Large numbers of visitors come to Belize yearly
to catch a glimpse of "Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret." The natural wonders
found in this part of the world fascinate travelers who enjoy the Barrier Reef,
the luscious rainforest or the mystical world of the ancient Maya. Whatever the
visitor chooses to do while in Belize, it is certain that the memories of their
visit will remain with them for a lifetime. As a reminder of their experience,
many choose to take home a souvenir. Souvenirs can be found in many shapes and
forms, but the most treasured ones are those that truly reflect and symbolize
the vacation. It is with that in mind that we bring to you a person who has made
his living producing some of our country's most sought-after keepsakes - wood
carver Marvin Vernon.
Marvin was born in Belize City on
July 22nd, 1965 to Irma and
Justes Vernon. He grew up in the "city" along with his two brothers and three
sisters. As a young boy, Marvin was very popular among his peers at Holy
Redeemer Elementary School and Excelsior High School from where he graduated in
1983. It was during Marvin's adolescence that he first discovered the art of
woodcarving while "hanging around" a group of friends who created carvings from
natural woods. Marvin was mesmerized by the end results and at the age of
seventeen he gave it a try. Armed with a hand machete, a hand rasp (file), a
scraping knife, sanding sealer, linseed oil, sandpaper and polishing wax, Marvin
began his first sculpture. Having been a keen observer, studying his friends at
work, he was able to finish his first "masterpiece," a sailboat, in only two
days. That first sculpture was the beginning of what would be Marvin's lifelong
business. Using some of Belize's most exotic hardwoods such as Rosewood,
Granadilla and Ziricote, Marvin ventured into this career selling handmade
woodcarvings out of a small shop inside his house. Finding that tourists were
fond of his creations, he expanded his business by selling his artwork at the
International Airport as well.
Aware of the
booming tourism industry in San Pedro, "Carvin' Marvin," as he is known, decided
to travel to the island to "check things out". This move proved profitable for
him and for the next nine years he traveled back and forth from the mainland to
sell his products. Convinced that San Pedro was everything he had been looking
for, Marvin permanently relocated to the island eight years ago. These days, he
can be found on Barrier Reef Drive where he displays some of the most detailed
sculptures in Belize which always reflect the most beautiful flora, fauna and
marine life indigenous to this country. Marvin's interaction with the tourists,
and his carvings are a wonderful way of promoting his country as hundred of
visitors return home with a "piece of Belize".
Marvin told the San Pedro Sun that he owes a lot of his success to living in San Pedro and hopes to
someday give something back to this community that embraced him with open arms.
In his spare time, this father of four enjoys playing basketball; a sport he
says is a great way to stay in shape and which helps him to relax.
Since the age of 17, Marvin Vernon has established
himself as an independent businessman in Belize. He is a humble and amiable
person who, through his "works of art," has "carved his niche" among the many
"creative geniuses" who can be found in "Our Community."