I get this question from tourists on a near-daily basis, usually after I tell them I’ve been on the island for two years. Uhhhh… if I didn’t like it, would I live here for two years? Now don’t get me wrong, this place makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. But so did every place in Canada that I lived at some point in time or another. (Can I be any clearer to people that paradise does not equal no problems?) But that doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing things about it. Here’s some from my friends at West Bay Tours:
I think it’s pretty obvious (on this blog or a quick Google search) that Roatan has amazing diving (duh) and gorgeous beaches. I don’t need to reiterate that for you. So here are the absolute best things about this little island that you may not have known about:
1. The old-school islanders and their hospitality.
At the place I used to work, my boat captains and I used to head down the beach and up the side of the hill every once in a while to visit a local family who was watching some land for the gringo owner who lived in the US. Several generations of family were living in a massive run-down vacation home and doing what they could to survive off the small payment the landowner sent them every month. I used to see the younger boys fishing, gathering local fruit (mangoes, plantains, plums, avocado, etc.) and hunting rabbit…the day I realized this was to feed the family and not just for fun was a very humbling day for me. They were always so happy to see us coming up the hill to visit them, and we would sit and chat with them while the grandpa told hilarious stories about ‘the old days’. The last time we went, one of the little boys came running after us while we were walking back down with little bags of fresh homemade popcorn for us to eat on our walk back. Such a touching gesture from people who had so little – this is what real islanders are like, not the violent crap you hear about on the news.
2. Not ever being ashamed of my clothes.
I would never walk around with ripped, torn or stained clothes in Canada, or something that wasn’t “in”, or matching. But here, people don’t judge what you’re wearing (unless you are being a tourist and walking around in your bathing suit, a neon crop top with booty shorts or barefoot). You don’t just go throwing away clothes every time they get a little damaged or dirty. I felt really self-conscious last summer walking around in Canada with my clothes from Roatan – I hadn’t even noticed some of the rips and stains until my friends (lovingly and helpfully) pointed them out. I never think twice about it here. Awesome!
3. Walking down the street in West End.
After two years of walking down the same 1 mile road that comprises the little village of West End, I still get a kick of hearing my name and a ‘hello’ yelled out of nearly every shop/restaurant/hotel that I pass. I thrive off being connected to lots of people, and this place is fantastic for it.
4. The tortilla guy.
There is a dude who drives his motorcycle through all the neighborhoods every evening yelling “TORTILLAS!! TORTILLAS!!” with a big cooler strapped to the back full of fresh tortillas inside. Because really, is there anything better than fresh tortillas that you can flag down from your front porch?
5. Being in the loop faster than CNN breaking news.
One of the first things you need to learn about Roatan is you find out basically all the news through various Roatan Facebook groups. There are thousands of members from all over the island who constantly update regarding power outages, crimes, where you can find ______, and which restaurants are open that night. I find out everything from Facebook groups!