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Things I learned when I lived on Roatan

22 Jul

Living on Roatan (and prior to that, choosing to move to the relatively small island, off the coast of Honduras, Central America) was all about “going with the flow”. Letting things happen if/or when they will. So, today, I’m choosing to sit on the porch, in Ontario Canada: perfect summer weather; flowers in full bloom; birds, butterflies and bees—flying, flitting and buzzing; and really stupid frogs in the garden—repeatedly leaping head-first into the vinyl skirting around the trailer.

Together, we’ll discover some of the “Things I learned when I lived on Roatan.”

$50 anti-aging cream is a waste of money: Advertisements, fancy booths in the Malls, glossy flyers (that come in the mail) try to convince me otherwise. Drinking plenty of water, getting out in the sunshine, eating more “real” foods, and not stressing over stuff I have no control of (I learned that on Roatan) are my preferred. I’m still aging: gravity, genetics, and the occasional not-good-for-combating-wrinkles choices I’ve made will take their toll, but I’ve also still got the $50 in my pocket.

I am the “Supreme All-Knowing-Calming-Force” during power outages: Recently, we had one in Ontario, after a thunderstorm, there was panic in the streets—the people in shock, lost, afraid! Okay maybe not quite that bad. On Roatan, power went out 2 or 3 times a week (no storm required)—I pretty much learned how to deal with it. Kind of ties in with the “not stressing over the things I have no control of thing” too.

I am the “Supreme All-Super-Happy-the-humidity-is-at-100%” for more than a month now: Nonstop heat-wave. Woohoo! While those around me are melting, grumbling, and hiding in: dry-your-skin-out, windows closed, draw the blinds, air-conditioned… ah… bunkers, I turned the trailer porch into the place to hang out.

“Paradise” is inside me: Okay, that sounds a little hokey! Since moving back to Canada, many people have commented: How could you leave Paradise? Thing is, I went there to figure it out—but I learned I can live it anywhere.

It’s okay to be me: Oh, oh, another corny one. I left everything I knew behind to explore the unknown on a little island called Roatan. And while there, I learned “being me” is all I’ve really got, oh sure, I could have ignored it, in favour, of trying to conform to a lifestyle more-typical to where I grew-up. But, even as a kid, my life was far from typical. I used to be ashamed of it, embarrassed by it—big stigma attached.

I’ll always be grateful to Roatan, for teaching me: “Being me is okay”

To find out more about my: be ashamed, embarrassed, big stigma attached, and now I’m okay with it thing, visit CastleMuse.com – Love Ya Mommy!

Roatan North

25 May

Spring has sprung in Ontario, Canada! And just as I took credit for the mild winter (I brought it from the Island with me don’t you know) I am also going to claim credit for the Roatan like weather we are experiencing now!

Warm and gentle breezes, a few fluffy clouds meandering across the sky, no need for jacket or sleeved shirt—tank top and shorts will suffice. And absolute best of all—NO SHOES!!! My toes are happily free to wiggle in flip-flops! My tan has returned and I don’t look out of place anymore as the only one without pasty grey skin-tones. Mind you, there were those who overdid it (kinda like Roatan tourists do) and had a tomato red tinge after the long weekend. The flowers are in bloom, the foliage is lush and green, and eventhough it will have to be brought inside in the fall, the hibiscus tree I couldn’t pass up when strolling through a garden center, is delighting me with its continuous show of velvety red blossoms.

The battle of the bugs has begun! I noticed a couple of “flying ants” they’re huge here, nothing like the wimpy ones on Roatan. Anyhow, the next day I spotted a few more, and in my true form, I set them free. Later that same day when four of them fell on me from the ceiling above, I looked up—ohhh crap! It was like from the scene in “The Amityville Horror” when the bedroom filled with flies (except mine were “flying ants” and they had taken over most of the rooms in my home.) Normally, I prefer to share space with God’s creatures, scorpions being the exception, but this was just too much, I got a can of Raid from my mom, and the carnage began! Fortunately, it was nice and warm outside so I could fog the inside with toxic chemicals and retreat to my porch while I waited…

“Flying ants” aside (well actually dead) the majority of the critters are welcomed. Swarms (or is it flocks) of Monarch butterflies arrived, I think from Mexico, last week. There were so many they were landing on my grandson and me when we arrived to my place. The other day, I sat sipping a beverage on my porch when a hummingbird came by to say hi; he or she returns daily now, as do the fat bumblebee’s. And last night, outside my bedroom window, I watched “fireflies” show-off, turning the dark forest into a twinkling light show.

There are a few un-Roatan things to contend with, for example: not one item I own has gone rusty or moldy, I’m sure you’re thinking that’s not a bad thing, but I’m not use to it, not to mention, there isn’t enough humidity to prevent my clothes from wrinkling—now I know you feel sorry for me. And worst of all—everybody is in such a hurry—come on people—really, it’s not worth it! I thought going out to shop or whatever on Roatan was a challenge—ha. If you drive the speed limit here it’s like you’re a target in some kind of crazy video game. I’ve gotten used to middle-finger-salutes, fist shakings and learned a few new nasty words too. I took it personal at first, but not anymore, I just smile and wave back using ALL my fingers not just the middle one.

***

By the way, my new website CastleMuse is still in development and should be launching soon, I know I’ve said that before, even gave you date. Instead I think I’ll just say, “the CastleMuse Library will be opening… mañana.” tee-hee.

And for all of you trying to find me on Facebook, I’m there, just not a personal page anymore—click here to visit Genevieve Ross on Facebook. You can send me a message, post on my page, read what I post, or whatever. But now that I’m set-up this way I can’t contact you (until you send me a message first) and unless I set up a personal page again, I can’t see what you post on your personal pages.

Roatan Vortex State of Mind

1 Feb

Okay, so I had said my previous story here at RoatanVortex.com was going to be my last posting, but what can I say… a wave of homesickness washed over me the other day.

It had nothing to do with the fact that the temperature read as a negative number or hearing the sound of tires spinning, outside my home, on the snow, compressed to a layer of hard packed ice on the roadways.

It had nothing to do with getting ready to go out for a while and having to pull on a bulky jacket, scarf, gloves, a toque to swaddle my head, or sitting on the bottom step in the front hall tugging boots over thick socks entombing my protesting toes.

It had nothing to do with moving the portable humidifier from room to room trying to maintain at least a hint of moisture in the air, or the stockpile of lotions and creams stacked on the bathroom counter that I need to slather on dry and chapped skin—in spite of the claims made by the manufactures that if I use their product my skin will never go flaky.

And it had nothing to do with noticing the weak sunlight emitting from the hazy orange ball suspended in the frosty afternoon sky and wondering—what’s that? Or realizing that I am gazing longingly at the potted herb plants on the kitchen counter not because I’m trying to decide what will go best in an omelette but solely because they’re green and alive and… plants.

I was homesick for my Island family and friends!

Since moving back to my hometown in Canada, I’m learning to cope with the conditions that I have no control over; weather, sleeping vegetation and minimal sunlight. And I’m appreciating advantages I haven’t experienced for a few years. I haven’t had to wipe mould off of anything, there is nary a hint of rust on the fridge needing to be hidden with a fresh coat of primer and none of the door knobs have fallen off because the lockset has crumbled away. There is no need to check under my pillow for scorpions, flick gecko poop off the freshly made bed or swat at the sand-flies nibbling on my ankles.

I’ve had the greatest pleasure of my son and grandkids stopping by and together we watch ‘Planet of the Apes’ on Netflix, getting together with my mom to work side by side on the book we are co-authoring, and spending an afternoon with my daughter when she drives down from Hanover and we go for lunch and shopping at the most exclusive boutique—Value Village! And most evening after a delicious home cooked meal, courtesy of my Steven, we snuggle on the sofa (yup, a real one) to watch a few episodes of our favourite HBO series, ‘Mad Men’.

Regardless of all that, I settled into my feeling homesick and longing for Roatan, wrapping it around me like a much needed fleece blanket to ward off the cold, at the same time the Roatan Vortex began pulling at me; warming me from the very core of my being. Now before you get any ideas, no, I’m not moving back to Roatan, but rather, re-embracing what I thought I had to give up. When I made the decision to move back to Canada there were many reasons (and there still are) but I thought I had to completely say goodbye to the Roatan Vortex; it had consumed an extraneous amount of my time when I lived on the Island and became a chore, a job, a, I thought I had to turn it into a business thing.

But, the thing is–the Roatan Vortex was never intended or destined to be any of those things—the Roatan Vortex is a state of mind!

A bunch of years ago I coined a phrase, “the Roatan Vortex—it pulls you in and you’ll never want to leave!” and I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to physically be on the Island to feel and share the positive effects—to stay connected with my Roatan family and friends. Although I won’t be posting stories nearly as often as I used to I still will be occasionally stopping by to say hi and satisfy my craving to blog. Time permitting I will also be re-launching the Roatan Vortex Book with a new look but exactly same content as I originally wrote it, plus additional bonus features! The RV Book will be available at my new website CastleMuse as a FREE downloadable ebook format and the book (paperback) edition will be available on-line to purchase at cost plus (of course) shipping. I also will bring books to the Island and donate them as prizes for various fundraisers—Clinica Esperanza Sundae by the Sea, Familias Saludables Sundays at Bananarama and others.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
If you’re in no hurry and can wait for my re-release of the Roatan Vortex Book… please do. I’ll announce it here at Roatan Vortex.com You may find (what appears to be) the book in its original state available for sale on the Island and floating around cyber-space. Thing is, even though it’s all my content and my name is on it—it’s not the real deal!

Now I’m not asking you to take sides or anything, heck, I’ve got a couple of ‘knock-off’ outfits in my closet, have watched a few illegally copied DVD’s and the sunglasses I bought on the beach may have the ‘Gucci’ logo embossed on the rim… but they sure aren’t ‘Gucci’.

On page 265 of the Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions—by Lori Deschene, she asked: “What can we control in life?”

My answer: “The absolute only thing we can control in life is how we respond to everything we have no control of.”—@roatanvortex

I’ve got a lot of great things going on in my life that require my full attention right now, and other than the couple of weeks I’m going to spend (with Steven) enjoying the glorious warmth and sunshine on Roatan this month, I plan on taking full advantage of the cold dreary weather to keep me focused on writing content and recording audio books for my new website CastleMuse; that’s where I’m building the foundation for my ‘castle in the air’ while maintaining a Roatan Vortex state of mind.

I had no idea

25 Nov

I had no idea

Where I live, on Roatan, when I open the door to the bedroom there is an ancient termite trail etched into the floor–it’s only a couple of months old, but will be there for evermore. Perhaps scrubbing with a wire brush and a harsh chemical concoction will remove traces of it, but for me, in my minds-eye I will always see it–and that makes me happy–there was a time that I had no idea what a termite trail was, or how it may look.

More than seven years ago I heard the word Roatan, I had no idea what that was, but I was intrigued–why? I don’t know–I just was. Thanks to modern technology, I was able to Google it, which was a challenge in itself since I had no idea how to spell it. When sites started popping up describing an Island, off the coast of Honduras, nestled in the Caribbean Sea–I had found Roatan.

At that time I had a home (in suburbia Ontario, Canada), a loving husband, adult children making their own way, three amazing grandsons, a rewarding career, a two car garage, and a house full of–stuff–what more could I want.

Fast forward a year or so, family and friends had gotten very tired of hearing me talk of this Island I claimed I would be going to live on. My husband gently reminded me, while using a tone suitable for telling a two year old, no matter how hard you wish it–you will never be able to fly. He had no idea why, and tried to keep me grounded, but, he accepted what it meant to me–and encouraged my dream becoming a reality.

A year after that, I lost my beloved husband, his final words to me, “I’ll find a way to get you there.” For the next year I gave no conscious thought to Roatan, or anything for that matter. And then I came back to life and realized Roatan was patiently waiting for me. I quit my job, sold my house and all that stuff, said goodbye to my family and friends, boarded a plane and moved to Roatan.

My first encounter: stepping down a set of stairs that doubled as the door of a prop plane, to be greeted by a wall of humidity beyond anything I had ever experienced before, exiting through the only gate, to an area teeming with taxi drivers vying for my attention, followed by a drive through lush jungle, crowding the only paved road, to a village called West End. Along the way I saw: chickens scratching along the side, stray dogs, entire families on scooters, children walking along the edge of the road (no adults watching over them), land-crabs challenging each and every vehicle, and a man riding a bicycle balancing a propane tank on the handlebars.

My accommodations, at the time, I described as quaint, and now describe as typical. Honduran pine from ceiling to floor, a fan spinning in each room, no glass windows–just screens with wooden slats (that only a few of them will close), tropical print sarongs used as table cloths and wall decorations, a kitchen full of rusty utensils, a can opener that didn’t work, and ants. The bedding smelled musty, air-conditioning cost extra, and the TV worked–but everything was dubbed in Spanish.

I really had no idea why… but I had found… home!

That was almost five years ago. I settled in the community of Sandy Bay, and learned how to battle bats, got used to making the mad dash in the middle of the night to close the wooden slats as a “Nor-Easter” roared in, did the heebee-jeebee dance when a tarantula landed on my head, and marvelled every moment at the hoards of hummingbirds and butterflies greeting me when I sat on the porch.

I eventually found a place to buy coat hangers, and came to know the best place to buy pillows and Nutella was at the hardware store. I sat on a curb (of sorts) handing out melting chocolates to local children while my neighbour and I waited for the guy to take our flat tire, by taxi, to be fixed after we had finished grocery shopping and found the vehicle un-derivable.

Ants, of all sizes and varieties, iguanas, monkey lalas, gecko’s chirping and pooping in my home became my norm, as did mosquitoes, sand fleas, and ticks. I never did get used to and will always check under my pillow when I go to bed–for scorpions!

Power goes out: fill buckets from the soon to be empty pipes, forget about checking Facebook, and go read a book by candlelight.

The ATM’s are empty or broken–no shopping today.

The road is under repair, or there is a marching band blocking the only route–oh well, go hang out on the dock until it passes.

The president has been removed (in his pj’s) all Hondurans cheer, knowing that he was going to set democracy back. Watch in disbelieve as the rest of the world condemns the rightful and just actions of the Honduran Government–Learned that the world media agencies settle for nothing less than sensationalism to broadcast–making it up or abandon the story when there aren’t enough people suffering and dying to boost their ratings.

Felt the full force of a major earthquake (7.3) jarring all inhabitants of Roatan awake in the middle of the night. I watched in horrific fascination as an easel back mirror walked across my loft bedroom, while my few wine glasses smash to the floor in the kitchen below, and I couldn’t walk a straight line to escape my cabana that I was sure would collapse around me.

Spent the day shopping with friends, stepping in deep puddles, finding fresh strawberries at one of the grocery stores–bonus! Only to later wonder if I hadn’t picked through the basket of strawberries perhaps we wouldn’t have been the victims of a head on crash that should have killed us all. Time to put the medical care of Roatan through the paces; broken bones, concussions, black eyes (that would do any boxer proud) torn ligaments, whiplash, and a host of other injuries, all treated with compassion, dedication, and a strong medical knowledge–even when there was no running water in the Emergency Dept. and you had to bring your own sheets to the hospital.

Buy oranges from a street vendor, the ugliest looking fruit I’ve ever seen, cut into one and try a taste… as the perfect orange flavour bursts in my mouth, I now know what an orange should taste like, it may not be pretty, but it is real. Mangoes, bananas, sweet peppers, and carrots, from the fruit and veggie truck, rice & beans with most meals, seafood, fish, chicken, Honduran beef and pork, and coconut milk.

I had no idea that I would learn how to slow down, and enjoy each moment for what it was exactly at that moment. Standing in line for hours to complete the simplest of tasks… oh well… bring a book to read while waiting, or better yet chat with friends also waiting their turn. Have a plan to get things done in the afternoon but abandon that when the call goes out to meet friends at the beach instead.

I had no idea how many lifelong friends I would make on Roatan; we became family. Together we celebrated special occasions and the simple art of getting together–just because. Speed dial on every cell-phone guaranteed no matter what’s needed the entire community would answer the call.

I got involved with various projects and programs: Public Hospital Benefit Concert, Miss Peggy’s, Familia Saludabas, The Roatan Daycare, The French Harbour Public Library, and most recently The Roatan Vortex Breakfast Program; and learned what really matters in life–I had no idea, but quickly discovered they gave me far more than I could ever give them.

On Roatan time stands still, while things change so fast. Five years ago the Roatan Vortex© pulled me in, I had no idea what laid ahead for me, and I thank the Universe every day for the gifts bestowed on me. I discovered a passion for writing, and sharing on Roatan Radio. And the time has come for me to take those passions to a whole new level, I’ve known that for some time now, but have been afraid to move forward and act on it. Then I went to Spain… and while there I found my “Castle in the Air”, nudging me to return home. How could I leave Roatan? How could I consider moving backwards instead of forging forward?

Sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in Malaga Spain, unsure what to do, a book that I had been meaning to read for some time fell out of my suitcase when I reached in for a sweater to ward off the cooling evening. I started to read “The Alchemist” the tale of a young man who embarks on a journey, in a quest to fulfill his destiny. He travels far from home, a specific location etched in his mind where his treasure will be found. Along the route he gathers experiences, makes lifelong friends, assists those he can, and learns from those who know more than he. Only to discover–being willing to take the journey–was the treasure!

I’m not going backwards returning to Ontario. I take great pride in the journey I took to Roatan; all that I’ve learned, all the strength in myself that I could have only found here, the lifelong friends I have made, and knowing that if I choose to come here again I will be welcomed with open arms.

The time has come for me to wind down Roatan Vortex©. Just like so many things that came my way as a direct result of moving to Roatan, I have loved sharing the Roatan I have come to know and love with everyone. But I have put off concentrating on writing memoirs and novels in order to keep up with Roatan Vortex©.

The day I arrived on Roatan almost five years ago I knew no one, DJ Genevieve and Roatan Vortex© were unimaginable dreams. Now, they are a part of my reality, known by many, more than three hundred thousand people have visited the Roatan Vortex© website, and read my stories about life on Roatan at Honduras Weekly, Trip Atlas, The Latin America Travel Blogger E-Book, Hecktic Travels, Tiny Buddha, and others. Even Fodor is including a couple of roatanvortex© quotes in their 2011 Honduras & Bay Islands Gold Guide!

Thursday, December 1, is my going away party, The Roatan Vortex Reversal Party, at Infinity Bay Resort, hosted by Roatan Radio, all are welcome, even Vladislav is stopping by to see me off.

 
icon for podpress  Vladislav: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

I’m happy, I’m at peace, and feel confident and strong about my decisions. Will there be hurdles, of course! Will I be freezing cold and my feet hurt squishing them in shoes & boots… oh yeah! Will I miss Roatan and everything it has meant to me–with all my heart–but I also know, I’ll be bringing the most important aspects of Roatan with me to Canada.

Listen in here to the final Roatan Vortex Hour Show broadcast live November 12, 2011 on 101.1 FM Roatan Radio.

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly; retitled, I found Roatan

Gone Shopping

27 Jun

I’ve given you some insight on those things you should bring to Roatan and those things you should leave behind. I’ve shared that when the Roatan Vortex pulls you in and you make the move to Roatan you will live quite contently with a whole lot less stuff—your personal worth no longer based on how much you own.

Now, even the Swiss Family Robinson needed a few things when they were shipwrecked on a Tropical Island. But priorities of what they needed evolved based first on availability, then an appreciation of realizing life can actually be better with less stuff cluttering your home and soul.

Okay that sounds kind of sappy, but it’s true!

That aside, four years ago availability was the deciding factor for shopping and I got out of the habit. Now there is much more available on Roatan; from housewares to clothes—but with a Roatan approach. Although I didn’t really need anything, I went on a couple of shopping excursions just to check it out.

Gone Shopping Day 1 – The Mall
That’s right we have a Mall on Roatan. Half the stores are unoccupied but there is a couple of Department Stores (I use that term loosely), a grocery store, a few banks, and all the phone services can be found there too. Oh, and a Wendy’s and an Applebee’s… shudder. I should note here that the majority of staff speak only Spanish and have never been to a North American style store or been employed by one. The cultural differences are vast. While where I’m originally from in Canada, customer service is expected (though not always delivered) on Roatan that’s an unfamiliar concept.

You will however get your own personal shadow. The moment you start perusing the shelves and racks, a clerk will be right behind you. Where you go… they go. I wasn’t comfortable with this the first few times I entered shops. It kind of freaked me out; I would become more preoccupied with ditching my clerk than shopping. One store, I started walking faster and faster around a bank of shelves until I caught up with my shadow… poor girl confused the heck out of her! Now I just accept she will be there and start handing her stuff that I may or may not try on or purchase so she can feel useful.

The other thing you have to get used to is that there will be a security guard at the entrance… just the way they do it here. He will open the door for you—nice, and it’s no big deal. However when you go to exit the store, even though the guard has watched your purchase being rung in and the bag stabled shut, you will have to hand him the receipt so he can mark it with a red slash or punch a hole in it, then he will open the door for you to leave. One store the guard had a pair of scissors and cut the bottom portion of the receipt off… I don’t know why and I didn’t bother to ask.

Gone Shopping Day 2 – Uptown Coxen Hole
My next excursion had me strolling the streets of the largest town on Roatan, Coxen Hole… stop giggling already, it’s named after a famous pirate.

This is where the Municipal office, other government offices, banks, a grocery store, a few restaurants, some souvenir shops, and a multitude of mom & pop and thrift stores can be found, and a Carrion—Roatan Walmart (giggle.)

The first thing you encounter are the taxis. The moment I exited my vehicle (keys still in hand) I was greeted by a barrage of honking horns. It didn’t matter that I was walking the opposite direction of the traffic flow on a one way street and ignored them. Each and every taxi (at least every other moving vehicle I passed) honked, and honked, and honked assuming I wanted a taxi. I’ve got the quick head shake down pretty good now. It doesn’t stop the drivers from honking the first time, but at least they quit after one—sometimes.

My first stop: the Carrion. Yes, the door was opened by a security guard, yes, my shadow appeared immediately. I found a few things to try on, silly me. Sizing here is ah, different. I’m not sure where they bring in clothes from, but even though North American sizes I’m a size 6, on Roatan XXL don’t fit me. But, I held up a sundress and though what the heck, looks like it might!

Draped over my shadow’s arm, we headed for the change room (giggle.) The first dilemma I encountered was that the change room had no hooks, no chair, no shelf, I had to place everything on the floor and there were at least fifty ants scurrying around retrieving crumbs of some sort. My shadow waited patiently outside the door as I brushed ants aside and raised the sundress over my head… ah, no, that’s as far as it got… too small!

I left without buying anything. That’s okay by me… I really don’t need anything anyhow.

My favourite Store

____________________________________________________

Did a couple of guest posts this past week:

Dalene and Peter from Hecktic Travel have left Roatan to check out other other locations. “Bye Guy’s it was great to meet you!” Dalene had a little trouble convincing her Uncle Calvin that life as a vagabond can be a good thing. I helped her explain to him the merits of leaving the typical (or expected) behind. Dear Uncle Calvin

“Hey Genevieve, wanna be a DJ?” John asked. Spacial Audio asked me to share my story on how the Roatan Vortex Hour was born, ready about it here: How to Become a Radio DJ on a Tropical Island

Viewing Roatan through Rose Coloured Glasses

23 Mar

Yes I do! When it was suggested that I did, at first, I was upset. I mean, after all a “Rose Coloured Glasses” point of view is bad… right?

I needed to know, so did a little research. My indignant attitude was quickly transformed to one of pride. Yes, I dwell on everything positive about Roatan: I choose to not write stories, talk on the Roatan Vortex radio show, or post pictures that regard negative aspects of Roatan.

There is a bonus to my “Rose Coloured Glasses” outlook. A study by the University of Toronto posted results of their findings in the Science Daily that showed that people who wear “Rose Coloured Glasses” see more!

“Upside—Good moods enhance the literal size of the window through which we see the world. We see things from a more global or integrative (honest/true) perspective.”

The study went on to say;

“Downside—this can lead to distractions…” (Oh-oh) “…on critical tasks that require narrow focus, such as operating dangerous machinery, or airport screening of passenger baggage.” – Science Daily 2009

Whew, had me worried for a moment there! But since I avoid “operating heaving machinery”—mostly because I’m left handed and none of the controls are set up correct for me to use, and as for “airport luggage screener”–I’m way too happy to do that! I don’t need to worry about changing my Rosie… (OMG, that’s what I named my daughter) outlook!

Besides, even if there is something negative… I can always find a positive component…

The negative: Tarantula landing on my head! That’s right, I was sitting on my bed (in the loft), laptop on my lap, watching TV too—multi-tasking, when I felt something land with a plop, on my head, it scurried down my back, then disappeared behind a pillow! Yes, I did the heebee-jeebee dance! Yes, I took pictures of it when it exited from behind the pillow and hung out on the headboard for a while. Yes, I captured it with an empty ice-cream container and sent it on its way—outside!

The Positive: The footprint of my cabana ceiling is approximately 20 ft x 16 ft, the footprint of the top of my head is approximately 4 in x 6 in. Isn’t that like the odds for winning a lottery! Of all the places that tarantula could have dropped—it landed smack in the middle of the top of my head!

I got to experience something unique, aaand; I wasn’t sleeping when it dropped in… To feel it crawling across my face, or have it snuggle up next to me under the sheets. If that had happened it might have been a little tougher to find something positive in the whole event!

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly

Bugs in my Pasta

12 Feb

When the Roatan Vortex pulled me in… Without hesitation I made the move to paradise!

That was more than 3 years ago, and yup, I’m glad I did! But like all good-for-me-choices, even Paradise has a few less than “paradise like qualities.”

Some, I’ve had to accept; no movie or live production theatres. I love a good movie, sitting in a comfy seat, surround sound engulfing me, munching on popcorn, chewing Red Twizzlers, and gulping a large Coca-Cola. As for going to a LIVE production… you can’t beat them, I’m partial to plays; drama, comedy, musical—they all work for me. But alas, those aren’t available on Roatan.

Then there are those things that are a part of living on Roatan, I’d rather weren’t, but I’ve gotten use to them… more often than not… they involve… BUGS!

WARNING: The following information is not for the squeamish or faint of heart! Graphic descriptions of bugs (and other critters) wreaking havoc is described in great detail. The information within this commentary is based on fact and may cause nightmares, or worse yet… scare you off from visiting and/or moving to Roatan.

Kidding! It’s not that bad… actually pretty funny stuff… a few encounters did require doing the “heebee jeebee” dance before I laughed though.

Lizards (including Geckos)
They are everywhere! Once I got used to them, I realized it was a good thing that they like to hang out in my cabana! They are faster than any flyswatter I can buy. It is quite entertaining to watch them stalk their prey… then lunge… the flies don’t stand a chance, as the lizard chomps on their tiny wings and body.

As for my personal encounters with lizards: When I opened a kitchen cupboard, and unbeknownst to me there was a gecko on the back side of the door, I definitely did the “heebee jeebee” dance when the gecko flew through the air (I had no idea I opened cupboard doors with such force) and wound up… going down my shirt!

The only other issue I have with lizards is that they poop everywhere! Now, their fecal matter is not that big, and it doesn’t smell. But, sheesh… why does one always come by (after I’ve made the bed) and poop on my freshly laundered sheets!

Ants
Did you know that 9 out 10 ants prefer FreshMint Pepsodent over WinterFresh Pepsodent? I do, when I have to rinse them off my toothbrush, and from around the edge of the cap. What does that tell you about how much sugar’s in toothpaste!

Army ants are my favourite; I never know when they will arrive, but when they do… what a show! They march (of course they do, they’re army ants) up the stairs by the thousands, then break off into numerous lines, the scouts in the lead, as they enter the cabana. Please don’t try to stop them with bug spray, leave the chemical warfare to eradicate the odd scorpion that may wander in. We’re too big for army ants to bother with anyhow. Just stay out of their way and they will (within an hour or so) hunt down, and cart away EVERY bug in your home! Then, as orderly as they came in… they leave!

Bats
I’ve got enough material and photos to do an entire story on bats, but for the purposes of this one, I’ll keep it brief.

Bats are good! They do a mighty fine job of keeping the mosquito population down. But, the bats, that we have many of on Roatan, are also partial to fruit. So when they’re not winging around at night, swooping in and catching mosquitoes, they are snatching fruit from trees and bringing it to my front porch, where they hang upside down in the rafters to dine. Bits and pieces of peel and pulp are carelessly dropped. The big finally is when they have nibbled away as much as they can… the bat drops the pit, which lands with a loud “clank” then rolls around for a while. Sweeping up after them in the morning wouldn’t be so bad, except they also (frequently) use their dining room as a bathroom too!

I have done battle with the bats for a long time, trying all kinds of contraptions to encourage them to roost elsewhere… nothing worked, until about ten months ago when I devised a plan, assembled the necessary tools and products, and now I can say the rafters above my cabana porch are BAT FREE! Okay, except for that one little guy, that I still have to do something about. Stay tuned for the complete story on how to get rid of the bat in your rafters.

Bugs in my Pasta
It’s warm on Roatan pretty much all the time (of course it is, being in the tropics), an ideal climate for bugs to do their thing—and they like to hang out in sealed packages of dry pasta! The pasta I purchase at the grocery store I inspect for signs of the beasts, more often than not I won’t see any. A dead-giveaway that they will appear soon is if the edges of the noodles are whitish grey, with a chalky dust settled in the bottom of the bag—I’ll put that package back on the shelf and hunt for a fresher one. But, even when I choose one that appears to be bug free, by the time I dump the pasta into a pot of boiling water… there they are, hundreds of them… floating to the surface.

It has been suggested that I should skim them off at this point… I don’t know about that! Once I’ve seen them cooking along with my pasta… I kinda lose my appetite. Instead, I’ve gotten into the habit of dumping the dry pasta into the strainer (that I’ve got ready in the sink) and shake out the bugs before I cook it, watching them scurrying around, as I turn on the tap, and flush them down the drain. Works for me!

Bees
Roatan is not swarming with bees, if anything efforts are in progress to encourage more. Bees are definitely good, and have a very important role when it comes to pollinating plants. I’ve not had any trouble with them nesting in my cabana, but I did witness what was done when a large nest was discovered behind an outside wall at the Municipal Office in Coxen Hole.

I was there bright and early Monday morning to pay my property taxes (that too warrants a story of its own.) While I stood at the counter… waiting, and… waiting, and… waiting, I glanced toward the (glass doors) entrance. The people outside preparing to enter the Municipal Office were frantically waving their arm, swatting and shaking off BEES, that I caught glimpses of through a cloud of smoke that was wafting by.

Oh my God! Is this it… Have African Killer Bees made their way to Roatan? Are we under attack?! Or perhaps there is a film crew outside, and the bees are just prop-bees, the people trying to enter the building are actors in a movie being shot about what would happen if African Killer Bees DID make it to Roatan!

And then I saw him—an empty onion sack pulled over his head, a bucket of smoking coals clutched in his hand. He climbed the ladder, propped against the outside wall, fighting his way past the tangle of electrical lines strung between the hydro poles. In preparation for his attack, a 4×8 section of wall had been removed, exposing a massive bee’s nest! “Onion Sack Head Man” did manage to retrieve chunks of honeycomb (using the smoke to calm the bees) before he switched to a can of RAID!

Getting out of the Municipal Building to return to my vehicle proved to be quite the challenge—dodging angry bees, and other frantic pedestrians anxious to get where they had to go without getting stung!

I made it to the Municipal Parking Lot, and before I drove away, I took a moment to wander to the far end of the lot to gaze at why I choose Roatan.

So what if I have to put up with bugs in my pasta!

An insider’s view of day to day life on a Caribbean Island

26 Jan

There are obvious benefits to living on the Island of Roatan: The tropical climate, jungle foliage climbing to the highest peaks, sugar soft white beaches, all surrounded by the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. Then there are the less obvious benefits that come to light when you hang out here for a while—they too are worthy of recognition! What started out as a list of Roatan Vortex things that pulled me in, transformed into—Drum roll please!

The Roatan Vortex… An insider’s view of day to day life… on a Caribbean Island was born!

A celebration of those everyday moments that make living on Roatan extra special! From an insider’s point of view, you too will experience: Watching the sun set while watching the moon rise ***** Not having to know how to drive to get a driver’s license ***** An afternoon nap is encouraged ***** Mangoes, lots of mangoes ***** No worries it will snow in October or April ***** Talking to a gecko in the kitchen ***** The art of eating ice cream on Roatan ***** and more!

77 tidbits of information that only an insider would know. With the bonus of 13 FULL stories that delve a little deeper into the Roatan Vortex experience!

The Roatan Vortex… An insider’s view of day to day life… on a Caribbean Island is now available to order at Lulu and in a few weeks will also be available from Amazon–they need a little extra time to get the cataloging done–I think they operate on “Island time.”

The Roatan Vortex… An insider’s view of day to day life… on a Caribbean Island will be available for purchase on Roatan too! I’m in the process of having books shipped in–but, I know Roatan is on “Island time!” I’ll keep you updated as to when The Roatan Vortex… An insider’s view of day to day life… on a Caribbean Island will be here and where you can purchase your copy.

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Roatan Vortex now on Facebook too! New friends always welcomed!

Just CLICK here: Roatan Vortex | Create Your Badge

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And be sure to listen to the Roatan Vortex Show, every Saturday starting at 10 AM Roatan Time (CST) on 101.1FM Roatan Radio Live streaming around the world!

If you are currently on Roatan be sure to come out this Sunday (January 30) to the Grand opening of the new studio on Half Moon Bay, next to Sundowner’s, West End, from 1-5 PM. Meet the DJ’s, hear some great music, hang out on the beach, and okay… maybe stick around to catch a perfect sunset too!

Life as a Human during Hurricane Richard

25 Oct

It’s been a busy week on Roatan. I’ve added a new website that I am sharing stories from, and I had to get ready for the first direct hit from a hurricane since coming to Roatan. Of course I’m anxious to share all the details with you.

I’ve been meeting some fantastic bloggers who I now call cyber friends. Some of them ask fellow bloggers to write stories for their websites. Life as a Human (what a great name) is one of those places I happened on to and if truth be told, I asked them if I could submit some stories for their readers. I heard back so quickly I thought it must be a, “thanks but no thanks” reply. Turns out the keepers of this site, had recently visited Roatan for the first time and were thrilled that someone who was on Roatan wanted to write for them.

Here’s a taste of what Life as a Human is all about.
“Life As A Human is a lifezine that explores, celebrates and discusses the weird, wonderful, challenging, funny and poignant experience of being human. We feature a diversity of inspired writing that creatively probes the status quo – and the fascinating nooks and crannies of our human experience.

We are a multicultural gathering place for writing that moves and inspires – a venue for the authentic voice, regardless of age, nationality or perspective.”

I’m happy to report that we worked out the logistics, and my first story was posted Sunday, October 24. Life as a Human – Three Months Ago Be sure to check it out, and leave a comment there. I’ll check in often to see what you’ve had to say.

I would have told you sooner about this exciting new connection I’ve made, but the news started spreading a few days ago that Roatan might be in the path of Hurricane Richard, getting his act together not to far from us.

Since coming to Roatan, next to questions about bugs, I quite often get asked about the weather, in particular Hurricanes. Now it turns out that Roatan rarely is hit by Hurricanes. Although the Island is in the Caribbean, and on CNN tropical weather reports it looks like we are getting Hurricanes regularly. Really we aren’t being affected at all. But then along came Richard.

First I need to clarify that while Richard was directly over Roatan, he never did make it to hurricane status, but he did make it to a category1 on his way to Belize. I can’t give you any details on that specific information though. Our power went out soon after Richard arrived on Roatan around 11 PM Saturday, October 23, 2010.

We spent the hours before getting ready, as did everyone else on the Island. But it still was unsure how strong it would be. And besides, all the others this year, changed direction at the last minute–maybe Richard would too.

Waiting was the hard part, an eerie calm before the storm! We were as ready as we could be for his arrival, now that it was confirmed, Richard was coming for a visit. This is the part where I should be able to use all my big descriptive phrases like, “the howling wind, roaring toward us, foreboding of what would soon be tearing at our Island Cabana.” Or, “the torrential downpour, pelting the door, demanding to be let in.”

Now, the winds did pick up noticeably, and the rain did start to pour down, but not to the extend one would expect from a hurricane. So we slept, anticipating it could turn into something more. By 5 AM, I woke to find the power was out, and the cabana was as secure as when I had fallen asleep the night before.

It was still raining quite steady, and the gusts of wind were shaking the palm trees pretty good. It was strong enough for me to get an appreciation for what it must be like to experience a hurricane. While at the same time be grateful that Richard minded his manners like any good house guest should.

By noon on Sunday, it was evident that Richard was soon going to be done hanging around Roatan. In the direction he had come from was showing hints of clear blue sky. The direction he was going–black and ominous. A few tree limbs were down around our property, my front and back porch had gotten a better cleaning than I could have ever done. Power was still out, and would be until 11 PM Sunday. Special thanks to RECO for working diligently to repair the damaged lines and get power restored as quickly as you did.

Blogger Mona helping out!

So now it is the Monday after Richard. I woke to a glorious sunrise, and not a cloud in the sky. Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief, including Mona, and once again I can say, “Thank You Roatan–You Never Let Me Down!”

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One more thing I want to share. Hours before Richard arrived, I had to go to the airport to pick up vacationers. Who, by the way, were absolute great sports about arriving on the same day that a hurricane was expected. On my way to get them, an unexpected downpour happened. I had no rain gear or umbrella with me (I didn’t think I needed it yet.) I had no time to return home to get something to cover from the rain. I stepped out of my vehicle, accepting that I would get pretty wet, but I didn’t realize that the puddle I stepped in was not a few inches deep–it was a few FEET deep. One of my flip-flops broke when I lifted my foot to get out of the puddle. So when I entered the airport, I was a barefoot, dripping rain-water, drowned rat! Thanks for not snickering those of you who got to witness how I looked.

Bees, Blocks, and Baby

16 Oct

Sometimes I specifically plan on taking pictures of things, other times I just hope my camera is nearby when that perfect photo-op presents itself to me.

When there is a planned event I will shoot perhaps a hundred or more—gotta love digital cameras, and I download them right away. I’ll click my way through them, delete the total duds and him-and-haw over which ones I’m going to share. Whether it is for my website, Facebook, or perhaps to a few friend and family, I’m anxious to get them out there.

But in-between those specific events, it’s not uncommon for me to snap a picture here, a picture there, and not download them right away. I know they will be waiting for me when the time comes to do something with them. Perhaps they are the before shots of a project, or the final result months later. I might be working on a new story and the pictures I’ve taken so far will be a part of that. And then there are the ones, where for just a moment it unfolds before me. Those ones that after the fact I’m glad I don’t have to say, “Dang, I wish I had taken a picture of that.”

In the last couple of days I’ve had reason to take pictures of three very separate, unique, situations that all start with the letter B—Bees, Blocks, and Baby.

Bees!
This one falls in the category of support material for a new story. On the Island of Roatan, bees do their part to keep our jungle paradise looking like, well, paradise.

You know, they go around pollinating the flowers—don’t you love it when I wow you with my technical descriptions?

On occasion the bees get a little confused and set up camp in people’s houses. I totally understand those people not wanting to share their homes with bees, but at the same time, killing the bees is not a good thing to do. Fortunately we have Brion James, world class musician, and bee whisperer, who will come in and somehow convince those bees out of your house, taking them to a new location, where they can keep doing what bees do best.

The call went out for Brion to work his magic with some bees at Sundancer. I grabbed my camera and headed toward the cabana in question. As it turned out the bees had started a new hive in a tree knot, not in a cabana.

Brion explained that was a perfect location for them and they should be left alone. So for now, I just took some pictures of the honeycomb peaking out of the tree.

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Blocks!

Here are some of the ‘after’ pictures for a project I’m working on at the library in French Harbour. I will be posting a few stories about this one, but for now—a few blocks.

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Baby!
Oh Baby, I thought someone was trying to break in, upon hearing scratching and scraping noises coming from the kitchen! I creep to the railing and peer over. There is no menacing character at the door, nothing out of place. And then I hear you meowing from in-front of me. How can that be, I’m in the loft.

“Oh-oh, Baby, what have you done?” I ask my cat, clinging to the louvered wood slats, high on the wall. “How the heck did you get up there? Why the heck did you go up there? …How am I going to get you down?”

I did the most logical thing—I went and got my camera!

After satisfying my need to take pictures of my terrified cat trapped high on the wall, I consider my options for getting him down. My choices are few. With no ladder at my disposal, I set a barstool on the bar, and climb on top. Baby is still too high for me to grasp.

“Come on Baby. You can do it!” I try to convince him to meet me half way.

Baby extends one paw toward me, starts to lose his footing, and pulls back, while pleading with his eyes for me to rescue him. I glance at the beam that Dave had installed for the light fixture hanging above the bar. Will that hold my weight? I press my hand against the beam. Like that’s going to prove the beam is secure enough to hold my full-body weight. Will Dave come home from his gig to find me crumpled on the floor, crushed under a barstool and beam? Of course, Baby will have found a way down before Dave returns home, leaving no clue as to why the beam had crashed on me. Poor Dave will think the beam had just randomly given way!

Sensing my hesitation, Baby howls a pathetic, “please help me,” in a cat voice, of course. Oh, to heck with it, I’m going up!

I stand on tippy-toes, raising my leg, far more than my hip appreciates, to get one foot on the beam. Hoisting myself up the rest of the way, I too am now clinging to the louvered slats, while balancing my feet on the beam like a gymnast might. I release one hand from the slat to grab him by the scruff. Baby, digs his claws deeper in the soft wood. As I tug, his body stretches like taffy, but he won’t release his grip on the slat.

“Come on Baby, you’ve got to let go,” I plead with him.

Without warning, Baby retracts his claws, and leaps towards me, uses my head as a landing pad to nimbly launch himself to the beam! I’m now the only creature left clinging to the louvered slats on the wall, high above the floor below.

I really can’t help but giggle at the predicament I find myself in, while Baby sits at the other end of the beam preening, completely oblivious to my plight.

I wish I could get a picture of this!

Knowing that my hip is not going to appreciate the trip down, anymore than it liked the trip up, I shift my position, and lower one leg off the beam, reaching with my toe for the barstool below. A few grunts, a couple of groans from my hip, mixed in with some more giggles, and I am on solid ground again.

Glancing up at where I had just escaped from, relatively unscathed, and Baby still sitting on the beam—I grab my camera and snap one more picture!

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