The Latest from Roatan, Honduras
Date: 12 December 2005
Hello, again! Well, it has been a very interesting time here in Roatan since our last email. It seems that the adventure never stops. We have since endured nearly a month of storms in addition to the usual challenges of adjusting to our new island home.
We found a house to rent in Sandy Bay with room enough for the bus. It is a typical 'island house' made of clapboard on concrete stilts. Apparently the house is over 100 years old -- and the huge trees in the yard are at least that old. The windows are merely wooden blinds with screens -- again, we have a house with no windows to keep the winds completely outside. While we do have more room here than our house in Corozal, Belize, there is no little village for us to walk to, so we must drive to the grocery store, etc.. We do miss the lifestyle in Corozal, but making money there was much more difficult than here. Our expenses are much higher here though, so although I have more business here, we still are basically breaking even.
Unfortunately the job I came down for with TTI internet did not work out. Without getting into all the sad details, the company did not live up to their promises to me and their customers. I worked 12 hour days 6 days a week and never came close to being able to match what I could do on my own. So I am now focusing full time my attention on the satellite internet business which first introduced me to Honduras nearly 2 years ago.
The children have enrolled in a nearby private school (only 11 students) just a mile down the beach from home. They walk to and from school along the beach every day. They have new friends and love their little school house on the water. The school is just a couple houses away from Anthony's Key Resort, one of the oldest and most developed resorts on the island. They spent a week at the resort's dolphin camp where they got to feed and swim with the dolphins nearly every day. They got to give hand signals, and the dolphins would perform tricks. Both Cheyenne and Lakota also got to do a little scuba diving with child-sized air tanks and other scuba gear. They also went horseback riding and visited a couple places where they could see parrots and monkeys. Needless-to-say, they loved it!
Lila returned to Quebec for 3 weeks to take care of her mother and sister who each had recently returned from the hospital (unrelated causes). While she helped nurse them back to health, hurricane Wilma passed close by Roatan on its way through the Caribbean. It was the strongest hurricane in recorded history, and while we did not get a direct hit (thank, God), the storm hit us pretty hard. It moved very slowly through the Caribbean and gave us a week of stormy weather. Wilma didn't really make the news at that time until it was closer to the States. The power was out for over 3 days -- luckily we had the bus with its generator, so we managed better than most. It was tough enough to manage things at home without Lila, and the hurricane didn't make it any easier. We could hear the roar of the waves crashing into the reef about a 1/2 mile off the beach here every night. The house shook as the winds picked up. Our neighbour came over to say that he saw one of our palm trees swaying quite a bit and suggested we move our car in case it fell down. I moved the car but didn't think the tree would fall as it was quite old and probably had been through several storms in its lifetime. Well, the next morning, the tree (fully laiden with coconuts) was down right where the car had been parked -- it would have seriously crushed the car, for sure. Thanks, Jose!
As Wilma got closer and closer each day, the tides started getting higher and higher. Thankfully, the reef took the brunt of the waves which were HUGE and crashing hard into the reef. The excitement culminated when the waves started rolling in past the houses across the street on the beach front and across the sandy road to our house. While the waves weren't high, they swooped in and just kept on going. I moved the bus into the back yard with the mango trees for safety, but was promptly stuck in the mud. The bus was safe from the waves, but now we were deep in mud -- and the storm was not over. I put the car in the back too, but it didn't get stuck -- this time. The children were out playing in the storm every day. It was quite thrilling. Everyone in the neighbourhood was home, and we all got a chance to meet one another. Some people were out catching land crabs with their bare hands. Later we were able to buy a few pounds of cooked and picked land crab meat -- it was excellent!
After about 5 days of wind, rain, and surf, we finally enjoyed a beautiful sunny (and breezy) day. The children had been out of school for a week, and we thought we'd check in. Up to that point we had been driving the children to school along the beach road -- which was the beach -- or what was left of it. A lot of sand had been taken away, but there were still people driving on it. We drove down to find the little bridge near the school had been washed out. We stopped the car for a minute while I planned where I would cross the stream emptying into the sea. However, while we were there a slow wave came in and went under the car and kept on going. I didn't panic -- I just waited for the water to recede. But after that, we were stuck in the sand. I started trying to dig us out when another wave came in. The car was sinking in deeper. Every five minutes or so a wave would come in. People started gathering there and tried to help get the car out, but the waves kept washing more sand into the places we dug. Finally, I decided to stop digging and wait for the tide to go down -- after all the storm was over and the tides should go down sooner or later. While I stood there watching the waves now crashing into the car every 5 to 10 minutes, Lakota played with some of the local children. A few hours passed when a beer truck arrived to make a delivery at the little shop there. They made their delivery and asked if we needed any help pulling the car out. There was not a chain or rope around to do the job, so they started to turn around to go back. They got a little stuck in the sand, too, and I ran over there to help them before the next wave. We dug and dug, and then, boom, another wave came and sank them even deeper. It was a huge truck, and it was not going anywhere. The crowd was getting bigger as the neighbours giggled at the situation we were both now in. There was nothing short of a backhoe that was going to get them out -- but at least I knew that whatever would get them out would get us out, too! After a couple more hours, a backhoe was called in and got both the truck out and us. They towed us to a local mechanic as the car was not starting anymore. A lot of water had made it into the car and fried the car's 'computer' under the passenger seat. A couple days later, the same backhoe dragged the bus out of the mud, too. (What a muddy mess.)
All the while Lila was back in Quebec. We missed her very much, but I was glad that she didn't have to go through all this. She got a replacement computer in Quebec and brought it back with her when she returned. Unfortunately for us, the replacement computer also got fried and even now we are still without a working vehicle... again. (Some of you may remember our car troubles in Belize when it took over a year to get it back on the road after our mechanic rolled it.) Getting a replacement computer has been impossible here in Honduras. So we will try again when we go to L.A. for Christmas. Whoo boy, I hope we get this fixed soon -- we have to take taxis everywhere now -- not like Corozal where we could walk to get groceries and everything else we needed. I guess there is no rest for the weary. ;-)
When Lila returned, another tropical storm, Gamma, rolled in. While the tides did not rise as high, it was still a week of hard winds and rain. The mainland city of San Pedro Sula had terrible flooding and about 30 people died. Belize was not hit by either storm... it definitely has given us something to think about. Maybe we will try living somewhere else... ;-)
The other day, we learned that one of our neighbours, a 90 year old native, had died. That night at the wake there was a live band, and people partied until the sun came up! I hope my wake will be like that -- not any time soon, of course. The island people here are also Garifuna (African descent) and are very friendly and helpful. They speak English (as well as Spanish) and have the same Creole accent as in Belize (and Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands). One thing about the recent storms, we got to meet most everyone who lives near us and along the beach to the school. That seems to be the way it is during times of distress -- everyone pitches in and helps each other out -- there is no expectation to be helped by government agencies -- everyone just does what they have to.
We wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!!
-Eric, Lila, Cheyenne and Lakota
Next Newsletter - 17 October 2006, Greetings from Roatan, Honduras
Read Past Newsletters
Our house in Sandy Bay across from the Caribbean Sea.
|Lakota trains the dolphins|
The dolphins do tricks based on hand signals.
The biggest hurricane on record slowly passed by Roatan.
|Bus stuck in mud|
After hurricane Wilma, the bus was stuck in the mud.
Lila buys vegetables from the back of a pickup truck.
Hurricane Wilma just misses Roatan.