Ray, as usual, is up early – often before first light. He opens up the house to the breeze and does the AM round of the property, shutting off the night lights, then comes back up to the third level to feed the cat, Squeek (so named because she has barely any voice – doesn’t meow, just squeaks).
He tells me she is pretty feisty at that time of day and wants to play so they’ve become good friends. He turns the satellite radio on low in the kitchen and music drifts through the open window out to the porch where he and the cat watch the world wake up.
By the time I get up and join him – most days between 6-7 AM – he’s ready to report on the latest comings and goings of both humans and animals. The dirt road below is an active one, and anyone from walkers to riders to drivers (sometimes all of the above, making for sometimes interesting negotiations) might be on it at any given time. There are school kids in their white and navy uniforms, some with backpacks bigger than they are; locals off to work on bikes and scooters; the young tanned tourists and divers rolling out of their hostels and other accommodations nearby; taxi drivers heading out to the main road or construction trucks coming up the hill to the project next door (we listen to their hammers and saws all day; when they quit, it’s like heaven).
In the yards below, mama hens scratch around, with a brood of babies on their butts, and the occasional crowing rooster; the hummingbirds and dragonflies are everywhere performing aerobatics; and the “Roatan rabbits” (aka “agoutis” or “watusis” – because all of those names sound better than a tourist saying “OMG. Did you see the size of that rat?”) might wander through. It’s a regular National Geographic show from the porch.
And that’s not even the birds. Ray has seen the macaws twice (once in the dark but he could ID them from their size and silhouette; and once he caught a brilliant flash of red underwings, though far away). The parrots announce when they’re around and usually come in packs. The resident woodpeckers aren’t as close in as they used to be when the dead tree still stood near the porch (it’s been cut down since our last visit) but they hang out on the phone poles nearby, tapping out their Morse code messages. We appear to be here during the white-headed pigeon mating season. They are so abundant that I figured I could Google them and learn something, but they are apparently not interesting enough for a full-scale investigation. At any rate, there have been a lot of preening and prancing young fellows hanging out in the area, landing beside females even if they’re perched on something awkward like the spine of a palm frond (I think she’s trying to tell you something, dude); but something must be working, because there’s quite a lot of contented cooing going on around us too.
And there’s the water view too: Ray’s the one who sees the cruise ships arrive (early AM) but I have seen them leave (late in the day). We’ve seen the gray Honduran Coast Guard gunboat that patrols the area, and all kinds of dive boats and tour boats and water taxis and skiffs and everything else that heads out over the reef.
Eventually I have to pull myself away from all that compelling entertainment and start my work gig hours – not really such a trial, since the view from ‘my’ (Mike’s) office is blue sky, palm trees, and the water; and Ray usually concocts some delicious breakfast or other to get me started.
For the next few hours, with the tunes turned up, we each retire to our computer corners, occasionally yelling back and forth if we come across something interesting – and taking occasional hammock (me) / smoke (him) breaks to catch some of the breeze outside.
Some days we decide that’s enough and go somewhere. One day last week we caught the collectivo (a 12-seat van that usually packs in 18-20 riders at a time) and enjoyed a ride up to Eldon’s (the supermarket) in Coxen Hole with a side stop at BoJangles. Ray remarked how funny it was that we could feel so much more comfortable jammed into a bus with 18 strangers, most of whom were speaking animated Spanish that we understood none of, than we ever could stuck in Orlando traffic surrounded by “people just like us.” One day we met up with Mark, our old friend from Foster’s circa 2014, and his wife Bonnie and had a bunch of beers at Coconut Tree Divers restaurant here in West End – which seems to be becoming our new hang out.
If we stay put, we may or may not eat lunch. Mostly it’s been not. It’s just too hot to have an appetite. We’ve pretty much acclimated and especially figured out the right hydration dynamic, but even the locals have been complaining that it’s hot, so it’s not just us.
On those days, when the sun shifts over the house to the west side around 3 PM, it’s time to quit. We retire to the east side porch where there’s breeze and shade, and Squeek pads after to join us. Ray brings the speaker along so we have music and we watch the crew building a 2-story structure close by, trying to figure out what they are saying to each other in Spanish.
The afternoon planes fly in (“de plane! de plane!” is de riguer when one comes along – as is the usual refrains to RECO (Roatan Electric Company) whenever we lose power, which has happened several times for several hours: singing “Ricola” like the commercial or muttering, “Come on, RECO suave (suave-ay)”. We watch the clouds build up toward the south and wish it would rain.
Or, we go out. There’s usually a rush on West End Road right around sundown – people out to eat, the dive boats coming in – that sometimes lasts and sometimes doesn’t. One night we headed toward Foster’s and caught this beautiful sundown, but very few people were out and about, so we just went back up. One the other hand, another evening we wandered out and caught some live music at Sundowner’s with a pretty good crowd.If we aren’t going anywhere, we usually catch the American national news (early here, at 4:30 pm) just to make sure we haven’t gone to war or impeached the President, then Ray cooks. I help if he lets me but most of the time he’s on it. I feed Squeek, and as the sun starts to sink, Ray gets his camera ready in case it’s a good one, and I do the PM property rounds, turning on the lights. We watch the light fade away. A couple of hours of TV and we’re done.
Rise, rinse, and repeat. 🙂