as a person who painstakingly grew her savings account by less than a hundred dollars each month, I found the idea of insurance and its associated cost downright offensive.   Nothing bad was going to happen.   I had proof – i.e. two decades of life unscathed!   And in spite of my extensive proof, you want basically the entire amount I manage to scratch together each month for my savings account?   Go. Take. A Flying. Leap.

When should you buy travel insurance? Always. Almost. I don't usually get it for a quick two-or-three day trip to a western country, but I always buy it when I go to the tropics!

Spend money on traveling the world or “waste” it on travel insurance? No contest! Err…. wait…. Maybe it is worth it to buy trip insurance? photo: pixabay

Now, with more than ten years of travel under my belt, after a busted ankle in the Philippines, after an emergency hospital visit in Cambodia, and now after being able to race to my grandmother’s bedside (vs. anxiously awaiting flights in my out-of-pocket price range)”¦ I’m a little less vocal about the down sides of travel insurance.

It’s true that I haven’t made a claim on the majority of insurance policies I’ve taken out over the years.   It’s also true that they few times I didn’t take out a policy and something happened, I was able to pay out-of-pocket without much financial pain.   But the biggest truths are that:

  • I’ve now broken even in the travel insurance department
  • time has worn me down: I now buy travel insurance for almost every travel segment.   For 90 days or less, I find a policy through Insure My Trip’s search engine.   For anything longer, I go with World Nomads since True Traveller is only available to to UK and European (EEA) residents.   (More on all that  here).

Do “happy travels” mean traveling insured?   You decide.

Safe Travels, y’all! ♣


1 for god sake, people.   If you’re going to buy bananas at all, please pay the tiny bit more for organic.   It’s better for you and for thousands of farm workers

What it’s Like to Do the $15 Challenge

It’s been almost two months since I decided to finally get a handle on my out-of-control spending.

Honestly, I was really surprised to find myself spending to zero each month.   As a life-long saver, I’m not talking full-zero.   I have retirement savings.   I have investments.   But the account I use for things like buying groceries, gas, phone service, restaurant meals, clothes, health-related items, supplies, gifts, insurance…. zero.   Even in the red at the end of the month.   While I could always pay my credit card bill (I use credit cards to get free flights) by the due date, I realized there were moments in my life that money in the bank was less than money owed.   That’s bad.   Super bad.

Add New Amazon Store ID?

Why do I want to add a new Amazon store ID?   I just created a new website, and I want to track Amazon sales for that site separately from this site.   In the link-creator, there are two drop downs – store ID and tracking ID.   I successfully figured out how to add a tracking ID.

But when I googled “Add New Store ID Amazon” and its variations, I got nothing.   Well, no helpful answer in the top ten of 89 billion results.    I am a good googler.   So why can’t I figure out how to add a new Amazon store ID?   If you’re Amazon Associate savvy, jump ahead  for the answer.

(Hey real quick: this post is really just a gift to the internet.   My apologies to regular Half the Clothes readers who might be super confused right now.)

What is an Amazon Store ID?.

Quick lesson on a popular income source in the website-owning world: recommending stuff to buy.   If people buy thanks to your recommendation, you get a cut of what they spent.   (It doesn’t cost them anything more. The big corporations just say “thanks!” by sharing a tiny slice of their profits.   1In fact, Amazon recently decreased these profit sharing commissions.   They called it “simplifying.”   I guess as in: “We simply see no reason to share as much of our profits with the little guys who bring us business anymore.”   But I digress. )   Yes, this opens the door to people shouting “____expensive product____ is the best thing ever!   You should totally buy it!” …all while holding their fingers tightly crossed behind their backs.

You see the little drop-down for Amazon Store ID and want to add a new one for your new website? Well guess what...

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!   Look at you in your fancy suit that you paid for with lies told to the internet.   Naughty, naughty!   photo: pixabay

Case in point: TrustedHousesitters.   As I explained here, this mediocre house sitting platform is super popular simply because they have the best affiliate program. (An affiliate program is a thing you have to sign up to in order to get paid for successfully recommending something.)   For the record, I do participate in affiliate programs for things I actually think are worth spending your precious, hard-earned cash on.   It’s how I can afford to pay for this website to exist and how I keep groceries in the fridge and coffee in my cup as I sit here pounding my keyboard into the wee hours of the night writing things like this very article you’re reading that will never make me a penny.

(Here’s more on my product recommendation/affiliate stance.)

Right.   So.   Amazon has an affiliate program  they call “Amazon Associates.”   And each “associate” has an Amazon Store ID..

How to Add a New Store ID for the Amazon Associates Program?

It wasn’t until I finally refined my googling to, “store id amazon more than one website,” that I got my answer to how to add a new Amazon Store ID.

The answer?

You can’t!

Why?   Well first let’s revisit why I wanted to add a new Amazon store ID in the first place.   It’s probably similar to the reason you, dear Googler, want to add a new Amazon store ID.

I’m starting a new website!   I’ll link to it later when it has more than half a post on my disbelief about… well, it’s a secret for now.   But in my first post, I talk about how I made my discovery while listening to a podcast while laying on a foam roller… a device I think everyone should own and use.   Or at least all computer-phone-steeringwheel-users.

So of course I’m going to link to an example of the product on Amazon, just in case you want to take my extremely passive advice.   But then I realized my Amazon identifiers – my Amazon Store ID and my Tracking ID – are clearly related to this site.

It's this screen that sent me on a wild goose chase to add a new Amazon store ID

See?   Store ID and Tracking ID.   Might as well change both to match my new website, right?   Well adding the new Tracking ID was easy!   Click on your email when logged in as an associate and click “manage tracking IDs.”   Type the text you want, click create, done!     Adding a new Amazon Store ID?   Nope.   Not easy to figure out.

But they both show up as drop-downs, so off I went to figure out how to add my new site to my Amazon account by creating a new tracking ID and a new Amazon Store ID.   As mentioned in the last caption, the tracking ID was a piece of cake.   The new Amazon store ID?   Never going to happen.

Why You Can’t Add a New Amazon Store ID

Apparently (says all the forums) people are only allowed to have one Amazon store ID unless they submit a super special request and get super special approval.   Even then, rather than easily matching Store and Tracking ID with whatever website I’m working on, I’d have to regularly re-login to Amazon based on which store I wanted to generate an ID from.   What a pain-in-the-neck!

Add to that a pain in the… back?   Shoulders?   Allegedly you have to represent very separate business interested to Amazon, complete with separate tax IDs, bank accounts, and the like.

Why?   I’m guessing sellers and associates must have the same root in the Amazon databases?   So if I personally sell, let’s say, gummy bear anatomy puzzles  or  retro handsets for cell phones that I make in my garage and offer on Amazon 2for the record, I have nothing to do with said puzzles, I am acting as a seller.   And if I tell you about gummy bear anatomy puzzles and you buy one, I’m acting as an “associate” (affiliate).   But we all have a store ID, regardless of whether or not we actually run a store on Amazon or tell people which things to buy from other people’s stores?

Not sure on that last part.   But if it’s true, then here’s the rub.   If I don’t want my neighbor who stood around in my garage “chatting” and is now making and selling his own gummy bear anatomy puzzles  and retro handsets for cell phones on Amazon to be able to compete with me… I could just make a whole bunch of Amazon accounts selling my puzzles and hopefully drown him out.   His gummy bears and handsets will never see the light of day!   Take that!

So.. it seems like we associates are being punished by a crappy structure at Amazon.   I can’t see any reason why it should matter if we have a zillion store IDs and a zillion websites. Thanks for depriving me of perfectly-tidy-tracking, Amazon.   I like it as much as I like your commission structure being “simplified.”   And you’re welcome for all the travel products I help you sell!

Happy Amazon-ing, Y’all!  ♣


1 In fact, Amazon recently decreased these profit sharing commissions.   They called it “simplifying.”   I guess as in: “We simply see no reason to share as much of our profits with the little guys who bring us business anymore.”   But I digress.
2 for the record, I have nothing to do with said puzzles

Why I Drink Kombucha – 3 Reasons

3 Reasons to Drink Kombucha

Mmmm… prickly pear ginger kombucha just begging to be poured into a glass of ice!

Over the past thirty years, kombucha has slowly crept into mainstream awareness in America.   I remember visiting my grandparents as a kid and thinking they were so weird because they made tea from a big, white, slimy “mushroom” they kept in a casserole dish in the fridge.