Roatan Photos!

I have posted some photos from our recent Roatan, Honduras scuba diving trip! Go to Photos on the menu bar. The destinations are now roughly grouped by continent, so find Central America/Caribbean, hover over it and another drop down menu will appear. Click on Roatan 2019 and wait for the photos to load. Once loaded, double click on the first photo and then use the arrow key to scroll through the photos.

Enjoy!

Roatan, Honduras
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Thoughts

As a lot of places in Central America, two things we take for granted in Canada and the US, electricity and internet, are both sketchy in Roatan. Electricity is on most of the time but without warning and seemingly random it isn’t. No lights, no fridge, no AC or fan, nada. One can still eat even if it is in the dark. Most of the cooking is done with propane or on a grill. So, dinner is always an option. The internet has many constrictions on its path to the computer. It could be a bad connection to a satellite, maybe a screw up at the local distributor, there could be a lot of traffic on the supply cable, maybe there are a lot of people at the hotel on their devices, or maybe it is just the router not functioning properly. At any rate sometimes it works, a good amount of the time it does not. Even when it is deathly slow, I still try to check my email every day, how pathetic.

Land’s End Hotel is a ‘resort’. It is most definitely not of the high-end variety. The rooms are rather spartan and the grounds are minimal. When I first got here, I was not overly impressed with the room, but day by day the place grew on me and now I down right like the place. The room is big enough and functions very well as a staging area for our diving and other needs. The common space is functional for the few times we use it. The internet is not available in the rooms but when working is adequate in the common area. The pool is ocean water but is drained and cleaned once a week. The employees are super. The hotel is situated 500 meters from the downtown area so it is very quiet. The inhouse bar shuts down at 9pm so the evenings are quiet as well. The short walk into town is good to wake up in the morning and good to walk off dinner in the evening.

Coconut Tree Divers is not the complete service shop we have run into before. The diver is responsible for their own gear. There are lockers available so we don’t have to hike it back and forth to the hotel each day but each morning we gather up our equipment, account for all the pieces, take it to the boat and mount it on our tanks. The dive masters organize the group and lead the dive and the boat captain helps to get on and off the boat but the rest is up to the diver. It is good to keep up on these above water skills and when everything is done for you it is easy to get sloppy and lazy. Anyway, I really enjoyed diving with these folks and would do so again if Roatan crosses our travel path.

The personal space afforded by Roatan drivers to pedestrians is about ¼ that we get in Canada. The roads are narrow and no sidewalks. People park in No Parking areas. People walk on the road, both sides. When a vehicle drives by I could move my elbow a couple of inches and I would brush the car. This happens even when we are walking and there is no other congestion. They are so use to driving by close to the walkers they don’t turn the steering wheel very far. Don’t think I would ride a bike there.

Sitting at the airport in Houston thinking about when we might go back. Won’t be for a year or so but I think this is a place we can return to.

Posted in Roatan, Honduras | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lettuce Sea Slugs

One of favourite creatures to find in the Caribbean is the Lettuce Sea Slug. We have been diving in Roatan now for seven days and, up until today, we have not seen any sight of these beautiful treasures.

Today, Rudy, our eagle eyed dive master finds not one but three! We are thrilled as we had almost given up hope!

Roatan

These creatures are very delicate and have ruffles on top of its body.

Roatan

We can now go home knowing we got to see a favourite.

Posted in Roatan, Honduras | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Roatan Diving

Quite a few years ago we dove on Roatan’s sister island, Utila. What I remember of the diving is the terrain. The terrain is the memory I will leave here with. The coral is in good shape and there are fish, although not in abundance, but it is the sandy shoals, the coral fingers and the vast expanse of coral gardens that stick in my mind.

I spend a lot of time swimming close to the reef looking for small stuff. There is stuff to find but it is not much. I find a couple of interesting fish or creatures per dive.

If we are on a wall type dive I check into the blue and see what’s out there. On our first dive we were treated to a mobula or manta ray cruising on a morning stroll though the hood. Every once in a while an eagle ray on its way downtown slides by. Turtles are quite populous here and we have seen a few going doing their errands.

Roatan

Most of the time the diving is quite easy. Doesn’t seem to be big currents and the seas are calmish. Thursday, our 6th day of diving we woke to a downpour with major winds. The swells were big and at 6am there was zero boat traffic. The rain had not subsided for our trip to the dive shop but shortly after we get there the sun arrives. The wind was still strong and the sea was still angry. The dive is on and we get in and out of the boat in very big water. The underworld is surgy but no current and the surge was one of the highlights of the dive, rocking to and fro with the fish and the waving fans.

Roatan

At the south point of the island is where currents are most prominent. The dives can be drift dives. We have yet to experience one of the currents but we have had 4 or 5 dives at that end. With the water passing by at intervals in both directions the algae found on other parts of the reef gets ‘scrubbed’ off. The coral is in fantastic shape. Because the water is flushing in and out there is more food and therefore more fish.

The dive shop we are diving with ‘Coconut Tree Divers’ has boats with little shelter from the wind. There seems to be a constant breeze and when we get on the boat after a dive I freeze. The shop has a couple of long coats available if it gets really cold but a few minutes in the sun helps a lot. I can’t say I remember being super cold upon leaving the water anywhere else but here and it has been on pretty much every dive.

Roatan
Flamingo Tongue

All in all the diving is pretty good here. There is nothing spectacular but there is enough to keep me occupied and it is very relaxing. Glad we came.


Posted in Roatan, Honduras | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Around Roatan

D, C, Murray and I rent a car and go on an adventure around the island of Roatan. Once our tiny red bomb is delivered to the hotel, we pile in and head north to the end of the island. We want to go beach hopping and see how life is lived.

We have left early enough that we get through Coxen Hole before the four cruise ships spew out their multitudes. The road is in pretty good condition, concrete, curvy and rolly. The vegetation is thick with palm trees, fruit trees, a corn field and that tropical greenery that I do not know the names of. Very lush.

Oak Ridge, a small town on Roatan
Oak Ridge, a small town on Roatan

After about 2 hours, we reach Camp Bay, where the road is almost at its end, unfortunately, with high expectations of a swim, we find it too windy, seaweedy and choppy to swim. There is a small resort there and some houses. We agree that we would not want to stay way up there as it is too isolated.

The beach at Camp Bay
The beach at Camp Bay

We turn around and make our way back, driving through a Garifuna town. The Garifuna are a mix of West Africans, Central Africans and Island Caribbeans. The town is well kept and has some restaurants that look like perhaps the cruise ship tours make a stop there.

We have lunch at Cal’s Cantina, a recommendation from our dive master from Coconut Tree Divers. It is delicious and very well presented. The view is gorgeous and it is hard to leave and squish back into the red bomb.

The view from Cal’s Cantina
The view from Cal’s Cantina

We cruise through the edge of Coxen Hole, getting caught up in cruise ship madness and come out in West Bay.

The road from Coxen Hole to West Bay
The road from Coxen Hole to West Bay

We have had no luck finding beaches, but we know this one will be great as we have driven past it on the water side going to and from dive sites. We spend an hour or so swimming, sunning and people watching.

As I mentioned, the roads here are poured concrete. We encounter road construction on our route back into West End and it takes us a very long time to traverse a few kilometres due to one lane of road handling two directions. I think it takes a long time to construct a road as we see only one concrete truck at a time ready to pour.

Our tour of the island gives us an appreciation of what life is like here on Roatan. Not sure I would live here, but would visit again.

Posted in Roatan, Honduras | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cashews

I don’t think I have ever seen a cashew tree before. At least if I have I did not realize it.

Cashew Tree
Cashew Tree

Walking to town there is a strange looking fruit laying on the ground. An apple looking thing with an arc shaped nut instead of a stem. Looking up at the tree the nut thing is really growing on the bottom rather than as a stem as I first thought.

Cashew

The fruit is squishy, over ripe. The juice is oozing all over my hand but I carry it thinking I will find someone that can fill me in on what it is. A local fellow tells me what I already suspect. It is a cashew. The ‘cashew apple’ part is edible and some make wine using it as the fruit.

Cashew Tree
Cashew Tree

The cashew nut part is, however, not edible until it is properly prepared. There is arsenic in it and it has to be roasted to get rid of the poison. The fellow just told me it would make one sick. I don’t think one nut would kill a person but a persistent eater might get into trouble.

Cashew Tree

For something with such a sweet taste, it has rather an auspicious beginning.

Posted in Roatan, Honduras | Leave a comment

Impressions

First impression of Roatan is a drive through Coxsenhole in a taxi. Kind of sparsely built place although we may not have driven through the downtown area. The traffic was extremely congested for a small place. The roads were not built for the volume of vehicles that now are on the road.

It is quite a distance to Westend. The road is lined with buildings, or at least some indication of humanity, the entire way. Traffic is less congested but the driving habits of the road users are a little lax. It seems the lines on the road and the signs are suggestions one might follow if inclined. The No Parking Yellow curbs all along the main street are also only a suggestion.

West End, Roatan

Spanish is the official language here but everyone speaks English. I try to remember to speak what Spanish I can but when every one talks to me in English it is hard. It is amazing how much comes back even though my vocabulary is very limited.

Cruise ships land here most days. When we come back from our dives at about noon the streets are busy. To the point of being obnoxious. It is not just the number of people, it is the fact they travel in packs. They load and unload the boats en mass, so many they form a line up. The restaurants can be crowded. One we were at was completely reserved and we had to sweet talk the folks letting us stay for lunch.

West End, Roatan

Sunday is the locals day off. The town is busy, the beaches are busy, the bars are busy and the street foodish restaurants are busy. The ‘no parking’ curbs are lined with cars and everybody is squealing.

The main composition of downtown is restaurants. About 1/3 of the commercial space on street that line the water is occupied by restaurants. Street food, to fancy tourist type establishments. We have worked both ends of the spectrum and the food is so far very good and we are under budget. The next 1/3 of the businesses are dive shops. Roatan is a well known dive destination and the shops all seem to be busy. When we are out on the boat and look down the edge of the reef there are boats at almost all of the dive sites.

West End, Roatan

The streets are not strewn with garbage. The vacant lots are not inundated with trash. I don’t know if they have street cleaners or people are just aware. There are lots of trash cans so that helps for sure. Someone has figured it out and it has filtered through the population.

The bar scene seems to hopping. By the time we head home from dinner the music is pounding out of the bars and clubs. The streets are crowded with walkers and cars. The noise level is definitely ramped. I don’t know how late it goes but I am glad our hotel is off the beaten track and not near the evening hub bub. The noise shuts down at our local bar at about 9 and that suits us very well.

Local Artisans in West End, Roatan
Local Artisans in West End, Roatan

The people here are super. Very friendly, polite, almost to the point of shy. There was fellow walking beside his two kids while they rode their bikes. I asked him where his bike was, that question was enough for him to stop, shake my hand and have a three or four minute conversation. Every person to whom I say hola to answers with a smile.

This place, Westend, is a comfortable town. If I come back to Roatan it will be because I like the place.

Sunset in West End, Roatan
Sunset in West End, Roatan



Posted in Roatan, Honduras | Tagged | Leave a comment

Diving Roatan

Today is our first dive day in Roatan. We fell asleep early last night due to travel fatigue and we wake up early and eager to dive.

Once we arrive at Coconut Tree Divers, we learn a new dive shop routine. We don our wetsuits at the shop and walk the rest of our gear across the street and onto the boat. We set up our own gear on the tanks assigned to us. My tanks are easy to pick out as they are the small ones.

We visit with the other divers on the 15 minute drive to the dive site. Most, if not all, of the divers on the boat are from Canada. Guess word has gotten out about Roatan across Canada.

After a short dive briefing, we get ready and giant stride into the water. Although we don’t have to hurry, it still feels rushed to get ready at the same time as everyone else. There are eight divers plus the dive master in our group. A few too many for my liking, but Murray and I make it work by hanging at the back of the pack, a trick we learned many years ago from some very experienced divers we met in Tobago.

We are swimming along the edge of the wall when the group sees what we think is a Mobula Ray. (There is discussion about if it is a Manta Ray and we will have to get an experts opinion.)

Mobula Ray or Manta Ray?
Mobula Ray or Manta Ray?

Our first day under the waves is filled with reintroducing ourselves to that wonder floating feeling in a liquid and to discovering new and old fish friends.

Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill Turtle

We also meet some new dive friends and enjoy ourselves chatting with various folks on the boat.

Peppermint Shrimp
Peppermint Shrimp

Once back at the dock, we lug our wet gear back across the street (well, one of the dive masters carried mine for me!), rinse it out and hang it to dry. I was somehow expecting a little more service, but it’s okay, it’s always good to not be pampered too much!

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures on the reef!

Spotted Eagle Ray
Spotted Eagle Ray
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Looking in Sponges and Hiding Holes

When diving, I enjoy peering into tube sponges and other hiding holes. I never know what I will find. Will it be a Decorator Crab? A Coral Banded Shrimp? A tiny Gobi? Or will it be empty?

Yellow Arrowline Crab
Yellow Arrowline Crab

The tube sponges are mostly purple, but I find some that are golden orange. They provide a great background for taking pics of wildlife.

Tube Sponge with small I habitant
Tube Sponge with small inhabitant

I also peek into holes in the coral and between rocks. This one held a File Clam, brilliant reddish orange body and light feathery fringe (highly technical word!).

File Clam
File Clam

This was day three of diving and I am already looking forward to day four, so I can peer into more hiding holes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It goes forever

This one is short but I had to write it. Two days ago we were in transit through the Denver airport. Our gates were at the opposite ends of the terminal. I have walked that far in many airports but never before in a straight line. The B wing of the terminal goes on, and on, and on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment