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Utila East Wind - March 2006 Edition

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Stories picked from the Headlines

Centro de Salud Controversy

March to Central de Salud - Click to enlarge
March to Centro de Salud
Alton Cooper (center)
Lance Bodden (to his left)
Patrick Flynn (far left)

Utila`s Centro de Salud has become a hot topic in the community in recent weeks.

Controversy began last month when Dr: Matilde Alvarado organized a meeting to form an internal committee which would supposedly function as a support group for the public health center. The meeting however, clearly reflected the political division that was created during last year´s November election and continues to gnaw at some members in the community.

Both the mayor, Alton Cooper and president of Centro de Salud board of directors asked that the meeting be rescheduled, Their request was not granted and the meeting proceeded. Needless to say, members of the Liberal (red) party left after the mayor`s request to postpone the meeting was denied. In the meeting Dr. Alvarado discussed various issues such as:

- medication and lack of

- consultation fees

- administration of finances.

A few hours after the meeting the mayor and Lance Bodden spoke live on local station HQTV and made some necessary clarifications for the public in general.

Things continued to steam in the following days that led up to January 25, the date that marked the beginning of another 4 year term for re-elected mayor, Alton Cooper.

Minutes after being sworn in along with other members that form the municipal corporation, a peaceful manifestation was organized and participants walked to the Centro de Salud and demanded that it be closed until a new board of directors could be elected. After several hours of discussion between local authorities, a legal consultant and the doctor in charge of the health center, the medical team packed their belongings and left the premises without any acts of aggression by spectators (contrary to reports of violent behavior).

Days later, Bay Islands Health Director, Dra. Martha Medina along with sindicato (union) president Jorge Trochez and other health workers from Roatan arrived to hold meetings and negotiations.

A cabildo abierto (public meeting) was held in the center of town and those present voted in favor of a change in the board of directors with the exception of Lance Bodden who received the support of the community and was elected to continue being president of the board of directors.

Due to lack of maturity and professionalism, the meeting ended abruptly when Jorge Trochez, union leader, had a temper tantrum and left the stage in an altered state. Several others tagged behind him while the majority of the public congratulated the newly elected board of directors.

There are still some unresolved issues concerning the public health center and currently it is functioning on a 2 month trial basis. After this period of time further decisions will be made, until then, the Centro de Salud continues to serve the community as it has in past years.

En las últimas semanas El Centro de Salud en Utila ha sido un HOT TOPIC en la comunidad.

La controversia empezó el mes pasado cuando Dra. Matilde Alvarado organizo una reunión para formar un comité interna que servirá como grupo de apoyo del Centro de Salud. Sin embargo, la reunión claramente reflejo el reparto político que fue creado durante las elecciones en Noviembre del ano pasado y continuo a roer a algunos miembros de la comunidad.

El alcalde, Alton Cooper, y el presidente de la junta directiva del Centro de Salud pidieron que la reunión fuera renegociada. Su petición no fue admitida y la reunión procedió. Ni que decir tiene, miembros del partido Liberal (rojo) se fueron porque la petición de Alton fue negado. En la reunión Dra. Alvarado discutió varios temas como:

- falta de medicamentos

- precio de consulta

- administración de la financias.

Unas pocas horas después de la reunión el alcalde y Lance Bodden hablaron en HQTV, el canal local, e hicieron algunas clarificaciones necesarias al público en general.

En los próximos días hasta el 25 de Enero, el día de la inauguración por un término de cuatro anos más de alcalde Alton Cooper, las cosas continuaron a empañar.

Minutos de ser juramentado juntos con otros miembros que forman la corporación municipal, una manifestación pacifica fue organizado y participantes caminaron al Centro de Salud y demandaron la cierre del centro hasta que una nueva junta directiva podía ser formada. Después de horas de discusión entre autoridades locales, un consultante legal y el doctor en cargo del Centro de Salud, el equipo medico tomo sus posesiones y se fue sin ningún acto de agresión de los espectadores (en contra de reportes de actos violentos).

Días después, El director de la salud de las Islas Bahías, Dra. Martha Medina, el presidente de sindicato Jorge Trochez y otros empleados que trabajan en el sector de salud en Roatan llegaron a Utila para organizar reunión y negociaciones.

Un cabildo abierto fue organizado en el centro del pueblo y los presentes votaron a favor del cambio de la junta directiva con la excepción de Lance Bodden quien recibió el apoyo de la comunidad y fue elegido de nuevo como presidente de la junta directiva.

Debido a la falta de madurez y profesionalismo, la reunión fue terminado abruptamente cuando Jorge Trochez, líder de la unión, tuvo una rabieta y bajo del la plataforma en una condición diferente. Algunas personas le siguieron mientras que la mayoridad del público felicito a la nueva junta directiva.

Todavía hay algunas temas que no son resueltos con respeto al salud publico y en este momento el centro esta funcionando a base de un periodo de prueba de dos meses. Después de este periodo se tomaran mas decisiones, Hasta entonces el Centro de Salud continuara a servir la comunidad como ha hecho en los últimos anos.

News in Brief

Robbed again

Archie Henderson was robbed in La Ceiba for the second time. Archie was crossing Serraping Bridge on his motorbike when the driver of a white truck drove across the road to block him. Two armed men jumped out of the back of the truck and told him to “pass the bag”. Archie passed them the bag and the bandits took off.

Archie did not get hurt in the incident and all the robbers got was a bag full of paperwork, none of which were too important. Rosalita said, “No more Ceiba, we’ll use the phone!”

Robbery in La Ceiba

Gerard, who runs Munchies with his wife, was eating at a restaurant in La Ceiba near the center on Tuesday the 7th at about 6.30pm. Two local males walked in and ordered a Coke and suddenly the two guys started yelling, pulled their guns and told everybody to get on the floor. Gerard moved towards the stairs and was told at gunpoint to get down.

They robbed about 3 people in the restaurant, all of them Latinos. Two taxi drivers were stripped of all their valuables plus their cell phones. During the robbery someone managed to phone the police but they failed to show up until 20 minutes after the robbers had left.

Jose Portillo - Click to enlarge
Jose Portillo
being evacuated to La Ceiba onboard the Utila Princess

Wounded Man taken to La Ceiba

Jose Portillo was found outside Thompson bakery unconscious. “It looked like he had just fallen down and he strongly smelled of alcohol,” said Dan Sweeney. Two tourist girls took the guy to the clinic. Jose was having seizures, he was vomiting blood and he had cuts and bruises on his forehead. He was stabilized at the clinic but he didn’t regain consciousness.

Dr. John took him to La Ceiba. Portillo’s friends say that the victim woke up the following morning and walked out of the hospital. He claimed he was beaten up but Dr. John reckons it was alcohol related.

Car hits Baleada Stand

Wreckage after Baleada Stand accident

Larry aka Ruggie, LLM, Tumpie aka Grinche and Moises were talking when they suddenly heard a very loud noise. As they turned around they noticed one of Utila’s delivery trucks coming straight at them, fast. Moises was standing behind a tree and didn’t see the truck coming. Tumpie and Ruggie jumped out of the way. “I barely has time to step back and the car missed me by four inches and crashed through the Monkey Tail Inn sign, pulling it out of the ground,” said Moises. It tore down Dona Hilda’s Baleadas stand and finally came to a stop against a cement base. Fortunately, nobody got hurt.

Nathan Chambers - Click to enlarge
Nathan Chambers
resting injured foot

Leg injury at BGA Bank

Nathan Chambers, 27, from Australia pushed the BGA door to get out and stepped forward. Instead of opening, as you have to pull it instead of push, he hit the door with his leg. He didn’t hit it hard but the glass in the door broke and sliced him instantly. “Everyone in the bank stared at me.” Eventually the guard made him sit down. A lady in the bank suggested he go to the doctor and have his leg looked at.

He decided to go home and wash the wound. The cut didn’t look to bad but it did hurt so he went to Dr. John. He cleaned it again and realized that a tendon had been severed. Nathan was sent to La Ceiba where he underwent general anesthetic and spent 1 night in the hospital. He is back on Utila now waiting to get his cast off in about 1 month.

Robbed on Airport Road

On Sunday the 29th of January Oscar Gabourel went to the airport with his wife Peggy to give her driving lessons. When they got to “the terminal” a Carib guy was waving at them to stop and they did. He asked them directions to Pumpkin Hill. They started explaining it to him and before they could finish the guy grabbed Peggy’s purse and took off on his bike.

Back in town they reported the incident to the Policia Preventiva. The police went to the airport but couldn’t find him. In the evening they brought in a guy and Mr. Gabourel identified him as the thief. He had taken all the cash out of the purse. “The guy was put on the boat the next day and told not to come back,” said Mr. Gabourel. “We did get our I.D. back and thankfully nobody got hurt.

Bees removed

A swarm of approximately 10,000 bees were successfully removed from Rose’s Supermarket last week. See next months paper for the full story.

Funky Town Library re-opens in different location

Funky Town Library is open again at Cross Creek in Dave´s restaurant. Opening hours are 11.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. but not during restaurant hours! The library will be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. Check out the selection of quality books. Good selection of German books available.

Locals and long-term stays pay a reduced fee on rental prices. If you like to receive a full list of books in electronic form, please sent an email to [email protected].

Coming soon: Children´s reading time A weekly hour of reading to stimulate your child´s creativity and interest in books, starting on March 10th, 3:00 p.m. A reading session is followed by a painting session to reflect on the written material. For children aged 5 to 10. Smaller children must be attended by a parent. Maximum of 5 children. 40 Lempiras each. We start with “The little Prince”. For more information please drop by Dave´s restaurant in Cross Creek.

Another accident

John Humenson (Doc Rail) and Kurt Whitefield were involved in an accident. Due to this Kurt received pretty serious wounds to his leg and had to be taken to La Ceiba by Celine. He is recovering well as is Doc’s golf cart which was also injured. Doc Rail was the only one get out of the accident unhurt.

Municipality News

Alton Cooper - Utila Mayor - Click to enlarge
Alton Cooper
Utila Mayor

The arrival of the new garbage truck has been delayed. The truck is still in customs and the mayor hopes it will arrive in the week of the 27th of February. He would like to apologize to the people of Utila as the garbage collection is still not efficient. With the arrival of the new garbage truck it will get better.


The desalination project is resuming. On the 15th of February three companies came to Utila to bid on the contract for the project, which is estimated to start within the next six to eight weeks. The project is projected to be finished in June\July for when it is needed most as it will be very dry around that time.


The municipality is in the process of designing a type of sanitation system. In a month or two this design will be presented to the people of Utila.


There is 1.3 mln Lempiras allocated to the development of a multi-use outdoor sports facility and a multi-use building for community meetings and events. This will be built on 1 acre of land, donated to the municipality by Shelby McNab, next to the visitor’s center. The land is currently being cleared. The mayor would like to thank Shelby for the donation of the property. He would also like to thank Patrick Flynn for his help to the community.


The municipality has received funds to draw up a “plan de ordenamiento territorial” for Utila. This will help to make future plans for the development of the island. Alton has requested for the document to be “layman’s terms“ so that everybody can understand it.


About six months ago the director of the American organization MIRA was on Utila to introduce a recycling plan for the island. This involves setting up a center on Utila and getting compacting machines.

La llegada del nuevo camión de basura ha sido retrasada. La camión todavía esta en la aduana y el alcalde espera que llegue en la semana del 27 de febrero. Alton quiere disculparse a las personas de Utila. La colección de la basura todavía no es eficiente pero con la llegada del camión se mejorará.


El proyecto de desalinización se continúa. El 15 de febrero personas de tres differentes compañías llegaron a Utila para ofrecer por el contracto del proyecto. Se estima que el proyecto empezará en unos seis a ocho semanas y terminará en Junio/Julio, para cuando lo necesitan mas como será muy seco durante esos meses.


La municipalidad esta en el proceso de diseñar un tipo de sistema de sanitacion. En uno o dos meses el diseño será presentado el público.


1.3 millones de Lempiras fueron destinados al desarrollo de una instalación deportiva multi-uso y un edificio multiuso para reuniones y sucesos comunidades. Será construido en un terreno de 1 acre, donado por Shelby McNab a la municipalidad, al lado del visitor’s centre. En este momento están limpiando el terreno. El alcalde quiere dar las gracias a Shelby por la donación y también a Partick Flynn por todo lo que el ha hecho por la comunidad.


La municipalidad ha recibido fondos para redactar un plan de ordenamiento territorial para Utila. Esto ayudara a hacer planes futuros para el desarrollo de la isla. Alton ha pedido que el documento sea simple así que todos lo pueden entender.


Hace unos seis meses el director de la organización Americana MIRA estuvo en Utila para introducir un plan de reciclaje para la isla. Esto incluye establecer un centro aquí en Utila y obtener maquinas.

Mysterious Sphere

Dellmark Woods (Aged 9)
Fred McNab (Aged 3)

After a pretty fierce rainstorm on the 21st of January at around 4.30 PM Dellmark Woods (9) and Fred McNab (3) discovered a large black ball at the bottom of their grandmother’s stairs at Blue Bayou. The ball was about three feet high and had a hard surface, which was covered in dried seaweed. The boys didn’t know what it was. Dellmark said “I was freaked out when I saw it.”

 They didn’t know what to do with it so they decided to push it under the bush. Dellmark told Fred to keep an eye on the ball whilst he ran to his aunt’s house (about 50 yards away) to get her. His aunt was not home so he ran back to his grandma’s house where his brother was still waiting for him and keeping an eye on the ball under the bush. Dellmark raced to his grandma’s house to get his uncle. The two of them went down to look at this ball.

When they got outside the ball was gone. The only thing that was left under the bush was a bit of dried up seaweed. When Dellmark asked Fred where the ball was he said, “The little Boo Boo’s took him.”

They all searched around for the ball but couldn’t find it. They asked Fred again and he told them the same, that little Boo Boo’s took the ball. Fred also said that when they took it the Boo Boo’s made a noise like “blienknaienklikglie” before they took it up.

Desde el primer de este ano estudiantes de buceo y candidatos de los niveles profesionales tienen que comprar y tener los libros y otros materiales para sus cursos.

Uno de los preocupaciones es la cantidad de libros que buceadores dejan en la isla y los libros viejos que las tiendas de buceo usaban antes. Para asegurar que no se tiran los libros y no generan más basura en Utila Emma de Ecomarine empezó con un proyecto de reciclaje.

Con este proyecto quiere intentar que todos los negocios de buceo coleccionen sus libros viejos y que sean mandados a la compañía de reciclaje en La Ceiba. Los negocios de buceo ya accedieron a pagar una tarifa para ayudar a pagar los costos del transporte de los libros a La Ceiba. El UDSEC va a tener una reunión el 23 de enero para discutir el proyecto en más detalles.

Hasta entonces puedes entregar libros viejos en Ecomarine. La primera colección probablemente será la más grande como esta consistirá de los libros viejos de las escuelas. Después los quieren mandar al La Ceiba una vez cada mes.

Algunas viajadores pueden dejar sus libros en la isla en vez de llevarlos en sus viajes. Puede ser que también van a donar algunos libros a las escuelas. Le mantendremos al tanto.

Sperm Whales around Utila shores


Sperm Whale - Click to enlarge
Whale Shark season is getting started, but this is a rare encounter with a Sperm Whale

I have always had the desire to “SEE” a whale shark. So on the 2nd of February I was invited by Mikey and Michele to join them on a whale “hunt” safari. As I boarded Captain Danito Jackson’s speedboat that morning, I had no way of knowing what an adventure was in store for us. The day started off slow. It seemed that our boat was being slapped about by the waves. By the time we got to the East end of the island, I must admit that I was feeling a little seasick.

We steamed around for almost 2 hours, and whenever any one of us would remark about not seeing a whale shark, Mikey would say “patience, it is not His hour yet” so we knew we had to keep looking. Every now and then we would see a few tunas flipping. But then suddenly, Captain Danito said “I think I see a whale in the distance.

We could see water spraying up in the air and instantly the boat was in full gear headed toward the whale. The burst of excitement immediately cured my queasy stomach.

As we approached her, the sight of the enormous whale was simply breathtaking. It literally left us speechless. To see a 40 foot sperm whale floating in the open ocean was awesome. Then all of the sudden someone shouted “Look! Look over there!” and there was another sperm whale, and another and another. Our first encounter with the sperm whales lasted over an hour. The more of these amazing whales we saw, the more our emotions grew!

Not to be greedy, but we had set out to find whale sharks, not whales. And find them we did. After we had encountered over a dozen sperm whales we spotted a “boil” of small tunas called bonita churning the sea in the distance. Captain Danito said confidently “Be ready, we are going to find a whale shark here.” Seconds later a long gray shadow appeared among the large school of bonita thrashing on the surface. Then its dorsal fin and wide head pierced the surface close enough that we could clearly see them. Suddenly, there I was entering the sea and swimming toward the world’s biggest fish (which also happened to be a shark)! Although each of the whale sharks I saw that day appeared like giants to me, Danito and Mikey assured me that these were young sharks that were likely to be “shy” around snorkelers. Before another migrating sperm whale caught our attention, we were treated to three more wonderful in-water experiences with the graceful tiburon ballena (whale shark). What an amazing thrill!

Sperm Whale - Click to enlarge
More Sperm whales and Whale Sharks sighted off the shore of Utila

Later, we were fortunate enough to observe (photograph and make a video of) another mother whale and her calf. At one point while we were near Pumpkin Hill, two very large adult whales approached from some distance away and came alongside the mother and calf. As the four whales remained on the surface spouting spray high into the air, the calf was securely protected between its tremendous bodyguards. While we observed them from a distance, we could actually hear the whales exhale. The sound of those massive animals breathing was truly amazing. What happened then was, I suppose, the highlight of the day for me. During our next encounter, I had the opportunity to actually swim with a large adult whale that was swimming slowly on the surface. At first I was hesitant to go into the sea with the whale. But then I said to myself, “This is the chance of a lifetime.” So I quickly put on my mask and snorkel and slid into the water. On the same morning I was fortunate enough to swim with the magnificent whales three different times! The pure excitement of seeing so many whales was overwhelming. By the time our count grew to 25, we were grinning from ear to ear.

This day I will never forget. I thank God (and Mikey and Michele) for giving me the privilege to not only “see” whales, but to enter the sea and snorkel along with them. On our way home, all I could think of was telling my husband, C.J., and my Granddaughter, Tamir, about my day of adventure swimming with the great whales that visited Utila.


New Dive Maps of Utila

Stingray Point?

You’re chatting in the bar with your mate and you tell him that you went diving at The Maze this morning. He asks you: “Did you see the cavern?” and you answer: “Oh, I didn’t know there was one.” Or an instructor, new to Utila, is briefing the class and says: “For the deep dive we are going to kneel down at 100 ft and then compare depth gauges.” At the end of the dive the students ask: “But how come we only went to 70 ft?”

Utila attracts a lot of travelers especially because of its underwater secrets. Some visitors stay for a short period and have their first experience with diving while others are here for a much longer stretch hoping to become Dive masters, Instructors or follow particular interests like u/w photography, video or technical diving.

Up until now you couldn’t find a good book of dive site maps on the island. You could find some maps here and there but not a good collection. Rosa A. Doncel and Ignacio Gonzalez decided to take this task upon them and made a guide to describe 25 of the most interesting dive sites on the island in a simple and clear way.

The book provides a good base for planning every dive, making it safer and therefore more enjoyable. The guide is useful for professional divers but also for recreational, technical and free divers. You will find that the dive sites in the guide are quite realistic, detailed and graphic.

Ignacio took the time together with Rosa A. Doncel to take aerial and underwater photos of each dive site and then they carefully enhanced the pictures on the computer. Each site in the guide has been accurately marked by a GPS and includes its buoy location. It also contains the site’s depths, recommendations such as if the site is suitable for night dives or photo opportunities, highlights interesting points and reminds divers of security measures like maximum depth for the drop tank etc.

The guide will cost 20 US and will be available in March. Igancio and Rosa hope that it will not only be a useful tool for better diving but also a good memory to take home and a possible reference for friends interested in visiting Utila in the future.

Platicando en el bar le comentas a alguien que buceaste en “The Maze” por la mañana. Te preguntan: Viste la cueva? Y tu: “No sabia que hay una cueva. El instructor (nuevo en Utila) va dando su briefing sobre el buceo profundo que van a realizar: “A 100 ft vamos a comparar profundimetros.” Al salir, los alumnos le preguntan: por que solo bajamos hasta 70 ft?

Utila es un lugar muy especial que atrae una gran cantidad de viajeros a visitar sus arrecifes. Algunos pasan unos días haciendo cursos de principiante o solo buceo recreativo. Otros se quedan por más tiempo para hacer cursos como el DM, convertirse en Instructor o seguir algún interés personal como la fotografía submarina, video o el buceo técnico.

Hasta ahora era difícil encontrar una guía que reuniera la mayoría de los sitios de buceo en la isla. Se podían encontrar mapas, pero no una colección ordenada de ellos. Rosa A. Doncel e Ignacio González decidieron hacer una guía con 25 de los sitos más interesantes de la isla de una manera simple y clara.

El libro provee información que será útil para planear cada buceo haciéndolo mas seguro y por lo tanto mas divertido. La guía será útil tanto a buceadores profesionales, técnicos como recreativos. Encontraras que los mapas en la guía son bastante realistas y detallados.

Rosa e Ignacio hicieron fotografía aérea y subacuatica de cada sitio. Después por medio de computadora desarrollaron las graficas. Cada sitio en la guía contiene fotos e información sobre su localización en GPS, profundidades, vida marina y recomendaciones, por ejemplo: si el sitio es apto para buceo nocturno o fotografía. Señala los puntos más interesantes del lugar y contiene información importante acerca de la profundidad máxima para el ‘drop tank’ de manera que no se dañe el arrecife etc.

La guía tendrá un costo de 20 US y podrá adquirirse a partir de Marzo. Rosa e Ignacio esperan que no solo sea una herramienta para mejorar la experiencia del buceo, sino también un buen recuerdo para llevar a casa y tal vez usarla como referencia para amigos que estén interesados en visitar Utila en el futuro.

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