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.
- 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!