Monday, March 9, 2015

Zipping Around the Honduras

I wasn't the only one awake at this hour...
Rising at around fifteen past dawn to run with the sun rising in the distance over the island of Roataan, Honduras was certainly an invigorating start to another memorable day. I had mentioned my desire to do so the night before, but saying you want to watch the sun rise can be easily excused away in the morning from the comfort of the unbelievably just right down blanket! Just before my eyes opened, I had been dreaming of doing some folk dancing, so I figured, Hey, if I've got enough energy to dance in my sleep, then I can get out of bed and get up on deck! What, you don't dream of folk dancing...?
Here on board there are many ways the boat resembles a floating city whose inhabitants come from all walks of life and yet cohabitate in their different roles . From the Impatients to the Complainers, the Young and Old, Rich and Poor both monetarily and in spirit or health, we're all experiencing the vacation in our own way, and yet, together! The smiles of my fellow walkers and joggers reminded me of the atmosphere of my neighboring city Gig Harbor, where people delight in the community of early risers, go outsiders, those of us choosing to greet the day on our own terms...with souls we love...  but there weren't any dogs up top of the ship lol.
One of the observations I couldn't help but notice was the wide variety of cameras being used to capture the amazing view as it unfolded before us. I helped a fellow scrapper with her huge Ipad, and there were a lot of the smaller point and shoot cameras out there too, but I was envious of the big, long lensed, old fashioned focus-with-your-hand-instead-of-a-button versions. Alas, I didn't bring mine; I just couldn't picture myself as being willing to heft it around on our adventures. And, no I didn't bring my camera up top either, but that helped me to really concentrate on the task at hand- enjoying myself!
And not slipping on the running track, which got hosed off with a heavy wash of water each morning. Just before sunrise. So it was extremely wet and slippery. Every morning. Did any of you readers hear about the time I catapulted myself down the stairs here at the house? Or how I have fallen hard enough to knock my glasses off? Dropped a vase on my face just before a trip to see my sisters a couple years ago... Trust me, I slowed down on the hard parts haha. Of the track people!
Back in time for a shower before room service delivered our fresh fruit and bacon heavy breakfast, which of course we chose to eat on our balcony. Don't think it will be possible to tire of that! The pineapple was a perfectly golden tangy this morning, as were the grapes, kiwi, and strawberry. I've kind of surprised myself with the amount of fruit I've been seeking; never high on my list of favorites, it has been a struggle to find a balance of the fruits I love with the stomach uneasiness that can sometimes follow the ingestion of large quantities of God's gift- especially the citruses. The addition of a banana seems to help. And bacon! I must've eaten about 6 pieces. BECAUSE I COULD.
Dressed, in what I considered to be somewhat Ginger and Mary-Annie outfits, slathered with Off!, our bags packed with sunscreen (and credit cards) in tow, we set off giddy with expectation for our first port and pre-booked excursion. The colorful stucco buildings echoed with the beats of a welcoming group of Honduran dancers. Since I plan to end the day with a little booty shakin' myself, it was with a keener eye I tried to observe how the heck they move so fluidly. I feel like a stick doing the robot, and these women were twerking in the streets, so I figured, hey free lesson! Thank goodness their skirts left a lot to the imagination, the way the tourist guys were ogling them. Heck the way their band members were gawking! Girls had the moves. 
Zip N Dip! I forgot about the dip, whoopee!
Down the street we went, easily locating our tour's hut using the information on our printed from home excursion directions. Wrists extended for some lime green bracelets printed with "Zip and Dip!" With friendly smiles we were advised to "wait over there please." Hmmm, OK... where? "Just right there, ma'am." Here? "Yes, ma'am." Realizing there weren't bound to be swarms of bugs attacking within the confines of the restricted access parking lot, off went my long sleeve shirt and I soaked up the 9'oclock sun. Then I realized all the men around us were now ogling me... back on went the shirt!
The addition of sunglasses allowed me the viewing pleasure of watching all the tour guides and taxi van drivers- one in particular captured my attention with his long lean physique and dark glistening skin, accented by a few heavy white gold chains. And then it happened: not only did the object of my interest begin to pick his nose with those elegantly long fingers I'd been admiring, but another much less attractive man nearby hawked a huge loogie into the bushes D had just photographed... Talk about a Deal Breaker.
Joined by two other couples from our ship and our van driver, along the coast and up into the rainforest we bumped along the pot-holed streets, staring into the villagers homes with avid interest. Stilted, with huge open areas beneath, and decorated with what looked like weeks of laundry hanging in the warm wind. Palm and coconut trees in every yard, along with beautiful, long leaved, purpley- magenta plants, sprinkled with coral blossoms bunched in hedges of what looked lot like the invasive vines that grow around our yard.                                                                
 Winding our way up the mountain side, we passed a construction crew, hard at work repairing the dilapidated roadway. While a few men shoveled dirt onto screens leaning against trees, others filled craters in the road with the finely sifted results. I supposed the daily rains, coupled with abundant forest growth, would make cement or asphalt roads difficult to maintain. We noticed the workers backpacks hanging from nearby tree limbs. Guessing they don't have the luxury of company vehicles and the air conditioned lunchrooms our road crews are accustomed to!
I'd say it was about a 15 minute ride to the South Shore Zip Line and Eco Walk starting point. We were greeted by our guides, Jeffrey and Ishmael, who directed us to place our belongings in the small lockers provided for the small cost of $2. I had some trouble with the lock, and will admit to wondering, is this a scam for them to go through our bags and get our credit info while we're screaming from tree to tree? But those thoughts were quickly dismissed, as this company was recipient of a 2013 Service and Excellence award, and chosen by our travel agents Gail and Cheri at CruiseOne as their preferred Zip line excursion package in Roataan.
We eagerly watched our companions get zipped into their harnesses and then it was our turn to get rigged up. Thinking back to my girls night out the Friday before leaving... was there going to be a Fifty flashes of rainforest scene unfolding? Heavy duty leather gloves and an adorable helmet completed our new ensembles, and it was off to the first platform. Anticipation was felt all around as Ishmael performed the proper placement we'd need for our hands during the ride and how to operate the hand brake. Literally, it would be our hand braking us... D and I look at each other cross eyed and burst into giggles as we have no idea what we are in for!
Exhilarating, surreal, awesome, breathtaking... just a few of the thousand adjectives we could have (and did) use to describe the incredible feeling of flying through the canopy 20-50 feet off the ground. I actually have no idea how high the zip lines were, but the platforms were a comfortable 10-15 feet or so high, with a large net surrounding the exit and landing zones. 
I've been afraid of heights for so long I could hardly believe how comfortable I was, enough so that when Ishmael asked if I wanted to go upside down on the 2nd zip, I agreed without a second's hesitation. "Just trust me Anna, and don't use your hands, I will do it all for you and you will just concentrate on the enjoying, all right?"
The result?
For the first time since I can remember, I wasn't so afraid of falling that I wasn't able to experience with my heart the thrill of zooming over the rain forest tree tops with arms out stretched,  mega watt smile ready to catch any bugs I encounter! A few zips later I was advised  "Just let go and fly, don't even put your hand up until the end okay, Anna, now you're  gonna see why the birds fly all day," and I was suddenly propelled across the valley at an outrageously delightful speed. Already, I was comfortable enough in the harness that I really could just open my arms and enjoy the sensations, lean back and experience that soaring joy without fear. Well, a little fear. Some added bouncing of the lines let me add my whoops and shrieks to the cacophony of wildlife that lay below.
My helmet doesn't look like it's on right...among other things.
Check out my cool vacation water shoes- Aqua Sox with socks Rocks! #RockGirl #PanteraRules
^^^   Safety First!
Seriously, Ish and Jeff were extremely courteous, even when sending our group into fits of giggles at comical lines they must feed every tourist. We asked about how much they work, and sometimes it can be as few as two groups in a day that they lead screaming through the trees. There is a rotation amongst the staff, and they take their livelihood seriously, securing each of us with practiced care, and explaining exactly what not to do- i.e. don't put your hand on the cable in front of the rigging... advice I literally heard booming through my head as my hand attempted to do just that. Shared that little scare with D and thank goodness she then heard MY voice in her head and instead reached behind her, just before her hand attempted to separate from her body through the same method mine had. 
Mega Watt Glad We Stall Have Our Hands Selfie
Laughing at our breathless enjoyment, our group was not only soaring through the air, but we were all literally high as kites as the constant surges of adrenaline flushed our cheeks a high pink and a sparkle to our eyes. D commented that my mega-watt smile could probably power the ship! And yes, it felt like my face might break from smiling so hard. We each took amazing photos of the adventure, and a video showing of our gliding through towards the camera with arms not just outstretched but flapping like the black and red butterflies that surrounded us will be one of the most convincing displays of how safe we felt with the rigging, guides, and I guess being able to make fools of ourselves. But man was it fun!
Stepping out of the harness was a relief; one can only discreetly try to dig a rope out of ones nether regions so many times on one excursion. About 4 flights of stairs took us to an inclining hill where a bench invited a quick rest before the pick up vehicle arrived to transport us the rest of the way up the mountain side where our belongs, and of course the gift shop, were waiting undisturbed. There really was dust on some of the reasonably priced items we could collect as proof that we really had done the unbelievable.
My Precious
Did I mention I'm a Survivor Fan-atic and that Wednesday is the new Thursday in my world? Seriously, we do at home Survivor challenges in our house. Tasks as simple as cleaning the yard become much more intense when There's A MILLION Dollars On the Line! I even have my purple Survivor: Samoa buff with me for flaunting at the beach to come! Would I take home the Oh My Gosh, I want to buy this so bad, but it's not going to get worn "I Survived" shirt? Of course not, I chose a black V-neck with, "Zip Chick" in hot pink emblazoned on the front. D tried to pick out a hat, but none really looked perfect, and finally settled for a cute crew neck tee featuring a lizard a top "Gettin' Zipped," and she picked up the $10 DVD with their photographers pics of our fun for our home printing enjoyment. What a deal!
What I didn't figure on dealing with was a credit card malfunction that may have spelled a quick end to my MasterCard shopping availability for the rest of the trip... apparently the little gift shop's machine is somewhat temperamental, and my cashier had to run my card twice. That in itself wouldn't have sent any red flags to the Capital One security team, however, I then impulse-bought a souvenir hat as well, which was the third transaction in one day, in a foreign country, on a card without a travel alert on it. And I work for a bank... Whoopsie! 
Have a similar story to share about adventuring? Facing your fears? A shopping trip halting all future expenditures?  Comment below and come back tomorrow for a long awaited trip to the beach!



  1. I almost feel like I went with you two! What a great story and throated time prove it! Print and scrap!