Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Perfect Vacation

Guest Blog Author: Lee Boykoff

It has been several weeks since Lizz & Kevin last posted, so I figured now would be an appropriate time to share the highlights of our week on Cielo in early March.

After an unsuccesful attempt to meet-up with L&K in Martinique in March of '08, Petra and I used our credit on American Airlines to book a trip in March '09 from New York to Roatan, Honduras. Given that the Beach Boys failed to mention any of The Bay Islands in the 1988 classic "Kokomo," and that my skin complexion is one shade lighter than Conan O'Brien, you can imagine what a supreme expert I was on Carribbean geography before booking the trip. Despite my naivite, that voice inside my head still thought it was "too good to be true" when we scored round-trip tickets from New York to San Pedro Sula for $250 (including tax). Well, you get what you pay for- After a 12 hours journey that included 4 flights (New York > Miami > San Pedro Sula > La Ceiba > Roatan) and a dual engine prop plane from the early 70s that was literally held together by Duct tape, we finally arrived in tropical paradise. It wasn't until early the next morning when we saw a 747 landing on the island that we realized Continental Airlines offered weekly 4.5 hour non-stop service between Newark and Roatan. Oops.

With that minor inconvenience out of the way, every other aspect of our trip was amazing. Petra and I had never spent an extended period of time on a boat. Rather than detail the chronology of each major event on our trip, we'd like to share 10 insights with you about life on Cielo, in the Bay Islands, with two of our favorite people on the planet:

1. The Bay Islands are an absolutely phenomenal place to vacation. Of the roughly 420 million islands that Lizz and Kevin have visited over the previous two years, they ranked The Bay Islands at the very top of their list... in a tie with the frequently mentioned Dominica. Now at the time we were there, L&K had yet to experience the legendary chicken buses of Guatemala... so it's possible that their rankings have since changed.

What set the Bay Islands apart from other islands in the Caribbean? Well of course there were white sandy beaches, picteresque sunsets, crystal clear ocean water, tropical beverages and rooftop bars playing Bob Marley... but that's really standard in that part of the world. What's really unique about The Bay Islands is its offering of world-class scuba diving and snorkeling in a region that is undeveloped, uncrowded, unpretentious and in many ways still undiscovered. The locals (and even the tourists) are friendly and laid back, and the culture is an interesting blend of Carribbean, Latin and British. A truly perfect escape from New York City!

2. We ate like kings. While Kevin has retained his title of master fisherman and outdoor grilling champion, Lizz has evolved into a gourmet chef. Seriously! One big trip to the local supermarket with 2-3 visits to the fruit stand on the corner was all we needed to keep Cielo fully stocked. With Lizz as our culinary captain and Petra as sous chef, we devoured multi-course lunches and dinners all week long.

3. Kevin has now officially surpassed MacGyver as the most resourceful person/character on the planet. In only 7 days, he narrowly averted 4 different crises: (a) A fierce late-night wind storm dragged the fully anchored Cielo (and all of the boats around us) 50+ feet from our original position, causing Kevin to sprint out of bed, reposition, and re-anchor in total darkness at 2am, (b) I awoke one morning to what looked like a 5th grade science project gone awry. Our water maker had broke (was Cielo in labor?) and Kevin reconfigured the desalinator using a rubber band, some chewing gum, and a warped copy of Air Supply's Greatest Hits on vinyl (no one had listened to the album in the last 15 years anyway), (c) In Cayos Cochinos we were forced to anchor the boat to a mooring... that was 20 feet underwater with no line. Kevin dove down to the bottom of the ocean to secure Cielo and emerged 7 minutes later just as David Blaine had arrive to ensure that his world record for holding one's breath under water would be not be broken, (d) Most impressively, one of our anchor chain's got knotted and completely stuck in the pipe that feeds it from the interior of the bow to the top side of the boat. To get the knot out of the line, Kevin had to wedge himself through the 2'x2' hatch in the forward head to completely disassemble the piping. Of course several of the nuts and bolts had been stripped, so the process required kevin to pull out his blow torch, soldering iron, a jackhammer, two backhoes, and an excavator. When that failed, he used is bare hands... which after a few scrapes, cuts, bruises and four letter words did the trick.

4. After living in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, our week on Cielo actually felt spacious. With two cabins and two heads on the boat, there wasn't a single time in our 7 day trip in which Petra and I felt cramped. Amazing!

5. Honduras + Boat = Most affordable tropical vacation ever! We spent almost no money. While the Bay Islands are more developed than most places in the third world, mainland Honduras is very much a developing country. Accordingly, the U.S. dollar goes a long way when converted to Honduran Lempira. With no lodging expenses (thanks to Cielo), no car rental required (thanks to the dingy), food from the grocery store, and $1 beers at the local bars, we may have spent less money on our vacation than we would have at home in New York.

6. Lizz can speak Spanish. Who knew? Her enthusiasm and dedication for learning a new language were seriously impressive. I'll be writing a thank you note to Rosetta Stone shortly after I finish this post.

7. Despite insisting that she is less passionate about music than many of her friends, Lizz is seriously obsessed with the Piano Man. Don't believe me? Just ask about a certain video that is soon to appear on YouTube.

8. In a world in which climate change is spinning out of control, there is something truly gratifying about the autonomy and efficiency of sailing. Harnessing wind power to hop from island to island, solar power to charge our electronics, a fishing rod and a water maker to provide our sustenance, and a snorkel mask and fins to fuel our entertainment, we dramatically reduced our impact on the planet. Wicked cool.

9. Cayos Cochinos is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With out our own boat, we never would have had the opportunity to explore this collection of islands south of Roatan. This was far and away the highlight of our trip. If you have not had the chance, I highly recommend checking out our photos.

10. Lizz and Kevin are two of the warmest and most generous people we know. We felt honored to have had the opportunity to share a week with them on Cielo in Honduras, and are looking forward to see everyone at their wedding this Fall!


Blogger Lizz said...

if you post the video on u tube, I WILL find a way to take back the wii....but seriously, awesome post...y'all are hillarious

May 4, 2009 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger kyle said...

just got a chance to read this. Sounds lovely! so glad you guys were able to have an amazing vacation!

May 15, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

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