Category Archives: May 2017

To The Wall and Back Again

The internet connection to the mainland was down yesterday morning so instead of starting the day with work, we started with play and jumped the water taxi to West Bay. It was a bit overcast but calm enough to snorkel.

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We got in the water just off Tabyana Beach….

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…and this crew of sergeant majors was hanging out right at the shoreline.

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Along the rock wall, we spotted this gigantic parrot fish and his blue tang pals.

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We were just cruising along when all of a sudden I saw a bunch of bubbles in the water ahead of us. There were a ton of other snorkelers in the water with us, but apparently there were some divers too.

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So we hovered to watch for a while which was interesting (I’m still on the fence about trying a discovery dive but it did look like fun – also less effort than snorkeling).

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Ray kept checking in with me and I was doing OK so I guess he decided while I wasn’t paying close attention that he’d lead me out to the famed West Bay “wall.”

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He’d been talking about how when the reef drops off, it’s a literal abyss, and yeah, so there it was in front of me. It was a beautiful endless blue, and I did get as close to the edge as I felt comfortable with, but I didn’t want to stay there. Probably a good thing I didn’t know where we were ahead of time because once I figured it out, I had to work hard not to puke into my mask. Once we backed off and I had a little time to collect myself, I was OK – and actually now I wish that I would have stayed a little longer checking it out. Next time!

Heading back in…

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We saw some tourists pointing at the rock walls while we were having a refresher back on shore and figured out what they were looking at. Enough fun, back to work…

 

 

 

 

Saturday Snorkel

We snorkeled around Half Moon Bay yesterday afternoon and Ray got some good pictures. This phosphorescent guy and some of his less showy kin.

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I always get distracted by purple things. Since these were everywhere, I was pretty distracted.

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For those who say I might not have actually snorkeled in Belize because there were no pictures, here you go. Yes, it is really me.

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And some needlefish.

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Ray dove under and pulled up this good size queen conch shell, with inhabitant inside.

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Otherworldly.

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Blue Tangs. Lots of them. At least I think they’re tangs?

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Last but not least, Jackie and the Blue Tangs (my new rock band name).

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Back to shore until next time…

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HUMMINGBIRD LIFE
Ray wasn’t satisfied with watching the hummingbirds in the garden below us – especially not after watching them up close at the feeders at Coconut Tree Divers – so he hung a feeder and a rope for them to light on from the porch posts.

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He’s been experimenting with the selfie stick and his iPhone to get some good pics, but it’s an ongoing work in progress – they’re tough to catch.

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It’s amazing how quickly they dart in and out. The other day, one came up from the garden so quickly that Ray said it reminded him of the scene in the movie Blue Thunder where one of the black choppers just rises silently out of nowhere – boom. Sip, sip, there and gone again.

REEF LIFE
He’s also been trying to figure out the new underwater camera. The first time we snorkeled with it, the setting was accidentally on video instead of photo. This time he got mostly photos – and only oe amusing video oops that maybe he can edit.

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CAT LIFE
Squeek is getting plenty of camera time. Some black and whites…

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FLORAL LIFE
I’ve been playing with the clip-on macro lens for my iPhone. Only one I like so far.

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Practice makes perfect on all of the above…more to come.

 

 

Camera Experiments

Weekend Travels: Sunday, Part 3

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.


Including these sweeping panaromas (notice the boat’s name, LOL).

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…

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*  A great little video by Roatan Travel Network on several of the areas we visited.

Weekend Travels: Saturday, Part 2

Back in the car and heading for – yes, really – Fantasy Island. In relatively the same area as Little French Key, which we had ferried over to visit on our 2014 trip, this little key was closer in and had its own bridge. The guards at the gate said we could have 15 minutes on property to look around.

I’m trying not to take pictures of every pretty flower I see, but these pink Ixora in the parking lot were just too gorgeous.

The beach was pretty gorgeous too.

Time’s up. Back to the main road and a drive down the next road or so to visit the Parrot Tree Beach Resort (they have great photography on their site if you want to see how the professionals do it – or just continue on with us amateurs).

As we usually do, we headed for the beach…down this beckoning walkway.

And found views like this:

And this beautiful vista from the top of the hill as we were heading back out:

More zipping around curves and switchbacks and just enjoying spectacular scenery in all directions:

I had noticed some large homes with windmills (going full tilt – very windy day) but also noticed three items poking from the undergrowth up ahead that I couldn’t identify – ?? We came around a curve and oh, no wonder, it’s a fricking boat. I’d seen the spars.

We were like, this wasn’t here before (I think we would have remembered a boat in the middle of the road). So we stopped to see what it was.

While Ray went up the stairs into the skull’s mouth to see what he could see, I walked the exterior length along the road. Pretty cool stuff.

Skull chairs. Must have one.

Ray reported that it looked like a bar inside, though it was locked and long-abandoned. Hmm. Someone had grand ambitions (we learned later from server Josh at Coconut Tree Divers restaurant that it was an ill-fated business by the same guy who was running the dance club in West End last time we were here; it was only open 3 days before it got shut down – ouch). Anyway, it looked like it must have been a really fun place while it lasted.

It was getting late afternoon and we decided that was maybe enough running for one day. Back to West End, where Squeek was waiting anxiously on the stairs: “Where ya been? You’re gonna feed me, right?”

Weekend Travels: Saturday, Part 1

Like many Americans, Ray and I took to the road for the Memorial Day weekend. And by that, I pretty much mean “the” road, here: Carretera Principal, which runs almost the length of the island, sometimes along one of the coasts and sometimes right atop the inland spine. From it, there are a lot of offshoot roads, some of which make for easier driving than others, as we found out on our last stay in 2014 and again this time. (See Maps page if you want a broad overview; see map below for the first part of our excursion).

We definitely got our $37 a day out of our rental car. It was a cute little red something or other, which we started out calling the Chevy WTF (later amended to the Hyundai WTF, although eventually it was just going by the little red WTF).

Driving stick-shift, my mild (?)-mannered husband quickly turned into “Roatan Ray”; in other words, he could easily qualify now for a local cabbie license. Driving here is pretty much like driving in Italy – brake, gas, brake, oops swerve to miss pedestrians, bikes, scooters, or stopped collectivos, pass, brake, gas, etc. He said it was “an adventure” (I said if he really wanted an adventure, let me drive; since he once taught me stick-shift, he shook his head). He also kept up a regular patois in some accent resembling Spanish with a little Chinese thrown in for good measure, repeating radio announcements like: “We are Roatan’s party station. DON’T turn the dial!” (and he says I’m entertaining…)

Anyway, that was later in the day. We started out relatively calmly with a visit to West Bay. We know the beach area already via water taxis and we’ve taken the road once or twice by cab, but figured we’d explore it on our own this time. We found some fun stuff.

We did not know there was a rum company on island, for instance.

We figured we ought to stop, especially since it had the Florida state bird in front of it. Ray chatted up the proprietor while I wandered around noticing things like this sleeping cat under the coffee.

We sampled a few shots – the coconut was good, and I liked the chocolate (Ray did not). I enjoyed the marketing displays in the shop, especially that all the ‘mannequins’ were skeletons (wearing logo tees and other gear, of course).

Onward without a purchase (for now).

 

We followed the road past Infinity Bay which is usually our beach stop after snorkeling. It went up…and up…and this is apparently where the rich people live.

These are some of their nicely manicured yards.

And this is the view from those nicely manicured yards. A hazy morning, but I’d still take that view.

Next up was the coast road through Flowers Bay. According to the Bay Islands Tourism Bureau, Flowers Bay is one of the oldest communities in Roatan, built right on the water, and a great place to experience local island life. This was true, with a lot of townspeople out and about. Since we weren’t stopping, we were reluctant to drive-by-photograph the locals, but we did capture some pretty views.

We’d noticed some banners hanging over the road leading out of West End for about a week advertising The Buccaneer Beer Bar in French Harbor, which we didn’t remember from previous trips there, so we thought we’d check that out next. Back on the main road, we got hung up behind some heavy equipment: a dump truck following a front end loader following a flat truck carrying other heavy machinery. On the uphills, the front end loader was pushing the flat truck with some engine groans that didn’t sound very promising. Several maniacal scooter drivers and cabbies were either attempting to or actually passing them on the curvy road – – usually not just one at a time, oh hell no, let’s go for broke and pass all three, usually into full speed oncoming traffic.

We decided to err on the side of caution (this was before Roatan Ray fully kicked in) so we stopped to look at these catamarans from Ecologic Adventures docked at the Barefoot Cay Resort and dive center – a beautiful facility, and the water in these canals was incredibly clear and clean – and hoped that by the time we got back on the road, traffic would have eased up.

But, we forgot about “Crazy Town” (Monte Placentero, or Mount Pleasant). In the span of a few blocks, there are often tons of people wandering around, lots of traffic stopping and going in every direction, plus other distractions like food smells wafting from the ubiquitous roadside grills and assorted signs and wares competing for your attention. At the best of times it’s kinda nerve-wracking, but this time it all came to a grinding halt because – you guessed it – that was as far as the construction crews had gotten.

But wait. Were we driving a WTF? Yes. Yes we were.

So Ray decided he was going to pass them like all the other nutjobs – which he did, all three vehicles, straight into oncoming traffic, shifting gears and the gas pedal down and swerve back into our lane, oh yeah, that was fun as my life flashed before me. On the other hand, we were in the clear again, and isn’t that what really matters?!

So we kinda needed a beer by the time we got to The Buccaneeer. By the way, lest any of you readers think that all we do is drink, I regret to say that our stint managing a motel has clearly put a serious and lingering damper on our ability to party. We may look like we’re always getting trashed but we’re usually lucky if we each manage a couple of beers most of the time – ie, we are definitely not closing any West End establishments this go-round.

However – if I was going to get a good days’ drunk on, this would certainly be a sweet place to do it. Have a look at this entryway.

It just got better from there. The “swim pool” costs $5 to use but looks more than worth it (notice the seats under the palapa huts are in the water).

To one side is an indoor/outdoor bar area. Love the bar stools, and the comfort canoe.

While Ray settled in (notice another cool feature, these tables supported teepee-style), I wandered out on the dock and took a photo looking back.

I also found the (shock!) hammock swings.

So, why is an awesome place like this virtually empty except for us? For one, it was not a cruise ship day, and for two, they’ve apparently only been open for a month or two and are only now just getting their cruise ship (and local) marketing underway. Oh well, more playground for us!

We could have easily spent the rest of the day at The Buccaneer (and I’m pretty sure we’ll be going back there) – but we only had a vehicle for another day and a half, with more to explore…so off we went again.

The Perfect Postscript…

…to my last post, since I have a story that involves early AM, a cruise ship, RECO, and also the space station and UFOs. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Early yesterday morning I was happily asleep when the power went off. I would probably have slept through that if I wasn’t wearing my CPAP mask and suddenly sucking wind (‘being able to breathe’ being one of my minor requirements for staying asleep). I pulled the mask off and quietly sang, “Reeee-co-la” and Ray laughed beside me so I knew he was awake too.

I thought I remembered the pitch black of power outages out on Guam when we were stationed there, but apparently I have since forgotten just how black pitch black really is. So, since I was awake, and since it was DARK, I figured I should get up and have a look at the stars.

We found the flashlight on the wall and got ourselves out to the west porch and Squeek came bounding around, thinking it was chow time – not, actually, too far from it, but that wasn’t the humans’ immediate concern this time.

The stars!!! were amazing. However, I quickly remembered that the porch rail there is lower than normal as I was leaning waaaay out to have a look…yeah, maybe not so much leaning right there. Ray also pointed out at a bright spot on the water and said, “Hey, there’s the cruise ship.” It was still far off and we had a laugh thinking about whoever was steering the ship going “hmm, hmm, WTF happened to that island?!” when all the lights suddenly went out.

I decided I needed more sky to look at and wandered back to the east porch to the spot where there’s an open view. OH. MY. GOD.

My iPhone camera wasn’t going to do it justice, and I’m not even sure the image above does. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen the Milky Way like this. It was amazing. Unreal. Surreal. Add all other synonyms for incredible.

So I had to call to Ray to come around, and he joined me and we just stood there for awhile, awe-inspired. Then I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye and pointed it out: “Space station?” We agreed, watching, that it was way too fast for a plane. As if perfectly planned, a shooting star flared out right ahead of its orbit: “Did you see that?!” And then, just as Ray was heading back to the other porch, I saw another fast-moving light following in the first one’s arc, though just a little slower. He stepped back and we watched it and went, hmm. What. Is. That? Cue the Twilight Zone music. Maybe a satellite. Maybe…not. They both were heading toward the mainland, where they just happen to have Mayan sites, mountains, etc. Just sayin’…

Ray went back to the other side, I stayed awhile picking out Cassiopeia and a few other constellations I could recognize, but noticed it was getting brighter in the east. The crescent moon and Venus were rising, with the sun probably not too far behind them, and their combined light was enough to ruin the pitch black effect that we’d had going for a bit.

I went back to the west porch where it was still nice and dark, and we watched the cruise ship – much closer in now – glide on by like a jeweled bird. And a handful of stars seeming to twinkle like ornaments in the palm trees nearby.

Well, that was wonderful – but 4 AM is still 4 AM to me, so I headed back to bed as Ray and the cat started their normal routine. And – more perfection – just as I laid down, RECO returned the overhead fan and my CPAP to working order. That’s how to start a day. 🙂

Our Typical Day

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).

Roatan Rabbit

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.IMG_3626-smallIf 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. 🙂

. . . And Here We Are Again On Roatan

Just a little less than a week here now, and this time it’s been quite a different experience – and yet in many ways, everything is so familiarly the same.

For starters, we may have come back to the same physical place, but we’re definitely in a different mental place now than we were in 2014. Back then, we’d been quite isolated in Belize for months, so we felt almost giddy at what amounted to the much-more-comparable “civilization as we knew it” on-island. And we also knew it was our last hurrah before returning to America; with the adventure winding down, we made the most of those six short weeks.


This time, we’re in almost the opposite scenario – coming from just a bit much social stimulation during our stint as motel managers (it goes without saying that I now have a much broader appreciation for customer service employees). Fortunately, we also had a month before our arrival here to decompress, thanks to visits with family and friends, a few re-energizing trips to the beach, and especially because of a gracious offer from Ray’s sister for us to park ourselves at her home in rural north Florida for a few weeks. So we’re generally mellow vs giddy this time; and the fact that I am working remotely this time (ie, a paid gig, not just blogging for myself) and need to establish a new work routine has kept us from more than immediate settling in so far. Seriously: We haven’t even made it to Bojangles yet – what’s up with that?!!

Anyway – even with very limited forays out, some changes in West End are obvious: There’s quite a bit of new construction, and there’s also places that have become different versions of themselves (Foster’s, I’m talking about you). So far, we’ve only briefly re-connected with a few local friends, but already we can tell that their lives have had significant changes (new marriages, different jobs) – whereas I bet to them, we probably seem pretty much the same (all right, except older and fatter).

There’s a time difference this time – we’re two hours ahead of Florida – so that’s been a gradual adjustment, too. But there’s mostly been this very trippy time warp of feeling like we never actually left; both of us feel so completely comfortable, so instantaneously again. We keep having these weird little deja vu moments, like turning to reach for the right light switch before realizing that it IS the right light switch – or our completely inane excitement at the “Happy Days” song blaring from the gas truck this morning (however, we won’t really be in Roatan until the Cintas gas truck comes – Ray is waiting). And the ‘I-remember-this’ feeling of swinging in the hammock while Ray is taking sunset pics from the front porch.

So, what we’ve been doing the most so far is just looking at each other and smiling: Yup. We’re baaack.

So, That Happened.

The condensed version from my last post to now:

In late 2014, we returned from Central America and jumped back into the reality of U.S. life, like it or not: By which I mean that we got jobs and an apartment in Orlando, and we also got smarter — and busier — with college courses (Ray starting in web design, then shifting to tourism and hospitality, while I refreshed my graphic skills).

We got very, very tired of the traffic and the crowds; but we were putting money away, and we were learning useful new things; and whenever one of us got dejected, we reminded each other why we were doing this. In other words, we were on an “anti-sabbatical.”

This is a word I was not familiar with until recently when I read about it in Vagabonding, an excellent book by Rolf Potts: In Generation X, Douglas Coupland defined “anti-sabbatical” as a job approached with the sole intention of staying for a limited period of time (often one year) . . . to raise enough funds to partake in another, more personally meaningful activity.

So, we told each other, just 6 months, maybe 9 months more, and then we’ll be ready to go again. Except we started to suspect that our jobs were maybe not going to last (ultimately they didn’t – the company we were both working for went under). By then, though, we’d applied for a role as resident managers of a motel in Bonita Springs FL, and we got hired. It was a job I think we were very well suited for, and we learned a ton, even though not everything about the situation was ideal.

In March, we said yes to a return housesit on Roatan, and shortly afterward we wound down our stint at the motel. We fly out this week, and we are so ready!