Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom
Mr. James Pouchie outside his home.

The Senior James Pouchie of Calabash Bight

James Wendell Pouchie lives on the small cay in Calabash Bight. He was born there 90 years ago and raised was there. Every morning, at dawn, he paddles his dory to his nearby farm. Mr. Pouchie says he sees God in every seed that he buries and the plants that arise from the ground. He grows watermelon, sweet corn, pumpkins and plantains. “I like the independence of being my own boss; I come and go as I please and that is freedom,” he says with a smile.

The soft-spoken gentle man celebrates his birthday on December 29. He is the second of 13 children born to Mr. Yule Wendell Pouchie and Mrs. Sera Pouchie. Life has not been easy, but Mr. Pouchie talks of his journey through this world with a satisfied smile on his face. The way he sees it, life has been good to him. He remembers the path that he has had to follow on this journey with fondness and gratitude.

At a young age, while his younger siblings were going to school, he had to help his father on the family farm where they grew yucca root, bananas and coco which they sold around the island and in La Ceiba. If business was good on the mainland, his father would send for more produce. “I would load the paddling dory with the produce and take it to Capt. Ray’s boat on Pointed Cay, now Oak Ridge Point, to be shipped to La Ceiba,” he says.

As a teenager, Mr. Pouchie got the opportunity to travel and work as a sailor in the US but needed his father’s permission to get his passport. After Mr. Pouchie insisted that he needed to work to help with his younger sibling: six younger brothers and five younger sisters, his father reluctantly agreed for him to travel to the US. “Because there were no roads back then, I had to paddle to Coxen Hole to pick up my passport. I was very excited,” he recalls.

I like the independence of being my own boss.

Mr. Pouchie worked on the boat in Texas ‘heading’ shrimp, something he became an expert at doing. While most boat hands head one shrimp at a time, he was heading one in each hand. For a while back then, the white captains would only work with an all-white crew while the black captains would work with an all-black crew. You had the ‘white boats’ and the ‘black boats,’ said Mr. Pouchie abut the segregation in US fishing industry.

While working in the US, Mr. Pouchie earned $150 per month, most of which he would send most back to his family. One time a son of one of his captains tried to cheat him out of his wages by paying him 50% less than what he was supposed to earn. Not accepting the injustice, he refused to work until the boss agreed to pay him what he had rightfully earned. The captain was afraid of losing the one worker who could do the job of two men and, in the end, agreed to pay him.

A religious man, Mr. Pouchie was baptized in the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Calabash Bight where his father was once the leader, and where Mr. Pouchie also spent a stint as a preacher, something he loved doing.

James Wendell Pouchie is as healthy as many 20-year-olds. He does not take any kind of medications and his diet consists of mostly seafood. “I love fried bara [barracuda] and I eat a piece of meat every now and then,” he says. He has, however, suffered many accidents. At the age of 13 he accidentally split his left knee in two with a machete and later he busted a vein in his left arm while lifting a load on the farm. At the age of 40, while hunting deer, he stood up on a stump and the shot gun slipped out of his hands, hit the ground, discharged, and hit his left arm leading to an amputation from the joint down. After losing his arm, Mr. Pouchie had to abandon his profession as a seaman. He loves to tap dance and he says he talks to God every morning and evening. “If you always remember God, you would not worry with the world.”

Mr. Pouchie enjoys the simple life; he says that there is too much foolishness happening with technology, he had a cell phone, but gave it away. “I could live without a phone”, he says. “It’s too much torment and it’s hard handling it with one hand.”