I’m going to come back to the sea day between Key West and Honduras. I am way, way behind on my blog and there is a lot of catching up to do while everything is relatively fresh in my mind. I’m madly typing away between all the interesting things going on around here on the second sea day. I almost won a free cruise, I was one lousy bingo number off, N45. The story of my gambling life. If only…
I have another chance at the end of the second 2/3rds of our cruise.
Mahogany Bay. Sounds exotic. It is and it isn’t. By that I mean that the location seems exotic, but the natives are down to earth.
Roatan island is approximately 30 miles from the mainland of Honduras in the Gulf of Mexico. When I first booked our cruise, I was a little concerned. I have a friend that had a wild and unpleasant experience in Honduras. But that was on the mainland. I doubt if Carnival Corporation or Royal Caribbean would take us somewhere threatening. Roatan showed us that, it was peaceful and friendly.
We left the ship and I had an idea to look for a small, private tour operator to show us around. I talked to the cabbies and I didn’t like what I heard, so I took off looking for something better. $80 one way seemed awfully steep. We walked around looking at an out-of-the-way kiosk, didn’t seem right either. Finally I talked to a guy that gave us a reasonable price for an island tour. While there, we hooked up with a couple from the Carnival Legend, another ship at dock with us. A little negotiating later, we were on our way.
Nikel on the left. She was the guide. Praxy center (of course). Our driver, Melita on the right. Something seemed a little odd, so I asked them about themselves. There is little work opportunity for women on the island that pays decent. So an organization was formed for employment, by women and for women. They were running the odd little kiosk, with some men around talking to the tourists. Women organize, drive, talk, and guide. Prices are reasonable, vans are clean and comfortable, and they have a unique perspective. We loved it. They would be glad to meet you on your visit and show you around.
Nikel or Nicky’s phone 011-504-88299272. Melita 011-504-33142763
Weather was sunny and warm, about 72 degrees. First stop. I wanted some of the famous Honduran rum, Flor de Cana. People online raved about it. The local duty free store was glad to relieve me of my $$, but I’m well on to that trick from my Mexico trips. I asked the ladies to take me to the local grocery store to get the “local” price. A magnum bottle for $20 US. Same bottle $40 at the ship. HA! All you have to do is ask…
The store reminded me of grocery stores in Mexico and the Philippines. Clean and organized, I could hardly tell what was being sold. My Spanish is lousy.
Holland frowns on bringing booze onboard their ships. Wine is OK, though. They took my big bottle on the return at security. I will get it back on the last night of the cruise so I can pack it into my suitcase. No problem, I was taking it home anyway unopened. But, if you are discreet, they will let you take a small bottle to your cabin in a backpack. I’ve done this several times and I’ve been “sampling” my potent potable at night. Since it is now “contraband”, it is my duty to correct the situation. Bottoms up!! (Later in the day, my bottle showed up. 14 days early).
I just HAD to see the iguana farm. Our fellow travelers were from Florida that they hated iguanas. The hungry reptiles attack their garden and flowers. But us northerners don’t get so see large lizards. So for a few dollars…
This is totally comical. There are hungry lizards (they eat leaves and fruits) everywhere hoping for a handout. They are “wild”, meaning uncaged and they are free to leave. The only real bane for the lizards are their long tails. The tails frequently get stepped on and suddenly your foot is moving out from under you if you step on a large tail. The little iguanas are a bit shy and can’t be petted and watch their tails quite close. The big ones could care less as long as there is food around. We were told that the iguanas might bite if stepped on, but I never saw that.
The ramp leading down is quite steep. Unfortunately, one of the older American visitors took a nasty tumble. She ended up with a serious gash on her scalp and perhaps a broken wrist. If you are planning to visit, take heed. As with all attractions, business, sidewalks, etc. in a foreign country…YOU ARE VISITING AT YOUR OWN RISK. No lawyers, judges, or lawsuits will come to your aid.
We turned around and headed for Coxen Hole, the one large town in the area and perhaps the only large town on the island. And…away went the sunny day. A deluge. I was looking for Noah’s ark. People scrambling everywhere. We drove through the storm and had to skip a few things. But we ended up downtown and visited a tourist mall. Sigh. I bought a bottle of local hot sauce at Nikel’s recommendation. She said it was the best on the island and locally made. Everything seemed expensive and trinket-y.
Lucky for us and our fellow tourists from the Legend, the rain let up enough to get back into the van, then again it let up when we dropped them off. The Legend was departing earlier than the Ryndam. We negotiated an extended tour and set off again.
The rain thundered down on our van again. Muddy water rushing off of any high ground and into the ocean. Mud and rocks in the road.
Over the hill and on to the east side of the island. I wanted to see the monkey park. The wild monkeys are extremely friendly and well behaved. I’ll never know, though. The road into the monkey park was under two feet of water. We drove in carefully, the bottom of our van scraping the rocks in the driveway. I told them to leave immediately so we wouldn’t get stuck. Melita said she had NEVER, EVER seen the road into the monkey park looking like a river. I wish I’d photographed it, it was amazing. As we left, we passed some younger cruise passengers on the horse riding “beach experience”. The rain was absolutely gushing out of the sky, they were numbly hunched over their mounts trying to see where they were going. It ended up being about two miles farther to the paddock. Along the paved road. Muddy water everywhere. They couldn’t have looked more wet and miserable. At the intersection to the northern tourist beach, a van was broken down. Probably watered out. The tourists were helping push it off the road. The ultimate vacation experience. We offered to give them a ride, but the van company was calling a cab.
We drove through the tourist restaurants and motels, still in the rain, and back out. No stopping unless you were a duck. Off a little further to the lighthouse.
Raining too hard to stop for an outside photo, we ran into the lighthouse, paid admission, and went up the stairs. Looking off in the distance is the Norwegian Cruiseline ship in port at Coxen Hole. It’s raining too hard to see our ship further off. On the other side of the lighthouse, I found one of the darnedest things I’ve ever seen.
I never realized how tough pirates could be, but this one takes the cake. You gotta be mean and tough to stand in the rain under a frilly green umbrella. ‘Cause any other pirates that wander by are going to run you through with a sword or die from laughter. Then this guy stands over the dead ones with his cutlass, and says “ARRRRGGGHHHH”!
Seriously, he was a very nice guy. Working for an outfit that sells rum cakes and such. Very tasty, but the last thing I’m going to buy is food. We have more than enough on the ship.
The rain had stopped while we were in the lighthouse and we didn’t see any for the rest of the day. But, mud and rocks were everywhere on the roads. A serious storm indeed.
Off to lunch.
Local dishes at one of the local fancier restaurants. The food was decent, the ship is better and I think we are now spoiled.
We road back to the ship and parted with our new friends. I’m going to give them recommendations on Cruise Critic and Tripadvisor. I appreciate their spirit in trying to build their little business.
We then walked out to the Carnival sponsored beach resort. They have the flying beach chairs, which looked like a slow ski lift. Very S—-L—-O—-W. We could easily out walk it.
The chairs with the Carnival Legend in the background. The Legend is at least twice as large as the Ryndam with perhaps 3 thousand passengers. And the area was much less crowded after the Legend left. They were traveling to a further port, we still had three hours remaining on shore.
For a comparison, the Legend has 13 lifeboats on each side, the Ryndam has six.
That’s about all except for team trivia.
A couple times a day we gather in the Crow’s Nest to play a little trivia game. Lucky for me, my team will stay mostly intact as 3 of them will be continuing on for another 21 days.
That is about all for Honduras, but something as come up this afternoon and I’d better get it down so I don’t forget. Tampa was fogged in yesterday morning, the port was closed about 3:00am. So our captain has pushed the throttles forward and we are making about 21 knots as I write this 12/8/12 4:25pm eastern time. The whole ship is shaking as we are at about maximum sustained speed. The goal is to arrive in Tampa at midnight and be docked by three am. I photographed this Norwegian Cruise liner…
heading towards Tampa as well. I shot this about an hour ago and she was directly portside. Now she is about 2 miles behind. We will be in Tampa at least 30 minutes ahead. That may be the plan. The ships may have to be stacked in order of departure. There wasn’t enough clarity in the photo to see which ship this was.
Whew, got the Honduras entry done. The biggest is yet to come, Guatemala. It will take me about 3-4 hours to get it typed and photoed in. It was a big day, and totally awesome.
We have to get off the ship in Tampa to clear customs. Sigh. All passengers, even those in transit, have to be off from 9am to 11am. At least we don’t have to haul our luggage off. I’m guessing it will be inspected in our cabin. Whatever.
12/8/12 4:36pm EST