When Bill Brady first began the Carambola Gardens in Sandy Bay, the idea was clear: Make an environmental sanctuary to teach and educate Roatan’s residents and youths about the wonders of the Caribbean wildlife that make up the Bay Islands. However with the influx of tourism during the last two decades here on Roatan, the motive has shifted from merely the island’s residents to citizens of all nations. “Nature is the star here,” remarks Brady, who is constantly seeking a balance between sustainable environmental education and business promotion. “We could all use a little extra dime.”
Brady found his way to Roatan while serving the U.S. Peace Corps in 1971, acting as an architect and engineer here on the Bay Islands capital. “Many of the buildings I designed are still standing here.” After three years working on Roatan, volunteering for a an extra year after the initial two-year stint was up, Brady briefly revisited his home of North Carolina before returning to the island. A decade later, with money saved from his architecture firm, the Carambola Gardens were sectioned and planted years before cruise ships and the respective influx of tourists began adorning the docks of Roatan. Even then, Bill Brady states one could witness the impact human progress was making upon the natural environment here. “At that time you could really see what development was doing to the island.” Fearing the outspread of further commercial, industrial, and agricultural expansion, Brady’s goal was to create a sanctuary for wildlife where Mother Nature could develop and sustain itself with little or no intervention. “We basically just overplanted and let nature do the rest.” A visit to the Carambola reaffirms this testimony; a gardener of any type is rarely seen.
However times have changed for Brady and his tropical gardens. Roatan’s second cruise ship dock at Mahogany Bay promises to dramatically increase the number of visitors to Carambola and with it, threatens the pristine environmental sanctuary that is its Gardens. As common sense would infer, the more people any natural environment sustains, the further its degradation. Yet, Brady remains unfazed. Trusting the consciousness of his guests as people who love nature, Brady speaks with confidence in regards to progress. “We have room to grow.” Brady said. Explaining that his gardens have seen upward of 350 guests in a day and room for more, Carambola’s secondary trails remain practically unexplored by the majority of visitors. When asked how many more guests Carambola could sustain Brady is certain with one point. “We will never expand our way out of what we made (the gardens) for.” [/private]