Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why Not?

Since returning from our last trip, we've been getting lots of questions from neighbors about our travel habits. Why would you want to go anywhere and stay a month?  Why do you like to travel so much?  Why do you even have a home? 

What I'd really like to say in response is why not?  Travel is all about seeing and experiencing new cultures, new people, new things. 

As my aunt always said, I wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Huichols in the village of Yelapa, Mexico.

Fire dancers in Bucerias, Mexico.

A vendor in San Pedro, Belize carrying her wares on top her head.

Beach vendor on Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres.

A woman selling fruit in West Bay, Roatan.

School girls and a local delivering beer on Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

A young woman walking down the street in her 'hair/fur skirt' in El Centro, Isla Mujeres.  A friend told me this is the typical dress in Chamula, Mexico, another place I hope to visit someday!

One of the girls from Chiapas who sell Guatemalan woven goods on the beach on Isla Mujeres.

A little boy who marched as El Presidente in the Dia de la Revolucion parade on Isla Mujeres.

A Rastafarian with his kids on Caye Caulker, Belize.

One of the bullfighters of small stature (they refer to them as midget bullfighters) waiting to perform on Isla Mujeres. 

Mariachis leading a December procession through El Centro on Isla Mujeres.
Crazy woman on top El Castillo at Chichen Itza.
Recently on Roatan, we boarded a boat for the short ride to West End late one afternoon.  It wasn't a licensed water taxi -- just a guy returning from West Bay who wanted to make a little money on his way home.  While I was looking at several inches of water in the bottom of the boat wondering if we needed to start bailing, Big John struck up a conversation.
He wanted to know where we were from.  After giving him a short 411 on us, I asked him if he was from Roatan.  He said generations of his family had always lived on Roatan, and he had never left the island except for one short day trip to Utila, the next Bay Island over.  I'll admit that blew me away since Roatan is only 30 miles offshore from mainland Honduras and many people go there to shop.   He owns boats and runs fishing and snorkeling tours out of West End.  He said his sister wanted him to come to Boston and live there, but he had no desire to leave his home and life in the Caribbean.  And really, why would he want to trade the life he knows and loves to work multiple jobs and shovel snow in Boston!  We talked about the beauty of Roatan and how lucky he is to live there.
We ran into Big John several times, and he introduced us to his wife and happy little boy who loved to run down the dock and greet us with the latest version of hand slaps.
And that is why we love to travel and stay for more than a day! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Playa Nirvana

Sometimes on a beach vacation you discover your nirvana.  The place you could return to day after day.  The water's a beautiful pale turquoise with a perfect 80's January temp and phenomenal snorkeling right offshore.  After a salty swim, a perfectly fried red snapper and an icy cold Salva Vida await you at the bar. 
This trip we found that location.  If we ever decide to splurge on a luxury vacation, we'll stay right here so we can repeat the same routine day after day.  Salty perfection!

Guess I should start buying lottery tickets!  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Third World Laundry Tales

Recently Craig walked out of the bedroom in a weird pair of low cut baggy underwear.  Are these mine???  We both immediately fell on the floor laughing.

We'd been the victims of a bait and switch laundry scam in West End, Honduras!  Upon further examination, he was missing most of his Fruit of the Looms and my underwear drawer seemed a little empty.  Call the policia!  Actually, just drive to Walmart.

Dirty clothes can sometimes be a problem for tourists in a third world country, especially if you're staying up in the hills an expensive cab ride away from the closest lavanderia for a month.

On Isla Mujeres, we grab a  cheap cab to town or walk down the street to drop our clothes at Tim Pho on Juarez.  We return a few hours later to pick up clean dry clothes folded and bagged in a plastic wrapped bundle.  Easy peasy. 

In Bucerias, Mexico, we discovered a laundry where our aging underwear went in and came out looking brand spanking new.  Craig vowed we should return to Bucerias every year to the magic laundry to refresh our dingy whites!

On Ambergris Caye in Belize, it wasn't so easy.  We rode rickety bikes four miles into town to drop our clothes at the only laundry we'd seen on the south end of Middle Street.  Later that day when we arrived back at our cottage three miles north of the bridge exhausted and dripping sweat, the property manager informed us that the maid there gladly did personal laundry onsite for $10 U.S. a load.  LOL

When our lovely property manager checked us into our apartment high on the hill in Roatan, she commented that laundry might be a problem.  She thought there were several in West End, but none that would pick up and deliver.  At the end of our first week with piles of clothes mounting in the wardrobe, I researched the subject on Trip Advisor and made notes on possible lavanderia options in West End. 

We set off down the steep hill the next morning lugging two large bags of dirty clothes to the beach where we waited for a water taxi to pass.  Going to the laundry on Roatan was certainly more of adventure than walking down the street and dropping a bag! 

Fortunately, neighborhood security soon joined us on the walk to make sure we reached the beach with our undies intact.

Down at the dock, a passing panga sighted us and pulled in to help Mama into the boat with her bags of dirty laundry.  On a sad note, Craig's favorite t-shirt pictured here was also a laundry victim this trip.  On our last visit to the lavanderia, probably the same trip as the underwear heist, the valuable t-shirt in question returned home grey(er) than pictured here.

In West End, we dropped by a local dive shop to inquire because I remembered a comment on Trip Advisor about an employee there who picked up dirty laundry and returned it the same day for a fee.  The young girl working the desk looked at me like I was demented.  And yes, I probably am. 

After she quizzed me about where I'd read that information, she directed us down a narrow alley behind the town church to a little lavanderia located in the back end of a smoothie/coffee shop.

Bingo!  The little laundry was conveniently located on Half Moon Bay where we could lunch next door at Dix and walk right into the water to snorkel the reef around this point.

This trip, laundry day definitely fell under the category of it's not the destination, it's the journey.  Actually, the destination pictured here was also quite beautiful.
It's just the outcome of the laundry journey that was a little tawdry.  After seeing Craig in those saggy threadbare underwear, I made him throw the things away and do an immediate search and destroy through his drawers (no pun intended).  My female sensibilities couldn't stomach the idea of someone else's not so tidy whities inhabiting the dresser.
I'll add a little sidebar.  When we were at that rustic bar at the far end of Roatan, Hole in the Wall, a couple pulled up on a barge for lunch.  We exchanged basic pleasantries and found out they had just moved to a house on the water in that area which could only be reached by boat.  I asked her how she liked it.
She replied LAUNDRY was the big problem.  I kept a straight face because I was internally laughing with her, not at her.
She didn't have a wash machine or drier at her remote location, so was forced to handwash all their clothes and hang them on the line to dry.  Since it was rainy season on Roatan nothing ever quite dried, so their clothes were mildewed and quite dingy because she could never thoroughly rinse the detergent from them without a machine.

I felt her pain having washed most of my own clothes by hand in the bathroom sink for a month.  Another cardinal rule in third world travels is never send anything to a laundry you're not prepared to have destroyed.  Craig's clothes could be destroyed, but not mine!  LOL
No laundry post would be complete without a clothesline photo.  Here's the bar clothesline at Hole in the Wall.

 The trials of third world laundry day!