Posts Tagged ‘swimming’

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

 

 

Scuba Diving in West Bay, Roatan

Posted in Honduras on April 2nd, 2011 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

For breakfast on Friday, April 1st (called Town Fools Day here), I had a seasonal fruit plate ($4) from Foster’s, it wasn’t very good, and coffee of course.

At 9:00am Elena and I went to Anemona Divers to go scuba diving! We did the Introductory Dive down to 20 feet for $54 ($60 without the Foster’s discount). First we learned the hand signs, then we took a boat to the beach in front of Infinity Bay Resort and practiced with breathing underwater. When we had that down we swam out to the dive site. It was incredibly beautiful, and so much fun! This is going to be one of my new favorite things for sure. We were under for a total of 40 minutes.

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Can you find the turtle?

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

Scuba Diving West Bay Roatan

We went to Foster’s for lunch and I had nachos which were mega tasty ($6). The afternoon was filled with swimming and beach lounging. There are no cruise ships on Friday or Saturday,  making the beach empty and peaceful. Later in the afternoon we napped. When we woke we went for a walk down the beach and down a road into the “town” of West Bay. We went to some shops and I bought sunglasses cause mine broke ($10), a beautiful beaded bracelet ($9), postcards (2 for $1) and soft serve ice cream ($2). I talked to some local ex-pats about places to stay longer term because I might want to come back soon.

The evening was spent swimming and having dinner and drinks at Foster’s. A little later we walked down to Bananarama to listen to their live music. Unfortunately, this guy also didn’t know Caribbean Queen *sigh*. We listened for a bit and gave him a tip, then headed back to Foster’s and I read in the hammock on the deck before bed.

Exploring West End and dancing at Foster’s

Posted in Honduras on April 2nd, 2011 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

On Thursday, March 31st, I woke at 7 and a few minutes later a man selling empanadas stopped by, so we bought 3 for breakfast for $5. They were just ok. Went and got coffee at Foster’s after that. I got too hot so I jumped in the ocean. It’s so nice to be able to do that!

Later in the morning we took a water taxi to the town of West End for $3 each. We walked around for about an hour. It was incredibly hot so we kept ducking into souvenir shops for the AC. Eventually we stopped at a restaurant / yoga studio called Earth Mama’s for lunch. I wasn’t hungry but Elena got a coconut curry chicken salad wrap with fried plantain chips ($7.85) and mom had a mimosa and a fiesta shrimp salad ($8.50). I tried mom’s salad and it was delicious! Elena also really liked her food, so definitely stop by this place if you’re in West End.

West End Roatan

West End Roatan

West End Roatan

After that we souvenir shopped a bit. I bought a very cool wooden purse made on the mainland for $15 (down from $20) and a pretty abalone and bead bracelette for $6 (down from $8).

Hibiscus

Around 1pm we took the water taxi back to West Bay for 50 limpiras / $3 per person.

Water Taxi Roatan

We were hot and tired so the rest of the day was spent swimming and sunbathing. Somewhere in there I bought beers again from guy with the cooler from yesterday. I bought 5 for $10 and he told me “pumpkin, you hurt my soul!” I guess I drive a hard bargain.

Foster’s has been building this deck thing for the last 2 days to extend their dining area and they finished it tonight for their live music performance. For dinner we ordered 2 lobster specials which each had 2 lobster tails and 2 sides ($12 per plate). It was very very tasty and more than enough food for 3 people.

After dinner we had happy hour drinks while the band played. They were quite good and we all danced a lot. Towards the end of the night a young Honduran guy with a woman bought drinks for me mom and Elena. We thought it was just because they enjoyed the entertainment of us dancing, but in reality the man wanted to pick up on me and Elena. The woman he was with came over and told us all about it, she was pretty hilarious. Apparently the guy was a Honduran millionaire in the making looking for a gringo girl. I could have had a stake in millions of dollars worth of Honduran cows so I hear… no thanks, I’ll keep my fantastic gringo boyfriend and his cow-sized cat thankyouverymuch. :)

We had a very fun evening and danced until about 9:30. My feet were hurting by the end. The band didnt know Caribbean Queen, that was the only disappointment, oh well.

Tomorrow we’re going Scuba Diving!

Snorkeling and swimming in Roatan

Posted in Honduras on March 31st, 2011 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

We left San Francisco at 1:30am on Tuesday, March 29th, and touched our toes to West Bay beach around noon the same day. The journey, hazy in memory, consisted of 3 flights and 2 very brief layovers in San Salvador, El Salvador, and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There was also airplane food french toast somewhere in there.

Upon checking in at Foster’s we found that we had been upgraded to a 2 bedroom, 3 bed unit with lots of stairs (we were upgraded because the gentleman who booked this room couldn’t do stairs and needed our single level cabana.)

Our room is on the second floor, has lovely views of the ocean from both the master bedroom and the upstairs loft bedroom, plus a full kitchen which is currently housing only my beer and protein bars, but may get some use if we happen upon a grocery store. The beds are comfy, there are lots of fans and 2 air-conditioners, the shower is hot and strong, and there are cute bats that live outside under the overhang of the roof. The very best part is, of course, the hammock on our deck. I’ve already logged a couple hours reading in it.

We had lunch at Foster’s when we arrived, I had a quesadilla for $6 and a lime margarita for $5. After lunch Elena and I spent an hour or 2 swimming down the beach quite a ways and walking back. The beach was really crowded with cruise shippers, who usually swarm the place from noon until 3 or 4 pm. When they’re gone it’s really quite peaceful.

When the crowds left we sunbathed for a bit then had 2 for 1 drinks at Foster’s before turning in early.

West Bay Sunset Roatan

On Wednesday, March 30th, I woke up at 7 and took some pictures before having breakfast at Foster’s. I split a veggie omelet with mom for $6, and had coffee with refills for $1. The omelet was really good, full of spicy veggies and cheese, and came with potatoes and toast.

Fosters West Bay Roatan

Fosters Dock West Bay Roatan

There are cute stray kittens here, we fed this one some of Elena’s breakfast.

Stray Cat West Bay Roatan

Mom and Elena rented snorkel gear from Anemona Divers for $10 each. Anemona Divers is affiliated with Foster’s and they offer a 10% discount to Foster’s guests. We snorkeled for a long while at the southwest end of the beach. We got in the ocean in front of Infinity Bay Resort, but the best snorkeling was by the rocks beyond the southwest tip of the beach. I saw a lot of beautiful coral formations and some interesting fish that were new to me, but all in all the snorkeling was better on Gili Air.

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

This fish was as big as my torso!

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

At one point I was swarmed by a school of fish for 3 minutes, very cool!

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

Snorkeling West Bay Roatan

After snorkeling I lunched on a protein bar and a lime strawberry margarita ($5) at Foster’s, then relaxed in the hammock and read while mom and Elena napped. The backs of my legs started to feel irritated and when I looked at them I discovered a sunburn :(

Back on the beach I bought 3 imperial beers for $5 from a man with a cooler who called me pumpkin. His deal was 2 for $5, but I promised to be a repeat customer if he gave me 3 for $5 and he did.  The people here are all very sweet and friendly.

Back to the hammock with my beer and book while mom and Elena snorkeled again. I wanted to go with them but no can do with a sunburn :/

When they returned from their second snorkel trip we went to Las Rocas Resort’s restaurant for dinner where they give you one free teeny tiny cheese pizza slice from 4-5 everyday, plus 2 for 1 cocktails! 2 cocktails and a tiny piece of pizza is plenty of dinner for me, so it was a good deal.

West Bay Sunset Roatan

Tomorrow we’re going to check out the town of West End, and on Friday Elena and I are going scuba diving!

Marvelous Manzanillo

Posted in Costa Rica on February 1st, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

On Thursday, January 28th, we had a delish brunch at Bread and Chocolate (I got an everything bagel with spicy chipotle cream cheese… it’s spicy!… for 1,000 colones) before hopping on the 11:45am public bus to tiny Manzanillo. The ride took about 40 minutes and cost 490 colones. It stops a lot; this is how locals get to the grocery store if they don’t have a car.

Manzanillo is a dinky 2 block town that is quiet and empty on the weekdays, and suddenly turns into a bbq beach party for locals from all over on the weekends. Manzanillo has about 200 residents and the town is centered around Maxi’s bar/restaurant near the fantastic white sand beach. There’s a school, a few sodas, 2 grocery stores, and a handful of places to stay in the town.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

We stayed at Cabinas Faya Lobi where we had a double room with a hot water shower, mosquito net, communal kitchen and free bottled water for $25 a night. There is no internet in the town, only one computer with a dial-up connection that seems to be perpetually down at a Cafe Ooh-La-La.

The afternoon was spent swimming in the ocean and walking south down the beach into the forest on a trail where we immediately saw 2 howler monkeys!

Howler Monkey - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Not far down the trail you can find Punta Manzanillo which provides a fantastic view.

Punta Manzanillo, Costa Rica

After refueling at our hotel we  headed to Maxi’s restaurant for dinner. I got the vegetarian caribbean plate of onions and peppers in a tasty sauce with cabbage salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains for 2,400 colones. It was way too much food for me. Ryan got a chicken with rice dish with salad and fried plantains for 3,250 colones. The 10% tip and 13% tax are not included in the prices. It was ok but we didn’t think it was worth the price when we can just use the kitchen at Faya Lobi.

Street - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On the way back we stopped at the grocery store to buy beer and a bar of soap (460 colones). The evening was passed drinking beer and playing chess. We met two other travelers from Portland who are on the first leg of what will be a 7 month trip. There was a rock ice limon beer left in the fridge so we tried and it was nasty! It tasted like a glass of salt water with lemon, or a tequila shot gone horribly wrong. Awful.

Sunset - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

On Friday, January 29th, we hiked through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve. Here’s a post just on this mini-adventure: Hike through Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve

We were sort of worn out from our hike in the Reserve, so most of Saturday, January 30th, was spent hanging out on the beach. It’s much more crowded on the weekends because a lot of locals drive here to picnic, bbq, and enjoy the beach. For dinner we made guacamole and I chopped up a huge carrot to eat it with instead of chips. Not peeling or cooking the carrot turned out to be a mistake; it made me sick for days.

Playa Manzanillo, Costa Rica

By Sunday, January 31st, Ryan’s toe that was bit by the ant had swelled up like a sausage (see the post about our hike in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve). He also discovered 4 massive mystery bug bites on his arm. I’ve never seen bug bites so big, they were like 50 cent pieces! Ryan was buying himself these mini ice cream sandwiches every night from the same store. The first night they cost 200 colones. Then they cost 300 colones. Then 350! That’s a 75% price increase in 4 days. That’s what happens when you shop at local stores; the prices are never marked so items end up costing whatever the clerk feels like charging you.

Sunday was our last day in Manzanillo. It was a good last day because we got to see 2 toucans from our hotel, as well as some kind of firefly-like bug at night!

Toucan - Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Five lazy days in Puerto Viejo

Posted in Costa Rica on January 26th, 2010 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

We’ve been laying really low the last 5 days because Ryan has been really sick (probably from eating questionable chicken) so from January 22nd to the 26th we spent our mornings in the hostel and our afternoons relaxing and people watching on the beach.

Beach crowd - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Locals arguing - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Ryan was relegated to a diet of powerade, ramen, and pizza, but I continued to be adventurous and try various foods including rice and vegetables with fried plantains and salad for 2,500 colones from Sunrise Backpackers (tasty, large plate of food), a veggie burger from Veronica’s for 2,500 colones (it was just ok), cheese pizza from Pizza Boruca for 850 colones (good and cheap) and pb&j with salad for 2,200 colones from Bread and Chocolate (very good).

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The dog that lives at Hostel Pagalú, we think his name is teddy, has a funny habit of walking around and around this tiny palm tree in the yard very very slowly. He’s a sweet dog, we think he is a rescued stray. There are a ton of stray dogs here and they’re much friendlier than the strays in Indonesia.

I’ve noticed that families start early in this part of the world. We’ve seen tons of pregnant young teenage girls and older teens with multiple children. There is also constant PDA no matter where you look; a stark contrast to Indonesia where even holding hands in public is looked down upon. The people here seem very happy despite the poverty and terrible living conditions that affect many of the locals.

Locals - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Local girls - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

One night, after eating dinner at Ali Baba, we were approached by a hippie looking old white dude. He told us he was a comedian magician and he entertained us with jokes and card tricks for about 15 minutes. He had us laughing a lot, so we gave him a donation of 500 colones. My favorite joke was “How many deadheads does it take to change a lightbulb?” “None, they just let it burn out then follow it around for 20 years.”

There are wild horses that roam the beaches here. The stray dogs like to herd them.

Wild horse - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Sunday, January 24th we saw eels, crabs and an octopus under some coral at the beach when the tide was really low. While there we played fetch with 2 stray black lab sisters who insisted on fetching the stick as a team.

Stray dogs - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, January 26th Ryan started to feel better so we rented bikes again and rode to Playa Cocles. We watched the surfers and collected shells.

Surfers - Playa Cocles, Costa Rica

I bought a coconut from an old guy with a machete for 430 colones. It was yummy.

Drinking from a coconut - Playa Cocles, Costa Rica

We rode on to Playa Chiquita and I bought a watermelon from some guys in a truck for 1,000 colones. We parked our bikes and walked south along the beach. We saw the same fishing yellow lab again and we collected a lot more shells.

Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. We’re going to the Jaguar Rescue Center where we will see sloths, monkeys and snakes!

Sunset - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Sun, Sand, Sloths, and Sandwiches in Puerto Viejo

Posted in Costa Rica on January 22nd, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

The hot water in our place at Coco Loco Lodge didn’t work and the wifi didn’t reach our room so we decided to move. After looking at a few places we decided on Hostel Pagalú which we moved to on Wednesday, January 20th. We LOVE this new place! for $28 a night we have a clean and nice room with a double bed, ceiling fan, bathroom with an amazing hot water shower, lovely common area, free wifi, and a common kitchen. This is the nicest hostel I’ve seen; I highly recommend Hostel Pagalú.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Kids - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, January 19th we spent the day taking a long walk south down the white sand Playa Cocles  and through a forest path along the ocean. We sat and watched surfers for a while; one surfer was doing handstands on his board. We also saw three sloths: one in palm tree, one in a more sloth-friendly tree, and one dead sloth on the ground, with it’s back leg still clutching a branch :(

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Island - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When we returned we went to dinner at Soda Flip Flop where Ryan got a hamburger for 1,200 colones and I got nachos for 1,500 colones. Then we went to the Mega Super grocery store to buy bread, jam, a mango, and beer before turning in for the night.

Forest - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

On the morning of Wednesdsay, January 20th we moved to Hostel Pagalu. After that we went to lunch at a place called Bread and Chocolate which we heard was fantastic. It is. I had a delicious veggie sandwich with a huge salad for 2,500 colones, and Ryan had a blt with fruit for 2,500 colones. We split a mint chocolate brownie for 1,000 colones and it was probably the best brownie I have ever eaten. The chocolate is so good because it’s made locally.

Bread and Chocolate Veggie Sandwich - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We spent the afternoon hanging out on Playa Negra the black sand beach  just chillin and swimming. I found a stick and played coconut baseball for a while,  and a super cute stray bud dog hung out with us for a bit.

Stray dog - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We went to dinner at Soda Flip Flop again where I got a spicy fish taco for 1,450 colones and Ryan ordered spaghetti boloñesa for 2,600 colones.

Then we headed to bed. Tomorrow we are going to rent bikes and ride further south to Punta Uva, supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Sunset - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Posted in Costa Rica on January 18th, 2010 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Ryan and I made a last minute decision to take off to Costa Rica for 18 days. So far I think we made the right choice :)

Beach - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica on Sunday January 17th at 7:30pm. After some searching, we found the driver of the shuttle that we had arranged to take us to our hotel, the Costa Rica Guesthouse, for $22. We only spent one night. The single room with a king bed and private bathroom cost us $45. The rooms were clean and nice, but we were very itchy in the bed. The shared bathrooms looked nice and clean and if I were to stay here again I’d save money and go with a single room with a shared bathroom.

We were supposed to get up early on the morning of Monday, January 18th to catch our 6am bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I set our alarm to wake us up at 4am, but then we slept in until 5:10am. Oops. I rushed around throwing our things back in our packs while Ryan went to the front desk and managed to convey to the clerk in his very limited Spanish (far better than my non-existent Spanish) that we needed a taxi. The taxi arrived at 5:30am. The driver had a fast and crazy driving style and we flew to the bus station in about 10 minutes. I had a huge shit-eating grin on my face the whole time because I love an adventure! After paying the $3 cab fare, we bought two tickets to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for 4,290 colones each.

Out the window of the bus we could see some stunning lush scenery, including vast cloud forests with waterfalls and rivers. This is truely a gorgeous country. The bus ride took 4 hours and we managed to sleep for a bit of it. The buses don’t have bathrooms but we did take a 15 minute break in Limon about halfway through the ride. The public buses look pretty similar to Greyhound buses inside and out, but without a bathroom in the back.

At 10:10am we arrived in Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast. The weather here is sunny and fairly hot, but definitely bearble. Our accommodations here are at the Coco Loco Lodge where we have a clean one bedroom bungalow with a full kitchen, double bed, bathroom, and porch with a hammock (yay!). The room is $55 a night which is more than we’d like to pay but since this is high season most places are booked up so we have to take what we can get.

While waiting for our room to be cleaned we took a stroll around the village. The highlight of this walk was the momma sloth and baby sloth we saw chilling in a tree right outside the place we got lunch! I was so excited; sloths are my favorite animals. Our lunch was excellent too: falafel sandwiches for 2,000 colones each.

Sloth - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

After our walk we went back to our room and got ready to go to the black sand beach. The ocean is too rough to snorkel but we had a blast alternating laying in the hot sun and playing in the waves to cool off. Unfortunatly, laying in the sun was so comfy we both fell asleep and got a little sunburnt. Oops.

Beach sign - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

When the sun started to set we headed back to our room to clean up and then went to dinner. Ryan got a slice of pizza from Pizza Boruca for 875 colones, then we went to Soda Flip Flop where I got a grande red bean taco for 1,500 colones and we split a plate of chips with some delicious guacamole for 1,500 colones.

We hit up the Super Mart gorcery store on the way home to buy juice, a mango, beer, and water. Everything except fruit products are more expensive here than they are at home. You’re not supposed to drink the water in Puerto Viejo (which I found out after already drinking some earlier in the day, oops AGAIN, hopefully I don’t get sick), though the water in San Jose is safe to drink. But, of course, beer is always a good choice. Travelers should note that there is some forced recycling in place here: you can’t buy bottled beer without bringing in an empty bottle to exchange for it, so if you don’t have a bottle either pay the steeper price, or go find one!