RAINY SEASON 2011 Editor Jeff Stratton Publisher
Rainy season | 2 0 1 1 Vol. 01 | No. 04
Captain vern 8
Ad Production Susan Reed Professional Counsel Lori Reed Writers Sheryl Norman
Kevin Stratton, Deirdra Funcheon Tori Chriestenson Joe O’Donnell Philia del Mar Tom Bowker Chef Francis Proofreader Martin Wagner
island flavor ....................................... 26
the green mango................................ 37
cd review............................................. 23
caribbean island news.........................9
going deep.......................................... 24
ON THE cover: Roatan’s reef: How can we keep it healthy in the face of challenges from all sides?
shame and scandal............................ 10 Editorial Intern Kaela Watkins
ROATAN REEF REPORT....................... 12
__________________ www.RoatanNewTimes.com editor@RoatanNewTimes.com feedback@RoatanNewTimes.com cel (504) 9956-9845 sales@RoatanNewTimes.com cel (504) 9956-9845 ________________ All content ©2011 Roatan New Times All rights reserved. All wrongs reversed. Annual Subscription Rates Domestic: $46 US: $120 Canada: $175 Roatan New Times is not affiliated with New Times/Village Voice Media Inc.
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he news out of Honduras these days is grim, the prognosis pessimistic. On the national level, the recent United Nations Global Study on Homicide places Honduras at the top of the
world murder rate with 82.1 murders per 100,000 population. U.S. law enforcement officials now proclaim Honduras to be the number one transport hub for cocaine making its way to the USA. And yet, National Geographic named Roatan one of the “10 Best Trips of Summer 2011”, Kiplinger declares Roatan to be one of the “8 Great Places To Retire Abroad”, Islands magazine goes one further and honors Roatan as the “#1 Island in the World To Retire On.” The list of accolades goes on and on. Can these seemingly incongruous honors all be true at the same time? Can this island that we call home be part of something so beautiful and yet so ugly at the same time? I am constantly answering the same set of questions once these visitors realize that the guy selling them their tour is definitely ‘not from around here’. “Where are you from? (St. Louis), How long have you lived here? (6 years), Why did you come here? (For the diving)…. YOU MUST LOVE IT?!” To which I respond, “I MUST!” I DO love it here. I MUST love it here to stay after being the victim of repeated break-ins, petty thefts, and even an armed assault that threatened the lives of both myself and my wife. Many who choose to live here are financially invested and cannot afford to leave behind their homes, their property, or their business. If the time came, and we decided that Roatan is a lost cause, we could simply pack our belongings and leave. Instead, we have decided to follow the advice of Robert BadenPowell, lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement. In his final statement to the scouts he advised: “Leave the world a little better than you found it.” In this case, we have decided to focus on the island that we love and choose to call home. From this determination the Roatan Action Committee was born. I would encourage all of you who live here, whether by birth or by choice, to commit to doing your part to make this island a little better than you found it. It will be a slow process, but one that I believe possible and one that will be rewarding on so many levels. For more information about how you can become involved, visit our website at roatanaction.org. — Mark Flanagan, Roatan Action Committee ROATAN new TIMES.com
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>> GOT SOMETHING TO SAY? firstname.lastname@example.org SPL CHKN A) Chicken is with a c… it is embarrassing to see these grammar mistakes on a sign for a business. If you are going to invest in a sign that has two words on it, the least you can do is look them up in a dictionary. B) Tong is off the island forever so there will be no “reopening” of Tong’s. Finally, someone who is not a fool and left. Good for him. “an ex-resident of roatan,” via roatannewtimes. com, re “Roatan Restaurant Update”
SHAMING SCANDAL After reading “I Was Here First” I can only wonder – that’s the best you can come up with? I’m sure there are lots of “old timers” (not necessarily age related) who could provide you with a more gracious insight to the history of the island, if that’s what you are trying to accomplish. I wouldn’t consider arguing with “Prof. Ebbens” because it would be an incredible waste of time. Shame on you for publishing such drivel. Beatrice, via roatannewtimes. com
“It’s so good if people can laugh at themselves from time to time.”
YOU MAKE FUNNY I was reading Roatan New Times early this morning (3 a.m) as I am an insomniac. I woke up my husband by laughing too loud when I read the article “ I Was Here First.” That is hilarious. I wonder who that is about? Still laughing. The magazine is truly an amazing addition to our island. Great reporting. I wish that it was a weekly publication, as a month is too long to anticipate the next fun read. Great job. Tricia Rolston Power, via roatanreality chat group
A PULITZER? FOR US? AWWWWW...I absolutely cracked up when I got to page 37, The Green Mango, the news that doesn’t fit anywhere else. The Green Mango deserves a Roatan Pulitizer Prize for Medicine. Because when I get to The Green Mango, I laugh so hard I’m sure it lowers my blood pressure and pulse rate. Laughter is good for all of us. Yes, the “I Was Here First” segment was, as we know, a spoof on a particular professor from N.C., the one who knows more than any living thing on the entire planet and he’ll tell you so. It’s so good if people can laugh at themselves from time to time, but I don’t think he would be laughing. Donna Dunn, via roatanreality chat group
MEANIES! I’m not a history buff and don’t always appreciate “Prof. Ebben’s” dissertations on all subjects Roatan, but humor by ridiculing and mean-spirited sarcasm is just cruel. Kelly, via roatannewtimes. com WORTH A BEER I got all sorts of looks as I was sitting reading, chuckling and laughing while reading “I Was Here First.” I have to say I cannot give you full credit as apparently you have borrowed most of the article from actual writings of the good Professor Ebbens himself, but holy crap! I wanna buy you a beer for that one! LMAO! David (the udder one) roatanreality chat group BRINGING TEARS TO EYES I thought “I Was Here First” was an awesome piece of writing and I enjoyed reading it – truly Onion worthy. Emily Flowers, via roatannewtimes.com LAUGH IT UP Too funny! Lighten up people, you gotta have a little laughter every now and then. Hank, via roatannewtimes. com 5
local news SUSPECT IN ROGER WALLS MURDER FOUND NOT GUILTY by Jeff Stratton
ast month, Julie Thompson, the woman accused of planning the murder of Canadian architect Roger Walls on February 27, 2009, was found not guilty by a tribunal of three judges in a La Ceiba courtroom. Reports indicate Walls’ Honduran attorney and other prosecutors were stunned at the news. An appeal is planned, and Thompson remains in jail over fraud charges also related to Walls that are ongoing. In typical Roatan fashion, a real estate deal lies at the heart of all of it. Walls was found shot in the neck on a property near the town of Corazol off Mud Hole Road. Despite an agreement that approved a statement given in Canada in front of police officers, the tribunal ignored it, according to Walls’ brother, Victor. The sworn depositions were “done under the provisions of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty for Criminal Matters between Canada and Honduras and carried out by members of the RCMP who also audio and videotaped them,” he said in a statement. “Our two protected witnesses stated that on February 27, 2009 at approximately 9:00AM Julie Thompson and an unknown person arrived in a small Nissan pick-up truck. They got out of the vehicle and walked around for a few minutes then asked the witnesses if Roger was on the property. He was not there at that time. At about 11:00 AM Julie Thompson phoned Roger to make an appointment on site and introduce a potential buyer. At about 1:00 PM the protected witnesses went looking for Roger and found him in his vehicle, seriously injured. At that time and a number of times during his remaining hours 6
on the island, Roger stated that Julie Thompson was involved in his shooting.” Walls also said the statements given by two witnesses in protective custody gave “clear, concise and confident” statements in front of tribunal. “Other witnesses from the hospital stated that Roger told them that Julie Thompson was the responsible person. The fact that Julie Thompson owed Roger a lot of money was accepted as evidence of the reason for the crime. The fact that Roger had $1000 in his pocket when he arrived at the hospital discounted any argument that the motive for the shooting was robbery.”” GPS information obtained from cellphones, Victor Walls reports, show that Thompson and Roger Walls were on the same property at 12:30 in the afternoon the day of the shooting. “In the hospital, Roger would remove his respirator long enough to give her (the nurse) information and insight into what had gone on,” the source said. My source believes the lack of an admissible autopsy and a murder weapon, plus the defense pointing to “possible medical malpractice in Canada” that might have led to Walls’ death were factors in the acquittal. When the trial concluded on Friday, September 30, prosecutors were positive they had won the case. Monday, October 3 was a national holiday, and by then, Victor Walls believes, “the tribunal had been compromised by threats of extortion or murder, etc. when they quickly proclaimed an acquittal.” Witnesses said prosecutor Wendy Rodriguez, was “horrified” after the verdict was read. She was certain Thompson would be found guilty. ROATAN new TIMES.com
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Is It a Workout... Or A PARTY?
58-Year-Old Marianna Love Brings a Hot Concept to the Island
by Deirdra Funcheon
o you want a culo mas duro? A culo durissimo?” Marianna Love asks a group of sweaty students, while playfully slapping her own butt. Then she patiently shows them how to do a salsa step: “Like you’re holding something in your arms, but you need to close the door,” she says, keeping her arms folded while bumping out her hip. Love may be a 58-year-old grandma, but she dresses like a teenager (black eyeliner, dangly earrings, silver bangles, and a hot pink tank top) – and she has the infectious energy of one to match. Her secret? A funky dance exercise program that’s been slowly but steadily sweeping the fitness world: Zumba. Zumba was invented by accident in 2001 when a Colombian aerobics instructor, Alberto “Beto” Perez, forgot his usual CDs and improvised with songs he had in his bag – salsa and reggaeton jams. He incorporated Latin and hip-hop dance moves into his aerobic, calorie-blasting workout, and had his most exhilarating class ever. Fast forward ten years, and he’s partnered with a few savvy businessmen, copyrighted the Zumba name, developed a worldwide network of instructors, and built a hugely successful brand. This year, music stars Pitbull and Wyclef Jean recorded songs specifically for Zumba workouts and even performed for 7,000 Zumba instructors at their annual convention. Before Love began teaching in Roatan this August, Zumba had franchises in 125 countries. Now, thanks to her, that number is 126. Roatan New Times sat down with the spunky, trilingual entrepreneur to learn more about her story.
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Tell me where you’re from. I’m Italian. My family moved to California. I come from a family of growers -- grapes, oranges, peaches, olives. They had a big company. But I didn’t like the U.S., so I moved to Costa Rica for many years – Jaco Beach. But it got dangerous there. A friend of mine had a business here, so I came. I liked it. I do some interior decorating, too. How did you get interested in Zumba? I was visiting my son in Portland, Oregon, and the weather was so depressing. So I went to a salsa club one night. There was this girl I was watching – a gringa! And she could dance! She was doing something different. I asked if she was a dance teacher. She said, “Yes -- I teach Zumba.” She picked me up the next morning and took me to class. And… I hated it. You hated it!? I was frustrated because it went quickly and I couldn’t catch all the moves. There were 150 people in the class – it was like a gerbil wheel. But afterward, my adrenaline was going. I felt so alive, so happy. I became Zumba buddies with a girl dancing in front of me. I went every day for six months! In the second month, the teacher started taking me onstage. The teacher said, “More people have started coming. You bring people. You need to get your license.” What did it take to launch your own Zumba program? First you need a certification to teach. It’s pretty expensive -- $500. I took a training course – they have courses for teaching everyone from children age six up to 90 years old. I trained with one of the original founders of Zumba, Abraham
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Fernandez (What a body! I was sweating before I started dancing, just looking at him!). Now I’m part of the ZIN – the Zumba Instructor Network. There’s a franchise fee you pay every month, and you have to do a yearly training in Miami. I hope I can afford to go this year.
– the energy – and she felt so much better after she came to my class. I just want to give people health. Everyone needs positivity. I’m so tired of negative stuff. I can’t make a fortune, but if I make even one person healthy and happy, that’s enough.
Did you have any professional dancing experience prior to this? No. Well, I did some bellydancing in Spain.
Is Marianna Love your birth name? (Laughs.) I had married a German with a horrible German name (Hurt). A friend set up my e-mail as Marianna Love, and I liked it. I thought, “I’ll keep that.” It’s all about love anyway.
Tell me about the health benefits. I was really fat – more than 275 pounds. I lost over 100 pounds since I started dancing. It’s been over a year and I’m still losing. More important than that – it sure has made me happy. I feel better. How has the reception been on Roatan? Great. Some classes I get 22, 25 people. The other day, a student told me she was having a terrible day but she kept thinking of me all day long
The day this issue hit the streets, Marianna Love left Roatan. Don’t blame us; we’re just the messenger. 7
cruise news Mainland gets on board
onstruction recently began on the mainland’s first cruise ship port. Banana Coast Landing near Trujillo hopes to become the latest cruise destination in an increasingly crowded roster of western Caribbean ports that includes our own island. “Roatan has two cruise ports today, but this will be the first on mainland Honduras, and we think there’s a lot to showcase,” said Michael Greve, president of Miami-based Global Destinations Development, one of the project’s developers. The port – with 50,000 square feet of leasable space on a 10-acre tract of land – will require at least $20 million and possibly as much as $30 million in investment. By December, he said, construction of an oceanfront shopping center and transportation hub will begin, with completion slated in time for the 2012-2013 cruise season. Among other things, the retail shopping complex will include jewelry stores, duty-free outlets, designer boutiques, a restaurant and a bar. A finger pier will accommodate two post-Panamax cruise vessels. “Within four or five years, we’ll be very competitive with the other western Caribbean ports in terms of volume,” said Greve, though he declined to say how many passengers he is shooting for. “We also think that our area, where the rain forest meets the sea, is very different than the other ports, because we have mountains, three 8
major waterfalls and the colonial city of Trujillo, founded in 1524. We’re marketing the port to both large cruise-ship companies and small cruise-ship companies, many of which are very interested. So we’re in pretty detailed discussions with them.” OBM International, which is building the cruise-ship complex at Banana Coast, also designed Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas, CocoCay, as well as Carnival Corp.’s Grand Turk Cruise Center in the Turks and Caicos. “This project will create a sustainable landside tourism industry, coupled with a custombuilt cruise port infrastructure in a destination that combines ecotourism and soft adventure opportunities for cruise line guests,” said Randy Jorgensen, CEO of Life Vision Developments, one of Banana Coast’s joint-venture partners. The country’s largest tourism venture, however, is Los Micos Beach and Golf Resort, a sprawling public-private investment under development in Tela Bay. When finished, it will encompass three hotels with more than 700 rooms, an 18-hole golf course, an undetermined number of residential villas and various restaurants and bars. A consortium of Honduran and foreign banks is making $24 million available for the project’s second phase.
A version of this story originally appeared in The Tico Times. ROATAN new TIMES.com
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caymans ➽ A British bio-engineering company is battling bugs and using Grand Cayman as ground zero. Oxitech is out for a veritable mosquito extinction program. Oxitech genetically modify the insects to pass on a “death gene” to their offspring, which means no more females and a quick population crash. Sterile male mosquitos are released into the wild, where they mate and pass on the poisoned gene. Oxitech has already released the males all over the island and claims to have crashed the mosquito population by 80 percent. Let’s see what happens before we get some of them here. What if mosquitos are an integral part of the food web?
Jamaica ➽Imported bananas are wreaking havoc with the local market, according to a story in the Jamaica Gleaner. Robert Chambers, managing director of Maroon Pride Banana Chips, based in Maroon Town, St James, says his company
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is on the verge of closure as dwindling production based on the lack of demand has forced him to lay off the majority of his staff. “Maroon Pride usually produces 7,000 dozen banana chips a week with a workforce of 35 persons functioning five or six days a week. Now, we have 10 or less persons working for a day per week or one day in two weeks, so production is down to sometimes three days for the month and 700 dozen. We cannot continue like this,” he said. ➽ High taxes are making it hard for Brits to enjoy Caribbean vacations. Jamaica’s tourist industry has been experiencing effects of the financial downturn with stopover arrivals out of the UK down 1.8 per cent over the same period last year. Almost one third of holidaymakers said they would travel less often due to the increased cost of travelling through taxes, such as air passenger duty (APD) which was increased last November. Britons accustomed to vacationing in Ocho Rios are staying closer to home.
COZUMEL ➽After a weakened Rina forced cruise ships to steer clear, Cozumel
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caribbean island news had some cleaning up to do. Some parts of the island saw as much as a foot of rain. ➽ Cozumel’s Iron Man triathlon competition later this month sounds like a punishing ordeal, what with 112 miles of biking, a 26.2 mile run, and a 2.4 mile swim. The average time it takes the athletes to finish the entire thing? More than 12 hours.
CUBA ➽ The Communist island is seeing prostitution grow after it had all but disappeared following the 1959 uprising that installed Fidel Castro. Cuban sexologist Mariela Castro (and Raul’s daughter) says Cuba should try to emuate Sweden and penalize johns, not hookers. There’s no official figure of how many Cuban prostitutes exist today, but it’s estimated there were more than 100,000 working pre-revolution. Castro recently visited Amsterdam’s Red Light district, which she said would be impossible to duplicate in Havana. Sweden’s method of arresting the men only is the way to go, she said.
ARUBA ➽The amazingly-monikered Taco Stein, the spokesman for Aruba’s public prosecutor’s office, disagreed with the National Enquirer when it reported vacationing tourists Gary Giordano and Robyn Gardner were seen fighting, just before Giordano reported his companion missing. Stein said police searched an animal cemetery because it was a spot where a body could have been dumped, and said no witnesses had come forward with any such story. . Giordinaro remains in custody after being stopped at the airport on August 5. Police found a bloody towel which proved a match for Gardner’s DNA, according to Stein. Giordano claims Garner disappeared while the pair were snorkeling. Last month his Aruban lawyer abruptly quit, though still proclaiming Giordano’s innocence. Attorney Michael Lopez believes his ex-client will eventually be released. However, Giordano was filmed leaving a restaurant with Gardner and returning without her. Hmmm.
in the family Uncle Homie: Funny and Flirtatious by Sheryl Norman
ictor Homer Woods a.k.a Uncle Homie died on September 27th 2011 at the good ol’ age of 87. The community of French Harbour is missing a treasure. It lost a man of astounding character. Uncle Homie had the honor of having the first and only movie theater in French Harbour. His ‘picture show’ place was the place to be on Saturday nights. He sold popcorn, sugar daddies, and peppermint candies. He was a carpenter by trade. His hobbies were fishing and sitting out under the shed in front of his house where he entertained everyone with tales on the happenings from the ole days to jokes. Family and friends were always an important part of his life. I would often visit uncle Homie as he would clarify and answer any and all of my questions on the ole heads. However, in the last few visits we would sit and talk about everything. As his memory faded he keep reassuring me that all what he knew was not lost as he had passed it on to his two nephews DV Woods and Truman Jones. It was painful for me to watch a man so vibrant fade into the sunset. In my own selfishness I kinda expected Uncle Homie to never leave. I didn’t want him to leave. How can a person like Uncle Homie leave when his family and friends needed him most? There was also the funny flirtatious side to Uncle Homie: One of our jokes was that he would
propose to me on each visit. However, as I was to find out later on that he was two timing me as he had proposed to others. On some of these visits he would reflect on his life. I would sit there and listen to all he said. On my last visit as we said our final goodbyes it was so painful for me to leave his side. It was such a personal joy to be part of his life. Goodbye Uncle Homie -- it was truly a great pleasure to have known you. May you rest in peace and have a safe journey!! If you would like to know about your roots, need help putting together your family tree, or are curious about what secrets are in your past, please contact us at email@example.com.
>>wanna share yours? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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i Roatan Reef Report
Predictions, Proclamations, Pollution and Promises by Jeff Stratton ROATAN new TIMES.com
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iving is essentially a young man’s sport,” says a May 1983 study called Environmental Control Plan for the Island of Roatan. “An important but limited market.” The study concluded “the reef, although spectacular, is only one of the natural resources which could produce a setting for wider attraction.” The ECP, prepared by the Honduran Tourism Institute in 1979, took a long hard look at Roatan’s ecology with an eye toward future development, conservation of the reef, as well as legal methods to control the impact of development. Despite clunkers like the above observation regarding scuba diving on the island, the study points out critical problems and possible pitfalls – at a time when Roatan’s population was only 12,000, with 16 tourist hotels, no taxis (and only 37 buses), no paved roads, 93 teachers, 161 residents of Los Fuertes, and six municipal employees, including the mayor. Obviously, much has changed since then. At that time, the only man-made damage to Roatan’s reef was at the airport, where runway construction dumped soil and rocks atop the remaining coral. Still, that wasn’t so bad: “The reefs have proved capable of resisting the effects of increased floodwaters and silt caused by destruction of forest and erosion in the hills.” The study found that the reef had been unaffected by raw sewage flowing from the main urban areas, but cautioned, “coral reefs are very
delicate, so a relatively small change for the worse could cause severe damage.” Building the runway was the only predictor of what damage was likely if road construction and clearing land for buildings was to occur. In 1983, one divemaster warned that “not one edible fish” could be found in the smothered reef, and another reported that during rainy season, large amounts of sediment from clay roads entered the sea. Boats anchoring on the reef wasn’t considered an issue – dive sites didn’t even have mooring buoys back then. In fact, the biggest threat to the reef was coral mining, where men with steel bars would break off huge chunks of the reef, place them on rafts, to be used on Roatan for roads and structures. A ton of coral sold for L50. “Removal of live coral is highly destructive and should be actively discouraged,” said the study. “Even dead coral is important as a natural barrier to wave action.” But even in the early 1980s, the reef and its inhabitants were under threat. One dive master reported a Russian cruise ship whose divers came just to harvest coral and shells, leaving behind a “beach littered with refuse.” Turtles were already endangered (West Bay, Half Moon Bay and Gibson’s Point were once big breeding grounds but no more) and manatees had already been “killed and eaten out of existence.” At the time, the study realized that mangroves swamps were irreplaceable and must be preserved, that animals like native deer, iguana and rabbits were already in decline,
and that the slash/burn approach to land-clearing was having a negative affect on reef health. The study also noted “the unfortunate habit of many residents to lose no opportunity of shooting whenever [an animal] is observed.” Estimating a total of 3,500 divers visiting Roatan each year (with all resorts able to handle a total of 200 guests at a time) the Environmental Control Plan from 1983 concluded “There is no limitation on the number of divers the island could accommodate other than rooms, boats, trained dive masters, equipment and transport. The reef environment could sustain upwards of 20,000 to 25,000 divers annually if conservation is enforced by dive masters.” That optimism, of course, wasn’t misplaced: when the study was published, the island had but 167 hotel rooms. Most importantly, the 1983 survey called for the eastern end of Roatan to be turned into a national park, and declared that all mangrove areas be “frozen” and untouched. Back in the day Parts of the report read like old photos look: a crease or a crinkle; faded, worn, nostalgic. “The main beaches are relatively untouched, and have in the main been respected by the 3,000 annual visitors. This, combined with the activities of the 12,000 inhabitants produces a general state that can be considered healthy.” Not surprisingly, that health was largely dependent on Roatan’s undiscovered status, its lack of
massive cruise ships, soft-core dream-home stroke mags with glossy pages of gleaming resorts, and direct big-jet flights. To maintain that pristine aura, the 1983 study decided its “main consideration” should be the preservation of that healthy state. But at the same time it pointed out that Roatan was largely unknown to mainlanders, who thought of the Caribbean paradise as backwards or wild: fewer than 1,000 Honduran tourists visited annually and stayed at most a day or two. And the hotels (Anthony’s Key, Pirate’s Den, and a few others) were rarely at capacity, with an average occupancy level of 49 percent in 1979 and just 34 percent the following year. A few charter yachts would visit Roatan, but no more than 50 a year. On a busy day there might be 200 divers in water each day, with the average of about 100. About half of the diving took place between Pirate’s Den Resort in Sandy Bay and West End Point. “It may perhaps be imprudent to build a fourth hotel in this area,” reads the report. It recommended any West Bay construction should watch out for turtle nesting grounds. Realizing that development would inevitably follow, the study looked into limiting oceanfront resorts and their “visual intrusion of the landscape.” Keep in mind how blank Roatan’s beaches were at that time: There was no road to West Bay, and Tabyana Beach was nothing but sand … with “good possibilities of future development.”
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Preserving the natural beauty of Half Moon Bay, the study concluded, would require “careful treatment” – including the now-underconstruction wastewater system. “The possibilities for future development,” it said, “are limited.” Yet at the same time the study predicted the expansion of the airport runway to accommodate jets would lead to the addition of 40,000 annual visitors within one decade. A Special Case Unfortunately, the 1983 study’s crystal ball was defective in a few areas. For one, it implied that the removal of some coral for knickknacks, trinkets and doo-dads may not be such a bad thing. “A special case concerns the taking of black coral about which there is not enough information available,” it stated. “It may be that the harvesting of black coral by local divers for local sales may not be deleterious to the environment. Studies have indicated that black coral may be ROATAN new TIMES.com
treated as a renewable resource when properly managed.” However, new data from the Caribbean shows our black coral is anything but “renewable.” Our own fingernails grow 2,000 times faster than black coral. A decade ago, National Geographic reported that Caribbean black coral was disappearing as the demand for shiny jewelry increased. In Mexico, it found divers braving depths of 250 feet to plunder some of the majestic trees of black coral. As early as 1975, environmental studies called for the establishment of a national park on the island. The 1983 plan echoes that sentiment, saying “It is proposed that a comprehensive national park be established to comprise the eastern part of Roatan, the large mangrove
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swamps, and the islands of St. Helene, Morat and Barbareta, together with all surrounding reefs and inlets.” It seemed a no-brainer, according to the study, which pointed out the considerable tourist benefits to Roatan and Honduras. The Audubon Society and UNESCO were mentioned as being “deeply interested in the creation of a new park.” What has come to pass is the Roatan Marine Park, which, at least in the well-trawled west end of Roatan, does its best to safeguard the health of the reef. But the 1983 study stated “the establishment of a marine park on Roatan is not necessary for adequate conservation of the environment.” As far back as 1982, divers
inspected sites on both the south and north shore and recorded their findings (coral attractiveness, variety, percentage of cover, pelagic and reef fish numbers, etc.) on a “Reef Report” form. Noting that the coral reef system, mangroves and sea grass beds were considered “critical habitats” the study warned that conch and lobster were being exploited at an alarming rate. In fact, the hint of trouble was raised in a follow-up Marine Environment Study by Walter Jaap and John Halas in September of 1982. Mentioning removal of vegetation (often of the slash/burn variety) and runoff from roads as “possibly the biggest potential threat” to the reef system, the study also noted that “using the ocean as a dumping ground for human waste 15
… must be altered if the tourist industry is to be increased.” Foreseeing a future where the development of large-scale resorts would be inevitable, the study issued recommendations that divided the beach into four zones. In the area closest to the beach, it called for small open-air palapa bars only. Even in the farthest zones, it decreed that no building higher than two stories could be built. Still it concluded “the coral reefs of Roatan can undoubtedly be described as spectacular. At present, damage appears to be fairly minimal.” Today’s challenges
measures to stop the hunting of whale sharks; earlier this year it proclaimed an all-out ban on shark fishing and declared all Honduran waters a “shark sanctuary.” Last year the nation signed a parliamentary decree to solidify the Bay Islands Protected Areas. But the 2010 Mesoamerican Reef Report Card is a sobering document. Describing “not a pattern of recovery but one of further decline,”
the report card surveyed 130 reef sites in the region. What was discovered mirrors what long-time divers have been reporting for years: 40 percent of the Mesoamerican sites were in poor condition, with only one percent in very good condition. Thirty percent of the reefs studied were classified as “critical” – a 24 percent increase in just two years. “The results clearly show more
reef deterioration and call for stronger management actions. The reef ecosystem may be quickly approaching a critical tipping point.” In Honduras, 16 sites were studied. Not a single “very good” reef was found. Only six percent were “good.” Nineteen percent were “fair,” half of the sites qualified as “poor” and one-quarter came in as “critical.” Alarmingly, two of the critical sites were found in unexpected areas: Cayos Cochinos and Barbareta. Four key reef health indicators (coral cover, fleshy macroalgal cover, herbivorous fish biomass and commercial fish biomass), when applied to Honduras told a grim tale. While coral cover was above average, overall fish biomass had drastically decreased since a 2006 survey. The “lionfish invasion,” of course, charts the fish’s advancement on the Caribbean’s coral reefs: it was only early 2008 when they were first spotted in Belize. Within a year, they were everywhere up and down the coast. In Belize, lionfish have taken over “practically the entire reef system in less than two years.” On Roatan, the Marine Park is instrumental in lionfish control, issuing government-approved speargun permits. Honduras passed a bill to
Fast-forward to 2010, when Healthy Reefs for Healthy People, partnering with groups such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, concluded its study of the Mesoamerican Reef. It pointed out some of the success stories. Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras (the four nations who share the reef) signed the Tulum Declaration in 1997, designed to jointly work on conservation efforts. In 1998, Honduras finally took 16
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regulate oil exploration off its coast back in 2009, but various oil companies have asked to look for drilling sites. Coastal development is growing both on Roatan and the Caribbean shore of Honduras. And coastal development, along with dredging and land-clearing, is chief among the major threats to the reef, says the report. Rising ocean temperatures are another factor. But on Roatan, it’s the lack of large fish that best illustrates the impact of over-fishing. When REEF surveyed the island last summer, it found a dramatic difference in and outside of the marine park: “outside … the number of fish and species counted was surprisingly low. A survey was conducted at a dive site within the protected marine reserve, and dramatic differences were noted. [One diver] said that he saw more large groupers and snappers than he has ever seen in the Caribbean since the 1960s and early 70s!” That bit of good news is echoed in another segment of the report card. Five years ago Caribbean staghorn and elkhorn corals were called critically endangered – “one step from becoming extinct in the wild.” But using “artificial substrates” like ropes, cement discs, and metal frames, researchers in Belize noticed that staghorn and elk corals can produce more than 300 percent of their original mass in a year – they’re some of the fastest-growing corals around! These reef restoration projects show that damage isn’t irreversible. And there are places where staghorn coral isn’t endangered – it’s actually thriving. One of those spots is Cordelia Banks, off the southern coast of Roatan – between the cruise ship ports in Coxen Hole and Mahogany Bay. Though the 1983 Environmental Plan noted the coralline banks, it didn’t mention the 52 acres of the Cordelia Banks which may comprise “the largest living stand of staghorn coral in the Caribbean. Just to the east of Cordelia Banks lies one of the last grouper and snapper reproduction aggregation sites on the southern coast, where ROATAN new TIMES.com
upwards of 200 individuals have been seen displaying spawning behavior.” A grouper that’s allowed to grow more than 16 inches long can produce 350,000 young, but if permitted to grow just eight more inches, it can pop out 3.4 million babies. And a nearby dive site is wellstocked with gray reef sharks – all signs that recovery of fish populations and reef stability is possible. “Honduras reefs reported mostly in critical and poor conditions due to low numbers of herbivorous and commercial fish biomass, and both these indicators can be reversed,” says Ian Drysdale, Honduras Healthy Reefs Coordinator. “The temporary closing of fishing sites, especially reproductive aggregation sites, can replenish fish stocks in less than five years, with an incredible spill over effect into adjacent reefs. The fishers of these areas can become caretakers, looking after their self-interest by implementing self-regulation through the limiting catches and sizes.”
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That optimism is echoed by Andres Alegria, the new director of Roatan’s Marine Park. Even when road construction and heavy rains left Half Moon Bay looking like a frothy chocolate milkshake, he remains cautiously optimistic. “Fortunately,” said Alegria, “Roatan still holds pristine sites considered jewels in the Caribbean. It’s up to each of us to do our part. Awareness towards the tourism industry is a key factor, especially towards the biggest developments in the island that employ hundreds of workers. At the end of the line, it’s not the hotel itself in front of the beach causing the biggest long term impacts, it’s the vast number of new workers arriving from mainland and accommodating themselves through unorganized urbanizations lacking basic utilities and infrastructure. “We urge the biggest contractors to engage in pragmatic Corporate Social Responsibility in order to educate and facilitate better living conditions for their own employees. It is shocking to observe the clash between a day work in paradise and a hard day’s night somewhere like Balfate, one of the unplanned
urbanizations in the island lacking almost every basic service, including water supply or treatment. “Of course, the Municipality should also make proper use of taxes to invest in harmonizing the tourism industry and community welfare in the benefit of long term conservation.” Alegria believes that more legal protections need to be in place (and enforced) if the reef is to remain healthy. But he knows it will not be an easy task. “Throughout the last three decades, the coral reefs of Roatan have had different levels of legal protection, from municipality orders to presidential agreements. It has been evident that efforts to enforce this protection have been limited. “In 2010 the National Congress passed a special protected area Decree for the Bay Islands, the highest of all legal protection instruments. With all of these anecdotal references, it is evident how even with the best of technical advice and legal framework, the government has had a hard time guaranteeing a real conservation of our reefs for future generations, or even for our own generation!”
OH, CAPTAIN! Vernon Fine SAILS TO Utila Every Day. Doesn’t He GET Bored? by Jeff Stratton
o, answers Fine. “It’s never really the same trip – I mean, it’s the ocean.” But like a bus driver on the same route every weekday between the mall and the train station, Fine admits, “I shouldn’t say never. But there’s always different people on the boat, and they all have different stories.” Stories abound aboard the Nina Elizabeth, but it’s usually hard to top Fine’s own tangled narrative. Here’s a guy plying a 25-mile journey between two Caribbean islands seven days a week for the last five years – born an Army brat in Germany and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. A dude who learned to dive and sail in (of all places) Wichita, Kansas. A man who grew up terrified of the water. Yet here he is. Taut and wiry with a tangle of reddish curls and beard, constantly bouncing between laptop, cell phone and the helm of his 41-foot catamaran, Fine projects an aura of calm as he welcomes passengers. “The life vests are right under this
seat,” he explains. “But you won’t be needing them.” That confidence is borne from experience, not cockiness: Fine estimates that since he began his Roatan/Utila run in 2007, he’s completed about 2,500 trips. “That’s about 60,000 nautical miles,” he says with pride. “I’m fairly certain I have more miles between these two islands than anyone else. It’s possible, but I don’t think anyone’s even close.” The Nina Elizabeth was built in 1989 by Fountaine-Pajot at cost of nearly a half-million dollars. It was originally 39 feet long and afflicted with a serious and inexplicable design flaw: the twin bows were square instead of pointed for maximum ability to slice right through the sea. Before Fine added the fiberglass points, “it was like trying to push a 2x4 through the water,” he says. Earlier this year he added two new efficient engines. “That upgrade is very important,” he notes. “It used to take almost 5 hours (to make a one-way trip.” Now it’s only about 3 ½ hours between the biggest Bay Island and the smallest. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Vern’s captainship is the fact that he grew up afraid to be in the water at all. He and his wife learned to sail and dive on a lake near Wichita, but Fine says it wasn’t until his 100th dive that he felt safe putting his head underwater. He even suffered a panic attack in a swimming pool and had to be rescued during his PADI training. When he and his wife began a charter service in the Caribbean during the mid-‘90s, he took care of everything above the waterline
while she took care of everything below. They ended up in the Grenadines/ St. Vincent and discovered rum punch, open-air bars, and the island lifestyle -- and had a blast. He and his wife broke up and he moved to Puerto Vallarta with a girlfriend. When they split, he ended up on Roatan in 2001. “There was nothing in Half Moon Bay but a dive shop or two,” he recalls. After a stint running the Inn of Last Resort, he met up with an Austrian woman who owned the Nina Elizabeth. About four years ago, he bought her out and took over the catamaran business. The journey, thanks to Fine and his crew of one (Humberto fills in when Zuni Bustillo is busy) is generally a breeze. A mix of classic rock tunes (Cat Stevens and Elton John remain in heavy rotation) fills the cabin, as passengers on Roatan stock up on supplies at Coconut Tree in West End, where the Nina Elizabeth docks. As the catamaran heads west, the rust-colored condos of Roatan seem to shrivel into Lego pieces while Pumpkin Hill, Utila’s only elevation of note, begins to grow. Flying fish regularly cross paths with the boat, slipping in and out of the water, fins flapping wildly. Pods of dolphins are common, and it’s not unusual to spot pilot whales or even orcas. But usually, it’s the passengers – usually strangers at the start of the journey – that make the voyage memorable. Fewer than five percent of all passengers get seasick, because the direction of the wind is usually favorable: it pushes the boat along rather than fights it. Easing the boat into Utila Harbor,
Fine usually docks at Bush’s supermarket after dropping off passengers at Driftwood restaurant and bar, a thriving ex-pat hang overseen by transplanted Texans Sharon and Bruce. Fine keeps a small apartment on Utila and transports a motorcycle back and forth. He saves the occasional 250pound drunk who almost falls off the boat in 30-foot seas while trying to grab another bottle of rum from the ice chest, but that’s rare. Most aboard the Nina Elizabeth are looking to get where they’re going -- and then have a good time. In fact, if there’s one troublemaker that makes life tough for Fine, it’s the weather. But out of his 2,500 trips, he’s only had to abort three missions. While the journey’s usually chill and uneventful – unless a whale shark tags along with boiling tuna and ravenous seabirds – he’s had a few exciting trips. In February this year, after replacing the sails and standby rigging with all new parts, a defective toggle strap suddenly snapped. That was all it took to bring the entire mast down. “It sounded like we hit a truck!” he says. “It doesn’t come down like a tree – it’s, just, BAM!” Seven miles from Utila, with the mast, sails and radar dragging 50 feet under the hull, the Nina Elizabeth struggled back to the island, where a team of tech divers winched the mess back up. This month, the whole setup will be replaced, and the catamaran will be able to sail once again. That makes Fine happy. “This boat,” he says with a grin, “loves 20 knots of wind.”
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calendar Hey Man, where’s the party?
thursday, nov 24
Thanksgiving Dinner at Herby’s
Thanksgiving feels weird on the island. Lonely ex-pats who didn’t get their fill on Canadian Thanksgiving Day can get gluttony at Herby’s ginormous spread. For his first Thanksgiving feast, Herb is (what else?) going all-out. Check out the slow roasted turkey with stuffing , mashed potatoes, Paul Gatlin’s homemade gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, Herb’s famous fresh cranberry sauce, broccoli casserole, homemade bread and Ilias’s famous pumpkin pie. Herby’s/Pineapple Grill at Pineapple Villas French Harbour 3 pm - 10 pm. email firstname.lastname@example.org
wednesday, nov 30 Official End of Hurricane Season
You know all those cans of soup in your cupboard that you’ve stockpiled for months while waiting for The Big One? Now’s the time to eat ‘em. On this day, we’re pretty much out of the woods until next June. Then it’s time to stockpile again.
friday, dec 2
Foundation is one of the biggest events on the island; it’s gratifying and inspiring to see it return 5:30 - 11 pm at Juan Manuel Galvez International Airport
thursday, dec 15 Rotary Club Second Annual Dinner/Fundraiser
The Rotary Club does a ton of benevolent stuff on this island, from maintaining the cop cars, establishing a community worker health program, helping medicines reach Roatan, and more. Muddy and the Island Boys will be on hand as well as Loius Boesch and his Christmas music. Get ready for prime rib, potato, veggie, bread, salad, and dessert. There will be a reception by the waterfall pool from 6 til 7 pm. Dinner will be served in the Pinepple Grill with the auction and raffle. The cost is $75 per ticket. Pineapple Villas, French Harbour
EVERY MONday Movie Night at Bananarama, West Bay Live Music at Lands End West End
End of the Honduran School Year
Honduran kids may not know the lyrics to the old Alice Cooper song (“School’s Out”) but they have reason to celebrate just the same.
Quiz Nite at Bananarama, West Bay
thursday, dec 8 Christmas Concert for the Angels
After two years of silence, the Concert of the Angels is up and running again. Organizers promise “more glitter, bigger and better.” Actually, this ritzy bash gives folks with fancy wardobes the chance to show off. This benefit for Clinica Esperanza and the Little Friends
EVERY WEDNESDAY Open Mic Nite at Lands End West End
EVERY thursday Karaoke at Blue Marlin, West End
EVERY FRIDAY West End Players Live at The Blue Channel, West End
EVERY SATURDAY West End Players Live at Beachers, West Bay Beach
>>got a hot event? Email email@example.com 20
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Time Justin’s jhaytea: From Flowers Bay to Brooklyn and Back By Jeff stratton
haytea is starving. As he forages through my funky fridge, his tongue clucks disapprovingly. He doesn’t want a hunk of Honduran cheese or a nuked hot dog. He wants to fry up some fish. Soon, someone from his entourage is dispatched to West End to fetch him lunch. Jhaytea always has a few acolytes traveling with him when he’s on the island. See, among local hip-hoppers The Flowers Bay Crew and King Squad members, Jhaytea (born Justin T. Brooks on 10 April 1982) represents the closest they have seen to a local superstar. From the humblest of roots, he grew up in Flowers Bay but spends most of his time in Brooklyn, where a life and a wife and a recording career await. Videos he’s recorded right here on the island are blowing up on YouTube. Not only that, but Jhaytea is using his Stateside success as a platform to spout his unique blend of Roatan rhetoric. On the dirty streets of Brooklyn, Jhaytea is a known commodity. He’s even plastered ROATAN new TIMES.com
poles with his Roatan Island Flag. Against the shrill chirps of the ching-chings in the trees, he beams with pride. Dressed in a collared shirt, neatly-pressed shorts, new hitops and an always-present pair of sunglasses, he opens up a Styrofoam
She employed unique methods to stop him from running around unsupervised. “She would do laundry for all the kids, and she’d tie me to table leg with a belt. I used to be crying all day, but she’d pay me no mind. I’d
“I said to myself, I would like to be like Lucky Dube one day.” ______________________________ box with his fried-fish lunch inside. “All over New York, they know that flag,” he says. Jhaytea’s been part of the NYC reggae/hip-hop scene since 2003, when, while working on a cruise ship, he got his big break. But it took years to get there. He lost his mom a few years ago to diabetes. When Jhaytea was only four, his father was lost at sea. As the youngest, his mom was often to busy to spend much time with him.
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be, ‘wah wah wah wah.’” As his homeboy Clint rolls with laughter, he remembers how that became Jhaytea’s first song. “Then,” chuckles Clint, “he started like, “oy ya yoy ya yoyo y yay yo yay yoy OH-YAY-YOY-YAYYOY…” We all fall out. That began this kid’s career? It’s a funny thought. The ching-chings caw. Jhaytea chews his lunch in silence. “When I was 11, 12, 13, my
bredren used to work on cruise ships, and they’d bring music back, an’ they would jam music on the porch all night and cook up macoy. “Then I sang in the church choir and local talent shows,” he continues. He’d perform at Juan Brooks school in Coxen Hole, though curiously he pronounces the first name as John (more on that later). He’d rock the mic up and down the island, playing on the beach in Oak Ridge. At the same time, he found himself exposed to music from all over. Bartending at the Inn of Last Resort allowed him to meet tons of tourists and he heard what they were into. “The first music I heard that I really liked was Lucky Dube,” he says, a common Flowers Bay refrain. “I said to myself, I would like to be that one day.” Bob Marley, Capleton, Tupac and R. Kelley all became important touchstones. With typical bravado he dismisses oldtimers like Yellowman: “They can’t teach me nothing,” he laughs. By the late 1990s, Jhaytea started 21
Jhaytea on the set of the video for “Superwoman,” shot outside of West End. Not pictured: fried fish and plantains.
producing rudimentary recordings on cassette using, in true Caribbean style, the most primitive equipment possible. Plastic buckets subbed for drums. “In my mother’s house we had one microphone and tape recorder,” he remembers. “We needed one man to hold the tape recorder and one man sitting with a microphone, tied up with a necktie on a clothes hanger.” By 2003, Jhaytea, like so many young island men, shipped off to sea on a cruise ship. As a successful bartender, he’d break into song when the tips were rolling in. The right person heard him, slipped him a few digits, and the next thing Jhaytea knew, he was in contact with NYC producer Earl Capone. It wasn’t exactly a marriage made in heaven, at least at first. “He never do a reggae beat before,” says Jhatea, “but I said ‘just listen to me.’” He banged out a beat for Capone: BOOM, BOOM-cha! “I said, ‘follow that,’” he laughs. “I teach him everything!” By 2006, Jhaytea had a song, recorded in New York, that he says “marched up Roatan.” The tune, “Mo Fiya,” introduced a common Jhaytea theme: sexual prowess. Not long after, an entire LP, Talk Deh Truth, emerged on Jhaytea’s 22
own RBI label. That’s where Jhaytea seems to run all over the world, touching on roots, lover’s rock, smooth Eurotrance, and beat-biting reggaeton. But his songs tend to fixate on Roatan. “Drunk Up Tonight,” a bouncy but cautionary tale about imbibing too much after a breakup, namedrops Salva Vida, Monkeylalas, and Flor de Cana. The downbeat “Bad News” mentions French Harbour, Punta Gorda and Flowers Bay. The-old-school reggae of “I Love the Way You Make Me Feel,” includes the line, “I searched all over Coxen Hole for you!” The slow jams “My Life,” “Love You” and “Superwoman” are atypically g-rated, as is the straightup (and repetitive) house track “Don’t Cry,” recorded in NYC with DJ Jesse Saunders. But his YouTube hits are hilarious to anyone familiar with our emerald isle. In fact, these low-fi, hand-held videos, recorded in West end or Flowers Bay, find Jhaytea on a herbal quest (“Something About Marjuana”) and complaining about running out of saldo (“No Phone Card”). A more professionally-shot promo for Jhaytea’s duet with lover’s rock singer Glen Washington was shot in South Florida. Miramar-
based reggae label, VP Records, caught a whiff of Jhaytea’s ganjainfused songs and decided to hook him up with Washington, who, naturally, wanted to do a love song. “But how would it look for two bredren onstage to sing a love song to each other?,” Jhaytea asks with a big laugh. “I’m from Roatan -- my boys would not like that!” So Jhaytea suggested making the tune (“All The Love”) a tussle over a woman. “I had the song already written,” says Washington from his home in Hollywood, Florida. “He came and wrote his part, and we did a combination.” Jhaytea’s “wide variety” of styles appealed to Washington, who says the two struck up a good vibe and enjoyed Jhaytea’s youthful spirit. “It worked pretty well for what the song was
saying. He’s a really good person and I think he could go far,” he adds. “I’m kind of peculiar about who I work with. Too much of the music that’s made nowadays, it’s got too many derogatory words in ‘em, disrespecting a woman and other stuff like that. I’m not into that -- I’m about making music for everyone. So I had to check out what he was all about,, and when I did, it was cool with me.” The two met up and recorded the song and video. The video’s OK – but it doesn’t compare to the charm of the Flowers Bay Crew. It’s in this cultural/political realm that Jhaytea becomes most passionate. He considers his music to be Roatanian, an adjective he deploys indiscriminately. “There’s Roatan,” he points out
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carefully, “and there’s Roatanians. People who keep Roatan culture alive.” And to that end, he doesn’t feel much affinity with so-called gringo stations on the island. “They say, ‘Roatan radio,’ but it’s not Roatanian radio. “We’re like milk and fresco. We don’t blend.”
people,” says Sambula. “In the States you can talk to the artist who owns the beat … but here no one cares. And that’s the way he begins.” Doing things his own way, one evening Jhaytea commandeers a small local studio (not much more than a Mac with Garageband, a few mics, drum machine and MIDI
“We are not Hondurans. We have our own culture. This is the Bay Islands.” Yet it was Roatan Radio’s own DJ Sambula (see profile, last issue) who helped give Jhaytea his start in Flowers Bay. “I’ve known him since he was a teenager,” says Sambula. “When I met him, I see potential. I see future. I see a lot of talent -- he just needed a lot of help.” So as soon as Sambula had his radio platform, he started blasting Jhaytea’s tunes. Listeners responded. “I made sure pretty much everyone on Roatan listened to his music,” he says. “That’s when things really start blowing up.” Sambula won’t play Jhaytea’s non-PG rated songs (“I don’t want to be in the eye of the hurricane”) but opines, “I think he’s doing damn good.” Jhaytea’s biggest songs are beatbiters, meaning he’s basically finding a version of a popular song, stripping the vocals, and adding his own. “He gets riddims from other
keyboard) and in a few hours, records his own vocal tracks upon an assortment of 70s dub reggae and 80s techno tracks, basically free-styling atop music he’s never heard before. The session goes on long into the night. The next day, Jhaytea promises, he’ll be back to record a video, since “that’s when the light is the best.” Unfortunately for me, he does exactly that, showing up at 7 a.m. with a cameraman, a lingerie -clad island model with piercing amber eyes, and a bottle of Absolut Citron. He’s also got a whole snapper she fries up with plantains in my kitchen. Wearing his trademark shades, vodka-soaked citrus slices matching his yellow shirt, he professes his everlasting love for “My Superwoman” and fried fish. Afterward, he goes deeper into his separatist beliefs regarding the
Glen Washington and Jhaytea together in Hollywood, Florida. The video for their song, “All The Love,” is available on YouTube. Missing: Jhaytea’s sunglasses.
Bay Islands, recalling that as schoolkids, his buddies were originally taught English, not Spanish. He advocates a return to those Anglo roots, which includes as much distance between the mainland as possible. “We are not Hondurans,” he says passionately. “We have our own culture. This is the Bay Islands. We own this land from our parents’ parents’ parents’.” Within this philosophy, the word Guanaja is never to be spoken (it’s
Bonacca), Semana Santa doesn’t exist (“Holy Week or Good Friday”), and the small cays between here and the coast are The Hog Islands, thank you very much. Anything else the mainland has imposed is given a swift kick. Jhaytea wants to re-write history and wants the Bay Islands to strive for independence. “Don’t brainwash us and tell us something we’re not,” he says seriously. “God blessed us a long time ago.”
cd review :: MonstrO Artist: MONSTRO Title: MonstrO Label: Vagrant Records For 20 years, Miami-born, Columbian-American guitar wizard Juan Montoya has flitted between the ephemeral sounds of shoegaze acts like My Bloody Valentine and the raw pounding ground out by his heroes the Melvins and Slayer. His previous band, Torche, seemed perfect for Montoya’s skills. He could go off on any bizarre arty tangent fit more for King Crimson or Fugazi than an underground metal band – and still only be one measure away from a detuned guitar riff akin to a brontosaurus squashing a raptor. MonstrO, Montoya’s new band with Atlanta metal vets Bevan Davies and Kyle Saunders plus Miami emo-rock homeboy Charlie Suarez , is a showcase for Montoya’s skills that should finally give him the shove from musician favorite to worldwide fame. ROATAN new TIMES.com
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Montoya’s bag of tricks is on display in MonstrO’s self-titled debut. In the up-tempo romp “Solar,” Montoya drops riffs here and there until breaking out in an octave-chord space-rock rampage that threatens to go the distance. In the Jane’s Addiction-inflected “Helios,” Montoya trips out all the way, hitting psychedelic heights Sun Ra might have reached had the man from Saturn downed mushrooms and Hendrix instead of jazz and cultists. If there’s one fault to be found on MonstrO, it’s that the ballad tracks are a little too pretty and emo-kid friendly. But as that’s probably why MonstrO have a record deal with the label that launched Dashboard Confessional to rock-star status, it’s easy to give them a pass on that. —Tom Bowker 23
diving, not dying by Diver Dan
ow it’s time to talk about a real deep subject: scuba diving deaths. Scary as that is, it should be the back of your mind before you even get in the water. Most of all these deaths happen on the first day of diving after a long time between vacations. There are different kinds of fatalities and since most of us don’t want to die, we need to know what we’re looking at out there that could be a problem even if it’s just because we’re getting older. All you want is the safe, fun water experience you enjoyed on the last awesome dive trip you had a year or more ago. We need to think about all these fatalities and try to see a problem before it comes at a critical underwater time. Most of the fatalities that happen on a dive are not caused by diving. They come from health problems which took years for our bodies to get to a place where you’re at risk on a dive. One of the main things to look at: men are ten times more likely to have a dive problem that leads to a death. Is that because there are so many more male than female divers? Unlikely. Just look around.
The number one leading percentage of fatalities are from drowning -- and boy, is that a catchall term. Those deaths could have so many factors, like just running out of air and not making it up to the surface. The next leading cause of deaths is Arterial Gas Embolism. We’re all taught to hold our breath when underwater, which divers have been taught never to do -- ever. You can literaly cause your lungs to burst this way This kind of accident usually happens in the first year of the diving of the diver and that diver most of the time has but an open water certification. The next leading cause of deaths while diving is a heart attack. You need to be in shape to go on vacation and dive for a week -- not just think you’re in good enough condition. And age needs to be taken into account. An eighth of all heart attack deaths result from being overweight. Trauma comes in third -- usually a boat accident. Bad air in your tank, decompression sickness and unexplained loss of consciousness account for the remaining two percent of diving fatalities.
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immunity from stings? by The Lionfish Slayer
ue pasa gringos?
I had a really interesting time the other day. I taught a new student how to dive. One of my other divers got stung by a ten-inch lionfish. He was in extreme pain so I had to end everything early. Once on the boat I got the dude to wrap his hand in a towel and stick it on the engine. Heat apparently denatures the protein toxin that gets injected into the wound by razor-sharp spines of the lionfish. Although it eased his pain slightly it wasn’t enough. We had to take a trip to Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR is one of the biggest dive resorts in the world and it has a diving medical center available to everyone) for emergency care. They stuck his hand in hot water for the next half -hour as well as giving him a pain-deadening anti-inflammatory injection. It’s the first time I’ve had a new diver stung by a lionfish, and it’s the
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only time I’ve seen someone stung by a big lionfish the first time around. The pain on his face was so excruciating it was hard for me to watch. I’ve been stung by lionfish just as big, but fortunately I’ve been stung by so many small ones that I’ve built a little resistance to the pain. These days I’m actually becoming very good at not getting stung and I hope that doesn’t mean my resistance is slowly reducing. I don’t ever want to be in the same pain I witnessed that morning. I need to stress to my students even more so the importance of not getting stung. I wonder if this incident will stop him from hunting or not. I think it will just make him more careful in future. Later on that same day after work I had my first customer at my new dive shop, The Cow Divers! I managed to scrape up enough weight to keep my two divers down and we went diving. They were so
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impressed that they even gave me a tip! The next night I took out my first Cow Divers night dive. So I guess you can say that my dream to run my own dive shop is slowly but surely coming true. Once I get all
“I’m actually becoming very good at not getting stung and I hope that doesn’t mean my resistance is reducing.” the equipment surely things can only get better… Or so I thought. The other day I had someone I would have called a friend come into the bar and sell me a dive tank. It was a couple of years old, in great condition and at a bargain price so I thought why not? After painting it I thought I would get it filled. I’ve been getting my tanks filled at Caribbean Sea Divers and my old boss recognised the tank as one of his that had been stolen! I didn’t know it was stolen when I bought it and I was accused of stealing it from him. He went pretty crazy accusing me of stealing the tank as well as
other equipment that had gone missing in his dive shop. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He said he was going to call the police and have me arrested. I worked with him for nearly a year and I had never seen him this angry at anyone. I told him where I got the tank from and after a while he was starting to believe my story, but I’m not sure yet. It turns out that the guy who sold it to me is a crackhead and would steal and lie to anyone to get his hands on money for his next hit. What a great judge of character I am. NOT! I hope this gets sorted out soon because my old boss has confiscated some of my tanks and is refusing to fill any more of my tanks until this is sorted out. He really could screw up my business temporarily if he wanted to. What have I done recently to deserve this bad karma? Believe it or not I´ve recently started doing yoga! As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to find activities for me to do outside of work that doesn’t involve alcohol and is actually good for me. I get a little bored and I find it difficult to “clear my mind” like I’m supposed to but I’m willing to give it a decent go for a while. I can’t admit I like it that much yet but I feel I should give it a good go and maybe I will eventually like it. One positive thing is there are usually hot women that are really flexible and can get themselves in some amazing positions! No wonder I can’t clear my mind of thoughts!
Got crabs? I did! not only that... I loved it by The Pirate Gourmet
hat’s right, faithful reader, crabs. The delicious kind, that is. Gio’s has been known as a bona-fide institution on Roatan for years, what with the original French Harbor mainstay and this newish, already popular, Flowers Bay epicurian emporium. The restaurant’s cavernous and massive, with two indoor dining areas (one’s air-conditioned) and a large outdoor patio overlooking the sea. I started counting the number of seats this establishment had to offer, but I quickly gave up. The place could accommodate a small army. 26
Fun tropical island colors abound at Gio’s. The main dining area with 20-foot vaulted ceilings and wall of windows overlooking the ocean (and the mainland, occasionally) was quite impressive, complete with a boat for a bar, unobtrusive background music, and subdued lighting. Wow, I thought, finally someone’s actually giving some thought to their restaurant’s theme on Roatan. At Gio’s that theme is seafood of course. Gio’s became famous long ago for its king crab platter -- and now I finally understand why. Our server could have used a
little bit more service training. But after much discussion about what wine we’d like, we were suddenly surrounded by servers, each with thick cotton bibs in hand, fumbling to lace them around our necks. It was a skit right out of Saturday Night Live, we couldn’t help but laugh only to discover that my bib came pre-stained with a small portion of crab and butter. The server quickly removed the soiled item and quickly returned with a clean one. Back home, we’d be more apt to use a plastic bib. We opted for the fried squid appetizer, the portion was actually falling of the plate, seasoned with a
hint of Old Bay and cooked just right. For our main course we ordered king crab and the beef tenderloin smothered in a jalapeño sauce. Though the common name for this alien-looking crustacean is king crab, this critic feels that Gio’s should change the name to “monarchy crab” as the portion seemed to include the entire Royal Family. I was speechless upon the family’s arrival (not an easy task for me, I might add). Seeing and smelling it beautifully presented and swimming in a savory garlic butter I was instantly salivating. It is indeed a workout to remove the sweet, tender crabby morsels from their iron -infused exoskeleton. You’ve got to pound and smash the critter’s legs and claws with a primitive-looking steel hammer over a large wooden board. I couldn’t help thinking how noisy the place must get when its busy with hungry patrons, luckily this night was quiet. And the crab was incredible -- we could not stop until every last possible nibble had been extracted. Served with pan-fried vegetables nobody seemed to notice and our choice of baked potato, this feast has become my new favorite. My partner in dining crime was equally content with her beef tenderloin. Cooked to her liking – bloody red -- the tender beef melted in your mouth with a smoky, roasted jalapeño pepper finish, a nice compliment to the slightly charred beef. All in all, we were happy as clams. Or is that crabs?
The second Gio’s Restaurant is on the south side of the main road in Flowers Bay.
Entrees: $12 to $40 USD Credit cards: Yes Tax: Included, tip is not Hours: Lunch 10- 3 pm, Dinner 5-10 pm; closed Monday Large parking lot. No handicap access. Reservations and walk-ins welcome Seating for large groups and parties Kid-friendly Take-out available Reservations: 2445-3700 ROATAN new TIMES.com
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LIVING IT UP
tracking rum’s pirate past
um has served as a popular medium of exchange that helped promote slavery along with providing economic instigation for Australia’s Rum Rebellion and the American Revolution. A common claim is that the name was derived from the word rumbullion. Another claim is the name is from the large drinking glasses used by Dutch seamen known as rummers, from the Dutch word roemer, a drinking glass. Other options include contractions of the words saccharum, Latin for sugar, or arôme, French for aroma. Regardless of the original source, the name had entered into common use by May 1657 when the General Court of Massachusetts made illegal the sale of strong liquor “whether known by the name of rumme, strong water, wine, brandy, etc., etc.” Today, the name used for a rum is often based on the rum’s place of origin. For rums from Spanishspeaking locales the word ron is used. Some of the many other names for rum are, Rumbustion, Barbados water, Rumscullion, Devil’s Death (or “Kill-Devill”), Nelson’s Blood, and Rumbo. Development of fermented drinks produced from sugarcane juice is believed to have first occurred either in ancient India or China, and spread from there. An example of such an early precursor to rum is brum. Produced by the Malay people, brum dates back thousands of years. The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 1600s. A 1651 document from Barbados states, “The chief fuddling they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, ROATAN new TIMES.com
by Chef Francis
and terrible liquor.” Most rum production is in the Caribbean but Australia, Fiji, Mexico, The Philippines, India, Reunion Island, Mauritius, and South Africa are in the game as well. One of the finest rums in the world is available right here on Roatan – the glorious, vanillascented Ron Zacapa from the Botran family in Guatamala. Rum’s association with piracy began with English privateers trading on the valuable commodity. As some became pirates and buccaneers, their fondness for rum remained, the link between the two being strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island … and of course Pirates of the Caribbean. The British Royal Navy’s association with rum began in 1655 when the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With cheap, locally-produced rum, the British started giving sailors a daily ration of rum instead of cognac. Can you imagine sipping a fine French cognac while crashing through 10-foot swells and fighting off the dreaded kraken...
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it’s FritTata time! Philia Del Mar/Sandy Bay/9994-7359 firstname.lastname@example.org Frittata’s versatility makes it a winner. It can be prepared ahead of time, then served chilled, warm or hot. Freeze frittata if you want -- it doesn’t care! It’s incredibly easy to make. Great for gatherings. Let’s get going!!!.
Ingredients 12 eggs 3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 1/2 tablespoons butter 2 cups finely chopped white onion 1 1/2 cup chopped potato 3 cloves minced garlic 2 green onion cut on the diagonal 1 cup cottage cheese 1 8oz cream cheese cut in small cubes 1/2 cup milk 2 1/2 cups of your favorite cheese (cheddar, pepper jack or mozzarella) Salt & pepper to taste Veggie Version: try 2 cups baby spinach, 1 cup diced zucchini or 1/2 cup diced red pepper Meat Medley: add 10 crumbled bacon strips or 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken, ham or sausage
SKILLET/OVEN INSTRUCTIONS 1.) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place potatoes, onions, green onions and garlic in the skillet, cover, and cook 10 minutes, until tender but firm. Mix in vegetables and butter. Add meat. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes. In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk then fold in cottage cheese. Pour into the skillet over the vegetables. Sprinkle with cream cheese and your favorite cheese. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until eggs are firm. 2.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium/large baking dish. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place potatoes, onions and garlic, cover, and cook about 10 minutes, until tender but firm. Mix in your vegetables and butter. Add meat. Continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk then fold in cottage cheese. Pour into prepared baking dish all ingredients from the skillet, add egg mixture, the cream cheese & your favorite cheese. Bake in preheated oven (middle rack) for 45 minutes or until center is set. It’s done when a knife comes out clean.
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Island flavor Las Rocas West Bay Beach www.lasrocasresort.com Next to Bite on the Beach, at the very end of West Bay is Las Rocas dive shop and resort, as well as this casual eatery. Long known as a fun place to grab a burger and a Salva Vida, Las Rocas now boasts the Trattoria da Piero, a Caribbean/Italian waterfront restaurant heavy on fresh-fish specialities.
Sundowner’s West End on the beach www.roatanonline.com/ sundowner/ 445-4570 A long-running beach side institution, Sundowner’s is basically Roatan’s paralleluniverse Cheers, where every local knows every other. It’s a classic seaside dive, among West End’s best, and it’s perfectly situated to watch the sun sink into Half Moon Bay. Did we mention it’s always stocked with cold, cheap beer it
sells a ton of? They’re always manning battle-weary blenders, too, for mixing up MonkeyLalas and such. And the food? It comes flying out of a small kitchen across the street, with a great Angus burger.
The Lighthouse West End on Half Moon Bay 2445-1209 The Lighthouse is slow-paced and casual during the day, with a great breeze. Sunday brunch is a fairly big production, a L300 blow-out featuring eight different entrees to choose from, homemade blueberry coffee cake, and non-stop champagne. Dinner offers high-end steak and lobster dishes, tons of fresh fish, shrimp up the wazoo, and fantastic place to watch the stars and the waves at night. When you’re in West End, find the footpath between Reef Gliders, across from Waves of Art. Hit the beach, make a right, and you’re there.
Blue Parrot Sandy Bay 9558-4245 Closed Sunday The Blue Parrot’s menu is unique, seeing as it’s masterminded by a Chinese/ Jamaican cook. That means you can order spicy jerk chicken and chow mein, chop suey or fried rice - even together! The jerk shrimp salad is excellent, loaded with fresh veggies. The Char Sui ribs are Chinese-style glazed with island spices. Plus there’s festival, bammy, all the JA accouterments you’d expect-even Red Stripe every once in a while. If you remember the Blue Parrot from years back, with your host, Bob, it’s changed dramatically since then. Well worth a visit, especially if you’ve visited Jamaica...or Shanghai.
Marlyn’s Restaurant Gibson Bight marlynsroatanhotelnfood.com 447-3097 For a quick and filling roadside meal, you can’t do much better than pay a visit to Marlyn, who’ll sit and converse with you about the weather or whatnot while you wait on fried chicken, conch stew, roast pork or whatever island dish fits your fancy. Nothing complicated here, just your standard beans/rice/plantains with a side of meat - island food prepared the way islanders have done it for generations.
SMUGGLER’S BEACH BAR AND GRILL Lighthouse/West Bay 2445-4369 As the real estate man said, “location, location, location.” Smuggler’s has that covered. Located on a pristine beach right at the tip of the island, the views/sunsets here are stunning. The west-est restaurant on Roatan, this beachy spot is past West Bay, through the Infinity Bay parking lot. You can’t miss the signs. And don’t miss the culinary 30
creations conjured up by Chris, who mans the kitchen. Pig roasts, pizza, and a killer South American steak are among the faves.
Celeste’s Island Cuisine West Bay 2445-5069 There’s more than a little irony in Celeste’s mission: selling a $9 baleada on an island where the going price of such an item is rarely more than a buck. But the joke’s on you if you don’t check out these hearty and handsome creations. These gourmet baleadas are extravagantly packed with shrimp, lobster or grouper if you want the full-on experience. They’re loaded with yummy scallions and crema and make for a belly-busting experience.
Mangiamo! Market and Delicatessen West Bay Village 2445-5035 (Mo-Sa 8am-5pm) Mangiamo maintains a chic selection of ethnic food, basic necessities, wine, beer and liquor. Popular with beachcombing tourists but still a favorite with locals who want air conditioning with their Eggs Benedict breakfast (or Frenchdip lunch), Mangiamo isn’t known for low prices, but for giving you a slice of a cozy, sophisticated place to shop and hang out. Brits will find favorites from back home. Credit cards accepted.
Bella Napoli Pizza Sandy Bay 445-3201 (10 am-10 pm daily) Years ago, when this genuinely Italian joint opened on the road in Sandy Bay, it enjoyed a spell of big-league popularity. The initial buzz has fallen off considerably but Bella Napoli still dishes out thin-crust pizzas fired in a wood oven with innovative names and reasonable prices. Take yours home in a monogrammed box or there’s a huge, pleasant outdoor patio as well. Also serving wine, beer, and soft drinks.
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Bite on the Beach West Bay Beachwww. biteonthebeach.com 403-8054 Closed Sunday & Monday A West Bay landmark, Bite on the Beach anchors one end of the West Bay collection of dive shops and eateries. A big spot for frozen drinks and sunsetwatching, Bite on the Beach cooks up a big variety of Caribbean-themed entrees (lots of fresh fish cooked any way you want), great peanut satay and a lot of salads as well. Kid-friendly to boot!
Cannibal Cafe West End 2445-4026 (10:30am-10pm Closed Sundays This West End institution promises “no one leaves hungry,” which is likely true. We submit the legendary Kevin’s big Kahuna burrito as Exhibit A. If you can eat the whole thing (which is the size of a newborn human infant) you eat for free, if you’re still alive. The Cannibal’s take on Mexican food won’t strike anyone as authentic, but it’s a popular place for divers and tourists to grab a bite and a few margaritas. Don’t miss the anafres, a yummy bean/cheese/ tortilla concoction, the giant quesadillas, or the fish tacos. Try a chocolate/banana smoothie for dessert.
Blue Bahia Beach Grill Sandy Bay www.bluebahiaresort.com/ mealpackages.html 445-3385 Closed Tuesday Owned and operated by burly expat Kent Burnes (who oversees a smoker pit and an array of barbecued delicacies), Blue Bahia has one of the biggest -- and best -- menus on the island. This is the place to come when your usual, normal hankering for ribs cascades into a debilitating obsession. Blue Bahia can handle your habit. Other outstanding favorites include almond- and cashewROATAN new TIMES.com
crusted fish and shrimp; coconut lobster, pulled-pork sandwiches, awesome steaks and daily fresh fish specials. A bit on the pricy side, but this is probably the very best beach dining in Sandy Bay. Credit cards accepted.
Ooloonthoo Restaurant West End road www.ooloonthoo.com 9936-5223 (daily 6pm-9pm) Ooloonthoo is Honduras’s only Indian restaurant. A meal here is an experience, an epiphany even. The dishes are presented with artistic flair galore definitely bring your camera to this place! - and the setting is something straight out of a Bollywood romance, a huge temple-like A-frame high on a hill. The outstanding food is classic and classy: spicy pork vindaloo from Goa, Trinidadian curry beef, Rajasthani red lamb curry. There’s papadums and naan, naturally. Chef Paul James studied in India intensely and quite seriously, it would seem - and his wife, Soden, always makes visitors feel personally doted on. Ooloonthoo is reservation only; call a day in advance Credit cards accepted.
ArgentinIAN Grill West End www.roatanposada.com/ restaurante.htmlThe everpopular Argentinean Grill is the place to go when you want a big, giant grilled hunk of dead
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cow. Seriously, when paired with a bottle of good Chilean cab, these steaks stand up to some of the island’s best. The sides are nothing to snivel at, either. As West End restaurants go, this is one of the more expensive places for dinner, but rest assured, you’ll have a close encounter with a truly large slab o’ delicious meat. Since, however, it’s Honduran beef, there are times even a filet is a bit more than al dente. If you’re not a carnivore, don’t despair the menu is extensive and there are plenty of other options. Credit cards accepted.
Creole’s Rotisserie Chicken West End 2 pm - 10 pm Closed Monday 9879-1767 A tried and true local favorite that never changes - not even
the plastic tables and chairs get switched out. Pumping out quality roasted fowl and fried shrimp, French fries, cole slaw, and amazing coconut rice ‘n beans - all perfect, every single time - sometimes we question the need for any other eatery to exist. You may have to wait for a table some nights, but this laid-back little shack is well worth the wait.
The Lily Pond House West End 9754-0306 The Lily Pond House is located in West End, right by the turn to the submarine. This secluded garden boasts a beautiful lily pond and fabulous restaurant as well as bed and breakfast accommodations. Proprietor Zak, originally from England, started The Lily Pond bed & breakfast five years ago; its been serving satisfied 31
nice shirt. Delicious. You can get a variety of sauces here to accompany your fish - the jalapeno is righteous - and every fish comes grilled, broiled, or fried. A very classy joint with a stiff breeze off the water, this restaurant is mentioned quite a bit in the Roatan-based crime novel The Judas Bird. Credit cards accepted.
Lands end - Green flash
customers for almost two years. Chef Luis, from Tegucigalpa, offers an international menu of seafood, steaks, pork chops and more. Be careful -- you may fill up on fresh bread before dinner comes!
Rudy’s West End 2445-4203 Sure, Rudy’s makes a killer tipico breakfast served with strong coffee. But there’s really just two simple reasons we love Rudy’s. One would have to be the banana pancakes - little flapjacks of joy that are gloriously simple, and delicious. Reason two are the amazing fresh fruit smoothies. They’re gigantic, for one thing, and the choices are endless. The usual suspects linger (coconut, banana, mango, etc) but some less-typical offerings (mamey and guanabana, for instance, loiter as well.)
BJ’s Backyard Oak Ridge www.roatanonline.com/bj_ backyard/ A trip to Oak Ridge would stand as criminally incomplete without a stop at BJ’s. 32
Removed in time, like you’re in a movie, this backwoods little shack on the water is as homey and primitive as it gets, a living remnant of a time when life on Roatan moved a lot slower than it does now. Colorful atmosphere? Local gossip? Gallons of bug spray? George Jones on the jukebox? It’s all here. You can sit in an old rocking chair with your beer and swear you’re in the Keys somewhere. BJ bakes her own French bread daily, and there’s always fresh fish around. A dandy spot to tie up your boat and pop in for a burger and a beer, BJ’s the kind of relic you’d probably never stumble upon on your own, but which shouldn’t be missed. The rum-sauced bread pudding is unforgettable.
Gio’s French Harbor 445-5536 or 5126 Flowers Bay Gio’s is an upscale seafood restaurant with an airconditioned room, a nice dining room, and a big deck on the water. Big reasons to go include the king crab dinner, which comes with gallons of garlic butter and has stained many a
West End 9817-8994 closed Tuesday Land’s End, a bit off the beaten path, is a novel discovery. Its façade hides from the road one of the most stunning, 180° panoramas of sea, sky, and ironshore, with a saltwater pool and sunsets every day of the year. It’s always been feast/ famine with the restaurant in flux, but now Land’s End is rocking once again. Don’t miss freshly-caught lionfish, live music on Wednesdays, and a relaxed, casual vibe that can’t be found anywhere else. Maybe your best option on a Monday evening when so many other places are closed.
Big House Burger Megaplaza Mall French Harbour 2480-5233 A very close approximation of a mainland hambuergesaria, big house beats its neighbor, Wendy’s, in every department. A bona-fide Honduran fast food joint, you always get a/c, a waiter and table service at Big House. But eschew the hand sanitizer, unless you’re filthy and/or you want your meal to reek of rubbing alcohol. The burgers here range from poco and sencilla (small and simple) to mammoths packed with patties and toppings, -- and you better believe Wendy Thomas cries every time you take a bite. They have every other Central American fast-food fave as well, from pupusas to tostadas to tacos. Not a baleada in sight, but Big House is every bit as Honduran as Lempira’s profile.
Besos Restaurant AND Lounge West End 3302-6093 If you want to take a hot date to a cool place, Besos is pretty hard to beat. The swank interior design skills and culinary guidance of owner Daphne Newman translate into an upscale open-air palapa popular with locals and tourists. Tapas, killer tuna tostadas, mango ceviche (yum) and some of the most creative cocktails on the island make Besos a romantic, dimly lit jewel of West End. Proof that there is, indeed, a martini for everyone.
Fresh Bakery and Cafe Alba Plaza/Gibson Bight 7am - 3pm closed Monday 9745-6189 Everyone from real estate agents to divemasters crowd this place early, looking for a morning cup of joe to open their eyes. The fruit-filled Danishes are the bomb, perfect little items to pair with your coffee. Big lunchtime sandwiches range from an Italian beef to a chopped-turkey delight.
The Hungry Munky West Bay Wall Closed Mondays 8990-4103 On Roatan, it’s hard to find anyone making an authentic South or Central American hot dog. You can make one your own or order up a Nacho Dog down at the Hungry Munky. You get a perfect Vienna dog with cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayo, crushed corn chips, and relish. The other sandwiches are hardcore goodness, too: this place roasts its beef and turkey in-house. Every permutation possible of hot dog (and Polish sausage) is possible here.
Herby’s Sports Grille French Harbour 2445-7653 A state-of-the-art space that has it all, including one killer view. The room’s lined with 31
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TVs, so you can watch the Spurs/Lakers game and a boxing match at the same time, play Texas Hold ‘Em, or compete in an online trivia contest. You’ll find the only tap beer (Bud, Sam Adams, and Guinness) on the island. They’ve squeezed a gaggle of hot chicas into referee outfits. The food is high-quality and exactly like back home -- but so inexpensive you think the price is a typo (check out the pizza and you’ll see what we mean). With a cutting-edge cook (Dino from Romeo’s), Salva Vida selling for 40 lemps like the good old days, great burgers, steak sandwiches and typical pub grub, Herby’s concept is genius. With a side of sweet potato fries.
The Pineapple Grill French Harbour 9891-0566 Breakfast 7-10 am, dinner 5-10 pm Herb Morici’s other culinary creation (Herby’s is right upstairs) at Pineapple Villas offers US steaks dry-aged in-house. Roughly modeled after a Ruth Chris’s in the States, the ribeyes, NY strips, and prime rib dinners are high-end but reasonably priced. You’re not gambling with Honduran beef here – each bite is tender and flavorful every time. Check out breakfast, with a nice eggs benedict and (of course) steak and eggs.
The Deck Café West End/The Palms Mon-Sat 8 am-3:30 pm 9920-9767 Owner Garry Wanless grew up in Durban, South Africa, where he learned the art of Indian curries. His well-appointed café sports a nice traditional English breakfast, while lunch and dinner veer toward curries and spicy/sweet skewers, great homemade soups, and crunchy spring rolls. A nice sunset spot with a bit of an ethnic flair, The Deck offers a nice alternative when you’re tired of the same-old. ROATAN new TIMES.com
La Sirena Camp Bay 3320-6004/9461-3700 As long as you’re going all the way out to Camp Bay, you need to pay a lunchtime visit to this adorable palapa built out over the waves. The Sunday BBQ can fill the small place, but other days you might just own every table, due to the remote location. But the fish, shrimp, and lobster dishes are islandy, simple and amazingly fresh. A secret find.
Chapi Catrachas West End A consistent and cheap little seatery that’s big on simple Honduran food, popular with divers and backpackers. Pull up a stool at Chapi’s and they’ll deep-fry you a little embroidered pie of flaky dough stuffed with either carne o pollo. They’re only L20, and one of them stuffed inside a baleada sincilla with hot sauce makes a quick and tasty breakfast on the go. But Chapi’s is open all day.
The Hungry Kiwi Café and Bar Lawson Rock/Sandy Bay Mon-Wed 8 am-3 pm Thu-Sat 8 am 9:30 pm Closed Sunday 2445-3295 Though it’s changed hands, the Hungry Kiwi’s menu still features lamb on Thursdays and a prime rib dinner on Saturdays. Now South African influenced instead of New Zealand, the Kiwi is dependable for breakfast, lunch and dinner in air-conditioned comfort. Check out the 5-7 pm happy hour on Friday!
Splash Inn West End Closed Mondays 9626-7919 Authentically Italian, though Juan Marcincak, an Argentine immigrant who used to run the amazing Shark Cave pizzeria, is in charge of the kitchen here.
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One thick, chewy pie could feed a small family unit. His sandwiches and wraps are among the best on the island, there’s seafood and burgers, and even risotto. The pizza ranges from simple to kitchensink complicated. Two dipping sauces, one roja and one verde, come recommended for the strong of tongue.
The Wet Spot West End Mon - Thu 7:30 am-Midnight Fri - Sat 7:30 am – 2 am Sun 9 am-10 pm 3371-2827 An all-day joint that lasts late on weekends (the kitchen closes at 9 pm), the Wet Spot is a party spot popular with divers and tourists. Mornings are pastelitos and baleadas, but the menu also includes some of the best fish tacos on the island, an assortment of sandwiches and burgers, a daily happy hour, and some killer cocktails. Don’t miss the bloody mary, served up by Michelle, the Wet Spot’s boss lady, whose acerbic tongue gives the place its inimitable charm.
The Blue Channel West End 9803-4401 For breakfast, you cannot beat the Italian espresso at this sandy-floored institution. At night, the super-thin, crackercrust pizza is outstanding. One pizza is so thin and delicious, if you’re hungry, you might just eat the whole thing yourself. Don’t be ashamed; it’s natural. Friday nights are jamming out with local live music, often til 2 a.m. or later.
The Vintage Pearl West Bay Beach/Bananarama 3311-4455 At this upscale eatery, oenophiles will froth over the extensive wine list. How about a luxurious 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from Far Neint in the Napa Valley? Or maybe a Petaluma Reisling from Australia? With 65 different wines, you’ll have choices. Set 34
in a Tuscan-style stone villa, with steak and fish, but an emphasis on prix fixe classics. Leave your shoes at the door.
Blue Marlin West End Typically popular with a jam packed Thursday karaoke night, the sandwiches, wraps and the like are entirely decent at this ½ seaside, ½ roadside bar. But there’s also a wide assortment of meat and seafood, and a few Dutch specialities as well.
The Crow’s Nest/ Marble Hill Farms Oak Ridge Marble Hill Farms is best known for its jams and jellies (yum) and their tasting sessions, but we love the battered and fried chicken wings with mutton pepper jelly, the pulled pork sandwich, the pizza and the quesadillas. Yes, it’s quite a drive all the way out there, but well worth it -- for those wings alone.
Hole in the Wall Jonesville Getting to Hole in the Wall involves a bit of work. There is no road, you leave your car at a gravel lot in Jonesville, and wait at the dock. An observant neighbor radios the bar and tell ‘em you’re there. Then, a kid piloting a small dory comes to pick you up and cart you to Hole in the Wall, which is better experienced in all its brokendown, ramshackle glory than described. This is a place you don’t want to miss if you’re only here for a visit. The menu (bigger than you’d expect) offers lunch and dinner most of the week, with a big BBQ party on Fridays and Sunday. While you’re here, you can count on a dory owner to offer to take you on a mangrove tour – a heck of a lot of fun if you’re game. You don’t really go to Hole in the Wall because you want to shovel the Bay Island’s best surf and turf in your mouth (it’s decent), you come for the experience and to say you did it. Then you return, and tell everyone you did it again.
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Haydee’s Island Cuisine Flowers Bay Locals know and love Miss Haydee, the effervescent lady who oversees this tiny seaside shack. Reasons to stop by abound, but one is surely for the taste of a real island burger, made from fresh Honduran ground beef, not a frozen imported patty. Every once in a while, when the frozen hockey puck doesn’t appeal, the sloppy, messy island burger is the right choice. We’d also like to mention that Miss Haydee prepares spectacular fried chicken and the occasional stew-beef specialty.
EAGLE RAYS West End on the Water The bartenders at this touristy joint will be happy to make a drink for you so stiff you’ll need help walking. Plenty of atmosphere, with an amazing view at sunset and after, Eagle Ray’s is big on lobster, conch, wahoo, tuna, usually brought by boat to the grill to your table. Nothing happens too fast on Roatan, and Eagle Ray’s is no exception, but have a couple beers or rum drinks and wait it out.
THE BARKING MONKEY at FOSTER’S WEST END BAR GRILLE West End Mon-Thur 11 am-12 Fri-Sat 11 am 2 am Sun 11 am- 10 pm 9869-0779 With a new owner and a great new chef with his own amazing home made pizza, the Barking Monkey promises all sorts of fish, lobster, chicken, shrimp, and everything else you’d expect. Friday and Saturdays evenings there’s no cover til 9:30 with half price drinks and beers. Older folks will dig Captain Morgan, who DJs from 7:30 - 10 pm, until the young crowd arrives and it’s all about island music. The owner is remodeling and promises the best restrooms in West End when he’s finished. ROATAN new TIMES.com
BAREFEET RESTAURANT AND BAR West End Ronny, who runs this venerable seaside hut at the end of the road, is famous for real island food. It’s a place islanders come for traditional meals, great conversation, cheap icy-cold beers, and a traditional Sunday BBQ feast that ends up with a ridiculously talented island band jamming out.
Earth Mama’s West End Closed Mondays When the road is hot and dusty, the sun is blazing, and you need to find a shady spot to simply chill, come get in the shade at Earth Mama’s. Tucked back in a grove of lime and banana trees, away from the hustle and bustle, Earth Mama’s spells relaxation. When it’s hot you can get a frozen smoothie. Breakfasts are hearty and healthy, and lunches offer plenty of non-hot items to help you cool off. The Thai chicken salad is divine.
Beacher’s West Bay Beach While you can find typical bar grub here – wings, fish fingers, conch fritters – there’s a fantastic grilled chicken salad, USDA ribeyes, tons of fish, even lobster and surf and turf. Rather quicky, the bar became popular with West Bay folks, who walk (or swim) there. Others come by car or boat. George and Emil, who run the place, run a tight ship. Functioning as a great sunset spot. Saturdays, Beacher’s is rocking with the Brion James Band.
THE LOBSTER POT West End, Past Barefeet Completely off the beaten path, the Lobster Pot is a discovery. Any way lobster can be prepared, you’ll find, even omlettes. The coconut bread is outstanding (makes great French toast, too) and freshsqueezed juices make
rainY Season 2011
breakfasts feel extra special. Try the rum-roasted shrimp, a speciality that gives the lobster dishes a run for their money.
TAKO BISTRO LOUNGE AND SUSHI BAR Sandy Bay/Coral Stone 3382-2282 The brainchild of Chef Josue, an amazing Salvadoran chef with a love of authentic Japanese cuisine, Tako is a second-floor, air-conditioned gem. Offering a wide selection of sashimi, nigiri and rolls with an uniquely island flair, Takoâ€™s comfortable atmosphere and peerless staff have quickly made it the sushi nexus of Roatan. But non raw-fish lovers will find much to rave about as well -- including a one-pound burger and an assortment of fresh fish cooked the way you like. You can pull up a stool and have some sake with your raw fish, or sit in the well-appointed lounge if you want.
COCONUT TREE RESTAURANT West End Mon-Sun 10 am-10 pm 2445-4505 The inventive skills of Vincent Bush Jr. are on display at this upstairs bar/restaurant, a classy and romantic spot at the entrance to West End. Influences range from Cajun/ New Orleans cuisine, a smattering of Greek, and some of the best Roatanian cooking on the island.
TITAâ€™S PINK SEAHORSE West End/Sueno del Mar 3382-2282 Tita Mora, one of the best bartenders on the island, runs a great little palapa where the drinks flow, the food is fresh, and fun is had. She cooks burgers, brats, Italian sausage, and special creations like jalapenos stuffed with gouda cheese and wrapped with bacon. Volleyball games at sunset are a blast.
ROATAN new TIMES.com
RAINY SEASON 2011
All The News That Wouldn’t Fit Anywhere Else
What Do You Mean There’s No McDonald’s In Coxen Hole?
aSK a pirate
WHY DO THEY CALL THEM “YABA DINGDINGS?
When I Travel I Expect Certain Things... Is That So Much To Ask?
Dear Redbeard, I can’t for the life of me figure out how islanders came up with the name “Yaba Ding-Dings” to describe the pottery shards found on local hilltops. I always think of “My Ding-a-Ling” by Chuck Berry. Am I close? Squirrely Phillips Munchkin Square, AK Redbeard replies: Arrgh! Chuck Berry ain’t close at all! You jest can’t help but wonder ‘o those who call ants “wee-wees” and crows “ching-chings!” T’ islanders have their own wonderful way o’ speakin’ and ‘tis a pity that people don’t understand it and that it’s slowly disappearing. In fact, too many o’ t’ islanders’ traditions be bein’ lost. And that’s a shame because that culture and way o’ life be what first drew people t’ Roatan. It would be a damn shame to lose that rich heritage, and part of that is the wonderful dialect that has been spoken here for so many years. ________________________ Each and ev’ry month ,the ghost of old Redbeard appears to answer any and all questions ye can throw at him. Weather, politics, real estate, arcane trivia, buried treasure, plank-walking, care and feeding of parrots or how to make a good macoy... there’s no topic Redbeard ain’t an expert in. Send your questions to email@example.com
ROATAN new TIMES.com
By An Uptight Tourist I’ve been traveling a long time. In fact, you might say I’m a worldclass traveler. One thing I’ve noticed is that anywhere I’ve visited that’s even half-way sophisticated has more than a Bojangles and a Pizza Inn! What’s wrong with you people? Seriously. Would it be so hard to get Ronald McDonald on the phone and have someone open a franchise down there on Thicket Mouth Road? Do you really want to live up to every Third-World stereotype? No McDonalds? Might as well have a giant sign saying “Not Worth Coming To.” It’s great that you have your local island food (tried it, couldn’t really get into sugary beans and cheese that tastes like a salt lick) and hip ethnic joints (we had a nice dinner at OooLooDooFoo’s the other night) but McDonald’s is a given anywhere in the civilized world. I’m sorry, that’s just how it is. I
don’t make the rules. Once I was in a remote village near the China/Mongolia border ... and they had a Burger King, a KFC, and an Arby’s! Plus a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut. Who ever heard of Pizza freakin’ Inn? You simply cannot expect people from the civilized world to come to Roatan and be happy without a McDonald’s.
Who ever heard of Pizza freakin’ Inn? To a weary traveler, the sight of McDonald’s gleaming yellow arches and the scent of salty grease is beyond comforting. It’s beyond soothing. To the jet-lagged soul,
It takes two to make a thing go right. Let go of the past, you’ll feel lighter. Don’t get numb, don’t get dumb. Move past the pain. The only victim is a willing participant. Oxygen is over-rated. Burn a bridge only to fuel the fire. Dance, dance, dance to the radio. Is this thing on?
rainY Season 2011
McDonald’s is more than chicken soup, it’s a sure sign that you’re on soft, familiar turf. McDonald’s is the mother’s milk to someone who just came from the San Pedro Sula airport, where you can spent up to eight hours contemplating a Wendy’s. And that’s more than enough, trust me. You’ll be begging for a baleada after that, my friend. I know you have a Wendy’s out there by French Harbour, but after my airport experience (it felt like I was in a Franz Kafka book) I can’t bear to look at freckles or red braids ever again. So please. You guys have the greatest coral reef I’ve ever seen. I love the laid-back lifestyle and the fact that there’s satellite TV in our hotel room. And seriously, if you have all these cruise ship people coming, and more world-savvy travelers like me, you’ll understand that they expect a few familiarities. I’d hate to see them rioting in the streets.
Guanaja Joe’s BONACCA BUSH BANTER
All The News That Wouldn’t Fit Anywhere Else Cruise Ships Hook Up Off Dark Roatan Coast
In a furtive meeting some insiders say “was a long time coming,” the Norwegian Star and the Carnival Elation pulled up along side each other for a clandestine rendezvous on October 19 after meeting each other on Roatan. Though both vessels are ostensibly female, amused onlookers confirmed the two ships managed to mate sometime near midnight on their way to Belize. “It was really quite something,” said passenger Dylan Thomas. “I mean, I’ve seen whales on the Discovery Channel, but this was different.”
“Make These Geckos Stop Laughing at Me!” Begs Area Man An exhausted Sandy Bay resident says he’s tired of the sound of geckos ruining his sleep. Every morning for the last six months, he complains, he’s awoken by the sound of a large gecko near his bed that “sounds like someone’s tapping keys against my window.” Like many Sandy Bay residents, he fears the geckos may actually be laughing at him, not with him. Other times, he adds, he thinks the geckos cackle at him “for no reason” and that he discovers their poop all over his house. “They’re taunting me, I just know it. Why me?” he asked the Mango, head in hand. “It’s just not fair. It’s driving me crazy. Why me, why me? And more that that, even, why geckos?” As this issue went to press, nobody could provide a satisfactory answer. 38
Julian Assange Found Hiding Out on Utila
Mail Service to Begin
Noting that it was super-cheap to get his open water certificate, and that nobody knew where Utila was, let alone how to extradite him, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was spotted on the island a few weeks back. Over a barracuda dinner at Babalu’s, a Carrion bag stuffed with Speedos next to him, Assange praised everything about the island from the floatation tank to the funky atmosphere, and complained about the taxi drivers in La Ceiba.
What do you mean Roatan has no addresses? “Blue house owned by Don, past the cemetery, upstairs from the mean dog, West End, Roatan, Bay Islands.” Mayor Juan Golinas is starting the Roatan Mail Service just in time for Christmas cards. In an effort to curb the crime wave, the police will be rounding up crack dealers to work at the Roatan Postal Service. As the Postal Service begins selling stamps at L700 each, the project should be solvent in a month. Crack houses will be commandeered as Post Offices. This serves the public well, since most of the island’s population has a crack house just down the street. Plus other local businesses will get a boost, like those who sell paper, pens, envelopes, and literacy programs. To learn how to build a mailbox, or information about Roatan zip codes, turn to page 56.
Study Claims Barena is a “Girly Beer” “It’s Roatan’s version of a Corona,” said an area man ramming a slice of lime through the narrow neck of his sweaty bottle. But as the weakest of the four Cerveceria Hondurena beers out there at only 4.2 percent alcohol, more and more men are realizing if you’re not down with the brown, you may be a huge wimp. “Certainly, Barena is the least strong and therefore most girly beer on the market,” claims one brewery expert. In the Honduran department of Olancho, not ordering an Imperial calls for a cowboy- style beat-down.
Points for Potholes
Roatan’s got game again! Now from West End to Flowers Bay you can play this action-packed, fun new game. For a few lucky months the route includes the road to West Bay. At two points for avoiding each gigantic, dirt-and-rock-filled pothole, you could potentially accumulate a total of 175 points in one trip. If you land in a hole that pops a tire, you lose 25 points. Maybe we just need bigger trucks on those roads to pack the surface down better? That’s probably the answer. “The bigger the truck, the better the road” has served the world well so far. Roatan’s roads, especially during rainy season, probably need more tonnage.
ROATAN new TIMES.com
RAINY SEASON 2011
ROATAN new TIMES.com
rainY Season 2011
ROATAN new TIMES.com
RAINY SEASON 2011
Published on Dec 3, 2011
Features, art and entertainment profiles, columns about diving, island history, food and restaurants, interviews with Caribbean superstars,...