Friday, October 19, 2007

Roatan, Oct 2007 Yoga Retreat

Morning Meditation

Donna with her new friend.

I start this blog with a letter from one of the ladies who attended the Yoga Retreat on Roatan Oct 6 – 14 2007. In her words…

Roatan Yoga Retreat
What a fantastic place to practice yoga. So relaxing. No pressure, just practice yoga everyday as much as you want and then relax by swimming in amazingly clear, warm water—the snorkeling was the best I’ve ever seen—brilliantly colored coral and fish. Another highlight was snorkeling with dolphins at the dolphin encounter—what a treat to be in the water to watch them play underwater. The evening meditation was the perfect culmination of a great day of yoga and as much or as little site seeing as you wanted. I will always cherish the memory of sitting on the beach at sunset sipping my complimentary pina colada by a palm tree in the sand. I went on the retreat without knowing many of the other yogis in our group but everyone was very open and friendly and included me in all the activities I wanted to attend. The yoga room was beautiful with a hardwood floor, great lighting, and air conditioning. It was also interesting to live in another culture for 8 days. I enjoyed the interaction with the Hondurans and Italians at the resort. There is a family atmosphere at Henry Morgan and many guests brought their children which indicates to me that they felt it was a safe and enjoyable place to bring your family.

I would highly recommend this yoga retreat and can’t wait to go again. Thank you Valentina, for putting this all together.
Susan Burchiel

As for me… I love Roatan. The first time I went (see previous blog entries) I did not want to come back. This time it was even harder to leave. What made it even more enjoyable then the first trip are 2 things.

First of all the Henry Morgan Resort is really not on this Earth. I think once you drive in you are actually in Heaven. The place is beautiful and tons of fun. The staff is helpful and enthusiastic to share their slice of paradise with you. As a guest I got so much attention and had so much fun, it’s no wonder I now want to live full time at the Resort.

For starters, you get a fun ride from the airport. A nice guy telling you stories and explaining to you all the fun you can have while you are visiting. Then you come to your room which is rather large and really pretty but the best thing about it is this great balcony with 2 hammocks so you can swing yourself to day dreaming all you want. Every morning your maid will leave you a surprise… your room will never be the same twice. And, oh…all the flowers….

If you are not there to hang out in your room, head out to one of the bars. Drinks of all sorts are complementary. Fresh fruit is available to you all day long. The restaurant offers variety of food, all you can eat every day with excellent coffee and tea, juice, lemonade, soda and orchata. You will be fed well and served with pleasure by the wait staff.

The beach is by far the best beach on the island and one of the best in the world. I was out there doing yoga on a wood platform every morning greeting the sunrise. I can’t even describe the colors of the sky and the water during sunrise. I don’t think I know the names of such colors. The pink and silvery blue even hints of gold mixed with hues of purple… this just can’t be Earth.
During the day you will have an opportunity to learn a local dance from the most incredible Oscar – he is truly something to see for you ladies out there…. Just follow his butt swinging and swaying and you will never miss a step no matter how complicated the dance may be… May be you get a chance to dance hand in hand with the man himself! This will be similar to winning the lottery, because there is normally a flock of overly excited females following that butt around all day and access is restricted…

Or perhaps you’d like to indulge in the treasures of the sea. Head to the dive center at the Henry Morgan. Lindy the dive master gets special recommendation from those who went diving with him. Apparently the guy is really good and knowledgeable. He took Heather and Christina to some pretty spectacular spaces. Heather could not stop talking about it for hours after that. She did 2 dives on the same day because she just couldn’t get enough. This is the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia, still living coral and most spectacular creatures all in a package for only $50 a dive. Can’t beat the price. Can’t beat the experience. If you are not a diver, go snorkeling. At the end of the beach you walk into waist deep of water and the reef starts… bob around the water all day with you mask and snorkel if you like, just remember – the water is 85 degrees which means you will swim about for hours and your back will be burnt to a crisp if you forget your sun block or a rash guard for protection. Have fun… you only live once and the chances are the creatures you will see in these waters you will never see again any other place….for everything else there’s Master Card :)

How about some dancing – well the resort has a stage and a small theater where they entertain guest every night after which the floor is open for dancing. The in house DJ is all yours! Latin rhythms will warm your heart and stir such passion for life you’ll feel like a god/goddess in charge. If you actually want to leave the resort you can head to the West End and do some bar hopping, dancing extravaganza. There are free buses that leave the resort several times per week to take you on this 5 min ride to the West End at 10:30 pm and to bring you back if you are so inclined to come back at 1:00 am. If not, catch a ride back with a local taxi.

In a mood for lobster – lobster is always fresh on Roatan. It’s likely that what’s on your plate was in the water a couple of hours ago and still remembers freedom. Lobster Pot is a funky restaurant that’s got no building other then what houses the kitchen. You will be fine dining under huge trees with your feet in the sand and a candle light. Watch out for the crabs walking around. I think they are looking for their lost relatives that may very well be your dinner tonight.

There are plenty of other restaurants in the area that satisfy all tastes and budgets. Go exploring. Or not… hang out at the resort. Try out all the couches that they have. I did. They all have a similar quality of getting you sinking deeper and deeper into oblivion. God, I love this place!

We were lucky to have Eddie as our designated care taker. This guys knows everything, everyone and can make anything happen. And he is handsome…. And he CAN dance!!! We loved Eddie so much we adopted him. He’s now going to get presents from us via FedEx.

The second thing that made this retreat such a special event were the people present. The group was fun and spontaneous. Somehow we all found a way to be with each other in an intimate but not invasive way where we all had space to be who we are and do what we want and yet we all found each other’s company fun, enriching and special. Life stories got shared. Dreams got shared. Experiences got shared. Just like that. Just like magic. The chemistry was incredible. I have never laughed so much for so long in my whole life. Part of it was the yoga – doing yoga helps people open up and feel good about who they are and how they are. Part of it was the warm Caribbean softening our souls, part of it was the care and treatment of us by the Henry Morgan Resort which left nothing to be desired just time for fun. Overall, this was an experience of a life time for me, and it sounds like it was the same for the people attending. Soooo, I really can’t wait to go back, so I will!!! Hope you can join me. If i missed anything friends, feel free to add on.


Above - Christina and her mom sharing a hug. Heather and Chrisitna geared up for a dive. Nicole came for this all the way from England. Garifuna fire dancing on the beach at Henry Morgan. The whole group shot!!! Angie you should be a snorkle model.. Waiting for the water taxi... Heather and Stephanie beach babies... Val and Oscar - don't ask, it's legal in Honduras... A most amazing sunset on Roatan...

More pictures....

Above, Eddie gets a much deserved kiss, then Oscor gives a kiss to a bird while taking a group to Cumbalimba park on a nature adventure. Yoga anyone... Sittin on the steps at Sundowners, West End... even though it's not sunset yet.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

For information on the Yoga Retreat in Paradise, Oct 4 - 12, 2007 go to

Friday, March 30, 2007

Adventure on Roatan, Honduras, March 2007

So…yes, it was very difficult leaving this place…
Meet Petie the bird – an Amazon parrot who can’t fly but this doesn’t stop him from causing trouble and getting around. He sleeps somewhere in the trees tops by the house. Come morning he comes down and starts whistling for some company, but at 6 am he’s not likely to find any. I get up at 6:30 to do my yoga practice and open the door. He considers this an invitation to come in and makes his way down the rail, across the deck and right into the middle of the room. All along chanting in many voices: “Hello, hello,” “Come here little bird,” “@&$%” (Something in a language I can’t make out). He wants a scratch on the head and wants to chew on a wicker chair in the room. If you try to get him out, her runs sideways trying to escape you, if he likes you, or charges at you to bite you, if he doesn’t like you. Luckily he likes me. After he’s made sure everything is to his liking in room 3, he strolls down to the first floor and tries to get the attention of one of the cooking ladies to give him some breakfast – pancakes, eggs, fruit, whatever they have, after all Petie owns this place!

West End is where we are staying. The paved road that goes long ways through the island ends here. You have a choice of turning Right and going to one of the few “hotels” – houses is more accurate of a description. Some are nicer than others – vacation rental style, others are B&B island style, a couple of “resorts” with nice views to the water. If you turn left you will end up on the strip – the heart of the action! Down this bumpy sandy road is about a mile and a half of restaurants, palapas, bars island style, funky hotels, hostels, colorful vendors, match box size grocery stores, dive shops on every corner, a really nice church. All day and night this place is full of life. During the day, burnt tourists in bathing suites and/or diving gear clutter the street looking for a place to have a bite, a street phone that works, an internet cafĂ© that may be open – if the power is on, someone to take them out for a dive. Around lunch the fruit trucks come by and fresh papayas, mangoes, watermelons and green oranges (they are ripe, they just have a green rind) are offered at whatever price you can negotiate. Taxi drivers/tour guides are cooling it in the shade of palm trees with a beer in hand. If you listen you will hear more languages than you thought you knew. The locals for the most part speak English and Spanish, plenty of them speak Italian as well. There are “new” locals form every country in Europe, tourists from every part of the world. All get along. Everyone’s happy to talk to you, tell you where they come from, why they are here, what they’ve done so far.

At night, the place is even busier. The fruit trucks are gone and the church goers have gone home, changed their proper Sunday best, for the flirty, colorful, lots-of-skin-everywhere dancing clothes. But first a drink at Sundowners, watch the sunset…ah…this is what life is all about. Than get a bite to eat – the choices are from good to great and really exceptional, but definitely not what you would expect. Just because it’s called a veggie burrito it doesn’t mean it’s the same thing in every restaurant. Some places it comes with onions, peppers and milky tomato sauce that tastes more like Hungarian mish-mash. Some times it’s more like a cross between a fresh veggies wrap and a pita bread with cheese…So, keep your mind open and you will have a great time. It’s all good. Just don’t try to rush it. Expect a meal to last at least a couple of hours. What’s the hurry anyhow, the Purple Turtle doesn’t really starts happening until after 9 pm. And if you miss this action, the Twisted Toucan will welcome you with open arms. If you stay there long enough, and get hungry again, right next to it is a local lady making “baliadas” on a grill made out of a car wheel and a rack from a refrigerator. She’s there until midnight! For a $1 each, you must give in to the wonderful smell of fresh made tortillas, which are more like pita bread, and grilled meat, or if you prefer, for half price you can have it vegetarian. Dancing starts around 10:30 pm. And dancing is what everyone does… lustful Caribbean rhythms, Spanish hip-hop, blues, the Punta – a dance of the local Garifuna Indians, even your favorite hits from the USA. You’ll loose some weight, I guarantee!

If you are a beach bum and just want to bake in the sun and swim until your heart desires – West Bay is your place. The most beautiful beach on the island, according to many. White sand melting into liquid turquoise. Palm trees gracefully decorating the blue sky. The water is always calm because it is protected by the barrier reef. Grab a book and hang out, or stroll around people watching. For a place this beautiful, even in the heart of the busy season, it is surprisingly not crowded. Local ladies come by asking you if you want to have your hair braided, or how about a massage on the beach. Some balance buckets of ice cold drinks on their heads. The ice cream guy announces his presence ringing little bells as he pushes his cart down the beach. A groovy song arrives on the wings of the breeze from the nearest beach bar where a few people are chatting about living and loving it with a cool drink in hand under the palapa roof made out of palm leafs. Life can’t get any better. If it does, you may be dead and gone to heaven.
West Bay is where you see the really nice but still charming and unobtrusive upscale resorts, where one can find everything just like in the USA.
Yet the best part for me was getting up in the morning and doing my yoga practice. The warmth of the air, the sounds of the birds, the feeling of the breeze and the peacefulness this place radiates made an inspirational backdrop. Than with a heart full of joy, I went through the days soaking up the charm of the island, it’s people and the surprises that came our way, just to make things even more interesting. I can’t wait to go back.