The Other Side of the Island
June 22nd, 2022 by Mark
Posted in Uncategorized|
On the Island of Roatan, Clinica Esperanza is located in Sandy Bay near West End. This is where we spent most of our time. A few times during my stay, I was able to go to the other side of the island for various volunteer clinical activities. In my previous posts, I showed mostly the clinical side of my time in Honduras, so for this last post, I thought I would show the other side!
First, let’s talk about the accommodations. We stayed at the Refuge which is affordable, pretty low-key basic housing. There is a small pool and the 2 bedroom apartment we were in has 2 single beds in each room, a basic kitchen and living space with couches and a 4 chair table, and a cute little balcony. In this space my daughter and I played countless card games (most of which I lost), made cookies, beans, rice, quesadillas, pb&j sandwiches, and just sat and talked about our day. Open windows and fans kept the heat bearable and at night we used the bedroom swamp coolers which kept the room nice and cool.
While the accommodations were adequate and cute, and a great price, the best part of the Refuge was the VanZee family. Nic and his family are AMAZING and really make you feel welcome. We enjoyed wonderful dinners and stories, smores and songs around a campfire, a talent show night, and so much more. Their children love to interact and play and really help to pass the time. In addition to just being great hosts, they also help you take advantage of the opportunities the island has. They help arrange excursions and tell you where to find the best discounts. With their help we were able to do some really fun and exciting things.
Now, I have had comments and conversations with others who feel like one should never do touristy things when you are going to volunteer. I remember one student of mine said we should work sunup to sundown and then go to bed to do it again the next day. I do agree that you should not use volunteering as an excuse for tourism. However, I feel that to really get to know a people and a culture you need to explore it outside of the clinical world. I also feel like part of supporting the people you are working with is helping to build the economy. That means souvenirs, excursions, local restaurants, etc. Finally, I also feel that relaxing and having some fun is also good for mental health and wellness and can keep you from burning out. So in that light, when the VanZees suggested or offered activities after clinic or on weekends, we tried to take advantage of them!
One of these adventures included scuba diving for the first time. Nic even made sure we were ready by giving us a quick prep course in the pool! The water, reef, and sea life of Roatan are outstanding. Scuba diving was definitely worth it, but even just snorkeling off the beach I could spend all day in the water! We saw a sea turtle, lion fish, hermit crabs, and all sorts of other fun things. We also went ziplining, hung out with monkeys and exotic birds, did some local karaoke, explored the shops and museums, and tried the local cuisine just off the beach. Being a bit on the shy/timid side, had the VanZees not helped guide us to and through some of these activities, I’m sure we would have missed out on a lot of these incredible activities that Roatan had to offer.
All in all, a great trip of learning, serving, and island exploration! Even without these after-hour activity options, I would definitely recommend volunteering with Clinica Esperanza, but the VanZees and the fun side of the island certainly helped round out the experience. I can’t wait to go back!