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Roatan Vortex – An insider’s guide for moving to Roatan

21 Apr

So the Roatan Vortex is working its magic on you, you’re considering a move to Roatan, great idea! No longer will time in paradise be limited to your allocated one or two week holidays a year. No more burrowing under the three comforters piled on your bed, peaking out the window and groaning at the sight of fluffy flakes of snow floating down to cover the crocuses and tulips that are doing what they can to convince the skies it is springtime.

Since making the move to Roatan I am regularly asked, “How’d you do it?” That’s easy to answer, “I quit my job, sold everything I owned, and moved here.” The Roatan Vortex pulled me in!

Now that I live here I regularly share why I stay: through the Roatan Vortex blog, The Roatan Vortex Radio Show on 101.1 FM roatanradio.com and through the book The Roatan Vortex—an insider’s view of day to day life on a Caribbean Island It’s time to back up a bit (kinda like they did with the Star Wars movies) and share… drum roll please…

The Roatan Vortex—an insider’s guide for moving to Roatan

The thing is, moving to Roatan is not like moving across town or even from one State or Province you live in to another. You have to approach it a little different and not use the North American side of your brain to plan the move. Yes, clear up and do what must before you come to Roatan, but when the Vortex calls, “resistance is futile”… hey, another Star Wars reference… no wait, that’s from Star Trek!

On your mark! Get set! Slow down!
When I go back to Canada to visit family and friends, they quite often comment that I’m too mellow, as they zoom past me; rushing to work, the store, an exercise class, the mall, to pick up the kids etc. That is the normal pace there, but not on Roatan. Sure you still have things to get done, places to be, people to see, but the pace here is a little different. For one thing it is just plain too hot; you’re going to work up a sweat no matter how slow you go, so why encourage it. Besides, whatever you are rushing to probably won’t be ready until mañana anyway.

Definition of mañana – tomorrow, next week, maybe a month from now, possibly—NEVER!

photo credit - Gumbalimba Park

It’s always Groundhog (Watusi) Day
Another comment I get from family and friends (especially when they come to visit me on Roatan) is that things don’t change much here—and that’s true—with a Roatan twist, of course. The year round summer weather has something to do with that (we’ll talk about rainy season later) and waking to the sun rising at pretty much the same time every day, setting time doesn’t vary much either. The birds are singing, the chickens are scratching; their brood of chicks following behind, while the roosters crow whenever the heck they want to! The Caribbean Sea breaking on the reef, sometimes barely a ripple is created, other times foamy rolling spray outlines the reef. I guess I could say I’ve settled into a routine of sorts. The twist—the vibe of Roatan decides the routine, not me—I’m okay with that! You can be too!

An insider’s guide for moving to Roatan, lots more to share; coming soon:
• Your new address, say goodbye to zip and postal codes
• What to bring (my most prized possession): stainless steel cheese grater
• Leave the rollerblades behind
• Yes, your phone number will be eight digits long
• Setting up your kitchen—everything goes in the freezer
• Choosing your nick name (and other names you may be called)
• Forget about fresh spinach and mushrooms
• Critters you may (no, will) find in your new home
• Decorating is based on mould and rust resistance—not fashion trends
• plus many, many more

For those of you who have already made the move, if you have any tips to add, please do. And for those of you considering making the move to Roatan–ask away!

 
icon for podpress  Roatan SME (Subject Matter Expert): Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly retitled “A life without fresh spinach and mushrooms”

Roatan Marine Park Bash aka Don’t Step on Puppies

15 Apr

Last Saturday (April 9) was the Marine Park Bash at Bananarama on West Bay Beach; an annual fundraiser to assist the Roatan Marine Park with promoting awareness, preservation, and protection of the aquatic wonders of Roatan. A great time was had by all, and in-turn we were able to contribute in some fashion to their efforts.

Last year I wrote and posted a story about the Marine Park on Roatan Vortex. My theme (you know how much I love the word theme) was Please Don’t Walk on the Coral. At the time I was looking to do my part to help visitors who, like me, had limited understanding of the importance of not stepping on coral. I mean—really—come on—it’s just a bunch of pretty rocks under the water… right?

I had a lot to learn!

Through the Roatan Vortex, on Facebook, Roatan Radio, and best of all—in person I get to meet a lot of visitors to Roatan. Many know they shouldn’t step on coral, but, many really don’t know. There are a few signs posted at the beaches that simply say, Please don’t step on the Coral but without knowing why it matters, these signs quite often go un-noticed.

Now I could attach a bunch of links explaining the reasons to not step on the coral, I could copy and paste pages of documentation outlining the importance of not stepping on the coral… but let’s face it Roatan is about enjoying a get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life, getting away from the cold and snow, and basking in the glories of an Island surrounded by the second largest coral reef in the world (okay so just one link) nestled in the Caribbean Sea.

So instead, I offer you this:

Fine Print: Mona (my dog) was not harmed in the making of this poster; she quite enjoyed the belly rub. Oh, and Pat didn’t get hurt either, he got a couple of dog biscuits as a reward for a job well done after the photo shoot!
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One more thing: In case you missed last Saturday’s live show on 101.1 FM Roatanradio.com, listen in to Smile–It Confuses People right here!

 
icon for podpress  Smile--It Confuses People: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Tomorrow (Saturday, April 16) the Roatan Vortex Radio Show theme will be – An Insider’s Guide for Moving to 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!

Cruising to Roatan?

15 Sep

Prior to moving to Roatan in 2007, I had taken cruises to various Caribbean Islands and enjoyed them all. Part of the fun was anticipating what each port of call would have to offer. But at the same time I also wanted to have some insight into what I would find before I arrived. I would search for information and try to absorb the details I could find. But there was never enough out there.

Now I live on Roatan, and I find myself on the other side of the equation. When I go grocery shopping, or to the hardware store, or even to pick up the mail, chances are I will see a cruise ship or two, docked at one or both of the ports here on Roatan. I observe visitors, in tour busses and taxis, or strolling through one of the towns exploring the unique hidden gem of Roatan.

The first time I saw a cruise ship sailing away from Roatan was at sunset on West Bay Beach more than three years ago. I was relaxing on a lounger, sipping a glass of wine, as the ship faded over the horizon. My thoughts were with those on that boat, knowing from personal experience that many were leaning on the rail at various levels of the ship, gazing back at Roatan.

They would soon be getting ready for dinner, or perhaps to catch a live production in the grand theatre. They would be recalling and sharing the Roatan they had been introduced to—most for the first time. As the daylight waned, and the twinkle of lights dotting the Island began to appear, some would feel the pull of the Roatan Vortex.

A lot has changed since that first encounter in 2007. I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at Port of Roatan when my husband Dave was one of the musicians playing for the expansion of that port, and I followed the progress as the second port of call, Mahogany Bay, was developed.

At least twice every cruise season, friends (or friends of friends,) announce that they are visiting Roatan on a cruise and I take great pleasure in showing them around the Island. But I am always surprised to hear how little information they have about the port they will be arriving at. Or worse yet, their concern that it isn’t safe on Roatan!

So here is a little inside info on Cruising to Roatan!

I wanted to include a detailed map of Roatan, but an on-line search showed me there isn’t much to choose from. Even the Google Earth map is missing key information (West Bay Beach.) The best one I found came from the Town Center website at the Port of Roatan. Needless to say they don’t have a marker for Mahogany Bay, which is located near Dixon’s Cove, east of the airport. Click on image of map to enlarge detail.

Which cruise-line you are arriving with will determine which port your ship docks at. However, even if your ship is scheduled to dock at Mahogany Bay, the weather (high wind) may dictate your ship be diverted to The Port of Roatan.


The Port of Roatan is on the edge of Coxen Hole. The port includes the Town Center and offers on-site shopping, dining, and other attractions, but there is no beach. You can however walk from the ship in to Coxen Hole. When you exit the port you will find a stretch of local shops offering souvenirs, food & drink, and excursions (if you haven’t pre-booked one already) to other areas of the Island.

Inside info on Coxen Hole

I live in Sandy Bay directly across the Island from Coxen Hole. I usually drive into the town a few times a week, whether it is to get some groceries, stop at the hardware store, pharmacy, the bank, to get the oil changed on our vehicle, pay property taxes at the Municipal Building—all kinds of normal day-to-day activities. I’m involved with the Roatan Hospital and the Day Care both of those bring me to Coxen Hole regularly too. The first time I parked at the municipal lot and walked through town I admit I felt a little intimidated. As a blond haired, fair skinned woman I didn’t exactly blend in. The public areas were far different from what I was use to in Canada. But I quickly learned I had nothing to fear. Oh sure I still get asked if I want a taxi or tour guide, annoying at times, but certainly nothing threatening.

View from Grocery Store Parking Lot

The port at Mahogany Bay is quite different from The Port of Roatan. It is in an area that it is not possible to walk to a town or community. There is on-site shopping, dining, and a private beach (for cruisers only.) I have no personal pictures to share of the beach or other amenities and couldn’t find that they have a website, but here are some pictures I found on-line.

Making arrangements to meet family and friends who arrive at this port can be challenging. From the main road to the gate is a winding, steep, long path. I have some people coming for a visit in October and there are too many of them to fit in my vehicle so I will be renting a van for the day. The only problem is that it will be perceived that I am an independent tour guide and won’t be allowed through to the pick-up area. This means my guests will have to climb the hill to the main road where I will wait to meet them…definitely a challenge to coordinate.

Inside info on this area

Like I said previously, I don’t have personal pictures to share from this port because it is not an area that is easy to access. But I do drive past the main entrance (at the top of the hill above the port) regularly to go to French Harbour. That is where our insurance agent’s office is, the vet that takes care of my dog Mona, and my cat Baby. This is also the location of another grocery store I like to shop at, the print shop, and the library (that has recently moved and will be re-opening soon.)

While visiting Roatan, you may be taken back (at first) how under developed it looks compared to where you are coming from. But you will be awed by the breath-taking scenery, the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, soft white sand beaches, and tropical lush foliage extending to the highest ridges. There are many tourist attractions to participate in—if that is your cup of tea. Or perhaps lounging on a perfect beach or a driving tour of the Island is in your plans.

Whatever you choose, you can experience, first-hand, a unique to you way of life, and you will meet friendly people that will welcome you to the Global Village of Roatan.

Enjoy!

Note: I forgot to mention, Roatan time and cruise ship time are not necessarily the same. Be sure to confirm what the time is on the Island when making plans. Quite often the actual time on Roatan is 1 or 2 hours earlier than the ship time. Confused? I was when I picked up friends at the port and they thought I wasn’t coming, when I knew I was right on time.

Frog Rescuer

4 Sep

I moved to Roatan, Honduras for a few reasons, one of them because the Roatan Vortex was pulling me here…of course. Another reason was to embrace a simpler lifestyle, surrounded by the beauty that only nature can supply. The challenge everyday is to live in harmony with the glorious wonders of Roatan, while doing the least amount of damage to the natural balance. That might sound corny, but let’s face it pretty much everything made or introduced by humans for the comfort of humans does far more damage than good.

My sister Laurie chose the same idea, different location. When we were kids, for a period of time, my knick-name for her was Duh. I once locked her in a suitcase…well, she agreed to get in it, not like I forced her to, and she believed me when I said I wouldn’t lock it, hence the name Duh! She got wise to my evil ways and I couldn’t call her that anymore, but thirty odd years later I’ve come up with a new knick-name for her—Frog Rescuer.

Laurie aka Frog Rescuer hasn’t visited me on Roatan yet. Some things about it appeal to her, but for the most part she is content hanging out in Canada with her husband Glen and their two cats. A few years back they decided to move to a new subdivision in Guelph, Ontario, the biggest attraction for them was to be next to Guelph Lake, with meandering paths nearby to stroll or go for a bike ride. They weren’t alone with this desire to live closer to nature while still having the advantages of being in the city. The building lots quickly sold and one by one new houses sprang up around them.

In a recent email she shared with me a crusade she had begun. It would seem that living closer to nature—while nice for the humans—it wasn’t working so well for the critters.

My sister’s home has window-wells around the basement windows, as do all her neighbour’s homes. One day she noticed some frogs trapped in one of the window-wells. Now, Guelph frogs are not like Roatan tree frogs. They can jump, but not high enough to get out on their own, so she climbed in and rescued them. Doing an inspection of the other window-wells surrounding her home, she found more frogs needing help, and a few that it was too late to rescue (they had dried up and perished.)

A daily routine of checking for frogs began. But what about her neighbours, did they know that frogs may need to be rescued from their window-wells too? Just in case they didn’t know she made a poster and taped it on the community mailboxes.

SAVE THE FROGS!!!
Please save me from your window wells…a lot of us are dying out here as we jump in and can’t get out!
You will be glad you take care of us, because we take care of your gardens by eating the bugs that eat your plants… so please cover your window wells with plastic covers….or check for us every day and free us from them.
Sincerely, your local frog population

And she didn’t stop there, next up was to talk to the building company to ask them to cover the window-wells on the show-homes. That request was met with blank stares and snickering.

So she contacted a local newspaper and told them what was going on. Guelph Tribune

I’m proud of my sister. She can’t save all the frogs from the invasion of people, but I’m sure the ones she does rescue on a daily basis from a grizzly death are grateful. Besides, it’s not gratitude from a frog that inspires her to do this. She moved to the area to be close to nature and all it has to offer her sense of being—shouldn’t she take ownership of helping protect it?

No matter where we choose to call home, shouldn’t we all?

Rescued any critters today? I’d love to hear about it.

Canada Day on Roatan!

2 Jul

Canada Day on Roatan!

I’ve always enjoyed celebrating Canada Day with my family and friends. Whether it was in our backyard, at one of the parks in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, or in Toronto, Ontario, at City Hall, the year my Great-uncle Mike was given an award for Canadian Citizen of the Year!
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But this July 1st, I’m in Central America, Honduras, on the Island of Roatan. Guess there won’t be any Canada Day parties?

Wrong!

The place to be was Sundowners, West End, Roatan. The party got started just after noon, Canadians and Canadian wanna-be’s arrived from all areas of Roatan, to join in on the fun.

The sailboats, ready to go. The weather, gloriously warm and sunny. A perfect Roatan kinda day!

Strolling on the beach, at the bar, or in the water, the Caribbean Sea was the place to be!
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Captain Morgan, fellow Canadian and DJ at Roatan Radio kept the Canadian music going and invited Canadians to come on up and say hi to family and friends back in Canada.

Dave, Lou, Tracy and I…all Canadians of course! Got out a deck of Canadian cards and played some EUCHRE! Tracy tried to explain the game to some Canadian wanna-be’s…but gave up. *****************************************************************************

I wasn’t able to celebrate Canada Day with family and friends in Canada. But lucky for me I have family and friends here on Roatan that I did celebrate with!

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Sundowners, West End, Roatan is also where we watched Canada win Olympic Gold. You can read that story here Olympic Hockey Night in Canada, on Roatan!

Snorkeling with the Fishes

20 Jun

Snorkeling with the Fishes

Picture taken from the glass-bottom boat, West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras.

Who’s gonna win this race?

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Please Don’t Walk on the Coral

12 Jun

Please Don’t Walk on the Coral

Growing up in Ontario, Canada, I knew next to nothing about the Caribbean Sea, and even less about the second longest coral reef in the world.

Lake Erie Sunset

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, the community I hail from is surrounded on three sides by Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, all part of the chain of five lakes known as The Great LakesThe source of the largest fresh water system on Earth!

Wow! That’s pretty impressive…but I never gave it much thought.

For me, as a kid, it just meant there was a beach within an easy driving distance. Then again…as a kid, I never hesitated to ask, “Are we there yet?”
• The Canadian National Exposition (CNE) every year, marked the end of the summer holidays, but also meant I could watch the Air Show my heart pounding with excitement as planes soared, dipped, and performed amazing acrobatic feats above Lake Ontario.
• Lake Huron, more specifically, Tobermory—the Scuba Diving Capital of Canada, is where I almost learned how to scuba dive.

Over the years I had heard that the Great Lakes were getting polluted, that you had to limit the number of fish you ate from them—too many would make you sick. More frequently signs were being posted on the beaches that it wasn’t safe to go swimming—that too would make you sick.
For me…an inconvenience…but I still didn’t give it much thought.

Now I live on Roatan, my front yard is a dock, stretching into the Caribbean Sea. Only a few hundred feet beyond that, I watch waves break on the world’s second longest coral reef.

• I’ve seen seahorses, barracuda, sting-rays, Portuguese man-of-war, and numerous other sea creatures swimming from the reef toward the dock—gracing me with a closer look of their magnificence. I’ve watched a dolphin leisurely swim by, and marvelled at the detail outline of a starfish.
• I stroll along the shore (especially after a storm) picking up pieces of the reef that have broken off and washed ashore. Sea Fans, black sponge, and finger coral (to name only three, of the thousands of species) each piece, as unique as a snowflake, with a beauty of natural form no artist could ever match.

I’m in awe of all that I see and experience, but just like when I was at the beach on Lake Erie, or watching the planes swooping over Lake Ontario, or doing my first open water dive in Lake Huron…

I don’t give it enough thought!

I don’t appreciate enough the importance of preserving and protecting these marvels of nature and all they have to offer. They have been here forever and always will be…right?

Wrong! It is up to You and Me to educate ourselves about their value to our world, the legacy we owe our children, and how, everything we do, we need to – STOP – and consider the impact our actions might be having.

Fortunately in this era of accessible information, education and action are possible. Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) and The Roatan Marine Park offer a wealth of insight into the health and sustainability of these bodies of water.


Enjoy the reef surrounding Roatan and all it has to offer…just remember it isn’t a man-made attraction (like Disneyworld) that can be replaced. It is a LIVING, BREATHING organism that will thrive if cherished—and will die if neglected or abused.

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This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly

And will be the topic on The Roatan Vortex Show, Wednesday June 16, 9 AM – 11 AM, Roatan time (MTN) on Roatan Radio

Roatan Caption #2

6 Apr

I snapped this from Mario and Lori’s glass bottom boat at West Bay Beach. Roatan Coral Reef Explorer

What do YOU think the fish are saying…or thinking?

Share your caption ideas in the comment section below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
(Be sure to click on the picture to get a really good look at what the fish are following.)

I Promised Them Seahorses.

26 Feb

I Promised Them Seahorses.

Since coming to Roatan, Honduras, it’s become a regular occurrence to get an email or skype call that goes something like this:

“Some friends of mine are coming to Roatan for the first time. I told them I KNOW someone who’s there. Would you mind giving them some inside info on the Island, and maybe meet with them while they are there?”

The most recent time this happened, it involved a group of people coming from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. With great enthusiasm I fired off emails answering questions and making suggestions of what to do and see when they got here.

This photo courtesy of Chris Hill, taken under the Sundancer Dock, 2009
High on their list was good snorkelling sites. In particular they wanted to see seahorses. Well, I’m not a snorkeler, but I’ve witness people rave about seeing seahorses below the dock in Sandy Bay. I excitedly invited them to come over.

It was a few months later when they arrived to Roatan, and in the meantime I had completely forgotten what I had promised. When the van showed up, everyone climbed out, (sunburnt, but content) with looks of anticipation on their faces, and snorkel gear in hand. As we walked to the dock, one of the visitors was adjusting his underwater camera.

“Can’t wait to take a picture of a seahorse,” he said.

Uh-oh, what had I promised. Ever since I got pulled in by the Roatan Vortex I can’t seem to help it. I blurt out more than I should. What if there are no seahorses today? When was the last time one was spotted below the dock? I silently fretted while they prepared to enter the water. They might be disappointed and it would be my fault.

I watched them descend the ladder…I waited…and waited.

“I got it!” The visitor with the camera excitedly exclaimed, scrambling back on to the dock. He set his camera to playback mode, and turned the screen to my direction.

There it was—while snorkelling under the dock—he had snapped a photo of a beautiful, healthy seahorse!

 

Thank You, Roatan. You never let me down!


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This story can also be found at Honduras Weekly, I Promised Them Seahorses

                       

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