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.
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.
Past in Utilas present
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
local group produces a sophisticated, eloquent CD.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Town Reggae and Rap Singers
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.
year ago, four Pandy Town boys got together at a friend's house
and started singing along to some reggae and rap tunes.
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
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
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.
Castillos Artful Journey
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/
as her art reflects her island influences, Virginia Castillo
is a mirror of her own creations: energetic, colorful and full
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.
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."
Kordovsky Sub-Aqua Art
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
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.
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"-
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Sukis 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.
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
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."