Twenty five years of creeping us out with its dark stories and Belizean folklore, I will never forget the part of that book when the spirit gave the woman the candle that later tuned into a femur. The first time I read the story was in high school for my Spanish class but I think I did not appreciate the book until much later when I reread it and understood it better. The book was first published in 1990 and is written in Spanish, a true work of art by David Nicolas Ruiz Puga, an educator and cultural promoter from Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo, Belize. It features a blend of historical events, Belizean culture and folklore and is now an iconic book in Western Belize. One of the memorable things about the book is the compilation of images sketched within its pages. I was always thrilled about them. The drawing of the skeletal spirit handing over the white candle has certainly haunted me all these years, and the rest of the drawings are equally as memorable.
Last night I attended the launching ceremony for the Old Benque: Érase Una Vez En Benque Viejo Exhibit at the Benque House of Culture. The night started with some stories by some residents of Benque Viejo, featuring mainly the mythological humanoid, the Duende. A few pages were also narrated from Los Finalos, one of the stories in the book, by a group of locals which also included the author, David Ruiz Puga.
After the cutting of the ribbon, we were allowed to view the exhibit featuring the original art work and manuscript, typewritten. It was very exciting to see the original sketches and, of course, I was reunited with the image of my past. The sketch is amazingly clean and in an immaculate condition for it to be twenty five years old. I recommend everyone to visit the Benque House of Culture and experience the exhibit for yourself, a must see for anyone that has read the book, and an excellent opportunity to read it, if you haven’t.