Category Archives: CULTURE
“The National Treasures of Belize are its people of culture. Culturally, the Garifuna people of Dangriga, Belize are the most interesting. [...] The oldest male singer is PAUL NABOR. Make sure that you photograph him, he is the national treasure since Andy Palacio died.”
When I reached Punta Gorda that month of September 2011, I kept the wise words of my mentor and renowned photographer Chester Higgins in the back of my mind. I had shared with him the good news that my next gig was taking me to Belize, for three months of coverage as a freelance writer, blogger and photographer.
In Punta Gorda, my host Bruno was well-connected and had lived in the area for decades, so I had a hunch he might be able to help me. The minute I mentioned to him that I would love to meet Paul Nabor, he said, in the way in which he always did when a guest had a request: “No problem!”
We stopped by Nabor’s house that very evening–it was dark and I could barely see where we were, but I spotted him from the car. He seemed frail, yet alert, sitting in an alley beside his humble wooden home, chatting with a friend. My host stepped out and told him about this writer who is with the BTB and wanted to meet him.
I heard the reply: “Sure. Come tomorrow. 2 o’clock.”
I wondered if it would really happen, but I was so excited that I started picturing how I would photograph him, and then wondered if he would let me photograph him.
The next afternoon of September 5 is one I’ll never forget. After an hour with Leela Vernon at her home–the
Today, Belize lost one of its national heroes and music legends–he was known as one of Belize’s Three Kings: the wonderful, talented Paul Nabor. He passed away earlier today at age 84.
My heart is full as I remember the precious moments I had the privilege of spending with him back in 2011. I will forever remain grateful for that afternoon I spent at his home in Punta Gorda. He played paranda ballads just for me and my host Bruno, for hours on end–at least two straight hours–pausing in between to share stories of his love life, of his travels all over the world to perform and his passion for music. He was 81 years old at the time.
“This is my wife,” I remember him saying to me with a smile, pointing to his guitar. I even had the privilege of seeing his very first instrument and taking his portrait photographs. He was so gracious and patient!
If I am able to dig up the images this week, I’ll share over the next few days, along with a blog post on my experience. In the meantime, here’s some (basic) footage I captured from that afternoon.
He told us that he was tired of traveling and even though he was still in demand and often asked to perform overseas, he felt he had done his work and he just wanted to stay put in his homeland, Belize. I was on an inspirational high for many weeks after that afternoon. His spirit touched me deeply.
May he rest in peace, as he so well deserves, and may we all remember his talent, as well as his kind and generous spirit.