In case you haven’t figured out, this weekend ride was exploratory: We wanted to see a few more places on-island than we were able to get to last time, and then we’ll come back and spend more time at some of them.
After the long day Saturday, we started Sunday with a treat – the breakfast buffet at Infinity Bay (West Bay) – before getting on the road again toward a couple of roads we knew we had missed the day before, and then parts further east.
Turquoise Bay was first – this was the road down, pretty common up to this point: gravel, some potholes, sometimes steep, but generally navigable, even by a low-clearance, small-tire Hyundai WTF.
I found this great aerial view of the resort on Expedia:
When we arrived, Ray started out exploring the pool and the view from it…
…while I walked down to the water past this pretty lawn and flowering trellis…
…to THIS amazing view. Wow. It doesn’t even look real, does it?
And everything is so green!
After a short foray, we headed back up and then east on the main highway to the place where real pavement ends at a junction of two gravel roads – one goes to Punta Gorda, where the original Garifuna settlers landed and established themselves; the other to Oak Ridge and points beyond. We took the latter and braved some steep uneven slopes until we arrived – not really intentionally – at BJ’s Backyard.
What a great little discovery! We walked down the plank entry into an over the water bar (and I mean just barely over the water) and met two ladies – one behind the bar who got us a couple of ice-cold Salva Vidas (beer) and another vaguely familiar looking (I couldn’t think why?) older woman who was watching a small TV. Ray started chatting with them and as soon as I heard the second woman’s voice, I suddenly thought: “Duh – she was in the RTV video [watch it at the * below] – she’s BJ.”
We went outside and settled at a table and chairs on a floating deck, with a beautiful view across a fairly broad inlet to a strip of barrier island where rough whitecap surf was coming in. It was a very windy day again, but it felt glorious right there.
The view reminded both of us of the port at either Ischia or Capri (bay islands off Naples, Italy, where we met) – which is somewhat ironic, since roatanonline.com says that Oak Ridge is often called the Venice of Roatan because of its boat-oriented transportation.
I also told Ray I was pretty sure that the woman inside was BJ, so he strolled inside to ask her (she said yes and gave him some of the scoop about East End, the “real Roatan”) while I lined up my butts-eye views of the scenery from a deck further out.
Another place we could easily have stayed at all day, but soon enough it was time to move on. We got some great shots of the bay on the way back out.
We also drove past the village graveyard, which had such a steep hill leading down to it that I remarked, “If you weren’t already dead on the way in, you might be by the time you got there.” Yikes. We did not attempt that road, but from the overlook it seemed to be a very tranquil final resting place.
We’d left what we figured would be the toughest jaunt – down to Paya Bay – for last, and it was exactly that. Yee ha! The little red WTF got us in and out (with a mixture of calm and nerve out of Ray), but not without some sanity-doubting moments. I will say, it was worth it (which is silly, since every stop we’ve made here has been worth it. Just love this island…). For that matter, we’ve been on far worse terrain in Belize – although not in a WTF, so I guess this makes the experiences about even.
Anyway, as we started the long slow descent, we watched the vehicles coming back up and, somewhat reassuringly, there were one or two of our size, although far many more were trucks and SUVs. Well, at least we could count on a tow out, right? Just do it.
About midway along (although it was difficult to know that then), we ended up behind a pickup truck that we deduced was the “chase vehicle” for an adorable twosome: a young dad on a bicycle riding wingman to a very small kid – 4 or 5 years old, tops – outfitted in full Evel Knievel gear and cranking along on his mini motorbike. At about the same point, we started to encounter more frequent homes and small shops, so folks walking on the road or lounging on their porch steps and in hammocks watched the dad and kid go by with amusement, then waved to us. Maybe they thought we were part of the team, or maybe they were just wonderfully friendly. Either way it felt like a nice welcome.
We were happy to eventually arrive at the turn into Paya Beach. Having no idea what to expect, what we found was pretty much the bar at the end of the world.
We hung out on the broad patio deck enjoying a couple of cervezas and watching an adorable tiny puppy work his cute magic on everyone at every table. More refreshing stiff breeze, more do we really have to get up and go somewhere?
Eventually we decided we’d rather tackle the uphill trail while it was still light vs in the dark, so one more picture…
…then back up we went – slowly. By the time we pulled onto the hard road, I’m pretty sure Ray was ready to call it a day even if I wasn’t. I was, especially since we still had one more stop at Eldon’s Supermarket – a planned grocery run while we had the car, vs having to collectivo or cab it with heavy bags. Of course, this included a Bojangle’s reward (well, it’s right there).
Even with unpacking, feeding the cat, and doing the property rounds, we still had time to relax and watch sunset from the porch. Ahhh…
* A great little video by Roatan Travel Network on several of the areas we visited.