I admit it. We are fair weather snorkelers/scuba divers. So when we woke to grey cloudy skies we resorted to Plan B: Zip lining at Gumbalimba Park.
You have to fortify yourself for such an adventure so we stopped into Café Escondido in West End and I’m delighted to report that their banana pancakes are as wonderful as I remember. We were pondering our transit options to West Bay where Gumbalimba is located and as luck would have it, our landlords Stan and Joan came by in their truck and offered us a ride.
Not only did they drive us, they made a pit stop at the Roatan Rum Company where we tried samples of rum cake and various rums. A shot of island liquor is helpful to steel your nerves when you’re preparing to go careening through the jungle on a steel cable.
We were deposited at the top of a large hill that dropped sharply to the ocean. Harnessed, helmeted and gloved up, we prepared for our thrill ride through the canopy. There is nothing like hurtling toward a tiny wooden platform at eye-watering speeds with only a leather glove as your brake to get the blood pumping. Of course, my significant other had to succumb to the boyish daredevil within and before you know it, was zipping in Superman pose and upside down.
The whole adventure took 40 minutes from hilltop to beach and it was a whole lotta awesome. Next we toured the park with guide Sheena who pointed out the flora and fauna and took us into a manmade cave to tell us about Roatan’s pirate legacy and the story of pirate John Coxen for whom the largest town here, Coxen Hole, is named. He was a pirate missing a few body parts – during various skirmishes, he lost a hand, an eye and a lower leg but that didn’t stop him from plundering and pillaging. I’m sure the loot he found was worth considerably more than the cheapy replica coins in the treasure chest we saw.
After stopping to admire a hummingbird, a black iguana and some rodent that is a relative of the guinea pig, it was on to the fun stuff: the parrots and monkeys. Barney the green parrot posed willingly with us and thankfully didn’t use that big beak of his to gnaw on our ears or noses.
The white-faced capuchin monkeys were as a fun as a barrel of … well, you know. The treetops came alive as they spotted humans (food alert!) and came swinging down to get acquainted. The alpha male Sonny leapt onto my shoulder and happily munched sunflower seeds. A female, Supa, climbed onto Rolland and was fascinated by the video camera, watching what was happening on screen, then trying to press the buttons. I think she has a bright future as assistant director on the next Planet of the Apes sequel.
Our adventurous spirits sated, we headed back to West End and deliberated our dining choices. What does a day of zip lining and monkey business call for? Caribbean Rotisserie Chicken of course! It’s one of our fave places to dine, where you sit at tables on the porch attached to a cheerful lime green building housing the kitchen. Hummingbirds flit overhead at the feeder and there are always some cats lolling about and a chicken or two roaming the yard. Swiss Chalet pales by comparison. My quarter chicken dinner with sides of homemade coleslaw and potato salad was $6. If you want to really pig out and have a half chicken meal, it’s $8.
After dark, we strolled down the main drag of West End. It’s fun on a Friday night. Sundowner’s, the expats’ waterhole of choice is packed as usual and the street is alive with people, tourists and residents alike, out for a stroll. No wonder so many ex-pats discover Roatan and happily leave their North American life behind to take up life on the island.