Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | June 1, 2013

Out and About in French Harbour

N 16° 21.61′   W 86° 26.34′

Roatán, Honduras.

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Residential area of French Harbour

Travel weather didn’t come together and we are still in Roatán. Having to stay in paradise a while longer is a tough assignment.

There are a few semi-permanent boaters here, a couple of cruisers heading for the Rio Dulce, one to Panama, and one going our direction. Jerry at Fantasy Island works hard to keep up a fun social calendar and we have some great company. Allan & Patricia on S/V Nauti Nauti coordinated a get together to celebrate Memorial Day at Brooksy Point, the other local marina. We had almost forgotten about Memorial Day!  There is a “farewell” potluck at Fantasy tonight since a number of people hope to move on soon. Next Thursday/Friday look like possible travel days for us at the moment.

Bob is still hard at work on the “project”. He often gets up in the wee hours of the morning and works steadily until after dark, taking breaks only to eat and take care of essential needs. The status of the programming determines the mood of the day. I have learned not to interrupt his thought process. He is in another world during the daytime. I get updates at Happy Hour, which has been getting later and later.

I’ve had the chance to get back to French Harbour, took some school supply donations gathered from cruisers to the Community Center and spent an afternoon helping to put the children’s library section back in order. I got to meet a few more local people and added some tidbits to the growing stash of observations about what it must be like to grow up and live here. Many single parent families.  Lots of teenage pregnancies. Young mothers who don’t find it unusual to give their toddlers to another family to raise, or to leave their children behind while they seek work abroad.  Challenges keeping kids in school and paying for books and uniforms since they are required and not funded by the government.  Families who have to go off-island for healthcare, and sometimes forego needs, like a brace for a child with scoliosis, when money is tight.  A family terrified to travel by bus to the capital city, Tegucigalpa, because of high crime, but with no other alternative to get a medical work-up for a child who has life-threatening allergic episodes.  Despite an array of social problems there is a strong sense of community and a motivated group of locals and transplants trying to take control of the issues they can and make a positive difference.

The multi-cultural aspect here is fascinating. Roatan, unlike mainland Honduras, has a British heritage. English was the primary language spoken, along with Garífuna, until there was mass migration from the mainland. The public schools are conducted in Spanish and English is taught as a foreign language. Some children grow up speaking English in their homes and some grow up speaking Spanish. Many gain basic competency in the other language. To work in a tourist job good bilingual English/Spanish skills are important.  It is not uncommon for a conversation to take place incorporating both languages. For example, in a group discussion or instructional session with diverse participants people might speak in English and then repeat what they said in Spanish. People often greet a stranger with “Hola, Hello” when not sure what language to use. This is a comfortable place to communicate as people are  tolerant of language mistakes.

We are getting better acclimated to the public transportation. We usually hop a free shuttle to town when the resort transports guests to and from the airport and ferry, then take a taxi or collectivo to return. The fares here are a loosely structured system and a tourist can easily pay inflated prices. We heard stories of drivers charging the unsuspecting airport arrival $50 for a ride which should cost no more than $10. The advice is to always negotiate fares before getting in the taxi. Our first ride back from the MegaMall resulted in a $5 per head/$10 total charge for a collectivo ride. I was later told that should have cost no more than $1.50 – $2.00 per head. Hmm. We learned that some drivers propose a highly inflated fare that they will quickly lower if they think you have an alternative.  Others just offer the appropriate rate. My last trip back from French Harbour I was feeling pretty smug as I had gotten the lowest fare yet. Then I realized I had agreed to “doscientos limperas” not “veinte limperas”. $10 instead of $1. Crap.  You have to give them credit for taking advantage of stupidity. I hope the excess contribution was well spent.

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Made-in-Roatan workshop hard at work. This session they were making beautiful earrings with a variety of stones. Debi (with the hat) and Bob (in the back) do a great job helping 20 families develop the skills to be self-sufficient.  I couldn’t leave Roatan without some of their unusual and creative works. Let’s not tell Captain Bob about the best souvenir find since molas in the San Blas.

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Made-in-Roatan jewelry artisans Angela, Christeline & Christena. These gals also attend school full-time – way to go!!!

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Ms. Joan, the sole French Harbour Library employee, works hard to promote a safe and fun learning environment and mentors many of the young people

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My young friend delighted in being photographed and seeing his image on the camera

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French Harbour anchorage, “class of May 2013”. Some really great folks. Jerry at Fantasy Island (back row, middle) arranged a lunch outing to Cal’s Temporary Cantina.  Delicious+ scenic! Photo courtesy of Michele, S/V Reach

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New friends Jackson, Drew, Michael & Robin on M/V Doubloon, a Grand Banks trawler. Beautiful family wrapping up an exciting one-year adventure traveling from Seattle, WA, down the Pacific Coast, through the Panama Canal, then on to New Orleans.

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“The Project”

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Overlooking the south side of the island. On a super clear day you can see the mountainous Honduras mainland in the distance.

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Bandit & I are going to miss the spectacular walking grounds on Fantasy Island and the many watusa sightings

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Responses

  1. I hope you write a book! I love reading your blog.

    • Maybe one day the Mar Azul Adventures can be summarized into a book. Or two! We have accumulated a lot of entries here. Glad you are enjoying, Tony.


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