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Wind Sports Blow into the Bay Islands By Jennifer Mathews, Benjamin Roberts, and Thomas Tomczyk Photographs by Benjamin Roberts
Wind sports Find a Niche on the Archipelago and Expand the Offerings of Sports Activities

Miguel "Micky" Carbajal sails through the quiet waters of Sandy Bay at his windsurfing school on March 24.

Although the tourism industry of the Bay Islands is already developed, there are plenty of opportunities for new recreational activities to grow. Many of these activities are based on the plentiful waterfront resources of the islands. Snorkeling and diving are very popular as well as plain old beach-sitting.
There are some water activities, though, that exploit the wind for speed: wind surfing, kite boarding, and sailing. These three sports are finding a growing number of enthusiasts here on Roatan and on the other Bay Islands, too and there are a growing number of places that will teach them to anyone with a spirit of adventure.

WINDSURFING
Although Roatan is not an ideal destination for the windsurfing extremist, the conditions that the island offers are ideal for the amateur and novice. Roatan's reef, which almost completely surrounds the island, makes for calm seas allowing stability and control when learning how to balance on the board. This is crucial when learning how to "turn" the board and sail which can be difficult when battling winds and waves while literally walking around the surf board. Miguel "Micky" Carbajal, the proprietor of the Roatan Windsurfing School, the only windsurfing school on the island, describes the sport as a type of "controlled jumping," noting that learning how to control the board is a small fraction of the sport itself. "You must feel the wind." Micky's style of teaching is very much indicative of the conditions on Roatan, one of a kind.
A former windsurfing professional from Chile, Micky practiced the sport well before technology began to make its way into what are now known as extreme sports. "Everything was much, much heavier," remarks Carbajal, who makes sure you know each and every step by heart before you even get on the water. He teaches his students a three step approach he developed himself. Saying that his biggest sense of accomplishment is working with people who usually doubt themselves at first and watching them blossom and learn. "It's a mental thing as well, you know." Knowing where the wind is coming from and its strength is crucial in windsurfing, usually requiring multiple attempts on the board in water to figure out where you are, and how to either move up, down, or cross-wind. "Some people get on the board and just now how to do it, others not so much," remarks Carbajal. An almost supportive barrage of instruction blowing at you with 25 kmh velocity is what it feels like to learn from Micky. It works. Indeed if the winds are blowing as fast as the instructor, it can be the most difficult object of windsurfing to master. This is why most experienced windsurfers refer to the sport as sailing and not surfing. If one does not have a grasp of wind they will find themselves either standing atop a motionless board or in the drink.
With 60 boards and 40 sails, Carbajal has the right combination of equipment for any student and has recently opened a new location at Fantasy Island. Hoping to attract new enthusiasts to the sport, Carbajal says, "I didn't come here to make millions, but to survive. I came to put people in the sport. I'm a romantic. I love the sport, I respect it. It's a joy for me."

KITE BOARDING
Bryan Cannon, who currently manages Marble Hill Farms, a boutique resort on the north shore of Roatan's East end. In 1995 he graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Microbiology but, "I fell in love with kite boarding and I enjoy sharing the stoke," says Bryan. He opened KiteHonduras at Marble Hill Farms in late 2006 and instructs about 20 students annually.
Jim Smith, owner of Marble Hill Farms wants to turn the East Island destination into a destination for wind and water sports. "Sea kayaks, wakeboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing, diving and kite boarding," are some of the many water sport activities he sees in Roatan's future.
The kiteboarding lessons take place in Diamond Rock and by the Saint Helene mangroves. "I had to figure out the wind and safe spots to ride as there is just so much coral around," says Bryan. Kitesurfing schools provide courses and lessons to teach various skills including kite launching, flying, landing, usage of the bar, lines and safety devices.
On the first day of lessons, in chest high water, students work on launching and flying a kite. The relationship to a kite is key in learning to kiteboard and once someone has gained a good feel for moving the three to 22 meter kite by using four lines, they can strap on the board. "We can teach someone basic skills in three to five lessons," says Bryan. The school offers a three hour package of classes for $150.
Kite boarding is possible in winds as low as 10 miles per hour and Bryan estimates that Roatan gets about 70%, or 255 days of the year are good enough to kiteboard. "At 15 miles an hour is when it really gets good," says Bryan who also teaches more advanced kite boarding techniques involving loops and jumps.

Kiteboarding instructor Bryan Cannon rides the wind at the school in Marble Hill Farms.

Roatan gets the best, most consistent wind in the months of April, May and June. The winds usually blow from the East, in the morning from ESE and in the afternoon switching to ENE direction. Whereas the South side offers more sheltered and deeper water, it's the island's North shore that has a perfect place to learn and practice kite boarding and windsurfing. "With the island being so high we get many lulls and wind whirlpools (on the north shore)," says Bryan.
Bryan's school uses Best brand equipment, including 2006 and 2007 Best Waroo kites and is affiliated with the manufacturer. These kites has modern safety features such as depowerability and re-launch features. A new equipment package can cost a few thousand dollars, but used gear can be had for less.
Bryan is an instructor accredited with the IKO - International Kiteboarding Organization.
Last July, the school began offering week long kite boarding packages. "I teach people to be independent kite boarders, so they can go out on their own and ride," says Bryan. A kite, board, harness, along with bar and 75 feet long lines are all that's truly needed to practice the fast-growing sport, but you may require a life-vest (PFD), wetsuit, booties, gloves, hood, a couple of kites for varying conditions, etc.
Another kite boarding operation has begun service on Utila. Lisa Price, and her Kitesurfing Belize school, is a German kiteboarding instructor who has made her base on Utila's Chepas beach. In 2004 Lisa left Florida and founded a kite boarding school in Placencia, Belize. "My objective is not to be settled somewhere, but rather travel and teach on different locations," says Lisa, who lives on her boat and teaches two-three students per week. "I personally like Honduras much more than Belize, and try to focus in the future more on Honduras," writes Lisa.

SAILING
As you look out onto the mooring sites in the waters off the Bay Islands, more and more you see high end yachts, catamarans, and sailboats of varied make and model. Many are visiting or passing through. Some are here to stay. The opportunities for visitors or residents to partake in sailing adventures are charters are numerous. One Roatan captain, however, is set apart from the rest, known throughout the island as Captain Alex.
Captain Alex sails a 26 foot Caribbean sloop, handmade in Belize of mahogany and cedar, which can often be seen in Flowers Bay across from the Flowers Bay Community Center. The samwood mast and bamboo boom hold a canvas sail, sewn together in various colors. The shallow water draft and no keel make it easily maneuverable with its homemade. Bits of the boat hold pieces of history, giving to its unique character. For example, the rain cover to the hull below is cut from the original sign that advertised his sailing trips from Foster's bar in West End.
"The first time on the boat, I fell in love with it." Alex is originally from Punta Gorda, but spent some time in Belize City, which is where he found his dream boat. Originally used as a fishing and lobster boat in the waters between Belize and Mexico, the boat was passed from generation to generation until the last owner let it fall into neglect and decided to sell it. The boat was made in 1957, "the year I was born," said Alex. It was meant to be. But in the beginning, his wife did not see it that way. She wanted him to buy a newer boat. "Buying that boat, she turned her back," laughed Alex. "I bought a big towel, because she didn't want to touch it. Now it's a joke with us."
Alex bought the "Adventure Girl" in 1992 for $6,000 and said that if he were to sell it today, it would be appraised at $12,000. He lived for two years on the boat in Belize and sailed in 1994 from Cay Caulker to Dandriga to Roatan, returning to sail his home waters.
Originally learning to sail from a visitor from Los Angeles, Alex passes on his love of sailing through lessons or excursions to tourists. His enterprise is based on word of mouth or repeat business from returning tourists. He has no website or advertised contact info, but tales of sailing with Captain Alex are plastered all over in blogs and travel review sites. People literally come from all around looking for the famous Captain Alex. And they find him easily.
Alex takes a minimum of three people on a half or full day excursions. Average price per person is $50, depending on the trip. His boat can hold a maximum group of eight. On excursions, he usually sails one side of the reef then the other, stopping at key snorkeling sites, and pointing out interesting coral and fish.
On his days off, Alex still prefers to be on the water. He checks the Farmer's Almanac every day for weather trends and heads out. "Every day's 'a fishing, not every day's 'a catching," he jokes. Every nine months he takes the boat out of the water for minor repairs to sand, reinforce, caulk, and repair leaks. The more time the boat is in the water, however, the better, because it cures the wood. "The only thing rotting on that boat is out of the water," said Alex.
Captain Alex finds himself in an interesting position. "No other islanders sail. They all like power," he said. "Even my kids don't want to learn. They all want to go fast, not do something natural that takes time." But in many ways, he might find himself to an advantage. Many tourists come to the island in search of the simple things, getting in touch with the ways of the past. Alex's vessel and sailing methods cater to just that mindset. In a world of exaggerated fuel prices and a trend of returning to the basic and efficient in transportation, he is also in the driver's seat. "Say you want to go to Belize," he said. "All you have to do is wait for an East trade wind, and then you just go!"

A good hat is a requirement out on the water, were the sun's rays can be quite powerful.
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PARENTING 101 Chapter II by George Crimmin

Years passed and the minister noted with sadness, "we kept the dog, but I lost the respect of my sons that day". They no longer had confidence in what their father professed to be true. You may not realize it at the time but your children watch the choices you make in all areas of your life and base their opinion on your actions. Be a person of integrity - one they will admire and respect.
Today in the Bay Islands we face a parental crisis of monumental proportions. Parents, instead of striving to educate their children, are sending their school-age kids on the streets to peddle their wares, especially on cruise ship days. Many tourists evidently feel sorry for these kids and without realizing it are contributing to the delinquency of these minors. Without recognizing it, visitors to our fair island are helping to create uneducated future adult citizens that will have no alternative but to graduate from selling trinkets, to either selling their bodies or illegal drugs to survive in the future.
How do we get the message out that by donating a dollar here and a dollar there, in the long run they are not helping, but encouraging our youth to follow a life of crime, disease and poverty? Children who engage in these activities with the blessings of their irresponsible parents will eventually end up engaging in theft, prostitution, hard drugs and possibly doing hard time upon becoming adults. Without an education they face a very dismal future.
To continue on our present trend is to invite certain disaster - if our elected officials have a plan or strategy for dealing with this crisis they sure know how to keep a secret. Parents must be held accountable for the behavior of their underage children. We may not have been responsible for our heritage, but we are responsible for our future. Without deliberate and concrete action to reverse this trend, our beloved Island is heading for a turbulent and crime infested future. It takes courage to push ourselves to places that we have never been before. In order to succeed however, we must first believe that we can. Right now we are heading down the wrong path - to see it all unfold has been a nightmare. On the bright side there are brave voices speaking out against this madness, and the rewards for those who persevere far exceed the pain that usually precedes victory.

In chapter one of this series we established that children tend to emulate the actions and behaviors of their parents or guardians. The old cliché "don't do as I do, do as I say do" no longer has credibility. It just doesn't work. As previously stated: most parents never really discover what they truly believe in until they begin to instruct their children.
Take note of the following: A dog once wandered to a preacher's home, and his three sons played with it, fed it, and soon became attached to it.
It so happened that the dog had three white hairs in its tail. One day, the preacher and his sons spotted an advertisement in the city newspaper about the lost dog. The description of the stray they had taken in matched perfectly.
The minister later said, "In the presence of my three sons, we carefully separated the three white hairs and removed them from the dogs tail."
The real owner of the dog eventually discovered where his stray pooch had gone and he came to claim him. The dog showed every sign of recognizing his owner, so the man was ready to take him away. At that point, the minister spoke up and asked; didn't you say the dog would be known by three white hairs in its tail? The owner, unable to find the identifying feature, was forced to admit that this dog didn't fully fit the description of his lost dog and he left, without the dog.

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Keeping Roatan's Kids Off the Streets

After (or Before) School Center Opens for Children at Risk By Jennifer Mathews

According to Tugliani, mayor Julio Galindo approached her for help with the issue before the elections. Helping the islands' children was a key issue in Galindo's campaign rhetoric, addressing the Center in his inauguration speech. Marion Lindo, Director of the Women's Municipal Office (Oficina Municipal de la Mujer), was instrumental in finding an appropriate space to rent. Tugliani also immediately started the process of obtaining permission from the Honduran Family Care Services (Instituto Hondureno de la Ninez y la Familia (IHNFA)), where she is local Director. Tugliani also served as President of the Consejo de Apoyo Municipal de la Niñez since 2008.
The Center is funded by the Municipality of Roatan, officially a public municipal project opened by the municipality to cover a need to protect the children of Roatan. As the Center does have non-profit status, the Center may also receive funds from outside sources.
The Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. As public schools have two shifts, one in the morning from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and another in the afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the children who attend school in the morning will be in the daycare in the afternoon and vice versa. The Center has capacity to house 80 children and reports receiving between 8 and 15 children a day.
The Center is free, and accepts boys from 5 to 12 years old, and girls from 5 to 14 years old. This is what differentiates the center from the original Roatan Daycare Center in Coxen Hole, which receives children from 2 to 6 years old, who are electively brought by their parents, and who pay a nominal fee for services. Tugliani also started the Roatan Daycare Center with Mrs. Eloise Vincent.
The Center is working with a Social Worker and Psychologist of IHNFA to create a file of each child, visit their homes and schools, and speak to parents and teachers to encourage the children's school attendance. The center has secured volunteers to teach religion, Tae Kwon Do, and painting, and has already received its first group of volunteers from Child Sponsorship International. "Many locals and foreigners have been calling saying that they want to volunteer," said Tugliani.
Future plans for the Center include a public day care for working mothers and a night care facility for mothers who attend night school. Center employees plan to keep communication with the schools to make sure the children go from the Center to their school and vice versa. They also plan to visit the homes of the children attending the Center to conduct a study on children's needs and how to help improve home life.

A prayer is recited to bless the new Center for Children at Risk during the dedication ceremony on March 8th in Coxen Hole.

The Daycare Center for Children at Risk opened its doors in Coxen Hole to the public with an inauguration ceremony on March 8. The goal of the center is to provide a place where children can go to receive child care and education, away from the dangers of the street, such as car accidents, robbery, sexual abuse or exploitation, drugs, or truancy. The Center is guided by the Law of Children and Adolescence, Article 11 (Codigo de la Ninez y la Adolescencia), and UNICEF, that children have the right to an education, and a secure and healthy environment.
The project targets children who spend time on the streets begging, selling, or stealing, particularly in major tourist areas, such as the streets of Willy Warren, and near the Port of Roatan cruise ship dock. According to Vivian Tugliani, a key organizer in creation of the project and now Director of the Center, there have been reports of child vendors stealing from the cruise ship passengers. "Now the problem is not only around the cruise ship area," said Tugliani, "It extends to Petrosun, Plaza Mar, and not only on the cruise ship days." Chief of Police Joe Solomon, who has been in service on Roatan for 12 years, said, "In my years here I have seen many problematic children grow up to become our future criminals. Just look at the prison. We have to focus our attention on the children."
According to Tugliani, meetings to discuss the issue began 12 years ago between herself, police chief Joe Soloman, and Dawn Hyde, now Port of Roatan customer service manager; and four years ago with vice mayor Delzie Rosales. "We always came to a dead end," said Tugliani, "until now. We came to a dead end because the authorities did not want to help." Said Solomon, "For many years we have had the plan, design, house rental opportunity and goals. There just wasn't enough interest in the municipal. With the new administration, we are finally getting things done." According to Tugliani, the center now has the support of the Municipal and the Preventative Police, who will be responsible for bringing children to the Center.

Roatan Baseball Season Begins
A Mix of Old and New By Benjamin Roberts

In the realm of Roatan sports there are few activities that can compete with the island's baseball league. Hoards of families, friends and fans alike visit the two fields in Gravel Bay and Sandy Bay bringing food, drinks, and much exuberance in support of their home team. Spanning over three decades in organized contests, Roatan Baseball has seen dozens of teams come and go through the years. Although the seasons have waxed and waned with as little as three and as much as ten teams in any given season, the spirit behind the game holds stronger roots than ever in the present day. Expanding from five to six teams (Kool, Sandy Bay Pirates, Sandy Bay Giants, Flowers Bay Eagles, Gravel Bay Marlins and Coca-Cola) the 2010 season features the addition of Team Coca Cola after a hiatus of more than six years. The team was granted permission to play on the bracket after asking Mayor Galindo with a week left before the start of this season. Sans uniforms, the group is expected to don the correct attire sometime this month. With a shallow bench and a small pitching staff as of now, team Coca Cola has struggled against more organized and experienced opponents. But their fan base is strong nonetheless, and although there have been multiple calls by players, coaches and fans for the restoration and opening of a field located in Coxen Hole this has not deterred Coca Cola's fans from showing their support in the other areas. For now the two fields must suffice and there are hopes to expand with teams in other areas located east of French Harbour all the way to Oak Ridge and Jonesville.
Last year Kool edged out the Sandy Bay Giants in the final contest of their five game playoff series, then ultimately beat the Sandy Bay Pirates taking the seven game finals series down to the wire as well, beating their opponents in game 7. This year every team is gunning for last year's champs, who have proved themselves to be a "tough as nails" style team. Sandy Bay's two respective teams, the Giants and Pirates have the majority of their players returning from last year. Coupled with experienced and knowledgeable coaching and managerial staff, the "field" of teams this year looks extremely competitive. Many hope that Roatan's teams can make a run for the Honduran tournament as well after Kool was defeated in the first round and the Pirates were unable to attend on the mainland. Play ball!

The Giants record a lead-off single against Coca Cola at the Sandy Bay field on March 14.

 
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Rebirth of Recycling on Roatan

Organization Created to Administer Recycling Efforts By Jennifer Mathews

The local group of recyclers, now official members of the Association, has been working to bring plastics to San Pedro Sula for about three years of their own volition. By finally obtaining legal business status, they now have access to further business support. USAID gave a year in project support to help them work through the paperwork to obtain business documents and licenses, as well as donate materials. BICA and RMP have been referencing and mapping the most advantageous microcenter receptacles. BICA, ZOLITUR, and the RMP have been combining efforts to create a business plan for environmental education in the schools and communities, strategies for implementation, and support for business and accounting services.
The Cerveceria in French Harbour is slated to provide the compactor, the building to house it, the microcenter receptacles, and a special truck for collections. According to Sandy Castillo, administrator for RMP, and manager for the project, the Cerveceria is financially responsible and BICA, ZOLITUR, and the municipal are currently working on the budget proposal, which will be submitted to the Cerveceria.
For the Roatan municipal alone, the RMP and BICA have identified more than 600 locations for microcenter receptacles. "This is a pilot program for future projects in the islands as well as for the mainland," said Castillo. Future goals for the project include expanding service area to Santos Guardiola, Utila, and Guanaja, becoming a model for mainland city projects, and expanding the type of products to be recycled, such as cans, glass, and milk cartons.
The recycled plastic bottles are ultimately shredded to produce PET flakes. These are used as raw material in the production of carpet and fabrics, replacing polyester raw material. Glass and aluminum can be reused in the manufacturing of new bottles and cans.
The board members elected for the Roatan Recycling Association are: President - Samuel Sandres, Vice President - Jose Angel Calix, Secretary - Maria de Jesus Ramos, Treasurer - Santos Angelina Villacorta, Commissioner - Walter Villacorta, Fiscal - Santos Erasmo Ruiz, Vocal 1 - Nelly Villacorta, Vocal 2 - Carlos Romero, and Socios - Rosa Martinez, Juan Murillo, and Maria Alvarado.

Plastic is collected at the Roatan Municipal dump.

The Roatan Recycling Association (Empresa de Recyclaje Roatan Sociedad Anonima de Capital Variable) officially achieved legal business status on January 25, with a charge to administer plastics recycling for the municipality of Roatan. The project is a culmination of a year's worth of planning and coordination by members of the Recycling Association, USAID, Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA), Roatan Marine Park (RMP), ZOLITUR, and the Roatan Municipality.
Key players in the project held a meeting with USAID on February 11, to officiate and close the USAID phase of the project's implementation. At the event, members of the Association received final donations of t-shirts, jeans, boots, caps, rakes, and other essentials for daily work. Members of the Cerveceria Hondureña were also present to witness the legal designation. As a legal institution, the group has the capacity to receive funding and equipment from outside sources, thus growing the business.
Goals of the project include: identifying and placing plastics collection receptacles, educating the community of the project and how to participate, collecting the plastics by truck, delivering the plastics to a compactor, and shipping the plastics to the mainland for processing. By Honduran law, the Cerveceria Hondureña, which imports a wide variety of bottled beer and soft drinks to the island, must implement carrying off of plastics which it has brought in. However, projects to do so in the past have met with challenges such as a lack of education of how to use recycling receptacles, lack of knowledge of the location of receptacles, and robbing of the metal receptacles themselves.

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