Originally posted October 2018.
Where do I begin with this blog entry? SIGH…
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from visiting Roatan. My sister had booked a tour with a local Honduran who has exceptional reviews on Trip Advisor. So I had pretty high expectations. But boy, I had no idea that the experience would transcend all senses. I saw, I heard, I smelled, I tasted, I felt. Because I did more video taping than picture taking, I’ll be posting a video clip of my time on the island soon.
As my family left the port and made our way into the island, my sister asked a local stranger if she knew Cleve. She smiled and pointed in the direction of a slim man with brown skin and short dark straight hair holding up a sign with our last name on it. We shouted loudly with joy “CLEVE!”. He responded with even more energy “FAMILY!!!”. We basically ran to each other like long lost relatives reuniting. He gave us all hugs and there was pure jubilation amongst us all. I’ve never been welcomed by a stranger like that before, but it was heavenly! It was that type of love Jesus preached about back in the day. Another local man who was in the corner observing the whole spectacle told me that we were in good hands…”Cleve is the happiest man on the island”. It honestly pains me that I can’t really go into details of the character that is Cleve because I would end up writing a novel. And this blog post is my travels on the island of Roatan. But I’ll say this, Cleve is the light and salt of that island.
He embraced my family as his own, and showed us his beautiful island. We got an awesome history lesson that even connects Roatan to Nigeria via the Garifuna tribe. One of the five tribes on the island. The Garifuna people first arrived to the Caribbean after their slave ship from the bight of Biafra capsized. For centuries, they have fought to conserve their West African culture.
We ended our tour eating local food in one of the villages of the Garifuna people by the water. The food was so similar to the cuisine of my people in my father’s part of Nigeria. Seafood soup with fish, lobster, conch (a shellfish) eaten with machuca, or as my people call it ununu (mashed plantains). It was enough proof for me that the Garifuna must have descended from Nigeria.
Oh, how I want to visit again!