About Genny Ross-Barons
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Genny Ross-Barons moved to Roatan, Honduras in 2007 where she shares a cabana with her husband and island dog Mona in Sandy Bay, Roatan.
She spends her day-to-day life and 'positive initiatives' on Roatan, sharing untold stories through her blog 'Life & Writing, on Roatan'
Latest Posts by Genny Ross-Barons
I’ve given you some insight on those things you should bring to Roatan and those things you should leave behind. I’ve shared that when the Roatan Vortex pulls you in and you make the move to Roatan you will live quite contently with a whole lot less stuff—your personal worth no longer based on how much you own.
Now, even the Swiss Family Robinson needed a few things when they were shipwrecked on a Tropical Island. But priorities of what they needed evolved based first on availability, then an appreciation of realizing life can actually be better with less stuff cluttering your home and soul.
Okay that sounds kind of sappy, but it’s true!
That aside, four years ago availability was the deciding factor for shopping and I got out of the habit. Now there is much more available on Roatan; from housewares to clothes—but with a Roatan approach. Although I didn’t really need anything, I went on a couple of shopping excursions just to check it out.
Gone Shopping Day 1 – The Mall
That’s right we have a Mall on Roatan. Half the stores are unoccupied but there is a couple of Department Stores (I use that term loosely), a grocery store, a few banks, and all the phone services can be found there too. Oh, and a Wendy’s and an Applebee’s… shudder. I should note here that the majority of staff speak only Spanish and have never been to a North American style store or been employed by one. The cultural differences are vast. While where I’m originally from in Canada, customer service is expected (though not always delivered) on Roatan that’s an unfamiliar concept.
You will however get your own personal shadow. The moment you start perusing the shelves and racks, a clerk will be right behind you. Where you go… they go. I wasn’t comfortable with this the first few times I entered shops. It kind of freaked me out; I would become more preoccupied with ditching my clerk than shopping. One store, I started walking faster and faster around a bank of shelves until I caught up with my shadow… poor girl confused the heck out of her! Now I just accept she will be there and start handing her stuff that I may or may not try on or purchase so she can feel useful.
The other thing you have to get used to is that there will be a security guard at the entrance… just the way they do it here. He will open the door for you—nice, and it’s no big deal. However when you go to exit the store, even though the guard has watched your purchase being rung in and the bag stabled shut, you will have to hand him the receipt so he can mark it with a red slash or punch a hole in it, then he will open the door for you to leave. One store the guard had a pair of scissors and cut the bottom portion of the receipt off… I don’t know why and I didn’t bother to ask.
Gone Shopping Day 2 – Uptown Coxen Hole
My next excursion had me strolling the streets of the largest town on Roatan, Coxen Hole… stop giggling already, it’s named after a famous pirate.
This is where the Municipal office, other government offices, banks, a grocery store, a few restaurants, some souvenir shops, and a multitude of mom & pop and thrift stores can be found, and a Carrion—Roatan Walmart (giggle.)
The first thing you encounter are the taxis. The moment I exited my vehicle (keys still in hand) I was greeted by a barrage of honking horns. It didn’t matter that I was walking the opposite direction of the traffic flow on a one way street and ignored them. Each and every taxi (at least every other moving vehicle I passed) honked, and honked, and honked assuming I wanted a taxi. I’ve got the quick head shake down pretty good now. It doesn’t stop the drivers from honking the first time, but at least they quit after one—sometimes.
My first stop: the Carrion. Yes, the door was opened by a security guard, yes, my shadow appeared immediately. I found a few things to try on, silly me. Sizing here is ah, different. I’m not sure where they bring in clothes from, but even though North American sizes I’m a size 6, on Roatan XXL don’t fit me. But, I held up a sundress and though what the heck, looks like it might!
Draped over my shadow’s arm, we headed for the change room (giggle.) The first dilemma I encountered was that the change room had no hooks, no chair, no shelf, I had to place everything on the floor and there were at least fifty ants scurrying around retrieving crumbs of some sort. My shadow waited patiently outside the door as I brushed ants aside and raised the sundress over my head… ah, no, that’s as far as it got… too small!
I left without buying anything. That’s okay by me… I really don’t need anything anyhow.
Did a couple of guest posts this past week:
Dalene and Peter from Hecktic Travel have left Roatan to check out other other locations. “Bye Guy’s it was great to meet you!” Dalene had a little trouble convincing her Uncle Calvin that life as a vagabond can be a good thing. I helped her explain to him the merits of leaving the typical (or expected) behind.
Roatan is unique! At least compared to a typical North American lifestyle. Here are a few random pictures and a couple of videos to give you an idea of what I mean:
The Roatan vortex pulls you in and you never want to leave!
So I moved to a tropical island and a hockey game broke out! It was on the Honduran island of Roatan, the temperature hovered close to 90 F with nary a cloud in the sky and the humidity around 100 per cent. Yet the spectators filed in, some had paid extra for box seats, and/or to watch on the big screens at the bar (not)! The team members donned their uniforms and took to the… sand!
The ice… I mean, sand had been diligently prepared by dedicated volunteers for the first annual hockey tournament on Roatan; boards in place, the surface raked and watered down to cut the dust, state of the art goals (nets) assembled, and one red traffic cone at each end of the rink to discourage vehicles, pedestrians, and scooters from coming through, which helped somewhat, but there were game interruptions when somebody would yell… CAR!
The penalty box (also known as the public washroom) was only called into use once during the entire tournament; I don’t think there was anybody who wanted to be a referee. Of the six teams that played, one team consisted of female hockey players (the Lil Puckers), and although they didn’t win the cup, they sure gave the guys a run for their money, and had the best, original uniforms too.
Speaking of cups… one incident did indicate that the guy’s uniforms (or lack thereof) should have included some form of protection, other than that though, pleasantly surprised there were no serious injuries to players or spectators. The slap shot from John C that bounced off my head while I was taking pictures doesn’t count since I was stupid enough to get to close for the perfect shot- literally. And the players, well, they were looking a little scraped up, noticed a few duct tape bandages by the end of the day, and the majority of them were moving a little slower as the tourney wound down.
But just like the players taking a dip in the Caribbean Sea between games, there wasn’t much typical about Hockey on Roatan, other than it brought together good friends, to have great fun… and that’s definitely typical of Roatan!
Lots of pictures of all the action can be seen here: Sand (Road) Hockey Tourney
Proceeds from the Tournament went to SOL Foundation—Developing Nations, one child at a time.
The next Sand (Road) Hockey Tournament will be July 1st, Canada Day, in front of Sundowner’s, West End, Roatan… you’re not going to want to miss it!
More teams, sponsors, equipment (specifically more hockey sticks and Gatorade drink mix powder) and prize donations, and spectators welcome!
More often than not when you make the move to Roatan the home you rent or purchase on the island will be furnished; including dishes, other kitchen stuff, and linens.
Chances are though you will have items from wherever you are moving from that you will want to bring with you—those bits and pieces that are a part of your everyday life.
However when you move to Roatan your priorities of what you need to set up house and home will change; some by choosing a simpler, less cluttered lifestyle, and others because… well… chances are it isn’t going to survive here!
A lot of what you may need or want can now be found on Roatan compared to when I moved here. I never realized how important coat hangers were until the previous owner of my cabana took them all with them when they moved out. It took me two weeks of searching every store in my quest to get my clothes hung up. I finally found some in the Fruit & Veggie Market in Coxen Hole. Silly me, I had been looking in hardware stores and at the Carrion—Roatan’s version of a Walmart; which is absolutely nothing like a Walmart. You no longer need to worry about bringing coat hangers when you move to Roatan; there are many places that carry them. If you do decide to bring some though just make sure they are plastic! Guaranteed, metal ones will rust, and that sheet of paper covering the metal frame will go mouldy!
Here is my list of must bring items to Roatan:
• a stainless steel (heavy duty) cheese grater
• a stainless steel (heavy duty) can opener
• those little silica packets in shoe boxes (don’t bring the shoes)
• zip-lock bags in various sizes; including extra, extra large, for storing… everything!
• a Swiffer Sweeper Vac and numerous packages of Swiffer dust clothes and filters
• tri-light bulbs
• a cooling fan for laptop
• crank flashlight
• Yorkshire pudding mix—if you like Yorkshire pudding but not to make it from scratch
• acrylic paints and brushes—or your preferred art & craft supplies
• needles, thread, sewing accessories—that I store in a zip lock baggy with those silica packets from the shoe boxes
• extra batteries, cords, accessories for computer and camera equipment
• An English calendar—not that I worry too much what day it is, but I always have had a calendar on the fridge—habit.
• Feather and down pillows
• bedding / linens—still not much to choose from on Roatan
• Couch (sofa) with springs & frame, and puffy cushy cushions … I haven’t got one yet, but trust me I will one of these days. On those evenings when I want to kick back and relax on the couch, it ain’t gonna happen unless I bring my own!
What NOT to bring
• an alarm clock—being on time for something on Roatan is to be at least a ½ hour late.
• rollerblades—majority of paths are loose stones or sand, not so good for rollerblading
• an iron—the humidity will remove all wrinkles
• metal heirloom picture frames—they will rust through in no time
• any pieces (furniture) made from fake wood—termite candy
• any article of clothing that you never wear, but think you might—it will go mouldy
• chairs or stools covered in plastic—sweaty, sweaty, sweaty
• Leather stuff—I brought one leather belt… anytime I wear it I have to wipe the mould off first!
So what about you? Getting ready to make the move, what would be on your list of must bring?
Just remember when you make the move to Roatan, you’ll be too busy doing stuff to worry about what stuff you brought to Paradise!
We all want to give our children access to the best opportunities in life. For most parents it means sourcing the best schools, involvement in sports and/or the arts, commitment to social causes, close contact with extended family; a combination of many factors really.
When my kids were growing up I chose the neighbourhood we would live in based on what schools were nearby, I supported their passion of the week; buying the equipment and attending every sporting event from: basketball, volleyball, track & field, rugby (freaked me out that my son had to tape his ears down though so they wouldn’t get ripped off!) to my daughter’s rowing regattas at 6 AM. I was always grateful that neither of them was interested in playing hockey (too expensive for me) but the year my daughter was four, I did faithfully take her every Saturday morning, regardless of the weather (that means a lot when it is winter in Ontario) to her ballet class. When it was time for her recital I sat in the front row, watching my “little teapot” throw a temper tantrum while all around her the other “little teapots” showed off their handles & spout. Santa arrived with a snowboard and season’s pass to the local resort for my son one year, the snowboard season can last four or five months where we lived; for my son it was one day, when on his second run down the hill he broke his collarbone.
I bought the Girl Guide cookies, and followed discreetly behind when it was time to go door-to-door getting pledges for the upcoming Walk for MS. Every occasion warranted inviting grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins and friends over to the house to celebrate. Quite often, an event wasn’t required to call a meeting of the clan—we just liked spending time together. Yeah, I wanted to give my kids a good shot at developing into well rounded, socially conscious, productive adults. I’m happy to report we survived the teen years and they are happy healthy adults living full lives with their chosen partners, and I even have three awesome grandsons in the mix now.
The thing is though—there is something I didn’t expose them to that I wish I had—experiencing life from a broader perspective.
Canada is known for welcoming people from diverse culture around the world, so my kids were fortunate to have many friends from many backgrounds, they were exposed to differences, but at the end of the day they returned to their own niche, a somewhat typical, middleclass, North American lifestyle. And while there was nothing wrong with that, anything outside of their norm was out of their comfort zone—mine too for that matter.
Not until I moved to Roatan, Honduras could I appreciate how much breaking out of the norm could have enriched my children’s developmental years. There are many Expat kids living on Roatan who are benefiting from a diverse perspective.
This past Friday the kids who attend Sandy Bay Alternative School held their Science Fair at Lands End Resort West End, I very much enjoyed their presentations; the range of topics covered many of the typical Science Project stuff, but with a Roatan approach. One involved studying how deep light can dive; of course it involved the student actually going diving to confirm his results. Another surrounded the properties of cooking oils and which are best for local foods such as plantains (sorta like a banana) which are a staple on Roatan.
Some studied the effects of using organic soils avoiding chemical fertilizers, and others focused on the effects of the sun, or participating in outdoor activities as appose to indoor activities—kids don’t spend much time indoors here.
More pics of the Science Fair can be seen here: Science Fair
On Saturday morning I had the great pleasure of interviewing two of the kids on the Roatan Vortex Radio Show. They shared their views of life on Roatan. One is eleven years old, originally from California, and has lived on Roatan for more than 6 years now. The other is also eleven years old, originally from South Africa, and has lived on Roatan for just a few weeks. You can hear what they had to say here:
Here’s what they were doing right outside the studio at Half Moon Bay Beach after the show!
May the Best Duck Win!
Sunday was the First Annual Duck Races at Infinity Bay Resort West Bay Beach. Oh my, what fun that was. The kids were raising money for the grade six graduation party and other school activities. The Roatan community came together to join in and support their efforts, local businesses sponsored prizes, and Roatan Radio broadcasted live from the event.
More pictures of the Duck Races can be seen here: Duck Races.
No wait… that already exists. Good thing I created the Roatan Vortex Forum instead.
Now, so far I am the only member (compared to the Wrestling Forum which has over 170,000 members and close to 5 million posts) but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
There are forums out there that include discussions about Roatan, so why the Roatan Vortex Forum?
Some are geared toward vacationing on Roatan, or at least sub-categories are: Trip Advisor. Others focus on the life of an Expat Abroad: Expat Forum, again, you have to search for a sub-category specific to Roatan (good luck finding Roatan.) And then there are those that are for a community of people who share a common interest: Diving forums.
The time has come to pull them together in one really simple, easy to use, minimal rules (don’t even like the word), location.
Who Can Post?
Everyone! Just remember to keep it about Roatan—except for the “Just Because” category. You will have to register to contribute; if you’d rather not add your two cents worth, you are still welcome as a Guest and can peruse the forum all you want.
This is where I’m supposed to give you the rules of posting, but, you’ll know if what you posted wasn’t acceptable (rude, crude, nasty, or possible infringement of copy-right material etc.) because as the Moderator, I’ll delete it.
Questions? Don’t be shy, ask away!
So it’s happening… the Roatan Vortex is pulling you here! You are very excited, but wait… Where should you stay? What about the snorkelling and diving? Will you see Seahorses? Dining options? Transportation? What cruise port will you arrive at (there’s more than one?) And the ever popular: are there bugs, is it safe, and will it rain when I’m there? Go ahead ask all you want! The more specific and the less likely a crystal ball is needed to answer, the more responses you will get.
Write a review! We want to hear all about it… really!
You visited Roatan, and had a blast! Be sure to share with everyone; what you saw, where you stayed, and how much fun you had!!! If something wasn’t to your satisfaction we want to know about that too.
Roatan SME’s and Newbies, you know best!
Living on Roatan? Want to share a great place to dine, a business that we should know about? Tell us all about it. Feel free to share your Roatan businesses and links here too.
Please note: Specific details or names of individuals involved; surrounding dissatisfaction are best shared via direct email contact, rather than on this forum (sorry, another rule.)
Coming soon: There will be a handy dandy form for sharing your Roatan experience; in the meantime just tell us all about it right here!
Roatan – Home Sweet Home
So you want to move to Roatan, great idea! I’m sure you have questions: What are the educational options for my kids? Can I buy lactose free milk? Can I bring my pets? What about volunteering? The sample questions I have included are pretty vague… remember, the more specific, the more answers you’ll get.
And if you’ve made the move to Roatan, you can answer some of them. You’ve already started sharing on “The Insider’s Guide for Moving to Roatan” which if any of your suggestions are used in the soon to be released book: your reward is my undying gratitude… only!
Do you ever wonder why? I have questions about those truly important things in life; what’s in marshmallows that make them taste like—well—marshmallows? Are hermit crabs born with a starter shell? Why are there speed bumps on bumpy roads? And why the heck can’t I snap my fingers?
Sometimes I just want to know; what was your favourite toy when you were a kid? What makes you smile? The name of a book that you think I might enjoy?
This is the place to ask and answer those important questions. You can even talk about wrestling here… if you really want to!
So the Roatan Vortex is working its magic on you, you’re considering a move to Roatan, great idea! No longer will time in paradise be limited to your allocated one or two week holidays a year. No more burrowing under the three comforters piled on your bed, peaking out the window and groaning at the sight of fluffy flakes of snow floating down to cover the crocuses and tulips that are doing what they can to convince the skies it is springtime.
Since making the move to Roatan I am regularly asked, “How’d you do it?” That’s easy to answer, “I quit my job, sold everything I owned, and moved here.” The Roatan Vortex pulled me in!
Now that I live here I regularly share why I stay: through the Roatan Vortex blog, The Roatan Vortex Radio Show on 101.1 FM roatanradio.com and through the book The Roatan Vortex—an insider’s view of day to day life on a Caribbean Island It’s time to back up a bit (kinda like they did with the Star Wars movies) and share… drum roll please…
The Roatan Vortex—an insider’s guide for moving to Roatan
The thing is, moving to Roatan is not like moving across town or even from one State or Province you live in to another. You have to approach it a little different and not use the North American side of your brain to plan the move. Yes, clear up and do what must before you come to Roatan, but when the Vortex calls, “resistance is futile”… hey, another Star Wars reference… no wait, that’s from Star Trek!
On your mark! Get set! Slow down!
When I go back to Canada to visit family and friends, they quite often comment that I’m too mellow, as they zoom past me; rushing to work, the store, an exercise class, the mall, to pick up the kids etc. That is the normal pace there, but not on Roatan. Sure you still have things to get done, places to be, people to see, but the pace here is a little different. For one thing it is just plain too hot; you’re going to work up a sweat no matter how slow you go, so why encourage it. Besides, whatever you are rushing to probably won’t be ready until mañana anyway.
Definition of mañana – tomorrow, next week, maybe a month from now, possibly—NEVER!
It’s always Groundhog (Watusi) Day
Another comment I get from family and friends (especially when they come to visit me on Roatan) is that things don’t change much here—and that’s true—with a Roatan twist, of course. The year round summer weather has something to do with that (we’ll talk about rainy season later) and waking to the sun rising at pretty much the same time every day, setting time doesn’t vary much either. The birds are singing, the chickens are scratching; their brood of chicks following behind, while the roosters crow whenever the heck they want to! The Caribbean Sea breaking on the reef, sometimes barely a ripple is created, other times foamy rolling spray outlines the reef. I guess I could say I’ve settled into a routine of sorts. The twist—the vibe of Roatan decides the routine, not me—I’m okay with that! You can be too!
An insider’s guide for moving to Roatan, lots more to share; coming soon:
• Your new address, say goodbye to zip and postal codes
• What to bring (my most prized possession): stainless steel cheese grater
• Leave the rollerblades behind
• Yes, your phone number will be eight digits long
• Setting up your kitchen—everything goes in the freezer
• Choosing your nick name (and other names you may be called)
• Forget about fresh spinach and mushrooms
• Critters you may (no, will) find in your new home
• Decorating is based on mould and rust resistance—not fashion trends
April 9, 2011 was the Marine Park Bash at Bananarama on West Bay Beach; an annual fundraiser to assist the Roatan Marine Park with promoting awareness, preservation, and protection of the aquatic wonders of Roatan. A great time was had by all, and in-turn we were able to contribute in some fashion to their efforts.
Last year I wrote and posted a story about the Marine Park on Roatan Vortex. My theme (you know how much I love the word theme) was Please Don’t Walk on the Coral. At the time I was looking to do my part to help visitors who, like me, had limited understanding of the importance of not stepping on coral. I mean—really—come on—it’s just a bunch of pretty rocks under the water… right? I had a lot to learn!
There are a few signs posted at the beaches that simply say, Please don’t step on the Coral but without knowing why it matters, these signs quite often go un-noticed.
Now I could attach a bunch of links explaining the reasons to not step on the coral, I could copy and paste pages of documentation outlining the importance of not stepping on the coral… but let’s face it Roatan is about enjoying a get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life, getting away from the cold and snow, and basking in the glories of an Island surrounded by the second largest coral reef in the world (okay so just one link) nestled in the Caribbean Sea.
So instead, I offer you this:
Fine Print: Mona (my dog) was not harmed in the making of this poster; she quite enjoyed the belly rub. Oh, and Pat didn’t get hurt either, he got a couple of dog biscuits as a reward for a job well done after the photo shoot!