Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the day I met Roatan. Here’s how it all began…I grew up in the water. When our family wasn’t boating down the street on the Willamette, waterskiing, kneeboarding and wakeboarding; I was at the neighborhood pool with my 2 best friends, Andrea and Mckenzie. Every summer the 3 of us would attend swim team practice each morning at 8 am. Some days we never left, and would spend the entire day playing games, practicing diving and synchronized swimming routines. Every Saturday we competed against other teams in town in an all day swim meet. I’m surprised I don’t have gills or a mermaid tail.
SCUBA diving always interested me. Well, the part about getting to see a whole different world that you can’t easily see any other way. The part about relying on some strange apparatus to breath beneath the surface was what I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around. I hated that this scared me, especially because I love to travel, and sometimes the locations I visit are great for SCUBA diving as well. So I decided to beat this fear. After a few weeks of training, more than one anxiety attack, some tears and a flipping COLD open water dive in the Puget Sound, I got certified!
Fast forward a year, and it was time to plan my annual international vacation. I checked out the list of top destinations on my dive shop’s website, and then started my research. This is how I would eventually find Roatan.
I arrived on April 29th, 2012. The next morning I went on my first Caribbean dive. My instructor paired me with the guy I had met earlier that also worked in the bar, Alex. I had a horrible experience. My ears were in tons of pain, my mask was so tight my eyes felt like they were going to explode and my pride was somewhere still on the bottom of the ocean after we came back to the boat. I was so embarrassed/traumatized, I skipped the next dive and hid in my room. Scuba had defeated me after all. I was really upset, and wondering what I was going to do for 2 weeks now that the whole reason I came had gone downhill. NO. I had come entirely too far in this phobia conquering life mission I enlisted in, and failure was not an option.
When I wasn’t traumatizing myself under the sea, I would sit in the Caribbean colored Adirondack chairs on the deck with a Salva Vida beer (Spanish for life saver), and stare at the ocean for hours. Work was really challenging me and I was 100% spent. My mind felt like mush. I couldn’t focus on anything or process an entire thought. The staff would come check on me from time to time; I could tell everyone was curious why I was there alone and why I did almost nothing aside from diving and staring off into the distance.
|The infamous 'chairs'|
For 3 days I stared before I finally felt like a normal human being again. The numbness in my brain had gone away, and I was slowly beginning to relax. I met 2 couples from Denver who were staying and diving at the hotel. We became quick friends, and shared many laughs together, while we all compared notes about our dives. Alex, the bartender, was a favorite of ours, and he quickly became friends with all of us, and even took us to the other side of West End, to show us where the locals hang out.
We had a blast, dancing in the warm Caribbean evening breeze. Ok. That's a lie. We were sweating like no other. It was HOT. It didn't matter. Sweating our tails off, dancing to the music, in shirts and flip flops. We were living the life in paradise. Dirt roads, warm beer and happy people. This place was starting to feel like home, and I've only been on the island 5 days.
|Alex and I dancing, my last night on the island (so I thought!)|