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for everything, Victor, Janeth, Bianca, Shelsie, Mallory and Angelina...you
guys are the absolute best!
of absolute best...the Houston airport is NOT! What a crazy day
going through Customs then being sent here-and-there by the Continental
customer "service" reps! Instead of standing in our 3rd
Continental line for over an hour, we moved to the First Class Passengers
line. When we got to the front of the line, the rep didn't even
bat an eye...checking in our luggage without any problem! And, we
were ready to pay for the First Class upgrade...just so we wouldn't
have to stand in another line!! What an experience (but, we are
prepared for November!) Pretty sad when the signage and information
is better in Honduras, than in Houston!
it home an hour and a half late, due to rain in Houston! The puppies
were ecstatic to see us...and mom loved hearing all of our tales
a great trip! We can't wait to do it again...although Victor promised
"NO More Work Next Time" -- he did mention putting in
a new roof, and said he'd be sure that Melayne and Rob did all the
work on that!
a LONG day (seems to be there are lots of those!) We were lazy-lazy
around the beach again this morning! Then, off to Victor's for our
final full day in Roatan.
lunch, we had our Barracuda -- whacked into steaks -- and it was
quite tasty! We also had boiled bananas, fried bananas and cassava
root. Of course, plenty of delicious beans and rice, too! Janeth
is such a wonderful cook -- we keep telling her she needs to open
a restaurant for the cruisers!
the crazy day really begins! All week long we had suggested to Victor
that he sell roasted cashews fresh from the cashew trees dotting
his acerage. He would always laugh it off and say, "We'll roast
some of those before you leave". Well -- We Did! What a long,
drawn out, messy proceedure ... now I really understand why cashews
are so expensive!!! After harvesting the nuts (from the bottom of
a quite-tasty fruit), you put them in a big washtub above a nice
fire. The tub is pierced to let the nut's oil drip through -- and
boy does it get the fire a roarin'! Stirring constantly, the cashews
will turn an oily black and finally catch fire. After burning for
a few minutes, the nuts are dumped onto the ground, the fire is
extinguished...and it's time to actually get to the cashews! After
gently tapping the oily black shell, you try to get the cashew meat
out in one piece -- this almost NEVER happened for us! But, our
hands turned a nice oily black...
picked the cashews for about 2 hours...and Victor finally "got
us good". He said, "Are you finished?" Of course
we had definitely had more than enough! He joked, "Now you
see why I'm not going to sell these cashews to the cruise ship passengers!"
After our harvest, we had barely covered the bottom of a cooking
pot -- Victor told us, "Don't worry, I bought a bag in Coxen
Hole for you. Those guys really know how to roast the cashews!"
He's a mess -- why hadn't he told us this two hours before??? The
experience, though, is one that I will never forget...and like all
of the experiences that Victor has shared with us, I thank him!
scrubbing and scrubbing our black hands, we headed to West End to
buy a few more shirts and things. Victor bought some beautiful hand
carved wooden salad bowls for both Mom and Melayne for all of the
things they sent down to Roatan. They were gorgeous! Like everywhere
else on the island, everybody knew Victor...so it was fun being
with a celebrity (especially when he referred to us as his two bosses
we returned home, we found the family in a tizzy! The howler monkeys
had escaped! They have been known to bite when feeling threatened,
so their recapture would be a challenge. Pancho, the male, was particularly
bad! They went all around the trees, and we could figure out where
they were by where the dogs were barking the most, or the kids were
screaming! It's a good thing only relatives live around Victor,
as they were all eager to pitch in for the search. Unfortunately,
the monkeys didn't cooperate.
female, Lolita, would swing onto the porch and send the kids and
Janeth screaming into the house...we just enjoyed the show! Victor
would try to put on her collar (the monkey, that is) and she would
slip her hand between the collar and her neck...brushing it aside!
This routine happened about 25 times...and we laughed and laughed.
We took a break and headed for our last Roatan meal...PIZZA made
in a mud stove. It was delicious...and cheap! We had 5 large pizzas
for about $7 each! When we got home with the pizzas, the front door
was locked tight and Lolita grabbed us by the neck trying to get
the pizzas. We had a well-orchestrated pass the pizza boxes routine...trying
to get them past Lolita without her rushing into the new house!
finally got Lolita captured using a pizza crust...We ALL loved the
pizza, I guess! We said our goodbyes before heading off...and no
tears were shed, as we will be returning to Roatan in November!
hung around the hotel much of the morning -- walking the beach,
laying in the sun, swimming in the pool and calm ocean.
try to add more later, but we got in late...and have early plans,
but we were "honored" by the Bodden Tours drivers tonight
at the company BBQ. Victor had all of his drivers over for delicious
chicken, steaks, refried beans, tortillas...etc! YUM! I did find
out the secret recipe for the chicken...naturally, I'll have to
find one of the "secret ingredients": Banana Soda! Which,
as my sister knows, is quite tasty!!! Janeth mixed it with ketchup
and used it as a barbecue sauce...YUM!
got called up to the patio deck, in front of the guys, and were
thanked by Victor and Theris. Then several of the drivers spoke
up and said they were honored to meet Victor's bosses! They were
so thankful for us starting Bodden Tours and were happy to have
us as part of their family. We were truly honored...wow, we have
impacted more than one man's life -- this practicing "Random
Acts of Kindness" stuff must really work! I will never forget
for now...roasting cashews from Victor's trees tomorrow...and who
knows what else?!
Roatan had a cruiseship scheduled...so we were on our own for the
morning. We spent the morning swimming in the pool, walking the
beach and eating!
had several fishing tours scheduled, so when he had the boat up
next to the beach, we'd go visit. He said the winds had made even
the smooth part of the Island's water rough today! Fishing was not
so good, but the folks he was taking out were having fun. We ordered
cheeseburgers for lunch at the Mayan...and took one out to Enry.
He seemed pretty happy to get a hot lunch!
was scheduled to pick-us up after the cruiseship left port, but
he had errands to do...sending Theris instead. Before she arrived,
we had our first power outage (hence, no photos were posted!) at
about 2:30. Theris entertained us en route to Victor's house with
stories of thier 50+ people on the tours (a relatively slow day
from a small ship). When we arrived there were more cars than usual,
and a few "new" faces in the yard. After being greeted
by everyone, we visited with Theris and Victor on the patio...getting
the lowdown on the days tourists and craziness at the dock. Both
had showed up late, expecting the other to show up in time to get
things going when the ship arrived!
noticed the crowd in the yard thinning out, the kids had all gone
inside... what was going on?? Steve walked into the house and was
treated to the birthday song in English...then a raucous rendition
in Spanish! He was truly surprised! When it was time to blow out
the candles, he did very well! Then, as a Honduran tradition, it
was time for him to bite his cake! Of course it got all over his
nose, moustache, goatee...the kids and adults really loved his icing-covered
face! We had lots of great food and the kids had lots of fun playing
games we'd never seen. Each seemed to have a story or song that
went along with it... They played the Mother Hen and the Hawk...and
the Cat and the Rat, among others. Very cute and fun.
a fun day talking with all of the family and friends, we headed
home. To a completely dark Mayan Princess (and West Bay) -- a power
pole had blown down earlier in the day and the Honduran Power folks
were working feverishly to get things back up and running. Of course,
the neighboring resort, the Henry Morgan, had their two generators
running...so we walked down for a Salva Vida. We walked back enjoying
the millions of stars above West Bay! Steve had a great birthday,
and we finally got power back at 12:30 -- about a 10 hour outage.
up at 5:30 for a 6:15 beach call was rough! We both managed to get
up and going...somehow!
beach was quiet...joggers running along (Lord, do they EVER take
a break from exercise?), guys raking the beach in front of the resort
(to kill the sandflea eggs, we were later told). But, the quiet
was broken by a fishing boat heading straight toward the beach --
with Victor on board!
of Victor's drivers, Henry, owns the boat...and gives fishing tours
to the cruiseboat folks and tourists. He's Theris' husband...and
a total opposite...quiet! We went all up and down the north shore
trolling our lines...ended up with 4 Baracuda (man, those TEETH...glad
I didn't see one while snorkeling!) and two Tuna (one was an Albacore
tuna...of course, the one Matt caught was used as bait!) Steve even
forgot to take a photo of the Cuda that I caught -- no respect!
getting ready now (about 5PM) to catch a water taxi over to the
West End (from our area, West Bay) where we'll check out a few shops
and snap some more photos. Then, at 7:30, we're meeting Victor and
the whole gang, plus Theris, Henry and their family. Coconut Shrimp
and Lobster...LOOK OUT, here we come!!
today was another long day...full of fun! First we headed to the
other side of the Island (the Eastern end) to see the huge developments
going in. There were multi-million dollar estates and condos being
built right-and-left. Quite a developing place, this Roatan!
had arranged a mangrove tour, along a path through the mangroves
once used by pirates to move along the shore without having to go
through the rough, reef-caused surf. It was a real experience --
I would have never imagined a passageway like this! I felt like
I was in the middle of a "Survivor" episode.
a short lunch in French Harbor at Gio's (YUM!), we really started
a "Survivor" experience. The Jungle Canopy Tour Ziplines
-- 22 wooden platforms high atop the Roatan jungle ... linked only
by a strand of cable. The way from one to another... Zipping via
a harness attached to your hips, which was attached to the cable
by clips. Eventhough you're 60 feet off the ground, hanging by a
cable, you have to take a deep breath...and JUMP! Off you zip to
the next platform...pick up your feet at the end, or you'll splat
like a bug on a windshield! It was great! One "Matthew Moment"...
I was always the last to zip (why...I don't know!), the guide went
down first to help "catch us", then Steve and Victor...then
me! Well, on one of the high platforms, I jumped...went about 4
feet down the cable...and stopped. Dangling high above the jungle
floor, I looked back and saw that my harness had snagged onto a
hook -- somehow -- somewhere! I had to drag myself up the cable
by my hands and get unhooked. My harness was frayed and no longer
tight. But, the guide (in his most laid back Roatan accent and attitude)
said, "No worries, mon...jes jump!" So I did... with my
harness flapping behind (literally) me! From then on, they wouldn't
let me go last....I don't know why not!
say, as a side note, that zipping is a work out. Cardio (heart attack,
more like it) and lots of physical stress (the throwing of the body,
hanging, twisting, turning, etc,) Steve, Victor and I were covered
in sweat after the 40 minutes of zipping along!
stopped by the Iguana Farm -- as un-nerving as the Ziplines, but
in a much different way. These dinosaur "wanna-be's" were
huge and there were hundreds...all in the way. They would look at
you as if you were a tasty treat, then notice the heavy persperation
from the zip lines...and decide they would rather stay on a salt-free
diet, heading the other way...s..l....o......w.......l.......y.
Kinda cool, actually, but I didn't even think about touching one
of those li'l darlings!
some Tarpon, lobsters and barracuda in the clear Caribbean waters
from the Iguana Farm's pier. It was windy, but I hope the pictures
still show the fish?!
(yes, worn out again!), we headed back to Victor's for Janeth's
"Honduran Bolettas". Refried beans, scrambled eggs, a
hard Honduran cheese (very flavorful!) and hand-churned butter --
served on a flour tortilla fresh from the stove top. Everyone that
was at the house (Bro and Sis-in-Laws, Cousins, the girls, etc.)
had 2 or 3 each. Steve and I each had 5 (and would've had more,
if it hadn't been time to head back to the Mayan Princess).
stopped on the way back to the hotel in one of Sandy Bay's colonias
to talk with his manager, Theris, about the upcoming cruiseship
day. They think it will be a light one, but Victor hasn't checked
his email in a few days, so Theris really let him have it. She's
a hilarious, tough woman...and real Roatan Ann Richards!
Tuesday is another mystery day... but, we've been told to be out
on the beach at 6:15 in the morning. I hope this isn't another cruel
"Survivor"-type experience that he has lined up... Hasta
Are We Exhausted! This morning...we headed over to the Bodden's
after a quick "free" breakfast at the resort. Of course,
breakfast was prepared for us... fried plantains, eggs, beans and
homemade tortillas! YUM! Amazing... Delicious... Unbelievable...
I am definitely going to try to make the plantains at home -- they
were incredible. But Janeth's homemade corn tortillas are literally
the absolute best thing on Earth!
quick side-note...we got lost on the ONE paved road in Roatan and
drove all the way past the cruise ship docks (being built by Royal
Caribbean), through Coxen Hole (the craziest one-way, then two-way,
then one-way traffic I've ever seen...even Times Square can't compare!),
almost to the airport -- then finally to a familar road (or so I
lied to get Steve to turn!). Come to find out, it was the road to
the other half of the island...which, thankfully, took us back by
along the line, we figured the good meal was only in preparation
of a long day preparing for "The Move"! First, we hung
the curtains (tears from Janeth...she loved them!) while the electicians
switched the wire that was already going to all plugs and switches
to the wire that we transported from the states. That took forever,
as one might imagine! In the mean time, we plumbed water to the
house -- hooked up the drains to the septic system and "grey
water" drainage! Boy, did my time at Mom & Dad's in Wimberley
really help out! All the PVC pipes reminded me of the ones at the
around 3 or so... it was time for more food! The best fried chicken
-- it reminded me of when Mimi and Daddy Jack would cook it for
us as kids -- small chicken pieces fried to perfection! Again, the
best "sweet" refried beans, rice and more of those delicious
tortillas. Steve and I each had two full, overflowing plates...
thinking our work day was done! I could live easily on Roatan...the
staples seem to be rice, beans, chicken and tortillas -- if it all
tastes like Janeth's, I'd move here in a minute!
did we know...this meal just prepped us for "The Move".
It felt like every relative Victor has on the island showed up to
help...moving EVERYTHING from the old house to the new one! Stove,
Fridge, Couches, Tables, Beds, Shoes, Clothes...you get the picture.
This, mind you, is in Roatan's 90% humidity at probably 90-degrees...
Steve and I, coming from our 72-degree A/C-overloaded home and office,
just could have died! Janeth finally told me in "Spanglish"..."I
am so shamed that you have to help me move, but I really am glad
that you are here to make my house into a home" Well, that
just about did it for me! I would've moved anything for her ...
night fell, and the move was "mostly" done, we basically
begged Victor to show us the way home! He drove his car in front...and
led us to our hotel turn off. Thanked us over and over and said,
"After today, I am yours for the rest of the week" No
telling what he has planned, but we did promise to allow him one
more day of work...for HIM! He had a tour group of 18 on Wednesday,
plus about 18 other drivers working for the only cruise ship of
the week's arrival. (Please, don't try to diagram that last sentence...I'm
TIRED and it made complete sense to me!) So, no telling what is
planned for tomorrow (we've been told to be at his house by 9!)
or Tuesday...but we have a snorkeling beach day to ourselves scheduled
while he works on Wednesday! Off to take my nightly anti-malaria
pill (one of the "joys" of traveling for an extended stay
in Roatan) and hit-the-hay!
Victor doesn't drink...but wanted to go eat again on the way home!
Lord, do these folks ever quit? After we turned him down...he said,
"I'll take you for a Salva Vida or drinks" But, we were
even too tired for that! However, after a refreshing swim at the
hotel pool (see photos), Steve did have a Monkey La-La -- a drink
made of Kahlua, Vodka, Bailey's Irish Cream, Coconut Milk, Heavy
Cream and Sweetened Condensed Milk...sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
I was quite content with a "Port Royale" the top-of-the-line
Salva Vida product (and, only $1.73 vs. Steve's $5.00 extravaganza!)
so Anxious to start our trip... But, nervous, too, for several
We're taking 4 bags, each stuffed to the 50-pound
limit to be checked by two different airlines. Bags are stuffed
with curtains, curtain rods, electrical wiring, switches, plugs,
Spurs gear, etc. for Victor, his family and their home that's
under contsruction. Oh, and a couple of items for us, too!
Are the bags really all under 50 pounds...or, will we be doing
the curbside-shuffle trying to get them all under the "magic"
number? Or, will Steve just decide to pay any surcharges...and
TSA Agents -- what will they see when they run our luggage full
of wiring and electrical "stuff" through their X-rays?
Did I mention 2 Airlines? First, we fly to Bush International
in Houston on Continental...then on Taca Airlines from there to
Weather! Lord, if it rains any more in Texas...we may just have
to take a canoe to the airport... If we get delayed getting into
Houston, we'll still have to claim our "tonnage" --
haul them to another IAH terminal, re-check them (are they still
UNDER 50 pounds?), then clear security AGAIN!
Immigration/Customs in Roatan -- what will they say about the
wire and "stuff" coming into their country?
those things above are put to rest...and,I'm sure they will be...we'll
be heading somewhere... Either straight to Victor's to unload 3
of the 4 pieces of tonnage, or to the Mayan Princess...and a nice
Salva Vida in time for sunset. (You gotta' love a beer who's name
literally means "Life Saver"!) One way or another, we'll
"check" the internet access -- if it works, there will
be more here throughout the week. If it doesn't work, then just
use your imagination...we'll update it when we get back!
Luggage PASSED! We had a 47 pounder, a 48.5 pounder, a 49 pounder
and a 51 pounder! The Continental skycap let us "pass"
on the 1 pound over-weight! At Taca, they weighed 2 bags at a time
so we paired the fatty one with the skinny one! Now, we'll never
have to worry about luggage again!!! Well, I guess we'll have to
declare everything at the Customs/Immigration check-point in Honduras
-- now won't that be fun!?! About 15 women's dresses, 20 men's ties,
10 pairs of shoes, Electrical wiring, plugs, light switches and
a laptop! Guess which item gets priority?! More, once we get to
Roatan, when we're settled!
was just passed the computer while Matt takes a short break. I was
told to write something about the trip so far. So here it is, everything
proceeding quite smoothly. Once I arrive in Roatan, please note,
I will be on vacation and will not be writing anymore. So hold all
calls, keep note of thoughts and messages and I'll see you in a
week. Thank You!!! Love, Steve
WE'RE HERE...and loving every minute of it. First the flight from
Houston to Roatan on Taca... What a fun airline! This was SO much
fun! Taca is almost up there with Southwest (is that a compliment?
I meant it as such!!) I think, if we knew Spanish...instead of dabbling
in Tex-Mex...they'd surpass Southwest! Everytime the Captain would
come on...over the PA...he would speak Spanish, naturally, rolling
his "RRrrrrr's" for about 5 seconds per word. The Spanish-speaking
passengers would teee-heee and giggle...as would I (of course, only
I...MATT...was awake in-flight!!). No telling what he was saying,
but I felt as if I was in the middle of a "Sabado Gigante"
commercial...and those of you who like to sneek-a-peek at Telemundo
know what I mean! Too Funny...not to mention Chips and Salsa (see
photos) instead of peanuts... Hello?! Sign me up...I'll be back!!!
following information about TACA is in code...for our NYC friends
only: Instead of offering you drinks made with "bottled water"...the
flight attendants came down the aisle with full-sized "bottles
of water" asking what you'd like. When you ordered, for example,
a "bottled water" and spicy-tomato mixture, the flight
attendant would start pouring "bottled water" and say...."TELL
ME WHEN!?" All I have to say, again -- this is encoded for
NYC friends only -- "Thankth goodnerthsss theat girrrrRRlllee
in the cuteRESsss uniformmeiree only came by ONtcetth durringgg
the Fl;.ightssth" For all others, please do NOT attempt to
break the high-security code!
Mallory and Shelsie were waiting for us when we arrived (photos,
again, please)! It was like we had never left -- the locals in the
baggage claim area kept asking, "Oh, are you Victor's two brothers?",
"You're the ones meeting Mr. Bodden?", etc. We were so
excited to see him...and the two girls... Lord, how they've grown!
headed to his house for a GREAT dinner prepared by Janeth. Victor
said she had been nervous all week about what to cook -- concerned
whether we'd like it or not. He kept reassuring her, "If I'll
eat it, they'll eat it!" That's one of the things we love about
Victor...he's just-about-right 90% of the time! She had prepared
a WONDERFUL Roatan meal: spicy seasoned chicken, rice and veggies
(steamed carrots and squash). She also made (for the first time
EVER) mashed potatoes...which were BETTER than mine (as my Texas
family knows...that's saying something!)!! It was all so delicious...we
ate and ate...and Janeth beamed knowing she'd "done right!"
toured the new house that Victor has been building. Tile baseboards,
varnished hard-wood floors, beautiful solid wood doors throughout,
handmade kitchen cabinets, etc. As we stood on the back porch with
him, Janeth came out and said, "This is the house I've always
dreamed of." That really hit home...suddenly the "Trans-Americas"
trip with the heavy wire-laden luggage felt right. She was so proud
of the home Victor had built...and I told him I wanted it instead!
It is SO beautiful...pictures to come tomorrow, as we didn't have
any daylight left! We're going to help them "move in"
tomorrow...or, maybe just install the new curtains...?
were getting a bit tired (Since they don't observe Daylight Savings
Time...we LOST a whole hour...or did we gain?...I give up...we were
just tired!) So we unloaded the Bodden bags... the previously mentioned
curtains, 2 dresses for each of the girls, shoes, a new digital
camera, "old" cell phones, LOTS of wire from Victor's
friends in Cleveland (sorry, again about beating you in the NBA
Finals), snorkel vests, Spurs Championship gear (sorry, again, Cleveland
folks!), just lots of stuff. They loved each thing...you just don't
know how much they loved each thing...said it was like "Christmas"...and
the feeling of being with family truly was...
they took us, before we tried to nap with the monkeys...bellies
full of home cooking', to our hotel. Way past dark, but still the
same beautiful place we remembered from Victor's tour three years
ago (man, their plants grew fast...just like the rest of Roatan...which
we'll go into LATER!) Victor gave us a mini-van for the week --
brand new -- just awesome. Steve assured Victor he knew how to get
back to their house for breakfast in the morning (there's only ONE
... or two... paved roads...and Victor's property is right on one
of them...even I'd have a good chance!!). So they got us checked
in for the night and headed home to Sandy Bay. We took a walk up
and down the dark beach...encountering a few crabs that challenged
us with their out-stretched claws...and finally found a Salva Vida
will be posted tomorrow...please enjoy the "meager" slideshow,
we were catching-up with Victor and family too much to take pictures.
Once we thought about it, it was way - past - dark! Maybe tomorrow's
entry will be more brief...and maybe not...just skip past this one
to get to the latest updates, and check for a new "Photo Album"