Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Roatan or Bust.....What a Bust!

When we finally arrived in La Ceiba, Honduras we hopped a taxi (and an expensive one I might add) to the ferry dock, only to find out there was no ferry service that day. Why? Apparently the sea had been rough from some recent storms. Well we had come all that way, and we weren’t turning around, so we had 2 choices: #1 - spend the night in La Ceiba and see if the ferry would run the next day or #2 - head to the airport. Determined to get to our destination, #2 was the obvious choice.

$50 a person later (note: Lonely Planet is wrong as it states flights cost $21 from La Ceiba to Roatan) we boarded a plane bound for Roatan. This however was not your typical island-hopping, beverage service only plane. If you’ve ever wondered where United’s retired planes end up, we feel pretty comfortable saying they are in Honduras. Dirty, smelly, and downright scary, by the grace of God we somehow made it to Roatan in under 20 minutes. Once we collected our luggage, we grabbed a cab and shared a $15 ride to West End with some other gringos we met during our 2 hours stuck in the mud with Hedman Alas (see yesterday's blog for details).

Apparently not so spruced up during the off-season, we weren’t so impressed with the accommodations we encountered in West End on Half Moon Bay, so we headed over to West Bay (another $10 cab ride for 3 miles). We ended up at the only place that seemed somewhat reasonable, a smallish all-inclusive, Italian haven of a resort. Good enough for 1 night – it was getting late and our meals were included. Morning came and no signs of sun. What the heck? According to Lonely Planet (error #2) there should only be a few random days of sun during the month of October. Well, it didn’t look like we would be using that free-kayak service at the hotel anytime soon and the all-inclusive food wasn’t so good, so we checked out and returned to West End (where the action is supposed to be) to try to find an acceptable place to stay.

Definitely not even close to a Holiday Inn, we ended up at the cleanest, least humid smelling hotel we visited, a short walk from town. Still no sun. Maybe a walk around town was what we needed……..or maybe not, as it turned out dodging mud puddles should be a sport in West End. Hoping to be able to get dive certified, we stopped by a local dive shop to inquire about trips. Well it seems that even money can’t buy you fun when there is rain in Roatan. We pretty much got a straight up “no” on the diving, as it seems it wasn’t really worth their time to teach us (a couple of the only tourists in town). Plus we were told that even if we did go out the water was too murky to see more than 5 feet in front of you. Guess we won’t be diving.

Don't what the animals?

Hmmm……what to do now? Forever optimistic, Ben turns to our faithful companion Lonely Planet (never mind the fact that we’ve been deceived twice already). Ah-ha! There’s an Iguana Reserve on the other side of the island and they even have the rare white-faced monkey. Say no more, of course I was in. Feeling a bit ripped off by the taxis on the island we hopped on the public mini-bus and 1 hour later were dropped off by a sign for the Iguana Farm. We hiked about 20 minutes down a dirt lane, following teaser signs the whole way, and ended up at a house. Weird, we thought it was supposed to be more farm? As we wandered down the drive macaws sqwacked at us from a nearby cage. A young girl sitting at a table in the garage looked like she might be able to help us, but before we could say “hola” a man came out of the house, looked at us, yelled at the girl, they both disappeared and we were left standing alone. A few minutes later (after she had fed the chickens without acknowledging us) the girl promptly told us it was $8/person to enter, but that we would be seeing any iguanas as they don’t come down from the trees when it is rainy. (Error #3 Lonely Planet – “around 3000 iguanas live here, some as long as 5 feet”). If we wanted to pay $4/person we could still see the monkeys, since the iguanas weren’t around. Suckers we are, of course we paid – afterall we had come all that way. Well we should have turned around right then and there because the rare monkeys turned out to be 3 sad, emaciated-looking monkeys living in tiny cages. A few turtles living in a pool of nasty water later, and we were out. Wow – things aren’t getting better.

Poor monkeys in sad little cages.

Help me, Gringos!

That night was Halloween and we gave it another go. We went out to an expensive (no surprise there) disappointing Thai dinner with intentions of hitting up a public Halloween party we had heard about afterwards. Well on our way to the party we got stuck in a downpour. Drenched to the bone, with our pants stuck to our legs, we gave up on the idea of going out and headed back to our room where we promptly went to bed. The next morning we gave it another go, checking out another hotel (where Temptation Island was filmed) but upon learning we would be the only guests in the hotel we gave up, headed to the ferry dock and boarded the first ferry out of Roatan.

Final thoughts:
Roatan = Ripoff (at least based on our experience)
Lonely Planet lies (at least in the Guatemala book)

The only photo we have with sunshine.

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