Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One more day in the sun and the water...

Here are a few more quick notes on the last week here in Caribbean paradise:

  • The island north of Caye Caulker, Belize, is Ambergris Caye. This is Madonna's famous "La Isla Bonita"--"Last night I dreamt of San Pedro" (Ambergris Caye's largest city). I didn't visit it, but I wonder if she did either...of all the places in Latin America, she chooses the English-speaking country as the home of siesta and her "Spanish paradise"?

  • The ferry I took on Friday from Placencia, Belize to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, was supposed to leave at 9:30 and arrive around 11 AM. Unfortunately, we had to go across the bay to the customs point, where we waited two hours for the man to come and process the passports (writing it all out by hand on a piece of paper) of all 100 or so people on board a boat with a capacity of about 45 with approximately seven life jackets on board. We finally left Belize at 1 PM and were on our way...except that the boat broke down several times en route and we had to keep standing up so a man could come and try to pump gas into the engine under our seats. We finally approached land, only to have the boat run out of gas completely about 20 feet from shore!! We managed to get towed in, with a herd of sketchy money-changers and taxi drivers and random onlookers watching, by a small dingy. All that was left then was to wait in an endless line for our passport stamps and we were ready to catch our bus...at 4:30 PM.

  • We (me and another American guy and an English couple I'd been travelling with on and off for a couple of weeks) didn't make it all the way to La Ceiba as planned that night, and wound up spending the night in El Progreso. I suppose progress in that town is measured by having both a Pizza Hut and a Wendy's, the latter being the only place open and therefore our restaurant of choice for dinner. We got a taxi at 4 AM to the place where we had to wait for the bus to La Ceiba. Our taxi driver kindly offered to wait with us, telling us how unsafe the area was and regaling us with tales of drugs and robbery and murder...and in no time we had agreed to pay him to take us all the way to La Ceiba.

  • I finally arrived here on Roatan, one of the Bay Islands, and I'm pleased that the mosquitos and sand flies have not been as much of a problem as I was warned. Some people have been bitten a lot, but the bugs don't seem to like me (I'm trying not to be offended).

  • I'm taking the Advanced Scuba Diving course, and have definitely spent way more time under water than lying on the beach. But it's been fun; today I identified fish, yesterday I learned how to control my buoyancy by swimming through hoops like a dolphin, and navigated a square using a compass. Tomorrow I go down to 110 feet and explore a wreck!

  • After my last dive, I catch the next ferry out and fly home on the 22nd, out of the sun and into the snow. I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.