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Patience & Plans

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

It’s been quite a while since we’ve posted an update. I really hadn’t realized it had been so long, but it is 2020 afterall.

Sunset over Cow & Calf Port Royal Roatán Fort Linwell
Sunset over Cow & Calf - Port Royal

February 13th was the last post before this one to be exact, and how appropriate that it was about patience. The world has changed a lot in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. From March 2020 on we've seen vast changes to how we live, how we interact, and for most mobility has been severely restricted. New words have entered our common lexicon: social distancing, quarantine, fomites, viral load and many more. These days I often hear people refer to a time now known as pre-Covid.

Fort Linwell Port Royal Roatan
Feeding one of the parrots that lives at Fort Linwell

When the pandemic began sweeping across the world we were at our home in Charlotte, NC. We’d just spent time in Roatán a few weeks earlier and had plans to head back a couple of weeks later. The first weekend of March is the anniversary of the opening of our business in Charlotte, the NoDa Company Store, and is a big time for us - 3 days of events and celebration. It’s also the beginning of the weather changing and moving into spring in North Carolina so we have a lot of landscaping and seasonal changeover to do. Our patios transform from a spot with fire pits and bon fires to flowers, ferns and lush landscaping. Inside we move out containers with warm mulled spiced wine and bring back sangria and cold drinks. Our travel back to the island would coincide with finishing up that work and heading down to relax and continue working on Fort Linwell and planning our changes there.

Changing our patio at the NoDa Company Store from lots of moveable seating to cabanas and swings for social distancing

Our last time on the island, in January, we were accompanied by friends from Charlotte. We’d finally been able to attend one of the annual neighbor events in Port Royal, a casual all-day arrive-by-boat affair with lots of food and great spirits. And after two years we’d finally begun settling in on our plans for our property. We tend to work that way. We have to spend time somewhere, a lot of it, and get a feel for where we’d want to do things. A few steps into the ocean here, a couple new casitas there, a small cliffside pool filled by the ocean over in that spot, a bridge or two to get to them and lots of plantings. We want a lot of fruit and coconuts.

We’d very much settled into some concrete and “ready to get started” plans, even beginning to work on bids to get a lot of the work done. We’d been exploring the harbor and had collected quite a few maps, books and other treasure troves of information to lead us to more of the deep history in Port Royal - I’m pretty sure I know where a lot of the old buccaneer and British settlements were. We were ready to get back and hike, walk the waters edge and explore even more. Plans, plans, plans.

Punta Gorda Roatan - Fort Linwell
Mural in Punta Gorda - northside - Roatán

We’d also met many folks from the island including a few in Punta Gorda, of Garifuna decent, and had planned on being there for their annual celebration of their ancestors arrival on the island in 1797 - long weekend of day and all-night celebrations with dancing, music, food and libations. We felt we'd really begun to settle in.

Then came Covid. The week following our anniversary celebrations in NoDa it reached the point of no longer thinking it wouldn’t affect us in the United States to realizing that we needed to be thinking of what would be necessary to plan for the long haul. This wouldn't be just a couple weeks. We quickly went from a weekend filled with events beginning on the 4th of March into full lockdown the 13th.

Dinner with friends on our last night in Roatán, January 2020. Friends we brought with us that trip and friends on the island

Joey had the foresight to realize if we went south and needed to get back from Roatán it might be difficult. What an important realization that was. The island, and Honduras as a whole, locked down tight just a couple weeks later. Most of the world did. No one in or out for months (until August). In Charlotte we had to figure out how and if our business could remain open during these times. Though we operate much like a biergarten and wine bar, we thankfully were and are technically a store - considered an “essential” business.

Our bar and seating area at the NoDa Company Store transforms into a small neighborhood grocer - March 2020

Thankfully we were in Charlotte to roll with these necessary changes and to remain open, otherwise I suspect we might not have made it (the business, not us). We had to shut down all bar-like operations, close our patios and our doors. We shifted gears into becoming a grocer for our tight-knit neighborhood (see story HERE), offering delivery and curbside pick up as folks became more and more wary of going to the big grocery stores where half of the patrons refused to wears masks or take precautions. It allowed us to keep some of our employees working and our business in existence. Though it wasn’t exactly profitable, seems grocery stores aren’t, definitely not like a spring-in-Charlotte-outdoor-bar would be, but we pushed through. I think for us and our employees just being busy and working was as important mentally as it was financially.

But it’s kept us from Roatán. Just as we were finally feeling like we were getting our stride. It finally began to feel like home on the island. This definitely isn’t intended to bring about any “feel sorry for us” at all. The world is dealing with the pandemic and we all face challenges and difficulties, ours aren’t special and are certainly far less than I would imagine many others are facing.

New "park" rules for our patio when we were able to reopen in June

While we guided our business in Charlotte through all sorts of changes and mandates, our friends and “family” in Roatán faced their own unique challenges. The island doesn’t have extensive medical facilities and they took the pandemic very seriously. For months folks there were only allowed to travel on certain days, based on numbers on their I.D., and tourism, the main income for the island, disappeared. The economy there, for so many, displayed it’s fragility overnight.

One of our favorite places to spend time in Oak Ridge - the Reef House bar

All the while many non-Hondurans found themselves stuck on the island with no way to get home for weeks, and for some, months. Though Roatán is certainly not a terrible place to be “stuck”, I think of it as paradise and our home the perfect place to social-distance and quarantine, it still wasn’t where many intended to be for long stretches of time. And like us, many had commitments at home, business and family, that needed a lot of extra attention and work as a result of Covid.

(below - we spent a lot of Covid at-home quarantine time reworking our home in Charlotte - landscaping & painting)

I find it ironic that my last writing and post here was about patience. I thought I’d learned quite a few lessons about patience prior to 2020, but I hadn’t learned anything yet. This year proved how important those lessons are and how necessary in life they are. The best laid plans are still subject to other influences that you have no control over at all.

As I write this Hurricane Iota is battering Central America, the second major hurricane to hit the mainland in just two weeks - beyond uncommon for this area and for this time of year. Hurricanes in general rarely head that direction. The mainland has already had catastrophic flooding in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras prior to Iota and 30” or more rainfall (much less the wind) will be a devastating blow.

Our plans for Fort Linwell that we’d come up with pre-Covid are on hold, like much of our lives right now, but that’s ok. We have discovered patience and we have learned to deal with, and expect, twists and turns in life. Our home is in good hands while we are away tending to our other life in North Carolina and we are actually quite happy. As we come around to realizing it will be a while before we can implement our plans at Fort Linwell, we’ve been working on plans to rent our home, the main home at Fort Linwell, not the casita where the caretaker lives, for longer stays of at least a week to up to a couple months. It’s the ideal spot for folks wanting a “wow factor” that the amazing tranquility of Port Royal provides. If we can’t be there right now we’d love for others to enjoy the perfectly private and serene setting that we’ve fallen in love with.

New tiki style swings at the Noda Company Store

While one set of plans is put on hold, another emerges. And we wait. Patiently.

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