Roatan 2000: September 15
West Bay and Flowers Bay
After dragging up out of bed we headed down to BIBR to settle up our tab (not too bad, we rented BCs and regulators for three days, each did 10 dives, and ate a dinner and a lunch there, and our total only came to $476). Worked our way down to West End to get a pastry at the Boulangerie where the woman behind the counter insisted we come back into town for the big party at Foster's that night (we'd been thinking about going into Coxen Hole for the Independance Day celebration).
We drove up to West Bay (not to be confused with West End) which was down an unmarked stretch of dirt road (if you go, be sure to hang a right at the fork in the road by the huge, unfinished cinder-block house). After driving the road to the end we ended up at a lighthouse that was part of a large development effort (nicely trimmed lawns and such, just missing the houses). Backtracking down the road we tried a couple forks to finally get to a sign marking the public access to the beach. The beach road was a single-lane road that would around for about a mile, in some places barely passable by the poor Samurai we'd rented (take a look at the two photos to the right, that is the public access road to the West Bay beach...)
Emerging quickly from the jungle road right out onto the beach we parked the car and went for a walk. The walk was cut short by the incredible heat and humidity, we decided that we needed some moving air and went back to the car to drive down to Coxen Hole for the parade.
Taking the dirt road through Flowers Bay back into Coxen Hole was an interesting experience. The road was mostly one lane dirt, and speedbumps were made out of short lengths of a huge rope strung across the road. This was also the poorest area we'd seen on the island yet with most of the inhabitants sitting in tin sheds just baking in the heat. Every vacant lot was filled with trash and the water in the bay looked scary enough that just touching it might give you a tropical disease. We also saw more than one nice house surrounded by a chest-high cement wall topped with broken glass embedded in the concrete (not friendly neighbors, that's for sure).
I later asked Tim why they called it Flowers Bay since I hadn't seen any flowers and it sure didn't look like a place I'd want to spend time in. He informed us that as with most things on the island, it was named after a wealthy Englishman who'd lived there.
Since we were barely moving along the road (we could have walked it faster than we could go with the potholes, one-lane rickety bridges, and rope speedbumps) we stopped to pick up a kid at the edge of Flowers Bay, just before the edge of Coxen Hole. Not speaking spanish (and he didn't speak English), he just kept mentioning a "Super". Figuring we'd drive down the road and he could let us know when he wanted out we just kept going. Just inside of the Coxen Hole city limit he let out a quick hollar and almost jumped out of the car before I even got stopped. A quick "thanks" over his shoulder and he was heading for the door of what passes as a mini-mart there (all along the road you'll see little shacks that open up and have just about anything, food-wise, you could need, and all are marked with a sign calling them "Supermarket", or just "Super").
We then came to a complete stop as we hit the edge of the parade. Apparently though this was not a parade, this was the marchers. No matter who you asked, if you mentioned the parade you were promptly informed they were the marchers, which sounded a bit militant to me (and from the looks on their faces during the show, not one of them wanted to be there either).
We again parked at Paradise Computers and walked back into town to check out the festivities. The road through town was blocked off and it appeared that everyone on the island had come into Coxen Hole for the party. The sidewalks were packed with people BBQing on the oldest grills I'd ever seen, drinking sodas out of plastic baggies with straws and generally enjoying themselves.
Kate and I pushed through the crowd, past the police with machine guns and snapped a few pictures of the Marchers. Everyone except for the Marchers seemed to be having a good time and I suspect they just wanted to be a part of the crowd (not to mention it was really hot and they were wearing uniforms). Every couple of minutes one of the leaders at the front of a set of marchers would blow his whistle and the entire troup would move into a routine then hold it. Another whistle blow and they were all standing upright again, moving forward slowly. Even with the parades I'd seen back home this was one of the most packed streets I'd ever seen.
We left Coxen Hole and headed for the Bojangles' Chicken N' Biscuits that was attached to the gas station right outside of town (my thinking was that I really needed to have some air conditioning, and I was getting hungry). We grabbed a small chicken dinner (I did wonder what the people working behind the counter thought when you are given the option of "Southern" or "Cajun Style". Neither one of those fit anything else we'd seen on the island...), a couple drinks from the gas station and went back to the cabana to eat and swim in the pool.
Dinner in West End
As we were getting ready to go out for dinner that night we noticed a very large family from the mainland move into the rooms upstairs, and as thin as the walls and ceiling are every move of theirs was transmitted right down to us. We went into West End determined to find somewhere new and good for dinner. After a false start trying to find the Lighthouse Cafe, we did finally find it (and made a couple friends of other tourists along the way). We took a look at the menu for the Lighthouse then decided to go see the menu at Belvedere's Shipwreck, right next door. After deciding that the Lighthouse had more of what we wanted (and much better prices) we tried to go back only to discover that they were packed solid, not a seat to be had. Resigned we went into Belvedere's and ordered dinner. The chicken cacciatore that I had wasn't too bad, but was difficult to eat. Instead of a chicken breast I had pieces of chicken. Those little wings and drumsticks you usually get at a bar during happy hour. Kate ordered a snapper dish that was pretty bland. Again it was not quite satisfying and expensive, we were noticing a trend here - the cheaper the food the better it actually was. We resolved to come back for lunch the next day (our last day on the Island, and Kate's birthday) and then go to Milliways one last time the next night as well.
We walked down to Foster's, which was basically a pier out over the water with a disco ball hanging on it. After being told there was a cover charge (in light of the amount of relative "civilization" we saw on the island I found this really funny) and evaluating how tired we were we opted instead to go back and try to get some sleep.
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