You know how sometimes you hear something and it brings you straight back to a moment in time, a memory you didn’t even know you still retained? Well there are certain sounds from this island that I can guarantee I will never forget. They will bring me back here regardless of where I physically am at the time. Here they are – minus the actual sounds so you’ll have to make do with my mere words instead.
1. “Happy Daaaaays”
There is a truck that drives around delivering gas to houses, restaurants, hotels, wherever. They fill up your tank so you don’t have to lug it to them. It’s pretty great! So this truck. All day they have a recording on a loop and I swear on anything holy that every single person who hears it unconsciously mimics it for hours afterward. Whether whistling or singing or humming, we can’t help it. But the only part we really focus on is the chorus “happy days are here again/happy daaaaaays.” It’s just so damn catchy and so damn true!
2. Laser Birds
I realize this might just be our interpretation and other Roatanians may disagree, but there are birds here who shoot lasers. They don’t actually shoot lasers, but when they call to each other they sound like stormtroopers. Seriously. PEW PEW PEW PEW in this really short, high-pitched attack that makes you turn around and make sure there really isn’t a dude in a white plastic suit chasing after you (luckily all stormtroopers have terrible aim). Also, these birds sound like helicopters when they start flying away suddenly. It’s pretty crazy.
Divers, you know what I mean. It’s that therapeutic sound underwater that lets you know you’re not dreaming, you’re actually breathing underwater and sharing your time and space with all the amazing creatures and stunning coral under there, too. Bubbles. That’s all you hear. Silence, and then bubbles, silence, and then bubbles. It’s such a beautiful melody.
It’s rare that we get a loud, breaking surf at home because we’re on the protected side of the island. But even still, first thing in the morning when we open our eyes and the rest of the world remains quiet, the only sounds are some rustling palm leaves, maybe a laser bird or two, and then you hear it. There’s a soft, subtle, rough salt-water-on-sand glide that says, “Welcome to another gorgeous day in paradise.”
Lesson #1 for visiting Honduras: get yourself a baleada. It’s basically a Honduran taco: homemade tortilla, refried beans, cheese, cream, and a filling of your choosing (I recommend eggs and avocado, best breakfast ever). Lesson #2 for visiting Honduras: ask a local where to get the best baleada, because they do vary. So while my arteries might beg to differ, one of the best sounds here is when your baleada is ready and the ladies call it out for you to come pick it up. “Baleada!” And let me tell you, you should go running! Those things are fabulous when fresh and hot, but don’t let them sit, they just get weird. And definitely don’t ever refrigerate one to eat later. INCREDIBLY weird.
6. Hummingbird wings
I’ve never seen as many hummingbirds in my whole life as I’ve seen here in Roatan. They’ve always eluded me, showing up occasionally when I lived in Ecuador but usually only one at a time and infrequently at that. Here they buzz around constantly. If I don’t see 5 in a day, it’s a bad day. If you’ve never heard a hummingbird before, imagine a tiny propeller airplane zooming past you. Those wings are beating so unbelievably quickly and they never rest. Even when they sit, their heads bob around in constant motion. Adorable. But they must be exhausted!
There’s no good way to say this, so I’ll just blurt it out: I have more gecko friends than human ones. I know, I’m probably certifiable now, but this is serious! No offense, human friends, but the geckos that live at my house and at my shop are productive little guys. They eat bugs. Which makes them my friends because there are a lot of bugs here, but there would be more without these little neighbors doing their thing. Bonus: they’re super cute and they talk a lot. What’s not to love?! Steve is the gecko who’s been living at our house the longest, he’s also the loudest. He and Gertrude have a little fling going on we think. Gertrude likes to hang out near our living room window and watch TV with us or comment on our conversations. Steve, however, chimes in on everything. He’s apparently very opinionated because he basically never shuts up. He hangs out by the kitchen window chattering away all evening. I can’t adequately explain the noise geckos make, it’s like a clucking/chirping/I don’t even know the words to use so you’ll just have to believe me I guess? (Please don’t send me to an asylum now.)
8. 5-gallon water jug glugs
We all drink fresh water out of 5-gallon jugs that we put in coolers or regular dispensers to drink at room temperature. This is ours (I know, exciting huh?):
Sometimes, those water jugs have bubbles come up and noisily “glu-glug” through the whole jug. The reason I love this noise? Because it also serves as a reminder for when we need more water. The glu-glugs get higher pitched when the water gets lower and the longer the time between the “glu” and “glug,” the fuller the jug is. I realize I could just look at it, but c’mon. This is a foolproof system!
9. Rain on palm fronds
Who doesn’t love falling asleep to rain?? I don’t think this needs any explanation at all. It’s just so peaceful. Of course when this sound continues for days on end during rainy season I certainly don’t love it so much and my angry hibernation side comes out. I don’t do well in winter, and rainy season is our winter. I can’t help it. So I moved away from cold winter and now only have to deal with a few days of rain here and there. But when it only rains at night, that is absolute perfection. The drops hit the palm fronds with a plop and then slide ever so gracefully down the leaves and onto the ground. It’s like an orchestra out there slowly lulling us into dreamland.
10. The monkey lala shuffle
This is me with a monkey lala.
This is also a monkey lala.
The former is a delicious boozy beverage that you must try while in Roatan. The latter is a Jurassic Park-esque lizard that runs with its head back and scurries around frenetically in our yard. HILARIOUS. I have yet to watch one of these little guys run without giggling. Off they go with their short little legs spread wide for balance and their heads tossed back as if they’re just too good for this era, scurrying across the grass from the protection of one bush to another. They run so quickly you’re not sure exactly what you’ve seen…a dinosaur?! Basically. Just accept it and laugh along with me. The shuffle will always remind me of these little guys…so let’s just hope if I hear it elsewhere I don’t encounter something larger and more menacing. Because let’s be serious, there is absolutely nothing menacing about something called a Monkey Lala!
So there you have it. Fellow Roatanians, anything I’ve missed?? Also – quick headcount – how many of you are still singing “Happy Daaaaays…Happy Daaaaaaays…” 😉