Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rally on Roatan

The following is the speech given by Mitch Cummins at the Peace March on Roatan yesterday.

I want to thank everyone who came to the rally yesterday. The turnout was
quite impressive. Angela, your pictures were great! I've had a few requests
for the text of the speech I gave yesterday, so I thought I would post it


I moved here to Roatan because I loved what I saw here. Of course the island
itself is beautiful - anyone can see that, but what struck me more than the
natural beauty was the strength of the people. I saw a culture that was laid
back and easy going on the surface, but had such a strong core. I believe
that the culture here was one that allowed new people and new ideas to grow
and blossom. The people here invite and encourage others to improve
themselves as long as you move the island forward as well. I love that about
Roatan and her people. I want to publicly thank all of the Hondurans and
especially the people of Roatan for allowing me to become a part of your

As we all watched the events unfold over the last few months, I became
concerned. At first I wasn't seeing much opposition to what Mel wanted to
do. First we saw ALBA ratified and then as we got closer to the "Cuardo
Urna" vote on June 28, I was scared - REALLY SCARED. The last week or so
before the "poll" I saw things begin to turn around. I started hearing not
only the politicians and the judges and the attorneys talk against moving
Honduras to be a puppet for Hugo Chavez I also started hearing common folks
talk against it as well. But in the final couple of days before the "poll",
I was VERY impressed with what I saw. I think that the Honduran authorities
handled a difficult situation very well.

On Sunday, June 28, my phone rang a little before 7AM to tell me that Mel
had been removed from office. I couldn't believe it! I don't have local TV
at my house, so I got on the internet and started gathering as much
information as possible. I have to tell you, that I had to be a horrible
sight - just roused from my bed, sitting on my couch - hunched over my
laptop, reading every piece of news I could find - and crying. Yes, I was
shedding tears that morning. They were not tears of sadness - not even tears
of joy. I was so proud of what I was seeing Hondurans doing, I couldn't help
myself. I'm not really a touchy-feely kind of guy, but I was so moved that I

Ladies and gentlemen of Honduras - in my opinion what your country did on
Sunday was nothing short of a miracle. While the world is being very
negative towards Honduras at the moment, they are just beginning to learn
the truth about what happened and WHY things were done as they were. I'm not
saying that mistakes weren't made, but in that kind of a situation, you have
to do what you think best and live with the consequences. The world will
learn that what Honduras did was to maintain their democracy!

As most of you know, I'm an American. I am fiercely proud of my country -
usually. I have to tell you that I am embarrassed by my country's response
to Honduras so far. I thought that Obama's initial statement was very good:

"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the
detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of
American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in
Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the
Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must
be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference"

That was a good statement. He didn't call anything illegal, he didn't ask
for anyone to be put back in office - he said "Hey, we're concerned here,
but it's an internal Honduran issue and we all need to make sure that the
rules of democracy are followed". That's nearly a perfect statement.

But what followed, especially by Hillary Clinton, has been so wrong. They
have since backed off some of the initial strong statements that she made.
They've not pulled their ambassador; they've carefully not called the
actions a coup - because if they call it a coup that will affect some of the
foreign aid that Honduras receives from the United States. But they've not
come around to backing what Honduras has done - YET.

We are now seeing Senators and Congressmen speak out in favor of Honduras.
One of the first and strongest voices came from Congresswoman Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen from Florida. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen is originally from Cuba. She and
her family fled the communist regime of Fidel Castro. She KNOWS what it's
like to live in the type of system Mel had in mind. She has been a very
vocal supporter of Latin American issues and serves as the ranking member of
the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Here's part of what the Congresswoman stated:

"The U.S. and other responsible nations must render their full support to
the efforts of those in Honduras who are standing up for freedom and
defending democratic principles and institutions."

Just this morning two other prominent politicians, Congressman Connie Mack
also from Florida and Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina have issued
similar statements. Senator DeMint said "Americans should support the
Honduran people and their legitimate leaders in their brave and heroic stand
for freedom and the rule of law."

Connie Mack said "Manuel Zelaya trampled the Honduran constitution by
pushing for his illegal referendum to allow him to rule indefinitely, and by
firing the top military official, Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, when he
refused to comply with Zelaya's unconstitutional orders". He added "There is
little doubt that Zelaya, in his blatant power grab, has moved Honduras down
a dangerous path toward less freedom, less security, and less prosperity. .
The United States and our allies in the region must now stand with the
Honduran people to ensure the respect of freedom, the rule of law and

I must say, I've always liked Connie Mack's blunt speaking habits. There's
never a doubt about what he thinks about a subject!

Now THOSE are the types of responses that we need to be seeing from the US
and the rest of the world. I have to believe that in the coming days as more
and more of the world learns the truth of what happened, we will see more
and more support from around the world.

There's one thing that you must know. The foreigner community of Roatan is
standing right here with you. I think that I speak for all of us when I say
that Honduras is doing something brave enough and strong enough that it
should be held as an example for young democracies around the world.

Tomorrow is July 4th. That day holds a very special meaning for Americans.
That's the day my country gained its independence 233 years ago. In the not
too distant future, the world will recognize June 28, 2009 as the day
Honduras cemented democracy and freedom into their history.




Paradise Computers, S.A.

Roatan's #1 Technology Provider Since 1997

Mango Tree Center

Coxen Hole, Roatan

Here are some great photos taken at the march:

Angela Agnew's uploaded a bunch of photos of this afternoon's peace rally
on her photography website, _www.RoatanImages. com_
(http://www.RoatanIm under 'client slideshows' - 'Roatan peace march'. There was a great
turnout. or
_:: Roatan Peace March AKA Photography ::_
(http://www.photobiz .com/slideshowbi z/slideshow. cfm?slideshowID= 70148&photograph erID=7409)

Friday, July 3, 2009

What's Really Happening in Honduras

Two excellent articles about the situation in Honduras.

The following was written by Octavio Sanchez. He is a Honduran lawyer (J.D.
Universidad Nacional Universidad Nacional AutonĂ³ma de Honduras; LL.M.
Harvard Law School). He also was a presidential advisor from 2002 – 2005. He
served as the Honduran Minister of Culture from 2005 – 2006.

Octavio is tremendously more qualified that I am to discuss the constitution
and what happened this past weekend. I’d like to publicly thank Octavio for
taking the time to write this powerful piece describing the reality of what
happened according to the Honduran constitution.

If you are not familiar with the country’s history and the Honduran
constitution it is almost impossible that you would understand what happened
here this past weekend. In 1982 my country adopted a new Constitution to
allow our ordered return to democracy. After 19 previous constitution -two
Spanish ones, three as part of the Republic of Central America and 14 as an
independent nation- this one, at 28, has been the longest lasting one. It
has lasted for so long because it responds and adapts to our changing
reality, as seen in the fact that out of its original 379 articles, 7 of
them have been completely or partially repealed, 18 have been interpreted
and 121 have been reformed.

It also includes 7 articles that cannot be repealed or amended because they
address issues that are critical for us. Those unchangeable articles deal
with the form of government, the extent of our borders, the number of years
of the presidential term; two prohibitions -one to reelect presidents and
another one to change the article that states who can’t run for president-
and one article that penalizes the abrogation of the Constitution.

In these 28 years Honduras has found legal ways to deal with its own
problems. Each and every successful country around the world lived similar
trial and error processes until they were able to find legal vehicles that
adapt to their reality. France had 13 Constitutions between 1789 and the
adoption of the current one in 1958 which has passed 22 constitutional
revisions. The USA had one before this one which has been amended 27 times
since 1789 and the British –pragmatic as they are- in 900 years have change
it so many times that they have never taken the time to compile their
Constitution into a single body of law.

Having explained that, under our Constitution, what happened in Honduras
this last Sunday? Soldiers arrested and took out of the country a Honduran
citizen that, the day before, through his actions had stripped himself of
the presidency of Honduras.

These are the hard facts. Last Friday Mister Zelaya, with his cabinet,
issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the
“Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly”
(Presidential Decree PCM-020). The decree was published on Saturday on the
official newspaper. With this event, Mister Zelaya triggered a
constitutional protection that automatically removed him from office.

The key legal elements for that constitutional protection to be triggered
are the following ones. Constitutional assemblies are convened to write new
constitutions. In Honduras, you have 365 articles that can be changed by
Congress. When Zelaya published that decree to regulate an “opinion poll”
about the possibility of convening a national assembly he acted against the
unchangeable articles of the constitution that deal with the prohibition of
reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.

How is that kind of intent sanctioned in our Constitution? With the
immediate removal of those involved in the action as stated in article 239
of the Constitution which reads: “No citizen that has already served as head
of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates
this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such
violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions
and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.”
Notice that the rule speaks about intent and that it also says immediately
–as in instant, as in no trial required, as in no impeachment needed.

This immediate sanction might sound draconian, but every country knows its
own enemies and it is the black letter of our supreme law. Requiring no
previous trial might be crazy, but in Latin America a President is no
ordinary citizen, it is the most powerful figure of the land and
historically the figure has been above the law. To prevent that officer from
using its power to stay in office Honduras has constitutional rules such as
the mentioned one.

I am extremely proud of my compatriots. Finally, we have decided to stand up
and become a country of laws, not men. From now on, here, no one will be
above the law.


Paradise Computers, S.A.

I don’t profess to be an expert at Honduran politics or constitution, but I
have been here a while and stay pretty involved with what’s going on in
Honduras and especially Roatan. For those that don’t know me, I’m an
American investor that has lived in Honduras full time since 2002. I’m very active on several commissions and have met with minister level executives of the Honduran government many times in the past few years.

There have been a lot of comments, descriptions, and hypothesis over the
past few days. I’ve spent a LOT of time reading Spanish and English reports, talking to a lot of people on the islands and on the mainland, and listening to the local politicians. I’d like to present my take on what’s happened.
This is especially for Nick who’s been posting on the Roatan Tourist
discussion group, but hopefully it will help clarify some points for others
as well.

· Mel Zelaya was elected 3 ½ years ago with an underwhelming 49% of
the vote. He was seen as a fairly conservative member of the liberal party.
The general feeling when he was elected was that he wasn’t the greatest
pick, but his background as a wealthy logger and rancher coupled with his
more liberal social policies would probably be OK.

· Almost from day 1, Mel started shifting Honduras policies to the

o Remember when he tried to nationalize the oil industry – forcing all
fuel distributors to buy from 1 company so that Mel could control the price?
The US rightfully reminded Mel that the US oil companies had a lot invested
here and the confiscating of those assets would not be a good thing. Mel
changed his mind a couple of days later.

o Mel gave away the fishing rights to an area that Honduras has been
fishing for decades if not a hundred years. He gave those rights to
Nicaragua for nothing – or at least nothing that was ever publicly reported.
Mel forgot to mention this transaction to anyone in the country, let alone
the fisherman. Guess how the fishermen found out? The Nicaraguan Navy
confiscated several boats over a period of a few weeks. The crews on these
boats were detained from a few days to a few weeks. Some of the boats were
eventually returned to the rightful owners – after paying “fines”. Some of
the boats even had the electronics and gear still on board when they were
returned to the owners. The Honduran government did absolutely nothing to
repatriate these boats.

o Mel wanted Honduras to join ALBA – a collection of countries that was
formed by Cuba and Venezuela to counteract NAFTA/CAFTA from the US. When
this was announced, there was a lot of concern – especially from the
business community. I was in a meeting with the local congressman less than
a week before it was ratified. The message being sent was that this was just
a way to get cheap oil from Venezuela. The congress wouldn’t consider
ratifying this treaty for 6 or 8 months and by then Mel would have the oil
that he was after. Again, less than a week later Mel got the treaty was
ratified by the congress.

o Not too long ago, the minimum wage was raised from L. 3,500 per month to
L. 5,500. That’s about a 60% increase. I’m not saying that the minimum wage
didn’t need to be raised, but this huge increase was 3 times more than the
labor unions were requesting (20%) and 6 times more than the business
organizations had offered (10%). These increases caused tremendous layoffs
on the mainland. Many maquillas (garment factories) began to move to
Nicaragua because the cost of business in Honduras had gotten too high. This
was another huge drop in jobs. I’ve not seen the actual number of jobs lost
because of the 60% increase in minimum wage, but it was staggering.

o The Honduran constitution says that each year the President presents the
annual budget to congress for approval. If the approval is not obtained by a
specific date (I think it’s the end of January, but am not 100% sure) the
budget from last year will be used until the new budget is approved by

§ Mel never submitted a budget for 2009, hence the Congress can’t approve
it so Honduras is operating in 2009 on 2008’s budget.

§ Now, why would a President not submit a budget? Who knows for sure but
one of the possibilities is that 2009 is an election year. Mel would like to
stay in power past 2009. The budget in 2008 didn’t include an election, so
in essence there is NO money available for the 2009 election because we’re
operating on 2008’s budget. There are other theories about hiding graft and
corruption, but I would assume that anyone that becomes President in
Honduras wouldn’t be concerned about hiding corruption and theft in the
budget – he certainly didn’t mind doing it the previous 3 years!

· Somewhere along the way, Mel decided to take a lesson from his
mentor (Chavez) and arrange it so that he could remain in power for as long
as he wanted. There was a little problem with this. The Honduran
constitution, enacted in 1982, has 378 articles. 6 of these articles are
“cast in stone”, meaning that they can NOT be changed. These 6 articles deal
with defining the type of government, territory claims, and presidential
term limits. They are the basis of the Honduran democracy.

o One other tidbit from the constitution – Article 42, Section 5 says that
anyone who is found to “incite, promote, or aid in the continuation or
re-election of the President” would face loss of citizenship. Remember this
one later on in this saga.

· To further complicate things for Zelaya, ANY changes to the
constitution have to be initiated by the legislative branch. The congress
has to convene a constituent assembly. That’s basically a group of people
selected by the congress to analyze any proposed changes and form those
ideas into the new constitution. After the proposed changes are formulated,
the congress would approve them to be put to a national referendum. The
executive branch (the President) has nothing to do with that process.

· Mel didn’t think that the congress would go along with his ideas
of staying in power so he decided he’d call his own referendum. He doesn’t
have the authority to do that – remember that constitutional changes can
only be done by the legislature AND the term limits are one of the articles
cast in stone – but he goes ahead and calls one anyway.

· The Honduran Supreme Court says “Sorry Mel, you can’t do a
referendum. That’s not within your power as president”.

· Mel, or more probably one of his advisors, figures out that if a
referendum can’t be done, we could probably do a survey or a poll instead!
Great idea – nobody will figure out that the poll that we’re now going to do
is exactly the same thing as we were going to do with the referendum.

· Damn those people on the Supreme Court! They figured out the ruse!
They ruled unanimously that regardless of what you call it, if it acts like
a referendum the president can’t do it. If it looks like a duck, and walks
like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . . .

· Mel continues to talk of doing the poll on June 28 regardless of
the Supreme Court

· The Congress looks at the poll that Mel wants to do and gives an
opinion that the poll would be illegal and they will not support it.
Remember that Mel’s own political party is in control of the congress.

· The Attorney General also analyzes the poll and determines that it
is illegal. Over the course of the weeks leading to June 28, the AG
reiterates many times that the poll is illegal and anyone participating in
the poll would be committing a crime and could be arrested.

· Mel runs into another logistical snafu. He needs some ballots
printed. The entire political structure of Honduras (except him) has ruled
that the poll is illegal. It’s a pretty sure bet that he can’t get the
government to print the ballots for an illegal referendum so he asks his
buddy Hugo Chavez to print the ballots. Of course Hugo says “No Problem

· The rhetoric in the 2 weeks before the “poll” gets tense. Every
legal opinion in Honduras says that the poll is illegal. The Supreme Court
reaffirms its ruling that the poll is illegal. The Attorney General keeps
saying that the poll is illegal and that anyone participating is committing
a crime. Mel’s own political party says that the poll is illegal. There
literally is not one legitimate group in the country that is siding with Mel
about the poll.

· Traditionally the military handles the distribution of the ballots
and voting materials. The head of the military, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez says
that the military will not participate in the poll because the Supreme Court
is the entity that determines what is legal and what is illegal in Honduras.
The Supreme Court has determined that the poll is illegal, so the military
will not participate.

· Mel Zelaya promptly fired Romeo Vasquez. The other heads of
military (Navy and Air Force) as well as the Minister of Defense resigned in
support of Vasquez.

· The next day the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Vasquez was
fired without reason and demanded his reinstatement. Zelaya refused.

· The ballots arrive in Honduras (from Venezuela on a Venezuelan
flagged plane). The Attorney General demands that the ballots be confiscated
and held at a military installation.

· Mel decides that if the military won’t distribute the ballots,
he’ll get his own people to distribute them

· Mel gets a couple of busses and a few cars full of supporters.
They drive to the Air Force installation that was holding the ballots. They
forcibly entered the installation and took the ballots. Not only was this
“breaking and entering” it was a complete betrayal of a lawful order of the
Attorney General

· The Attorney General says that the President has committed treason
and asks for him to be removed from office. The congress created a
commission to examine Zelaya’s actions and determine if removal from office
is appropriate.

· A side note here about removal from office. I’m in no way a
Honduran constitutional expert, but from what I understand, there’s not a
clear means to impeach a sitting president. In a lot of constitutions, the
impeachment of a president would be done by the legislative branch. In
Honduras, there’s no such structure. There could be criminal charges brought
against the president and the trial would be handled by the judicial branch.
Not much different than anyone else accused of a crime. I’ve not heard of
any provision to temporarily remove a president from office until the
criminal charges were adjudicated. What would you do? Let a man accused of
treason remain as the sitting president until the trial was completed? That
would be insane, but that may be the only choice.

· On Saturday, June 27, Mel got most, if not all, of the ballots
distributed around the country. The polls were set to open at 7am on Sunday.

· The Supreme Court voted to remove Zelaya. The Congress decided to
remove Zelaya. The Attorney General stated many times that Zelaya was
committing illegal acts and in fact committing treason. The military
determined that the poll was illegal and that their responsibility was to
uphold the constitution as opposed to supporting the president.

· Early Sunday morning, about 6am, the military went to the
president’s house and removed him from the building. He was put on a plane
to Costa Rica. This was done to enforce the ruling from the Supreme Court.

· This is where Article 42 of the constitution comes into play. The
way that I read that article, Zelaya should have lost his Honduran
citizenship at this point.

· Once Mel had been removed, the President of the Congress (Roberto
Micheletti) was sworn in as the new President of Honduras. This was exactly
the person that is indicated by the constitution. It was a proper and legal
succession of the presidency. The first thing that Micheletti did was
confirm that the regularly scheduled elections would be held in November.
His post is temporary until the new President was duly elected.

· It’s been said all over the press that Mel was arrested in his
pajamas. I personally don’t believe that. In an hour he would have been at
some polling place to vote and also to motivate those that showed up. This
was the biggest day of his life. I’d be amazed if he slept at all – I know I
wouldn’t be able to. There was one report that Mel was actually in suit
pants and a crisply ironed white shirt when he was arrested and he asked to
change into other clothes. Quite frankly, I see this as more likely.

I believe that this is an accurate depiction of the events that led to
Zelaya’s expulsion on Sunday. If I’m wrong on a any points, I don’t think
I’m off by much. The salient points are certainly accurate.

I personally think that it would have been better to arrest Zelaya and hold
him somewhere in the country. He was removed from Honduras in the interest
of public safety. The feeling at the time was that if he was held within
Honduras, his supporters would take violent actions to release him from
captivity. It would be a difficult decision and I’m sure the powers that be
did what they thought was best.

I have been disgusted at the world reaction to these events. It’s like they
only looked at what happened on Sunday morning and ignored what events led
to that day. I don’t understand how the removal of Zelaya was anything less
than a small country demanding that their country remain democratic. Their
constitutional process worked exactly right to remove a rogue president with
an agenda that was detrimental to the Honduran constitution and society.
While the actions of June 28 would fit some definitions of a coup, it was
certainly a legal and CONSTITUTIONAL coup. There have been several articles
written that state that it was a MANDATORY coup. That’s a very difficult
concept for most people from the first world to understand, but there are
some coups that are good and even required.

I’ve read so much over the past few days that I can’t remember where I read
this, but the author was talking about the events in Honduras. He concluded
by stating quite simply that if you find yourself aligned with Castro,
Chavez, and Ortega – you should REALLY look at where you’re standing.

I think that the Hondurans should be honored for what occurred. I know that
I’ve never been prouder of a group of people than I’ve been of Hondurans the
past several days. Instead of being isolated from the world and denounced as
being “anti-democratic” they should be lifted on the shoulders of all free
men around the world. I’m sure that there are plenty of people in Cuba,
Venezuela, and North Korea that would LOVE to hear the story of what a small
country can do to ensure democracy lives in their society for their children
to enjoy. That is if the people in those countries ever hear of the great
accomplishments of a small third world country with ideals and principals
larger than the “democratic showcase” of the first world.


Paradise Computers, S.A.

Roatan's #1 Technology Provider Since 1997

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sad Times/Glad Times in Honduras

I hardly know how to start this blog. My heart is very heavy, sad for our friends in Honduras. I have been keeping up with all the blogs and forums where the ex-pats and many Hondurans voice their opinions and report on the happenings in their area of the country. I respect their viewpoint and their reporting as being much more accurate than what is being reported by the world media. These people are IN Honduras, LIVING this story, and monitoring all Honduran news sources. Much of what is being reported by foreign media is not truth.

Here is my summary of the situation:

The Honduran people, the poor, uneducated people, have been grossly mislead by Zelaya. Corruption is rampant here. Votes are easily bought and Zelaya has been throwing around a lot of money lately. There was no coup. There was military intervention, at the request of the Supreme Court and the Congress, to escort Zelaya out of the country - more of an impeachment. Zelaya's efforts to subvert the Honduran constitution by illegally calling for a vote to allow an illegal referendum vote which would then allow for an illegally called constitutional assembly. His purpose was to overthrow the term limit on the presidency and stay in office, ala Chavez. Only the Congress can call for a constitutional reform. No one wants Zelaya to remain in office, not even members of his own party. He forced through the ALBA agreement with Venezuela, Boliva, Nicaragua and Cuba by paying members of Congress $100k each to vote FOR the membership in ALBA and to take the vote while the president of their congress was out of commission, recovering from surgery (he would have blocked the vote). So no one who follows his evil-doings believes that Zelaya will go easily when the new president is elected in November. He has said as much and has the backing of Chavez and is following in his footsteps to become president-for-life.

The Hondurans were happy to have Zelaya removed and many thousands of people have been rejoicing, peacefully marching, with placards praising this action. They have been ignored by the news media who instead have focused on the much smaller crowd protesting his ouster.
Now the Hondurans are deeply saddened by the U.N. condemnation and their demand that Zelaya be reinstated.

I would encourage you to read some reports that ARE accurate if you really want to know the truth.

Lagringa gives many sources and links which are well worth checking out.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye For Awhile

Tomorrow we head back to the U.S. after 6 months in paradise. We've been busy saying goodbye to all the great friends we've made here. In the photo above, we're having a farewell dinner with Colin, Ruth, Luce Maria and Rick (who were also leaving for awhile) at the new Mexican restaurant at the cruise ship pier. Fun evening.

We've had a busy day getting the house ready to close up. We have a checklist that we drew up last year - a good reminder of things that must be done. Don hung up the last of the hurricane shutters this morning, so they are all ready to be closed and locked - not only to protect the house in case of a hurricane but also great protection against break-ins. I've been doing laundry, cleaning the fridge and cabinets, checking over what to take back and what to leave. Not taking much but still need to take back the suitcases so we can bring them down full in January. I've been taking mental inventory as we go along of the things we'll need to shop for while home. I'd better start writing them down soon if I really want to remember them! I seriously want a couple of those pillows that stay cool at night. And a salad spinner.

Tomorrow morning we'll get rid of all leftover food items, condiments and anything else that won't hold up under the intense heat buildup inside a closed up house. Also bring in the deck furniture and cover everything up to protect it from gecko droppings. We're leaving our car for friends to use in our absence.

Dennis and Merlin are coming down in a little while for a last visit, and we'll eat the last of the shrimp. In the morning, Bob and Debi will drive us to the airport. Tomorrow night, the Zellers will pick us up at the St. Louis airport.

I'll give you my impressions on returning in a few days.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Birds and Butterflies

This is our last week on the island until January, so we have been packing in as much fun as possible, having farewell dinners with all our friends and wrapping things up.

Debi and I visited the Butterfly Garden yesterday where they have a quite a number of tropical birds as well. Debi is holding the White-naped Amazon parrot. She was demonstrating her bird communication skills when the parrot suddenly began squawking and fussing at her, clearly very angry. She quickly put him down. I said "whoa, Debi! I don't know what you just said, but he sure took offense!"

They had several scarlet macaws. This one is Fluffy. He did not want me to put him down and gently nipped my hand when I placed him back on the tree branch.

The butterfly house is home to about 13 types of butterflies. We saw them in all stages of development, from eggs on leaves to a dying Blue Morpho.

We entered the butterfly house through the toucan aviary where this handsome fellow greeted us. Looks just like the one on the Fruit Loops box, doesn't he?

They had several feeding stations set up with orange halves which made a great photo op.

We found this beautiful shrimp plant inside the butterfly house.

I wish this fabulous parrot had not moved just as I snapped the picture, but he was too intent on trying to squeeze out of his cage. They had a pair of these and I wish I remembered the name. I had never seen one colored like this before. They aren't allowed out to mingle with visitors, not well-behaved apparently.

A Scarlet Macaw.

Timing is everything!

The White-naped Amazons.

It was an amazing afternoon. Very hot and very humid. We were dripping with sweat, but had a great time anyway.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flowers Bay

This photo of Debi and the seamstresses was mysteriously deleted from yesterday's blog. I don't know why or how. Things just happen. Cute suit, huh?

On the way to find the seamstress yesterday, we decided to drive in through Flowers Bay. The sea was really rolling, so of course we had to stop for photos!

I love the windy road through Flowers Bay.

This is near Gravel Bay and the cruise ship dock. You can see the Royal Caribbean ship in the background.

Later in the afternoon, Colin and Kellie came by,picked us up and drove us to Flowers Bay to show us the house they had just rented. This is the view from one of the decks. That's a tidal basin on the right side behind the fence.

There is a small saltwater pool on a dock below their house. Cool place to watch a sunset. Think we'll be spending some time here!

Colin and Kellie leading the way as we tour the property.

Another view from another deck. Pretty neat place. The view from the deck is lovely and it's extremely breezy. That little semi-grassy area is where Kellie's new chihuahua will do her business and Moe will hunt for lizards. We'll be frequent visitors.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Off To Find The Seamstress

Yesterday morning my pal, Debi, asked if I would like to join her on an adventure. She needed to find a certain seamstress in Coxen Hole and have a fitting of an outfit being made for her. The challenge would be in finding the right seamstress. The island-style directions were rather vague and Debi had never been to her shop before. The seamstress had come to the church and measured all the women for the outfits she would be making (without a pattern!). Now it was time to see if it fit. The directions were as follows: "go down Back Street to the alley just before the Carrion store and look for the woman sewing." Intrigued, I agreed to go along. Fortunately, we had just discovered the Back Road the week before when we went to the photo "studio".

That's Debi's car parked in front of the peach building across from the pink building on Back Street. They could have just said "turn by the Pepto Bismol pink building" - it sort of stands out. We got this far and parked, deciding to walk down the alley. Debi consulted her Spanish dictionary for "seamstress" so we could ask for help. As you can see in the first two photos, the alley was full of puddles from all the rain we've had. We carefully picked our way through, avoiding stepping in the water. With my sensitive nose, I was immediately aware that this was a smelly alley. Many areas are smelly here after a rain. But the farther we walked, the worse the odor got. We were fortunate to run into a young woman walking towards us, and she greeted us in English. Debi quickly asked her if she knew where we could find the seamstress and she did. She told us to go down that other little alley, around that house and it was the house right behind there. We never would have found it on our own.

Not only, that, it doesn't even look like a shop until you look in the window. Here's Debi standing in front of the shop.

One of the seamstresses.

Debi checking the fit. Good job! Not only were the women making all these suits for Debi's choir, they were also making a number of identical dresses for a quinceanero party (in Latin America, a girl's 15th birthday is a kind of "coming-out" party - a really big deal). The seamstress told us via hand gestures and in Spanish that the dresses would also have blue sashes, be worn with long gloves and the girls would carry bouquets. These ladies do very nice work. They needed about 30 mins. to make some minor adjustment to the suit jacket and to add the buttons, then Debi needed to come back in, so we left to go wander about in the market for half an hour.

As we were walking back toward the Pepto building, I noticed a stream of oddly colored water in the grassy area in the above photo. Very stinky water.

Here's Debi picking her way through the alley. At the end of the alley, some men were shoveling up the "mud" that had washed down. Ugh. We decided that we would take Debi's car back to the shop when we returned. The smell was just too much for me.

We passed a number of houses just like this one.

As I was sitting in the car in front of the seamstress's shop waiting on Debi, I noticed this little building off to the side. I noticed it because a young girl of around 10 years of age came downstairs from the apartment above the shop, wearing only a large towel and entered this building through the door marked "coco". As I studied the building and the water tanks with the hose running from one tank then under the "coco" door, I realized that this must be a community shower. A short time later, the girl reappeared, looking rather damp and wrapped in her towel.

Debi's standing in front of one of the markets desperately wanting to take a photo of a lovely old woman in a fabulous hat who was shopping inside. It was too dark inside to allow a decent photo and Debi kept hoping the woman would finish and come outside, but she didn't.

We passed these men working under this tent next to the market. They are cobblers in an outdoor shoe repair shop! Neat, huh?

We were lucky enough to find a big hunk of meat hanging outside the meat shop. Don't see that everyday. We love browsing through the markets, there are always interesting people and interesting things for sale.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Off To The Clinic

Ever since Dave and Tracy left, we've been having beautiful sunsets - sorry, Dave!

Today I had my first Roatan clinic experience, and I must say, it's very different from the usual U.S. doctor visit. I've had a sore foot for several days for some unknown reason. I didn't injure it, it just began hurting, then swelling, just distal to the medial malleous (below the inside ankle). Very strange. Getting progressively worse. Time to seek out a doc.

I decided to go to the clinic at Anthony's Key Resort. You can just walk in, never a long wait like at the other clinic. The clinic itself is quite unusual. It's on the grounds of Anthony's Key Resort near the dive shop. Serves the guests of the resort, but they also take non-guests. The highlight of this clinic is the hyperbaric chamber, one of only two in the Bay Islands used to treat decompression or the bends. The resort caters to divers.

So I walked in and, there, in the waiting room was this enormous hyperbaric chamber with chairs lining the room around it. I checked in at the desk got a number and had a seat right in front of this chamber. It looks like a huge L.P. gas tank with port holes! It is big enough to accomodate two divers. Then I noticed that in addition to the television tuned to Honduran soap operas that was sitting atop the chamber, there was another black and white "t.v.". Soon I realized that what I was seeing on the screen was a man lying inside the chamber receiving treatment, breathing through an air regulator like divers use. Holy cow! A very worried young woman sitting next to me was obviously a family member as she kept getting up every few minutes and going over to look in one of the port holes. The girl at the reception desk also monitored the chamber, checking the gauges, reporting to the doctor. Another, older woman came in, another family member, and expressed concern about the man's position. He appeared to be asleep with one leg bent up. The girl monitoring him used a radio-type handset to speak to him, asking him if he could move that leg; he moved the other one but at least he was responsive.

The doctor came out, called my number, and I followed him to a small treatment room where I began explaining my problem. He wasn't much help and apologized, saying that he was not an orthopedist. He suggested I take an anti-inflammatory and if it isn't better in a few days, let them know and they can call an orthopedist to come in and see me. He followed me out to the desk and whispered to the girl. She then told me that there was no charge! Can you beat that?! No charge. Amazing. Of course, I still have the sore foot...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Back Road

We've made two trips into Coxen Hole this week. If we happen to be there around lunchtime, we like to eat at Nardo's, nice breezy place right on the water. They serve a fantastic black angus burger and fries. Yum.

While walking back to our car, I observed this tower sticking up from behind the building across the street. I don't remember ever noticing it before. I would love a shot of it without the power lines.

Today we had more errands to run in the Hole and we picked up our friend, Debi, along the way. We needed to get photos (head shots) taken for residency cards and our lawyer directed us to a photo studio on Back Street (the actual name). We had never driven down this street, thinking it was more like a one-way alley than a street. We found a map (!) of the Hole and saw another road that would likely take us down the hill to Back Street so we could enter it going in the proper direction. This road, Calle Ocho, goes through El Swampo, which really was quite swampy but was drained and filled in many years ago. That is the road you see in the photo above. Houses and shops (lots of second hand clothing stores) line the road.

This is Back Street, narrow, one-way, but nicely paved. We were told there was a wee bit of parking near the building we were seeking. We saw an available spot behind a pickup truck and pulled in, then we realized that we had parked right in front of the photo "studio". This was a stroke of luck since none of the buildings are numbered and we really weren't sure which building had the studio. We had been told that there was a sign, but it was a small one. True.

We climbed the stairs to the second floor studio. One of the young women spoke perfect English. We would have managed ok, I think, in Spanish, but we were able to ask far more questions with her there. The other woman took us into a small room, sat us on a rattan chair and took one photo of each of us with a small digital camera. She then printed out the photos while we waited. Debi thought they were too large for the I.D. cards, so she printed out another smaller set. All for $10.58! While waiting, we chatted with the English speaker and looked at the camera supplies in the display case. They carry regular film, batteries, flash drives, photo albums, picture frames, a couple of digital cameras and glue sticks. Amazing. They also process film. We were in and out in about 10 minutes.

The market was just a very short walk down Back Street, so we wandered around through there. No good pineapples today, but we did buy some nice, small round watermelons and some mangos. Pretty quiet day at the market. Really sorry Dave and Tracy missed this adventure. Just a short walk past the market, Back Street ends at Thicket, the two-way road we usually come in on. Thicket ends at Main Street, which is one-way to the east. Debi had just remarked that because it was one-way, you only had to watch the one direction - traffic coming from the west, when suddenly a taxi backed up through the intersection from east to west! We laughed and laughed at that one.

A couple more errands brought us down near the cruise ship dock. Debi ran in to say hello to her friend, Zenola, while Don and I ducked into the International Pharmacy, where we again found a parking spot right in front of the building. I wanted to check on the availability of some medications. We're losing our prescription drug coverage at the end of the year, so next time we come to Roatan, I'll be buying medications here (cheaper, too). My beta-blocker is not available here, although other brands are, so I'll need to talk to my doctor about options. (This is sounding like a drug commercial, isn't it?) The pharmacy carries a very nice selection of medications and no prescription is needed. I also bought an Ace wrap for about 75 cents. I had given away all the ones I brought with me.

By now it was starting to get hot. A quick stop at the grocery store, and we were all ready to go home for some iced tea and lunch.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Taking Flight - Canivet's Emerald Babies Leave the Nest

Esmerelda coming in for a feeding.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dave took hundreds of photos while here (no exaggeration!) and a great many of them were of our hummingbirds. The babies were just beginning to stretch their wings and flutter a bit. Esmerelda was still doing frequent feedings. Lots of photo ops. Dave has a much better camera than I and also had the advantage of having a tripod and remote switch, so he could set it all up then move away to avoid upsetting Esmerelda and start shooting whenever there was action.

She really gets that beak in deep and then uses the jackhammer technique of food delivery.

Esmerelda loved sitting in the Pride of Barbados bush by the edge of the deck where she could keep a sharp eye out on the babies. She seemed to become even more protective as the babies grew more active and started testing their wings. Or maybe she just didn't trust Dave and I and our cameras.

Here is the best photo of one of the babies. This is Caribbean, the last one to leave the nest. Chrissy left very early one morning before the light was good enough to take photos. Chrissy was the strongest of the babies, the one usually on top and the most active. She left the nest about 36 hours before Caribbean and she never returned. As far as we know, that was her maiden voyage, and she looked like an old pro as she flew away. Caribbean, was certainly not that brave nor that strong and needed a great deal of coaxing and encouragement from mama, flying up onto our roof on the first attempt. Caribbean also never returned to the nest. Esmerelda checked the nest often for the first day or so after the last baby left and then she abandoned us as well.

We hung up the hummingbird feeder and waited. Soon we began seeing different hummers, but not Esmerelda or the babies. Finally, I heard Esmerelda's very familiar tittering and saw her at the feeder. This afternoon, I saw one of the babies for the first time, still much smaller than the adults and getting more colorful. Maybe one of them is a male. I might be able to get a photo sometime....

Roatan 2009 - Hummingbirds - All photos by Dave Gartner.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back to Gumbalimba

We've been to Gumbalimba Park many times and always enjoying taking visitors there. This was Dave and Tracy's first time. The park is named after the Gumbalimba tree. Tracy was quite fascinated with the tree's smooth red bark. Don is holding up a red cashew fruit with the nut attached. He's taking it to feed the monkeys who love this fruit.

The park has a two large cages of macaws and two of parrots, all rescued or born there. They are released a couple of times each day for free flight; they always return. The best trained and well-behaved ones are allowed to interact with visitors.

I had to lighten up this photo - our guide took it and it was very shadowy.

This baby white-faced capuchin was born at the park and is just a couple of months old. He/she will cling to mama's back for six months before venturing out on his own. His father is the alpha male.

Don holding the baby black Howler monkey.

Tracy with a young spider monkey. She really wasn't too thrilled about even visiting the monkeys, but she enjoyed it once she saw how playful they are.

Dave takes his turn with the macaws.

When you first enter the park, you pass through a cave and you're given a little history of the island. This room of the cave is dedicated to pirate history and has (allegedly) authentic guns and swords from the 1700s on display. Our guide made Don pose with the pirate - ok, he actually suggested that someone should pose with the pirate, and we all insisted that Don do it. He's taken the pirate's flask.

The areas around the lake are beautifully landscaped. We had a great time walking around and got a lot of exercise, too. Pretty big park. We had pretty well finished exploring before several hundred cruise ship passengers descended upon the park. The cruisers don't get the same interaction with the monkeys that we got. Too many people make the monkeys shy or timid and they tend to stay up in the trees. It's much nicer to go when it is not crowded and early morning is ideal.