bi-weekly print & online magazine
for Roatan, Utila & Guanaja


cover story


Imagine your child compiling a summer wish list of fun and excitement. Young adventurers would probably include fantasies of swimming with dolphins or plunging down a mountain on a cable swing at top speed. Budding athletes might dream of scoring the winning goal of the soccer championship or learning to master a martial art. Little nature enthusiasts would want to discover the lifestyles of butterflies and iguanas before hiking through mountainous trails to check out exotic plants. Whether your child dreams of sports, books, games or the arts, Roatan has a lot to offer families looking for summer vacation fun. Now that school's out and your children are relentlessly asking, "Mom, Dad, what can I do today?", you are armed with an island full of answers. Take a ride on a glass-bottom boat, challenge the family to a game of miniature golf or chase the legend of Carambola's chocolate tree. Not only will your child be smiling, but come September, you will provide some entertainment for the teacher marking the "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" reports. Here are 17 of Roatan's most kid-friendly activities:

1. Boy's soccer league:
There are eight teams playing in the 12-14 youth soccer league. It's free to join and only soccer shoes have to be bought by the young soccer players. Uniforms, coaches' fees, even electricity costs are covered by teams' owners. Costs of treating injuries on the field come from league fees contributed by each team's coach.
There are 23 boys playing for Independiente, one of the eight teams on the soccer league. "This year we will set up a team from 15 to 17 year-olds," says Juan Carlos Chirinos, 33, an owner of Club Deportivo Independiente.
The season begins at the end of March and goes on until November. If you have a 12, 13 or 14 year-old, you can still ask to have him join the league.
Most youth teams practice three times a week for 60-90 minutes and play a match against another league team every Saturday in Los Fuertes or Oak Ridge. "I have children poor and children of deputies (...) all kinds of races and nationalities," says Chirinos. The league football is a perfect place to learn football skills and discipline of playing on a team.

2. Tae-Kwon-Do Lessons, West End. Kids can learn this martial art's basics and then work their way through different belt levels. Tues./Thurs.: 5-6pm (Advanced kids), 6-7pm (Adults); Wed./Fri.: 4-5pm (Beginner kids, ages 5-8). Cost is $25/month or if you enroll more than one child, it is $20/month each. Be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing. Drop in to the West End Fitness Center for more information.

3. Memorial Library, French Harbour. There is a growing children's section, as well as reference books available. Open Mon.-Fri. 9-5pm; Sat. 9-12pm. Located on the hill across the canal from Ruben Barahona School.

4. Willy Warren Beach, Coxen Hole. Cool off in the sea on the public beach in Coxen Hole, just past the cruise ship platform.

5. Stone Castle Cameo, Gravel Bay. Visit the Stone Castle and watch these professionals carve intricate designs on shells from the sea. Free lessons for Honduran residents from 14-year veteran artist Franco Tammaro in carving and design. Children must be at least 11 years old and lessons last three hours/day. All materials are supplied by Stone Castle Cameo. Open Mon.-Fri 9:30-4:30pm; Sat. 9:30-4pm. Contact Vicente Gomez at or just drop in to visit.

Conch Shell Carving at Stone Castle Cameo

6. Dolphin Training Presentations, Roatan Museum & Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences (RIMS), Anthony's Key Resort, Sandy Bay. Walk through the history of the island and learn about the evolution of marine life at the Roatan Museum and the RIMS classroom. Afterward, you can watch the dolphins perform in an on-site training demonstration. Through the week, there are shows twice daily at 10am & 4:30pm (no shows on Wednesday) and on the weekends, shows take place at 10am, 1pm, & 4:30pm. The entrance fee is $5 and covers admission to all three activities. For information, call 445-1003.
JC's Recreational Park, Coxen Hole. The park has a pool and swings, as well as games and a family restaurant. They also host children's parties and family functions. For information, call 445-1549.

7. JC's Recreational Park, Coxen Hole. The park has a pool and swings, as well as games and a family restaurant. They also host children's parties and family functions. For information, call 445-1549.

8. Underwater Adventure, West Bay. Take a ride on the Coral Reef Explorer Glass Bottom boat and explore the underwater world from the comfort of your seat. There are three trips daily from West Bay at 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm. The cost is $20 per person for adults and $15 for kids under 12 years old (children 2 and under ride free). For more information, contact Jon or Sara at 978-8310 or e-mail

9. Roatan Canopy Tour, West Bay. An all-ages adventure Jungle ride where participants travel to the top of a mountain and glide down to the beach on a 200 meter cable in a harness. The cost is $35 for unlimited rides and there is a 50% discount for residents. They are open 9am-5pm every day and you can phone 445-1003 for more information.

10. Carambola Botanical Gardens, Sandy Bay. Enjoy hiking, bird watching, wildlife, and family picnics at the gardens. A nature interpreter is available to accompany as you visit the infamous "Chocolate Tree" and climb to the summit of Carambola Mountain. Open 7 days/week from 8am-5pm, the cost is $5 per person (ask about their special family rate). Contact Bill or Irma Brady at 445-1117 for more information.

11. Roatan Butterfly Garden, West End. The garden is home to over 12 different species of butterflies and various kinds of exotic plant and tropical fruit trees. Learn about the butterfly's life cycle, anatomy and behavior through one of the garden's guides. Open Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm and admission is $3 per person.

12. Family Fun Day, Parrot Tree Plantation. Children aged 7-12 are invited to participate in fun and games on July 13. There will be prizes for the winners of the biking, swimming, and kayak races. The activities are free and a BBQ will follow at a reasonable price. For information, phone 967-4131.

13. Iguana Farm, French Cay. The Iguana Farm is home to over 3000 iguanas, 200 lobsters, 200 conch fish, 36 tarpen fish and 14 turtles. Visitors can learn all about the habits and behaviors of the animals as well as watch them during feeding time. Admission is $3 and $1 for children below the age of eight. The farm is open Mon-Sun from 10am-4:15pm. For more information, call 455-5114.

14. Dolphin Discovery SCUBA Camp, Anthony's Key Resort, Sandy Bay.Be forewarned that if you send your children to the Dolphin Discovery SCUBA Camp (DDSC) at Anthony's Key Resort, they may never want to leave. An ex-camper explains: "When I was younger, I attended this camp and I told my parents 'I am going to come back and work here' and that's exactly what I did," said Maggie Shank, who has been teaching the DDSC for the last three summers.
Throughout the week-long camp, kids of all ages learn how to interact, train and care for dolphins and also are introduced to SCUBA diving basics by a PADI instructor. Campers put on their swim gear and head into the sea for three dolphin encounters where they can touch and interact with them; two of the encounters include full dolphin swim and snorkel sessions. Each child then moves to a floating platform to practice hand signals and training techniques with two experienced dolphins. One morning during the program, the campers thaw and sort fish for the resident dolphins- a messy but key task in dolphin care. "My favorite part is actually the fish sorting. You have to make sure the fish are good enough for the dolphins to eat and you feel really important," explains 14-year old Shanda Larson. Larson is attending DDSC for the third consecutive year.
Every day, there is a class in marine education at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences where topics include: conservation and environmental awareness, dolphin anatomy, evolution and behavior, whale evolution, and a turtle presentation. Classroom activities range from videos and slide shows to microscope labs and training games. "It's so important to balance the dolphin encounters with the theory aspect because it creates the respect for the animals that's necessary to interact with them," emphasizes Shank
The diving component of the DDSC varies between age groups. Children ages 5-7 partake in the SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) program. They learn to breathe with a regulator. They also wear a Buoyancy Control Device (BCD), life jacket and small tank, but don't go underwater. Eight to ten year olds graduate to the Bubblemaker level where they descend to six feet with a standard BCD, regulator, and tank. Kids aged ten and up are certified as Junior SCUBA divers which allows them to dive to a maximum of 40 feet with a PADI professional upon completion of the camp.
Campers also embark on several island field trips during the week, including: horseback riding, a West Bay Beach picnic, Iguana Farm and Paradise Bird Park.
The DDSC operates each week on Monday to Friday from 7:45-12:00 and 1:30-4:30 and costs $400 US, plus 12% tax. For further information, contact Anthony's Key Resort at 445-1003.

15. Forrest Fun Park, Sandy Bay. Featuring an 18-hole miniature golf course, Forrest Fun Park welcomes families with children of all ages. They also have two batting cages (not appropriate for young children) with machines throwing pitches from 40-96 miles per hour. The cost for mini-golf is- 11 years & under: 25 Lps., ages 12-17: 35 LPs and 50 LPs for adults. The batting cage costs 250 LPs For a half hour or 40 LPs For 16 balls.

16. School, West End. A play group for 3-5 year olds, parent can drop off their children at the West End Fitness Centre on Mon., Wed., & Fri. from 8:30am-12:00pm. Kids play games and take part in educational activities as well as take supervised swims and walks along the beach. Cost is $5 per day and parents should pack sunscreen, bug repellent, a swimsuit, towel and a snack for their child. Contact Marian or Maritza at 445-0339.

Your child can learn how to administer first aid, play a sport or lend a hand toward a community project. Every Sunday morning, it's something different for the Pathfinders of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church in Coxen Hole. The Pathfinders group is similar to the Boy Scouts organization in the United States; they meet each week and operate on a badge system where members complete projects to earn different honors.
Promoting character development and community service, the Pathfinders made its way to Roatan through an American group who made a presentation last year in Punta Gorda to several areas churches. The SDA Church then elected members from their congregation to serve as group leaders for the kids and, a year later, they have 18 Pathfinders, ranging in age from 6-14 years old.
"We think it's good for kids to have something to do in this area- it's important to get them involved," said Pathfinder leader, Orva Webster.
The Pathfinders welcome any child and youth to join their group. Every week, they work on a new task- some academic, some recreational- and each child is assigned something for the next week. Sometimes it involves doing good deeds at home, a mini-science project or maybe just practicing how to tie a certain knot. The range of activities keeps the children entertained and eager to advance through the badge system. The Pathfinders hold monthly craft days and also organize fitness activities for the group. Every activity is designed to foster new skills and, as members earn different badges, it creates a sense of personal achievement for each individual.
This group has a strong presence in the community. Pathfinder leaders and troops brought homemade food to the local jail. They also visit the hospital in Coxen Hole where they sing songs and participate in prayers for the patients there. Webster advised that they have discussed other projects with municipal officials, as humanitarianism is to integral to the Pathfinder program.
The Pathfinders meet every Sunday morning from 8-9:30am in the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Coxen Hole. There is a 10 LPs weekly fee to cover supplies and badges. For further information, contact Barbara Woods at 445-1169.


Timing of the school year comes from the European planting season. In the industrial age, European children were expected to be available to help their parents in the fields during the busiest time of the year in July and August. When the population moved from countryside to cities, the connection with the land and the concept of helping family slowly disappeared. Vacations became a reward for time spent in school and grades received. Eventually, there were opportunities to make trips away from the city and bond with your family not through farm work, but through the experience of summer vacation.
Today, there are dozens of school year systems around the world. There are schools that go year round; there are schools that have three month vacations, a quarter system, a bi-mester system, etc. There is an anticipation of school ending and the freedom of not having to wake up at 6am. As the summer goes on, the prospect of starting a new grade at school, new classes, books and teachers brought even bigger excitement. On the other hand, there are children that never go to school and, by definition, never have a vacation. The children who need the vacation not to get away from school, but need school to get out of their homes, have it the hardest. Some children are deprived of the only opportunity they have of leaving a crowded family home, to get away from conflict or squalor.
For children, time passes with different speed. Everything takes place as if in slow motion like if the body was adjusting to the events around it, not yet sure of its relationship to the minute or week. Vacations from school tend to speed things up- as if having a good time and being in a different place made children less conscious of it.
Vacations are also a way to mark time. I remember each vacation in the context of my relationship with my grandmother. The first vacations were ones of establishing boundaries. I was four or five years old and I was forced to wear a hat on the beach to prevent getting sunstroke. Then, I had vacations where I had to sit on church benches, finish plates of food and, in reward, I earned time to play with my newfound summer friends.
Now, I remember that time with melancholy. We went to different seaside resorts on the Baltic Sea. The water was cold and most summers it rained through. Eastern Europe is not blessed with the consistency of the sun, nor the warmth of the sea.
The vacation time always had a conflict note and, eventually, my grandmother would promise to tell all the mischievous deeds I have done. I kneeled at mass but I refused to eat the meat on my plate expecting the denouncement back home. As time went on, I realized I shouldn't believe these idle threats.
As there is risk with every adventure, there is also risk of going through childhood with little excitement or curiosity. Children are too often stuck in their houses in front of video games and TV. Ideally, there should be an element of doing something new in every child's vacation. There should be a trip, new people, new experiences.

local news

Camaraderie gave way to fierce competition as 20 players took part in the West End Backgammon tournament. The single elimination tournament which began on June 28 spanned three evenings and each round was comprised of five-point matches.
Ilan Kluger, the defending champion from February's tournament, earned the right to host this event at Reef Glider's where he works as a dive instructor. "This is the third tournament in seven months. We've had a lot of fun with it; the game is great because it's part strategy with a bit of luck," said Kluger. Kluger was eliminated on the first night.
The finals pitted The Blue Channel's Alex Manzato against Eustace of Reef Gliders. At stake was the 2000 LPs top prize and the opportunity to host the next tournament. In a decisive match, Manzato prevailed by a score of 5-2. This is the second championship for Manzato, who won the first tournament hosted by Loafer's in December. He plans to host another
tournament in July at the Blue Channel.

Construction crews began work on Coxen Hole's roads in mid-May as part of a major project funded by the municipality. Upon its completion, Coxen Hole will have fresh water, new sewage system and paved roads and sidewalks.
Before paving can begin, the city's sewers and drainage system have to undergo a transformation. This work has been contracted to several private companies and is currently behind schedule. The overhead telephone, electric and television wires and cables need to be taken down and implanted in the roads before crews can pour cement. This will be a joint task between the municipality and the electric and phone companies. The crews will also erect several transformers along Main St. to provide central access to the electricity sources. Paving will then begin first in the Thicket Mouth and entrada area, followed by the Main St. and Market St. areas. The last phase of the project includes laying sidewalks along the paved roads.
The construction of a citywide three-meter high fence has also begun in the Thicket Mouth area. The cement and wooden fence, which was initially met with some resident opposition, will frame the sidewalks along the property lines.
Project engineer Martin Ordoñez spent two months collecting data and surveying Coxen Hole for the design of the project. Initially projected to be a five-month undertaking, Ordoñez targets February 2004 as the completion of the road improvement plan.


M/V Miss Heather crew preparing TED's for inspection
Overcoming the Shrimp Trade Embargo
by Jaime Johnston

Local shrimp boat captains and owners went back to school recently, as they completed a nationally-required course in Dixon Cove on June 30. For the first time in history, over 70 boat captains met under one roof with representatives from the National Marine Fisheries (NMF) to remedy an industry crisis. In January 2003, the United States government issued a trade embargo on Honduran shrimp. NMF implemented this course as part of a program designed to fulfill the international standards and have the embargo suspended.
The violations were determined after three Roatan vessels were found to have nonfunctioning Turtle Escape Devices (TEDs) on their nets. Regulations call for one functioning TED per net per boat, with each TED installed properly at a 30-60 degree angle. One TED costs $300 and each boat typically carries four TEDs. The escape device aids in the preservation of the green turtle which can easily become trapped in the shrimp nets. Although environmentally-conscious, the TEDs can translate into lost income for the shrimp boats. "I estimate that you can lose anywhere from 25-30% of your catch with the TEDs," said Javier SolaVarrieta Bodden, Sub-Director of NMF.
The embargo causes major problems for the Honduran shrimping industry which is primarily supported by the American market. "100% of our exporting is to the United States. If we don't suspend the embargo, it's going to be a tough situation for the industry," said SolaVarrieta. According to SolaVarrieta, all of the 93 shrimp boats in Honduras are from the Bay Islands and 60% of the boat captains and owners are also native islanders. Last year, Honduran vessels netted 5-6 million pounds of shrimp which sells for an average of $2.20 per pound. This revenue is directly threatened by the American sanctions. "There are at least 10,000 people living directly off of the shrimp industry," said SolaVarrieta.
According to SolaVarrieta, during the upcoming shrimping season, if any Honduran vessels are found in violation of the TED regulations, Honduras will face a five year suspension on shrimp exports to the United States.
The NMF plan to meet the requirements includes the TED awareness course and a complete inspection of every Honduran shrimp boat. "We're trying to create a conscience in each owner and captain about the TEDs," SolaVarrieta said. The course material outlined the proper use and installation of TEDs, the sanctions against nonfunctioning TEDs, and stressed the importance of turtle preservation. SolaVarrieta and his NMF colleagues inspected and certified each boat, modifying any TED problems as they worked. They will meet with officials from the American Embassy in Tegucigalpa to show evidence of that every vessel has been certified for proper TED use. Upon a successful review, the American government is expected to issue a temporary suspension of the embargo.
This decision would come just in time for the opening of shrimping season. The results of pre-season shrimp trials prompted the NMF to move up the opening day from July 15 to July 5 in order to capitalize on their product intake.

Read other issues of
the Bay Islands Voice

No. 1
March 27 2003
No. 2
April 10 20
No. 3
April 24

No. 4
May 8

No. 5
May 22
No. 6
June 5

No. 7
June 19

No. 8
July 3


No. 9
July 17