Sunday, April 27, 2014
What a difference a day makes or maybe a country makes…Cat, Danielle, and I left a snow storm behind in Colorado as we arrived in a balmy 80 degree Roatan. Cat is my long-time friend from horses and Danielle is a friend of Cat’s from work in Summit County.
Our flights, with a connection through Houston were uneventful. The United crew was quite pleasant, much more so than my recent experience with American. I may have to give United another go. Though it was sad that all the premium coach seats were empty, but no one in the back the bus could move without paying an up charge. I guess jets don’t require any “leveling out” like prop planes. I was lucky and the middle seat next to me was empty. The exit row of six seats in front me only held two passengers, and they played musical chairs. First the man took the window seat on the right with his wife in the middle. Then they switched. Then he sat on the aisle. Then he moved to the window seat on the left handside of the aircraft, and then he moved back to the aisle?!?
But who cares about seats on airplanes…60 feet under water sounds better to me! I wanted to get to Roatan as fast as possible. We took the stairs off the plane, crossed the tarmac, zigzagged through the customs line, and waited for our dive bags as drivers shouted out our hotel names. It was Déjà Vu…the identical process to Cozumel except faster with less people! George took us by the grocery store and then to our condo style, boutique hotel, Blue Bahia. Kent, the manager, chatted up a storm with a variety of restaurant suggestions and snorkel opportunities right outside our hotel.
As soon as he waved bye, we were down at the hotel beachside restaurant enjoying delicious pulled pork sandwiches cooked on the only brick fireplace in Roatan. We followed lunch by basking in the sun only briefly before snorkeling around and old cement pier that had collapsed. It laid in only three feet of sandy water near a seaweed bed. While the water wasn’t murky, it wasn’t aqua blue either simply due to the ecology, but the marine life was fantastic. Four types of crabs, lobsters, coral banded reef shrimp and an octopus were the highlights to me, though there were a variety of fish as well.
As we were drying off and putting up our gear, a local passed by and asked if we enjoyed our snorkel.
“Oh yes!” We replied as we continued listing all the marine life we spotted.
He responded, “First, never tell anyone what you saw because we have poachers, but if you don’t tell anyone, I’ll show where a seahorse is when I finish walking my dogs.”
I was beaming with excitement. I think I have only seen one or two green sea horses in my lifetime. Our new local friend, Paul from the UK, returned with his dogs and led us to a dock where we jumped in and admired a lovely orange seahorse. It was so great! The only thing I was missing this whole time was my camera!! I knew exactly what my plans were for tomorrow afternoon…to repeat this afternoon with my Canon in tow.
As we bid farewell to Paul, he invited us to a presentation by Micky, the Jacques Cousteau of Roatan, at his son’s hotel Tranquil Seas located 50 yards down the beach from ours. It sounded intriguing to all of us. Cat, Danielle, and I were onboard and had our plans for tomorrow.
So credit goes to Cat for doing the research on the areas around Roatan. Sandy Bay, where we are staying, is quiet, is home to a handful of hotels, and is a stones throw away from all the dive sites. It was perfect for our day time, SCUBA activities. Just a ten minute taxi ride down the road was West End, which was a lovely strip of restaurants, bars, and street food. We opted to celebrate our arrival with a night out on the town after we admired the sunset. Kent called us a taxi and we were strolling the strip in no time.
Being Sunday night, the most active spot on the street was the church! With no moon to speak of and the third highest electricity rate in the world (thus little lighting), we shuffled our way in the dark, stepping over rope speed bumps or topes in search of Creole Rotisserie Chicken. Located at the very end of the strip, we finally found the restaurant, run by all women who made the all the food from scratch, but it was closed. We’ll have to try the recommendation later, but in the meantime, we substituted Thai for Creole. If I were on my own, I’m not sure I would have picked Thai food in Honduras, but it seemed quite popular, had a great location on the water, and the Pad Thai was fantastic.
The time came to meet our taxi driver, Ishmael, back at the roundabout as we coordinated a predetermined pick up to go back to our hotel for $20 round trip (we are told day time trips are cheaper). We called it an early night after a long day of travel and can’t wait for diving tomorrow! ETB