Greetings from Roatan, Honduras
Date: 17 October 2006
Buenos Dias! Yes, it has been a while since we last sent out our family newsletter. We are still living on the island of Roatan, one of the Bay Islands of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea. Roatan's popularity in the Caribbean has been growing steadily over the last few years. We currently are managing the Island Pearl resort on West Bay, one of the most pristine beaches found in the Caribbean. After a year living in Sandy Bay to the north of the island, we now are 'far away' on the west end of the long island, and everything is a trek from simple shopping to getting the children to and from school. As a result we try to stick around here most of the time.
The children are attending their 2nd year at Miriam's home school in Sandy Bay near Anthony's Key Resort where they train dolphins among other things. Cheyenne is in 6th grade with 2 other students and Lakota is in 3rd grade with his good friend Molly from last year. The school has about 20 children, and there are a few young teachers sharing the workload. The curriculum is good, but whereas I was taught in an institution by nuns in habit, our progeny are taught in a beach house by barefoot bohemians with tattoos and spikes through their lips -- c'est la vie -- it is one of the only places where the kids read Swiss Family Robinson as a survival guide for their daily lives.
Meanwhile I wile away the hours hunched over my laptop with ocean breezes and the sound of surf in the air. I do not know how long this gig will last, but it is definitely a high point in our last 5 years of travelling. Lila is the resort manager actually, I just help out here and there as I keep busy with systems development projects, web sites, satellite internet installations, and other projects. On the days when cruise ships visit and on the weekends, Lakota helps me run the hotel's 'Punch Wagon' serving ice-cold fruit smoothies and drinks on the beach. Lakota helps set everything up and take it down as well as help work the blender of fresh frozen fruit and ice. I spend most of the day serving half-naked sun worshippers and taking an occasional dip in the sea when I have a moment. It is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
On Tuesday nights, I am the local sushi chef at Mangiamo's just a block away. We mostly serve local fish like bonito tuna, red snapper, grouper, mahimahi, barracuda, conch, and shrimp as well as fish from elsewhere like salmon, scallops, and clams. Lobster is popular in Roatan, but I have come to prefer the king crab found here. There are also plenty of 'land crabs' that have one large claw and live in holes in the sand near the beach. The land crabs taste like Maryland blue crab -- and are easy to catch, just get close enough to grab them, then they grab your finger, you scream and shake them into a bucket -- at least that is how the locals do it -- they usually send the kids.
Roatan's main attraction other than real estate (which is booming) is scuba diving. Roatan is situated on the same barrier reefs as Belize. When flying over the island you can see coral outlining the island like underwater red flower gardens -- this place is really a jewel. Cheyenne recently got her Open Water Diving certification with her friend Kira who was visiting with her family at the resort. They went to Pura Vida to get their training and had a wonderful time with Estaban the instructor who was absolutely wonderful with them. One of these days maybe I'll venture to do the same although I just prefer to wear a mask and hold my breath like the locals do. ;-)
Fishing is the next popular past time -- in fact, for the native islanders it is an integral part of their lives. If you want fresh fish, you have to catch them yourself or catch the fishermen when they come in -- otherwise they are gone. Tuna, snapper, barracuda, grouper, bonefish and marlin are plentiful. We went to the annual Fishing Tournament during Honduras' Independence Day weekend. The beach village of West End hosts the event with booths serving grilled foods, tacos, burritos, and all the classic Honduran fare. The biggest fish are on display near the stage where awards are given to the fishermen. This year's winner was a 200+ lb marlin -- well, I guess the fish wasn't actually the winner, but you know what I mean. The party goes on 'til 4am -- considering most everything is closed by 10p or earlier around here, that is quite late. We left at around 9pm and the crowd was already showing signs of alcohol-induced revelry.
My mother was able to come visit us at Island Pearl for a couple weeks during the slow season. We were very happy to have her with us in more hospitable accommodations than her last visit with us in Belize. She never failed to dip in the waters every morning, noon, and night. As she is a real estate agent in Huntington Beach, CA, we did some obligatory real estate touring of the island. There is much to choose from depending on whether one is a retiree, vacation rental investor, or simple beach bum looking for a place to hang his hammock. If you are in the market for a Caribbean retirement villa, give us a shout and we will be happy to share with you the results of our own research and the 'insider deals'. The island is growing by leaps and bounds.
On a sad note, Lila's sister Denise succumbed to her second bout of cancer in July. She will be dearly missed. Denise came to visit us a couple times in Belize and came to Roatan for New Year's before we made the official move here. Lila went to visit Denise in June and had a wonderful time with her. She will return to Quebec soon to help with the estate. As it stands now, we will be here for Christmas as much as we would like to frolic in the snow in Quebec for a change. We will see.
If you'd like to come on down and visit, let us know! The crowds are low from now until December 15th, then it starts getting busier through winter. Other activities include jungle canopy tours, horse-back riding, dolphin encounters, butterfly park, glass-bottom boats, submarine trip down to 2000 feet, sailing tours, flying tours and trips to the mainland like Pico Bonito, Cayos Cachinos, and the ruins at Copan. Guatemala is just a hop away.
Here are a few links:
Google Earth - Island Pearl Resort, West Bay Beach, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras
Island Pearl Resort
Pura Vida Resort and Dive Center
All our best wishes from our family to yours!
Eric, Lila, Cheyenne and Lakota
Next Newsletter - 11 December 2007, Still Here in Roatan, Honduras
Read Past Newsletters
|Sunset at Island Pearl|
The view from Island Pearl Resort at sunset.
Toucans, parrots, and other exotic birds make their home on Roatan.
Kira and Cheyenne got their PADI Open Water certification.
Eric and Lakota measure up the day's catch.
Lila keeps busy at the office of Island Pearl Resort.