Right before going back to Roatan this year during Semana Santa week, I looked into two touring companies to guide me around the island, one being Channin's. I communicated with him via email about my desire to receive a true, cultural understanding of the island and to witness the Garifuna culture and to go to see them dance. I honestly thought I was asking for too much, but Channin was like 'no worries, this can be done.' I made the decision to book through him and I opted to visit the East End of the island. West End being more of a tourist destination, is a bit easier to access with the abundance of taxis and buses going that route, plus it was closer to Sandy Bay (where I stayed) than East End.
He picked me up at Roatan Backpacker's where I was staying. The first stop was to see the Garifuna dance, but they were not there!!! This was a surprise to the both of us because they perform on cruise ship days, which happened to be the day I toured. He apologized and said, 'no worries. We can come back and I will bring you here for free.' We examined our schedules and settled on another date to come back.
He allowed me to video record him as he explained the history and the current status of the island. I asked him a ton of questions, made several comments and NOT ONCE did he make me feel that I was irritating the heck out of him. I am very interested in the health of the people in other countries in comparison to the United States, so we talked about a lot of natural cures. I told him about my ailments and I promise, for EACH ONE, he knew a treatment or cure. He told me that once we completed the East End tour, he would take me over to his mother's home because she has a wonderful garden and could further educate me on using fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs to heal the body.
We arrived to his mother's home and I met his cousins, God-mothers, and his wonderful, inviting and beautiful mother named Claudia. When I saw her, I didn't realize who she was because she certainly didn't look like a mother to grown children!!! She guided me throughout her garden and showed me SOOO MUCH from noni fruit, tamari, cashew trees, lemongrass, sour sop plants, lime trees, cantaloupe plants, etc ALL GROWING IN HER YARD!!! I met her cute little doggy, her big doggy, her chickens freely roaming her yard, her neighbor's pigs, and the bad eel that was eating her lobsters in the creek! She even invited me in her home, showed me how to make AUTHENTIC noni juice, feed me stew chicken and mashed potatoes, and allowed me to sample her HOMEMADE blueberry and cashew wines. Everything was delicious ESPECIALLY the wine and this is coming from a non-wine drinker.
But wait that's not all!!!
Remember the Garifuna tour promise he made? Well, he kept it and picked me up that next week (I stayed a total of two weeks in Roatan). I got to see the Garifuna explain their history of their arrival on the island plus their performance. I was then informed that his mother invited me over for dinner! YAY, another yummy meal for my belly, lol. On the menu that day was queen fish (right from the creek in her backyard), rice and beans and boiled banana. She cooked it while I waited. Homemade people, no cans of beans here!!! While waiting for the food to finish cooking, I fell asleep on the couch!!! That's just how comfortable I was with them. They truly made me feel like family.
Once the food was ready, Claudia began plating. I tried to be modest because I really didn't know much about the taste of queen fish, so I told her to just give me a little bit. After the first plate I said, 'screw modesty!!! Give me thirds, woman!'
All of this to say, Channin told me that Roatan was about God and family. I have heard people say this before, but they didn't really mean it, but Channin does. I was absolutely floored that he would allow me, a complete stranger, to meet the people he loves. Not only did I interact with his mother, but I met his darling wife and his two daughters. Although I was a stranger to them before arriving, they definitely didn't make me feel like such. We all laughed, talked about issues affecting the world and how they trickle down to our families and none of the conversations were forced or felt less than genuine. For my fourth visit to Roatan, I am considering a stay with his mother! Now, how's that for a 'true, cultural experience?'
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.