Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | May 11, 2013

Honduran Fantasy

N 16° 21.61′   W 86° 26.34′

Roatán, Honduras

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The past two weeks have flown by. We are docked at Fantasy Island which has been a wonderful change of pace after many weeks  (19 to be exact, not including 2 days at Turtle Cay) at anchor. The marina is part of a locally owned all-inclusive resort that caters to divers. It is a comfortable spot, well sheltered by a large reef, with the only access to the mainland via a small private bridge. The property is magnificent, feels safe and secure, and is a comfortable place to get a glimpse of life in Roatán.  Our cozy nest here is very divergent from what one might expect, given the news articles that surface if you do a quick search on Honduras filled with ugly crime statistics and horrific pictures.  Roatán, part of the outlying Bay Islands, has a better reputation than the mainland which is critical with the island’s focus on tourism, cruise ships & international visitors.

The entire crew is enchanted with our current setting.  I am happy to have easy access to the beautiful grounds ashore and appreciate being able to jump off the boat whenever I wish with no hassles. I think Bob is especially enjoying the frequent social opportunities hosted by marina managers Jerry & Annie. The dogs are overjoyed with multiple daily walks through the property that is also home to monkeys, peacocks, ducks, geese, chickens, iguanas, and their favorite – the watusa, a rodent type animal that looks sort of like a groundhog and scurries around, inviting a chase. The sandy beach just a few steps away is within the protection of the reef and I am indulging in this tranquil place to swim.  Likewise, spectacular diving, for which the island is well-known, can be accessed from the beach or via boat and Bob is taking advantage of this opportunity.

We were treated to a visit from our friend Doug last week, who now holds the Mar Azul’s “frequent visitor” record, with a little assistance from his pilot travel perks.  He and brother Glen caught up with us when we were in the Dominican Republic and St. Martin and we almost managed visits in Aruba and Cartagena.  It’s tough to coordinate schedules to rendezvous with a cruising boat. While Doug was here the guys undertook a couple of dive trips.  We also rented a car and got to see much of the 28-mile long,  1 -2 mile wide island, including West End, the tourist zone, and Coxen Hole, the largest residential and commercial area.  We had a couple of really fun days complemented by perfect weather that went by in a flash.

Many cruising boats pass through the French Cay Harbour area and the anchorage has had from 4 to as many as 10 boats at a time. We got to see Deb & Chuck on Neytiri, whom we had met in Santa Marta, and they were docked next to us for a couple of days. Most of the boaters we meet are headed for Guatamala’s Rio Dulce, considered a safe base for the hurricane season. Sounds like there is going to be quite the crowd there once everyone has arrived. With the first-hand descriptions we heard from repeat Rio Dulce visitors, we are still pretty sure that is not something we want to do at this point in time. We also spotted the first trawler boat in many months and met the family aboard M/V Doubloon, bound for New Orleans.

The wind and seas have picked up over the last couple of days. The surf is ferociously pounding on the reef, but we are tied up securely with just an occasional small motion at the dock. We are starting to look for travel opportunities and it will be at least a week, maybe longer. Bob just took a look at the long-range forecast which shows the threat of an early tropical storm developing in this area in two weeks. Sure hope that does not materialize, but it’s a reminder that we need to keep moving.  People still look at us cross-eyed when we say we are going to Florida for hurricane season.  Good point . . .   There are options, even here, with a couple of mangrove bays that could be used for storm shelter if needed.  We’ll be glad to get across the Gulf and settled in a well-built marina for the season, when we don’t have to worry about storms cropping up while we are traveling in unfamiliar places.

We have changed our itinerary and are planning to skip Belize and head directly to Mexico. It will cut some distance from the overall trip and eliminate a higher cost stop. Belize customs & pet fees, which are not extremely well-defined, have the potential to be on the high side, especially for a short stay. Maybe we’ll get back to Belize another time when we can visit longer.

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Mar Azul docked near the Dive facility at Fantasy Island. On a busy day, all the dive boats make multiple runs to the nearby sites.

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Some of the many critters roaming the property

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The most glorious of the bird species on the grounds is happy to display his plumage

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Fortunately the dogs have not noticed the monkeys hanging from the trees. The monkeys have been more astute.

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Afternoon feeding time, with fruit scraps from the buffet’s salad bar, brings out some monster-size iguanas

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The dogs are captivated by the watusas which are also the most plentiful of the animals on the island

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Doug & Bob in Half Moon Bay, West End, a picturesque tourist hub on the island

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While in West End we got to meet Karl Stanley of Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration and see his submarine that goes on underwater tours up to 2000 feet below the sea. Bob would love to do the trip, although it is priced out of the budget at the moment. No way claustrophobic Elaine is getting in this tiny vessel, which holds two adults plus the Captain, and plunging to those depths. I will have to be satisfied with the photo tour from their website: http://www.stanleysubmarines.com/

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Return from a dinghy dive with boat neighbor Charlie. The guys gave the local sites rave reviews – a shipwreck & submerged DC-3 were along a nearby wall. As marina guests we get a nice discount with resort’s friendly Dive Shop and it was incredibly reasonable compared to Bob’s most recent dive experience in Bonaire.

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After a lengthy road trip we finally found Temporary Cal’s Cantina, high on the hill, only a couple of miles from Fantasy Island. The #1 rated TripAdvisor restaurant lived up to its reputation.

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Menu of the day featured all sorts of delicious and artfully presented fare. Best part was the low prices. 1 lempira (the local currency) = 5 cents, so the tuna dinner entrée was 12.50 US, burger plate $7, etc.

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Main beach at Fantasy Island. Right now the resort is winding down for the slower summer season and pleasantly uncrowded. The hotel will close in the off-season this year for a make-over.

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Gonna keep an eye on this possible weather for 5/25 that just showed up on the long-range forecast and hope it is an aberration

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Mar Azul, French Cay Harbor anchorage in the distance. Waiting for weather again!

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