Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Are you for... SCUBA?

You know, SCUBA?  That thing that lead me to eventually quit my job, trade in my city life & move to a 'lil island in the Caribbean?

Oh yeah, THAT!

Some of you may have forgotten Scuba is what first lead me to Roatan, because I'm often times busy posting about other travels and hobbies of mine.

To be fair, sometimes I forget too.

So I go for a dive to refresh my (terrible) Dory-like memory!

So, without further ado, allow me to present to you; A tiny glimpse of my Underwater Paradise . . .

Home Sweet Home

Caribbean Style Rose

My brother and his girlfriend, so happy to be sharing a new sport!


World's Best DiveMaster!

Brother & Kam

Certification Class

Pete is my friend from Portland,  He comes to dive every year
Moon Jelly

Randomly randoms, West End Divers

End of a beautiful day on the water

Exploring the East End of the island

Cave much?


Caribbean Reef Squid  -  These guys are a lot of fun to watch

Spotted Eagle Ray pair

Weightless is great!

French Angelfish

Lettuce Leaf Sea Slug;  about 3" long

Lionfish, a predator.  We eat these guys as much as possible, They are not welcome here!

Scorpion Fish

My bro and I after he got his OW Certification!
I've always wondered...

Flamingo Tongue

Hi Mickey!  Never leave home without your camera...   Visit http://www.caribbeanreeflife.com/ to find out why!

I love all the colors and textures on the reef

Beautiful Barrell Sponge

I couldn't be happier!

Ellie, posing for the camera!

Merry Christmas!  2013
Underwater grave

Stay tuned for more underwater updates! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

8,536 Pairs of TOMS Shoes - Mystery Solved

Many of you have heard of TOMS Shoes.  If you haven't, you should.
Many of you have heard the rumor that they donate a portion of the funds from your purchase, but never really knew if it was true.

So let me help you out.  Read on to learn about this amazing initiative, and yes, I can prove it's true!

TOMS is a for-profit company based in Playa Del Rey, California, that operated the now defunct non-profit subsidiary, Friends of Toms. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas.

TOMS have made a name for themselves over the last 10 years, and are a very popular fashion choice all over the world.  They're partnered with over 70 countries to distribute
  • Shoes  -  TOMS has given more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to children in need.
  • Eye Care TOMS Eyewear purchases provide a person in need with a full eye exam by trained medical professionals. Each patient then receives the treatment he or she needs. TOMS supports treatments for three of the most common vision issues: Glasses, Sight Saving Surgery and Medical Treatment
  • Clean Drinking Water  -  Each bag of TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee provides
    140 liters of safe water, a week's supply, to a person in need.
  • Safe Birthing  TOMS Bags purchases support our Giving Partners'
    in delivering the vital materials and training needed to
    help provide a safe birth regardless of the facility.

SO.  Now that you have a better idea of who these guys are, and their initiative, I'm going to paint a picture for you.  Except it's no painting, it's real life, right here in Roatan, Honduras!

From time to time I have the opportunity to volunteer with an AMAZING organization called Because We Care .  BWC was founded by a woman native to the island of Roatan, Nidia Webster.  Nidia's initiative is all about helping the needy. Reaching out into the most REMOTE places all over the Island of Roatan, giving a shoulder and a hand to the those forgotten by our government.  When Nidia isn't running her full time party supply store in town, or focusing on her own 4 children and their school activities, homework and social lives, she's dedicating all of her time to coordinating volunteers and fundraisers to help those in need ALL OVER the island!  Food Drives, school supplies, shoes, sponsoring handmade school desks and more!  She is an amazing woman with a keen talent for pulling together some major efforts.  Imagine running a donation program on an island where few people have transportation, including the volunteers!  It takes a village...

A little girl from the Kindergarten Class in Spanish town.  What a little heart breaker!
The last 2 months the team has visited every single school on the island of Roatan, even out to St. Helene by boat, to size and deliver 8,536 pairs of brand new TOMS shoes.  That's 17,072 feet and 170,720 little piggies!!! 

Getting sizes sorted before the fitting begins in Punta Gorda
The process can be a bit arduous, packing box after box, cramming in tight spaces with little or no facilities, language barriers, lots of sweaty little feet (17,072 to be exact) and humid, hot sun.  But in the end, putting a smile on a little child's face, and watching the instant pride they gain with a pair of brand new shoes that are all theirs, not hand me downs or shared with other siblings, makes it ALL worth it.
The kids love to help us carry boxes.

A local administration monitors the curriculum in each school, to ensure English is also being taught.

Check out my new shoes!
All dolled up!

Honduran children are so beautiful!

Waiting patiently for their turn

Boxes and Boxes Galore

We fitted around 1,000 kids this day

Trying to make it fun for the kids!

CONTACT ME if you'd like to learn more about contributing to the new school desk initiative, school supply donations, health & hygiene donations or actively volunteering during your visit to Roatan.  *Thank you to my friend Debbie-Leigh Crofutt over at Mermaid on a Raft,  and Because We Care Organization for sharing her photos!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

One of the most beautiful places in the world, Lake Atitlan

It has always been a given, that if I ever got the chance to visit Guatemala, Lake Atitlan would be part of the tour.  I didn't know anything about this lake, except that over and over and over I'd heard others express their lasting love, special memories and unique spiritual connections with this natural wonder of the world .  And now I finally understand why.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of this beautiful, serene, soaring landscape of natural beauty.  The magnificent beauty surrounding myself and this lake was nothing short of life altering.

Lake Atitlán is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
It is the deepest lake in Central America, thrusting itself over 1,100 feet deep.
It's deep caldera is a result of volcanic activity 84,000 years ago.
3 Volcanoes share the lake's shores; Volcan Atitlan, Volcan San Pedro and Voclan Toliman.

You have no choice.  But to relax.

This mountain is called 'Indian Nose'  Can you see it?

Many small towns can be found dotted all around the lake, in which Maya culture is still very prevalent.  Traditional clothing is still worn by many of the men and women indigenous to the land  Most towns are accessible by road, but would take hours and hours.  The easiest mode of transport from one town to the next is water taxi.

Brian and I, pretty proud of ourselves for getting a water taxi at night

I had the great pleasure of spending 3 of my 4 nights with Brian and Lindsay!  They had plans to visit the lake as well, so we headed up, met up and had a blast!  We spent the days lazily exploring trails and towns, swimming, eating, drinking and dancing.  The town we spent most of our time in was San Marcos.  I gotta say, as an Oregonian I thought I knew what hippy culture was like.  Until San Marcos.

The town has become a Mecca for all things spiritual, with several meditation, yoga, and massage training centers, among many other earth loving communal style compounds, vegan cafes, precious stone vendors galore and tie dye for days.  I even met a dog named Rainbow.

Local kids love cameras.  A lot!

A quick and easy way to get around the larger, hilly towns.  Tuk Tuks!
Brian studying the laws of gravity, with an audience below.
Our favorite spot to chill in San Marcos

Lindsay's volcano selfie

I didn't want to jump off that platform, but I really wanted this picture, so I jumped.

Shortly after I returned home from this amazing 10 day adventure, I got fired from my job for going.  I still can't quite wrap my head around the logic there, but one thing is for certain;  I wouldn't take it back for anything in the world!!!  Lake Atitlan, we'll meet again...

Volcanos everywhere, welcoming and bidding farewells.

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