Monday, March 16, 2009

Bay Islands

We've now been in the Bay Islands of Honduras for exactly a month. We can't say enough good things about the Bay Islands, and we've really enjoyed our time here. Our good friends Lee & Petra (look for a guest blog from them shortly) joined us for a week on Roatan. After they left, we headed over to the island of Utila, where we have spent the past 10 days.

Cayos Cuchinos

While Lee & Petra were here, we took a short trip to Cayos Cuchinos, a small group of Cays about 20 miles SSW of Roatan. The absolutely stunning islands are home to a settlement of Garifuna Indians, one of Honduras' indigenous peoples. The settlement is home to about 80 people whose lives, in many ways, can't be much different than they were 300 years ago. The 80 friendly, warm people live and act as one large family. Unfortunatly, while we were there the island was also occupied by a scouting crew for the TV show "Survivor". Honestly people, go away. Does anyone still watch that show? Really?

The only thing that marred the trip to the Cuchinos were the M-16 toting guards of the marine park that insisted that we could not anchor and that we must tie up to the "mooring" they directed us to. Unfortunatly, the "mooring" was an old piece of shop equipment that had been dropped in the water and had a badly chafed line tied to it. Yikes! Not to worry, they said, they had another! So we motored over to the other "mooring", only to find empty water. "Where was the pennant?", we asked. "Se fue", was the response. What do you mean, "It went"!?! It went where, and what do you expect us to tie to? Well, we soon had our answer...they expected me to dive down and retrieve their mooring. An hour of chain and line untangling later, we managed to attach ourselves to a mooring, one which I felt reasonably certain would keep us off the rocks if a squall blew through.

Montado a Caballo

We spent the better part of a week in West End, Roatan, a lovely little town on the western tip of the long island of Roatan. Fabulous & inexpensive food, beautiful beaches, and great snorkeling right off the boat, all protected by a fringing reef. We took advantage of Roatan's great prices and went horseback riding one morning. The previous day we had stopped in at a small hotel off the beach that had advertised horseback riding. We had arranged with the owner/manager to ride at 7am the next morning. When we arrived the next morning however, he was nowhere to be found. We figured it may have slipped his mind, what with all the marijuana he was smoking when we had talked to him the day before. So we wandered on up the hillside looking for him, past some of the islands small deer, and finally found our guide and horses. Neither our guide nor our horses, Chile and Principe, spoke any English, but no one seemed to care. Off we went into the hillside, through dense forest and steep slopes. Our horses were small but sure-footed (thankfully!), and they even stood their ground when we had a face-off with some bulls and cows we encountered along narrow path. Then down to the shoreline we went, cantering down the beach and through the water! We were both so sore the next day, but it was worth every minute.

Scuba Dooby-Doo

We left Roatan and sailed another 22 miles to the island of Utila, the westernmost of the Bay Islands. We came to see the island, but the primary reason for the stop was to become certified Scuba divers. The island has a reputation for having great Scuba courses at rock-bottom prices, and it didn't disappoint. We really enjoyed the folks at Utila Water Sports - great people and they really took care of us. Lizz and I had a class with just the two of us, and after almost two weeks on the island we've done ten dives all over the island, including an additional dive on a wreck to certify us to 100 ft depths.

We've had so much fun here and have really enjoyed the Bay Islands, but it is time to move on. Tomorrow morning we leave the island of Utila to head for Rio Dulce, Guatemala. We'll make a few stops on the Honduran mainland along the way. Once in Guatemala we'll be spending most of our time off the boat, with inland trips planned in addition to a week-long stay at a Spanish school.

Posted by: Kevin

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