THE KAERU KID: Honduras, still poor but with a wealth of natural beauty (Part 2)

 

A shot of ocean side homes on in Oak Ridge. photo by the Kaeru Kid

Note: This is the second of a two-part column. The first part was published in the Feb. 10-16, 2011 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

 

My next destination was Roatan. My scuba diving friends raved about diving there, with its location close to the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia. The 20-minute flight from La Ceiba costs $50, whereas the one-and-a-half-hour ferry ride was $21, so you know the one I chose was smooth sailing.

My couch surfer host had two young children and said I could rent the downstairs apartment for $10 per night instead of staying in for free with the kids running around. It had a refrigerator and stove, too. The offer was gladly accepted. The one downside was that most activities were on the western side of the island and required a $5 to $7.50 taxi fare to go back and forth. The west side of the island has two communities, West Bay and West End. West Bay is more upscale, whereas West End seems to be filled with many old hippies content to get stoned. The “sex trade” here seemed to be mostly white girls picking up native men.

If you do come to Roatan, you want to avoid being mistaken for a tourist. Ten tips for that may be found online at http://bit.ly/g14t2X.

I ran into a German couple that was staying at the Casa Cangrejal Bed & Breakfast when I was there. The husband asked if I wanted to try fishing in the lagoon. We tried it for a couple of hours for $100 the next morning and despite claims of many fish, we never even got a nibble while trolling lures. Prices on Roatan are much higher than on the mainland because things have to be brought here from the mainland and also because many cruise ships visit here with upscale clientele willing to pay higher prices.

I was warned about “no see-ums” (tiny biting flies) on the beach and advised to buy “cactus juice” as protection. I thought I made a great discovery to share with U.S. friends until I read the label saying it was made in Texas.

The living wall of Gliricidia or Cow Trees grows on the edge of properties. photo by the Kaeru Kid

My couch surfer host is a Canadian woman who married a Honduran, who then abandoned her and her two children. She offered to act as a tour guide on her day off if we could also take her two sons. I called several rental car companies without getting an answer. She told me the staff often do not pick up the phone, and sure enough when I went there, several employees were sitting around talking to each other. I was also advised not to get insurance because no one on the island did so and if there was an accident, good luck on trying to collect. Inspection of the car took more than half an hour because there were so many dents requiring photographing for proof of prior damage.

Our tour started by picking up picnic food at a fast food counter consisting of soda, pastelitos (which look like Cornish pasty turnovers but are flour tortillas filled with meat) and a baleada (a thick flour tortilla with a thin layer of refried beans and a sprinkling of cheese and sour cream).

We drove by her workplace that supplies marine products, arranges scuba and snorkel dives, and moorings for boats. There was a huge yacht with the name “Terrible.” I bet the owner was from Las Vegas and she confirmed my guess.

Living fences consisting of trees called Gliricidia, or Cow Tree, with pink wisteria-like flowers, made for interesting sights along the road. Branches are cut and placed in the ground to form a living fence. If the wood used is dead, termites will destroy it quickly. There are also other types of trees used here for living fences.

We ate our picnic goodies at Parrot Tree Plantation located toward the east end. The development must have been extremely costly because of the beautiful custom homes on an immense expanse of private property and gorgeous infrastructures including a saltwater lagoon.

Touristy shopping street down in town. photos by The Kaeru Kid

We drove through all the major settlements, such as Coxen Hole, where tourist ships dock and government offices are located. This was the most unattractive city on the island. French Harbor was the second largest city but again consists mostly of commercial enterprises and is not worth spending time visiting. After a  short drive through Oak Ridge, which has a mostly African American population, where ocean-side homes are supported on stilts, I wished I’d had more time to spend there. Punta Gorda, which is directly across the island from Oak Ridge, is said to still have a large Garifuna (a community descended from African slaves) population. Unfortunately, time did not permit exploring here either.

I doubt I’ll ever return, but who knows? If I do, these places will be on my list to definitely explore.

 

Las Vegas Tid Bits

Shuseki Japanese Restaurant, 5115 W. Spring Mountain Road, #117, LV is located right across the street from Raku. Their menu has many interesting items with accurate food photographs. All the dishes I tried were delicious, including grilled squid, tempura, yakitori, and jellyfish salad. A common complaint is about their slow service, mainly because they usually have only one person taking care of the whole place. The chef/owners are Yoshi and Jie Zhu. They are Chinese from Shanghai who lived for a long time in Tokyo (where they learned their culinary skills and fluent Japanese). After leaving Tokyo, they moved to San Francisco and finally settled in Las Vegas.

 

 

The Kaeru Kid lives in Las Vegas and hopes readers will send him comments at KaeruKid@yahoo.com.

 

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kyplex Cloud Security Seal - Click for Verification