Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Island of Roatan, Honduras

     This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  It is also the saddest, most desolate place I have ever seen.  When we walked out on our balcony we saw a huge reef right at the dock.  Then and there Jeremy vowed he would be snorkeling yet again.  There were also dancers at this port.  The men played the music while the women took turns doing native dances.  We woke up around 5:30 on this morning and were actually the very first people off the ship!  So much for sleeping late every day! 

Most of the homes we could see from port belonged to tourists

     We had hired a driver for the day to show us the sites,  so once again we made our way past all the little shops and back to where the taxis would be.  We were introduced to our driver, Anthony, and told him to show us everything. 

     This island is 3 1/2 miles at it's widest point and 36 miles long.  We asked him about the mainland and he said it was so corrupt that none of the islanders go there, and they have taken drastic measures to keep the mainlanders off of the island.  He said they use to let them come and go freely, but they were bringing so much crime to the island that they are trying to stop it.  On our tour we went through a police check point.  He said most of their police force is ok, but there are a few that will take a bribe.  I guess that happens everywhere.  Around one side of the island there were piles of trash in the water.  Anthony told us that it comes from the mainland.  They know that the tide carries it toward the island, so they just dump it in the water.  Lots of the peoples houses were here and the children were swimming and playing in the ocean amidst all that filth.  It was very sad to see.  Most peoples houses were built on stilts, like we see on our beaches.  The only thing they did inside the house was sleep.  Everything else took place under the house, in the open air.  They cooked their meals, did their laundry, etc. under the house.  Anthony showed us his mother's house, but said that he was raised by his grandparents.  He is one of 8 children, but told us he had a brother that passed away just a few months ago.  He said this was a very typical family size for Roatan.  We told him we had 4 children, and people at home thought that that was a lot, and he just laughed.   He also showed us the hotel where 2 of his sisters worked.  He said any of the hotels that were run by Americans (which this one was) were good places to work.  I don't think I ever saw a street sign on the island.  There was lots of construction and Anthony told us it was all for Americans or other foreigners. 

That's our ship in the background

 These boys are brothers and they were selling metal and plastic jewelry.

 Another tourist spot

 This little girl was playing behind the t shirt stand her mother owned.

This woman was selling bracelets and using them to teach her son to count.

     There was an abundance of vegetation here, but he said they consume it all.  They very rarely export anything.  We saw banana trees, several types of coconut trees, cashew trees, almond trees, guava and papaya plants. 

     We also took a tour of  a small farm that had monkeys and lots of birds.  We got to walk in each cage and hold whatever we wanted.  The monkeys were just like kids.  Just as soon as you'd put one down, it would wrap it's tail around you and climb right back in your arms.  The birds were all beautiful.  They had a Toucan there, and he was huge.

     After we had seen the island, we went to a beach resort called the Mayan Princess so Jeremy could catch a snorkel tour.  Walking into this place you would never imagine what the rest of the island lived like.  It was complete paradise.  I guess this is what most tourists want to see on an island in the Caribbean, but I'm glad we got to see both sides.  Delta and Continental both have flights that come straight to the island.  We were very surprised since it's such a small place, but I can see why since it's so gorgeous there.  Jeremy said the snorkeling here was awesome.  He got to get closer to the reef than he expected.  He said if we had been in America they would have had it all roped off and not let anyone near it, but here they pretty much let you do what you wanted.  After his snorkel we ate lunch at the resort then Anthony took us back to the port.  We shopped around a little and went back to the ship.  Of all the places we saw, this is the one I would like to visit again.

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