12/27/2016 Christmas is here and gone. The build-up to it is so much less than when the boys were younger and still at home. I used to make myself frantic ensuring everything was just perfect for them. Now we barely celebrate, we stopped exchanging gifts when I moved to Roatan alone in 2012 and never resumed. It’s not like things are easy to find here, shopping is pretty much nil except for Mega Paca, ACE and Serranos. Other than them (a used clothing, household store and 2 hardware stores) it’s slim pickings. And that’s OK, there really isn’t much either of us need or want, really.
Christmas has a different meaning here on this island where so many have so little. The kids on the island don’t have a clue what the kids in the US experience at Christmas time. There are no iPads, iPhones, new laptops, motorcycles, flat screens for their rooms, none of that. The majority of the kids don’t even have a Christmas meal that is any different from their everyday meal of beans and rice. Some don’t even get that because their families are so poor.
Nidia has taken it upon herself for the last 18 years to try to make things better for the kids on Roatan. For her to have so many parties or do food drives is a huge undertaking, but she does it and she does it well. She is so well respected on the island that people jump at the opportunity to help her. I first met her in 2014 when she was doing a food and toy drive at Christmas. We dropped off food and she was there and I introduced myself and said we would help. That was our first year. In 2015 she decided to concentrate more on the kids and make the whole thing center around them. That year there were 2 large parties, one on the east end and one on the west end. This year she expanded to 4 parties and 2 days of visiting different forgotten communities. People have no idea what is involved in pulling off something like this on Roatan but Nidia is undaunted, she just digs in and gets it done. I am so proud to call this whirlwind of energy my friend, I adore her, she is truly a gift to the island of Roatan. Without her, none of this would happen.
I apologize for the super long post (yes, this is one of those, laden with photos). I could do it in 2 posts but I’m not going to. So grab a bottle of wine or a pot of coffee and chill for a bit.
I would say being down here in the gorgeous sunny weather is reward enough but the weather has been downright shitful. WET WET WET, sick of it. Yes, I like the rain but in excesses like this, I’m over it.
My friend Milesse owns Barefoot Cay, and she is also the one who started the airport volunteer group. She had a few ladies over to her place to meet the wife of the new General Manager of BFC. We talked about what we did on the island and had a fabulous lunch and mimosas and wine. It was a nice afternoon. A few days after that I was back there again with all the volunteers that greet at the airport. Once again, Milesse served us lunch and we had drinks and chatted about the direction the airport greeter group was going.
Then we were back at Barefoot Cay again for an evening get together to once again introduce the new GM and his wife. That was a great night, lots of incredible food, the wine was flowing and the place was filled with wonderful people. If I have to go somewhere several times in a short period of time, I can’t think of a better destination, Barefoot is really a one of a kind boutique resort. Everything there is done with exquisite taste.
Alexi turned 18 on December 12th. We took him to Mega Paca and let him shop for clothes. Most things there aren’t over $5.00 and he spent $63.00, he had a stack of clothes. After that we took him to Herby’s for lunch, he’s never been there before. He changed into a pair of his new shorts in the back seat of the truck before we went to lunch.
Our friends Marcia and Dennis were having a full moon party at their house. They just had a huge pool put in and were celebrating that and the moon. They have one of Frito’s pups, Duke. It was Marica I was snorkeling with last year on my birthday when the sea was full of jellyfish, it was pretty amazing. Trish and Dave came over and we all rode together to their house. They had over 60 people there, it was a lot of fun. I failed to bring my swimsuit, damn, I could have done some synchronized swimming with Francie.
My friend Carmen and her sister, who was visiting from South Dakota, wanted to come over to the house. Brett and Carmen live boat access only and don’t have a car. The girls took a taxi to get massages in Politilly so I picked them up on my way back from BJ’s in Oak Ridge, (I dropped off a box of soccer balls, wrapping paper and a few toys for the Fiddlers Bight kids Christmas party).
Carmen, Kecia and I came back to our house and Kecia met the dogs, sat by the pool for awhile and chatted and then went to Cal’s for lunch. Soon as we sat down and Reynaldo brought our drinks, he said, it’s going to rain. And it did, almost immediately. We moved to a table under the roof and enjoyed our meal. I took the 2 of them back to Oak Ridge and Brett picked them up.
Nidia has been getting ready for all of the Christmas parties for the island kids for the past few months. Once she got enough money donated she went to the mainland shopping. She scheduled 4 parties and 2 days of doing deliveries in the smaller communities. The first one was held in a small community called Wild Cane. It was outdoors under a tree, along a pretty busy road and a stream. Nidia expected 200-250 kids, there were 500. They came from so far away it took the kids over an hour to walk there, not what we expected at all. We had many generous donations from all over that helped purchase a ton of Santa hats, toys for all of the kids at ALL of the parties, bags of candy, hotdogs, drinks and ice cream cones too. I was excited to see my friends, Fred and Trish, Faber, Jeanette and Don, K.J. and Mike and Toni there. Of course Janisha was there to help her mom and Johnie and Hector helped at several of the parties also. Faber comes from the states for the parties, every year. He goes to every one and is a huge help. He also brings donations from the people he works with at the hospital. (He also comes for the TOMS shoe deliveries.) Jeanette and Don, Faber, Janisha and Kirsty helped out at Big Rock also, slicing rolls, passing out hot dogs, removing packaging from toys. You name it, we did it.
The second party was on a Monday in Crawfish Rock, a small community down near the water. The road to Crawfish Rock is dirt and this time of year with the torrential rains it is slick mud with huge ruts and potholes. I was not looking forward to the drive down there.
Helping at Crawfish Rock were Janisha, Faber, Johnie and Hector and Rusty and Sheila and of course our own special Santa, Sully.
After it rained 3 times while we were there the road turned into a muddy slip and slide. Santa, in his big truck got stuck, I was able to drive right out of there with my AWD car. Faber and Johnie were amazed that we didn’t get stuck.
When I got home on Monday from the party I took a shower immediately. Once I got out of the shower I felt a sore throat coming on. It got worse as the night progressed and by morning I had a full blown cold. Tuesday Nidia and some volunteers (Sheila and Rusty and Bob and Rosalie) were going to a few communities and passing out toys. I had too much to do that day and felt miserable so I didn’t join her. They went to Mudhole, Corazol and Hottest Sparrow. Santa has been busy.
Wednesday was the biggest party at Big Rock in Pensacola. Nidia expected 400+ kids and we had almost 700. Word travels fast on this little island. Many thanks to Don and Jeanette, Faber, Kirsty, Janisha and Franklin and all the other ladies who came to help control the chaos.
The last party was Thursday on the island of Helene. Helene is part of Roatan but it’s separated by a cut in the island. There is no electricity on the island and they got a well just 2 years ago, prior to that there was no water except for streams and springs. We were taking 2 boats to get there, one owned by Clifford Mejia, the Vice Mayor of Santos Guardiolas (the east end of Roatan) and the other owned by Ron McNab, who owns the Galaxy Wave ferries that go between Roatan and Le Ceiba. Ron is also the one who donated 2 cases of apples to each of our parties. Bob and Rosalie, Faber, Natasha, Nidia, Darla, Carmen, Rusty and Sheila and Mike, Toni and their son Rhys came along. Most of us got in Ron’s boat as Clifford’s was full of Christmas toys and baskets of food for the people of Helene. We set off for Helene close to 9AM. We were out as far as Port Royal, right near Fort Morgan Cay when the boat all of us were in stopped. We initially thought he was slowing down to maneuver inside the reef so the ride would be smoother but alas, not the case. We were drifting perilously close to the reef and to keep from colliding with it we called Joe Wonder on the radio (they live in Port Royal on the water) and he came buzzing out in his little skiff and pulled us away from the reef. Clifford was also alerted and he turned around and came back. The boat had died. We never did get the exact reason it died, all we knew was, we were being towed to Fort Morgan Caye.
Fort Morgan Cay is a small privately owned island. It is approximately 30 acres in size and was once a pirate hideout. There is a small runway on the island and a few pirate ruins and a fabulous large home with 4 rentable rooms. I can safely say that the majority of us on the boat were very excited to see Fort Morgan Cay. We tied the boat up there and all got off.
Clifford was going on to Helene, with Nidia, Rusty and Sheila and all the toys and food. The rest of us waited behind because we all couldn’t fit on one boat. Some of the stranded people started wandering around until they got reprimanded by the German manager. After talking to an islander who lives there and helps maintain the place he said he would take us for a tour of the west end of the island. If I were going to be stranded somewhere, this would be my choice.
It was a fast, uneventful trip home and we even made it by early afternoon. I was amazed. We had a party to go to at 4 that day so I was thrilled to get back in time.
Nidia and a few others were doing deliveries to Camp Bay and Diamond Rock on Friday with a Santa that came from Canada, but I couldn’t go due to prior plans. At the end of one week approximately 1800 kids got Christmas gifts. A significant number indeed.
It was a busy week for all of us but much more so for Nidia who orchestrated the whole thing. She could probably run and direct the next economic summit or be Speaker of the House. I think her skills and her ability to make things happen far outweigh anything I have ever seen. Remember, NOTHING is easy here, we’re a small island belonging to a 3rd world country, floating in the Caribbean. It just goes to show that when someone puts their mind to something, anything is possible. Nidia has proven that time and again.
It will soon be March and time to begin the distribution of TOM’s shoes, something else to look forward to. Another good deed and the kids of the island once again benefit. Because of the force that is Nidia P. Webster. I love you girlfriend.