for star-gazing on a cool night, getting lost in the imminence of the cosmos.
Wishing on shooting stars- a few in one night.
Learning to properly eat mangoes.
Beaches that bare magic.
Reality of the struggles and challenges that island life – and third world countries – face.
Beautiful people of all shades.
Glimpsing greater depths of his soul
Learning to talk less and take in the world more.
Realizing that God granted us everything we need.
It’s the tinkling sounds of laughter shared between island kids and those from the states as innocent friendship is developed through one game of tag, without concern for skin color, background or economic stance/ranking.
Traveling to Roatán turned out to be impactful on many levels. First, it is breathtakingly beautiful. The lush vegetation, palm trees, and pristine, aqua waters that the Caribbean is renowned for, paired with the green hills, and mountains on the mainland, that are so large that they’re visible on from the shore, attest to overall diversity of the island and more generally, Honduras and its culture. Having visited with a native islander, I was fully immersed into REAL island life. This was both a reminder of the luxuries we’re afforded in the US– like when storms knocked out the power for miles so that the entire neighborhood had no electricity or running water– and immensely rewarding. At this moment, as I type, I can only recall the simplicity and peace I felt grabbing my freshly brewed (Honduran, not Starbucks) coffee, stepping out the front door to be greeted by the ocean. (*deep inhale exhale*) God is good.
In terms of food, the island is known for seafood, fruit, and– more on the low, coffee. For the most part I only ate home-cooked meals so everything I tried was AMAZING. (Iguana included. 🦎) But nothing was more astounding than the fruit! Mangos were in season, meaning there were yards and entire fields filled with them. Literally, FILLED– so that the ground appeared orange. At one point, while my crew was driving around visiting people, we pulled off the road to grab some that had fallen in a nearby lot of land. We cleaned them with water we’d brought along and ate them on the spot. Whew chile. I never tasted a mango as sweet or so ripe in the states. Nor did I know that there were more than 5 different kinds of mangos available on the island. Only in Roatán was I– for the first time in my life– able to overcome my aversion to coconut. I’ve never liked coconut water, flavored candies, or shavings. But having a ripe one, fresh from the palm tree, chilled and open for me to sip, did I realize what I was missing. Whew! So, when in Honduras, eat. Indulge.
A must-try: For my fam who likes to drink, there are plenty of bars and restaurants on all of the main beaches. But for truly authentic libation, ask a native about Sorrel. Made from hibiscus flowers (sorrel) that are grown locally, and can be picked and or purchased at the market and combined with ginger.
Sorrel Recipe, as supplied by a native islander:
You need: 2.5 lbs of ginger root, 1 bag of sorrel, or hibiscus seeds and flowers, (generally comes in 5 lb bag); your preferred sweetener; large pot.
- Crush 2.5 lbs of ginger root into a powder
- Place powdered ginger into a large pot water
- Bring to a boil
- Add hibiscus flowers (the sorrel can be fresh or dried out), and let it boil for 20 minutes.
- Turn the stove off and allow the tea to steep (overnight steeping recommended)
- Strain liquid and sweeten it with your preferred sweetener
You can refrigerate the tea, which makes for a delicious juice, or you can allow it to ferment in the sun– on one’s porch or in the kitchen– transforming into a potent and flavorful wine. The longer you allow it to sit, the less sweet and stronger it becomes. Before sipping, you’ll be able to determine how strong the batch is based on the intensity of the smell. ([insert name] has nothing on this.)
Honduras a History (Yes, this is a Harry Potter reference.)
Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras, is located around 65 kilometres off the northern coast of the mainland. Like many nations “settled” by colonists, the indigenous peoples, thought to be related to the Paya or Maya, were tragically enslaved and largely wiped out. Given the islands popularity in the past and present, the population of Roatán primarily consists of the Garifuna– Afro-Caribbeans– and their descendants and Spanish descendants, though even more diversity is found on the mainland.
Resting atop the largest barrier in the Caribbean Sea, second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Roatàn is a renowned destination for snorkeling, and eco-tourism in general.
In case it’s not evident, I thoroughly enjoyed my small piece of paradise on the island in the sun. Special thanks to E, Ms. Myra (go see her if you only want a BOMB tour guide), Belinda, and everyone else for making my first experience a memorable one!
Check out more photos from this trip here.