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'Our island' a Bonacca Perspective by Alfonso Ebanks

Charter City

The whole idea here is to create an environment within the new city which will attract foreign investors who otherwise would not invest in the host country due to political instability or other unfavorable social factors. This new city will be completely autonomous so that the charter city's investors will be governed by the rules of the city, not by the laws of the host country. This city will appoint its own authorities, police force and other civil servants.

The approximate size of the piece of land required for this purpose is around 1,000 square kilometers, which enables the city to build an international sized airport, power plants for electricity generation and waterworks installations for the whole city. Within the city there will be hospitals, schools, commissaries, green areas and housing for all its workers.

The monies to operate the city and maintain the infrastructure will be derived from the renting of the land, because even though the investors will be able to build the buildings they need for their operations, they will never be able to own the land that they build upon.

The main point that convinced the Congressmen to approve this project was the idea that the Charter City would seek the workers they will need from among the thousands of unemployed Hondurans. However, Congressmen overlooked the fact that the city is in no way obligated to hire their workers from this country, especially when more qualified workers than this country can produce are needed. This of course will depend on the kind of manufacturing plants and other job sources they eventually build.

The Charter City project could be a great thing for this country; but it could also be a source for resentment and prejudice by those not directly reaping the benefits from such a grand endeavor.

The people of this country-and especially the powers that be-have for many years been overly conservative in their attitudes towards change. The Honduran National Congress and its publicly elected members have always striven to maintain the status quo. Congress members have over the decades rejected any proposed investment that could possibly make a positive change in the lives of the people they supposedly represent.

This resistance to change has not only been a disease of the politicians but also of the local businessmen who for some reason see change as a threat to their commercial enterprises. Well, change is upon us; it is no longer a wait and see proposition. During the past few weeks Congress has been busy making changes in the way it conducts business as well as changes to the country's constitution, which is supposed to allow the populace to directly decide its future through referendums and plebiscites.

Recently Congress members have voted almost unanimously to allow foreign investors to create a Charter City on Honduran soil. Most of us have never heard of charter cities, and most of those who have heard about it do not seem to understand exactly what it's all about.

Here's some information which may be useful to those of us who are not too sure what the National Congress has approved for the benefit of us Hondurans. A Charter City is a city-scale special zone that can take many forms. The three most common requirements are that: (1) the host country is to provide an uninhabited piece of land for the creation of the city; (2) the source country or countries are to provide the residents; (3) a country or countries as guarantor is to insure that the city's charter is respected.

The Island Know How

To make a barren tree bear fruit, the tree must be whipped with a metal chain on the first rays of sunlight on the 24th of June (Saint John's day)?
To make a barren lime tree bear, you must place a coral reef rock in the lowest crutch (forked branch)?
To make a barren papaya tree bear fruit, you must pound a rusty metal file into the trunk of the tree using a wooden mallet?
To rid a room of table flies you must hang a transparent plastic bag filled with water in the exact center of the room?
If you ever lift your hand in anger towards your mother, that hand will wither and dry up?
Sleeping in moonlight can cause facial paralysis?
Peeling an onion will ruin the cutting edge of the knife used?
When you catch cold you cannot shave or cut your hair until it goes away?
If you extract a tooth you cannot have sex until your gums are healed?
The container from which you drink a purgative (laxative) must be turned upside down or the medication will not work?
If you take a purge and the medication works you cannot take a shower for three days afterwards?
If someone with intestinal parasites looks at beaten egg whites, the eggs will fall (deflate)?
Some people have such strong vision that they can curdle milk with their eyes?
If you visit a newborn baby you must hold the child in your arms if the baby is to avoid the effects of the evil eye you may have?
For severe back pain you must get a first-time pregnant girl to massage your illness away?
For a sprained wrist to mend you must bind it with the elastic from the panties of a virgin?
Many more of these beliefs exist, and even more outrageous than these.
Instead of banning the operation of soothsayers and the like, maybe our politicians should begin with trying to educate the public. After all, as long as people think the way they do in this country, there will always be work for fortune tellers and such.
What fertile ground for those famous TV persons, "The Myth Busters."

On the twentieth of October 2010, Mr. Africo Madrid (Ministro de Gobernacion) informed the public of a new law that bans the operation of soothsayers, witches and fortune tellers operating in this country. Can you imagine a government banning witches in this day and age?

A few days later the governor of the department of Atlantida went on television and forbade the celebration of Halloween, stating that it was not part of the Honduran culture and therefore should not be celebrated in this country.
I have a question for the governor. Did you know that more than eighty percent of all the citizens of Honduras believe in witchcraft? This may seem a little exaggerated to many of us, considering the time in which we find ourselves; but nevertheless, it's true. Many other beliefs and practices, some associated with witchcraft and some not, are as prevalent as they are far-fetched. Let's take a look at a few of them:

Did you know that …
Witches are more powerful on Fridays?
To ward of spells on Fridays you must wear your underwear wrong side out?
Discarded nail clippings, hair left on the floor after a haircut and especially a discarded tooth are powerful tools that can be used to cast evil spells on the original owner?
Ordinary table salt, if used with malice, can bring bad luck?
The hot froth (foam) expelled from the unlit end of a burning piece of firewood can cure bed wetting when applied directly to the navel of the bed-wetter?
If you cut lettuce with a metal knife the unused portion will become bitter?

Young Men out to Sea

Education was not so very important in those days, but instead it was person's natural ability and intelligence that counted. From the hordes of able body seamen that went to sea from this island, dozens of them became captains, mates and chief engineers of large shipping concerns in the USA.

In the 1960s, with the discovery of shrimp banks off the east coast of Honduras, all this changed. Everybody was getting into the fishing business and some people did very well. Shrimping provided an opportunity for young men to stay home and operate the family fishing boats.

Over the last 35 or 40 years many fortunes were made and lost and now we are almost back to square one. With the fishing industry "on the way out," money is scarce and our young men are faced with the same predicament as their grandfathers faced, live from hand to mouth, or ship out.

Shipping out these days is not as easy as it was back then, now there are governments involved in these things, and a person needs beaucoup money to acquire all the paper work that is now needed to work on ships.

Almost all of our young men are graduating from school and returning home to a life that offers few opportunities. A lot of these boys immediately begin taking courses that will help them prepare the paper work they'll need to get jobs in the offshore oil fields of the world.

Some of them end up in the USA, some in Mexico, others in Africa and the oil rich nations of the Persian Gulf. The money is as great as the distance from their families. Still, there are no other choices. It's back to the sea for the young men of Bonacco.

In the middle of the twentieth century almost all island boys had but one dream and that was to ship out. In those days our school system on the island of Bonacco only went to the 6th grade and most of the boys tried to finish it before looking for jobs. Others, however, left school and went to sea as young as 14 years old.

This early-to-work trend continued for two or three decades, with older boys opting for merchant marine service in the 1940s and then for international shipping after the war, others worked the banana boats that sailed from ports along the Central American coast that ended up with their cargoes in the USA.
The youth in those days had no alternatives as it was either go to sea, or live in poverty.

I remember well that every Thursday morning the M/V Kern would arrive at the Municipal dock bringing mail, groceries, beer and soda. The boat's captain/owner did double duty as our banker as well.

On the boat's arrival day, the whole town would gather around the mail office hoping that their father, brother or son had remembered to send the family a little money. There was never much money coming in because the salaries on those boats were very low. On a banana boat a body could earn anywhere from 60 to 125 dollars a month depending on your position, the captains and chiefs earned more.

A Bonacca Rail Company

A train could pull two or three cars and the railroad could have stops along the way including picnic areas in the mountains, there could be restaurant stops, rest stops, picture taking stops and any other kind of stops that tourist might like. To start, the tourist would come from the island of Roatan; we could fly them in the morning, take their money and fly them out in the afternoon. Just in time to get back on their cruise ship.

One day we may have our own cruise ships coming into the harbor and the railroad would be the main attraction. I don't know of anyplace in the world that attracts tourist with highways and cars, but now a narrow gauge railroad that would be a terrific attraction, because there are millions of people that have never ever been on a real train.

With a single train operation, accidents would be very few and far apart; the same thing cannot be said for automobiles. In Honduras, every six hours a person is killed in or by a car. We could have stations in the main settlements and in areas with population that live outside of the settlements, we could actually build cabins in the mountains and the transportation would be provided by the Bonnaco Express. We will have to build 15 or 20 miles of track, depending on how far down the south coast we plan to come; we would have to purchase an engine and at least two cars with observation canopies. The engine would be diesel driven but with a façade of old steam engines of years gone by.

The cost of laying a railroad without the cost of the land is around a hundred dollars a foot, so it will take from ten to 15 million dollars.

On a Sunday afternoon not too many months ago, I was a witness to an argument that was being carried on by the patrons of a popular foreign restaurant on the island of Guanaja. The argument was about the proposed highway on this island. There were those that argued that the very last thing we needed on this island are cars and there were those that believed that it would promote tourism and in so doing would help the economy of the island.

As the argument was going no where, someone in an attempt to distract the arguers jokingly said: "if you people don't want cars then get a train!" everybody laughed and the argument was over.

I did not give the argument much thought after that, but later, when I was alone, the idea of getting a train came back to mind. The more I thought about the idea the less absurd it sounded and a notion was born.

A highway for cars would cause a lot of damage to the land, hills would have to be leveled, hollows filled in and rivers dammed up and there is a great possibility that with our seasonal rains and our vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes the proposed road could be washed in the sea, creating even more damage by destroying our only claim to fame, our reefs.

On the other hand, train tracks are easier to build and would not cause too much damage to our beloved island. A train track would require less than half width of that needed by a road for automobiles. It would need less leveling and no asphalt pavement, the rails and the ties would help prevent the erosion of the land because vegetation would soon fill in the spaces between the ties. When the railroad construction reaches to where there would be a river, a simple bridge or trestle would be built and the river would continue to flow. The shoulders required by a railroad are less that those required for a highway and this would prevent people from squatting by the side of the road.

Tournament in the Shadow of the Storm

It appears to me that October is a bad month for deep sea fishing events because it is when the cold fronts start coming of the gulf coast heading for our latitudes. The organizers are now consulting the people at IGFA to select another date for the event next year that would not coincide with any other qualifying event scheduled in the Caribbean.

Guanaja Island, while well protected, has one very vulnerable point: winds from the Southwest are very damaging because the sea rises to great heights in the harbor as there is no protection for the Bonacca town when the wind and sea come from that direction.

With a northerly drift of about one tenth of a degree every three to four hours we were sure that we would get the full impact of the storm. We had only one salvation: for the storm to pass us on the north side of the island, this was important because the heavy winds of the storm was hanging to the NW and NE quadrants and extending out around 90 miles while to the south the winds extended out only a few miles from the center.

With only about 60 or 70 miles to go we accepted the fact that is was headed straight for the island, we boarded up the south and west side of some of the buildings a got ready for the blow. While watching the computer screen I mentioned that if only it would pull a little further to the Northwest we would be spared a lot of wind.

As we waited for another update the talk went on about the last storm that had passed us on the south side and we were all surprised when the update came in saying that the storm had changed its course and was now heading WNW, with some quick calculations we determined that it would be close but on the present course it would pass us on the north side of the island. We got some wind from the Northwest then the West and then from the Southwest, but there was very little damage as the wind came in gushes at about 45 to 55 mph.

People and local Guanaja authorities inaugurated their first ever international fishing tournament on October 21. Thursday will be inscription day with the actual fishing taking place beginning on Friday the 22.

Praying for good weather they are anxiously checking out the weather situation on the computers and TV screens. For the last month or so, the Northwest Caribbean has been in turmoil with tropical depressions and storms and even Hurricanes so the chances that the weather will clear did not look so good.

No one can control the weather but in an effort to start things off on the right foot, the organizers contacted the people at IGFA (International Game Fish Association) and after satisfying the requirement of bill fish catch and release of that prestigious organization this tournament is now listed as a world championship qualifying event.

The inscription to the tournament went ok, with 21 boats registered and the tournament got under way on Friday morning. The one day fishing tournament produced a winner in the largest fish and heaviest Wahoo- all in the same fish. The lucky winner was Mr. Danny McNab from Roatan who walked away with $1,300. The second place winner was Mr. Sidney Haylock from Guanaja, whose prize was a $300 dollar Marlin Kit. The third place prize was a Marlin Tagging Kit and that went to Mr. Bob McNab also from Roatan.

On Saturday morning the tournament had to be cancelled as Tropical Storm Richard with 70 mph wind barreled down on the island in latitudes that would have placed it between the island and the mainland when it was scheduled to past the island early on Sunday morning. The cancellation of the tournament was by suggestion and mutual consent of the registered participants. The organizers conscious the fact that the participants did not get their money's worth and in complete agreement with the registered fishermen that the balance due be applied to a percentage of the dues for the next schedule tournament.

Things are Looking Up

The Indian Chief in full regalia and surrounded by beautiful Indian princesses in their brightly colored attire came down the river in a dugout canoe to meet the admiral. The big difference this year was that the majority of the visitors we had were our own people that has been dispersed all over the world among then were some that had not visited us in decades but swears that they won't miss another Conch Festival. In spite of the large crowds on the beaches and in the villages and on the narrow streets of our main town, there were no incidents of violence or other negative occurrences. People had no time for quarrels because everybody was filled with the festival spirit and we were surrounded by music and mirthfulness and people dancing in the streets. The vendors vended and the buyers bought.

The people in charge of the festival are right now making plans for next year and promise a much greater event in 2011. With the price of lobster up about 40 percent from last year and the very good possibilities of turning the Conch Festival into a money producing touristic event, I would venture to say that things are looking up for the forgotten island in the Bay of Honduras. As July ended with the crowds gazing skyward as the fireworks soared into evening sky, I could feel a change in the attitude of my people as the hopes of all the people of Bonacco soared to a new high as we promised ourselves to build ourselves a brighter future.

On the first of July the lobster season opened with an increase in the price of this delectable crustacean. This was good news for the people that depend of this type of fishing for their livelihood. This means that almost everybody of the island was happy because we all depend on the money produced by the sale of this cousin to the crab.

The month of July is also when we Bonakians celebrate our Conch Festival so the last week of the month was a joyous time for the whole island with mini-carnivals in the four mayor villages of the of the island. This is the third consecutive year of this celebration and I believe we have finally got our stuff together. The first year we celebrated the whole week culminating in the great event on the beaches of El Soldado, well this year there were no exception every thing went great and there was dancing in the streets to the rhythmic beat of the imported bands. The final event of the beach was very impressive; the unrehearsed plot performed by our improvised actors recounted the drama of the Landing of the Great navigator on the very spot that the event occurred some 508 years ago. The dialogue on the beach was electronically amplified and every word could be heard as the Indian braves held the Spaniards on the beach with bows and arrows until the arrival of their leader.

Cat & Mouse

The alleged drug-runners were flying totally blacked out to avoid detection but the other aircrafts do not have to have their lights turned off to prevent the smugglers from landing, if that was their intentions. After about a half an hour of something akin to those old air shows put on by the barnstorming pilots of years gone by, the airplanes passed going towards the east and they did not return. When the aircraft did not pass back, I assumed the smuggler's plane had been driven off, because once they had been detected there was no use trying to land because, although the helicopters are slower, they can get to the landing zone just minutes behind the bad guys.

The next morning I was told that the trafficker's aircraft had crashed into the ocean just off the East End of Guanaja and I thought that if it is the purpose of the US Coast Guard to drive smugglers aircrafts into the sea they should have brought in a MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter. Those babies are fast and carry airborne use of force equipment, including a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.

The day after the supposed crash the weather was not nice. It was very windy and with rough seas but there have never been so many fishermen braving the wind and the waves and trying their luck at catching something. The Honduran Coast Guard were there trying to discourage the fortune seekers, but they were not having too much luck doing so. Apparently nobody found any trace of the downed airplane or its cargo. Some of the fishermen are now saying that they don't believe that the plane actually crashed instead they think that the mouse outfoxed the cats and got away. Who knows?

On a placid evening in the first week of June the sun had gone down beyond the western horizon leaving only the threadlike fingers of cirrostratus clouds illuminated by the failing light. It was the time of evening when manmade satellites can be seen moving rapidly across the sky as though weaving their paths between the numberless stars that crowd the firmament as darkness deepens its hold on the night. Within a half an hour the moon made her presence known by lighting up the surrounding clouds with its pale luminescent face. The hum of a small twin engine airplane was heard in the distance and not long afterwards the little plane buzzed the tree tops on the south side of the island of Guanaja.

Within minutes the heavy roar of much larger aircraft drowned out the sound of the TV sets tuned to the seven o'clock soap opera. Some of the people came out of their houses to see what was going on. It was assumed that the smaller aircraft was a drug runner and the large craft was a US Coast Guard anti-narcotics airplane. After the first two aircraft had gone past, two other machines came out of the south apparently in hot pursuit of the first two, these were the slower-flying rotary wing aircraft that are called in on these missions whenever there is a possibility that the drug trafficking aircraft may attempt a landing. On the second pass over the south side of the island I went outside and was just in time to see the smaller aircraft passing overhead. Just seconds behind it and clearly outlined against the waxing moon I saw the giant C-130 Hercules.

I was not able to recognize the silhouette of the helicopters because they passed further north, towards the mountains. All these aircraft were flying about without lights of any kind and I could not help but wonder what the results would be if a couple of them collided over the settlement on the Cay or on some other well populated area. I cannot figure why the chase aircrafts were flying with all their light turned off. It is not like they could sneak up on the bad guys and grab them. On one of those passes the small airplane passed in front of the two helicopters and from the ground it seems like it was too close for comfort. I'm almost certain that the pilot of the small plane did not see the helicopters. This procedure of flying without lights is potentially dangerous and places at high risk the lives of the crews and maybe people on the ground when they fly over populated areas.

Puppy Love

Love inspires poets to write great poems and writers to write great sagas and novelists to put to paper stories of great passion and tenderness.

The power of love can turn a lion into a lamb and a great intellect into a babbling fool, and it can create wars between tribes and nations. When someone is in love but their love is unrequited, it is almost impossible for that person to understand that with all the love they feel, how can the other person ignore their burning desire to be loved by that one and only person?

An old adage suggests that to forget one love, one must find another. This sounds very reasonable but in matters of the heart, logic and old adages don't necessarily come into play. The love that burns inside a human heart is only for that very special person. In spite of its life altering effects, love has its downsides. Love cannot be bought, it cannot be forced on someone, it cannot be demanded of someone and you cannot hold on to it when it wishes to leave. So remember love is ecstasy and love is pain. And sometimes, love is letting go.

In these days of high technology the art of charming a potential partner has come down to a text message on a cell phone. In the distant past it was all about guitar serenades, bunches of flowers and boxes of chocolate candy. I often tell this to the kids and someone invariably says, "Those were romantic times." I remind them that times can never be romantic, only people can be romantic, because only people can love from the heart.

In the life of a young person crushes and infatuations are common occurrences, but it is not until they reach teenage years that they fall in love for real. When I say for real I mean that it is at this age that young men can summons the courage to tell their enamored how they feel about them. From this age on, every time one falls in love it is a love to die for, no matter how many times a month one falls in love.

I was asked recently by a young person if I could give them a clue as to when one knows that they are really in love, and I must admit that as an adviser on matters if the heart I failed terribly but I tried to explain the subject as best I could.

I said to them: "To be in love is the greatest feeling in the world, but it is only great when it's going well. When it's not going well it is the most painful of all hurts humanity has been made to bear."

When a person is in love their spirit soars high above the clouds but only when they believe that the object of their adoration is returning their affection.

A Society in Trouble

Don't get me wrong, they are not displaying true courage because one of the things that does not require very much courage is the ability to murder an unarmed man. It is my contention that even the most pious of men will commit crimes if there are no guaranteed punishments for the act.

In this country the delinquents don't have to think twice about committing a horrible crime because they reason that they will not be caught, and on the very slim chance they are caught there will not be enough evidence to convict them, and if they are convicted they will not be sentenced and if they are sentenced they will not get the maximum sentence and if they are giving the maximum they will serve only a small part of it. Even when they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt they can rest assured that their family will avenge their sentencing by killing the defense lawyer that lost the case and the judge that handed down the sentence. Believe it or not, this very unhealthy attitude towards others and this posture towards life are learned in the home and only when we teach our kids to respect others will they learn to respect themselves. Then, and only then, will we cleanse our society of delinquents and cold blooded killers.

I remember seeing these words written somewhere by someone not so famous and I think that this is what parents should try to teach their kids: Watch your thoughts, they may turn into words. Watch your words, they may turn into deeds. Watch your deeds, they can become habits. Watch your habits, they can form your character. Watch your character, because it will determine your future.

A quick glance at the nightly news on the local TV network will tell you that we are living in dangerous times. The sad thing about the news is that it always mentions the number of people violently killed but hardly ever says anything about the perpetrators of these crimes being caught. It seems to me that in our society the value of human life has gone way down and our police's ability to bring the murderers to justice has also eroded. I believe that the reason so many murders are being committed is the simple fact that in this country there are no sure deterrents to dissuade the delinquents from their dastardly deeds. Does that sound a lot like Dodge City of old when the man with the fastest gun made his own law? In this country it is called "La ley del mas fuerte" and there are signs of this attitude throughout all levels of our society. It is reflected in the entire quotidian goings-on of the ordinary citizens, for a good example of this just take a look at their driving.

At first I thought that their complete disregard for the almost universal traffic laws was due to their ignorance of said laws but I was wrong, they are acting out their own inbred strain of machismo and this applies not only to the men it also includes the women. A Honduran driver will not think twice to block an intersection impeding the passage of dozens of cars just as long as he gets ahead of the rest. Even the pedestrian show their true colors when crossing the street, they will step off the sidewalk at any point along the block and will walk into fast moving traffic without looking in either direction and when caught up in the middle of traffic they will not even hasten their pace to get out of harm's way, they are psychologically prepared to show courage in the face of danger.

Arizona SB 1070

Arizona has gone one step further in Arizona Revised Statues title 13 chapter 15 amendment 39 adding section 13-1509 which now reads: Trespassing by illegal aliens; assessment; exceptions; classification. According to this statute the police can make an arrest if, in addition to any violation of federal law, that person is guilty of trespassing defined as the person being both: Present on any public or private land in the state of Arizona or in violation of 8 United States Code Section 1304(e) or 1306(a). Immigrants that are unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the USA could be jailed for up to six months and fined $2500.00. Before Arizona passed this law the police could only inquire as to a person's legal status if that person was suspected of committing another crime. The Hispanic community and some non Hispanic liberals that are raising a ruckus about Arizona SB 1070 must have forgotten that every country in the world has laws that make it a crime to enter their country without permission. It seems to me that the argument here is about jurisdiction, as I see it, it is okay for the border patrol to arrest illegal immigrants but it is not okay for the Arizona police to do the same. In all Latin American countries all authorities have the right to arrest anyone that perpetuates a crime and in Mexico this can be done by the Federales de Investigation or the Federales Preventiva, which are agencies of the federal government. There are also immigration officers and custom officers, state-operated law enforcement officers and municipal police and they all can arrest anyone that cannot prove that they are allowed by law to be in Mexico.
When arrested, you go straight to jail.

In other countries this crime is even more severely penalized, in Afghanistan intruders are shot, in North Korea the minimum sentence is 12 years imprisonment for violating the national sovereignty of that nation.

The penalty varies from country to country but there is always a price to pay and in some countries it is also a crime to leave the country without permission and if you are caught either going or coming, you go to jail. Illegal immigrants in the USA are hollering for their rights, this confuses me because I know that if you enter my house without my permission you can be assured that you left your rights at the gate and if I don't kick you out it is a privilege I'm granting you but you have no rights when you enter into my domain illegally. I'm thinking of a sign I saw somewhere in the panhandle of Texas many years ago, it read: Private Property Keep Out. Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again.

In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet that reflected the attitude of the American people towards immigrants at the time. Here is an excerpt from that poem " Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me". The complete poem engraved on a bronze plaque was mounted on the inside of the statue of liberty in 1903. The attitude of the American people towards immigrants has changed and this is especially true of the ever-increasing number of Illegal immigrants that enter the country every year.

The state of Arizona has made this attitude official in its senate bill SB 1070.

This bill will authorize the police to arrest immigrants that are unable to show proof that they are authorized to be in the country. It also penalizes persons that knowingly transport illegal immigrants.

This part of the bill is not causing the uproar in the Hispanic community. The real problem is the unwritten part of the bill that is being called "racial profiling". This means that the police will decide to investigate a person's immigration status based on that person's racial or ethnic characteristics. The Hispanics are crying foul because in their view they seem to be the ones that are being singled out, although this should not come as any surprise to anyone because at last estimate there are over 14 million Hispanics that are in the USA illegally. It would not make any sense to single out any other group of people.

The Arizona law empowers the police to arrest illegals pursuant to 8 United States Code section 1373(c), which states that an enforcement officer cannot independently determine the status of an immigrant. The police must contact the Immigration service before such an arrest can be made.


On the third time the same group came around he stood between them and his goods and refused to budge, when one of the new guys lifted his rifle as if to shoot him, the headman said to him: Just let's take what he gives us because this man is fearless, he is made of iron and shooting him will do no good, we've already done that. Cousin Peter thanked him and gave him some fowls and said to him: Jesus Christ is my shield and with Him on my side I fear nothing. The Sandinista never bothered him gain. Cousin Peter returned to Bonacco a few years back and took up residence on the old homestead and ministered in the Mangrove Bight SDA church. He had come back to where he had been introduced to Christ and now he was ready to take that journey that we all must take but Peter was prepared to meet his maker. On a sunny day like so many others in this part of the world he decided to make a trip to Back Country which was the sight of the first SDA industrial school in Latin America. parts of the construction are still there. This school was built back in late eighteen hundreds by men like his father. He saddled the mule and being unable to find a proper pair of stirrups he fashioned a pair from a piece of rope and slung it across the mule's back in front of the saddle and was off. He did not stay too long in the little valley and his companion said that he looked distracted and tired so they returned to Poke Alice, the old family farm. He sent the boy on to Lil Flat telling him that he would pick some rose apples and be along shortly. His brother became concerned when he did not arrive at the appointed time and a few hours later decided to go in search of Peter. His brother began to worry when the searchers found the mule grazing by the little river that ran its course at the foot hills of Lil' Flat. The searchers were on foot so the uphill trek took some time. They were about half way up when they spotted something that could be the body of a person in the grass off to the side of the road. It was Peter and he was dead. The body was stiff from rigor mortis and this meant that Peter had been dead for at least four hours. Around his right foot was the piece of rope he had used for a stirrup. It will never be clear what really happed to Peter but it is assumed that he fainted or had a heart attack and fell from the saddle. He was then dragged for a fair distance by the mule before the rope was pulled completely around the saddle. What caused him to fall from the mule will always be a mystery but there is one thing that we can be certain of and that is, if there's a place set aside for righteous men, Peter Wood has earned himself a seat in the front row.

His father was one of the first persons to heed the call of the fledgling Seventh Day Adventist religion in this area. From way back in 1892 his father, Richard Wood, labored in the service of the almighty or at least in the service of Elder Frank Hutchins the original SDA missionary to Latin America. When he was born it was decided that he should be called Peter and his father would proudly boast that this boy would grow up in the ways of the Lord. His father was firm in his efforts to further his purposeful intent to enter into the congregation of heaven. In his formative years Peter did not demonstrate an aptitude or desire to become a religious person of any import. The seriousness and straight forwardness of his father could not be seen in his comportment. To a greater extent his behavior mimicked his mother's side of the family, they were a more carefree and witty people. He played tricks on his siblings and even on the adults of the family.
Eventually Cousin Peter came around to the purpose desired by his father for him. He became an ordained minister in the SDA Religion. He was not a regular preacher he knew that education was the key to the future and he worked for the furthering of educational opportunities of not only the Bonacco children but also for children on the mainland. He was instrumental in the purchasing of the properties and was part of the founding of the SDA School in Peña Blanca. It seems that where ever he went he founded a school. His last efforts were in Nicaragua where he built and presided over one of the best schools in that country. The school was later appropriated by the Nicaraguan government. While living in Nicaragua he became a victim of the infamous regime of Daniel Ortega. As was their style they fed themselves by robbing the working people of anything they had and in some cases of everything they had. During his first encounter with the Sandinistas, Peter refused to help them help themselves to his livestock and his refusal earned him a battering with the butts of the rifles carried by those ruffians. When he was found he was still unconscious and still bleeding but he was still breathing and he survived. It was not too long after that that the same groups of blackguards made their way back to his little farm and began pillaging his food stuff and this time they were trying put a snare around the neck of his favorite heifer but Peter placed himself between them and the little heifer and refused to give her up. He was again beaten and this time he was shot and dumped into a ditch. Those ruffians expected him to die in that ditch but Peter survived that one also.


This organization in the past few years has been slowly creeping into areas outside of its mandate such as taking over the job of the National Meteorological Service. COPECO are now reporting the weather and issues weather alerts and all this without having one trained meteorologist on their payroll. The television news teams are now consulting COPECO for their weather reports.
In all other countries of the world when there is a marine phenomenon that could adversely affect local shipping, the weather service of that country will issue a warning that will notify the mariners of the severity of the storm, such warnings may be listed as "small craft warning" or "general shipping warning". COPECO is the only organization in the world that has the power to close down a seaport when in their uneducated opinion the vessels could be in danger. The seaport closings do not apply to foreign ships that may be in Honduran seaports at the time, it is only the local coastal freighters and local fishing vessels that must stay home. We islanders have been sailing these waters for two hundred years, we know our vessels and we know the sea and we should be given the weather data and be left to decide whether to sail on not.
When we island people were boarding up our houses and storing water and food supplies getting ready for Mitch the people of the Tegucigalpa (the headquarters city of COPECO) were attending a football game unaware of the approaching monster.
The fact is that the island of Guanaja took the brunt of the storm yet we lost five souls and on the mainland there were over 8 thousand deaths.
COPECO has also invalidated the seismic department of the National Autonomous University by reporting on seismic activity and pretending to warn the populace of future seismic events. Since the giant 8.8 earthquake in Chile, COPECO has gone to the airways with advice on how to build earthquake proof buildings and are right now petitioning the national congress to pass a law that would require all new buildings to be earthquake proof, with COPECO issuing permit and inspecting such constructions.
Somebody has got to stop this organization and remind its commissioner of its fundamental objective or soon it will be running the schools, the churches and the maybe whole country.

On the 12 of December in 1990 the National Congress of Honduras approved the decree of law number 9-90E. This same decree derogated the decree of law number 33 that in 1973 had created the Consejo Permanente de Emergencia Nacional. It also derogated decree number 202 of 1975 that reformed the 1973 law. On the date mentioned above the Comission Permanente de Contingencias (COPECO) was born.
This organization like all others designed to be called to action in the case of a national emergency had but one basic mission, disaster response. During the chaos left behind by the Hurricane Mitch it was clear the COPECO was ill prepared for such catastrophic damage caused by the category five cyclone. USAID came to the assistance of COPECO and helped the government agency improve their abilities in the areas of damage assessment and emergency communication. It has now been over eleven years since the visit of Hurricane Mitch and COPECO has grown. In my opinion this growth has not been very beneficial for the country and I believe it has seriously distracted COPECO from its primary role as an emergency response organization.
COPECO has somehow forgotten or ignores its own bylaws such as Article 5 that states: "The COPECO will have as its fundamental objective the adoption of policies and measures to address the population, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas damaged by the impact of natural phenomena that affect economic activity and welfare of the population and plan and develop activities to prevent negative consequences of such phenomena."


The private sector is taking advantage of the very lax government enforcement of the long established labor laws. A good example is a small business that employed 4 persons but now has only three because of the change in the minimum wage. Previously those 4 employees worked a total of 176 hours a week (the legal limit without extra pay) but now the remaining three workers are on the job a total of 180 and sometimes 198 hours a week. That's a net gain of 4 to 22 man-hours a week for the company.
The law requires that if an employee's job can be done efficiently sitting down then the company must provide a seat for that purpose but since the wage increase almost all employers have removed all furniture from their places of business and in one particular business the owners even removed the water cooler.
With the exception of the banks many cashiers must stand all the time that they are on the job. The banks however have set precedence for another grave injustice that has now permeated the small businesses of this country. As is done in the banks, the cashiers are debited any amount of money missing from the registers when the books are balanced at the end of the day.
However, if on any day there is a surplus of money the bank or business keeps that money and it is not credited towards the amount owed by the cashier or teller from any previous day's shortage. When pay day comes around the shortages will be deducted from the pay check of the employee. In some banks if the amount exceeds one thousand lempiras it is posted as a loan and interest is added to the amount of the shortage.
This is robbery and in any other part of the world it would not be tolerated by the employees but with the scarcity of jobs and the great need of the people, the workers grumble to themselves and show up the next day for work, because they know that at least 20 persons will apply for that job should they decide to quit. The bosses know this and this gives them license to become modern day slave drivers with complete disregard for the welfare, dignity and self-esteem of their fellow man.

It was only about a year ago that ex-president Manuel Zelaya raised the minimum wage in Honduras. At the time, a great hullabaloo was raised by the private sector and with particular notice in the medium and small businesses. It was said that the increase would cripple smaller concerns and would cause huge layoffs in the bigger companies. And some of this did happen but not to the extent that is claimed by the non-government labor watchers.
Just the idea of the government arbitrarily imposing such a heavy load on the business community made my heart hurt for them. But I am no longer sympathetic towards those people.
After some investigation I have come to the conclusion that those poor suffering businesses are getting the job done with fewer workers but at a terrible cost to their employees. This is true for all businesses but it especially applies to service companies like fast food, pharmacies and photo shops and others that are people to people services.
In mostly all the businesses I checked, the employees worked as many as ten hours a day for at least six days a week. Add it up, that's 60 hours a week and in some cases the employees work as many as 66 hours a week with no compensation. Some employers do not allow their employees time for their midday meal. As one supervisor put it "Nobody needs to sit down to eat."


As it relates to the common man, time is merely a measurement that he uses to schedule future events in the trans-course of his life. Man has no concept of time and without references he quickly loses track of all notions of time. Nature has provided man with the references that he has used for millennia to mark the events in life. He used the sun to mark the days, the moon to mark the months, and the winters or summers to mark the years.
All living things depend on time for their birth, growth and, eventually, their demise. Even though time is not a tangible entity it is the biggest killer of all. A person that has evaded the many geriatric diseases that are intent on ending his life will eventually succumb to time. It is a proven fact that no matter the age of a person there are no cells in their body that are older than 10 years, yet they will die and the only thing working against them is the passage of time.
There exist many sayings that refer to time; one of the most popular is that TIME FLIES. This is only true if you're having a good time. If you want to prove this saying wrong just have someone hold your head under water and time will cease to fly, it will begin to crawl. There are truisms that apply to time like: There is more time than life. In this statement we try to quantify time as if it is an element or a fluid yet we measure only the passing of time not the amount of it. The devices used to measure the passage of time are many and the study of these devices is called horology. Though there are many horologists there are none that pretend to study time itself for it is an elusive nonentity that defies description. The following quote sums it up pretty well, "Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once." This quote is attributed variously to Albert Einstein, John Archibald Wheeler and Woody Allen. By its very simplicity and its profound implications I sincerely believe that it was coined by Woody Allen.

The word time as described in the Merriam/Webster dictionary has two main definitions. The first one is: The measured or measurable period during which an action, process or condition exists or continues. The second definition is: The non-spatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present and into the future. These are beautiful definitions but they do not come close to describing time as it relates to our every day life.
Time is the single most important thing in our lives and it ranks second only to life itself. It may not be in the top ten most-used words in the English language but it leads by a tremendous margin in synonyms, which means that it has more meanings that almost any other word. Modifiers used in front of or behind it can create words with whole different meanings. Time is not a concrete word therefore it must be an abstract word and coming up with a non-controversial definition that can be applied to the fields of religion, philosophy, and science has long eluded the best of minds. Time has been a major subject for the aforementioned fields of thought but yet none have been able to establish a single semantic or grammatical interpretation of time.

My New Year's Resolution

My biggest challenge is trying to keep my cool on Saturdays when just about lunch time the Jehovah witnesses show up with their pamphlets and their sermons. I normally pay the fine for being caught on the porch by buying their magazines and with a store-bought smile I endure their preaching. This in itself is a great deed and I resolve to do my best to continue this practice. Another trying situation is when people come to our house uninvited and with no previous warning I must pretend that they are very welcome and make them feel like I have been waiting on them all along.
I will still send sympathy cards, birthday cards, Christmas cards and other such things just because it is the thing to do but not necessarily because I have any sympathy, or any desire to wish anyone have a Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas, much less a prosperous New Year.
Other things that I resolve to work on is not feeling too much like a fool when I give money to some "poor" person only to find out that they used the money on something other than the reason they gave me to soften my heart. I will try hard not to remind a person of a good deed I have done for them in the past whenever they refuse me the tiniest favor. I resolve not to try anymore to collect outstanding debts that are over 10 years old. I also resolve not to pay any outstanding debts that are 10 years old.
When it comes to being polite, we all know it is learned human value, but we also know that we are all hypocrites. Yet in our hypocrisy we are displaying our humanity and our learned kindness. Other animals cannot hide their true feelings as well as we can.
So in the word of Sir John Moore, "I will continue to kiss those that I may want to kill."

As is the custom I have been trying to come up with a worthwhile New Year resolution but I'm unable to think of anything of importance. I can't resolve to quit smoking or quit drinking beer or biting my nails because I've already given up those habits.
I have resolved to continue to be hypocritical in order to not hurt the feelings of others or in order to just to make them feel important and to maintain their self esteem. I guess all of us are guilty of these same hypocritical doings. They are very common and most of us do them every day to the point that these things have become more like automatic reaction.
Whenever we meet a person on the street in the AM, we are all accustomed to wishing that person a good morning and a nice day. In some cases we don't even know the person, but there we go wishing them all the best. We all know that we could not care less what kind of day they have. I will continue to tell mothers of newborn babies that their child is cute even if the baby is ugly as sin. I will keep on listening to the sad stories of other people and feigning interest, even sympathy, when deep in my heart I really don't care about their problems.

Christmas Surprise

The confining space of the long but very narrow boat was distressing, and the din of the little ten horse power motor seemed to slow the hands of my Timex watch. We had been going for about nine hours and during this time we had not stopped for anything, so I was very relieved when I heard the sound of the motor boat slowing and then the sound of gravel and sand crunching under the elongated bow of the pitpan. I believed this was the end of the line, but this was only as far as we could go by boat. The rest of the way we were to go on foot. The coronel had given us a few packages of US Army K rations so we had some chicken stew, or something very similar to chicken stew for lunch. After finishing our lunch we started the trek up the mountain. The walking was hard, but time went by pretty fast as I stopped looking at my watch and stared looking into the jungle for jaguars, poisonous snakes, and wild boar which I had been told abounded in these hills, but I never saw any. We saw the smoke rising up ahead and heard sounds that seemed like people singing. As we walked into the clearing of the village we were all surprised to find the natives in full holiday costumes and wearing their finest go-to-town clothing. Here it was the middle of the afternoon and all the villagers were dancing and drinking Misla.
. We were invited to join the festivities and without as much as asking what they were celebrating we joined right in and soon we were dancing and singing as loud as the rest of the villagers. There was plenty of food and that was good because those
K-rations weren't all that great. The drink of the day was misla and I had not tried it before, but I found it pleasant to drink and I had some even with my food. Misla is an alcoholic concoction made from cane juice and corn or rice, and you should not be fooled by its sweet taste, it is much more potent than regular beer. Soon after that I noticed that I was singing in English. Later that night I told old Joe to ask the man in charge what it was were celebrating and all four members of our little expedition were very surprised when the chief said they were celebrating Kritmes.
Christmas? Today was the 15 day of January. The chief must be drunk or grossly mistaken, so I prompted old Joe to ask him why he thought today was Christmas and the chief elaborated: The people of this village never had a fixed day for Christmas so they celebrated the whole week. He was then told that Christmas had been celebrated in the rest of world 20 days ago. The chief said that we must be in error because the Flor de Pascuas (poinsettias) had not blossomed until about three days ago, so it had to be Christmas time. We agreed with him and I gave him my tin can of pine-apple cookies and my flashlight as Christmas gifts and we danced into the night. The next day as we set about leaving the village we were bid farewell by the chief, he had a new name for me; it was Pasa Kaikaya (sky gazer) and I assumed that old Joe had told him about my work in the Meteorological Station. The chief told me that I had given him the most delicious and useful gifts he had ever gotten and that this would be a Christmas that he would never forget. We were leaving with no gold, but we had made a lot of new friends and that slight headache told us that maybe we had celebrated our best Christmas ever, in the month of January.

The sun had passed the zenith as our driver brought the pitpan to shore on one of the few patches of white beach that we had seen along the course of this fast flowing river. This was a semi-official military mission, but there were no military personnel on board our outboard-powered dugout. The coronel back at home base had heard rumors of the discovery of gold in some of the villages in the foot-hills along the upper reaches of the river and had decided to send old Joe to investigate. Old Joe was an employee of the army and served as scout, tracker, and adviser in affairs of the natives. Old Joe was a foreigner, but had been living among the native Miskito Indians for decades. He served the army well because he was the only person who had the complete trust of all the natives of all the tribes in the whole area. No one bought, sold, or traded anything without the consent of old Joe. So, if there was gold in them there hills old Joe was the man that could find out where it was. Old Joe and I had became friends and many afternoons we would sit under the big wild almond tree at the landing close to his house and we would chat in English for hours; Old Joe was from Boca Del Toro, an English speaking town in the republic of Panama. One afternoon he asked me if I wanted to take a little trip up river, he said we would be gone for about three or four days. After I queried him on the dangers and health risks and what not, I made arrangements with my partner to do my shift at the weather bureau for a few days. The next morning, at an ungodly hour, he roused me and off we went. I had packed a few items I thought I might need like extra socks, canned corned beef, insect repellent (army Issue), a flash light with extra batteries, and a Colt .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol with extra rounds. I also carried a water-tight tin can of pineapple cookies my mother had sent me on the last boat that came from down home.

Food of the Gods

The banana that we are all familiar with has at most 20 years before it, too, will have to be replaced. This is because a new strain of the disease that previously wreaked havoc on the French banana has evolved. The strain is now devastating the Cavendish cultivar to the point that it could soon become unviable for large scale cultivation. Not to worry; many parts of the world have labs working on this potential problem. These laboratories collect wild banana plants and their seeds for cross breeding and cloning. There are collections centers in the US, Germany, and other locations including La Lima, Honduras. The collection center in La Lima maintains a collection of 470 cultivars and 100 species of the valuable fruit, which is actually classified as a berry!
The banana from Latin America is exported primarily to the United States and Europe. In the United States it is the most popular fruit, outselling the apple. When ripe, it is aromatic and sweet. It is also an excellent source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It is most popular with athletes as it contains three natural sugars - glucose, fructose and sucrose - as well as fiber. Research has shown that just two bananas can provide enough energy for a strenuous hour and half workout. Other benefits include: controlling blood sugar, alleviating stomach problems, promoting the production of hemoglobin, lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of stroke, boosting brain power, and helping to restore normal bowel movements. Rubbing the inside of ripe banana peel on insect bites relieves the burning and itching. Finally, the banana is purported to be the best cure for a hangover when used in a banana and honey milk shake. Try it!
Before there was any banana export business on the mainland, the people of these islands made a living by exporting this fruit to New Orleans and New York. We islanders eat the green banana, and we call it "bread-kind" to differentiate it from "meat-kind." I don't know if a body gets any benefits from eating a cooked green banana, but I know that a "steamed old wife" (local queen triggerfish dish), baked meat and any kind of coconut dinner would not be possible without the venerable banana.
By the way, the banana belongs to the genus Musa and the family Musaceae. The word banana is supposed to have come from the Arabic word "banan," which means "finger." It should have been called "alasbaa althhbay," or "golden finger." Another good name would have been "food of the gods."

About one thousand years ago, the sweet potato mysteriously appeared in the Polynesian Islands in the South Pacific. This tuber is native to the tropical areas of South America. What makes this transplant unique is that the species of sweet potato that was found in the Pacific Islands are of the cultivated variety and can only be propagated by way of vine cuttings. This negates any theories of seeds transported by floating on the ocean or by birds. Today the sweet potato is found all over the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia, and in Papua New Guinea, it is now the staple diet of its islanders.
Five hundred years after the sweet potato reached Polynesia, the banana was brought to the Americas by Portuguese sailors. In many parts of Latin America the banana is still called "guineo," which literally means "from Guinea" or "Guinean," which might suggest that the Portuguese brought this fruit from Guinea, West Africa. However, the general consensus is that this most marvelous fruit originated in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It took five hundred years to complete the trade of the banana for the sweet potato but it was worth it and I believe that we got the better part of the deal.
The banana as we know it is a seedless fruit that has many uses. The cultivar names do not suggest its intended use for desserts or cooking. In years past the most prominent type of banana planted in the local area were the Lakatan, slowly to be replaced by the Gros Michel cultivar (French banana), which was then phased out in the 1960s. The Gros Michel was replaced by the Cavendish, which was considered to produce a higher quality fruit than the other resistant cultivars.

Where are Our Friends?

Mr. Obama in a speech to the Russian people stated that it was not the concern of the American people who ran a country and it was most certainly not their business to dictate policy to any nation. Mr Obama must have flunked history because had he not flunked he would have known these answers when asked: Who ran the Spanish out of Cuba and the Colombians out of Panama? Who was it that placed the Somoza's in Nicaragua? Who overthrew Arbenz in Guatemala? Why did so many Americans fight and die to get rid of Adolph Hitler in Germany, Sadam Husssein in Iraq, and the Taliban in Afghanistan? He would have known that it was Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then a sub-secretary of the US Navy, who wrote the constitution of the independent republic of Haiti. How much more involved in a country's affairs can you get? The Americans have fought dozens of wars to preserve democracy and the Honduran people were saving them the trouble of having to fight another one. We took it upon ourselves to nip in the bud Mr Zelaya's move to convert Honduras into a leftist, socialist or totalitarian country.
Where are our friends? The last thing we expected was for the United States to turn against us. After all, it was Honduras that helped them fight communism in Guatemala and later in Nicaragua. Honduras is their second biggest partner in their fight against drug trafficking. It should be remembered that it is the United States that has a huge drug problem and every kilo of drugs captured and destroyed by the authorities of this country is another kilo that will not be sold on the streets of Washington or New York.
It is not too late for the United States to help us. It seems like every day things are getting worse in this country with curfews and rampant gangs of looters and delinquents. I guess Honduras is no longer important to the United States since the fall of communism in Europe. The only other reason I can imagine for this harsh treatment is that Honduras does not have any oil to sell to the United States. Maybe this cold shoulder is a blessing in disguise. Maybe it is time for Honduras to tighten its belt and start building this country into a nation of pride and prosperity, obligated to no one for anything. We have always been worried about what we say or do, afraid that someone will stop the aid or the hand outs that we have come to depend on so much. We have the land and the natural resources. All we are lacking is the will and the courage to make things work. We must start to look for other trade partners that will not exact so much for their friendship. Maybe we have been holding on too long to the trailing cuff of the pants leg of Uncle Sam. There is always communist China. They will start building huge stadiums and the likes for us. All we have to do is denounce Taiwan.

An June 28 of this year, the disorderly conduct of the Honduran head of state was interrupted by orders of the powers that be. The reigning president Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales was deposed and in his place the National Congress nominated (by order of succession) Roberto Michelleti Bain the president of congress. On the day following the soft coup-d'état, things began to go wrong for all the people of Honduras. Every nation in the world condemned us without a trial and threatened the new government. Until this date, almost three months later, the new government is not recognized as the legitimate government of Honduras. Not one of those nations bothered to send investigators or observers to this country to try to get down to the root causes that prompted the Supreme Court and the National Congress to replace Mr. Manuel Zelaya.
Mr. Zelaya's failure to get his own candidate appointed to presidency of the Supreme Court was the beginning of the whole fracas. He used every trick and every threat in the book to have his candidate approved, but his efforts were in vain. Had he succeeded there would have been no legal way to stop him from defrauding the people and nominating himself king of Honduras. He would have reigned until Mr. Chavez decided to change him. Of all the countries that are now chastising us, the United States is the most important to us because of our long dependency on our trade with the United States. The United States of America has been the champion and the sword wielder of democracy since it became a nation so many years ago. However, in the case of Honduras the new liberal president Obama turned his back on the people of Honduras and aligned himself with disciples of the Castro's and the son of the devil himself, Hugo Chavez.

What Went Wrong?

To provide the answers to these questions, it would probably take many years of hard work by physical anthropologists, sociologists and maybe other learned persons specialized in the human sciences. It is said that all countries with tropical climates are very slow in climbing the ladder of development and the reason for this is that there is no need to work diligently in the spring and summer in order to be able to survive the winter. A person in the tropics can survive in the wild quite well with a minimum of equipment; the land is bountiful. The climate itself does not inspire people to work very hard. I believe there is also a very basic but important difference in the colonizing done by the Spaniards and that done by the English. In most cases the Spanish founded towns leaving a few Iberian sailors and some livestock. This meant that for the town to grow the sailors had to obtain women from the local native population.
The Spanish brought their machismo and native Americans contributed their natural tendency to conserve energy. This mixture of blood has not served us well. When the English landed in Massachusetts they came with bag and baggage including their women, their children and their livestock. Their venture was a private endeavor and no government was involved. This is not true for the rest of the settlements started in the Americas where the Spanish maintained a master-serf relationship with the peoples of their part of the new world. We have never outgrown this and as was the custom during the colonial days we are still unable to refer to someone without placing a handle in front of their name and using as many last names as the paper can hold. Not even the media will refer to a person without making reference to their education level or status of some kind.
In some cases when a person have achieved some degree of success and does not have a title the media will make one up. For instance neither of the last two presidents of this country had titles so the media fixed it. This may not seem like anything drastic, but it truly reflects our inability to leave the colonial days behind us.
For us to grow as a people we need to forget the days of subjugation and lose our adoration for a mother country that has given back so very little for all the things they took from us. We should leave our Spanish and Indian egos behind us and learn how to change our attitudes towards each other and just maybe we could start building a progressive country, with fairness and respect for other individuals and honesty in government and then we will begin to see change and prosperity for all.

On the 14th day of August of 1502, Christopher Columbus set foot for the first time on the mainland of the American continent at a place called Punta de Caxinas (Punta Castilla). Twenty two years later Hernan Cortes founded the town of La Natividad (Puerto Cortes) and in that same year Cristobal de Olid founded the town of Triunfo de la Cruz (Tela). In 1525 Juan Medina founded the town of Trujillo.
It was not until 1607 that the English founded the Jamestown settlement and later in 1620 the Mayflower brought a group of English Separatists to the eastern coast of North America. The second group was called the Pilgrims and they landed in Massachusetts. Ten years after they landed they founded a town that would become the city of Boston and gave start to the greatest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen - USA. While Spain was the richest country in the world during America's conquest, all they left behind was a legacy of language and religion.
I have often wondered as to what went wrong with countries settled by the Spaniards? While the Spanish had almost a century head start on the English, their old colonies are still struggling to feed their people and depend on loans and handouts from the rest of world that has long since moved into the space age.
After about three hundred years of Spanish rule, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821 and only about thirty years before (1788) the British began colonizing Australia with the founding of what was to become the city of Sydney, starting with the most unlikely material, convicts. There were several hundred male convicts and 180 women. So, Trujillo is 105 years older than Boston and San Pedro Sula is 252 years older than Sidney. What has slowed our advancement? Where did we go wrong?

Boxes? What Boxes?

Mario rushed over to the Cay and started looking for another voting place but never found one, apparently the only place that had opened for business was in El Pichete. The days leading up to Sunday had been a confusing time for the followers of the president in Guanaja, mostly because all three biggies of the liberal party were out of town. The ballot boxes for the referendum were shipped in on SOSA under the guise of "didactic material" for the Guanaja public school on the Cay.
The directors of the school were unaware of what the box contained and delegated the pickup of the shipment to a student. The student took the material home on Friday and left it on his upstairs front porch. The student was unaware of what he had until early Sunday, June 28 when the person from El Pichete came looking for the ballot boxes. The student was promptly reprimanded for having handled so carelessly something of such importance. The student replied: "had I known what was in that package I would have dumped it in the canal." Sunday had been a bad day for Mr. Zelaya and his followers. The President was arrested, supposedly for treason and violations of articles in the constitution of the republic of Honduras.
Maybe he needed arresting but along with him they should have arrested all those politicians that took his money when this whole Chavista movement started. Those corrupt congressmen approved the joining of the ALBA and took the tractors Chavez sent. I can't believe that they did not know that there were strings attached. It should also be illegal for the two persons that are in-line for the presidency to instigate the procedures for deposing the duly elected president. In this day and age a coup d'état sends a foul smell into the international community as there are other ways to get rid of a president.
Sunday turned out to be a great day for Mario, around noon when the winning number was declared to be 05, Mario leaped for joy, he had the winning number and his prize was over 16,000 lempiras.

Mario was worried. It was Sunday and he did not have enough money to pay for his contracted lottery. Every Sunday morning he had to come up with 250 lempiras to pay his lottery seller to guarantee that she would not sell his favorite number. Mario searched his pockets again and all the cash he could find was 50 lempiras. He needed 200 more. He ambled down the main road in El Pichete wondering where he could borrow the money he needed. Half way down the walk he spotted a group of people in single file as if waiting their turn at something. After taking a good look at the crowd he thought to himself, someone must be giving away something. He quickly got into the line and then asked: "What's going on?" Someone replied: "Some guy is paying two hundred lempiras cash to each person that puts their mark on a ballot and places it in the urn." He further inquired as to the nature of the voting and was told that it had to do with the 'Cuarta Urna.'
Mario stepped out of line, he was certain that he would have nothing to do with anything the liberals were scheming. He was a born nationalist. He checked the line more closely and found many people from his own party awaiting their turn to vote. He asked one of them why and the reply was: "Two hundred pesos are two hundred pesos compadre!" Two hundred lempiras would come in handy today and if Mario was not able to pay the lottery seller and his number came up a winner he would lose a lot more than his pride. He asked his dead father to forgive him and got back into the line.
Mario did not get to vote because before he got to the door of the building the news broke that the great leader had been arrested and whisked away to Costa Rica. Confusion descended on the voting place as the person in charge called his superiors, but got no answer on his cell phone. Mario knew the person in charge so he walked over and asked the guy for a loan of 200 lempiras and he assured the potential lender that when ever they got it straight he would be willing to vote for the President of all the Hondurans. They never got it straight because the news that the president had been deposed was true.

Help Us or Leave Us Alone

There is a law that forbids the freighters from carrying passengers. That law was passed at the request of the owner of another vessel that runs both passengers and freight (the owner is a mainlander.) In another instance, a mainlander bought a freight boat for the coastal run and he petitioned and got a law passed that forbids other boats to carry freight no matter if it is was your freight and your boat.
The government went so far as to prohibit fishing boats from picking up their own lobster traps and other fishing gear because this paraphernalia was considered freight. I can't see where intent to carry passengers is in violation of any ordinance or law. The solution was as simple as to forbid the boarding of the passengers, but instead all the boats were tied up. Then the official said that the intended passengers were not on the Zarpe that was turned in during office hours.
For passengers to be listed ahead of sailing time there must be some sort of reservation system and none of the freighters have offices in La Ceiba. They can hardly afford the exorbitant amounts charged for dockage. Honduras is the only country in the world that requires permits to sail your own vessel within your own borders.
For now, nobody is required to have a permit to travel by car from anywhere to anywhere in Honduras. The registration of a car can be paid at any bank, but for a boat you need lawyers and lots of cash. In this country a permit to operate a boat must be signed by a minister of the president's cabinet and you must spend money to get that signature.
This island is going downhill fast and the Honduran government is pushing us along. Guanaja no longer has a judge, we no longer have a customs office, the mail service is due to disappear, we are down to one airline. We are being systematically driven out of business while others, especially Jamaicans, fish our waters without fear of retaliation.
For almost two hundred years we have plied the seas around us but now we are being controlled by persons from a landlocked city who presume to know more that we do about our vessels, our weather and our ocean. We are now being told when we can sail our vessels on the seas that our forefathers gave to us as our birthright. We are being told when, where, and what we can fish and on this island, fishing is a matter of survival.
We invented conch soup, but we can't dive for conch because those landlubbers have denied us that right also. If we really want to make a conch soup we must take an airplane trip and purchase this island delicacy in the super markets in La Ceiba.
To you bureaucrats in the capital I say: Help us or leave us. We were doing fine before you 'discovered us.'

On a bus ride a few years ago in New England I was surprised to see a State Trooper's Plymouth pull up next to the driver side of the bus. The policeman in the passenger seat of the police cruiser signaled to the bus driver with a ticket receipt book and a pencil. The bus driver immediately slowed the vehicle to a more legal speed, but we never stopped. I asked the driver why the policeman had threatened him out there on the highway. The driver said: "That was not a threat, he gave me a ticket. I was speeding."
He explained that the police could not stop an interstate carrier (our bus) on the highway for speeding. He said that what the police did was to ticket the bus by its license plate number and the bus company charges the ticket to the driver. "We have a schedule to keep and not even the police can interfere, unless it's a matter of life or death."
That incident occurred over 40 years ago and I still remember it because I was very impressed by that respect for schedules and the value placed on the passengers' time. I wish I could say the same for the authorities in this country.
Time seems to be that last thing on the mind of the authorities in Honduras and that is especially true when it's other people's time. In this country the people in charge make a special effort to foul up other people's schedules. It is such a common practice that nobody expects things to go right. On at least three occasions in as many months the top brass of the Mercante Marina has seen the need to refuse to issue sailing orders for our freighters going between Bonacca and La Ceiba. These freighters are the life line of this island; they sometime arrive with rotting vegetables and sour milk - everything is planned around their sailing and returning on the specified day.
On a few occasions orders came from Tegucigalpa to deny sailing permits (Zarpes) to our freighter because they (Mercante Marina) believed the sea to be too rough. The latest reason they came up with for denying the sailing permits was that one of the captains of the freighters was intending to carry passengers on his vessels. Befuddled by this dubious crime the port captain called his boss in Tegus and was told that he should not issue any permits to any freighter sailing to Guanaja until further orders.

Return of the Bees

Old men have a definite advantage in this argument and that's because no matter what age a man is, he is still likely to be able to produce offspring. An older woman will eventually ask, 'What does she have that I don't?' A truthful answer here would be that the younger woman has nothing more or better that the other woman, but the reptilian brain has made known its findings and the older woman lost.
The cerebrum saves the day because it is here that we find love, fidelity, kindness, compassion and all other human traits. Our love for, and our sense of, responsibility towards our aging partner keeps most of us on the straight and narrow but it is a hard battle as we are fighting against our evolutionary inheritance.
Sometime in the distant past we diverged from the normal path of mammalian development that uses the sense of smell to become attracted to the opposite sex. We are now more akin to the birds in that we are guided more by our eyesight than by anything else when searching for a mate. Maybe we should not touch but everybody knows that just looking can't hurt anybody.
In these times of hardship most people are making conscious decisions not to have many children but this reasoning does not change the programming created by evolution in the most primitive part of our brain. This part of the brain is what keeps us breathing, keeps our heart beating, maintains our body temperature and like functions of our autonomic nervous system. This system is what enables us to dodge an oncoming arrow, blinks our eyes when something touches our eyelids, makes us pull our hand away from a hot surface and a myriad of other self protection reflexes and all this without us ever having to think about it.
Imagine if we had to think about everything we did, when it came to split second decisions of self preservation our serially processing thinking brain would fall short and our survival would not have been possible in a world of eat or be eaten. Man and most mammals with their convoluted brain would not have risen to domination on this planet if not for the reptilian brain that lies beneath it. The cerebrum likens us unto God and the brain stem likens us unto animals, hence the words of Plotinus: Man is midway between God and beast.

Old Joe was peering at his neighbor's young daughter from behind the curtain of his living room window. He could not help thinking that she had become a very beautiful young woman. Other thoughts may have crossed his mind but he would not admit those to anyone. Old Joe's wife entered the room and caught him spying on the girl; she became furious and called him a dirty old man. Most people do not have any idea why older people, men and women alike, admire younger members of the opposite sex. Hardly anyone has taken the time to figure out why they find themselves attracted to beautiful people. To think about it is not the function of the sentient mind.
The main reason for our attraction to good-looking people is that the parameter for beauty has been set in our minds from the beginning and beauty implies health. Healthy partners bear healthy and strong offspring; these offspring have a better chance at surviving.
These logical conclusions are performed by our reptilian brain without the conscious participation of the host.
he reptilian brain is the reason men are not too attracted to older women. It has nothing to do with being a dirty old man, but that the primitive part of our brain has passed judgment and older women beyond the child bearing age are not considered good candidates for partners.

Return of the Bees

A bee hive is composed of one queen, a few hundred drones, and from twenty to forty thousand workers. The queen has some control of the hive through the use of pheromones that stimulates behavior but this is mostly to announce her presence and her health to workers to discourage the raising of other queens. Bees swarm in order to create new colonies. During a prime swarm the old queen leaves the hive with a large group of worker bees. As soon as the swarm is settled in the new hive the workers raise a new queen but sometimes there will already be a replacement virgin queen in the swarm. In a healthy working hive when the old queen dies or becomes infertile a supersedure occurs and the new queen replaces the old one in the hive.
The new virgin queen fills the air with her pheromones and takes off on her mating flight; she must attract as many drones as possible. She can produce eggs without mating but these unfertilized eggs only produce drones. To produce workers and queens she must mate with the drones and store enough sperm to last her a lifetime: about two years. If the queen becomes infertile she will be killed by the workers and replaced. On some occasions there can be two queens in a hive and the mother and daughter exist together for a while.
All the workers are females and their particular job is determined more by their age than by anything else, the last job they have is the gathering of pollen and nectar and they literally work themselves to death at it. Every worker bee has a determined job at a determined age and these jobs range from tending the young, grooming and cleaning the queen to defending the hive and gathering pollen and nectar. The older bees can go back to some previous jobs within the hive whenever it is deemed necessary. Man and his technology have been able to synthesize many things made by nature, but honey is not one of those things. aWith the on-site help of David Hyde and the expert advice of pastor Perry Elwin, we hope this new venture in apiculture turn out to be a resounding success.

Amid the crying and the gnashing of teeth among the people on this island that still have something to lose, the year ended in a tiny harmonious note. That note is the humming of thousand of bees as they go about the business of making honey, oblivious to all but their instinctual duties.
Little they know of the greatest financial crisis the island has faced in the last fifty years. It was only a few months ago that I reported the lack of these tiny industrious insects on this island but all that has changed now. A few persons on the island including Bill O'Driscoll and Cathy & Jim Springer were responsible for contacting pastor Perry Elwin on Roatan and were able to acquire three or four queens and some workers.
I have reasons to believe that this strain of bees is the same one carried from here to Roatan by the good pastor just after the Hurricane Mitch. This is good because this strain is much less aggressive than the possibly africanized strains available on the mainland. Bees are believed to have been on this earth for about 100 millions years but the first documented (cave paintings) instance of man interactions with bees is about six to eight thousand years. It is known that the Greeks were keeping bee hives over three thousand years ago.
The honeybee as we know it came to the Americas with the Europeans and by the late sixteen hundreds, bees were widespread along the East Coast of the United States and eventually moved to other areas as the pioneers pushed further into the country. The American Indians wondered about the sanity of the white men who carried around their own insects and called the honeybee "White man flies."

Vengeance Begets Vengeance

From a very early age Honduran children are taught to seek revenge for anything unpleasant visited upon them by another. This revenge can have minor or very serious consequences, depending on the misdeed. Revenge commonly ranges from killing a pet or farm animal to killing another human being.
In spite of male bravado about the father being the boss of the house, the truth is that a mother rears her children. Amongst her duties is training her children to face the rigors of life spiritually, morally and socially. She trains all her children, but she makes special efforts with her boys. She will teach her three year old son that only girls cry when they hurt themselves. She will encourage - even demand - machismo from her sons. Her oldest boy will have complete control over his siblings, including the right to inflict violence on them.
The mother's training will produce young men who believe violence solves all grievances. These young men will admire men who murder for vengeance. In most cases the victims of these murders will be unarmed. These young men will render a perverse homage to murderers, praising them as 'having their own private graveyard'. These young men will believe that one should never strike a man who has caused you harm - rather you should kill him.
A mother also teaches her boys to defend her honor at all costs. Her boys will become young men who feel duty bound to kill anyone to question the virtual sainthood of their mothers. It is too bad that these same boys are not taught to respect all women as they do their mothers. They might then refrain from the insults and obscenities with which they routinely barrage other women.
The Honduran mother is responsible for carrying the torch of rancor and keeping alive the resentment and the desire for vengeance for a past injustice, be it real or imagined. We must look to her to transform this culture of violence.

In the middle of a busy public thoroughfare one man dowsed another with gasoline and ignited the volatile substance. As the victim's clothing burned he jumped into the water and doused the flames. Had the ocean not been so close he would probably have met a grisly death.
Many people witnessed this attempted murder yet nobody reported it to the authorities. In fact it became the joke of the week. When asked why he wanted to murder the victim, the perpetrator explained that the victim had committed some kind of misdeed against him about three years before. The perpetrator explained that after the initial misdeed, his wife had advised him to leave things in the hands of the law. The first year passed and the law did nothing. The perpetrator's wife then convinced him to leave justice in the hands of the good Lord. The second year passed without justice being visited. In the third year, the perpetrator reasoned that it was up to him to fix things. He bought some gasoline and a cigarette lighter and set fire to his enemy. Ultimately no one was seriously hurt, but this is not the norm in this country.

Caymanians All?

On the 30th of June 1502 Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Bonacco.
He landed and replenished his supply of sweet drinking water from one of the many rivers running down the mountains of this verdant Bay of Honduras island. It was in Bonacco that he became the first European to drink the exotic brew called cacahualt by the natives, a brew now known as chocolate.
Almost a year later, trying to reach Hispaniola from the Isthmus of Panama, Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands. The Great Captain's expeditionary force had been reduced to 2 caravels, both water-logged, worm-eaten and struggling to sail into the wind. These battered barges were captained by men with little knowledge of local currents, and found themselves far from their plotted course.

Almost all accounts of the Cayman Islands during this era describe turtles and alligators, with never a mention of human inhabitants. But the islands were eventually settled by British subjects knowledgeable in the construction of cisterns and tanks for storing rainwater.
Current-day versions of the history of the Cayman Islands ignore the Island of Bonacco, passing over its role in the growth of the Cayman Islands and vice versa. Yet the two islands have a similar history in that both were used by mostly British pirates and privateers. The Caymans served these pirates as waypoints, ports, and pantries abundant in rich turtle and caiman flesh. Bonnaco served them with drinking water and timber for refitting their vessels. Eventually both islands became colonies of Great Britain.
When turtles on the Caymans were almost extinct, Cayman vessels came to Bonacco for fresh supplies. The only cash crop the Caymanians planted was cotton, which quickly exhausted the limited available topsoil in the Caymans. When the US Civil War ended and southern states resumed full cotton production, plummeting prices forced Caymanian cotton growers out of production. Many former cotton farm masters and freed slaves made Bonacco their home, spearheading a migration of nearly half the Cayman's population to the Bay Islands.
Long before any kind of development on their islands, Caymanians traded their local thatch rope for any available Bonakian foodstuffs which could survive the return journey. Bananas, plantains and root vegetables were traded, even drinking water in years of little rain in the Caymans.
For many years most older residents of Bonacco were Caymanians by birth. Even after Boancco was turned over to Honduras, Bonakians and Caymanians traveled back and forth without need of visas or permits. Many years ago on a trip to the low land an old lady in West Bay asked me where I was from. I told her I was from Bonacco and she replied "Same dog puppy, we are all one blood son".
Bonakian names such as KirkConnell, Bodden, McCoy, McClean, Jackson, McLuaghlin, Bennett, Bush and Ebanks ought to be very familiar to Caymanians - indeed the name Ebanks originated in the Caymans. Bonakians of English descent are the only people in the Caribbean that speak Cayman's English.
But in recent decades much has changed. Younger Caymanians believe themselves to be God's gift to humanity. They forget the thatch rope days, and no longer distinguish between Spanish speaking Hondurenian and Bonakians. We Bonakians are all Hondurenians, and are kept from our ancestral home with all the legal power the Young Caymanians can muster.
I am one of many living outside the Cayman Islands who descends from John E. Banks, survivor of the Wreck of The Ten Sails. I send regards to all Caymanians from a fourth generation Bonakian/Caymanian.

New Project New Hope

Maybe it's too soon to applaud but I believe that someone has found the key to our eventual entry into the world of tourism. The idea, which has been on the drawing board for some time now, was presented to some of us a while back; and the feasibility study has been completed by some consulting firm with monies from BID. As put forth in the meeting, there are plans to build a hotel and cabañas for guests interested in archeology, anthropology and oceanography (scuba diving). The hotel will also contain a laboratory for students and scientists who are willing to pay for the privilege of researching the history of the Marble Hill and Plan Grande (Big Flat) archeological sites.
The hotel will not be constructed directly on the sites but will be within walking distance and will include all the amenities necessary to provide first class human comforts. There are plans for a museum that will house present day finds and also artifacts taken from the sites by F.A. Mitchell-Hedges back in the 1930s. The latter will be returned to the island from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.
In order for the repatriation to take place, the people of Guanaja must be directly involved through the municipality and the artifacts must be guaranteed to be returned to their original site.

Back in 1847 British scholar Thomas Young discovered the archeological site at Guanaja's Marble Hill, which was later rediscovered in 1930 by Mitchell-Hedges, a British explorer. Mitchell-Hedges compared it to the Druid stone formation found in Cornwall, England. In 1933, William Duncan Strong, an anthropologist with the Smithsonian Institute, noted that the Marble Hill and Plan Grande areas were the most impressive archeological sites visited by institute personnel in this area.
I did some research and found out that Mr. Mitchell-Hedges' written remarks reveal a high regard for the Marble Hill site, even comparing the site to Stonehenge. He writes of the artifacts: "Of the hundreds of specimens we found there, scarcely one was of ordinary character." However, when I tried to find out the monetary value of the 1,100 artifacts carried away by Mr. Mitchell-Hedges, I was informed by personnel from the official Mitchell-Hedges website that the artifacts are worthless, have been forgotten and have been stored in a dark corner of the Smithsonian Institute since the 1930s.
I find it unbelievable that a person of Mr. Mitchell-Hedges' reputation and expertise would go to the trouble of gathering over a thousand artifacts and then smuggle them out in his fishing gear without realizing that they were worthless.
Some of his findings also went to the British Museum. A letter to him from a Capt. T.A. Joyce of the museum's Department of Ethnography reads, "The specimens that you submitted have been carefully examined. And in my opinion they represent a very early type of Central American culture, probably pre-Maya." I am not knowledgeable in these matters, but with these kinds of comments I cannot believe the artifacts are worthless.
The proposed construction cost of the hotel including the purchase of the land at the building site is only about a $1 million, not a significant amount for the agency which is in charge of finding the money, FIDE.

The Change

While Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America, I remain disappointed and I would rather think that my disappointment is because I consider myself a person with conservative Republican political views.
In my opinion Mr. McCain's campaign was hampered from the beginning by the fact that this huge economical crisis the world is experiencing occurred during the Republican Party's watch. I am not too surprised by the outcome of the elections, because the captain is always blamed for the sinking of the ship no matter who pulled the plug, but most people don't know that all this financial mess is just a symptom of a larger crisis. It boils down to spending more money than you make.
The US government is no longer the leading economic power we all assume it to be. In recent years the US government has been borrowing money from all over including China. For the past one hundred years the US has boosted its economy and solved it unemployment problems by going to war every few decades, but this strategy no longer works because wars have became too expensive.

The idea to get houses for people that could not afford them goes back to 1938 and the idea was reinforced in 1970 by creating Fannie May and Freddie Mac respectively. These two organizations later specialized in subprime loans and private banks and mortgage lenders followed suit.
A subprime loan is lending money to people that are high risk borrowers, in other words you could lose you shirt giving credit to these people. It was in 1992 that Congress ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase low to medium income mortgages. During the Clinton administration Fannie Mae was investigated for racial discrimination because a lot of applications for loans by unqualified borrowers were being rejected.
It was also during this time that the secretary of HUD strongly suggested that at least 50% of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac portfolios be made up of high risk borrowers by the year 2001. Clinton's federal housing authorities ordered these two organizations to allow welfare and unemployment benefits to be considered as legitimate income sources for a person applying for a loan to purchase a house. Loans for mortgages were extended to people that could not even afford the down payment.
The government should not have allowed speculators to invest securities money in these high risk real estate deals. Clinton's administration can be credited with making possible the highest home ownership in the history of the USA, but at what price? Well, now the chickens are coming home to roost.
On another note, Hispanic voters looking for adjustment to immigrations laws that will let their illegal alien relatives live and work permanently in the US. Democrats offered more and Hispanic voters went across traditional lines and voted heavily for the Democrats, 3 to 1 for Barack Obama. There is no doubt that this was instrumental in Obama's victory. Well, we now have the first African- American president ever and maybe next we'll have a Hispanic president.

Why Christianity

I get a lot of criticism of my articles on religion and very little of it is constructive criticism. There are people who jump at the chance to criticize other people for their views on religion, yet they lack the knowledge necessary to explain or defend their own beliefs. It must be understood that most people get their religion from their parents and as kids they are already well indoctrinated. Yes, most of us are forced to accept our parent's religion.
My mother never bothered to check my homework from school, but if I missed a church meeting I was chastised for a week. No Christian I have ever met has taken the time to find out the reason why he or she is a Christian. Most of the Protestant denominations which abound in these islands were all invented in the United States of America some time in the middle of the nineteenth century. Yet almost none of the bible spouting crowd know the history of their own denomination, much less that of any other. We Island Christians have a poor regard for other denominations and especially for other religions. Yet none of the Christians I know have ever found it strangely remarkable that within the writings considered sacred by Christians, there can be found the complete scriptures of another religion, Judaism. They don't seem to know that Judaism is the undiluted religion of Jehovah and it's from there that Christianity and Islam both sprang.
Most Christians have never given a thought as to why the Christian movement was never based in Judea where it was supposedly born, or why it remained a Mediterranean religion for centuries.
The propagation of the early Christian religion was mostly due to the efforts of a person who never even met Jesus--Paul. Paul was a Jew born in Tarsus, which at the time was a part of the Roman Empire. His real name was Saul, and in order to be accepted more readily into the Latin world in which he lived he changed his name to Paul. He was a politician and his job was the persecution of Christians and their nascent church.
On the road to Damascus he had a change of heart after having a vision of Jesus Christ. This incident in the life of Paul is not mentioned by Paul himself in any of his many writings. Paul was a devout Jew and he never admitted to converting from one religion to another.
Paul's lifelong work was trying to unite the gentile churches he had founded with the church of the Jesus Jews of Jerusalem. As part of his missionary work Paul wrote letters to his churches in and around the Mediterranean, some of these letters later became books of the New Testament. As a matter of fact about half of the books in the New Testament (thirteen of twenty-seven) are letters supposedly written by Paul.
Paul was arrested in Jerusalem by the Jewish authorities on the charge of blasphemy and would have been executed there were he not a citizen of the Roman Empire. Paul was then escorted by soldiers and carried by ship to Rome. Paul must have been acquitted, or was never tried on the blasphemy charges, because he continued to travel freely through the Roman Empire and it was not until two years later that Paul was beheaded.
The churches founded by Paul were taken over by another missionary, one of the original disciples--Peter. Paul, on at least one occasion, had confronted Peter in regards to Peter's contradictory influence in the gentile churches. The Jesus Jews of Jerusalem insisted that the gentiles would have to submit themselves to the legal and ritual precepts of the Jews in order to become part of the church of Jerusalem. Peter disagreed with the Jesus Jews and these churches were never reconciled. The gentile church established its headquarters in Rome and with time it became the Roman Catholic Church.
The word catholic is an adaptation of the Greek word katholikos and it means universal. The Catholic Church still lays claim to the fact that it was the original and for fifteen hundred years the only Christian church.
Our local denominations hold no reverence for the Catholic Church even though there can be no doubt that it is the Mother Church of all Christians. I attribute this lack of consideration to our ignorance of the fact that the event which brought about the reformation of the church was not a protest against the Christian doctrine of the Catholic Church, but against the political and economical power wielded by the Catholics. At one time the Catholic Church crowned and deposed of kings in all European nations and the church owned at least one third of all the lands of Europe. Protestantism was born out of the need for social and political rather than religious reform.

Jukebox Music

Back in 1953 Miss Tessie brought to Bonacco the first coin-operated, electrical music playing machine. This was the start of a great romance between the then young people of Bonacco and a marvelous machine called the jukebox.
A little while later the owners of the Green House got a jukebox and before long there was another in the Blue Wave. The one I remember best is the old Wurlitzer 50 in the Blue Wave. It had a total of twenty five 78 rpm records and it had an ingenious mechanism that flipped the records over to play the opposite side.
A few years before when radio had been introduced to Bonacco, the whole town had gone crazy over country and western music. This music was mostly heard over XERF, a radio station with studios in Del Rio Texas and a transmitter in Ciudad Acuña, Cuaquila, Mexico. The reason for this geographical separation was the fact that the US government did not permit radio stations with the power of XERF (250,000 Watts) to operate on its soil. This radio station was instrumental in converting the people of Bonacco into die-hard country and western music fans. We would rise at 4am to visit with the neighbor who owned the radio and then spend hours listening to music. Some of the more devout fans even learned the commercial jingles.
In those days Bonacco's main source of income was from the boys who had gone to sea on ships and sent money back home to their folks. Whenever one of these boys came home for a short vacation they would bring back records with the latest hits they had encountered on their travels.
We eventually became acquainted with all the genre of music available at that time, and the young people of Bonacco became the best jukebox music dancers in the world. If the jukebox played it, we could dance it--no exceptions. We danced swing, waltz, country music, boleros, tangos, rancheras, merengues, calypsos, cumbias, cha-cha-cha, mambo and all the rock 'n roll styles from the twist to the watusi, motown and the mashed potato.
We became so talented that all visitors to this island never failed to praise our abilities on the dance floor. The Blue Wave was a unique dance hall in that it had been converted from a motion picture theater and the huge hall had 20 ft ceilings. This dance hall eventually got a large collection of records and every Saturday afternoon the young ladies were invited to change the record selection on the jukebox. While the girls were busy selecting records, the young men were busy scraping candle tallow on the wooden floor to make it slick and more suitable for fine dancing.
During this early period, the Blue Wave became not only a Bay Islands legend but also well known along the north coast. On almost every Saturday afternoon boats from Roatan would anchor in the harbor and everybody knew that they had come to watch or to try their own dance steps. The Roataners would comment that the Bonacco women must give birth on the dance floor because all their kids were natural born dancers. Later when Roatan got jukeboxes the Utilians would paddle all the way to Roatan just to punch (insert the coins) the jukebox.
Just to give you and idea as to our reputations as dancers I'll relate a little story of something that happened in Oak Ridge a few years back. Having a couple of beers in a dance spot were a German woman and a local Oak Ridge girl. As the girls drank their beers they watched a few dancers do their thing. Among the dancers there was an older man, around 65-70, dancing up a storm. The German woman said to the local girl, "That old guy sure dances well." The local replied: "He was born dancing." The German girl looked at the local girl with a question in her eyes, and then the Oak Ridge woman concluded, "They all dance well, you see, he's a Bonackian."
On Saturday nights in old Bonacco all the dancers came to the dance hall in their very best Saturday go to church clothing and highly polished shoes. The boys had every hair in place and slicked back using the finest ParaMi and Yardley brilliantine. These guys came ready to show off their dancing abilities under the bright lights illuminating the dance floor.
Back then, women wore dresses and the men wore their hair short, unlike now-a-days when girls wear men's pants and young men wear long hair and earrings in their ears and sometimes in their noses. The best jukebox music dancers in the world are no longer active. Many have died and the rest of us are all crippled up with arthritis, … but we were never defeated on the dance floor. We were phased out and forgotten by a less moral and a more vulgar type of dancers.
Dancing has come down to some convulsive jerking and twisting of the lower torso accompanied by some rather vulgar gyrations of the gluteus maximus. DJs have replaced the jukeboxes; and bachata, punta, and reggaeton have replaced the beautiful music of years past, with the latter two setting music back at least two hundred years. Whenever the DJ strikes up the new sounds the very first thing that the dancing public wants is for someone to turn out the lights.
No one dances with pride anymore. Even if there is a good dancer among all that mass of flesh, no one can see 'em dancing in the dark. All the light they need is a strobe lamp flashing once in a while so they can return to their seat when they become tired because the DJs never allow a pause in that cacophonous dissonance.
The best jukebox music dancers are only one of the many things we still miss: five cokes for one lempira, a cold beer for 40 cents, a can of corned beef for 50 cents, five pound of American margarine for one dollar, house rent at eight Lempiras a month. But just like the best jukebox music dancers in the world, these things we will never see again.

Working for a Wage

Many decades ago, on a Friday afternoon, I was summoned from the garden where I was working. I was complemented on the excellence of my work and handed five silver lempira pieces. On that day I had drawn my first wage. I had been remunerated for a five-day week after school laboring in the garden of a wealthy lady. With all that money in my pocket I felt a tiny bit of the power that comes with wealth.
I was as proud as I could be because I had earned the money by the sweat of my brow. Little did I realize that on that day I was as rich as I ever would be. When I arrived at home I went to my personal area and counted those silver coins over and over again. The clinking sound they made was like music to my ears. I quickly emptied a velvet marble bag that I owned, gently placed the coins inside and tied the bag around my neck.
That night as I awaited the sandman, I could not help thinking about my money. The more I thought about it the more I wondered what would be the best way to use the money. Here in my possession was enough money to pay somebody's rent for a month, or feed a small family for a couple of weeks. It could also pay five months of private tutoring in English, buy fifty double scoop ice cream cones, or one hundred packs of Sweet 16 chewing gum. I was rich and I knew it.
There were other people with money, but unlike those other people I had no bills to pay, or no other financial obligations. I had absolutely nothing to do with all my money.
Thinking back to that wonderful day I now sincerely believe that it was the only time in my life that I ever found myself in such an enviable position. Since that day I have never been without a paying job. Me and mine have never gone hungry, but I have never, ever achieved that degree of economic freedom since. Working for a wage has only made me rich that one time.
Earning one's bread by the sweat of one's brow is not all it's cracked up to be. I am in the acquaintance of at least a dozen persons that have never worked at a paying job in their lives and can buy anything they want. Mind you, not buy anything they need, but buy anything they want.
There is quite a difference between these two kinds of purchases. Buying "what you want" means you never have to ask the price. Buying "what you need" means you must always haggle for a bargain with the seller. Whenever I see people who seem to prosper with no visible means of support it brings to mind an old Yoruba proverb: "If the wicked prospers and the righteous suffers, one feels reluctant to do good."
Most of us will spend the bigger part of our useful lives working for a wage; and we all know that it is the wage earner who makes individual employers and corporations rich while we, the wage earners, will never ever have more money than we need.

Ignorance - Not Bliss

There seems to be a great upsurge of ignorance pervading the voting public throughout the countries of Latin America. For some reason I wanted to believe that it was because of the high rate of illiteracy in these countries; but as I look at the political goings-on in the United States of America, I have to modify my beliefs a bit. At this very moment the American people have selected from among their three hundred millions of inhabitants a man that may be less qualified for the job of president than our own great choice.
Barack Obama is a converted Muslim and a first generation American on his father's side. Had he ever been in the US military he would have had a hard time getting a top secret clearance, yet the American public is trying hard to make him the president of the their country. What have we come to?
It seems to me that his popularity is based solely on the fact that he is only half white. The people who selected him can rest assured that he is different from other blacks in the fact that he did not sit around on the front porch listening to his grandmother tell stories about picking cotton. His father was nobody's boy. None of the black candidates who have been rejected in the past by the American people can make this claim.
If Obama is elected president of the USA, this would be in keeping with the ongoing political trend in the western hemisphere to elect men to the highest office of the land that should be in another line of work.
Here in Latin America we have our own problems: Bolivia has its Evo Morales; Venezuela has its Hugo Chavez; Nicaragua has its Daniel Ortega; and we have our own Ing. Manuel Zelaya (the Ing. stands for Engineer in Spanish and this is an honorary title granted to him by the media, I have no idea by what authority).
The really sad thing about all these men is that they were all legally elected by popular vote. This goes to prove that the people almost never know what's in their best interest. This country has never been in such a drastic situation, and this goes double for the people of the departments of Atlantida, Colon, La Mosquitia and the Bay Islands, which all derive their livelihood from the sea. It appears that our president, in an effort to gain some brownie points with his left leaning friends, gave away half the country's fishing area in the Caribbean.
For the last few weeks everywhere you turn there have been news reports concerning the problems caused by the closing of the Toncontin Airport and the 85 families whose lives were affected by its shutdown. Well, over 2,500 families have been affected by the loss of an important fishing area. The Honduran government has decided that the solution to the problem created by this shameful act is the reduction of the fishing fleet on the north coast. This decision must have been made by one of the geniuses who violated the laws concerning the sovereignty of the country by giving away our ancestral fishing grounds.
I can't help but wonder how the powers-that-be will go about deciding who will have to tie up their boats. It seems to me that every time the presently ruling political party gets the power they do something fantastic, but this president takes the cake. We should not be surprised at this. We should remember that this party gave us the 14 month year (you get 11 months work but you pay for 14), the mandatory Christmas bonus (you have to pawn your house to pay it), prestaciones (you have to sell the business to pay this), and Colegio De Abogados (all transactions with the government must be done through a lawyer, whom you pay L 2,000 to get a L 800 income tax refund).
These aforementioned gifts have made us an importing country. The only thing we did not have to import was fish, but this latest dastardly deed could very well make us importers of seafood as well. His loyal party members claim that our president was not aware of the seriousness of his decision; but they must know that ignorance is not bliss if it harms others. So break with tradition, learn from your mistakes and do the right thing.

Payback Time

In almost all the countries of the civilized world there have been great changes made to laws that relate to the maintenance and support of young children by their fathers.
In one recent televised case a poor fool was obligated by law to provide child support for a child even after the results of a DNA test proved conclusively the he was not the biological parent. I can't imagine what kind of a court could hand down such a biased decision. At this very moment there a hundreds of men incarcerated for their failure or their inability to pay child support. Others are doing without and living on the edge of outright poverty by trying desperately to comply with child support laws in an attempt to keep from going to prison. In most cases the judges will decide on the amount that a man should pay to his ex for child support solely by the amount of money that the man makes These judges do not want to know what other expenditures a man might have or how many other people (including children) might depend on the support of that person.
I believe that a man should support his young children, but I don't believe that he should have to stop eating or start living on the street to comply with the law that obligates him to do so. The judges should take all things into consideration before ordering a man to pay any amount of money. The amount should be a fair and reasonable amount based not only on the wages of the payee but also on the age of the child and the needs of the child. The amount should be a partial support for the child and should not be an amount that would put the payee in financial problems. Most mothers that file for child support from their ex's, do it mostly as way to take revenge on their estrange spouses. These mothers would be completely happy if the judge left the man without a nickel in his pocket. I guess there is not much that a person can do to change these laws but I think that there should be an amendment to the law that would make them more just. The law that obligates a man to support his children should also include a clause that states that for as many years as a man had to support his children for this same amount of years the grown children will have to support their father. I know many fathers that worked their lives away for their kids and as they got old they were completely forgotten by their children. This is where the law would come in and if the children do not provide support for their father then they, (the children) should go to jail. There should also be a law that obligates ex-wives to pay back all the alimony she has received whenever she gets another man not another husband but another man.

Living with Your Name

It is becoming quite an acceptable practice for us islanders to place strange first names on our children. Many of us use first names that we have borrowed from other languages like Alfonso (Spanish), Stalin (Russian), Pierre (French), Giovanni (Italian) and so on. Others use the names of places like Richmond, Paris, Chelsea and Ashley. We also use surnames from our own language for given names like Kelly, Olsen and Evans.
Some people use common words from English and other languages as first names, such as Love, Faith, Hope and Joy, Consuelo and Caridad. Yet there are other names that imply conditions, such as Virginia, Patricia and Royal. Names like Bill, Dave, Dale, Willie, Jack and Tom etc. are diminutive forms of other English names, but we don't do our research and we use these short nicknames as formal names. Very few of us have ever bothered to find out where our name came from and most of us have never ever heard the word onomastics, much less know what it means.
Names have always been with us or at least from the time we learned to speak.
For ages one personal name was sufficient to identify a person in a clan or small group of people. As the size of our clans and tribes increased, duplication of names caused a bit of a problem and a lot of confusion, so a surname was added to facilitate identification.
I once believed that the low level of formal education of the parents was the reason that some folk picked strange names for their children. Now I think that the strangest names come from parents with low levels of social sophistication, and this seems to be true in all cases without regard to the level of formal education attained by the parents.
Social sophistication is an acquired condition; it cannot be learned in a classroom even though reading classical and modern-day authors helps the aspiring "sophisticate" to develop a convincing vocabulary. To become a social sophisticate one must always be aware of the people that surround oneself, and one must listen carefully to their speech in order to determine their level of social sophistication.
Money can be a very effective tool in the acquisition of social sophistication. The new world order of social sophisticates can very easily be convinced that money is all it takes to admit a new member into their order. But in this case the aspiring new member must be loaded; in other words, the new member must be rotten rich. You should know that if you acquire your social sophistication from coming into a pile of money, you should do more listening than talking because reverting to your original non-sophisticated way of speaking can give you away. If you had a strange name before you joined the club, you don't have to worry about that as a member of the club will find an adequate nickname for you, and in most cases they will forget your original moniker at least until your money is done.
Consider very carefully the name you pick for your child as it will have to last for a lifetime. As long as your child lives on the islands, there will be no problem with his name. But if the child should ever go somewhere else, there they will notice the difference. There is nothing more embarrassing than having to explain your given name to someone. You must forgive your father for putting a bad name on you and you must forgive your mother for doing nothing about it.

Humanity Lost

While watching a worker repair my boat I commented that the sanding of the fiberglass produced a strange smell. The worker commented that it must smell like food to some insects because he can remember that whenever he sanded many bees were attracted to the smell. He went on to say that the bees never show up anymore and I made a mental note to ask around about this insect. What I found out was astonishing: We have no bees left on Guanaja.
The importance of bees was brought home to me many years ago. I was spending some time on one of the Cays in the Vivarios chain and went about planting a few dozen pumpkin seeds I had brought with me. In a short time the seeds sprouted into many green vines that soon covered almost half of the cay. The vines produced a lot of showy yellow-orange flowers that thrived awhile, then fell off the vine. The vines produced only a few pumpkins.
I was about to destroy the plant when someone mentioned that the vine could not produce well because there were no bees on the Cay. He said that the few which did not fall off had been pollinated by some other insects, probably ants. The person who gave me this information had been a farmer and knew all about pollination and such things. The transplanted farmer then told us that we could pollinate the pumpkin vines by hand. Early the next morning everybody went about pollinating flowers by hand and soon we had hundreds of beautiful pumpkins.
As far as everybody can remember, the bees disappeared from Guanaja after Hurricane Mitch. Likely the unbelievably high winds must have destroyed all the bee hives and the trees that housed them. The few bees that might have survived would have starved to death because of the lack of flowers to feed on.
There were two or three species of bees on Bonacco: The European honey bee was the most important because of its proliferation; in smaller numbers was the native bee that built tiny hives in hollow tree trunks and limbs; and finally a moth-like bee of mostly pink and/or white color believed to be a solitary insect inhabited the island.
The bees are but one of the things that we are missing. We lost fruit and fruit trees, loke monkey caps, custard apples, sweet cups, wild locust, stinking toe, Cuban balls, huge white mangroves and the pullock (balsa wood) trees. The red mangroves are making a comeback in some areas, thanks to a replanting program by some organizations. The fauna has also suffered losses in the last decades: The green iguana has been over hunted, as has the cay iguana. The same fate met the wishywillie and the higgy-tee (jicotea), typically not eaten by islanders but by some of our island guests.
Because of Hurricane Mitch and because of a ban on hunting we have had an increase in the island rabbit (red rump agility) and white head pigeon populations. Our island parrot is still in danger of extinction. In the ocean we can no longer find beds of long spine sea eggs (sea urchins) or the round sea eggs with short white spines. Some of the fish that feed on the sea eggs like the old wife (queen trigger fish) are also a strange sight. Fish like the docta (surgeon fish) and the striped pilot fish are not as plentiful around our docks as they used to be. The jewlala, the pennymaw (painted snail) and the gallumbow (parrot fish) are things of the past. Maybe it is time for some learned persons to try to find out what is happening to our island, because maybe the disappearances of these species is just a portent of things to come-like the death and the bleaching of our one possession, the coral reefs.

When in Rome...

On a bright sunny morning not too long ago I found myself on the main street on the Cay in Bonacco. My attention was drawn to the lovely roll of a piano playing a very familiar tone. As I drew nearer I realized that it was Saturday morning and the music was coming from the large cement building that dominates that part of the cay-the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
I noticed that even though the music was very familiar, the lyrical component was in another language. As one of the few original Bonaccains left and an avid churchgoer in my youth, I found the singing of the Old Rugged Cross in Spanish quite strange.
I had never given it a thought before, but on that day I wondered if Jesus could speak Spanish and my train of thought went back to the fact that I had never questioned his ability to understand and speak the English language.
I guess this stems from the fact that as a kid I always had the idea that Jesus was an English-speaking Caucasian. The locals call the building the "Spanish Church" and, though it bears no resemblance at all to what most of us imagine a church should look like, the Spanish-speaking followers of the Seventh Day Adventist religion gather there to have their worship and other meetings.
It has been a while now since the Seventh Day Adventists on the island of Bonacco have been split into two groups-English-speaking and Spanish-speaking. The original English-speaking church took the back seat in attendance.
It has been about a hundred and twenty years since a great grand aunt of mine brought the Seventh Day Adventist message to these islands from the United States. For all these hundred odd years the church in Bonacco has prevailed through all kinds of troubles and tribulations. With this new arrangement pulling the younger members of the religion towards another gathering place, I don't see much of a future for the Original Church.
The little white church house in the middle of the Cay was once the focal point of this town, and all the hard-working people of the Cay would gather on Saturday morning to sing praises, commune with their God and greet their neighbors. The original building of that little white church house has long since been replaced with a more modern structure, but there is hope that the traditions will continue.
This division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church is just one of the symptoms of a great change that is taking place on Bonacco. The old catch-phrase, "When in Rome do as the Romans do," does not apply to our situation because the Spanish people came among us bringing their customs and their language. They came in such numbers that we were the ones who had to adapt. Instead of the newcomers learning English, we as the largest minority on the island had to learn Spanish.
They came to Rome and changed the Romans. Pitiful, but it brings to mind the words of a native who predicted that in a period of fifty years the English language on Bonacco would be a thing of the past. That native has been dead for about twenty five years, so we don't have long to go. Adios Amigos.

The Last Neanderthal

His name was Nook and he lived about thirty thousand years ago. He was the top hunter and chief arbitrator of his clan. Whenever there was a dispute among the members of his group, Nook was called upon to settle it. Nook also had one distinguishing characteristic that made him stand out from the rest of his group: he was a head taller than all the rest. On this particular winter afternoon his mind was occupied with the things he had seen just this morning. Earlier, he had climbed the hill that separated his little valley from the huge river basin on the other side and had beheld a strange scene. Nook saw it as strange, but little did he know that on the other side of that little mountain he had seen the force that would change his whole way of life and the lives of his entire group and their kind. On the other side of that hill he had spotted another race of bipedal mammals much like but yet very different from himself.
Nook knew that it would be only a matter of time before the new arrivals would discover his group and he was not sure what would happen. He knew from trail debris and animal remains that there was another group in the valley but until now he had believed them to be of his own kind.
Nook moved his clan farther up the valley; but because he was so completely fascinated by the new arrivals, he made daily trips in an effort to observer them from his secret vantage point. He noticed that even the female members of the new group were taller than anyone in his own clan, and they all had skin of a lighter color and were less hairy than his own. The strange clan seemed to work together more harmoniously and to use toned down vocalization to communicate with each other rather than with calls and gestures. Nook took his clan a week's walk from the little hill and left them on their own. He had decided to steal one of those females from the river basin on the other side of the hill and make her his wife.
If he succeeded in this great venture he would have to keep his new wife separated from the females of his clan because he was sure that they would destroy her. Nook was successful in surviving the fury of the other group, and his new wife survived the females of his own clan. He had taken the step which would guarantee that his genes would survive for all time, and he would never know that his offspring would proliferate and eventually dominate most of the western part of the Iberian Peninsula.
Nook was a Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and his gene flow would be the major factor in creating the stock of the Iberians. Many thousands of years later his genes would be carried to Hispanic America by the crews on the vessels of European founders and colonizers. The Castilian Spaniards used Iberians as crew and soldiers on all their voyages to the new world. Iberians were also left behind to "hold the fort" for the Spaniards. They are still here. Look around and you will find that Nook has us surrounded.

A Bad Hair Week

The flight to the coast was on time and this alone should have been a portent of things to come. Everything started going wrong from the time I reached the airport at La Ceiba; my regular taxi driver was not available and the one I got overcharged me.
Later that afternoon I tried to book passage on a bus going to Tegus, but I could not get a ticket for my 11-year-old boy because he could not produce an ID card. Two taxi fares later I had everybody booked on the Herman-Alas executive express to Tegus.
The next morning after all my luggage was brought into the station, the younger of the two men behind the desk came over and, using his best drill sergeant voice, said to me: "What do you have in that cooler?" I did not know what kind of game he was playing, so I told the truth: "Frozen seafood!"
That was the wrong thing to say. His little beady eyes lit up and his upper lip went pale. An air of accomplishment came over his whole person and he said, "It is forbidden to ship seafood on this bus line." Though I argued, in the end I had to call my cabbie to take the seafood back to the hotel.
The following day as we headed for the Embassy, the taxi drivers in the city decided to block all the street intersections. The police finally cleared the streets and the trip took a little longer than usual, but we arrived at the Embassy on time.
The Window B affair went off nicely. Miss Wendy Mejia is a courteous, kind and very helpful person. Whenever prizes become available for persons that, without any personal gain, can be kind to strangers, I will recommend her for first prize. The same cannot be said for the gentleman sitting in Window 7, who turned down every single visa application that had gone up to his window. I was looking for a visa for my sixteen-year-old daughter, and when this gentleman turned me down I literally went into shock.
I had this one figured for a sure thing: I'm a US citizen and the child's mother is a US citizen. I had every piece of paper anyone could ask for--my business permits, my bank statements, the registration form for my lobster boat, a letter from the packing house where I sell the product, deeds for some property, a notarized letter from the child's mother authorizing the application. I even had my US military honorable discharge form. But this guy never checked any of it. He just said NO. I muttered something in the way of expressing my disbelief, and we eventually got a single application visa for the kid.
I guess we were lucky because we left with a visa unlike some others who left in tears, humiliated and angry at his incomprehensible attitude. Most of us cannot accept rejection; but knowing that there is a legitimate reason for the rejection, not just somebody's whim, helps to ease the pain. This gentleman's attitude leads me to believe that there should be more screening and better training in the human resources section of the State Department.
I believe that a person holding such an important position should divest themselves of mood swings, angst, anger, domestic problems, hangovers and personal prejudices before coming to work in the morning. Mister "Window 7" should remember that his citizenship came about by an accident of birth and that mine was by choice and some sacrifice. I´m sorry he's not assigned to the embassy in Paris.

Road to Freedom

Felix had lived all his life in Castro's Cuba so any other kind of life was unknown to him. He was born and still lived in the province of Camaguey. As a young child he lived in the town of Florida, only a few miles west of the city of Camaguey. His family moved to the city sometime later in his life. This decision was controlled by the state.
His family had been on the waiting list of the Office of Interchange for many months before the move could be completed. The Interchange Office arranges moves between people that want to move to the cities and people that want to move to other towns and villages. The interested parties simply swap living quarters, there is never a fee or rent involved because all the housing units on the islands are owned by the government. Felix was now in his late twenties and he had become dissatisfied with a system that advocates the government's ownership of the natural resources, industry, banking, the news media, public utilities and even housing of the entire country. His spirit yearned for something else. He had heard all about the country to the north where individuals could determine their own destiny.
Felix loved his country but he decided to leave his beloved Cuba as soon as things could be arranged. His escape would have to be by homemade boat because all other means were controlled by the government. The most important item on his list of things that he must have was a small outboard motor for the boat he would build. That motor would be his means to another place and another life. A life far different from the one he was used to. From the time he was born his life had been regimented by the state and now the time had come for him to make a change. With the help of friends and family in Cuba and relatives in the USA, Felix made ready for the greatest event of his life.
It was decided that the northern route was too dangerous because it was patrolled by Cuban patrol boats and also by ships of the American Coast Guard. The route to the south was the round about way, but it was safer. They would head for the Grand Caymans and then on to Honduras from where they could arrange their overland trip to the north. The little 28 foot boat left Camaguey on a Friday night with 18 persons on board, persons that were willing to risk their life in order to create a better life for themselves. They tried to pass the southern islands in the dark but the little boat was only a few miles from the Cuban coast when the motor conked out. They got it going again before the dawn could lift its curtain of darkness that shielded them from the law.
After three days of drifting and getting the little motor to run for a few minutes at a time they were picked up by a fishing boat and they were landed on Swan's Island.
They had somehow bypassed the Caymans but at least they were in Honduras. The military personnel on Swan Island notified their counterparts at the Navy Base in Castilla and a fisherman from Guanaja was authorized to pickup the Cubans that had been left on the Swan. For a price of two hundred dollars a head they were brought to the island of Guanaja.
The spent another few hundred dollars getting the necessary paperwork that would enable them to travel to the mainland. On the morning of the third day on Guanaja, Felix and his traveling companions waved goodbye from the upper deck of the ferry boat to the dock below where the few Cubans that live on Guanaja waved back. Their next stop would be Trujillo and then after some more money on paperwork they were off on the last leg of their journey to freedom.
It is said that the trip through Mexico is more dangerous than the first part of their voyage across the ocean. The overland trip had been uneventful, all had gone according to the plan. Felix knew that the advantage the Cubans have over the rest of the citizens of Latin America is that once they set foot on the soil of the USA, they are home free. Six days after Felix left Guanaja he arrived at the home of his cousin May in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He had beaten the odds and now a new life lay in front of him, I wish him luck and I hope he learns to appreciate and support the political system and its many freedoms that inspired his dangerous trek. Felicidades Feliberto.

The Golden Calf

A few weeks ago I went over to the Cay on Bonacco and the church bell was pealing off the nine o'clock hour, the normal time for the start of Sabbath service in the SDA church. The street was filled with people carrying flowers and roses and other floral arrangements. I had never seen this before and I asked if someone had died. A kind lady told me that today was the last day of the Restoration Ministry in the Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist church, and the congregation had decided to pay tribute to the pastor. After all, he had come all the way from Mexico.
I commented that the SDA religion had never permitted offerings in the church to pay tribute to a pastor, the only tribute to be paid in the church was to be given to God. The flower carriers would later say the tribute was to Christ and not to the preacher. I mentioned that Christ had made the ultimate sacrifice and by doing so had put an end to offerings of that nature.

Whatever the reason for the extravagance, it was breaking with the traditional tenets of the religion they were supposed to be members of. The original Bonacco SDA Church and the religion it represents has maintained its credibility by always following a system of beliefs that has been with us since the SDA's foundation, some one hundred and fifteen years ago. These newest members of the SDA religion seem to be of a more liberal nature, and there is some concern that the lowering of the dress standards and a deviation from the tenets could occur.
We must remember that almost all the members of the Hispanic SDA Church were not born into the SDA religion. Most of them were at one time of the Catholic persuasion. Their previous religion is one of the most liberal and permissive of all the denominations of the Christian faith.
When I criticized the imported pastor I was quickly reminded that I was not a practicing Christian and that I had no right to criticize such a pious person. So I reminded them that when my English ancestors were off to the crusades to save Christendom, his Aztec ancestors were tearing the hearts out of living women and children to appease their many gods. I have been informed that besides the tens of thousands spent on flowers, the good pastor collected over three hundred and fifty thousand in cash for the cause. It is rumored that some people gave up properties and women donated their cell phones and their jewelry.
The bible does not mention anything about cell phones but it does mention the donation of jewelry. On that occasion the congregation, with the help of the chief temple tender, fashioned a Golden Calf to replace the true God of the Covenant. Maybe later that night they played bingo in the basement of the temple. Amen.

Whose Water Really Is It?

The ninth of October will go down in our history as a day of mourning. This day will be remembered as the day that the central government of Honduras gave away a huge swat of priceless maritime territory in the Caribbean Sea to the Ortega government of Nicaragua. While the politicians involved in this treacherous act celebrate their accomplishments, the rest of us who understand the extent of the damage done by this deed can only sit back and watch. Our lives are changed by a few over-ambitious politicians.
It is hard to get over the shock and anger at our impotence. Our government should have just taken a look back at the history of other claims by the Nicaraguans. In the 1950s we went to war because the Somoza government of Nicaragua claimed and was about to annex a large piece of Honduran territory. At that time they claimed to own the slice of land from the Cruta River to the Segovia River. Then, like now, it was all about petroleum that could "possibly" exist in the area. The geographical borders of Honduras were established hundreds of years ago, and the maritime limits are no exception.
Nicaraguans are famous for violating the border lines. On occasion their patrol boats have purposefully entered deep into Honduran waters to carry off vessels and crews with complete impunity. With the new border arrangements these incursions into our national territory will be more frequent and more bold because we have again proven that we are a weak people governed by weak-minded politicians.
In a previous attempt to safeguard our national territory the government of Honduras granted unsolicited citizenship to a group of Jamaican fishermen on the condition that they inhabit the cays in that area. The argument was that maybe the Mucos would respect the Jamaican natives and in that way we would be able to hold on to what was ours. The Jamaicans are still there on Savana Cay and the La Prensa has erroneously called them Miskito Indians.
The politicians, the military and even Mr. Arevalo of the television news show Abriendo Brecha seem to think that giving up a mere twenty percent of the territory previously own by this country is a good thing. All these people must be too young to remember our war with Nicaragua and the cry on the lips of the people at that time: "Cruta es Nuestra." Maybe they can remember our war with El Salvador when we screamed, "Ni una Pulgada."
Politicians should listen to the people, and this time we are yelling, "Paralelo Quince." The 15th parallel is the only dividing line, and there are many reasons why this should not be altered. The primary reason being that from colonial times all the territory north of that parallel belonged to Honduras. That should be reason enough, but there are others. Another is that modern navigational equipment places all the cays inside Honduran waters. Another reason is that GPSs can be set to notify the captain of a vessel that he is approaching the 15th parallel maritime limits. With the new border and its diagonal and sometimes meandering course it will be impossible to always know when you are still in Honduran waters.
To give some kind of reassurance to the fishermen, the government will have to place marker buoys all along the new border, or come up with a scale that will consider all the possible positions that can be derived from a cross reference of your westerly position as it relates to the northern limits of the new border line. The political hullabaloo was all about the fact that we became the owners of the cays in that area. Everybody that knows the area is well aware that Honduras has always owned the cays with the only possible point of argument being the tip of South Cay- its southerly extension comes close to, or touches the 15th parallel. This and this alone should have been the subject of negotiations.
President Zelaya and his "citizen's power" government should have taken into consideration the patrimony and the welfare of the citizens of La Mosquitia, the Bay Islands, Colon and the growing fishing interest in the department of Atlantida. When two persons go to a poker table the two parties should carry something of value to the table. Nicaragua had nothing to lose and Honduras lost 21 percent of its previously owned territory. Now President Zelaya and his Liberal Party claim a victory.

Unfair Nature

Fany years ago a French doctor made it his concern to try to determine the physical differences between the human female body and that of the human male. As close as he could figure it, there is only about a five percent difference between the two, to which he commented "vive la difference"! If that good doctor had made a greater effort to understand the real difference and not only the comparative difference of human organs his work would have not been forgotten in time. Creationist contends that man was created from dust but women where made form the flesh and bone of the first man; a much better beginning if you ask me. Man has known for ages that women were made of better stuff and maybe that's reason women have mostly been relegated to second class citizenship for eons. There are only a few great women remembered by history. As that French doctor found out, there is not a great many differences in the biological make up of the two bodies but he should have delved into the nature of the human female and his conclusions would have been quite different. One of the most important and confusing differences is the fact that women live longer than men. Most scientist claims that this had to do with hormones and what not but I believe that in the very beginning the life span of men and women were identical, then she invented language and everything changed. Yes, it was a woman that invented the art of using words to express her thoughts, she needed language to gossip and to communicate with her young children in the dark. The usefulness of prehistoric woman continued into her old age because she was needed to take care of the children of the younger women that went on the hunt with their male partners. Prehistoric man on the other hand became useless as he aged and after he used the newly invented language of the women to pass on to his sons the knowledge he had acquired on the hunt, he became a non-contributing member of the clan and very dispensable. It is said that women are weaker than men.
And in physical strength this may be so but she has a lot more inner strength and saves herself for the pains of child bearing and such stressful endeavors. Women have other attributes that go unnoticed as well. When compared to man she can stay afloat on water longer, she can starve longer, she can attend to more things at once that we can and she has a much higher threshold of pain that we have. She also has the ability to carry around a fifty pound load of flesh and fluids for months. This load displaces her internal organs in such a way that would probably kill a man. Her heart is pushed into the top of her chest cavity reducing the space she had for her lungs, her liver is pushed in her rib cage, her elastic belly extends to the point that she can no longer see her toes and through all this she can seem cheerful and rarely complains. From that belly she can produce a child that is from 20 to 40 percent of her height and 5 to 15 percent of her weight, fantastic, don't you think? Women love to beautify things and she plants roses and flowers. She can also make mundane things sound pleasant. She took the word most used to express true sentiment and put it to a whole different meaning because it was a woman that called her adulterous partner a "lover" and the act of having sex she calls it making love but she knows that the one has nothing to do with the other. As a woman ages she loses the ability to bear children but nature keeps her equipment in tip top conditions long after her child bearing age is over. On the other hand as man ages he keeps his ability to procreate but he almost always suffers from equipment failure. That is why women say that men can have sex when they are able to but women can have sex whenever they please. This seems to me that nature has been unfair to men. But the French are right when they say: Vive la femme!.

Trick Me Once Shame on You...

From the deck of the small sloop, Elder Hutchins and his wife Cora gazed at the rolling hills and white beaches of the historically famous and easternmost island of the Bay Islands Archipelago off the coast of Honduras. This was the island that almost four hundred years earlier Christopher Columbus had named the Isle of Pines, but he could have also called it Isle of Cacao because it was here that he tasted what would later be called chocolate. It was the first time chocolate had been tasted by any European.
The Hutchins were about to disembark on the island of Bonacco. The year was 1892, and they had come a long way from their home in the United States. Elder Hutchins had given up his dream of becoming a doctor to answer the call of the General Conference to become a missionary on these islands. It was only about 5 year earlier that the message of the Seventh Day Adventist was brought to these islands by Elizabeth Elwin, sister of Angelo Elwin, the founder of Mangrove Bight on Bonacco. At her request the General Conference had decided to send a missionary to further the message of the fairly new religious denomination in this area.
Prior to the arrival of the Elder, a few tracks and pamphlets had been passed out among the natives but there was no predominant organized religion in this place. The one gathering place that existed on the Cay was an interdenominational church where a few persons from various denominations would take turns holding services for their own. The very first time that Elder Hutchins held a church service on Bonacco, the turnout was impressive. The Elder knew that he was on fertile ground because these people were hungry for the word.
After the service the Elder met all those in attendance and was surprised to find out that even the local Methodist minister had come out to hear the sermon. He would later tell his wife that he now knew that the sacrifices they had made in order to be here would be worth it.
The Elder's previous gatherings on the island of Roatan had not been encouraging, so he decided that it must be this island that God had chosen to further his works in this part of the world. After the conversion and baptism of many of the populace, the new converts were able to purchase the gathering hall from the other denominations. The Bonacco Seventh Day Adventist church was born, the first SDA church of the Inter-American Division. The little, white church house in the center of the Cay became the focal point in the spreading of the Adventist message to other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. From here the Inter-American Division of the General Conference would send forth the message, from Boca del Toro to Panama and Bonanza, from Nicaragua to Morant Point in Jamaica.
With the keel hewn from a giant Bonacco pine, timbers from Jamaica and planking from Tampa, the local craftsmen (all charter members of the new church) built a little schooner for Elder Hutchins. The Elder, who by now had taught himself dentistry, used the schooner to carry the word abroad, while selling books and filling and pulling teeth to pay his way.
A few days ago, had they been around to see it, the good Elder Hutchins and those charter members of that first church would have been in shock to find out that after 115 years of existence the little white church was abandoned so that the members could attend a sort of revival held in the other Adventist church on Bonacco. It's a huge cement building, called the Spanish Church, that dominates that area of the Cay. I don't think I'll ever get used to the singing of the Old Rugged Cross in Spanish. It seems alien to me even to the point of being blasphemous. I can't help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the little, white church in the middle of the Cay that has meant so much to so many for so long.

Trick Me Once Shame on You...

What we might be getting is some kind of immigration control and established companies will get permits to import duty free, anything considered to be directly related to the tourist industry. This consideration has to be determined by personnel of customs.
What about us little guys? Tricked again, my friend. But, we did get our 750 lempiras license to carry arms rescinded. I can remember an incident that I consider to be one of the biggest screwing over that we Bonaccan ever got from the Honduran government.
It was sometime in the late 1940's after years of begging for help that the government decided to help us get running water in our houses on the Cay. To get this project off the ground we would need about 1,800 feet of two inch pipe to cross from the main island to the Lower Cays. The whole town turned out to greet the little freighter that was bringing the pipes. We got a couple of hundred pipes, but the glee of the town soon turned to astonishment and then to anger when the pipes were inspected and it was determined that the pipes were all four inch cast iron sewer pipes that had to be joined together with melted lead. Instead of pipes for potable water, the government had sent us sewage pipe that had to be joined with hot lead at seven fathoms down on the ocean floor.
We eventually got some 2 inch brass pipe, but not from the Honduran Government. At this very moment the Ministry of Tourism is in the process of laying sewage lines on the Cay and I was surprised to see that the largest diameter pipe they are using is 6 inch PVC. That size pipe seems a little small to me as it is the same size I use in my house and I only have 4 baths. There are at least one thousand bathrooms on this Cay. I firmly believe that we should get ready for another screwing over and this time it will have a very distinctive odor.

Iast December in a privately owned resort in the municipality of Roatan, la crème de la crème of the political powers in Honduras gathered to make a decision on the future of the Bay Islands. With no more than two "diputados" voicing their opposition to the idea of granting free port status to these islands, it was a forgone conclusion that at last the Honduran Government had came up with an idea that would benefit the whole archipelago and all its inhabitants.
The idea was superb and the people talked about nothing else for weeks. We Guanajeños could hardly wait until the idea was passed into law and published so we all could start forging our own futures without the burden of sales tax, income tax and duties on our imports. We conducted a census of our people so that only the natives and other people living in the islands at this particular time would benefit from this new law.
We finished the census and waited and according to rumors we will be waiting for a long, long time for the free port dream to come true. Away from the aroma of broiled lobster and the vapors of very expensive scotch whiskey, our distinguished legislative body had second thoughts about what they were going to do for the Bay Islands. According to persons in the know, the honorable members of the National Congress held meeting after meeting and whittled down the original idea until it was exactly what they intended to give us in the first place… nothing.

Falling on Hard Times

Some of those owners never saw it necessary to own a home on this island.The money they made was invested in other parts of the country. Other packing plant owners amassed huge sums of money in other countries and made local banks loans to operate their plants. This island is going down the drain fast because of the huge amount of money that has left this place over the last few decades. There has not been a consequential investment on Guanaja in many years and the cash outflow continues until this day.
Not only packing house owners are guilty of shipping money off-island. Lately they are getting a lot of help from the three telephone companies that provide services on Guanaja. Of these three companies, only Hondutel has any salaried employees in Bonacca Cay, a grand total of four. Hondutel, Megatel and Celtel take millions out of here on a regular basis and that money is gone forever. There is not much that can be done about that. Our local cable network does the same thing.
With the fishing industry on the way out and no one trying to do anything else, there is not much hope that we will come out of these hard times soon. There is some hopeful news that someone is starting to build a first class hotel on the north side. This is good, but only a very few locals will get work with those foreign owned hotels. To help the whole island we need local investors to build small hotels and finance locally owned sport fishing and diving activities.
I know that European tourism will increase in these islands in the next few years in part due to terrorist activity in their usual Asian destinations. American tourism will also increase at the expense of the Cayman tourist industry. This is due to the fact that their biggest attraction, the feeding of stingrays, is no longer attractive after the accidental death of Steve Erwin sometime last year while handling a stingray.
For us to take advantage of this, we need to convince the few people of means that we have left to help bolster our overtaxed infrastructure and look towards an economy based on tourist dollars. They should set other goals not only for themselves, but also for the whole town and then maybe we will be able to pull ourselves out of this precarious economic situation in which we find ourselves.

In these times of economical stress whenever I mention the desperate straits in which we find ourselves on Guanaja I always get the same response, "it's tough everywhere." This is fine for a response but it does not help the situation too much. Every body seems to have a different opinion as to how and why we find ourselves falling on hard times.
Some of these opinions are based on just a little fact and a lot of conjecture. There is one thing that is certain and that is that the bank is calling in some long overdue notes and the people that owe the bank cannot come up with the money. For too long we have based our economy on the fishing industry. Most boat owners are not only indebted to the bank, but they also owe a lot of money to the packing houses. Some of us kept borrowing money to buy boats even long after the hand writing on the wall foretold of a dying industry. We have over-fished, caught undersize and spawning lobsters in violation of every conservation law ever written. We have used borrowed money to coerce any government official with any authority into doing our bidding. We offered them big money for permits to fish lobster and even though there have not been any new slots available for many years, those officials took our money and issued those permits.
With so many more boats fishing the same product, our limited resource (lobster) had to be shared into so many more pieces that some of us couldn't make enough money to pay our bills. One thing I must say is that almost all of the money made by the boat owners went into this town's economy. The same cannot be said for the owners of the packing plants. I cannot recall any incident on any occasion that the owners of any of the packing houses did anything of mentionable merit for the town from whence they extracted their millions.

Dear Mr. Bush

The children of those people who got old and have never contributed to the SSA must be obligated to take care of their parents. If these old folks do not have any kids then they should look toward the churches for support, or toward other organizations that beg millions every year for poor people overseas. Part of your job is to remind these organizations that charity begins at home and to remind everyone that the US government is not a charitable organization. You should make it a federal crime for individual states to maintain healthy poor people. That's like force-feeding a two-legged horse. There is nothing to get from that.
After you weed out these bums and goldbrickers, there is something else you can do to guarantee the survival of the SSA. You must open your borders to everyone who is healthy and is between the ages of 18 and 30. This will guarantee Social Security income for a long time. These workers will not be allowed to open IRA's and such things, and they would have to pay the maximum payment allowed by law no matter what their salaries are. These workers will be deported on their 61 birthday and they can be deported before that if they miss one payment to the system. The latter will be deported to their native countries on foot after they have swam the Rio Grande going in the opposite direction as new emigrants.
On your problem in Iraq you must call the Pope and, if he will talk to you, let him know that we are not fighting insurgents and terrorist as is believed by some. This war is Islam against Christendom, and it will have to be fought in every corner of this earth. The Pope must convince his followers (one billion or so) that in order for them to avoid a delay on their way to heaven (bypass purgatory), they must consider all Muslims as unbelievers and infidels. Christians must do as the Muslims have taught them: They must kill an infidel so their stay in paradise will be guaranteed and upon arriving in heaven they will be presented with seven virgins and all the Italian wine they can drink.
Dear Mr. Bush, I hope these ideas have been of some help to you. If you could run again, I'd vote for you.

I know that this may not be the right time to add to the criticism you are receiving over some of your policies, but maybe you could use some of my suggestions to get things back on track and improve your image at the same time.
I believe that special consideration should be given to all Mexicans in the United States, those that are there legally and those that are there without documentation. We must remember that it was the Mexicans who won WWII. My greatest concern is all the rhetoric that I've heard about the Social Security system failing. That worries me, but I have an idea that will guarantee that the SSA could meet its obligations for the next forty years at least.
You must remind the administrators of the Social Security system of that fact that this organization, when it was created, was suppose to be like a Christmas club. If you did not contribute to the fund, then you could not get benefits. Today however, there are people who go to the USA when they are old; and even though they have never worked a day in their lives in the USA, these people sometimes gets more money from the system than those who have contributed to the system.
I personally know of guys who have worked only a couple of years and go back to the States before they are even 60 years of age and claim disabilities and get big money every month.

Barbaret’s falling out

The foreigners at the meeting were concerned more with the aftermath of the incident and the scapegoat of foreigners in the local media. Several people raised concerns that both Roatan TV stations, run by Spanish speaking staff, have accused Kelcy Warren, an American owner of Barbaret, of ordering or personally killing the Helen island youth. "I was frightened of what Roberto [Romero] was saying and how far he was inciting the people," said Helen Murphy, an American living on Roatan, about a Channel 4 TV personality.
Channel 4 owner, Marco Galindo, agrees that the Barbaret coverage crossed a line: "These guys [Channel 4 personalities] are not very smart and when people call in, it makes a big commotion." While Galindo says that Channel 4 coverage is far from being journalism, he still gives his TV staff a wide degree of independence.
A different take on the matter had Congressman Jerry Hynds. "It was the Spanish media that took advantage of this. They [just] didn't want to say Spanish guys killed some black boys," said Congressman Hynds. "There was always a great rivalry between island people and Spanish people." As Bay Islands grow and the wealth gap amongst its residents widens, foreigners will likely play an active role in this "rivalry."

The death of three Helene Island youth in a boat ramming and the Spanish TVs coverage of the incident became the focus of the meeting at Coral Cay on June 6. Around 50 foreigners listened to the authorities' version of what took place and then voiced their concerns. "This was no accident. This was premeditated murder," said Congressman Hynds.
Congressman Hynds and Governor Thompson agreed that arrests were made swiftly and the judicial process was taking place as it should. Still, at least some Saint Helenians were leaving nothing to chance. "We have people who trace them, so the authorities just wouldn't let them go on the mainland," said Wally Bodden, Santos Guardiola councilman, about the three men arrested for ramming the Saint Helene boat.

Lobster Guilt

My boat alone maintains forty families. Someone said that he could tell that the diving business was not a success because there were no rich divers. If he had looked a little closer he would have found out that there are no rich dive boat owners either.
The ad writers, using fallacious information stirred up interest in the international community for the "plight" of the Miskito Indian and now the international concerns are pressuring the Honduran government to close the diving.
Few mention the accident rates in diamond mines, gold mines, the petroleum industry and the fishing industry throughout the world. One recent year, in the United States alone, 285 fishermen lost their lives doing their job, the bigger percentage of those deaths occurred in Alaska. Maybe some headlines should have read "Some one may have died to get you that king-crab dinner".
In one fourteen year period (1972-1986) there were 960 linemen killed in the United States and Canada, but I don't remember seeing any headlines that read, "Some one may have died to keep your lights on."
There is nobody more concerned with the health and welfare of the Miskito diver than a dive boat owner. After all, we are the ones that have to pay and one sick diver can set us back quite a bit and a dead diver can create a permanent burden with a packinghouse. My motto has always been "Bring my boat back empty before you bring me a sick diver" and I want to believe that these are the sentiments of all dive boat owners.
There is an inherent risk in SCUBA diving, whether it is for lobster, for oil exploration or for pleasure and there are also dangers and risks in many other lines of work but there has been and always will be individuals that are willing to chance the odds in order to feed their families.

Everything wrong with the lobster diving today was started by persons that got lucky and was able to get out of the business. Some of those people are under the impression that if the diving is closed the boats that fish lobster with divers are going to disappear. Well they are wrong; the dive boats will become direct competition for the trappers and their traps.
A few years ago some of those people went to great lengths to have the diving closed and those same people went so far as to publish ads in foreign newspapers with such phrases as "Someone may have died to get you that lobster dinner". Those people are supposed to be concerned with the health and welfare of the Miskito Indians. These international concerns seem to overlook the fact that tens of thousands have died and are still dying in coal mine accidents around the world. Maybe some headlines should read "Someone may have died to keep you warm this winter." While those people were writing and paying thousands of dollars for ads, the dive boat owners were and still are feeding all the people of the whole Mosquitia.

The Evil Amongst Us

The virus is present in all the bodily fluids of the infected person and during sexual contact it gains access to the uninfected person's blood stream through openings in the mucous membrane and through breaks in the skin.
HIV is a human retrovirus and once it has accessed the blood stream it then enters the human cells by binding to receptor proteins on the surface of human immune-cells (T cells). The virus then uses the cell's reproductive mechanisms to replicate itself as many times as it can before the cell dies. With the virus (HIV) using the cell's reproductive devices the immune cell cannot reproduce itself and over a period of time the immune-cell (CD4) count will drop from 1000 in a healthy person to 200 or less (per microliter of blood) in an infected person and this is when the full blown symptoms of AIDS appears.
With the continued depletion of the body's immune CD4-T cells, the immune systems will be unable to defend the body against any of 25 or so opportunistic diseases, any combination of which could be fatal. In spite of people's fear of being near an infected person, no evidence exists that link HIV transmission to casual contact with an infected person such as a handshake, hugging, or kissing on the skin, or even sharing dishes or bathroom facilities.
The HIV virus cannot exist for extended periods when exposed to the normal environment so you cannot pick it up from surfaces like you can with bacteria and other viruses like the ones that cause the common cold. During the last few years, this disease has become rampant among the inhabitants of this country, and it is now invading the islands. It is known that almost one hundred percent of the cases on these islands are attributed to unprotected sexual contact. To avoid contracting this virus, the safest thing to do is to "hold on to what you've got" and keep your loving at home and most importantly abstain from causal sex.

Most people still believe that AIDS is a venereal disease but I guess most medical persons would categorize it as a disease of the blood. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus gains entry in the blood stream by intimate sexual contact with an infected person and contact with contaminated blood.The early years after the discovery and identification of the HIV virus, the carriers of this virus were marked as persona non-grata in nearly every place the disease appeared. Even today, the social stigma placed on a person carrying this virus is still a very real part of an infected person's life.
Ignorance of the well defined modes of transmission and fear of becoming infected by the ordinary means reserved for other contagious diseases have sometimes led to complete rejection of anyone known to be infected and on occasions to violence against infected persons.
The original idea that AIDS was an evil disease was probably because of its early prevalence among prostitutes and homosexual men. A prominent politician was said to have remarked to the press that "if the disease is left alone it will become a blessing to mankind by eliminating the less desirable elements of our society", namely the prostitutes and the homosexuals. During this first encounter with the virus it was called GRID (gay-related immunodeficiency disease) but soon after this then real illness was discovered in populations groups outside the gay community. The name was changed to its present form; "Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome."

Jesus & Judas

The arguments for the resurrection are weak and could be classified as merely hearsay. Jesus predicted his death and placed great emphasis on his resurrection because the latter event would prove without a doubt that He was the long awaited messiah. His crucifixion was witnessed by all of Jerusalem but the resurrection, the single most important event on which the Christian faith is based, went without witnesses.
Our knowledge of the resurrection is based solely on the testimony of a few of his followers, the people he had to convince of his claim to be the Son of God. On that Sunday even Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him. He had only been in that sepulchre for about thirty-six hours. Mary Magdalene confused Him with the gardener (John 20:15) until he spoke in a special voice. He also had to use His special voice to convince Simon. Unfortunately Christ did not survive the ordeal on the cross: that gesture of mercy by that insignificant roman soldier was the reason why.
I'm not sure if the Gospel of Judas is important. There are about thirty other gospels written in about the same time period that go unmentioned in our bible. Judas has always been categorized as the villain in the Jesus story. Judas was the true friend and also the confidant of Jesus. There was only one person that could have saved Jesus from execution and that was Jesus himself.
On the occasion of his first day in the hands of the chief priest when asked if He was the Son of God, he answered them: Ye say that I am, (Luke 22:70). That expression can be translated into something like: if you say so! That is a wise crack in any language.
Judas Iscariot committed suicide but it was not because of a guilty conscience, it was from sorrow and grief because he had lost his best friend and that was not supposed to happen. We will just have to wait and see what affect these book and movie revelations will have on our beliefs. I must agree with Tom Hanks who, in the tradition of Yogi Berra, said: "You gonna believe what you gonna believe.

Every time I turn on the TV these days there is someone discussing the DaVinci Code book, or the recently made public Gospel of Judas. There are pros and cons to both these two stories. The pros are usually the writers, the discoveries and investigators. The cons are every Christian denomination in existence, with the most vociferous being the Roman Catholics. The only thing that can be said for the DaVinci Code is that it is a fanciful idea and a well put-together piece of fiction.
There are many ideas of what could have happened to Christ after crucifixion. Some have Him surviving and some have Him being survived by his wife and daughter. Both of these ideas are based on suppositions and/or information from sources other that the bible in circulation today.
If anyone would read the New Testament carefully and without any preconceived ideas you will find that there is a lot of evidence that Jesus Christ of Nazareth perished on the cross. According to one account, on the day of His crucifixion when it came time for Him to "die" Jesus uttered: "It is finished." He then bowed his head and gave up the ghost. In this same account His followers requested of the soldiers not to break his limbs to hasten death, as was the custom. Then without warning a roman soldier thrust a lance into the side of Jesus Christ. This wound was not a part of the established procedure and it was the coup de grace for the crucified and weakened Jesus. Jesus died.

Wages of Sin

It is said that Jesus Christ came to earth to save mankind from sin, but the sentence was never repealed and man must still die before he can have eternal life.
According to some beliefs every person is considered a sinner from the moment of conception, or at least from the second we are born. This in itself is a great injustice. Adam was condemned without a trial by a jury of his peers and was denied the benefit of proper legal counsel. Even an inept public defender would have yelled entrapment. The real culprit of this case was not Adam, or Eve. The perpetrator of this crime (sin) was Satan.
On the day Lucifer was created, God must have left his crystal ball at home, because God apparently did not look too clearly at the future and did not know what lay ahead for mankind. If God did know what was going to happen, then I don't think that He should be credited with all that love and all mercifulness.
I always hear preachers yelling about. I believe that for that one crime (eating the fruit) there should have been no more than one punishment doled out. Death alone would have been punishment enough for that little crime.
If the judge was not satisfied with making death the wages of sin, He should have said "the wages of sin is death and mosquitoes" this most certainly would have been enough of a sentence.
Now that we have enough people to form a proper jury I'm calling for a retrial of Adam and Eve and I want to have a couple of Jewish lawyers on their side of the table. Satan must be brought in as a material witness and by his very nature he should be considered a hostile witness. Because he was the inventor of lies and deceit everything he says must be taken with a grain of salt. We must have the original judge sit at this new trial but the judge must be warned that the jury alone will decide whether to convict or to acquit the defendants.
If the defendant is acquitted the old sentence must be repealed and it must be retroactive back through time, and all those that have died because of sin must live again. If we win this case and Adam is acquitted, it will prove that the great one is not infallible and I will go on to demand some democratic changes in the dictatorial system of government that has held power in heaven for so long.

Somewhere in the bible it is written that the wages of sin is death. This would imply that those that do not sin will not die, but we all know that without exception death comes to us all. According to our only source of information we are all condemned to death because of a transgression that took place in the beginning of creation.
When the time comes to die it matters not what kind of person you have been throughout your life, but when that bell rings you must answer. Saint and sinner alike are gathered by the grim reaper and then they are placed side by side in the tomb with no distinction of rank or social order. Death has been an accepted part of life for ages, but it was not a part of living until after the original sin.
When Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden he was taken by the hand and led to a tree that would have gone unnoticed among the thousands of other trees that filled the garden. Adam was then warned that this one particular tree was not to be touched and the fruit there of was not to be eaten. While God instructed Adam, the devil must have been within ear-shot and devil, overheard everything that was told to Adam. Later on, devil would talk Eve into taking a bite of that forbidden fruit. This 'unimportant event' is documented as the first sin and it was that sin that ruined everything, not only for Adam and Eve, but for all the rest of mankind forever.


Democracy- Honduran Style

Every body knows that in this country we vote strictly according to tradition.
You might ask why is it then that in a specific area, the party that's in power during an election can end up losing that election.
.... /December 2005/

A Mother's Love

Many years ago on a small farm on the island of Bonnaco a small boy lay very ill and though he was being tended to by his loving grandmother the labored breathing of the child was a sure indication that without the proper medication this child would die..... /June 2005/

A City In Decline

A few days ago an article in a newspaper caught my eye. The article had to do with the economic situation of La Ceiba. The paper mentioned how the city no longer has any industries or any factories of consequence..... /January 2004/

The Missing Button

In a previous edition of this magazine, I wrote an article about my present-day beliefs in Christ and Christianity. However, I was not always of this persuasion..... /January 2004/

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