Back in America and, a few days in, still suffering from an odd mix of culture shock and deja vu. Here was the last set of panorama shots I took in West End.
We really love this place. Something tells me we’ll be back…
Mike and Sue, the owners of Mariposa Lodge, came back yesterday. We spent some time visiting and turning the place over (we’d moved out of their top-floor apartment into one of the lower rooms earlier), then headed out for our last Saturday night on-island.
As usual, we got stopped on the way to Foster’s by JC at Nova Bar who always insists we have a starter beer there. He’s one of the first people we met here and so much fun, always in a good mood.
Eventually on to Foster’s, which had been hosting a charter on the boat, so most of the crew was around but busy. I took a few photos of some of ‘the boys’ for posterity, though. Here’s Joseph in the kitchen.
Burt Reynolds and David behind the bar.
Ray, who has been sick for the last few days (heavily congested), was feeling better so he wanted to hang around and enjoy the bachata playlist that Wesley (Snipes) had lined up; but since he’d been kind enough to share his crud with me, I was feeling less inclined and eventually we decided we’d just head home.
I like this photo of Christmas lights on the pier and the shoreline behind it. We took many pictures of the evening but most didn’t turn out – not enough light (must have Go Pro before next trip).
They always have some good dance music going, and JC never stands still, so I started following his lead salsa dancing which was way fun. Ray meanwhile was off in deep conversation with Peter, who owns the place. Anyway, I felt much better once I started dancing, and pretty soon one beer led to another… but the good thing is, if you start getting too drunk, this guy next door always has something good on the grill.
Then the bar’s managers Joaquin and Jennifer showed up and they started playing some percussion instruments while Jorge here manned the drums.
And then Jorge’s friend Leonardo decided to teach me how to really salsa and THAT was a blast. He’s one of those guys that knows how to lead well enough that even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can do okay. Oh my God. I have seriously not had so much fun in a long time.
Well. We left at (gasp) 2:30?! We have not closed a bar in many, many years. And if the way we felt this morning is any indication, there is a good reason for that.
It was lunchtime by the time I got up and we went after breakfast and caffeine – a Bloody Mary for Ray, straight-up Coke for me. That helped some but we still felt awful enough that we walked to Sundowner’s, hoping the exercise would help. However, all that did was convince us not to move for awhile: We got a drink, found a spot on the beach, and enjoyed the great music they were playing.
Eventually we made it back to Mariposa Lodge for a long nap. Sigh. We really, really don’t want to leave this place. 😦
The Beach House dock took this direct hit from all the wave action with the recent bad weather.
Near and far views of Dix Half Way Inn on Half Moon Bay. Looks like a cool place but haven’t made it there yet, mostly because we keep getting waylaid by the ice cream shop nearby.
Eagle Ray’s over-water bar from the West End Diver‘s dock, with water enthusiasts.
On cruise ship days we can usually hear the Garifuna performances from E.R.’s deck (turtle shells and drums for percussion, conch shells for horns, and much spirited singing). We finally made it down one day to watch some crazy hips-don’t-lie dancing by these women.
Speaking of music drifting our way, the Roatan Oasis, just up the hill from our parrot perch, has been featuring live acoustic music the last few Monday nights. This week we finally trekked along the muddy shortcut to the paved road leading that way and met one of the owners (Loren) as we enjoyed some good tunes with their friendly staff and a group of mostly local patrons – not to mention a few beers, two delicious appetizers, and some incredibly awesome desserts (homemade Snickers bar with ice cream). Ray is already plotting how to make these himself.
Our favorite place in West End by far, though, has been Foster’s, pictured here between Eagle Ray’s deck posts and in a following Facebook page photo. The staff – bartender and manager Mark, “PR Guy” Roland, “Future Manager” David, Wesley (Snipes), Burt (Reynolds), cook Joseph, and boat captain Greg – are all so much fun. We’ve had many a good time there in our six short weeks. Too bad we aren’t able to transport the Pier-ettes and Pier-verts here when the music gets going. Miss you guys!
Here’s one of many gift shops along West End road, typically selling tropical attire, woven bags, brightly colored hammocks and swings, and all kinds of jewelry and trinkets.
This is the intersection of the main road and the dirt track that leads to Mariposa Lodge. Behind this little fence is Splash Inn Dive Center; I was standing in front of their restaurant, see second pic, which makes really good pizza.
Lastly, one night when I was making the rounds of the property and switching on lights, I liked this view and thought I’d experiment. My iPhone camera has definitely been trusty but we must get a GoPro before our next travels. Even so, I kind of like the way this one turned out. 🙂
Earlier this week, friends in Belize were reporting a cold front coming in so we figured we were next. On Wednesday we went for a walk and stumbled across a resort called Lands End. It wasn’t open yet but we wandered the premises and took some pics by their saltwater pool.
On the way back to Woody’s for groceries (our original destination), we came upon a shore excursion of horse back riders. Ray asked how they were doing and the woman laughed: “I’m horseback riding on Roatan!” Guess she was enjoying herself.
And here as everywhere, Christmas creep happens (it’s not Thanksgiving yet, people!)…
So we stowed the groceries and then headed back out to Foster’s to watch the weather continue to move in. The surf was definitely up, even in this calmer area with protection from the reef, and a wide stretch of seaweed and assorted junk was floating in the swells. Stayed long enough for one beer and decided we better head back or we’d be stuck there in the rain (not a bad place to be stuck, but from the color of the sky, we’d have been stuck there a long time).
Just made it back in time for a downpour and a rush of banana-bending wind, and that’s pretty much what it has been like since. At one point yesterday, definitely gale-force winds for a few hours.
And the power coming and going, though we did get to see some Thanksgiving football (the first part of the first game, the middle of the middle game, and the end of the last one – ha ha). Too much fun!
The rain finally let up one time yesterday and we could see (and hear) how roiled up the surf was.
And you know what? After August in Belize, we are loving this kind of weather. Bring it on!
Since someone asked where in the hell we are, here is a helpful map.
Even more precisely:
Yesterday we went two places: First, we took the collectivo (shuttle bus) from West End to Coxen Hole, Roatan’s capital and the largest city on the island. Beyond being home to one of the island’s two cruise ship piers, it’s very similar to some of the Belizean towns we’ve experienced and looks like this (top photo credit to Richard Hulhorn; bottom photo credit to someone on Flickr, sorry I can’t ID better than that):
We were in search of two things: A breakfast stop at Bojangle’s, which we’d been very surprised to see on our taxi ride in from the airport, especially since I had just said wistfully to Ray the other day that I could really go for a Bojangle’s biscuit…
…and to find a new computer mouse for Ray, since he’d had a bad electronics moment and came up (in one day!) with not only a malfunctioning mouse, but also a broken camera and a fried Roku box. Usually I play the Death to Electronics character, so that was a little refreshing (well, for me – he was a little ticked off, but Bojangle’s helped).
After stumbling about the area on foot for awhile – a dangerous proposition in this heavy two lane traffic – and getting wildly divergent directions to “a computer place in Mango Tree Center” from our attempts to communicate in English with locals, we hailed a cab whose driver, Rafael, took us directly there. He also agreed to wait for us to shop (voila! they had a mouse) and then drive us to West Bay.
From Coxen Hole, we drove downhill and past the Town Center (home to government buildings and also one of the two the cruise ship ports on island)…
…and then along Flowers Bay, a fairly nondescript village (see area on the back side of the photo below) where hordes of uniformed kids (girls: white shirt, blue pleated skirts, white sox, black shoes; the boys similarly attired in white shirts and dark pants – very like Belize) had just been released from class.
As expected, it is rainy season here and the day was a bit gray, so our pictures of West Bay are not half as stunning as many on the web like this aerial view of the reef.
We came out on the beach just to the right of the two columns of red roofs in the above pic at Infinity Bay Resort which apparently looks like the below pic on a sunny day. I’m not complaining, mind you, this cool weather here is a huge relief from Belize’s hot summer. I’m just ‘splaining.
With a Salva Vida in hand, this view, and excellent music on their surround sound speakers, we did not care.
Which pretty much looks like this if you fly over it: