From a College Class to Colorful Caribbean Homes.
Arguably, French Harbour has remained one of the hidden jewels of Roatan and while the town is not a tourist destination yet, a pair of young entrepreneurs, inspired by a University course, want to change that. “We want color to become an important facet in everyday life in French Harbour,” says Ronald Pozzi, who has been coming to the island for 32 years.
Ronald and Aksinia Pozzi, are the project’s originators. The couple decided it’s too complicated to set up a NGO organization in Honduras, and focused on the goals they want to achieve. Ronald was in private banking and in fashion photography and Aksina is an entrepreneur from Russia. The Boston based couple hopes to create a tourist experience that is off the beaten path. “We wanted to create a community driven tourist experience,” says Ronald. “The Caribbean islands are all the same. You have nice beaches, nice water and what really makes the island different and unique from one another are the people, the culture.”
“French Harbour, you just avoid it going on the main ‘Carretera,”’ says Ronald Pozzi. Ronald says he didn’t want to compete to traditional tourist attractions on the island like West End or West Bay. “We want to see something unique: a city of color,” says Ronald.
Appreciation of beauty can change the world.
“Once it’s all cleaned up and looks beautiful a tourist will want to take a picture with it,” says Ronald, he wants to create French Harbour into an Instagram destination. The project combines old ideas of making things beautiful and new ideas of social media. “Appreciation of beauty can change the world,” says Ronald.
Pineapples, bananas, flowers cover the exterior walls of the first two French Harbour painted houses. In three-and-half-days two houses were painted by a group of 12 volunteers and 12 paid workers. “Juanita and Melva were very, very open and gave us permission to do something crazy: paint their houses eclectic colors,” said Ronald Pozzi about the first two houses.
Ronald feels it is important to ask people not only for their permission, but for their vision. “We are painting it based on the colors these people love.”
Rachel White, 28, was one of the painting volunteers who hoped her own French Harbour house would be eventually painted. “Pink and white. I love soccer, so maybe with soccer balls,” she said. “This is my neighborhood. It’s nice to be a volunteer.”
Ronald got the idea for the project from his collage course professor, Doris Sommer, Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University. “She kept saying: ‘if you want to be a cultural agent, if you want to be an agent of change, especially in emerging communities you have to create projects from the ground up,’” said Ronald. He wanted to do something that was practical, manageable and low maintenance.
The main sponsor of the beatification project is The Buccaneer, a culture center and tourist destination at the French Harbour waterfront owned by Lizette Pozzi and Constantino Pozzi, Ronald’s parents.
In March 2020 the couple plans to return to Roatan to paint as many homes as they can. “Six to eight houses are already lined up. If we have five houses painted, we can have an impact on French Harbour,” said Ronald. “It’s ideally a project that never ends as we will be painting houses on top of houses, until all of French Harbour is painted.”