Monday, December 22, 2008

Ruins on the Island

We have on the island what my husband refers to as "ruins," uncompleted construction projects left untended and unworked for years creating an eye sore.  Unfortunately, if seems Honduras does not require a bond as they do in the States wherein if the builder does not complete the job there is money left on hold to do it for him.  Therefore, we have boisterous plans at bigger and better resorts, regular old resorts and housing projects, all of which are abandoned and left as a blemish on the landscaping.

Along with the ruins, we have just acquired another one, but this is not due to the builder's apathy nor intention to leave the project unfinished.  This one was created by fire.

Fire on this island is one of the most dangerous and disheartening things to see.  There is very little the people can do to control it, especially if it is on the main part of the island in a densely forested area.  In populated areas it is still difficult to control as we don't have fire hydrants and very few people have pumps to pump water at an instant's notice on the Cay where buildings are built inches apart.

The island experienced a fire on the Cay of Bonacca many years ago wiping out a good portion of the town and causing untold damage.  Most people, at that time, had no insurance and rebuilding was an arduous project.  We had a fire station on the Cay for a while a couple of years ago and a water pump was donated to be used to control a fire if one started.  It sat in an unopened crate for a long time and, at this writing, I don't know who has the pump as there is no one manning the fire station and, therefore, no one to take charge of the pump.  Heck, I'm not even sure they ever took the pump out of the crate!

During our almost 12 years here, we have seen several forest fires ravage the island and one fire on the Cay which destroyed the Spanish Seven-Day Adventist Church.  So, Friday morning (Dec. 15th) at 7:30 a.m. we were surprised and apprehensive to see a huge column of smoke forming in the sky in the direction of the Cay.  When we arrived on the Cay there was no signs of a fire and the majority of the citizens were unaware that something had been burning.  Later, my husband, in speaking with various people, was informed that an uncompleted dive resort on the island proper, Castaways, had been burned to the ground.

Little information was available and the next day I spoke with an individual who had gone over to the burned out resort to look around.  He noticed that at least two large freezers were missing from the kitchen area and a generator had disappeared.  He surmised that people had stolen the items and then torched the place.  As yet, the reason for the fire is unknown.  Things are stolen around here all the time but seldom do the thieves then burn down the building.  Apparently the fire must have burned out on its own as there are no residents living close by.  So, lucky for the island and other areas around this building, there was little if any breeze that morning.

Now, you may ask "Where was the owner or watchman?"  Sadly enough the owner has experienced financial and personal difficulties and has been absent for several months.  Until recently he had a watchman but let him go a couple of months ago because of money problems.  So, with no one to watch the buildings, expensive machinery inside, you have a blueprint for thieves.  However, why they felt the urge to burn the place down is a mystery to which I will not speculate.  This destruction was a very sad thing as the island desperately needs tourism if it wants to survive.  We have few functioning hotels and, as a matter of fact, I think there are more hotel "ruins" than there are operating hotels!

I took the boat over to Castaways to take some photos on Saturday and am submitting them here as a sad omen to a once interesting "resort".


  1. Very sad to hear that, Sharon. Every week Guanaja slips further and further into an abyss from which it'll likely never pull itself out. People with vision keep dreaming of a Guanaja that will never be. Sadly (depending on how you look at it), Guanaja will forever be just a sleepy, forgotten little dot off the coast of Central America.

    Had Castaways even opened?

  2. ...Sounds to me like the book "Don't stop the carnival"

  3. Wow! This is very disappointing news. I just had a drink last April in the Castaways bar. My wife and I just made a property purchase on the island so lets hope this is just an isolated incident. I was wondering why Denise's blog had gone silent for several months. Sharon I truly appreciate all of your updates because it is the only current information that I get from the island of Guanaja. I hope you guys have a great Holiday.



  4. Hey Bob!

    Castaways never got further than opening the restaurant/bar. The two story building attached to it was never completed and when the owner left he, of course, said "I'll be back," but no one has seen him since! Don't even know if he is aware of the present situation.