story / editorial
Practicing for Future Glory
Roatan Football Camp Offers a Chance to Reach for a Dream
camp footballers practice free kicks .
2010 World Cup fever spilled into local fields all over
the world. One Roatanian, the first ever in history, Georgie
Welcome, represented Honduras at the FIFA South Africa World
Cup games. He provided an inspiration for other islanders
to try and improve their soccer skills and perhaps one day
represent their home and country on an international stage.
July, FC Milan Junior Football Camp, an international soccer
training program, came to Roatan creating an opportunity
to chase the football dreams of many young players, and
in some cases, the dreams of their parents.
camp lasted from July 19 until July 23 and provided an opportunity
to over 30 young players. Some of them were as young as
five, others as old as 18. They all focused their energy,
practiced passing, dribbling, and shooting at the goal -
all the sport's fundamentals. While some participating kids
had a superior set of skills, others looked at gaining knowledge
about the fundamentals of the sport.
Sports Complex in Coxen Hole provided the venue for the
camp. The 80 meter by 50 meter Kix field was in perfect
condition. The grass was thick and firm, the border marked
by tape. The backdrop of the field was a tropical island
forest. In brief, it was the perfect place to develop and
hone in on soccer skills.
and Summer 2010 there were scheduled more than 180 Milan Junior
Camp locations all around the world. There are camps from United
States to Australia and this year Roatan became yet another such
older boys practice passing
AC Milan football camp is an opportunity not only to learn
fundamentals of the sport and to match one's skills against
other players, but also to gain an opportunity to participate
in an international tournament in Italy: the Milan Junior
Camp Day Tournament. The one-day tournament is a venue for
scouts for European football clubs to see and even sign young
Sports Academy (ISA Corp.) represents AC Milan in Central
America and conducts AC Milan training camps from Panama to
Guatemala. Four locations were set up in Honduras in 2010:
two camps in San Pedro Sula, and one in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba
and Roatan. The Roatan three-hour-a-day, five-day event cost
$130, less then a half of the $290 the camp costs in San Pedro
to Massimilan Vincenti, on of the two AC Milan football camp
trainers that came to Roatan in 2009, 15 young Honduran footballers
were invited to participate in the Milan Junior Camp Day Tournament.
In 2010, around nine to ten players are expected to be invited
from Honduras to the Milan tournament, unfortunately no one
yet from Roatan.
AC Milan football camp trainers had a chance to look at the
Roatan talent. "They have the physical conditioning.
What they lack is discipline and tactical skills," Vincenti
said about the young island players. The main person in charge
was coach Mirko Colombo. Along side with Vincenti and working
with the youngest players, was Luis Alvarado, local soccer
trainer from Roatan.
the cost of travel and staying in Italy has to be covered
by each child, according to Vincenti, the promising players
can expect, and often do, find local businesses that help
them as sponsors.
group of mothers sat in the shade a few meters away from the
field. They are watching their sons line up, dribble, shoot
and outrun their counterparts. Mirta McLaughlin, a West End
resident, had two of her sons participate in the camp: Maximilian,
7, and Alexander, 5, signed up for the camp. "It's a
great program," said Mirta.
Luis Alvarado talks to the youngest camp participants
story / editorial
/ local news
______________back to top
several months I brainstormed the idea and eventually the
purpose of the journey evolved into a something I do well:
finding interesting people and telling their stories as
a journalist. Other then just words on paper, I also wanted
to create a project website that would become a portal for
stories I would tell. The website became www.AfricaHeartbeat.com.
planned route for crossing the mother continent changed,
several times. There is one cardinal rule about travel in
Africa: you have to be flexible. If you don't, you will
be humbled and delayed, even stopped in your tracks. The
continent offers numerous obstacles that can't always be
foreseen or surpassed: floods, political upheavals, banditry,
even target tourist kidnappings in some countries. My original
plan of reaching Morocco via Central African Republic and
Chad changed. Sudan, continent's biggest country and a country
that I crossed from top to bottom, more than compensated
experience left an impression on me of vast expanses of
continent, smells of African earth, sounds of drums, and
the taste of desert dust. I remember fighting through soft
sand on a hot day in southern Mozambique's Kosi Bay. The
rainy assent towards Lesotho's Sani pass offered another
memorable experience. My tires slipped on the large, wet
rocks and made me lose control of the bike time after time
before I reached a desolate plateau of this African kingdom.
Another highpoint was riding alongside a galloping Oryx
in Botswana before it jumped from the grass field to continue
running in front of my bike. There was the desolate gravel
road of Namibia from Fisher Canyon with seeing no vehicles
but seeing wild zebras and kudus. On the
curving roads of Malawi 100 kilometers south of Nkhata Bay,
I saw children smiling, cheering, and giving thumbs up and
all other exclamations of joy. There was the starlit sky
amongst the Sudan's Meroe pyramids where I spent a night.
is made of moments and some of them weave a fabric that
make our lives worth living.
After an eight month motorcycle journey thru Africa, Middle
East and Europe, I am back. I am changed and humbled. The
entire experience proved to be the best of times and worst
of times, and I am grateful for both.
Some of life's experiences are appreciated as we go thru
them. The more complex experiences are only fully appreciated
and embraced once we have completed them. My Africa crossing
is an experience I am still comprehending.
first time an idea of crossing Africa came to me when I
was 10, right at the time when a large map of the world
was hung above my bed in a small Warsaw, Poland apartment.
In the evenings I would study the geography of each continent,
its road and railroad network marked with thin yellow and
red lines. The most prominent continent was Africa, placed
in the middle of the map, right above where my head would
rest on the pillow. I tried connecting Capetown and Cairo
using the yellow and red lines, and it wasn't easy. In 1970s
few people traveled that route.
idea for this journey stayed in my mind for years. I would
eventually learn to ride motorcycles in India and repeatedly
travel to the Horn of Africa, to write articles from the
region for publications in Poland and US. In January 2009
my grandmother past away and I decided it was time to do
the trek I've been thinking about for so long
kilometer ride from South Africa to Europe.
story / editorial
/ local news
By Thomas Tomczyk
Whale Shark Encounter Goes Wrong
for a Shark
Whale Shark Encounter Guidelines:
area surrounding a whale shark and a boil of bonito is called the
"contact zone." The contact zone has its origin as the
whale shark and extends 100m/300ft, creating a 200m/600ft diameter
one vessel at a time is permitted within the contact zone. The first
commercial vessel within this zone may claim priority by raising
the contact zone flag from its mast so that it is visible from 300
degrees. Vessels in queue must remain outside the holding zone which
is 1/ 4 mile (400 m) away from the vessel with priority and may
not intrude on a contact zone except in an emergency.
contact vessel must approach the whale shark in such a way that
the shark's direction of travel is not obstructed. Under no circumstances
are boats to enter the feeding area at more than idle speed. Boats
must stay to the side of the feeding area/boil and let the shark
approach or have snorkelers swim in.
must remain in neutral when whale sharks are within 10m/30ft, or
when people are in the water unless it is to maneuver in such a
way to prevent harm to both.
contact vessel must maintain a distance of at least l0m/30ft from
the whale shark and may not exceed two knots. Priority is lost when
the whale shark dives and the boil re-appears more than 1/4 mile
(400m) away or when 10 minutes have elapsed. The contact vessel
must lower their flag and allow the next boat in queue to establish
two in-water encounters are allowed per boat except under research
circumstances. A research vessel must fly the whale shark research
flag in addition to the contact zone flag.
attempting an encounter, the dive master must read the vessels encounter
brief. A maximum of eight snorkelers are allowed in the water at
any time and entry must be made as quietly as possible.
must maintain a minimum distance of 3m/9ft from the shark. No touching,
riding or obstructing the path of a whale shark is permitted.
for scientific purposes no person is permitted to enter the water
with SCUBA. No flash photography is allowed for any purpose.
fisherman are not included in the above regulations and may continue
to fish the boil without interference. To limit any disturbance
to the shark please find another boil if there are already other
vessels in queue.
Dive Boat drops off snorkellers above a whale shark.
encounter that should be a pleasant, awe inspiring event become
an example of how Utila dive industry is sometimes killing its "golden
egg laying goose" - the Rhincodon Typus, the world's biggest
fish, also known as the Whale Shark.
5pm on July 23, several Utila dive boats along with passengers of
Captain Vern's catamaran recognized signs of whale Shark presence
off Utila's old airport. There were schools of tuna jumping and
surface bubbles indicating that a Whale Shark was close by. Captain
Vern's catamaran found itself 10 meters from a giant fish feeding
on the surface with its mouth open and the rest of its body pointing
Ulysses, a Cross Creek owned dive boat that was further away, spotted
the giant fish as well and begun heading straight for it. The crew
of the Ulysses headed for the Shark at around 5-6 knots, driving
the boat over the area where the fish was seconds before, and missing
it by just a couple of meters. Snorkelers jumped off the boat's
rear to observe the shark, but the encounter didn't last long as
the shark dove and did not appear in the area again.
the boat approached, the mouth of the Whale Shark was on the surface
and the animal was particularly vulnerable to being hit by the boat's
hull and propeller. The fish's vertical position made it difficult
for it to turn and escape the approaching boat.
type of boat approach could not only scare the shark and scrape
it with its propeller, but it could also provoke it to become aggressive
towards the snorkelers. This behavior sometimes exhibits itself
with a Whale Shark catching a swimmer with its mouth then dragging
him or her under water. "When scared, they (Whale Sharks) dive
deep and fast. That puts extra stress on their organs," explained
Dr. Rob Davis, director of Utila's Whale Shark Oceanic Research
Whale Shark engagement guidelines specify that if one boat is close
to a Whale Shark it has priority and other vessels have to remain
¼ mile away from the fish. A maximum eight swimmers are permitted
around the fish are required to stay away three meters from the
Whale Shark's body and four meters away from its tail.
is trying to hurt the whale shark. If anything that was an accident,"
commented Kevin Dures, Manager at Cross Creek, about the reported
to Dr. Davis only one or two dive shops on Utila have been regularly
ignoring whale shark guidelines, and violating Honduran law. The
16 Utila Dive shops compete fiercely for customers, and market the
island as a world famous Whale Shark destination. Lack of respect
for Whale Shark encounter guidelines by some dive shops could result
in consequences that negatively affect the future of Utila's entire
dive industry. "If they continue to do that, they won't be
in business very long; the Whale Sharks will change their migration
patters," said Dr. Davis.
Americans Meet By
Angry Questions and Comments Make for a Lively Town Hall
also touched on the ongoing frustrations that Roatan's foreign
residents experience with the Honduran police and judicial
systems. "There is zero accountability in the judicial
system," said Mitch Cummins, a Roatan business owner.
"Judges, fiscals and police can play hot potato like
Llorens had some news about the planned Guanaja navy facility.
The US has donated four "go fast" vessels, capable
of going 60 miles an hour and outrunning the fastest drug-running
boats. Two of the "go fast" boats are based in the
Honduran Caratasca navy base in La Mosquitia, other two are
based in Puerto Castilla. According to Ambassador Llorens,
the Guanaja navy facility will open in the summer of 2011
and will be a base for the two go-fast boats that are currently
in Puerto Castilla.
of the American residents of Punta Blanca described the intense,
violent confrontation of drug traffickers on the east end
of Roatan that took place in March. "There were tracer
bullets flying above my house. There were people shot left
and right, houses burned," said the long term retiree
from Punta Blanca. Several island sources estimated that over
20 people were killed in the drug violence that erupted and
took months to wind down. Most people killed were islanders,
but also two Italian nationals disappeared, and are feared
dead. The violence has received almost no coverage from Honduran
press, and US embassy officials seemed surprised to hear the
scale of violence.
next US town meeting on Roatan is planned for October.
Hugo Llorens at the Fantasy Island meeting
Fantasy Island hosted American community annual meeting with
their Ambassador Hugo Llorens, a veteran of the Honduran 2009
political crisis. On July 16, Ambassador Llorens faced some
tough, angry questions and was several times interrupted by
Americans that still felt angry about US handling of the June
you still want Zelaya reinstated?" with a shaking voice
asked Ambassador Llorens of one Roatan resident. "We
always considered what happened on June 28th a coup, but Zelaya
was a big part of the problem," said Ambassador Llorens.
the two US embassy representatives at the meeting were not
spared criticism, they remained upbeat and professional about
their reception. "You've been in my face, but I wouldn't
have it any other way," said US Consul General Douglass
Benning during the meeting, who was about to end his three
year Honduras posting.
story / editorial
Partyinghe Bay Islands Get a Yacht Club By
Carnival Takes Place
to the Utila Tourism Committee, around 2,000-3,000 people showed
up to see the 2010 Carnival. Utila hotels filled with backpackers:
international, mainlanders and Roatan visitors. In the end, the
Carnival week provided a valuable boost to the vulnerable island
to Lobo, acting president of the Carnival Committee, the cost of
the carnival was around 150,000-200,000 Lps. and at least part of
these costs should be recuperated from the drink and concession
sales at the Carnival. The revenue has not been counted as of yet.
highlight of the Carnival was the Saturday parade. The float of
"Los Borrachos," or the drunkards, made its annual appearance
and dominated the parade with music and bead throwing. There were
the Cerveceria and Tigo floats, and BICA Utila came up with the
most creative float and most active float crew.
bands from La Ceiba included the Garifuna dancers and singer Carlos
Gerrino who entertained the crowds of locals and visitors. The Carnival
Queen was Junie Keller, the first "elected queen," on
an island that was used to "appointing" their royalty.
Judges chose Junile from amongst seven candidates.
it proved the most improvised carnival to date, it did happen and
the eleven-year-old Utila carnival tradition lives on for another
'Los Borrachos' float participants throw beads onto spectators
Utilan streak of annual Carnivals that began in 1999 was about to
be broken. Just a few weeks before the scheduled July 19-25 event,
the Utila Municipality disclosed that it had no funds to organize
the Carnival. "Cabildo canceled it, explaining that they had
no money," said Patrick Flynn, board member of the 2010 Carnival
committee. "It was like they were taking one-third of the island's
income away from it." A group of local business people, many
part of the island's Tourism Committee, acted quickly and approached
the Utila Municipality about taking over the organizing of the island's
as business people felt obliged to do this to keep it going,"
said Victor Lobo, president of the island's Tourism Committee, who
took over organization of the Carnival on a last moment's notice.
Utila was hit hard by the Honduran economic slump and the prospect
of losing yet more business became an all-to-real possibility.
Utila Carnival has been an annual event since 1999, coinciding with
the Sun Jam festival. The Sun Jam festival takes place a week after
the Utila Carnival and this year is planned to take place back at
Water Cay on July 31.