Sep 18, 2006

ROATAN, Honduras –  A Very Determined Man edges his suitcase in front of mine at the Roatan airport.

Amigo, I think not. After years in Italy, I elbow with the best of 'em.

He inches forward. I flip my shawl, adjust my hair and shift, casually outflanking his front foot. He angles his baggage aggressively. I sigh – so aggrieved, a lone gringa – and kick the Delsey well in front. It rockets forward on four wheels: good investment, that.

As in many endeavors, my concentration and malice flag. Determined Man beats me to the pip.

"You're a big man. You're in a BIG hurry. Go on ahead," I patronize.

He catches my meaning, I hope. Nevertheless, he smirks and swaggers to the counter. I try to stare down my nose, which isn't long enough and flips into, well, into what might be kindly called a "retroussé" style (think young Jane Fonda ... if you can weather the queasiness).

And then, boarding passes in hand, we proceed to wait. And wait and wait and wait. Flights are delayed. The loudspeaker is inscrutable. I appear to be the only sober foreigner in the room, so all the rest rush up for translations.

"Is this my call?"

"I have no idea. I don't speak Spanish."

They persist. Must be that travel writer sense of authority. Si, certo.

Like all stranded foreigners, we work out a system. A reluctant spokesmodel, I communicate in English or pigeon Italo-Spanish with someone who understands the announcements. Then the info ripples outward. All this makes me weary, far beyond the boost of caffeine.

Finally, I'm shoveled onto what appears to be a Soviet plane of my vintage. Nah, wait, box-nosed and blunt-winged, it might be a contemporary of my parents... At any rate, the mosquito fleet lacks air conditioning. I sweat to La Ceiba, then stumble to the tarmac, glance up and BAM.

Pico Bonito.

My dive buddy Nathan told me about this wolf-fang peak, but it was shrouded in clouds last time I transferred through.

Pico Bonito: pretty peak.

I don't want to leave. But I must.


  1. That's a nice photo.

  2. Thanks, DG, I seem to be on an airplane-photography streak. Possibly because they're my most common form of transport this year.

    I have no car and a home office. Aside from the odd bus or bike-ride, I'm burning through my personal patch of the ozone in jet fuel.

    (Yes, yes, people: STOP SHRIEKING. I will carbon tax – and soon). Ax.

  3. Love your writing. Now that you're certified, here are 3 suggestions for future travels:
    (1) Saba (Dutch island, south of St. Maarten's) - if I could only dive one place the rest of my life, this would be my choice. Check out breathtaking view from Willard's. Lots of great travel material at this tiny island (where the exterior scenes for the original King Kong were filmed). Best dive: Eye of the Needle (my personal deepest dive at 134 feet).
    (2) Montserrat, West Indies - the Emerald Isle of the Carribbean. The Soufriere Hills Volcano is still active, but this is still the lushest, greenest island of all the ones I've visited. And the locals tell great stories about the pre-eruption days when Sir George Martin (Beatles) ran a recording studio there - tales of Sting windsurfing, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jaegger, etc. (Vue Pointe Hotel/Jumpin Jack's Beach Bar recommended)Best dive: the Bat Cave.
    (3) for the best liveaboard dive boat in the world - try the Cuan Law based out of Tortola, BWI - a trimaran sail boat with 10 luxurious(by dive boat standards) cabins/private baths. Best dives - Wreck of the Rhone & Santa Monica Reef.

  4. Divernan, what an inspiration! I'm adding all three to my wishlist, especially the Bat Cave, because the name is so fantastic.

    My next dive will probably be the Hood Canal here in Washington State. I'm told Puget Sound offers world-class marine life, as long as you can stomach the low-viz and chill...

    Thanks for the great suggestions. Cheers, Ax.


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