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Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Days 36-47: So What's the Fuss about Roatan?

March 15-26, 2006

So Roatan it finally is… Quite a relief after all the pre-island experience, but it better be good, as we've put a lot of effort into getting here! Roatan is the long-awaited place for both of us: Dovi, the dreamer, in love with sun and water; and Zee, the economist, in love with the idea that he is getting the best deal on the planet for PADI courses :)

Roatan (along with the rest of the Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahia)) has become world-famous for the ideal scuba diving and snorkeling conditions. The magnificent coral reef, extending south from the second-largest barrier reef of Belize, year-round warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, excellent visibility, and a complete range of PADI certification courses offered at world's lowest prices make Roatan the place where divers want to go after they die :)

Inevitably, Roatan always starts from Coxen Hole, a major port town with extremely intermittent electricity (one could say non-existent!), several rather nasty hotels, the biggest supermarket on the island and relatively cheap Internet ($2 per hour as compared to $10 per hour in West End!). Not to be forgotten, Captain Berto also docks here, in front of the lumber shop (hope you will never need this info :)) All in all, Coxen Hole is one of those get-out-of-here-as-fast-as-you-can holes.

There is also French Harbour, a fishing town, a good place to buy fresh seafood if you have a way to prepare it, otherwise why bother - there is nothing else to see or do in this second-largest port town of Roatan. Arch's Iguana Farm just outside the town may be the only place worth a visit.
Punta Gorda, an extremely tranquil Garifuna village further east from French Harbour, is somewhat interesting because of the abundant huge conches you can see along the beach strip, but the dirty beach itself is not appealing at all…

Then, there are the popular diving and snorkeling locations: Sandy Bay, a very pretty place, but reminds more of a quiet and boring all-inclusive resort community (the Institute for Marine Sciences is also located here). West Bay, which, according to the old-timers, used to be a little quiet village with the adjacent beach ideal for snorkeling. However, due to the booming development, West Bay has grown into one of the busiest places on the island full of very uneducated tourists! We were shocked to see so many people stomping on the coral while snorkeling or swimming, or gathering "souvenirs" from the underwater world - what a complete ignorance!!

And finally there is West End. Those who have seen Roatan ten years ago say that West End has changed dramatically, too (unfortunately, to the worse - also due to the endless constructions and increasing number of visitors). Maybe, but if you want the complete Roatan rookie opinion, we can tell you only one thing - get your butt off that coach right now, pack your luggage as fast as you can, and catch the first available flight to Roatan. Once on Roatan, take a cab straight to West End and immerse in the fabulous diving culture that rocks from dawn till dusk… till dawn :)

You will need no more than five minutes in town to understand that everything here revolves around diving: every third house is a dive shop, every second ad is for a dive trip, geared-up divers regularly march along the streets towards the beach, boats go buzzing to and from the dive sites, while the nearby bay is full of beginner divers trying to survive their first confined water dive…

There is one very dangerous thing about Roatan we must make known: be prepared for a complete loss of the traditional perception of time. No visitor is exempt from this infection, which starts occurring as soon as your feet touch the sandy beach of West End, and climaxes within the next 72 hours. The conventional understanding of a day as a constituent part of a week keeps gradually fading away until the only remaining concept is a DIVE. It all comes so naturally that you don't even notice how you start living from dive to dive, and surviving the days when you don't dive…
The perception of a customary time unit may return (or not) about seven days after the originally intended day of departure. If it does, you will start considering a new departure date, and after 2 or 3 tries you may even succeed in leaving. If it does not (or if after 3 attempts to leave you are still noticed on the island), you will be declared as fatally roatanized, and will have to stay on Roatan forever because by that time you will have lost the capability to function in the outside world.
You would be surprised how many fatally roatanized people we met during our 2-week stay… We somehow finally managed to leave after 2 failed attempts :)

Practicalities. On average, the PADI Open Water Diver course takes 4 days and costs about USD 210. This includes 3 confined water dives in the nearby bay and 4 open water dives in the Caribbean Sea. The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course costs about the same, includes 5 dives, and can be completed in 3-4 days. For each course there is a mandatory PADI course book, USD 30 each, and finally you pay an annual USD 5 reef protection fee. All the necessary equipment is provided by the dive shop. Tyll's Dive (our dive shop) also provides endless coffee and very friendly atmosphere :) If you pass all the required exams and get certified, you will become an independent scuba diver allowed to dive as deep as 18 meters/ 60 feet with PADI Open Water Diver certificate, and as deep as 40 meters/ 132 feet (the recreational diving limit) with PADI Advanced.

Big Request. When you dive or snorkel, please NEVER, NEVER TOUCH THE CORAL or any of the underwater creatures, not even with a fingertip! Keep in mind that your legs become longer when you have your fins on, and if you don't account for that you can scratch the coral unintentionally. Don't forget that a coral is a living animal - you touch it, you scratch it, it catches infection - you kill the coral!! It's a heart-breaking sight to see a coral dying or being collected for "souvenirs"… If friends invite you over to their house, you don't take some of their belongings with you when you're leaving, do you? Then treat the underwater world with the same respect - don't be a pig, be a guest!!
Be one of the coolest people who work to protect the nature, and admire the underwater inhabitants from the respectful distance.

Cick on the pictures to enlarge

Living from dive to dive

West End Sunset

Ir vel dienele baigesi...

Divers' paradise

West End Beach Left

Nardytoju rojus

Click on the picture to enlarge... or better click on the link to Expedia and book the next available flight!

West End Beach Right

Stai kaip atrodo vieta, kur pasilieka gyventi nepagydomai uzsikretusieji roatanizmu...

West Bay

West Bay

Kaimas West Bay

Rainy afternoon in Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda Beach

Viena is Roatano Garifuna gyvenvieciu - Punta Gorda

Little Punta Gordians

Little Punta Gordians

Mazieji Garifuniukai

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

36- 47- oji dienos: Tai, kas atsitinka Roatane…

2006 m. kovo 15-26

Mielieji skaitytojai, ilgai lauke naujienu is isgarsintojo Roatano, dekojame jums uz kantrybe! Atsidekodami uz laukima, pradesime reportaza nuo pacios griezciausios Roatano taisykles:
Si taisykle niekur neuzrasyta, taciau bet kas, saloje praleides nors savaite, supras, kodel dar niekas ligi siol jos nepazeide... Tad turesite mums atleisti - papasakosime jums daug, bet… ne viska :)

Taip pat labai svarbu pamineti, kad Roatane laikas matuojamas siek tiek kitaip. Jau per pirmaja savaite pamazu isnyksta tradicinis laiko tekmes suvokimas, kuris (gal but) dalinai sugrizta praejus mazdaug septynioms dienoms nuo planuoto isvykimo is Roatano. Jeigu atsitinka taip, kad net ir tada nesugrizta, fiksuojamas ypac sunkus intoksikacijos roatanizmu atvejis, kuris gyvybei nera pavojingas tik tuomet, jei uzsikretusysis lieka gyventi Roatane. Tokiu per dvi savaites sutikome ne viena desimti… :)

Pradziai pameginsime paaiskinti, kodel viso pasaulio nardytojai kaip susitare teigia, jog mokytis nardyti geriausia Roatane, o ne, pavyzdziui, puikiuosiuose Ignalinos ezeruose. Roatanas yra viena is Karibu juros salu, apie 50 km I siaure nuo Honduro. Kartu su Utila ir Guanaja, visos trys salos sudaro grupe, vadinama Islas de la Bahia (Bay Islands). Nardyti galima bet kurioje is salu, taciau Guanaja'oje viskas labai brangu, ir I ja sunkiau patekti, todel populiariausios - Utila ir Roatanas. Senbuviai sako, kad Utila - mazesne ir daug ramesne, o Roatane - linksmiau. Mes Utiloje nebuvome, bet kad Roatane linksma - to nepaneigs niekas :)

Roatanas - didziausia is salu. Jame yra net keli miestai: pagrindinis uostas Coxen Hole (kuriame dazniausiai nera elektros), mazesnis zvejybinis miestelis French Harbour, keliolika Garifuna gyvenvieciu ir keletas nardytoju kaimeliu vakarineje salos puseje, kur susikoncentravusios visos nardymo mokyklos (scuba diving shops), maitinimosi, linksminimosi ir miegojimo institucijos, o taip pat ir patys nardytojai is ivairiausiu pasaulio saliu. Populiariausi tarp turistu - kaimas West End ir kaimas West Bay. Mes pasirinkome West End'a.

Roatano gyventojai kalba trimis kalbomis - anglu, ispanu arba vietiniu Garifuna dialektu. Skirtingai negu visoj likusioj Centrinej Amerikoj, anglu kalba cia populiaresne uz ispanu. PADI nardymo kursai destomi bemaz visomis populiariausiomis kalbomis: anglu, ispanu, vokieciu, prancuzu, italu, portugalu, svedu, lietuviu… (juokaujam! lietuviu kol kas nepastebejom - reiktu sia klaida istaisyti :)).

Stipriausi Islas de la Bahia salu magnetai - skaidrus kaip asara ir visus metus siltas (apie +30C laipsniu!) Karibu juros vanduo ir nuo Belizo besitesiantis antras pagal dydi pasaulyje koralinis rifas (didziausias - Didysis Australijos koralinis rifas). Geresniu salygu nardymui neimanoma net susapnuoti. Grazeniu koralu - taip pat. Ne ka silpniau turistus traukia ir kainos - Roatane ir Utiloje kursai PADI sertifikatui gauti - vieni pigiausiu pasaulyje (apie $220-$250 uz "PADI Open Water Diver" kursa - intensyvus 4-riu dienu izanginis kursas, kuri pabaiges, jau gali nerti I 18 metru gyli. Panasiai tiek pat kainuoja "PADI Advanced Open Water Diver" kursas, trunkantis irgi apie 4 dienas - gaves si sertifikata, jau gali nerti I 40 metru gyli (megejisko nardymo riba). Jeigu ir to negana, galima siekti profesiniu aukstumu ir galiausiai tapti "PADI Dive Master" (kazkas panasaus I povandeniniu ekskursiju vadova, nardytojams aprodanti vietines povandenines izymybes) arba "PADI Diving Instructor" (nardymo mokytojas-instruktorius). PADI sertifikatai galioja visame pasaulyje, del to populiariausiose nardymo vietose (Hondure, Tailande, Australijoj, Filipinuose, Kroatijoje…) netruksta ivairiausiomis kalbomis destanciu instruktoriu.

Labai atsiprasome, bet I lietuviu kalba nardymo terminu net nemeginsime versti (pameginome, bet is rezultatu tiek patys prisijuokem, kad nutarem ju geriau net negarsinti). Jei atsirastu kas nors, zinantis kaip lietuviskai pasakyti "scuba diving", "dive shop" (nardykla??), "dive" (nyris??), "PADI (Advanced) Open Water Diver" ir t.t. - labai prasom mums parasyti (Jurates tetis, nardymo mokslus baiges Lietuvoje, tikrai turetu zinoti! :)) - is anksto dekojame!)

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