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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I think I jinxed myself. I awoke itching like mad. The bright red dots with bands around them on Sunday that had shrunk to a small dots on Monday are now itchy welts! Thank you Cat for the Afterbite. While I’m speaking of the annoying things, I may as well mention a few more inconveniences for anyone who is considering visiting Roatan and Blue Bahia specifically. None of them would keep me from returning as the staff is lovely and the diving fantastic, but they are informational things to know.

Currently, the mainland is on fire. This is how they build new properties, and the ferocious wind is blowing all the smoke our way. I’m not sure if the direction or the amount of wind is common, as one local mentioned it was the wind from all the tornadoes in the states, but allergy ridden folk should be careful, as I understand the burning takes place occasionally.  I’m only allergic to trees, so while noticeable, it wasn’t a nuisance.  I have some friends, however, that would have been bed ridden.

Additionally, our hotel has two resident dogs who are very friendly though they bark at strangers. There must have been several strangers around early Monday morning. There are also resident toucans and parrots that seem to be like roosters and begin squawking when the sun comes up (at 5 am as it sets at 5 pm). For the light sleepers, bring ear plugs! Given I wake when the sun comes up, I was already awake for the chatter, but some people might end up sleep deprived.

Finally, so far, we have found this country is cash reliant.  Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, and if they are, a minimum of an 18% foreign tax is applied. In addition, many times the credit card machines don’t work.  Travelers checks, I understand, are worthless as well.  Therefore, it is important to know where the SAFE ATMs are located on the island.  One ATM is at the Petrol station next to the bank protected by armed guards just before reaching West End. Another safe ATM is at the cruise ship docks.

Getting past the things to know and moving on to the fun, I’m pleased to report more great diving! Today we dove Green Outhouse and Fish Den.  These two dive sites were very close to the hotel dock, thus our surface interval was back at the hotel again.  A giant positive about our hotel was having the independent, yet on-site dive shop.  I really enjoyed this convenience.  If we wanted our mask for snorkeling, we could take it from our dive locker.  If we forgot something or wanted a snack, we could run upstairs to our room and get it. The restaurant offered a daily $5 diver’s special too!

There was slightly less visibility today and a faint current due to all the wind, but the diving was still wonderful. Once again we spotted a variety of marine life including but not limited to a fireworm, turtles (one with a remora stuck to it), queen angelfish, tons of lobsters, honeycomb cowfish, eels, an eagle ray, brittle stars, trumpetfish, a school of blue tang, ocean triggerfish, algae, french angelfish, squid, a barracuda, a winged oyster, christmas tree worms, a plumed hairy crab, juvenile damselfish, indigo hamlets and the biggest king crab I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s claw was enormous and my photo doesn’t do it any justice. While the water distorts size and distance, the crab was hiding under a coral ledge with only its claw hanging out like a macho male driving the strip with his muscled arm hanging out the window. I feel like, though am not certain, we spotted that claw from 30 feet away, and it could be measured in feet not inches!  I really can’t get over how big it was!!   Just after spotting that big guy, we passed by another one, still large, but more true to size.  We definitely enjoyed a few nice hours underwater, and the dive site, Fish Den, was quite special.

After our dives today, we planned to go into town. Kent had informed us it was an easy 1.75 mile walk, and he had been running it lately as he was on a weight loss program. Having sized him up, we took his advice and set out for a leisurely stroll along the road into town fully aware we’d be dodging speeding cars along the way. Perhaps it was the heat and humidity with the wind suddenly disappearing from the tree lined street, but we were melting. By the time we arrived to town, there was not a dry spot on us, and we voted for a taxi from now on! That may have been our worst idea of our trip thus far, though we did get a good look at some horses, cows, iguanas, chickens, flowers, roadside restaurants, and dilapidated real estate for sale on our way.

IMG_3678 chic

We were originally planning to try the street food, per Kent’s recommendation, though hot food didn’t sound terribly appealing and evidently that must only be at night as we didn’t see any vendors, so we popped into a organic, smoothie place named The Greenhouse or something like that. It was good and sitting in the shade under the fan was even better.

photo (66) danielle beth

After lunch, we stopped by the Roatan Marine Park store to buy some souvenirs. The money goes to support the reef.  The organization does a nice job educating the locals and patrolling the area in order to keep a healthy reef system, so we wanted to do our part to help.

Then we left our stuff, newly purchased and otherwise, in the corner of the store and set off for a snorkel across the street. We were on mission to find a bearded toad fish that Mickey told us was nesting in the area. Though unsuccessful, we enjoyed a fascinating snorkel spotting several juvenile species hardly bigger than our thumbnail. We also saw an eel, a scorpionfish, clams, little crabs, and needlefish just to name to a few. The most interesting sighting, however, was a green bug like creature. It is some sort mantis (we could not find a matching picture in Mickey’s fish book and none of the dive masters had seen one that color)…perhaps a new species?!?  Thanks to Cat for pointing it out!  Maybe we will call it the Bywaters Mantis.  It was a first for me. The juvenile pudding wife was also a first for me. It was so pretty…orange with a white grid and a big black dot. It’s hard to believe the adult is so bland looking.  What a nice way to end our day in the water!

George picked us up from snorkeling at 5 and brought us back to the hotel. We whipped up chicken on the griddle, refried black beans in the microwave, and rice. Given the cookware we had available to us, a teflon pan with the teflon pealing off and three pots, one rusted on the bottom, we were quite proud of our dinner. Flavorful and teflon and rust free as we were creative in finding alternative ways to cook our meals. We had a great day and plan on another tomorrow! ETB

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