story / editorial
/ local news
and Photos by Thomas Tomczyk
scooter businesses multiply from one to 10 in two years
is the ultimate form of flattery," or so they say. Feeling
most flattered on the island should be Captain Van (AKA Nathan Zane
Van Meter) who in 1997 had an idea to open the first moped and scooter
rental shop in West End. He started his business with 10 used beach
cruiser bicycles, a couple of Chinese bicycles and seven mopeds.
He survived Hurricane Mitch, occasional competition and, until a
year-an-a-half ago, had a monopoly on scooter rentals on Roatan.
Then the "flattery" began. And now there are at least
14 businesses and individuals renting anywhere between two and 32
scooters to anyone with a couple dozen bucks
for 24 hours
and Steven Scott, both 26, from Pennsylvania, came to Roatan on
the Norwegian Sea cruise ship on June 14. On their eight hour stopover
that began at noon they decided to visit French Harbour and then
drive back to do some snorkeling in West Bay. They got as far as
Dixon Cove where Steven Scott swerved off the road to avoid an oncoming
taxi and crashed the scooter. He stood with a bleeding foot on the
side of a road deciding what to do next.
The couple didn't remember from whom they rented their 125cc Yumbo
scooter and didn't have any paperwork. The one thing they remember
was the rental price - $60. "The price is a little steep. In
Italy we paid $25 and on Canary Island $40," said Heather Scotch.
Riding a scooter can be a dangerous affair. Most tourists are dressed
for the beach, sporting flip flops and bikinis, rather then protective
clothes for a long drive on a busy road. Honduran law requires a
scooter driver to wear a helmet, but doesn't specify what type of
helmet. Some helmets given to scooter renters are not motorcycle
quality and, especially at the cruise ship dock, most visitors decline
to take helmets with them. This and the condition of quickly aging,
sometime badly maintained scooter rental fleets provides the potential
for a scooter disaster. It's an accident waiting to happen. The
only question is when.
Captain Van, AKA Nathan Zane Van Meter, was the original inventor
of the scooter rental idea on Roatan. In 1997 he began renting scooters,
mopeds and motorcycles under a mango tree in West End and had to
fend off competition with skill and tack for years. "I've always
felt that to make a success of any business venture.....find what
everyone else is doing, and then don't do it. There were plenty
of restaurants, bars, dive shops, churches, but no one was doing
the obvious...renting two wheels," said Van Meter, original
owner of Captain Van's.
He eventually decided to go back to the US and in August 2004 sold
"Captain Van's" to Murray Russ, a sales manager for major
Looking for the island life and to run a business involving customer
relations Russ, 42, left his lucrative management job at and moved
from the Canada prairie to sunny Roatan.
With a one year of college and numerous management courses, Russ
began managing a chain of 16 stores at the age of 19. Now it's back
to the basics for him: three employees, 15 scooters, 5 motorcycles
and 10 mountain bikes. Still, Russ is planning on adding another
location before the end of the year.
"I didn't want to be a part of that chaos," said Russ
about his decision to stay out of the cruise ship dock. He decided
to focus of image, customer service and marketing instead. He built
a sophisticated, catchy website, developed a recognizable logo and
built an air-conditioned office. No more relying on the shade of
the mango tree.
Even though several newcomers to the scooter business are talking
about forming an association, not everyone sees its advantage. "I
don't believe it is in my best interest to be a part of an association.
I don't believe in controlling prices," said Russ.
On April 28, Russ launched a "one dollar an hour scooter rental"
special, based on a 24 hour rental. "I only reacted to competition
prices." Russ' promotion reverberated throughout the scooter
rental community with several of them lowering their prices to $24,
Russ keeps a close watch over community boards, CruiseCritic.com
in particular, discussing cruise ship experiences. "They comment
all the time about high pressure sales tactics of scooter rentals
at the [Roatan] dock," said Russ. . "Most of them will
just say 'Here's the bike, here are the keys. See you.'"
Looking at the example of Cozumel and Cayman Islands, Russ sees
scooter participation in Roatan traffic changing dramatically. "In
a year-and-a-half, cars will dominate the road," says Russ.
"Only strong, confident riders will decide to rent scooters."
Murray Russ, owner of Captain Vans, in front of his West End
Blake Cooper, 20, is the youngest scooter entrepreneur and owner
of "Roatan Scooter Rental." With financial help and an
idea from his father, a dentist living in the US, Cooper was the
first one to go directly to the cruise ship docks to offer scooter
Cooper begun with seven 70cc scooters and now has 20 125cc Yumbas
at his two locations in West End and at the Cruise Ship dock. "Work
at the cruise ship dock is almost like hustling," said Cooper
who adjusts his fees depending on location: from $30 to $45.
"A guy with a Harley Davidson tee-shirt, or a tattoo is our
perfect customer," said Cooper. "They can drive anything
and always pay full price," said Blake who often manages the
sales at the cruise ship dock. "As long the cruise ships will
be coming there will be business to be made."
then there were three
"At $24 you're breaking even
especially if you have Japanese
scooters," said Paul Jeffries, 35, from Oak Ridge, owner of
"Jeffries Scooter Rental." He rents his scooters for $40,
a price tag that includes 16% tourist tax, 4% credit card charge
and around $5 in free gasoline.
Jeffries, energetic and jovial, started his Coxen Hole rental business
with cars and but then noticed an opportunity to rent scooters as
well. "Not many people have much vision, but they follow what
someone else will do. I didn't feel fair if I went Captain Van's
his market" said Jeffries. In April 2004 he bought five, then
another five scooters and went into business. "[Initially]
I was planning going big, buying 20 scooters, but if I did I wouldn't
be here telling happy stories," said Jeffries.
14 months later, four of the scooter rental businesses are allowed
within the gates of Roatan Cruise ship dock. There are no monthly
fees and according to Jeffries the decision on who can be inside
the gate was made on first come-first serve basis.
After purchasing the 100cc Yamahas for around $1,900 and running
them for two years, Jeffries plans to sells them at half price.
Jeffries estimates that while Japanese scooters depreciate at 20%
year, the number is as high as 75% for Chinese scooters. He was
only the third business on the island.
Carlton Woods, 53, a veteran business person, ran a souvenir business
for many years before going "scooter." It was his position
as assistant superintendent at Roatan's cruise ship dock that allowed
him to see the opportunity for a lucrative scooter business. "The
West End [scooter] market is flooded," said Woods. "I
saw a guy from Tegus who wanted to do a scooter business and when
he didn't start it I decided to do it."
Woods thinks that the scooter business has reached a saturation
point. "A year from now companies that are here now, will
be here still," said Woods.
Six, Seven, Eight
One of the newer additions to the scooter community is Adam Santos,
25, was also looking for an opportunity to come back to the island
of his ancestors. He originally was going to manage bungalow rentals,
but ended-up buying five Yamaha scooters and in December 2004
launched "Santos Scooter" in West End. "In a year's
time only the three medium-size scooter businesses will survive,"
said Santos who rents his scooters for $35.
Alberto Allert, 48, owns the most scooters on the Bay Islands
104 to be exact. The founder of Tropical Rentals has three locations
thought Roatan and imports his scooters directly from manufacturer,
ZYMotor of Hong Kong. He is, for now at least, the most recent
arrival to the scooter rental community.
With a broad smile and shoulder-long grayish hair, Allert moved
to Roatan in September 2004 to build a five star West Bay "Colonial
Hotel." Finding out that the permit and building process
will take longer then he expected he found himself at a loss.
"I thought to myself, 'What am I going to do with all that
time? Well, I'll just open a scooter rental,'" said Allert.
He opened his business in March 2005 and almost overnight became
the biggest scooter proprietor the islands have ever seen.
After transforming himself from a General Manager of an industrial
company in Milan, Italy, Allert went to Antigua, Guatemala where
he worked for eight months running a scooter rental; he has two
years of similar experience on Ibiza, Spain.
Allert plans to sell his scooters locally once they hit 1,000
kilometers on the odometer. There are already a couple available,
priced at $950, standing in front of his Mango Center bureau.
"It's possible that in a year there will be more scooters
than taxis here," said Allert.
With several people moving scooters to the side of the road as
a cruise ship comes in, there are as many scooter rental places
in West End as there are dive shops: nine. West End has become
a scooter alley and the scooter virus just keeps on spreading.
"Moonlight Scooter Rental," owned by Julisa and Dina
Rodriguez from San Pedro Sula is ready to start business in July.
Five 140cc Chinese Yiben scooters are just waiting for a business
license under a giant mango tree next to Monkey Bar in West End.
The question is who will say quits first. The investment of buying
a couple Chinese scooters isn't very big. According to Jeffries
it is possible to purchase a Chinese scooter directly from China
for little over $400.
With a fleet of 15 125cc Motolansa Chinese scooters, another San
Pedrano, Miguel Fernadez, launched "Xtreme Scoote rentals"
in February. The owner of a San Pedro computer store leaves the
business operation to a three-person staff and comes down to Roatan
once a month.
According Danieli Callejas, a 26 year-old sales agent, the price
includes damage insurance to the rented scooter. For an extra
$4 Xtreme Rentals offers third party insurance and another $2
personal insurance. Only few Xtreme customers take advantage of
the extra insurance: "Most people are happy spending as little
as possible," said Callejas. Renting at a "low season
price" of $24 a day, some customers bargain the price down
to $20. After one attempt Xtreme tried, but gave-up renting scooters
by the cruise ship dock. "It was just too chaotic,"
On June 21, Norwegian Sea pulled into Roatan port, bringing 1,500
passengers. With a 1,800 passenger capacity it is one of the smaller
ships that visit Bay Islands.
"You want to rent a scooter?" asks James Allan, 45,
probably the most hyper, most energetic of all the scooter business
owners inside the cruise ship gates. In 2004 Allan started with
one scooter, nine months later he has seven.
Allan is used to pressure sales. Just two years ago he was supporting
his family by selling corn, melons and fruits. Now he has become
the power seller of scooter rentals at the cruise ship dock. "I'm
the best. You can say: I'm the best," said Allan, who can't
complain of a lack of confidence.
In fact Allan is good enough that every day at the cruise ship
begins with a bike rented by him, then its Woods Motor Rental's
turn, then Roatan Scooter Rental, then Jeffries'. Then the companies
just keep rotating until they run out of bikes.
All the "in the dock" scooter companies rent for the
same price, they start at an off-season $40 and go down from there.
"$25 is as low as I can go," said Allan who has a keen
eye for spotting good and potentially troublesome customers. "The
spring break guys. You got to worry about them," said Allen.
By the end of the day seven scooters were rented, a low number
compared to about 40 the inside the gates companies have rented
just a week before during Valor cruise ship visit. "The competition
off-season isn't as intense," explained Allen.
Things at and around the cruise ship dock have changed dramatically.
"People were afraid to get off the cruise ship," said
Allan about the melee that used to take place in front of the
cruise ship dock. Things all changed when, in October 2004, Roatan
Municipality passed and enforced a "no street vendor law"
and establish a dispatcher booth for taxis.
Now the "illegal" scooter rentals operate out of homes
around the cruise ship dock. "These guys give a bad name
to us," said Allan about individual scooter rentals that
display their scooters on the street within the 300 meter "no
street vendors" from within the cruise ship dock. "It
starts at $50 at the dock and the further you go its $40, $30,
$20 and finally you can get a scooter for $25," said Walter
Forest of Captain Van's.
Choosing a type of scooter for rentals is a serious decision.
The Chinese scooters are cheaper, but have a lower resale value
and break-down quicker.
The four stroke Yamaha scooters on Roatan have another advantage
over the two stroke Chinese machines: they are faster and more
economical. "If you forget to mix-in the oil [into the four-stroke
engine] it will get broken," said Carlos Segura, 40, an independent
mechanic working with several scooter rental places and private
scooter owners in Coxen Hole. Segura stated that the 125cc Chinese
Yumbo scooter is almost as good as the Yamaha scooter. "The
worst ones are the ZYMotor scoters," said Segura who noticed
that the most frequent problem is breaking of the bike's carburetor
due to poor design and parts quality.
The times are tough and competition is just getting tougher. May,
June and September are the worst months for the scooter business.
They coincide with the lowest number of visitors coming to the
Bay Islands. Scooter companies have to fight for every customer,
lowering prices, and in few cases at least, raising standard of
Sea Cruise passengers get ready for a scooter ride around
story / editorial
/ local news
______________back to top
House With No Number, A Street With No Name
by Thomas Tomczyk
working on a first-ever street map of Coxen Hole, Utila Town
and West End I realized that almost no streets have been given,
let alone been marked with names, signs or numbers.
As police have to confront the growing number of confused
tourists driving "against traffic" on Roatan's "Main
Street," this will eventually change: it just has to.
The question is "When?" Meantime this chaos causes
problems and helps to maintain the "disorganized"
image of Bay Islands as a third world destination.
Coxen Hole, by far the largest and fastest growing island
city, has practically no officially named streets with Main
Street being one notable exception. With the sprawling chaos
of growth in the barrio El Swampo onto the hill by the Mormon
Church even Calle Ocho (8th Street) seems to have been "misplaced"
by many Roatanians. Where does it start? Does it end at the
market, or make a turn and keep on going?
This basic lack of knowledge of the environment contributes
to the elevated anxiety of Coxen Holians. Where am I from?
Where do I live? Is a basic question they too often have problems
Bay Islands have practically no community-owned or -managed
public spaces. There are no parks to speak of and no playgrounds.
The effort to create these spaces will take soul searching,
planning and a lot of money. Meantime there is a much more
efficient, economical and speedy way of improving the Bay
Islands public spaces: name them and mark them.
As politicians head into final pre-November sprint looking
for achievable goals, the time to plan and ask for this type
of change is now.
The street-naming project could take a team of three people
a year to do. This project would cost just a fraction compared
to the gigantean and prolonged urban investments that Bay
Islands, and Roatan in particular, have seen over the last
several years: street paving, building hundreds meters of
walls, building and not using a sewerage treatment plant.
buildings on marked streets will inevitably raise productivity
and morale. How can anyone function efficiently in a place
where none of the businesses has an address? How many hours
a year do you spend explaining where your house or office
is located? How much business have you lost because a client
gave up trying to find your office?
Named streets and numbered buildings would improve security
as well. Laws are only as good as their enforcement and Preventiva
officials could more efficiently police the islands that nave
named and numbered streets.
Newly arrived police contingents have enough difficulty finding
their way around the island, let alone looking for suspects
without an accurate domicile address. As there is talk of
Islands IDs, how can the police track someone down if his
ID only says "Los Fuertes?"
Local pride would rise as the streets could be named after
local historical personalities and landmarks: John Brooks
Street, Polo Galindo Avenue, Sadie Ebanks Street, Stadium
Road. The beauty of the project is that since a system of
named streets has never existed, there is nothing that needs
to be fixed.
Named streets would also contribute to raising the profile
of Bay Islands as a "first world destination." The
privilege of third world is that it can avoid confronting
the reality almost indefinitely or, until it decides it can
no longer afford to.
Officer Shot Dead in West End
West End was getting ready for another busy Saturday night on
June 4th, at 9:45 pm on the doorstep of First Baptist Church in
West End, Ruben Nuñez, a 21-year-old Tourist Police officer
was shot dead. The person who shot the police officer was Gary
Fuertado, 52, a nationalized US citizen involved in a legal dispute
over a Toyota Corolla he imported to Honduras in 2004.
According to Elia Lily Fuertado, 45, widow of Fuertado, he was
coming back from a meeting regarding that matter when he was stopped
by two tourist police officers in West End, but disregarded the
road block and drove south to his residence. His wife was expecting
"He was shot at twice. I saw one bullet [hole] in the [spare]
back wheel of the car," said Elia Fuertado. "Gary didn't
say a word. He went to his room, got a 12-gauge and a box of bullets."
The police confirmed that they fired two shots at Gary Fuertado's
car, but had no comment about the firing being a part of police
Fuertado traveled north in his 2005 Toyota RAV4 on the main street
in West End towards two tourist police officers stationed by the
According to the Roatan DGIC, Fuertado then rolled down his window
and fired his shotgun, shooting officer Nuñez in the head.
The other officer at the scene, officer Prado, 22, fired around
a dozen shots at Mr. Fuertado. West End residents and tourists
ran for cover.
later, the vehicle left the scene traveling slowly. Officer Prado
called the Preventive police for assistance from his cell phone.
Preventiva and DGIC police arrived in 20 minutes, but the body of
the slain officer remained on the main road until 12:45am. "The
police handled the situation badly. For hours people had to pass
by the body and it upset many tourists," said Delcie Rosales,
Roatan City council member and a West End resident.
Police followed with an all night land and sea man-hunt. The following
morning, June 5, Fuertado's body and car were found in the ditch
on the West Bay road.
The US embassy was contacted, and an autopsy on his body was performed
in San Pedro Sula which was then returned to Roatan for burial.
According to Elia Lily Fuertado the body had four bullet holes in
it: lower abdomen, right torso, lower back and base of the skull.
Autopsy results were not made available.
Since coming back to his place of birth in 1998, Fuertado ran a
hotel business in West End. According to neighbors, several hotel
guests complained of being threatened by Gary Fuertado with a firearm.
A reenactment of the shooting was conducted at the site on June
21st in the presence of a US embassy official. 13 bullet holes were
located in the passenger door of the car, another one on the driver
side and one more in the rear of the vehicle. Roatan's public prosecutor
is investigating the case.
The murder of the police officer is first such event on Roatan in
two decades. Both on Utila and in Oak Ridge a policeman was shot
dead in 1980s. Two Roatan policemen died from an accidental shooting
Roatan Festival Celebrates B.I.
came by boat, car, some even walked
over 8,000 people attended
the first Roatan International Shrimp Festival on June 19, the
biggest one-day event in the history of the Bay Islands, and perhaps
The festival, held at the beach at Parrot Tree, was an opportunity
to celebrate the men and women working in the Bay Islands shrimp
industry. The festival was timed to take advantage of Father's
Day and the shrimp season break that will end on July 1.
Ronald Cummins, an American residing on Roatan, originally came
up with the idea of the shrimp festival. Suyapa Edwards, a business
owner from Parrot Tree, took the idea and within two months organized
the one-day event, possibly the biggest of its kind in Honduras.
After three years of organizing private and public events on Roatan,
Edwards took on her biggest challenge to date. Even though the
event was by paid admission, only the Saturday of the La Ceiba
Carnival and the last day of the Ferias Junianas of San Pedro
Sula, both open admission events, could compare in number of visitors
to the Roatan Shrimp event.
children's fashion show amongst hundreds of spectators.
never left my booth [to taste the competitors' food.], I was too
busy," said Dian Lynn, owner of Dian's Garden of Eat'n and
the festival winner of the "Best Quality" award. Dian's
Garden of Eat'n prepared eight different plates, six of them shrimp
plates, priced at Lps. 100 each. Lynn expected to sell out her
food around 9:00pm, but at 6:30pm was already folding her cooking
gear. "I was prepared to sell 300 plates. I sold 300 plates,"
said Lynn, who organized three Taste of Roatan festivals. Lynn
felt that the Lps. 5,000 cooking booth fee was "a little
"Getting the money from sponsors was the easy part. The hardest
thing was getting a good logo," said Edwards who commissioned
the logo at Ideas, a Tegucigalpa graphic company. A giant red colored
shrimp wearing a chef's hat, official logo of the festival, was
visible on posters, sculptures, awards and tee-shirts for weeks
prior to the event.
A six foot shrimp statue displayed at the festival main stage was
carved out of three 4' by 8' sheets of fiber board over two weeks
and donated by Gessell Brousek of Maple Leaf. "I had to explore
marine themes in my artistic style to do this," said Brousek.
The carving was meant to bring to life the official festival logo.
Photos of the shrimp industry on the Bay Islands were also displayed
by the main stage. Looking at large photographs of veterans of Bay
Islands shrimp industry and boat work was Rotha McNab, owner of
French Harbour's Bormac's. "Shrimp is very hard work,"
said McNab, who spent a couple weeks working on a shrimp vessel.
As 11 bands entertained the visitors, the Parrot Tree lagoon was
filled with kayaks, and children playing in the water. "I wasn't
expecting so many people to come," said McNab. The beachfront
venue filled with participants and sponsors while 34 volunteer policemen,
working in two shifts, provided security at the event.
A trampoline, children's slide, 15 big and 5 small kiosks, 10 restaurants
and 5 performance stages filled the Parrot Tree beachfront. "Parrot
Tree is too small for this. We will probably have the event at Marbella
Beach next year," said Edwards.
Artistic Stone of Tegucigalpa donated the stone sculptures given
as awards to restaurant winners of shrimp recipes. Truman Jones
of French Harbour was recognized for pioneering the shrimp industry
in the Bay Islands.
When the event ended at midnight, over 8,000 ended-up buying tickets.
3,000 tickets were pre-sold at Lps. 100 and another 5,000 tickets
were sold at the gate for Lps. 200.
The original cost of the event, estimated at $43,000 ended-up closer
to $57,000. "We still have enough money to do a calendar and
have money for next year," said Edwards. According to Edwards,
Galaxy was a key sponsor of the event donating 52 return tickets
to Roatan. Overall, 92 people were brought in as entertainers, media
and organizers and stayed in hotel rooms donated by Fantasy Island,
Executive Inn and Half Moon Bay Cabins.
The event brought national media attention to Roatan and brought
an influx of visitors to Roatan in what typically is the slowest
time of the Bay Islands tourist season. "Next year I will have
six months to prepare. Just imagine how many people are going to
come," said Edwards.
Evans on Evans
'Judas Bird' Author Speaks
in 1933 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Dr. Evans received his B.S. degree
in Geology from Tulane University. He spent several years in the
military and eventually started his graduate UC Berkley program
Dr. David K. Evans first came to Roatan in June of 1961. On his
way to Nicaragua's Corn Islands, it was by chance that he landed
on the Honduran coast and met Walter McNab, a young boat captain
from French Harbour. "When I got off a mail boat in Coxen
Hole there were no roads, no electric lights, no vehicles and
no tourists," said Dr. Evans.
Dr. Evans was looking for a place to do his doctoral thesis in
Anthropology and it was the village of French Harbour that caught
his imagination. Evans spent several months in what was then a
quiet fishing village conducting his research.
Dr. Evans received his doctorate in 1966 and joined the ranks
of Wake Forrest University academics, where he taught for 32 years.
For 14 years Dr. Evans studied nutrition and hypertension on Saba
in the Dutch Antilles and researched these issues among the Roatan
In 1967 he formed the Overseas Research Center, a program that
brought hundreds of High School and University students from all
around the US to do research and conduct studies not only on Roatan,
but in Costa Rica, Norway and Scotland.
Even though retired, once a year Dr. Evans still brings a group
of students to his Roatan research station in First Bight and
plans to run the center at least for another three years. His
possible replacement to run the program is a Wake Forrest University
professor, Dr. Margaret Bender, an anthropologist specializing
in linguistics and folklore. "Academically there have not
been a lot of people here. A geographer [William Davidson] came
here and wrote a book. Marine scientists and geologists came,"
said Dr. Evans.
In 2004 Dr. Evans published a first work of fiction related to
Roatan: the almost 1,000 page historical novel "The Judas
Bird." He is now working on another novel.
Islands Voice: Is "The Judas Bird" your first novel?
Dr. David Evans: It's not my first book, but my first novel.
Unfortunately has a lot of computer typos, but it is selling well
and I am pleased. (
) I wanted to talk about some of the
problems I saw on the island and not get personal. I wanted to
start in the present, 1995, but I wanted to use a mechanism of
flashing back to XVI and XVII century to work in the history of
the island. The book I am working on now is called "Red at
Dawn," and it takes place on the island between 1722 and
1725; mostly around Port Royal. The next book I am thinking about
is from a perspective of the aboriginals at the time of meeting
Columbus in 1502 and slavery times in the XVI and XVII centuries.
So you are evolving from an academic and researcher into a novelist.
D.E.: I don't know if I want to call this an evolution. That's
what I wanted to do when I got out of the Navy. I went to Europe
to become a writer. But I met a young German girl and decided to
go to graduate school. So I've gone thru 38 years of academic life
before I had the time to really write.
B.I.V.: So you are catching-up, making-up for lost time.
Dr. D.E.: Yes, I'm catching up to something I didn't make
time to really do.
B.I.V.: Should be a bigger effort at trying to preserve the
history, culture of the island?
D.E.: That was one other reason for writing the book, too. I
felt if I didn't get this down
well, I am not the youngest
person in the world. What I would like to see is little museums
in all these villages. They could be used as tourist attractions,
but they also could be used for schools and reminding the kids where
this all came from. (
) It's a cultural chasm, a cultural abyss.
The younger people don't know anything but cars and televisions,
they never thought about what their fathers did.
B.I.V.: How does the island evolution make you feel?
Dr. D.E.: I watched the island change and some of it is painful
to watch. So it's been a mixed bag that way. (
) Some people,
gringos that lived here for five years continually, feel that they
know far more than I do. They do if they are talking about individual
changes, but I am looking at a broader canvas. I've seen the changes
occur and tried to record them. (
) I'm not an islander, but
I am probably as close to being an islander as you can be.
B.I.V.: What are your greatest concerns with how the island
Dr. D.E.: I have the great-grand-son of one of my characters
in the novel [The Judas Bird] reflect on this. Before you had your
sisters land that could be passed through the family and now it
is all being sold and stolen. (
) And many of the people that
are doing the land robbing are islanders themselves and relatives
that are getting land that should have not come to them in the first
place. This was a problem in Key West, in many places. On islands
there is only so much land. I also don't know where the islanders
are going to live. AIDS is a big problem and maybe that will reduce
the number of population. We are also going to have problems with
water. The aquifers can only handle so much. (
) I've heard
from too many very, very reliable people that a cruise ship [at
Roatan harbor] was taking [local] water
something like 45,000
gallons at a time. Of course that's lowering the aquifer too fast
and it will fill with brackish water and salt. And once it's ruined,
it is ruined for all time.
B.I.V.: What do you think the islands will become like.
Dr. D.E.: There is a Greek saying: 'If you want to make gods
laugh tell them your plans for the future.' I just can't imagine
what this place will be like in 20 years. Surely it is going to
be more Hispanicized then it is now. I won't be here to see it,
that's all I know.
B.I.V.: Why were you attracted to this part of the Caribbean?
Dr. D.E.: I don't know. I spent a lot of time in the Navy
in the South Pacific on a number of islands. But islands and mountains
are where I've been drawn to all my life. I guess I've spent a lot
of time thinking about a lot of things, haven't thought much about
my own psyche. It's probably not possible to work out what draws
me here. I like it. I often have to ask myself when I get really
disgusted with everything, when nothing is working: 'Why I keep
coming back." But, I do. I'm like the swallows, I suppose.
B.I.V.: Any regrets about something you wanted to do, but
Dr. D.E.: I always wanted to build on our property a functioning
school to teach kids trades: plumbing, electrical work. Because
when they go away to school they all go into hotel management. And
there is a lot more to living than taking care of tourists. Maybe
my daughter will do this.
story / editorial
/ local news
Squad debuted on Stereo Mar's "Chulo Show" in 2003.
Soon after, Big Chulo became the band's DJ and this year Adam Santos,
rapper and song writer from Bronx, New York, joined the group.
The group's first album, "Roatan's Finest," was released
in October 2004. The album's big hit, "Spanish Fly," received
an all island following and helped to create the King Squad's fan
Now the five artists are working on their second album due out in
September. They plan to re-release one song from the first album:
"Remember the Name," that the group believes needs more
There is energy and originality in the band's lyrics that deal with
the reality of island life. Freestyle rapping, using your creativity
by rapping whatever that comes into the head, is a specialty of
Baby C's. In fact every member of the band brings some unique element
to the band. With keyboards creating base the King Squad produces
its original Hip Hop and R&B sound.
"We want to be the first international artists out of Roatan,"
said Levey. The group is on its way to just that. King Squad has
its first Honduran tour set-up for July and August. They plan on
playing in clubs in San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba.
The group is aware of its weak points and works on improving them.
"Our production needs a little perfecting. We make sure we
stay consistent," said Levey.
until the end of the world it's the same old song
why we never know what we got until it's gone
why we wait tell our love once die to see it's wrong
why the never show you love because you a thug
same thing that a saw when my boy got shot
family that never spoke crying over his box
when you die why the act like the love you a lot
shedding tears on your coffin talking bout how the want to
hug you and kiss you
now that you talking bout how the miss you
it makes you wonder why life's so rough
why the things that happen is so mess up
only thing a could do is just bust my rhyme and pray to god
that a never have to buss my nine
i write songs about life so i could release my mind
i am stress out thinking bout probably what's the best route
its hard living life when it's so much drama so much pain
loses aint much to gain when you looking for the sun and all
you find is the rain
it makes me want to scream out at the top of my lungs
take i look at our life look at what we become
so many mothers crying so many people dying
it really makes me wonder what's the use in trying
keeping up with this life and struggle
cause life is a painful hustle
every bodies asking questions
no body has the answer.c
King Squad: Baby C (Clint Arnold Forbes)- freestyle wrapper,
Versatile (Adam Santos) -rapper and song writer, Big Chulo
(Royce Anderson)- DJ, Krazy Legz (Elroy Levey)- singer and
producer, Six One (Leonard Edward)- rapping and singing.