story / editorial
The Softer Side of Island Soul
Ballet School Teaches Grace and Dance Skills to Island Kids
scene from Peter and the Wolf.
people thought that ballet would be such a hit on Roatan.
After all, this is a "tough island." Boys and
girls are taught to hunt for iguanas, fish for marlin and
cut brush with machetes. There is a softer, gentler side
to island soul, and Wendy Landaverde-Bauer, a Ballet school
owner and instructor helped to bring it out.
Wendy's ballet school- "Bauer Dance Studio" isn't
the first ballet studio to open on the island. Two years
ago a ballet school in French Harbour initiated the islanders
to ballet. Elizabeth McNab, who minored in ballet at Loyola
University in New Orleans, had a "Classic Ballet Studio"
in French Harbour. "I decided to do it for fun and
it went really well," says McNab, who had over 40 girls
enrolled in three classes. The students prepared a "nutcracker"
performance at the Christmas festival in French Harbour.
Wendy has begun her own school, first at a tiny space in
Plaza Mar. In May Wendy, 38, started her ballet studio with
just ten students. Then, as news of the school began spreading,
more students began coming in. "Now we grew and we
want to be bigger," says Wendy who wants to put a public
viewing area for the parents, more mirrors. She would like
to create a performing arts center "where people could
teach dance, theater in this space," says Wendy. "Music,
painting, dancing, that is my idea for the future."
Educating Roatanians about ballet wasn't easy at first.
"I had difficulty in explaining to the parents that
ballet is a discipline, it's not just jumping or moving
around. It's a discipline that requires a lot of effort
on the part of the girls," says Wendy. Wendy teaches
three classes: pre-primary, primary and first grade. She
follows a Royal Ballet school curriculum, the same curriculum
that she followed as a student and instructor.
"'You can't understand that children on the islands
don't wear socks,' a mother told me. But I had to explain
that socks are there to make sure the ballet shoes don't
hurt the children's feet. 'If you don't want to bring her,
thank you very much, but that is my uniform."
Storms with his daughter Maya watches the ballet performance
at Henry Morgan.
Plaza Mar studio is simple, but has all the elements that ballet
studios have: wooden floor, holding bars and mirrors. It's a seven
by nine meter dancing space, with long, red curtains on one side
and tall mirrors on the walls. The space cost around $4,000 to
prepare and by far the most expensive element of the project was
the floor. "Look at this floor. This is spring floor and
dancing on it will not hurt your back," says Wendy. Three-quarters
inch plywood sheets were used to create a dance floor that would
cushion the dancer's jumps and falls. "Each sheet of plywood
has a spring, in the middle and at the corners," explains
Wendy. "Whenever a girl is jumping, the floor will give a
comes from a musical family and all her life she was associated
with Royal Academy of Dance in San Pedro Sula. Wendy came
to the island because she married an American living on Roatan.
"Ballet is my passion and this is what I want to continue
to be doing," says Wendy. Wendy has gone through the
Royal Ballet certification process achieving seventh grade.
She hopes to one day be an instructor accredited by Royal
Ballet, but realizes that this will be a long and expensive
endeavor. For five years she worked at a marketing company
and took a long break from ballet. When she got back into
ballet she had to refresh her knowledge.
culmination of the ballet school's work was a performance
of all the school's pupils at a theater space at Henry Morgan.
The December 4 performance filled the Henry Morgan auditorium
almost to the brim. The ballet at Henry Morgan was actually
smaller than the practice stage that the students use at their
school at Plaza Mar.
The first part of the performance was choreographed dances:
belly dancing, flamenco, and a Nutcracker scene. The flamenco
was performed by Wendy's niece Alexa Landaverde and the belly
dance was performed by Glenda Geraldina Marquez.
The second part of the show was the "Peter and the Wolf"
a 1938 Sergei Prokofiew musical symphony. The music score
by Sergei Prokofiev was played under sound supervision by
Kristopher Goldman. Kristopher's son Edwin Goldman played
"the Grandpa", as the only two boys in the performance.
"They worked so hard on the preparations," said
Jennifer Serrano about her daughter Alessandra Piñeda,
who played one of the Hunters in the play.
Sheryl's Galindo's two granddaughters: Isamar and Andrea were
in the performance. Andrea played the bird in the performance
and Isamar played the cat. "You can tell that it took
a lot of discipline to put this together," said Sheryl,
after seeing the Peter and the Wolf performance.
"I am doing that because I want to give what I've learned
from my teachers," says Wendy who believes that her greatest
mentor was Jorge "Giorgino" Orellana, a journalist
and a ballet instructor who was gunned down and killed in
April in San Pedro Sula. "He was my mentor for 26 years.
He was a great dancer and a teacher," says Wendy about
Orellana. "He was going to get me a scholarship in Argentina,
but my family decided I was too young and I couldn't go,"
says Wendy. "He gave me my heritage and I need to pass
At her ballet school, Wendy watches the student's every move,
jump and gesture. "Skip, skip, pony gallop, pony gallop,"
says Wendy to her group of primary class students during practice.
While some girls are athletic, doing wheel carts, some other
girls are shyer and just beginning to learn how to walk with
grace. Wendy leans over a girl to explain how to place her
hands to do a proper cartwheel. Wendy encourages the girls
that are doing well, or just trying their best. The lessons
have an order and structure as Wendy follows the curriculum
of classes prepared by the Royal Ballet.
While some girls just wear socks, others wear ballet shoes.
"You have to be on top of your toes
and feet together,"
instructs Wendy. Discipline is key to the class. Learning
about grace; keeping concentration and precision in movement.
In 2011 some girls will take an exam with the instructors
coming from San Pedro Sula to perform the exam.
Many people do things before they have to. A few do things
because they feel a passion for that something. Wendy belongs
to the latter group. "This is not going to make me rich
financially, but make me rich in another way," says Wendy.
"When my students are smiling and they are happy, that
is making me proud and rich."
Landaverde-Bauer with her primary students at her studio in
story / editorial
/ local news
______________back to top
Solutions in Zambia by
American Students turn a Class Trip into a Business
create a high end product - a Zambikes bamboo bike, the
company teamed up with California bike designer Craig Calfee.
They produced a low-tech method of creating different size
bamboo bike frames with simple adjustable rectangular jig.
The entire process begins with choosing two-three year old
bamboos for straightness and circumference. Different pieces
of bamboo, grown locally, are categorized based on width
and cut to size. Seven pieces make a bamboo bike from that
is then tied with sisal and glued. The bamboo is soaked
for a day then dried several weeks. Then a two day long
process of sanding the frame begins.
"If you have passion in your heart you will be able
see what others don't. Its amazing to see that when looking
at bamboo some people were able to see a bicycle or a cupboard,"
The US waiting list for the bamboo bikes frames, meant to
retail for between $700 and $800, is just getting longer.
A bamboo bicycle frame weighs about as much as does an aluminum
frame and is more absorbent of vibrations. What is even
more impressive is that Zambikes produces low-impact, high-end,
green product exported from a Third World country to a first
In a way, Zambikes has reinvented the current Chinese model
of aid to Africa. While the Chinese focus their aid on the
continent on building roads and government building infrastructure,
the Zambikes took the Chinese ideas of a bicycles for everyone,
bamboo and provided a model that rewards the productivity
of its employees is reflected not in bonuses to its shareholders,
but that gives financial rewards to employees. "It
is only a matter of time before someone else will bet into
the business. Maybe even Chinese themselves," says
about the bamboo bike initiative McBride. "We hope
to have a few years out of this."
There is a fair amount of pride when you speak to Zambian
owners of the bike.
In a country that used to export only raw materials, and
relay on imports for all its transportation needs, Zambikes
has already created a shift in thinking.
The success of Zambikes didn't just come from finding several
market niches. In Africa, a company has to also take care
of its employee's spiritual, social and intellectual needs.
It does it to fill the vacuum left behind by a society and
families decimated by AIDS and lack of male models. "Many
if our [workshop] employees used to drunkards. Now they
are getting married, building houses not out of mud but
with brick," says Chikamba. In two years a village
where Zambikes bought land and from where most of its emploees
come from is beginning to look way different.
Once a week, a pastor, or motivational speaker speaks to
the 25-or-so employees of Zambikes. In case of emergency
and in crisis, the employees can count on assistance and
assistance in learning professions and life skills, like
health and savings techniques.
The Zambikes partners are looking at other countries where
to expand. The idea is to have ineventually 10 projects
going around Africa and Uganda is seen as the next country.
A university trip to Zambia led two California students
on a path that resulted in establishing Zambikes, a company
that is an example of how an African country can solve its
own transportation needs and create high-end product with
a waiting list in US.
Vaughn Spethmann and Dustin McBride, class 2007 business
students at the Azusa Pacific University in California teemed
up with two Zambian partners to create an unusual and edgy
project of making Zambian bicycles for Zambian riders. The
idealistic, Christian men answered a question weather a
bicycle be any more green and ecological
then a concept
of a self propelled two-wheel propulsion already is. Their
project went from being a sample study in a University business
class to a reality within just a couple years.
In 2008 Zambikes first entered the market with Amakasana-
a right yellow metal bike with a snazzy logo. "We created
a bike that is specifically made for Zambian terrain,"
says Mwewa Chikamba, one of Zambikes two Zambian founders,
about a bike that has a stronger carrier, reinforced pedals
and simple six gears. Amakasane, is assembled from parts
shipped from Taiwan and China, and assembled at Zambikes
plant 16 kilometers outside Zambias capital Lusaka.
Amakasane is winning individual customers and companies
all over Zambia. "Some people will come in and say:
'I am buying this because it was made in Zambia',"
After Amakasane, Zambikes came out with its Zambulance-
an invention that uses a bike with a ball attachment and
a two-meter-long fabric covered cart. Before Zambulance
local communities relied on wheelbarrows with welded grates
to transport their severely sick and immobile patients to
the clinics. Chikamba says, that a live is saved by a Zambuklance
every 10 days.
One of dozens of clinics that use Zambulances is Chipata
Health Clinic on thee outskirts of Lusaka. Mijohn Mwanza,
the clinic's accountant, does double duty as the Zam-driver.
Several times a week he is called to bring his Zambulance
to a Chiapta, known as "Little Bombay" and pedal
them in to get help.
Company's third product, the metal Zamcart, is meant to
haul up to 250 kilos of goods and pulled by a bicycle tied
to it with a simple ball-attachment. Zamcart is sold for
$250 to small Zambian entrepreneurs hauling goods from their
stores and farms. "It [Zamcart] looks like something
a six grader could design," says McBride "but
it actually took a long process to get there."
story / george
/ local news
in the Park
Foreign Boats are Caught Spear Fishing in the Roatan Marine
infuriating. They told us all these lies," said Bach
about the nine Polish nationals that according to Marine
park officials repeatedly lied and hid evidence of their
spear fishing in Roatan Marine Park. "It felt I was
dealing with a Polish mafia," said Bach about how a
"6'-2" crew delivered his gear to the port captain.
Bach hopes that in 2011 new management plan and new bylaws
should be instituted that would address the arbitrary nature
of fines placed on poachers.
Each person caught poaching in the Roatan Marine Park can
be fined at least Lps. 500 of a municipal fine and sentenced
to an overnight in jail or community service. According
to Bach, each poaching case is different, and some foreigners
are allowed to do community service, while most locals sent
to spend 24 hours in jail. According to Roatan Marine Park,
in 2010, there have been 46 incidents resulting in 25 people
going to jail and 11 doing community service. "If they
are too old, too young, or just desperately trying to feed
their families and not their crack habit, we recommend community
service. It is more of a benefit to Roatan to have someone
spend a day removing trash," said Bach.
Bay Islands Voice was contacted a day after the incident
by Captain Biernacki, and told by him that while there was
a spear gun on board, no fish or lobster were speared.
This incident is a third one in a November week involving
foreign registered vessels that come to Bay Islands temporarily.
"Two incidents with French people and one involving
Polish nationals," said Bach.
While Marine park allows, even encourages using a spear
to fish for lionfish, it enforces laws protecting all other
marine life on Roatan. Since September 2009 Marne Park has
sold around 100 Hawaiian swings that can be used only to
hunt Lionfish, an invasive fish that is a growing threat
to the Roatan reef. The yellow swing costs Lps. 500 and
includes a one-year license to hunt Lionfish in the park
When a person is caught illegally hunting in the waters
of Roatan Marine Park they are not only fined, but their
gear is confiscated. The Roatan Marine Park 2010 records
show a long list of Police confiscated gear: 32 masks, 15
sets of fins, 9 spears, 6 spear guns, 6 lobster gaffs, 6
knives, 2 fish/lobster traps, a net and one set of dive
gear. According to Marine Park 110 live conch were confiscated
and relocated. Around 80 dead lobster, 60 dead conch, 45
dead fish and 10 dead seahorses.
dead snapper killed by divers of "Quo Vadis," a
41 foot Belize based catamaran.
A community effort of West End dive shops, Roatan Marine
Park, Tourist police and Port Captain strengthens effort
to protect the island reef from poachers and visiting boats
and divers. One of the more damaging recent poaching incidents
took place on Sunday, December 5, with a Belize based catamaran
"I saw a diver with a spear, sticking it into the reef,"
says Marco Alvarado, a dive instructor from Coconut Tree
dive shop, who first spotted the spear fishing divers underwater.
"Then I saw that he [a diver] had a bag with fish already
in it. So I swam up to him and said 'No! No spear fishing!'
but he just swam away." Alvarado surfaced and quickly
contacted the authorities on shore. "We contacted Reef
Gliders [dive shop], the boat captain came in and boarded
the [suspected] boat. The tourist police helped out. It
was a community effort to stop these poachers," says
Alvarado. Some of the fun divers on board Coconut Tree dive
boat videoed the poachers and provided evidence that allowed
the Port Captain to board the boat.
"They hid the bag with three large snappers near a
mooring," explained Nick Bach, of the Roatan Marine
Park. The incident took place at "El Aquarium,"
one of the most dived dive sites on Roatan. "It wasn't
exactly in front of the offices of the Marine Park, but
not far off," says Bach.
Eight divers involved in the poaching and captain Rafal
Biernacki were on-board of "Quo Vadis," a 41 foot
Belize based catamaran that does regular charters between
Belize and Bay Islands. "They damaged the spear gun
on purpose, hid it and told us they found it in the water.
They all wore gloves, which is already illegal," said
One spear gun was confiscated and a full set of dive gear
was also taken away. "Originally they were to pay a
fine $5,000 to the Port Captain, but the process would involve
Tegucigalpa and likely to take months to settle if it ever
happened at all. Instead they were made to pay a smaller
amount in financial compensation towards Marine Park improvements,"
said Bach. In the end, the boat was made to pay a "financial
compensation" towards Marine Park improvements in the
amount of $1,000.
Helping Parents by
Grass Roots Organization Helps Parents in Helping their Children
The clinic helps children as young as one-year-old that
are treated for meningitis and hyperactivity disorder. The
oldest patients are in their 70s, and an eighty-one-year-old
Doña Indiana came all the way from Santa Elena (St.
Helene) for rehabilitation work. Many of the adults are
diabetic sufferers who had their legs amputated. To help
them in getting prosthesis and teaching them how to walk
again the RBC Clinic hosts twice-a-year visits from Santa
Rosa de Copan CAMO organization that provides custom made
For the patients without their own transportation a seven
person bus, donated by the Roatan Municipality, picks-up
patients twice-a-day from West End to French Harbour, then
two days a week, they go to pick up patients as far as Oak
Dr. Dominguez at the Roatan public hospital makes the determination
if a patient can benefit from the therapy. If they are,
RBC asks them to make small contribution to the clinic:
adults pay Lps. 100 per session; children pay Lps. 50 per
month. "If they don't have the money they can still
come, we just don't charge them," says Reyna Rodriguez,
the RBC office manager.
A year ago in December the RBC moved from a tiny space in
French Harbour. Now the center occupies a two room space
at the French Cay's VOM Clinic - a clinic that functions
every few months accommodating medical volunteers from US.
The VOM are permitted to use the space free of charge paying
only the electric bill.
In their July 31 Maraton, RBC raised around Lps. 100,000
for operational costs. Anacaribe, a Coxen Hole customs broker
agency, is the most ardent supporter of the group donating
monthly Lps. 8,000 for the clinic salaries and upkeep expenses.
Moralez, 2, a boy with hearing and foot deformation problems
receives one of his three weekly physical rehabilitation
a small, two-room space in French Cay, they are mostly mothers,
women whose children were born with a disability and are
in need of treatment, constant exercise and behavioral therapy.
There are also adults, most often amputees and diabetic
It all started in 2007 with a blind three-year-old boy from
Mud Hole. Wilson Mejia had travelled to Tegucigalpa for
eye treatment, but his family soon realized that travel
to receive his periodical treatment would be too expensive
for them to handle. As no help could be found on Roatan,
INFRANCNOVI (Franciscan Institute for Teaching of Blind)
got involved and helped to organize a community based organization
RBC (Rehabilitación Basada en la Comunidad - Rehabilitation
based in Community). The RBC clinic has been helping parents
help their own children to get better.
"It is similar to CRILA [a rehabilitation center in
La Ceiba]," said Vania Gonzalez, an UNAH student who
volunteered doing her professional internship at RBC. Gonzales
uses exercise technique to help children regain mobility
and improve concentration skills.
Eclipse's Grand Visit
by Thomas Tomczyk
Hosts a Third Solstice Class Ship to Date on Her Maiden Voyage
to Western Caribbean
destinations 'would kill' to have a ship of this caliber
visit. We are lucky to have all three Solstice class cruise
ships visiting us on Roatan," said Alvaro Duron, the
general manager of Port of Roatan. According to Captain
Skylogiannis two more Solstice class ships are due to be
built and put into service by July 2011 and November 2012.
"Maybe Roatan shouldn't become too similar to other
Caribbean destinations," said Federico Gonzalez-Denton,
director of Government & Community Relations for Caribbean
and Latin America. Gonzalez-Denton praised uniqueness of
Roatan as a tourist destination and experience in an increasingly
Eclipse is scheduled to come to Roatan every two weeks until
April, when she will sail across the Atlantic and begin
cruising the Mediterranean. Celebrity Eclipse was floated
in February 2010 as the third Solstice-class ship. Along
side Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox, all three
ships have already visited Roatan.
Eclipse, a high end cruiser, has no shortage of restaurants
to choose from: Moonlight Sonata, Cafe al Bacio, the Oceanview
Cafe, the Mast Grill and the Continental and European-inspired
Murano. Also onboard the ship is the Aquaspa, Solarium and
Lawn Club; an area of real grass that is cut nearly everyday
and where activities are held, such as Boules, Miniature
Golf and giant Jenga. There are pools, a casino, a theatre,
bars and on the top deck surrounded by manicured grass lawns,
a glass workshop of the Corning Museum of Glass holds exhibitions
of glass blowing. The pieces created during the voyage are
auctioned off at the end of each voyage.
Eclipse has participated in a good-will effort and evacuated
2,000 British tourists from Spain during the Islandic Eyjafjallajökull
volcano explosion in April.
view of the dop deck of Eclipse towards Coxen Hole.
Roatan is becoming one of the most visited destinations
in the Caribbean. Its strategic location, a perfect turn-around
place for seven-day-cruises originating in Florida or Texas,
good harbors and positive reviews by cruise ship passengers
is attracting more and more ships.
The island is quickly getting into a weekly rhythm: three,
sometimes four cruise ships on Tuesday and Wednesday and
then time for souvenir store owners and taxi drivers to
catch their breath over the weekend and Monday. The latest
new ship to visit Roatan was Eclipse, a 122,000 ton, 2,852
passenger ship that is a pride of the Celebrity cruise lines
and launched in February 2010.
On December 2, Eclipse visited Port of Roatan on her maiden
voyage. To mark the occasion, invited local government guests,
Honduras minister of Tourism and media came on board to
meet the captain, enjoy lunch and receive a guided tour.
Panagiotis Skylogiannis, the most important man on the ship
welcomed the Roatan guests on board of the 1,033 foot long
passenger ship. "We have automatic water purification,
solar panels and silicon paint that reduce drag and increases
fuel efficiency," told about the top-of-the-line ship
Captain Skylogiannis. With an optimized hull design and
30% more energy efficient lights Solstice ships are considered
to be some of the most environment-friendly ships in the
story / editorial
Hardware Opens Doors
by Thomas Tomczyk
French Harbour Store Aims at Being one-stop Shopping for Home Owners
to Yvette Hyde, store's manager, there are around 8,000 items that
are showcased on the showroom floor, but the assortment of items
will change and adjust to match the client demand. The entire 60,000
Ace items that are showcased on the Ace hardware website can be
ordered at the store and, according to Hyde, should arrive at the
store in about 10 days. The once-a-week supply boat from Miami will
be bringing the items to a French Harbour dock just 50 meters from
The floor of the store is divided into several departments: there
is a paint store and several thousand feet of shelf space displaying
anything from BBQ sets to ladders and lamps. "You can bring
a photo of your home and we can show you how it would look painted
with a new color," says Shawn Hyde. "We'll even store
the info so when you'll come a few years later we can match the
color you originally purchased."
There are six Ace Hardware stores on Honduras' mainland, but according
to Hyde, this is the only store that was designed as an actual Ace
Hardware store in the US. The 10,700 square foot store employs 15
people on the floor and another four outside the building.
Ace hardware and its employees: Ada Herrera, Sherlla Dilbert, Vany
Mencias, Emiliano Bolan, Jessica Mejia, Luis Zapata, Fany Sanders,
Jenis Jackson, Carol Dixon, Santos Montes, Jose Tabora, Evelin Almendarez,
Zonia Vargas, Hayanti Morales, Jose Arias, Bency Bolan, Jeff Dixon,
Devron Bodden, Enia Burgos.
2 ACE Hardware store opened its doors to the public. "My wife
was the first customer. She bought a mop and a bucket," said
Shawn Hyde, the ACE's general manger. Hyde purchased the Ace Hardware
franchise rights to Bay Islands in 2009, but delayed opening the
store that year due to unstable economic outlook in the country
and Bay Islands. "[Now] we feel that Roatan is on the rebound,"