The warm, salty breeze stung my nostrils, and the sweet sound of steel pan drums seemed to mimic the rhythm of my heart. Paradise had been found. The beach was the perfect utopia, a completely peaceful and serene getaway complete with Caribbean music and refreshing tropical drinks, Tabyana Beach.
Located off the coast of Honduras, Isla Roatan hosts some of the most breathtaking beaches in the Caribbean. We were fortunate enough to visit one of them on our Carnival cruise in June of 2008. The bus ride to the beach was breathtaking, but the overcrowded towns with their dilapidated, pitiful houses were heartbreaking. Families who couldn’t afford anything else were living in tiny, run-down houses. Seeing this realistic view of how life is for so many, I pondered all that gets taken for granted in America. Things like a living wage, running water, and electricity were not available to these extraordinary people. Their lives were consumed with daily survival.
These thoughts were interrupted as we reached the peak of one of the several mountains we passed over. The great expanse of jungle beneath seemed to spread out endlessly. Through the open windows, the chatter of monkeys and the call of tropical birds could be heard. A taste of what was still to come.
The old van complained as we began the descent down the mountain. The foliage began to change from sturdy magnolia trees and dense forest to sparse grasses and royal palms. To our delight, we finally pulled up to a quaint, beach side resort. We stepped off the muggy bus and into a dream. I gladly traded eight dollars for a mask, snorkel, and flippers. The sea beckoned me with her elegant, sapphire blue water. Donning my snorkeling gear, I dove headfirst into the sultry water. My heart soared at what lay before me. The flawless beauty of His creation took my breath away. A parrotfish floated elegantly past me, displaying its rainbow of scales. An apprehensive moray eel popped its head out curiously, only to slink back into its hole before there was time to snap a picture.
As the plethora of fish carelessly meandered beneath me, time seemed to stop. I started to ponder the meaning of life. My mind played with the idea of forgetting my American life and moving to a place like this where time never seemed to run out and no dead lines existed. My only concern would be survival, which would be easy in such a plentiful and rich environment. Although this sounded like a marvelous idea, it wasn’t very realistic. Suddenly, saltwater filled my mouth and I was succumbed by the intensely salted liquid. Gagging at the overpowering flavor, I was forced out of the water to get a drink. On my way to the bar, I passed a snowman made of sand and couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of snowmen at a time like this. They surely didn’t belong in this equatorial place.
As our time at the beach came to an end, we reluctantly boarded the bus back to the ship. Maybe in the future, my travels will bring me back to the place of my dreams. My trip to Isla Roatan has humbled me. I am more grateful for the luxurious life we live here in America. The paradox of the island, with its extreme poverty and the most beautiful beaches co-existing in one place, was inspiring. When I imagine what heaven is like, the picture that comes to my mind is the beauty of Tabyana Beach.
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