Location: Roatan, Honduras
The XVI Roatan International Fishing Tournament
After 6 weeks of living in the West End of Roatan, I’d become happily accustomed to its gentle pace of life. Lazy days and relaxed evenings bleed into alcohol-fueled nocturnal activities, but when it comes to noise, hubbub and all-night parties, Roatan sits happily in the shadow of her party animal sister, Utila. That is until the weekend of the fishing tournament.
I went to bed on Thursday night bidding a goodnight to the perfectly normal strip of road I live off. I woke Friday to see it transformed into an runway of noise. Food and drink stalls jostled for space, crammed into every available square foot on the strip, each touting their own attempt at “the best street food on the island”. Walking down the road, in just a few short metres your nose could be tempted with juicy sausage and chicken smoking over a barbecue, fresh seafood ceviche with a tang of citrus punching through an air thick with smells, fresh fish sizzling on a griddle pan, and delicious homemade stews sending out their rich, pungent scents with every ladle that was poured, bubbling hot, over steaming coconut rice.
But the smells had nothing on the noise. With each stall boasting its own sound system, the road became subject to a constant game of ‘speaker wars’, each soundtrack competing raucously to be crowned the loudest, with those that inspired the most people to break into spontaneous dutty whines considered the winners. With my ears assaulted by five or six songs at once, the music blurred into one throbbing regaton beat which I marched wildly along to for an entire weekend.
OK, OK, I know I’ve already mentioned how great the diving is here, but – as predicted – it’s just not something that I’m getting sick of. Highlights this month include a couple of sea horses, some pretty funky nudibranches, a turtle swimming leisurely past during a night dive, and a few more absolutely top notch little peas. Oh, and there was the small matter of seeing two sharks in the space of a week; a mind-blowing experience.
You know the ones, we all have them, the kind where everything goes wrong. After nearly a month of blissful perfection, I started mulling over what I’d write in this post. I genuinely felt that there was just nothing bad enough to report. Clearly I tempted fate.
A few days later, my laptop died. Without warning, it simply gave up the ghost, taking away the only means I have of writing and posting online, of uploading and editing my photos. This would be frustrating at the best of times, but when you’re stranded on an island where the only ‘Apple Store’ is the place where you buy your fruit and veg, the problem quickly escalates. After opening it up myself to take a look (looked like a laptop to me) and trying in vain to find a local technical genius, it became clear that I had no hope of either fixing it or buying a new one on Roatan, and so began a long and complicated process of ordering one from the US. Using a fellow diver’s card details as the US website wouldn’t accept a UK billing address, I’ve shipped a shiny new laptop to a man who I’ve never met. Strange though this feels, he’s generously offered to pack it in his luggage and bring it with him when he flies out to Roatan for vacation next week. As I write, I still have no idea if he has received the laptop and if it will make its way from an office in Tulsa into my eager arms. I do however know that I am $700 down. It’s a stressful state of affairs, I assure you.
RIP old faithful…
Licking my wounds from this unexpected expense, I slunk off home, vowing to eat nothing but baked beans and rice for the foreseeable future. Arriving home, I reached for my key and it wasn’t in my pocket. It also wasn’t in my purse or my bag. It had just disappeared. I hurriedly retraced my steps from throughout the day, peering under benches and storming through the dive shop like a whirlwind trying to unearth the missing key, but to no avail. Calling in on our landlady she was, of course, out and away for the weekend. Effectively homeless for the night, I was thankful that I at least had my purse so I could draw out money for a meal. Except the ATM rejected my card…
In moments like this, you can either have a little cry and a tantrum, or you can accept that there’s nothing you can do but embrace the alternatives. I won’t lie, I did try the first option out for size but quickly found that it didn’t do anyone any good. Instead, I swiftly chose to be grateful for what we did have – a brilliant support network who quickly stepped in. The owner of the dive shop loaned us some much needed cash, and our friends offered out the services of their spare room without a moment’s hesitation. Drinking rum on a borrowed dollar by the fire against one of the most beautiful sunsets the island had displayed so far, I reminded myself to be thankful that, in the face of mundane issues and irritation, there’s still fun and solace to be found in the kindness of others and nature’s stunning pick-me-ups.
All 4 seconds of it. Not the most earth-shattering experience, I’ll grant you, but my first nonetheless. Weighing in at 5.1 on the Richter Scale, it was enough to give the house a good shake and acted as a unique alarm clock that morning. Makes a change from the bloody roosters.
How quickly the end is approaching
It shouldn’t come as a shock seeing as the first 6 months of my travel plans have been cemented since January this year, but it’s taken me by surprise to realise that I only have three short weeks left on this lovely little island. Slowly but surely, Roatan has managed to secure a stronghold in my heart, and I know it’ll be hard to say goodbye to this Caribbean gem and the friends we’ve made whilst living here.