Let’s get real for a minute here. I could have written this post a lot earlier. I have been home for almost two weeks. What gives?
I have been avoiding writing about my Roatan trip.
I don’t know how many of you are “travel back-ers” (ie. you go back to somewhere you’ve already traveled to before) but up until this point, I was not one of them. I have had limited time off and limited budgets so I have tried to get to as many different places as possible. This was my first time going back to a country, never mind a city, that I had already been to.
And it was nothing like the first time I was there.
When I was in West End (I know a lot of people say “in Roatan” but Roatan is the island’s name, not a city) for three weeks in February, it was glorious. It rained for one day out of the whole trip. It was high season, places were busy, tons of people were out, locals were happy and making money, I had a great travel buddy and I was happily drunk about 95% of the trip (and was diving the other 5%). We intended to go to Utila after a couple beach days on Roatan but ended up loving it so much we just stayed. I met islanders and locals alike that I absolutely loved and had the best time with. It was the best time of my life.
My recent week in West End was much different. It rained 5 out of the 8 days we were there. It was hotter, more humid, and the bugs were worse (and I am already the person who gets eaten alive no matter what). It is slow season and there weren’t many people around, and a lot of the locals and islanders were not making much money. I spent way, way too much money. My travel buddy this time had a lot of chronic health problems which put a damper on things, and since she hadn’t been there before I constantly felt like I had to entertain her since I had been bragging about how awesome Roatan was for months. She also was not able to complete her open water scuba course because she panicked on her first confined water dive, and if you’re not diving in West End there really isn’t a lot to do. I felt guilty leaving her while I went diving with my friends. I had an altercation on my very first day at my friend’s house with an Australian guy yelling at me and accusing me of pocketing his money when we went to the store to pick up rum for everyone. I also had a couple interactions with islanders that did not go over well on my last couple days in West End that made me question if I really wanted to move there.
However – all these things evaporated as soon as I got underwater. I did four incredible dives and was lucky enough to have my instructor (who is my friend) all to myself. I still get giddy about seeing turtles and saw three on my first dive. The second dive I went to 132ft, the deepest dive I’ve done so far. The third dive we found four huge spotted eagle rays and they let us swim with them for 12 minutes. Probably the best 12 minutes of my life! And the fourth dive we jumped in a current and did an amazing lazy drift for 55 minutes, which was so relaxing. As soon as we started to come up from the first dive I knew I was doing the right thing with moving to Roatan to do my divemaster and instructor courses. All I wanted to do was dive. I also spent beautiful chill afternoons laying on my friend’s deck, playing Risk, and feeding her 3 week old kittens. I never had to wait in line at the bar for a drink, and it didn’t take 45 minutes to get food at the restaurants. We got a great price on an air conditioned cabin with hot water. I didn’t think about either of my jobs, or my ex, or my finances, or my looming deadlines or anything else that’s been weighing down my mind once, and I finally got lots of sleep. I made some new friends. We just about won trivia night at Bananarama and got a free round of shots for having the best team name. Two new cheap places to eat opened up since I left last time. We had a stunning day on West Bay beach on the one sunny day and I hula hooped my little heart out. I got to talk with my friend for hours about moving there, and ask everything I wanted to ask and get advice. I still managed to get into all kinds of fun trouble like I did last time (that part never seems to be too hard for me).
My favorite memory of this trip (aside from the diving) is typical of West End. We went out to the bar on Tuesday night, had a few drinks and then walked over to another bar. On the way, a huge group of people passed us and told us they were on their way to a pool party and did we want to come? Um, YEAH. So we trailed down the road and gathered more people on the way and ended up at an apartment building that clearly none of the 30+ people we were with lived at. Whatever. Everyone stripped down to their underwear and in a flash we were all in the pool, laughing and screaming and flailing around and trying to make sure our drunk friends didn’t drown. Bottles of rum were being passed hand to hand and we watched the moon come up. Security guards showed up and we jumped out and got dressed, and some guy shouted that he had a boat anchored in the bay and we could go party on it. So off again we went down the road to the beach. He had a little dinghy and was ferrying people back and forth to his boat 3 at a time. My friend went in the boat and I was on the dock with about 10 guys and we decided to just swim for it. We stripped down again and I realized I had my trusty wristlet (one must always use a wristlet in West End, because if it’s not attached you are guaranteed to get drunk and lose it) with money, my iPhone and all kinds of other stuff in it. I thought for about 0.3 seconds and jumped off the dock with my wallet held high. The guys and I swam all the way out to the boat, and I held my wallet out the entire way. I was probably too drunk to be swimming out to a boat at 1am (sorry mom), but I did it and impressed everyone on the boat when we showed up and my wallet was dry. Apparently all that synchronized swimming I used to do was actually useful. We partied on the boat for hours and when my friend was ready to leave, the boat owner took us back to the dock and I discovered (not surprisingly) that my flip flops and shorts that I left on the dock had been “appropriated”. Oh well. I should know better than to leave shit on a dock in West End. I lost my flip flops last time too after taking them off to dance in the bar, so I brought 2 pairs this time! We walked back into town with a Welsh guy who told us he knew where we could go on a waterslide, and obviously we were down. We walked to Halfmoon Bay and sure enough, there was a giant inflatable waterslide sitting in the bay. Down to our skivvies for the third time in the evening, we clambered up the slippery plastic and situated ourselves at the top. All three of us were sitting there, drunk and out of breath and holding hands and deciding what to shout before we slid down. Eventually we settled on “Gavin and Stacey” because it was the only Welsh thing my friend and I knew. I remember looking up and seeing so, so, so many stars and a huge moon and palm tree shadows all along the bay, and grabbing hands on each side of me tightly and thinking “this is the most fun I’ve had since the last time I was here”. We took a collective big breath, shouted GAVIN AND STACEYYYYYYYYYYY and off we went, tumbling and sliding down the waterslide and smashing into the water at the bottom. We did it three more times before we decided we were too tired to climb up again. My friend and I walked down the road back to our hotel and climbed into bed while giggling and saying “Gavin and Stacey” over and over and finally falling asleep. Nights like these are why I love West End.
At the end of the day, I’m so grateful I went because when I get back there it will be slow season again, so now I know what it’s like. I think it would have been a rude awakening to leave my life here in Vancouver and show up after only having been in February. I have seen both sides now, and I know what I’m going to do.
And without further ado… what you’ve all been waiting for… photos! Although I have to warn you, I only took 22 photos the entire trip, all with my iPhone. Most of the time I didn’t feel like photographing what I was doing because it was the exact same stuff with the same people as last time, and I already have lots of photos of that. I also was trying to live more like a local to get a feel for it, and less like a tourist. So not many photos for you. But there is a bit of beach porn, don’t worry.
|rainy Risk afternoon
|my travel buddy in a water taxi on our way to West Bay beach
|yes – an actual picture of me (let’s hope my bosses don’t find my blog yet…) with my beloved collapsible Pixie Hoop at West Bay beach
|to those who think sandflies “aren’t that bad”..fyi my entire body is covered in these and I look like I have the plague
|the treehouse! lovely wraparound porch… so lucky that this will be my home in west end when I move!
|lunch at cafe escondido – see my review in my Roatan Recommendations
|my travel buddy, very excited to be at the beach 🙂
|my current friend/dive instructor/mentor/partner in crime (and future roommate) with the kittens that will probably be terrors by the time I get back to West End