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November 14th 2007
Published: November 14th 2007
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Fantastic is the best word to desribe how I feel. It's amazing what a wax and head shave can do to rejuvenate you!

My flight from Puerto Lempira to La Ceiba was diverted to Roatan because La Ceiba airport was flooded. I couldn't believe my luck because I was going to have to book a flight to Roatan later that day so the diversion saved me time and money. After convincing the flight crew that this was actually where I wanted to get off, they took my backpack off the 15-seater plane and I was on my way.

A bit of background on Roatan:

Roatan is one of the Bay Islands off Honduras and the population is mainly of Carribean heritage. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502 and during the Colonial period, Spanish and English colonisers lived together. It was governed by the British until 1861 when it was recognised as part of the Republic of Honduras. English is the first language of Roatan but a lot of people from mainland Honduras have settled here and don't speak English which the Islanders aren't too happy about and don't hold back in sharing. Just to be on the safe side, I ask my questions in Spanish and have been corrected by many locals that this is an English speaking island. But then when I ask someone else a question in English, the person will say in Spanish that they don't speak English. It keeps me on my toes at least. Some of the Islanders have said that Roatan will be sending back to the mainland Spanish speakers who have been on the island for less than five years in an attempt to lower population numbers. They also hope this will lower the crime rate on the island.

I'm staying at a place called Georphi's Tropical Hideaway at West End. It was recommended by the other female diver from my Blue Hole dive in Belize. So without even researching other accommodation, I booked the US$15/night cabin for two weeks. And I have to say it is perfect!! Hot water, broadband internet and a huge fridge. Laundry is cheap and so are the gallon drums of purified water you can buy for your cabin. There are three restaurants on site; a cafe, a cocktail bar and a chicken rotisserie. On the morning I arrived I had whopping big banana pancakes. After a month of nothing but rice, beans, chicken and peanut butter sandwiches, I needed them! My cabin is at the back amongst all the trees and has a verandah with table and chairs and a hammock. So I can crank up the volume to the El Cantante soundtrack (which appears to be the soundtrack to my Latin America trip as I play it everywhere. The kids at Mama Tara enjoyed listening to it too) without disturbing anyone. One downside is the mozzies. There's trillions of them. I'm applying DEET several times a day and continuing my anti-malaria meds until I get to Ecuador. There's a mosquito net above my bed but I hate sleeping under them, they make me feel claustaphobic. So I apply heaps of DEET before going to bed. If I can survive Puerto Lempira without a mozzie net, I reckon I can survive Roatan without one.

A collectivo taxi from West End to Coxen Hole - where the shops and banks are - costs only L25 (US$1.30) and takes about fifteen minutes. But the driver picks up anyone who wants to get in so it can take a while to get to your destination by the time he picks up and drops off other passengers, regardless of whether you were the first person in the taxi. The minibus collectivos are worse, they can take forever so I stick to the sedan collectivos. In many of the collectivos I've shared, we turn off just near the gym, into a side lane that takes us to a poor Spanish village; it has dirt roads, wooden shanty houses and a few shops. The houses are divided by barbed wire fences and the small children play on the barbed wire. It's frightening watching a 4 yo squeeze through a barbed wire fence. I saw this in Mexico also, but it still shocks me.

I've noticed quite a few hotted up cars but instead of having brand stickers across their windscreens, the stickers here make reference to Jesus or verses from the Bible. I wonder how long a car in Sydney would last with brandings like that. I'd also like to see how long they would last in Sydney with their choice of music blaring -- Country & Western and Reggae. What is it with C&W music? And to make it worse, I've heard C&W music with Christian lyrics. I'm surprised my ears didn't start bleeding!

West End is full of restaurants, small hotels and dive shops but it's not as tacky I was imagining it could be. The restaurant prices are in USD so food can be on the pricey side but I've decided to use the next few weeks to detox. After four months of eating restaurant and taquiera food (mostly fried and of little nutritional content), I've bought as much fruit and vegies as will fill up my fridge. When I was in Mexico I went grocery shopping with our tour leader. She bought special anti-baterial drops to soak fruit and vegies in so I bought some to, just in case I ever needed them. Good forward thinking! I wanted to exercise while I was here but the beach isn't one long stretch and the roads are in poor shape with crazy drivers so I'm not going to risk jogging on them. There is a boutique gym not far from West End and came recommended by one of the locals so I joined up and had a personal training session to go over the equipment and to draw up a program suiting my needs. I've been every day so far and intend to keep it up every day until I leave. I managed to pick up some running shoes for US$25 and shorts and t-shirt for US$5 in Coxen Hole.

My cabana and the surroundings are the perfect environment for cocktails but I am going to abstain. The next two weeks are going to be healthy to put me in good stead for South America. I'm hoping that these two weeks of seriously eating no junk and doing exercise will make me build up a routine for the next four months. I just have to be careful with what I eat on the next tour, I know it will be hard because there aren't a lot of healthy options when you're on a budget with limited time. But a friend gave me the link to a website that lists the calories in the foods you type into the search engine. I've listed the calories of the foods I eat most when I'm travelling so I can stay within my 1500 calories per day limit (although I'm trying to stay at 1200 calories per day). I just have to make sure I jog three times a week while I'm travelling for the next four months.

I was going to try to do ten dives while I was here but the unbudgeted gym membership has blown that. Instead I am booked in to do five dives. The gym is closed on Monday's so I'm booked in for three this Monday and two the following Monday. There's a shark dive available but it's US$100 for just a one tank dive. It's with reef sharks which I swam with in the Blue Hole so I'm thinking I'll give it a miss and do the five dives for US$140. Unfortunately, being slow season, there aren't any good dive discounts. The weather, despite patches of rain, has been beautiful -- not too hot, not too cold. But if it starts to rain again it doesn't worry me because diving isn't affected by the rain and I'll keep buying books to read. I bought the Da Vinci Code and finished it in one day. I think I'm the only person who hadn't read the Da Vinci Code and I have to admit I wasn't a fan. I've decided to get my books from the bookshops that trade books otherwise it could work out expensive if I buy them.

I actually feel like I'm on holiday now. Earlier in my trip when I was at beach locations I still felt a little stressed because I didn't know what was ahead. I'm more than half way through my travels and I know what to expect to an extent. Despite being unhappy with my weight gain, I'm thrilled with how my skin feels. No makeup and no airconditioning is doing wonders for me. Hopefully tummy and bum will get in shape too. A downside to all this sun are the new freckles I have on my face and shoulders.

I'm here until November 28, then it's two nights in Teguz and then I fly to Ecuador to start my three month tour of South America.


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