Posted by: massologik | September 22, 2012

Excursion to Cayos Cochinos

Finally after months of wanting to do so, I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to go on an excursion to Cayos Cochinos (aka the Hog Islands) Marine Natural Monument which is a marine biological reserve.  It is a largely undeveloped archipelago of islands 19 km off the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  The Cayos were declared a marine reserve in 1994 and all marine and terrestrial flora and fauna within a 460-square-kilometer area is protected from fishing, development, or any other harmful activity. From any point of land in the islands, the reserve extends eight kilometres in all directions.  Largely overlooked by travelers to this region, the dive sites have some of the most pristine reefs in all of Honduras and the Caribbean.

My day started early as I had to be at the Barking Monkey @ Foster’s West End Bar and Grill at 7:30 am.  Ray Diaz is the brother of Lana Diaz a good friend of mine here in Roatan.  She asked Ray the previous night if I could come along on this trip to see what it was all about.  He graciously accepted to have me accompany them on the trip.  Ray owns Bay Islands Adventure and has two boats he operates for excursions.  The one were going on today, the Island Life is a 35 foot speed boat with 3 200 HP out board engines which really give this boat some serious speed.  It’s a very nicely equipped ship that can comfortably seat 12 people plus the crew.

  Island Life  3 x 200 HP = 600 HP!!!   

Shortly after I arrived two passengers staying at Barefoot Caye arrived.  Once we were all see and our gear stowed away we headed for Half-Moon Bay to get some snorkelling gear and some ice for the refreshments.  We then proceeded to the dock at the Infinity Bay Resort in West Bay to pick up the remainder of our passengers.  It turned out that my friend Leanne who works as a bartender and tour guide was coming on this trip with us.  Leanne has been living in Roatan for almost 4 years and is a very upbeat person to be around.  All together we were 10 passenger and 4 crew and little Anthony, Ray’s son.  The Boat ride was pretty straightforward and lasted about 45 minutes.

The large islands were a lot higher in altitude than I had expected and covered with lush green jungle.  We arrived at the Cayos and passed in between Cayo Grande and Cayo Menor and circled around to the other side of Cayo Menor where the Natural Marine Monument offices and laboratories are located.  Every visitor to this marine biological reserve must sign in and pay the visitor fee of $10 however most tour operators include the fee in their prices.  We spent about 20 minutes looking around the facilities (offices, bungalows, education classroom and laboratory) and then boarded the boat again.

               

Our next stop was Cayo Timón, a very small caye that has only two huts built on it.  The water was so clear and turquoise blue and the sand white and very fine.

   

We anchored the boat and we all got our snorkelling gear on and headed out to explore.  Ray had asked me to take those that wanted a guide around snorkelling.  Out of the group only Justin and Krista decided to follow me.  When I’m working at West Bay Divers I take snorkelling groups out all the time and have a habit of making it as informative as possible.  What I noticed right away is that the coral here is very healthy.  Some marine vegetation that is all but gone in Roatan is flourishing here.  As I sighted interesting fish I would show Justin and Krista so they could attempt to get pictures.  Some of the more interesting things we saw were Red Lipped Blenny’s, lots of Sea Anemones, Honeycomb Cowfish, Needlefish, Spanish Grunts (my first sighting of this fish), Juvenile White Spotted Filefish, loads of Princess Parrotfish, Caribbean Reef Squid, Dog Snapper, Elk Horn Coral and loads more.

      Juvenile White Spotted Filefish     

Once we were done snorkelling we boarded the boat again and headed for our lunch destination Cayo Chachahuate.

Chachahuate is a Garifuna village of 200 souls on a small Caye in the South end of the Archipelago.  Ray had called ahead and had them prepare our meal.  When you see Chachahuate it’s hard to believe that so many people live on this small sliver or real estate and have done so for many generations.  The Garifuna are very close knit communities, descendants of the Carib, Arawak and West African peoples and are very friendly.

   

Before we sat down for lunch we were allowed to wander around the entire island which takes about 5 minutes.  The main beach is lined with fishing boats and pirogues.  The houses are basic wooden shacks with Palm thatched roofs which are positioned side by side.  We were served a lovely meal of freshly grilled fish, rice and bean, fried plantain, fresh out of the oven coconut bread and cinnamon rolls.  We were even treated to a shot of Güfity which is a mixture of herbs soaked in rum which they claim has healing properties for all sort of ailments.  I enjoyed the taste of it but even I have to admit it’s an acquired taste.

        

   

After our meal the various craftsmen of the village came around with their wares to try to make a sale.  Most of what they offer is made of shells, coral (even the endangered Black Coral) and turtle shell.  For the Garifuna there is no conservation issue since they only take what they need to survive and for the small amount of tourists that come every year.

When we went onboard to head to our next destination we ran into a minor technical problem.  One of the hydraulic lines for the outboard engines had ruptured and without it there was no steering capability.  After trying to improvise a solution on site, Ray decided to go to the Marine Park offices to see if they had something to help cap off his lines.  To get there Ray would use two engines occasionally reversing one to correct course all the way back to Cayo Menor.  Once there they went about trying to do the repairs which took a little longer than expected.  Once we were all done and aboard again it was about 3 pm and Ray asked if we all still wanted to go to a second snorkelling spot.  We all responded in the affirmative and so we headed to Cayo Grande and Pelican Point.  We tied up at a dock where there used to be a medical clinic run by an NGO.  I don’t know what became of the operation and no one seemed to know.

       

This time we all headed out snorkelling on our own and I explored further out then anyone.  The corals here are magnificent and healthy as well.  There are beautiful formations and sandy bottoms that thought to myself would be well worth diving one day.  I did notice that Pelican Point is one of the recommended dive sites to do in Cayos Cochinos.  The fish were pretty similar as what I found in Cayo Timón but I did see a Porcupine fish, lots of Silversides and a very cute Juvenile French Angelfish.  Once we were done it was about 4 o’clock and time to head back to Roatan.

Since we were leaving a little later than we probably would have had we not had mechanical difficulties the trip home was a little bumpier.  As the day goes on the winds and currents always pick up in the gulf between the mainland and the Bay Islands.  Everyone except Leanne and I moved to the rear of the boat.  I would say that for those that get really seasick, some Dramamine is an absolute must have, especially for the trip back.  After an hour we were back in Roatan and dropped off most of the guests at Infinity Bay and then back to West End where it all started.  A truly memorable experience and one that I highly recommend to all visitors to Roatan!

Posted by: massologik | April 27, 2012

Submarine ride to 1000 feet !

Earlier this week I had arranged for Valérie and I to take a submarine ride with Captain Karl Stanley of the Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration.  Our submarine ride was at 5 am so I got up at 4 am and drove off to West Bay to pick up Valerie.  Originally we were supposed to go at 10 am however we ran into Karl on Wednesday night and he asked if we could come earlier since he had to go to Utila around the time we were supposed to have gone.  Since we couldn’t do the ride any other time we had no choice.  Once we arrived at Karl’s place and there was no one about so we made our way around back and down the suspended bridge that leads to the submarines hangar.  There was nobody there either so we waited a few minutes until we heard Karl calling us from the window of his house.  “I’ll be right there” he said and then leaped out of his place holding on to a zip line cable trolley and glided down to the hangar via a cable we hadn’t even noticed.  Having met him when I was first here in 2010, this is pure Karl, Peter Pan in Neverland!

 

Captain Karl Stanley is without a doubt a slightly eccentric though brilliant man.  He started designing his first submarine at age 9 and built it at age 15.  The remains of it he sunk as an artificial reel in the middle of Half-Moon Bay.  His current submarine is the Idabel, is the first submarine made from three different sized spheres in the world.  As with the first he also built her by hand and it’s named after the town in Oklahoma where it was built.  It is designed to go down to 3000 ft and to date its maximum depth reached is 2660 ft.  When I was here a few weeks ago getting information on the sub rides, he had explained that the total passenger capacity was 500lbs.  Contrairy to me, Valérie is very slender so this wouldn’t be an issue.  We had decided that we would take the trip down to 1000 ft which is about an hour or so long.  There are only 3 commercial submarines in the world that take civilians down to these depths and Karl’s is one of them.

Getting in the Idabel is an adventure in itself.  You have to climb in from the top and then enter the front sphere which contains the viewing port.  I wore some light pant and brought a solar fleece as it can get cold down as you get deeper and since the spheres are made of steel it makes it that much colder.  It’s a very tight fit in the front and being 6 ft tall I had to crouch a bit for most of the trip.  Karl actually drives the submarine in a standing position.  His sphere has viewing ports all around so he has 360 degree field of vision.  Once submerged, we headed out into the middle of Half-Moon Bay.  On our way we went over Karl’s first submarine, the C-BUG (Controlled by Buoyancy Underwater Glider).

   

The initial part of the trip the capsule was getting hot because of the heat and sun on the sub.  I had brought a few hand towels for just such a situation.  They came really in handy to wipe off the condensation from the viewing port.  As we started descending things started getting more comfortable and Karl turned on some fans for us.  Inside the passenger sphere there is a depth gauge that you can monitor as you go down.

   

As we descended past 300 feet we started to see the striations left in the rock face of the wall left by glaciers from the last ice age.  As we neared 500 feet all humanly visible light was gone.  At this point Karl switched on the Idabel’s bank of 11 powerful lights which turned night into day.  During the descent Karl is in constant communication with us and narrating the dive as we continued downward.  As we approached 1000 feet he stabilized the craft and brought us closer to the slope.  With a red laser beam he would point out different life forms that inhabit this largely barren landscape.  He showed us a Batfish, Sea Lillies, Glass Sponges, Basket Stars, an unclassified deep sea Grouper and Pom-Pom Anenomes amongst other.

               

After spending some time at 1000 feet we started heading for the surface.  On our way up we saw lionfish, squirrel fish and a very rare Bank Butterflyfish.  According to Karl, this single Butterflyfish could fetch thousands of dollars in the aquarium trade.  As we headed closer to 250 feet we started seeing a coral that I had never seen before since it only grows below recreational dive limits.  Called Orange Elephant Ear Sponge Coral (Agelas Clathrodes), its shape really does resemble an elephant’s ear.  Soon we were going up Half-Moon Bay wall that is so familiar to divers in Roatan and I knew that our trip was soon coming to an end.  As the winch pulled up the Idabel into its hangar and it was our turn to get out there is a sense of disappointment that its over and relief to be able to stand upright once again safe and sound on terra firma!  For me this was the adventure of a lifetime and one that I hope to experience again in the very near future.  If you have the money, want to go where very few people in the world have and don’t mind tight spaces, this is definitely a must if you’re in Roatan and well worth the price of admission!

www.stanleysubmarines.com

Posted by: massologik | April 13, 2012

Roatan Road Trip!

This Friday Lana, little Chloe and I went on a road trip up the Island.  I had mentioned to Lana that when I had been here back in 2010 I never really went past Turquoise Bay and then only once.  She told me that she hadn’t been on a road trip in a while so we decided to take the day and do just that.  I wanted to get an early start in the morning but we ended up leaving shortly after lunch.  We headed towards French Harbour since I wanted to show Lana Barefoot Caye where I had taken my IDC.  We stopped in for about 20 minutes, long enough for me to say hi to Luc, Giaco and the other staff.  Gary was already into his latest IDC course.  From there I suggested we go to Pristine Bay where my friend Scott had just been named the dive shop manager.  Pristine Bay is where the only golf course on the island is located.  It is a full 18 hole PGA quality coursed designed by the world renown Pete Dye and his dad.  I just wanted to say a quick hello and Lana decided to stay in the car with Chloe while I went to see Scott.

    

The resort itself is not completely finished and the dive shop was built in a temporary location right on the beach in 5 days.  Eventually the shop will be moved near a marina complex that is in the works.  I called Scott and he met me on the beach on which his aunt has a house, nice commute.  He gave me a quick tour of the shop and the facilities.  I wanted to see the operation to see if working there would be something I might be interested in.  Although the potential is there, I seem to me there were years to go by before working here would be economically viable.  On top of that housing would definitely have to be supplied as there is nothing available nearby that would be remotely affordable.  Scott having to pay no rent and getting a monthly salary was the perfect person for a sweet deal.  I soon rejoined Lana and we were off again.  This time we were headed for French Caye and Arch’s Iguana Farm.  I had heard of the Iguana farm so many times that I was really curious to see it.  Once parked, we walked down the private driveway with houses on both sides of it.  As we approached we could see hundreds of land Iguana’s gathering around tourist who were feeding them some sort of leaf.  One of the farm guides told me it was leaves from a Trumpet tree and that the Iguana’s were crazy about them.  Chloe was having a great time feeding them.

       

The Farm also has parrots, monkeys and a closed ocean pen where you can see Barracuda’s, Porcupine fish, Tarpon and other marine life.  While we were there, Arch himself came up to talk to Lana and we were introduced.  He a spry little man with a bit of a curve to his back caused most likely by osteoporosis.  It didn’t seem to slow him down a bit though and he was actually on his way to work on a boat which seems to be his main business, shipbuilder.  We said our goodbyes and hit the road again.  I wanted to see Punta Gorda, the oldest community on Roatan, so we took a detour and drove along this very small town.  We didn’t actually stop since the time to come here is in the evening to see the Garifuna, do their traditional Afro-Caribbean dances and oral traditions.  Next stop for us was Marble Hill Farms and the Tropical Island divers.  Luke and Malcolm had told me that we have an exchange arrangement with them if our clients ever want to dive the East end of the Island and their clients want to dive West Bay.  I thought it would be a good idea to go check it out and meet the staff.

       

Unfortunately it was quite late in the day and the shop was already closed.  We stopped by the Marble Hills main restaurant and chatted with the barman that was there.  The farm is also famous for its Hibiscus jams so I bought a jar to try it out.  My favourite stop and last stop was Paya Bay about 20 minutes away.  Paya Bay is a crescent shaped bay encased by two high cliff faces on each end.  The beach is mostly made up of smooth pebbles with a variety of rock and lots of quartz and marble.  There was a strong brisk fresh wind up that day and the beach deserted.  There is a special energy in this place which makes it magical.

   

While Lana and Chloe stayed near the entrance I went for a walk all the way to the end of the bay and back and picked up some stones and shells along the way.  Alas it was time to head back but not before we stopped to have super.  On our way up, just past Turquoise Bay we saw my friend Carl’s restaurant, Temporary Cal’s Cantina.  When I lived in Brick Bay in 2010, Carl was my neighbour and he was working on opening his restaurant.  Lana and I decided to stop for supper on our way back.  Carl is an amazing chef and would sometimes give me some extra food he had and it was always incredibly good.

                              

He certainly didn’t disappoint this time either.  Everything we had was very good and reasonable considering the quality of the food.  The view over Parrot Tree Plantation from the dining room is breathtaking.  I very glad to see my friend Carl again and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Posted by: massologik | March 4, 2012

Meeting Lana

Last night I decided to go have supper at the Creole Rotisserie which is right next to Rudy’s on the main strip of West End close to Foster’s.  After I got there the place started to get busy but I managed to get a table it was a table for four but it was the only one available.  I ordered a half chicken with all the fixing and a Coke with ice.  Five minutes later I was already eating a very delicious meal.  The Rotisserie is always busy and is only closed on Sunday’s.  Sometimes if they close for an extended period of time you always see people come by (myself included) and be disappointed that they are not open.

At some point during my meal a Lana Diaz, a Bay Islander asked me if it was okay for her to sit down at her table with her daughter.  I of course told her it was more than okay and that she was welcome to join me.  Lana knew lots of people in the restaurant and was talking back in forth with them and me.  I found out that Lana has owns a duplex right on West Bay Beach that she rents out to travellers year round.  During the course of the evening people she knew joined in our conversation and I got the opportunity to meet some more of the locals.  We spent a couple of hours talking and getting to know each other and exchanged phone numbers.

I had told Lana that I was a massage therapist by profession and that I had set up my office in my apartment.  She said she would be interested in getting a massage so I told her to give me a call when she was ready and we would set an appointment up.

Posted by: massologik | March 2, 2012

IE (Instructors Examinations)

The Instructors Examinations are run by PADI evaluators who come from the US to administer the exams.  They usually alternate between Roatan and Utila depending on how many students there are on each island.  Luckily for me the IE was being held in Roatan which meant I would save the expense of a boat ride to Utila and accommodations.  It was held at the Mayan Princess resort in West Bay which was fairly convenient since I was staying nearby at the West Bay B&B.  I remember the others being fairly nervous but strangely enough I was fairly calm about the whole thing.  I guess age, experience and a lifetime of living does help in these types of situation.  The morning of the 23rd we went in for our orientation where Gary Cruea, the presiding examinator presented himself, explained the process and handed out our presentation assignments.  Gary is quite a character who is very experienced and has a sharp dry sense of humour which he never fails to exploit during his examinations.  During his introduction talk he told us that due to age he now wears two hearing aids adding pointedly that “I may be deaf but I’m not dumb!” to peels of laughter from everyone.

There are three presentations that instructors are evaluated on; confined water, open water and classroom.  Candidates must prepare to teach two skills in confined and open water and one classroom presentation.  The scoring system is based on 5 points and you need a 3.5 in order to pass every presentation.  In water presentations include the initial briefing, the actual presentation and de debriefing at the end.  The classroom presentation has three parts as well, the intro, the body and the summary.  It’s a pass or fail system and if you do fail any of them you do get an opportunity to do it over again but how many chances you get is limited because of the time the evaluator is actually in country.  The IE actually starts with the theory exams to get them out of the way.  There are two exams one covers PADI standards in the instructor’s manual and is open book.  That sounds easy enough the trick is you have to know how to find the information you need in the time allotted.  The other one covers 5 subjects; Physics, Physiology, Equipment, Skills & Environment and Decompression Theory & the Recreational Dive Planner.  Before we left that first day we were all told that everyone passed the exams save for one person who had to do them again and passed the second time.  Day two was rather hectic since we had a rather large group and lots of presentations to go through.  We were divided into two groups and I have to hand it to Gary Cruea, he was able to organise it so that everything ran like clock work.  We got the open water presentations out of the way first.  One group was in the water at the surface doing the rescue scenario which is required for the IE and then when you were done you rotated in to the group that was underwater doing their presentation until it was your turn to do yours.  Once we finished that we went straight to confined water and finished up and broke for lunch.  Once back we went straight into classroom presentations and then we were told that all of us passed and then proceeded to the presentations of our certificates.  Even though no one really cares what your mark was at the IE since it’s pass or fail , I was really proud that I got a 5 for my classroom presentation (5 is the highest mark), the first one I had during the entire process and was happy it was at the IE!

              

Later that night we celebrated the end of our course at the Blue Marlin and had a blast however Ryan and I couldn’t over do it since we had 10 specialty courses to complete in 5 days starting the very next day!

Posted by: massologik | March 1, 2012

IDC at Barefoot Caye

It’s been a while since my last post but the sheer volume of materials to study and  presentations to prepare didn’t leave me with any time to dedicate to my blog.

When I was last in Roatan, I had made good friends with a Montreal couple Luc and Cynthia (See Small World, Luc and Cynthia).

     

Luc works at Barefoot Caye one of the nicest dive shops on the island and I had made up my mind some time ago that I wanted to do my IDC there.  However when I asked Luc if Barefoot had a course director (only a Course Director can train you to become a dive instructor in the PADI system) he told me they did not.  So I turned to another old friend from Roatan, my EFR Instructor Rick Ramos for help.  He told me that the best course director on the island bar none was his friend Gary Miller that worked out of the Mayan Princess Resort.  A few months passed by and as it turns out Gary had been recruited by Doug, Barefoot Divers Shop manager to work for them at Barefoot.  I was stoked, not only was I going to get the course director I wanted but I was going to get to do it at Barefoot!

I was able to move into the IDC accommodates on the 6th of February, a few days early, with Ryan one of the candidates on my course.  Ryan is from Fullerton, California is taking a break from his busy career to finish his instructors course which he plans to do as a side business to write off all of his scuba diving travelling.  For the rest of the IDC we would be staying at the West Bay B&B owned and operated by Glenn Coming.  He gives Gary a good rate since he brings him quite a bit of business and he has a weakness for divers.  There’s also the fact that Gary’s IDC students are so busy that he barely notices that were here.  Gary offers a three day pre-IDC where you go over theory and do a little diving to get your skills up to par.  His IDC runs 11 days and it is gruelling.  It’s a mixture of classroom, confined water and open water class instruction.

               

Every morning Gary picked us up at 7 am and we would return depending on if we got behind that day or not.  Typically that meant we would finish by 4 if we were lucky but usually 5 or 6 pm.  When we got in we had a little time to go eat at the Hungry Munkey (the only restaurant open close by and affordable) and then we hit the books preparing our presentations for the next days classes.  Some days I was so exhausted I would fall asleep after super only to have to get up and finish whatever class presentation I had that morning on the fly.  Typically we were in the water all morning practicing our instructional skill in confined water and then in open water.

                             

We were a small class of 4, two guys and two girls and sometimes Gary has classes of up to 6 or 7 and sometimes even more.  I was thankful we were only four since more of us would have made it harder to access Gary’s wealth of knowledge in helping us assimilate the vast quantity of materials that we have to cover in the IDC.  Gary is, as they say in the Army, fair, friendly and firm.  He pushed us all so we would be the best prepared group at the IE and we were!

Posted by: massologik | February 5, 2012

Settling In

Today, I left my bungalow at 6:45 and ran into Giaco who told me he was still sick with the flu and was staying home rather then risk giving it to everyone else at the shop.  I’m always grateful to people who think this way because they really are putting others before themselves.  How many times have I seen people come to work sick and spread it around when they should have known to stay home and take care of themselves.  However this meant that I had to make my way to Barefoot on my own again.  Gary rang me up just as I was heading to the main road and told me that he would pick me up.  We also picked up Tony, an IDC staff candidate from Spain, and Senta, my fellow IDC candidate.  After a brief pit stop at the gas station in Coxen Hole for breakfast Baleada’s, we headed for Barefoot Caye.

I got to do threeRich, Senta and Toni dives today, one was a fun staff dive to Mary’s Place and the two others we had divers.  On my second dive I notice my submersible pressure gauge was leaking air so I gave it to Luc afterwards for him to clean it and replace the o-rings which he did quite graciously. Read More…

Posted by: massologik | February 4, 2012

BBQ at Aude and Chris’ featuring Branan Logan

Evening at Aude and Chris' featuring Branan LoganAude and Chris, two instructors at Barefoot Key,
moved in to a new place near Crystal lodges in West End and decided to have a housewarming BBQ and they invited me to come along.  When I was growing up my mother always brought a bottle of something if we were invited somewhere saying it was good manners and it has stuck with me to this day.  Before going to the party I stopped at the convenience store to buy a bottle of wine but decided that a housewarming warranted something more substantial so I bought a bottle of Flor de Caña Rum.  There were about 15 people or so and
everybody brought what they wanted to eat.  It was a little disorganized with them not being able to find a lighter for the BBQ.  Luckily I had one on me and we were in business.  Since no one was really in charge of the cooking and no one seemed to know what they were doing, I elected to take care of the BBQ.  There was quite a bit to cook including chicken, sausages, hamburger, pork and seafood.  While I was busy with that we had the privilege of having Branan Logan, the country western singer songwriter
play songs for us simply strumming his guitar.  I have to admit that I’m not a big country western fan but I have to say that Branan is quite talented and probably converted me to a certain extent.  He even did a country version of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” at my request which I was able to videotape.  He played at least 30
songs…the whole night…even fixing a couple of strings along the way, it was
really a very cool evening.

Posted by: massologik | February 2, 2012

Recap of the last 14 months

After leaving Roatan for the fist time on the 11th of September 2010, I spent 14 months devoting every waking minute to coming back to live here.  For the first 3 months I was homeless, bouncing around between my mom’s place, my aunts and one of my best friends.  This was a rather difficult time for me since I am the type that doesn’t like to impose on people and because it was hard to look for work since I didn’t have a permanent address.  Finally, a few weeks before Christmas, I got a job as a security guard which actually pays fairly well for basic level entry job.  Years ago before becoming a massage therapist I had been in the security industry after leaving the Canadian Army.  I returned briefly to the industry in 2010, updating my certifications, before coming to Roatan for the first time.  When you start with any security company, you inevitably have to start at the bottom and that means that they usually put you as a replacement and more often than not your end up doing graveyard shifts.  Now although I knew this, I made it clear that I would be much more useful to them working day shifts due to my many years of work with the public and the fact that I am not made for graveyard shift.  Working nights is not for everyone and it has a tendency to screw up your body’s natural cycles.  Some love it but I knew I didn’t.  Ultimately though I didn’t stay with this company very long as I was lured to work as security staff for the Montreal Forum, the former home of the Montreal Canadians hockey franchise which is now a shopping center.  The pay was nearly equivalent however there was the opportunity to do lots of overtime and they had great medical coverage.  The only down side was that I absolutely loathed the job and the General Manager has to be the worst boss I have ever worked for bar none.  It was a tough year of meaningless mind numbing work and the only thing that got me through the dredge of coming to work day after day was the singular focus on the process of finding the money to return to Roatan permanently.  Finally, in October of 2011, I was able to leave my job and dedicate the remaining few months completely to the process of leaving Montreal.  I still had lots of personal belongings to sell, sort and give away and finally left with only 5 boxes left in storage at my mother’s place.  I ended my lease at my one bedroom studio apartment where I carefully planned and executed my plan to return to Roatan.  My good friend Tim was kind enough to let me stay with him rent free for my last month in Montreal.  I spent that month making the finishing touches to my plan, eating well and getting in shape by going swimming 3 times a week and going for regular walks.  Since I was planning to stay in Roatan for some time I decided to bring my massage table and massage chair as a fall back to earn money here in case finding a job as a dive instructor proved to be harder than planned.  I paid an extra $400 in extra weight fees and a first class ticket in order to be able to take 95 kg of baggage with me.  On the morning of January 30th 2012, after some small bumps caused by overweight carry-on baggage and subsequent redistribution of said extra weight and was on my way to Roatan.

Before coming to Roatan the instructor who had certified me up to Divemaster had invited me to stay with her at Palmetto Bay Plantation where I had done all of my courses with her.  I was all set to stay with her when one week before I was to leave Montreal she asked me to get involved in a legal dispute in which I had nothing to do with and I decided to decline her request.  Roatan is a small island and she was making enemies in a place where you don’t make enemies and asking people to choose sides in a place where you don’t choose sides. I didn’t want to start making enemies so soon after coming back!  So since I was arriving a full twelve days before the start of my IDC, I had to find new accommodations.  Luckily for me Gary, my course director, found me accommodations in West End.

Chilli’s has really nice accommodations in a sort of backpacker style environment.  It has rooms part of a main building but also single and double occupancy bungalows with shared facilities (kitchen and bathroom).  The bungalows have basic amenities but no A/C but are spread in lush vegetation that provide plenty of shade and combined with ventilators keep things cool.  I had to pay for this place myself as it was not included in my package with Barefoot but I only had to stay there for 6 days at a cost of $26 a day.  The only thing I didn’t like was the fact the fridge was too small even for one person let alone two to four people.

Posted by: massologik | January 31, 2012

I Have Arrived!

Today I got a ride to Barefoot Caye with Giaco Palavicini, a dive instructor I met in the summer of 2010 and the founder of the Shark Legacy Project which helped convince the Honduran government recently to ban shark fining outright in all its territorial waters.  It’s great to see him again and know that I’ll be spending lots of time with someone as passionate about saving sharks as I am.  Giaco makes a regular stop in the morning at a local west end bakery to get his morning coffee and a baked good.  He introduced me to Tina the owner of the shop and I decided to buy a green tea and have a pastry filled with egg which was quite delicious.  As good as it was, I made a mental note that I have to watch the spending on the little luxuries as money tends to go fast here and I have to stretch my money as far as possible at least till I finish my course and get a job.    Read More…

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