story / editorial
by Thomas Tomczyk
Bay Islands Triathlon has become recognized as one of the toughest
courses on the Circuit. Despite a six-year-history the race will
not take place in 2009.
water of West Bay was calm as a lake. On May 4, the haze created
by burning grass and trees all over Central America created
a setting for a beautiful sunrise. The sixth Bay Islands International
triathlon was about to begin.
Emily McCall, a young red-hair American, stood on the edge
of the beach trying to glimpse at the elite triathletes lined-up
at the waters edge in West Bay beach. She was cheering for
her husband Paul McCall, one of a small group of elite racers.
The lack of wind kept the temperatures high in the days before.
Starting the runners at 7:30 am was one way to avoid the oppressive
30-degree Celsius heat that turned up by 9:30am.
Bikini swimsuits, while illegal for elite racers, were popular
among the less de-rigueurs sprint amateur athletes. Shoe selection
for the biking and running portions called for "oohs"
and "aahs" among the spectators. One of the US Air
Force runners raced with a broken foot and wearing a pair
of military boots. A female sprinter raced in flip-flops as
she couldn't locate her bike shoes.
The athletes' selection of bicycles was equally impressive.
There were $6,000 racing bikes, $700 "fat tire"
mountain bikes and a few old models dug out on the island
just a few days before the race.
The number of spectators was as not as impressive as in years
prior. Many triathletes have already qualified for the Beijing
Olympics; and those who hadn't, didn't want to risk an injury.
It was chiefly moving the event from March to May that contributed
to fewer athletes coming to the race. Also the popular international
triathlon in Panama moved its date to a week prior the 2008
Bay Islands Triathlon. "It was supposed to be one week
after. This hurt us badly with all the pros [not showing up],"
wrote Leslie Poujol Brown, director of the Bay Islands Triathlon
for the past five years. "We normally get from 25 to
45 elite athletes each year." This year only 14, 11 men
and three women elite athletes participated.
According to Poujol Brown the Bay Islands triathlon changed
its time from March to May because of availability of space
at Henry Morgan Resort. "Henry Morgan [Resort] is normally
extremely busy in March and we thought May being a low month
would be better. May turned out to be unusually busy for the
entire island and we ended without rooms or athletes,"
wrote Poujol Brown.
Also the hosting venue of the event changed. The race moved
from Mayan Princess to Henry Morgan, a resort where it had
originally begun in 2003. "The transition area which
is an empty lot next to the Mayan Princess hotel did not provide
us the necessary conditions for an event of this caliber.
After 2007 when torrential rain forced us out into the road,
convinced us that it would be necessary to make a change to
a paved surface," wrote Poujol Brown.
the calm waters of West Bay spectators and media wait for the
begining of the swim portion of the race.
2 hours, 21 minutes and 59 seconds Paul McCall run through
the finish gate of the race. "The hills, biking and running
were a killer," said Paul McCall who raced in his second
triathlon as an elite racer. He finished in eighth place behind
Julio Ballesteros of Costa Rica and seven minutes behind the
Elite winner of the race Fel Van De Wyngard of Chile.
The biggest group of the triathletes were Honduran, mainland
racers. Honduran National Triathlon Association has around
100 members and according to Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Technical
Coordinator of the BI Triathlon, around 30-40 of them participated
in the May race. On May 24, "La Ceiba Triathlon,"
a national racing event took place. Last time a triathlon
took place in La Ceiba was in 1989. With 12 Triathlons planned
in Honduras for 2008, and 15 for 2009, however, it is only
the Bay Islands Triathlon that is an internationally sanctioned
Just as numerous as Honduran competitors was a group of US
military personnel who came to Roatan from Soto Cano Air Base.
"I have never been cheered on at any other triathlon
like I was in Roatan. The spectators were fantastic. There
were kids hanging in the trees and young ladies squirting
me with refreshing cold water as I ran by," wrote Soto
Cano based Air Force Major, Todd Risk. Major Risk was the
coordinator of 31 triathletes from the US Air Force base that
prepared for the sport event.
"I know it must have been inconvenient to have the island
roads closed for several hours, but we athletes appreciate
very much the safe road condition that was provided,"
wrote Major Risk.
Agnew, A triathlon photographer, get splashed by the men
Red Cross volunteers helped out in keeping the race safe. "There
is a better organization, but fewer spectators and volunteers,"
said Cesar Rodas, a Red Cross volunteer who has helped out in
the Triathlon for the past three years. "There were no
accidents, and we had good volunteers and my only concern was
the process that took us there," wrote Poujol Brown. "We
had more problems on the road than in the previous years to
the point that it was the most difficult event we have staged
in six years."
Set-Up Inc, a triathlon organizer company who helped to organize
and run the technical part of the Bay Islands Race in 2003 and
2004 still has its presence. "Each year we bring some of
their [Set-Up Inc.] employees to be part of our staff,"
wrote the race director. Set-Up Inc. donated part of the race
equipment that is used in the race every year.
At the evening dinner following the race, an award ceremony
recognized all the participants and winners of the tough race.
The Henry Morgan performance hall was packed with young athletes
from around the world and Honduras. "It was the first time
we had a formal stage, good sound system, video, sit-down dinner,
and a great spread for our dinner," wrote Poujol Brown.
The fat tire category, for triathletes racing on slower, harder
to ride mountain bikes had its fair share of drama. "I
decided to celebrate my 55 birthday," said Ron Bobbette,
a retired Canadian living on Roatan. Bobbette downloaded a 10-week
training program in order to prepare for his first triathlon.
"It was most difficult to prepare psychologically for something
you have never done," said the retired wholesaler. Bobbette
received a first prize in the "fat tire" category
for triathletes in his age group.
Despite the event becoming a staple of the Roatan spring since
2003, Poujol Brown doesn't plan to hold the event in 2009 for
mostly economic reasons. "We [Bay Islands Triathlon] hope
that by making this race every two years we might improve our
numbers as well as our sponsorship support.
We hope to
be back in 2010. It was way too hard to put this race together
this year, and perhaps I need a break, our sponsors, and even
the island needs a break," wrote Poujol Brown, who is focusing
her efforts on starting another race in the US.
BI Triathlon winners
Van De Wyngard
2. Javier Rosas
3. Hernandez Carlos
4. Janour Jan
5. Berger Or
Slovakia Czech Rep. Israel
2. Witinok-Huber Rebe
3. Tastets Pamela
story / editorial
/ local new s
______________back to top
by Thomas Tomczyk
voters really know who Barack Obama is, or
are they just wishfully thinking whom they would want him to be?
Obama's mother has married twice, both times to much older
than her Muslims, government bureaucrats, one black, the
other Asian. Obama's father, grandfather, stepfather, all
his Kenyan stepbrothers and Indonesian stepsister Maya are
Obama began his education in Jakarta, Indonesia at the St.
Francis of Assisi primary school in 1968. In his class 1B
he was registered as Barry Soetoro, an Indonesian citizen,
and his religion was listed as Islam. In 1971, Obama was
transferred to Besuki Primary School, a government school,
and documents also list him as a Muslim.
Obama, in accordance with the school's policy of educating
children according to their declared religious beliefs,
studied Koran, learned to recite it, and was exempt from
taking bible classes that he would have taken if he were
declared a Christian.
In a 2007 New York Times article Obama is quoted as reciting
the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting
them with a first-rate accent. Obama described the call
to prayer as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth
In 2007, Emirsyah Satar, CEO of Garuda Indonesia and Obama's
one-time classmate, was quoted as saying, "He [Obama]
was often in the prayer room wearing a 'sarong', at that
time. He was quite religious in Islam but only after marrying
Michelle, he changed his religion."
What interests me is not necessarily how the American electoral
public perceives Barak Obama, but how the Muslim societies
do. He is not seen as a traitor of his Muslim faith, but
as an agent of Muslim interests. In Indonesia his conversion
from Islam to Christianity is often described as "mengaku,"
meaning "claimed." A Hamas spokesperson in the
US has expressed preference for Obama above other presidential
I believe that a person of any faith, even with no faith
at all, could become a US president. I personally think
Obama follows his mother's attitude and is more an atheist,
or a-religious person, but that would be not particularly
practical in the US election season.
it wasn't for disillusionment with George W. Bush's policies
Americans wouldn't be on the verge of electing a black man,
or maybe even a woman for president. This attitude of "anything
is better than Bush" has a risk: Barack Obama could become
one of the least experienced, least proven presidents in US
What Obama would do as president, or how he would respond
to any issue is purely speculative. But looking at Barak Obama's
past, it should be concerning that he is unable to be honest
and forthcoming about his Muslim roots and transition to Christianity.
Islam is the only religion in the world that punishes apostasy
by death. Muslims do not have the freedom to search their
path for spiritual belief outside of Islam. It would be nice
to hear about Obama's transition from Islam to Christianity.
Still, this will be difficult as Obama denies being or practicing
Islam at any point of his life.
Obama's official campaign website BarackObama.com states:
"Barack Obama Is Not and Has Never Been a Muslim. Obama
never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was
not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends
the United Church of Christ." Hmm
Things are a
bit more complicated.
story / editorial
/ local news
century old maritime border dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras
receives a Solomon decision from Hague. Bay Islands fishermen feel
they should have the entire baby.
Honduran fishermen working on the Flying Fish vessel were detained.
"It was the job of the Honduran government to get them out
and they have done absolutely nothing," said Russ Summerell,
general manager of Flying Fish. After a ten day detention and $2,500
payment covering their stay in Bluefields the crew was released
and returned to Roatan.
Flying Fish boats have been fishing the 18,300 sq km area for snapper
since 1989 and Summerell estimates that the company will loose around
20% or 200,000 Lbs. of their catch in 2008. While the Fish Hawk
has been dedicated exclusively to catching red snapper, the biggest
loss will come to the Honduran lobster industry. Flying Fish estimates
that 50%, 1.5 million pounds or $30 million of lobster will not
be caught by Honduras, mostly Bay Island's fishermen.
The area awarded to Nicaragua is one of the best grounds for fishing
lobster Honduras had, and 7,500 people live off the industry in
the country. "The problem will begin when in July the lobster
season starts," said Summerell.
180 Honduran boats have lobster catching licenses and while the
government has made suggestions that it would buy back some of the
lobster boats, this will not take place in 2008. Summerell predicts
conflict between boat captains over access to the best fishing sports,
and over-fishing of the remaining Honduran waters will be the result.
Fish Hawk, along with Mister Gibson, Shooting Star, Captain Thuhai
and Miss Yolani, all Guanaja owned boats, have been detained by
Nicaraguan authorities. So far only Captain Thuhai was released,
but release of Fish Hawk is expected within weeks.
of the territory divided between Honduras and Nicaragua.
International Court of Justice in Hague intervened and cut the
disputed maritime territory roughly in half. No one is happy.
But while the Nicaraguan government has already begun patrolling
its maritime territory awarded in Hague, Honduras has no military
presence in their area and fishermen feel left to their own devices.
Least happy in the situation might be owners of five Bay Islands
registered fishing vessels which were seized by the Nicaraguan
navy. The Honduran government didn't bother to tell its fishermen
that it gave up an option to challenge the Hague verdict, nor
to wait for the result of another dispute that Nicaragua has with
Columbia east of the 80th parallel. In March Nicaragua began issuing
fishing permits for the territory that Bay Islands fishermen used
On April 13, a 65' Honduran registered fishing vessel "Fish
Hawk" was stopped by the Nicaraguan Navy and towed to the
Nicaraguan port of Bluefields. The boat is worth $225,000 and
belongs to Flying Fish, a fish plant and exporter based on Roatan.
Dispute between the Vice Mayor and an American Business Person
accuses the Rosales of constructing a dock adjacent to his Half
Moon Bay parent's property and his place of residence without
permits. Stanley says that Municipal permits were filed only
after the dock was constructed. "These people have power,
they will find a vulnerable gringo and steal a piece of waterfront,"
writes Stanley in one of several statements posted on the chat
forum. Delzie Rosales has papers showing the permits and says
that she has the dock owner's permission to use the dock for
free. The dock actually belongs not to Rosales, but to Rene
Zeron, owner of Half Moon Bay Resort.
On May 21, the conflict hit a high note after a Half Moon Bay
dock-side confrontation. Stanley ended up spending a night in
Coxen Hole jail and both sides supplied their own witnesses
testifying that the other party made threatening statements
and gestures. "I reported the incident to the police, because
I didn't know what would happen next," said Delzie Rosales.
"This is the first time I had to deal with the police and
the judicial system."
All parties in the dispute have prior history of conflict in
West End. Stanley has had an ongoing property dispute with his
neighbor Rene Zeron, owner of Half Moon Bay Resort. Rosales,
on the other hand, had in 2001 filed criminal charges against
Gabriel Richard, an American co-owner of Captain Van's scooter
rentals. Richard agreed to leave Roatan in exchange for dropping
Stanley, who has been taking tourists on submarine excursions
since 1999 only obtained corporation papers and applied for
his residency in the last several months. His Roatan operating
license is pending and the Municipality has restricted Stanley
from operating for profit. Until May Stanley continued to take
tourists on submersible rides passing collected money to local
non-profits like Sol foundation, Marine Park and Nurse Peggy's
clinic. Stanley says that he raised $20,000 for the non-profits.
The case court hearing is scheduled for June 12.
Dock of Dispute.
flared as both Karl Stanley, an owner-operator of a West End
tourist submarine, and Delzie and Marcos Rosales, owners of
a local fishing charter and property rental business, traded
harsh words and filed criminal charges of death threats against
one another. The situation is further complicated as Delzie
Rosales, Roatan's vice-mayor and ZOLITUR security commission
president, filed charges against Stanley and Stanley filed charges
against Delzie's husband Marcos Rosales.
"Karl [Stanley] is holding me responsible for not receiving
his operating permit and he's taking it personal," said
Delzie Rosales. Delzie Rosales says that Stanley's problems
came to Municipality's attention a June 2007 West End town meeting
where Stanley admitted to collecting deepwater seashells. Stanley
argues that his seashell collecting doesn't need permitting:
"They [slit shells] are not rare, but access to them is
difficult. They are not in the [Roatan] Marine Park, nor are
they endangered, nor protected."
Look at Ways of Controlling Crime in a Booming Local Economy
of a Third World Country
meetings were organized and held by ZOLITUR on May 15 and May
22. A plan for improving security, crime prevention and improving
the overall tourist experience was proposed by Leo Torrez, one-time
homeland security advisor to President Ricardo Maduro.
Torrez proposed a high-tech security system where island companies
and resorts would pay to create an island-wide security personnel
of 60 "talk guides" trained in first aid and as island
tourist guides to work as a team in deterring crime. "We
are at a point where we don't need to create a system that is
as repressive as on the mainland, but we could do a system that
is preventive," said Torrez. "There is practically
a civil war on the mainland. We still have time to do something."
Several companies and individuals pledged to donate funds and
resources to the ZOLITUR security fund: Boyd Svoboda of G&S,
Marco Galindo of Gumbalimba Park and John Edwards of Parrot
Tree Plantation. According Ana Svoboda, the commission's vice-president,
all in all $111 thousand was pledged to the ZOLITUR security
commission presided by Delzie Rosales, Roatan vice mayor. "Recently
Roatan is awash with crime. There is a need for reform in the
police force," stated the commission.
May 15 meeting with Honduras' National Police General Mirna
Suazo and Zolitur board. "The children tell us that they
need parks and playgrounds," said Police General Mirna
a series of several public meetings both local police, local
government, ZOLITUR and national authorities have begun to tackle
the issues of crime, security and the looming tide of oncoming
crime that has kept up with the growth of the island. Authorities
expressed concern for the future of the tourism industry, the
archipelago's cash cow, which is particularly susceptible to
In a May 6 meeting Bay Islands Police Chief Julio Benitez presented
a proposal for investment in the preventive police on the archipelago.
Benitez requested funds that would develop infrastructure, buy
equipment and increase police personnel. Expanding Coxen Hole
police station, building a police station in Oak Ridge and increasing
the Preventiva police force from 110 to 200 officers were the
story / editorial
Others Know about Roatan's Water Potential than the Island's two
Water Drilling Companies
are a few differences between the ways the two island well drillers
operate on Roatan. Brown says that he doesn't set his pipe all the
way down as Hasbun does. This, according to Brown, prevents clogging
up the water intake filters, requiring expansive maintenance. Brown
is also concerned with Hasbun's hammer drill's vibrations that could
damage nearby telecom and pipe infrastructure.
"My equipment is old but it will still do the job," says
Brown. Brown's rotary drill, "failing" machine is slower,
but it does not cause as much vibration as faster hammer drills
used by his competitor.
The energy hungry Hasbun machine guzzles up between $100 and $150
of diesel a day. Asdrubal's price is almost twice what Brown charges
- $60 per foot drilled, including a 6-inch PVC pipe that by itself
can cost over $10 a foot.
"You get what you pay for," says Pastor Chuck Laird, from
Sonrise Calvary in Sandy Bay. Brown typically places a 6" PVC
pipe for only the first 40 feet of the drilling, then switches to
a 4" diameter drill and doesn't place a PVC pipe.
If the soil is solid, that does not matter, but in softer soils
this could mean Brown's well would collapse and would need to be
re-drilled. According to Pastor Laird, the two well drillers are
quite different and comparing them is like comparing apples and
oranges. "For small producing, personal wells I go with Henry
Brown. For commercial wells, I use Hasbun," says Laird, who
has used both drillers at this property in Sandy Bay and a community
well project in Colonia Policarpo Galindo.
Hasbun's deepest well to date was the Los Fuertes community well
that reached 400 feet. Hasbun says that the key to correctly using
the wells on the island is not to use them at full capacity. "No
one should use the well more than 15 hours a day and no more than
at 60% capacity," he says.
Neither Hasbun nor Brown see any substantial degradation of aquifers
on Roatan. They are experienced drillers and can find water 95%
of the time. Brown believes that some of the aquifers on the island
may be connected with the aquifers on the Honduran mainland - some
20 miles away. "The aquifer has lowered a bit, but that may
just depend on the rain season," says Hasbun as he sits under
the shade of a mango tree looking at his machine drill a well in
worker mans the hammer drill machine.
Brown, 76, is the resident well driller on Roatan. With a tired
look, strong hands and wrinkled face he keeps his office in a
trailer in French Harbour. With a weathered, 45-year-old trusted
machine he has been drilling wells on the island since 1975.
Brown comes from a family with five generations of work in the
drilling business. He is thinking about retiring and joining his
aging mother and a disable son in the States. Drilling can be
a dangerous business and Brown's son was injured on a drilling
When Brown first came to the island there were only three shallow
wells in the French Harbour area. He was attracted by the prospect
of teaching at a trade school on the island and has never left.
Using his tungsten carbide bit drilling machine Brown has been
drilling 12-15 wells a year on the island for over 30 years. His
deepest well was in First Bight and descended to 275 feet. His
costs are half of what his mainland competitor charges - $32 a
foot. "I have to live with people here," Brown explains
The only other well driller on the Bay Islands, Asdrubal Hasbun,
a drilling manager at the Inversiones Diversas, has been drilling
on Roatan since 1985, when APRODIB, a national non-profit, invited
the company to the island. His 40-ton machine uses a hammer drill
and can drill a well in one day.
A majority of the time Hasbun works on the mainland drilling wells
up to 1,000 feet deep and using a variety of pipes-from 4 to 22
inches in diameter. Hasbun brings in the machine and its three-man
crew to Roatan every time a list of eight to ten clients ready
to construct a well is made.