Roatan 2000: September 11

Sept 10 || Sept 12

To the Store

After taking a quick shower (blissfully cold...) we drove back down the road to Eldon's. Deciding that having some of the local money might be nice we stopped by the bank on the way. I asked the lady behind the counter if she'd cash a traveler's cheque. "Not without an account" came the reply. I have to admit, I was confused. Wasn't that the whole point of having traveler's cheques, is that we are travelling and don't have an account?? Deciding it wasn't worth arguing with someone who doesn't speak my language (logic or English), I asked for change for a $50 bill. This was one of the new fifties that had just been issued and she stared long and hard at that bill, trying to decide whether to just throw me out of the bank altogether or actually cash it. She finally gave in and gave me 700+ Lempira (conversion being about 14.97 Lempira to the dollar).

Leaving the bank we finally made it into Eldon's, where they thankfully had air conditioning (spend some time in that heat and humidity and see if you don't walk a little slower while shopping just to spend some extra time in the A.C.). We gathered up what we thought would get us through the week (including a package of Jiffy Pop) headed back out into the car. Kate had wanted to look for a beach towl since we hadn't brought any with us so we went across the street to the "Super Store". She ran in then came back out stating they had nothing of the sort.

Bird Santuary

We went back to the cabana then headed down to Tropical Treasures, the local bird sanctuary. Turns out that the beautiful birds of the island (Scarlett Macaws, Toucans, Parakeets, etc) were fast on their way to extinction since the locals had figured out that tourist would pay money to take a bird home with them. Eventually the government decided to do something about it and it is now illegal to remove a bird from the island. In fact every bird at Tropical Treasures has been registered with the Honduran government and the government occasionally gave money to help support the park. Since Kate and I were the only two people there we got a very personalized tour of all of the birds that they had.

At one point we were led into the cage with the Scarlett Macaws. The woman began telling us about how these birds were great pets for the first couple years of their lives, then they began to get out of hand, biting people, being moody and such. Almost all of the Scarlett Macaws they had were given to them by people suddenly finding out their family pet wasn't working out. As we were listening to her talk a couple of the birds began working their way down the cage (they do this by grabbing with their feet, swinging their heads down low, grabbing the cage with their beaks, letting go with their feet and swinging their whole body down. They can move quickly this way without flying.) I turned around and was startled by one coming at me across the ground, eyeing my toes the whole way (I was wearing sandels.) It's also not a good sign when the lady giving the tour mutters under her breath "Damn, I forgot to bring my stick in with me." She grabbed the scissors out of their holster at her hip and began to whack the nearest bird's beak until we had enough of a gap to sprint for the door to the cage.

Carambola Gardens

After leaving the bird sanctuary we drove farther down the road towards West End and stopped at Carambola Gardens. They had a sign on the road advertising native plants and the Iguana Wall (which we originally mis-read as the Iguana Hall.) We paid the $3 US admission and began wandering around. Some of the plants are well labelled (like the Cocoa Tree), and some just aren't. They do have two paths though, the Mountain Path and the Jungle Path. We opted for the Mountain Path and started our way up the hill. It was a good 15 - 20 minutes of hiking but we were rewarded with a spectactular view of Anthony's Key and the reef. And this was where I discovered the camera just wasn't going to work anymore. We headed back down the path and wandered around some of the other paths that ambled on through the jungle.

Into West End

We drove into West End just to see how far The Road went before it ran out. While cruising slowly through town (you can't drive that fast, the potholes will bounce you out of the car) we noticed a couple local kids on bicycles had attached themselves to the side of the car. At the other end of town the road went to dirt and forked. Asking the local kids (one, Godfried, was particularly chatty) we hung a right and drove out on the beach down to the "Luna Beach" restaurant. Deciding that we'd taken the road truly to the end, we turned around and worked back into West End. Along the way Godfried took up to begging for a coke. Thinking it wasn't a bad idea (we were thirsty too) we had him lead us to the Boulangerie, a small French bakery in town (look close for it, they have tasty pastries and cold drinks for good prices but it's not obvious where they are located).

We bought Godfriend and his friend a Pepsi to share, a couple of drinks and a chocolate-filled pastry for us and went back to the cabana to soak in the pool. After a short dip in the pool we walked out on the pier to try and get pictures of the sunset over the ocean. The camera was still broke so we just talked to the other two couples there (one from Wisconsin and one from Boston). We compared experiences so far and thoughts on where to go and what to do for the remainder of our trip. The Wisconsin couple told us how to get to the Iguana Farm and the Boston couple suggested that we try Milliways for dinner.

Back into West End

Back in West End we looked hard for Milliways, but it wasn't obvious where it was either. There was a sign advertising a BBQ buffet, but it appeared to be next door in front of a dive shop. Confused we sat down at a bar called "42" that was basically a hut with the bartender in the middle and no walls to speak of (but they had swings instead of stools at the bar, which I thought was pretty cool.)

Deciding that BBQ didn't sound that good we asked Godfried (who mysteriously showed up as we walked down the road to find another restaurant) where the best food in town was. He responded quickly with "West End Divers". Not sure why he thought a dive shop would have the best food we followed him down the road. Turns out there is a Thai restaurant upstairs from the dive shop (the restaurant is called The Blue Moon). We had a fish cakes appetizer, followed by Lemon Snapper for Kate (excellent) and Snapper Steamed in Banana Leaf for me (pretty good too, but I liked Kate's better). For dessert we let the waitress talk us into Honey Pecan Ice Cream (turned out to be ice milk with a heavy layer of honey and pecans). Not too bad but a little pricey at $30 for the both of us (it wasn't that much food).

Back at the cabana we spent a restless night trying to sleep through the roosters (and a new element, fighting dogs).

Sept 10 || Sept 12


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