[private] Roatan Magic: Hidden Jewel of the Western Caribbean has been moving off gift shop shelves and onto the coffee tables of Roatan lovers for months. This oversized book is a collection of photos that evokes curiosity and nostalgia and captures the uniqueness of Roatan’s culture. The photos are divided into topical sections, from people and their culture, history and sports, to geography and vegetation, with short informative essays beginning each section.
If Roatan is the “Hidden Jewel of the Western Caribbean,” as the subtitle says, Roatan Magic’s expansive collection of photographs capture the hidden gems which make it so. Every glossy page, with photos of breathtaking landscapes or intimate moments between islanders, tells the thousands of stories that occur every day in Roatan. And while Roatan’s topography could easily steal the show in a book of this kind, it’s the beauty of Roatan’s diverse inhabitants that grab hold of your heart.
A picture of hope for the future: It’s the start of a new day, and schoolchildren in clean, white shirts gather around their desks. Their brown eyes flash pride and mischievousness, innocence and exuberance.
A picture of culture embraced: In a Garifuna street parade, fingers beat the tops of drums, maracas rattle, male and female voices harmonize, green, gold and purple beads clank and sway in time to the padding of dancing feet. Sweat glistens on smiling faces.
A picture of resolve: A boy fresh off the soccer field takes a wide stance, puts his hands on his hips and stares boldly into the camera. His jersey is off and draped over his lean shoulders; his socks are sliding midway down his shins. In this simplest of contexts, we see the little things about Roatan that only the more seasoned visitor could appreciate–oleander growing in old 5-gallon water jugs beside him, a rusting car with a broken headlight behind him.
Of hard-earned gratification: Laundry workers at Anthony Key Resort in Sandy Bay sit before stacks of clean, white, folded linens. The three women, relaxing a moment from work, sit with the easy authority of African queens, masters of their domains. Their smooth faces reflect a contentedness, even through arduous, never-ending tasks.
Of dedication: Five men in long-sleeved white shirts with one girl in a sky blue dress wade thigh deep into the ocean. Their backs are to us. The aura around this group of six is somber, with singularity of purpose and a sense of devotion. The tallest man has his arm around the shortest, who is bending far forward in his slow walk onward. A group baptism in Coxen Hole is underway.
These pictures are definitely worth thousands of words. Author Thomas Tomczyk has gifted the island in this high quality book, with both photos and layouts that are thoughtful and clean. Tomczyk’s understanding and appreciation of Roatan and its people permeate throughout. [/private]