Punta Gorda building

Roatan Honduras was a dream.

But honestly? Probably not for the reasons it is for most.

I mean, it was for those reasons, too – it was just more than that.

Why Roatan?

Before going, so many people asked us,

Why Roatan?

It all started a few years back. Ryan and I started researching quiet, hidden gems that not many people knew about yet and that had a direct flight from Minneapolis.

Ryan found Roatan.

And when he mentioned Roatan, I remembered this girl, Jeanna, I knew in California.

She lived in San Francisco and was climbing big ladders when one day she asked herself, “What for? Why all the stress, working too many hours, and no actual life?”

So she got up and moved. First to Belize and then to Roatan. I reached out to her and asked, “Okay….so you can pick one; which do you choose?” She said, “Hands down, Roatan.”

It kind of solidified it for me, so we decided to finally take the kids and head to Honduras.

p.s. Yes, yes this IS my new computer screensaver.

Roatan sea

Roatan, Honduras

When you come to Roatan, you’ll fall in love with the weather, clear water, friendly faces, and island vibe.

These things are pretty undeniable and, like a picture, each are worth a thousand words.

Because we brought the kids with, we did it all…..sloths, monkeys, parrots, guinnea pigs, snorkeling (twice!), dolphins, mangroves, ziplining, the signature “Roatan” sign, swimming in the sea…..and in pools…..

But honestly?

The highlight for me personally are things that feel more intangible.

Three in particular.

East End

The short amount of time we spent on Sunday afternoon was on the East end of the island (we stayed in the more commercial part; West Bay).

Ryan had heard about the East end from a guy on the beach who set us up with our driver for the day. He said that in the little town of Punta Gorda they have a Sunday celebration that is local and authentic and we might want to go.

So we did.

If I could go back to that day, here’s what I would have done differently:

  • Spend the whole day there
  • Take far more pictures

Here are the pictures I did get.

While there, we went to the local, authentic restaurant.

I watched as they pulled plantains and proceeded to cook them, fresh.

The lobster we enjoy was also freshly caught.

And probably my favorite part was their view from the kitchen area — directly facing a glorious coconut tree.

Punta Gorda kitchen

On Sundays they jam out on the street, so I took the kids to watch all the children playing music.

The girls started dancing to the music, and were so excited to be able to leave the kids a little tip money.

It’s a small town, I think roughly 1,000 people, and they all just sort of gather together – food and music, and of course the backdrop scenes which one cannot describe in words except for – stunning.


We’ve been to Mexico, and if you have, too – especially in places like Cancun or Cabo – then you are fully aware of “the tourist trap.” And by that, I mean the vendors that walk up and down the beaches searching for any way to make a buck; massages, hair braiding, bracelets, day trips, and all sorts of knick knacks.

Sure, it can feel exhausting, but this is how they live and make money to live.

I do not fault them.

But nonetheless, I also see how it feels somewhat invasive at times.

We experienced it in West Bay and on the West end of the Island to a degree (though not as much as Mexico), but one woman took a far more passive role with it.

And we met her, by pure chance, when we spent a few hours on the West end one morning.

Meet Jolene (spelled Jolyene).


It started with her braiding Isaiah’s hair.

While the other women (who were seemingly in her group, but not actually) rushed through to get Maya’s hair done as quickly as possible so they could be off seeking their next dollars, Jolyene stayed.

She braided Isaiah’s hair with full attention, and was kind, caring, and thoughtful.

As she was doing his hair, I was drawn to simply talking to her.

I wanted to know more about her; the life she lives, what she experienced during the C-Virus years, what it’s like to live on the island, who is in her family – all of it.

Our initial conversations were humbling to say the least.

That was on Tuesday.

So, because Amiya’s hair was done so poorly by another woman, I invited Jolene to West Bay where we were staying on Thursday to do Amiya’s hair with the same care she had done Isaiah’s.

I said nothing about pay, but in a heartbeat she agreed to make the 2 hour trek (that’s 2 bus rides and a taxi ride) to come to us.

We met her at a restaurant on the beach, where we had lunch and she did Amiya’s hair.

Jolyene + Maya

That day, I learned Jolyene has 3 children; ages 9, 10, and 11.

The children’s dad left her when the youngest was 4.

She lives on the North end of the island in a house made of wood with no roof and plastic for walls. And yes, this is her actual life, actual home….

When it rains, they are rained on. At night, they slap mosquitoes all night long. They don’t have electricity, so she uses her phone (if she can get it charged during the day) as a flashlight.

When they need water and can’t afford to buy it, they beg the neighbors.

She purchases rice and beans mostly because those are the cheapest; never meat.

In fact, my kids had gotten chicken legs – they were left half eaten on a plate. Jolyene asked if she could take them home for her own children to eat. (Of course we said no, opting to get a fresh order for her to take home for them at the end of the day.)


Jolyene needs just $200 a month, which she says is hard to make. And with that money, it will ensure they have some sort of food and the kids have the chance to take a bus to get to school.

When her youngest put a bead up his nose once and it got stuck to the point where he could not breathe, they had to fly to the mainland for medical attention. It’s the only time she’s ever been on a plane.

While telling me that story she said she prayed to God and was believing for a miracle that somehow she’d be able to pay for it once they arrived.

I could go on – and on – and on with the stories she told me.

But what I personally took from it all is HOW F#$%^$@# gross it is to me now when we are “believing for” all these man-made luxuries society tells us are important. How we should be “believing for” a bigger house or a career that will make us X amount more. Or the latest in fashion because Hollywood carries it.

They once took a boat to Mexico to try to get to the US, but while there, a mother and her children were murdered. After seeing organs laying on the street, her oldest (daughter) is now too afraid to ever try to make that move again.

While some are believing to get out of the US, there is a whole world of people out there just dying to get in.

I let that sink in, and it sank in hard.

Yesterday Jolyene left me a voicemail to my WhatsApp just to make sure we made it home okay.

That experience alone fundamentally changed me.

The Kids

And finally, the kids.

In April of 2023, exactly a year ago, I wrote a post called “Why I Stopped Posting Photos of My Kid on Social Media.”

I have stayed true to this about 95%, and I will continue in that way.

But something I made note of while in Roatan is how we, our whole family, just felt accepted.

The kindest words from natives were spoken to us, about us and about the children. And when we arrived on the island, the only one who had her hair perfectly done was Samarah because we had visited Cathy’s African Braiding just two days prior.

I didn’t feel like an outsider. We didn’t feel like people saw us or them in a different light. And I certainly never felt judged for the reasons we commonly do elsewhere.

I’m not sure the reasons for all of this, but I am sure that it was precisely what we all needed.

So with that, I’ll leave with some super delightful pictures – to judge or not to judge – makes no difference to this mama.

Join the magic and chaos.




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