Interview From Paradise

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Since we are talking about making dreams come true and living life on purpose, I wanted to introduce you to someone who is really doing just that. Genny Ross-Barons moved to Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras, in the Caribbean Ocean, in August of 2007. She spent five weeks there in May of 2007 and then went home to Ontario (Kitchener-Waterloo) Canada to make arrangements to relocate, permanently!

Genny is a reader of Be More With Less and has her own blog, The Roatan Vortex. See what she has to say about living in paradise.

Interview From Paradise

Genny, I am planning to live in Mexico by the ocean and have been researching other locations as well. I never considered Honduras. Why did you choose Roatan?

As corny as it may sound, it was the Roatan Vortex that pulled me here. I had visited many Caribbean Islands on holidays, and enjoyed them all. But I had never been to Roatan, and had never heard of it. I was at work one day, when a fellow employee came in to my office with pictures of a diving vacation he had taken. I am not a diver, I don’t even like snorkeling, but I was intrigued with the word Roatan. I did a Google search, and once I figured out how to spell it, all these sites came up with information. That was it! From then on I was obsessed with knowing everything I could about the island. This all started in 2004. If it had been just my decision, I would have packed up and gone right away.

What is a typical day like for you in paradise?

When I first moved here, family and friends in Canada would frequently ask, “What do you do all day? Don’t you get bored?”

The funny thing is, here on Roatan, you learn to slow down everything. That need to always be busy goes away. You know, when you’re feeling guilty if you haven’t booked enough to do each and every day. That’s what I like about your site “Be more with less—Being Busy is Not That Important.” You talk about living a simpler life that isn’t just about having less stuff; it’s also about clearing out that closet in your mind of things to do.

A typical day on Roatan:

  • Wake with the sun rising over the ridge, peeking into my bedroom, through the open (screened) balcony doors. (That is #1 on my list of Roatan Vortex things that pulled me in.) I lay there for at least a ½ hour watching the hummingbirds flitter in the cashew tree.

Note: Roatan is fairly close to the equator so the sunrise and sunset are always close to 6 AM and 6PM (we don’t do daylight savings either.)

  • Make coffee.
  • Feed my Island dog Mona, and my Island cat Baby. Actually I feed Baby first because he won’t stop winding around my legs and nipping at my ankles until I do. Mona is usually in no hurry for breakfast.
  • Enjoy my coffee on the front porch, while checking to see if I need to sweep it. Bats and geckos (lizards) are out all night pooping everywhere.
  • Sweep the porch.
  • Second cup of coffee and laptop in-tow, time to check e-mails; maybe make a skype phone call to family in Canada.
  • Chat with my husband, who is now waking up. He might have been out late the night before playing drums with a band in West End.
  • Send my husband off to the office (giggle) with a coffee, and yogurt with bananas & nuts. I had to giggle there because my husband’s office is a small cabana, about a one minute walk from our front door. Dave is the Common area Property Manager for where we live. He has to have the office open from 9 AM until noon, Mon-Sat. His duties include; property maintenance, overseeing the gardener (one for 3-1/2 acres of property,) security—we have a day “Watchie” and a night “Watchie”. Everyone on Roatan takes responsibility for their own security—in an underdeveloped country the resources are not there for public services that we take for granted in developed countries.
  • I will then spend the morning writing or if I have a volunteer project happening, I’ll do something with that. I am usually working ona few projects. I absolutely love it! I am in touch with the community and get to see up close and personal what it is like in their world. The bonus is that they teach me what really matters.
  • Lunch
  • The afternoon is spent doing the same as the morning, with the addition of a nap (siesta) and some days a little time by the pool or on the dock.
  • Feed my Island dog Mona, and Island cat Baby
  • Dinner with Dave, or perhaps a pot-luck with friends.
  • Watch some TV, I do have a few favorite shows when the cable is working, or the power doesn’t go out.
  • The day is done at about 10 PM. I’ll do pretty much the same things again tomorrow.

What do you miss most about mainstream living, if anything?

I miss going to the movies and live theater productions. Every week, my Mom and I would catch a show (on cheap night) at the multi-plex movie theater, with a big popcorn and big soda to wash it down. Kitchener-Waterloo also has a great theater for live-productions where I saw many touring Broadway productions and the local symphony perform. There is nothing like that here.

Do you have to be well off financially to make a move like this?

It depends on what your priorities are. Our home is very cute, but simple. Our vehicle is an island clunker that most days, gets us where we need to go. There is no need for heating, but some spend a lot on air-conditioning. We don’t bother with that, and just have adapted to always being extra warm. Most days there is a glorious breeze coming off the Caribbean Sea to cool us down a bit, and if there isn’t we just go slower that day. Most basic items cost less on Roatan and we really don’t need much. No matter what you own here it will rust, corrode or go moldy (including clothes,) so it’s easier to not own much. The biggest thing, is no worries about keeping up with the Jones’! We have friends on Roatan who were or still are CEOs of major corporations with beautiful, elaborate villas. We also have friends who don’t own a pair of  flip-flops. We all get together regularly, and just enjoy each other’s company. Nobody cares how much stuff you have.

Can you generate income in Roatan?

Yes you can! There are many opportunities for starting a business and/or generating an income. Warning though; In the 3 years that I’ve lived here, anyone who came to the island thinking they are going to make millions (especially at the expense of, or with a disregard for the well being of the local people) have failed miserably. There is also a huge cultural difference that you need to understand before investing or forming a business on Roatan.

Do you worry about finances for the future?

Some would say that I am being irresponsible because I don’t worry about future finances. I choose to live right here, right now. I used to believe in work hard now and reap the benefits later, but later doesn’t always come.

What did you do with all of your stuff?

I used to have a lot of stuff. I was a thrift store, flea market junky. It was my way to reward myself, or comfort myself when my husband was working weekends. When I moved, I picked a very few items to keep, more sentimental value than anything else. A few things went to my grown children and three young grandchildren. And the rest I sent to an auction clearing-house or donated to the local thrift shop. Note: I got the heck out of Canada before the day of the auction, I feared I would go and buy most of it back!

What advice would you give someone who wants to make this move but thinks they have to wait until they “retire”?

The one bit of information I haven’t shared yet is that during the early years when I was determined to move to Roatan. I was married to someone who shared my dream, but was more practical than I. We both had demanding jobs, his more than mine, and it kept him away from home no less than 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. We were living the dream—saving for our retirement. On July 23rd 2006, the day after my 42nd birthday, one week after his 46th birthday, my much loved husband died from a massive heart attack (brought on by the stress of his job.) The last conversation we had had was him telling me, enough was enough and he would find a way for us to move to Roatan within the year, instead of waiting 10 or 15 years when we retired.

Any other places in the world you would consider living?

Anything is possible. But I’ve got to say,”The Roatan Vortex pulled me in and I never want to leave!”

Genny’s story sums up so much about setting priorities, going after dreams and living with less, to be more. While we have never met in person, like many people that I connect with through this blog, I consider Genny a friend and am so moved by her decision to live life on purpose. Check out Genny’s blog and follow her on twitter to keep up with her adventures in Paradise. Oh, and Genny – now that we are friends, what is the best time of year to visit?!

Let us know what you think of Genny’s decision to live life more slowly and ask her questions in the comments section!

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you so much for asking me to participate Courtney. I too feel that we have become good friends although we have never met.

    Your site, bemorewithless offers a wealth of ideas of how everyone can achieve their dream of living more with less…I’m just glad to share that it is possible.

    PS Anytime of year is a great time to visit Roatan, but if I had to pick a best month it would be March. Rainy season is over. The tropical foliage is putting on its best show with more shades of green than you ever thought possible. The air is warm, but not stifling, as a breeze floats across the Island from the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea, carrying the scent of fragrant blossoms getting ready to produce lush tropical fruits; mangoes, cashews, limes, and more. Come on down Courtney, friends are always welcome :)

  2. says

    What great “insider” insight to life on an island!

    I had the the pleasure of connecting with Genny through her radio show & she’s pretty much convinced me to move Roatan to the top of the list of tropical locations to visit!

    • says

      Hey Steve,
      As you know, I’m not doing the radio show anymore, it was a lot of fun, but I wanted to get back to writing more. I’m really glad it was an open door for a while to connect with people who have an Island Perspective like you and Renee.

  3. harlem girl says

    Your article is fantastic! I would love to move to Roatan – where can you find info on prices and availability for houses and apartments. Thanks for the info – hope to meet you when I relocate to Honduras.

  4. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and personal story with us. My husband also works over 12 hours a day with a 3-4 hour commute. It is crazy. We have four kids and felt “stuck” but have since created a two year plan for freedom. We hope to follow a similiar path snd are investigating moving to Ecuador, Costa Rica or Mexico. We plan on working together and sharing a different life with our children than the standard american routine and before stress overtakes another life. Genny and Courtney- may your days continue to be full of peace.

  5. robert ladouceur says

    nice insight, one of the things I/we enjoy most one the Island, part from the finger bananas is the diversity and fiendlyness of the people that you’ve introduced us too. Take care and we’ll see you soon.

  6. k8 says

    Nice article! We visited Roatan in 2004 and fell into the “vortex” also. We are now in the process of building our retirement home “Casa de los Jubilados” on Roatan, hoping to move down with in the next year or two.

  7. Laurie Hacker says

    Hey Sis great read….Even here in Canada Glen and I made the pack that even with a home based business we will not let work affect our evening and weekends…And so far so good…We enjoy our down time, strolling by the lake, biking, rollerskating (it’s back in Kitchener in the winter months), watching something good, or Swimming and hanging by our pool in summer….We try not to get caught up in the keep up with the Jones’ but I must admit after we got our pool our neighbour had one within the year…so it definitely goes on here a lot :) We buy stuff on sale only and only stuff we need like clothing etc….And try to give our good used clothing to those less fortunate..So even in Canada we can try not to get caught up in the rat race :) It really is a decision every person has to make, and one of my favorite sayings is “Live simply so others may simply live” and with that in mind we make sure to give through our local church to great causes and any other worthy causes that we here about, like the Roatan Hospital….I am not tooting my own horn, but giving is the most fulfilling thing you can ever do and while helping others, it really enriches your life even more :) Laurie, aka Genny’s little sis

  8. says

    Great article Genny. We have lived in Roatan for 4 1/2 years, we gave most of our things away also and sold our dream home (we thought it was the dream home) in the states and moved here with our 8 year old son. Even now we are still are amazed at how all the things we thought were important in our old life are not that important anymore and the things that we didn’t have the time for are the most important here; good friends and family. I always say that we would never make it back in the “other” life because they make you wear shoes.
    Celeste

    • says

      Well put Celeste! You and your family do a fantastic job of making sure all your guests at West Bay Lodge experience the pleasure of total relaxation and prioritizing what really matters.

      And I agree…avoid anyone who makes you wear shoes!

  9. Cheryl says

    I subscribe to the “ISLANDS” magazine, and of all the places that magazine takes you, I just love the pictures that come out of your island of Honduras-Roatan especially!!!!!
    Just from the pictures I can feel the “vortex”, isn’t that amazing?? I would just love
    to move there too but I think I need to visit first and see what’s happening…..and
    the reef….just amazing too….I think I could visit that everyday and never see the
    same thing twice!!!!

  10. jim roe says

    thanks for the well thought out writing. we are contemplating moving to roatan but want to visit again befor making final decision. reading your article helped.

  11. Juana says

    I would like to start a small business and moved to Roatan. What busines will work and what they dont have in the Island that can benefit population.

  12. Johnathon says

    I originally from Honduras. I was adopted when I was 4 years old. I’ve since been back to Honduras to visit my biological family. We also spent a week on the Island of Roatan. I’m constantly looking for my way out of Michigan and back home. You did touch on something that is my biggest fear.. (Retirement money). Your right about how we wait and work and hope for this great retirement and most of us never get to experience our hard earned reward. The part of your late husband really touched my heart. My father never got to see his retirement he was diagnosed with alzheimer’s 6 months after his retirement. He never got to travel the globe like he wanted too. Neither did my mom. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Florinda says

    Hi Genny,
    We will be visiting Roatan on May 14. We are celebrating our 35 year wedding aniversary and can not wait to be there enjoying the beauty of the Island. I enjoyed reading about your life there. You are an inspiration. Take Care.

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