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Book Review
Judas Bird Arrives
Tell the truth! How many trips to Honduras did it take before you started playing "spot the missionaries, the honeymooners, the con artists, the "mochilleros"? And how long was it before all of the above became "foreigners" to us too, the objects of some amusement. Todd is Evans' hero. He is a fairly young Gringo whose first encounter with Roatan and its people came from a stint in the Peace Corps several years ago. Now, he is returning to the Island because he's bored with the work he's chosen for his career and is trying to find some way to make it exciting again. Colleen, the beautiful young heroine, comes from Scotland and is on Roatan because she has inherited a lovely mountain top estate on this far away island, a place she has never heard of before. The bad guy is Charles Tegget, "a land pirate" with a smile that charms anyone right out of all common sense. That is, unless they catch a good look at his eyes, "the eyes of a stray dog" with no warmth or compassion, only cold calculation.
Todd and Colleen arrive on Roatan just in time to get caught up in Tegget's latest scheme, an attempt to steal a beautiful beach property from the family who has owned it for over 150 years. Of course, Todd must save the property, win Colleen's love, find the treasure and thwart Tegget in such a way that the truly evil pirate never dares to set foot on Roatan ever again. He does so with the help of a band of his island friends, Tony, Sharella, Miss Catherine, Tim, Miss Katy, and Francisco, an old "Turtle Mon" who sees into the Island's distant past. Readers will have a great time guessing the real identities of these people and many others who come and go while Todd and Company and the Evil Men try to outwit each other.
The Judas Bird is jam-packed with fascinating pieces of history, island lore, odd vocabulary and all of Roatan in its idiosyncratic glory! Do you know that "Yabba Ding Ding" is actually "Yappa Ding Ding" and is an old Garifuna expression meaning "something worth less than nothing"? Do you know what "dolla come circle" means? I suppose that everyone but me knew that Coxen Hole itself was most probably named after an infamous pirate, John Coxon, who spent many years living on Roatan. (Until I read the book, I was under the impression that the name was a kind of off-color, Island joke and I have to say I'm a little sad, letting that idea go.)
In any case, the older people on Roatan won't ever have to worry about its history and culture being forgotten. David Evans has done a great job preserving it and serving it all up to us on a really tempting platter. No matter how busy you are you'll be glad you took the time to enjoy this book - whether you gulp it down fast, or savor it slowly, a little bit at a time.
I was a little scared when a friend of mine handed me The Judas Bird by David K. Evans. After all, it weighs over three pounds (I checked) and is almost 1,000 pages long. But my friend promised me that it was a "roman a clef" (actually she said no such thing but that's what she would have called it if she was the kind of person who liked to throw around fancy French phrases) and that I'd find all sorts of real people, people who I know, inside that 3 pound, 972 page novel.
There truly is something for everyone in this treasure book: intrigue, action, pirates, romance, comedy, mystery, history, anthropology, good guys, bad guys, even socio-economic theory, not to mention all your favorite restaurants: Gio's, Romeo's, Que Tal Café. If you are an Islander, born and raised, you'll laugh at Evans' dead-on descriptions of clueless tourists wandering around getting sunburned, drinking margaritas and stumbling back to their cruise ships at the end of the day. You'll also recognize, and love, his beautiful word paintings of your Island. Roatan's beaches, reefs, and sunsets, its curving mountain roads, torrential rains and brilliant sun all come to vivid life. You can decide for yourself how good a job Evans does of duplicating the Island dialects - it sounds pretty exact to me. He even duplicates the way many of you switch back and forth from formal English to dialect in what to all of us who speak only one, not very colorful, English, seems truly amazing!
If you're an Expat (from anywhere) living on one of The Bay Islands, or on the mainland, you'll be tickled pink by the familiarity of Evan's hero and heroine's experience at the TACA counters and waiting rooms in Miami, and you will watch, with growing amusement, their gradual acceptance of the completely insane as completely normal.
The Past in Utila’s present
As a young boy, Bill had often sat in the evenings in the semi-darkness on the front porch of an elderly neighbor-the old man's features lit by the soft, mellow glow of a kerosene lamp-and eagerly listened while "Mister John" related the exciting tale of murder and mayhem on the high seas. It was then, long ago, that the author promised himself that someday he would write down the tale for others. He now has kept this promise and we his readers are his fortunate beneficiaries.
The spell-binding tale begins on the last of June, 1905, on a balmy, dark night on Utila. With both skill and an obvious love for the story itself, the author weaves a tight net that snares his readers from the very beginning. Old Bay Island names are sprinkled throughout, and the vanishing cultural ways of the islands, common throughout most of the Caribbean in those long-ago days of a century ago, along with dialogue rich in Antillean expressions that one can still hear bits of in the islands today, makes those of us familiar with The Bay Islands feel as if we were there that dark night when the schooner Olympia set sail on what was supposed to have been a calm, uneventful voyage of but four hours to the larger, nearby island of Roatán.
What happened on that fateful voyage is the focus of Bill's wonderfully crafted novel, and will leave his readers feeling both elated and sad at the same time. They will find themselves enduring the horrors and miseries that befall Miss Elsie Morgan, heroine of the story, as she struggles and prays to survive long enough to tell her story. Above all, they will rejoice at the final outcome of a young woman's determined "struggle against impossible odds".
This is a small book that you, the reader, will be sad to see end. It will hold you in its grip from page one through its Epilogue and the author's Final Note. Read and enjoy.
In his debut novel "And the Sea Shall Hide Them", Mister William (Bill) Jackson has delivered an exciting and well-written account of a horrific maritime tragedy at sea in the western Caribbean near the small tropical island of Utila. Bill Jackson's book falls under the sub-genre…"non-fictive novel", in which many (but not all) of the names of the novel's characters, dates, and places are factual and accurate, and only the colorful dialogue, thoughts, and the manner in which the various characters interact have been fictionalized. In the Author's note Jackson writes: "This is not necessarily only a story of murder-of death. It is also, more importantly, a story of the human will to live, to fight on and survive when all seems hopeless.”
Bill Jackson, himself born on the island of Utila, had been fascinated as a child by the exciting tale of the mysterious vanishing of the island schooner Olympia, and what had happened to all twelve people, both passengers and crew, on board.
Musicians
Hugo the Magician
His life philosophy has led him to meat and help many musicians from South America. And that is how he learned his music sounds and skills. In 1968 he contacted a group Bolivia Manta for whom he organized a series of concerts. A few years later, with his seven friends he started Apurimac, a musical group that lasted for 20 years.
Retired, by coming to Roatan Hugo reinvented himself from being known as biologist and an amateur musician to being on of the most recognizable artists the island hosts. Since moving to the island in 1996 he started a musical group "Puro Sol." By playing several South American wooden flutes and mandolins he fascinates his Caribbean audiences.
In 2001 he relised his so far only CD: Puro Sol, or Latin American Fiesta! In a compilation of Hugo's original music, music by Chris Goldman, and American standards he created a soundtrack to Roatan: a mixture of Latin America, western influences and South American sounds. The CD was recorded live and the instrumental- Chocolate Bon Bon- is by far his favorite.
For the last two years his health has turn a turn downwards and Hugo, now 69-years-old, doesn't play as much as he used to. Hugo is more frail now and doesn't play a regular schedule at Palmetto Bay. With a recognizable gray beard, a mustache, and always present smile he spends more time at his home in West End with his son Andrea and Honduran wife Reina.
Hugo does occasionally motivates himself to play a special venue and his greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that his music influenced people around Roatan.
As a young biology student he took a part in a 1960s European wide study to find two identical grains of sand. It wasn't found, but Hugo discovered something just as important: "grains of sand can find a way to merging together more easily than most people."
The Italian musician was born on Lace Como in Northern Italy. When he was only six-years-old Hugo saw one of the first color American movies "Captain of Castilla." That viewing set his life of on a course of fascination with Americas' indigenous culture and its music. "I still have goose bumps when I think about this," says Hugo. As a twelve-year-old he was given his first record, by coincidence, a collection of Andean Music, that he listened four hours on end memorizing sounds, rhythms and tunes.
A local group produces a sophisticated, eloquent CD.
Kris presents himself as a master of all trades composing music, writing lyrics, mixing and producing the CD. One exception to his lyric writing is an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's poem 'El Dorado,' a story about a conquistador's quest and fascination for riches. The song's pensive, skillful and wonderful solo guitar composition and lonesome, melancholic voice introduces the best of Kris' talents. The song offers examples of the CD's best, sophisticated, reflective, sensitive sound.
The CD fused some of the best local musical talent into arrangement of guitar, voice, drums and harmonica. Eight musicians were involved in the collaborative creation of "Welcome to Roatan." "I would work with them almost like a director directs a movie," said Kris. Marcos Aranda playing congas and percussion- entices the listener with an exquisite, rhythmic performance. Kris' wife, Naira, was a co-writer of "Dia Lindo" a song fusing not only musical styles but languages: Spanish and English- quite skillfully.
One of the other compilations is "Bad, bad whiskey". "Bad, bad, bad whiskey is making me walk with the devil again" sings Kris in a melody of a country waltz in a southern drawl accented. The melancholic, reflective song about a down day on a Caribbean island.
"Welcome to Roatan," tries to be many things to many people- not an easy thing to accomplish. On one hand it attempts to be simple, unsophisticated and a bit touristy introduction to Roatan sounds and cultures, on the other, it amazes with depth and elaboration for a listener much more sophisticated.
Kris Goldman, 30, was born in Delaware and early on he begun to study music and guitar. He entered the North Caroline School of the Arts where, during one of the lectures he came into contact with Dr. Evans and the idea of Roatan. Kris paid his dues and school fees, playing to audiences at local restaurants until he ran into Dr. Evans who told him of a far away Roatan. Kris was intrigued and ready to find a way to discover his Latin and Caribbean calling.
In 1998 Kris finally found an opportunity to come to Roatan when Edgar Bodden proposed to him starting a music school on the island. The project didn't develop and Kris eventually started teaching students by himself and over the last eight years taught over 200 Roatan students. His latest CD is his third production following "Kristofer y sus Amigos," produced with Puro Sol, "Latin American Fiesta" launched in 2002. Last year Kris set up a recording studio at his Sandy Bay home where he recorded several CDs for his students and his third -most professional to date- "Welcome to Roatan" CD with his Cultura group.
Bobby Rieman Unique Musical Contribution to Roatan

It wasn't until he began his travels that music reestablished its place in Bobby's life. "I always traveled with a harmonica in my pocket. It kept me company in a way."
At first he played as a way to keep busy in a new place, but soon he was playing back-up for musicians and bands. Bobby remembers feeling embarrassed before his musical skill improved.
Bobby came to Roatan almost by accident, intending instead to go to Brazil. He immediately liked the distinct foreign rhythms of the island and as new as reggae sounds were to Bobby, his "harp" was a new instrument to the local music scene. His harmonica playing cleverly incorporated the reggae influence. "What I really like about the harmonica is that it can be played in so many different musical situations."
Bobby returned to Roatan in 1981 with a harmonica holder, a guitar and a newly discovered singing voice.
He moved to French Harbour and his trio joined the local music scene. He developed his unique style by playing for "shrimpers," taking requests and any opportunity to improvise. Bobby's music continued to diversify and in 1996 he found himself in a situation neither he nor his music had experienced before…"a band."

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Bobby Rieman arrived on Roatan in 1973 with little more than a harmonica in his pocket. He has always loved music. For as long as Bobby can remember he has found himself especially drawn to rhythm and blues. As a kid he had some preliminary guitar lessons and he learned to play a few chords and a few simple songs. For a while, during high school and college, music took a back seat to his new found talent on the football field.
Pandy Town Reggae and Rap Singers
They were Charlie Miller, 19, Timmy Tennyson, 19, a high school student in Oak Ridge, Troy Anderson, 24, a barber and Kemron Campbell, 19, a cabdriver. A few months later they named themselves the Shocking Tribe and made their first CD. Their second CD, "Return", is now for sale at Videopics in Los Fuertes. They play occasional gigs at island festivals, but life is still a struggle, especially their music life. Shocking Tribe (AKA SKT) are real boys with real jobs and real problems. This is what they sing about. This is how they see life.
Timmy does his rap thing, Charlie follows up with his soft R & B voice, Troy uses his more flexible cords to come up with some Reggae tunes and Kemron with his deeper, heavier sound doubles up on the rap thing.
They write their own lyrics, but use no instruments. Their rapping technique uses beats from a tape or a computer. It still ends up sounding cool, Pandy Town cool.
One year ago, four Pandy Town boys got together at a friend's house and started singing along to some reggae and rap tunes.
The Guitarist
"When I was 14 years old I was only interested in music," says Saul Molina, 45. His parents decided to send him to stay with family friends in San Salvador to attend three years of music school.
Saul plays "happy hour music," as he calls it, at events and tourist venues in Copan and occasionally on the Bay Islands. His passion rests with being a music teacher and a musician.
Saul has some ideas for songs, but until now he hasn't written much. He works at Carnitas and Marinas Copan, a couple of tourist venues in Copan Ruinas. Sometimes Saul just goes to the park in the center of town and plays his guitar for anyone who has time to listen.
Painters
Virginia’s Castillo’s Artful Journey
Known by her signature "Virgie", Castillo is one of the Bay Islands' most recognized artists. Castillo's work partners exaggerated abstract faces and bodies with scenes of island life. She draws market scenes, porch gatherings, dancing women. It is a still history splashed with the colors of the Caribbean and a style that is uniquely her own. "I wish more island people would step up and tell their stories- through art or in their own way because islanders are very timid about their feelings," said Castillo. The people in her paintings and sketches are mostly fictional, but the themes are sown with her own experiences as a young female artist growing up on Roatan. As she tells of her career as an artist, her own story emerges. "There's a lot more to me than just a brush in my hand," smiles Castillo. She is a mother, a sister, a seamstress, an artist. Virginia Castillo is a storyteller. /Read More/
Just as her art reflects her island influences, Virginia Castillo is a mirror of her own creations: energetic, colorful and full of life.
Acrylic Dreams
Dennis is a known local artist, his paintings sometime sell before they are even finished and he has created more murals on Roatan then he can count. He appreciates the beauty of the environment and expresses it in his paintings. "It's just something I have inside, so I just carry it along with me and just keep doing it," says Dennis. "My mission of art is to make people appreciate things around them." Dennis' goal is to make them slow down and think. Acrylic and oil painting are Dennis' specialties. He says that more important than the media is the quality and brightness of colors. Yet brightness of life past is often toned down by a patina of memory… the women working in his painted fields wear brownish and grayish dresses. The jungle greens contain hues of yellow, like a faded Technicolor film. The figures are simplistic, but studied and full of detail. There is a simple drumbeat to his rhythm of arranging his canvas. There is even a touch of Paul Gauguin in his tropical village scenes and bright green palm trees. But Dennis' affiliation is closer to home and he admires Marcus Guillen, another Island painter. The world Dennis Luma creates is filled with wild animals, colorful flowers and Garifuna and Creole people doing ordinary things… Less and less ordinary as time passes. Dennis is nostalgic about the times of living in tight communities. "It shows how beautiful it used to be: No fences, no TV, no robbing," he says. As everything changes and people forget, Dennis Luma is there to remind them.
Dennis Luma' was born in Tela 30 years ago. He spent the first part of his life in Belize and came to Roatan in 1992. He lives in a small, blue, wooden house a stone's throw from Sandy Bay's beach. His studio is his garden: an umbrella of an old oak tree. Dennis works in the afternoons as the light becomes softer and air cools down with sea breathe. Dennis Luma is a first person in his family to have any contact or passion for art and that surprises him. Dennis was drawing ever since he could remember. When he picked his first paint brush at the age of ten he "already knew what (he) was going to do with (his) life."
Mixed Media
Gunter Kordovsky Sub-Aqua Art

The resin and multiple layers of floating objects re-create the environment Gunter struggled for many years to re-create.
Before his resin period, Gunter tried several other techniques and mediums: oil paintings, coral sculpting, wood carvings. He had an exposition in Tegucigalpa; his art hangs at the US embassy in Tegucigalpa and another piece is owned by former Honduran President Flores.
Some wood canvasses that Gunter currently uses for his resin creations have washed up on the beaches - paddles; others are hardwood trays that he meticulously fills with aqua colored resin.
One can find entire aquariums in his work. Fishes are sometimes painted in, sometimes painted then cut out and laid in into the ½" to 2" layer of transparent resin. There are crab shells, miniature coral, shells, wood branches and an endless variety of reef and open ocean fishes." It's an eco-friendly art," Gunter says.
In the last year, Gunter took his work to another level. He moved up in technique and scale. Some works are small, miniature even: only a few inches in diameter. Other ones are as big as five feet and with solid wood frames weigh over 200 pounds.

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His first resin art pieces were much simpler. Gunter would carve out shapes of fish from wood with a chisel then pour the resin inside them. In his work he experimented with different resin colors: red, brown, blue, green, and finally the "new black"- aqua.
The creating of resin art requires craftsmanship and technical ability to work with a quickly hardening substance. Too much hardener creates cracks in the surface and can also curl-up the paint on the artifacts enclosed in the resin pool. It can harden in five minutes, or in two hours.
Gunter is fascinated with the colors of the ocean and the clarity of the Caribbean water. "34 years on Utila, I'm still in love with the ocean as ever." Utila's Gunter Kordovsky experimented with fiberglass and finally settled on using acrylic resin as a medium that could most closely match -recreate the fascinating world he would find underwater around the island.
An Artist's Paradise

It's the most intense period of your life; it influences everything later." With all this freethinking and experimentation, Neil the artist has managed to remain child-like, not childish. His projects remind us what we have lost from the exuberance of our childhood; they flaunt themselves at our self-imposed restrictions of compromise and reality. "[When] you want to mimic what other people write, copy their lives and you have none of your own."
Neil believes that his work only stands out because its background is mediocrity. That is an understatement. Neil's work would stand out in just about any surroundings, regardless of their level of originality.
Neil is quick to admit that Utila and Honduras are overly influenced by the architecture of the Northern Hemisphere. He sees little exploration of the Bay Islands' indigenous roots in art or architecture. "They ignore their Indian heritage at the expense of commercial products from United States."
Neil often looks to Guatemala for inspiration in his work. "[There] they still have their indigenous pride." Even the name of his project "jade seahorse" combines Mayan jade and an element of the Caribbean Sea.
In constructing "Nightland," Neil looked for inspiration from Honduras through more recent artifacts: old Honduran money, coins, stamps and turn-of-the-century Honduran postcards. He often finds his materials washed-up on Utila's beaches: century old porcelain dishes, seashells, bits of coral.
Even though Neil likes to give away his ideas he doesn't think he has influenced the locals to really appreciate his art. On the other hand, you will find plenty of Utilans who take their non-island visitors on tours through Nightland. They do it with pride and a bit of consternation at the same time. "They don't necessarily consider it [Nightland] a part of Utila. I think they are capable of astonishment at anything that's slightly different," says Neil.

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Many agree that Neil Keller is hands down the best artist on the Bay Islands. The only problem is to agree: what "kind of art" does he practice.
"I see myself as a world emperor with a coconut cape," says Neil Keller. Neil loves to exaggerate and his work speaks for itself. Conical roofs, tree houses, bridges and grottos fill every square foot of his man-made garden. "I don't know into which category to put him," says Marley Howell, Utila's vice mayor. Over the past 12 years Neil Keller, 50, has constructed the most amazing and most eccentric architecture the Bay Islands have seen to date. And he has just gotten started. Neil Keller is admired by many and misunderstood by even more Utilans. When Neil came to Utila in 1990, he didn't expect the island to grow rapidly. The island life was an escape from the suburban life of a high school art teacher in Los Angeles.
Born in "happy Southern California," Neil grew up in a postcard Los Angeles neighborhood filled with friendly neighbors, ice cream trucks and children using belts to carry their books to a local yeshiva school. "I came through mid-life crisis at eight," says Neil about his Los Angeles upbringing. "When you're forming your ideas as a child, you really pay attention to the world, curious about everything.
Suki Thomas, Muralist
Suki Thomas embarked on her journey to the island a year and a half year ago to continue the pursuit of her life's passion. "I always said, ‘one day I would re-live my college days and paint for painting's sake'," said Suki. What she discovered in Roatan was that the learning process of a seasoned artist is in itself a true artform.
South African-born, Suki was educated in Europe and has traveled the world earning a living as a painter. She supported herself for many months on this island by selling her artwork before connecting with a large-scale project at the Parrot Tree Plantations. The assignment was to design and create a three wall mosaic mural using thousands of pieces of delicate, Italian glass. Suki’s first obstacle was to overcome her own reluctance to commit to the piece; this mural would be her first experience working with mosaics.
Suki began the mural design last October. Her goal was to integrate the Venician-style architecture of the plantation with the magic of the underwater world. The concept yielded a stunning scene of aquatic fantasy, peppered with elements of Old World mythology. Patterned with canterra stone, the outside walls each feature their own mythical feature: one, a powerful zeus-like man, the other a goddess-inspired mermaid. They are bridged by a third wall illuminating a melange of sea creatures and waving bands of colour. "The different colours of that wall add motion and fluidity to the scene," explains Suki. The attributes of the latter wall boast a depth that is lacking in the portrait-style depiction of the man and mermaid which would lend a greater sense of overall movement.
The mural will be accented with a stone fountain in the center, shadowed by a solid wall of glass pieces creating the illusion of a gradiated shaft of water rising to the ceiling. The most striking element in the development of the mural is its actual evolution. The unfinished shapes of each figure create a haunting magnetism; an allure that will unfortunately escape those who view the mural only after its completion.
Before Suki could translate her design into reality, she had to research mosaic techniques, as well as familiarize herself with the materials unique to the artform. She began by studying texts, researching methods on the Internet, and inviting experienced mosaic artists to lend their wisdom. Although Suki employed various techniques described in her research, she eventually customized her routine by modifying conventional approaches to complement her style. This balance meant that she would alternate the sizes of the glass pieces instead of using only the smaller bits, as traditional methods suggest. Suki found that this adjustment allowed her to work with a more freeform style, while improving the efficiency of both her time and the materials.
For Suki, the real challenge of mosaics was to master the art of glass cutting. "It wouldn't be a true mosaic if each piece was perfectly cut. So, you have to train your eye to see a shape, cut, or angle and then incorporate them," she stresses. She further explains the cutting is so essential because different effects are created with varied cuts and it becomes necessary to constantly adjust the technique.
Although her forte is painting, Suki's experience so far as a mosaic muralist has served as an opportunity to test herself as an artist. As the mural continues to emerge over the next few months, she welcomes the fruits of the process itself: "Since it's much slower than painting, it really gives you time to reflect on the piece and it can become a very therapeutic art."
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