Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Roatan Adventure, Days 1 and 2

Last Saturday, the adventure finally began. I started planning this trip so long ago and it was finally here! I can't even begin to describe how many hours of research, phone calls, and e-mails went into this trip. When traveling to another continent, it's important to have all of your ducks in a row.
Mainland Honduras is NOT a place you want to go for vacation. It's widely known as the murder capital of the world due to the political unrest and drug cartels. Roatan is an island 30 miles off of mainland Honduras and is considered relatively safe for tourist travelers. Roatan is a place I heard about very early last year and immediately put it on the top of my "tropical paradise travel list". As the trip neared, I started to get pretty nervous due to a recent string of armed robberies, and even a murder, on the island. Some of the cruise ship passengers were being targeted for robberies, and a cruise ship employee was shot days before my trip because he wouldn't hand over his cell phone. So the anxiety started creeping in and I started to question if I was going to survive this trip. Then I remember that I have worn a Red Sox shirt at a game at Yankee Stadium and then walked through the Bronx at 3:00 a.m. to stay in a hostel. Hell, this girl is going to survive. :)
The trip got off to a rocky start. About 20 minutes into the first flight, the plane turned around. The pilot came over the PA system and told us that one of his sensors was showing an open door somewhere on the plane. We were headed back to Boise for a "quick 15 minute fix". There is no such thing as a quick 15 minute fix for airlines. Over an hour later, we were finally back in the air, but were clearly going to miss the connecting flight. United ended up comp-ing food and a hotel room for the trouble. I made it clear that the flight to Roatan the next morning was the ONLY one available that day, and that I expected to be on a flight to make that connection. So, overnight in Denver was the plan. In case you live under a rock, Colorado has now legalized marijuana use. Walking into the hotel lobby and hallways, the stench was overwhelming. I felt like I was in a college dorm. Thankfully, the hotel room itself was normal smelling. Sleep was little that night as the flight the following morning was incredible early and no hotel in Denver is anywhere close to the airport.
All the flights Sunday were running on time, with no mechanical errors to speak of. Landing on Roatan made me nervous because it's one of those airstrips (similar to Boston, if you have been there) that comes right off the water. Stepping off the plane into that warm, humid air was exactly what I had been waiting for. I could LIVE in the tropics. That weather speaks to my soul! We were picked up at the airport and taken to the grocery store to stock up on any supplies we would want throughout the week. Roatan is one of those magical places in the world that has all of the hard alcohol right in the grocery store. In addition to some snacks and basic staples for the house, we loaded up on beer, two different types of rum, and some wine. Necessities, you know. ;) The money system in Roatan is quite different. While they have their own currency, they do take the American dollar. However, there are stipulations with American money. If there is any defect, they won't take it. If there is a rip or tear at all, they will hand it back and ask for a different bill. We really only ran into this problem one time. Otherwise, who is going to turn down cash? Honestly? Once we left the store, the driver took us through Coxen Hole (a town you don't want to be in at night) and West End to our complex. I'm not sure what else to call it. It's not a resort. It's owned by private owners. There are 4-5 units, and they are in the process of adding more. They are all described as "villas", ranging from one to two bedrooms.
(view from our deck)
Once we got settled and everything was put away, we decided to walk to West Bay. The walk to West Bay is a 15 minute walk along the beach. West Bay is on the southern tip of the island, and is filled with resorts, dive shops, and restaurants/bars/grills/cantinas. The beach was packed that evening due to the ending of Semana Santa (holy week). Apparently the population of the island doubles during this week. We were assured that the beach would be back to "normal" the following day once all the mainlanders went back home.
We found a good little bar/grill for dinner and did a ton of people watching.

We tried out a water taxi to get back to our place - water taxis are a big source of business, and run all day (and night, if you can convince them) back and forth between West Bay and West End. Our place was right in the middle of those two towns, and the boat dropped us off right at our dock. It had rained that day, so the sunset wasn't much to speak of. We did notice several boats that were anchored just off of the reef, and those boats remained there the entire week.
These little guys were everywhere!
Another view off of our deck.
Along the walk to West Bay.
Coconut shell in the water.
I seriously tanned for a month straight before we left. And somehow, I'm still looking this white. Seriously - white girl problems.
The southern tip of the island.
This is a view of our place and beach from the water taxi.
A glance up the beach, looking towards West End.
Sunset....sort of.

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