How this piece came about is a funny story. David and I were hired to tour in a cabaret revue of Nat King Cole Songs on the island of Roatan, Honduras. We flew in from Sarasota with David’s electric keyboard – which had to get special clearance. The tour was arranged by Cathy O’Brian whose parents (Ted and Cam) owned a ran the really cool resort , Bay Island Beach Resort (that they shut down in 2010) Cathy- a beautiful soprano, her boyfriend Bob Brown- a terrific baritone, and I – singing alto were the performing trio with David’s mighty fingers at the keyboard. It was a month of performances at four different spots: Bay Island Beach Resort, Anthony’s Key Resort, CoCo View Resort, and Gio’s Restaurant.
Whiling away the hours, waiting to perform required imagination and an adventuresome spirit. We did not have a car. We were watching our expenditures closely as we still had our three children at home. Gas was very expensive. Mostly, we walked to nearby destinations. When we would decide to go anywhere, catching a cab was an adventure . (That’s another story.) We visited the tropical rain forest park, several trips to the funky West End, walks along the beach to nearby Anthony’s, – oh, yeah, snorkeling – which David wouldn’t do, a boat trip to the out islands – at one point hoping to spot and maybe swim in the open ocean with the whale sharks, trips to Coxen’s Hole, and eventually renting a car to tour this beautiful island.
We had heard that an interesting and fun destination was Sherman Arch’s Iguana Farm . I thought; cool. We had been there about a week when I said to David, “Wanna go to the Iguana Farm?” He looked at me like I had totally lost my head… like I was asking him to jump into a volcano. Naturally, he replied rather emphatically, “No!” The next week I tried again – the answer was the same. The third week, I actually tried to talk him into it, “Listen I want to go to the Iguana Farm. Come on let’s go. It will be fun.” Another “No!” He really thought I had lost my head, but I thought he was just being stubborn and scared. Lots of people like to visit these kinds of places – you know, like me! Finally, about three days before we were scheduled to leave, we decided to rent a car to explore the whole island. I said, “I don’t care, if you don’t want to go…I’m going to the Iguana Farm. You can just stay here.” To my surprise, after a pause and a deep breathe, he said, “OK, Sharon, I guess I’ll go with you.”
He thought he was coming to protect me. Ha! We get to the place and as we drive up to this house there are literally hundreds of iguanas roaming free and another 250 to 300 baby iguanas separated from the larger ones in a two story -house sized cage with trees and other foliage inside. The free-roaming iguanas were being fed by this adorable 5 year girl who was throwing assorted seeds on the ground and around. The reptiles, in all sizes and colors, were spread across, oh, maybe an acre or two of land on the ground and reclining on the tree branches above us. I get out of the car to look around and David reluctantly follows. He, later, tells me he figures it’s OK because if the little girl was safe, he would be, too.
So I wanted to take a picture. I mean, who would believe this place? But I was better with a camera, so I said to David, “Hey, walk in the middle over there so I can take your picture.”
“You want me to walk where?” he looked at me – like he hoped I wasn’t really asking him to do what I had just asked him to do.
“Never mind, you take the picture and I’ll go there.” I hand him the camera and walk among the 4, 5, 6, and 7 foot iguanas. “OK, take the picture.” So he snaps a few. Then I go, “Your turn.”
He hands me the camera and walks in the middle. Actually, I was pretty proud of him. Much as it scared him, this experience was a source of stories for years and inspired him to compose one of his most popular pieces before we went home. (Thanks to his crazy wife.) I think it is a masterpiece.
This piece will be available on our website soon as a piano solo and arranged for Oboe and Piano.
Watch for a posting on YouTube with Edmond DeMattia on oboe with David.