I hate the cold of winter. I was born in warm, sunny Torrence, California and have never quite adapted to the seasonal weather of the east coast. Since I am retired, I have the flexibility to avoid some of the winter blues. This is what I have been doing for several years now with trips to Florida, and last year, a trip to warm, sunny Jamaica. This year I ventured with my friend to the tropical island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras. This is well within the tropical belt at about 16 degrees latitude. Roatan is a very economically poor island but the people are friendly and hospitable. The roads are atrocious and winding but the cabbies navigate them like star-fighters in a Star Wars movie. We stayed at a wonderful place called The Puerto Azul, (Blue Door), in Sandy Bay.
Our hostess was a young lady by the name of Talia, who gave up her teaching career, moved from New York city and created this little paradise in Sandy Bay. Her cohort in crime is a natural-born Roatanian, Darci, who knows the island and the waters that surround it like the back of his hand. Together they make a great team and worked hard to make our visit enjoyable.
Our bungalow was right on the ocean and we could hear and feel the ocean all the time. The temperature stays around 80+ degrees almost all the time. One day the wind picked up keeping us from our daily snorkeling. Another evening we ventured to the city of West Bay, where all the action is, with our two new friends Ray and Mike. After a day of snorkeling, and dinner at the Bananarama, we put our money on a couple of hermit crabs in a race, the proceeds of which were going to the prevention of AIDS in newborns. This activity, which has been ongoing for almost a decade, has been used to purchase baby-formula, thus reducing the occurrence of mother-to-baby transmission of HIV in newborns to ZERO in the last few years! We also found this place that sells chocolate which is made right on the island (so they say) and it could have been the best chocolate we ever had.
On a lazy afternoon we walked down the road to check out a new area and possibly get lunch at a local restaurant. Believe me when I say, it is not a typical place we Americans think of eating. Here is a picture of where we ate lunch. Nothing fancy, but the food was great and the price was very reasonable!
This is the lady that made us lunch.
I only knew a few words on this menu but I found burrito and I learned that pollo means chicken.
After lunch Darci took us out in his boat to see what he says is the best snorkeling on the island. It was an exciting experience! Despite the wavy ocean, we saw thousands of beautiful fish! My daughter Betsy told us to take an underwater video camera and we wish we had listened to her advice.
Our last full day on the island, we traveled by cab over to Coxen Hole, the main city on the island to see what mischief we could get into. We got hustled by a cabbie who took us in a big circle to where we had been picked up, to see a monkey farm we could have walked to in a couple of minutes. As our new friend Mike says, “it’s all good.” There were several varieties of monkey, young and old who seemed to enjoy being held as long as you had an ample supply of peanuts, as well as the colorful macaws, one of which sat on my head. Total cost of this little excursion was $5 for the cab, $20 to see the monkeys and $2 tip for our guide, adding up to $27. Like P. T. Barnum said, “there is a sucker born every minute” It’s all good….Point of interest on the cabbies: cabs make up a sizeable portion of the economic base in many of these tropical islands. On Roatan they have a fleet of ‘Collectivo’ cabs and buses that move people around for set fees. We were only beginning to understand what a set fee was and sometimes it seemed to be negotiable. I am convinced that on Roatan the cabbies are the wealthier guys on the island.
Our last day on the island we went on another snorkeling adventure at the reef right in front of our bungalow. It’s called SPOOKY CHANNEL and believe me it is named well. In parts of the channel that pass through the coral reef you could not see the bottom and the channel was very narrow! Upon returning to the kayaks, as I was attempting to get back in mine, it flipped, tossing me out and my mask to the bottom of the ocean, about 20 feet down. I located the mask using Dorothy’s mask and began my descent to get it. I was convinced my head was going to be crushed from the water pressure but I retrieved my mask and made it back to the boat. My ears ached for almost an hour.
This is where they do the dolphin show in Anthony’s Key.
Roatan is an incredibly beautiful island and The Puerto Azul made it even better. Every morning Talia and Darci got up to make us a wonderful breakfast; we did not miss one! If you decide you want to stay at the Puerta Azul, let me know and I will tell you how to make contact with Talia and Darci.
On Thursday we headed to the airport and made the laborious trip home. In case you have not flown lately, many of the airlines have decided that people are becoming smaller and thus placing the seats even closer together, making the trip even more painful than in the past. On the trip down I was convinced my knees were going to become attached to my shoulders. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration but you get the point.
OK, so you still have some time to escape the cold of winter, but you better hurry, time is running out! I will finish with one of my favorite pictures.
By the way that is Venus in the background.