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Stormy Weather on Roatan

18 Feb

The weather has been a little out of whack around the world recently; record cold and snow across the US and Europe, and more snow accumulating than my home province Ontario, Canada is used to handling. Even Roatan, Honduras felt the brunt this past week… No, it didn’t snow here!

It RAINED! RAINED and RAINED some more!

Word had gotten out that a system was moving in, when exactly it would arrive and duration could not be pin-pointed, but we knew something was coming. I was hoping it would change its mind, or fizzle out to a (much needed) spring shower. I had assured visitors coming on the Sunwing Charter out of Toronto (the following Monday) the weather would be great! Even if it did rain, it wouldn’t be much, or last very long. I had consulted my crystal ball don’t you know! I think I need to trade that puppy in for a new model… sheesh!

The mayhem started Saturday morning just after 10 AM. I’m not great at keeping track of time on Roatan (three months ago) but this day I remember well. As is typical when the first mists of rain begin to coat the road, someone will lose control—and bounce off a hydro pole! Power went out! I was on-the-air, at 101.1 FM Roatan Radio, broadcasting live to just myself! Power and internet were restored shortly after 11 AM in time to catch the next show on Roatan Radio.

The rain continued to fall throughout the day and into the evening… but no big deal. If anything I was glad that it had started already, perhaps it would be long gone before the Canadians arrived on Monday. It rained all day Sunday, sometimes heavy, other times I was sure I saw the blue skies peeking through… trying to convince myself it would pass over soon. Ah, NO!

(Not so) bright, but definitely early Monday morning, I was being picked up by friends to attend a “Life Celebration” for another friend’s much beloved mother who had passed away in the UK. I waited on my porch for them to arrive, it was raining pretty heavy, and it was only 5:30 in the morning! When the call came that they were waiting in my driveway, I flipped up the hood on my raincoat and made a dash for the vehicle. Silly me… why run to get out of the rain… the vehicle we were taking (down Mud Hole Road, no less) was a Jeep… without a roof! We were off, the rain had downgraded to a mist, and at times nothing at all. Not too bad, except for the mud splatters on my side (no mud guard on the left back tire.) Oh well, we arrived, we were given towels, the Celebration began.

Then it was time to return home…The gentle mist had resumed being a torrential downpour!

I climbed aboard the Jeep, and couldn’t help but laugh the whole way home as floods of water and mud drenched me. I felt like a little kid jumping in puddles… and nobody was giving me heck!

It was now close to the time to meet people at the Roatan Airport, and the rain continued to pour! I heard what sounded like the plane arriving 20 minutes early, and a few minutes later, what sounded like a second one coming in. This didn’t make sense, there should only be the flight from Toronto at this time of day. Rushing to the airport (in the still pouring rain) it was discovered that the flight had tried to land not once, but twice. Due to the weather conditions the pilot had aborted the landings and had flown to Belize with the visitors to wait it out!

(With great sadness (that same morning) at the Roatan Airport, we heard that a small regional flight on the Mainland had succumbed to the weather conditions when attempting to land in Tegusigalpa, all lives were lost—my sincerest condolences to all family and friends. I have also heard (but not confirmed) there was a young soul lost, on the Island of Roatan, as a direct result from the storm.)

A few hours later the visitors from Toronto arrived from Belize, and the rain had slowed down again, yeah, maybe it was done now. Ah, NO! Late Monday evening it started to rain again, and through the night… it rained and rained and rained! A steady hum, as sheets of rain, pounded down, it didn’t stop for even a moment.

As I hovered between sleep and wake—I wondered how much this little Island could absorb, I considered those living in less than adequate shelter and how well were they fairing, I pondered how much of the hillside would lose its grip and slid down to the road below, in-turn, how much of the road—would slip into the Caribbean Sea?

Like the cows in the above photo, I stayed under cover until the storm had long passed. Only venturing out to take photos of my own, once the repairs had begun! Thank you everyone (who was braver than I) for sharing what you captured on your phone cameras. There was also extensive damage to other areas of the Island that I don’t have photos of, all repairs are in progress and/or completed.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I sat on the balcony in front of the Cigar Bar, West End, watching the bulldozer push the truckloads of sand to fill the gaping holes where the road had once been.

The sand and soil that had been there before the rains came… is now a sandbar, just off shore!

While I’d wait for another load of dirt to be dropped off… I took a few shot of the sunset!

Yeah, the storm has passed!

More pictures of the storm aftermath and repair can be seen here: Roatan Rain

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!

I’m Baaaaack!

18 Jan

Will wonders never cease… my checked luggage made it too! Mind you, a bottle of a favourite hot sauce (that isn’t available on Roatan) and containers of shampoo & conditioner that were in my bag at the Harlingen Airport had to be left behind. I was 5lbs over the weight limit—and wasn’t prepared to pay an extra $50 to bring them with me—oh well.

Home Sweet Home!

From the moment I stepped off the plane—my Roatan way of life greeted me with open arms. Although overcast and excessively windy, my skin was thanking me as it started soaking in the moist, Caribbean sea-salt tinged air, and my exposed, flip-flopped toes, weren’t cringing, anticipating biting arctic blasts, like the ones that visited Texas (from Canada) regularly during the 5-1/2 weeks I was there.

I didn’t get much done towards settling back in on the day I arrived home thanks to the power outage while I was unpacking, courtesy of the high winds taking a few tree branches down. That’s okay though, a good dose of “slow down the pace, now that I’m back on Roatan” is always welcome. Besides, the only priority is reconnecting with friends.

Mona and Baby were looking for some undivided attention from me too!

Friday evening, first up, the Blue Parrot just a short stroll from home, for Captain Ron’s send-off party… he has to go to the States for a while, I’m confident he’ll be back… he always comes back to Roatan. So many friends were there, most of my time was spent saying hello to each and every one! From there, off to Besos in West End. Besos is a fairly new restaurant & lounge that I had not had the pleasure of visiting before I went to Texas. When you come to visit Roatan (or if you are already here) you are definitely going to want to check this place out! The food, service, and atmosphere are divine!

Saturday afternoon, time to head to Cocolobo where good friends brought the main-course and the rest of us contributed appetizers and sides. Sushi, curried chicken, fab salad, BBQ wings, and more. Again, time spent reconnecting with friends, and making new ones too!

Sunday afternoon (beach day),the sun made its first appearance since my return… perfect timing! Hanging out at Tita’s Seahorse Beach Bar & Restaurant at Sueno Del Mar was great fun. (click on pic to enlarge)

Baby Genevieve… that’s right, her name is Genevieve (since she lived in the condo below me after she was born, and I shot her first official “welcome to the world” pictures, I’m thinking we’re like kin.)

From there a stroll to the other end of West End with my girlfriends (we stopped to greet many friends along the way) to Sundowners, where Sunday Football had the place packed with even more friends.

How lucky am I to be a member of the Roatan Global Village!

And one more bit of Roatan life to share. While at Sundowners it was also a great time to check out the new 101.1 FM Roatan Radio broadcast booth, where the Roatan Vortex Show will be coming to you live (streaming around the world) starting this Saturday, Jan 22, 10 to 11 AM (CST), with your host—me—DJ Genevieve!

It’s been a while, but I’m baaaaack!

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This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly retitled, “Roatan Homecoming”

10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist

29 Nov

10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist

West Bay Beach

From the moment you arrive to the glorious Island of Roatan surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, with white sand beaches, and lush jungle flora & fauna extending to the highest ridges, if you look and act like a tourist—you will get treated like one.

Admittedly even though I’ve lived on Roatan for more than three years, I still on occasion get mistaken for a tourist solely based on the fact that I obviously wasn’t born here. But for the most part I don’t get approached with insistent offers of souvenirs or a tour of the Island anymore. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a tourist. But there is a whole new facet that can be added to your visit to Roatan if you blend in a little bit. The following 10 tips helped me out. I’m sure they’ll work for you too!

1. Do not wear anything made of synthetic fibres
A dead giveaway! Not only did I stand-out, I was unbearably uncomfortable wearing a non-breathable fabric. This of course doesn’t apply to my swimwear, which is an assemblage of manmade fabrics designed to keep everything where it belongs—you know what I mean.

2. Do not wear new un-scuffed running shoes
…especially with knee socks! And at all cost avoid wearing sandals with socks…especially knee socks. Personally, I was a flip-flop’s only no socks of any sort kinda gal even before I moved to Roatan (which was no easy feat in the wintertime where I’m from.) I had no choice but to wear what the weather dictated. In-turn, if you are planning on doing a canopy tour or going hiking on Roatan do wear appropriate footwear with socks…just not knee socks.

3. No t-shirts with:
Mickey or Minnie Mouse, or the name of another Caribbean Island printed on it. I had visited many Caribbean Islands before moving to Roatan and always got the t-shirt. But wearing those t-shirts on Roatan is like working for Coca-Cola and wearing something with a Pepsi logo on it…not cool. And as for Mickey or Minnie Mouse—Roatan isn’t Disney World—it’s better!

4. Dress for the weather
If the temperature is below 24C (75F) wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt. That’s downright cold for those of us that live here and have become acclimatized. I used to be able to deal with temperatures below freezing for a few months every year. Now, just holding a glass with ice in it makes me cold.

5. Minimal (if any) precious metal and gemstone jewellery*
The golden rays of sun by far outshine anything I could adorn myself with. The sparkle glistening on the shimmering Caribbean Sea can’t be matched. I quit trying to compete.

6. No big fat wallet jammed in your back pocket or purse*
I carry only the ID I need, with cash (US Dollars or Lempiras) tucked away in various pockets. My Sear’s Card, Zeller’s point’s card, and Blockbuster card (to name just a few) are of no use here.

*These two points are not to scare you into thinking you will be attacked for your worldly possessions when you visit Roatan. Just as anywhere in the world you are, even your own neighbourhood for that matter. The more you look like you have something of monetary value to be relieved of—the more likely it is to happen.

7. Avoid sunburn lines at all cost
I fell asleep while lounging on the dock one afternoon, oh the sunburn I got. For the next few days (until the red tomato tinge of my skin settled down) I was teased relentlessly by friends on Roatan asking me why I was trying to look like a tourist. The flip side to that is if you are too pale. Now, I appreciate there isn’t much you can do to rectify that one until you spend some time here, just be sure to use sunscreen and ease into a healthy glow.

8. Minimal (if any) make-up
Natural beauty shines through (see #7 re: healthy glow.) Besides, make-up just runs down my face. The mascara and eyeliner that was intended to accentuate my eyes started to spread, giving me the appearance of a raccoon. Racoons are cute, but definitely not the look I’m going for.

9. Order a local beer like you know what you’re doing
The funny thing about this one is I’m not a beer drinker. But I did learn how a beer is ordered distinguishes a resident from a tourist.
• Salva Vida, ask for a Salva or “a Brown”—which is referring to the colour of the bottle
• Port Royal ask for a Port or “a Green”—same as above
• Imperial is what you ask for if the bar is out of Salva or Port
• Barena is just called Barena. Note: Salva drinkers will tease you about drinking Barena. But if you are partial to a beer similar to Corona this is the one you want to order.

And if you order a glass of wine (red or white) don’t look surprised when it is poured from a box not a bottle. I have become a boxed wine connoisseur.

10. Don’t check your watch every few minutes
I’m on Island time now. I don’t even wear a watch anymore. I do appreciate that as a visitor you are on a set schedule. But as hard as it may be to resist, repeatedly checking your watch is an absolute give-away that you are a tourist from a cruiseship! I mean, really would it be so bad if the boat left without you and you had to stick around Roatan for a little while longer. Perhaps it’s the Roatan Vortex pulling you in!

And for all of you Texans out there! I’m coming to visit your fine State this weekend and staying through Christmas. Got any tips for me? I’d love to hear from you!

This story can also be found at Honduras Weekly retitled “10 Tips to Avoid Being Mistaken for a Tourist.”

American Thanksgiving Day on Roatan

25 Nov


Today, in the USA it was all about getting together with family and friends to give thanks and EAT!

On the Island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, it also was a day to get together with family and friends to give thanks and EAT!

Last month was the Canadian Thanksgiving dinner served up at Blue Bahia. Friends from many countries were in attendance for the Canadian Thanksgiving Day, and in-turn many countries were represented today…after all, this is the Roatan Global Village!

Infinity Bay, West Bay Beach...Rick's ready!

Infinity Bay, the Macy's Parade is on at the Palapa Bar

Infinity Bay, start carving the Bird!

Bananarama Thanksgiving Day menu board, West Bay Beach

Blue Bahia, Sandy Bay, service with a smile!

Oasis Lounge, Sandy Bay, Turkey Day Menu!

Oasis Lounge entrance, Sandy Bay

Hole in the Wall

14 Nov

Hole in the Wall

I’m quite often asked, “What is the most unique place to visit on Roatan?”

Without hesitation I have to say, “Hole in the Wall!” (The Restaurant–not to be confused with the dive site.)

I admit that during my first year on Roatan, the tiny Island nestled in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Honduras–I heard about Hole in the Wall, but I didn’t get a chance to experience it for myself. After all, to get there, you first had to drive to Jonesville Bight, farther east than I had ever been. For those of you who have spent any time on Roatan, you’re having a good chuckle–the entire Island is only 37 miles long.

From Jonesville you have to take a boat to Blue Rock. I’m not too crazy about boat rides. I know! I live on an Island and I don’t like going on boats–go figure.

The lure of all you can eat steak & lobster at a Sunday Brunch finally enticed me to endure whatever was necessary to get there. To my pleasant surprise, the drive from Sandy Bay to Jonesville, offers tropical scenery that no magazine can do justice. Climbing the ridge, getting glimpses of the Caribbean Sea through the jungle, once you reach the top, the road carries you through a world once reserved for pirates and explorers. Palm trees sway with the rhythmic, salt tinged breezes. The north and south shore competing with each other for which one offers the most intense shades of blue.

As we drive, I take in the glories of Roatan, letting my mind wander to the feast ahead. I’ve always enjoyed Sunday Brunch, even when it meant driving on traffic clogged, nondescript city streets to get there. Even when it meant that once I was in the restaurant, I would count on them to offer a pleasing decor, knowing that outside only offered a concrete curbed parking lot to look at. This obviously wasn’t going to be the case at Hole in the Wall.

From the main road, (yes, there is only one on Roatan) high on a ridge, we encounter the stone wall sign announcing Jonesville. The road to the shore meanders down along curves and bends, toward the village. Brightly painted homes perched on rough honed stilts dot the shoreline. We drive until we can go no further–from here we will go by boat. Others are gathering at the pier, they too are here to experience Sunday Brunch at Hole in the Wall. There is a nice looking yacht–perhaps that is what we will board. Ah–no! We are waiting for something else. From a not too distant shore, a spec on the horizon grows to reveal (what I will call, even though I am totally wrong) a row boat with an outboard motor humming like a lawn mower. The captain of this vessel–a boy all of 9 years old! He deftly guides his ship to the dock, and then assesses the waiting crowd. Taking command as any good captain should, he announces that only 6 people are allowed to board, and points at who that will include for this trip, and where they should sit. (If you are not chosen, never fear, the next boat is on its way, with another Captain of approximately the same age.)

My concerns about boat travel are quickly alleviated when I see that we are not going out to the Caribbean Sea, but rather just traveling across the bay, at most a five minute ride. And besides with such an experienced Captain, I have nothing to worry about.

Bob (the owner) waits at the dock to greet his latest arrivals and to offer assistance to exit the boat.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From there–to the bar to put in your drink order.

I try the Rum-Punch. The parrot hasn’t decided yet what he wants.

Drink in hand you now have time to admire the decor, an interesting collection of items that either washed up on shore, or were donated by visitors.

Perhaps you’d like to add your “I was here Hancock” to a table top, wall, post, ceiling–wherever you’d like.

Today’s feast will include all you can eat lobster tails, melt in your mouth Honduran tenderloin, real mashed potatoes, slow cooked beans, crisp coleslaw, home-made bread, and tart & sweet mango cake for dessert.

All served buffet style.

The trick is to start hanging around the bar when you see them lining up the plates and cutlery on the counter. Once Bob blows the conch shell–it’s time to eat!

The closer to the bar you are when he does that, the better chance you have of being first in-line.

Bob, Harry and Dwayne taking a much deserved break!

For more information visit Hole in the Wall They are open seven days a week. Sunday Brunch (as I call it) is available Fridays and Sundays. Bob calls it, “An all you can eat until we run out of food BBQ.”

A Common Connection

4 Nov

I got a little caught up in a new project recently and in-turn I haven’t been as visible as usual. No new postings at Roatan Vortex since Hurricane Richard. No visiting the travel forums and sharing my ideas on where to stay or what to do when you visit Roatan. I’ve been zipping through reading the latest stories at the blogs and websites my cyber friends post—but I’ve haven’t been leaving comments like I usually do. It’s been so long since I updated my profile on Facebook or tweeted anything, that I can’t remember what profound (yeah right) words of wisdom I had shared.

Holding back from writing a new story at (first and foremost) Roatan Vortex, with the other sites I contribute to taking a close second, has been a real test of my convictions to stay focused on learning a new skill set for sharing travel adventures and applying it to the project at hand. I am happy to report that I have completed and submitted what was required (a few days ahead of the deadline) and hope to share with you next week that my efforts have succeeded. The video above is an example of what I’ve been learning how to produce. I have a whole new respect for the Oscars for; editing, cinematography, set design, etc.

I am in awe and humbled. During my absence from the social media, many of you sent me a quick email or message on Facebook, asking if I was okay, concerned that I may be ill, or have a problem preventing me from sending out to cyberspace my usual offerings. Thank you all! I truly am blessed to be a member of such a global village of friends.

So, without further ado here is a story I have been tardy in sharing, actually it is a few stories rolled in to one—they all has a common connection.

The more you read, the more things you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss

I had heard (a while back) that there was a Public Library in French Harbour. And that was only because, through no fault of their own, the library was being moved from a spacious second floor location, in the Jared Hynds Community Center, to a main level, much smaller room.

Now, when I say, “being moved” I actually mean, “being told to move”—there is a big difference. While some assistance was provided, it was minimal, so Joan the librarian, set out to make it happen. The majority of the work was accomplished by: Joan, her lovely daughters, parents of the children who use the library, and the amazing children themselves.

I got to watch them in action when I joined in and got some painting projects going. Every day I spent at the French Harbour Library, I learned so much about a community of people I previously knew nothing about. I’m very happy to now call them family and friends. We’d work away at our appointed tasks, and take a break at noon to enjoy the fantastic lunch Joan would provide. More children would show up after school let out, and do their homework, once completed, they would head upstairs, making numerous trips down to the new location with books cradled in their arms or balanced on their heads—this is how the shelves got stocked. As the children brought them in, Joan organized them.

While all this was going on, I got an email from my sister that a group from the Christian Record Services for the Blind (CRSB) was visiting Roatan on the Carnival Valor and were bringing a substantial donation of books, school supplies, and treats for children of Roatan. Making arrangements to meet with them and assist with getting the donations to the intended recipients proved quite challenging (that could be a story all of its own.) But ultimately everything was in place. Unfortunately, a hurricane that really wasn’t a problem for any of the Islands, caused the ship to be diverted, and I never did have the pleasure to meet the group. Arrangements were made to keep the donations on the Valor, and I would pick them up the next week, when the ship returned to Roatan. That too could be a story of its own.

I do want to share that I got to back my vehicle down the length of the massive dock, after dark, as the two ships in port sailed away. What a surreal sensation driving on a road that extended out into the Caribbean Sea. Knowing that if I didn’t keep the vehicle centered on the path, going in the water was a real possibility.

Fortunately, the donations, my vehicle, nor I, got wet.

The next day with great pleasure, a bag of treats, a toy turtle (hand made by children in North America) and school supplies were presented to each of the hard working kids at the library.

The remaining donations were dropped off at Cocoview Resort where they will be sorted and distributed by Roatan Children’s Fund, including a large quantity of books for the Roatan Book Mobile

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Now for the final note of this multi-faceted story.

The French Harbour Public Library is pleased to invite you to the Grand re-opening Celebration, Friday November 12, from 2-4 PM. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121340957926479

If you are on Roatan, please come and check it out. Joan will be sharing ideas and plans for various programs to best serve the children and adults of the community. If you are not on the island, still take a look at the Facebook page and add it to your Page Favourites—your support can make a world of difference! http://www.facebook.com/pages/French-Harbour-Honduras/French-Harbour-Public-Library/168854916464161

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.

Canadian Thanksgiving on Roatan

11 Oct

There are somethings that I’ve had to give up, and there are others that are enhanced by living on Roatan, Canadian Thanksgiving is one on the enhanced side of the equation.

While I miss being with family and friends in Canada, I’ve got a whole bunch of family and friends to share it with here! Including the Canadian Wanna be’s–at least when a delicious turkey dinner is being offered. We Canadians will do the same next month when our Americans friends serve up the turkey.

Our meal was prepared and served by Kent and his fun staff at Blue Bahia Resort in Sandy Bay.
Note: Kent is American, hence the green bean casserole. Always love trying something new!





And the band played on!

Not a typical setting for Thanksgiving dinner. Spanish music, the restaurant located on a sandy beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea, palm trees swaying in the breeze. Oh well, someone’s got to do it!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!!!
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For those of you checking the weather news. The disturbance near Roatan has been named Tropical Storm Paula. I’m no authority by any means what-so-ever. But although it did form close to us, and it might get a little windy tonight, it doesn’t look like it will be a direct hit to Roatan! We are the little speck off to the left of the projected track.

Roatan Weather

2 Oct

Frequently asked questions about Roatan, (besides inquires about the bugs), has to do with the weather.

The weather is the main attraction enticing people to this tropical Island nestled in the Caribbean Sea. It’s always summer! No need for cold weather clothing. No need for blankets on your bed. No need for central heating.

We never have to scrape frost off the vehicle windshield, or worry that the anti-freeze is topped up. No cold toes or frozen fingers. No need for fleece lined boots, gloves, or even socks—it’s always warm on Roatan.

The concern for some people is that it is too warm here.

Perhaps I am too use to it! When the temperature drops a degree or two below 27C there is a fine line between proclaiming, “Hey I haven’t sweated through even one outfit today.” or “Brrr, I’m cold.”

If you are going to spend an extended period of time on Roatan, you too will become acclimatized. However, if you are coming to visit for just a week or two you probably will want air-conditioning to escape from the heat. Personally I’m not a fan of air-conditioning. Going from hot, cold, and back to hot again, I find makes me more uncomfortable than throwing the windows open, praying for a breeze, and basking in the balmy weather. When there is no breeze a fan will suffice.

The number one question I get asked about the weather is, “Will it rain when I visit Roatan?”

Now I can understand wanting reassurance that it won’t. For three years running (before I moved to Roatan) I went on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise—none included a stop at Roatan, which is in the Western Caribbean.

The first year in March, the weather was glorious, no rain, plenty of sunshine and the best tan I’d ever gotten.
The second year in November, a couple of nice days, but there were more that couldn’t be called tropical. Not to mention on the way home to Ontario we drove through a raging snowstorm out of Buffalo.
The third year I went on a cruise in January, I checked and re-checked the Caribbean weather reports leading up to the week of travel. All looked great! Yah, right! The Sea was rough. The sun rarely peeked through the angry black clouds. And the sunlamp tan I had invested in before I left cold and snowy Ontario faded before we returned to port in New Orleans. And then it was snowing during the few hours we were there waiting for our flight back to Canada.

I was disappointed to say the least. But my point is that there are no guarantees.

Chances are, even during Rainy Season you will enjoy glorious, sunny, warm weather on Roatan, but it is possible the weather gods will not be working in your favour.

Rainy Season

When the heck is Rainy Season?
Technically, I think it starts right after Hurricane Season and then fizzles out by the end of February. Since 2007 I’ve experienced Rainy Season start by mid-September, lasting well into March. And, one year, it didn’t kick in until the end of November, and pretty much only rained at night.

The weather is equally as unpredictable where I’m originally from: one winter it doesn’t start getting cold and snowing until January. The next year, by the end of October, heavy, wet snow is on late blooming flowers that don’t stand a chance. And everyone is wearing fleece-lined jackets and toques—that’s Canadian for hat, eh!

Note: Weather conditions, on Roatan and Mainland Honduras, including Rainy Season and Hurricane information—are not the same! If you are checking weather reports for Honduras, be sure to confirm it is specifically for Roatan.

Hurricane Season

For whatever reason, Roatan gets spared the impact of the majority of hurricanes. The last one to do any significant damage on Roatan was Mitch in 1998. And even then the personal injury and damage to property was minimal compared to what happened on Mainland Honduras.

Within two week of moving to Roatan, warnings went out that Hurricane Felix was heading right for us!

Everyone started preparing; stocking up on supplies, boarding over windows, and tourists were evacuated. I had no intentions of leaving the Island and headed to a friend’s cabana (on higher ground.) The wait began, checking CNN’s live coverage as Felix slammed in to one Island and then the next! As it got closer to Roatan, it really looked like we were getting hit pretty hard too. But we weren’t! We never lost power, it never got windy, and there wasn’t even a gentle breeze—let alone hurricane force winds. Heck, cable didn’t even go out! In utter fascination we watched reports on CNN declaring that Roatan was in dire straits!

I was getting emails and phone calls from family and friends in Canada, convinced they wouldn’t get in-touch with me because I was riding out the storm in an emergency shelter somewhere on Roatan…I was on my neighbours porch playing Mexican Dominoes!

Most recently Tropical Storm Mathew was the concern. Just over a week ago it was coming our way. But it turned out to be no issue on Roatan for the majority of the population. There were reports after the fact of storm surge causing some flooding in a few areas. But for the rest of us it barely rained for a few hours. Now I’m not saying we didn’t get prepared—just in case, and I found out that we do have an Municipal Emergency Committee, which offers some comfort in knowing that they are preparing on a larger scale.

It turned out again that there was much ado about nothing. As one person so eloquently posted on Trip Advisor, “- the storm affected Roatan for what… maybe four hours… and we’ve kept this post going for four days!”

So again my point is that no matter where you are in the world—unpredictable, crappy weather happens!

Even Toronto, Ontario, Canada (an hour’s drive from my hometown) got hit hard by Hurricane Hazel. Now mind you that was in 1954.

The funny part of this whole thing is that the day after Tropical Storm Mathew wandered by, we had a couple of the hottest, most humid days I’ve ever felt here! And then a storm rolled in and dumped buckets of rain, the airport was closed at times, and the temperature dropped enough that I said, “Brrr, I’m cold.”

For those unfortunate visitors, who have been on Roatan this past week, they have had less than a Tropical Experience—I’m so sorry! There was no way of knowing this was going to happen. And you sure as heck wouldn’t have seen anything about it on CNN.

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