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Dear Friends and Family,

We are expecting company in about 9 days and then I am sure we will do more active things like a tourist when that happens.  I have every hope that my arm will be much better by then though not likely to be fully recovered.  I am starting to do more with my hand but just a little.  At least there is less pain with just regular movement.

Because of the arm, we are not doing very much around here.  We were going to a different anchorage at least but we have been here another week and each day find a reason not to move.  Things are pretty interesting here for cruisers.  There is a popular area to anchor called West End.  As the name suggests, it is at the west end of the island.  The mayor who is mayor over half the island of Roatan has decided that the boaters are an environmental problem for the marine park where the moorings and anchorage are located and has told boaters they have to move.  That was put out about 3 weeks ago, just about the time we arrived.  The marine park and many members of the community oppose this but there has been little time to organize.  Some people don’t believe the environmental thing and I won’t get in to the particulars on either side.  The mayor is the owner of a large resort near by and the theory is that he wants to build another marina where the marine park is located and doesn’t want the boaters there.  This is the most popular anchorage in Roatan and boaters who are on moorings there often don’t leave so it was difficult for us to try the place out.  Now boaters are leaving but those staying are not being hassled by anyone though they were told to leave  yesterday and the moorings are still there so we are thinking of going there tomorrow.  If we get run off, we can always relocate but it would be really a great place to pick up our guests and spend at least a few days.  It is the closest place to the airport.  It is also the only place with a little town by the boats and a good place to come ashore for restaurants, shopping and atmosphere.  The snorkeling and diving are right close to the boat so you don’t need to get to it by dinghy.  We will see.  Perhaps the organization of business owners can keep this from happening.  It looks like it is a unilateral decision by the mayor and even the Marine Park people are opposed.  There has been no study to support the mayor’s reasons for the ban on the boaters.  The talk is that he is also planning to close this large anchorage at French Harbor where we have been anchored for 3 weeks, which is also part of the marine park.  If that happens as well, it means no really great place to hang out at anchor here.  Only marina options.  It could impact that area financially though we are a small amount of the total.   If boaters chose not to make this a stop on their cruising schedule because they don’t feel welcome here, it will be noticed.

The problem is, the other likely option in the area is Belize.  There, the rate of break in and physical violence has increased, especially in the formerly quiet southern area, and so that doesn’t seem to be as desirable lately either.  The percentages of boats impacted are small but still increasing and the violence added to the theft is what is so alarming.  So far, things seem pretty safe around here but one must always be alert and vigilant with security.  Of course most of you are locking your cars and homes even in a “safe” area and we are just being sure we do the same.

We did do an island tour the other day with our friends Floyd, Lauren and daughter Archer.  Most of the interesting things are at West End.  Many are tourist stops.   There is a butterfly garden, a botanical garden, dolphin show or swimming with the dolphins and a small history museum.  There are beaches and an underwater snorkel area that has signs under water to follow and to mark things.  Of course all have a fee.  There are three zip line runs on the island and diving and fishing and booze cruise options.  Diving is certainly the primary activity for visitors on the island.  Rob has gone twice here but didn’t really get excited about his locations.  I am not ready to do it yet but maybe with company.

We found a place that served Iguana and I had it for lunch.  This was my second taste, the first being during Carnival in Trinidad many years ago.  It is OK but I would not go out of my way to eat it again.  It is like shredded pieces because you have so many bones that you have to remove the meat from that and there is not real large chunk of meat anywhere.  Even though we went to an Iguana farm, I still ate the iguana.  The farm does not sell the iguana, they are for tourists to look at.  The iguana has to be caught in the wild and is not on menus but our driver knew where to check for it.

We also noted something else interesting.  We saw guys filling pot holes with dirt and people would stop and give them money.  The holes can be filled by anyone interested in doing so and drivers who appreciate that will pay them something as they drive by.  Do you think that would work with our unemployment problem in the U.S.?  The dirt probably doesn’t last too long so that bodes well for job security!

Tourism is the largest source of income and has passed fishing which is second.  Construction is third.  Because tourism is seasonal, it makes it difficult and many people need to do other things in the summer.  The Bay Islands used to be British and English is still widely spoken by many on the islands.  Most who only speak Spanish have more recently come from the mainland and do the more menial work.  Crime is less here than the main land where it is becoming a bigger problem.  The drug cartels have moved from Colombia to Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico and those countries are fighting with already weak governments who are easily open to corruption.  Even with good people in office, their lives are threatened.  It seems hopeless.  People who use the illegal drugs feel they have a right to do what they want but if they saw what the sale of these drugs does to whole countries, maybe they would less likely be customers.

We have had less to do with locals here and most of our time has been with other boaters.  That is fun but less satisfying than having the option of both.  Maybe we will get more of that if we get to stay at West End for awhile.

There is a really pretty place right next to us in the anchorage.  It is a very small private island owned by a man who has a restaurant and bar across the bay from the island.  Their big business comes from the cruise ships.  The people are transported to the restaurant and then put on a boat for the quick drive across the harbor.  There is a lovely little island with beaches, the reef right by it, though you can’t go on the outside from there, but beautiful turquoise protected waters.   They have it appointed in a very up scale and interesting way.  You can buy expensive drinks and some food there and visit in the shade or work on your tan.  Part of the island has exotic birds and monkeys to look at.  It seems set away from the rest of the world and very private.  We can go over there in our own dinghy and be there free though they appreciate it if we buy something, either at the bar there or come to the restaurant.  I will include some pictures of this place.

I may not write much as we are not doing anything dramatic though always manage to stay busy.  I will probably not take time to write while we have company.  Once we leave here, I am not sure how often we will have internet connection.  That has been so great here that we will really miss that.

I do have to tell you that this log was typed by me with both hands.  It is good exercise for my right hand and though I am still making more mistakes with this hand, it is amazing to see how much faster I can go now!  Rob is still doing the cooking and that may be that way for while but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The included pictures are of my plate of iguana meat with rice and beans and fried Plantain.  The two yellow things on the iguana are cooked iguana eggs.  You can see some of the iguanas at the farm and also pictures of the little island near here.  Hope you enjoy.  Can you pick out our dinghy at the dock?

Enjoy your spring weather!

Sue and Rob

Aboard Catalyst

French Harbor, Roatan Honduras

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