story / editorial
Alfonso Reader II Three Stories from Bonacca by
Ebanks, the editorialist, has enchanted Bay Islands Voice readers
with his wit and imagination for five years. He proves his storytelling
abilities in a second series of autobiographical short stories.
to Herman Haylock
arriving in La Ceiba it was apparent that they would have
to charter an airplane if they were to keep their appointment
in Guatemala City. The two Bonaccans, Herman and Olsen, then
started to look around for the other two men from La Mosquitia
who also had appointments for the following day with the same
gentleman in Guatemala City.
The purpose of this trip was to secure lobster-fishing permits
in the neighboring republic of Nicaragua. This was during
the rule of the Sandinista regime and Honduras had severed
diplomatic relations with that country. Hondurans were not
permitted to travel to Nicaragua, but someone in Guatemala
City was selling lobster-fishing permits for Nicaraguan waters
in the Caribbean. Olsen and Herman, having found their other
two traveling companions, made arrangements for an airplane
at Aerolineas Saso--a six-passenger Cessna 206.
When Herman and Olsen finally started on the first leg of
their journey, which was to Tegucigalpa to pick up a fifth
passenger, they had no notion that this trip, an ill-fated
voyage, would be etched in their minds forever. Their morning
had slipped away with the usual delays, so the second leg
began late as they taxied down the Tegus runway heading for
The first hour of the short hour-and-ten-minute flight passed
rapidly, as everybody on board except the pilot knew each
other quite well. The plane had been flying for quite some
time before anyone noticed that they were behind schedule.
The sun had set and from an altitude of eight thousand feet
it was impossible to distinguish any landmarks. But they continued
on their westerly course and soon spotted a bunch of lights
which they logically supposed to be a city or town. By the
reflection of the lights they knew that the town was on or
near a body of water. The pilot, realizing that something
was wrong, placed the plane in a holding pattern circling
the body of water which, in the darkness, they assumed to
be Lake Amatitlan-all the while sending out mayday calls on
With their fuel getting low, some of the passengers thought
it was better to ditch the plane in the water and take their
chances swimming to safety. The pilot, however, kept assuring
them that if they flew towards the north they would make it
to the Aurora airport in Guatemala City. A few minutes into
the holding pattern the pilot got in radio contact with the
crew of an Eastern Airlines plane heading for or leaving Aurora.
The jet informed the Cessna that the airliner would turn on
all its lights, and if the Cessna could see these lights then
its pilot could head for the lights and begin his descent
toward the airport. The pilot of the small airplane radioed
a confirmation of a visual sighting and began his decent.
Some of the passengers questioned his sighting, and in an
attempt to confirm the sighting Olsen unbuckled his seat belt
to look over the pilot's shoulder. It was then that the plane
made contact with the trees.
The first impact tore at the wings and the right side of the
fuselage, destroying part of the main door assembly. Olsen,
being unrestrained by the seatbelt, was propelled out of the
airplane and landed on the door that had broken away under
the momentum and the weight of his body.
Olsen suffered a blow to the head and was in a daze for quite
a while. He heard someone calling to him as he was coming
out of his stupor. He then followed the sound of the voice
and inquired of the caller: "What happened?" To
which Herman replied: "We've had an accident and you
had better snap out of it or we're going to die up here!"
On the second and final impact of the little plane Herman
had been thrown clear of the fuselage. The force of the final
impact had wrenched his seat from the floor and he was still
strapped to it. Herman was seriously wounded but he was well
aware of their predicament. Olsen, on the other hand, was
in a state of confusion not unlike a person suffering from
a concussion of the brain. Olsen kept heading towards the
burning wreck of the aircraft in what seem like an attempt
to rescue the remaining passengers and the pilot. But Herman
finally conveyed to him that only one had survived the impact
but had been unable to get out of the burning plane and had
died along with the rest.
Herman insisted that they had to get away from the gas drenched
area before the fuel tanks blew up, so Olsen pulled Herman
towards a big tree and sat him against it. Even in the dim
light of the fire Olsen could see by the position of Herman's
extremities that the wounds were serious. He knew that his
friend would die without immediate help. Olsen first searched
the area for anything of value that could tempt passing guerillas
or other persons, fearful that if anyone came upon the wreck
they would probably collect the valuables and then think of
finishing off eyewitnesses to their crime.
Before Olsen then started his trek for help, he supplied Herman
with a long stick to fend off any night predators that may
be attracted by the smell of the blood which constantly poured
from his compounded fractures.
Olsen headed towards a small light in the distance but had
not gone very far when he fell into a hole. After freeing
himself from the hole he began calling out and listening for
an answer so he could return to where he had left Herman.
Knowing that in the dark Olsen would either kill himself in
a hole or would not be able to find his way back to the big
tree, they decided to wait for morning light before initiating
Olsen started his second attempt down the mountain at daybreak
yet with enough darkness to see the solitary light burning
in the distance.
After what seemed like an eternity he arrived at the light
source to find only an unmanned transformer power station.
A highway passed nearby, so he positioned himself on the road
in an effort to hitch a ride. Realizing that no one was stopping
because he must look terrible, he knew he must force someone
to stop. Olsen ran in front of an oncoming bus and was able
to jump onboard when the driver opened the door to question
him. He was about to be ejected from the busload of disgruntled
passengers until a man dressed in a full suit and tie stepped
forward and said: "This man is not drunk he is hurt!"
The bus then proceeding to the nearest public hospital.
The doctors insisted on detaining Olsen, despite his refusal
to waste time on examinations and other routine medical procedures
in order to get back into those mountains where his friend
Herman lay dying.
Olsen had not been abandoned by his guardian angel, however.
While placing a phone call to family members in Honduras,
the gentleman from the bus had called the local fire department
rescue team. The gentleman returned with the rescue team to
pick up Olsen and return to the spot where the bus had found
Olsen. Though the man in charge insisted that they needed
a helicopter to get up to the place of the wreck on the slopes
of the Pacaya volcano, Olsen insisted that there was no time
for that and started up the mountain on his own.
Followed by some of the rescuers, Olsen came to the place
where he believed he'd left Herman. But when they called out,
no answer came. Thinking the worst, Olsen sat down and cried
tears of desperation and grief. A little while later from
somewhere in the distance a voice yelled: "He is alive!
He's still alive!" Olsen jumped up and got to the scene
in time to see them loading his friend onto a stretcher. Herman's
countenance had changed, probably because of the massive loss
of blood, but he was still alive and conscious. In the daylight
his wounds looked even worse, and for the first time Olsen
doubted that his friend would live through this ordeal.
In the government hospital the doctors seem unable to come
to a decision as to what should be done for Herman and it
looked very much like they had rolled him out on a gurney
to let him die. Olsen tried in vain to get someone to attend
to the wounds of his friend for some time, until the very
man they'd come to Guatemala to obtain fishing permits from
arrived on the scene. Being a medical doctor himself, he took
charge of the situation by first cleaning up the patient and
then commandeered an ambulance (at gun point) to take the
patient to the Cedros de Libano, a private hospital in the
city. There is no doubt that this move saved Herman's life.
Olsen returned home a few days later, with a wound on his
forehead, burns on hands and arms and lacerations on his feet;
Herman had to remain a few weeks longer until he became well
enough to travel.
What had sealed the fate of Sierra Alfa Tango? It was deduced
later that the pilot had erroneously set up his ADF on the
low frequency beacon of Puerto de San Jose. The body of water
they had spotted had been the Pacific Ocean. When the aircraft
had turned north the pilot had seen some other light and mistook
it for the Eastern Airline plane. Their original altitude
of eight thousand feet was fine for approaching Aurora from
the east, but coming from southerly Puerto de San Jose they
would have to pass over the Pacaya volcano, which pushes its
summit eight thousand three hundred feet into the air. On
that night in April a miracle took place on the slopes of
that volcano. We'll never know what prompted Olsen to take
off his seat belt. But we know that had he remained strapped
into his seat no one would have walked away from Sierra Alfa
Tango. Until this day my brother Olsen never buckles his seat
belt whenever he travels by airplane.
Lil' Flat Incident
story begins on a desolate road that leads from the foot hills
of Lil' Flat towards the village of Mangrove Bight. The day
was sunny but cool as the seven-year-old boy treaded his way
through the long grass that almost covered the rarely used short
cut from the little farm to the store at Red Hill. This short
cut was not used much anymore because most of the people used
the main road and shopped at the new store in the village. The
boy was on an errand for his stepmother, and though he was slightly
retarded he was aware that if he tarried too long he would have
to answer to her. And his stepmother was not known for her kindness.
As he remembered the words of his stepmother he grasped the
coin in his hand with added strength and kept repeating to himself
the last words she had said to him, "one pound of salt,
one pound of salt, one pound
In the bright sunshine the butterflies fluttered in every direction
and their variegated colorings added a flower batch like mantle
to the wind swept guinea grass. Maybe it was the beauty of the
moment or maybe it was his attempts to catch a blue butterfly
that was much larger and more beautiful than all the others.
Whatever it was, the boy forgot all about the urgency of his
errand and was soon lost in play.
A distant sound brought him back to reality, and he remembered
the errand. But the coin was no longer in his hand; and though
he searched everywhere, it could not be found. Sometime later
he appeared at the little grocery store that was his original
He told the attendant that he wanted something but could not
remember what it was, and besides, he had lost the coin somewhere
along the road. The owner of the store had known the child's
now-deceased mother and he also knew that this kid was in serious
trouble with his stepmother. The time was about mid-day and
the clerk assumed that the boy had come for something that would
have been used for the evening meal. So out of the kindness
of his heart he gave the boy a one-pound bag of sugar. The boy
started for home with the package in his hands, not realizing
that the half an hour errand had taken almost three hours.
half way home he was met by a furious stepmother and she carried
in her hand a strip of rawhide that had been soaked in the
river. The stepmother ordered him to place the bag on the
ground and then commenced to brutally chastise the child with
the homemade whip. The screams of the boy could be heard for
miles. Then suddenly, with the blows still lashing into his
flesh, the boy stopped screaming and uttered one word: "Mama!"
boy had fixed his gaze on a spot behind his stepmother. The
stepmother, with her whipping arm still raised high, froze
in her tracks as the hair on the back of her neck stood straight
up. She knew without looking behind her that they were no
longer alone. And she also knew who the newcomer was because
the boy only ever called one person Mama--his now dead mother.
The stepmother felt a chill right to her bones and a wind
on her face as if someone was breathing heavily right next
to her. As she stepped towards the child, all the tall grass
laid down and then lifted up again with such a force that
the whip was torn from her hand. The stepmother turned towards
home and the grass rolled as if moved by a great wind in front
of her blocking her path. She then extended her empty hands
towards the child and both of them started the journey home.
The rolling grass followed them all the way but only on the
stepmother's side of the road. She tried changing the child
from side to side but the rolling grass would always change
to the side next to her.
Before the stepmother had left the house she had tied the
dogs so that they could not follow her when she went to fetch
the boy. When they approached the farm house, the dogs began
their welcome bark. But as soon as the boy came into view,
the barking changed to an angry and then a frightened bark.
This was unusual because the dogs all loved the boy. The stronger
dogs broke their leashes and took off running into the woods
yelping as they went. The ones that could not break their
leashes were going on like they were mad with fear. When the
stepmother and the boy entered the kitchen they found sitting
on the table, a coin, a one pound bag of salt and a small
machete. The stepmother swears that the coin was the exact
coin she had given to the kid to pay for the salt. The little
machete belonged to the child but had been missing for some
time now. The child looked over his shoulder as if spoken
to by someone standing right behind him, he then nodded his
head affirmatively and said, "Okay Mama!"
Without uttering another word he walked over to the table,
took the little machete in his hand, turned and walked down
the road away from the farmhouse. The stepmother called to
him but he did not pay her any mind and after what had just
occurred she was afraid to follow the child. The young boy
was found the next day sitting in a pool of his own blood
leaning against a big cashew tree with a smile on his face
and the little machete through his chest. Some people said
that the boy had fallen and accidentally stabbed himself with
the machete. But other witnesses claim that he had been stabbed
on purpose. Whatever be the case, everybody knew that his
real mother had carried him home forever.
If you ever find yourself on the road to Lil' Flat, go to
the big cashew tree just south of Rocky Road gate, step on
the spot of soil between the two exposed roots that extend
into the road. You will feel the ground tremble, and then
from the bottom of the tree, you will hear the sad moan of
a person in pain.
Few Pieces of Silver
Two out-of-work farm boys, Jim and Bee, were on their way
home after having a few drinks in town. As they passed a lonely
house that sat next to the road they noticed a dim light coming
from a window at the side of the house. Jim decided that they
should have one last drink and what better place to have a
drink than this house, whose owner operated a small estanco
(retail liquor shop) from his kitchen window. The rum seller
catered to all comers no matter what time of day or night,
just as long as they had the money. There was only one thing
wrong with these two having a last drink--neither of the two
had a penny to their name. Jim suggested they try for some
credit, so he proceeded up the stairs to knock on the kitchen
window. But at that moment, he heard the clinking of silver
Jim motioned to Bee to come up and take a listen. Keeping
very quiet, they both heard the old gentleman counting his
money--past five hundred and still counting. The two farm
boys came down the stairs and walked a good distance from
the house before they made any comments. Jim spoke first,
"Did you hear that? That old bastard has a lot of money
in that back room!"Bee was younger than Jim and sort
of look up to Jim for leadership, so he said nothing in reply
and simply waited for Jim to continue.
Jim said, "Hey, that's more money than we could make
in a year!" Bee did not like the tone of Jim's voice,
knowing that Jim was contemplating robbing the old man. Bee
had accompanied Jim on robberies before, but those robberies
had been different, only stealing coconuts, plantains, yucca
and such and only when there were no witnesses.
This robbery would be different because the old man never
left the house and many other people also lived in the house.
Bee did not like it. But by the time the two had reached Meana
Gate Jim had formulated a plan. He decided that this was not
the night for the robbery because a lot of people had seen
them leave Savana Bight, headed down the road that would lead
them past the old man's house. Jim decided that they would
return another night, gain entrance to the house and then
rob the old man blind.
True to their plan, two days later in the late afternoon and,
this time dead sober, the two left Ranchy Point and headed
down the road to Mangrove Bight. As they approached the village
they greeted everyone they saw and they talked loudly and
whistled in an attempt to have themselves seen by as many
people as possible. As darkness came over the land they made
plans to return the way they had come. They then proceeded
very quietly to exit the village, because for them to get
back onto the road to Savana Bight they would have to go back
over Soapy Hill. The two would-be burglars made their way
quietly through the now pitch black night, not daring to light
the pine wood torches they carried. When the light from the
house came into view they decided to go over their plan one
The plan was simple, Bee would tell the old man that he had
a sack full of coconut to trade for a litro of rum. The old
man would then insist on seeing the sack but the trader would
have to convince him that it was a big franklin baker sack
and it was too heavy to bring up the flight of stairs. The
plan was that when the old man came downstairs Jim would conk
him over the head. Then with the old man out cold they would
enter the house and search the back room for the money. The
money would not be too hard to find because five hundred in
cash was a large amount of silver and so it would not be too
easy to hide.
Bee easily enticed the old man to come down the stairs because
the old man thought he would be getting the better end of
this bargain--a franklin baker sack can hold up to two hundred
coconuts. The old man took a lantern from the table, opened
the door and he picked up a machete with his other hand. This
was not good and Bee felt a little scared, but the plan was
in action and there was no going back now.
As the old man came down the stairs with the lantern in one
hand and his machete in the other he moved to the side that
placed Bee between him and the waiting Jim.
The old man must have spotted the club in Jim's hand because
he turned to go back up the stairs and cussed the two, saying,
"Here you die, you bastards!" The old man raised
his machete to bring it down on Bee's head, but he was too
slow because by this time Jim had unsheathed his own machete.
With one fell swoop he had taken off the old man's hand at
the wrist and it fell to the ground still clinging to the
machete. The old man was screaming in terror and pain and
was still trying to go back upstairs, but the second blow
of Jim's machete caught him in the soft spot where the neck
joins the shoulder. The blow was such that the old man was
thrown off the stairs and fell to the ground where he lay
motionless, no longer able to scream and bleeding his life
Jim looked around for Bee and saw him standing near a post
of the house with his hand over his mouth. Bee was petrified
with fear because, in spite of the darkness of the night,
the light of the lantern had illuminated very well the foul
deed that had just occurred. Bee found his voice and muttered,
"Let's get the hell out of here!" He turned towards
the gate, but at that moment another lantern appeared at the
top of the stairs. Jim turned around and fixed his eyes on
the woman who looked down on the gruesome spectacle. The woman
turned and ran back into the house screaming and shouting,
"Those no-goods from Ranchy Point have killed him!"
Jim started up the stairs and yelled back at Bee, "This
thing is not over yet!" Bee was not sure what he should
do, but maybe he could try to stop another murder. So he pick
up the lantern and followed Jim up the stairs. The house had
a few partitions but the rooms had curtains instead of a wooden
door. Jim followed the woman into the one room where her children
were covering in fear. Bee was ordered to check out the other
room. When he hesitated Jim lifted his blood red machete and
made a slashing gesture through the air. Bee, with lantern
in hand, entered the indicated room and to his surprise found
someone under the covers on the bed.
Bee poked the bedding with his machete and he heard someone
cry out. With the blade of his machete he lifted the covers
and was even more surprised to see a baby girl under the sheets
crying and bleeding slightly from the scratch he had inflicted
on her chest with his machete. Bee thought that surely Jim
would not expect him to kill this innocent child, but not
being completely sure of that he looked around the room to
find a hiding place for the little girl. In the far corner
of the room he saw a wooden wash tub and decided to place
the child on the floor and then turn the tub bottom-up over
her. Bee then placed a lot of bedding over the tub to stifle
the sounds of the girl's crying.
All this while, Bee could hear the screams of the people being
killed in the other room and he could also hear the whacks
of Jim's machete even after the screams had stopped. Jim exited
the room where he had killed everything that moved. Jim looked
into the room where Bee had hidden the child and asked, "Anyone
here?" to which Bee replied, "No, no one!"
Jim retorted, "You sure took a long time to find that
out." Jim then grabbed the lantern from Bee and ran into
the back room and snatched up a bag of coins from the small
table next to the old man's bed. Jim returned, held up the
bag and said, "I've got it, let's go!" They both
ran down the stairs and were off into the darkness of the
The boys stopped at Lime Tree Gully so Jim could have himself
a good wash, including his clothes, shoes, machete and all.
They would sneak back into Mangrove Bight that night and tomorrow
they would borrow a dory to cross over to Ramos Landing from
where they could walk to Ranchy Point. All this was in case
anyone asked them where they had spent the night. In this
way they would try to prove that they had spent the night
in the village because everybody had seen them come into town
last evening and everybody would see them leaving the following
This whole scheme might have worked for the boys. But when
the mangled and dismembered bodies were discovered the next
day, the only survivor of the massacre told them that Bee
had placed her under the tub.
Both of the young men were found guilty and were sentenced
to long jail terms. Jim would die in prison before serving
his sentence. Bee received a lesser sentence because of his
indirect participation and also because of the testimony of
the little girl that Bee had hid her away from the bad man
that had killed her mother and her brothers and also the old
man. The motive for the murder was greed and the amount of
the booty was a mere fifty three Lempiras. Apparently the
old man had the habit of counting his coins over and over
before going to bed. That habit cost him and five others their
story / editorial
/ local new s
______________back to top
on the Honduran Psycheby
"The [Bay Islands] Voice" wrote: "I'd like
to think that we have provided an example of good, honest
and thorough journalism for everyone in Honduras to look
at and learn from. The Honduran press is mediocre at best.
It lacks objectivity, thoroughness, and most importantly
integrity. It can be, and often is, for sale. With all that
said, Honduras does have a free press and Hondurans do value
the venue for discussion."
I agree with the mediocrity you mention regarding some the
Honduran press, especially on certain TV channels. What
I do not agree with is this perennially judgmental attitude
of yours that pretends to stereotype all of us, media and
Honduran people, by constantly pointing out only negative
aspects in a way that is both offensive and disrespectful
to people who are trying to make a difference in this country.
And please believe that there are plenty of us. Just try
to read and investigate a little more.
Please do not claim that we are all for sale. It has taken
me, and a lot of the people I know, hard work and sacrifice
to get to where we are. In my case, I could run away, like
many have already, and comfortably live anywhere in the
world with my hard-earned experience and a wonderful university
title. But I agree to earn less than the American minimum
wage, to work and to try to positively help out in this
country (by writing as best I can) because I do believe
we can make a difference and be humble about it.
I am frankly sick that some foreigners that reside here
keep regarding the same people they live amongst with such
arrogance and disrespect. Please try to lower yourselves
from your self-sufficiency and self-assigned "owners
of the truth" label. If there is anything you can learn
from a good chunk of our (numerous and respectable) society,
it is to be a little humble, a little less perfect. Maybe
then you will get a better voice than the one you are continuing
to prolong, which we have heard from ever since the first
Anglo-Saxons came over, a little over a century ago.
Give thanks that we have allowed you to settle here, to
share in our bounty, and even to allow you to participate
by publishing your opinions. But please stop offending us.
Worse, you give our neighboring countries quite solid weapons
to keep attracting investment to their own land by writing
stuff like that, and reasons to provoke scorn, which helps
for us to work separated, not together. ... I read how well
some countries from the European community did after uniting,
particularly countries like Ireland and Poland (not to mention
the formerly communist countries), which needed that little
extra push to move forward.
Please aim to offer solutions, not problems. Do try to set
a good example, and to be a little less insulting. Have
you not heard that "en todos lados se cuecen habas"
[everywhere the same things happen]? Do not claim now that
in your countries there is no crime, corruption, or a set
of spotless human values. First world countries, especially
in the media and the arts, have generated such confusion
in a world that is today submerged in an ocean of consumerism,
superficiality and the exclusive seeking of earthly pleasures.
I advise you to read this piece once again, maybe you will
learn on how some of us think, so you may lighten instead
of adding more weight to our load. ...
Alejandra Paredes L.
Revista Cronos - Editorial Assistant
Thank you for the ample and heartfelt opinions and advice.
It is exactly this type of cultured dialogue that we strive
to encourage through our magazine. With our editorials and
articles we do occasionally touch some sensitive subjects
for Bay Islanders and Hondurans, but we do it with the intention
of exploring these subjects, not offending.
I do read and investigate Honduras media and society, but
maybe not on pages of Cronos or Estilo. The fact that the
two most popular, visible magazines in Honduras are "society
magazines" reflects the media and society values in
itself. Unfortunately, it is not El Libertador, nor Hablemos
Claro that capture what Hondurans want to read. As they
say: "El mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos" [the
wrong of many serves to console the dumb].
also have a social section in Bay Islands Voice magazine,
but we strive to reflect more of Honduran society's cross-section.
We feature events and lives of the middle class and the
poor, not just the financial elites. We also never accept
payment to cover such events - something that is unfortunately
standard in Honduras press. While the poor will not buy
your or our magazine's ads, for us at least, profit is not
a top priority.
like to make a correction: I am not Anglo-Saxon, but the
Anglo-Saxon, at least in the Bay Islands have been living
here well more than 100 years--since the 1600s in fact.
Asking me, or any other foreigner in Honduras, to "give
thanks that you have allowed me to settle here," can
only be matched by demanding Hondurans to give thanks to
foreigners that retire here, start businesses here and employ
Hondurans. I and many other foreigners are guests who pay
for the privilege of living in Honduras through residency
fees, taxes, and sometimes through forced bribes. We don't
expect to hear thank you from Honduran officials and we
almost never do.
We sometimes offer some articles that are informative, editorials
that are enlightening and letters to the editor that are
critical. I am sorry to see that you fail to notice that.
But I myself also sometimes fail to please all groups of
our readers. We can't please every group, but we hope most
will appreciate the true stories and articulate opinion
pieces in our magazine.
It is with sadness that I write this email to you, after
having read your article. As a citizen of this country,
I pride myself in having my Honduran roots, ethnicity, history
and role models to look after.
What would we do if we didn't have the writings of Jose
Cecilio del Valle, Morazan, Amaya Amador, Roberto Sosa,
Froylan Turcios, Leticia Oyuela, Roberto Quesada, Julio
Escoto, Ramon Rosa, Juan Ramon Molina, Argentina Diaz and
many more? Whom I assume from your writing, you do not know.
Many recent events in Honduran culture and history are positive,
such as the booming eco-tourism industry in Bay Islands,
placed by God in the second largest coral reef in the world.
Our Mayan roots are entrenched in the western part of the
country, and native roots of many communities, both of half-breed
Creole and African origins, are present in our ever expanding
rich culture. I think you ought to research even deeper
into our country's origins, history, arts and the men and
women who have shaped our identity, before flatly stating
that we have no identity.
José Mario López
Ficohsa, Sub Gerente Riesgos Crediticios
My opinion piece's main objective was to explore the idea
of Honduran identity: Is there one, and how do Hondurans
define themselves. Few people doubt that Honduras, a country
of seven million, has people who excel in their professions.
I have read books by Amaya Amador--probably the best Honduran
writer, who died in 1966 yet wasn't published in Honduras
till 1991--and stories by a naturalized Honduran English
writer Gullermo Yuscaran. Sadly, I believe that the typical
Honduran knows little of his literary brethren and that
the national education system has failed to instill the
knowledge and aspirations of these personalities in the
minds of Hondurans. What I found interesting is that the
common person here has a disconnect, or little interest,
in writers, poets and thinkers--in proportion to the absence
of these examples in school textbooks and programs.
It is unfortunate but true, that forging an identity in
any small, poor nation is a difficult task. That task is
even more difficult when the country finds itself in a never-ending
election cycle, is run by a university drop-out, and has
low literacy and high poverty rates. A large portion of
Honduras people struggle daily to secure basic necessities:
security, transportation, water and energy. And at this
point in time, that defines who they are more than writings
by Amaya Amador.
I am writing to you from Roatan, the capital of the "booming
eco-tourism industry in Bay Islands." I have to tell
you that I don't see much ecotourism here and the basic
infrastructure has failed to keep up with the boom. During
2008 Semana Santa tourists are likely to find themselves
with no electrical power. Rapid and little planned development
is a convoluted blessing and a questionable achievement.
To be proud can be both an admirable and a handicap. Patriotism
aside, citizens of any country often fail to coolly, objectively
compare their nation's accomplishments with that of other
nations with similar blessings and handicaps.
Many thanks for reading and expressing your opinions. Respectfully,
story / editorial
/ local news
Dale Jackson threatens refusal of operating license, sends immigration,
undertakes proceedings for removal from the Municipality
to escape criticism, scrutiny of his conduct in public office
two groups of Carnival cruise ship visitors are robbed, Carnival
threatens to widtdraw their ships from calling on Roatan if nothing
is done. In a ZOLITUR emergency meeting, a Lps. 200,000 reward
was issued by a group of businessmen, that would lead to capture
of the assailants.
Andy Bodden, 42, from Oak Ridge was accused of robbing two Carnival
tourists and was arrested on January 17. While he was accused
of robbing two tourists stopped in a taxi by the Palmetto road
on January 9, Bodden recalls being involved in a robbery in late
December. According to him the robbery took place on a dirt road
in First Bight around 2pm: Bodden claims that he only drove the
two middle aged cruise ship passengers and that two masked men
armed with knives came out of the bushes while they stopped to
take some photos. Bodden says that the two tourists gave up all
their valuables, but no struggle ensued and no one was injured.
Bodden says he occasionally picks up cruise ship passengers in
a four-door sedan rented from a friend.
February two hikers were robbed while hiking the jungle trails of
Carambola Gardens. Until now no arrests have been made in that case.
"The problem is that it has become lawless in the colonia [Balfate
and Policarpo Galindo] and is out of control. It's a haven for thieves
and robbers," said Bill Brady, owner of Carambola Gardens.
"Last year this time we didn't any robberies and now Cruise
Ship Companies are worried are about the increase in crime on the
island," said Linettle Flores, owner of Agencia Naviera del
Caribe, agency that represents majority of the cruise ship companies
coming to Roatan. Harassment of tourists by local children has become
an issue cruise ship companies repeatedly raised issue with.
Carnival not only brings estimated 48 ships to Roatan in 2008, it
is also planning to build a $50 million two-berth cruise ship terminal
in Dixon Cove. While the ground breaking took place in Dixon Cove
in November 2007 and the delivery date for the cruise ship terminal
is October 2009, no work has yet begun on the terminal. Some permit
renewals are due with Tegucigalpa.
Pupa to a Blue Morpheus
Butterfly Garden opens Doors to Educate and Amaze
Butterfly Garden has six butterfly species that breed inside the garden:
Giant Owl, Common Owl, Orange Dog, the Queen Long Wing and Sunset
Long Wing. Other butterfly species, in fact most of them, have to
be brought in from the butterfly farms in La Ceiba and Copan Ruinas,
as they have a different climate and host plants than are found on
Roatan. Butterflies are sent to the Roatan garden every four to six
weeks. The butterflies, transported on a cargo plane parcel in their
pupa form, cost anywhere between $1.50 and five dollars depending
on the species.
To protect the butterflies from predators the butterfly house is enclosed
in a plastic mesh. Fire ants, lizards, little possum and tarantulas
are not welcome in the four meter high structure. "Everybody
wants a piece of the little butterfly," says Antonio, who walks
the perimeter of the fence looking for the smallest openings where
butterfly killers could get in. Two entrance trap areas serve as quarantines
and lower the chance of any butterflies escaping.
Not all dangers to butterflies walk or crawl. Smoke, pesticides and
insecticides affect air quality, which is critical to the survival
and wellbeing of butterflies. "I've recently lost 50 butterflies
in 10 minutes," says Antonio about a January grass burning that
filled the air with smoke and caused mayhem in the butterfly house.
Most butterflies lay between two and 20 eggs, though some only lay
one egg in their lifetime. After a week or two, the eggs hatch into
a caterpillar that eats leaves and evolves into a pupa. Then, through
a mesmerizing process of metamorphosis, the pupa transforms itself
into a butterfly. After this final transformation their days are numbered.
Some butterflies, like the Orange Dog, live for only five days; others
like the Gulf Flittcherie live even shorter--for only a day or two.
Their life and beauty are a fleeing event.
Matias inside the butterfly house. Today, the butterflies are supplemented
by a presence of birds. From eight birds living in their house in
2004, the Matiass have grown their bird population to 12 species
and 62 birds.
For Janet Matias, her Roatan Butterfly Garden stemmed from a childhood
fascination with butterflies which grew into both a reality and a
business niche in a competitive Roatan tourist market. When the Butterfly
Garden opened its doors in 2000, the idea was to create a unique destination
for tourists. "It's quality tourism. A place where people want
to learn about the local environment," says Antonio Matias, Janet's
husband who manages the Garden.
Most visitors come to the garden during cruise ship days--50 to 500
cruisers a week, tended by three guides. Every year around four private
and public schools bring their students on a field trip to the Butterfly
house. "Students pay better attention if their teachers require
them to write something about the nature encounter," says Janet.
Mangrove Bight Creek, a gully running through the garden, provides
a microclimate for the entire West End property. It is a bit more
humid, less windy, and the smells of blooming plants and flowers fill
the air. The Matiases maintain the right variety of host plants, which
is crucial as butterflies only lay their eggs on specific types of
plants. If they can't find them, the insects will not reproduce. "Many
plants that we cut down as weeds are in fact butterfly host plants,"
eclectic mélange of building styles inspires and amuses tourists
and local residents
of the inspiration for the building came from a visit to Rio Dulce's
Casa Perico, a small hotel run by a Swiss couple in Guatemala. "Everyone
has aspirations to imitate the first-world concrete boxes,"
said Chris about trends in Roatan's development boom.
Chris steered clear of all conventional approaches. Javanese coconut
husk canvases depicting marine life decorate the interior space,
which is filled with teakwood furniture from Indonesia. Chris was
attracted to the herons and iguanas carved in South East Asia and
common on the islands. Conch shells placed on top of the yellow
seawall serve dually as decoration and as a means of discouraging
people from climbing onto the property.
The irregular shaped balustrades, posts and columns of Tranquil
Seas create unexpected vistas and hidden corners. The entire place
is a mélange of corridors, terraces, spiral stairs and wood
trusses. Though the main plan was sketched out on paper, the details
are designed on site.
Chris has worked exclusively with construction workers from the
mainland: "Many workers here don't have the patience nor the
pride in their work to see the project through." A dozen unique
woods were all brought from the mainland. One of them--Buhuco, a
vine whiss--raps round the San Juan wooden handrails of the stairways
and porches. The bar is a sliced trunk of a eucalyptus and mango
tree, polished and varnished. Orange tree serves for posts, and
bamboo found its utilitarian purpose as sconce light fixtures. "All
locals said that this is what Roatan needs," said Chris, who
notices that his foreign neighbors are less excited about his project
and stress its impracticality and maintenance issues.
Benson and carved wood furniture.
Two story palapa roofs.
for the yellow wall that serves as a seawall, the gateway can hardly
be seen from the beach. It disappears behind subsequent layers of
green and brown, behind leaves and tree trunks. "Tranquil Seas,"
a Sandy Bay retreat resort, abounds with plenty of curious and interesting
things to see--a waterfall that drops in on a three-meter step down
pool, a dive shop, restaurant, four cabañas all under or
surrounded by thatched roof.
Paul Benson, 54, and his son Chris Benson, 25, partnered in 2004
to construct this project--a place where a group of two to eight
people could book the entire facility and have the entire resort
to themselves. Following in the footsteps of his father, a landscape
gardener, Chris studied amenity horticulture at Otley College. Chris
has used rescued trees to create a mature, abundant landscape. "[Bringing
in of adult trees] brings instant maturity to the landscape,"
story / editorial
Really controls RECO?
Armed Honduran Navy soldiers secure RECO facilities, Roatan's Energy
all the drama, Kelcy Warren remains committed to executing this
52% purchase. Mike Warren, Kelcy Warren's brother, attorney and
spokesperson, says that Kelcy Warren is not frustrated by the delays
and twists and turns of the purchase process. "Kelcy has chased
more deals than he has received," says Mike Warren, This is
Kelcy Warren's first such businesses pursuit in a third-world country.
"If Kelcy had any doubts, they were dissipated by the support
he has received from community, congressman Hynds, two mayors, Patronatos,"
said Mike Warren.
"Because Kelcy is a guest in this country he has to do everything
with a blessing and support of the government," said Mike Warren.
The blessing has certainly been delayed, but the offer made by Kelcy
in March-April of 2007 is still on the table a year later.
"Kelcy Warren has a home on Roatan," says Mike Warren,
"He wants to be a participating member of a community, sees
RECO as a good investment and an opportunity to do something important."
"We plan on not increasing rates for a while," says Mike
Warren. A system of dual power-bunker fuel and diesel generators
is envisioned for RECO. Down the road Kelcy Warren sees adding renewable
sources of energy. He also envisions help with finances of the poorest
customers with the creation of a $100,000 independently managed
Even if transfer of RECO could happen quickly there is little chance
of bringing in additional equipment needed to deal with the 2008
Semana Santa surge. "It took a long time for RECO to find itself
in the dire strait situation that it is in. It will take 12-15 months
for it to get better," Mike Warren.
Things are likely to get worse, before any resolution is agreed
upon. On January 18 RECO begun cutting off 10 of its large consumers
that had their own generating capacity. Parrott Tree and Pineapple
Villas switched to their own power. The situation could get dire
for Semana Santa when a majority of Roatan hotels and rental houses
are expected to be filled to capacity by Honduran and international
Still Mesa assured that two 1.5 Megawatt generators should be online
by end of February and two other generators, a 1.0 and 1.2 (bringing
RECO's capacity to 10.0 Megawatt) will be online before March 15-the
date when the winner of RECO shares is supposed to take over.
Voting at the RECO General Assembly meeting on January 29.
another chapter in the Roatan RECO saga was written in February.
After the January 27 RECO general assembly vote and seemingly unanimous
acceptance of Kelcy Warren as the winning bidder of 52% of the company's
shares, things got a bit more complicated. On February 7, military
arrived in Coxen Hole and took over the RECO installations in the
afternoon. They stayed at the facilities for 24 hours.
There is no clear understanding of why at this point the Honduran
central government opposes the takeover of RECO control by Kelcy
Warren, or why it supports the purchase of RECO by Punta Cana. Bay
Islands Voice contacted Oscar San Martin, Punta Cana/EGE Haina Development
Manager, for comment on the RECO purchase, but he did not get back
In early January, Punta Cana representatives had held meetings with
Roatan government officials. They failed to assure them that costs
of energy will remain in line with the present 3.6 Lempiras a kilowatt-hour
residential rates. The meeting ended badly, with Roatan officials
feeling offended by the message and language of the negotiations.
"We don't care what you think," said one of the Punta
Cana representatives about the official's concerns with keeping
the energy prices affordable. Local government officials felt the
meeting was indicative of how the relationship with possible new
RECO owners could be.
According to Humberto Mesa, Reco's GM, because RECO is administered
by an ENEE intervention committee, the January 27 general assembly
had no legal authority to choose anyone as winner of the RECO bid.
"On March 5 we will have a general owners meeting to decide
who will receive RECO," says Mesa, underlining that the evaluating
committee gave Punta Cana the highest score in the bid process.
"Nothing is decided
Warren, Fredy Nasser can still get
the shares." According to Steven Guillen, RECO board member,
the purchase by Kelcy Warren was alredy registered in the property
registry and the March 5 meeting will serve to approve the decision.
It looks like the March 5 will be quite a show-down.