I learned a few things pretty early on from living on the rock called Roatan. My first two lessons came in the form of:

Manaña does NOT mean tomorrow here.

It means, “In the future. Possibly.” Don’t expect anything tomorrow or you will be frustrated, disappointed, angry, and/or sad. All that will do for you is increase your blood pressure. If things are meant to happen, they usually do. Eventually. In the meantime, it helps to chillax.

If you see it, and think you might want it – you better buy it.

So you’re at the grocery store and you see your favorite jar of pickles (or whatever). Don’t think, “Well, I don’t need them right now, so I’ll just come back another day and pick up a jar.” That’s probably not going to be a possibility. It’s pretty amazing how things just seem to “vaporize” into thin air on this island. This applies not just to the grocery store, but to pretty much any store or market you go into. I recommend adjusting your thinking from Do I maybe want that sometime? to I DO want that now or I DON’T want that ever. Learning to be decisive in the moment is going to help you avoid some future disappointment.

Those two learnings have helped me a lot in my island life transition. But by far the most important thing I’ve learned here that saves me a ton of headaches is:

Stop using the word “WHY.”

I was sitting in the bank one day next to a guy who was new to the island. He turned and asked me, “Why do they make you turn your phone off or leave it in the lockers outside?”

I looked him straight in the eye and replied, “We don’t use that word here.”

He looked quite puzzled and finally asked, “What word?”

I then went on to explain to him that we just know the rules and have to follow them. There’s no one who actually knows “why.” (At least no one that I know is aware of the real reason.) You can ask the tellers or security guards or managers but they don’t actually KNOW. They might make something up to satisfy you. And what if you did find out the actual reason WHY you can’t take your phone into the bank? What difference does it make to you? It’s not going to change the rule, even if it doesn’t make sense (especially if it doesn’t make sense), so who cares?

Make your life (and mental state) simpler and learn to just say “okay” in times that you’re tempted to ask “why?” It’s a much shorter sentence and perhaps you won’t be looking for an actual answer.

Tourism Roatan 2011

Here are some situations where I have stopped using “why” on my rock:

Why is the power out again?

The power company always explains that it’s a distribution fault or something like that. Does it matter why? Power is still out and will be out until it comes back on. Read a book by candlelight. Or go to bed. Or go outside and lay in a hammock.

Why doesn’t the grocery store keep this product in stock all the time?

One answer I received once was, “Because it sells too quickly and we have to restock it too much.” Did that answer make me feel any better about the product being out of stock? That would be nope. Learn that while some things may not make sense to you, it’s not important in the grand scheme of life here. It’s time to quit expecting things to be “normal” like they were where you were from. If what you need is “normal,” you probably should go back.

Why aren’t you renting out your empty building that’s been vacant for 3 years?

It’s right on the main drag of West End! As was told to me by the owner of said property, “We Hondurans own our property. We want the rent we want and don’t need to rent in order to cover our expenses like people in other countries do. We will wait until we get the rent we want.” Enough said. It is what it is.

Why don’t roads get repaired?

I mean, we have a large tourism business and the cruise ships have to pay a fee for every passenger on the ship so shouldn’t here be money for road repair? True in theory. But it doesn’t happen. It’s just a fact of life here that must be accepted.

I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea. Quitting all my “whys” has made my life so much easier and I have far fewer frustrations now that I just accept the situations as they are – whatever they may be.

–   –   –

Have you, too, deleted “why” from your vocabulary while living on an island?

Tori Chriestenson

Current Rock of Residence:

Roatan

Island Girl Since:

2010

Originally Hails From:

Colorado, USA

Tori moved to Roatan because she had grown tired of the regular old grind and all the turmoil going on in the USA. She knew she wanted to move out of the states. Not to mention the fact that she hates snow and has lived with snow her whole life (she even has a “no snow” tattoo). So she knew she wanted to move south – as in Central America-ish south. She wasn’t sure where, but she knew there had to be a beach, palm trees, and NO SNOW.

Tori had a few friends who had been SCUBA diving in Roatan before and so she thought she would check it out. (Note – Tori is not a diver nor does she care to be one. Snorkeling is great!) So in July 2009, she visited Roatan for a one week vacation. At that time, it had been only one month after some serious government upheaval in Honduras. There were State Department warnings about traveling to Honduras but Tori wasn’t worried. She knew it was the island and surely that’s much different than the mainland. Sure enough, the island was tranquillo and it was nice because there were almost no tourists. While in Roatan, she visited with islanders and expats and decided, “Yep – this’ll do.”

So after vacationing in Roatan, Tori put her sights on a move to the island. She figured, if it didn’t work out, she could always go back. So February 27, 2010, Tori moved to Roatan and hasn’t looked back. Of course she does go back and visits her family in Colorado, but her heart and home is in Roatan.

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