Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jordan - Close one

Close one

Sometimes there are moments during your lifetime where you actually think you might not make it to the next day. This trip consisted of at least one for me, as we exited the aircraft and overheard the phrase “Wow that was a close one” from the seasoned flight attendant.

A fear flying is a rather common condition among many people who don't travel a lot and I often experience these emotions too before I step on board. It's not really a justified fear considering the odds, but it's something that lingers until you step back on land. Our flight to Roatan was possibly one of the most frightening experiences I have had so far. Looking back, it was just an alarming experience and nothing more. Yet I can't help but relate it to another event in my life.

Having suffered a stroke when I was younger , it was difficult to ignore the similarities between the two events. Even though each of these experiences were years apart and wildly different, the emotions tie the two together in a strange way. Having such a sense of uncertainty and no control, even just momentarily, is a baffling feeling. Despite our treacherous first attempt at landing they managed to safely put the aircraft on the ground a few hours later. In the end, I guess this just means I will strictly be taking Carnival cruises to these parts of the Carribbean in the near future.


Jordan - Top five

Top Five Reasons To Visit Honduras

5. Transportation

Vehicles are essentially the same everywhere. However, if safety was ever a concern in this region I must have missed it. This could have happened while being crammed in an overcapacitated, rickety van with even worse roads, less than ideal weather conditions, and carbon copies of these vans dueling with us a few inches apart. Simply put, that was a blast.

4. Exchange Rate

There's something about having a 1,000 of any currency in your pocket at one time. Unless it's only $50.00 worth of Honduran Lempiras.

3. Humidity

“It's not the heat, it's the humidity” is a common expression in the Southeast. It should be the only expression in Central America. Somewhere between taking a shower then sweating, going out in the rain and sweating, and then going to bed to sweat again I realized I was out of anti-perspirant.

2. Cuisine

Whether it was simply the Mango Creek Lodge and their exceptional cooking or the fact that meals were only served the traditional three times daily. It would be a challenge to find someone on this trip who didn't swear that was the best weeks' worth of food they'd ever had.

1. People

Getting to know the people was one of the best parts of this trip. Not just the staff and owners at the lodge but those around the area too. Even traveling through some of the more desolate and tourist vacant areas of Roatan the people were always friendly.

Jordan - Bio

Blog Intro

My name is Jordan Osborne and I'm a senior from Cocoa, FL. When I start to think about my past travels one peculiar thought always crosses my mind, not anything exceptionally strange, just something that will make this adventure different from others. When I reach back into my memory bank I can't recall where I've ever been a part of a true organized travel experience, not a mission trip or even a form of senior trip. Traveling with family is one thing, teachers and students looks a completely different animal. So while it may not appear noteworthy to some, for me it's sort of an odd affect not knowing entirely what to expect. Not only that, but while I had been aware of our school's Travel-Study program for quite some time, it wasn't very high on my priority list until I discovered it was included as a part of the tuition. I wouldn't say I'm a particularly frugal person, but this definitely made me more open to this concept of “studying abroad” as opposed to a personal trip.

I'm a Business Administration major, so trying to find some connection between that and why I'm going on this trip might be a stretch. Growing up near the ocean definitely played a significant role in why I chose Honduras as a destination. It's something that's had an impact throughout my life and continues to spark an interest in me, even so much as to take an oceanography class recently. Not to mention all the kayaking and snorkeling we'll be able to handle. All in all, I think this will be a great experience. I look forward to exploring a new part of the world and seeing some of the things we've discussed in class come to life.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Karina - Saturday-Monday

“Saturday – Monday”
These recordings are mainly written in a sort of stream of conscious writing style. It’sbasically what we did those days mixed with a bit of how I felt about it all.

Saturday 12/10/2011
Left HC at around 3:30am (yup); Departed from Atlanta and almost crashed the plane onthe way (we were forced to land in Belize and chill on the plane for about 2 hours)(yes I cried);Arrived in Roatan (rain rain rain rain); Rode boats to Mango Creek Lodge (rain rain rain rain);Girls were “too scared” to separate so we all slept in upstairs lodge instead of cabana the firstnight; I roomed with Bethany (good roommate); Shower was awful; Played the “drawing game”with everyone (a little perverted, but extremely funny); Had a good, humid night’s sleep.

Sunday 12/11/2011
Yummy breakfast; All did not receive brief scuba diving intro; Swam off dock (wetsuites were needed); Sea kayaked (nice workout); relaxed in hammock while the rest of the teamwent on an adventurous hike; Shower was much better in cabana which motivated me to stay therest of the nights in the cabana; Played epic game of spades (Wes and I vs. Davis and Dominik)(We won, somehow).

Monday 12/12/2011
First group (not me) did not go scuba diving while the rest of us boated to village/townand mangrove canopy; Saw some monkeys (Davis got to hold one of them and flipped out sincethis must have been his lifelong dream); Weather was awful during the boat ride (not one part ofus was dry) (we had a blast anyways); Sea kayaked some more; Got to see an eagle ray right offthe dock (another lifelong dream of Davis’); Hung out.

Karina - Newness

Like I said before, I love new things. No, I didn’t love every new experience thathappened during this trip, but at least I can say I had that experience. Plus I didn’t die, which is ahuge plus. It’s okay to be jealous if you’ve never done these things.

Activities:
Sea kayaking
Snorkeling
Not scuba diving
Swimming
Boat riding (mangrove tour)
Shopping
Hiking
Water skiing

My New Experiences:
Sea kayaking
Snorkeling
Not scuba diving
Staying in a cabana
Using composting toilets (“Eco Resort”)
Sand flies and noseeems
Davis & Bethany getting a random Staph Infection at same the same time, in same placeof body, and with no open wounds (still not sure if it was Staph; that’s just whatisland clinician reported)Staying in a 3rd World Country and being able to use wifi
Officially understanding I have a fear of being submerged in deep water
Learning that I have a great fear and great respect for the ocean and all of its many manymany many many living organisms
Finding out that I really like Raspberry Upside-down Mango pie
Learning that Roatanians don’t really speak Spanish but mainly a different type ofEnglish (sounded Jamaican mixed with British English)
Eating Wahoo (fish)
Learning that Guatemalans go to Roatan to sell their stuff in the cruise ship areas
Being in salt water a lot really dehydrates you. Especially if the medication you take is asalt
Going to a 3rd World Country without via mission trip reasons
Going to a 3rd World Country and not needing to speak Spanish or be a translator
Really believing that the airplane I was on was about to crash
Wearing and using a wet suite, flippers/fins, and snorkel
Seeing someone sleep with their eyes open like Gandalf
Learning and using that some kayaks have petals and rudders instead of just a paddle

Karina - The Team

For: The Huntingdon Plan (Travel Experience)
Where:Mango Creek Lodge (“Eco Resort”) in Roatan Honduras
When: Saturday, December 10, 2011 – Saturday, December 17, 2011
Why: The Australia trip was too expensive and this sounded like a lot of fun and a goodadventure.
Who: Davis Ryan (the Pre-Husband)
Wes Anderson
Jackie Daniels
Abby Carter
Sharissa Copeland
Bethany Martin
Alex Taylor
Dominik Platen
McDowell Pinkard
Rusty Cowley
Jordan Osborne
Dr. Allen Tubbs
Professor Jim Hilgartner
Karina Scott (me)
We had a small group. I was perfectly fine with that fact since every HC trip I’ve been onhad a small group. Of course the other two trips I went on were mission trips and this one wasfor pleasure. That also means this group was very different from the other two. Very. But I had awonderful time nonetheless. It was nice spending time and getting to know people I had neverhung out with throughout my last three and a half years of college. I love new things, so I ateevery bit of it up. Although we weren’t necessarily a “team” that worked together to accomplisha goal such as Extreme Home Makeovers trying to build a house, we still had fun together. Andif our goal was to have a good time and our work ethic was to chill, then I think we are winners.We were on vacation, and a good one it was. Everyone with different backgrounds, differentgoals, different ideas, and one thing in mind: to blow off the steam we’ve been marinating in allfall semester. Was it a success? I think yes.

Davis - The Food

The Food
It was night when we arrived. It should have been day time, but the delays with the landing held kept us until after dark. We rode by taxi halfway to the resort we stayed in, then for the other half we loaded up into small boats to take us the rest of the way to the resort because it was only accessible by water. As our boats pulled into the dock we were greeted by an older couple, the owners of the resort, and their dogs. They invited us to the dining room, which was just a large cabana with a kitchen in the water just off the shore. There we met Dalia, a cook greater than the best cook you can possibly imagine. The first night we had wahoo covered in a coconut cream sauce, that was by far the best food Ihave ever eaten in my entire life! Some of the other dishes we had for dinner were wahoo again with another kind of sauce, shrimp and chicken kabobs, lasagna, barbecue chicken, a homemade soup, and on the very last night we had a huge buffet with all types of fish, chicken, and other hor derves. The best meal that we had on the trip, and consequently in my entire life, was by far the soup. In it was shrimp, chicken, scallops, lobster, crab, and vegetables. The broth by itself was to die for, mixing sweet, salty,and tangy flavors all into one glorious blend! And on top of that it had all of those different ingredients to make it that much better! Overall, I look at this trip as both wonderful and wonderfully sad. It gave me a chance to eat the best food I will ever eat in my entire life, but I will never be able to taste it again.

Davis - Near Death

Near Death
As we boarded the plane the excitement in our whole group was building once again. Out excitement quickly died down though because we were all so tired from not sleeping the night before. Everyone was looking forward to sleeping on the flight, but we find out shortly that the trip was only about 4 hours long. Most of us fell asleep pretty quickly to try and make the most of the short flight. We were all awakened as the pilot announced that we were going entering or final approach to land, but that we would be going through some turbulence as we did. No one expected what was about to happen. As we made our approach the turbulence was much worse than anyone expected. Our plane was bouncing around like a kangaroo the whole way down. As we got closer and closer though the turbulence got worse and worse until eventually we has to have been rising and falling at least 50 feet every few seconds...a dangerous thing when your plane is only 200 feet from the ground. The pilot continued on his course towards the runaway though, fighting the violent bouncing of the plane the whole way. Everyone on the plane was praying that we would at least make out through that landing alive. By far the scariest moment was when the plane was no more than 50 feet above land and people’s houses. Everyone was sure we were going to crash. At long last, just before we were surely headed for the side of a mountain, the pilot pulled the plane out and, at full throttle, narrowly escaped certain death. The storm on the ground was so bad that the pilot had had to take us all to Belize to sit there fora few hours while we waited out the storm. After a few hours of sitting on the plane on the tarmac in Belize we took off again to attempt a landing in Roatan once more. When we made our second approach the storm had not quite blown over yet, but at least it wasn't as bad as it was on our first attempt. During the approach the plane was still bouncing almost just as violently, but to our relief our pilot, the hero of the day, finally landed us safely in Roatan.

Davis - The Airport

The Airport
Honduras, or more exactly, Roatan, was our destination. Including the teachers there were14 of us. It was 2:00 am when we all assembled to be briefed on the rules of the trip and to load thevans to head to the airport. Even though it was so early in the morning and most of us were sleepythe excitement among us was building. We got to the airport at about 6:00 am. As we went throughsecurity we were all separated and somehow wet managed to lose one of or teachers, Dr. Tubbs. Weall assembled in the area right after to wait for him. We called his cell phone, looked for him in line, andwaited...and waited...and waited. The only thing we could think that happened to him was that he wasbeing searched by TSA in a back room somewhere. After we waited for more than 30 minutes we gaveup and decided to just go on ahead without him with the thought that he could make it to the gate byhimself. As we arrived at the gate though we saw that Dr. Tubbs was already there waiting on us! Aftera few hours of waiting in the terminal we boarded the plane for a very short and unrestful flight toRoatan.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alex - Bio

BIOGRAPHY

My entire life I have lived in the same house; I’ve flown on a plane four times, and after Honduras, five. I grew up in a very rural area, so when the offer arose that I could go to a remote area of Central America, I was more than excited to go. The experience that I want for the trip is to have a great time and to really escape the culture we are used to living in. I am excited to have no cell phone, computer, or any other electronic devices. The opportunity that we have is something I am looking forward to for some while. Stay tuned during our blog for all the exciting stories and one of the most memorable times of our lives.

Alex - Michaels's Story

Michael’s Story

Michael Boddan was the most interesting person I met while in Roatan. A local fisherman and worker for Mango Creek for the past four years, he seemed pretty normal at first meeting. Maybe it’s that I am so “Americanized”, or maybe was not prepared for the friendship we would strike, but Michael shocked me with some of his insight.

Born in Honduras in the late 1980’s Michael was born into one of the wealthier families on the island. As we drove around different parts he showed us one of his sisters multiple houses, and told us that she was the rich one because she was a doctor in the town. Part of a large family, Michael was a very family oriented man, and two of his sisters worked at Mango Creek as well. Michael dropped out of school after the American equivalent of the 8th grade. However, what he lacked in academic knowledge, he completely surpassed with fishing and boat knowledge.

During one of our talks, he told me that he had a girlfriend and a son that was only a few weeks old. It was shocking to learn that he just was so focused on making the Huntingdon group happy that he never told us about himself. He always asked questions about America, and what we did in our free time. He was always inquisitive of what college is like and what sports we played. Michael was just a genuine guy, and his people skills had made him successful thus far. Men would come on repeat trips from different places in the world just to go fly fishing with Mike. He is so passionate about serving other people and to see them happy that he repeatedly will stay up long hours get up early, sacrifice meals, and get up so early that many of us would just cringe, but Michael did it because he likes people and loves to see them happy.

Michael informed me two days before we left that his brother had a lobster boat, much similar to the crab boats of the TV show Deadliest Catch but for lobster. They would leave for months at a time, and the best perk is that he would make around 40,000 US dollars. The US dollar is much more effective and with doing that for two summers after he left school, he bought his own piece of property and will eventually have his own house built. He had much of the progress done and his goal was to be done building by summer.

Several days after I had been home my phone began ringing during dinner, and when I answered it was Michael. He was calling from his sister’s satellite phone, and we talked for almost 30 minutes. Plans were made to talk in the upcoming months for a possible return to Roatan for a week long fishing trip, and to reunite with some friends I had made. Michael inadvertently taught me many lessons, but the biggest was that people love to be asked about their lives, and when your goal is to make other people smile you’ll always be smiling.

P.S. Michael, if you read this, call me back. June is fast approaching.

Alex - Transportation

Transportation

One of my biggest fears leading up to the trip was how we would get from one place to another. The transportation to and from Atlanta was simple, ride in the Huntingdon vans, but what about once we arrived in Roatan?

I have grown up around different bodies of water and have driven boats on many occasions; however that was not the biggest problem. How would we be moved with luggage the entire 30 mile trek across the island? These questions were answered when we arrived in the small village of Oak Ridge at around 5:30 pm. One flatbed boat with a canopy and two fiberglass “john boats” with very powerful outboard motors awaited us at the local post office/bar/restaurant (one stop shopping, right?!). We climbed into the boats soon after it was night, and we made a three and a half mile trip across open water to Mango Creek Lodge. The only light was an occasional beam of spotlight across the water from our driver; he was making sure we went hitting the reef.

The best part about those fiberglass boats was the unexpected power that the outboard motors possessed. They could easily cut through the open ocean outside of the reef, and even pulled a few skiers during one of our free afternoons. We took those boats whenever we went to Oak Ridge or to just tour the mangroves. The workers from the lodge were phenomenal drivers; they could maneuver through anything with the poise and confidence as if they had done this for years.

The fiberglass boats were amazing, but the most fun ride was in a 60 year old “dory”. The boat is a dugout from a Santa Maria tree, very similar to mahogany, and was powered by an old diesel engine. The boat is extremely heavy, so it cuts through the open ocean without any issues. It was perfect for just cruising through the town and great for mangrove tours.

The most interesting thought I picked up was that it really is not more important about what boat was being driven, but the skill of the drivers. They could navigate through some of the toughest and choppiest water, and made it seem as if it was never an issue. It was not the size of the boat we were in, but the quality of the captain driving.

Abby - Don't Judge My Poetry

Don't Judge My Poetry


Arrive I paradise, but just barely

A plane, then a car, then a drizzling ferry

The most amazing meal I’ve consumed to date

The food was most definitely not cut rate


Someone’s snorkel mask has sunk

Mangrove canal trip, sign me up

Evil monkey tries to gnaw and bite

Jackie doesn’t put up a fight


Big orange starfish, wide black flippers

Come over here and help with this zipper

My wet suit was stolen, or it disappeared

The loud bird keeps squawking, “Let’s get weird”


Rain, rain will never go away

So instead of kayaking its cards we’ll play

Some people simply don’t speak the truth

If you can’t do that, then shut your vermouth


Get this dog off me, I wonder what’s for dinner

Waiting by the Christmas tree, FARKLE! You’re the winner

Sweet and kind servers make the place feel quaint

Poor little burrito, I’m gonna go hard in the paint


Saying goodbye to my new favorite place

I give my new friends a sad embrace

The Huntingdon plan couldn’t spare another dime

I guess we are leaving at the perfect time.

Sharissa - Busted Lip

We awoke the first day to pouring rain without any sign of letting up. For an average group, this would have kept everybody inside, but not the energetic bunch on our trip. There was no stopping us. Our food was served that morning, as was every other meal of the week, in a cute rather large cabana. Seeing as it was an eco-resort, the windows had wooden shutters over them that were raised at different degrees based on the weather. On cooler rainy days the shutters were opened at roughly thirty degrees. On warmer sunny days, the shutters were opened at a ninety degree angle to the wall. Since it was raining that day the shutters were at a lower degree, but a boathouse could still be seen. This boathouse helped many of us brave the fear of heights.

As we were all deciding what to do with our day, swimming was ranked at the top of the list. So, we all ran to our cabana to change into our swimsuits and head to the dock, where many found the perfect wetsuit for them. However, Jackie’s and my cabana was at the top of the hill; this made us the last to return. When we were finally done, we quickly dropped our towels off in the dining area and headed for the dock. It was still raining, which meant I required a rain jacket even if I was about to swim. So, I pulled on my hood and followed Jackie’s steps. BAM! I ran face first into the shutter. No hand in front. No warning. I turned, a little dazed, and walked back inside. I put some ice on it for a few seconds, and then realized I was missing the fun. I decided I could handle a busted lip, but could not handle missing anything. I sucked it up and decided to head back out, this time, without my rain coat. I managed to jump off of the boathouse, busted lip and all.

Sharissa - Scuba

As I discussed earlier in my bio, the thing I was looking forward to for the entire trip was the scuba expedition. It was my first trial to see if Marine Biology could be the right profession for me. Earlier in the week, we went snorkeling. This was just amazing. Seeing all of the breathtaking homes the corals made and all of the remarkable fish living in them increased my desire to see more. While snorkeling, I would get so overwhelmed with excitement that I would dip my head so far below the water inhaling so much water that my mouth felt like a prune. I could not wait to see these amazing structures in a suit that allowed me freedom to go under water and breathe. I could get a close-up on any underwater wonder.

Finally, it was time. I put my wetsuit on with all of my scuba gear and, with a little hesitation, rolled into the ocean. Instantly, I realized I was not very graceful in my attire. I whirled, flopped, flipped, everything but swam in a straight line. Finally, I straightened out. With a little work, I began my descent. Then, our group made our way to the most magnificent castle of coral. Instantly, my nerves kicked in. The rain from the previous day caused the water to be murky at these depths. I became very uneasy with inability to swim well, along with my lack of knowledge of what lies beneath. The rest of the dive was spent in this same paranoid state. Every little motion scared me. I was even frightened of my own hair at one point. At last, the adventure was over; dismayed, I heaved myself into the boat. Though the scuba trip did not work out as planned, there were many more snorkeling adventures that uplifted my spirits. The most impressive of them all was the sunken ship. The water was shallow enough to swim to the bottom while holding my breath. There were twist and turns, holes to swim through, and the most beautiful fish I have ever seen, all in one spot. It was like a scene from a movie. I only wish I could explain it. All in all, the water adventures will never leave me. The trip was much more than I could have hoped for!

Sharissa - Bio

Sharissa Copeland

I am a biology, pre-veterinary medicine major. Why veterinarian, you ask? Well, when I was younger, my family took me to Custer State Park in North Dakota. I wanted so badly to pet all of the amazing animals in the park, but not a single one would get close enough for me to pet them. Finally, at the end of the day while feeding the prairie dogs, one came right up to me and ate right from my hands. I even got to pet it! Ever since then, I have wanted to deal with animals. Helping them always brought happiness into my life. I knew I wanted to work with them, but I did not know how. My parents were always really big on me being a vet, which was very helpful in keeping me on track. Throughout my years, I have had difficulty deciding on a career. I have thought of being a teacher, a veterinary technician, even the girl who rides on Shamu. I’m glad I changed my mind on the last one. Anyway, my parents were always there telling me that I would miss out if I did not pursue my original dream. The only thing that would deter me from that track is the Discovery Channel. They have all of these cool shows where people get to swim cageless with a Great White or stay in a glass box in the middle of a wild pride of lions. This is the kind of stuff I am interested in. They entail different kinds of research that are so unique and potentially dangerous; most people wouldn’t dare try them. However, I think I might just be crazy enough for it. I enjoy powerful animals, especially those given a bad reputation, like the Great White. Alas, opportunities such as these are very hard to obtain, so I stick to the task of becoming a vet, which is not an easy one.

What does all of this have to do with Honduras? I’m glad you asked. Well, in the mix of my attempts to discover what profession was best fit for me, marine biology keeps steady in the back of my mind. My parents are not all for it, you see, and, well, they pay the bills. Jobs are just not easy to come by, especially those that pay well. So, I stick to the land professions. I still want to find out more about the ocean. So, part of that adventure begins on this trip. I will learn the simple things, like just how to begin to scuba dive, and safely experience open water. Then, I will know a little bit better if I am really interested. Maybe one day I could combine the two through specializing in veterinary medicine for marine animal, or do research in the deep blue. Who knows? Whatever comes of it, this trip will benefit me in many ways.

Jackie - Stranded

Stranded

After a morning full of scuba diving on Tuesday, I didn’t expect anything else to top that experience before sundown… until I laid eyes on Pigeon Cay. The island was no bigger than a city block, with not a single structure to disturb the pure white sand and palms. After scoping out the island for seashells and enjoying another delicious lunch prepared by the kitchen staff, we scattered into the water with our snorkel gear. When my mask broke the surface, I was absolutely stilled by the scene before me. Studying the native marine life for an entire semester could not even compare to one second of the underwater view that surrounded this island. I ventured through the mazes of coral with Dominik along side of me trying to take in all the different colors and creatures. Periodically, we would dive down to get a closer look at exotic species like lionfish and the many shades of parrotfish. I was so lost in the moment that I eventually lost track of Dominik as well as the time that I had been snorkeling.

When I came up to the surface I realized the entire group had returned to the island, so I decided to head in. I swam a few strokes toward the direction of the sand and was quickly denied by a wall of coral reef that breached the surface. I started back in the direction that I first entered thinking that I could easily make it around the high area of coral, but that definitely was not the case. Every deep break in the coral turned out to be another shallow dead end that frustrated me even more than the last. After several failed attempts at finding access back to the island, a feeling of panic started to creep up. I knew everyone was waiting on me, and I didn’t want the group to think I was selfishly taking my time out there when I was actually stuck on the wrong side of a barrier reef without a clue how to get back.

I breathed a big sigh of relief when I saw one of our motor boats out on the water nearby. As soon as Dr. Tubbs and the driver got my attention, they waved me in the direction of the nearest passageway. I took off swimming as quickly as I could because at that point I just wanted to get back with the group. Yet even at my fastest paced swim, it took me about ten minutes to get around the shallow reef. Thank goodness I was in shape from cross country season or I would have had serious trouble breathing that hard through the tube of a snorkel. It was an exhausting swim.

When I finally reached land and got to vent about the stress I’d just felt, Dr. Tubbs kept praising my swimming abilities repeating that he couldn’t believe how fast I had made it in. Frankly, I couldn’t either. I’d never thought of myself as a very strong swimmer, but I covered some hard distance in those ten minutes. I guess being lost and alone in a foreign sea is enough to make your instincts kick in!

Yet right after my little display of hydrodynamic ability, I swiftly proceeded to wipe out and colorfully bruise myself while stepping up into the boat. Who knew that after scuba diving and getting stranded off a desert island, my coordination skills would prove to be the worst of my worries that day!

Mcdowell - Scuba Diving Trip

The Scuba Diving Trip

Scuba diving can transfer a very uncomfortable feeling to your senses if you’ve never done it before. The idea of being underwater and being able to breathe can cause your brain to go into denial at first. While on Roatan our group had the opportunity to accompany Leif, a super chill dive instructor, throughout an adventure dive. As Leif taught our safety class he familiarized us with the scuba equipment, went over hand signals while underwater, and expressed the dangers of not following instructions. In the back of my brain I could visualize everything that could go wrong going wrong. When we finally finished the class, signed the waiver form, squeezed into our wet suits, and geared up we were out on the water. It surprised me how close to the shore line we were when we dropped anchor.

The reef we dove was in a horseshoe shape which allowed us directional guidance while underwater. Before entering the water we sat on the side of the boat and then went backwards into the water. As we descended to the ocean bottom our ears started to pop with the water pressure. We fixed this problem by pinching our nose and allowing the pressure to be released through our ears. At the bottom there was so much life to be seen. Schools of fish raced by, sea anemones swayed back and forth lazily, and the visibility was near perfect. In our scuba vests we had weights and air bladders that could be inflated or deflated that allowed ourselves to be buoyant so we floated along like men on the moon. The experience is something I will never forget.

McDowell - The Fishing Trip

The Fishing Trip

The Friday that we went saltwater fishing was quite an experience. The two guys that took us out, who we befriended earlier in the week, were named Walter and Michael. Walter was very quiet and always had a smile on his face while Michael was full of energy and had enough confidence to fill a football stadium. We left the dock around 6am and traveled towards a small island cove where we attempted to catch bait fish which we would use to catch the barracuda and needle fish near the mangroves later in the morning. During our bait fish adventure we came upon a private dock that housed a yacht that was easily worth a million dollars. Guarding the yacht was a uniformed man with a 12 gauge, single pump shotgun latched to his side and a pistol tucked neatly in his pants. Needless to say, some of us had an uneasy feeling when Walter drove the boat near the dock so Michael could cast the net out to catch bait fish. In the end, the guard was friendly and we went about our business. When we finally came upon a large school of bait fish and Michael was pulling in the net, Jackie and Dominik started picking the fish out of the net and placing them in the holding container as fast as they could get their hands on them; it was a funny site watching them try and grab the slippery things.

After catching enough bait fish to use for our trolling we stopped off at a fishing village to get much needed fishing supplies. As we entered the village there was much activity going on. All of the houses were poorly constructed and sat on stilts. There were feral dogs and chickens running around everywhere while young children played soccer on one of the dirt roads. We stuck out like a sore thumb, considering we were the only Caucasians in the village. It blew me away to see how primitive these people lived while at the same time updated technology had reached out as far as their village. They all had satellite dishes for their televisions and some people were carrying around cell phones. When we finally picked up our supplies we boarded our boat and headed towards the mangroves to start our fishing. We fished two at a time while standing on the stern of the boat next to the outboard motor. Walter would troll the boat around reefs and the fish would come up to the surface and strike the bait that would be playfully skipping a long the water’s surface. Most people caught needle fish and a few people caught barracuda. Both fish were a mean looking creature and the needle fish had a nasty set of teeth. When I caught mine, Michael grabbed a hold of it and dragged its teeth on a metal pole; it sounded like nails on a chalkboard.

Finishing up our fishing excursion into the early afternoon, we all headed back to Mango Creek Lodge. Everyone was whipped out and starving. We had a delicious Hispanic dish waiting for us when we arrived and the majority of us took a lengthy nap after eating lunch.

Mcdowell - Pigeon Cay

Pigeon Cay

We traveled by single, engine outboard motor boats to the small islands of Pigeon Cay. Pigeon Cay is located just off the coast of Roatan surrounded by coral reefs and sea grass. While on the island, we ate a delicious lunch that consisted of a potato salad concoction and drank sugarcane-based sodas. After a belly full of goodness, we snorkeled the reefs that were 20 to 30 yards off the shore, which were full of coral mounds and beautiful fish. I’ve never seen so many colorful fish outside of a waiting room fish tank until Pigeon Cay; colors that consisted of purple, yellow, deep blues, white and black striped, and many other colors under the sun. It felt like a surreal world under the water line with tranquility beyond words.

The island itself was about the size of a football field with lush vegetation and a few palm trees. A few of us walked the island to get a lay of the land. One of the few palm trees had a ripe coconut hanging at the top, so I scaled the tree and knocked it down. We cut the coconut open and shared the clear, sweet juice.

What I experienced at Pigeon Cay is beyond words. I just hope in this life or in the next that I may again be able to visit that small patch of land with the gorgeous reefs that surround it.

Jackie - Let it Rain

Let it Rain

I woke up Monday morning to more stormy weather beating against the windows of the lodge. Despite my disappointment, I optimistically suited up in rain gear and headed downstairs because based on the previous meals, I knew breakfast would be delicious. While I ate my pineapple pancakes, I wondered what we would do with our time for the day. Surprisingly I was informed that even though it was pouring rain, four students would head out scuba diving and the rest would be taking a boat trip into town to a mangrove forest.

We sat two by two in the long, wooden, open-top boat that the Mango Creek staff called a “dory.” As we drove toward the open ocean, the waves grew taller and the wind picked up. Sheets of water swarmed all sides of the boat leaving no trace of dryness among us. Fearing that I would fall overboard, I clung onto Jordan’s arm as the boat bounced with the heavy pulse of the waves. He had more jokes than I can remember about me trying to hold his hand, but I would have gotten tossed overboard if I let him go and we didn’t have life vests.

Although it was scary to be in that position, it was pretty thrilling at the same time. The boys were full of so many sarcastic jokes that the trip was a complete comedy instead of an unplanned mess. We kept yelling, between mouthfuls of salt water, that this had definitely not been in our travel description! We had all imagined a picturesque island view and ended up in a stormy scene out of The Poseidon Adventure.

As the boat drew nearer to town the waves settled down. Even though it was still pouring rain I felt much calmer being out of the open water. We proceeded toward the mangroves, passing by tight rows of run-down houses that ominously hovered over the water on nothing more than driftwood stilts. When we reached the forest, the mangroves were so thick that they completely canopied the tunnel, blocking most of the rain as we navigated our way through. With roots snaking up out of the water and branches entwined overhead, it looked like a scene from a storybook. At one point there was no end or beginning in sight. I could not believe what a harsh contrast that peaceful scene was from the chaotic ride in.

After an equally epic return trip, our boat made it back to Mango Creek before lunch got cold. We were so wet from the rough weather that it would have been believable if we told the professors that we had gone swimming or that the boat had flipped! Even though I was soaked to the core, I’m so glad we didn’t waste the day sitting inside.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wes - Day 2

Wes Anderson

Day 2

It’s day 2 of our long awaited “sea kayaking” trip. After our 3 hour plane ride turned into a six and a half hour one due to bad weather and our pilot almost skimmingsome houses, we were forced to make an emergency landing in Belize. Can’t say it was nice, seeing as how we weren’t allowed off the plane for the next three hours as our plane was refueled and our pilots waited for the weather in nearby Roatan to clear up. Upon finally arriving in Roatan we were greeted by an airport unfit for even a third-world country, luggage that had been soaked to the core by the rain, and a friendly but rushed fellow named Banjo who whisked us away to an Eco-Resort minus some amenities, but complete with all necessities, including, thankfully, a dinner worthy of five stars which consisted of grilled and seasoned Wahu, rice, steamed vegetables, fresh salsa, and a heavenly dessert of brownies, ice cream, and chocolate syrup. After dinnerwe spent our night playing Spades and a picture telephone game before getting a hot shower and turning in for the night. Breakfast came at 9:30 and was followed by our first Theory of Diving class, which was instructed by a Mr. Leif Shaver (Yes his real name), a retired Physicist from Tuscon, AZ. Though we were hoping to do a lot of snorkeling and kayaking, the horrendous weather continued, the sun noticeably absent, rain falling from the sky like Mother Nature had a score to settle. The rest of the afternoon and night was spent playing more games such as Speed, Farkel, and still more Spades, waiting for the rain to stop, drinking sodas, throwing darts, waiting for the rain to stop, trying to teach the resort owners’ parrot to say Hawk’Em (successfully), and waiting for the rain to stop, but it was of no use. Two days in to our “tropical vacation” and all we had to show for it was rain and cold, and more rain. So much for a dream vacation. So far this experience has really made me rethink my desire to travel to Hawaii. Here’s to hoping things take a turn for the better tomorrow!

Wes - Third Time's the Charm


Third Time's the Charm

We tried to go scuba-diving. Key word: tried. The weather has
continued to be awful and the resort owners are starting to feel bad that we
haven’t been able to be outside doing the things that we came to do. So today,
they convinced Leif, our dive instructor, to take a group of us out and try to
dive in the rain. Bad idea. The water wasmurky and choppy, the wind cold and
biting. By the time we had finished our 45 minute training exorcises I was
beyond ready to go back to the warm dry cabin. But we didn’t. We tried to dive,
and we failed. I especially failed. The problem was that the water was so murky
that upon submerging we couldn’t see Leif, which is a very uncomfortable
experience for first-time divers. I didn’t even get that far. I couldn’t even
submerge properly. Which sounds like an easy thing to do, but considering the
weather, you’d be surprised. So, alas, we gave up on our 1st attempt
at diving, called it a day, and went back to the cabin. A day or two later the
weather had finally cleared up, and Leif took the four of us that hadn’t gotten
to dive out to try again. I failed again. No one else did, but I found a way
to. This time the weather wasn’t the problem, but submerging continued to be.
Unfortunately for me, as great and helpful as Leif Shaver was, he had neglected
to put enough weight in my belt for me to fully submerge. Upon realizing the
problem he told me to swim back to the boat and his assistant would set me up
with more weight so that I could rejoin my group at the bottom of the sea. By the
time I reached the boat, however, I was tired from the long swim and tired of
not being able to sink (How is that possible!?), so I gave up, climbing into
the boat and hanging out there for the rest of the excursion. Two attempts at
diving and I was 0 for 2. Not fun and a tad bit embarrassing. Before the trip
was over and we were set to leave Honduras, Leif approached Davis, Professor
Hilgartner and I (all who hadn’t gotten to dive successfully), and offered to
take us out one more time. He said that diving was such an amazing experience
and that he hated the idea that we would leave Roatan with a bad impression of
it. Hesitantly I agreed to go, and I am so thankful I did. Finally everything
was right. The weather, the weight, everything. The dive went off without a
hitch and it was absolutely one of the most awe inspiring experiences of my
life. Leif was so helpful and patient with me and after diving successfully I
can’t imagine a trip to Roatan without doing so! Not only do I plan to dive
again, but I’d love to get certified! I guess it’s true what they say; the
third time is the charm!

Wes - Free Wes!


Free Wes!

​Pay attention. You have NO IDEA how important this is. You’re probably not aware of this, but stapled to your passport while visiting Honduras there is a small yellow piece of paper. YOU CANNOT LOSE IT! But I did. And the Honduran government did not like that at all. Or speak English for that matter. For losing that tiny, seemingly unimportant piece of paper, there was a fine, a large fine. Which I couldn’t pay. And was quickly informed that if I didn’t pay it I wouldn’t be allowed through customs or onto the plane to fly home. Which was a problem. I mean, I loved Roatan. It was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been and I had a great time, but I was ready to go home. To see my family and to be back in the states. The problem was, it was the end of our trip and I didn’t have enough money to pay the almost $200 fine. Further complicating things was the fact that the majority of my group had already passed through customs and weren’t allowed to come back across to where I was. So I here I stood, separated from most of my group, without money to pay my fine, and an hour before my flight. Talk about nervous. What options did I have? These people didn’t even speak English. Probably couldn’t sell my body. Didn’t have any drugs or stolen electronics to move. I was screwed. In stepped my saving grace and guardian angel in the form of a curly-haired Jersey girl, Jackie Daniels. Jackie was beyond kind, opening up her wallet and giving me nearly every dime she had. Dr. Tubbs and Davis Ryan were nice enough to contribute as well, but Jackie gave me a LOT of money. What a friend! Because of the provision of others I got to pay my fine and made it through customs 10 minutes before boarding our flight. Close call. I don’t know what I would’ve done if Jackie hadn’t been there to save me. Probably cut tomatoes for the kitchen crew at the Eco Resort. Feeling like I was so close to being stranded in Honduras was a pretty scary feeling. I had already been ready to go home, but when our flight took off, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I have to give props and a huge shout out to Jack for what she did for me and remember people, if you EVER visit Honduras, DO NOT LOSE YOUR YELLOW PAPER! Your entire life may depend on it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dominik - The Fishing Trip

The Fishing Trip

It was Friday morning at 6 when my alarm went off. Today, we all decided to get up earlier than usual to go on a fishing trip with Michael, one of the guides of the Mango Creek Lodge. After a quick cereal breakfast we were ready to go. The boat was full because almost everyone decided to go on thetrip. We launched and after what felt like having gone around the entire island of Roatàn, we finallyslowed down in the shallow water near the island and started going after little bait fish with a net that Michael and Alex operated. After they had a net full oflittle fish they would just dump it in the boat,where there now were about 50 little wriggly fish, desperately fighting for their lives.

Some of us, mostly Jackie and I started picking these little fish up and tossed them in the water bucket attached to the outside of the boat,where we would keep them so they wouldn't die until we needed them as bait. After repeating this whole process about four or five times,we were ready to go out in the deeper sea. McDowell and Alex were up first. They went to the back of the boat with the fishing rods, hooked the little bait fish on the hook, and now all they had to do was wait. And it didn't take long until Alex caught the first needle-fish of the day, a two and a half foot doozie. Soon, everyone had caught a fish. I caught a barracuda and a tuna, and altogether we caught multiple needle-fish, barracudas and a few tunas.

When McD was up again, he had a bite not even a minute after he had thrown out his rod. When he started reeling in he could feel that something was up. “We have a big one”, Michael said, but when McD had pulled in almost all of the line, we saw that there was only half a fish hanging on the hook. It was the head of a tuna. Something, possibly a shark or some other large predator fish had started eating it while McD was reeling it in. Michael acted immediately by taking what was left of the tuna, attaching it on a thicker wire, and throwing it right back in for a chance to catch the big one. After feeling a little pull, Michael started reeling the line back in. This time, there was barely anything leftof the tuna. Our predator had eaten everything except for the part around the hook, as if he wanted to tell us: “I'm not stupid,but thanks for the breakfast, guys”. We tried again multiple times to catch the fish that ate McD's tuna, but he was now long gone. Michaeleven offered himself as bait by jumping in the water for a second, but climbed right back up the ladder. Unsuccessful. Yet, we still had a blast on the fishing trip. It was a great way to spend the first half of our last day on Roatàn.

Dominik - Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Wake up, the sun is out, the sun is out!I woke up to Davis' voice, still laying with my head facedown pressed into my pillow.Yeah, I know, I said still halfway asleep not realizing what Davis hadjust told me.Dude, did you not hear, the sun is out!,I knowmumbled I, then I realized what wasso exciting about the sun being out in the morning. The sun, after 2 rainy days had actually decided tocome out. I jumped out of the bed in a heartbeat, slung open the door to the back porch and steppedoutside. A bright ray of sunlight blinded me for a second and then I saw the beautiful blue sky. Not asingle cloud could be seen anywhere. Only a soft sound of the slight breeze hovering over the calmsurface of the ocean could be heard. The water was clear as if there was only a thin layer of waterwhere the surface was. I could see the bottom with all its plants and even little fish swimming in thewater two feet away from where I was standing. This was even better than I had pictured Roatànbefore our arrival. This was definitely going to be a great day.

Since my group, McD, Bethany, Wes and I didn't really get to do our dive the day before, Lief took usand four others with him today. We went to the little island again, where the other group wasintroduced to the equipment, the same way we did the day before. Since the four of us had alreadylearned the basics we decided to go snorkeling around the close reef until the other group was done.

But before we even got to the reef, I decided to dive deep into the water swimming just above theocean floor. When I came back up out of the water, I felt a burning, stinging pain shooting throughmy arm. A few expressions signalizing my pain came out of my mouth until the others realized thatsomething was wrong.What's wrong?Bethany asked.I don't know, I said,I just went underwater and when I came back up my left arm was burning like crazy. I lifted up my arm as if asked todo so, and there it was, a huge red bumpy rash reaching from my wrist almost all the way to theelbow.

It probably was a jellyfish, Wes said. The next thing I heard was Bethany saying:You need to peeon it.Pee on it?, I asked.Yes, she saidit's supposed to help when you get stung by ajellyfish.I must admit, I've heard this before, yet I didn't know if it was just a rumor or actually afact. After thinking this over for a few seconds, the pain convinced me to try it, I mean it couldn'tmake it any worse, could it?

So I swam back to the island where I spent what seemed like an eternity to take off my wetsuit. Ipulled down my swimming trunks and tried to urinate on my own arm, which in theory seemed a loteasier than it actually was. But I managed it with perfection and against my prior doubts it actuallyworked. The itching and burning started fading away immediately to a level where it was actually notfeeling too bad anymore. Another lesson learned, I thought, and thanked my friends for their tip afterwhich we took off and started snorkeling around the reef.