West End Roatan, Honduras
Don and I had a good deal for week stay at a resort on the island. We were excited but knew we have limited tolerance for touristy settings, so we booked one night midweek at "Roatan Bed & Breakfast". Internet photos made the place look peaceful and the owner, Barbara seemed very welcoming in emails.
So on Wednesday morning we said good-by to air-conditioning and waterfall pools. Thirty minutes later, we said hello to a 3-story, wooden giant, with shutters and screens, high on a jungly hill!
The Road Up
Barbara had her friend Ever, pick us up in his cab. We talked the whole drive until we reached the West End area on the lively Half Moon Bay.
Ever's cab has made this slow, rumbly ride up the winding dirt road, many times. He knew every pothole and barking dog and even stopped to chat with a mother, hiking down the road with her baby. It's only a 10 minute climb on foot, but seemed to take longer in the cab.
The Jungle House
The inn is only 20 years old, but it had a nostalgic look about it.
It reminded me of the "family-camps" my mom used to describe, with screened sleeping porches holding rockers and hammocks.
Ever hollered up to Barbara who came down to let us in. She was busily preparing our room. We would be the only guests that night, but she had had a full house the night before.
We circled up the spiral staircase to the main floor with the kitchen and gathering areas. There was a beautiful blend of wood from floor to ceiling!
We settled on the porch (yes, with a hammock!) while Barbara finished up. Ever showed us pictures of his kids and we asked more questions about the island.
He was hanging out, so he could take Barbara to do some shopping after we got settled. I tried to imagine Barbara living here on this hill, with no car for 20 years!
As we traveled up to the third floor, I began to realize this kind of island living could keep you pretty young.
Not only would the hike up and down the road be a good workout, but the stairs could also burn off a few calories. They really were beautiful stairs, though!
Our room was so simple and clean, it made me grin.
The row of windows made it feel like we were in a treehouse. Through the jungly branches, we could see the blue green Caribbean!
Barbara asked us to please turn off lights and fans when we were gone, since it's very costly on the island. She sort of apologized for the weather, which had turned extra hot that day. We definitely needed the ceiling fan as we unpacked.
Our spacious bathroom was filled with wood and tile. The window view was blocked by tree branches, so no need to curtains... which felt sort of odd at night when you're used to neighbors close by.
There was lots of counter space with a large mirror over the sink, as well as a full length mirror. The mirrors reflected even more of the jungly scenery from the windows.
We unpacked and continued up the spiral staircase to its end. There was a small shed-sized structure that opened onto a huge roof deck.
There was enough room for a large party, but no shade at noon. I forgot to ask Barbara how this space was used. A few umbrella tables would have been nice.
Don and I were able to walk down to dinner easily and our trip back up in the dark wasn't too tricky. There were actually some street lamps shining down on the dirt road and onto the little homes tucked into the growth.
We used our key and circled up 2 flights of stairs and tiptoed to our room. The floors creaked a bit and I felt like a teenager arriving after curfew.
Our room was still warm, but we showered and turned on the ceiling fan. A breeze began to blow through the curtains and it reminded me so much of summers at my grandmother's, when she turned on the attic fan to cool us. And pretty soon we heard rumbles and we were given the best gift of all, a rainstorm with open windows! (We never get to enjoy storms and open windows in humid Houston)
Our Friend Pepperoni
The night had cooled things quite a bit and we could smell Barbara's coffee and vegetable scramble.
We asked her to join us while we ate at the large round table, that surrounded a big wooden pillar. We loved hearing her stories of moving her from Milan, Italy 20 years ago. We also loved being joined by the sweetest cat ever, Pepperoni!
It was pretty heavenly, taking our coffee and books out to the porch, where a nice breeze was picking up.
It was amazing to sit there and just listen to the wind and birds.
Barbara finished cleaning up and was a good sport about posing for a photo. We asked her what she missed most, since she's so far home. "Food and shopping!" She laughed. "And I'm not able to travel the way I used to."
I asked Barbara if she missed that and she shook her head. "Actually no. I get to travel with all of the stories I hear from my guests!" She lit up when she talked about all the interesting visitors she's had from all over the world. "I have artists and musicians and writers and people who come for so many different reasons. I feel like I've traveled with them, every time I hear their stories!
I will remember the open windows and breezy porch. Yes, it was hot, but that made it feel like we were stepping back in time.
I will remember Barbara's warmth and humor and the fresh, uncluttered feel of the place... Well, there were a few conch shells cluttering the porch railing. That's the perfect kind of clutter!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!