RIP Kandy Hyde

Sometimes, the fragility of life is shoved in our faces, and the injustice of someone so young being ripped away feels like a dagger plunged in the heart.

From what Facebook shows today, Kandy Hyde was one of those true noble souls who touched many, many lives and showed incredible bravery in the face of adversity. An FB post from her a week or so showed how tough she was.

I wasn’t lucky enough to have known Kandy. But I do know she fought hard. I know she’s left behind a husband and two young children. Our hearts goes out to them, and all of her friends and family, many of whom I do know.

 

 

 

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Serious Taxi Accident in Sandy Bay

Not sure of the circumstances. On the New Times site (which will be live soon, I swear!) I promised a blog with a photo called “Taxi of the Week” — in fun. This didn’t look like fun at all. In fact, the ambulance with sirens on racing to the scene and the injured people (at least one of whom was treated at Clinica Esperanza) makes this decidedly not a taxi driver doing something nutty worth poking fun at — this was serious.

The accident was across the road from Melvin’s house in Sandy Bay, just after the turn-off to the beach. The taxi was apparently heading east when it left the road and landed against the base of the wooden house near the old Sandy Bay sign.

Here is a better pic, courtesy of Ashley Harrell, a friend and colleague who is on Roatan taking Spanish lessons so she can go work for the Tico Times in Costa Rica. How cool is that?

Roatan Radio 10 am – 12 pm

That’s right. 10-12 Mountain time.

DJ Duke Dubuque will take over after Captain Morgan tomorrow, for a couple hours of music.

If  you’re not on Roatan and/or not in your car, www.roatanradio.com is the answer.

Thanks to Calico Jack (I think he’s from Spain) and the good Captain for getting me back on the waves of air.

I have a ton of music and I’m old. Hit me with requests.

Two artists you’ll NEVER hear from me:

Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett. Roatan killed my love of that stuff through sheer over-play. Seriously. I’ll put on ABBA, the Carpenters, Throbbing Gristle, or Aphex Twin before you hear that crap from me. If you do hear Bob or Jimmy, anytime, report it to the proper authorities.

If you’re really turning on the radio to hear Bob Marley or Jimmy Buffett, you need an iPod and/or a life.

Seriously. I used to love “Three Little Birds.” I’d shoot and eat them now.

Thanks for killing that for me, Roatan.

See you at 10 a.m.

DD

Earthquake

DID YOU FEEL IT? WE DID.

 

4.8 Mb – NORTH OF HONDURAS

Preliminary Earthquake Report
Magnitude 4.8 Mb
Date-Time
26 Jul 2011 06:35:45 UTC
26 Jul 2011 00:35:45 near epicenter
26 Jul 2011 00:35:45 standard time in your timezone
Location 17.044N 85.793W
Depth 21 km
Distances
111 km (69 miles) NE (44 degrees) of Roatán, Islas de la Bahía, Honduras
127 km (79 miles) N (8 degrees) of Trujillo, Colón, Honduras
157 km (97 miles) N (8 degrees) of Tocoa, Colón, Honduras
176 km (110 miles) NE (37 degrees) of La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras
320 km (199 miles) E (93 degrees) of BELMOPAN, Belize
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 18.9 km; Vertical 9.7 km
Parameters Nph = 198; Dmin = 532.1 km; Rmss = 0.90 seconds; Gp = 108°
M-type = Mb; Version = 7
Event ID US c00054a7
For updates, maps, and technical information, see:
Event Page
or
USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

National Earthquake Information Center
U.S. Geological Survey
http://neic.usgs.gov/
__._,_.___

Roatan Rapper Hosts Party in Miami; Another Big Bash Here on Saturday Night

Sickboy Sickest, a protege of Jhaytea who lives in Miami, is throwing a big bash this weekend at a Miami nightclub to spotlight Roatan talent.

And the next evening, (originally scheduled at the new Granny’s Kitchen in Flowers Bay but now moved to Las Palmas) on July 23rd, Jhaytea and DJ Sambula are throwing another huge “Roatanean” bash that will no doubt last all night.

As if that’s not enough Roatan music culture gettin’ spread around, Jhaytea also helped shore up a formidable lineup at a Brooklyn high school last weekend:

Also — and this could be big news — I met a concert promoter/local impresario who swears he’s getting George Jones to play a concert here in October. Rick Loomis also told me he’s trying to get reggae vets Third World and Steel Pulse down here as well. Fingers? Crossed.

Open, Sesame!

How Many Politicians Does It Take To Open a Shipping Container?

BY JEFF STRATTON

four keys to open them

Shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, a screaming siren emerged from Thicket Mouth Road and made its way to the parking lot outside of Sun/Pizza Inn/Bojangles, where a brown shipping container was surrounded by a phalanx of cameramen, reporters, and local officials.

The cop car shut down its sirens. TV cameras were shouldered.

A big white Hummer and a few other shiny SUVs pulled up, and out spilled Rosa Elena de Lobo (the wife of Honduran President Pepe Lobo), mayor Julio Galindo, deputado Romeo Silvestri, and governor Shawn Hyde.

The first lady was accompanied by at least two members of the presidential security detail, complete with those little ear-transmitter thingies and the blank, slightly menacing expressions you’d see on the faces of U.S. Secret Service agents.

Armed local police and Cobras surrounded the surreal scene. About 35 people were on hand to see the container unlocked.

In less than 30 seconds, Hyde popped open the four padlocks. The first items visible were massive desks and filing cabinets, but clearly the container was full.

“Isn’t this amazing?” asked a gringo bystander. “They hold it up for months, and then open it with all the cameras here!”

It’s true, at least four TV cameras were jostling for the best angles, but the hold-up was paperwork from the mainland, not foot-dragging by local officials.

The first lady and mayor were interviewed by TV crews.

Nurse Peggy Stranges showed up with a poker face. She and the mayor looked over the manifest. He asked her to sit tight until Monday so the list could be looked over and the items divvied up (3/4 of the items are reported to be for the public hospital, though the items are differentiated clearly on paper and color-coded in the container ).

“Relieved” is how Peggy described her feelings.

We’ll be staying on this and bringing you more news on Monday. For now, two positive events have occurred: Clinica Esperanza is open, and the container has been opened.

CORRECTION

Due to misunderstandings, misinformation, and mistakes in translation, I published information that is not entirely correct, HOWEVER, I am in touch with Nurse Peggy and Clinica personnel to try to bring you the most recent info.

Here is what I have:

•The clinic is open tomorrow.

•HOWEVER No promises or timetable has been agreed to by the powers that be. Despite “assurances” (that is the word used) there is NO guarantee that the container will be opened nor a license granted (for the entire clinic, not just upstairs) this week.

In other words, Nurse Peggy has agreed to re-open Clinica Esperanza on Wednesday morning, despite the lack of the two documents she asked for last week.

I could go on, and there is a lot more on the record I cannot/will not publish at this time, but without sources knowing they’re officially on the record, etc, let’s just go with this:

Nothing has changed. The clinic will see patients tomorrow, with no official timetable in place for a license or dispensa for the container. Every attempt has been made on my part to obtain correct information. When information is being fed second or third-hand, mistakes are made. However, NOTHING reported in the previous posts contained anything “untrue.”  Bottom line, Peggy is open, without the the paperwork she needs.

The erroneous info told to me was this:

“•The container will be opened/unloaded tomorrow.

•The license for the upstairs portion of the clinic will come by the week’s end.”

From now on, I will report from strictly from the horse’s mouth, on tape, to obviate this issue. Thanks for understanding, and thanks for supporting Nurse Peggy.

Success! Local Politicians Step Up and Take Control of Container Situation

Posted about an hour ago on the Save Clinica Esperanza page:

“For all those who have sent messages expressing concern regarding the medicines and equipment donated by Hope Clinic and the Hospital of Roatan, I hereby let you know that your server, along with Mayor Julio Galindo, Governor Shawn Hyde we have taken with responsibility and unconditional release of interest to the container. Sincerely Romeo Silvestri”

 

This is great news and is certainly progress in the right direction.

Clinica Esperanza, Closed at the Moment, Fights Sticky Red Tape to Re-Open ASAP

Health Care Denied, Time and Energy Wasted as Stalling and Stonewalling Stop Nurse Peggy from Treating Roatan’s Needy

BY JEFF STRATTON

Back in late March, this blog reported that the upstairs wing of Clinica Esperanza in Sandy Bay, with a new pediatrics ward and birthing center, was ready to open.

It’s now mid-July, and the crash carts and beds and defibrillators and incubators have never been used. They’re new, shiny, ready to go … and just sitting there.

“While babies on this island are dying!” wailed one of Peggy’s staff members.

Why is this happening? Why is the best modern medical facility on Roatan sitting dormant? Why is the most-used clinic for “the poor and under-served” populace unable to secure a license to operate the new wing, and why has a shipping container filled with medical supplies for the clinic (but mostly for the public hospital) been sitting in blistering heat for more than three months?

In a word: paperwork.

“Until we get those two pieces of paper (the license and the dispensa) the clinic’s closed,” Peggy said on Friday.

Friday, July 8, was a pretty big news day on Roatan, with plenty of attention focused on the red-haired bundle of nerves and strength who wanted nothing but to do her job. Instead, she was issuing press releases, tracking down the wives of presidents, and chasing wild geese.

That’s how she spent her day, instead of caring for the sick people on the island who have come to depend on her.

That morning, this blog posted her press release warning that the clinic would shut down, and within a few hours, there was a Facebook page dedicated to saving the clinic, the chat groups started buzzing, local radio worked itself into a lather, and — since it’s Roatan — rumors starting flying like junebugs under a porch light.

In fact, right around noon, anonymous reports hinted that the first lady of Honduras was emptying the shipping container of its medical supplies, in broad daylight. I met up with Channel 27 down there, and it didn’t take us long to figure out that no containers were being opened, much less by big-wig dignitaries: in fact, it was lunch/siesta time, and no one was doing anything.

No First Lady in sight

At the same time Chas Watkins was starting up his Facebook page, this blogger was following Peggy’s staff with a notebook, camera and digital recorder, and Roatan Radio (101.1 FM) applied a bit more fire to the lazy feet that are dragging and therefore hampering Peggy’s mission.

It was a weird, wired conjunction where Skype, cell phones, digital social-networking media, old-school radio and eyewitness reporting enjoyed a sort of strange convergence of connectivity.

But back at Clinica Esperanza — where the general mood was shock and disbelief (apart from the patients, who had no idea what was going on) — Peggy was calm. She’d clearly reached “the end of her tether,” as Roatan Radio boss William Crisp put it, but she wasn’t unraveling.

She was eating yogurt.

Right around 2 p.m. her Blackberry rang with an important call: the right people and papers were in place, and the container, sitting at a French Harbour dock since April 24, was ready to be opened. Of course, Peggy jumped in her red pickup and rode right down there.

Did anyone show up? Was the container opened? Did Peggy get the dispensa needed to obtain the materials, or a license that would allow her to open her new facility legally?

No, no, no and no.

Crisp, who said, “We have to assume there’s a more morbid, nasty reason behind this,” was livid. Station boss John Morris played phone tag with various sources for an hour as conflicting reports trickled in. “It’s not the Gringos who are hurting,” Crisp noted. “It’s not the rich people — it’s the people from up in the Colonia.”

And on Monday, Dr. Raymond Cherrington predicts, the closing of the clinica will doubly impact those poor people on Roatan: “I’m concerned that people will spend money on a taxi to get here — spend money they could use on food.”

To provide a slice of what a typical Peggy Stranges day is like: in the middle of her fight for the container came an urgent phone call.

A tourist experiencing full-blown renal failure, dependent on daily dialysis for survival, came to Roatan with no supplies, no dialysis fluid, nothing.

Who’s supposed to fix that problem? Saint Peggy. Who else?

“There is NO dialysis fluid on this island,” she tells the caller. “It’s over in Ceiba. He needs to go there, get in a taxi, and ask for dialysis center.”

She hangs up the phone.

“It really upsets me when people do things like this,” she says.

But back to the matter at hand: it’s 3 p.m., the first lady is nowhere to be found, and she’s the only one who has the authority to produce the necessary document to open the container.

If patience is a virtue Peggy is a paragon

An employee tells her, “She’s been told it’s been released, but I have no proof it’s been released.” Peggy recounts how the first lady had blown her off earlier that morning.

“I was very offended by that,” Peggy says. “I don’t care what your title is. Just say no. Just say somethingI don’t understand. I don’t care who it’s been consigned to – why isn’t it being released?

The tangle of paperwork is familiar to anyone on the island who has tried to take possession of anything shipped from the States. But an e-mail she received Friday from Dr. Javier Pastor, the vice-minister of the health department, offered a ray of hope.

“The first lady herself got the final authorization for the release, she is at the island right now to open the container,” read the e-mail. “It will be good, you contact her and thank her for her help.”

Peggy did just that, typing out a nice note to the first lady’s assistant on her Blackberry: “Please thank the first lady for me for all her help in getting the container open.”

“But there’s no paperwork,” the employee explains to Peggy. “If she comes and says open it, we’re gonna open it.”

Meanwhile, the clock’s ticking. A kid on the mainland, Peggy explains, has been waiting for months for a special wheelchair that’s held inside the locked container.

“What if I say open it?” Peggy asks.

The employee laughs. “I think probably at around 4 o’clock, the first lady is going to contact someone,” she says hopefully.

Peggy, exasperated but still chill, says, “She’s here on vacation, and I don’t want to bother her. But how long will a friggin’ signature take?”

No one knows when the first lady is leaving the island, but this much is set in stone:

“Not even the first lady is going to open this business on a Saturday, I can guarantee you that,” the employee tells Peggy. “We may open on a Sunday, but it will not be after 5 p.m. on Friday, and not before 5 p.m. on Saturday. That’s the legacy we’ve built this business on.”

Maybe I should just come back Monday? Peggy wants to know.

“I just don’t understand what the problem is!” she says.

“The problem is there’s no paperwork on it,” answers the employee, “which should have been done six to eight weeks ago. Then it wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Peggy’s tired of waiting. “I don’t expect anything,” she says, “so I’m never disappointed.”

But her frustration bubbles to the surface on her way back to the clinic.

“The biggest business in Honduras isn’t tourism,” she points out, “it’s philanthropy. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people who come down here every year to help Honduras, and this is the way we get treated?”

She estimates that for the last half-year, at least one hour of her weekday is devoted to the paperwork issue.

“It’s like five weeks of somebody’s life, just gone.”

She parks her pickup in the near-empty clinic lot. Her Blackberry buzzes. It’s a text message from Perla Caceres, the first lady’s personal assistant. It consists of two words.

“Thank you,” it reads.

UPDATE: Nurse Peggy Rebuffed After Requesting 5-Minute Meeting With First Lady

BY JEFF STRATTON

According to those working with a very frustrated Peggy Stranges, a contingent of staff paid a visit this morning to the West Bay hotel room of Honduran First Lady Rosa Elena de Lobo, requesting her assistance in obtaining the two documents the clinic needs to keep operating.

After asking her security guards for a short meeting to see if any help could be provided, the First Lady left without speaking to Peggy.

Here’s a great post from Living_In_Honduras by the ever-erudite and intrepid blogger, La Gringa:

“That is incredible. I hope that this gets a lot of coverage. I can’t believe that the gov’t couldn’t even be shamed into doing the right thing. This needs some publicity in the newspapers. Have you all from Roatan thought of taking out a full page ad in some of the newspapers denouncing this?

a few minutes later she posted:

“You need to get it in the national news. None of the NGOs EVER want to expose the corruption and incompetence that goes on because they are afraid of the gov’t — in effect, enabling the corruption. It seems that there is nothing to lose in this case.”

Who knows if there’s a coincidence yet, or if there is any effective way to shame the government into fixing the problem. While this situation does have parallels with RAS Express/Gil Garcia and the gasket he blew over customs delays and red tape, it’s crucial to note that these are perishable, sterile pieces of medical equipment that are needed desperately on Roatan — and have been sitting in a shipping container for more than three months now.