Villa De Rui, The Meridian, Honduras

March 7, 2015 – March 13, 2015

My father, sister and I were able to take a family trip this year to spend a week and a half in Honduras. I have not been to an island or anywhere tropical since I was last in Jamaica, roughly 6 years ago in 2009. Given it has been so long, it was a little difficult to try and compare the two. I have been to Jamaica four separate times and to be able to see the growth in infrastructure, etc. throughout those years was unbelievable. From bumpy dirt roads to a paved highway around the entire island. In Honduras’ case, they had paved roads almost everywhere we went, including from the airport to the tip of the island off the main land of Honduras where we were staying. Below is an image taken off the coast of the resort we stayed at. The condos, one which we rented from a man named Matthew and his family, are still under development and expanding their square footage. But, as shown below, there is a private beach, a bar/restaurant on the beach, an area to play volleyball, ocean view balconies, a lighthouse and ample areas to snorkel. The best thing about snorkeling off the beach here is that you can follow the reef around the edge of the island and make it safely and quickly to the West Beach’s white sands. However, we typically chose to walk up a very steep, very large hill and back down again to get to the West Bay Beach.

The west Bay Beach was by far my favorite, over West End or our private beach. The sand was soft, white and usually not too hot. The water was clear and rarely rough which made it easy for snorkeling, drinking and standing with friends for a chat in. The snorkeling near the West end of the beach was my dad, sister and I’s favorite. The coral reef here was beautiful but you have to stay afloat very close to the top of the water because the coral is SO high. Amber, my sister, ended up scratching her hand on a piece of coral and it was swollen for a couple days. Again, I had not been snorkeling for a few years and it took a while to get used to. With you googles on, there is little to no peripheral vision and since the coral is so high in the water – it is extremely hard to navigate. I went without fins and still managed to move more quickly in the water than I would have liked. There were multiple times I got nervous/anxious about not having a direction to go, nowhere to stand or something to grab onto and unsure of which direction to turn – all of these things at once, while trying to keep a steady breathe through a snorkel makes it hard to stay afloat and not hit coral. At one time my hand hit something that was moving and I panicked – it was a human but made me jump enough to hit my knee on some coral and swallow some salty water. Amber and I would try to stay close and talk or point at certain things along the way. We were both fortunate enough to be looking ahead through the clear water at some colorful coral when all of a sudden everything in front of us went black from ocean floor to the ocean ceiling. Thankfully, it wasn’t a shark, whale or anything else that might be a threat, although it did scare us both initially. It was actually a huge school of black fish, thick enough that you couldn’t see through all of them. They had a slight blue color along their fins too, after googling the fish when we got home our best guess is they were Achilles Tang Hybrid. The best part of the story is yet to come, as Amber and I were pointing at the fish and gawking, a figure swam between us both into the school of fish. This figure was my father. He just swam right into the school of fish and was reaching out to touch them. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea. He was so playful and laughing the entire trip, I haven’t seen him that care free and happy in a long time. We actually had no wi-fi or cell phone service on the island for the entire trip which was also a big highlight. We were able to focus on each other and be present.

Kirk and Laura were the ones who arranged the trip and they were there with us too. When we first arrived, there is only one landing strip in Roatan on the tiny island off the coast of the mainland Honduras, so we had to exit the plane via some roll up stairs. From there we walked into a tiny airport which was one big room with some counters separating enter and exit areas. The lines were outside the building and there was only one baggage claim area.

We then stopped at a grocery store that was surprisingly similar to the ones we have here, I would say equivalent to a run down HyVee, it was named Eldon’s. We bought each of our drivers, throughout the whole trip, a soda in addition to tipping them. We stocked up on eggs, quesadilla supplies, bacon, local beer (Barena) and bottled water. Turned out the condo we stayed at, which was very modern, had drinkable water from the faucets. They did, however, have various power outages – sometimes at night for an hour or two which would cause the AC to go off. I shared a room with my sister and we would sometimes wake up sweating which wasn’t ideal. The condo complex also had a gorgeous pool which dad, Amber and I spent a couple hours a day in. It was always the perfect temperature and there were volleyballs, rackets, etc. to play with. I think Dad may have enjoyed this time the most, drinking a beer while laying in the pool. Below is a picture of the pool and the condo we stayed in is right up the stairs to the second floor condo in this photo. We had a pool on the rooftop deck and our balcony on the other side looked over the ocean. In the mornings we could see the mainland mountains and the cruise ships that would come in on Tuesday and Wednesdays arrived and departed in our view. Sometimes, when they had a night to spare you could see the lights of the ships miles off shore just floating to kill time.

While we were there we spent almost everyday trying new bars and restaurants on the west Bay Beach and took a water taxi over to the West End to walk around and eat too. We went to go zip lining too to mark it off our bucket list and the roads up to the top of a mountain area were the worst I had seen on either Jamaica or Honduras. It was very bumpy with rocks poking out of the dirt roads. The huts, made of sticks and branches along the side of the road had children with backpacks walking home from school in them. The driver told us there was no running water or electricity up on this part of the island. But when we got to where we were going, the zip lining place was also part zoo so we could hold and play with monkeys, butterflies, parrots, and island rabbits, etc. I think this was Amber’s favorite part of the trip because she had really wanted to hold a monkey. We also took a day to go shopping and see the area that the cruise ships come up to, There were two cruise ships there at the time and the shopping area was one of the most developed portions of the island – it seemed very commercialized.

I think my favorite part was laying around in the pool or watching movies, playing card games and drinking casually with my family. We were able to be entirely present, cut off from the stresses of reality for a little while and reconnect. We took a view walks up the street during the evenings to look at some of the vacation houses which would make the top of my list as well. One evening we passed a bright mango colored house. I stopped to take a picture of it and a Canadian couple popped out onto the porch and said “Welcome to the Tangerine House!”. They owned the home but rented it out for most of the year. They gave us a tour – a two story home with two bedrooms, modern kitchen, two porches that were both mosquito net protected and bright colorful walls. I think Dad really enjoyed it and he was overly kind to them. I do love that man. The house is a part of a community that has a private pool together and a 24/7 security guard. It is something Dad hopes to someday rent for another vacation back to Honduras. Our trip was far too short and the trip home, through Dallas, was a sad one. But overall, potentially my favorite vacation! But what would a vacation be without some beach yoga? I had to take a moment to capture a Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose) on our private beach area!

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