story / editorial
of a Changing Island
by William Lewis
Article was originally published in 1986 in "Islands Magazine"
under the title "Roatan- Heart of the Bay Islands."
Lewis, Ph.D. is a writer and a primitivist painter who since 1970
has lived in Honduras. He lives in Tela and Santa Lucia. He first
came to Honduras as a Fulbright scholar.
A dory off Punta Gorga
abound on Roatan. They are, like the sea that sustains the
island, both a nutrient and an inspiration--a fusion of
folkloric wisdom distilled from the eight separate cultures
that have fought and flourished here during the past 400
years: Payan Indian, Spanish, English, Garifuna, Afro-Antillean,
Anglo-Antillean, Spanish Honduran and, most recently, North
American. All islanders, it seems, regardless of their ancestral
origins, tell tales of duppies (evil spirits), yaba ding
dings (pre-Columbian artifacts) and pirate treasures still
buried on Roatan. Garifuna (black Carib) seamen describe
the magic of dreams-men like 75-year-old Benito Gotay Caballero,
who has fashioned more than 150 hardwood dories by hand,
each one inspired by a vision. "Dreams," he told
me, "are a gift; they are like bright stars. No man
can navigate without them."
Our dory pushed off the quay at Oak Ridge before dawn, bound
for Port Royal. The bay was silent save for the sputtering
of the Briggs and Stratton 16-horse inboard that propelled
10 of us past the white, monolithic hulls of the shrimp
fleet at anchor. By mid-June the shrimp and lobster season
would begin again, and these vessels, along with many others,
would leave Oak Ridge and head for Serrana and Quito Sueno,
better known as "the banks."
Four of the passengers in our weathered 32-foot mahogany
dory were Garifuna fishermen from Punta Gorda, who sat in
the bow, chatting and joking in their native dialect. Behind
them, a middle-aged ladino from Barrio La Fuerte sat beside
his plump and pregnant wife, who shielded her face from
sea spray with a piece of clear plastic, She smiled shyly,
saying, "I don't want to get wet." Her husband
told me that he was going to Port Royal to work on a building
project for gringos. He later added that greater numbers
of mainland Hondurans were going to the islands to seek
a better life. I found myself wondering if escalating military
activity and political tensions on the mainland might not
be the reason.
The teenage skipper of our vessel, a muscular Creole (Afro-Antillean)
from nearby Calabash Bight, was seated in the stern on sacks
filled with mainland produce-lettuce, cabbage, carrots,
beans and coffee. He opened the throttle a notch, then spoke
to an old man seated beside him: "Dere be pleny a breeze
in de wind's eye today, mon ... but dat sun, when she jump
up, she gonna be hot."
"No matta, boy," the old-timer retorted, "I
know you gonna be sittin in de shade when de woikin starts,
cause you surely was blocked-up [drunk] last night."
"Hah, no way, mon. By noontime, dis dory be full a
Trade winds from the southeast stirred palm fronds on the
hillside above Pandytown as we passed and waved at the mail
boat headed east. Along the docks that framed the bay, powerboats
and yachts lay silent at their moorings beside rust-gutted
oil drums and wooden crates. A scrawny mongrel yipped at
us from the dock as we entered a shallow, winding channel
cut through mangrove and outcroppings of flint gray ironshore.
Beyond the channel, the water was clear and I saw clumps
of turtle grass and coralline algae against the sandy white
bottom. Beside me, Henry Genthe, a marine biologist and
photographer on Roatan--and my guide to the island--pointed
eastward to a spreading veil of light upon the water. His
camera was poised, as the sun slowly bulged against the
Approximately 400 miles to the north-east of Honduras's
north coast, near the Cayman Islands, a colossal crack runs
along the floor of the sea. Lava from the earth's mantle
upwells through this crack, forming the Caribbean plate.
As the plate pushes south and west, it buckles, creating
the Bonacca Ridge upon which "ride" six small
islands and more than 60 separate cays, known collectively
as Las Islas de la Bahia, the Bay Islands. Roatan, 30 miles
long and 4 miles wide, dominates the chain in size, followed
by Guanaja and Utila. The other three islands--Helene, Barbaret
and Morat--are tiny by comparison; they are, in fact, detached
parts of Roatan, surrounded by reefs interlaced with narrow,
Uplifted by thrust faulting to summits of nearly 1,000 feet,
Roatan slopes gently on its southern side and more sharply
on the north. The igneous and metamorphic rock that makes
up the island has been eroded into sloping hills and valleys,
broken by extrusions of solid rock. Resting on the ridge,
the island becomes a discontinuous extension of the mainland
Sierra de Omoa.
Vegetation on the island is dense. Thick stands of Caribbean
slash pine and oak line the central ridge, jutting up through
chunks of white quartz and tall grasses. At the lower elevations,
deciduous hardwoods are covered with lianas and epiphytic
bromeliads, orchids and philodendrons, creating patches
of impenetrable forest. Fruit trees bloom throughout the
island: zapote, hog plums, cherimoya, cashew, mango, guava
and breadfruit. On the southern slopes and along the road
from Coxen's Hole to Oak Ridge, thorn scrub forests grow
side by side with small oaks and dense clusters of "cuttin
grass." Near the waterline on both shores, coconut
palms, sea grape, coco plum and creeping morning glory stabilize
Horse hides in the shade of a palm tree on Saint Helene
southern shoreline, along which we passed, meanders erratically
through 12 natural harbors fronted by 20 coral and mangrove cays
and numerous reefs. Horse Shoe Reef at Port Royal is typical--a
solid mass of storm-broken coral fused with calcareous red algae
and covered, in places, with gardens of living coral.
We continued eastward, into the wind, as Genthe pointed out tiny
inlets lined with coconut palms and sporadically dotted with small
houses of wild cane and thatch built on pilings above the water.
Except for two inland ladino towns--Juticalpa and Corozco--people
(white, black and brown) have settled exclusively on the coast,
where breezes from "the trades" provide natural air-conditioning.
Since Roatan is situated in an east-southeast arc, there are no
truly windward or leeward shores, so both sides of the island
experience onshore winds during some months of the year. Staying
cool is but one reason for elevated homes; the other is to escape
the plague of mosquitos and other insects, most notably the jejenes.
"We sometimes call them no-see-ums," Genthe said. "They
breed in the wet sand an inch below the surface. Mosquitos will
give you a break now and then, but these critters bite 24 hours
A blue and yellow angelfish swam into view, then quickly disappeared
within the spires of elkhorn coral. "These reefs," Genthe
enthused, his eyes on the water, "have spawned some of the
richest and most varied sea life in the Caribbean--more than 50
species of coral and infinite varieties of tropical fish and plants."
For the past four years, Genthe has escorted groups of student
naturalists here from the states to study marine biology and to
learn to scuba dive. "There's no better diving in this hemisphere,"
he assured me, then added: "I've seen a lot of `tropical
paradises.' Roatan is in a class by itself. Basically, it's still
the 18 states that comprise Honduras, only one--the Bay Islands--is
detached from the mainland. As a result, this tiny state is
like a separate country, historically rooted to a heritage
more British than Spanish, which has left its imprint on language
as well as attitude. During the Falkland Islands war, Bay
Island sentiment clearly rested with Britain. Most islanders
still refer to mainland Hondurans as "Spaniards,"
with an air that reflects not only indifference but, at times,
clear and unabashed distrust. As Mrs. L. Starry, an 80-year-old
resident of Oak Ridge, explained, "It's not blood or
boundaries that hold people together, luv; it's language."
[In early 1980s] fewer than 15 percent of the 18,000 inhabitants
of the Bay Islands are ladinos. The majority are Creole blacks--descendants
of Cayman Island slaves who came to Roatan in the 1830s to
found and settle Coxen's Hole and the other coastal towns.
Not until 1859, with the support of the United States and
its Monroe Doctrine, was Honduras able to gain control of
the islands the British had called "the Keys to the Spanish
Psychologically and culturally, the "keys" have
never changed hands. The reason is obvious. Honduras has paid
little attention to the islands, leaving them to evolve on
The sun blazed above Port Royal through a haze of clouds.
I sat beside Lee Matute, a Creole native of Roatan, on the
porch of Henry Genthe's beach house. Across from us, Genthe
reclined in a hammock, cleaning his camera lenses. For the
past two days, the two of us had been touring Port Royal in
Mr. Lee's dory, which was now tied at the dock in front of
the house. Genthe and 72-year-old Mr. Lee were longtime friends
and had shared more than one Port Royal adventure.
"I brought you here for two reasons," Genthe said
to me matter-of-factly, "to know Port Royal and to know
Mr. Lee chuckled, holding up the line he was rigging to better
examine it. I watched his fingers; they were long, slightly
arthritic, strong. He caught my eye and grinned. "Goin
fishin today, mon!" he said jovially. He was hurrying
so that he could fish the reef off Lime Key before it got
too hot. At Genthe's request, he had consented to take us
to the island of Helene to meet his family. But fishing came
first. "Yes sir, mon," he declared, securing the
last hook, "Dem Port Royal grunt [fish] be bitin good
We pushed from the dock at Port Royal in the early afternoon,
bound for Helene. Again, we moved slowly eastward, just outside
the reef, and Genthe pointed out scattered homes along the
hillsides, most of them owned by North Americans. The tangled
shoreline of Careening Key was visible behind the wreck of
Rambler, a decaying, storm-battered hulk that teetered on
the sandbar at the edge of the bay. Mr. Lee sat at the tiller,
a smile on his face, a sack of fish at his feet.
Lee Matute's house was built on the cove in the center of
a large family compound not 30 feet from the water. Within
minutes of our arrival, many of his children and grandchildren
had shown up to welcome us. Leonara, Lee's wife of 47 years,
told us at once that another healthy grandchild (their sixty-first!)
had been born earlier that morning and named after his grandfather.
Mr. Lee insisted that his family was small. His great-grandmother,
he said, had a "large" family--175 great-grandchildren!
In many respects, Lee Matute epitomizes the Creole islander.
Living off the sea and a few small plantation crops, he works
hard to support his family. He raises pigs and chickens and,
at times, hires out as a laborer for North Americans who,
in recent years, have begun to settle Port Royal and the outlying
areas. Unlike many of the foreigners, however (whose connection
to the island is often tentative), Mr. Lee and his people
belong here; their bond to Roatan is visceral, immutable,
linked by blood to a rich maritime-island tradition.
While Leonara and three of her daughters busied themselves
with cooking, Mr. Lee took us around the island to meet others
in his family--more sons and daughters and scores of eager-eyed
grandchildren, whose reverence and love for this gregarious
old patriarch was warmly expressed. He showed us the boat
he was building, his pride and joy, a vessel that has been
three years in the making. "Pleny good size, mon,"
he said, "haul maybe 15,000 coconuts. ... She soon be
in de water!"
After Leonara's dinner--fish fried crisp in coconut oil with
beans, plantain, coffee and pineapple cake--we went looking
for Mr. Lee's friend, Sam, who had promised to take us to
the interior of the island for a look at a pre-Columbian site.
A short time later, we were on our way, using machetes to
cut a trail as we climbed over jutting blocks of iron shore
into a cool, high canyon overgrown with vines and wild orchids.
Sam was visibly excited as we reached the top of the ravine
and came upon the site--a wide circuitous plateau extending
more than 100 feet and covered with hundreds of bone white
conch shells. Sam told us that kids from the far side of the
island had found the site and dug some small jadeite carvings
and pottery shards from beneath the shells, but that few people
on the island knew the place. Too exhausted from our climb
to dig, we rested for a while, then started back down the
"Why did the Payans drag those shells all the way up
there from the beach?" Genthe wondered aloud.
Mr. Lee shrugged. "I don know, mon ... but I used to
take my girlfriend up dere, long time ago ... Got her away
from her mama before de roosters crow. ... Boy, boy!"
That night, Genthe and I joined Mr. Lee on the porch. Leonara
served us coffee and cake, and we heard music coming from
a portable radio someplace down the beach. There was a full
moon and its light cast a brilliant sheen across the cove,
illuminating the island of Barbaret, about two miles distant.
I watched two of Mr. Lee's sons rolling up a large net, which
they stuffed in the head of their dory. The old man was talking
about his youth days when he boxed as a young middleweight
in port towns along the mainland; days when the sea turtle
was abundant and sailing from Helene to Trujillo and back
in just 10 hours was a matter of routine. His new boat had
clearly inspired him. He said now that he could go to sea
again and fish for conch and lobster. "Yeah boy,"
he repeated, "she soon be in de water!"
At my prompting, he described voyages he once made to Belize
and Nicaragua, from the Gulf of Honduras to the Cayman Islands,
and he remembered his mates--"Sponish," Waika (Miskito
Indian) and Jamaican--unified by the sea. "De sea is
every mon's country," he said, "She got but one
I asked him about duppies. "Duppies, mon!" he snorted,
with a grin. "Why duppies ain't nothing but de devil;
never bother you if you live right, by de rules." Lee
laughed aloud. "Never hit a frog with a yucca stick,
cause dat frog chase you till he dies!"
Genthe said good night and entered the house while Lee and
I remained, watching the light upon the water. I looked at
Lee's arms; they were still lean and well-muscled, capable
of quickness and agility. Even in old age he was vital and
rugged. But there was a seasoned gentleness about him, too,
a serenity that comes only with generations of time.
He asked suddenly, sitting upright in the hammock, if I believed
there was ever a man on the moon.
I told him there was and mentioned the Apollo space flight.
He grinned, looking up at the moon. "I don think so,
mon," he said, almost apologetically. "Dat be in
de hands of de Lord. I think dat de Lord made de moon to light
up de night, just like he made de sun to light up de daytime.
Well mon, listen to me good: if de Lord can do dat, he surely
can put a man on de moon if he want one up dere."
On impulse, I asked if he'd like to go to the moon. "Boy!
Boy!" he chortled. "You must be crazy... I'm an
island mon. I stay right here. Dis be pleny fine place for
Mr. Lee on his Porch in 2008.
story / editorial
/ local news
Honduran Gringo by Thomas Tomczyk
of William Lewis, AKA Guillermo Yuscaran
1966, at the age of 27 Guillermo wrote a 212 page dissertation and
received his PhD in Hispanic Studies at UC Santa Barbara. He soon
realized "that academic the thing wasn't for me." At 32,
he answered a wanted ad: 'Teachers wanted in Tegucigalpa,' in the
"Saturday Review of Literature." He travelled by a Norwegian
freighter to Panama and then on to Tegucigalpa.
Honduras' capital Lewis and his young American wife taught grade
7 to 9 Social Studies at the American school. Lewis started freelancing,
writing stories about Honduras for "Readers Digest," and
his first fiction stories. "You've got to trust the rightness
of what happens to you, even if it's bad. That's when it gets tough,"
In the 1980s, he met Velasquez, a well known primitivism Honduran
painter, by knocking on the door of the painter's Tegucigalpa home.
"He had a congenital hair lip and kind of a cleft palate. So
I figured that was the reason that no one ever wrote about him,"
said Lewis, who wrote an article about the artist and soon found
himself being his official biographer writing books that now define
this Honduran artist.
Guillermo uses art as a tool in his self analysis. Dogs, snakes,
moons, fish and doves: Guillermo's canvases are a true Jungian workshop.
The artist has been painting images and feelings from his dreams
for years. "Dreams are a source of imagery, symbols; it's a
tool for keeping my life on track," says Guillermo. "Over
the years I've been familiar with what comes out of my unconscious
and how it applies to my life."
He prefers working in the mornings, writing or painting, but once
he gets inspired he works around the clock, for two or three days.
"When I get off base I really get into my dreams." The
painter often uses a tape recorder to describe his dreams the moment
he becomes aware of them. "I just bury the dream into the recorder
and try to stay asleep. It's almost like watching a movie,"
says Lewis sitting in his studio surrounded by colorful canvases.
at his art studio in Tela.
recognize Guillermo, 69, on almost every Tela street. When he walks
into a restaurant people smile. He divides his life between Santa
Lucia and Tela, where his young son attends school and his wife
studies at University.
Everywhere he goes, wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, a Hawaii shirt,
shorts and sandals, he is a recognizable and welcome visitor. A
poet, writer of fiction and biographies, and a painter, Lewis has
spent twenty plus years in the city of Tela documenting the landscapes
and human characters through what he calls "metaphysical music."
Lewis is a Californian who moved south, first to Venezuela, then
to Honduras. "I'm just a writer. I write about Honduras, but
I am a Gringo," says Lewis, who's other two sons: Jebney and
Greg live in US.
"The nexus of my own work down here is identity, without realizing
it. Here I am Bernard Lewis, my given name, and I am Guillermo Yuscaran.
Its like two countries, two identities, two names," says Lewis
whose mother was half Iranian, and whose father was a Welsh-Irish
emigrant to the US. "I am a soup of identity," he says
to describe himself.
underutilized resource fades away
The Roatan Municipality is paying the operational costs of
the library, but doing little else. The damage from the recent
7.1 earthquake is visible in cracked walls. The ample spaces
designated as a children's library and a driver's education
center are closed and filled with junk.
Joanne Dixon, the head librarian, says that sometime no one
shows at the library during the entire day. Other times there
can be as many as 16 people, mostly students whose teachers
require them to do assignments using library books.
"If you pick up this library and put it in Coxen Hole
maybe it would work [and attract more readers]," says
Dixon, who believes that the French Harbour location just
isn't urban enough to attract readers. Of the approximately
130 people that have current library memberships half are
children and the other half are expats. "Not a single
[adult] islander ever came to the library," says Dixon.
According to Dixon the books in highest demand are books in
Spanish - novels, dictionaries and history books. Three years
ago Dixon was responsible for cleaning the library, but when
the position of a head librarian opened, Dixon got the job.
library visitors from French Harbour public school in the main
the Jarred Hynds Community Center Library opened its doors
in January 2006, it was to be the center for the culture and
education on the island. More than three years later the building
sees little regular use.
The two-story, 6,500 square foot bright yellow library building
was constructed with Municipal funds thanks to the relentless
efforts of Catherine McCabe, an American retiree who lived
on Roatan at the time.
on the Rise
Swine Flu Pandemic Claims the Life of a Roatan Doctor
Roatan doctor working at the AKR clinic has become the sixth
victim in Honduras of the H1N1 virus. Dr. Delia Vallecillo,
an AKR Clinic Doctor, was seven months pregnant when she contracted
the influenza. In a Tegucigalpa hospital her baby was saved
in a C-section procedure, but Dr. Vallecido died. It is not
known where and how Dr. Vallecillo became infected with the
H1N1 flue, but it is understood that her pregnancy made her
especially susceptible to H1N1 and would have complicated
According to Dr. Janice Louie, MD, an infectious diseases
specialist who volunteers at Clinical Esperanza, H1N1 is especially
dangerous to people suffering from diabetes, asthma, cancer,
the very young, very old, and pregnant women. Patients in
their 20s, 30s and 40s also are susceptible to the flu, but
tend to "do better and get through the flu." Dr.
Louie contributed to the study of susceptibility in pregnant
women to the H1N1 virus published in July issue of British
medical journal "The Lancet."
The H1N1 flu is spread by cough droplets, by bacteria that
can survive for several minutes on hands, doorknobs, etc.
According to Dr. Louie, 97% of H1N1 patients suffer a fever
of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Other symptoms of H1N1
sufferers include headache, stomach ache, and diarrhea.
According to Dr. Louie, in early July, 25% of all patients
walking in for consultation at Clinica Esperanza exhibited
flu-like symptoms. Some of these patients were H1N1 flu carriers,
but for 95% of H1N1 sufferers, the flu is a mild, transient
illness. Only occasionally the patients are referred to AKR
or the Roatan Public Hospital. Only these two places have
Tamiflu, the drug that is known to fight H1N1.
Roatan Hospital offers the H1N1 rapid screening test, but
proper testing for the H1N is expensive (in the US it's around
$300) and the closest testing facility is currently in Tegucigalpa.
Because it takes at least four days to get tested, most people
are evaluated for symptoms and advised to "rest, drink
a lot of fluids" and let the body fight off the flu infection.
On June 11, the World Health Organization declared H1N1 a
phase 6 pandemic, marking the first declared global pandemic
since the 1968 Hong Kong flu. In Honduras, the first case
of influenza was confirmed on May 21, and the first death
due to the flu was recorded on June 22. According to Honduras'
Ministry of Health, by early July, six people had died so
far from the H1N1 virus, and over 230 have been diagnosed
to have H1N1 virus.
There are also high risk areas that are particularly susceptible
to H1N1 bacteria presence. These areas include places with
large numbers of people and places that sick people are likely
to frequent. People working in high traffic areas are more
susceptible to infections with the flu and employees working
at the Galaxy Wave terminal and on the boat have been wearing
masks for months.
The annual flu season is due to begin in the fall, and the
rainy season is likely to create an additional challenge to
medical staff on the island.
two years of construction, Megaplaza Mall opens in French
The rental spaces vary from 50 square meters up to 350 square
meters. The biggest retailers will be Carrion Store, Lady
Lee, Applebee's, and Supermercado Mega.
Ing. Jorge Hullinghorst, general manager of the Roatan Megaplaza
Mall, estimates that the cost of constructing the mall will
be somewhere around Lps. 200 million, or $10.5 million. The
rental prices for stores vary between $10 and $15 a square
meter per month, much lower then mall rental prices in San
Pedro (up to $45 a square meter), or Tegucigalpa (up to $35
a square meter). According to Hullinghorst the Roatan rental
prices were adjusted due to the economic downturn on the islands
and motivation to fill in the rental spaces as soon as possible.
The mall was started in October 2008 and originally scheduled
for opening in October 2009. In the end the mall construction
is expected to be complete around 24 months after it began,
and the official opening is scheduled for business on September
Copreco, the multinational company that won the bid for construction
of the mall was employing up to 300 people during peak construction.
According to Hullinghorst Copreco has used around 40% of labor
from Guatemala. "They won the bid and needed to keep
their cost low," Hullinghorst explained the strategy
of importing foreign workers to Honduras and Roatan.
worker finishes work in front of Appleby's restaurant.
largest mall constructed to date in the Bay Islands is about
to open. Several businesses that rent space at the mall already
opened in early August- the first international fast food
burger joint on the island, Wendy's, a local ice cream maker,
Cream of the Trop, another bank, Banco Continental, and a
cell phone company, Claro. At the end of August of the 62
rental places at the mall had, all but eight have been rented:
6 restaurant and two shop spaces.
story / editorial
Bulletproof Business in a Down Economy is Booming
able to tell the quality of gold is important in my work,"
says Alexander, "and I draw on the many years of experience
behind me." The shop occasionally deals with customers trying
to sell or pawn imitation gold as the real thing, says Alexander,
who uses chemical tests to test that gold is genuine.
shops, or 'Casas de Empeño,' lend money at high rates - up
to 2% compounded daily - based on the value of goods that are 'pawned',
or left with the shop as a kind of collateral. Hannoh Ebanks, owner
of a Coxen Hole pawn shop explains, "We accept tools, electronic
gear and other valuables as collateral, but the vast majority of
pawned items are gold."
Gold, the staple of pawnshops, is valued on a per gram basis by
the shops, which then offer loans at approximately 15% of the value.
Customers pay interest at set periods varying from every week to
every two months, depending on the shops they deal with, with some
shops imposing limits on how long goods will be held.
Some customers understand the high cost of loans, but have few other
choices. "I gave the ring to my wife many years ago, she keeps
it in a box and doesn't know I'm here pawning it," says a pawn
shop customer from Los Fuertes about pawning a gold ring handed
down from his mother. "I only do it because we're under such
The ring was valued at $400 and has secured a loan of $60 for the
man, who knows he is paying a high interest but feels he has no
other choice. With interest calculated daily, in just one month
the man will owe almost $50 in interest, an effective rate of over
40%. To maintain the loan for a year is likely to cost over $500.
It's no surprise then that many customers are unable to make payments
and reclaim their pawned items. According to Ebanks 60% of customers
never come back for their property. In many cases pawn shops sell
gold items in bulk to trading partners on the mainland, where demand
and price is higher.
Pawning is a growing business, and Calix estimates that business
has risen by as much as 20% since last July, with the family opening
a second shop in Coxen Hole in November in order to store the increasing
numbers of pawned goods. "People need money in times of stress,
and we provide a service which gives people more options,"
Coxen Hole Pawn Shop 'Inversiones #1'
Calix spends nine hours a day behind bars, but he's committed no
crime. Instead he's working in a family business that's booming
not despite of the recession, but because of it. The Calix family
pawnshop in Coxen Hole, Inversiones Dinero Urgente, is their first
on the island after several on the mainland, and takes its security
While most Roatan pawn shops have an open, walk-in feel with goods
for sale openly on display, customers talk with Calix through an
imposing cage of bars flanked by a securely padlocked iron door.
Calix puts the precaution of the cage down to the family's experience
on the mainland. "We've never had any trouble here, people
are relaxed. But in our mainland stores people have been assaulted,
so we take care of ourselves with the cage."
Another pawn is located in a crowded area of Coxen Hole, nestled
in the strip shops of 'the Mercado,' doubling as a watch repair
shop since its establishment in 2000, "Taller Joyeria"
specializes exclusively in gold items as collateral for loans. Of
the many items that become the property of the shop when borrowers
default on payments, Manager Alexander Contrera says most are shipped
to San Pedro to be melted and turned into new gold items.