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Roatan Vortex State of Mind

1 Feb

Okay, so I had said my previous story here at RoatanVortex.com was going to be my last posting, but what can I say… a wave of homesickness washed over me the other day.

It had nothing to do with the fact that the temperature read as a negative number or hearing the sound of tires spinning, outside my home, on the snow, compressed to a layer of hard packed ice on the roadways.

It had nothing to do with getting ready to go out for a while and having to pull on a bulky jacket, scarf, gloves, a toque to swaddle my head, or sitting on the bottom step in the front hall tugging boots over thick socks entombing my protesting toes.

It had nothing to do with moving the portable humidifier from room to room trying to maintain at least a hint of moisture in the air, or the stockpile of lotions and creams stacked on the bathroom counter that I need to slather on dry and chapped skin—in spite of the claims made by the manufactures that if I use their product my skin will never go flaky.

And it had nothing to do with noticing the weak sunlight emitting from the hazy orange ball suspended in the frosty afternoon sky and wondering—what’s that? Or realizing that I am gazing longingly at the potted herb plants on the kitchen counter not because I’m trying to decide what will go best in an omelette but solely because they’re green and alive and… plants.

I was homesick for my Island family and friends!

Since moving back to my hometown in Canada, I’m learning to cope with the conditions that I have no control over; weather, sleeping vegetation and minimal sunlight. And I’m appreciating advantages I haven’t experienced for a few years. I haven’t had to wipe mould off of anything, there is nary a hint of rust on the fridge needing to be hidden with a fresh coat of primer and none of the door knobs have fallen off because the lockset has crumbled away. There is no need to check under my pillow for scorpions, flick gecko poop off the freshly made bed or swat at the sand-flies nibbling on my ankles.

I’ve had the greatest pleasure of my son and grandkids stopping by and together we watch ‘Planet of the Apes’ on Netflix, getting together with my mom to work side by side on the book we are co-authoring, and spending an afternoon with my daughter when she drives down from Hanover and we go for lunch and shopping at the most exclusive boutique—Value Village! And most evening after a delicious home cooked meal, courtesy of my Steven, we snuggle on the sofa (yup, a real one) to watch a few episodes of our favourite HBO series, ‘Mad Men’.

Regardless of all that, I settled into my feeling homesick and longing for Roatan, wrapping it around me like a much needed fleece blanket to ward off the cold, at the same time the Roatan Vortex began pulling at me; warming me from the very core of my being. Now before you get any ideas, no, I’m not moving back to Roatan, but rather, re-embracing what I thought I had to give up. When I made the decision to move back to Canada there were many reasons (and there still are) but I thought I had to completely say goodbye to the Roatan Vortex; it had consumed an extraneous amount of my time when I lived on the Island and became a chore, a job, a, I thought I had to turn it into a business thing.

But, the thing is–the Roatan Vortex was never intended or destined to be any of those things—the Roatan Vortex is a state of mind!

A bunch of years ago I coined a phrase, “the Roatan Vortex—it pulls you in and you’ll never want to leave!” and I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to physically be on the Island to feel and share the positive effects—to stay connected with my Roatan family and friends. Although I won’t be posting stories nearly as often as I used to I still will be occasionally stopping by to say hi and satisfy my craving to blog. Time permitting I will also be re-launching the Roatan Vortex Book with a new look but exactly same content as I originally wrote it, plus additional bonus features! The RV Book will be available at my new website CastleMuse as a FREE downloadable ebook format and the book (paperback) edition will be available on-line to purchase at cost plus (of course) shipping. I also will bring books to the Island and donate them as prizes for various fundraisers—Clinica Esperanza Sundae by the Sea, Familias Saludables Sundays at Bananarama and others.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
If you’re in no hurry and can wait for my re-release of the Roatan Vortex Book… please do. I’ll announce it here at Roatan Vortex.com You may find (what appears to be) the book in its original state available for sale on the Island and floating around cyber-space. Thing is, even though it’s all my content and my name is on it—it’s not the real deal!

Now I’m not asking you to take sides or anything, heck, I’ve got a couple of ‘knock-off’ outfits in my closet, have watched a few illegally copied DVD’s and the sunglasses I bought on the beach may have the ‘Gucci’ logo embossed on the rim… but they sure aren’t ‘Gucci’.

On page 265 of the Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions—by Lori Deschene, she asked: “What can we control in life?”

My answer: “The absolute only thing we can control in life is how we respond to everything we have no control of.”—@roatanvortex

I’ve got a lot of great things going on in my life that require my full attention right now, and other than the couple of weeks I’m going to spend (with Steven) enjoying the glorious warmth and sunshine on Roatan this month, I plan on taking full advantage of the cold dreary weather to keep me focused on writing content and recording audio books for my new website CastleMuse; that’s where I’m building the foundation for my ‘castle in the air’ while maintaining a Roatan Vortex state of mind.

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.

icon for podpress  Vladislav: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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

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!

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!


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!”


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

The Roatan Road

19 Sep

The Roatan Road

Question #3 for the Tiny Buddha Book of Wisdom asks, Why is there suffering in the world? My answer, (in 140 characters or less), Suffering is one of life’s lessons for the person experiencing it and for the person who can help ease it.

While it is an enjoyable challenge to impart my thoughts on all ten questions being asked by Tiny Buddha (for possible inclusion in a book being released next year.) I also see it as an opportunity to expand on my answers from a Roatan Vortex point-of-view.

Recently I watched the movie The Road—adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Cormac McCarthy. I had read the book on one of my return flights (after visiting family and friends) from Ontario, Canada to my home on the Caribbean Island of Roatan, Honduras.
I was intrigued when I read the book, even though, at times I struggled to follow Mr. McCarthy’s writing style. But, I remained detached from the situations father and son found themselves enduring in this tale of a post-apocalyptic world—it was too far removed from anything I could comprehend as plausible.

Then I watched the movie…

It is the story of a father and son in search of the basic necessities to sustain life; food, water, and shelter. There is no electricity, no resources for clothing, shoes, or transportation. What time it is, the day of the week, or even the month of the year doesn’t matter.

The relevance to Roatan?

There is certainly none in the scenery. Father and son wander through a bitter cold world of solid grey skies that the sun is unable to penetrate, a bleak landscape of dying and dead foliage, vehicles abandoned on over-passes, and burnt out skyscrapers. When they reach the shoreline they encounter a body of water reflecting the steel grey sky.

Roatan on the other hand offers a world of endless sunshine and warmth, with lush tropical foliage from the shore to the highest ridge. There are no over-passes or skyscrapers. And the Caribbean Sea surrounding this tropical paradise reflects every shade of blue imaginable. Something I had previously thought only possible in re-touched photos.

But yet for a father and son who live on Roatan, I can simply copy and paste this (previous) paragraph to describe their lives.

It is the story of a father and son in search of the basic necessities to sustain life; food, water, and shelter. There is no electricity, no resources for clothing, shoes, or transportation. What time it is, the day of the week, or even the month of the year doesn’t matter.

I met this father and his son last week at the library in French Harbour. It was a time of day when the library normally would have been closed, but I was there painting. The father knocked on the door, and asked if he and his son could come in. I explained that the library wasn’t officially open, but they were welcome. While I continued to paint, the man picked out some picture books for his son to look at—the father couldn’t read and the son was only 2 years old.

The father then shared their story with me.

He was looking for work and was open to doing anything, for any wage offered, so he could take care of his son. The son was well behaved while the father searched for a job, but needed some relief from the heat and tedium of following his father around. The air conditioned library with colourful children’s books lining a few shelves was the father’s treat to his son.

When they left the library, the father smiled and his son waved goodbye. I watched them walking away, hand-in-hand, and I wondered where would they go next? Has the father found a job? Do they have access to the necessities of life?

What I offered the father and son was minuscule. What they offered me was a huge reminder that suffering comes in many forms and magnitudes and by being aware of it—I can help ease it.


On the side bar section of this page, scroll down and you will find YOU CAN HELP with links to organizations on Roatan doing what they can to help ease suffering.

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?

When Your World Gets All Shook Up

30 May

When Your World Gets All Shook Up

May 28, 2009, at 2:30 AM, I was jarred awake by the roar of (what sounded to me like) a freight train careening through the loft bedroom. But there wasn’t just the sound of a train; there was also the violent shaking.

The wooden cabana accepted the assault, bending to the force, as a blade of grass will bend to the wind, and I was as helpless as an ant, trying to hold on. But for the 45-60 seconds that my home was resigned to the attack, it was impossible to maintain my footing.

With every step I took, the loft would shift position, tossing me side to side, while the train continued to roar. I still didn’t understand what was happening, and as I tried to make my way to the stairs, I watched with surreal fascination as my easel-back, stand-up mirror shuffled across the room like a penguin or Charlie Chaplin would.

I finally made it to the stairs, and clung to the railing with both hands while descending. Although I now appreciated the need to get out of the cabana, the sound of glass smashing when it hit the floor, and larger items falling over with a thud coming from below, was so terrifying that I hesitated, actually froze when I was only part way down the stairs.

I sidestepped around the shards of glass and made my way out of the cabana. The moment I was outside—the shaking stopped as suddenly as it had started.

We had just been hit by a 7.3 Earthquake on the Island of Roatan, Honduras!

Now, there are some who say it was 7.1 and the duration was anywhere from 30-60 seconds (depending on who you ask.) There are others who have insisted that I am wrong to say Roatan got hit by an earthquake.

Regardless of how powerful it was (according to the Richter scale) or how long it lasted, or even, what is appropriate to call it—I first-hand experienced an earthquake.

In the grand scheme of things—I can say I was lucky!

On Roatan the threat of a tsunami never materialized, there was no loss of life, and for the most part damage was minimal. Compared to other countries in recent and past history that not only endured the terrifying experience of an earthquake but also watched in horror as loved ones were lost and their homes collapsed—my sincerest sympathy and condolences to all of them!

If you were not on Roatan on that fateful day, May 28, 2009, you may be asking yourself, “What earthquake? I didn’t hear about an earthquake on Roatan.”

That’s because within minutes of it happening, news agencies around the world CNN, BBC (to name two) posted a news-alert, but then dropped it when they called people on the Island and found out that there wasn’t enough death and destruction to deem it newsworthy. But, it was newsworthy to those of us who experienced it—which hopefully will not repeat in our life-time.

Should we leave Roatan, just in case? Should you avoid coming here?

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes (name a natural disaster) happen all around the world every day. Do people abandon their homes out of fear of what might happen? Of course not!

Roatan is my home, I sure as heck didn’t like what happened, but…Roatan is where I want to be. Besides, I’ve heard that since the earthquake last year, the odds are in our favour that another of that magnitude won’t happen again for a hundred years.

Monday, May 31, 2010 The Roatan Vortex Show on Roatan Radio the theme will be When Your World Gets All Shook Up.

For those of us on Roatan, a year ago, it was an earthquake. But earthquakes aren’t the only thing that shake up your world–what’s shaken yours?

This story was also expanded for a guest posting at Tiny Buddha

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