Paisano modeling with his conch shell, 1998
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Sunday November 27, 2011

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Paisano in the 1980’s, Drawing by Jayson Forman

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Iguana Jack
It was in 1975 that John D. Westerhold's (Iguana Jack) adventures landed him in Belize. Jack quickly found a beautiful country and people that were so creatively inspiring that he has called it home ever since. As he sketched and painted some of his favorite people and places, Jack established the very first art gallery in San Pedro in 1980 to display his finest works. Today as Belize continues to change,Jack is still very busy painting and sculpting images of the Belize he loves to call home.
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Paisano modeling with his conch shell, 1998

Jayson Forman: Everyone who has visited the island had to have an interaction with “Paisano”.

This was unavoidable. He was a colorful character. He was very funny and as a child, I was under the impression that he was a kind and generous man.

When I first visited his gift shop (yes he owned a legitimate gift shop). It was a converted “Airstream” RV with a wooden deck built in front of it.

Located in front of what became the “Alua” building in front of Atlantic Bank.

I think that (at some point) there was a school building there too that was part of San Pedro High School - 4th Form? (in front of Oscar Aguilar’s house).

I was looking to purchase a jade necklace. While reviewing all the other options, I was given 3 different prices for the same piece... I ended up getting a black coral necklace from Polo’s.

His gift shop had very unique and creative items; like a gorilla piggy bank made out of a coconut and carved out of the husk shell. You’d be hard pressed to find anything like that today. It also had miniature ships carved out of black coral and some were mahogany as well. I used to visit often because it was full creative inspirations for me.

Martha McBratney: I remember him when he came to San Pedro he use to sell clothing from Guatemala door to door, nice guy. That's where the name Paisano came from cause thats what he use to call everyone when he was going from home to home selling his clothing.

Eli Pearly: Cursed in Arabic...then I’d translate his curse words... He was blown away and laughed with me.. Catch him in the right mood and he actually had great conversations...!!

Kimberly Gonzalez: Eli Pearly he would come in my shop and sing love songs in Arabic then tell me what they meant.

Photograph by "Iguana Jack" Westerhold

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