A West End Pundit, Philosopher, Caregiver

March 1st, 2008
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] v6-3-Interview-Deine EtchesA West End goodwill ambassador, Deine Wood Etches, 53, is the quiet eminence of islanders and foreigners on the West Side of the island. Deine is treasurer on one of the West End water boards, a mother and wife, and co-owner of West End’s most successful bars: Sundowners and Fubar.

The energetic, lanky baby-boomer was born in Coxen Hole, where she hung out in the 1960s and 1970s. Deine’s father, John J. Wood, became Mayor in 1975 until 1986. Deine still has a vivid image of her father, John J. Wood, rolling down the road on his bicycle saying, “Here goes you public servant.”

As a teenager she hung out on the dusty streets of Roatan’s capital city with two of her best friends: Dale Osgood and Marlene Watler. She graduated from a finishing academy in Ohio. The experience prepared her for the Miss Honduras contest of 1973. Out of 23 contestants she came in seventh. “I had a great time, had a chance to talk about my island,” said Deine. After a six-month courtship, the 19-year-old Deine married Bill Etches. “I guess I got to know enough about Bill to spend the last 34 years together,” said Deine.

Until 1980 Deine lived on Roatan. Then the couple moved to Canada, then to the island of Montserrat, then Florida and in 1993, Deine and Bill came back to Roatan. Deine is mother of four–Erin, Shawna, Toni, Christi–and grandmother to five granddaughters. “I feel that as a mother and a wife my first priority is to tend to the wellbeing of them,” says Deine, who also cares for her aging mother Katharine. Deine and Bill, with two of their children and two grandchildren live in West End.

B.I.V.: Who is Deine Etches?
Deine Etches: Being from one side fifth generation islander, descendant of one of the first governors of the Bay Islands [Oscar Bodden], I feel very fortunate. The area known as Gibson Bight was named after my great, great grandmother. My mother’s father was born in Grand Cayman. Somewhere along the way we got thrown in and tossed up with just about everything. Being what we consider “former British subjects,” I always wondered what would happened to us here if we [Bay Islanders] continued as a British colony. The level of education, the people embracing their culture. The Montserratians had just so much going for them. The officials there were educated in Cambridge, they went to universities in the United States. They were worldly and they were island people. I got along so well with them.
B.I.V.: What were some of the differences between Montserrat and Roatan?
D.E.W.: There was an offshore medical school. There were so many things going on: ballet lessons, horseback riding, swimming, tennis lessons … book reading clubs, drama clubs. So many things that we never had here, all on an island of about 12,000 people. It was small yet vibrant. Montserrat was quite a unique experience to me. The one thing you notice when you come to a Caribbean island is its immigration control. As a Honduran department, we have no control of who comes here. How much longer can we admit anyone who just wants to come here–be it Honduran, European, or American, whomever? It’s called impact and what are we doing about that.
B.I.V.: Where do you think this island will be five, ten years from now? In a better place than now?
D.E.W.: I would want to hope so, but with lack of any direction on where we are heading would take nothing short of a miracle. We are witnessing so much uncontrolled growth at this time. Controversies of who can do what and where. I feel that at some point in time we need to say stop and let’s see where we are going from here. (…) I was coming from La Ceiba and had to pay the ZOLITUR tax, and I am wondering: What are we getting for that? It is a small symbol, but it implies a lot. They are forcing this tax, but where are all these benefits? A friend of mine went to do a land transfer from parent to child and had to come up with the four percent capital gains. How do you gain something by transferring something from one generation to another?
B.I.V.: Does the future look better then the present?
D.E.W.: When you rely on such a fragile industry as tourism it can be gone from one day to the next. It’s not inexpensive to live or work here. You have double rent, permits, RECO bills, employees, transportation. It becomes a struggle to survive here. Sometimes that takes away from the common good of everyone working together. I toyed with the idea [of running for mayor], but I found that people who were involved in politics were not of the same caliber, their moral values were not of the same moral value, not something I looked up to. When you have so many different people with so many different ideas, it is hard to find common goals. It is also competitive. (…) There are a lot of things that will need to be worked out if we will see any, if any, benefits. Bay Islands took the Spanish path. What would have happened if they took the British path? [/private]

Comments (0)

Comments are closed.