Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goodbye West End - Hello Utila

 Nice place for a rest.

A week ago we left Fantasy Island in the French Harbour and sailed 18 miles to another part of the Roatan Island called West End. Friends, Sandi and Patrick, aboard s/v YachtCruz sailed with us and Brian aboard s/v Molly followed behind. Sandrine and Eric had guests from New York aboard their vessel and left for Cayo Cachinos the day before us.

Arriving in West End, we were pleased to see three sets of friends we’d previously gotten to know in Guana and French Harbour. So naturally that evening we rondevued  at a local establishment.  Cruisers typically don’t need a reason for getting together for a sundowner, but we used our arrival as an excuse anyhow.
The anchorage area is full of reefs all around. In fact anchoring is not allowed. Visitors must use one of the many mooring balls provided and since the town has a vested interest in protecting the reefs for the many tourists, there is no charge for the mooring balls.

The snorkeling and diving is wonderful. Dozens upon dozens of fish of all shapes, sizes and colors swim around. And to them we are just another large sea creature. We spotted many lobster, conch, barracuda, an eel and a lion fish. Jimi took a short video. You can watch it here:

The restaurant we tie our dinghies to offered to let us girls do our yoga upstairs in the morning before they open.  With a nice breeze and free from no-see-um bugs, we loved it. After yoga we got in the habit of sitting at the bar drinking a glass of cranberry juice or orange juice.

We heard an announcement over the radio that hundreds of whales were spotted outside the reef. Jimi immediately jumped in the dinghy, grabbed Eric and his guess, Kevin and headed to the sighting. Unfortunately, they never found the whales, but fortunately they  stumbled upon a sailboat, anchored and heeled over with a bent mast. Someone made it into a floating jungle gym. A platform was built and a rope attached to the top of the mast allows fun-doers to swing and plunge into the water. The guys had a blast, however, quickly determined they were much too heavy for the swing and their plunge came entirely too soon.

A floating jungle gym.

There’s a road that runs along the beach which is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, vegetable stands and so much more. The area caters to the large cruise ships. From our perspective, it takes away from the true Honduran culture. Still it’s nice to enjoy the cool blue waters and an occasional social cocktail overlooking the ocean.

 Bottles found on the ocean floor covered in coral.

 Hammocks over the water.

 The sign screams tourist marketing - but I like the sign anyhow.

 A view of serenity.

 Wow - buffet by the pound. This is the lunch price. Evening it changes to $7.


We took a colectivo, which is a form of public transportation, to the town of Coxen Hole. It’s basically what we know of as a minivan. Folks seeking transportation will stand on the side of the road until the small bus drives up. The driver stops, the passengers board and the driver continues. The rule of thumb is- there’s always room for one more, no matter how full the bus is. The cost is 25 lem per person, which is about $1.25.

Not knowing the area, we missed our drop off point and ended up downtown at the bus station. Not to worry though, we walked a pleasant six or seven blocks to the grocery store, which gave us a chance to see a little of the area. We wish we’d had more time to be able to explore some of the stores and true Honduran culture.

After getting our groceries, we waited for a colectivo to come around. But we gave up when a taxi offered to take us back to West End for only 100 lem ($5). Yes, it was a little more expensive, but a much quicker ride and an entire truck for our four large bags of groceries.

YachtCruz left just a couple of days after we arrived and Molly left the following day. Eric and Sandrine show up two days after we did. For a short period the gang was together again. However, for us it’s time to move on.

Leaving our friends behind, we’ll sail Friday morning about 7am. Food is prepared, the dinghy is on the deck and we spent the evening saying our goodbyes at our hangout on shore. Some folks we’ll see in the Rio in a month or so and others, going in other directions, we’ll keep in touch through Facebook and email.   The hardest part, for me, was leaving Eric and Sandrine. They plan to stay here for a couple more weeks, while we are going to Utila for a while and then to the Rio Dulce. We’ll meet back up with them there.

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