We had a great time in Saigon after our 3 month motorbike tour around Southeast Asia and are ready to begin our diving career in Roatan, Honduras. We sold our motorbikes (for less than we had hoped for) and we were set to leave Vietnam. Our flight left at about midnight and we were told when we checked in that despite our service dog paperwork, we would need to clear Buddha (our dog) through Tokyo before they would let him board the plane with us. The service dog paperwork wasn't sufficient for ANA Airlines because Buddha wasn't a seeing eye dog or hearing dog, which precluded him from being on the plane as a service dog. This is the first time was a big problem other than Shanghai when they almost didn't let us on the plane. The Tokyo office was closed for the day however and we sat and argued for a good couple hours and the time to board soon approached. We were told we would have to call Tokyo in the morning and fly out the next day. We begrudgingly took a cab to a hotel near the airport. It was probably a good thing we stayed another day.
In Saigon At Our Hotel
Flying From Saigon To Ohio
The Kidney Stone Incident
The next morning I woke to urinate and shortly after, an excruciating pain started to radiate from my right back just below the rib cage to my entire abdomen. There was little doubt to what this was. A KIDNEY STONE!! We didn't know what to do. Shelly was asking me what she should do, and the pain was so all consuming, that I couldn't entertain questions. We were in a hotel and there I was on the floor of the hotel room, naked and in agony. Shelly went to ask the front desk what she should do and they wanted to see for themselves and when they saw me on the floor in pain, the wide eyed attendant suggested we see a doctor. I wasn't going to the hospital and being in a foreign country when things like this happen is scary. I finally asked Shelly to go to the pharmacy and pick up some drugs and fluids. I took 60mg of codeine and I sat and writhed in pain for the next two hours until I passed out from exhaustion. When I woke up that evening, the pain was bearable and I had passed the stone after peeing.
With Shelly's Brothers and Cousins In Ohio
Flying To Ohio From Saigon
It was good that we didn't fly the night before for I would have undoubtedly been on a plane at the time it hit me, and absolutely miserable and embarrassed if this had happened on a plane. We got Tokyo's approval that day, and were slated to fly with Buddha that evening. We got to Tokyo, then flew to Chicago where Buddha finally after 25 hours got to urinate. We really do have the best dog for flying and traveling.
We arrived finally in Ohio and visited family and friends for the next 4 days. It was great seeing our family and spending some time with them. The weather however was cold, with rain and snow mixed in. A huge change from the 90 degree days in Saigon. We flew out on the 1st of Feb.for Houston where we would spend the night then head out to Roatan, Honduras the next day at 10:20am, arriving in Roatan at 1:10pm.
West End Roatan
Arriving In Roatan
We took off as scheduled and arrived in Roatan where we had more Buddha issues. He needed a leptospirosis injection before being allowed to enter the country. We spoke with the customs agent for a few minutes and he explained to us that we needed to make an appt with Dr. Soto (the island vet) and get it done soon. It took longer than we had wanted upon arrival, but within an hour of sitting while paperwork was done, we were on our way in a cab to the West End of Roatan. There are small villages/towns dotted along Roatan's 36 kilometer island. West end was were most of the dive shops were and fit our budget the best.
We got dropped off at the Dolphin Hotel right on Half Moon Bay in the heart of West End. It was 40 dollars a night, and we enjoyed the view and air conditioner so we booked a few days to get situated in the town, and decide what we wanted to do next. We had a great little balcony that overlooked the beach and bay but, it was expensive and we needed to find an apartment. We found a dive shop we liked called appropriately enough,West End Divers. It reminded us a little of the people at Utila and the Bay Islands College of Diving. It had a great vibe and we really liked Mel the Australian Manager of the shop.
Our New Apartment In Roatan
Getting An Apartment In Roatan
Saturday we found an apartment close to West End divers and moved in. It's a great apt. with a loft bedroom, and a kitchen and living space below with a bathroom. $350.00 per month. We also have a screened in porch with a hammock, which really makes the place. We love sitting in our bugless porch in the cool night air. We have two pet monkeys outside our door. They are both named Buddy apparently even though one is a female and the other a male. Our landlord owns them and they are two year old white faced monkeys. They are pretty cool although they are not quite sure about Buddha and vice versa. We love West End divers and our 5 minute walk from our apartment to the dive shop. No need for transportation here. The area is dotted with restaurants and dive shops, and despite the frequent rain showers and muddy roads, we love Roatan! We took a bus and cab to get groceries and have been cooking our own meals for the first time in a few months. It's great to make our own food and save some money.
We have done some fun diving with West End Divers to get up to 40 dives so we can take our Dive Master course. We had a spectacular night dive where we saw strings of pearls. They are chains of some kind of shrimp that when give off bioluminescence. When we turned off our lights and sat on the ocean floor, it almost looked like we were in the movie Avatar. It was really amazing looking. We also had a great dive where we went down a sea chimney about 10 feet straight down to an underwater cave that came out on the other side of the wall at a dive site called Canyon Reef. It was such an incredible dive of swim throughs and underwater caverns and canyons.
The Catamaran To Utila with Captain Vern R.I.P.
Going to Utila For Our Rescue Diver
We also decided to head out after being in our apartment for a week and go to Utila to do our Rescue Diver (prerequisite for DM) We boarded Captain Vern's catamaran for Utila at 1:30pm on Friday. Nick Deutter (our instructor that taught us to scuba) would be our instructor and said he would meet us on the dock. We rode at a slow pace for 3 and half hours on the calm ocean on the catamaran. It was great! We suntanned, and at a boxed lunch we had made, and even Buddha had a great time. The day couldn't have been more beautiful on the water. We arrived and Nick greeted us and brought us to our apartment. It is the same apartment we had when we were here when we learned to dive. We felt like we had come home. We had thrown around the idea of diving with BICD or West End Divers for a few days. We saw the benefit in diving with both, and decided to do our DM with West End Divers and our Rescue diver with Utila with The Bay Island College Of Diving. Nick is leaving in a couple weeks anyway to go back to Belgium and it wouldn't be the same here without him.
We are loving it here in Utila. Terrible weather today, but it didn't matter. We dove the Haliburton Wreck Dive today and another fun dive too. The dive wreck is always cool. Shelly and I swam around the huge tanker they sunk in the 90's to 100 feet and despite stormy seas and windy rain, below the sea is still as calm and beautiful as a perfect day. We are at about 25 dives now, and only need another 15 or so to start our Divemaster program which should take a couple of months. We don't have internet in our apartment, and have to find time to post, so you may not see such frequent updates from us in the next few months.
Change In Perspective
We were upset with ANA airlines and the attendant at the airport in Saigon. We argued with him to the point that I think he might have wanted to cry at one point. We had our own agenda and felt that the restriction on Buddha was over the top. We were upset and hated were worried that we would miss our connections in the states and have less time to spend with our family in Ohio. After all is said and done, it was the best thing that could have happened. Can you imagine if I had the kidney stone pass while in flight in coach over the pacific ocean somewhere? It would have been catastrophic!
We learned from this situation that you have to have faith in universe. Things either work out as you planned or not. This doesn't mean that things would be better if things did work out as planned. We were grateful that we hadn't been put on that flight and realized that we need to just go with the flow and learn the Art of Letting it Go. At times we don't have control over the things that happen to us and traveling has taught us that even though we don't understand why things happen the way they do, that there is a reason for it, and the answer will be revealed to us in the future. Learn to let it go and go with the flow and things will turn out just fine.