Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras, C.A.

Scuba Diving

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Roatan, Honduras

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My Aquarium

So dad and I took off again for the Bay Islands. Last time we did an extended Utila visit and a shortened Roatan trip; this time we reversed that schedule and added a twist. Our first stop was Roatan for 7 days, but first we had to get there. In typical Schultz fashion that always seems to be half the battle. This year was no different. Despite a rental car reservation a month in advance, upon arrival Hertz would not let me rent a car because I lacked a credit card.

Comical, I know, but this was the display next to the Hertz counter as the lady told me she wasn't letting me rent a car. I'm pretty sure my life is one big cruel joke and the whole world is in on it at times.

So sort of defeating the purpose Hank drove down from Chicago, rented the car, and gave it to me. My father loves me. So I finished up packing and was underway. I couldn't help but snap this picture out my front window as I was packing. It was the last time I was going to see snow this winter. So all packed up I grabbed my rental car, headed north, and snagged Hank on my way.

Bags loaded onto the charter and we are not far away now. Until...

We ran into this lady at O'Hare airport. Although she claimed to be assisting my travels I really think she was yet another obstacle in my path. She was very not pleased about my father and I sharing the same name. Seems like their reservation system was insisting I couldn't take up two seats at once. You'd think this wouldn't be a problem for an airline. I mean, its not like my parents were being original by naming me after my father. Whatever. After a few minutes of unfortunate annoyance by the airline attendant we were underway.

I hate flying, but I always request the window seat on the wing. Odd? Yeah, kinda fits the bill for me.

So we arrive at our resort and the lady at the front desk doesn't have a reservation for us. I produce our reservation paperwork which shows " 7 nights beachfront " and before long we are off. Naturally they didn't mention to us they happened to overbook the resort and Hank and I were the odd group out since we arrived a day later than the rest of our traveling companions. This in turn meant a room entirely unfit for human accommodation. For starters, the only window in the room was shattered out. Normally this isn't something I would complain about, but since Roatan is the biting insect capital of the world, this was an important detail. Of course the shattered glass would allow us to enjoy the ocean breeze of our beachfront room, correct?

Well, I guess, assuming you can find a beach in that photo (Hint: it's not there). So off we go to complain to management with hopes of a room change, resort change, whatever. They offer us a different room. Great! The room even has a full window in it.... Bonus! Unfortunately it is the room right next door so our beach view didn't change. Oh, one other small detail - the room lacked any electricity. None. I shit you not. We gained glass but lost vision. Now for many travelers they probably would have blown a gasket by this time. I, on the other hand, am very used to getting royally screwed, so it was rather easy for me to laugh, smile, shrug, and go get a rum drink. What else can be done at this point? I'm happy to report the following day we were moved into a new room, one with the following view -

Well good morning! Now that's the view I paid to wake up to each morning.

We were staying with Fantasy Island Beach Resort which fashions itself as a SCUBA resort more so than anything else. Scuba-wise, they receive high praise from me overall. I'd change one or two things, but have no true complaint of the operation (you can read a more detailed account in my scuba section). Outside of scuba the resort as a whole doesn't receive high marks. There was the obvious fiasco with the room, but beyond that there we other minor issues. For starters, not a single door fit the door frame. I wonder if these doors fit prior to the earthquake in early 2009? Hot water was optional. Also, the food was just awful. Example: The cheese plate -

Ok, moving on... The resort did actually have a nice collection of pseudo friendly animals. The resort is a very tiny island unto itself, with a natural water channel of about 50 yards separating it from mainland Roatan, so these animals were virtually landlocked on the resort property. I'm very curious if these animals were present before the resort arrived, or if the resort transplanted them onto the Roatan Key for guest delightment.

First and foremost were the plethora of monkeys. Not sure how many there were of these, but there was more than enough. The *seemed* friendly, at times, but I never did trust the little suckers. If you had food you were a best friend; no food and they were borderline hostile.

That was pretty much a morning ritual for Hank. I did it one morning but just didn't trust those little guys enough to be that close regularly. I can say their feet are amazing, however. One jumped onto my arm and I was taken away by how soft the skin was on their feet plus the obvious hand-like movements and capabilities of their feet. I was basically shaking the hand of a human when I grabbed their feet. Pretty neat stuff. The animal I did enjoy was the flock of Peacocks that roamed around. Best I could count was 3 males and 4 females in a fairly tightly woven harem.

You can see a video of me hand-feeding one of the male Peacocks some peanuts (must...refrain... from... Peanut / Peacock jokes) at this link. He makes quick work of a handful of nuts.

Keeping the bird theme...

...Were these nasty geese. Let's just say I don't have any video of me hand-feeding this delightful couple. Or at least one I'm willing to share I should say.

The Caribbean version of a duck....

One kick-ass Woodpecker. Hank swears this little guy landed on his arm and took food from his hand. I'm not calling him a liar, but I will say without food I was able to coax the bird onto a railing merely 2 feet from where I was standing. Clearly these animals are not too afraid of the guests.

Another example of a resident I wasn't hand-feeding. These guys were absolutely beautiful to look at (as far as lizards go) with their golden colors, but you had to keep your distance. One last animal picture...

I can't tell you what it is, but I can tell you it runs like a rabbit, eats like a squirrel, has the face of a rodent, and reminds me of a rat. Ok, I lied...

This little guy stumbled onto the resort without its mother. Truthfully, I'm shocked deer are present on this island and haven't been hunted to extinction.

Anyway, on one cloudy afternoon dad and I set off to the East End of the island for sight-seeing and for lunch at this bar called "Hole In the Wall." The catch with this bar is it is only reachable by boat. And that's only half the story. Our hotel front desk summons us a taxi and naturally they arrive unable to speak English. Yes, this made it interesting at times. Nevertheless we are underway.

After riding in a very old small Toyota with well past expired shocks down roads fit for a Jeep we arrived at the boat dock. We were told the old one was knocked out by a recent storm so they were building a new one. By the looks of the nearby docks I doubt it took much of a storm. Anyway, the interesting part of this picture shows a man with an electric circular hand saw in operation. He is standing in the ocean. In a canoe. Using electricity. Particularly a power hand saw. Ok nothing to see here.

A quick phone call and soon our taxi arrives. Not exactly Yellow Cab.

Hank, yet again wondering just what in the phuck I got him into.

Well, I guess you can say they kind of nailed it when they decided to name it "Hole in the Wall." The atmosphere was, ...shall we say..., "charming?"

The ceiling.

The floor.

The bar.

The best customer.

A view from the backside. Appearances aren't everything. My bacon and blue cheese burger was delicious and Hank's lobster was very enjoyable. The conch appetizer as good as any I've had. The rum drinks were strong and the beer cold.

Next up was a mangrove swamp tour by that crusty old man. No, the one sitting behind my father. For $7 each he drove us around for 45 minutes and didn't shut the hell up for one minute of the time. He told us about the termite mounds up in the roots of the trees...

...to houses which Columbian drug lords manufactured cocaine in until the DEA raided the place. But mostly I couldn't hear him over the diesel engine so I just enjoyed the ride through a swamp.

To see a video of the ride check out this link. Check out the accent on the tour guide. Also interesting are the homes on stilts only reachable by boat through these channels. Something tells me they aren't receiving Broadband internet yet. The view as we are leaving the swamp for the open ocean -

On our way back to the taxi we got passed by a bunch of school children on their way home from class.

On our way back to the resort we stopped at a wayside and snagged this quick video. Of interest, at least to me, is how close to the shore the reef crest is. Ahhh how I miss Roatan already.

Before moving on I'm going to share just a few more photos of around the resort. The one above shows one of the bays. The photo was taken from the scuba boat on our way back in. On shore we are looking at the bar and pool area.

Check out this video of a Fire Dancer performing on this beach.

This is the beach that the photo taken from the boat was looking upon.

Overall it was a great week at Fantasy Island. For divers it will be tough to beat this place. They simply make it easy for you to do a lot of diving. If you aren't a diver, there are better places to stay for the equivalent amount of money you will be spending.

To follow our adventure along to La Cieba, Honduras and check out the photos, video, and story of our trip into the Pico Bonito National Park, please follow this link.

To see the SCUBA portion of the 2010 Roatan vacation, please use this link.

The 2007 trip to Roatan can be viewed at this link.

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Vacations

Utila, Honduras

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Roatan, Honduras

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