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Matthew & Steve return to Roatan!
June 30th through July 7th, 2007
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Why in the world did we choose Roatan? It chose us...we're coming back to visit our friend, Victor Bodden (www.boddentours.com). More info on him, and our friendship here.
 
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Where in the world is Roatan? Click Here for a map!
 
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We're stayed at the Mayan Princess Resort in West Bay, Roatan, Honduras, Central America, etc.
   
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bulletThanks for everything, Victor, Janeth, Bianca, Shelsie, Mallory and Angelina...you guys are the absolute best!

bulletSpeaking 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!

bulletMade 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 of Roatan!

bulletWhat 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!


bulletWhat 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.

bulletFor 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!

bulletNow 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...

bulletWe 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!

bulletAfter 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 from Texas!)

bulletWhen 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.

bulletThe 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!

bulletVictor 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! We're hooked!


bulletWe hung around the hotel much of the morning -- walking the beach, laying in the sun, swimming in the pool and calm ocean.

bulletI'll 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!

bulletWe 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 this night.

bulletOff for now...roasting cashews from Victor's trees tomorrow...and who knows what else?!


bulletToday, 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!

bulletEnry 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!

bulletVictor 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!

bulletWe 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.

bulletAfter 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.


bulletWaking up at 5:30 for a 6:15 beach call was rough! We both managed to get up and going...somehow!

bulletThe 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!

bulletOne 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!

bulletWe're 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!!


bulletWell, 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!

bulletVictor 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.

bulletAfter 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!

bulletMust 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!

bulletWe 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!

bulletSaw 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?!

bulletExhausted (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).

bulletVictor 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!

bulletWell, 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 manana!


bulletMan, 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!

bulletA 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 Victor's!

bulletSomewhere 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 Wimberley home!

bulletFinally, 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!

bulletAgain...little 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 ...

bulletAfter 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!

bulletP.S., 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!)


bulletWe're so Anxious to start our trip... But, nervous, too, for several reasons...

  • 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 fuggetabowdit?
  • 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 Roatan.
  • 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?

bulletAfterall 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!

bulletMore later...or not??!?!!

bulletThe 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!

bulletI 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

bulletWell, 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!!!

bulletThe 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!

bulletVictor, 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!

bulletWe 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!"

bulletWe 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...?

bulletWe 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...

bulletOff 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 (or two!).

bulletMore 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" each day!

       
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