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Island of Uncle Graham

Natalia Laidinen , www.laidinen.ru - March, 2010

Mentioning of Honduras usually causes cheerful sarcastic smile with the Russians – all recollect mostly cheerful song of the same name performed by Arkady Arkanov and aphorisms a-la Nikolai Fomenko, or obscene jokes. Our compatriots, to tell the truth, have no idea about social, economic or political status of this Central American country: they could have heard something about civil war, coups and change of presidents, drug trafficking, corruption and arms trade.

I myself passed through, the way we put it “humorous”, but in fact very serious, Honduras in all directions, having sunk in a monumental historical Copan and walked up along the bustling, already tourist La Ceiba. The tongue-twister city of Tegucigalpa and reckless resort town of San Pedro Sula have not escaped from me. But perhaps the biggest impression I got from the lost in the Gulf of Honduras beautiful Caribbean islands with fantastic, airy waves and gentle turquoise breeze, which so suddenly tunes you to the meditative calm way. In the Bay there are several dozen shades of water.

Getting on the Roatan or Utila islands people quickly remove watches and begin to be guided exclusively by the sun and their own unexpected emotions – then real miracles begin to happen! And this is despite the fact that at the larger islands almost high society life is humming, traditional Caribbean and, therefore, very unique restaurants and bars are open, exotic hotels sparkle with lights, large by local standards diving centres are hosting the tourists.

But if you really look for thrills and go a little further, in the not so far tourist insular Honduras, the picture will change. On the Utila island one can meet poor extremal students, on Roatan – a consistent audience, a typical middle class from the offices of Manhattan. But in Guanaja you found mainly people with capital, who do not need advertising. This place can be reached only by plane or boat. In this area of the Gulf of Honduras scattered are dozens of small islands for those seeking a true solitude. And I was lucky to get in one of these oases having made friends with its hospitable host Graham Thompson.

Graham is a talkative and very colourful old man. In his 72 he looks tanned and hard-boiled through like a real sea wolf. In him, there is something characteristic of heroes of Old Man Hem: power and passion for his work. First Thompson lived in the Cayman Islands, but for a long time kept an eye on the little wild island, wanted to escape from the hustle and become a real downshifter, create his own small cozy little world far away from everyday problems.

Having seen once a tiny cozy Josh Cay island in Honduras, he literally fell in love with it, and for 17 years, virtually does not go out much though far away – except for some products to the mainland. Once these were only pirate sites: famous sailors of the past used to repair their vessels in the nearby caves. Many pirate things: weapons, coins, unusual artifacts are still found in the coastal zone. Perhaps one day in these parts the most interesting museum can be created.

I spent a happy week on the island, and I think I understood Graham. In his little tropical paradise only 8 people live permanently, those who, as in the novel of Exupery, help to maintain order in their “planet”. Here, created by the will of the owner, there are cozy white beaches and palm trees, pure water – in contrast to many other places in Honduras, where you can easily pick up the intestinal infection. The caring owner’s hands have planted rare plants, flowers and trees. It is particularly perfectly to walk in the island in the full moon, when the trees, in silver glow, remind you of stencils contrasting against brightly lit sea and sky. Tamed peacocks quietly stroll on the island, lazy local pelicans fly here for the evening meal, which they willingly take from hand. A couple of the most “domesticated” ones really respond when you call them out: “Where are you, Tom? Come here, Jerry!” They are happy to take fish pieces from the hands.

Visitors are escorted by the kindest dogs and cats, and big-eared rabbit peacefully digs in the ground next to iguanas and agouti. Who would have told me, but I could see myself what friendship of wild rabbit and domestic cat is! No stress of the capital, but no city comfort either: all is very natural, nature here is the main joy. In order to fully merge with it, it is worth to completely abandon TV and computers, and just swing in a hammock in the evening near a small cane bungalow. Creative breakthroughs for outstanding personalities are guaranteed! No transportation, shopping, parties and other attributes of the usual vacation. Forget about them. It’s really worth it. The days spent on the island with a person you love will be remembered forever and seem incredible in its entirety.

And if you want a thrill – you can go on a picnic on the neighbouring islands or scuba diving: reefs around are pristine, almost untouched. There is something to explore and admire.

The life on a fantastic tropical island, however, has never been cloudless. Old Graham has lived through a lot here: in front of his eyes, because of the devastating hurricane, the fruits of many years of his work have been lost, trees and palm trees have perished, beaches were destroyed by the environment, and the coastline was ground by the power of nature. It was tough to survive this to Thompson, but as a philosopher he tried to just recreate what was destroyed by the elements. And reopened the restaurant on the island, where a local chef prepares dishes exclusively from freshly caught fish and other rare seafood. Particularly impressive is a spicy soup made of deep-sea scallop – Graham with a grin of immortal pirate suggested that it had a very beneficial effect on male potency.

At the same time the owner has created a small marine reserve on the island, by cutting off a part of the coast for the pool. Here you can see the picturesque sting rays and huge sea turtles, lazy “jewfish” - groupers, large rock-fish, businesslike lobsters and colourful butterfly fish.

The creative approach of the owner to each meter space on the island is amazing: here are young palm trees and picturesque benches, romantic corners for meditation and bar counters right in the surf. The summerhouse is built on a coral reef, so that one can read during the day or enjoy placers of subequatorial stars during long wet nights. All elements in the design of the island – broken ship’s screws and huge clams, overturned boats and pirate symbols have been collected by good hands of the owner.

“They always return to me on the island” – winked slyly the young old man Graham in the end. – “You will see, and you, sea mermaid, will come back!” I very much hope that it will be so. Though, no, I know for sure – it will be like this!


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