Archive for August, 2011

PADI Scuba Diver Certification in Roatan

Posted in Honduras on August 30th, 2011 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

The island rebounded impressively fast from Tropical Storm Harvey. After just a day and a half, the ocean was calm again and I got started on my PADI Scuba Diver certification at Anemona Divers. To get the preliminary certification you have to read 3 chapters in the Open Water Certification book, watch 3 videos, take 3 short quizzes, complete 3 confined water dives where you demonstrate skills you’ve learned, and go on 2 open water dives (the fun part!). They say you can do it in 2 days, but the book will take longer to read than you think so give yourself more time than that if you’re planning to get certified. Or better yet, do the book and video work online BEFORE your trip so you don’t have to spend precious vacation hours studying!

The PADI Scuba Diver certification allows me to go on dives to a depth of 40 feet as long as I’m accompanied by a divemaster or instructor. The PADI Open Water Diver certification allows you to go to a depth of 60 feet, and you don’t have to go with a divemaster, but you do have to go with a certified buddy. PADI is all about the buddy system. I’m thinking about getting this certification level next time I’m in the tropics, though I don’t plan on diving without a divemaster. I can get horribly lost in a grocery store, so diving without a guide just isn’t a good idea.

Oh, protip for Anemona Divers: if you pay cash, you don’t have to pay the 16% Honduran tax. The PADI Scuba Diver certification cost $210, plus the $40 book.

On our dives we saw puffer fish, big moray eels, a couple of king crabs, barracuda, a school of sardines that react as a group to your movements, yellowhead jawfish which are these funny fish that go in and out of holes on the ocean floor, and a lot of neat coral formations. We didn’t get clear pictures of all that, but here are the pics from our dives that are of posting quality:

Scuba Diving Roatan

Scuba Diving RoatanRoatan Reef

Scuba Diving Roatan

Roatan Reef fish

Roatan Reef fish

Also we did more snorkeling!

Snorkeling Roatan

Snorkeling Roatan

Snorkeling Roatan

Snorkeling Roatan

This was a fun and relaxing trip. We met some cool people, ate some good food, drank some Salva Vidas (the local beer), had a thrilling encounter with a cockroach named Houdini, spent a lot of time in the water, and heard some reggae songs so many times I fear I will forever be singing them in the shower.

Good times.

Tropical Storm Harvey aftermath on Roatan

Posted in Honduras on August 20th, 2011 by Vagablonding – 3 Comments

Tropical Storm Harvey passed over us last night, blowing by with 60mph winds and a lot of rain. Didn’t even wake me up.

The storm washed a lot of sea grass onto the beach and walkways…

Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

…and flung a Portuguese Man-o-War onto the beach! This is really rare because these guys are usually found only in the Pacific, Indian, and northern Atlantic oceans. They’re almost never this far south. It’s pretty lewd looking, if you ask me…

Man-o-war Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Man-o-war Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Man-o-war Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Also did some damage to the dock in front of Foster’s

Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Otherwise, all appears to be well on Roatan. Hopefully the sun comes back soon so I can get my scuba diving certification!

Sand flea bites in Roatan, Honduras

Posted in Honduras on August 20th, 2011 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

The sand fleas here are vicious. They will bite you while you’re walking on the sand, or even standing in the ocean. There are less of them on the docks, but you’re still not safe there. Bug spray kills the reef but if you don’t use it, they will bite the crap out of you, and the bites itch like crazy. The best thing to do is to use a bug spray without DEET, and wash it off before getting in the ocean.

Sandflea Bites - Roatan, Honduras
To treat the sand flea bites, you should take ibuprofen and Benadryl, and apply hydrocortisone cream to the bites. Don’t scratch them, or they will get inflamed and break open, possibly leading to infection. Touch them as little as possible to prevent irritation.

Return to Roatan, Honduras

Posted in Honduras on August 20th, 2011 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

I’m back in Roatan, the largest of the 3 Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras. I was here with my mom and sister at the end of last March / beginning of April earlier in the year, and now I’m here with Ryan for 2 weeks. We’re staying at Las Rocas, which is on the northwestern end of West Bay Beach, not far from Foster’s, the place I stayed during my last visit. Our ‘Value Bungalow’ room at Las Rocas has a queen bed and a single bed, a mini fridge, wireless internet (for a flat fee of $35 per stay), and a bathroom. The bathroom sucks: the hot water in the shower smells really strongly of sulfur, like overpoweringly strong, and the toilet is constantly running. On the plus side, we have our own porch with a hammock and breakfast is included. Breakfast consists of unlimited coffee and a buffet of cereal, yogurt, pastries, and fresh fruit, plus a hot plate that changes daily (so far we’ve seen scrambled eggs with sausage, ham omelets, baleadas, pancakes with bacon, and the tipico plate – fried plantains + beans + white cheese).

The food at the Las Rocas restaurant is pretty tasty, and they have some good deals, like $7 margarita pizza, $7 fish quesodillas, an $8 chicken sandwich with fries, and a six pack of Salva Vida, the local beer, for $8 during happy hour.

Besides spending a lot of time lounging around Las Rocas and reading in the hammock while Ryan works, I’ve been sunbathing and swimming daily.

West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

We also went snorkeling one afternoon. I’m hoping to get diving certified while I’m here, if possible.

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

It’s been very hot here. Internet weather sites say there’s a heat index of 105, but I don’t think it’s quite that hot. The evenings have been stormy, with thunder and lightning.

Lightning - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

We haven’t seen any super great sunsets yet (I think the sunsets on Gili Air spoiled us), but we got some cool pictures anyway.

Me on Foster's Dock - West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Foster's Dock - West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

We made friends with a derpy momma cat, and have been feeding her daily. She’s very sweet and has the cutest tiny kittens.

Cat at Las Rocas - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

There have been some reports of crime while we’ve been here. The other night 3 girls were robbed while walking between West Bay Beach and West End. The next day, a bartender/chef in West End was shot, but we don’t know how that played out.

Oh, also I got baptized. Yep, you read that right. I saw some other people getting baptized in the ocean in front of Foster’s and figured I may as well. Why the hell not, right?

Getting baptized in the ocean - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

Getting baptized in the ocean - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras