Friday, March 31, 2017

Roatan, Honduras, el treinta y uno marzo, 2017

Time is flying by!  Only 7 more suppers and 8 more sleeps until I start my way home.  I am looking forward to going home - to see everyone and hug, kiss and play with Nico.  I'm hoping the weather will cooperate so I'm not wishing I was back here a few days after being home!

This past week, I went to the gym for seven sessions and had four days with three hours each of Spanish lessons.  I found a comedor that has consistent pollo asado so that's where I've been having lunch-

This full plate cost only $4.50.  That's a pretty good deal and it was delicious. As a bonus, I get to watch tv - always La Rosa de la Guadeloupe.  

I also tried tamarind juice-

It was good but full of sugar so I won't be trying that again!  I've been drinking Fresca, quite a lot actually, but won't be doing that anymore either.  This afternoon I read the label and the second ingredient is sugar!  It's not sugar free like at home!  Here I thought I was doing so well!

My cooking this week has been chicken curry, lasagna, tacos and big salads.  With the heat-

"Feels like 39", no one wants to eat too much.  Sweat pours down my face while I'm in the kitchen; you'd think I'd be getting skinny!

Mercedes or Olga Joy (I'm not sure what her name is - on her email it's Olga Joy and I've heard people call her that on the phone but I call her Mercedes) is my fourth Spanish teacher this trip -

At yesterday's class, it was like a lightbulb came on for me.  She doesn't 'baby' me like my other teachers did.  She speaks the way she would to her friends - mumbling, slurring, dropping letters, using slang and talking two miles a minute.  I've found it quite difficult understanding and following so I often just nod my head, thinking I'm getting the gist, but yesterday I probably understood 95% of what she was saying and when I asked for clarification, when she enunciated the words, I knew what they were too.  Sheny in Antigua, whatshisname in SanPedro and Magdalena in Xela all babied me by speaking very slowly and using vocabulary that they knew I understood.  As a beginner, that was fine and I learned a lot, however, out in the real world, I couldn't understand a thing!  It's also been 'time' for me to move on language wise and there is no way my other teachers could have spoken to me the way Mercedes does.  I'm just very excited and quite proud of how much I've learned and I still have a week to go!  The only difficulty is going to be maintaining it once I'm home.  

This next week will be more of the same: gym, Spanish lessons and cooking.  I keep saying I'm going to go diving at least once more, but I'm really not interested and keep avoiding it.  I am going snorkeling tomorrow with Mercedes and Arlene - it's supposed to be excellent out in front of Lawson Rock so we'll see.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Roatan, el veintiseis de marzo, 2017

Today was a big day!  After breakfast, I headed 35 kilometers east through Coxen Hole to Jonesville-

in search of Hole in the Wall restaurant-

where I had a lobster burger-

There was a ton of lobster in it but the bun could have been fresher.  Hole in the Wall is a wreck of a place on the edge of the bay.  The only way to get there is by boat.  Houses along the way are all on stilts-

Lobster and shrimp season is over so all the fishing boats are parked for a few months-

The boat with the long arm-

is a shrimp boat.

My next stop was Punta Gorda-

which has Garifuna music and dancing on Sundays-

Unfortunately the real craziness doesn't begin until 6 pm and by then it's dark and there is no way I'm trying to come home on my scooter with the super dim headlights.  Besides, I had to work today.  I've seen Garifuna dancing and music in Belize anyway.

I also stopped at Pristine Bay-

which has the only golf course on the island.  The Black Pearl is a links course-

that costs $97 US to play, including cart.  I'd also need to rent clubs $25 and find a shirt with a collar-

Only about 50 people play each day and there are around 120 members.  There's a tournament this coming weekend but unfortunately it's full.  Links courses aren't my favorite so I probably won't be playing, even though I think the price is pretty reasonable.

There are lots of beautiful homes along the fairways and the reef is very obvious!

I'm not sure how many of these monsters were here today-

but this is the only one I saw.  Notice the rusted shipwreck wasting away in the harbour!

The roads are pretty good east of Coxen Hole.  There are very few potholes - I think they keep this end of the island a mess so tourists feel badly and tip more.  I made good time going and coming - 6 hours with all my stops.  

Tonight is "Big Salad Night" so that's pretty easy and then it's back to working out and Spanish school tomorrow!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Roatan, el veinte cinco de marzo, 2017

Time is flying!  I've been to the gym for 2 classes both Monday and Tuesday but was too stiff on Wednesday!  I went back for 2 more classes both Thursday and Friday.  Classes include Insanity, Piyo, Turbokick, Pilates and Barre.  So far so good-

The studio is a 3 minute scooter ride from where I live and it only costs $50 US/month for unlimited.  I'm planning to take at least 10 classes this coming week.  I've also had 4 days of 3 hours of Spanish this week.  My teacher, Mercedes, doesn't speak clearly and says a lot of words, that to me, aren't  necessary.  However, that's good because that's how the locals speak.  I am improving!

Last night was the 6th anniversary of the hostel.  Mel sprung for live music - Sopa entertained for 3 hours-

They played a variety of music from soft rock to reggae.  About 40 people attended.  I was the cook - the menu included 2 kinds of chicken wings, nachos, veggies and dip (no one wanted this), guacamole with pita bread, banana bread, rum punch, beer and spinach with dip.  I'm lucky I'm not a waitress.  I couldn't keep anything straight.  Menu helped out later on in the evening-

Today was my day off!  I went to West Beach, which thankfully was empty of cruise ship destroyers -

I'd like to try this but it takes a lot of practice and balance.  It costs $65 for 20 minutes-

Arlene, my friend from Australia, came along and we snorkeled and enjoyed Happy Hour at Las Rocas-

Looking forward to lunch at Hole in the Wall, near Jonesville and Garifuna dancers at Punto Gorda tomorrow!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Roatan, el diecinueve de marzo, 2017

I went to church this morning in West Bay - my family attends so thought I would check it out.  They hold it in a conference room at the Infinity Bay Resort.  The first half hour was singing, then we spent 10 minutes greeting one another, then a man spoke about a few Bible verses.  One thing I think I heard was that a person can't truly be a good person if they aren't a Christian.  I didn't like that one bit.  Not sure if I'll go back.  

I had lunch on a beach chair-

at Bananarama.  Unfortunately I had to 'work' from 1-4 so hurried back.  Because I wasn't cooking, I cleaned the kitchen - washed a few windows, bleached the countertops, washed the appliances sitting on the counters, wiped down the chairs in the dining room and washed both the kitchen and dining room floors.  Needless to say, it wasn't my favorite afternoon!  

At Bananarama, there are crab races Sunday afternoons - 180 crabs are numbered and put in a circle.  Viewers bet/buy the crabs and the first ones to walk out of the circle are the winners.  It was my plan to go and watch but my moto wouldn't start!  I called Jennifer and hopefully it will be fixed tomorrow.

On my end of the island, there are 3 main beaches:  West Bay - lovely, West End - small but nice and Sandy Bay, which is across the highway from where I'm now living.  The road into Sandy Bay is incredible-

Can you imagine driving on that often?

The beach isn't much better-

There's a lot of garbage lying around but there is apparently awesome snorkeling about 200 meters out.  It's been too windy to dive on this north side, let alone snorkel so I'll have to wait for calmer days.

Stopping in at Julia's tienda, she has this odd looking bag hanging from the ceiling-

She said it's for the mosquitoes.  They bite the bag and then get a snout full of water die.  She said it works but......  Kind of hard to believe!

Saturday afternoon/night there was a fundraiser at Lawson Rock for the Clinica Esperanza - the local health center.  Services are offered very cheaply and a lot of doctors come and volunteer.  We have a couple staying here right now.  Anyway, for $20 one could listen to continuous musical performances - the ones I heard were good: blues, country and rock.  There were food booths: a bakery, pizza, tortillas, pulled pork, etc, as well as alcohol.  There were quite a few people-

And the rain held off so hopefully they raised enough to keep their doors open awhile.  

I'm joining the gym for the next 3 weeks and planning to go to 2 classes/day.  I also have Spanish class right after for 3 hours and I'm back to cooking this week, although Mel's sister and her 2 kids went back to London, Ontario today so there may only be 4 of us for supper.  I can handle that!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Roatan, el dieciocho de marzo, 2017

So I'm back to taking Spanish lessons - the first day was 4 hours straight!  My head was spinning and my eyes were crossed when Mercedes left.  Unfortunately the hostel is too busy/noisy for us to find a quiet place so yesterday, day 2, I went to her house.  She's living in a studio apartment at Lawson Rock.  It's a gated, rich subdivision with many lots for sale with tremendous views to the Caribbean.  We only studied for 3 hours - that's enough at one time!

Tonight I walked across the carreterra back to my friend Julie's tienda.  She was having a party with her friends-

The music was blaring - I mean really really loud and Julie and her friend Amanda were dancing, almost grinding on each other!

Jose was just enjoying the show-

Julie has been on Roatan for 10 years, trying to make enough money to afford a house on the mainland in San Pedro Sula.  She has 3 children but I only met Maria, her youngest-

Beer is cheap - $1.42 and I get to practice speaking Spanish while there.

Even though it was Saint Patrick's Day, green beer wasn't available in West End.  I stopped at Sundowners, an expat hangout and when I asked if they had it, a man at the bar asked " Is it the 17th today?"  That sort of happens after awhile.

Cooking has been going fine - tonight I had veggie burgers (I never would have thought that's something I'd ever make!), beef burgers, home cut fries and all the trimmings ready to cook when I got a text that the family wouldn't be home for supper.  Oh well, they will eat it today at lunch.  Tomorrow is a day off and Sunday, no cooking either!  This working for a living is tough!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Roatan, March 15, 2017

Another week has sailed by!  Carolyn went home on the 10th and I had my farewell West Bay meal - grilled seafood:  calamari, jumbo shrimp, lobster and kingfish.  It was delicious-

I wish I could say goodbye permanently to this-

So many cruise ships come, sometimes 4/day carrying thousands of people- not good for the reefs!

My new residence, or shall I say place of employment!!! is Roatan Backpackers in Sandy Bay, where I'm the supper cook.  For that, I get free room in the loft, free suppers and half price breakfasts.  A mosquito net is definitely required as there are no screens on some of the windows and the bugs can be nasty-

Looking down to the dining room-

I cook in this well stocked kitchen.  Belkis is a local Honduran and the breakfast cook.  She also makes bread and tortillas for me-

My first supper attempt was last night - veggie lasagne, Caesar salad and garlic bread.  It turned out great, so I guess I get to stay!

There's a lovely pool-

And lots of comfortable deck chairs-

I've rented a scooter for $100 US/week.  It's a POS but gets me around.  Even if I don't go far, I like the freedom-

Most roads are NOT this bad but this is how one gets from the main highway to the hostel.  It's nasty-

Most people stay in the dorms for $10 US/ night.  I'm glad I had a choice: 6 beds in this small area seems a little tight to me-

The restaurant where I'm cooking is fairly new but isn't very busy.  In fact, if it weren't for Mel, the owner and her family, there wouldn't be much business at all.  Most travellers cook their own meals in the hostel kitchen or eat in local restaurants for under $5 US, meat included-

Guests hang out in the lounge-

I scootered over to West Bay this morning and stopped at a rum sampling shop.  I don't really like rum but the view of West End was nice-

I'm enjoying the weather and looking forward to re-starting Spanish classes tomorrow with Mercedes!
Oh ya, we're having chicken tacos tonight!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Roatan, Honduras, March 8, 2017

After another good dive and lunch, we headed to the Carambola Botanical Gardens which is a 40 acre forest.  It must be a 'bad' time of year because we saw no fruit and few flowers.  We did see a few cacao pods-

And this lovely Heliconias=

The roots of this tree look like chicken feet.  I think it's a Cieba, but I'm not sure-

The walk was through all kinds of trees like mahogany and bamboo, as well as spices like ginger and cinnamon.  We should probably have paid an extra $10 US each for a guide and gotten more out of our visit, but we didn't so.....

There's a view of Anthony Key, a ritzy resort, from the top-

After, we came back for Happy Hour and more Monkey Lalas.  Probably the most interesting thing for me at the botanical garden was learning that a Monkey LaLa is more than a drink - it's an actual lizard, the striped Basilisk Lizard.  We didn't see one of them either!

We're diving again tomorrow and then who knows!

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