Tucked away inside a little oceanside bungalow in Roatán, Honduras, Andy and I woke bright and early to the calmest seas I’ve ever witnessed. The ocean appeared more an undisturbed lake of pastels . . .
This was welcomed news because I get seasick easily and today Andrew was going fishing.
Andy is a passionate fisherman so at this point in the trip, I was paying my dues — dues as in the ones I had promised him when he was either not interested, terrified, or pressured into scuba diving with me.
“We can go fishing!” I begged. “And we can see the sloths! You wanted to see the sloths!” I was desperate to get him diving so I threw out every trick in my bag, when in reality I was tiptoeing along the line of fishing being ethically wrong and the only animal in the world I am beyond-disgusted to see is a sloth. Yet, somehow my plan worked — Andy did go diving (and happened to love it) so now I was stuck on a three-hour fishing venture with plans of sloth-holding in the near future. But people say relationships are about sacrifices, and this is what I remind myself as we stepped into the boat and glided across the water . . .
In truth though, I was happy I went. The view from the boat was incredible. Because the sky was clear, we were able to see mainland Honduras in the distance, which Chris and Banks (the guys in charge) said was a way to judge if it will be “a day of boating” — that equates to an amazing day.
All felt magical, as if we had stepped into a van Gogh swirling painting.
When we got into the boat, we were introduced to Chris and Banks, who asked if we wanted to keep our catch. Earlier, Andrew and I had talked about this and — if I remember correctly — that may have been the night we were having a pleasant sunset dinner by the ocean when I couldn’t stop sobbing about the amount of poor fish killed, which translated into the poor skinny kittens that weren’t allowed to eat any fish, which then morphed into a massive ball of depression on how I did not know the rules on being able to fly five kittens back to America to live with us. Yep, I believe it was that night . . .
Anyway, while crying and hyperventilating, I somehow agreed with Andy that if he caught a fish, we should keep one because we would not have opportunities such as this where we could literally catch our own fish and eat it in a matter of hours. Therefore, when Chris and Banks asked if we wanted to keep our catch, Andrew proudly told them yes, while I nodded in sorrow.
“All I’m asking is for you to please dispatch of the fish quickly,” I had told Chris and Banks, “or I’ll be doomed to sit on the boat crying the rest of the time.”
“She’s being honest, mate,” Andrew said with a heavy sighing. “Trust me, we would all rather avoid that.”
Crisis averted, off we went . . .
There was a gentle wind as we slid over the water and Andy cast line after line before — very soon — he caught his first barracuda . . . which Chris did promptly take care of the poor fellow. (Thank you, Chris!)
While we were on our way back to the resort, we saw this horrible scene: a boat billowing massive amounts of black smoke. This is a Mayan Princess boat, and Mayan Princess is one of the more successful resorts in Roatán, which equates to having more money. They take divers, fisherman, and others out more than daily. This resort is not the only one with poor boating ethics, either: Another large resort named Infinity Bay leaks oil into the water!
I originally posted this on TripAdvisor but pulled it after hearing people at Las Rocas were accused of trying to decrease others’ business so I want to make myself clear: What is written here is my view entirely. Further, no one told me this — This was simply captured in November 2017 on my camera, which blatantly shows these two resorts not being environmentally-friendly. Harming the environment in such a way hurts local businesses and, therefore, livelihoods. In conclusion, readers, if you go to Roatán, do not support Mayan Princess or Infinity Bay. They should be pushed to correct this issue; however, without rules governing boats in Honduras, tourists can take a stand against this and decrease bookings at these two resorts.
Back to our boating venture, once we returned, Chris expertly filleted our barracuda to prepare for — what’s known as — the “edible test” . . .
Apparently, in certain months that end in “–ber”, barracuda (and other large reef fish) contain ciguatoxin, which is produced by certain algae at that time. Little fish eat that algae then bigger fish eat those little ones so that once the fish are digested, the ciguatoxin contains a poison that seeped through the large fish’s body. Harmless to fish, it is poisonous to people and can cause severe problems from prolonged nausea to paresthesia (tingling and numbness in nerves). One person even told us of dogs dying after eating bad barracuda due to people leaving the fish on the ground following a failed edible test.
So how do the locals know — for sure — the barracuda does not have this poison? They give it the edible test — The edible test is when a small piece of the barracuda is placed in an area of ants. If the ants swarm the fin, it is safe. However, if the ants steer clear, people do too.
Anxiously, Andy and I waited to see what would happen as a fin was placed by a colony of ants and then — there they gathered in droves for a massive eating-attack!
In truth though, this poison rarely causes deaths in people and our barracuda was small so it had not consumed several of the smaller ciguatoxin-filled fish. Knowing this — and seeing the ants on the discarded fin meant — decision decided — we were eating that barracuda too so Chris finished filleting our fish.
People told us the best way to prepare barracuda is to cover it in lime juice for a few hours then cook it simply using lime, salt, and pepper so while we were asking our resort’s chefs if they would do this, Chris reappeared by our side, urging us to return to the water because this guy slid out from under our resort’s dock . . .
This beautiful moray eel was several feet long and smelt the blood from our just-filleted fish. Moray hesitated in coming out and wound itself around the boat’s idle propeller, hoping for scraps.
Our dive instructor Anja later told us people are more prone to get too close to animals like turtles while scuba diving; however, turtles should be avoided more than eels. While all wildlife should not be disturbed when diving, she admitted the turtle can cause more injury to people because its jaws are incredibly strong so it could bite through fingers if it felt provoked or trapped. True, eels are dangerous also, but people mostly leave them alone because they are perceived as ugly creatures.
Andrew had his underwater camera with him and Moray must have thought the camera was food so it came from under the dock again, ready to eat . . .
Soon, Moray lost interest and, as quickly as he slid out from under the dock, he hid again . . .
Moray wasn’t the only one with plans though — We were to take on our second dive after our boating trek. This meant completing another quiz before we were in the boat once more. Dive buddies Shay and Michelle had previously scheduled an all-day boating trip so Andy and I were the only ones diving with Anja again.
Unlike our first trip though, Andrew was excited to get back in his diving gear to go underwater and for good reason — This dive was the best dive we would go on while in Roatán. It had slightly better visibility at around eight-five percent, and we saw even more amazing aquatic life, such as a large sea turtle that was on the ocean floor before it gracefully swam towards the surface where the light was streaming in just right. We also saw more lion fish in addition to barracuda and another large snapper that followed us. The dive couldn’t have lasted long enough but, running lower on air, we returned to the surface, making Dive Two in our steps to certification completed.
Loading back into the boat, we headed towards Roatán where Andrew and I strolled the island before getting ready for our most anticipated meal . . .
And that barracuda? It was the most delicious fish dish either of us has ever eaten or are convinced we will ever eat. Honest.
We were not the only ones to enjoy it either — Stuffed on our sizeable barracuda, we had one fillet left so we snuck portions of it under the table to the kittens who generously gobbled it up. That night, it felt everyone went to sleep full, happy as another vibrant sunset turned the ocean a deep plum . . .