Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trips Instead of Gifts-Roatan, Stop 2

If you didn't read about our cruise and time in Cozumel, catch up here

Our second stop occurred the day after Cozumel.  We woke up just in time to watch the ship dock in Roatan.  Roatan is a little island, and is part of the nation of Honduras. 

Roatan is also home to one of the largest coral barrier reefs in the world.  My parents have spent hours and hours over several trips scuba diving in the waters of Roatan.   Isaac and I had looked forward to diving here this trip, but I was obviously unable to join him.  I insisted that Isaac still go on our original excursion, and I'm so glad I did!  He had 2 fabulous dives with turtles, grouper, several species of fish, and beautiful coral formations.  He was full of stories for hours at dinner!
Mom, Dad, David, Laura, and I headed to a tiny island called Maya Key that just barely is separated from Roatan to a private beach and animal reserve.  I wasn't sure what all we'd find there, but it was stunning.  The beach isn't quite the fine granular sand of eastern Mexico, but it comes more from weather worn shell.  It's still beautiful!  They have a long pier out to the coral reef for snorkeling.  Mom and I had brought our gear, and we had a fabulous time swimming with the fishes in the deep blue sea!  I was just in awe.  It'd been much too long (I was 15 in 2000 in Hawaii) since I'm been in that intense of a reef formation.  Just gorgeous!

On top of the beach and visitor side of the little island, there is the animal rehab and reserve.  3 South American male sea lions call this home.  They were rescued from Uruguay's angry fishermen, sent to St. Kitts, and when that facility closed, brought to Honduras.  These guys are HUGE!  I'm so used to seeing the North American sea lions at Sea World and in California, that I was shocked when these guys popped up out of the water.  For $25 each, four guests can help feed the sea lions at two different times during the day.  Well, of course I was going to sign up for that!  If I wasn't going to get my scuba experience, I was certainly going to get kissed, hugged, and cuddled by a 450 pound monster of a sea lion.  Duh!  The sea lion I was able to interact with is name Willie.  He's kind of a bully with the other 2 sea lions, but he was just precious to me!  When Willie kissed my check, he let out a big old breath right in my ear.  Loud, warm, and fishy all at once.  I was in heaven!  These guys are FURRY!  Seriously!  I know they're mammals and have fur, but I didn't realize just how much.  It was like hugging a wet golden retriever!  Love!  I also realized just how thick their facial whiskers are.  Wow!

The rehab also houses several birds and mammals that can no longer live in the wild for one reason or another.  The various primates were my favorite, but they also have a mountain lion, margay, ocelot, and jaguar. The sanctuary has recreated the natural habitat of these guys to the best of human ability.  I know it stinks for these guys to have such permanent injuries or conditions that they can't return to the wild, but they are living pretty well at Maya Key!  It was beautiful to be so close to these guys.  One of the spider monkeys is named George (seriously), and he's quite the flirt.  I stood around talking to George for a bit before he reached out his hand to hold mine.  They he'd begin sing and make kissing sounds.  He was precious.  I'm not sure his 'wife' Sasha appreciates his womanizing, but I did!  David and Laura fell in love with Georgie too!

 I can't wait to return to Roatan, hopefully to stay awhile and dive!

The day in Roatan was also New Year's Eve, so there was a big party waiting for us back on the ship!  The captain made it a formal night, and there were several places to go to celebrate.  After dinner we went to the show, which was a one night special group called The Platinum Club.  They are four guys who cover songs from the 30s to now, and they are amazing!  Wow!  We decided to head up to the top deck with the live band, streamers, noise makers, and fun for the big party!  Right at the stroke of midnight, the ship blasted its horn 3 times.  I hadn't heard a ship horn in a while, and was enough to wake the dead.  Gracious!  And then, by about 12:15, I was in bed.  Sigh.  Happy New Year, 2014!

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