This Blog Has Only Two Weeks To Live ;(

Thanks, everyone for supporting my blog here — but in a few weeks we will be up and running on roatannewtimes.com

can’t wait to see you there

My special thanks to Adi and Eva and Joe — without them, this would never become be a reality! xo

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West End Robbery Suspect: Photo

As usual, it’s not easy to get many “facts” about these West End silver-pistol robberies. But a concerned citizen e-mailed me a shot taken of a suspect’s ID card which was held at the tourist police station in West End.

More from this anonymous citizen:

“Here’s the photo. I took this picture at the west end tourist police station. They had this guy’s picture ID and presented it to me asking if he was the robber. They probably still have it. I don’t know if they have followed up and tried to find or arrest him though, maybe you can find out. I spoke with Officer Perez at the station but most of the guys there heard from me about the robbery at the roatan bed and breakfast near brick oven pizza. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if they were always telling me the truth. I suspect not, because once they told me they had 3 suspects and treated them badly but they gave no information. Another officer said it was two suspects. I think they were just blowing smoke. Also, the owner of the B&B said about a week after we left, the police had two thieves in cuffs so I don’t know what that was all about.

Some of the items they stole besides US Dollars and Lempiras:

-Apple macbook pro 15″ silver, 2.4ghz dual core, 200gb hard drive, 7200 rpm

   Serial # W88132NMYJZ

-Apple iphone 3GS 32gb serial # 84945CT43NR  imei# 012026001106211

-Olymus Stylus 770SW 7.1 Megapixel waterproof camera silver w/ black gasket Serial #D06642415

-2 silver rings (one with skull & crossbones, one with rotating keltic band)

-Black O’Neil Psycho Surfer Backpack (recovered by local on side of road at west bay turnoff corner)

-U.S. Passport (recovered with backpack)

-Black Stingray skin wallet with white stripe (w/ various credit cards and IDs)

-USB Headset and various power cords and cables to hook up to computer, camera and iphone

-A 1st generation itouch 8gb

-Fossil Watch FS4613 Chronograph

Finally, proof: Guanaja was actually called Bonacca

BY JEFF STRATTON

For a while now, I’ve had a few islanders chide me for using the name Guanaja to describe the large isle off our east end with the Hong Kong-esque settlement on the water where everyone resides.

The only reason it’s called Guanaja, they tell me, is because Spanish speakers cannot pronounce its real name (Bonacca, now the name of the afore-mentioned cay or key).

And, of course, as I’ve been told many times: Bonacca = Binaca: 

aaaaah!

They have also hassled me for saying Semana Santa (it’s to be known as Good Friday or Holy Week) and other linguistic/cultural errors.

These separatists call themselves Roataneans or Roatanians (despite their adherence to the rule of the Crown, spelling is far from their strong suit), they are an impassioned and fervent bunch, and when my new magazine debuts this summer, you’ll be reading a lot more about them.

Here’s their flag:

After reading Julio’s assessment, check out this article from the London Times, published several years ago…

An Apology for the Cession of the Bay Islands by Great Britain to Honduras.

Published: July 10, 1860
  • From the London Times

The colony just ceded to Honduras is known as the Colony of the Bay Islands. It consists of a group of islands, six in number, lying off the northern coast of Honduras, and bearing the names respectively of Ruatan, Utilla, Bonacca, Barbarat, Helena, and Morat. The first of these names may, perhaps, recall to the reader’s mind the disputes pending some time since between this country and the United States, and which the present act of cession his brought to a close. Considerations which the Royal proclamation describes as “paramount motives of State policy” suggested the separation of this colony from the British Crown and the cession of the territory, to the neighboring Republic of Honduras — a resolution which was embodied in a formal treaty between the contracting Powers, and which has probably by this time been actually carried into execution. On the 21st of last month Mr. PRICE, the Commissioner appointed for the purpose, arrived at Ruatan, and there announced to the inhabitants of the colony the mission with which he was charged. He informed them that at an early day he should proceed to the consummation of his duty by delivering over the islands to the officers of the Republic commissioned to receive them, and published, therefore, official notice of the design, in order that all interested might govern themselves accordingly.

It is satisfactory to understand that the population of the colony have not received the intelligence without regret, and still more so to learn that their interests and inclinations have been consulted by a liberal proposal on the part of the Crown. At the beginning of the year a memorial was forwarded from the colony, praying that Her Majesty would be pleased to withhold the ratification of the treaty concluded with Honduras, and refrain from separating the connection subsisting between the British Crown and the Bay Islands. The memorial did not reach this country till the treaty had been ratified; but an offer has now been made to the colonists, by which the privilege of living under British protection will be placed at the command of all who desire it. Guarantees of a most comprehensive kind had already been obtained for the benefit of the settlers from the Honduras Government; but, if any of the colonists should be distrustful or dissatisfied, it will be at their Option to proceed to any part of the British West Indies which they may select A free passage will be provided for them, and for all their movable property; and on their arrival at their destination crown lands will be placed at their free disposal; so that, as far as the case admits, they will be protected from loss or damage.

We should look with some interest to the result of this proposition. It is not probable that the Republican Government would be ever disposed to oppress a body of settlers who would be among its most valuable citizens, not to mention that the guarantees provide ample security for civil and religious freedom, but the very offer of the alternative is sufficient to show the popularity attaching to British rule. The colonists who choose to remain under the Government of Honduras will be effectually protected against tyranny of any kind, — against arbitrary taxation, against conscription, and, as a climax of immunities, against passports. It is striking to observe the peculiar institutions against which English nature rebels. The settlers have not been content with stipulating for the use of their own language, and the preservation of those political rights which an Anglo Saxon carries every where with him. They seem to doubt whether the Republican Government, democratic though it be, may not watch too paternally over the movements of its people, and they bargain, therefore, by special conditions, that they shall be free to come and go as they please, without any of that intervention which the passport system involves.

We can understand the indisposition of the colonists to transfer their allegiance. * * But the position of these islands was peculiar; our presence there was the source of litigation and quarrel, and it is probable that by making them over to a species of neutral Power we have destroyed a crop of political embarrassments. Prudence counseled the measure. We can hear no more now of the “Central American question,” and, if the advantage has been purchased at some expense to the settlers, we must do our best to indemnify them for the damage. After all, a settlement in the West Indies must be a pretty good exchange for one in Utilla or Bonacca.

The most notable point in the transaction is its novelty — a point all the more remarkable considering the multitude and variety of our possessions in every quarter of the globe It argues something for our tenacity of principle and our equity of administration, that we have so very rarely lost or ceded any territories once acquired. We have outlived the lust of acquisition, and we look, perhaps, with too much indifference at the present day on possessions which our ancestors regarded with pride and our neighbors with envy; but it cannot be said that the dominions of the British Crown have been exposed to dismemberment or decay. In no part has the fabric of our colonial empire been suffered to crumble. The triumphal edifice is in good repair, and if our policy has been modified it has been for the advantage of colonists and the mother country together. We have no fear that the cession of the Bay Islands may form a precedent, nor can we see any reason for regretting the occurrence. We have not retired from inability to remain; we have not aggrandized a dangerous rival; we have not abdicated any national duty. All we now hope is, that the final arrangements may be executed to the satisfaction of the colonists, and that they may not be losers while others gain.

Soundtrack: the sound of two Royal hands, wiping themselves clean.

And then, after reading that article (extremely stilted language, no?) I saw a link to this.

Wow. It makes me feel as if, no matter how discombobulated Cooper may be growing up, he has a chance to be president or prime minister — or anything — because I know his mom is every bit as awesome as this chick was.

Anthony’s Key Resort Article from 1971

AKR Story from Iowa Newspaper

BY JEFF STRATTON

Thanks to the readers interested in Roatan history. I’m not sure how to get this stuff on the Roatan History forum — please feel free to share this freely. 

I was told AKR has been open since 1969. This report jibes with that estimate.

Check out the misspelling on the inset map.

Cool article, if a tad bittersweet. Here’s a guy who wants to keep the island “as untrodden as possible” and doesn’t want Roatan to become a “booming center of tourism.” So he opens a resort…

Today in Roatan History

Stories describe frustration with Honduran rule, finding buried treasure

BY JEFF STRATTON

Not a member of the Roatan history chat group (is it still active?)  but I recently unearthed a few articles about Roatan I hadn’t seen before.

By the way, today is the 152nd anniversary of the end of British rule over the Bay Islands.

Here is a New York Times piece from 1988 featuring an interview with Julio Galindo. The article focuses on the islander’s trepidation about the onslaught of “Spaniards” from the mainland, and bashes Britain for abandoning them all those years ago. Pretty interesting stuff. Great quote from Galindo, talking about the anniversary of April 22, 1859 (that’s when the islands went back to the Spanish): ”We think it’s a day we should all mourn.”

And as a special bonus, here’s a September 1969 story from a Eugene, Oregon newspaper about an unlucky duo who came to Roatan hoping to get their hands on some pirate booty:

Undersea Roatan Featured in Time, National Geographic This Month

Lionfish, sharks, Marine Park, local sub captain showcased

BY JEFF STRATTON

Antonio Busiello

On April 4, National Geographic published a photo essay featuring incredible pictures shot in the waters of the Roatan Marine Park. Though the magazine doesn’t make much  distinction between Honduras and Roatan, it’s got some pretty awesome shots of sharks making meals out of lionfish. Quoted in the article is West End resident Ian Drysdale.

Ten days later, Time ran a short piece about Karl Stanley’s sub.

Kelly Tyler

Time only used one quote from Karl, but it’s a beauty: “Any time I can get my hands on a large dead animal, I take it.”

12 Years Ago Today

Remembering Columbine After All These Years

BY JEFF STRATTON

I remember working in the office of The Onion in Lower Downtown Denver, next door to Coors Field. It was a normal Tuesday;  I was changing a CD on the boombox, right around lunchtime. That’s when I got a call from my friend Steve Freeland, telling me to turn on the television. 

By the time I made it home, the local news stations were crazy with chaos. There were members of the “Trenchcoat Mafia” getting arrested a few blocks away (no connection), conflicting reports about the numbers of dead and injured, footage of students falling from windows and running outside, panic all over their faces, parents freaking out…I’ll never forget that evening. Even late into the night there was no way of telling what exactly had really happened or how many had been killed.

To wit: look at the headline in the Post. Only 15 people died that day, but the scene was so horrific, no one had an accurate count when the paper went to press.

That headline in the Rocky (“Heartbreak”) didn’t feel nearly strong enough to encapsulate what had happened, but the paper took home a Pulitzer the next year for Breaking News Photography.

In the days that followed, Denver looked and felt like it had taken a gut-punch. I remember grocery shopping in Wheat Ridge, a suburb several miles north of Columbine, watching customers and cashiers break down and bawl on each others’ shoulders. It was such a monumental, unfathomably violent and unpredictable event — it felt like the whole city was struck by a comet of hurt. Everyone, it seemed, was affected.

At the time, I was freelancing for the Denver Post and I recall that it took a couple weeks before any of my editors was able to take a phone call from me. 

Even us jaded cynics at The Onion were stunned out of our comedic stance. It was hard to write about anything entertaining or funny for a long while. Finally,  just less than six months after the tragedy, the Madison office sent us a story that we ran in the Denver/Boulder edition.  I know laughter helps healing, and I’m glad it ran, but  I can remember wincing when I first saw it.


Today, a dozen years later, Columbine is giving students the day off. For the parents of Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Ketcher, Isiah Shoels, Rachel Scott, Dan Rohrbough, Danial Mauser, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, and Kyle Velasquez, and the family of teacher Dave Sanders, this must be an awful day. 

And remember, dozens of other students still bear the bullet wounds they received on that morning of insanity.

I saved those newspapers because they represented not just a historical day in Denver, but a day where more than a little bit of innocence evaporated forever, after which things were never the same. Even though I didn’t know anyone involved in the tragedy, it illustrated how even a major city like Denver, Colorado, could suddenly feel small and vulnerable.

Update/Correction

Two readers confirmed that the figures originally quoted to West End landowners do, in fact, include 9 percent amortized over a 10-year period. Thanks for the information.

Lowie Crisp
Lowie Crisp 8:00am Apr 20
In the end we were informed that the estimated monthly “tab” per lot does include the interest……

Jim Dunn 9:07am Apr 20
Confirmed. I just ran a spreadsheet that amortizes loans. My monthly payment includes interest at 9% over 10 years.

Roatan Mayor Pushes West End Road

Julio Galindo Answers West End Questions

BY JEFF STRATTON

Unable to stay for the whole thing but here’s what I saw:

As the sun went down, the wind kicked up, and two assistants were called in to keep the screen (above) from being blown over.

Family  scions from West End’s past sat in folding chairs with business- and land-owners who live in West End.

The last meeting, Mayor Galindo began, “seemed like a confrontation. Let’s not have that tonight.” Scattered applause. He explained that last time, the municipal wasn’t properly prepared to answer every question but that tonight, each question would get an answer.

To prove that, he used a PowerPoint presentation to show and zoom in on the cadastral surveys for West End.

The individual lots on the cadastrals displayed could be selected to show exactly what each property owner would owe, whether if paid off in a lump sum or spread out over a 10-year span.

“Thirty-three dollars a month,” said Mayor Galindo, telling one resident what his payment would be. “Insignificant, really.” Large property owners would take a bigger hit but most small homeowners with one lot were presented with numbers that weren’t intimidating at all, usually well under $50 a month.

If anything, the mayor used the meeting not to debate the merits of the road, but to make it as palatable as possible for the people paying for it. Straight off the bat, he was clear about his position:

“My father and my wife were born down here,” he said of West End. “I’ve made my mind up. I would like to pave this road. If I don’t do it, it ain’t gonna get done. And if we don’t do it now, in the future it would be practically impossible.”

The mayor addressed critics who’ve alleged that the road paving is politically motivated. “There’s no politics at all. I love my island,” he told the crowd. Explaining that he draws no salary as mayor, he added, “I’ve never gone to the U.S. or to Tegucigalpa as mayor, and I’ve never charged the municipal for a meal or a hotel room.”

There was a moment of humor when someone asked the mayor if the road would be stamped and if it could be colored.

“Yes,” he answered, “we can make it any color you want.”

“No,” said a man in the audience, “you can’t make it blue.”

“We want it gold!” someone joked, but a guy in front of me grumbled, “For those prices, it should be gold.”

It was then, about a half hour or so in, that a main backer of the petition against the West End road (Caroline Power) left in what appeared to be disgust. The paved road did seem like a foregone conclusion at that point — it was like the meal was over, coffee’d been served, and all there was to do was figure out what everyone’s share of the check would be.

Even that became cloudier when it was revealed that the lempira/dollar amounts told to the landowners didn’t include the interest rates charged by the banks loaning money for the project.

Those rates, according to mayor Galindo: 9 percent if paid off in 10 years, 12 percent if paid off in 15. “You can’t get money for free,” he said. “I wish it could be three percent.”

“So, if we finance it, that [the original figures quoted] won’t be our monthly payment,” someone pointed out, adding that people opting to finance would end up paying almost double the initial estimate.

That prompted another resident to ask what would happen if he sold his property, or a portion of his property — and someone else asked if the outstanding debt could mean a lien could be placed on his property.

“I’m not going to put a lien against you,” the mayor said, “but I don’t know what the bank is going to ask you for.”

With that, it was time to bail and pop in on Quiz Night next door. If anyone has additional anecdotes from the tail-end of the meeting, please share them.

This is clear: wake up today to find the Roatan Reality chat group flaming like a cross-dresser at a pride festival. Some of the smoke lingering around the hills today must be from all the name-calling.

Maybe Caroline can take some solace in this comment from the Facebook page called No West End Road :

Mike Dewar 7:33am Apr 20
“like-minded anti-progress simpletons” When you start to get labels like this from a poster on RoatanReality, you can be pretty sure you’ve won the argument!