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I have to admit, when I considered "out of the way"; places for my mural projects, Paraguay never came to mind.  I guess it's that far off the beaten path.  But, I was intrigued when an email from Tally came my way from Asunción.  She seemed like a person I wanted to meet in a location to match.

Tally moved to Paraguay to teach at a school for a couple of years.  It wasn't her plan to fall head over heels in love with a Frenchman living there, but life happens.  And, she was in love.  Then, she told me about the place.  Okay, I know I never need much information to lure me overseas.  However, when she mentioned Iguazu Falls, I was completely hooked. I'm talking hook, line and sinker, totally, absolutely, no way off the hook, hooked.  That was a location I'd always dreamed of visiting but never actually thought would happen.  I told Tally it was time to find me a couple of walls to paint.

She was up for the challenge.

I've learned to go with the flow when I wander off muraling.  I used to worry if things would work out or if I'd like the people I meet.  Things always work out.  I always meet wonderful people.  And, if the specific details are not set about a wall location, it still always works out.  Prior to my arrival in Asunción, Tally contacted a hospital to see if they would be interested.  The reaction wasn't whole-hearted.  And, that is usually the case when people don't know my art and haven't seen my murals.  Just before I arrived, a mural possibility also opened up at an orphanage.

At the hospital, I met with one of the people in charge.  She still wasn't willing to totally commit.  Even after I showed her a video that explained what I do, showed some of my murals, and discussed specifically what she wanted in the mural, there was a lingering question.  "What if I don't like your mural design?"  I smiled politely and said, "It's not a problem.  There is an orphanage that would like a mural."

She committed.

Of course, the following day when I showed up ready to start the project with my mural design in hand, she was over the moon excited.  She grabbed the sketch and went from office to office sharing the idea.  Eventually, she returned with the hospital architect.  He gave the official approval for the mural.  In my mind, it had been officially approved well before that moment, but I guess a little official approval never hurts. 

I tried to incorporate as many things from Paraguay as I could.  Going from left to right it starts with the flag and football (soccer) mania -- carefully selecting colors of nobody's favorite team.  The doctor is Dr. Lucas, the hospital's special logo/hero doctor for the children's ward.  He fit in well with my cartoons.  Kids going nuts with bandages could happen anywhere but they also tied up one of Paraguay's blue hyacinth macaws.  And, while the kids did what they did, the nurse decided it is time for a local favorite drink, terere.  (You can read about it in my adventure section.)  Finally, the harp is a favorite instrument in Paraguay.  Who knew?

The actual painting took place with a variety of volunteers, the way I always like it.  The first to take a brush couldn't have been more than five.  He was quickly followed by two of the head doctors of the hospital.  They were much older than five.  Tally imported volunteers from her school.  They spoke perfect English, non-stop perfect English!  Volunteers from the hospital were much quieter.  When we communicated, it required their patience and my horrible Spanish skills.  "Skills" is actually not a word that should be used in a sentence describing my Spanish.

The mural was completed the night before the celebration of the children's ward's first year anniversary.  Timing couldn't have been better for the project and the people at the Centro Medico Hospital Bautista in Asunción couldn't have been more pleased.

Copyright 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.