The honeymoon saga continues! If you missed part I, be sure to go back and check it out!!
We arrived in Roatan, Honduras early in the morning. It was raining, cloudy…and in general, quite a crummy day. While we were pulling up, it appeared that the island itself was sparsely populated and largely undeveloped.
Our first view of Roatan
We grabbed breakfast on the deck as the ship pulled into port. Thankfully, we had to return to our cabin for a forgotten item because we were met with the following note:
We regret to inform you that because of the rough water, your tour of clear kayaks has been cancelled. Please see one of our shore excursion team memembers to schedule another activity. We are sorry for the inconvenience….(blah blah blah….something about ‘Safety First’)……
So, our plans were scratched. Getting off the ship was chaotic. I think everyone was so excited for the first port, that everyone was storming the gangway to exit. I do OKAY in crowds, but I do get annoyed when people try to push me around if we are going the exact same place…anyway, despite the minor inconvenience about our excursion being canceled, we luckily had a back up trip that we had wanted to take and we were the last 2 people allowed to get on. I was actually a bit impressed with myself through this process. I didn’t worry about what we would do, what would happen…etc. I think I’m all worried out from the wedding activities! We scheduled a trip for snorkeling and a nature park that left later in the morning so we had a bit of time to mellow around.
On the pier, the cruise passengers were greeted by a group of native Roatanians (?) dancing and playing music.
I had to be sneaky to get that picture. They are pretty adamant about getting tips if you even make eye contact. This is what makes me most uncomfortable. Anyway, since we had some time, I wanted to walk around and explore a bit. We quickly found out that the pier is heavily secured. No one can get access to the boat or pier without showing a ship ID card…and when Joe and I came back to the boat, there were actually 2 checkpoints. I wanted to see Roatan so we left the secure area and started to walk around a bit…in the rain. Every few feet, we were confronted with a different vendor. (”Take this tour!” …”Buy this shirt!” ….”Enjoy this drink!”……”HEY! HEY! HEY!!!!”) We even had a couple of kids follow us for awhile until Joe put his serious face on and told them to get lost. (I was happy that I didn’t have to do it…) That is the one thing that I don’t like about cruises. It is well known that you are not going to see the true culture of a location close to the terminal. I love visiting Puerto Rico, but I avoid the cruise terminal area of San Juan just because the people are so much pushier there. Also, when we were in Jamaica, I actually had some lady grab my hair and offer to braid it. I about flipped out. So, anyway…I really tried to explore a bit, but I just felt so uncomfortable. I couldn’t even browse the little shops. I’m also stubborn so if someone tells me to come and buy something and is pushy about it…his chances are about zero to none that I’m actually going to even look at it.
So, we met up with our excursion back on the pier. We drove about 20 minutes to get on our catamaran to go snorkeling. The area was really poor. Our guide said that the island has seen many improvements since the cruise ships started coming. We drove past the hospital and you could hear a hush go through the van of tourists at its dismal conditions. I know that we were all thinking…”And this is an improvement from what they had before…” I didn’t get very good pictures as we drove thru the island, but hopefully these will paint a little bit of the conditions…
It should be noted that on our drive, I saw several new large mansions and resorts. It seems like the island is trying to encourage resort tourists and nice homes being built, but it was almost like the large disparity between the run down and gorgeous houses made the poor seem like they even had less.
Anyway, we got on our catamaran for a snorkeling trip….and you’ll never guess who was there with us? Our camera crew! We said hello and chit-chatted a bit…and the proceeded to film us getting into the water, while we were snorkeling (and Joe was chasing after fish!), getting out of the boat, and cruising back in. It was a bit unnerving (because I’m in a swimsuit here people!!), but I guess they liked us because we didn’t really pay any attention to them & we just enjoyed our trip.
The reef in Roatan was beautiful! It has so many fish and was so large. I think it is one of the best places that I have ever been snorkeling. I wish we had brought an underwater camera, but eh! It was very cool…we also sailed past two ‘sunken ships’.
When the tour description talked about sunken ships, I pictured something quite different. These ships were drug ships intercepted in the 70’s. The government decided to burn then and sink them where they were…maybe they serve as a beacon to future cocaine traffickers? Who knows…but we ate lunch on the boat (which we think was Bo Jangles chicken!) and enjoyed the people watching.
Since food and alcohol was included, several people proceeded to really take advantage of that. Joe and I had one of the local Honduran beers, while this one lady we think had one of everything. She probably was in her 40’s and upon hearing that Joe and I were on our honeymoon she said…
Drunk lady: Oh your honeymoon? Ha. My husband cheated on me! But, uh….good luck with that! Just appreciate each other….yeaaaah.
After this, she proceeded to try and dance with one of the poor, defenseless guides. We felt bad for him, but we couldn’t help but laugh. After lunch, we headed off to Gumbalimba park.
Gumbalima Park swing!
We quickly scoped out some really cool tree swings. We do a little looking around and I hear some commotion coming from another swing. The drunk lady is trying to push her kids on the swing….while standing in front of them. She got about 2 pushes in before she was quickly bowled over with one swift motion. Again…I really couldn’t help but laugh. (Disclaimer: When I blog, I often forget that other people may read this…so to my drunken cruising friend, if you happen to read this, all I can say to you is that I am happy you had a great vacation and I hope you know that your crazy antics only made ours more memorable!!!)
The beach was so dirty. I was immediately happy that we were not kayaking in this water.
We then walked through the park and saw birds and monkeys. I guess Joe had a pretty bad experience with a crafty monkey in his younger years so we kept our towels around us to keep the monkeys from stealing anything…and from peeing on us! He was so soft and unaware that he was being held by someone. He was just so focused on eating his food!!
Walking thru the park
We we able to talk with one of the guides who has lived on Roatan his whole life. I was getting ready to ask him how often he visits the mainland when he stated that he has never left the island. After thinking about it, I guess a $55 round trip boat ferry ticket to the mainland is a bit much when you probably don’t have a good reason to travel there in the first place.
We were also informed that an Italian business man controls all of the power to the island and actually owns the island closest in the above photo. Recently, the prices went up so dramatically for electricity, the people blocked the roads in protest. The roads were only opened a few days before we arrived. Joe was fascinated by the stories of the young islanders going out and hunting iguana. You could almost see a glimmer in the tour guides eye as he spoke about this apparent favorite pastime of his. There was a big discontinuity between the people of Roatan and the people of Honduras in general. The island was controlled by the British so the majority of islanders spoke English or a type of Creole. What I found most interesting was their method of postal delivery.
Guide: Have you noticed that all of the houses are different colors around here?
Guide: Do you know why that is?
Sara: (-thinking to self-) ….because you enjoy bright colors and don’t want to look like your neighbors house??
Guide: It is for our mail system. We do not have street names, so you would have to put “Blue Two Story House by the School”
Sara: Really? So, if I wanted to mail you a letter…where would I send it??
Guide: “Yellow building, first floor, two houses down from the hospital”
I was stunned….and I completely was in love with our zip code system at that moment.
So, we got back on the boat and started sailing away. We ate in a specialty French restaurant that night (again as part of our honeymoon package!). My food was just ok. It was probably my least favorite of the week, but the ambiance was very romantic…and we got a complimentary bottle of wine so that makes all food taste better. For desert, the servers brought out a cake that said ‘Happy Anniversary’ and they serenaded us to “Let me call you sweetheart…” Joe was supposed to sing the last night (‘I’m in love with you’) and he did a smashing 🙂 job. It was really fun!
Excited about our Zero-th Anniversary Cake!
Dinner in Le Bistro
That pretty much was our day in Roatan. We had a great time snorkeling and learning a little bit about the island and its culture. Despite the rain, it was a very good day…
More to come about our next day in Belize City, Belize!!!
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