I have spent almost 2 weeks here and I have SOOOO much to share. Some good, some bad, but trust me, I won’t withhold any part of my experience from you all.
Oh, Sweet Idabel…
You all love me, right? Well, I love you all, too, and I respect your opinion about this crucial decision. My first, solo voyage to Roatan was super rushed due to last minute arrangements and uncertain time off availability on my job. I was trying to figure out how to cram activities into 3 full days when I saw this submarine expedition and I was soooo stocked about it! Problem? Well, I didn’t have that much time and definitely not enough money (the cheapest expedition was $400). Well, I am headed back to my love soon and will be staying for 2 weeks (I WILL get it in, ha ha)! I am going to make sure my time in Roatan will be fulfilling to the max this time.
Okay, here’s where I need your overflow of love for me. I consider myself pretty adventurous (hey, remember I did the sea plane tour of Roatan AND I travel solo), but this expedition makes me super anxious and I haven’t even reserved anything yet! Click here to see what the heck has me shook up.
As you can see, you can do a variety of deep sea tours. I am only considering the 1,000 feet tour at this time because it’s $400 and I will be that deep in the sea for only 1 hour and 30 minutes. The six gill shark tour would be AWESOME, but…that joker’s $1500 AND you are in the sea for about 5-9 hours! No sir/ma’am, that’s okay. The pictures are enough
So what say you? Should I do it? Should I just imagine doing it? Would you do it? If so, which expedition would you choose? Would you be scared, like I am now? (I can literally see myself tearing up entering into this joker.) Check out the praise reviews here from tripadvisor.com.
My first time out of the country was for my wedding in 2006 to Jamaica and I didn’t do much at all (mainly because of compromising, ya know). Matter of fact, I didn’t take any authority over planning the trip. I gladly gave that responsibility to a travel agency. Me and my now ex-husband traveled back to Jamaica in 2007 and once again, we didn’t do much. We stayed on a couple’s centered resort called Sandals and felt there wasn’t a need to venture out for exploration. It was comforting to be in a structured environment such as a resort. Everything desired was right at my fingertips and I was treated like royalty. I thought that was what traveling was all about, nothing more and definitely nothing less.
From there, I kept traveling, but I was still operating as a ‘typical tourist,’ mainly traveling as a form of relaxation up until, yes people, the turning point as many of you all know- my 2011 visit to Honduras. In June 2012, I went a step further and actually volunteered at Holy Cross Anglican School in San Pedro, Belize and that’s when it all made sense.
My purpose for traveling now is to provide others that same comfort Sandals extended to me. I want to serve and make people feel like royalty. I want to gain more cultural awareness and stop limiting myself to what I’ve been taught is the ‘right way to live.’ Will I get my relax and fun on? Of course, but that’s no longer my drive. For the first time, I am excited about purposefully traveling- are you?
What about my health? What if I get sick over there? Make sure your immunizations are up to date, specifically Hepatitis A and B. In my city, there’s a company called The Shot Nurse and some Little Clinics/Take Care Clinics (in grocery stores) that can assist you, many times without an appointment.
If these are not available in your city, contact your health department or physician’s office to see if they can provide them for you.
Check out http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/honduras.htm for more specifics about health precautions required and recommended for travel to Roatan.
I wouldn’t drink that if I were you…
Only drink water that is bottled and/or has been treated while in Honduras.
Mosquitoes carry Malaria: – If you decide to take antimalarial medications, know their guidelines and speak with your doctor/pharmacist about which one would be the best choice for you. I took Doxycycline for its pros:
There are two forms of Doxycycline – hyclate and monohydrate. The hyclate salt is commonly prescribed in capsule form (also available in tablet form) and is cheaper than Doxycyline monohydrate. I chose to take the monohydrate in tablet form because it has less GI irritation. In the future, would I choose this medication? Probably not because I would rather take a weekly pill vs. a daily one, plus, I will be more prepared the next time. I was in a rush to have pretreatment, so I chose the most convenient option available.
Sand fleas: Literally fleas in the sand.
Very common in certain beach areas of Honduras. When I was there, I didn’t ‘see’ them (hence their other name ‘no-se-umms’), but I saw what they could do to your skin! Some people had several bites on their body. One lady I encountered itched so bad, I she was shaking! I ended up giving her some Claritin to control it. What’s interesting is that the people I talked to that were bitten by both insects, told me they used DEET containing insect repellants!
In all, I only noticed three bites on my body, from mosquitoes and sand fleas. While I did use a DEET product, I read some about some more natural prevention tips, and I think the following helped minimize the agony of their feedings on my succulent blood (hee hee):
As I think about it, maybe the garlic repelled other ‘parasites’ too, ha ha!
If you find yourself ill or injured…
There are clinics on the island for injuries/illnesses, but if your need requires a specific type of care, you may have to be transported onto the mainland of Honduras.
What’s the language?
¿Hablas español? Si es así, eso es bueno. Si no es así, tratar de aprender algunas frases de antemano.
If you didn’t understand the statement, read on.
While Roatan has its fair share of English speaking residents, there are some who only speak Spanish. I encountered housekeepers, taxi drivers, and concierge who spoke no English at all. It would be in your best interest to learn common Spanish phrases beforehand. Look into programs like livemocha (it’s free online unless you upgrade), You Tube, Google Translate (provides audio translations), and Rosetta stone to help you.
What about money? Should I exchange in my country or wait until I am there?
If you are a U.S. citizen, please know the conversion- $1 is equal to 19 Lempiras.
Exchanging money isn’t necessary (if you’re from the U.S.) because the dollar is widely accepted; however, I will repeat: KNOW THE CONVERSION!
How can I connect with those back at home?
Internet- Many resorts/hostels/hotels/bed and breakfast units have this access available, but don’t assume it’s included in the price for your stay. Some places include it and with others you have to pay as you go. If where you choose to stay doesn’t have internet availability, you can inquire about local internet cafes or other businesses that can provide it for you.
Cell phone/telephone use: Depending on where you choose to stay, some will provide you with a complimentary cellular phone to take around the island. You are even allowed to call internationally, but if you exceed the minutes provided, you will have to pay for the charges.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of roaming charges with your cellular company, there are 3 cell phone providers on the island to choose from: Digicell, Tigo or Claro. Some phones are pretty cheap ($25) and you can pay as you go!
What should I pack? What should I leave at home?
I.D./One or Two Credit Cards
Medications/Small emergency kit
International Calling Cards
Medical Alert ID Bracelet/Summary of medical issues
Expensive jewelry, accessories
Large sums of money
There I was, at work two days before leaving for Roatan, Honduras for my 32nd birthday and I received a call from my GI doctor. The previous week, my nurse practitioner scheduled a CT scan for me. I didn’t want to have it done, but I decided to follow her orders. After the scan, I wasn’t expecting her to call me with the results so soon.
The CT scan revealed a spot on my liver, she explained, and they wanted to do more tests, preferably a MRI to see what it was exactly. When she told me the news, I sobbed immediately. I didn’t think anything was wrong with my liver since I was going to the doctor for another reason. I was dazed, frazzled and upset. She tried to reassure me that just because there’s a spot it doesn’t mean it’s cancer. My concern was cancer or not, there’s a spot on my liver that’s not supposed to be there. I left work, went straight to the doctor’s office to have labs drawn and to schedule the MRI for the next day. In the midst of all of this, I was unsure if I would celebrate my birthday, solo, on the beautiful island of Roatan. I was drained, scared, nervous, shocked…basically not the emotions expected before a vacation.
I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t in the mood to go. I didn’t care about the loss I would take if I didn’t go.
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After I wiped my nose and dried my tears, I decided (with the urging of my doctors, friends, and family) to pack my bags, gather my passport and itinerary and head to Honduras! I figured there was no use in allowing my money and time to be wasted on worrying about the condition of my liver (plus, I couldn’t get a refund in that short amount of time anyway ).
On August 11, 2012, I flew out my home city to Houston, TX. From Houston, TX, the flight time to Honduras was only 2 hours and 30 minutes. I can’t explain the joy I felt as we descended to the island from the plane. Everyone looking out their windows was in awe of its beauty from so far above. Honestly, I could understand if someone would’ve cried tears of joy at this time. I’m serious.
Day One (Dia Uno)
The immigration check was a breeze and as soon as I got my luggage, my driver from Barefoot Cay was waiting on me with a smile. During the drive, he verbally provided me information about the resort (although I couldn’t hear him, thanks my ears being clogged from the descend).
“Alcohol or non-alcohol?” Huh? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about the complimentary arrival drink they serve you. Non-alcohol, please
When I arrived, I was ready to check-in, but I was a little too early. The resort did allow me to change clothing in my bungalow because I wanted to visit Mahogany Bay (a port owned by Carnival Cruise Line). Although I dislike Carnival, I have to give them props for exposing me to Roatan in June 2010. I didn’t want to leave! At that time, I didn’t know that Mahogany Bay was only an enclosed, tourist area, but I knew there was something about Roatan that made me want to visit it again. It was there that I experienced zip-lining for the first time ever!
After I changed into my swimsuit, I had a taxi take me to Mahogany Bay. Unfortunately, I got there a little too late. The cruise ship that was there earlier departed, so they closed the port. I didn’t want to go back to the resort since my room wasn’t finished, so I decided to go to West End, a popular area for tourists on the island of Roatan. While there, I visited the beach, mingled and ordered a quesadilla. That joker was good!
I headed back to my resort after having my quesadilla made (my taxi driver was patient while I visited the area, but I didn’t want him to wait any longer). When he dropped off, for some reason, I thought all I owed him was a tip, not the taxi fare!!! I guess I thought that transportation was included in the resort price or something. *silly me* I gave him money (in dollars) and I recall him just staring at it. I was thinking, ‘dude, that’s a good tip!’ LOL. He told me how much the fare was and I was like *blank stare, looks around* Oh…my bad. He didn’t sweat it though, but I did, so I ran to my bungalow (it was ready for me by then), ran to back the cab and gave him the correct amount. It was that day I learned that 1 American Dollar = 19 Lempiras and the tip I gave that I thought was ‘good’ really was measly, lol!
Once I got over that embarrassing experience, I gave myself a tour of resort. You can come with me if you’d like, via video and photos!
That night, my stomach made more room for my dinner (move over quesadilla!)
Day One in Video
Click Here for Day 2 (Dia Dos)
After only brushing my teeth and washing my face, I stepped out of my bungalow and was greeted by one of the housekeepers. She asked me in Spanish if I slept well…I think she knew the answer, but she was just making small talk.
I am so not a morning person, but since I paid for the meal plan on the resort, I decided I was going to make myself be a morning person for those few days. I walked right into the dining area for breakfast…in my pajamas. Pajamas in Paradise.
I had an interesting conversation with my brain that morning while deciding what to eat. One minute, it was telling me to play it safe and the next it was telling me to eat on the edge.
Brain: Get the pancakes.
Me: Nah, I eat those back in the States.
Brain: Get the french toast.
Me: Nah, same as the pancakes.
Brain: Try the Shrimp and Grits!
Me: Hey mind, have you lost your mind?
My Brain and Me: Crispy Baleada…hmmmm… sounds interesting.
From the menu, this meal comprised of a ‘crispy flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, beans, cheese and grilled vegetables.’
Okay, one, I had the slightest idea of what baleada meant. Two, I’d never tasted beans for breakfast, let alone with scrambled eggs and grilled vegetables, but what the hey, I was on vacation. I ordered the it for room service. This is what was delivered:
Looking at the plate, I wasn’t sure how these ingredients would meld in my mouth, but I knew that wondering and tasting were two different actions , so I got to tasting.
First bite- not bad.
Second bite- not bad, not bad at all.
Third to the Seventh or Eighth bite- oh snap…it’s all gone!!!
Is is necessary for me to say that the ingredients melded well in my mouth, lol?!
After Breakfast (Despues de Desayuno)
Time and money were not my friends in Roatan. I was into my second day on the island with one more full day to go before I would be heading back to the States. Before I arrived, I planned to do a ton of sightseeing and other activities, but cramming everything in 2 days was just not feasible time and especially money wise. I ended up cancelling a guided bus tour of the island to do a seaplane tour instead.
So, the time came around for the seaplane ride. I’d never been on one before, so I didn’t know where to go to meet the pilot. There I was walking around the resort expecting a cab driver to yell out, ‘hey, se programó un viaje en hidroavión, ¿verdad? Yo te llevaré al lugar de encuentro.’ (Hey, you scheduled a seaplane ride, right? I will take you to your meeting place,)’ but that didn’t happen. Man, was I too late? Too early? Was my tour cancelled? Did they wait on me and I was no where to be…
The pilot, (can’t remember his name), briefed me on what I was about to experience and he gave me information during the flight of what I was seeing down below. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear everything due to the engine roaring and the pounding of my heart. That’s okay though because the experience was absolutely breathtaking!
During and after the descend, I was so drained physically. I didn’t understand why the seaplane flight was so exhausting. The pilot stated that the wind pressure could’ve contributed to my feeling. I guess so,lol.
I was tired, but not too tired to not eat!!! Lunch was served!
I knew that reclining after eating wasn’t in my best interest, so I walked around the resort and mingled a bit with the hopes of me shaking off the tiredness. I am so glad I did because two great things happened. I was able to catch the ladies who provided me great meals during my stay for a photo-op and David, an employee of the resort, surprised me with a serenade! He even allowed me to rock out with his guitar.
I know you all have seen babies try to fight their sleep. It’s funny to watch because as much as they resist, sleep conquers in the end. Well, that was me on this day. I couldn’t fathom being in paradise and taking a nap…it just didn’t make sense, but logic had no power over nature. THAT 4 HOUR NAP WAS THE BOMB!!! Ha!
Once I awoke, it was dinner time! What a way to wake up from a nap, dontcha think?
Good grub makes me happy and very sociable. No need for liquor over here (a veces). I was chatting it up with the employees and guests when lo and behold, we were faced with a thunderstorm and a blackout. You think that stopped me from running my mouth? Nope. It’s interesting how carefree one can be on vacation. What would’ve made me nervous back home was insignificant for me in Roatan.
The resort had generators so the blackout was just temporarily, but the pounding and crackling of the thunder and lightening were not! I must admit my heart did pound a little bit after seeing/ hearing them because it was unlike anything I ever witnessed before. I had to comfort the owner of the resort’s dog, Corta. Poor thing was shaking something fierce. Maybe that was her payback for sneaking upon me while I walked around the resort earlier, ha ha.
Day 2 in Video
UPDATE-HORRIBLE NEWS: While I was searching for the website of the seaplane company I used, I noticed the site was down. I then went to tripadvisor.com and one of the raters explained that in January 2012, he witnessed a crash of the plane, but thankfully the family of 3 involved and the pilot are doing well.
With each year added to my life, I embrace it. I know some women want to stay 26, but too bad, so sad. As long as we continue to live, we will get older. I look at it like this- there are some people who are given no hope in seeing tomorrow, so instead of dreading getting older, we should start rejoicing over being here one more day. With that said…
August 13, 2011 (my 32nd birthday) was my most memorable birthday ever! I was in paradise with an eventful day ahead. My first adventure was to swim with the dolphins at Anthony’s Key. I put on my swimsuit, fluffed my hair and went to meet my cab driver. Only problem was, there was no cab driver. I don’t know what happened with the cabby memo. All I knew was that I paid for the excursion and was waiting for a ride that didn’t show, but let me tell you something. Barefoot Cay’s staff is so wonderful that one of the dive instructors, Luke, took me and got me there on time.
My Mr. French Kiss
Once at Anthony’s Key, me and other guests took a boat over to the excursion area to meet the guides for the day. They were very professional and organized and they separated us by those who wanted to dive/encounter and who spoke English/Spanish. It was then that we were briefed on what we were going to experience and also the precautions of handling the dolphins.
The group I was with had the pleasure of meeting Mr. French, a baby dolphin at the resort. He showed us his appreciation by performing flips, turns, dives and he even found items in the ocean on command from the guide!
It was strictly a coincidence that the day I turned 32, Mr. French turned a year older, too.
After the encounter was over, I took myself over to the the gift shop and racked up for those back at home. Luke came back to pick me up. What a cool (and cute) hombre!
Meet Luke and Mr. French in Action
Es tiempo comer! It’s Time to Eat! (Lunch)
Next on the agenda was someone’s hands all over my body. That’s right, I scheduled a one hour, full body (non nalgas) massage at the resort (now, what were YOU thinking, ha ha?) It was most definitely needed and man oh man, IT WAS HEAVENLY! Maybe I should’ve had my nalgas massaged after all?
La Cena se Sirve (Dinner is Served)
Almost everyday spent in Barefoot, I ate in my bungalow. Honestly, it kinda irks me when people salivate over my plate asking me, ‘how is that? What is that? You don’t eat xyz? Can I try some?’ So to avoid all of that, if I have the option to dine alone, I will. Not to mention I was warned not to talk while eating due to my diagnosis of acid reflux, so I stayed to myself, except for on my birthday night. Reflux warning aside, I talked with my mouth full.
Of all of the meals I ate on the resort, I wasn’t too fond of the main course on my birthday night. The appetizer was good, though. It was this tuna fishy type pate’ served with soda crackers.
After everyone’s bellies were full, we started to leave the dining area, but the staff yelled out ‘no, no, stay!’
*Looks around* Ummm, okay???
Next thing I know, the staff came out with a wonderful birthday cake with candles, surrounded with sliced grapes and sung Happy Birthday to me in English and Spanish! I grinned so hard, I just couldn’t believe it!
Mucho Mas Tarde
I didn’t have any plans after dinner so I stayed in the business office with one of the employees. I was still pretty hungry and she told me she was going to order Bojangles chicken. Bojangles in Honduras…sure, I will give it a try. I ordered mac and cheese, red beans and rice, french fries a biscuit and chicken (white meat), expecting her to go pick it up. Imagine the look on my face when they delivered! That was interesting to say the least, lol.
I Be Clubbing
‘Would you like to go to a club tonight once I get off of work?’ I was asked after chatting with one of the officers at the resort. My brain was telling me ‘no, don’t go with this guy girl, you don’t know him,’ but the hype in me to end my birthday with a bang was telling me, ‘girl, go get your fun on and work off that fat you ate!’ I told him sure and we made arrangements to go party. By me being American, he felt the need to ‘warn’ me about the condition of the club. He told me it’s probably unlike what I am used to in the U.S. I told him that I didn’t care, I just wanted to experience it. I asked one of the workers at the resort about the fellow who offered to take me to club if she trusted him. She told me he was a nice and cool guy, but I still felt uneasy plus I am not very fond of the nightlife. I asked my neighbors in the bungalow next door if they wanted to go with us. They agreed,so,I told homeboy and it was a done deal. He stated he was going to go home and change and meet us at the resort to show us the way to the club. Cool.
The only problem was the cab driver came earlier than expected and homeboy wasn’t back at the resort at that time. Uncool. All I could do was hope that the club my neighbors had in mind was the same one homeboy mentioned earlier.
We arrived at the club, Las Palmas, pretty early. After time passed, I began to wonder if Mr.Officer decided not to join us.
Next thing I know, I saw him come around the corner.
I had to fuss at him because he had me thinking that the club was a dump, but Las Palmas was absolutely beautiful! It was unlike any club I’ve been to in my life for the simple fact that it wasn’t enclosed, but it was on a beach. The areas that were covered were made of faux palms.
I had a great time. I danced and danced and danced. Guess what, ladies? Not one guy tried to hit on me, grind on me while dancing, grope me, touch me, whistle at me…basically no man tried to harass me on and off the dance floor. The women didn’t look at me like I was crazy, make snarky comments about my outfit/hair/style, get mad because I was dancing with their man, etc. There were no fights, arguments, just dancing and having a good time!
Day 3 in Video
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