Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New Country! New Sand!

What do you get for 3000 Taca air miles and $169? A trip to the Bay Islands!
Kate saw this deal over a month ago online and asked if I was interested….ahhhh HOLA?? Shewas cool enough to donate her miles and before you knew it I was on a plane to the island of Roatan. It is really different flying confirmed instead of standby, but just the same I love going to the airport and getting on a plane……and ultimately landing somewhere new. Thursday morning this is what I did. Kate was already in Honduras for a work trip (this is what sparked the beach trip in the first place) I met her in San Pedro Sula, and we took the little puddle jumper together to Roatan. A short taxi ride later and we were in West End, a beach on the south side of the island. I was in charge of finding our accommodations in Roatan so I went to a cool site called virtualtourist.com to do some research. It’s a great place to get recommendations from other travelers. I found out that West Bay is supposed to be the most beautiful beach on the island, but it is also lined with all inclusive resorts and condos…I learned that West End a more laid back beach with lots of unique restaurants and nightlife, I knew that would be a better fit.
I found it hard to commit to one hotel, because there were too many cute ones, but I reserved the Seabreeze Inn and it was a perfect choice.
Beautiful wood, hamacas on the front porch…$50 with kitchenette and air, and you cross the sand road and you are on the beach…DONE! Of course the bonus was that Taco, the hotel Parrot was there and I got to hold him everyday.
I have to say I was a bit disappointed at first that I was hearing so much English, but you gotta love the island accent. (Ok, I do. I am such a sucker for accents.) Im not going to go into a history lesson, but since a majority of the population is from British Caribbean there are …..British habitants, then of course being located in the Caribbean a major population migrated from the Cayman Islands hence an Afro-population, and being part of Honduras there is a Hispanic population. This made for a very interesting mix of people.

After throwing our stuff in the room we crossed the street to Half Moon Bay, and ordered a drink at the Sundowner, a palapa bar on the beach. Not even 5 minutes into our drink and we were invited on a boat with 2 of the locals. Of course, at first we thought they were trying to sell us a fishing trip, but Kuni and Cort said they were just going out to enjoy they afternoon. What a coincidence!!... all we wanted to do was …..you guessed it….enjoy the after noon. Now I know you may be shaking your head, thinking Im crazy but I have always been [too] trusting of people I meet, but I can honestly say that [way] more times that not- the people I meet are good people. (minus the GDF web designer)

Since they were nice enough to take us out (and pay for gas) I stopped at the little Mart for:
a local beer, which has a clever name ....in English it means "life saver." My next stop? The truck on the sandy road in front of the beach......It doesn't get much better than this. He cut my lime for me and we were off. The boat was pretty big and had about 6 fishing poles hanging off the back. Of course I wanted to drive the boat.... Here Kate gets directions from "a crazy MF named Ice Cube" (really Cort was his name) You do see the resemblance, right? while i relaxed.......and got more sun We went up to the front while Cort and Kuni steered the boat straight in to the sunset.

It did NOT suck! I don't think there is a more carefree feeling then being on a boat in the ocean watching the sunset.....We ended up back at Sundowners on the beach ordered burgers and said good night to our friends…..this is just one example of why trusting is better than being suspicious. We were planning to go home and shower, then check out the nightlife….yeah right….I woke up at 2:30 am, looked at my watch, rolled over and fell back asleep. Oh well, we got an early start the next day......There is one sand road that runs through West End in Roatan, with cute colorful stores and restaurants. There is a very friendly, laid-back feel, but not hippy...most everyone who is hanging here is a diver. (Roatan is on the 2nd largest reef in the world...2nd only to Australia's) Here I am on the main street walking to (or from?) breakfast.....You get the idea.....slow island life.....nothing is rushedHere was the view to my left....the still of the morning.On the street, I feel in love with this little store front, really because of the unbelievable carved wood door. There were windows on each side of it and I imagined my jewelry in it and me living in the matching wood sided building behind it......anything is possible... The 2nd night we knew we had to save some energy for going out! So we did a lot of relaxing all day! We took a water taxi to West Bay (the hotel/all-inclusive beach) for $3.
The "taxi"....how cool!West Bay has a beautiful beach...We ate lunch at a place on the beach called Bananarama...mmm, stewed chicken and coconut shrimp. .. and these little girls were there selling the little shell necklaces. they (the girls) were so cute.and and actually slept some more on the beach....very lazy. (10 hours just wasn't enough! This goes to prove my theory, that the more you sleep, the more tired you get) A guy came up to us and invited us to a bar named BIDA, there was going to be a DJ there palying house music later that night, so we told him we might check it out. We took a "taxi" back to West End and ate dinner at a thai restaurant. We shared lobster green curry..... and sat at a small romantic table on a skinny pier that was lined with lanterns and went out over the water. After dinner we headed down the road and went to BIDA. The DJ was really cool and we enjoyed a few free beers from the host who invited us there.I think they had been partying a lot longer than us ......DRIZZZUNK. Here Kate shows her patience. Mr. Stripped Shirt was one of the British natives, and Mr. Blackshirt (who invited us)was from the mainland of Honduras. Across the street loud Reggae music was playing so we had to check it out. Kuni, our boat friend, had told us it was a good place. There were a lot of locals there and everyone was dancing, a very good vibe. Here Kate stands-by while a local tries to figure out his camera for a picture. Since we didnt get to be until about 230a, we had a slow morning. We crossed the street to eat a typical breakfast at Mavis on the water....here you can see the deck that we sat on outside. There were kitties all over the island, this one got comfy on my lap...she was clean...really.Our goal that day was to get some snorkeling in. We were wishing we had gone the first day, because the next couple days there were short spurts of rain and it really made the water a little murky. Still a gorgeous blue, but it was not clear underwater....when we went to a dive shop that had snorkel trips they said they werent going out that day cuz it was rough...SHIT!
We hung out on the pier in the sun for a bit, deciding what we were going to do.... BIKES...YES!!! They were just $10 and the guy was so cool, gave us a good 10 mile route. It was hot as shit and hilly as hell...but it had a great view and was an awesome workout, which is what we wanted.
The dude there told us a place to stop where there is a dolphin show everyday at 4pm. It was pretty cool, I have seen this at SeaWorld, but not for a while. The dolphins are so amazingly smart, they just wait there looking for the trainer's hand signal:
When they raise thier arms a certain way...the dolphins dissappear under the water and jump up in unison. What a fun job they have!
We were pretty tired after our bike ride, but quickly headed to Eagle Rays to catch the sunset. I was in heaven! It seemed every place had these parrots, I stopped to talk to all of them too. Eagle Rays had about 6 of them. They told me someone just walks down the street selling them for 1000 Limpiras…THAT IS $60…..they are at least $800 in the US. I must get one! We enjoyed a girly drink with the sunset, I forget the name, but it was frozen and had Kalua. On the last day we decided we were going to try to snorkel even with the low visibility...I mean, come on....we are on the 2nd biggest barrier reef, we had to try! We rented the gear for $5 and again took the water taxi over to West Bay. At the dock we saw this local filleting a baracuda he just caught. In his bucket there he had yellow fin tuna too!!
Well, it was true, the snorkeling wasn't so good, I mean we did see a lot of fish, but it was pretty cloudy underwater. There was a lot of reef to cover, but was a bit dissapointing. All the coral was so cool, but the colors were dull. Oh well, how about our last meal on the beach? We order fresh fish fillets that were spectacular. It came with beacns rice, and plantains and a view!
Our waiter gave me a complimentary Mango daquiri for desert, and that was a perfect ending to a great meal. I spoke to soon when I said to kate as we were boarding the plane...a perfectly smooth trip. After circling San Jose for almost 2 hours due to fog, we diverted into Panama and had to stay there from 11p-5a....the benches didnt have arm rests, so we pulled out our packed clothes for pillows and slept. Funny, but that didn't bother me in the least bit. There was nothing to stress about. It's Costa Rica...did I mention that I love it here?

(The view before landing at 6am in San Jose)

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