Roatan offers a Peculiar type of Attraction to the Central European Nation
The center of the Czech community is located in the quaint “Czech Village” spread across the hillside of Jonesville Point. “12 years ago, there was nothing here — no internet, no cell phone. No Eldons, no Megamall. (…) There was just a small road, it was completely jungle,” says the project’s founder George Czerny. The village is full of small, modest, wooden homes surrounded by white-painted fences.
Czerny credits Maska, for being the man who brought him to the island and being the inspiration for building a Czech community on Roatan. Maska, who first came to Roatan in 1999, was “the first Czech on the island,” and the “great freedom” he saw here brought ideas for the future. Maska built the first microbrewery on the island, an imposing castle-like structure at the entrance to Oak Ridge. “I tasted Salva Vida, Port Royal, Imperial – no one from Czech Republic will drink that,” said Maska.
In 2005, Maska started building another ambitious project — a full-sized replica of Henry Morgan’s pirate ship, the Black Pearl. It took more than four years to build and includes such details as “six fully functioning bronze cannons, handmade canvas, ropes, a metal-tipped anchor and sheathing impregnated by hot blood from oxen.” Offering family-friendly pirate shows onboard the massive, 27-meter vessel sailing out of Fantasy Island, the Black Pearl was a jewel on the east side of the island.
Like some kind of gold fever in the Wild West, all the people want to come here
The Czech dream had a few setbacks. The brewery has been boarded up due to what Maska characterizes as “the illegal business practices of Cerveceria Hondureña.” Even the Black Pearl is slowly sinking by the dock in Oak Ridge.
The new wave of Czech developers on Roatan see the future in housing developments.Czerny has been working to make Roatan a household name in Czechia.“The sea. There is no sea in Czech Republic,” explains Hana Albertová, a Czech who runs a tour business on Roatan talking about the Czech fascination with the Caribbean.
“Like some kind of gold fever in the Wild West, all the people want to come here,”says Czerny. There is a second phase of this development called the Czech Village Marina, which will add another twenty houses on a two acre site overlooking a fully-built dock inside a sheltered cove. The third and newest addition is 13 acreTerra Chulawith plans of 150 houses.Where there was once jungle, there are now rough roads and wide cleared spaces with only gumbo-limbo trees remaining sticking out from the exposed muddy ground.
As Sherri Vickers, a neighbor of the village in Jonesville Point who runs East End Property Management says, “The first time I saw it [Czech village] from the water, I thought it looked beautiful.” Over the years, she’s seen changes such that, “Now I feel there are too many homes crowded into the area there.”
Christine Henley Pilger, another neighbor, thinks that the Czech community has a positive impact on the area, saying “they are bringing value to the neighbors around them, including us.” And it looks like the Czechs will just keep on coming.
While the original Czech Village is modest, the new developments are vastly larger. Near Camp Bay there is another Czech community under construction with a lower section called Diamond Hill and an upper area called Sunny Hill.
Started five years ago, Diamond Hill is, like Terra Chula, an enormous project on more than forty acres of land. There are 25 completed houses with plans for up to 200 once finished.
There’s a new restaurant and plans for the on-site Czech Republic consulate. There are also plans for a marina, a beach area and a two-story Czech castle that’s going to be built on the top of the hill.