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Top 7 Excuses for Getting Sucked Into The Vortex
By: AWalk on the RunFrom the East Coast of the States, I now live in Roatan, part of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. We lovingly refer to our home as The Rock or The Vortex. Clearly, it's a small rock (I'm betting most of you have never even heard of Roatan). But more importantly, we call it The Vortex because it continues to suck people in like a black hole. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't at all a bad thing! I was sucked into The Vortex over a year ago after intending to only spend 5 days here. And I am not alone. Here's a basic rundown on the excuses people offer as to why they moved to Roatan. They're not in any particular order or anything, just common phrases you hear from expats all over the island. I give you, "How I Got Sucked into The Vortex"
1. "I couldn't stand another winter back home."
Let’s be honest, humans are pretty weak. We can’t actually survive much this Earth throws at us, except that we have intelligence and therefore we’ve developed tools that enable us to live anywhere. But in my mind, it’s just unnatural! If you literally cannot survive outside without multiple layers of clothes and some sort of shelter, it just ain’t right. I’m clearly not alone in having this attitude as the vast majority of expats in Roatan who were sucked into The Vortex blame harsh winters for chasing them out of Dodge and into the constant sunshine of the Caribbean. White sandy beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees blowing in the breeze, and our worst days still being in the high 70s (that's 25 for all you Celsius fans out there). Yes, that is where I live. Please note it is currently December. And with the amazing social media networks we all have now, it’s hilarious to see everyone here posting photos from the beach to taunt their family and friends back home buried under ice and snow. (Think sandmen instead of snowmen and snapshots of lounging in a hammock under a palm tree. Yep, we're mean.)
2. "I needed to escape the office world before it killed me."
Regardless of how long they were in it back home, most people here eventually shook their heads and realized they hated their jobs, and therefore most of their days were miserable. They decided to be proactive and make a change to make themselves happy. This isn’t to say everyone who works a 9-5 office job hates it! Not at all. But the people who moved here hated theirs for one reason or another and made the move to change their daily lives. You often hear something along the lines of “the view from my office is much better now” or “my office is the beach.” Again, we like to taunt people back home through social media. Partly it's a way to celebrate our happiness here, and partly it's a way to show people that they can live this life. We often hear people say how they wish they could live here and they're so jealous of our lives. So we show them how they can and we show them that there are alternatives to working a thankless mindless cubicle job. Unless of course you enjoy that sort of thing, in which case keep calm and carry on!
The reef around Roatan is one of the most stunning in the world. Part of the second largest barrier reef system on Earth, Roatan has the perfect combination of incredibly colorful coral and abundant sea life. The diving here is what often sucks people into The Vortex. Some stop here initially on a cruise, dive, and then come back for a longer trip time and time again. Some come here to do their training (Divemaster internships and Instructor Development Courses are extremely popular here for their low prices and amazing diving conditions), they dive every day, and then they stay and work. Call it whatever you want, but people get sucked into The Vortex because they become completely addicted to the diving. Ask any diver here what they like to do on their days off. Most of them will tell you they dive.
4. "Roatan isn’t overrun by tourists (yet)."
Most Caribbean islands are well developed and well versed in the language of tourism. There has been a giant leap in cruise ship traffic throughout the region, and finding an escape is getting more and more difficult. While Roatan is growing in the industry, with Carnival Corporation having developed their own port here and Carnival cruises coming in year-round, the growth is slow and steady and pales in comparison to other islands. Roatan is still quiet. There are dirt roads and completely untouched land – even right on the beach! The hills are covered in lush jungle and much of the island remains undeveloped. This is still a haven, an escape from the chaos of the modern world. That kind of seclusion calls to many people, it beckons them in and allows them to nap in a hammock for hours without feeling guilty for not being productive all day. We live simply and bask in our paradise sanctuary.
5. "It’s cheap!"
Ok, this one is all relative, I know. But here’s my personal perspective. After growing up outside of Boston and living in Washington, DC, for four years, I know what high rent can look like. And it sure isn’t what you find here! Yes, the prices are higher here than on mainland Central America, but they’re much lower than other Caribbean islands. That’s mostly because of what I mentioned before – this is still a peaceful haven yet to be overrun by tourists causing prices to rise. The house I live in is two stories, with a two-bedroom apartment on the bottom floor (mine) and a two-bedroom apartment with a loft upstairs. We're on our own beach with only 3 other houses - none of which are currently occupied - meaning my little island doggie has free reign to run around the beach and claim it as her own. The cost of this house: $245,000. For a duplex. On the beach. Surrounded by gorgeous jungle. On the beach. I'm sorry but that's just straight crazy cheap!
6. "It’s such an easy transition from home."
English is the most commonly spoken language, labor laws are lax, visas can be extended as many times as you’d like, and there’s already a wide network of expats living on the island to make the transition away from delicious thin-crust artisan pizza at home not so difficult. Because there’s pizza here. And delivery. And burgers, and noodle bowls, and curry, and pretty much anything else you might want. And if it’s not here yet, give it another month or so. Someone else is probably already creating a new business just for you!
7. "Well, actually, I met this guy..."
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. Cliché. I get it. But it’s true! There are lots of people who came here, met someone, came back, or never even left in the first place. Other people stay for the prospect of love – they know they’ll find someone like-minded here among the travelers and divers, fellow escapees and rebels. Other people just fall in love with the island itself. And what’s not to love? With wild jungle, pristine beaches, a blend of cultures, and enough activities to keep you busy for years, Roatan really is a dream home.
So which excuse category do I fall under? Welp, that would be the last one. I arrived in Roatan, spent less than a day on the island and somehow met this incredible guy on the beach. While that wasn’t even remotely my plan, I decided to stay and see what happened. That was November 2012. Of course, I also wanted out of the office world in DC, out of the cold winters, I've learned to dive and now manage a dive shop in West End, I like my secluded little home, it's cheap, and it's a super easy transition to live here and still eat all my favorite foods. So really this is what it all comes down to: Whatever someone’s excuse is for staying in Roatan, that’s all it is. An excuse. It’s something to tell people back home, the people who don’t understand how we can just pick up and leave to live on some little island without high rises and shopping malls. It’s a way to quickly explain something those people might never understand: this little island is a Vortex for dreamers and we’ve all made our dreams become reality.
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Contest Comments » There are 44 comments
Bdub wrote 9 years ago:
Being a fellow ex-pat I always enjoy running into other Americans even if it's only in Canada. Moving away because of a guy/girl is crazytown ;-) Every time I read one of your posts it usually brings a smile to my face 100% of the time.
Ginny wrote 9 years ago:
I guess if I didn't love the change of seasons in New England, then Roatan would be the place for me! It seems rather difficult to not be enticed by nice weather, beautiful scenery, inexpensive living, friendly people, and a relaxed pace of life! Enjoy The Vortex and I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs.
Jaclyn Walkins wrote 9 years ago:
Once I have money saved up again I totally need to go visit. Roatan sounds completely awesome!
Jenny wrote 9 years ago:
AWalk- you've painted a masterpiece about the vortex and it makes me want to jump right in. It is like I am there with you diving and eating pizza and noodles and curry. Can't wait to read more about the barrier reef!
Matt wrote 9 years ago:
Sounds like a good variety of reasons--I'd certainly love to escape the dental clinic; you can only pull so many teeth before you lose your mind. Diving sounds a lot better than filling cavities anyway!
Amy LeRoy wrote 9 years ago:
You are an amazing writer and I am so happy every time I get a notification from AWalk on the Run with a new blog post!! So glad you are in your happy place surrounded by amazing people. Keep up the good work!!!!
Sarah wrote 9 years ago:
Love you Awalk! Wish I could join you for life in the Vortex.. maybe in the future!! LOVE YOU!
Louise wrote 9 years ago:
Awalk: What a great description you provided us of life in a paradise!! Especially since snow is swirling around this very minute in Massachusetts!!!
Marcia wrote 9 years ago:
Well, it's so wonderful you found your new niche in beautiful Roatan - including your very handsome significant other - well worth the change of seasons I'd say!
Belle wrote 9 years ago:
I envy you and your fellow expats so much, especially when the Facebook pictures get posted! Write more so I can continue to develop this jealousy and eventually, maybe, make a break for Roatan myself :)
David Walkins wrote 9 years ago:
AWalk's descriptive prose makes me yearn for the warmth, the sunshine, and the tranquility. Even if I don't get sucked into the vortex, it would be kind of nice to sit on the edge for a week or two, in a hammock, with a cold drink, and watch the sun set.
Jeff Haseltine wrote 9 years ago:
I can definitely understand why it's called The Vortex! And it's so nice to travel to a place and meet nice people. :) Love your blog!
Bart wrote 9 years ago:
Thanks for providing such a well-written overview of life on Roatan. Having spent a week there, I can say that it's one of the most beautiful, relaxed locations I've ever been to, and I think you captured a lot of the reasons why. I'm looking forward to heading back there again sometime soon!
Fiona wrote 9 years ago:
It's inspirational to see you follow your dreams. We love seeing the updates on your blog! Keep wiring and keep enjoying every minute in paradise!!
Prima wrote 9 years ago:
Visiting Roatan for the first time earlier this year left me planning my next trip as soon as it ended. Awalk is right on with the concept of a vortex- who knows if I will come back to the states after my next visit :)
Shelby wrote 9 years ago:
Love your blog! Your writing is witty yet sincere, and I look forward to reading about each one of your adventures whenever I see that you've created a new post. Your description of paradise certainly makes me want to escape the cold winter of DC and get sucked into the vortex!
Aaron Croke wrote 9 years ago:
I totally agree with Amanda I've spent best part of 2 years of my life there and was so sad to leave even for Xmas You do jus get keep getting sucked back in It's addictive and the diving is second to none I totally understand why people quit their jobs and head to Roatan with the intention of never returning ! Aaron Uk
Marion wrote 9 years ago:
Roatan sounds amazing! Love your posts and wonder how many more will be sucked into the Vortex after your fabulous description of a tempting island paradise!
Shaun Clarkin wrote 9 years ago:
As I am in the years that preceed retirement I have reason to read many ex pat blogs and found this one to be one of the best. Unlike many blogs that, although informative, are dry and focused only on sharing dry facts, I found this one to be inspiring. This blog drew me in, told me a story about a real person and left me with a sense of enchantment. A brilliant piece, well received.
Kate wrote 9 years ago:
This article describes just how amazing Roatan is! Before visiting earlier this year, I have to admit that I had never heard of Roatan. But one week in paradise certainly changed that and I was very close to being sucked in myself! Your writing is perfect and makes me want to plan my next trip ASAP!
Mike Burns wrote 9 years ago:
Sounds like you're living the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle - sun, sand, surf, and diving. Gotta love it. Hope to visit sometime!!! Enjoy and have a Merry Xmas!!
Theresa wrote 9 years ago:
Truly paradise!! Love your blog!! Maybe one day you both can come to our little paradise for a visit...palm trees, sunshine, and warm weather will be waiting for you there as well! Theresa & John
Laurie wrote 9 years ago:
Loved reading your blog, Amanda. We're one storm in, a mild one at that, and I've had enough. How are the schools in Roatan?
Betty Clarkin wrote 9 years ago:
I've got to say AWalk's writings/blogs, have taken me to places that otherwise I'd never have the pleasure to visit. But Roatan was one that I had to go and check for myself. She was right, There's a part inside of me that would definetly would like to be sucked into the Vortex!. Nonetheless, two weeks spend there where just what I needed to recharge and fall in love with Mother Nature again. Much love to you Amanda and good luck!.
Mary Kay wrote 9 years ago:
A, when you boil everything away it all comes down to friends and family where ever you are, visit often and be happy along the way.
Kelly wrote 9 years ago:
I wish I had the guts when I was young to move to Roatan. I wish I had the guts now. This blogger made me feel like Roatan is the place move to. I would like to have a little of that sun, heat, and relaxation!
Colette wrote 9 years ago:
This is such a positive and descriptive post about your new found piece of paradise! You seem to be living the life so many others can only dream about (unless you love skiing, ice hockey and endless shoveling)! Thank you for transporting us to a tropical dream, if only for a short while.
Greg wrote 9 years ago:
I truly enjoyed your glowing endorsement of life in Roatan. It's funny, so many people go to the Caribbean for cruises, vacations and honeymoons. Then, they seldom or never go back to relive what was, perhaps, the best time of their lives. You get to do that very thing every single day... sigh!!!
Colleen wrote 9 years ago:
Great blog! You paint a wonderful picture of life on Roatan. No wonder it attracts so many people.
Claire Murray wrote 9 years ago:
You are awesome prima! I loved roatan and am so impressed with the life you are living! Can't wait to try the expat life out on my own someday soon:)
Kate wrote 9 years ago:
Loved this post and reading your blog! This is what life should be about for everyone... Finding one's nook! So glad you have found yours and looking forward to more stories!
Robin wrote 9 years ago:
Amanda, you were a good writer as a fifth grader, but you are an amazing writer as an adult! You are as convincing as any travel brochures I've read! Enjoy the sunshine!
Kathy... wrote 9 years ago:
Sounds like a BIG change from New England & a place to visit... Someday!
Kara wrote 9 years ago:
Sounds like I may have to be the next cousin to make an Amanda trip!! I got my first taste of travel and adventure this semester studying abroad for 4 months and I guess you could say I got sucked into the vortex of exploring new places...can't wait to travel more and hopefully one day I'll see you in Roatan:)
Krystal wrote 9 years ago:
Well said Amanda!! I fall into categories 3, 2 and 1 in that order :)
Natalie wrote 9 years ago:
Wow! Sounds awesome. It was really cool reading this, Im actually headed to Honduras myself in a few weeks!
Bethany wrote 9 years ago:
I think you are wonderful and I am so proud of you!!
Sarah wrote 9 years ago:
I am a total beach person and this sounds like paradise! I once told my husband I wanted to sell my house and quit my job to live down there and he said people don't base their lives on the tv show House Hunters. Maybe your reasons will convince him!!!
Sarah wrote 9 years ago:
This little island is a Vortex for dreamers and we’ve all made our dreams become reality. WELL SAID ISLAND FRIEND!
Ben wrote 9 years ago:
Know that we are all living vicariously through you as we shovel snow and suffer from the general malaise that is the American Life...FML! We love you!
Janine wrote 9 years ago:
Love following you on your blog AWalk! Roatan sounds "lovely"! However, I am a true New Englander who actually prays for Snowstorms!! But it is always nice to take a break to a new place..... and Roatan could be that place! Actually my brother and sister in law spent their honeymoon there and loved it! Enjoy every minute of your time spent in your divine abode. Looks like you certainly do that!
TOMCAV wrote 9 years ago:
You had me at cheep, but when you said I can meet a guy!!! That's it I'm sold. This sound like an interesting place to go. Best of luck.
Helen wrote 9 years ago:
After reading this, Roatan will be on my bucket list to visit. The world is full of amazing places and life is too short not to explore them.
Mary O'Riordan wrote 9 years ago:
After the last week of shoveling and boots and electric blankets to keep warm, your little island sounds wonderful! With all of its benefits, I was not sold on it until you mentioned pizza. I can not live without pizza! The Vortex sound perfect. Enjoy!