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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.

 
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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

Thank’s for asking

23 Sep

I’m frequently asked for suggestions when visiting Roatan: accommodations, dining, attractions and entertainment. I even get asked about diving and snorkelling, which I’m not too helpful with, since I don’t do either. But, I have many friends on Roatan who do, and will gladly direct visitors to the people who I think can help them the most.

More often than not, I’m also asked—how can we help?

There are many opportunities to participate in helping the people of Roatan—help themselves. It can come in the form of: donating much needed supplies, volunteering your time while you are here, and/or, sharing your expertise: medical, technical, creative—whatever!

Living on Roatan, I’ve had the good fortune to get involved with various initiatives and see firsthand the positive impact they are having:

Roatan Daycare Center
Mission of the Daycare Center.
“Our purpose is to help children of working families learn and thrive, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Our program combines bilingual early education and nurturing childcare, with play, social skills, and a dedication to community. We provide a healthy environment within a safe and comfortable facility. This gives parents the ability to work with peace of mind, knowing their children are receiving the best of care. These parents work full time, as most live near or at the poverty level.”

Familias Saludables
“Familias Saludables is a non-profit, non-denominational organization devoted to fighting the AIDS epidemic on Roatan and the Bay Islands. Our major focus is on reducing the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of the virus both at birth and via breast milk. We run testing clinics for pregnant women, assign trained home visitors for mothers living with HIV/AIDS, provide education to the public, provide palliative training services and, when available, we provide infant formula, medications, and a host of supplies to support families struggling to cope with this disease. All of our services are free of charge and our staff consists solely of volunteers, both local and international.”

Clinica Esperanza
“From the apartment beneath her home – to donated space in the Son Rise Calvary Church in Sandy Bay – Peggy Stranges has given her life to building Clínica Esperanza, otherwise known as “Hospital Ms. Peggy.” Together, with Honduran physician Raymond Cherington, M.D. and Arizona-based physician Patrick Connell, M.D., and through the generous support from Roatán’s community leaders, Ms. Peggy has realized her dream of building a first class freestanding hospital.”

Roatan Vortex Breakfast Program
This one’s brand new, and I am thrilled to share with you! In conjunction with Familias Saludables (couldn’t do it without Val) and Louisa Trundle School—Roatan Vortex has launched a breakfast program for all the students at the school. When they arrive each morning, the first thing they are greeted by is a table (manned by the grade 7 students) where they are offered: a glass of milk, fresh fruit (of the day), and depending on the day: a healthy cookie, or toast with peanut butter, or perhaps a hardboiled egg.

I have so much more I want to too share with you about the program—it warrants a story all its own, and information on how you can participate. That will be coming soon; in the meantime here is a couple of: “Musings from a Breakfast Program.”

Positive reports from parents, teachers, and students. A hug this morning from a little girl who ate three eggs, but I know she doesn’t get food at home. She hugged me, and said, “breakfast was Delicioso!”

Today one of the grade six students had a seizure, and I took her to the hospital (don’t worry she turned out to be okay, she has epilepsy and missed her medication.) At the hospital, the nurse and the doctor asked her three times if she’d eaten breakfast. She kept saying yes, and I then asked why they were asking. They told me that almost every day they get some kid form school that faints from hunger. I was so proud to say our School had a breakfast program.

***

There are many other on-going programs on Roatan and the mainland that are worth checking out, but finding them can be a daunting task—that’s where Project Honduras can help you out.

“projecthonduras.com is an alternative concept for development of Honduras based on using information and communications technology (ICT) to identify, mobilize and coordinate all the available human capital in Honduras and around the world. By “human capital”, we mean resources such as time, energy, expertise, experience, talent, and contacts… things that really only gain value when people become personally engaged.”

In addition to on-line support, and information; there is the annual Conference on Honduras:

“For the past eight years, Copán Ruinas has served as the site of an annual pilgrimage by people from all walks of life, various faiths, and different countries. The purpose of the pilgrimage has been to come together as a community to find ways to become more enlightened and learn how to work as One. The ultimate aim has been to better support the poor and underprivileged within Honduran society by empowering them through education, healthcare, and a variety of community building projects. And to do so in a positive spirit of compassion, harmony, and joy.”

Read the full story at Honduras Weekly – Pilgrimage to Copan.

I look forward to attending this year (October 6-8) where I will get the opportunity to meet people I greatly respect, to hear about their programs, and present the Roatan Vortex Breakfast program. I also will be reporting details back to 101.1 FM Roatan Radio;—Bringing Roatan to the World and the World to Roatan.

Perhaps you’re think you can’t offer enough to make a difference? Check out this story about Bennett; a five year old boy, who lives in Canada. He asked his friends coming to his birthday party to not bring presents for him, but for the children at the Roatan Daycare Center.

***

And remember… “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” – Anita Reddick

 
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Sundae by the Sea

23 Aug

Sunday, August 21, Clinica Esperanza held the 5th annual “Sundae by the Sea” fundraiser.

“Clinica Esperanza’s mission has been the same since Miss Peggy started treating patients from her kitchen table in Sandy Bay 11 years ago: to offer the highest quality health care to everyone on the island, with no patient refused for lack of funds.”

For the large crowd in attendance, the afternoon included performances by Steel Pan Alley, and Bobby Rieman; a delicious island BBQ catered by Island Saloon; all served up under the palapa, next to the Caribbean Sea at Gumbalimba Park.

Tables lined the one side offering an opportunity to participate in a silent auction, a large selection of items; dinners, canopy tours, handmade jewellery, books, services, and more; generously donated by local businesses. A live auction had guests bidding on luxury week long stays at resorts, catered dinners, artwork, even a boat and motor were up for grabs.

Roatan Radio’s Captain Morgan in the Morning was on-sight sending live feeds to the 101.1 FM station in West End, ensuring that even those who couldn’t attend, no matter where in the world they were, could participate in the live auction, as DJ Calico Jack relayed the phone bids, and was the first to share the exciting news…

Just a month ago, Miss Peggy had to make an extremely difficult decision, and announced that Clinica Esperanza was closing immediately due to a year long delay attempting to secure the necessary licensing for the maternity & paediatrics expansion. It was suggested that the fifth annual Sundae by the Sea should be cancelled—no clinic—no need for a fundraising event—right? Wrong!

When word of the much needed and respected clinic closing reached the community (locally and internationally) efforts were launched to ensure Miss Peggy and her dedicated team could carry on. And it was with great pleasure at this year’s Sundae by the Sea; we witnessed Miss Peggy being presented with the licence!

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly, retitled Miss Peggy gets her license

Don’t Step on Thorns

5 Aug

Don’t Step on Thorns


Started out harmless enough, strolling along a path, heading to the beach, minding my own business, when one of those pesky barbed end daggers, launched itself between my flip-flop and the tender underside of my foot.

Yes, I cursed! Pulled it out, and carried on, muttering under my breath as the assaulted area stung. Later that evening, I suspected the tip of the thorn was still imbedded; contorting my leg (in what I’m sure was an advanced yoga position—I don’t do yoga) I examined the bottom of my foot. Yup, there was something in there; I poked, and prodded in an attempt to remove it. When my hip protested the pretzel formation I had forced it to endure, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to leave it be—the remnant of thorn would work itself to the surface, and that would be that.

Well, that didn’t happen. With every step I took, the offending debris was pushed further in—not out. And once again, in my infinite wisdom, I chose to ignore it. Fast forward a couple of months (okay so I was in complete denial) I hobbled along, complaining to all that would listen, that there was a thorn in my foot and it hurt! More than once, it was suggested that I should go to Miss Peggy’s (Clinica Esperanza) and have that taken care of. I knew that, but had every excuse for why I didn’t have time; I am on such a tight schedule on Roatan, don’t you know. Finally—common sense kicked in and I went to the clinic.

Located at the top of a hill, in Sandy Bay, what once was Miss Peggy’s home (she ran the clinic out of her kitchen) has expanded to a full fledge, not-for-profit, medical facility; Miss Peggy and her team of dedicated staff and volunteers tend to the medical needs of all on Roatan.

Being the chicken that I am, when I approached the entrance, I was grateful for the welcoming and calming atmosphere. Children played on the jungle gym, their parents nearby, others sat on the wide front porch, fanning themselves. Inside, more clients sat in the neatly arranged waiting area, the air-conditioning negating the need to fan. Most were quick with a sincere smile and greeting, as was the receptionist, who took my information.

When it was my turn, I was led to a consultation room, where one of the volunteers checked my vital signs, noted them on a chart, and assessed what I would require; consulting with Dr Raymond, it was decided that more than a pair of tweezers were needed; he would personally tend to my treatment. I won’t go into the gory details, let’s just say… the thorn remnants are gone, as is the infection, that I had given free rein by letting it fester for so long… the necessary excavation was then closed with five stitches!

Once again relying on my infinite wisdom, I devised a secret plan that as soon as Dr Raymond was finished, and before the freezing wore off, I would go grocery shopping, and take care of a few errands. Fortunately, (although I didn’t think so at the time) Dr Raymond is a mind reader. He handed me a blanket and a pillow, turned off the light, and as he exited the room said, “Have a good nap, see you in a couple hours.”

“But, but, but, I’ve got things to do before the freezing wears off!” I protested.

“I know—that’s why you’re staying right here.” He smiled and closed the door.

I’m regularly asked how I could risk giving up “First World” healthcare when I moved to Roatan—thing is—the best care I’ve ever gotten is on the Island of Roatan. A dedicated team of trained professionals take care of my medical need with compassion and a true commitment for the well being of ALL the people of Roatan—even those like me, whose infinite wisdom is solely lacking.

Please visit the Clinica Esperanza website for more information on what they offer, and details of the upcoming 5th annual “Sundae by the Sea” at Gumbalimba Park; all proceeds directly benefit the ongoing efforts to provide quality healthcare to all on Roatan.

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly; retitled, Miss Peggy’s First World Clinic in Honduras.

Roatan Hospital Update

4 Mar

There is talk on the Island that a brand new Hospital is in the works, on this, I have no knowledge. I can however, update you on the on-going improvements to the existing Public Hospital in Coxen Hole.

I had the great pleasure of participating in coordinating a Benefit Concert to raise funds for specific improvements.

Thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers, and those that attended the concert… what a fantastic time we all had!

Click on letter or picture to enlarge.

Here are some examples of the difference your generous contribution have made. The examination (clinic) rooms are now complete, and the improvements to the Emergency Department are underway!

Before and After

Before and After

Before and After

Thank you for helping the Roatan Hospital help the people of Roatan!

What does it take to be happy?

28 Aug

As promised I am referencing a challenge that Tiny Buddha put out to answer ten questions (in 140 characters or less) that deal with some of the hardest questions in life. Today’s question, #2 What does it take to be happy? My answer, “To be happy you have to be content with who you are and what you are doing…right here…right now.”

Sounds simple enough, but even though I wrote that, following through is something else. And then I got involved with the Roatan Hospital Concert Committee…

The race was on to have everything ready for the Roatan Hospital Benefit Concert, August 26, 2010. Almost three months ago the call went out for volunteers to help organize and set-up for a fund-raiser for the only public hospital on Roatan.

At the first few meetings, the plan was laid out. The atmosphere enthusiast, yet calm…we have lots of time.
I went to the Roatan Hospital to take some pictures, give people a feel for how desperately they need community support. I had been there a few times before and had seen first-hand the conditions, so I wasn’t surprised by what I photographed…but I was still amazed at what the health care professionals had to work with to care for the people of Roatan. And I am always in awe of what they manage to achieve.

It wasn’t too busy on the day I walked around with my camera. There were a few people waiting to be seen on this day that I took the pictures. They lined the hallways, sitting with children on laps. A few people in the emergency area having their medical needs tended to.

I shot photos of paint peeled off walls, and chipped from baby cribs in paediatrics, mouldy ceilings, and stacks of supplies crammed in every available space. I didn’t want to intrude on people’s privacy so avoided taking pictures of them. But one new mom did graciously allow me to snap a picture of her new born son.
*********************************************************************

The Roatan Hospital Concert date that seemed so far away was suddenly only a week away. The notes I had scribbled down of things to do had turned into pages and the challenge was on to get it all done in time.

Before I go any further I want to note that I was only one of the many committee members and volunteers who were giving their all to bring this together. We were a team with a common goal.

Each morning I woke, my day’s plan in-hand, check emails, revise day’s schedule, make phone-calls, receive phone-calls, and head out. I drove into neighbourhoods that I didn’t know existed and had the pleasure of meeting people I had never met before. A whirlwind of activity that started at 7 AM each morning and didn’t end before 11 PM each night.

A few days before the big event I had to make a stop at the Roatan Hospital to pick something up for the concert and I was blown away by what I saw. The halls were jammed with people waiting patiently to be seen. In the emergency area I saw people being treated for every injury imaginable by dedicated health care professionals who did the best they could with less than adequate supplies. They were calm and companionate as they struggled to meet everyone’s needs. I would be told that this was a typical day at Roatan Hospital. What I had witnessed on the day I came to take the pictures was not.

That evening, I lay in bed, trying to convince tomorrows list of things to do to stop swirling around in my brain and let me go to sleep. And while my brain wouldn’t cooperate—it has a mind of its own don’t you know. I was worried I wouldn’t get everything done in time. I was frustrated by having to put off other things I wanted to do. I was heartbroken by what I had seen at the Roatan Hospital that day.

But, I realized something else…I was genuinely HAPPY. I was content, with who I was, and what I was doing, right then! If I was allowed more than 140 characters for the Tiny Buddha Wisdom Book challenge I would add, “Your world being in perfect order has nothing to do with being happy.”

Thank you everyone for your support, assistance, donations, sponsorship, and for attending the Roatan Hospital Concert! Let’s do it again next year!

Be sure to check out Roatan Hospital Concert for all the pictures of the event, and coming soon a detailed update of the difference the Roatan Hospital Concert has made for helping Roatan Hospital care for the people of Roatan. Roatan Hospital Concert HD Video

And one more note: Davey, I’m so proud of you! Your list was way longer than mine and what you pulled together was truly amazing!

The Meaning of Life

15 Aug

As an avid follower of Tiny Budhha I was thrilled to see a recent posting for something new. Not only will inspirational quotes and words of wisdom be shared from the Tiny Budhha website, on Twitter, and at their Facebook page—a book is in the works too! The coolest thing (in true Tiny Budhha form) is that we are invited to join-in, to contribute to the content.

I had submitted a story to Tiny Budhha a few months ago, and felt honoured when Lori contacted me, and posted When Your World Gets All Shook Up as a feature story on the Tiny Budhha website.

I get great satisfaction when I check the posting every now and then and read the comments from people who appreciate what I shared with them. Have I made an earthshaking (pardon the pun) change in their lives…of course not. But for a few moments I shared their journey through something that perhaps was earthshaking for them, just as reading stories from other contributors have done for me. Living with Purpose.

Ten questioned have been posed by Tiny Budhha. Each answer can be no longer than a tweet (140 characters.) I took up the challenge and will share my answer for each question one posting at a time…from a Roatan Vortex point-of-view of course.

1) What is the meaning of life?
The meaning of life is accepting that we may never know…it just is…and that’s okay.

I have pondered this question as far back as I can remember. Always wondering, what the heck am I here for, what’s it all about? And then I moved to Roatan. With that big-picture question lurking in my sub-conscious, I became preoccupied with the day-to-day questions about my new chosen home…Roatan.

Why do the grocery stores sell twenty brands of yellow mustard, but not offer; Dijon, honey, or other flavoured mustards?

Why do geckos poop on my bed after I’ve just put on fresh sheets?

Why are there speed-bumps on already bumpy roads?

Why do I have to stand in-line at the bank for 2 hours to do a transaction that should take 5 min?

Why are there so many chickens on our property and roosters crowing all hours of the night?

Why does the power go out so much?

The best advice I got soon after moving here was to stop asking why. There is no answer…it’s just the way it is. When I settled into that way of thinking it did wonders for my blood pressure and instead of asking why anymore, I try to appreciate the benefits of accepting…it’s just the way it is.

Now, don’t get me wrong I still do the happy dance when I find Dijon mustard at the grocery store, even found it at the hardware store once. And I definitely would prefer that roosters didn’t crow all night long.

But standing in-line at the bank for two hours introduced me to an amazing little girl Child’s Play.

And while the power doesn’t go out nearly as often as when I moved to Roatan three years ago, it too has benefits for being…just the way it is. When the Power Goes Out.

So, when it comes to the meaning of life? Heck, I don’t have a clue and I probably never will…it’s just the way it is.

What about you? I shared my profound (giggle) quote. But I’d love to know…What do you think the meaning of life is?

Roatan Hospital

21 Jul

Another frequently asked question, “What about medical services and health care on Roatan?”

I must admit when I moved to Roatan, I didn’t give much thought to it. Irresponsible? Perhaps. But I was at a point in my life where I decided that I would worry about it when I needed to…that time came.

I was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a serious collision. The care I received was second to none. Compassion & Respect Heal Better than Medicine *******************************************************************************

I wouldn’t let them take me to the Roatan Hospital, in Coxen Hole, not because I didn’t trust their ability, but because I knew their resources were limited and my friend needed them more than I did.

Since that experience, December 2008, I have visited Roatan Hospital a few times; once to be with neighbors who needed emergency medical care, and another time when friends visiting the Island wanted to donate medical supplies to Roatan Hospital.

On the second visit I got the full tour of the Roatan Hospital. I saw first hand the conditions, and lack of supplies the medical professionals have to work with. And yet, they treated each patient with dignity and compassion. They tended to everyone…the best they could.

I wanted to help in some way but was uncertain what, I as one person could do to make a difference. And then I joined the Roatan Hospital Concert Committee! As a group we have found a way to help…and you can too!

Please visit Roatan Hospital Concert. If you are on Roatan, Thursday, August 26, join in on the fun. If you are anywhere else in the world, there are still ways you can help Roatan Hospital…care for the people of Roatan.

The Roatan Hospital website is currently under construction, but new information is being added daily. Please check back often – YOU can make a difference! Please link the Roatan Hospital website to your site. Help get the word out. Thanks, Genny

Compassion and Respect Heal Better Than Medicine

6 Apr

Compassion and Respect Heal Better Than Medicine

After a fun filled day of shopping in Coxen Hole, on Roatan, Honduras, the unimaginable happened.

Yes, shopping in Coxen Hole can be fun, and the unimaginable, well it can happen wherever you are.

The driver of a very large twin-cab pick-up truck, lost control on a bend, and crashed head-on into the much smaller twin-cab pick-up truck that I was a back seat passenger in. All occupants of both vehicles were seriously injured.

Since making the decision to move to Roatan, Honduras, I have been repeatedly questioned, “What about your healthcare?”

I am Canadian, which means I have always had access to the Ontario Health Care (OHIP) system, guaranteeing free medical services. Moving to Roatan meant I would have to forfeit that (if I return to Canada, after 3 months I will qualify again.)

Emergency medical care in a “developing country” was about to be put to the test.

Immediately after the crash, everyone who was in the area offered assistance, there was no waiting for emergency services to arrive (at that time, on Roatan, there were none available.) My good friend; who was unconscious, and the driver of our vehicle, along with the front seat passenger, and the driver who had hit us, were loaded into the back of a different pick-up truck and whisked away to the “Community Hospital” in Coxen Hole.

I refused to go.

Not because I didn’t trust the medical staff at the hospital they were being taken to. Not because I wasn’t hurt bad enough – I was! I refused to go along because I knew the hospital had limited resources, and I didn’t want them to waste time and precious supplies on me.

I would only agree to go to one of the clinics on the Island. I was definitely showing the initial effects of the collision; an angry looking welt had risen on my forehead, blood trickling down my face, my legs looked like they had been repeatedly whacked with a baseball bat.

The doctor on-call took one look at me and recommended I go to the hospital…I refused. He, in-turn, respected my decision and went to work tending to my medical needs. He examined me, and cleaned and bandaged my wounds. He continued to suggest that I go to the hospital for observation (in case of a concussion) but didn’t refuse to treat me. He never made me feel like a child, unable to make decisions for myself.

My wishes being respected in a situation that was beyond my control went a long way towards dealing with what had happened to me. His eyes were filled with compassion, while his skills as a doctor tended to my injuries.

I would return to the clinic and other medical facilities to be seen by many physicians, technicians and specialists (all certified in their field of medicine) numerous times over the next six weeks; sprained ankle, whip-lash, removing glass from my arms and back, treatments for my leg, an MRI (on the mainland) and treatment for a torn ligament in my knee. Each and every one of them tended to my needs, as if I was their only patient. They listened to what I had to say about how I was feeling. I was never dismissed, ignored, or denied investigation of every avenue to ensure I healed properly.

Did they do this for the money…I don’t think so?

• Consultation and examinations from doctors – 4 visits
• X-rays – 2
• Treatment, leg wounds – 3 visits
• Orthopedic specialist – 4 visits
• MRI – Done one week after requested, they would have done it the next day if it was convenient for me to go that soon.
• Physical therapy – 6 visits

Cost to me…less than $700.00

And I want to note, that if a Honduran Citizen had needed the care that I did, and could not afford to pay, they would not have been denied service by any of the medical professionals I saw. They would not have been turned away, or treated with any less respect than I was because I could afford to pay, when they could not.

There is a dedicated group of trained, compassionate medical & health professionals in Honduras who give of their time and resources to care for all the people.

If you are interesting in helping them in any way I suggest you visit Project Honduras where you will find a wealth of information and opportunities for you to get involved.

This story is also available to read at Honduras WeeklyHealing Power of Compassion
Retitled; The Healing Power of Compassion.


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