Sign-up for Bay Islands Voice Updates:
feature story / george / local news / business
Geology of The Bay Islands By Katie Dickey
Where We’re From and Where We're Going

Millions of years ago, giant tectonic plates scraped against one another in a truggle for space and power that gave birth to the underwater mountain range called the Bonacca ridge that embodies the Bay Islands. The upwelling of magma and the crumbling of basalt rock (the core of the islands) built, over millennia, a mountain range that manages to peak out of the ocean. Over time these lands gave birth to vegetation, animals and eventually civilization.
From the rolling hills and valleys of the mainland to our treasured reefs, this type of tropical paradise certainly does not form over night. In most cases, it seems that life has sprung up out of the sea and it is no different for the formation of the Bay Islands.
Differing local opinions suggest several sources of the formation of the Bay Islands from volcanic eruption to sections of the mainland that have just floated away. Although technically these theories are incorrect, in a way both of them do lend themselves to the actual formation of our island chain. Roatan and the Bay Islands, although not volcanic do sit atop mountain peaks. We are part of a large underwater mountain range called the Bonacca Ridge. The Bonacca ridge, a large submarine mountain range, lies south and parallel to the Motagua Swan Islands Fault, a meeting place of tectonic plates. This ridge extends underwater from mainland Honduras. Thus, the theory that we are in fact a piece of the mainland is in part, true. The geological structure and bedrock of the Bay Islands, as far as rock composition, is strikingly similar to that of the Honduran and Guatemalan mainland. Thus, we are part of the same continental crust and come from the same roots as mainland Honduras and Guatemala.
That very formation began millions and millions of years ago when the meeting of giant plates at fault boundaries gave birth to the Bonacca Mountain range. Geologists estimate the time of our emergence from the sea to have been primarily in the Eocene and Oligocene time periods, meaning between 56-34 and 34-23 million years ago. Keep in mind, it is a gradual process. The mountains were formed and lifted out of the sea by an upwelling of magma via the separation and parallel movement of the Motagua and Swan Islands fault. The Bonacca ridge is a Horst which is a type of geological formation of up thrown blocks bounded on either side by normal faulting. And, notably we continue to grow. The faults continue to move and change the geological structure of the islands at a continuous rate, called a slip rate. Some of the faults are held together by friction causing a build up of tension that then results in earthquakes. However, earthquakes are not only a destructive force but a productive one as well. Evidence of earthquakes that have caused the sudden uplifting of the Bay Islands can be seen through geological samplings but also through simple exploration of the islands. There are uplifted and warped landforms on the western part of Roatan that come from prehistoric earthquakes of magnitude 7 or higher. This uplifting that causes Roatan's unique geological structure comes from a subsidiary fault to the Swan Islands fault called the Flowers Bay Fault, the name of which should sound familiar to some.
The ground shook unexpectedly at 2:24 AM on May 28th 2009 and so did our senses of security. But, since that unsettling moment about a year ago, our little group of islands has sat peacefully in the Caribbean Sea. Now in the wake of the disastrous earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Tuesday January 12th, as well as those more recent quakes in California, Chili, Indonesia and China we find ourselves thinking more about where we came from and where we might be going; in both an unearthly and earthly sense. The magnitude 7.3 earthquake that occurred off the coast of Roatan in May of last year leaves us with many questions. Why did this happen? What are the affects of earthquakes on the islands? Why did we feel only slight tremors when the mainland saw such destruction? What can we do to make ourselves more prepared for the future? Is it likely that we see another earthquake in the near future? These types of natural phenomena serve to give us a sense of primeval wonder that the very tectonic plates we sit on may be the sources of our destruction as they were the sources of our creation millions of years ago. In order to understand the answers to these questions we must first return to the roots of our geological knowledge. Thus, we return to the basic processes of the creation and deformation of our islands and the reasoning behind such natural phenomena as the formation of land masses, earthquakes and tsunamis. They all come from just a few basic principles.

Basic Plate tectonics
he earth's crust is made up of a series of solid blocks called plates, the movement of which gives us explanations for the world as we know it today. These solid blocks of the earth's surface or lithosphere move independently of one another and sit atop a more plastic or malleable part of the earth called the asthenosphere. The asthenosphere causes the movement of these tectonic plates by a process called convection. The molten rock of the asthenosphere is heated by more active elements towards the center of the earth creating this circular motion of heated molten earth rising closer to the surface and parts of the lithosphere being driven down by means of moving plates. This convection processes is the reason for the shifting of these giant tectonic plates.
Tectonic plates come together in several ways, but in the most basic sense, there are three types of formations. The plates come together in convergent, divergent and transform/transcurrent or strike slip fault boundaries. That is, plates that move toward one another, away from one another or slide horizontally past one another. Each different type of movement has a differing geological phenomenon that follows. Divergent boundaries, or the spreading apart of the earth's crust result in the creation of a new sea floor via the upwelling of magma or molten rock from below the surface of the earth. Convergent plate boundaries, as they are the reverse, are the colliding of two plates that can result in one plate moving over another creating a subduction zone where the lower plate is then driven underneath and heated, continuing the convection process. Transcurrent plates move past each other and connect a network of convergent and divergent plates. The plate boundary that lies adjacent to the Bay Islands is a transcurrent boundary much the same as the volatile San Andreas fault in California. Not only do we share the same type of plate boundary as San Andreas but also the fault that caused the Earthquake in Haiti that's horror attracted the attention of the whole world.
The fault that caused the earthquake in Haiti is a strike slip and forms the boundary between a smaller plate which is wedged between two larger plates. The smaller plate is called the Gonave microplate and it is situated between the Caribbean and North American plates. Detailed GPS analysis of these faults show that there was an accumulated deficit since the last large earthquake generated by the fault in the 18th century (deficit= stress or the amount the plate should have moved) by about 2 meters. That kind of deficit stress place on these faults can cause an earthquake of exactly the magnitude that struck Port au prince. Thankfully, it is unlikely that the earthquake in Haiti or the disturbances along those fault lines will have an effect on the bay islands as we lie adjacent to a different fault boundary. Yet, this does not negate the volatile nature of that fault and the potential for another earthquake.
Where are we located?
The geographic location of the bay islands seems common knowledge to those of us who live here but it is not often that we give a thought to our geological location or our geological origins. As we do simply lie about forty miles east of the mainland of Honduras there is much more detail of our geological location and geological history.
Concerning specifically the tectonic plates and faults of our area, Roatan and the Bay Islands lie about 15 miles south of a major fault called the Swan Islands fault. We are located on the northern portion of the Caribbean plate which lies directly adjacent to the North American Plate, a transcurrent fault boundary. This is the type of fault, or plate boundary where the faults are moving horizontally, next to one another. We share the same plate major plate boundary as Haiti, the thought of which is quite unnerving. However, Haiti lies across a different fault line called the Eriquillo fault line and it is unlikely that the disturbance of this fault line would make a difference in the movement of tension of the Swan Islands fault line. In short, we share major plate boundary lines but it is the smaller, closer, faults that may be cause for concern.

The Bay islands, from west to east are Utila, Roatan, Barbareta and Guanaja, atop the Bonacca Ridge that runs east/northeast. In combination with these 4 islands there are 4 other islands and sixty five cays, they amount to a total landmass of about ninety two square miles. Roatan and Guanaja sit parallel to the Bartlett trough (boundary between the Caribbean and North American Plate, deepest point in Caribbean Sea) and are cut by a series of subsidiary fault lines. South of the Bonacca Ridge is lies an extremely large and deep marine basin called the Tela Basin, which is on the northern continental margin of Honduras. The Ridge is separated from the Basin by a normal fault system. The Southwestern tip of Roatan is comprised of a prominent east/ northeast ridge. It can be seen at West End Point. This ridge is in between two subsidiary faults that run directly across Roatan. The northwestern end of the one of these faults is marked by a topographic break which forms a bluff at a high angle on the coast of the west end and extends far below sea level to the south west. Thus the reef at West end point is truncated by this fault instead of wrapping around it.
The southeaster fault otherwise known as the flowers bay fault runs along the coast line of Roatan from Coxon Hole to West End point. Evidence of prehistoric earthquakes along these fault lines can be seen in Roatan's geological structure. Warped landforms on the western coast of Roatan show record of at least two Holocene ( … million years ago) earthquakes at an estimated magnitude of M7 along the flowers bay fault. Another earthquake in the Bay islands, circa 900 AD has been recorded to have produced huge amount of uplift. We are being uplifted out of the water at a steady rate of 3 mm per year, however when we see serious earthquakes such as out most recent instance, our entire structure is changed and although it seems only a small amount, it is equivalent to years and years of gradual slip. Direct evidence of the changing height of the islands suggests that we are in a constant state of change. Karl Stanly creator and operator of the only tourism oriented submarine on the island, is an eye witness to the geological changes that have occurred on Roatan. Over millions of years the sea level of the island has risen and fallen as a result of the movement of tectonic plates, to give us our current paradise. As the mountains rise the sea level falls and thus we can see the evidence of ancient reefs and a past life under the surface of the sea. However, we also see evidence of changing sea level in the opposite direction. As coral can only grow 300 ft below sea level it is natural to see its growth to that point. However, when deep diving in his submarine, Karl Stanley not only sees coral formation at 300ft but up to 700 ft below the surface. This indicates that the sea level of Roatan was previously about 400ft lower than it is today. This change in sea level is a result of the ice ages. Stanley also sees large boulders of limestone (formerly coral) that have fallen to the depths as a result of prehistoric and more recent earthquakes. The underwater world gives us huge insight into our geological history and the movement of the plates we rest on.
What does this have to do with natural disaster?
The reasoning behind the May 2009 earthquake is as such, according to Chuck Demets, . The earthquake that Rotan felt in May of 2009 was caused by a rupture of the swan islands fault in response to the motion between the Caribbean and North American plates across that fault. The Caribbean and North American plates move steadily past each other, however, the Swan Islands fault remains in place because of friction, thus, the Swan Islands fault stayed in place when it should have been moving with the surrounding plates. Tension began to rise between the Surrounding plates and built up around the swan islands fault line. The earthquake that we experienced in May of last year was a result of that built up stress. Earthquakes occur when the amount of built up pressure from plate movement exceeds the frictional forces that prevent slip on that fault. Professor Demets has analyzed GPS measurements that were made on Roatan during the May 2009 earthquake and has found that the entire island suddenly moved 14 centimeters during the earthquake. This is equivalent to hundreds of years of movement for the island.
The normal slip rate for the Caribbean North American plate, our geological home, is 20 millimeters per year. That means that every century it is necessary that 2 meters of slip happen along this fault for normal movement. However, when certain faults are locked in place that means that there is a high likelihood of an earthquake occurring,, especially if the fault does not move its 2000 millimeters that century. That amount of built up stress is enough to cause an earthquake of the same magnitude that occurred last year, M7-7.2. Thus, we should expect to see an earthquake of similar magnitude once every one hundred years. More frequently we may experience shaking from surrounding or subsidiary faults but it is difficult to predict exactly and there remains a lot of uncertainty.
When asked if the earthquake last year is indicative of another earthquake happening in the near future, professor Demets replied, "The May 2009 earthquake only ruptured about 100 km of the Swan Islands fault which is about 750 m long in total. In addition the Motagua fault of Guatemala which ruptured catastrophically in 1976 continues westward from the western end of the swan islands fault. All of the fault segments that have not ruptured are capable of generating magnitude 7-8 size earthquakes at any time. We cannot predict when they will rupture but we can foresee with certainty that they will rupture eventually." Thus, we begin to wonder about how susceptible we are to natural disaster in relation to other islands or in relation to the mainland. The lack of damage done to The Bay Island's infrastructure presents quite the mystery in comparison, when one considers the damage suffered by the mainland. Especially strange considering we lay much closer to the epicenter of the May 2009 earthquake than the mainland. Demets informs us that Roatan and the other bay island are equally susceptible to natural disasters. The Swan Islands fault presents quite a threat. It is, after all, a major plate boundary. However, despite the threat of the swan islands fault, it is not the worst geological threat against The Bay Islands. There are faults that surround the islands which are lesser and rupture much less frequently but are much closer to the islands and pose quite the hazard. However, the damage done to Roatan in last year's earthquake was small in comparison to the damage done to the mainland of Honduras. Although this seems strange considering Roatan's proximity to the epicenter of the quake it is in fact understandable because of Roatan's infrastructure and population. The damage caused by earthquakes not only depend on the distance from the epicenter of the EQ but also the quality/ type of building contraction and the population density. As the majority of the structures built on Roatan are made of wood, they withstand lateral, or side to side, shaking better than brick or concrete. Also, if structures are build on bedrock as opposed to more soft ground they are more likely to do well when confronted with an earthquake. However, this clearly depends on the location of the structure. Also, it is quite clear that the population density on Roatan is much less than in large cities, thus there were fewer people to experience the event on the island and thus fewer injuries.
Considering long term preparation for earthquakes Demets states, "Building construction and location is the key. Buildings that are made from wood, are tied to their foundations (so the whole building can't slide off its foundation, and are anchored on bedrock will, on average, be less likely to incur significant damage than (for example) brick buildings, which are bad because brick has little ability to remain standing when it undergoes lateral shaking during earthquakes. In general, the initial cost to construct a building with modest to good resistance to earthquakes only adds a few percent to the initial cost of the building and is a good investment in seismic hazard zones. The other key would be to avoid development in areas of water-saturated soils or in areas where previous shallow water bodies have been filled with sand/soil in order to enable construction."
However, there are smaller things we can do to be prepared for an earthquake that do not involve changing the construction of our homes. The most important things to do are to be prepared and informed no matter what the structural integrity of our buildings imply. FEMA gives us a seven step process for what to do to safely get through an earthquake. Although they are simple steps they can make all the difference in confronting this type of natural disaster.
The past, present and future of the Bay Islands involves seismic and tectonic movement. We are at the mercy of plate movement, be it gradual or abrupt. The movement of the tectonic plates and the reactions of the faults that surround us is a much larger force than we can overcome. We know now that we would not have the Bay Islands as they are today without disruptive plate movement and that we can be adequately prepared for another earthquake, as we sit in a volatile, but beautiful, position in the sea.

feature story / george / local news / business ______________back to top

Beware With Whom You Associate by George Crimmin

Allow me to conclude with a bit of conjecture. A scorpion, being a very poor swimmer, once asked a turtle to carry him on his back across a river. "Are you mad? explained the turtle, you'll sting me while I'm swimming and I'll drown". The scorpion laughed as he replied, "my dear turtle, if I were to sting you, you would drown and I would go down with you, now what would be the point of that? "I won't sting you; it would mean my own death!" The turtle thought about the logic of his argument for a few moments and said, "You're right hop on." The scorpion climbed aboard and half-way across the river, he gave the turtle a mighty sting. As the turtle began to sink to the bottom of the river with scorpion on its back, it moaned in dismay and disbelief, "After you promised you still stung me! Why did you do that? Now, we're both doomed." The drowning scorpion sadly replied, "I couldn't help it. It's my nature to sting". It pays to study the character of a person before you make them a friend or associate. The stage on which their character plays out, could very well be your life. On the positive side however, "A good friend will sharpen your character, draw your soul into the light, and challenge your heart to love in a greater way." Permit me to close with a quote from Charles Caleb Colton. "Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity, than straight forward and simple integrity in another." Besides, I have always maintained that real friends are those who, when you've made a complete fool of yourself, don't feel you've done a permanent job.

As a boy growing up on Roatan, my guardians were always concerned with whom I was associating. I never fully understood the reasons why, until later on in life. Friends or associates can be influential in determining your ultimate destiny in life. Numerous individuals have ended up in prison and even in the grave due to their poor selections of friends or associates. The Jackie Robinson story has always intrigued me. At one point during his youth, baseball great Jackie Robinson began to run with a neighborhood gang. In later years, he recalled that while he had wished for a better life as a teen, he had no understanding that a gang was not the way to achieve it. An older friend finally came to Jackie and made him realize how much he was hurting his hard-working mother, as well as how much he was limiting himself. Robison said, "He told me that it didn't take guts to follow the crowd, that courage and intelligence lay in being willing to be different". Jackie listened, left the gang and began to work on developing his mental and physical potential. There is a saying that goes; "Many a good man has failed because he had his wishbone where his backbone should have been." Well, Jackie traded his wishbone for a backbone and within a few short years became a sensational athlete, starring in football, basketball, baseball and track and field at UCLA. He became the first person to win athletic awards in all four sports at the university. He went on to play professional foot-ball with the Los Angeles Bulldogs before being drafted for World War II duty. After the war he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers (baseball). Not only did Jackie Robinson become the first black baseball player in the major leagues, but he was also voted Rookie of the year, became an all-star, and ended up in the baseball Hall of Fame. I guess it's safe to say that backbones accomplish more than wishbones. I had a teacher in college who kept reminding us that; "Our friends are like buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up, or they most certainly will take you down." In fact there is a biblical text found in Proverbs 13.20 that supports this theory "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: But a companion of fools shall be destroyed. "

feature story / george / local news / business______________back to top
Enacting a National Plan

Politicians hold open forum for Bay Islanders By Jennifer Mathews

  • 1 Transparency in the municipality; to which Lobo pointed to social responsibility to invite all in the community to participate in not only creation and support of development programs, but in regulation.
  • A place to care for patients of SIDA (AIDS) to which Lobo promised to connect key organizers with his wife, Rosa, who does much work in this realm.
  • Peoples' rights; infrastructure and culture in Punta Gorda, to which Lobo urged the community to work towards preserving their culture. Not restricting access to sources of information, he announced the celebration of the Garifuna festival in Sambo Creek and Punta Gorda.
  • Issues regarding artisans; many products are being brought from Guatemala and sold in many tourist points throughout the Bay Islands. Lobo stressed that products can be made, and should be made, locally, with a sufficient amount of local prodders. "We have more hands and the capability of producing quality artisan products here."
  • The poor; Lobo urged the people to apply for help, referring to the government's need to realize how many people must receive help and what assistance would be most constructive.

Each mayor presented requests for their respective provinces. In efforts to push a master plan in congress, Bay Islands Diputado Romeo Silvestri points to the complexity of issues needed to be addressed in the areas of security, education, health, infrastructure, and new product development. However, among Bay Island mayors, roads were the topic of the day. Guanaja Mayor Richard Hurlston reiterated the need for the road to the airport while Utila Mayor Alton Cooper called for the construction of a road to access the beaches in Utila, thus raising the possibility of a higher level of tourism. Santos Guardiola Mayor Perry Bodden asked for the support of congress to complete the road from Oakridge to Camp Bay. Roatan Vice Mayor Elsa de Hernandez reminded the President of the need for help with the septic system in Roatan province, as well as the desire to pave the Palmetto Bay road and the one in West End.
With a goal of reducing poverty and generating employment, growth and productivity, Diputado Romeo Silvestri asked the President to help facilitate the implementation of the ZOLITUR law. According to Silvestri, ZOLITUR is an instrument of generating investment, both foreign and locally. With little or no agricultural resources, mining, industry, or rivers to generate electricity, the Bay Islands are dependent on an "artificial economy." currently and majorly driven by the service industry in aspects mostly with tourism. The money from ZOLITUR is processed through the central government and, according Silvestri, is taking too long to be dispersed and actually delaying the programs which would facilitate investment. With more efficient processing the Bay Islands would move forward in developing a better quality of life for the community in a more timely manner, said Silvestri. According to Silvestri, a major problem with ZOLITUR during its inception was that their incentives we're not communicated properly and the general public couldn't understand it fully. Currently a census is being researched. "First of all, we need to know how many people we actually have. How much do we cost?" Silvestri is pushing three main agendas in Tegucigalpa: To protect areas for fresh water sources; to create a development plan for the Bay Islands that is time regulating in short, medium, and long term plans; and to enact the Bono 80, the law in action on the mainland whereby households that consume less than 150 kilowatts are subsidized by the central government. According to Silvestri this translates into 49% of electricity users, 12,000 households, and the possibility of directly benefitting up to 36,000 people.

Amongst the attendants were (from left) Ministerio de SECPLAN Arturo Gonzalez, Minister of Tourism Nelly Jerez Caballero, President Pepe Lobo Sosa, Presidential Commissioner Evans McNab, Roatan Vice Mayor Elsa De Hernandez, and Bay Islands Diputado Romeo Silvestri.
On April 10, members of the Bay Islands community attended at town meeting at ESBIR Bilingual School in Coxen Hole. The purpose of the meeting was to present the plan of the Honduran national government for the The Secretario de Planification (SECPLAN) for the next 28 years of the country and the Bay Islands specifically for integral development. The public was given a chance to ask questions, vent grievances, and posit positions on pertinent issues. The four municipals of the Bay Islands were represented by their respected mayors, with exception of Julio Galindo, who was represented by Vice Mayor Elsa de Hernandez. According to journalistic sources, the conversations with the public will be ongoing. President Lobo stressed facilitating an emphasis on social responsibility, urging the community to come up with a list of their real issues, and to appoint advisors from the community to inform the government.
The Plan for the Nation was presented by Coordinator and Manager, Arturo Corrales, publically disseminating the Plan for the Nation. The Plan is a follow up to a law enacted in December 2009 for the development of the country, and recognizing figures being collected since 1998. According to the Plan, Honduras is divided into six regions, delineated by geographical location according to water resource, mainly river basins. One of the regions is the part of the Mesoamerican Reef that comprises the Bay Islands. Each region has its unique set of planning initiatives for development. According to Presidential Commissioner Evans McNab, who served as the Bay Islands Diputado from 2002-2006, each region will be set up with an advisory board which will include members of the municipality, business sector, patronato, teachers' assembly, and fishing community, among others. This board will oversee projects proposed by the government, who will be responsible for seeking funding either on the federal or foreign level. According to McNab, the board will not handle the budget but approve and advise for assistance purposes only. "The board will give more credibility to government proposals in that the people are given the right to objective opinion and to lend their expertise. It will assist in the decision-making of the municipal."
Following the presentation, members of the public lined up to speak publically to ask questions, make requests, and vent grievances to the politicians at the table. Of most prevalence on speakers' minds were:
  • Scholarships for primary and secondary education public schools; Lobo responded with his goal to give 50 scholarships per year to top Honduran students for universities in the US. He placed responsibility on the education community to determine the most pertinent problems and proposed solutions. He also urged the residents in considering indicators and issues of ethnicity, religion, language, and population.
A Matter of Perspective Written by John Morris Illustrated by Barbara Morris

Years of bartending at The Inn of The Last Resort afforded Jhaytea to travel to what he calls the center of the musical universe, New York City. Among many jobs he held to make ends meet there, spinning tunes at a local hot spot caught the eye of DJ Rue Capone, a local celebrity. Thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend, DJ Rue Capone was able to get Jhaytea's first single, More Fire, produced and on the airwaves both in New York and in Roatan were it soon became a hit. Lamar Ramsey, president of the record company Union Avenue Entertainment and Vice President of JP Morgan/Chase bank brought Jhaytea to the owner of the record company, Carson Ulysee. Carson knew right away he had found someone very special. Within a few weeks, Jhaytea's first album, Sick of the Sickest Volume I, was released which included his current Billboard charted hit, Closer Baby. Airplay, or spins as they are called, have been increasing steadily and major record labels are knocking at the door. His song is a hit in Japan and Europe and he has toured all over the United States. A big show is upcoming in Jamaica along with such big names as Gyptian, Zisla and Bascon X. The goal is to make Jhaytea a household name and Jhaytea knows exactly what he is going to do when his eventual fame makes him a wealthy man. He has already formed his own company, RBI (Roatan Bay Island) Records, and hopes to one day build his own recording studio in Flowers Bay to record and promote artists on the island. He is also passionate to improve the school systems and assist the homeless.
Jhaytea comes back to Roatan often for two reasons: his family and inspiration for his songs. He always carries a piece of the island back with him when he returns to New York, sometimes it is new lyrics, sometimes it is friends. The current security team for Jhaytea in the city are all from island. "They used to carry me around on their shoulders when I was a kid" he says with a smile, "and they are still looking after me!" He now has family living in New York and his fiancée also hails from the island. Jhaytea is strong in his beliefs for island independence and is using his musical voice to educate the world about Roatan. In his current video for Closer Baby, Jhaytea sports a t-shirt of his own design with a proposed national flag for the Bay Islands. It is green, yellow and Caribbean blue with 3 stars. Green for the lush land, yellow for ever present sun and blue for the coral sea. The three stars represent the three hopefully one day independent islands of Roatan (or Rattan), Banaca (renamed Guanaja by Honduras) and Utila. "Probably not in my lifetime", he concedes, "but for sure one day".
Jhaytea credits his success on relentless work and maintaining a balance in his life. He has come a long way from the shoeless kid in Flowers Bay, but he has not and never will forget his heritage. Balance of life is the key to happiness for Jhaytea, and it is has always been and will continue to be a challenge and a fight for him to reach his goals. Justin Jhaytea Brooks may be known by several names, but nobody will ever call him a quitter.

Bal - ance (bal-uh-ns) noun: mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.
Justin Brooks was born in 1982 in Flowers Bay, Roatan, the "last to drop" in a family of twelve. In the 28 years that have since past, Jhaytea, his self proclaimed spelling of his childhood nickname JT, has seen many things and has embraced them all. If you had to adjectively describe the first native of Roatan to chart in Billboard's Top 40 in the R&B/Reggae charts (#9 as of this writing), passionately balanced springs to mind. Many in his newly found position of fame would easily become unapproachable, yet nothing could be farther from the truth with Jhaytea as I found out on a recent Saturday afternoon in Flowers Bay, sitting on cement block waiting for the iguana soup to boil. His story is one for the island's young to be very proud of, and Justin Brooks is very eager to share it.
Jhaytea does not remember his father, a fisherman, who was lost at sea, but knows he was a good man. Jhaytea's mother became the rock of the family instilling education (The Royal Readers!) and Christianity in her ten boys and two girls insisting that Sunday was sacred and to be respected with rest and gospel music. As a young boy, Jhaytea was glued to the radio became intrigued with the island music, especially the famous local band, The Rocky's, and began to dream to follow in their footsteps preserving the heritage he had become so proud of. He quickly realized that music was deep in his soul and lyrical rhymes were his way to express all that was going on around him. What he did not expect, was that people wanted to listen.
The FLB (short for Flowers Bay) boys were formed when Jhaytea was only twelve and the "Out The Road" talent shows became regular occurrence allowing the young boys to express themselves and sing about they saw going on around them. Soon, they were traveling around the island performing in Coxen Hole and Oak Ridge building a huge following. Jhaytea had found his destiny and knew he had spread the word of Roatan beyond the boundaries of the Caribbean.
feature story / george / local news / business______________back to top
The Black Pearl Tees Off in Roatan

World Class Golf Comes to the Bay Islands By John Morris Illustrated by Barbara Morris

Besides the golf course, phase one also includes a beach club, a hotel, an apartment building and 34 villas. As of this writing, 31 of 34 villas have already been sold. All villas are constructed to withstand a category five hurricane. Phase two will include a marina/village capable of handling yachts up to 120 feet as well six restaurants, two more hotels and another beach club. Total house units will top out at between 850 and 1000. An extensive medical facility and spa are being planned with plastic surgeons available. A PGA school is planned for training and the applications for PGA professionals are flowing in at an unexpected rate. The layout of the resort is intelligently impressive, combining golf, home sites, hotels and marinas without feeling crowded or losing the atmosphere of the island setting. To say the least, the project is overwhelming, in a good way, to the first time visitor.
As with the previous projects, the Toriello's are cutting no corners utilizing only the best materials for both the course and the building construction. Sand for the beach and the sand traps is imported from Venezuela and floor tiles for the homes are bought in Turkey There is no construction on speculation ensuring the owners will get what they want and expect. Customers from all over the globe have come to expect world class from previous projects, and Mario and his family are determined to provide it. During Semana Santa, the golf course held it's first invitation only tournament with one practice round and two tournament rounds and the response was incredible according to Mario. One day, the dream is to host professional events such as the Hooter's Tour and the Tour of Champions, but that is still five or six years away. For grand opening of the 18 hole course this year, Pete Dye has promised to bring in the celebrity brigade with such names as Greg Norman to show off his latest and most creative effort. Certainly all will be impressed, not only with the resort and the golf course, but with the island.
When all is said and done, the resort will employ over 1500 islanders with currently only 3-4% of the employees brought in from the mainland for specialized work including such training as caddy skills. Sixty five golf carts and thirty five caddies are the current goals. Mario has no doubt the project will be profitable and economically good for the island of Roatan. He sees it as a 6-8 year endeavor and cherishes the opportunity to work with those he has met on the island.
Mario laughs when he still gets questions on whether or not the project will be finished. "Are you kidding", he says, "this project is a winner!" This is certain and for Roatan, it's a hole in one.

Signature Hole #11 with an island green

When Mario Toriello, Vice President Sales and Marketing, and his two brothers of North Shore Development Company S.A. set out to find the best Caribbean island to build their third golf course in twelve years, they spent two years studying the entire region looking for the ideal location for both layout and affordability. It wasn't until they saw Danny McNabb's land in Pristine Bay that they knew they had found the right place. A partnership was made, and the 150 million dollar project of The Pristine Bay Resorts which includes The Black Pearl golf course was born.
Based in Guatemala City, Guatemala, North Shore Development Company S.A. is a family held company with a long history in real estate development in Central America. The Toriello family has also always been passionate about golf. Twelve years ago , when Mario's uncle announced that he wanted to build a golf course with residential and hotel facilities in Guatemala, his partner and late brother told him he was crazy. Mario now describes his uncle as a visionary. Northern Central America was lacking in world class championship golf courses and facilities, and the Toriello family company was about to change that in a monumental way.
The first two projects include Club Campestre San Isidro in Guatemala City, and La Reunion Country Club in Antigua which is located in the skirt of Volcan de Fuego. Both projects have been hugely successful. Key partnerships with Paul "Pete" Dye, a prominent and accomplished golf course designer from the USA, and his son Perry along with EDSA, world renowned architectural and urban design firm have proved to be wise choices. One thing is certain about the Toriello family, they only work with the best.
The Black Pearl project has been the most challenging the Toriello's have embarked on considering it is on an island surrounded by the world's second largest coral reef. Almost all the building materials and equipment is shipped in and special precautions have been taken to ensure that the reef is not disturbed by the chemicals and fertilizers necessary to maintain a golf course in immaculate conditions. Massive fresh water lagoons integrated into the course act as giant filtration systems and special salt-water tolerant paspalum grass developed by the University of Georgia is being used for the fairways. In a time when many similar projects have stopped or been delayed due economic and political conditions, the construction of the course as well as the first phase of residences are well underway at a steady pace. Nine holes are now completed, approved by Pete Dye, and are available for the public to play. Construction of the remaining nine holes is underway and expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Palmetto Bay Plantation
Real Estate Roatan
Compass Maps
The Voice Book

Click for the latest Roatan weather forecast.