- Off to country #51 Jun 1, 2023
- Left mainland USA Jun 1, 2023
- Scenic US Hwy 1 Jun 1, 2023
- Crossing Cuba Jun 1, 2023
Here is a country I so badly want to visit… Looks so beautiful from the air. If what I hear and read in the media is correct, then the disparity of the beauty of nature and poverty of citizenry can match the memories of India I have from half a century back. But just like then, I have to believe that the people, though poor, are very nice.
Need to put this on the list and find ways to go there with all the complications of a US passport.
- Approaching Roatan from the West side Jun 1, 2023
- The curious case of the helicopter Jun 1, 2023
We had aligned to the runway and was dropping altitude very quickly, skimming over very clear waters of what I believe is the Flower Bay. And then I saw something very incongruous. See if you can notice it – there is a helicopter submerged in the water!!
From the position of the helicopter, it is clear that it did not crash there. What is it doing there? Remember a few months back, I had posted the picture of the submerged airplane off the coast of Jordan? The idea was to make it a diver’s spot there.
What could this be all about? All my searches in the internet has yielded nothing. Need to ask some locals here.
- Airport #156 Jun 1, 2023
- First things first – jump into the pool Jun 1, 2023
- Next thing next – get out of the pool, now jump into the sea! Jun 1, 2023
- Sunset in the Caribbean Sea Jun 1, 2023
Interestingly, if we went across the water in the direction of the setting sun from where we were, we would land up in where we were in Belize last year this time!
I am glad I caught this picture when I did because the sun quickly disappeared after this behind the clouds before going anywhere near the horizon line.
- Post sunset display of colors Jun 1, 2023
- What a coincidence! Jun 1, 2023
After the sunset, I went to the bar to get myself a glass of wine. I asked the young lady at the beach bar what red wine she might have. I don’t think she trusted my Spanish. Instead of telling me anything, she brought out a bottle.
Normally, I would just say – Ok, go ahead! But this bottle caught my eye immediately.
I asked her – “From Chile?”
She seemed a bit surprised. She said “yes”
“Casablanca Valley?” I pressed on.
She picked up the bottle, read up the label and was even more surprised.
At this point, she must have thought that I knew my red wines well.
Well, truth is – this is one more of the crazy serendipities that I seem to be often hit with.
Back in 2011 November, we had gone to Chile to explore that country. Juan, my friend of many years and the guide for that trip, on our way from Santiago to Valparaiso had taken us to two wineries – Emiliana and Indomita. The daughters had enjoyed Emiliana since they had alpacas and birds there. I remember Indomita since they had given us an impressive tour of the place. And the view from there on to Ruta 68 below with grapevines all over is still marked indelibly in my mind.
Incredibly enough, it was a bottle of Indomita wine from that winery that the lady gave me – here in a small island off the coast of Honduras!!!
- The view that hit us moment we woke up in the morning Jun 2, 2023
- They added a little blue in the foreground… Jun 2, 2023
- Heading off for this day’s adventures… Jun 2, 2023
- We reached Little French Key Jun 2, 2023
- White peacock Jun 2, 2023
- Retirement… in a snapshot Jun 2, 2023
- It was early July, 1991 Jun 2, 2023
I had finished my one month of training that had started on June 3 when I showed up for my first day of my first job.
This guy was introduced to me as somebody who will be my boss’s boss.
32 years later, we are still trying to figure out how to deal with each other terrible sense of humor (dad jokes, anyone?).
- Caught Viji with one of her perfect smiles… Jun 2, 2023
- The better halves developing some crew-cial skills… Jun 2, 2023
- We tried our hand in rowing too Jun 2, 2023
- Photo shoot moment for the ladies Jun 2, 2023
- Goodbye Little French Key! Jun 2, 2023
- The orange orb is down… the silver one came up Jun 2, 2023
- The helicopter in the water problem – solved! Jun 3, 2023
Remember how I was wondering what that helicopter was doing in the middle of Flower Bay? I asked my friend Juan – the security gentleman here – who has been helping me with a lot of arrangements here.
He solved the problem for me.
Well, it is not a helicopter!! It is a old sailboat that ran aground. People, over time, have stripped it off its valuable parts. What remains is an old vessel lying there. In fact, if you zoom it enough, you can discern the boat and the broken mast fallen behind it. From the air, it looks eerily like a downed helicopter!
- Day 3. Total relaxation the whole morning Jun 3, 2023
- Verdant Roatan Jun 3, 2023
I certainly had expected Roatan to be lush green (which island is not?). What I had not expected is how hilly it is. The roads in West Bay is as winding and steep as in the North Georgia mountains. Because of the coral reefs, I had expected it to be relatively flat. I learnt that it is actual part of a volcanic ridge.
- Starfish all over Jun 3, 2023
We got ourselves a boat to go around Roatan. Captain Ronaldo Diaz, a portly local with a very friendly demeanor, took us to where the dolphins were. On the way, we were cruising over a shallow patch when he asked us “Do you want to see starfish?”. Of course, we said “Yes”.
He stopped the engines and to our complete surprise, jumped off the boat into the water! He quickly grabbed couple of brown looking stuff that we would have mistaken for rocks and brought it up to show us.
I cannot remember if I have seen a starfish being held by anybody before.
- Here is another sight that confused me Jun 3, 2023
You can see all those dead coral reefs off the water in the picture. My strong impression of dead coral reefs is that they are very lifeless, arid places. In fact, I remember the southern shores of Aruba that had flat desert-like dead coral reefs for miles and miles!!
So, I was very surprised – and confused – to see so much greenery growing out of the reefs. More interestingly, big houses have been built on it too. Going by the structures, they had to drill some solid foundations.
Perhaps, I was confusing the otherwise desert environment of Aruba with presence of coral reefs. Meaning they were independent things.
Any one of you seen this kind of development on dead coral reefs?
- Mangroves in Roatan Jun 3, 2023
These reminded me of the mangroves we explored in Marco Island. One unique experience this time was that Captain Diaz drove into the mangroves (you can see a couple of openings like tunnels in the picture). Learnt a lot of about mangroves. I did not realize that mangroves is used to make wooden furniture.
- Captured a shot of this hummingbird Jun 3, 2023
- Like the palm leaves were gently letting the ball down into the water… Jun 3, 2023
- Strolling the streets of West End Jun 3, 2023
Reminded us of India streets at every step. You walk around as you will on the road and the traffic is expected to work around you. There are shirtless young kids, dogs and roosters darting across the road all the while!! Lots of shops and restaurants trying to get you to step in…
We had some great food at Happy Harry’s Hideaway!
- Somebody help me identify this bird Jun 4, 2023
- First time parasailing together Jun 4, 2023
- One more round of kayaking this morning Jun 4, 2023
- Anybody wants to caption this? Jun 4, 2023
- Nothing else speaks “vacation” quite like this… Jun 4, 2023
- The water is perfect today Jun 4, 2023
- Mixologist par excellence Jun 4, 2023
We had sat down for dinner and ordered our wine when I noticed something interesting nearby. It looked like a mixologist’s set up. With a smoking gun.
Walked up there and soon met with the mixologist himself – Kenneth Salas Marin. He took me thru his special for the day. He had a Negroni that he had aged for a month. And before serving, he smokes it. The interesting part is instead of smoking it with wood – like hickory, maple, cherry etc, he burns candied dry fruit !!! Never seen this before.
The drink had a perfect length and palate!!
As we kept talking, I found out that Kenneth is from Guanacaste in Costa Rica. Literally from next door to the JW Mariott we stay in. Turns out he was the FB manager there.
I went back to my blog to a trip and showed him a picture of Sharmila and myself with our friends Sunil and Ananya at Nau Bar in that hotel in 2013. Kenneth immediately recognized the bartender who was serving us drinks!!
Talk about a small world!
- Our guide and driver in Roatan – Darson Jun 5, 2023
One of the two people who taught me a lot about the island in Darson. I will write about the other one soon. Darson was our designated driver to take us from the airport to the hotel. As it often happens in my foreign trips, I start making friends with the driver from the airport and then have them take charge of our trips in the foreign place.
Darson did an excellent job of suggesting some great places to visit – which you have seen the pictures of in my previous posts. Love his sense of time and his care for foreigner tourists.
BTW, I am not sure whether he realizes this – but his T-shirt is very funny. Do you get the reference?
The picture was taken just as I said Bye to him at the airport!
If you ever come to the island, reach out to Darson. He is a great guy.
- We finally had to go our own ways… Jun 5, 2023
Raj and Viji took the United flight to Houston en route Dallas. You can see Raj way out there pushing his suitcase and laptop completely oblivious of the fact that Viji was way behind (purple top). If 32 years of knowing him has taught me anything, he was entirely absorbed by thoughts of the test cricket that he is going to see in London later this week!!
Sharmila and I hung back for our American flight to Miami and then connect to Atlanta.
- Funny sign at the bar near the gate of Roatan airport Jun 5, 2023
- My best friend in Roatan – Juan Jun 5, 2023
The very first day in Roatan, I made friends with this local security gentleman – Juan. It helped that he spoke in perfect English – often using idioms that had me impressed.
Every day, we would chat for three to four times. From him I learnt a lot about the island, the mainland, the history, the geography and the culture. I got to know about the political system and the educational system. I was stunned to find that the small island of Roatan had 25 public schools and 15 private schools. But all universities in Honduras are apparently private and expensive.
We talked about life in the island, the economy and how people make both ends meet. Unsurprisingly, tourism is the life and blood of this place.
I got to know about his family and his elder daughter who has to live in the mainland with her grandmother since she has damaged kidneys and there are no medical facilities in the island to do her three-times-a-week dialysis.
My father, if he was alive, would have been thrilled to hear Juan’s points of views on education. Both hold/held the belief that education is the only way to freedom from generational financial hardships.
I am going to miss my friend from the island.