Posts Tagged ‘Roatan’

When the Power Goes Out at the Power Company

March 8, 2010

Before I get to “When the Power Goes Out at the Power Company,” I want to tell you about my first broadcast of the Roatan Vortex show, on www.roatanradio.com I had a blast trying out my hand at being a DJ (Genevieve) on a live, call-in, talk radio program. Check my previous posting, “The Roatan Vortex Show” for details on how and when to tune-in to the next show.

Now…When the Power Goes Out at the Power Company.

It is never my intention to use this blog to complain about services on Roatan. Living on a tropical island, in a third world country, has its own quirks and issues. I quickly learned, accept it for what it is and find ways to live with it…or move on. Power-outs are part of the way of life on Roatan. When we first moved here, it was not uncommon for the power to fizzle out, three days a week, for a couple of hours at a time, sometimes for the whole day or night.

Since the power company, RECO was sold to an American Company it has gotten much better. We can go a week or two without power-outs, and they are working to improve it even more. But the power did go out a couple of  Wednesdays ago. Most businesses, resorts and some private homes have back-up gas generators they fire up—we don’t. I’ve got the drill down-pat; unplug anything that isn’t on a surge protector (when the power comes back on the surges can fry the appliance), fill a bucket with water before the pipes drain (our well is on an electric pump), take my laptop (that has enough battery life, and go write on the porch (fans stop, it can be pretty warm in the house), accept that any blogging, emailing or skype calls will have to wait (need to get a 3G Tigo stick). But of course if my laptop battery is down, it won’t matter what gadgets I have. Dinner will be cooked on the barbeque (grill, for my American friends). I made a mean spaghetti—it can be done.

When the electricity stopped flowing on Wednesday, Dave had left to go to RECO, (to pay the electric bill) in French Harbour. What should have taken an hour at best took him more than three. When he returned home, I asked him what took so long…it would seem that our power company DOESN’T have a back-up generator, so…their power was out too! The line he had to wait in until the power came back on; snaked out the doors, and across the parking lot. It was the last day of the month to pay the bill…or you would have your electricity shut off!

I think there’s an oxymoron in there somewhere.

Remember the big power-out in North America, six or seven years ago? I lived in Paris, Ontario at the time. We were without power for approximately thirty-two hours. At the time it was devastating, everything came to a screeching halt. Doomsday predictions were made. Heads were going to role. How dare it fail? I remember, that night, sitting out on our front porch; I lit candles that formally had only been decoration, but blew them out, because they were…well, only for decoration. So then the stars and moon were our only light (I had never seen so many). And the silence, the calming, peaceful sound of nothing man-made; whirring, screeching, clicking or grinding. No TV’s blaring, no car engines roaring; nothing but crickets and frogs…I never knew that many lived nearby. Families stayed home—together, there was nowhere else to go, and most people quickly realized they were glad for the opportunity to spend time with their family and friends–without interruption from electricity generated sources.

 Ahhh…maybe it ain’t so bad when the power goes out at the power company.

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I Promised Them Seahorses.

February 26, 2010

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

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

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

High on their list was good snorkelling sites. In particular they wanted to see seahorses. Well, I’m not a snorkeler, but I’ve witness people rave about seeing seahorses below our dock at Sundancer, Sandy Bay. I excitedly invited them to come to our place.

It was a few months later when they arrived to Roatan, and in the meantime I had completely forgot what I had promised. When the van showed up, everyone climbed out, (sunburnt, but content) with looks of anticipation on their faces, and snorkel gear in hand. As we walked to the dock, one of the visitors was adjusting his underwater camera, “can’t wait to take a picture of a seahorse,” he said.

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

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

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

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

 

Thank You, Roatan. You never let me down!

This story can also be found at Honduras Weekly, www.hondurasweekly.com Category, Cultural.

                       

Accepting the Torch (as if we had any choice!)

February 23, 2010

The following is the response from guest blogger, John Morris aka Calico Jack, Roatan Radio. www.roatanradio.com

Our first days on Roatan were hectic to say the least. Though we had visited the island many times, now it was different-we actually lived here! In a few days, we had to first find a car, unpack, find the best grocery stores and last but not least, get to our favorite bar, Sundowners, www.sundownersroatan.com . It was there where despite a few familiar faces we remembered on previous visits, we were faced with a whole new crowd. Being at the end of the summer with rainy season looming, we quickly understood we had found the local hangout. My first goal was to discover the musicians on the island in hopes of finding the opportunity of jamming with the local talent. It was our dear late friend Sean who told me about the Canadian contingency from Ontario, where I was sure to find willing participants such as Dave, Genny’s husband and Ron and Bonnie. Sure enough they arrived together and Barbara and I immediately introduced ourselves. Having lived in “friendly” Florida for ten months with a grand total of four people we called “sort of” friends, we were overwhelmed at the friendliness and willingness to help that was offered to us. By the end of the night we had already been invited to our first pool party at Genny’s and Dave’s (Sundancer, Sandy Bay) three days later. We were overwhelmed in a very good way.

In the next few days, we found a car, if you can call it that, stocked the fridge and Barbara began to panic as we were told that the way this type of party worked was that Dave would BBQ and the rest would bring side dishes. Finally deciding (after talking with her Mom in Italy) on pasta with peppers, the big day of our first party arrived. We had only one thing to do that day and that was to have the cable installed in the morning and then we would be free. We quickly learned a very important rule about living in Roatan. When dealing with the service industry here, such as the cable guy, they never show up when they are supposed to, if at all. When they arrived at 3pm, we were already late. When they finally left (cable still not working) we set out for Sandy Bay. It was already getting dark and we were still not overly comfortable with getting around the island despite the fact there are only about three roads here. This combined with the fact that the headlights of our Kia Sportage were about as powerful two small candles, we must have passed the turnoff five times before finding it!

Yes, Genny, we were very nervous when we arrived but it did not last long. Apologies were quickly told to be forgotten, we relaxed and spent a most memorable night under the stars eating, drinking and chatting, learning about our new island and more importantly our new friends.

Six months later, we had made many more friends but our closest are still the ones we met that night. Thus, when we were passed the salad tongs, we gladly accepted especially since we had no tongs of our own! And now, we are faced with a great responsibility to find the next set of newbies though we understand it may take years. No problem for us, we are not going anywhere.

Passing the Torch

February 22, 2010

This title seems appropriate, considering that Canada is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. On October 30, 2009 the journey of the Olympic torch began. On day 59, December 27, it was carried through my hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It traveled along familiar roads, and past landmarks I could easily recognise. I looked at photos of the participants and felt their pride.

On Roatan there is also a tradition of ‘Passing the Torch’. When someone new has chosen to call Roatan home, every effort is made to welcome them to their new community. No game plan or official rules have been written to facilitate the event. It is just one of those things you know when it is the right time to pass it on.

When Dave and I arrived to Roatan 2-1/2 years ago, numerous people (who we now call family and friends) extended invites to their homes, to attend pot-luck-dinners, parties and events. At the time it was a little overwhelming—so many names to remember, new faces and stories of where they originally came from and how they found their way to Roatan.

A few months back (I won’t even try to remember exactly when—that will be a story of its own) the time came to ‘Pass the Torch’. We were hosting a Barbeque at our home  in Sundancer, Sandy Bay (just because) when we were informed that a new couple had arrived to live on Roatan. Without hesitation I knew they were the ones. After a quick introduction I invited them to the party (gave them directions—that too qualifies as a story of its own) and suggested they bring a side-dish.

They arrived a little late…looking very nervous. I later found out from them, that they couldn’t believe that after such a short period of time without any hesitation they were being accepted as friends of our community. After an evening of socializing by the pool, enjoying good food and company, I announced that the time had come for Dave and me to ‘Pass the Torch’ to Roatan newbie’s, John and Barbara Morris…I handed them the salad tongs.

Very rarely will I specifically name people in my stories (to protect the innocent and all that stuff) but I have included their names with their permission. John and Barbara have quickly assimilated the Roatan way of life. John is a regular contributor to the Bay Island Voice and Barbara does the photography for the articles. They have launched www.roatanradio.com  and diligently work on bringing the best Roatan has to offer to the world.

John has graciously accepted my request to do a guest post in response to this one—enjoy!

John’s post “Accepting the Torch” will be posted tomorrow. In the meantime be sure to check out www.roatanradio.com

What an Orange Really Tastes Like.

February 18, 2010

I’ve always enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables. So weekly, at the grocery store when I lived in Canada, I chose the ones without blemishes or bruises. Heaven forbid anything had a mouldy spot—those items belonged on the day old shelf. Or better yet, throw them away. I’d buy the pre-bagged mini carrots. I’d compare the pineapples. Not sure how to tell if I had picked a good one, I’d spend an extra dollar for one pre-sliced in a plastic container. And I always selected only the orangest of the oranges—perfect colour, perfect dimples, always seedless.

Then I moved to Roatan. I anticipated finding the best of the best (as I knew it). Very quickly I had to change my way of thinking. If I was only willing to select what looked like it could be used for a photo-shoot for Delmonte, I might as well start buying canned peas and fruit-cups.

The carrots here are big and gnarly. The melons have spots, the celery is pretty limp, and the oranges, well…they are down-right ugly. Pale yellowy-grey skin, absolutely no dimples, and nary a sticker confirming they are seedless. I wasn’t even sure they were oranges until I saw a street vender selling them. He had a pile of them stacked high in a cart, and a tool, much like an apple peeler; he used to remove the tough outer layer. I watched people purchase oranges from him for a few Limps (pennies) each.

I bought a couple, took them home, realized I could not peel them; I sliced one open, and flicked out the many seeds. The inside colour wasn’t much better than the outside, but it did seem to be quite juicy. I sliced it again, and prepared a wedge to pop into my mouth. Removal of more seeds, and I gave it a try. The flavour was unlike any orange I had ever tasted before. It was the sweetest, most delectable orange I ever had the pleasure to eat.

THIS is how an orange should taste.

So if ever you come to Roatan, Honduras, try not to turn your nose up at the ugly oranges, give one a try—you will be pleasantly surprised.  The carrots, pineapples and melons are pretty awesome too! And the limp celery—just soak it in some cold water.

This story is also posted at www.hondurasweekly.com News Catagories; Culture.

Don’t Try to Rescue a Portuguese Man-of-War!

February 11, 2010

It’s overcast on Roatan today. A weather system blew in during the night. The sunrise unseen, covered with grey rolling clouds. In the distance, the usual soothing sound of waves encountering the reef—replaced with the roar of them breaking hard. These are the days I love to walk on the beach. It’s too breezy for the sand-flies to grab on and bite my shins. No need for sun-screen or hat—it would blow away anyhow.

Strolling along with Mona (my dog), she chases crabs, and I comb the shoreline for new found treasures. Pieces of coral, shells and sponge, litter the beach, all worthy of being admired. Occasionally I find a starfish or two, too far from the receding tide to return to the sea on their own—I toss them back in the water. Hopeful, I’m helping.

I’ve also learned a lesson on what NOT to try to rescue. During one of my walks, on a day such as this one, I came across a creature I had never encountered before. It was the most unusual thing I had ever seen. A translucent blue…bag, water sloshing inside, with pie-crust crimped edges, and sand encrusted stringy tentacles bunched up underneath.

I nudged it with a stick, and shooed Mona away when she came to take a sniff. I suspected it was some kind of a jelly-fish, but with my limited (zero) knowledge of marine life—I really wasn’t sure. Even if it was something that could sting me, didn’t it deserve to return to the sea? It obviously couldn’t get there on its own.

I tried to pick it up with the stick. This didn’t work. Poor thing just plopped back down on the sand—getting even more coated. The next available rescue tool was my flip-flops. One in each hand, bring them together like salad-tongs, ready to toss a salad, I scooped up the creature and flung the blue glob toward the sea. I stood back and watched as the creature bobbed along. Proud of my accomplishment I whistled for Mona, and we continued our walk. After progressing only a few feet, I felt a strange burning sensation on my arms and legs, red angry welts confirming the locations. I realized my error. When I launched the creature, I was unable to contain all the tentacles with my footwear, a few grazed my arms and legs—I had been stung!

Racing back home, I skirted around the creature; it had washed ashore again, only moments after I had thrown it in the water. While I read-up on what I had tried to rescue the stinging began to ease.

I told marine-suave friends what I had done, they jokingly suggested that the next time I attempted this kind of thing, I just have to get someone to pee on the stings (supposedly the best remedy). I assured them that wouldn’t be necessary. I learned my lesson—don’t try to rescue a Portuguese man-of-war!

Hummingbird Encounters

February 2, 2010

As far back as I can remember Hummingbirds have always held a special place in my heart. They beguile me, when they zip from flower to flower; their slim beaks drawing nectar from each bloom. Emerald feathers, glisten like petite jewels—capturing the prisms of sunlight. No bigger than a ripe purple plum, it would seem that with a single breath, they could be blown over. Yet, (I have since learned) they are strong enough to withstand most of what Mother Nature challenges them with. And they are feisty creatures, ready to defend their territory, and occasionally they could even be called Bullies.

When I lived in Canada, I planted gardens to encourage Hummingbirds to grace my yard. In any given season, if even one showed up, I would have a grin plastered on my face for days—so happy for having had the encounter. Well now I live on Roatan were there are so many Hummingbirds I can’t keep count! Yup—I’m always grinning.

About a year ago during rainy season, I was out for a walk (on Sundancer property, where we live) when I heard an unusual noise coming from a puddle of water. I found a Hummingbird floundering in that puddle. The poor thing had a crippled foot and obviously had lost strength trying to make it to shelter during a storm. I scooped the Hummingbird up and cradled it in my palm. My heart was pounding from the realization that I was actually touching one of these amazing birds, but also from the fear that it may not survive. Racing home I laid the little jewel on a towel and brought the feeder to it. Again, gently holding it, I guided its beak into the feeder; all the while, stroking its tiny feathers urging it to take a drink. At first lifeless, it suddenly opened its eyes and started gulping at the sugar water offered. After a few minutes, it tried to wiggle free from my grasp. I set it back on the towel and gave it a stern talking to for scaring me like that. The Hummingbird stayed on the towel, drinking from the feeder for another 20 minutes or so (until it had regained enough strength.) And when it was ready, flew to a nearby tree. It was still a little wobbly, but determined, and a few minutes later came back to the feeder that I had re-hung on the porch. I kept an eye on it for the rest of the day, but the time came when it didn’t return anymore. I can only assume it found its way home.

I am very fortunate to have daily encounters with Hummingbirds since moving to Roatan, the following links are to my travel Pod blog were you can enjoy a couple more noteworthy stories and photos.

http://www.travelpod.com/z/gennyca/roatan-genny/1199662560

http://www.travelpod.com/z/gennyca/roatan-genny/1192635120

Roatan Vortex

January 20, 2010

Did you ever see the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?”

When I saw it (a million years ago) I found it quite humorous when the character played by Richard Dryfuss became obsessed with recreating an image of a mountain that consumed his every thought. He started sketching what he saw in his minds-eye, from there he moved on to building it out of mashed potatoes, and ultimately dug up his back yard to construct the mountain out of mud, chicken wire, and just about anything else he could find around his yard. To the complete dismay of his wife, he built it in the kitchen. He had to understand the vision and ultimately get to this mountain.

While I never went that far…I did become obsessed with Roatan. One day, in late 2004, I was sitting at my desk (at work, in Cambridge, Ontario) when one of our Company sales-reps came in and mentioned that he was going to Roatan for a diving holiday. I had never heard of Roatan, and I’m not a diver. That should have been the end of it. But I couldn’t get the word Roatan out of my head.  Thank God for the internet. I started googling every possible way to spell Roatan that I could think of.

R-O-A-T-A-N; that must be it! References to an Island in the Caribbean Ocean and the quality of diving offered there started popping up. Once again I need to stress that I’m not a diver…heck, I can hardly swim. And if I’m going to be totally honest…I’m AFRAID of water. I had visited other Caribbean Islands before (enjoyed them all) but never felt the draw to them like I did to Roatan. Within minutes of hearing “Roatan” I knew that someday I would live there…I had to.

For the next few years’ life carried on as usual. But every chance I got I continued to research Roatan; the exact location, the towns and villages, the people, the history, etc. etc. I intrigued and bored family and friends with my obsession. And then in July 2006 the most tragic event imaginable happened and for the next year I didn’t give Roatan a thought. As my soul healed, my obsession resurface…I had to go to Roatan. Once I made it here in August 2007, I knew I had found home…the Roatan Vortex had sucked me in.

So is that the end, was getting here the culmination of my obsession; sit back and relax, I’m finished. I don’t think so. Since moving here I have encountered (and become good friends) with many people who felt the same pull to the Island. From all over the world we have been drawn to be here; just a coincidence. Again, I’m not sure about that. But I do think it has great potential as a novel…hmmm; need to sign off for now…I’ve got some writing to do.

Where the Heck is Roatan?

December 29, 2009

Where the Heck is Roatan?

Answer – Between Utila and Guanaja.

At least that is what the very popular tourist t-shirt has printed on it.

Without making you feel like you are back in grade school geography class, (I would get pretty glassy-eyed in that class). I will keep the explanation simple.

Roatan is an island off the coast of Honduras, in the Caribbean Ocean. On one side is the even smaller island of Utila, and the other side is the island of Guanaja (hence the t-shirt). All three islands are part of the chain of islands known as the Bay Islands. Roatan is surrounded by the second biggest barrier reef (Australia is first). The beaches are soft white sand. The foliage is lush and tropical (yes, bananas and coconuts grow here), starting from the beaches rising toward a central ridge of foothill’s. I don’t think they qualifies as mountains—okay, so not boring you with geography isn’t my only reason for keeping the details simple.

When I stand on our dock looking to the North, a few hundred miles away (I think) is the border between Belize and Mexico. To the West (when watching the fabulous sunsets) I am facing Guatemala. South is mainland Honduras, and to the East is the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. I should mention that Honduras (which Roatan is part of) is in Central America, between Mexico and South America. I’m not trying to be condescending; before I came here I didn’t know where Central America was, let alone Honduras.

With great pleasure, I could tell you so much more about Roatan; the ocean, teaming with coral and marine life, the jungle landscapes, the glorious year round tropical climate, the diverse cultural mix, tourist attractions, etc. etc. etc. But there are many sites offering much better information on these kinds of details.

What I have to share is a firsthand account of living here. And through that I believe you will come to love it as much as those of us who have chosen to call it home. Roatan is a hidden gem worthy of exploring. But be warned: Once the Roatan Vortex sucks you in…You will never want to leave.

I’ll elaborate on that in my next post.

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