(Just a heads up, I will post pictures of this amazing place as soon as they are developed and scanned onto my computer. They're from a water camera.)
For the past week, I’ve been recounting the wonderful vacation I just got back from, which was an amazing Carnival cruise. My family and I are no strangers to living on a ship for 7-8 days, and actually find it to be a great way to see various parts of the Caribbean. This most recent trip, one of our destinations included Roatan, Honduras. Having never visited this port before, I was anxious to see what it held for its visitors, and to be completely honest, although what we did there was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, what I saw was heartbreaking.
I have visited poverish countries before; however, the sights that I saw in Roatan affected me on a whole other level. We were on our way to our shore excursion, which we had decided would be something called snuba; I’ll get to that later. Several of us were piled into a large bus that took us on a 40 minute trip up the side of a mountain. Little did I know that what I would see during these 40 minutes would nearly bring me to tears.
Dirt and debris made up the yards in which children played. “Homes” that should more appropriately be called dilapidated shacks, sat on display for tourists to point and look as they drove past. Dogs and cats roamed the streets in search of food; their bodies thin and hungered. I sat there on the bus, wishing I could scream “Stop” so that I could jump out and run to the nearest make-shift store to buy the children and animals food. Here I was, on vacation, enjoying an amazing week off from work and here were these people who looked as if they wouldn’t even understand what a person meant by taking a vacation.
By the time we reached our destination for snuba, a part of me felt guilty for the enjoyment I was about to possess. Trying to push those images to the back of my mind for the time being, I took in my surroundings at Gumbalinda Park. The greenery that surrounded us and the beach that stretched for miles, it was a far cry from what I had seen during our 40 minute bus trip.
Angel, our snuba guide, fit us with our apparatus, a weight belt, goggles, and fins. Practicing in the shallow water, I was a bit nervous dunking my head into the water. Having snorkeled numerous times, this was different. I was relying on a tank full of air to keep me breathing. Quickly, my sister and I went down and I immediately wanted to hold my breath, however, after a few big breaths, I managed to breathe normally and I was ready to go.
Walking through what seemed like a mile of sea grass, we finally made it to the reef where I dove down and saw some of the most beautiful coral and fish. Trying to remember to “equalize” (holding your nose and blowing out the air to let your ears pop) on my way down, I was in awe of the sights around me. Breathing underwater became second nature and I realized what it must be like to be a fish.
Our snuba adventure lasted about 30-40 minutes and by the time we surfaced, I was convinced that snuba was a great introduction to scuba diving; an activity that is definitely on my to-do list.
One thing you need to realize though, if you ever decide to go to Gumbalinda Park in Roatan, is be prepared to be covered in red splotchy dots. These, my friends, are the remnants of sea flies. The backs of my legs, my arms, and all along my back, were covered in these red marks. Although they tell you that they don’t itch, they do, but the nice thing is, they fade after a day or so.
So, all in all, our day in Roatan was one I’ll always remember. The drive to beach brought heartache, but the experience of being able to snuba allowed me to experience something I’ll never forget…even if I did look like I had chicken pox by the time we left.