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The best cure for hoarding—Move to Roatan

29 Apr

I’ve always viewed moving from one home to another as a great opportunity to clear out that stuff I tucked away in the back of the closet, in the garage, in the basement, and even under the beds when I first moved to the house I would be leaving. You know, those boxes of unused fancy dishes, the objects-d-art and nic-nacs that (I have no idea why I ever bought them in the first place) won’t match anything in my new home, and then there was the stuff that I knew I would never use: the handy-dandy hot dog cooker my cousin gave me as a Christmas present (I swear, I never bought one of those), my collection of side tables and lamps (couldn’t leave a thrift store without buying at least one or the other), and of course the fondue pot with enough forks for a party of twenty.

I would promise myself, this move will be different, but more often them not, I’d convince myself, if I don’t bring that to my new location—guaranteed I’ll wish I had! A blank wall or a bare space on a shelf will glare at me, letting me know that if I’d only brought (insert whatever here) that spot wouldn’t have to endure being empty, or my cousin, who never visits me, might show up with a package of hot-dogs for me to cook for lunch.

I would force myself to give up at least a few items, dropping them off at the local thrift shop, proud of letting go—while I paid for the new-to-me lamp I bought while there! Alas, the majority of the junk moved with me.

And then there were clothes! Oh my! Tons of clothes that I never wore!

That outfit I saw in that Boutique window, tried on, and was sure I looked fabulous in until I got it home, put it on, looked in the mirror, and said, “huh?” I swear they do something to the mirrors in the try-on-rooms in stores. There were the clothes that I did love, but (for some reason) were snug in the waist now—I know, I’m just retaining a little water—they’ll fit again soon. But even when I separate my delusion of runway model vs reality, my clothes closet was jammed full of stuff that even if I changed my outfit 10 times a day… I still couldn’t manage to wear them all! I haven’t even mentioned the: shoes, belts, leg warmers (they might come back in style don’t you know) and other accessories necessary to complete—the look!

Then I moved to Roatan

Can’t move to Roatan with a U-Haul! Actually, I do know a few people who did, and quite a few had their stuff shipped down, but I had no idea (at the time) of how to do that, and besides, for me it was a new start—an opportunity to finally let go of all that—stuff!

Note: It is not cheap to ship your worldly possessions to Roatan. On top of the shipping charges, duties and taxes will have to be paid. Make sure it is really, really important to you before sending it here.

So I moved to Roatan with one suitcase jammed full! I guess I should mention that to get rid of what I had previously owned I called a local auction house and had them cart it off—yup, even my prized collection of side tables and lamps. As it turned out, there were a few things I wish I had brought, a few that I shouldn’t have bothered bringing, and many more that I now know—I will never need (or want) again!

The first year I lived on Roatan I kept a running list of must get items. I kept this handy so if family or friends were coming to visit I could rattle off what I needed them to bring. The list would get extra long when I was planning a visit back to Canada, and once I got back to the world of Box Malls and specialty stores on every corner, I’d spend the majority of my time there (when I should have been enjoying time with family and friends) wandering up and down the aisles drooling over all the stuff I was going to bring back to Roatan with me! It would take me the entire evening before I returned to Roatan (again, I should have been visiting family and friends) to strategically pack my new treasures.

Since year one, increasingly more is available on Roatan. There are still some things that I know it isn’t worth driving around to try to find because it’s not available here: art supplies, books by my favourite authors, or a decent cheese-grater, but for most stuff I need, I can now find it right here on Roatan. No wait a minute… I didn’t say that right…

Now that I live on Roatan, I’ve come to learn and greatly appreciate… I don’t NEED the vast majority of what I left behind… besides, most of what I did bring has either gone mouldy or rusted away to nothing!

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly Retitled The Tropical Cure for Hoarding

For the list of what I brought to Roatan, what I continue to bring to Roatan, and those things you are better to leave behind—listen in to the Roatan Vortex Radio Show (tomorrow) Saturday, April 30, starting at 10 AM Roatan Time. Kind of short notice, sorry about that, you’ll also be able to find the list on the Roatan Vortex Forum, and on the Insider’s Guide for Moving to Roatan page, after the radio show. I taped copy of the show will also be posted on the Roatan Vortex Radio Show page.

 
icon for podpress  The Cure for Hoarding--Move to Roatan: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Smiling on Roatan

3 Apr

Some things that make me SMILE!!! What makes you smile? Let me know, and I’ll share on the next Roatan Vortex Radio Show, Saturday, April 9!

Friendship Ball from my friend Ruth

Dog on Roof

Leg Lamp Night light

Bee in the Cashew Tree Blossoms

The Upcoming Hockey Tournament

Mangoes Ripening on the Tree

Sun-boy Dancing in the Tiki Torch at Infinity Bay See him?

Grape Jam & Jelly Selection at Grocery store

Note I Received at Roatan Vortex Contact Me
“We decided to go with the Mayan Princess and it surpassed my expectations. We were married in January, 2011. We loved Roatan so much we are headed back in March, for a one week honeymoon. I can understand why you moved there, its a little piece of heaven – JoeAnn”

Hibiscus Flower Blooming on Front Porch

Painting by my daughter Rosie. Happy Birthday Rosie!

… and one more! This funny video shot by Glen Osmond when he and his wife Mandy were visiting Roatan!

Viewing Roatan through Rose Coloured Glasses

23 Mar

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

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

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

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

The study went on to say;

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly

Only on Roatan

25 Feb

The things I share about Roatan, some, might say, “Oh you can find that on ANY Caribbean Island!” I dedicate this posting to you, because what I have to share today… can ONLY be found on Roatan!

I had the great pleasure of being invited to spend a day at Gumbalimba Park shooting pictures and taking notes (I felt like a National Geographic’s Field Reporter) accompanying Stesha A Pasachnik from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, while she conducted her research on the Ctenosaura Oedirhina.

Okay, that’s it for big words from me… I spent the day hanging out with Stesha (who is a super-duper expert,) taking pictures and asking questions about what the heck she was doing to those… Black “Spiny Tailed” Iguanas!

I’ve seen the Black Iguanas around Roatan, but certainly not as many as the green ones, apparently Black Iguana females lay up to 18 eggs at a time, while Green Iguanas lay up to 60 eggs at a time. I never gave the Iguanas much thought, Iguanas were like squirrels back in Ontario—wild critters that hung out in trees, doing their thing, but Iguanas don’t raid my birdfeeders like the squirrels always did.

Turns out I had a lot to learn! These Black Iguanas can ONLY be found on Roatan. That’s right, unlike the Green Iguana which has a territory stretching into North, Central, and South America, the Black Iguana has only one place it can be found and that is right here on the Island of Roatan! How cool is that!

But alas, they are in trouble, and on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classified as ENDANGERED due to hunting and loss of habitat. Stesha tried to describe to me how a classification is determined, honestly, I didn’t quite grasp the information, but suffice to say there is less of them than there needs to be to keep the Black Iguanas going on Roatan. At the rate they are declining, the day will soon come when we on Roatan will have to tell visitors that there USED to be Black Iguanas (that were unique to Roatan)… but are now extinct!

It is not uncommon to see adults and children at the side of the road, looking up into the trees hoping to bag an Iguana that may be resting there. Iguanas (in general) are a food source here. I want to stress that Stesha’s intent is not to try to enforce a “no catch Black Iguanas” rule, she is on Roatan to track and record information about the Black Iguanas, and to educate us on their value as a unique to Roatan Treasure!

An interesting note on the Black Iguanas loss of habitat impacting their numbers is that Stesha is having more success finding them in developed areas where they are more protected from winding up in a stew pot, than in undeveloped areas where they are easy prey. Gumbalimba Park, Paya Bay Resort, Cocoview Resort, Mahogany Bay, and the village of Punta Gorda, all allow Stesha access to their properties to conduct her research and are becoming active partners in promoting eco educational programs for their visitors.

Meet #186
Upon arrival at Gumbalimba Park we were escorted via golf cart (also, my idea of something pretty cool) to a choice area for finding Black Iguanas hanging around in the grass and trees. Within minutes Stesha’s assistant, Mikel Belcires, caught one! Stesha was in place to bag the creature and immediately got busy preparing a syringe to take a blood sample. She had to work quickly to draw the blood before the stress of being captured effected the test results. #186 definitely wasn’t impressed and spent the whole time biting down on the sack he had been removed from. Blood tests complete, he was returned to the bag while she prepared the “pit tag” for insertion under his skin (this tag is similar to the ones inserted by vets to ID pet dogs and cats.) While the Black Iguana was still in the bag, Stesha weighed him, she removed him again and measured him, (the tail was measured separately due to the Black Iguana’s ability to loss and grow a new tail.) Inserted the “pit tag”, and then determined whether it was a male or female. Interesting tool to test that one… I won’t go into details.

Next up… body piercing and painting! #186 was assigned a unique combination of beads that made for a quite attractive piece of jewellery on the back of his neck, and “white-out” was applied for easiest identification at a later date. A few pictures were taken and #186 was free to go! The entire process took no more than 7 minutes, including Stesha recording all pertinent information as she worked.

I watched and took photos of a second Black Iguana being caught and data was also recorded for this one. The only difference was that #187 was much smaller and younger so some tests were not possible. Photos of the entire day’s activities can be seen here: The Black “spiny Tailed” Iguana Project

At noon it was time for us to part company and I headed for my vehicle parked in the lot at the entrance to Gumbalimba, I was pleased to see many Black Iguanas hanging around the area, sunning themselves on the rocks outlining the lot. I’ve got a whole new appreciation for the Black Iguana now!

A group of visitors were walking by as got in my car, and I heard one of them comment to his friends, “Hey look, an Iguana!” The rest of the group didn’t seem overly impressed. Then I leaned out the window and said, “These Black Iguanas can ONLY be found on the Island of Roatan.”

… The entire group returned, and started taking pictures of it, in awe of witnessing—Roatan’s Unique Treasure—the Black “Spiny Tailed” Iguana!

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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

Bugs in my Pasta

12 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just CLICK here: Roatan Vortex | Create Your Badge

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

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

Just Call Me Gennyca

20 Oct

When my journey to Central America began, I had absolutely no idea what I was in-store for, I just knew it was time for me to go.

Saying, “goodbye for now,” to family and friends wasn’t easy. But through the wonders of internet I was able to keep my promise to stay in-touch, and update them regularly through stories and photos.

I started my first travel blog more than 3 years ago now, and, oh the stories I shared. I have since graduated to creating and posting tales of day-to-day life on Roatan at this website, and I’ll never run out of material.

But, I often reflect back to where it started, and the journey so far. I’ve had brief encounters with amazing people, saw firsthand, sights that I was in awe of, and experienced things that were unlike anything I could have imagined.

And now an opportunity to share that journey with you has presented itself through, Gypsy Girl’s Guide–wanderlust, inspirations and musings. “Gypsy Girl’s…is a resource and daily dose of worldly inspiration for women with a passion for travel and a bohemian lifestyle.”

My first, in a series of stories, was posted today! Thanks for asking me to “join the tribe” Alessandra!

Here’s where it began. Just call me Gennyca

Bees, Blocks, and Baby

16 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blocks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish I could get a picture of this!

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

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

Coffee and Croissants

6 Oct

I met a new friend last week, her name is Bobbi French. We have so much in common it gives me chills–which is no easy feat on Roatan. Bobbi sold everything, quite her job, and left the familiarity of Newfoundland, Canada to follow her heart’s lead.

As she so eloquently said, “To hell with ordinary, convention, fear of disappointing others and seeking approval. I shall follow in the footsteps of the great George Costanza and live in the ‘opposite’. I will be brave, I will do things I have only dreamed of doing. I will turn my life upside down, shake well and see what comes out.”

While enjoying a coffee and croissant she graciously agreed to answer some questions I posed, and here is what she had to say. Oh, one more thing I haven’t mentioned yet–Bobbi followed her heart to France!

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1. With all the places in the world to choose from, once you decided to take the plunge, why did France win your heart?

Our initial plan was actually to live in Italy. This was always a ‘someday we’ll go for a year’ idea. After vacations we would dream about living in Europe, we both loved the culture, food, wine, and the lifestyle. But France came about for more practical reasons than romantic ones.

Neil already spoke French (and Spanish) and had actually lived in France many years ago. Our most recent vacation had been in France and it was then we met a woman who presented a job opportunity for me. Add in a good health care system and this seemed like a good place to start. Instead of running away for a year to Italy, France seemed like a place where we could actually live and work for an indefinite period. For me the work piece was crucial. After 3 years of looking for a way out of medicine this was the only lead I’d ever had! This was not about retiring, I’m broke as a joke after paying for all my years in medical school. This was about creating a new life.

2. I noticed that in the comments section of your blog, quite often people refer to you as being courageous. Do you feel you are courageous for doing what you are doing?

Hmmm. Everyone always says this and I never know quite what to say back. Courageous is how I would describe kids and their families coping with and surviving mental illness. Every day I witnessed amazing acts of strength that I know I could never have achieved.

As for me, the whole thing has been quite surreal. I somehow turned off my head and turned on my heart, stopped over thinking everything for once and suddenly the plan had a life of its own. Of course it’s scary to uproot yourself and leave everything you know, the safety of secure income and all that. But I can tell you this: moving to France was a hell of lot less scary than staying in a life that seemed all wrong for me. My life was so serious and didn’t fit me anymore. I was scared of being at the end of my life full of regret.

I’m a bit scared every day here but I figure all I have to lose is money and things and some pride as I butcher the language! Not a bad deal from where I sit. If it turns out badly, I’ll just start over.

3. Before you left the Great White North, I’m sure you envisioned how it would go. Is it coming together the way you thought? Or no? And are you okay with that?

The key for me was to let go of any expectations for this journey. This was an active process because it’s soooo easy to romanticize and fantasize about a place that you’ve only visited for vacation. I did a lot of reading and connecting with others who have moved here so that I could get a sense of the good, the bad and the downright ugly bits. So far, so good.

The locals have been far more welcoming than I ever dreamed possible and the paper work, while daunting, is not so bad. Of course having a person fluent in the language really helps! It’s quite a challenge to get used to the pace of things here, everything closes from 12-2 pm and for the whole day on Mondays. Things don’t happen in an instant like they do in North America. And the language, let’s just say it’s an uphill battle. But that’s the whole point, to fully experience another culture. The food and wine make up for it. I’m taking it one day at a time, a new strategy for me a recovering compulsive planner!

4. What is a typical day now, compared to when you lived in Newfoundland, Canada?

My days couldn’t be more different!! Because I haven’t started my new work yet I’m still in la-la land. I have no set schedule and I spend a lot of my time eating, blogging and trying to find an automatic car! I try to learn a little French everyday, then eat some more. I have been riding my new bike, observing cows and chickens, quite a dramatic shift.

The biggest difference in my day is the lack of frenetic pace. I have control of what I do each day. In Canada I was a very busy doctor at a major academic hospital often working until 10 at night. I have finally come down from that stress but only just and even after 3 short months I know that I can never return to that life. Never again will I carry a pager or have to make life and death decisions every day and that brings me great peace. The other big change is having no income. It’s fine, I just don’t spend money, there’s no mall to go to. I’ve stopped shopping online although I long to have a wine budget. I’ve discovered that I don’t need very much and it’s quite a liberating experience.

Nowadays, life is slow, lots of reading and relaxing. That will change when I start work but for now I am LOVING it.

Bobbi's Blog Central'

5. You now call yourself a “Blogaholic” do you find it is the best way to stay connected with family & friends back in Canada? Does having that line of communication make it a little easier to be so far apart?

Oh my, the Blog!! What started as a convenient way to keep in touch has turned into a monster. It’s the new love of my life. I don’t know how it got to be such an obsession, I never could do anything by halves! It’s a great way to stay in touch with loved ones and friends but it’s also an amazing way to connect with people all over the world who are doing the same type of thing or dreaming of doing it. It creates a real sense of community and support. It’s also a great way to get practical advice about moving to a foreign land. I know that when times get tough, and they will, the blog will be the glue that keeps me together. It’s a great way to laugh at yourself and for others to laugh along with you.

6. Your tag-line is “A Psychiatrist’s Pilgrimage to Joy.” Is that what you are finding?

I have been blessed so many times in my life so joy is no stranger to me. But I am seeking an inner peace, a joy of spirit if you will and so far I’m right on the money. I have never been happier than I am right now. I know that, in this moment, I am where I need to be, doing what I need to do. While I am grateful for the privilege of my life as a doctor, I needed this change and I am embracing it fully. I am actually quite proud of myself. Although I am sure that yet another hilarious and humiliating scenario is right around the corner. The main thing is that my life is no longer so serious and that feels like joy to me.

7. You mention your understanding, loving, strong, and accepting husband in pretty much every post. If he announced he wanted the two of you to leave France and move to the most remote jungle, where you would have to live in a straw hut suspended on bamboo poles, and scrounge under fallen tree stumps to find grubs for your dinner—What would you say?

I LOVE this question and it’s a tough one. My first reaction is “write often my love” but because there is no true joy without Neil, because he is the real deal and because I made him a promise, I’d have to say “as long as you’re cooking the grubs, I’m in!”

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Question or comment for Bobbi? Post it here…her new job hasn’t started yet…she has time to answer. Oh, and Bobbi, I grabbed some pictures and quotes from your site. Hope you don’t mind!

Through the wonders of the internet and world wide blogging, I had the good fortune to find Bobbi French when I read a guest post she did for Tiny Buddha Coulda Woulda Shoulda. You too can follow Bobbi’s ‘Pilgrimage to Joy’ at her blog Finding Me in France and on Twitter at @BobbiinFrance

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