The Luxury of Getting Lost

It’s no secret that island driving is a beast in its own right. Between curvy roads, wild taxi drivers, and tourists running amok, no road could possibly be deemed “safe” on any island. But that’s all part of the adventure, right?

Here’s the little bonus part of that adventure: no road signs. Do you know how hard it is to give directions when there are no road names or signs? Let me give you an idea…

To get to my house, turn down the dirt road by the church in the big field near the horses. Go up the pothole-ridden hill and then follow the Silver Surfer sign. Turn right between the two houses with fences and barking dogs, and then turn left before the big white gate. Continue through the jungle – you won’t see my house until you’re suddenly in my driveway.

*click for image credit

Super easy, right?!

Any time we order delivery (Yes! That is a real option here!), we usually try to get them to our house but give up after hearing the motorcycle zoom around in circles through the whole neighborhood. And, yes, it’s that quiet in my paradise that I can hear the single vehicle throughout the entire area! We usually just meet them at the entrance to our neighborhood to save them the trouble.

When there are no road signs, directions are instead given by landmarks, which may or may not be real or stationary. “You know where the school used to be on the beach? I’m past that.” Or, “I’m across from the old mechanic shop before the big houses but after the speed bumps.” Or my personal favorite, “Turn left after you see the monkey hanging on the zipline, and then dodge the black iguanas on your way down the hill until it turns into beach.”

Even offering directions for places in town can be a challenge. “Turn left at the roundabout (which, in reality, is a completely illogical statement), pass the church, and we’re just after the Thai Place – look for a door and a staircase above West End Divers.” That place is appropriately named Cafe Escondido (Hidden Cafe).

So what can you possibly take away from all this creative direction-giving? I’ve learned that directions are simply unnecessary. We live on island time, and we enjoy our small, intimate communities. This means you don’t have to rush from Point A to Point B, never taking a wrong turn so as not to waste time. You don’t have to always know where you’re headed or why.

You can meander, and follow a butterfly, and show up hours later than you intended because it’s okay. It’s okay to live life slowly. It’s okay to chat with a stranger to ask what’s farther up the road. It’s okay to get lost.

Getting lost allows you to find something. That may be a beautiful beach, or a new hiking trail, or a field full of goats giggling at you while you scratch your head in confusion. Whatever you find will be better than what you lost, which was merely your way.

*click for image credit

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Amanda Walkins

About Amanda Walkins

Girl travels solo. Girl meets boy. Within a week, girl moves in with boy, adopts island dog, and decides to never go home. Her life is a cliché. But actually, Amanda is just like so many others who got sucked into the vortex of their respective rocks. Amanda’s current rock is Roatan, a little island off the east coast of Honduras. From brutal Boston winters to the frenetic pace of Washington, DC, Amanda just kept heading farther south in search of warmer climes and laid-back vibes. Now she spends her days balancing writing and socializing with the eclectic residents of Roatan. That beats the hell out of balancing in high heels on a moving metro train.

Amanda writes about her rock for tourists, current and potential expats, and, of course, for her own sanity at www.amandawalkins.com.

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36 thoughts on “The Luxury of Getting Lost

  1. Yes! So true.. And also the names of places on the water ..to snorkel or chill on sand bars… ” let’s go to lone tree heads today.. You know the ones by crawfish key… “. ” why are they called lone tree and not crawfish heads?” ..” Cuz there used to be a small island in front of crawfish called love tree ..cuz it had a Lone, single tree on it.. But it got pummeled in a hurricane and went away..but everyone still calls it live tree..I don’t know why”

  2. I love this post. To get to the road our house is off of you have to turn at the white chair. Its just an old, cracked, plastic white chair. I think I should start hoarding white plastic chairs so I can replace it if it ever disappears.

  3. Loving this post and these comments are hilarious!!! Although Jamaica is one of the bigger islands and we have street signs in the cities we still give directions like that. Just today I had to go to a workshop at a school and asked for directions. I was told…
    “Drive go downtown like you going out of town and then turn up inna tivoli. When you reach Denham town police station turn left and drive go straight out till you see the two stop light one behind the other. Don’t go Tru di second one tek the first onE stay on the left. Drive until you reach hagas den turn left again drive till yuh se di school pon di right.
    and these are directions in the heart of the island capital so you can just imagine the rural areas.
    We also specialise in turning left, right , and going straight at roundabouts…

  4. Some of my favorite days on island were days we simply drove. No point to it, no destination, no worry at all. We would take a turn because we hadn’t noticed that street before, or if it looked like it led nowhere (which I guess does not make sense, but call me curious) or turn because we saw a donkey and wanted to follow it. Just looking at the different things that turned up along the way.

    Really loved reading this, thank you!

  5. Amanda, My wife Julie and I have been to your corner of paradise and fell in love with it. We both enjoy reading everything you put out and saved your episode of “House Hunters” or whatever it was where you went back home to tell your family that you met your Irish dive dude and was moving back to stay. We have plans and dreams to retire to your paradise one day. I was thinking about it this morning on my hectic 1 hour drive to work and decided that I needed to jot my dream and plans down. I hope you read/enjoy our dream:

    “Welcome to Roatan”
    Ten years they spent dreaming and designing their plans
    Out the door they walked, their entire existence in their hands
    Another world they both longed to learn and explore
    A new life they sought on some distant Caribbean shore.
    The sun was just starting to show its light
    Soon they’d be catching their dream flight
    Anxious and nervous they stepped out of the cab
    Their bags taken under arm as he pays their tab.
    Checked in and passed security, they waited to board
    Butterflies in their stomachs as the engine roared
    The plane lifts up and into the sky they did roam
    Another world they would both soon call home.
    Nothing more than clouds and ocean below
    The plane flew them where they wanted to go
    Tears in their eyes as they glanced over the wing
    As off in the distance their island could be seen.
    They dropped through the clouds as the plane flew over the beach
    Touching down as the engine slowed and the tires began to screech
    The captain came over the speakers “Welcome to Roatan”
    Ten years in the making they were finally realized their plan.
    Smiling faces greeted them as they exited the plane
    Immediately they knew their plan was not in vain
    No more worries or keeping up with the Joneses
    A much simpler life with daily hammock dozes.
    Listening to the melody of the waves and trade winds
    Barbecuing the days’ catch or making new friends
    Laughing and loving, living life like it was meant to be
    Or sitting quietly, just the two of them down by the sea.
    Lazy days, doing nothing or diving on the reef
    An unreal world that seems totally make belief
    But it’s their new life, exactly as they planned
    Far away from old troubles, “Welcome to Roatan”.

    • Robby, that is one of the greatest things I’ve read today! What wonderful sentiments 🙂 I hope you keep dreaming and planning, and until you’re ready to move here full-time, make sure you come visit as often as possible! Those barbecues and hammock dozes are waiting!!

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  7. Hi Amanda, I am visiting Roatan for a month mid-May to mid-June and I would love to meet up sometime. Originally, I was planning to come with my significant other but the relationship has since ended so I am coming solo (well, technically with my favorite 4-legged companion, “Miney May, World Traveler” she has her on FB page.) Anyway, an island vacation sounds like exactly what the Dr. ordered. I’m dive certified but I haven’t been in years and have read exciting reviews. I work remote or from “home” so I am always looking for a 2nd home base, and of course am partial to islands. If I like it, perhaps Roatan could be it! Let me know your thoughts and have a great week! – Kara

    • Hi Kara! Thanks for the comment! While I would love to meet up with you, we don’t live in Roatan anymore. You will love it though and the diving is amazing! Check out Roatan Divers in West End. You’ll have to do a refresher if it’s been a while, but it’ll be worthwhile if you’re there for a month! Have a fantastic time!!

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