Monthly Archives: April 2012

Roatan, Port Royal, still on the boat

Today we moved again. Again I expected to sail on to the next island but again we just motored a short way. We are in Port Royal, anchored out at a buoy kindly put out by the owners of Mango Creek Lodge here in Port Royal. It is their beautiful, colorful over-the-water cabanas we face. I knew about Mango Creek Lodge from Lori, who told me and said it is a nice courtesy to go on land as soon as we get there and say hello to the owners. I told this to the family as we pulled in and tired up to the buoy. And they did go in. While I was cleaning up below, they quietly dropped the dingy and headed ashore. I came up and looked at them, hands up to ask “what…” No reply. how long would they be ashore? Why wasn’t I allowed to come? […]

Calabash Cove Day 3, The Sailboat

As the past 2 days, in the morning I went up to the cafe to check email and keep in touch with people to let them know I was safe. It has become difficult to explain to clients that my month of being out of touch has not begun yet, so I am quite uncomfortable. As I sat there, Nico came in to let me know “we are going out to visit the area for the day.” That was ok. They needed family time. But were they just going to motor away in the dingy and not tell me? Here is where bring “crew” can be uncomfortable: it turned out I, the woman of the boat felt I was acting like a guest and not working. I was crew and waiting to sail and in the meantime trying to be helpful with the kids and to help her cook. (And […]

Calabash Cove Day 2, The Sailboat

Today was a terrific day. Mark, owner of Turtlegrass Marina here in Calabash Cove took us out on his motorboat for a tour of the area. Now I have seen some of Roatan’s unique life on the water. The island is mountainous so there is on,y one main road across it, with small offshoots leading to homes or neighborhoods. Many homes are right on the water, built on stilts, and boats are a major mode of transportation. Businesses are either a tad inland so you can still arrive by boat or they are right on the water. The island, or at least this area, has many small inlets or waterways called Bites. Some passages are narrow and lined with mangroves so one proceeds slowly through them. We went to a supermarket or general store that was pretty well stocked. I also bought some great tasting oranges from a fruit cart. […]

Calabash Cove Day 1, The Sailboat

Today we finally moved out of the harbor to which I arrived. We are on our way to Panama. Well, not quite…. Turns out no one bothered to tell me that we were stopping at another location a few miles, if that, away. We are in Calabash Cove. But we didn’t raise a sail to get here, so still no sailing. Not that I mind seeing more of Roatan. I just wonder why I cannot get any straight answer about plans. “We’re cruisers. We have no plan.” That is what I am told by the skipper/owner. Except that the post inviting people did have a plan.

Toothpaste you can travel with

EVERYTHING you pack matters when you’re packing to travel.

One of the hardest things to find in the US as I packed to travel was a tube of toothpaste. Sadly, flip tops have become the marketing rage, and they do not close well. Whether on the light weight, minimal space-using tube or on the horrid plastic-wasting heavy thick-sided toothpaste containers, those flip lids are far too likely to open as you travel.

The best toothpaste cap for any travel is the good old screw top that you fully remove in order to get to your toothpaste. But finding this is not always easy.

I can actually recommend brands for the USA and for Central America.

Second week on The Sailboat

We remain anchored out here off Roatan having gone nowhere. So much for the promise of moving on in a few days. It is pretty here but I am not getting to meet local residents of Roatan and not learning Roatan culture. I was promised plenty of sailing but we have yet to raise a sail. I rushed here, passing by places and sights I very much wanted to see. I hope it was worth doing so but am now doubtful.

Dropbox for safe file keeping

As a traveler, both backpacker and cruiser, I love Dropbox. It allows me, and anyone, to create a file, whether photo, movie (up to 180mb), note, or other document, to sync to you Dropbox folder on the Internet for safe keeping. That way you can access it from your tablet, smartphone, laptop and/or desktop. If your device is lost, stolen, or damaged you will be very happy you didn’t rely on keeping your info only on that device! There are versions of the app for various devices and for computers as well as the web interface. Each works a bit differently and as I write this you must work with the website and the mobile apps in tandem to achieve things. They are working on the apps and welcome feedback. They are also great about helping us. I may post a few tips or findings about the iPad or iPhone […]

One week anniversary on The sailboat

Exactly one week ago, on Sunday evening, April 15, I arrived at The Sailboat. We remain anchored out here off Roatan. I am loving it, but not fully. I am not seeing Roatan but am seeing the water, which is beautiful. I would like some more interaction with locals. We were due to leave yesterday but things happen, or at least that is what I am told when I try to learn the immediate plan. I am told we will move on in a few days.

My first phone SIM or cellular data card

Today I purchased my first data card, a SIM card for my iPhone that enables me to access the Internet on my iPhone. I should be able to use my iPhone as a Personal Hotspot, but the silly system requires that I get set up with TIGO, the provider, for that. About the card – for those who may with to know: It was 45 limperas for the card, then 150 limperas for 2GB to be used within 1week or lost. The alternative was a one-month card that provides 5GB but we would not still be in Honduras in 3 weeks. It was not possible to buy two weeks at a time. Data and voice/texting are sold separately. I purchased voice minutes some days later upon learning that a cal to the US is only 2 Limpera and a tad per minute. I spent just 50 Limpera.

SCUBA & snorkeling

On Saturday, April 21, I donned SCUBA gear for the first time since I was in Townsville, Australia. I expected to do a guided dive after learning some basic skills, and as I had learned and done all those skills before, was looking forward to seeing some of the amazing, colorful life that lies below our everyday view down in this Caribbean ocean. I was less comfortable with the idea of being deep below the surface, dependent on equipment than I expected to be. Stormy weather that night apparently ruled out a second day attempt. I wasn’t terribly disappointed and confess I was somewhat relieved. At the yacht club, I met/know four women who were as apprehensive as I was, but got past it and are enamored with diving. It made me think I should push through my discomfort. Under other conditions, with another instructor, I probably would. But my […]

Caye Caulker, Belize into Honduras: Boat, walk, boat, bus, bus, car…

One post, several adventures. This would be a very full travel day. From sunrise until after sunset I’d be on the road.

By 7am I was on the dock awaiting the day’s first Belize Express Water Taxi to carry me from Caye Caulker to Belize City. The boat was 10 minutes late (which gave me more than 10 minutes to worry that I would miss the boat to Honduras) but did a great job of making up for lost time if any time was actually lost. I was on land again by 8.

Backpack firmly on my hips, I received clear directions to the Radisson Hotel boat docks where I was to find the Pride of Belize, the ferry that would deliver me to the Honduras mainland. And upon arrival at that dock, learned the boat to Belize was departing from another dock this morning, so I hiked back the way I’d come.

The Pride of Belize, the boat to Honduras — a 5+ hour ride — was more utilitarian/cargo than passenger comfort but the crew was great. This was a little engine that could type of boat and crew.

And then there was the bus from Puerto Cortez, Honduras to San Pedro Sula — followed by the bus to my final destination of the night.

I would be traveling from my final night’s destination to Roatan.

Great haircut in Belize

Need a great haircut while you are travelling? If you happen to be going to Caye Caulker, Belize, you are in luck. Go see Elvira at her shop. Yes, this is a photo of it. She cut my hair several inches, following the old lines but adding more layers upon request. She did an excellent job! Belize$20 or US$10. Of course, you may be lucky enough to find a fabulous hair stylist who happens to be a fellow traveler like I happened upon Gary Hudson the first time I travelled. Gary has been cutting my hair ever since that first trip. In fact, this was my first non-Gary haircut since then, except for China, Thailand, and one Midwest cut. It was a bit scary having a stranger cut my hair, which makes my praise of Elvira that much more valuable. Gary is traveling South America as I write this, so […]

Caye Caulker, Belize

I have plenty to write journal-wise, but right now I have some work tech to figure out. I just had to stop though to share my amazing environment with the world. So… I am lying on a hammock at Yuma’s House, a house-hostel that is on the beach. A bright, clear blue sky and fluffy white clouds are shaded perfectly by coconut-laden, full palm trees. Right behind then is the greenish turquoise ocean, an open cabana with 2 hammocks, and a few simple wooden boat docks well spaced, stretching into the water. This is what I dreamed of. A quiet place to enjoy the clear, clean ocean air as I write or work. The price for my 4-bed dorm is $25 Belize per night, $12.50 US. A full fish dinner with 2 drinks and chocolate cake for dessert runs $20 Belize per night, $10 US – and that is BBQ […]

Chetumal, Mexico for 2 nights

I arrived, with Jesse, in Chetumal around midnight. We took a taxi (50 pesos because it was late) to the hostel and were greeted by Mike, the Portuguese manager. It was late so sleep was the main agenda at that point. The next day turned out quite different than we’d planned. I needed money because my credit card had been rejected in Tulum when I bought my snorkel so I had to use pesos, and now I needed cab fare, food, and to pay the hostel. (I should have paid the latter on line.) i’d expected the money would just work out, but cash machines, banks, and friends to lend you a few bucks are not everywhere, and were not in Bakalar, I was told. Jesse was still tired and wasn’t into going to the city center so I was only own. Getting Money I found my way to as […]

Grand Cenote, Tulume

Today’s plan: travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Enjoy the Grand Cenote. Travel on to Chetamal, a town at the southern boarder, close to Belize. I am making my way to Belize, Honduras, and the sailboat. I write this on my iPad’s built-in keyboard at 8:34pm on a dark bus from Tulum to Chetamal. For the 1st time on this trip, I am not alone as the only English speaker on the bus. Jessie, with whom I took the hour-long comfy Collectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum (40 pesos, but locals may have paid only 20) sits beside me, resting. (He will likely travel with me at least into Belize.) We left the Happy Gecko hostel/hotel around 11am. The plan was to leave around 10 but heck, we’re traveller’s and not tight on any schedule. I’d gone to bed around 1am and woken up for good at 9:30, […]

Last day in Playa: GET TO THAT BOAT!

…but what about the boat, that this was a dream opportunity for me, that I had been wishing for a boat to sail exactly this course and allow me to join the crew.

No, take it slow, there will be another boat, God will provide, he said. I said something about maybe not getting to Panama and then to Colombia if I don’t have this opportunity again — and suddenly something, clicked. Sailing, the San Blass Islands!?, he exclaimed. Yes, I replied. “GO!” he replied. “Get out of here, get down this coast, get to that boat!”

The boat I was heading to.

Passover Seder in Cancun

About 150 people attended this Seder. Hebrew may have been the most spoke languages there. The rabbi had quite a challenge being heard and keeping the attention of the large room. Very different from the last 19 Seders of my (well, my brother’s) ever-growing family. I missed the family and learning there but also loved being at this one. One woman is starting a Kibbutz between Playa and Cancun!

On bus from Cancun to Playa

It is 12:21 and I am on an ADO air conditioned bus now a few blocks from the terminal, en route to Playa del Carmen. This is the first time there are others from outside of Mexico, but the bus was nearly full when I boarded so I am not within speaking distance of any of them. The man beside me kept the aisle seat, keeping me from any conversation. So, again, I watch the roads and I write. Only this time I write on the iPad keyboard on my lap rather than with my thumbs on the iPhone. My hand-carry bag is my lap desk.

Loving the iPad

I received “my” iPad two days ago, late in the evening, setting it up and starting to use it until 2am when the lights went out for the night on the Mondo Jovan hostel rooftop. After 2 weeks of the tiny iPhone for web browsing, text composition and everything else that could be done, this large bright screen and touch-type keyboard is dream! I do not exactly lay my fingersdown and touch-type, but close. Sort of half-hand touch and half touch-peck supplement. The case, folded back, enables me to have the same angle I had on my Mac for years with the CoolPad under it. I do have errors. I miss the space bar. But this is more a true keyboard. No deleting when attempting an “m” or typing a “c”I rather than a space. I will see how auto correct works with me as time and non-Engliswords ds continue. […]

Bus from Izamal to Cancun

Again, I am the only foreigner on the bus. In fact, the only tourists I saw today were the same couple from the pyramid. Izamal is a day trip for most people and a destination at which to stay resort style with a rented car for others. I wish I had picked up a book to read. The iPhone is useless for reading without Internet. 5 hours with nothing to read. What a waste that is because for 20 years I have mourned having time to read. The bus arrived at 2;40. I zipped up the backpack straps and carried my pack onto the bus taking the first seat on the non-driver’s side so i can have leg room and a view. My pack is on the floor in front of the seat beside me. Space permitting and with a stop in Villadolid I am more comfortable having it on […]

Izamal Evening & Day

After helping me find a hotel, Rob Mosser kindly drove me around a bit to get my bearings then dropped me on town and drove off. I had a couple of Panuchos at a small shop where a couple from Belgium were having beer. They left shortly and I dined alone at the outdoor table. Stomach full, I walked the 5 blocks or so to the pyramid Kinich Kak Mo built for the Maya Sun God. I started climbing it from street level and found myself on a plateau. I walked around to see the view and to my surprise saw a pyramid not far away. I had only climbed the base, and walked part of it’s over 2 acres (700,000 cubic meters.) I still had the actual pyramid to view and climb. I read the pyramid is 10 levels high but didn’t count. It was getting dark and I […]

Merida to Izamal

I write now as I wait in Merida’s second bus station, not ADO but for Noresta the 2:30 Occidente bus to leave from gate 4. The ticket was 23 pesos for the 1 1/2 hour ride. The outside of this nice looking plush-appearing bus promises air-conditioning. Getting to the bus was a challenge it should not have been. I easily followed Daniel’s directions from his home to the local bus 5 blocks away. The driver of the mini-van sized bus even stopped and asked me if I was going to Centro. When the bus emptied and a passenger got in front, I tried to ask if he happened to pass the bus station to drop me closer. Instead, the men discussed the terminal’s location and gave me directions to walk there. Only the 5 blocks straight ahead turned out to be 5 blocks too many as I found out after […]