Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Part 1 - Where I’ve been

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the day I met Roatan.  Here’s how it all began…
I grew up in the water.  When our family wasn’t boating down the street on the Willamette, waterskiing, kneeboarding and wakeboarding; I was at the neighborhood pool with my 2 best friends, Andrea and Mckenzie.  Every summer the 3 of us would attend swim team practice each morning at 8 am.  Some days we never left, and would spend the entire day playing games, practicing diving and synchronized swimming routines.  Every Saturday we competed against other teams in town in an all day swim meet.  I’m surprised I don’t have gills or a mermaid tail.

SCUBA diving always interested me.  Well, the part about getting to see a whole different world that you can’t easily see any other way.  The part about relying on some strange apparatus to breath beneath the surface was what I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around.  I hated that this scared me, especially because I love to travel, and sometimes the locations I visit are great for SCUBA diving as well.  So I decided to beat this fear.  After a few weeks of training, more than one anxiety attack, some tears and a flipping COLD open water dive in the Puget Sound, I got certified!

Fast forward a year, and it was time to plan my annual international vacation.  I checked out the list of top destinations on my dive shop’s website, and then started my research.  This is how I would eventually find Roatan.

I arrived on April 29th, 2012.  The next morning I went on my first Caribbean dive.  My instructor paired me with the guy I had met earlier that also worked in the bar, Alex.  I had a horrible experience.  My ears were in tons of pain, my mask was so tight my eyes felt like they were going to explode and my pride was somewhere still on the bottom of the ocean after we came back to the boat.  I was so embarrassed/traumatized, I skipped the next dive and hid in my room.   Scuba had defeated me after all.  I was really upset, and wondering what I was going to do for 2 weeks now that the whole reason I came had gone downhill.  NO.  I had come entirely too far in this phobia conquering life mission I enlisted in, and failure was not an option. 

When I wasn’t traumatizing myself under the sea, I would sit in the Caribbean colored Adirondack chairs on the deck with a Salva Vida beer (Spanish for life saver), and stare at the ocean for hours.  Work was really challenging me and I was 100% spent.  My mind felt like mush.  I couldn’t focus on anything or process an entire thought.  The staff would come check on me from time to time; I could tell everyone was curious why I was there alone and why I did almost nothing aside from diving and staring off into the distance.

The infamous 'chairs'

For 3 days I stared before I finally felt like a normal human being again.  The numbness in my brain had gone away, and I was slowly beginning to relax.  I met 2 couples from Denver who were staying and diving at the hotel.  We became quick friends, and shared many laughs together, while we all compared notes about our dives.  Alex, the bartender, was a favorite of ours, and he quickly became friends with all of us, and even took us to the other side of West End, to show us where the locals hang out.
We had a blast, dancing in the warm Caribbean evening breeze.  Ok.  That's a lie.  We were sweating like no other.  It was HOT.  It didn't matter.  Sweating our tails off, dancing to the music, in shirts and flip flops.  We were living the life in paradise.  Dirt roads, warm beer and happy people.  This place was starting to feel like home, and I've only been on the island 5 days.

Alex and I dancing, my last night on the island (so I thought!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If you think my story sounds cool...

You should meet Rika!

Rika and I met through a mutual friend here on the island, and it wasn't until I ran across her blog that I realized how much we had in common.

She and I are fairly close in age, and it just so happens we also found ourselves in the same situation, around the same time.  What situation is that you ask?  Living a life full of monotonous, everlasting days and weeks and months filled with the same routine.  Working our tales off to make someone else the big bucks, so we could get by.  Wondering if 'this' is what life is all about, and how ridiculously unexciting it will be, to live the next 60 years being living a 'normal' 'average' 'life'.

Rika began blogging long before I did, and has spent a pretty fair amount of time explaining what all goes into the execution of her plan to shake things up a bit, and pursue a life a little less 'average'.  A life some people only dream about.  A life she and I dreamt about, and decided to do something about that dream.  Breaking out of the 9-5 grind, settling down and marrying, buying a house (well, she was smart and I think skipped that brilliant part of the 'plan'), having a few kids, staying up until 1 am watching Conan O'Brien, folding laundry and planning meals for the week.  NOT that this is a bad thing.  It's just not meant for everyone.

And so it was born.  The initial blueprint for Rika's big plan... Cubicle Throwdown.

I won't spoil all the fun this girl is having, I'll let you all see for yourself;  Happy reading!  Just beware when reading... severe jealousy may possess your soul, leaving you slightly bitter, mumbling comments under your breath.  Just remember one thing; If you want it bad enough, you'll find a way.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Manaaaana, Manana

Another glorious week on the rock has somehow flown by… don’t ask me how.  I’m confident part of the ‘flying by’ is due to the fact that everything takes longer than ‘normal’ to achieve.  Therefore, every day sneaks away, with a to do list still left for ‘manana’.  If you don’t know what this means, click on the word, to better understand where ‘manana’ will take you.  It used to be a joke, when I first arrived, that the locals are on ‘manana schedule’.  Now I find that I sometimes am too.
It's hot.  A lot of factors go into the simplest things when it's hot.  Construction workers start very early, so they are finished by early afternoon, the hottest part of the day.  Walking to the store or working around the house, you're sure to break a sweat or more often end up with a wet tank top by the time you're finished.  The heat zaps your energy, leaving you lethargic and tired.  Even drinking alcohol takes the back burner in this little tourist town.  Your body craves so much hydration, it's hard to substitute it with beer.  Sad, isn't it??
So when the heat is too much to bear, we look for things to keep us cool, like... playing in the water!!
Laura, Keru and I heading out for an afternoon adventure

I'm happy to report that my underwater photography is coming along...  There is still plenty of room for improvement, but here's where we're at this week! 
Grouper.  If you look closely, you can see the little tiny blue fish cleaning his gills and teeth. 

Blue Parrotfish.  Was so Beautiful!  and BIG!

Barrel Sponge

'West End Wall' divers from 75 feet below the surface

Beautiful Caribbean Lobster

'Turtle Bum' as my friend Pete calls it
Stay tuned for some VERY exciting underwater photos  this week...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Supporting Evidence

Supporting evidence, related to my last post:

Here you have it, in all its glory... possibly the most embarrassing picture of me since I arrived! 

Erika looks beautiful of course, and kindly reassured me that under water glamour shots take practice.  She even offered to give me some pointers before our next dive!  Now THAT's a good dive buddy!

I score this one 'Room for Improvement'.  Yikes!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Secret Sunshine

For those of you who don’t know me that well, I am a very private person.  I don’t easily share my thoughts and feelings freely, I keep them locked up for a select few who I feel are genuinely interested in what I have to say.  I’m not one who talks just to exercise my Temporomandibular joint.  (I thought I would never get to use that word again after my A&P class.  Ha!) 

I’ll admit, at times it can be a bit overkill.  I know that I shouldn’t assume on other’s behalves when they are or are not interested in my tales.  This is something I am working on.  If you want to talk, talk.  Simple as that.  Stop worrying if people care.  Stop worrying that your stories aren’t told as elaborately as some.  Stop caring so much what others think.  Just be you.

I do, however, love sharing things that are going on in my life by blogging.  It’s like a win win for me.  I can share my stories and pictures, and the only people who ‘have’ to read it are the ones that ‘want’ to.  There!  Problem solved.

There’s just one little tiny problem.  I don’t know who is following my journey.  My blog host has some really neat statistics about the blog; such as how many hits I get every day, and what countries my audience lives in.  It even tells you search terms that has drawn a reader to the blog, in addition to much more crafty information.  It’s great!  What it doesn’t tell me, is WHO the reader is.  Is it my neighbor?  My future husband?   My mom?  My Boss?  My elementary school classmate?  My ex boyfriend’s mother?  My Scottish insurance broker? (You know who you are!)

And so I find myself compelled to sensor what I say.  What if my employer sees that I’m working 3 jobs, and they get the impression I don’t need them? (I do, trust me!!)  Or my mom sees the pictures of my new house, and realizes I don’t wash my dishes as often as I say I do.  What if I over-serve myself at an island pirate party, and my GRANDMA finds out??

In the back of my mind, I know I would simplify so many things if I just let that all go.  Wrap my arms tight around myself, and love who I am and appreciate what I am doing for myself, and not worry about the other things I cannot control, like what people think.  What if I am just me?

I think I’ll try it.  Because, at the end of the day, I like me pretty well, and I bet (most) of you will too.