I would like to think that after residing here on the rock for a little over a year, I have most of the important things down. Things like knowing what days to steer clear of the main drag because it will be consumed by cruise shippers in search of a safari taxi; or knowing when Eldon’s shelves tend to be picked over and it’s best just to wait, rather than make the trip to town twice or have to hit both grocery stores to find the mere 10 items I need; or knowing when someone is trying to overcharge me, suspecting I am a tourist; or, better yet, knowing when I’ll get kicked out of a cab to make room for cruise shippers (who pay much more than locals) headed back to the ship. Yes, it’s safe to say these things I now know all too well. These are lessons learned the hard way – through a lot of practice, much trial and error, and of course, the inevitable tears of frustration.

*click for image credit

I was excited to celebrate the recent one year anniversary of my move to the island, as with it comes the official expat/local badge of honor; I no longer consider myself a newbie or a tourist. And for the most part, this local distinction rings true. I no longer fear the trip to town for groceries or the occasional curious local asking all sorts of suspicious questions of who I am, where I live, and if I’m married. I must admit, however, I still fall victim to what I call “rookie moves” now and again…

RECENT ROOKIE MOVE #1

Last week, I discovered I completely blew through my “Sextuple” bonus cell phone credit AND monthly cell budget because I charged my phone in multiple small increments, as opposed to one large recharge. While this may not sound like a big deal to those on the outside, this is how I get credits to call home for next to nothing, which means my calls home this month will be few and far between – or VERY expensive.

Lesson learned…

Recharging cell phones in small increments jeopardizes your ability to cash-in on bonus time, therefore causing you to run out of cell minutes after a week, AND perhaps most importantly, costing double to call home.

RECENT ROOKIE MOVE #2

The day following my cellphone debacle, I hopped on my trusty Yamaha Black Stallion scooter and he wouldn’t start. After sitting stagnant for a couple of weeks while I was off-island, I figured he must have gotten lazy. I looked down and saw that the gas tank was empty and assumed a leak, seeing as how the gas tank was replaced by the previous owner prior to purchase. So I headed down to the dive shop next to my house, borrowed a gas can, hopped in a taxi (at this point, late for work but assuring myself it’s just part of the island lifestyle… right??), and headed to the gas station.  When I returned to the scooter and took the gas cap off, it dawned on me that I had never actually checked IN the gas tank to see if it was truly empty!

Lesson learned…

Turn the ignition key for an accurate read on the gas sitch.  Duh.

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RECENT ROOKIE MOVE #3

After I pushed the uncooperative steed back up the hill to my house ruling out a flooded… errr…. whatever it is you flood when you try too many times (??). Eventually BS (aka Black Stallion) started, and off we went. If memory serves me, I don’t even think I was discouraged or angry at this point, just annoyed that I’d have to take a cab and come back to deal with an uncooperative scooter. BS is new to me, but we’ve been together long enough to know what the other is capable of. I’ve learned which hills are more strenuous than others and how to capitalize on where the stallion gains power and speed through the hills of West Bay Road. This particular day, although I was thankful he had started with little coercion, my trusty steed was not performing like his usual self. In fact, at the steepest hill on my commute, we slowed to a speed of a literal sloth – no joke.  I wobbled and wobbled trying to keep balance, but there was no hope as we were too far down the hill to climb out of it without persuasion. What I did next is something I will A) NEVER, EVER forget and B) am very thankful I had read a mindful (and now relatable) Women Who Live on Rocks post the night prior, setting my pride at ease a bit. Ego aside, I put both feet on the ground and began pushing, much like a little kid on a tricycle. With each push I gave, the motor grabbed a sliver more power and growled a foot or two further. Then came the cars behind me. Not one, not two, but THREE cars maneuvered around my Flintstone-fashioned pedaling up to the top of this hill. I wanted to be BEYOND embarrassed, but couldn’t let myself go there. Just. Couldn’t. Go. There.

Once I’d safely returned home and retired my stallion to his stall for the night, I spoke with the mechanic and scheduled a tune-up for later in the week, explaining to him the bike seemed to have lost power (I did not dare mention my Flintstone moment, and subsequently prayed that he was not one of the cars that passed me). The following morning, my friendly/crazy fellow scooter-rider-with-a-custom-fringe-seat-cover/neighbor followed me down the walk from our houses only to kindly inform me that my rear tire was almost flat. I looked down, and though I couldn’t tell the difference from my perspective, I acknowledged what he was saying, and shamefully realized that all the fella needed was some air in his tires to enhance performance!

Lesson learned…

Duh.

*click for image credit

I’m clearly still getting the hang of this local thing…

Written By:

Sarah Henke

Current Rock of Residence:

Roatan, Honduras

Island Girl Since:

2012

Originally Hails From:

Portland, Oregon

Sarah has spent the last year settling into island life after falling in love with Roatan’s vibrant landscape and beautiful people while on a SCUBA vacation just 4 months prior to her move. She never dreamed she would find herself an expat before retiring, but so far, it fits her quite nicely. She thinks her little old scooter is the greatest thing since she made the discovery that the tree in front of her house is in fact a mango tree. Sarah has grown to find much joy in the unpredictable happenings on the island from the guy who tries to sell her tamales on the beach during her morning run to the baby chicks marching across her yoga mat mid-session. Most Sundays, you’ll find her at “church” just beyond her front yard, 70 feet below sea level, flirting with curious fish, searching for the occasional seahorse, and “praying” for a chance to admire a whale shark or hammerhead… from afar. You can read more about her journey on her blog, Bella Gypsy Soul.

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