I’ve given you some insight on those things you should bring to Roatan and those things you should leave behind. I’ve shared that when the Roatan Vortex pulls you in and you make the move to Roatan you will live quite contently with a whole lot less stuff—your personal worth no longer based on how much you own.
Now, even the Swiss Family Robinson needed a few things when they were shipwrecked on a Tropical Island. But priorities of what they needed evolved based first on availability, then an appreciation of realizing life can actually be better with less stuff cluttering your home and soul.
Okay that sounds kind of sappy, but it’s true!
That aside, four years ago availability was the deciding factor for shopping and I got out of the habit. Now there is much more available on Roatan; from housewares to clothes—but with a Roatan approach. Although I didn’t really need anything, I went on a couple of shopping excursions just to check it out.
Gone Shopping Day 1 – The Mall
That’s right we have a Mall on Roatan. Half the stores are unoccupied but there is a couple of Department Stores (I use that term loosely), a grocery store, a few banks, and all the phone services can be found there too. Oh, and a Wendy’s and an Applebee’s… shudder. I should note here that the majority of staff speak only Spanish and have never been to a North American style store or been employed by one. The cultural differences are vast. While where I’m originally from in Canada, customer service is expected (though not always delivered) on Roatan that’s an unfamiliar concept.
You will however get your own personal shadow. The moment you start perusing the shelves and racks, a clerk will be right behind you. Where you go… they go. I wasn’t comfortable with this the first few times I entered shops. It kind of freaked me out; I would become more preoccupied with ditching my clerk than shopping. One store, I started walking faster and faster around a bank of shelves until I caught up with my shadow… poor girl confused the heck out of her! Now I just accept she will be there and start handing her stuff that I may or may not try on or purchase so she can feel useful.
The other thing you have to get used to is that there will be a security guard at the entrance… just the way they do it here. He will open the door for you—nice, and it’s no big deal. However when you go to exit the store, even though the guard has watched your purchase being rung in and the bag stabled shut, you will have to hand him the receipt so he can mark it with a red slash or punch a hole in it, then he will open the door for you to leave. One store the guard had a pair of scissors and cut the bottom portion of the receipt off… I don’t know why and I didn’t bother to ask.
Gone Shopping Day 2 – Uptown Coxen Hole
My next excursion had me strolling the streets of the largest town on Roatan, Coxen Hole… stop giggling already, it’s named after a famous pirate.
This is where the Municipal office, other government offices, banks, a grocery store, a few restaurants, some souvenir shops, and a multitude of mom & pop and thrift stores can be found, and a Carrion—Roatan Walmart (giggle.)
The first thing you encounter are the taxis. The moment I exited my vehicle (keys still in hand) I was greeted by a barrage of honking horns. It didn’t matter that I was walking the opposite direction of the traffic flow on a one way street and ignored them. Each and every taxi (at least every other moving vehicle I passed) honked, and honked, and honked assuming I wanted a taxi. I’ve got the quick head shake down pretty good now. It doesn’t stop the drivers from honking the first time, but at least they quit after one—sometimes.
My first stop: the Carrion. Yes, the door was opened by a security guard, yes, my shadow appeared immediately. I found a few things to try on, silly me. Sizing here is ah, different. I’m not sure where they bring in clothes from, but even though North American sizes I’m a size 6, on Roatan XXL don’t fit me. But, I held up a sundress and though what the heck, looks like it might!
Draped over my shadow’s arm, we headed for the change room (giggle.) The first dilemma I encountered was that the change room had no hooks, no chair, no shelf, I had to place everything on the floor and there were at least fifty ants scurrying around retrieving crumbs of some sort. My shadow waited patiently outside the door as I brushed ants aside and raised the sundress over my head… ah, no, that’s as far as it got… too small!
I left without buying anything. That’s okay by me… I really don’t need anything anyhow.
Did a couple of guest posts this past week:
Dalene and Peter from Hecktic Travel have left Roatan to check out other other locations. “Bye Guy’s it was great to meet you!” Dalene had a little trouble convincing her Uncle Calvin that life as a vagabond can be a good thing. I helped her explain to him the merits of leaving the typical (or expected) behind.