Diaz built the mango tree house as a place to get away and meditate.
He undertook the project with a friend, Gene Holms; after two
months of work, the tree house was ready. It was 1983 and the
young owner didn't mind climbing the tree house with a rope.
The tree house is carried by one of three main trunks of a mango
tree. The tree was planted 120 years ago by the great grandfather
of Foster Diaz.
Building the little hotel and a tree house, on then quiet West
Bay beach, was like planting a stake for Foster. He was going
to keep the land that his father and grandfather owned. Eventually,
Foster became the only black person that didn't sell his West
Bay beach property. "It's easy to sell. (
) The key
is to find a way to live off the land you own," says Foster.
Built with pressure treated pine, the house uses a minimum of
nails. Foster's father requested that the mango tree was not
to be scarred. The four foot diameter tree sits 150 feet from
the water. The site used to be that of a sugar cane mill Foster's
grandfather, Christopher, operated. There is still sugarcane
nearby, but little else in West Bay remains as it was 30 years
ago. "I sometimes still go there to meditate," says
Foster. There is a lot of privacy 45 feet above the beach, and
for that reason alone, the tree house is often chosen for a
The 14 foot by 16 foot structure is suspended 45 feet above
ground. Screened windows are at all sides of the room. Two corners
accommodate a shower and a sink and there is even a small balcony.
The breeze keeps the house cool and birds songs wake you up
in the morning. Foster resisted the idea of putting air conditioning
in it. Hurricane Mitch did little damage to the structure, but
in 1997 the tree house was remodeled: electricity, plumbing
and stairs were put in. Now electrical wire, PVC pipe for water
and waste meander through the trunks of the mango tree.
Some houses are like their owner's lives; tree houses are more
like their owner's souls. Tree houses are statements of the
mind reflecting the dreams of their builders. They are expressions
of their owner's childhood dreams. Their design isn't always
practical, or even beautiful, but they often are a realization
of a vision the person had as a child: to live up from the ground,
in their own, separate world.
in collaboration with the architects, the owners of this West
Bay Beach home experimented with a variety of hardwoods and
stone. Architects Maria Eugenia Toro and Roberto Laps from Tegucigalpa
helped in conceptualizing a vision of a low-lying house profile
surrounded and shaded by palm trees and fruit trees. It is like
living in a wooden mosaic of a garden. The entire floor plan
is built around a swimming pool and a patio accessible from
the four sides of the house.
Maria Elena San Martin created a mosaic at the beach entrance
to the house. Each bathroom is decorated with tiles inspired
by water themes.
For Cheryl and Julio Galindo, there were several pre-requisites
in designing their third home on the island: no stairs and a
goal of using as many materials native to Honduras as possible.
A vision that wasn't realized was a tower serving as the dominating
feature of the 6,400 square foot house.
Throughout the house, 20 hardwoods native to Honduras were used
for floors, cabinets, decorative trims and furniture. There
are the typical hardwoods as mahogany, cedar, teak and cypress
and the much less common redondo or rosalia.
Kitchen counter-tops are from granite cut and polished in Honduras.
The stone floors of the patios and pool areas provide a contrast
to the warmth of the untreated hardwoods.
"The only thing that we imported were the windows and roofing
material," says Julio Galindo. The Anderson windows and
"hardy shakes" (a mixture of concrete and asphalt)
proved to be very resistant to the moisture and salt of the
sea, just a 300' from the house.
With all the children living independently, the house serves
as retreat and provides an environment to pursue passions: collecting
sculpture and paintings for Cheryl Galindo and researching palm
and fruit trees.
While Cheryl Galindo took charge of the house, Julio Galindo's
interests focused on the garden and 47 acres of grounds surrounding
it. The garden is extensive with a collection of over 100 types
of palm trees, dozens of tropical fruit trees and flowers. No
existing trees were cut during the construction of the house.
The 120' by 110' house was built in 14 months and completed
in 1996. "We even had to stop for a month because of the
rain," says Julio Galindo. Builder Boyd Svoboda poured
the foundations and contractor Nelson Abbott completed the construction
of the four bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom house.
very original "Sacrifice Bar and Restaurant" sign
up front gives the expectation of a relaxed, reggae type of
a place. Sacrifice restaurant has been around since December
of 2002, when Mrs. Dorette Martinez brought her Belizean cooking
experience to the Punta Gorda seaside.
Six tables line the walls of the restaurant's
wooden structure. Visible is the metal roof and two by four
wooden rafters. A bare frosted lightbulb provides the lighting
at night. Cicada songs, ocean waves and reggae music provided
a backdrop for the meal.
Sacrifice is also a local hangout. If
you are after tuxedo wearing waiters, fork and knife placed
on a napkin or a foreign beer served in a chilled glass (or
just any glass) you couldn't feel more lost here. But, if
you are after genuine island cooking, you came home. The hostess,
cook and waitress was all Dorette Martinez and she presented
her soul food with a commitment of a four star Michelin chef.
Our entree, a cow foot soup was hardy
and filling. Not for the squeamish however as one could overanalyze
the cow's foot structure and be distracted from the smoothness
of this home cooked dish. The tenderness of the tendons and
fat made this a perfect starter for the home-food starved
guests. Boiled plantains, pasta and vegetables made good company
with this little appreciated side of beef. Or is cow foot
no longer qualified as beef and is just an extremity? I await
fish is always a fresh catch brought in by local fishermen
and according to Mrs. Martinez even occasional swordfish or
shark makes it onto the menu.
tortillas served with the main course were fresh and delicious.
Plantains tasted a little dry and a little under salted for
my taste. Side salad was a delight: green leaf, carrot and
tomato in a creamy sauce. The two deep fried lobsters were
fried just right and nicely presented with cut and twisted
lime. It was one of several details that remind us that we
are tasting island food with a little international flare.
The wooden walls of the 10-foot
by 15-foot space were decorated with maritime murals. A Picasso-like
painting depicting a shark attacking a swordfish reminded
me of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. The murals author is
Eloy Martinez, a co-owner of the restaurant who hails from
Belize. Two other artists: Marcos Tuilo Guillen and Dennis
Luma lend a hand in decorating the restaurant in sea themes,
making quite an impact.
Plastic tablecloths, plastic chairs,
yet there is nothing artificial
about the food. Mrs. Martinez's cooking is about good quality
ingredients, proven recipes and a little imagination in the
presentation. Fufu (Creole) AKA Machuca (Spanish) AKA Hudut
(Garifuna) is one of the restaurant's specialties. To prepare
this island classic of boiled plantains, fish and coconut
milk, Mrs. Martinez needs a day's notice and 40 LPs per person
for this meal for five.
At the end, a lack of something sweet
made us feel a little blue, but one look at the calmness of
the Roatan's north shore sea brought the calm. A cup of good
instant coffee with real cream completed our meal and woke
us up for the bill. Paying 340 LPs for two, it was a real
island food at old island price. We still had more than enough
money left to catch a 100 LPs taxi to French Harbor.
by the Beach
3000 miles from Buenos Aires Posada Argentina
gives mortals a glimpse of Gaucho Heaven
is a place where you think about coming for a Valentines dinner,
it's a kind of a place you perhaps went to with your parents
on Sunday after church. This classic West End restaurant evokes
many memories... with its proven and consistently good menu
it is a as close to Argentina as one could get without a going
through customs in Buenos Aires.
The clientele was varied in age and origin:
there were tables with Islander families, expats of first dates
and diving aficionados. Posada Argentina is clearly a carnivore's
paradise, but prompt and bilingual wait staff could make up
for the lack of non meat choices on the menu.
Music was a well choreographed "beach
ambiance," perhaps the sole departure from the Argentinean
theme of the restaurant. Perhaps Mercedes Sosa, or even a quiet
tango, could echo the feelings of Pampa the delicious chimichuri
sauce of parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, oregano
and chili paste.
For appetizers we picked Grilled Beef
Kidneys and chorizos (sausages), both Argentinean classics at
a perfect place to find out why they are so. One could not change
a single thing and we looked at our appetizers disappearing
with regret, a sure sign of great food. The feeling didn't last
long as within a couple minutes our main dishes arrived.
more then generous fillet mignon in black pepper sauce was
just raw good. The accompanying it broccoli, carrots and cauliflower
were killed to perfection. Quite a contrast to the life of
red meat, but it somehow all worked well.
Posada Argentina offers Chilean,
Concha de Toro wines by a "smallish glass;" but
this is quite inadequate compared to the sizes of the meat
platters. A better choice is just buying a whole bottle.
The main course portions were generous
and left us just barely enough room for caramel and coconut
flan. We spotted tell-tell signs of all natural ingredients,
but a puzzling subtlety of coconut. Banana
Flambee with ice cream was decadently sweet and creamy, with
a presentation to match. One missing element was espresso
coffee to accompany the last minutes of the meal as the drip
coffee substitute left us a little lethargic yet content.
bill arrived promptly and the 758 lempiras for two were worth
every centavo. This quality of experience one can find in
better restaurants of New York or Madrid...
by Bonette Cooper
Seed Shrimp Toast
uncooked shrimp for this dish, as cooked ones will tend to separate
from the bread during cooking.
uncooked shrimp, shelled
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1tsp finely chopped scallions
½ tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp cornstarch paste
1 cup white sesame seeds
6 large slices white bread
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying salt and ground black pepper
Chop the shrimp with the shortening to form a smooth paste. In the
bowl, mix with all the other ingredients except the sesame seeds
2. Spread the sesame seeds evenly on a large plate or baking sheet;
spread the shrimp paste thickly on one side of each slice of bread,
then press, spread side down, onto the seeds.
3. Heat the oil in a wok until medium-hot; fry 2-3 slices of the
sesame bread at a time, spread side down, for 2-3 minutes. Remove
and drain. Cut each slice into six or eight fingers (without crust).
Lime Coconut Snowballs
sweetened, shredded coconut
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (regular, low-fat or fat
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp key lime juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated fresh lime rind
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 pound confectioners' sugar
oven to 350º. Spread 2 cups of the coconut on a baking sheet
and place in the preheated oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly
toasted. Toss the coconut once or twice during baking to ensure
even browning. Be careful not to let it burn. Transfer the coconut
to a bowl to cool completely.
a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining coconut, sweetened condensed
milk, corn syrup, lime juice, vanilla, lime rind and graham cracker
crumbs. Beat by hand or with an electric beater until well blended.
Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. Place
in the refrigerator until cold.
your hands, form the chilled mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll
each one in toasted coconut. Make sure each ball is generously coated.
Place them on a large platter in the freezer for at least 1 hour
before serving. Makes about 5 dozen.
the Snowballs in an airtight container in the freezer for up to
POTATO AND MANGO KETCHUP
4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Marinate the chicken in the above ingredients for 30 minutes.
Sauté the chicken breasts in a pan for 4 minutes on
each side over medium heat. Season with freshly ground pepper.
2 cups french fries
½ cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
2 cups cornflakes
2 cups canola oil
Put the cornflakes and bread crumbs in a blender and mix until
fine. Roll the french fries in the flour. Roll them in the
egg and then the cornflake mixture. Repeat this process only
once. Cook the fries in the heated canola oil in a deep pan.
Lift out when golden brown.
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 fresh mango
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Blend all ingredients well in a mixer.