Sunday, July 15, 2012

Roatan...End of Story!

Getting to Roatan aboard our small Cessna was a chapter in itself! Our pilot, El Capitan, did not speak English but he made up for it in personality and quickly became the Tour Guide Extraordinaire! Signaling for the camera he posed us in front of the plane, on both sides just in case the light was better, and then motioned for me to get into the tight front seat alongside him. Poor Howard squeezed into the rear area with our baggage stowed somewhere in the nether regions.

Ready for take-off?!

Leaving Utila he banked over the reefs, waving his hands for me to be sure to get adequate photos of this and that. I would rather his hands be firmly on whatever that is that keeps us steady! But we soon became caught up in his exuberance and had not only a great, fun flight but a beautiful one as well! He insisted that I take the controls and pointed to his proper little GPS that had us on course for the airport in Roatan.  Coming in for a landing we hardly felt the “touchdown” and rolled right up to the little terminal. 

Banking for a better view of leaving Utila

El Capitan is one funny guy...notice the little GPS!

Flying over Infinity Bay...we'll soon be snorkeling that beautiful reef

Entering the airport was almost surreal.  Nobody stopped us to look at passports; no one searched our luggage, no paper work!  We just walked outside and soon found Marty, our driver, the same dear man we had on our first trip here a couple of years ago.  He is 41 years old and he and his wife have raised their 4 children in the same house he was born in.  His oldest son is in college and all the children go to the international language school on the island.

Half Moon Bay beach on Roatan!

We contacted Stella, our rental agent for our first visit, and she quickly put together a great place for us to stay for a week, and quite reasonable.  We have the second floor of a large, private ocean front home that is located in of all places, Half Moon Bay, just north of West End Village, but an easy walk into town through beautiful jungle landscaping.  It consists of a large living/dining/kitchen area and bedroom with large bathroom and walk-in shower.  Two large, wooden decks open out onto the ocean bordering the reef, no beach, but the views are terrific, especially facing west for the spectacular sunsets.

We have the top floor of this private home

Living area with deck looking west over the reef

And the days pass

Sunset from our deck

We have a couple of decent restaurants just steps away thru jungle paths, an internet café in town probably a half mile or so where more restaurants, dive shops, clothing and knickknack stores, mini-supers, and trucks displaying the daily fresh vegetables and fruits are located. There are home-made gelato shops but none compare to Placencia! And the prices have gone up considerably. We were actually appalled when going in for internet and had the prices quoted in U.S. dollars, and how about $5 per hour! I rudely said “you must be out of your mind”, so we bargained $10 for our week stay. Even many restaurants had menu items in dollars which immediately makes me suspicious. I fear Roatan is pushing it’s luck for tourist business though with cruise ships arriving two or three times a week, I guess they’re getting their prices. 

Our jungle trails 

Shops in West End Village

And let me tell you about the rain in Roatan! I’ve actually been trying to compose a poem that best describes it. Out of our 4 days thus far, it has rained 3; and I mean pouring, drenching, wind blown deluges. The streets in West End are not paved so the pot holes quickly fill up and passing vehicle traffic poses an unsolicited mud bath option. Then the sun miraculously appears for an hour or so, and then more rain. Don’t get me wrong we have great accommodations, rain or shine, and can prepare meals right here, though usually choosing to eat either lunch or dinner out.

Infinity Bay has the most beautiful beaches.  The crystal clear turquoise waters along its reef made for some of the best snorkeling imaginable.  We were lucky to have a friend there and took the water taxi over for an enjoyable day.  Otherwise our days have been spent hanging out here in our little casita, reading some very good books; “Straight Into Darkness” by Faye Kellerman and “The Art Thief” by Noah Charney. Then one or two trips into town for exercise, internet, lunch or dinner; or shopping for fruit, veggies, eggs and cheese in case we become housebound due to rain. 

 Of the three Bay Islands, Roatan is the largest, and most developed for tourism, measuring almost 40 miles in length and with a total landmass of 49 square miles. The island has a mountainous backbone and is totally surrounded by coral reefs, offering superb diving as well as excellent fishing.  West End is without question the area with more establishments catering to tourists, idyllic beaches in a very tropical setting, small hotels and restaurants, featuring from extremely budget-conscious to the most expensive on the Island.

We fly out this coming Sunday to Houston then Phoenix.  We leave with mixed emotions.  This has been such an incredible month, experiencing many adventures, some for the first time, and a part of us wants to just "keep on going"!  We're so close to Guatemala and the Rio Dulce, then there is Panama and Costa Rica not too far away either.  (Note: we did get to Panama and Costa Rica on our Tall Ship cruise last November 2011.)  But our little casamobile calls us.....

Welcome back to reality…! So I start contemplating “what is reality”? Or rather where! Is not our reality the product of our lifestyle which probably isn’t quite normal, but what is “normal”? Oh Lynda, don’t start! It’s all relative, right?!
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