Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Road to Kismet

I noticed a post on an Isla Mujeres Facebook page yesterday complaining about the crowds of tourists and daytrippers who have discovered the place. 

Wednesday was a four cruise ship day on Roatan.  I thought I'd snap a photo to let anyone suffering on Isla know you're not alone.  The entire stretch of West Bay Beach looked like this yesterday. It shall be called Zooland.

Wednesday is definitely the day we don't go to the beach -- at least this beach.  So what do we do on a Wednesday?

We escape to the unknown.  (Well, maybe it's not that unknown.)

The road less traveled is sometimes not easy.  It's a steep uphill climb, but there's a glimpse of the world you're leaving through a keyhole in the jungle.

As we climb higher, we find ourselves in a rural wonderland with wild flowers and lush tropical vegetation. 

Banana anyone?  They're as ripe as the simulations we find at the grocery store in the U.S.
Suddenly, we've found our path!

Our Kismet!

We were never meant to be among the teeming masses jammed between a woman getting a cheap unprofessional massage with baby oil on a beach lounger (seriously?) and some fool smoking one of his fake Cuban cigars.

We've found our own deserted beach.

And there's a beach bar with a waiter named Linton to serve us whatever we desire for lunch!

This . . . is . . . KISMET!

It's our destiny after that long walk over the hill to be served an icy cold SalvaVida (translated = lifesaver)!

 Then a Port Royal with a large plate of tasty fish tacos!
And some amazing fresh red snapper fish fingers, fries, and watermelon for Mama.  (Yes, that waiter called me Mama, but I've found my Kismet, so he can call me anything he wants!)
It's Wednesday's fate, and we'll probably make the long trudge over the hill again on the next four cruise ship day!
(In full disclosure, one woman did show up during our time and pulled a lounger underneath a palm tree.  Taxis can be hired on the other side of the hill to drive customers to Kismet, but we figured the steep hike might help burn off the beer, tacos, and fish fingers!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Just Call Me Mama

Around here, I assume it's meant as an endearment or a respectful way for younger (or even older) men to refer to older women.

When the water taxi pulls up, the captain or a helper immediately reaches out to assist me down into the panga.   Grab my arm Mama.  Step onto that first seat Mama.  Watch yo' head Mama.

Sunday after I carefully climbed down the steep stairs from the bridge at Gumbalimba, I walked past a boat pulled up in the canal.  The captain inquired  How you feeling today Mama?  You okay?  How was your Christmas?  I recognized him as a water taxi captain who's picked us up a few times. We had a little chat about our holidays before I walked on down the beach.

I'm adjusting to my newfound status as Mama.  I guess I shouldn't feel bad because half the men I meet here on Roatan introduce themselves as Big Daddy

Yesterday, we took a water taxi into West End to snorkel Half Moon Bay.   The boat captain who pulled up at the dock greeted me as Mama and rushed to help me into the boat.  (I guess they don't want anyone falling into the drink.)  When we pulled up at the Half Moon Bay water taxi dock, another young guy came running down the ramp to pull me out of the boat.

Watch yo' step Mama.  I wanted to answer -- Will do Big Daddy!  LOL

There's a cute little restaurant, Dix, with decent lunch right in front of our snorkeling spot.  The waiter Marco stashes our belongings behind the bar while we snorkel in exchange for drinking and eating there.  Their freshly grilled mahi mahi tacos are pretty dang good, and I don't think Marco's ever called me Mama!

The view from the table cries out paradise!

If you swim out around these rocks towards the bay's entrance, you see a variety of large colorful fans and fish.  Brightly colored parrotfish, squirrelfish, tiger grouper, trigger fish, scorpion fish -- the list goes on and on. 

After snorkeling, we let the salt dry and ambled down the main road in West End toward the mini-mart and fruit stand.

As I passed the roundabout by the palm tree with the Land's End sign where the land taxis all hang, I heard a yell -- You need a cab Mama?  Okay, enough already!  This island is starting to make me feel old! 

After buying a pineapple, three bananas, and an assortment of snacks, we headed back toward the dock.  A man sitting by a palm tree on the beach popped right up and said he'd give us a ride back in 10 minutes if we could wait.  He reminded us he'd brought us into West End and knew we needed to be dropped back at the Isabella dock.
The boat with the blue awning awaits us at the Half Moon Bay dock. 
Soon, a young helper ran down the ramp to help Mama into the boat.  He appeared mesmerized by the 20-something girls in bikinis who jumped right into the taxi with no hesitation. 
The number two mate was so distracted by the non-Mama's in bikinis, he accidentally dropped a wad of money from his pocket into the water.  The captain turned around quickly and soon everyone in the boat was fishing floating bills out of the Caribbean.  Craig scooped up a 100, but don't get excited because that's less than five bucks.  Soon we were off again!

After another gorgeous trip home on water, Mama got hoisted out at the Isabella dock so she could walk the 2/3's of a mile straight up the hill. 
Too bad the guys at the bottom of the hill with the golfcarts at the fancy boutique hotel aren't worried about Mama!  I'd love to hear someone yell -- Hey Mama!  Need a ride up that hill?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Saved by the Bugs

Roatan is seriously beautiful!  It's lush like Kauai, and growth has been somewhat limited.  Most development is no taller than the palms.  In the neighborhood where we're staying, surrounding homes are hidden in the dense vegetation.  The only noise we hear is the wind in the trees and the rare scooter on the road way above us.

There's a penance to pay in a place so beautiful.  We came loaded with cans and bottles of potions to ward off mosquitos, sandflies, no see um's, and all the other nasty biting critters that have scared us away up until now.  We've gone through a large can of Deep Woods Off and will be needing another since Deet seems to work best.  We're also taking anti-malarials which may not be needed.  So far we seem to be winning the battle of the bugs, but I hesitate to even say that.  Knock on wood.

Walking back from West Bay this afternoon, we saw two women who've lost the battle.  They were sitting directly on the sand in  swimsuits at water's edge reading books.  All their exposed extremities were covered with large sores, bites, welts, and rashes.  They looked like Survivor victims, but there they were lolling about on the sand without even a towel underneath on a stretch of undeveloped beach that isn't maintained or raked.  Craig and I simultaneously said duh once we were beyond ear shot.  I'll just say it doesn't take a rocket scientist . . . .  

When the cruise ships aren't in port, basically Friday through Monday, West End and West Bay are relatively uncrowded and laid back.  Today we walked the length of West Bay beach to the very end where the sand meets the lush hillside.  This end of the beach is snorkeling nirvana.

Very few people were out in the water.

Vendor's booths sat unmanned.

Santa was trying to sell cigars, but there were no takers.

Water taxis and tour boats sat waiting for customers.

And stretches of sand were almost vacant.
Since tomorrow's Sunday, we expect to see more of the same.  Let me point out that this is the holidays when most tropical destinations are packed.
I think this island has been saved by the bugs. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Yo Ho Ho and a Merry Christmas!

Everyone's gotten in the Christmas groove around here.  We're kind of wishing Santa would bring us one of those little Christmas trees made out of cut Salva Vida beer cans or the Honduran flag hat with little Christmas lights flashing on the front.  Evidently fireworks are part of the Roatan celebration because even up here in the hills, we've been hearing little blasts all night long for the last four or five days.
Love these beautiful bulbs on a tropical tree in West End.

This Christmas tree's dedicated to Captain Morgan and many other booze varietals.

This kitty's napping until Santa shows up, but I think that may be him at the table behind her!

Nothing says Peace like the blue and green lights on this palm at sunset!

This almost looks like a gingerbread house!

Also love these painted carvings in Santa hats!

These over the water luminaries are very festive.

But the Booty Bar wins the Christmas lights prize!   Aaaargh.
I keep seeing Santa's sleigh in West End, but he forgot to visit us last night.  If I see the guy with the beer can Christmas tree in West End when we're having our Christmas dinner this afternoon, I'll just buy it myself!
Merry Christmas to all!  Best wishes for a wonderful 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday's West End Plan

We were on a mission today.  Laundry, snorkeling, and a good lunch!  Once again, we flagged down a water taxi at the dock below and headed to West End.  I do love my taxi rides!
We'd spotted this laundry in West End last week, and Craig was out of shorts and t-shirts.  The laundry just happens to back out onto Half Moon Bay in the snorkeling cove.

After dropping the laundry, we realized there were beach loungers next door at Dix which are free with food and drink.  We were also able to store our backpacks and valuables behind the bar while we snorkeled.

The cove was quiet with a few kayakers as we settled in on the loungers and ordered a drink.

We thought we were a bit off the beaten path, but soon the masses arrived.  With the holidays, the taxi driver on our way home tonight said there were at least 14,000 people in port.  The yellow vests out in the bay are cruisers on a snorkel tour.

We entertained ourselves watching novices do the flipper feet walk down the beach fully decked out in fins, masks, and snorkels.  After noticing several fall and struggle, our waiter intervened to tell this guy that he had the wrong end of his snorkel in his mouth and needed to back into the water.  Marco spoiled our fun (but the guy still fell on his rear trying to back in)!

We decided to eat first and let the tours clear before we snorkeled.  The food was great.  I ordered mahi mahi fish tacos. 

And Craig ate the sea bass fish sandwich.
Soon we noticed all the tours were gone from the bay and we donned our equipment and swam out around the rocks.

After a snorkel out to the edge of the cove, we picked up our clean laundry (smells like Ariel), boarded another water taxi, and were soon headed back up the hill.
The neighborhood greeter was waiting and walked us all the way up!  He's such a cutie!