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Sprinting Towards Beijing by Thomas Tomczyk

The 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.

The 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.

In the calm waters of West Bay spectators and media wait for the begining of the swim portion of the race.

After 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 event.
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.

Angela Agnew, A triathlon photographer, get splashed by the men elite triathletes
Twenty 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.
2008 BI Triathlon winners
1. Van De Wyngard
2. Javier Rosas
3. Hernandez Carlos
4. Janour Jan
5. Berger Or
Mexico Slovakia Czech Rep. Israel

1. Riveros Diaz
2. Witinok-Huber Rebe
3. Tastets Pamela



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A Manchurian Candidate? by Thomas Tomczyk
Do voters really know who Barack Obama is, or
are they just wishfully thinking whom they would want him to be?

Barak 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 Muslims.
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 at sunset."
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 candidates.
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.

If 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 history.
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 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.
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King Solomon's Court

A 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.

Nine 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.

Map of the territory divided between Honduras and Nicaragua.

O 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 since 1960s.
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.

Out of Control
A Dispute between the Vice Mayor and an American Business Person Turns Ugly

Stanley 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 the charges.
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.
The Dock of Dispute.
Tempers 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."
Looking at Security
Authorities Look at Ways of Controlling Crime in a Booming Local Economy of a Third World Country

ther 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.
A 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 Suazo.
In 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 crime spikes.
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 main items.
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The Island Drillers

Few Others Know about Roatan's Water Potential than the Island's two Water Drilling Companies

There 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 Dixon Cove.

A worker mans the hammer drill machine.

Henry 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 job.
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 his attitude.
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.

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