Roatan, Rabies, and Rain

I am reasonably sure that I don’t have rabies as a result of our recent trip to Roatan. My opening sentence used to read that I was certain I didn’t have rabies (you know since I’m still alive and all, more than a month after getting bit by a dog on West Bay Beach), but my confidence level has dropped significantly because of the internet. First year medical school students are warned not to convince themselves that they have contracted one of the rare infectious diseases they are studying, because frequently students will read about the symptoms of some disease found in a remote corner of Papua New Guinea and convince themselves they have it. Unfortunately, the internet doesn’t come with the same warning. Thanks to the CDC website and Wikipedia, I’ve learned that the incubation period for rabies in humans is far longer than it is for dogs. Did you know that rabies can incubate in people for up to six years before the symptoms appear, but death is almost certain within days as soon as the symptoms finally present?! Remind me that I can breathe a sigh of relief in 2019.

rabid dog

I should probably back up and start at the beginning. Our recent trip to Honduras consisted of two parts: the rainforest and the beach. After three great days of seeing exotic creatures and falling to sleep to the sounds of the jungle, we set off for the island of Roatan for some beach time with the boys. Roatan is an island 30 miles off the coast of Honduras with its own relaxed vibe. Roatan is renowned for its great diving and snorkeling, and has beaches that rank among the best in the Caribbean.

roatan diving

So, after taking a 75 minute ferry ride that had all four of us feeling queasy by the end, we met the shuttle van that took us to the Mayan Princess Resort. Also sharing the same van was a group of orphans from the mainland who were being treated to a stay at this all-inclusive resort courtesy of a Dallas-based Catholic Church group that does charitable work in Honduras.

Roatan Honduras

Upon our arrival at the Mayan Princess, we quickly made our way to the beach. The weather was perfect, the water was even more turquoise than I expected, and the beach was crowded with tourists and vendors selling all sorts of trinkets. The ocean water was warm and the boys loved running off the beach and into the water, where Russ and I would catch them just as they tumbled into the water. We told our kids to pace themselves because we were staying there for four nights, but we should have been telling them to soak it all in because a storm was brewing and we spent the next three days mostly inside watching TV and building forts.

Roatan Honduras
After spending a few hours hopping between the beach and pool at our hotel, the boys wanted to get some ice cream. We walked down the beach to the store at the Bananarama, a nearby hotel, to buy two ice cream cones as the sun was setting.


On the way back, I noticed a pack of dogs running off-leash and made a mental note to keep Declan away from them because I was worried they might be attracted to his ice cream cone since it covered three quarters of his body by this point. As I was busy trying to clean Declan up, Finnegan and Russ were running down the beach and unbeknownst to me, the dogs started chasing Finnegan. Russ put himself between the dogs and Finnegan and told him to stay calm because the dogs probably thought he was trying to play. Finnegan was getting really nervous because the dogs didn’t leave. So instead of staying calm, he ran to me. However, my back was to him so I didn’t see him coming or the two dogs following him. It was quite a shock to get bit by a dog that I never even saw coming. I’m still so thankful that the dog didn’t bite Finnegan or Declan.

To my surprise, the dogs were not strays and it didn’t take Russ long to launch into all-out-lawyer-mode, demanding rabies certificates, payment for any medical expenses, and calling for the local police to launch a full-scale investigation. The dogs’ owner was an Australian hippie chick, who seemed high. It wasn’t until Russ screamed at her several times to leash her dogs that she finally did. Although she was mildly apologetic, she mostly seemed surprised that something could have gone wrong with her obviously well thought out plan to take a pack of four formerly stray dogs for a walk off leash on a very crowded beach. The bite was mostly a bruise and there was a doctor that witnessed the incident so he gave me some iodine to clean the wound.


The hotel manager insisted that I go to the hospital and offered to send a babysitter to watch the kids while I saw the doctor. In the end, I relented to give Russ (and maybe myself) a little piece of mind. Instead of dragging the kids halfway across the island on the bumpy pothole ridden roads, Russ stayed behind and the babysitter acted as a translator instead. The private medical center was 45 minutes away in Coxen Hole, which was not a pleasant place to be after dark. The center was empty so I was able to see the doctor right away. He cleaned the wound and recommended antibiotics and pain medicine, but didn’t think the rabies vaccine was necessary since I only had a scratch with minimal bleeding (and I seriously doubt they had the expensive vaccine on hand to administer anyway). The doctor also said there haven’t been any rabies cases on the island in the last ten years. I felt pretty good about this reasoning before doing my own research on the internet. The internet is the worst sometimes. The worst.

So other than that, how did I enjoy Roatan you might ask. There’s more to come in the next few days on our visit to Gumbalimba Park, swimming with dolphins, and a review of our hotel.

In the meantime, I also have to get busy planning a weekend trip to Raleigh, NC for a girls weekend with some of my childhood besties in early January. So if you have any recommendations for Raleigh, let me know in the comments.


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