Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cruise 2K8 Day 4- Honduras

I was going to try to do the Honduras and Belize post together, but it just got to be so long! So here is Honduras and I'll post the Belize summary tomorrow:

On day four of our cruise we pulled in to Isla Roatan, Honduras. We couldn’t get off the boat until 11 am, so we took advantage of this and had breakfast in the dining room again. The waiters this day really sucked. I ordered Belgian Waffles and I got one little waffle smaller than an Eggo. The waiters would drop off stuff at our table and then disappear for 20 minutes at a time. At one point I was joking around about how bad the service was and put my hand in the air and snapped my fingers. It actually got the attention of a nearby waiter, so I took advantage of this and gave him all our requests and he wasn’t even our waiter!! There were also some very strange things happening to the ship that morning that were causing all these awful grinding noises and shaking the entire dining room. We never found out exactly what caused it, but our best guess it was because we were turning and trying to “park” in the port.

For Roatan we had booked Jolly Roger’s Catamaran excursion through Carnival. This excursion was broken into 2 parts. The first was a tour of Gumbalimba Park and the second was a catamaran sail and snorkel. We met our tour group at the pier and rode a school bus (no air conditioning here) for about 30 minutes up to the top of the island (great views and such a pretty, undeveloped landscape) and then over to the West side of the island to Gumbalimba Park. We then toured Gumbalimba park which included: seeing a huge tarantula, seeing and being told the history of different plants (including seeing the one tequila comes from), seeing parrots and getting a picture with one on your shoulder, visiting the monkey area where the tour guides would coax them to climb all over people, going through this cheesy, hot, man made cave thing, and seeing a swinging bridge (we didn’t cross it because there were too many tour groups and it would’ve taken forever).

I have to say this isn’t what we were expecting from the tour (we didn’t think it would be a tour but more of an “on-your-own” exploration of the park). There were well over 50 people in our tour group so everything took forever! We walked in a little line and stopped at all the little various attractions, but the experience at each attraction was diminished because the amount of time you spent waiting on the rest of the group was just horrible. When we went to see the monkeys I waited forever to try to get a chance to have a monkey climb on me, but I am just not one to push other people out of the way so I never got my chance. It was funny though when one of the monkeys stole this woman’s plastic baggie that had their passports, money, credit cards, and sail and sign cards in it and took it up in the tree. We had been told numerous times to put everything away because the monkeys would steal it. She was just stupid to have it out in the open! It took 20 minutes chasing the monkey and then he finally opened the bag and dumped out all of the contents. Money and stuff was flying from the trees and she and the guides were chasing it down. Seriously they must think Americans are all idiots.

Next we waited around on the beach at the park (which was small but really pretty) for our catamaran to be ready. Finally we got to pack onto the catamaran and set sail. The catamaran wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t like our experience in St. Thomas last year (probably still one of the best days ever!). I still enjoyed myself though. We sailed out into the ocean just off a coral reef and then stopped for snorkeling. I had heard that this was one of the best snorkeling spots in the world, so I dove in.

Now if you have never been snorkeling let me tell you some things, it isn’t as easy as it looks! First, if you do it on the tour with their equipment, you have to ignore the mold on your vest and not think about how many people had your mask on their face and your mouthpiece in their mouth. Second, there is a fine art to getting the fit of your vest just right. You can’t inflate it too much, but you want it to hold you up a little. You also have to adjust the straps just right or you will end up with the vest bobbing all over your head and trying to wrestle it into place while trying to keep yourself afloat in the water. Third you have to navigate walking across the boat, down the stairs and jumping into the water with these huge flippers on your feet. And once you’re in the water it isn’t over. The mask will sometimes leak water into it and you have to stop and get it out so you can see. The tube will sometimes get water in it that you have to blow out. Plus, I have a fear of small fear of sea creatures (in particular jelly fish- a really, really HUGE fear of jellyfish), so I spent a lot of my time being freaked-out by the stupid straps on my vest while trying not to inadvertently bump in to anything.

But it was some pretty snorkeling. Lots of coral formations and I even saw a live conch and a school of these bright neon-blue fish. So I really did end up enjoying the excursion. There is just something about sailing that I love. I love the big, tall sails, the rhythm of the waves rocking the boat, the sun shining on the water, and the breeze blowing through the air. It really is one of the best feelings in the world!

Finally we boarded the bus for the ride back to port. This country is really poor. I took lots of pictures on the bus ride back of their houses and roads to remind myself of how others live. When we got back, we stopped at the little open air bar to sample some local beer (which was very good!). I also stopped at the little market they have set up and bought some nice little black pearl earrings. All we did after our long day was get ready for dinner and eat a nice meal in the dining room before getting to bed to get some rest before our 8 am arrival in Belize.

We did have a little scare right before bed. According to our Caper brochure (activity guide), we were going to have to tender to Belize and if you didn’t have an excursion booked, you would have to wait until 9:30 to even get in line for the tender! Well, this wouldn’t work for us because even though we hadn’t booked through Carnival, we had arranged to meet our tour at 9:30. We called the purser’s desk and they told us to go to Follie’s Lounge at 8 am to get our ticket to get off the boat so that we would get to our excursion in time.

Pictures from Roatan:

Hint: Don't click "Download this video", just use the arrows at the bottom.

Stay tuned for Belize!

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