Mural 38 in San Pedro, Belize

The plan was to already have done a mural in Belize.  But, you know all about the best laid plans and what happens to them.  If you need the full scoop on this story, and it is a good read, you'll have to continue on to the adventure section.

Ambergris, a little caye off the coast of Central America, is the number one tourist attraction in Belize.  Who knew?  The little town of San Pedro is about three streets wide and packed with restaurants, souvenirs, tourist agencies, backpacker dives, sun worshipers, snorkel shops, a few scattered Hollywood celebrities in secluded bungalows, an assortment of very unique hippies, as well as a lot -- a whole lot -- of college students on break.  It isn't really the kind of place that I would go to once, and this was my second visit.  You know there has to be an explanation.

My sister and her family have a home there.  Yep, a winter place right on the shores of the Caribbean!  It wasn't exactly in the little tourist trap of San Pedro.  It was a few miles out of town and the only way to get to it was in a golf cart.  Well, I guess you could walk, but I was going to stick with wheels, no matter how small.

I hoped to paint a mural at a local school on my first visit.  It was not to be.  Everyone with any kind of authority for those kind of decisions was on break and nobody wanted to come in on their holiday.

On round two in Belize, it was the same situation.  Everyone was still on holiday.  My niece, Tana, contacted every school in the community.  Most didn’t reply.  Some expressed possible interest after the holidays.  Only the principal from San Pedro High School decided it was worth taking a chance, and he was out of town as well as off the island.  But, after checking out my website, he thought it was too good to pass on.

Usually, I brainstorm with local people about the mural theme.  There really were no local people to do that with.  Like I said, those ho ho holidays and all.  So, I came up with a Belize theme and illustrated it within those six letters.  The letters B and E contain a Maya theme with some of their hieroglyphic symbols as well as the ruins of Lamanai in northern Belize.  I also had to throw in a green iguana.  On Ambergris Caye, you only see gray iguanas.  There might be some green ones hiding somewhere, but they stay hidden because they are just too delicious.  Yep, the local people call them “bamboo chicken”.  I, personally, cannot vouch whether they do or do not taste like chicken.  And, I can’t tell you if I agree with local palates that say gray iguanas just don’t taste very good.  I’m not that curious, especially when fresh shrimp and lobster were readily available.

I crowded the letter L with a bunch of kids of all colors.  The population of the island is so very diverse.  Roots include Maya, black, Latin from across Mexico as well as Honduras and Guatemala, Arab merchants, Asian, British since the place used to a colony, and tourists from around the world.  You see every skin color and a lot of them are sun burned.

The letter I is dotted with that Caribbean sun, guilty of all that burning.  And, the rest of the letter is filled with the national bird of Belize.  In case you don’t know what that is, it is the toucan.

One of the “must see” destinations in the San Pedro area is the Blue Hole for snorkeling.  So, the letter Z has a guy exploring the sites underwater.  Belize is beautiful above the surface and below.

Finally, in the last letter, there is a map of the area filling up E.   And, just in case you don’t know where San Pedro is located, I included a huge red arrow that says, “You are here.”

Without anyone from the school around, it was a bit of a challenge to find local people to paint.  On the first sweltering day, many people stopped by to watch.  One person even brought iced drinks.  All were offered brushes.  None were takers.  However, late in the day, one young father stopped by with his daughter to take a photo.  I gently nudged, okay, I pushed him into a chair where he could easily hold his daughter and paint.  It broke the ice, and from that moment on, we had a lot of neighborhood children eager and ready to join in.

My personal preference is to always paint my murals inside.  That way I know they will be protected from the elements as well as graffiti artists (who are in no way, shape, or form artists in my mind).  Interiors murals can last for many years and remain like new.  Absolutely beautiful exterior murals remain so probably for two years or so.  I don't like to go back to visit an exterior mural.  It is too painful to see the damage.
Well, my Belize mural was an exterior mural.  And, I must say, I enjoyed painting the mural at a busy location in a sleepy little town.  Lots of people passed by!  Many had to stop, admire, and talk.  I might not have met as many people from San Pedro High School as I would have liked, but I met a lot of people from San Pedro and beyond.