I didn’t realise how hard it would be to write this out loud, but darn, I just finished my LAST MURAL IN GUATEMALA!
Well, for this year at least.
In a matter of weeks I’ll be moving to Spain, but the plan is definitely to come back next year and add some more colour to this part of the world.
I was glad that my last mural happened to be this one, at the school in San Bartolomé Becerra, for several reasons. For one, because I promised so about two years ago and I always try to keep my promises. But also because this wall is very visible from the street and the highway to Ciudad Vieja. And maybe most importantly, because San Bartolomé Becerra, or San Bartolo, as we call it, has been my home for the last five years. I have grown very fond of this community just outside of Antigua Guatemala and I’m glad I could leave something behind. It’s isn’t my fist mural in San Bartolo, but by far the most public one.
This was also the last time (for now!) I worked with my wonderful assistant Henry Calel Navarijo. He helped me paint for the first time in 2016 and since then he has grown a lot, in many ways. I’ll surely miss him!
I’d been a few times to the school to discuss the design and take pictures (I needed kids for modelling, no shortness of those at the school!), so the kids knew I was coming and most of me knew me anyway, living in the same neighbourhood. One kid came up to me and said:
“I know you”.
No big surprise, after all I have been living there for five years and painted two murals.
“Yes. You give hot-dog to the dogs.”
Well, yes, that’s me too. I think I would have cared more for a reputation as a renowned mural painter. But being known as the woman who feeds hot-dog to dogs is a pretty good second.
Anyway, off to work. The theme wasn’t my favourite of all time; the teacher insisted I’d include the school’s crest in the mural. A pretty ugly crest, I must add. I suggested camouflaging it a bit, maybe put it on a kid’s shirt? No, it had to be there and right in the centre. That took some thinking on my part but I finally came up with a design I’m okay with and that does include the schools emblem. So, ready to rock and roll.
The weather forecast couldn’t be worse. Somewhere off the coast of Guatemala a hurricane is brewing and it was indeed windy and drizzling. Drizzle is okay. Wind is doable. A tropical storm is not, for mural painting. But we were extremely lucky and didn’t get more than a few drops.
While we painted, yesterday, classed were interrupted for a celebration Día del Árbol, Tree Day. In familiar fashion, the activity included the national anthem, a prayer, a few speeches and a mini-parade of kids dressed in folklore outfits. Each class had made a huge tree which they presented to their peers. Ironically made out of paper. Even more irony: the background noise was provided by some handymen cutting down a tree at the schoolyard. But let’s not get me started on the educational system here…
So, besides a few wind gusts and thick fat raindrops, (oh, and the promised ladder that never arrived), the work went well and the mural is finished. Whether the result is better than before is for you to decide…
A BIG thank you to Henry, not just for helping with this mural but many before and hopefully more to come.
And of course also a HUGE thank you to veterinarian Dr. Jim Bader who besides coming down at least twice a year to voluntarily sterilize dogs and cats for 14 years in a row now, he has also generously been donating towards my community murals! Thanks so much Jim!!!
So long, for now….