Roatan, Morat and Barbareta

By: Jesus Aguilar Paz

These three islands correspond to the Honduran Archipelago, which is in the Bay Islands province, formerly known as Guanajos.

The names of these three islands, according to legend, are not of indigenous or Spanish origin, but of English one. (Although Guanajos is indeed of indigenous origin). This is explained by the encroachment made by England in time of the wars of Spain. We know so well that some nations owe their greatness to these Americas, which through Spain, sent their cold hard cash through the purchase of goods the Mother Country did not produce, due to the lack of foresight of her rulers and also due to detestable piracy.

But we are investigating the origin of the mentioned names, so lets proceed.

The first pirates who seized the main island, after removing the colonial guards, were welcomed by some animals worthy of these usurpers, by rodents: rats. Impressed by this event the pirates exclaimed: Rat-land!, whence came the name of Roatan.

Of course, they soon did not fit on this island, and according to the piratical custom of that nation, of occupying the entire land, they soon headed North for the following small island. There appeared again to welcome them several flocks of rats, so the hardened adventurers, frightened, cried: More-rats!, so the island was christened with this name, i.e., Morat.

Not satisfied, as we have stated, said Adventurers wanted to occupy more land, so the Englishmen pirates went to take the next island, which was Barbareta.

Here the previous rule did not fail, and the pirates’ congeners, the rodents, came out ready to receive them, but in huge quantity. The pirates, who were once painted so justly by his own countryman, dean Jonathan Swift, in his Gulliver’s Travels, amazed by such plague, cried out: Barbar-rats!, i.e., lot of rats, which was the name of said island: Barbareta.

Tired of seeing so many mice, these pirates discontinued their usurper raid, but not because their dominant megalomania was cured, as evidenced by history, for they needed to be removed from the islands by cannon shots, according to Mariscal Matias de Galvez.

As it is widely known, they felt the urge to take again these islands indisputably owned by Honduras, but this last time General Guardiola was the one who pulled them out … by hat blows!

Taken from the book “Canasta Folkl├│rica Hondure├▒a”, by Eduardo Sandoval. JES Ediciones.