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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.

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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.

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

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!


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