My dad came for his first visit to Roatan.
Prior to his arrival he took advantage of my years of living on the Island to enquire what his best flight option was to get here from North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
With complete confidence I explained his possible routes and airline choices. The ease I felt in rattling off the details reminded me of the difference from my first few trips to Roatan when I didn’t have a clue how to get here (and neither did the travel agents I had contacted.)
The night before his scheduled arrival I got another question from him regarding (sorry dad, hope you don’t mind me sharing this stuff): what should he write on the Immigration Form as to where he would be staying on Roatan? Oh yah, I hadn’t told him my address. Not because I didn’t want him to know it (or anything like that) I didn’t tell him because we don’t do addresses on Roatan. “Just write down Sandy Bay,” I assured him that would be sufficient. While we were on the topic of arriving to Roatan, I let him know that he would also be given a Customs Form, which he could choose to fill out or not… since nobody would ask him for it, but his luggage would have to go through an x-ray machine. And no worries about finding each other at the airport… there is only one arrival gate.
Again, I couldn’t help but think back to when I first started coming to Roatan. I was convinced alarms would sound if I left the luggage area still clutching the Customs Form I had so painstakingly filled out on the plane. I was confused why my suitcases that had already cleared security in Houston were being x-rayed on Roatan, and I was terrified that the scheduled to pick me up person wouldn’t be waiting for me at the correct gate when I arrived.
Oh my, how things change when you do them enough times. I’ve flown to and from Roatan so many times now that I even felt qualified to write a story about what to do when your luggage doesn’t arrive with you.
I left home twenty minutes before my dad’s plane was due to land, traveled a familiar road (there is only one), greeted the parking attendant, and parked in the lot facing the Airport. When I went inside I didn’t bother stopping at the coffee shop… coffee machine’s been broken for a while now. I nodded and waved at familiar faces, I said goodbye to recent visitors I had met who were now standing at the check-in preparing to depart on the plane my dad was coming in on. I made my way to the arrival area, again waving and nodding at people I know, and took my place next to the others expecting a visitor or two. We chatted about how business was at their restaurant, did I know that the grocery store had fresh strawberries this week and how booked up all the resorts were for Semana Santa (Holy (Easter) Week.)
I glanced at the arrival board overhead, scrolling flight details. I didn’t pay much attention to it though… even if a flight is delayed nobody updates the stats. Dad did arrive on schedule, and so did his luggage, he crumpled up the Customs Form and tossed it in a nearby garbage can on the way to the car. While driving to my place I was the Tour Guide pointing out the highlights of the interesting features of Roatan between the airport and Sandy Bay. We chatted about all the places I would take him: the beaches, restaurants, resorts, the attractions and events we would attend. He promised to follow the 10 Tips to Not Get Treated like a Tourist but did admit he had considered wearing shorts with white knee socks and dress shoes when he arrived to tease me. Very funny dad!
I showed him which room would be his for the next two weeks, and while he unpacked I told him which beach bar we would be heading to so he could watch the final round of the Masters Golf Tourney. On the way to West Bay Beach, I couldn’t help but notice him clutching the OMG handle as I wove around sudden stopping taxis, chickens crossing the road (haha), on coming vehicles in our lane on most curves, and around the barrier set up at the top of one of the ridges to keep drivers and passengers from free falling where the road had been washed away by the big rain storm six weeks previous. (Dad stopped reaching for the OMG handle after a couple of days when he realized this was how all our road trips were going to be.)
For the duration of his visit, I introduced him to many friends, suggested where we should dine each day, and what attraction was next on our agenda. And while I was the Tour Guide, the coolest thing was I also got to be a Tourist! You know how it is… once you’ve lived somewhere for a while (even if it is a Tropical Island nestled in the Caribbean Sea) you don’t see it the way you did when you first visited—enthralled by all that unfolded in front of you.
For a review of some of the places we dined, and what we saw and did, be sure to visit: Roatan Vortex Forum – Tour Guide and Tourist.