Roatan 11

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7 – 8 November, 2012


Deborah collected Wolf and I, to show us a few sites on the island, and to introduce us to another Canadian couple, Debbie and Bob Cowan, expats from back East, who live and work on Roatan. They buy hand-made crafts from the locals, and export them to the USA, as well as sell them at a kiosk at the Cruise-Ship Terminal.  It is amazing how many expats we have met, which is giving us a good chance to ask questions and hear the truth about living and working in Roatan.


Torrents and torrents of rain have made the roads a watery hazard. Potholes in the dirt roads are deep pools, forcing one to drive at a snail’s pace. Fortunately there is only a short stretch of dirt road from the villas to the main paved road. The bad weather also restricts cell-phone reception and internet connection. 


Can one make in on this island, well, I have yet to get a straight answer. The saying we have heard a couple of times is, “If you want to make a million on Roatan, bring two million”. There are people like Steve, the realtor, who has been here for eighteen years, he is doing well. He is a clever entrepreneur who sees opportunities and grabs them. He is also the most renowned real estate agent on the island, so has a huge database of clients. He puts a whole package together on how and what to do when one is thinking of relocating. He has a full length, professional video, which he has put together for his clients, promoting Roatan and the Bay Islands.


His company also runs a property management group, and looks after holiday homes for snow-birders. He runs a high-speed internet business service for visitors, business men and expats, and rents out small cubicles for them to work from. He owns many properties including shops and offices and collects rent on them. So yes, expats can make money. It’s a case of being willing to risk it and work hard. Like business anywhere, it still depends on the owners to make it work; however if one relies on the tourists, one has to realize that this is seasonal and make provision for the down season. It’s no easy – never is when one is working in unfamiliar surroundings.  There are few jobs, and they will normally go to locals.


When Deborah took us to meet Debi and Bob, it was pouring down heavily; so, we saw very little of the scenery, and took no photos. They were preparing their shop for the cruise-ship trade coming in tomorrow. We got stuck in and helped them with the clean-up and display of their wares, made locally. Their shop is called “Made in Roatan” – you can check it out at


They are missionaries to this island and have a heart for the people, many of the craftsmen/and women artisans have no other form of income and most of the crafts were taught them by expats. For example ‘Stitches of Love Women’s Ministry’ – Roatan; started when a group of ladies from a sewing group in Oklahoma City wanted to share their skills and resources with the women of Roatan (prompted by Charlotte). The women connected with each other through Deborah.


The Coxen Hole ladies are learning English from Deborah as well as to sew, all their sewing machines and fabric are donated by the church in Oklahoma City. The ladies are thrilled to be sewing with machines and the products are made with love and care. Debi & Bob are happy to sell for them in their ‘not for profit’ shop and now online!
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I admire these dedicated people. Speaking to Bob and Debi it seems they are just making it, there income is minimal; they have and are, considering going back to Canada during the low seasons here, to earn some funds to tide them over during the quiet months; also to raise funds for their work with the locals.


If I gave you a false impression in my previous newsletters, I did not intend to. So, I am attempting to balance it with this summary.


Many expats live here, but a high percentage live off their US and Canadian pensions. If you come here to retire, and can live in a safe gated community, get involved with the expats for company, and endure the bugs (and the heat of the summer months), it is a good place to live.

Wolf and I are itchy, sticky, a little frustrated at not having a car. We have had fun, seen the rewards of our hard labour in the garden, and made terrific connections and good friends.


But… we are coming back early. We have accomplished all we agreed to do and feel we are wasting valuable vacation time sitting indoors while the weather plays silly buggers…

We will leave here on Saturday – our booking have been changed –


Hope to see you soon.


Still the contented Beach Bums…

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