Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Azure World

Roatan Islands, Honduras.  Everything about the name of this destination screams “NOT FOR ME”… not for the girl who loves mountains instead of seas, who loves crisp cold over oppressive heat.  Regardless of where I travel during my wanderlust, this has always (and will always) be my personal truth.  But that doesn’t mean that, on a very rare occasion, I can’t find myself enthralled by the antithesis of my heart’s desires, right? 
One of the photos I took at Lam'anai ruins.

I visited Roatan after having already made stops in Cozumel and Belize.  Belize will always have a soft spot for the anthropological archaeologist in me… but aside from their spectacular Mayan ruins, I think they are just like every other third world country.  I’ve heard my brother and dad rave about the scuba in Belize, but I don’t scuba (nor will I take my limited time there for snorkeling when I have so many ruins to explore!).  So, the morning I walked out on the deck and my eyes experienced Roatan, I have to admit I was shocked immediately by the splendor of the rugged and lush hills.  The water between myself and the island was that specific shade of blue that only the Caribe waters seems to create.  If you haven’t seen the Caribbean, I always use the word “azure” to describe it. While “azure” may simply mean "blue" in Spanish… it’s beyond that.  The sultry yet somehow lazy feel of the word on my tongue (Ahz-zhuer) somehow express the devastating yet comfortable shade that I only seem to find here.  Roatan was surrounded by azure waters accented by the crisper, lighter shades indicative of reefs.  Considering I usually went into ports with a sense of “ugh, how ugly” and “welp, at least it’s just a few hours here then back on the boat!”, this was a dramatic change… I was anxious to get off the boat, don snorkeling gear and get in that water.

We (a group of 20 or so) hopped on the deluxe catamaran known as the Jolly Roger and motored a few miles up the coast to a specific stretch of reef.  Experienced snorkelers (or those who were either great swimmers or arrogantly confident that they had no need of a life vest) were allowed to don our gear and hop into the water with a guide to show us to some pretty cool areas of the reef.  I bet you’ve already guessed, but I’m one of those cocky, arrogantly confident types that didn’t want to feel hindered by a life vest.  I have been snorkeling once or twice and I admit that, while I have a wretched fear of the ocean (ok,… of sharks)… I’m also one natural helluva swimmer…. so screw the PFD! (Err… that’s ‘personal floatation device’… a way cooler way of saying life vest.) 

Stoplight Parrotfish c/o
I hopped in the water and adjusted the bikini, meandering out of the way as I waited on M to jump in.  After he did, he pretty much told me to go on ahead as he adjusted and did his thing.  After a quick 10 yard swim, the reef life below me burst into view flaunting vivid colors of reefs and fishes in varied shapes and sizes.  I made sure I stayed in front of my group (never fun to take a fin to the head!) but kept an eye on where our guide went.  Purple giant ‘leaves’ waved lazily  from the sea floor, rainbows of fishes danced in and out of the reef.  I’d take a deep breath and dive down, going 10… 15… 20 feet down to swim between isles of reef.  I held a starfish who managed to both slither and clamber at the same time as it moved over my hands.  I chased a stoplight parrotfish as we played hide-and-seek from reef to reef.  I gawked in awe at the depth and darkness of the bluff that plunged down at the end of the reef.  I didn’t know it until I got back to the Jolly Roger, but at some point I dove so deep that I managed to give myself a bloody nose and quite painful ear pop which didn’t subside even after I equalized.  When the trip was over,  and no sooner had I been out of the water (blood washed off my face) than I wanted to go back in.  The places I’ve snorkeled were never so wild and free as this… and never in 5’ swells, either (which added to my fun!). 

I fell in love with the island, with the people I met from the island, and with the splendor of snorkeling on their amazing reefs.  While Belize may have equally impressive reefs, I won’t ever find that out (cuz they have SO MANY amazing RUINS!).

No comments:

Post a Comment