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What I’ve learned on Roatan

11 Mar

I learned a bunch of stuff this week, and want to share! Some of it directly relates to first time visitors to Roatan, some came from friends on the Island that I’ve known for a long time. There is a tidbit or two from new friends who have contacted me here. And then there is the profound insight I got from watching a classic movie the other night (that I haven’t seen in many years) called, The Stepford Wives.

First Time Visitors
More specifically—first time Canadian visitors. Every Monday until mid May, the Sunwing charter out of Toronto arrives (Montreal just finished for this season); I hang out at the airport, not because I have a job with Sunwing or anything like that, but just because I love meeting new arrivals to Roatan, especially my fellow Canadians! Now before you starting fearing being accosted by the crazy lady, smiling at you as you come through the (one and only) arrival gate at the Roatan Airport, don’t worry… just think of me as your Walmart Greeter on Roatan!

On occasion I’m meeting people I know. Most recently it was a family member and friend, who were staying at my place for a week. Prior to the visit they were hesitant to travel to Roatan. After all, it must be dangerous to go to Honduras! I’m happy to report that they found out that not only are they as safe here, they also discovered that Roatan is a pretty cool place to hang out!

Thanks to their keen observations, I have to up-date 10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist. #11 Don’t wear sunglasses! I know, I never noticed this before, but the vast majority of people wearing sunglasses on Roatan are tourists.

I also learned something about the Sunwing charter. This weekend Daylight Savings starts. We don’t do Daylight Savings on Roatan, there will be no moving our clocks ahead one hour, but Toronto does! That means everyone who is leaving this Monday (March 14) has to be at the Roatan Airport one hour earlier than they originally thought!… I’ll give you a few seconds to figure that one out… Still unsure what I’m talking about? Try this… when you arrived this past Monday (March 7) there was a one hour time difference between Roatan and Toronto, but when you leave Monday, March 14, there will be a two hour time difference.

Should keep that info handy for the cruiseship schedules too! Ship time is not Roatan time!

Island Friends
I recently started Roatan Vortex on Facebook. I share lots of pictures of day to day life on Roatan, articles about Roatan that I find around the web Hecktic Travel, and updates of the Roatan Vortex show on Roatan Radio.


I was at Infinity Bay, West Bay Beach on Sunday, and met up with a friend who I had requested to be a Roatan Vortex friend on Facebook. I asked why he hadn’t accepted me as a friend.

What I learned? He didn’t realize it was me! Here is a list of my aliases to help out: Roatan Vortex, DJ Genevieve, Genevieve Ross, (formerly) Genny Ross-Barons and Gennyca.


New Friends
Some I have met through Trip Advisor, Frommer, Fodor, Lonely Planet, and more often than not through Roatan Vortex. Got a question about visiting Roatan? I’ll do my best to answer… or make a suggestion of where you can find out what you want to know. One of the questions I was recently asked requested I give some inside info by comparing two Roatan resorts. It was suggested however, that since I “did business” with both resorts—it was okay if I preferred to not reply.

What I learned? I need to let you all know that I am not affiliated with any businesses on Roatan (or anywhere else for that matter.) Any and all inside information I share is based solely on my personal experience and/or knowledge of the location or service. I just love to share Roatan from an inside point of view—ain’t nobody paying me to do this!

Profound Insight
I watched The Stepford Wives, the 1975 movie on TV the other night, adapted from the novel by Ira Levine (not to be confused with the 1994 remake with the same name—that one was just plain dumb.) I hadn’t seen the movie in quite a few years, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. The suspense, the drama… would Joanna escape before it was too late!?

In the manner I’ve become accustom to since moving to Roatan I couldn’t help but glean out the veiled message, the profound insight, the truisms about life on Roatan… oh-oh… I’ve surpassed the word count I like to stay within for the stories I post here on Roatan Vortex! I think I’ll save this one for the next one I write…

To ensure you don’t miss out!

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When a new story is posted at Roatan Vortex, you’ll be one of the first to know about it. Don’t worry I won’t pass your email address on to anyone, I just love to share Roatan… and I’d hate for you to miss out!

Just one more thing I want to share today! The Roatan Daycare Center website now includes a BLOG! That’s right we be blogging! The first story is now posted, be sure to check back often for more!

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!

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!


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!

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!

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!

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!

Making new friends is a way of life on Roatan

6 Feb

It’s that time of year when the snow is piling high on sidewalks and roadways, drivers are playing bumper cars as they skid on the ice while commuting to work, it takes longer to get the kids ready to walk to school (piling on the layers to protect against the bitter cold) than it takes them to walk there. That time of year when the next noteworthy time off is not until Easter week, when the crocuses are pushing through the remaining crusts of snow—that is determined to keep the ground asleep until the sun’s rays are warm enough to get things growing. The lack of a good dose of natural Vitamin D, has people getting a little testy with each other, and in some cases can be downright debilitating. So what is a person to do?

Come on down to Roatan!

Snow? Ice? Cold? No, no, and no!

White sand beaches? Yes! Ice? Only in a tall frosty drink! And as for cold? Does a low of 24C (75F) count?

Now, this is pretty much Roatan all year round, but, at this time of year more than any other, visitors flock to this little Island gem, grateful to make their escape from dull grey skies, and a dormant landscape. I have the great pleasure of connecting with many of them as they plan their trip to Roatan. Some, I have been in contact with for more than ½ a year. I meet them through Roatan Vortex Click here to Contact Me! or through sites like Trip Advisor, or other blog sites that I write for, and occasionally they are friends of friends back in Canada, looking for a little inside info… always love to share!

Through the modern technology version of “pen pals” I have made many new friends that I quite often have the pleasure of meeting when they come to Roatan.

Most recently it was Norm and Carol Udeschini, and their entourage of family and friends: Owen & Louise, Tony & Ange, Denis & Denis, Ron & Mona, from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. We chatted back and forth for months, and when the week came that they would be here, we arranged to meet at Henry Morgan on West Bay Beach. I watched their expressions when they got their first glimpse of West Bay Beach, that Lonely Planet rates as one of the top 10 beaches in Central America. I marvelled at their looks of awe, and amazement, taking in the glories of the Caribbean Sea gently lapping at the sugar soft sand beach.

In our correspondence during the previous months, it was agreed that on one of the days of their vacation, I would arrange and accompany them on a tour of the east end of the Island. Made sense, they were quite content to hang out on the west end for most of the week, but, throwing in a day exploring the east end was of interest too. Since there were ten of them, I arranged for Juan Carlos of Islander Tours to provide the transportation and to be their guide. I went along to hang out with my new friends, and to beguile them with my stories of Roatan… from a fellow Canadian’s point of view, of course.

What is that saying about, “the best laid plans?” While the weather was picture postcard perfect 6 of the 7 days they were here. The one and only day it POURED RAIN all day, not stopping even for a moment, was the day of the east end tour! What troopers they all were! We made it all the way to Camp Bay, but, not being able to find a dry place to stop for lunch, we had planned on brunch at Hole in the Wall, I did what every good friend (and tour guide) does, I called my friend Kent at Blue Bahia in Sandy Bay. By the time we arrived—a soggy bunch, he had everything ready to ensure my Ontario friends had a great meal, on the covered deck, with a great view of a churning sea, not quite as pleasant as it usually is, but still beautiful to be near.

A slide show of their week on Roatan can be seen Here

I want to also thank Norm & Carol and the Cotton Candy Daycare Center in Sudbury for the generous donations they brought for the Roatan Daycare Center.

Everything was graciously received, and will all be put to good use… thank you!

There are many more queuing up to make their journey to Roatan: my “kindred spirit” friend and his young daughter, from Texas—we chat on-line frequently about education options and volunteer opportunities. The couple from North Carolina, who visited Roatan on a cruise ship and are now making plans to come hang out on Roatan for an extended stay—we chat about ocean view vs beach access, and I’ve assured them that (most of the time) cream cheese is available to purchase at the grocery store—Can’t wait until they get here, so we can chat in person, sitting on the deck, eating homemade cheese cake and sipping wine! There is my good friend from South Africa and his lovely young daughter, who will be returning soon—we met for the first time (virtually, not literally) when I was on-air for the Roatan Vortex Show at 101.1FM Roatan Radio sharing the exciting news that “Nutella” was now available on Roatan!

There’s one more encounter that I want to share; met a group of cruisers, one afternoon when I was hanging out at “Tita’s Pink Seahorse” (next to Sueno Del Mar) with a few of my expat Island friends. We started chatting, and were thrilled to discover—most of us were from Canada! As the conversation carried on about the wonders of Roatan, another round of exotic cocktails were set in front of them. When one of the Canadian cruisers went to take a sip of his—the tall frosty glass base stayed behind on the bar—sending the contents gushing through the now gaping hole! Glad I had my IPhone handy to capture the moment!

Welcome to Roatan my new friends—I’m looking forward to meeting you all! Gotta run now, it’s time to go meet my new friends from Saskatchewan, who arrived yesterday!


This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly retitled, ” White Beaches, No Snow on Roatan”

And until we can meet in person (if you haven’t already) click here to become friends on Facebook!Roatan Vortex | Create Your Badge

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.


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

Just CLICK here: Roatan Vortex | Create Your Badge


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

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

I’m Baaaaack!

18 Jan

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

Home Sweet Home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s been a while, but I’m baaaaack!


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

10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist

29 Nov

10 Tips to Not Get Treated Like a Tourist

West Bay Beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Social Network

23 Nov

Sharing stories about Roatan is what it is all about for me. I coined “Roatan Vortex” to describe my personal experience with what drew me to Roatan. It has since morphed into a phrase used by many to express the way they feel about Roatan.

Before I launched the Roatan Vortex website less than one year ago, I did a Google search to see if anyone before me had combined Roatan and Vortex. At that time—one result came up referencing a sailing log from 2002, about reaching Jonesville Bight and Hole in the Wall.

Today I did a Google search for Roatan Vortex (roatanvortex) and more than 3000 results were displayed—Holy Crap!

Now, I haven’t written that many stories yet, mind you the visit counter on the Roatan Vortex website does read more than 53,400 visits and still counting—thank you all for stopping by!

Of the more than 3000 Google search results I found, even the article for USAToday by Laura Bly (that I did a phone interview with), that article has been shared extensively by other news agencies), and many others are popping up referencing contributions the Roatan Vortex has made to the world wide web.

Most recently:

The Roatan Global Village

* A Guest Post for Expat Focus Blog A classic Roatan Vortex story.

*****View and/or Download Here***** The release of an E-Book Celebrating Latin America at Ground Level. Very excited to have been asked to contribute to this one!

Coming Dec 1, my first story for Pocket Cultures will be posted. I’m looking forward to sharing more details about this one with you! Insight to the Cultural Diversity–from a Canadian’s point-of-view.


Not to be forgotten about here is a few more that have contributed to the Roatan Vortex becoming a well known phrase.

***Interview at Be More With Less***

***Guest Post at Tiny Buddha***

***Guest Post at Unpaved South America***

And last (but not least) here are a few other websites that the Roatan Vortex appears on:

Honduras Blogs An excellent site brought together by LaGringa A well respected blogger in Honduras.

***We Blog the World*** A great site to visit with the emphasis on “bridging travel, culture and ideas.”

***TripAtlas *** Another great source of information on travelling the world. This one pays its contributors a little bit too when anyone clicks on and reads my stories posted there! Nod, nod, wink, wink.

And to think they all got rolling because I wanted to share with family and friends (old and new) where the heck Roatan is and to help you out when the Roatan Vortex pulls you in!

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