Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting primal in Roatan

                                        A capuchin monkey making me laugh on Fantasy Island

   What is it about monkeys? Apes, chimps -- monkeys of all kinds, really. We human being can't get enough of 'em.

            I was really knocked out by "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." After seeing the movie 3 times, I still can't tell you why I was so moved by it. I can't put a finger on it. I guess it's a primal thing.

                                       Who didn't love the Curious George books as a child?

         Curious George seemed to embody all of the best human traits: curiosity, compassion, intelligence and a grand sense of adventure. You have to wonder, though, if the stories would have been half as popular if the "George" in Curious George was simply a curious little boy.

 I think not.

    Anyway, a week ago a large storm was predicted to arrive at French Harbor here in Roatan, Honduras. Chris and I decided this would be a good time to leave the anchorage, splurge and tie up to the dock at the Fantasy Island Resort while the storm rumbled past. Fortunately we had 48 hours of gorgeous weather to enjoy the amenities there before the storm blew through...

                Welcome to Fantasy Island. And yes, this is the actual ocean -- not a swimming pool.

                                                                   Captain Chris at rest

                                        Trees sway on Fantasy Island

                                A peek across the bay to CocoView Dive Resort

                                       This was Espiritu's parking spot on the dock

We were very glad to be lashed to the dock when the big storm blew through. Several boats'                anchors dragged during the worst of the storm, and one even ended up on the rocks.

                                                      It was a real sweet spot...

       We had a jam under the Fantasy Island palm trees with the crews of Passport and Nauti-Nauti.

   They say that primates share more than 90% of the DNA of homo sapiens -- which, if  true, would mean that monkeys really love music. And almost on queue, after we started playing "Whiskey Before Breakfast," we heard a visitor rustling in the trees:

                                          He was checking us out big time!

                                              And he wasn't the only one...

                                                              Look! A baby!

                                   Wow. We were witness to a happy capuchin monkey family unit

                             But then, in the blink of an eye, dad slinked down a tree to get a closer
                               look at the jam.  "He must really like our music," we said with a smile.

           At lightning speed, he nabbed Rebecca's gin and tonic and shimmied up the tree.
      Another example of how monkeys are just like humans. They really like gin and tonics.

             These monkeys on the island are a hoot.  One evening Chris and I were playing pool on a patio at the resort. I looked away for a mere second, and a monkey nabbed our cue ball and took off into the lobby of the hotel!  I chased him past the reception area and up the stairs. Finally, he dropped the ball down to me once it was clear that he had "won" the game.

        Ya gotta love the monkeys! Especially when they do "human-esque" things like run off with gin and tonics or dress in office clothes.

                      And few things inspire more simple, old fashioned joy for Southern Californians
                         than the sight of our own Los Angeles Angels Rally Monkey jumping up and
                                                down on the Jumbotron, 100 feet tall!  

           Alas, after the storm blew through, the mini-vacation in monkeyland was over. It was time to return to the anchorage, since we're "Economy Cruisers," and the anchorage is where we belong. Truly, we're happiest out there anyway. There's a breeze, there's privacy, and you can take a swim whenever you want.

       On a serious note, there is a sailboat called Charter II which left the Cayman Islands for Roatan before the storm. They were supposed to have arrived here in French Harbor several days ago, and noone has heard a word from them.

      We will all nervously keep our eyes on the horizon until we hear from "Charter II." Scary stuff.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Communion of the 40 knot blow


           A 40 knot blow roared through our Roatan anchorage the other night at 2AM.

           Once you make sure that the anchor and bridle are secure,  and that everything that can be is battened down, there is nothing left to do but hope and pray that the anchor holds and that the boat doesn't snap apart.

           It's an interesting place to be.

           There were about 10 other boats in the anchorage. During the worst of the blow, when all holy hell was hurtling down from the sea and sky, I found myself looking to the other boats, anchor lights bucking wildly.

            They are experiencing this too, I realized.

            And I found comfort in this. I actually visualized the crews of Freedom's Call, Moonsong, Nauti Nauti and Argo up and about, bleary eyed but alert, preparing the boat and assessing the situation.  They were just as scared as we were.

            We were not alone. And acknowledging this reality lessened my fear.

             And then I widened my scope.  I thought of the boats lashed to the marina here in French Harbor.  And I thought of the families living in humble dwellings on shore. Here too, families would be up and about, worried that their modest homes might not hold up to the onslaught.

           When Chris and I lived in SoCal, earthquakes were a common experience. When a shaker would rattle through at 4AM, I remember thinking that this was the great equalizer. At the exact moment when the temblor hit, Jack Nicholson felt just as vulnerable in his Mulholland Drive mansion as I did in my tiny college apartment.

         All 5 million people in the greater LA area experienced the Communion of the Quake.

         It sounds corny to state the obvious: We really are all in this together.

         And this fact should bring you comfort.

         If you truly believe that you are completely alone on this planet, then might I gently suggest that you're really not paying attention.





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Welcome to Brooksy Point!

                       Chris and Jim having a serious discussion at Brooksy Point Yacht Club

           Brooksy Point Yacht Club is a charming little outpost here in French Harbor, Roatan, Honduras.

                     It is carved into the steep hillside and runs right down to the waterfront.

            For $15 a week per boat, we get WiFi, warm showers, comraderie and a great dinghy dock.

 There is, of course, also a great book exchange. We had to laugh at the recent addition of "The Encyclopedia of Offshore Banking" to the library.

 The French Harbor anchorage, where Espiritu rests, is just around the corner from Brooksy Point.
                    This shot was taken yesterday from Espiritu right before a 35 knot squall hit.

    There are a couple of dozen boats here in the anchorage. Many are from Europe. American culture is so different from anywhere else in the world.  An excellent example of this is the subject of nudity.

  Chris and I would definitely consider ourselves "progressives." But that's not to say that we're not real conservative in many areas of our lives. (That's the problem with "labels" -- they are such a source of confusion. I think we should get rid of 'em. But that's another topic).

  Anyway, while I have absolutely no problem with other people wearing as little clothes as they desire, I myself tend to keep my private areas covered.

 This is a very American thing. And we're surrounded by Europeans.

         This is our neighbor in the anchorage. They're from France. It's hard to tell from this photo, but that's a nude guy sitting on the deck sunning himself and catching up on his reading.

        Here in the Caribbean we've seen several Europeans casually strolling around on the decks of their boats in the buff. More power to them. But you will not -- EVER -- find me doing the same.

   I'm just too damn American. Modesty about such things is simply very. Deeply. Ingrained. LOL...

          This boat is moored at the small marina at Brooksy Point. Note the big doghouse on the deck!

       There's also a big screen at Brooksy Point. Another thing that makes us Americans different from pretty much the rest of the world is we are the only people on the planet who enjoy American football. The American boats here in the anchorage have been having a ball watching the NFL playoffs, while our European friends look on in a combination of confusion, compassion and very very mild disgust. LOL...

       Brooksy Point also provides weekly bus rides to the local supermarket for the cruiser members.

    Chris pays the lady at the local supermarket here in Roatan. We've used our Trader Joes shopping bags in Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and now Honduras. They are a gentle reminder of home...

      This is the actual shopping cart contents for a fellow cruiser (who will remain nameless). This is what he spent his money on for the whole week's sustenance: Beer, bourbon, white wine, red wine, a wine glass, and toilet paper. That's it.  This is a peek inside the lives of some of us out here...LOL...

         They sell these gigantic taco shells here in Roatan. I'm not exactly sure what the hell this is, or how you cook with it. Which is as good a reason as any to pose for a photo with it!

   We've also met many other musicians here at Brooksy, and have had some enjoyable jam sessions. In the photo above are I.B. and Rebecca from West Virginia.  They know lots of Irish and Old Timey songs, which has been a special treat. It's always a novelty to play something other than Jimmy Buffett...(LOL)...

           Well, that about completes our little tour of the Brooksy Point Yacht Club and Marina. As you can see, it's a lovely little place. We're happy here, and will stay a spell before heading north on our journey back to the states.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New photos: Under the Honduran Sun

                                                     The sleepy east end of Roatan

                       This red-headed American tourist shows off her new Roatan dreadlocks

                      A tourist enjoys one of the many ziplines in Roatan. Since we're
                 "economy cruisers," we've resisted the temptation to join the crowd...

             ...but for the price of ONE zipline ride,  we rented a scooter for a whole week!
              I don't think you can even debate who got the better deal. It's a no-brainer!

Get this: Honduran law says that Chris can ride the bike alone or with me on the back, and I can ride it alone, but I am FORBIDDEN from driving with Chris as the passenger!

Think about that for a moment.

 I was about to seriously get my little feminist panties all in a bunch, until it was explained to me that the law forbidding a man as a passenger on a motorcycle is to prevent drive-by assassinations by the shooter riding in back.


Evidently drive-by assassinations were becoming a problem here in Honduras. And since assassins are usually men, it's illegal for men to ride shotgun.

So we can all rest easy with this law, I guess, because everybody knows that women are never assassins, right? 

                     Angelina Jolie rides a motorcycle and packs heat at the same time.

                                            She doesn't need no stinking driver!

       Well, of course Angelina Jolie is not really an assassin. She just plays one (actually, several) in the movies. Here's Angie riding shotgun with Brad in Southeast Asia, with no automatic weapons in sight. But where are the helmets, kids?

  Anyway, we spent several sunny days exploring the 30 mile length of the island of Roatan.

    On the isolated east side, we passed a guy by the side of the road wrestling with a big snake!

      We pulled over and checked it out. He was a gardener minding his own business pruning a few trees by the side of the road, when suddenly this boa constrictor slithered on up to say hello!

   I had been warned that boa constrictors are lurking about here and there in Central America. But I never thought I'd actually see one in the wild!

               Wow. Boa constrictors wrap themselves around their victims and crush them to death before swallowing them whole, which means they are strong. This strapping young man was having a hard time holding him -- his hands were shaking and sweat was pouring off of him.

  But he seemed calm, and told me in Spanish that this is a not-uncommon site here in Honduras.

     After snapping a few shots and giving him some thumbs up signs (what else could we do?), we drove off and left him there holding the slithering, hissing reptile. I'm not sure if he chopped his head off and ate him for dinner, or what...

             Roatan is almost completely encircled by a large coral reef, as seen in this photo

                                                                Local boys at play

                                                         A typical Honduran tienda

             Local children fish off of the giant cruise ship mooring when the ships are at sea

  Well, I guess we can safely assume that Honduras and the U.S. are allies, since we found this U.S. Coast Guard ship gassing up here at the dock.

                                                              Hello, sailors!

        We were kind of shocked to see this police holding cell (read: "Jail") facing right onto the public street and sidewalk here in French Harbor. You can literally walk right up to bars.

               This fellow told me he was framed. I know, I know, that's what they all say. But what if he really WAS framed? Anyway, he asked if I would go buy him some food. But he was eating a sandwich when I walked up, so I wasn't too worried about him.

                                   This fellow didn't look so good, however. I gave him my
                                    iced tea through the bars, which he accepted gratefully.

         We rode the scooter high into the rainforest for some excellent island views.

                 This shot shoes how close the mainland of Honduras is to the island of Roatan

                                                Captain Chris marks his territory

                             Woman talks on cell phone while pigs snooze

                                                                Fire and rain

                                                            Shades of green

                      Most citizens of Roatan live in humble dwellings like these:


                           And then there are the more upscale, waterfront homes:


             For obvious reasons, we love Roatan. The holidays here have been relaxing and restorative. We'll be here for another couple of weeks before sailing north to Belize, the Yucatan and Florida.

    Wishing you a happy and peaceful new year! XOXO Liz and Chris   :-)