The Storm and After

Roatan’s Pirates
Originally uploaded by apes_abroad.

We had our first trip to the infamous Hole in the Wall restaurant a couple days ago. We were celebrating our host Marcia’s birthday over drinks with some of the local boys. Back in the 1600’s Roatan was haven to pirates (including Captain Morgan) who preyed off Spanish gold fleets leaving the mainland. We discovered that there are still pirates in Roatan, and they frequent Hole in the Wall. They even have a macaw, so that proves it.

While we had drinks (and Colin a hand-rolled Honduran cigar) we watched people bringing their boats in to shelter from the coming storm. Hurricane Richard was due to come right over Roatan early the next morning and many people weren’t taking chances. We watched the weather channel and joked that Hole in the Wall may not be there in 24 hours. Thinking of the shoddy little huts on stilts that make up much of Jonesville and Oak Ridge, I wondered how they’d survive. I learned that during Hurricane Mitch the owners pulled up the floorboards so big waves could just wash in and out without carrying the house away with them – pretty smart. The churches up on the hills were getting ready to accomodate families overnight and through the next day.

We moved up to the big house for the night just in case, as the boat house where we are staying is sturdy, but made of wood and sits on stilts over the water. We were woken up at four in the morning by the howling wind and rain. Marcia and Dennis got up to monitor the storm, but we (having not much to lose except sleep) went back to bed.

Turns out Roatan lucked out: Richard skirted north and didn’t reach Hurricane status until after it had passed and was on its way to terrorize Belize. Our hosts lost a couple trees and Hole in the Wall’s kitchen roof blew off, but there was no major damage in our area. It took the power company until today to get the juice going again, but we had a generator for dawn and dusk so no biggie, it just gave us a reason to take a kayak trip once the wind died down so we could check the bight for damage.

We tied up our kayaks at the point and walked around it to explore the sandy(ish) beaches so protected by the reef that you can’t access them by boat. We found all kinds of shells and coral and a fair bit of garbage washed up by the storm. Colin made friends with a hermit crab – it was nearly lifelong friends until Colin was able to convince the bugger to let go of his finger. When we got back we had a birthday dinner for Marcia and celebrated that everything was still standing.

When the storm moved through it pulled all the local moisture with it, so this morning was gloriously sunny without a cloud in the sky – we could even see all the way to the mainland for the first time. The water in our bight still looks like milk chocolate from all the runoff, but we went snorkeling up at the mouth where visibility was better. I saw an octopus! We packed a lunch and hung out on a neighbor’s deck amid dips back in the water. Such a beautiful day, thank you Richard!


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