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Contents

No. 138 March/April 2016

56

50 EMBARK

IMMERSE

ARRIVE

17 Datebook

39 panorama

56 offtrack

Call it sci-fi, speculative fiction, fantasy — it’s one of the world’s most popular genres of storytelling, and a growing wave of Caribbean writers are bringing our voices, culture, and history to tales of mythical pasts and thrilling futures, lost worlds and faraway planets. Philip Sander talks to sci-fi authors Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell, Karen Lord, and R.S.A. Garcia

Picture a lush oasis of lakes surrounded by green forest, where rare ducks swim among waterlilies, cormorants sun themselves on overhanging branches, and the cries of parakeets fill the air — and all this in the middle of an oil refinery complex. Andre Bagoo visits Trinidad’s Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, celebrating five decades of nurturing endangered birds

48 own words

62 favourite

Events around the Caribbean in March and April, from St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Montserrat to the Tobago Jazz Experience

24 Word of Mouth Dry season is now literature season in the Caribbean, with half a dozen festivals bringing writers to readers, plus a new exhibition in London captures the heyday of lovers rock

28 The look Designer Kristin Frazer of the British Virgin Islands creates swimwear inspired by desert blooms, to flatter bathing beauties of all shapes

30 Bookshelf and playlist Our latest reading and listening picks: from novels and poetry to jazz and soca

34 Cookup

Easter fare No Caribbean holiday is thinkable without a delicious menu — and Easter weekend is no exception. Nazma Muller shares recipes for seasonal dishes from up and down the islands: Jamaican Easter bun, Bajan-style fried flying fish, and Martinique’s spicy matoutou crab stew 8

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Stories of what-if

“We too can be creators” Barbadian Troy Weekes, systems designer and education entrepreneur, on rethinking how children learn and how Caribbean people interact with digital technology— as told to Tracy Assing

50 backstory

back in times For Trinidadian Angelo Bissessarsingh, what started as a childhood obsession with yesteryear artefacts grew into a passion for researching and writing about history that’s helped reignite public interest in T&T’s complicated past. Judy Raymond tells the story of a young historian’s archive and love for what once was

Wild as the wind

“Floating, the hills clear in their distances” For St Lucian writer and cultural activist John Robert Lee, the sheltered beach at Rodney Bay, on the island’s north-western coast, is a place of idyllic childhood memory and peaceful respite

65 neighbourhood

Nassau, the Bahamas Many visitors come to the Bahamian capital in search of the Caribbean’s “big three” attractions: sun, sea, and sand. There’s plenty of those on New Providence Island, but Nassau is also a creative hub, home to a vibrant arts and craft scene, amazing food — and, of course, the famous festival of Junkanoo


CaribbeanBeat An MEP publication ISSN 1680–6158

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have internet, will travel Think of almost any imaginable human behaviour or need, and you can bet someone’s built a website for it. Travel is no exception. Georgia Popplewell compiles a handy survey of the best travel websites and apps to help you make the most of your trip — to the Caribbean or anywhere else in the world

70On this day

Voyager among gods Eighty years ago, an African-American anthropologist stepped off a boat in Kingston, at the start of a journey to investigate Caribbean religion and spirituality. Zora Neale Hurston is better remembered for her fiction, writes James Ferguson, but her book Tell My Horse remains a fascinating record of Jamaica and Haiti in the 1930s

78 Onboard entertainment Movie and audio listings, to entertain you in the air

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Caribbean Beat is published six times a year for Caribbean Airlines by Media & Editorial Projects Ltd. It is also available on subscription. Copyright © Caribbean Airlines 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. MEP accepts no responsibility for content supplied by our advertisers. The views of the advertisers are theirs and do not represent MEP in any way. Website: www.caribbean-airlines.com

80 parting shot Breezy dry season weather across the Caribbean makes Easter the perfect time to test your kite-building and -flying skills The Caribbean Airlines logo shows a hummingbird in flight. Native to the Caribbean, the hummingbird represents flight, travel, vibrancy, and colour. It encompasses the spirit of both the region and Caribbean Airlines.

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Cover Snorkelling in the perfectly azure waters of the Bahamas Photo Stephen Frink/Corbis

This issue’s contributors include: Tracy Assing (“We too can be creators”, page 48) is a Trinidadian writer, editor, and filmmaker. Her awardwinning documentary The Amerindians is the first film made from the perspective of Trinidad and Tobago’s indigenous community. Andre Bagoo (“Wild as the wind”, page 56), a Trinidadian poet and journalist, is the author of two books of poetry, most recently BURN, published by Shearsman Books in 2015. James Ferguson (“Voyager among gods”, page 70) is a writer and publisher based in Oxford, and a longtime contributor to Caribbean Beat. Nazma Muller (“Easter fare”, page 34) is a Trinidadborn, Jamaica-obsessed writer who has worked in newsrooms in T&T, Jamaica, and the UK. Georgia Popplewell (“Have Internet, will travel”, page 68) is a media producer and writer from Trinidad and Tobago, and managing director of Global Voices, an online citizen media and advocacy organisation. Shivanee Ramlochan (Bookshelf, page 30) is a Trinidadian poet, fiction writer, and literary critic. She is the official blogger of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the assistant editor of The Caribbean Review of Books, and the Trinidad Guardian’s Sunday Arts book reviewer. Her poems appear in Coming Up Hot: Eight New Poets from the Caribbean. Judy Raymond (“Back in times”, page 50) is a freelance writer who has written extensively about books, arts, and politics. She is also a former editor in chief of the Trinidad Guardian and former editor of Caribbean Beat. Her latest book, The Colour of Shadows, is a study of the conditions and images of Caribbean slavery.

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A MESSAGE From OUR CEO

Dear Valued Customers,

Courtesy Caribbean Airlines

January and February were very busy months for Caribbean Airlines, with thousands of travellers heading to Trinidad and Tobago to partake in the Carnival festivities. 2016 continues to be full of promise, as we place greater focus on improving your travel experience with us. Your feedback on the upgrade of our reservations and check-in system to Amadeus has re-affirmed that we made the right choice for you and your travel needs. All airport systems should be completed by the end of March. As we move forward, Caribbean Airlines is mindful of the global economic climate. However, we see opportunities where others see obstacles, and the current economic environment is a chance for us to tap into the creativity and resourcefulness for which Caribbean people are well known. The Caribbean Airlines team continues to look at ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Be assured that we remain hard at work and focused on delivering our vision for an improved customer-centric travel experience to serve you better. Also, as the leading carrier serving the Caribbean, we recognise the contribution of our Caribbean icons to the growth and development of the region. In tribute to them, and as a regular part of our inflight entertainment, we will highlight their work. The first feature showcased the virtuoso Jit Samaroo, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s greatest steelband composers and arrangers, who passed away earlier this year. And Caribbean Beat magazine has long documented the contributions of many of the Caribbean’s outstanding men and women — please take your complimentary copy with you! Over the next two months, the region continues to buzz with activity, and we are happy you chose Caribbean Airlines to get you to and from your destinations. Enjoy the warmth of the islands when you fly with us to Guyana’s Bartica Easter Regatta, or to experience the magical Holders Season in Barbados. April is jazz month in Tobago, with top international artistes scheduled to perform at the Tobago Jazz Experience, which takes place from 16 to 24 April. Meanwhile, Antigua will

host its legendary Sailing Week from 23 to 29 April. This event is one of the region’s main yachting regattas, attracting boats from around the world. With daily flights to and from St Lucia, we are delighted to take you to enjoy the island’s 25th jazz season, which kicks off on 29 April. St Lucia Jazz will feature international names from multiple music genres, including jazz, R&B, soul, pop, and reggae. The festival takes place over fifteen days at fifteen different venues all over the beautiful island. Beyond the Caribbean region, our destinations in North America are bustling. In New York, the Tribeca Film Festival, carded for 14 to 27 April, continues to shine the spotlight on indie features, documentaries, foreign films, the latest from big-name talent, and the greatest from up-and-coming filmmakers. In Miami, Carnaval on the Mile is on 7 and 8 March. Calle Ocho Festival is on 15 March

and is the largest street festival in the city of Miami featuring the sounds of merengue, reggaeton, bachata, balada, hip-hop, rap and jazz. And let your tastebuds lead the way as you sip, savour, and sample your way through the Toronto Food and Drink Market from 8 to 10 April, where it’s all about eating, drinking, shopping, and learning! Caribbean Airlines is committed to showing our customers that we care, and that we understand and relate to your travel requirements. As such, we ensure that our schedule allows for easy and convenient connections where you benefit from daily direct service to and from the Caribbean to North and South America, to facilitate your business and leisure travel needs. You are the reason we fly! Please visit our website, www. caribbean-airlines.com, become a fan by liking us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/caribbeanairlines, and follow us on Twitter @iflycaribbean. Thank you for choosing Caribbean Airlines — we value your patronage and look forward to serving you throughout our network. Tyrone Tang CEO (Ag.)


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datebook

courtesy gerrard wilson photography

Your guide to Caribbean events in March and April, from St Patrick’s Day in Montserrat to jazz in Tobago

Don’t miss . . . Rally Trinidad 25 to 27 March • venues around Trinidad For auto-lovers and thrillseekers alike from across the Caribbean, the T&T Rally Club’s annual three-day tournament is a mainstay. Top rally teams from neighbouring islands will test their skills, nerves, and reflexes on Trinidad’s famed gravel stages, in a breathtaking battle for the top title.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates numerous daily flights to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, its home base and hub WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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datebook

If you’re in . . . Nevis

Carriacou

St Patrick’s Day Festival

Nevis Blues Festival

10 to 17 March visitmontserrat.com

14 to 16 April nevisbluesfestival.com

Carriacou Maroon Music Festival

When you think of St Patrick’s Day, you probably imagine Ireland bedecked in green, closely followed by the United States and its St Paddy’s Day parades and celebrations. But did you know that Montserrat is the only place outside Ireland to

With a population of just over 12,000, 36 square miles, and just 406 hotel rooms, it’s no surprise the island of Nevis can deliver on its promise of a small, intimate music festival. It means you’ll have both the time and the space to enjoy performances by such artistes as American guitarist Kirk Fletcher, British blues hall-of-famer Ian Siegal, and British jazz singer Denise Gordon. Now in its second year, the Nevis Blues Festival runs in mid-April at Sundowner Stage, Oualie Beach, to the north of the island. There you’ll have the choice of listening to awardwinning artistes from the UK, the

celebrate St Patrick’s Day as a public holiday? More than just the feast day of the Irish patron saint, 17 March in Montserrat also marks the culmination of a ten-day “week” of celebrations to commemorate an uprising of enslaved Africans in 1768. Sometimes called The Other Emerald Isle, a direct reference to its historical linkages with Ireland, Montserrat has a substantial population who can trace their lineage to Irish ancestors. Although the original home of the St Patrick’s Day Festival , the village aptly named St Patrick’s, is now buried under ash and lava from the 1995 eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano, today events are held in several locations: like the Sankofa Gardens Banana Fest in Brades on 11 March; Leprechaun’s Revenge in Bunkum Bay on the 12th; and the Montserrat National Trust Flower Show on 14 March in Salem. On 20 March, it all wraps up with a beach fete in Little Bay.

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laurence harvey, courtesy the nevis blues festival

US, the Netherlands, and Ireland. Thursday 14 April will see the Rhythm Chiefs take the stage, followed by funk rockers Northsyde and Fletcher. On Friday, Gordon (of Nevisian parentage) will be on, with Siegal closing the set that night. Saturday brings a special treat, as the guitarists in the line-up — Simon McBride, Kirk Fletcher, Dusty Ciggaar, Denny Ilett, and Jules Fothergill — will showcase their skill in a programme called Celebrating the Electric Guitar. Not to be outdone, the ladies — Denise Gordon and Lorna Fothergill of Northsyde with The Rhythm Chiefs — are set to bring the festival to a close.

29 April to 1 May carriacoumaroon.com In a world where everyone’s head is down in their smartphone or tablet, the Carriacou Maroon Music Festival brings new meaning to the word “community.” Back in the 1950s in Carriacou, a “maroon” was an

courtesy the grenada tourism authority

courtesy the montserrat tourist board

Montserrat

occasion to help neighbours plant or harvest crops, or move house. Today, it’s a public picnic that focuses on culture-sharing, socialising — and, of course, food. The festival, rich with African traditions, runs over the last weekend in April. Launched in 2001, it’s now held over three locations in Carriacou: Belair Park, Paradise Beach, and Hillsborough. Combining local and regional music groups and Grand Saraca (maroon food, which is traditionally cooked over a fireside), the festival begins on Friday at 6 am, with the blowing of the conch shell. On Saturday morning, Main Street, Hillsborough, comes alive with music, as string bands hold centrestage. The fun then returns to Belair Park for drumming, and traditional Shakespeare mas. Sunday brings more of the same, but with dance, drama, an arts and craft exhibition, and music on Paradise Beach. Event previews by Mirissa De Four


datebook

stuart patrick courtesy jazz artists on the green

Make the most of March SXMusic Festival Venues around St Martin sxmusicfestival.com An entire festival devoted to electronic music? That’s the promise of this debut fixture on the Caribbean’s culture scene, featuring dozens of musicians and DJs from around the world, performing in one of the region’s most sybaritic islands [9 to 13 March]

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Jazz Artists on the Greens St Joseph, Trinidad jaotg.com Dane Gulston and the Alexis Baro Quintet headline this year’s edition of the popular festival-style celebration of jazz, where patrons relax on picnic blankets and lounge chairs under the clouds, taking in the sounds of cool [12 March]

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Phagwah/Holi Venues across the Caribbean The Hindu spring festival — celebrated in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and other Caribbean countries with Hindu communities — is a spectacle of colour, music, and dance, as revellers abandon their cares and douse each other with coloured water and powder [23 March]

Holders Season Holders Hill, Barbados holdersseason.com The five-acre grounds of a seventeenth-century great house are the setting for Barbados’s annual festival of performance, with classical and Broadway music, jazz, theatre, and comedy all on the bill [9 to 19 March]

nicholas laughlin

New Fire Music Festival Sandy Hill Nature Park, Freeport, Trinidad newfireworld.com T&T’s newest cultural festival makes its debut on Easter weekend, with a programme combining equal parts music and ecological awareness. A natural amphitheatre provides both a stage and an outdoor campsite, with yoga, inspirational talks, and family-friendly activities to close the holistic circle [26 and 27 March]

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Appetite for April . . . when they grow up . . . The Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC studiomuseum.org Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson’s accelerating career shifts into higher gear with a solo show at New York City’s famed Studio Museum, running through the spring season. Patterson brings her ornate signature style to bear on images of black youth, undermining the stereotypes that fuel violence and discrimination [24 March to 26 June]

courtesy the studio museum in harlem

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta Sea around Antigua antiguaclassics.com Beautifully restored sailing vessels from around the world give this regatta its name, but there’s a place for new boats, too, alongside all the social occasions you’d expect at one of the Caribbean sailing season’s most popular gatherings [13 to 19 April] 24 March to 26 June

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maria nunes, courtesy the NGC Bocas lit fest

NGC Bocas Lit Fest Port of Spain, Trinidad bocaslitfest.com The Anglophone Caribbean’s biggest celebration of books and writers returns, with five days of readings, discussions, workshops, performances, films, and more. 2015 Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James will be the hottest ticket — that is, if you needed a ticket, which you don’t: events are free and open to all [27 April to 1 May]

Forcellini Danilo/shutterstock.com

Tobago Jazz Experience Pigeon Point Heritage Park jazzfestival2016.com Over the years, the biggest event on Tobago’s music calendar has grown into something more than a festival, featuring more than jazz, with soca, salsa, R&B, and reggae flowing smoothly through the mix. Concerts, parties, and an unmissable lime attract thousands. This year’s headliner: Lauryn Hill [16 to 24 April]

St Barth Film Festival Venues around St Barth stbarthff.org In its twenty-first year, this celebration of Caribbean and French film combines elements of intimate hospitality with touches of luxury, and a carefully curated programme of new and classic films [25 to 30 April]

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word of mouth

nagornyi / shutterstock.com

Dispatches from our correspondents around the Caribbean and further afield

Story season With half a dozen literary festivals in as many weeks, the Caribbean dry season has turned into a celebration of books, writers and stories. Philip Sander explains

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p and down the Antillean chain, the month of April brings glorious dryseason weather — bright, breezy days and a profusion of flowers, despite the drought — along with Easter, the Hindu spring festival Holi, and an entire season celebrating Caribbean books and writers, with six different literary festivals in as many weeks. Yes, you read that right: whatever you may have heard to the contrary, there’s a growing audience for fiction and poetry in the Caribbean, and in recent years literature festivals have sprung up far and wide, with most of them scheduled for the month and a half before the rains arrive. So, you’re a book lover crav ing encounters with your favourite Caribbean authors and possessing unlimited air miles: how do you plan your itinerary?

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Start in St Croix at the end of April, where the University of the Virgin Islands — longtime home of the journal The Caribbean Writer — hosts the annual Virgin Islands Literary Festival (21 to 23 April), which debuted in 2015. Headliners this year include Jamaica Kincaid, sci-fi writer Tobias Buckell (profiled on page 42 of this issue), and India-born Salman Rushdie. Then hop south to Port of Spain, where the NGC Bocas Lit Fest runs over the April-ending long weekend (27 April to 1 May). With more than a hundred events over five days, including the award ceremony for the coveted OCM Bocas Prize, the programme boasts something for everybody with an interest in books, stories, and ideas: readings, per for mances, debates, work shops,

and the finals of T&T’s National Poetry Slam. Some 2016 highlights: events commemorating the ninety-fifth birthday of Guyanese writer Wilson Harris, the role of cricket in Caribbean culture, and the influence of Shakespeare on today’s Caribbean writers. Pause for breath, then head to Barbados in mid-May, where the biennial BIM Literary Festival (12 to 14 May) celebrates the country’s fiftieth anniversary of Independence through the words of its writers. The Anguilla Lit Fest (19 to 22 May) isn’t far behind: a “literary jollification” that makes the most of its idyllic setting on the thirty-five-square-mile island, with daytime readings and discussions and evening parties, where rum cocktails get writerly tongues wagging. Luckily, the next stop is just one island (and a twenty-minute ferry ride) away. The St Martin Book Fair (2 to 4 June), marking its fourteenth year in 2016, is a boundarycrossing event in more ways than one. With events on both sides of the territorial line separating Dutch Sint Maarten from French Saint-Martin, and a roster of writers who cheerfully straddle the borders between genres and languages, it’s a chance to reconsider what you think you know about Caribbean letters. O u r t o u r e n d s , a p p r o p r i a t e l y, in Jamaica, and the laid-back seaside community of Treasure Beach, home of the longest-running literature festival of the bunch. The Calabash International Literary Festival (3 to 5 June), now staged biennially, is as famous for its iere vibe as for the stellar authors who grace the stage. W hat do all these festivals have in common? An intimate scale, for one thing, appropriate to their island settings. Big-name authors mingle with newcomers, and there’s no room for anyone to be aloof. What else? Their extraordinary creative energy, fuelled by a surge of writing talent. A new crop of Caribbean writers are telling stories never before heard, in unfamiliar voices. And at these festivals of literature, you can listen to them up close.


word of mouth

chris steele perkins, courtesy 198 gallery

Women dancing in a youth club in Wolverhampton in the 1970s

Loving A kind David Katz visits a new London exhibition recalling the glory days of lovers rock

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s I walk along the broad expanse of Railton Road, a lesser thoroughfare that links Brixton’s backstreets with leafier Herne Hill, I can’t help thinking how much the Brixton end has changed. Recent arrivals include an upmarket wine parlour and an exclusive European hairdresser — the changing demographics due to the unstoppable march of gentrification. Brixton Market may now be over r un by privileged provincial kids on the weekends, but Railton Road has great resonance for London’s Caribbean communities, since there’s a lot of important history here. Railton Road was once known as the “frontline,” a site of hostile police action against local black youth. The Race Today collective was based here then, in a squatted building (where C.L.R. James lived out the last of his days), and there were shebeens, Rastafarian eateries, and Caribbean drinking dens at different junctions, most of which have left no traces. Thankfully, the Herne Hill end remains somewhat unreconstructed, and after passing by Montego Close and Marcus Garvey Way, just below the twin towers of a public housing estate, it is a relief to find the 198 Gallery and Learning Centre remaining true to its principles. The gallery was founded in 1988

to support emerging British artists of Caribbean heritage, whose work explores the complex issues of an emerging cultural identity. Michael McMillan, an artist and playwright of Vincentian origin, best known for his acclaimed West Indian Front Room installation, has exhibited at the 198 before (most notably w ith Body: The Beaut y Shop, which recreated a Caribbean hairdresser’s). His present offering, Rockers, Soulheads, and Lovers: Sound Systems Back in Da Day (18 March to 28 May), explores the legacy of the “blues dance,” the musical and social institution that has been an integral part of the black British experience since the Windrush era of the 1950s. Speaking at a recent day-long sound system symposium held at Goldsmiths, McMillan explained that, during the 1970s, black British music fans fell into two strictly divided camps: you had the “rockers,” devoted to roots reggae, and the “soulheads,” who listened exclusively to soul; since the former was largely male and the latter largely female, the two genres collided in lovers rock, a black British invention that allowed couples a better chance to get together on the dance floor, ultimately breaking down barriers of gender and race. At the heart of the exhibition, archive photographs of local sound systems, with their massive “house of joy” speakers, are complemented by the testimony of several practitioners, bringing back sweet memories of a bygone age, while a wall of album covers puts their playlists back into focus. It all serves to remind us of the days when Soferno B and Frontline International held regular all-nighters down the road, often in squatted premises — an era when Railton Road, and Brixton more generally, were classified as distinctly “undesirable.” Yet, even if “blues dances” are no longer regularly held on Railton Road, the success of the annual Brixton Splash proves that sound system culture still thrives in Brixton, making Rockers, Soulheads, and Lovers more celebratory than anything else. n


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the look

Let them bloom BVI designer Kristin Frazer of Trèfle creates flattering swimwear for all sizes, inspired by desert flowers

Above Swimwear from Trèfle’s previous collection, Botanical Garden, featuring Grammy awardwinning singer Chrisette Michele. Photography by Norman Allen Right Swimwear from Trèfle’s Atacama collection. Photography by Teeona Lane

For more information, visit trefledesigns.com

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inding the perfect swimsuit can sometimes be an exhausting task. Thankfully, designer Kristin Frazer of Trèfle is here to kiss our swimwear woes goodbye. Her line of curve-hugging and flattering swimwear is made for women of all sizes (two to twenty-four, to be exact). The British Virgin Islands designer believes women should always feel sexy, beautiful, and loved, and her latest collection, Atacama, proves just that. Inspired by the Atacama Desert, a place that blooms some of the most beautiful flowers despite being the driest place on earth, Frazer has created pieces using her own original fabrics. From beautiful florals to colours reminiscent of a sweet Caribbean sunset, this latest swimwear stands way above the rest, just the way she imagined. Alia Michèle Orane style.aliamichele.com

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Bookshelf The Whale House, by Sharon Millar (Peepal Tree Press, 128 pp, ISBN 9781845232498) Within an island, no matter how small, many other worlds are contained. Sharon Millar’s skill in her debut collection of short fiction, The Whale House, is to bring so many of those slumbering enclaves of particularly Trinidadian island living to the surface of her writing. Millar’s 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize-winning piece, “The Whale House”, is where the collection takes its name. It is a maritime elegy, a matrilineal exploration of loss and the secrets women keep from their partners, their families, ultimately even themselves, for the sake of preserving a salt-drenched, disturbing sense of peace. In “Brian and Miss Zanana”, a furtive herpetologist considers the precarious counterpoise he tries to keep between man and beast: “I’ve always kept the venomous snakes separated from the others. I’ve been so careful, I’ve tried so hard to keep the balance between humans and the snakes, never taking chances.”

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The narrator’s thorny conflict is a microcosm of the book’s chief concern: Millar’s stories straddle the median line between wilderness and metropolis, asking of the reader that she find a toehold in either world. In the final offering of the book, the narrator warns herself, “The forest has no time for town shenanigans like flashy planes or making the village my own exotic backdrop. The forest has an instinct for this type of behaviour, even if you hide it from yourself.” The Whale House takes no prisoners in its oceanic wake: everyone’s life, from mournful housewives to gunstrapped gangsters, is peered into; everyone’s confidences are capsised into the author’s confessional bowl. Millar unites the whole with a dazzling attention to language’s depths, suffusing her character descriptions and place evocations with a sensuous, restrained prose that feeds full-fathoms from the wild majesty of verdant ecosystems.


Congotronic, by Shane Book (University of Iowa Press, 80 pp, ISBN 9781609383077) These poems from CanadianTr i n i d a d i a n S h a n e B o o k hook the reader through the auditory canal: in Congotronic, soundscapes explode with carnivalesque echoes, scattering chords of both dissonance and harmony throughout a richly journeyed terrain. The body of historic and cultural experiences from which Book draws context for his experimental poemriffings is a collective brown and black body of suffering and resistance. From the horrific gleanings of plantation owners’ diaries, and in the reimagining of the Mali Empire’s Sundiata epic, Book traces new ways to be in the oldest significations. Delving into the proud history of rap and hip-hop culture, Book’s poems also triumph as sonic inventions, scattering rhymes on the page with fluidity and a deceptively simple grace. These are poems for both playfulness and inward navigation, built with a nomadic sensibility, yet conjuring several place-names on our shared global map.

Musical Youth, by Joanne C. Hillhouse (CaribbeanReads Publishing, 280 pp, ISBN 9780989930512) Smooth-talking Shaka finds himself instantly smitten by the secretive loner Zahara: both teens share an innate love of music that is both diverse and sustaining. They’ve both used musicianship to mask their personal griefs, but in an improbable friendship, can their united notes resound with even deeper comforts? In this young adult novel from Antiguan Joanne C. Hillhouse, second-place winner of the inaugural CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, music is both the food of love and a furnace for self-expression. Hillhouse speaks directly to young readers, but with concerns of colourism, class clashes, and society’s skewed expectations for boys and girls. There are no missteps in this tender coming-of-age romance, only an enthusiasm for love and life that reverberates triumphantly, as both Shaka and Zahara battle their demons with hope’s persistent chorus. Reviews by Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor

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playlist

Spice Island Eddie Bullen (Thunder Dome Sound) Smooth jazz is a music genre purists love to hate, but in the Caribbean it is increasingly becoming the pleasing soundtrack of resort life for fortunate travellers in search of sun, sand, and sea. So purity be damned, when there is a market for the slick and increasingly popular sound in these isles. Toronto-based Grenadian keyboardist and music producer Eddie Bullen says this album “is a musical reflection of [his] life as a teenager growing up on the ‘spice island’ of Grenada,” but it can also be listened to as a catalogue of all the smooth jazz tropes that have marked the music for either fame or disdain. Piano trills, ubiquitous programmed synths, chill vibes, funky motifs — they’re all here. Spice Island is a metaphor for an idealised Caribbean vacation. The sure-handed production values that augur well for this album to be a calling card for jazz cruises also make it a listenable treat.

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For One to Love Cécile McLorin Salvant (Mack Avenue Records) Haitian pride remains intact despite generations of miscegenation and migration. “I was not at all raised in an AfricanAmerican family culture,” says jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. “My dad is Haitian, mom is FrenchGuadeloupean, and in Miami [where she was born], on top of that, we had more of a Caribbean vibe.” Heritage and identity are touchstones for conversations among others, but the music on this third album by Salvant speaks to an all-encompassing American heritage: jazz. Depending on your perspective, this album can either challenge expectations or satisfy the soul as Salvant continues her efforts at mining the early songs of the genre to create new impressions for new audiences. Five originals balance this set of veritable unheralded standards from a bygone era, cementing this album as a new recipe for jazz singing. Recasting love songs and imbuing new meaning to a jaded lyric is Salvant’s goal. Well played.


Single Spotlight Jab to the Future The Pew Pew Pews The Pew Pew Pews is an experimental collaboration between electronic music producer Disko Pigg and artist Kit Joseph “to create a performance-based project which integrates illustrative art, music, and VJ elements at its root level.” Jab to the Future is their first single, and this pair of Trinidadians have placed into the media landscape an amalgam of disco, rapso, J’Ouvert rhythms, funk, and soul — they call it nudisco — that situates the Caribbean as a cauldron for modern EDM creativity. Working with soul singer John John, rapso artist Curious Ringo, and electronic producer and singer Kattronique, this gem harks back to a sound that was in vogue in the 1970s, yet has a production value that says, “Hello, twenty-first century, I am alive and looking at the future.” Shifting tempos easily between the rhythm of the word and the rhythm of the disco, this tune has the effect of facing insights and freeing inhibitions.

Body Talk KES featuring Chris Hierro KES (formerly Kes the Band) are musical shapeshifters who know how to adapt to changing times and circumstances. At one time a pop/rock quartet, then a popular soca band, they are now testing the waters as newly minted reggaeton hit-makers — and it sounds like they’re on the right track. On this cross-cultural collaboration with Dominican-American singer and producer Chris Hierro, KES takes the bull by the horns, and never lets go. With that pulsating rhythm that has dance floors filled in Latin America, Miami, and the Caribbean, language is no barrier for “having a time” at 130 beats per minute. Body Talk asks the proverbial question, “If I talk to you / Will you understand?” In Spanish and English, the answer is a resounding yes. Music is that universal language that drives action, and making bodies talk is the goal of this record. So far, so good. Reviews by Nigel A. Campbell

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cookup

Easter fare Illustrations by Shalini Seereeram

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hristianity — Roman Catholicism in particular — has played such a huge role in the history of the Caribbean that five centuries after Christopher Columbus claimed and christened much of the region, the religion is still followed by a majority of citizens, in one version or the other. Despite differences in ideology among the many Christian denominations — which also include Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as innumerable “small churches” (some with congregations in the thousands) with their own self-appointed pastors — Easter is the one thing they all agree on and celebrate. And, as with most occasions in the Caribbean, there’s got to be food in there somewhere. Instead of Easter bunnies, Jamaicans do Easter buns — but not the regular hot cross buns that everybody else eats at Easter weekend. No suh. The Jamaicans always have their own way of doing things. The Jamaican bun is really a spiced loaf, and you eat a slice with a local “red” cheddar cheese. In Barbados, meanwhile, fried fish is the speciality, while in Martinique, the dish of the day has got to be matoutou, a crab stew. The Easter-season eating of spiced bun and cheese has become so ingrained in Jamaica that over time it has come to be baked all year round —

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In the Caribbean, a holiday isn’t a holiday without lots to eat and drink. Elsewhere in the world, Easter means chocolate eggs and marshmallow bunnies. As Nazma Muller explains, in our islands, the menu instead features specialities like Jamaican Easter bun, Bajan-style fried flying fish, and Martinique’s spicy matoutou crab stew mainly because it’s a cheap “fast food,” and is usually the stock-in-trade for many street-side cart vendors (alongside bottles of hot Guinness and Red Stripe beer). It seems bun-and-cheese eating started as the preferred breakfast on the morning of Good Friday. The reason, according to some Jamaicans, was that no fire should be lit before noon, because the heat would add to that which Jesus felt on the cross. Many shops and bars would therefore not open until after noon on Good Friday as a mark of respect. Others would fry fish on Holy Thursday night so they wouldn’t need to cook the following day. The next day would be spent in church, and since the service would last for three hours, many in the congregation would wisely pack fried fish and the infamous hard-dough bread, along with bun and cheese, to eat during breaks. In the Barbadian calendar, Easter equals fried fish. The island that is famous for its flying fish has even created a week-long festival to celebrate the million and one ways to eat the delicacy. Thousands of locals and visitors flock to the south coast of the island for the annual Oistins Fish Festival, where you can sample freshly fried flying fish, fish cakes, seafood, and other local delights, such as guava cheese. In Martinique, however, crab is king. Families head for one of the island’s many beautiful beaches where they spend the day or the weekend camping. On Easter Monday the meal to have is matoutou crab. Crabcatching starts five weeks before Easter, so that the star of the show is properly prepped for its culinary fate with a diet of coconut, bananas, breadfruit, melon, and some chillies, to make them tastier. It’s said that this dish of spicy crab, which is served nowadays with rice, can be traced back to the Amerindians who first settled in Martinique, and made their own spicy crab matoutou, which they served with cassava.


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Crab Matoutou 10 crabs 60 ml vegetable oil 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 125 ml finely chopped shallots 2 onions, minced 500 ml long-grain rice 2 tomatoes 30 ml chopped chives 2 ½ ml hot chilli, finely chopped 1 bay leaf 30 ml minced parsley Juice of 5 limes 5 cinnamon cloves Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the garlic until golden. Drain and set aside. Sauté the shallots in the oil for a few minutes until transparent but not coloured. Add the rice and sauté the raw grains for two minutes. Add water, chives, chilli, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat to minimum. Cover the pot and cook for fifteen minutes. Add the crabs with the parsley and lime juice. Cover and cook over low heat for five minutes, or until water is completely absorbed and the crab heated through. Fluff rice.

Fried Flying Fish 10 flying fish steaks 2 limes 2 tbs salt 1 ½ cups water 3 tbs seasoning 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs 1 cup flour 3 eggs Canola oil Method: Combine the raw fish, juice of the limes and their skins, salt, and

water in a bowl. Allow to sit for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse the fish and cover in the seasoning. Place the flour in one plate, the breadcrumbs in another, and the eggs (beaten with salt and pepper) in a bowl. Pour the canola oil into a frying pan to just cover the bottom (a 1⁄8- to ¼-inch layer) and heat. Dip the fish in the flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, and finally in the oil to fry.

Jamaican Spiced Bun Makes one loaf (serves eight)

Crab-catching starts five weeks before Easter, so that the star of the show is properly prepped

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2 oz margarine 1 bottle stout ½ cup wine 1 tsp vanilla ½ tbs browning 1 tbs guava jam 1 medium egg 8 oz dark sugar 1 lb flour 1 tsp nutmeg ¼ teaspoon salt 1 tsp cinnamon powder 1 tbs baking powder 1 tbs mixed spice ¼ lb mixed peel, chopped ¼ lb raisins, soaked

Method: Melt margarine then leave to cool. Add stout, wine, vanilla, browning, guava jam, and beaten egg. Stir in the sugar and mix until all the granules are dissolved. Mix together all the dry ingredients then add the chopped mixed peel and raisins. Combine liquid mixture with dry ingredients and mix well. Scrape the batter into a greased loaf pan, 12 x 4 x 3 inches. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack. To glaze: combine two tablespoons honey with two tablespoons water and bring to a boil; remove from flame and use a pastry brush to apply it over the surface of the bun. Serve with slices of cheese.


mark lyndersay

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39 Stories of what-if 48 “We too can be creators� 59 Back in times Panorama

Own Words

Backstory

Trinidadian historian Angelo Bissessarsingh, at home among his collection of artefacts


Worth Flying For

LEATHERBACK TURTLES ARE THE LARGEST SURVIVING TURTLE SPECIES ON EARTH, REACHING AS LONG AS SIX FEET AND WEIGHING IN EXCESS OF 2000 POUNDS. THE ISLANDS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ARE THE SECOND LARGEST NESTING SITES IN THE WORLD FOR THESE MAJESTIC CREATURES AND WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN ONE OF THE MANY TOURS TO WITNESS THIS BREATHTAKING SIGHT. TURTLE WATCHING SEASON IS FROM MARCH TO AUGUST.

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StorIeS of what-If Around the world, speculative fiction — a catchall term that includes sci-fi, fantasy, and stories of the supernatural and the futuristic — is one of the most popular genres of literature. And, as Philip Sander reports, a wave of Caribbean writers are reshaping it, bringing Caribbean voices and stories to tales of faraway galaxies and exciting futures. Meet Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell, Karen Lord, and R.S.A. Garcia

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magine: a faraway planet named Toussaint, whose inhabitants are connected at birth to a virtual information network called Granny Nanny, and can travel to alternate realities. A future galaxy populated by dreadlocked spacetravellers, descended from the Antillean islanders of a lost Earth. A once-upon-a-time world where a woman fleeing her loutish husband receives a supernatural gift, a Chaos Stick, which can subtly change the course of events, and encounters the trickster god Anancy. For as long as humans have been telling and writing down stories, we’ve enjoyed such tales of the fantastic and the supernatural: of invented pasts and far-fetched futures, other worlds populated by gods and monsters and dazzling technologies. Nowadays, fans use the term “speculative fiction” to encompass genres such as science fiction, fantasy, alternative history, and retold myth, and literary works ranging from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to A Game of Thrones, Gulliver’s Travels to The Wizard of Earthsea, The Lord of the Rings to The War of the Worlds. Of course, all storytelling involves elements of speculation, but what these diverse genres have in common are plots and settings drawn not from everyday life, but from

the furthest realms of the imagination, where the boundaries between the actual and the possible are fluid. For both writers and readers of speculative fiction, the first motive is entertainment, the sheer breathless pleasure of stories of adventure and discovery. But the speculative fiction genre has also always served as a vehicle for asking big questions about human nature, our origins and purpose, our direction as a species. The alternate worlds, utopias, and dystopias created by speculative fiction writers can function as thought-experiments to help us understand our own contemporary societies, and imagine better futures. That’s especially true of the small but brilliantly inventive corps of Caribbean spec-fic writers who have emerged over the past decade and a half. Writers like those in the following pages draw on Caribbean myth, folklore, and history to create gripping stories that tackle, in both overt and subtle ways, questions about colonial and postcolonial societies, ethnic differences, gender, personal and communal self-determination, language — in other words, all the big issues of Caribbean literature. And they do this by capturing readers’ imaginations with strange and wonderful stories of what could have been, and what still could be. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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“We are wordsmiths par excellence” For many younger writers, Nalo Hopkinson made it possible to imagine a specifically Caribbean version of sci-fi, with her dazzling tales woven through with the myths and culture of her home region

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david findlay, courtesy nalo hopkinson

sked about defining influences and favourite books, all three writers interviewed in the following pages name Nalo Hopkinson as a forerunner who proved definitively that there is an essentially Caribbean version of speculative fiction, and speculative fiction is essential to the Caribbean. Born in Jamaica, into a creative and footloose family, Hopkinson grew up between that island, Trinidad, Guyana, and the US, until her family settled in Canada. Since 2011, she’s lived in California, enjoying the warmer weather. Hopkinson grew up in a literary milieu — her father’s friends included future Nobel laureate Derek Walcott — but she herself turned to writing relatively late, in her early thirties. Her first book, Brown Girl in the Ring, was published after winning a first novel award, and immediately won her a reputation as a daring new voice in both Canadian and Caribbean contemporary writing. Her fiction is dense with magic and myth, and draws deeply on Caribbean folklore and music, tackling all the trickiest and most troubling issues of the present: race, sexuality, class, the legacies of slavery, the abuse of children, violence within families and communities. Their settings range from a dystopian version of Toronto, devastated by economic collapse, to a distant planet with a magicalrealist Caribbean civilisation, to Caribbean islands of past centuries. Like the most celebrated literature of this region, Hopkinson’s books have a vision of the Caribbean grounded in the realities of our history and geography, but unbounded in their imaginative possibilities.

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Caribbean Beat: How do you define speculative fiction? Nalo Hopkinson: I generally only use the term “speculative fiction” in academic circles. Science fiction and fantasy are literatures that challenge the complacency of our received wisdoms about power, culture, experience, language, existence, social systems, systems of knowledge, and frameworks of understanding. They make us reconsider whose stories deserve to be told, whose narratives shape the future and our beliefs, and who has the “right” to make and remake the world. Is there a distinctively Caribbean kind of spec-fic? A bunch of Caribbean SF/F [science fiction/fantasy] writers will be gathering to discuss this in March at the University of California, Riverside, as part of a year of programming I’m co-organising on alternative futurisms. I suspect one of the things we’ll end up talking about is Caribbean relationships to the experience of resistance — how it’s shaped our histories and imaginations, and so how it must shape our imaginative narratives. For instance, when I watch The Lord of the Rings, I wonder what the orcs do to rebel against their forced existence as beings created to be foot soldiers and cannon fodder. We’ll probably also talk about the unique impact of place and space on the Caribbean psyche. I recently wrote a short story for Drowned Worlds, a fiction anthology on the theme of the effects of rising sea levels worldwide. For me, coming from island nations whose economies are often dependent on bringing tourists to our beaches, and which are the guardians of so much of the world’s precious biodiversity, it was particularly painful and personal to write a story about what will become of our lands. The resulting piece is angry and spooky, and combines science with duppy conqueror in ways that are uniquely Caribbean. On the panel, we might also talk about language. The multiple consciousness that Caribbean history gives us is ref lected in our code-switching, code-sliding, codetripping dancehall-rapso-dubwise approach to signifying simultaneously on multiple levels. Science fiction reaches for that in its use of neologisms. Caribbean people, like so many hybridised peoples the world over, live it. We are wordsmiths par excellence. What were the books that made you want to write in the first place? My late father Slade Hopkinson was a poet, playwright, and actor. My mother Freda Hopkinson is a library technician trained in cataloguing library materials. My brother Keita Hopkinson is a visual artist with a love of jazz. I have been extraordinarily fortunate since childhood to have been surrounded by the artists and writers of my family’s community. When I was at the Bocas Lit Fest [in Trinidad] last year, I finally saw the film of Derek Walcott’s play Dream on Monkey Mountain, in which my father and a number of his friends had starring roles. It was a trippy experience — I’m now older than my father was when he acted in Dream. I actually didn’t recognise him at first. And I was able to chat for a few minutes with Uncle Derek, who was at Bocas to be honoured for his career. Definitely Dream was an inspiration.

Books by Nalo Hopkinson Brown Girl in the Ring Midnight Robber Skin Folk The Salt Roads The New Moon’s Arms The Chaos Report from Planet Midnight Sister Mine Falling in Love with Hominids

I’ve also read classic science fiction and fantasy, including the inimitable Ray Bradbury, New Wave writers such as Michael Moorcock, and authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin (feminist), Samuel R. Delany (black, gay), and Octavia Butler (black, feminist). I was a Star Trek fan from the beginning. Too, I’ve been inspired by negative examples: the mockery of Caribbeanness epitomised by characters such as Jar-Jar Binks in the Star Wars films, and that lobster or whatever he is from The Little Mermaid. What’s the particular value of spec-fic to Caribbean readers or Caribbean realities? We see and hear ourselves reflected in ours and the world’s eyes. Too often, we’re told that the Caribbean’s only purpose is to entertain, and that we can aspire to nothing more, that we are incapable of innovation. We know better, and these stories proclaim it so. What’s your current or next writing project? I’m still working on Blackheart Man, an alternative history fa ntasy set in t he six teent h- a nd eighteent h- cent u r y Caribbean, on an island of Maroons who magically fought off their colonisers and were able to develop in peace for two hundred years. Yes, there are echoes of Palmares in Brazil, but I’m trying to imagine a nation like that having never been conquered. I’m also riffing on the griot and on how we retain or recover lost knowledge. Is there anything you’d like your Caribbean readers to know about you that they probably don’t? I’m an amateur fabric designer. No formal training — it’s something I do for fun. You can see my print-on-demand designs at spoonflower.com, where my designer name is nalo_ hopkinson.

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“It’s the literature of daydreams” For Grenada-born Tobias Buckell, speculative fiction is a place to imagine what might be — and explore histories that already have been

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marlon james, courtesy tobias buckell

orn in Grenada, growing up in the US Virgin Islands (where he was a schoolmate of writer Tiphanie Yanique), living for much of his childhood on a boat, Tobias Buckell had an upbringing both restless and rooted in the islands of the Antilles. Years later, as a budding spec-fic writer living in the United States, he experimented with adding details of Caribbean landscapes and culture into otherwise “vanilla” stories, as he puts it. And when he began imagining his first novel, Crystal Rain, he realised the ideas that most inspired him came directly from his Caribbean background. “I felt that Caribbean people had a place in the future,” he writes, “and that if humanity were to populate the stars, Caribbean people would migrate into that great diaspora.” In Buckell’s Xenowealth series, he imagines a distant future in which the human race, descended from hybrid, multiracial islanders, inhabit a galaxy dominated by an alien imperial power. The trilogy fulfils all the expectations of an ambitious space epic, but also works as a clever allegory about resistance to oppression, the struggle for autonomy, and the strength of a creole culture drawing on many heritages.

Caribbean Beat: How do you define speculative fiction, in a sentence? Tobias Buckell: It’s the literature of “what if” and daydreams — something that allows us to speculate about what could be. What is it that makes Caribbean speculative fiction distinct? We’ve all had this experience of the Caribbean. It’s like the Jamaican national motto — a sort of “out of many come one” situation. Each of us has come from a different island that has a different history, but when we get together and talk, there are all these commonalities. The island experience, concerns of dialect, concerns about deep history, about place in the world, diaspora, empire, post-empire — those themes weave in and out of our work together. And yet the group is very Caribbean in that it’s such a distinct mix of different people. That’s what makes the 42

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Caribbean fascinating — it’s not just one thing. My ideal reader is someone who enjoys Star Wars and lives in the Caribbean. What were the books that made you want to write in the first place? When I was very young I stumbled across one of those seminal science fiction books, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End — a bigideas book about whether humanity would ever get into space and how long the species would exist. As a really young kid, it just blew my mind, and I started seeking out more stuff like that. And growing up in the Caribbean, there’s a really strong tradition of folk tales, duppy stories, myths, Anancy stories. For me, the idea of being open to fantastic literature was pretty easy, when you’re a kid who grows up with Carnival and talk of moko jumbie all around you.


What’s your next writing project? I’m oddly between projects, and it’s both terrifying and refreshing. But I just finished doing a collection that pulls together all those short stories related to my novels in the Xenowealth series. It’s a very space opera, Star Wars-seeming set of stories, but linked to issues of postcolonial identity or politics. And what’s the big book you haven’t written yet, but hope to in the future? I would like to write a big science fiction allegory of the process of colonisation. The Xenowealth novels were about trying to throw the mantles off and navigate a postcolonial world. One of the things I’ve always wanted to convey is the oppressive weight of colonialism and the damages it makes to a society, by taking Earth in the near future and giving us an alien invasion that would be on the level of what happened [to the first peoples of the Caribbean]. I want to convey what that experience does and has done to people, in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done. I’ve been taking notes for probably ten years on how to do it.

Books by Tobias Buckell The Xenowealth trilogy: Crystal Rain Ragamuffin Sly Mongoose Xenowealth: A Collection Halo: The Cole Protocol Arctic Rising The Apocalypse Ocean Hurricane Fever

How is speculative fiction specifically relevant to the Caribbean? We have to have a literature that envisions ourselves in the future. If we don’t have that, then we force ourselves to live only in the present. There’s nothing wrong with the present, but we have to have something we’re working towards, or that we’re warning ourselves away from. That’s what science fiction can serve as.

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“The fantastic creeps in�

marlon james, courtesy karen lord

An avid reader long before she was a writer, Barbadian Karen Lord perceives elements of the supernatural in everyday Caribbean life

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efore she started writing her first book, Karen Lord had already earned degrees in physics (in Canada) and the sociology of religion (in the UK), and worked as a teacher, officer cadet, and in the foreign service — a sweep of knowledge and experience that’s enriched her three novels, ranging over space and time. And her “day job,” as a research consultant specialising in the social sciences, surely helps ground her fiction in the very real concerns of her home, Barbados, and the wider Caribbean. Lord’s debut, Redemption in Indigo (which won Barbados’s Frank Collymore Literary Award), was inspired by West African and Caribbean folktales and lore. A contemporary take on traditional fairy tales, featuring djombi spirits and a familiar spider god, Redemption meditates on fate and free will, and above all on the power of storytelling to change the world. No less a reader than Nalo Hopkinson called it “the impish love child of [Amos] Tutuola and [Gabriel García] Márquez.” The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game, on the other hand, venture to far reaches of space, where an interplanetary clash of civilisations generates alliances and discords between individuals and whole cultures.

Caribbean Beat: What is speculative fiction? Karen Lord: It’s a kind of fiction that takes the unreal, takes what cannot exist as yet or has not existed in the past, and uses it as a way of imagining or re-imagining what is real. What’s distinctive about Caribbean spec-fic? I feel I could spend ten years researching that question, and have several different answers for you. We don’t have quite the same separations as other places do in our literature. In the Caribbean, we’re already accustomed in our literature to put in speculative elements. One might even say in our lives we’re accustomed to speculative elements — the way we engage with our dreams, with our ancestors. It gives Caribbean speculative fiction that special flavour. But it also gives Caribbean literature that special flavour. It becomes a very blurred question, or blurred answer. What are some of the classic Caribbean books you detect these speculative elements in? Recently, re-reading [George Lamming’s 1953 novel] In the Castle of My Skin, I was surprised to find how much it had the fantastical wrapped up in it. It kept its boundaries — it was within a dream, and so on — but there was something about the very day-to-day life that had such a broader sense of thinking and philosophy even in the smallest schoolboy. When they’re trying to imagine things they haven’t seen, in countries they haven’t been to, an element of the fantastic creeps in. Where Caribbean literature is strong is in the mythic, and that whole sense of having a connection to both the natural and the historical environment in ways that will pass the usual boundaries of realism. We’ve already got a tenuous grasp on

Books by Karen Lord Redemption in Indigo The Best of All Possible Worlds The Galaxy Game

which way time is going, so it completely makes sense to write that in, whether or not you have a science fiction background or are claiming to do science fiction. How useful is the speculative fiction genre label to you as a writer? It’s useful as long as we use it and don’t allow it to limit us. [Genres] are just tools. What were the books that made you want to write? It’s hard for me to answer that, because I’ve always, always, always loved reading. From the very beginning it was always me in a book, far more so than television or movies. And what were the books that inspired you, or gave you a sense of what was possible, when you were writing your first novel? A lot of folktales, a lot of books that were based on myth and legend. Everybody knows C.S. Lewis for Narnia, but his book Till We Have Faces, which is a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth, is the book I think is his best. But there are some days when no writer on earth can satisfy me. What’s your next book? I have actually finished the sequel to Redemption in Indigo. I started writing that sequel before Redemption was even published. It was to answer some questions I thought Redemption left unanswered. It’s in the hands of my agent now, and I hope it will find its way into the hands of an audience very soon. What I’m working on right now is a short story about Barbados fifty years from now. I have a plot. I’m just thinking to myself, this is fascinating, knowing what I know about the technology, about society, and various economic pressures. It’s not a question of can we expect major change in fifty years, it’s a question of how fast you want it to be. Why is speculative fiction important to the Caribbean? If you dare to say your region doesn’t have it’s own science fiction, what you’re really saying is that your region doesn’t have a future you can see. In order for us to be able to imagine the future, we have to be able to write our own science fiction. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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“We’re still finding that voice” For Trinidadian writer R.S.A. Garcia, the Caribbean has a unique perspective on the world’s big questions

W courtesy R.S.A. Garcia

hen R.S.A. (a.k.a. Rhonda) Garcia’s first novel appeared in 2015, it seemed to readers to come out of nowhere. But it was the result of a long apprenticeship in writing, going back to childhood — Garcia remembers writing a collection of fairytales at the age of ten, and as a teenager she experimented with several genres. Then she encountered Nalo Hopkinson’s novel Midnight Robber, and the direction of Garcia’s literary career was set. Her book Lex Talionis is a sci-fi thriller, populated by alien races but telling an all-too human story of violence. A mysterious woman survives a brutal assault, but the motives for this attack, and the details of her past life, are lost to amnesia. The quest to recover her memory and solve the crime of which she was victim only makes it clear she’s still in danger, in a game with high political and technological stakes. The novel is a densely plotted and searing exploration of gender and the politics of violence that reflects the social concerns of the twenty-first-century Caribbean.

How do you define speculative fiction as you write it? My definition also includes what I like to read. I look at speculative fiction as the study of humanity in extraordinary circumstances. You’re thinking about possibilities, and how they impact on us and our world. I get a lot of fun out of that, thinking about where we’re going, why we’re going there, what we’ll end up like. Is there a distinctly Caribbean voice in spec-fic? I think we’re still finding that voice, which is really exciting. What we have in common is a cultural perspective that deals with the outsider, with a certain amount of loss and a certain amount of not being sure where you fit in. But I think we don’t have a voice as a whole yet, and I think that’s wonderful. Right now we’re seeing so many different kinds and versions of what a Caribbean viewpoint is, but we have in common a sense of being small people doing great things, and our outsider perspective gives us a completely different angle to the usual global take on things. Who were the writers that inspired you to start writing yourself? Wow, look at that list. The truth is, I don’t stop getting inspired. There’s so much new stuff out there that makes me jealous and makes me want to be a better artist, a better craftsman. When I was growing up, I was influenced a lot by epic fantasy, like the Chronicles of Narnia, and a lot of British writers, like Alan Garner [author of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen] and John Wyndham. I always had a deep and abiding interest in anything 46

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that had to do with science fiction, or horror, or fantasy. I’m also a huge, huge, huge fan of Stephen King. And I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer — I think that was the thing that awakened in me the idea of long [story] arcs and how multiple stories could be told over an arc. But Nalo Hopkinson is special to me — reading her was the first time I realised Caribbean writers could in fact write speculative fiction. And not just do it, but do it as well as anybody else. I found Midnight Robber in my school library, and I borrowed it over and over again just to keep other people off of it. The librarian said, you have to give it up now, other people have to read it. And I said, I’m the only person who wants to read it, it’s mine! That book just set me on fire. Before that, I thought you’d have to pretend to be white to get anywhere as a sci-fi writer. What are you writing now? Two books: the sequel to Lex Talionis, and another work in progress that for the moment I’m calling “The Night Ward”. That’s more recognisably inspired by Caribbean folklore and mythology and our mixed cultural background. It’s something I kept close to my chest for a long time. It’s a story of a young girl trying to find safety in a world where she’s no longer safe. And I hope to introduce that world to you as she travels. I wanted to look at certain aspects of society — gender, the maternal society that I think the Caribbean really is at its core. Even though on the surface it’s a patriarchy, underneath all things are run by mothers and grandmothers. n


Own words

“We too can be creators” Barbadian Troy Weekes, aeronautical engineer, UX designer, and entrepreneur, on his passion for analysing complex systems, “disrupting” education, and how Caribbean people should engage with the digital world — as told to Tracy Assing Photography courtesy Troy Weekes

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s a young man growing up in St Philip, which is the southeastern side of Barbados, most evenings I would sit down on the verandah and watch the aircraft take off from Grantley Adams International Airport. I could even see the airport from the pasture where I sometimes flew paper kites and paper jets that I would make. I had a kind of fascination with aeronautics. I was introduced to the light airplane club in Barbados through an elder that I esteem very much, Mr Charles Larrier. He was a certified aeronautical engineer, and I would go on the airfield and work on the aircraft with him, doing corrosion tests and fixing little things on the frame. That interaction and that involvement in aeronautics from that age — I would have been fourteen or fifteen — led to me deciding to have a career in aviation. I didn’t want to be a commercial pilot. That was never one of my ambitions. What I wanted was to be able to fly myself around the Caribbean, so that I could go to work — because I never had the intention to work only in Barbados. So I pursued becoming a pilot. But eventually I came to studying human factors. I was led by my fascination with the relationship between the human mind and the engineering of systems. I developed a passion for something called engineering psychology, which really deals with how to design and develop systems that would take into consideration human capabilities and

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limitations, both physiological and psychological. T hat, w rapped all together, def ines how I transitioned from little boy throwing around paper in the sky into what I am now. At university, I worked with a number of pilots, who often complained about the complexity of their work environment, namely the inside of aircraft cockpits. Trying to simplify that interaction between pilots and their operating environment led me to analyse in a scientific manner how to connect a user to their system through an interface. “UX” stands for user experience, and a UX designer would look at a particular interaction that a customer or worker, some person, is having with either another person or a system. Usually it is a system of some sort. A UX designer would analyse that interaction and more than likely try to simplify what the user is trying to accomplish with the system or the other person. So it’s more or less to look at what’s involved — the pinging points — as well as the objectives of that person, and try to facilitate achieving that objective. The core of what I do happens to be analysis of problems and strategic decision-making — whether that’s in the management or whether that’s in the development, it really comes down to me weighing a number of alternatives and using scientific methods to make decisions. My interest also grew into the web world, and I sought the application of simplifying user interfaces and applying them in the field of education.

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arbados is known for its education system, and I thought I could somehow contribute to keeping Barbados ahead of the game. EZ Learner is an online learning platform I developed along with my team, initially a Barbadian team, communications experts and a wide array of photographers.


“Sometimes you have to look for an opportunity to change the way things happen — as we would say in the tech world, to disrupt something”

Sometimes you have to look for an opportunity to change the way things happen — as we would say in the tech world, to disrupt something. We sought to disrupt education by creating a social network platform that would be filled with our content. In the early stages, this was something that was being done in North America, Europe, etc., but not really in the Caribbean space. We researched the factors and drivers for those international markets and we decided to start our own platform here. It is unique in terms of being capable of shifting the mindset of our children to become producers of their own knowledge, as opposed to being just passive consumers when they go in the classroom. Give them responsibility for their own learning. That was a paradigm shift in terms of how education is generally perceived in the Caribbean. We come from a background of rote learning and simply listening to the teacher. Now, we’re actually giving the students that responsibility to, in essence, teach each other. Peer-to-peer social engagement, these kinds of activities that we see emerge with the digital technologies, we’ve embedded all those into the learning environment — and more critically, our aim is to make you learn faster. We intend to have twelveyear-olds who are ready to do their bachelor’s degree, their master’s degree, and have the requisite assessments to show that they’re ready.

When we look at cultural artefacts in general, we realise that in the Caribbean we have retained a mixture of different backgrounds from which we’ve emerged. In my opinion, even though those interfaces would not have been digital and the assets would not have been digital, the cultural artefacts demonstrate that we had an understanding of how to encode purpose into different systems. Even if we look at art we can see there was a way to communicate. It creates an opportunity for Caribbean people to look at the digital world in a similar way to how we look at cultural aesthetics and translate our creativity and our imagination, how we represent things. Even how we sound and associate certain sounds with certain actions — all of those are very powerful cues, tools in the user interface world. So there is an opportunity for us to put a spin on it. Another thing that needs to shift, in my opinion, is the way we perceive work. I can work in different countries from right here in the Caribbean. The digital world has allowed me to do that seamlessly. I can also be paid for the work I do elsewhere from right here in the Caribbean. Even in terms of how we look at jobs — that needs to shift. We don’t necessarily have to think about, Oh, I need to get a career in x. Nowadays, I think we should be thinking more multidimensionally, so that we have multiple streams of income, as well as to develop a more sustainable self. You have to be able to survive and to be flexible when immersed in different places. I think young people need to shift their thinking from the previous kind of unconnected world, and think more globally. In so doing, we must be very wary not to be perpetual consumers of content, of apps, of creations from elsewhere. We need to realise that we too can be creators, and focus on putting our blend, our essence, our flavour into these things that we use. n WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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BACKSTORY

Back in times When Angelo Bissessarsingh’s Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago appeared online in 2008, the enthusiasm of ordinary readers for his artefacts and history anecdotes was overwhelming. The young collector’s obsession with the past began in childhood, writes Judy Raymond, and his sheer passion has helped reignite a public interest in T&T’s history Photography by Mark Lyndersay

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e got excited about the drainpipes!” said the astonished reporter. She’d been assigned to write a profile of Angelo Bissessarsingh to introduce him to Trinidad Guardian readers in early 2012, when he began his weekly historical column in the paper. As a suitable backdrop for an author photo, the photographer chose an old building, the nineteenth-century Old Fire Station in central Port of Spain, and Bissessarsingh was thrilled by its drainpipes — because they were the original ones. If you’ve met — or read — him already, you won’t be surprised that the ebullient, chatty Bissessarsingh was enthralled by guttering. Bridget Brereton, professor emerita of history at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, describes him as “a man with a mission to convey his own passion for — and deep knowledge of — his country’s history to the whole world.”

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He’s been that way since he was a small boy, when he began collecting historical artefacts. Born in San Fernando, south Trinidad, in September 1982, Bissessarsingh is the eldest of three, brought up in a home “filled with old books and all sorts of interesting knickknacks that all told a story,” he recalls. “All my relatives always had time to answer questions, and never said ‘Doh bodder mih . . . yuh arksin too much question.’” His aunt, Professor Ann Marie Bissessar, “always jokes,” he says, “that as a child, when other kids wanted to be taken to the mall, I wanted to go to a cemetery and read gravestones.” The family would also visit a relative on the south-coast beachfront in Los Iros, where young Angelo found potsherds and other


Angelo Bissessarsingh at home, surrounded by his library and collection of artifacts

relics in a small Amerindian midden. (Amerindians inhabited parts of Trinidad until after it was colonised by Spain, and later Britain, from the end of the fifteenth century.) Bissessarsingh’s own family, as his surname suggests, is mostly Indian. But his light-coloured eyes and sandy beard give away other ethnic origins. Naturally, he’s researched his own genealogy: “I have information on my ancestry going back at least ten generations, to Benares.” His great-great-grandfather Thomas Bissessarsingh was the first to arrive, in 1867, buying a cocoa and sugar estate in Rousillac, south Trinidad. His son Emmanuel, also a cocoa proprietor, and an interpreter of Hindi, Spanish, and French,

married Edith, “a mixed woman of Irish and French Creole ancestry.” One of their six sons, an artist and sculptor, married the daughter of a schoolmaster and a white Vincentian Anglican missionary — they were Bissessarsingh’s grandparents. His father Rudolph is a teacher and artist, married to Carmen, daughter of a cane farmer. Bissessarsingh’s brother and sister are both teachers, and he also obviously has not only a creative but also a didactic streak. But he studied not history but agribusiness at UWI, thinking it a more practical choice. After that, he worked in public relations at T&T’s Ministry of Local Government, then in 2009 joined its disaster-management unit in Siparia, where he was “very happy.” WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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eanwhile, history was taking over his life. Bissessarsingh’s collection had become “wide and varied, ranging from some sixteenth-century trade beads to a Meerschaum tobacco pipe . . . After a while,” he says, “I stopped looking for stuff, because word got around and it started finding me.” He had also been reading local history for years. Two books that had a major impact were a photo album of nineteenthcentury Trinidad by Gérard Besson, and The Years of Revolt, by Fr Anthony de Verteuil. “They were given to me at age ten by my aunt [Bissessar]. My West Indian library [alone] is now over four hundred volumes.” These early influences explain Bissessarsingh’s own approach when, at age twenty, he started writing history himself: “short narratives . . . which I shared with a few friends and advisers, who encouraged me to keep writing.” Besson’s influence shows in Bissessarsingh’s colloquial — and often, influenced by nineteenth-century sources, florid — style, and his eagerness to entertain as well as inform. He too tells tall stories. For instance, there’s the one about a vagrant living in the tomb of early-twentieth-century tycoon William Gordon Gordon at Lapeyrouse Cemetery in Port of Spain: the

vagrant, Bissessarsingh claims, orders pizza by cellphone from the pizzeria opposite, then collects it over the cemetery wall. Thanks to de Verteuil, whom he venerates, Bissessarsingh’s work chimes with what Bridget Brereton has called the French Creole school of history. So, telling how one of Columbus’s lost anchors reappeared, centuries after he passed by Trinidad in 1498, Bissessarsingh praises him as “the Great Discoverer” — not a popular view in this day and age. His writings about the deeds of the colonial ruling class or the buildings they constructed can betray a nostalgia for the grander ways of what he would call “yesteryear”: nineteenth-century royal visits to Trinidad, the San Fernando Regatta, the armies of vendors and domestic staff who serviced the mansions of the planter class. Professor Brinsley Samaroo, whom Bissessarsingh names as his mentor, notes this nostalgia, as well as “a constant regret that there is no maintenance of the physical or spiritual memories of what should be a prideful heritage.” The other influences Bissessarsingh acknowledges among “authors who dared to show . . . that we are a people with a past” include Brereton and writer Michael Anthony. He’s also grateful to the late Peter Harris, “the godfather of local archaeology . . . what I learned from him can never be fathomed.” Hence he has personal anecdotes, too, about finding a midden marking the site of Governor Lord Harris’s hunting lodge on Mt Tamana, east Trinidad; coming across crumbling estate houses lost in the bush; and spotting flints and carvings made by the First Peoples who lived here for millennia.

Around 2008, Bissessarsingh realised his collection of photos and texts was an archive in itself — and that through Facebook he could “share these treasures and network with people of like interests”

An 1804 embroidered sampler from Barbados, from Bissessarsingh’s collection

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Angelo Bissessarsingh’s aunt “always jokes,” he says, “that as a child, when other kids wanted to be taken to the mall, I wanted to go to a cemetery and read gravestones” The cover of Bissessarsingh’s second book, published in February 2016

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issessarsingh really began writing history in 2006, when novelist Lawrence Scott and Professor Kenneth Ramchand of the University of Trinidad and Tobago asked him to help research and write the story of a small cane village in the Naparimas. That became the UTT-produced book Golconda: Our Voices, Our Lives (2009), and in turn encouraged Bissessarsingh to strike out on his own — after being rejected for a job at the moribund and resource-starved national museum. Instead, around 2008 Bissessarsingh realised his collection of photos and texts was an archive in itself — and that through Facebook he could “share these treasures and network with people of like interests.” So he set up a page called the Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago (it was hacked in November 2015, but he’s building a new version). Because his “museum” was online, it was instantly accessible: readers didn’t have to go to a library or track down a book to read these bite-sized vignettes about a single topic, personality, or event — the introduction of pipeborne water to Trinidad, or the story of the first local man killed by a motor car. And because it was interactive, they could post their own pictures and ask questions or comment. The response, says Bissessarsingh, “was overwhelming . . . I was disillusioned by the callousness Trinis show for their history, and the great feedback VMOTT received certainly restored my faith in people. I had no idea so many folks were avidly interested in history.” For him, within the Caribbean region, Trinidad’s history, with its rich mixture of cultures and ethnicities, is “infinitely more fascinating . . . The fusion of so many collective pasts in Trinidad sets it apart from the rest.” But history and its conservation have been neglected in T&T for decades. “The anti-colonial national mentality that emerged post-1962 [the year of independence] immediately rubbished anything before that date,” Bissessarsingh concludes. But over fifty years later, “We can no longer blame ‘massa’ for our problems . . . perhaps it

is time to rediscover our colonial past.” A great deal of local history has been and is still being lost through official and public indifference. But Bissessarsingh can take credit for much of the current resurgence of interest. As well as running the Virtual Museum, he’s visited schools and produced two books, self-publishing the first, Walking with the Ancestors: The Historic Cemeteries of Trinidad, in 2014. He says documenting old cemeteries has been a lifetime’s work, describing them as “repositories of history and archives unto themselves” — while admitting that, thanks to the subject matter, it was “a morbid undertaking,” which he tried to make more attractive by focusing on the people and stories they contained. The book sold well and is being reprinted. Brereton agrees, describing it as “marvellous.” “His great strength is the way he searches out the human story behind the event,” she says, “the way he gives us the quirky or unexpected aspects of the past.” Bissessarsingh’s second book, A Walk Back in Time: Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago, published in February, is largely a collection of his newspaper columns. Of all he’s done, the columns are Bissessarsingh’s proudest accomplishment. “Not a day goes by that I don’t meet a fan of the articles of every age and background,” he says. “I feel blessed to have done a bit to help make people aware that we have a rich and storied past.”

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is column has continued weekly, despite a major challenge Bissessarsingh has faced for the past year. In January 2015, he was scheduled for gastric bypass surgery, but it was halted when the surgeon found his liver was inflamed. An oncologist diagnosed Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Bissessarsingh had possibly only two months to live. In the event, after aggressive chemotherapy, “I am still here in reasonably good nick, eleven months later,” he says. Still, the cancer is inoperable; barring new drugs or a miracle, Bissessarsingh has at most a couple of years left. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Christmas tin from 1914, sent to British soldiers at the front during the First World War

Facing his terminal diagnosis with exemplary courage and characteristic humour, he talks openly about it. He broke the news to his online fans a week after his diagnosis, to explain why he needed to cut back his activities and would be offline during chemotherapy. He was, he says, “overwhelmed by the love, support, and kind wishes of the fans and many good friends [who] have rallied around me to ensure that I finish as much of my life’s work as possible.” He’s been too ill to go out to work, but has made full use of this time, “still writing history vigorously.” He’s almost completed a sequel to his second book, and has branched out in other directions: he’s finished a draft of a series of linked short stories based on local folklore, inspired by V.S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street, and has written a play “which tells the linked stories of some vivid characters in 1920s Port of Spain.” “So,” he concludes, “I have some work to occupy me for a bit.” Of his physical archive, Bissessarsingh says matter-of-factly that he’s leaving it to his aunt, “with instructions on its division to a couple institutions where I believe they will be preserved.” His own favourite objects from it aren’t necessarily the most valuable — such as two antique linen samplers from Barbados,

embroidered by two sisters in 1804. They’re very rare (cloth does not weather a tropical climate well), and he treasures them for their “poignant and simple” execution, and as a link with an extinct past. Another, which he wrote about in his second book, is “my 1914 World War One Christmas tin, which was a gift from a British princess to soldiers . . . It must have meant the world to a warrior in a muddy ditch to get this little box with some candy and tobacco in it.” As for his intangible legacy, in October 2015 he received a special award from the NGO C it i zen s for Con ser vat ion for raising awareness of the importance of preserving local h istor y. Br insley Sa ma roo describes him and his passion for “finding out more and more about the exciting, diverse origins of his native land” as remarkable. B r i d g e t B r e r e t o n , t o o, stressing Bissessarsingh’s enthusiasm and ability to communicate that love, shares the heartfelt wish of the thousands of followers of Bissessarsingh’s Virtual Museum of Trinidad and Tobago and his other fans. “He’s making a huge contribution to researching and, above all, sharing the country’s historical legacies,” she comments. “Long may he continue to do so.” n

For Bissessarsingh, within the Caribbean region, Trinidad’s history, with its rich mixture of cultures and ethnicities, is “infinitely more fascinating . . . The fusion of so many collective pasts in Trinidad sets it apart from the rest”

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ARRIVE

56 Wild as the wind 62 “Floating, the hills 65 Nassau, the Bahamas clear in their distances” Offtrack

Favourite

Neighbourhood

A duck spreads its wings at the Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust


Offtrack

Wild as the wind

stacey williams

For fifty years, Trinidad’s Pointe-à -Pierre Wildfowl Trust has been a strange anomaly: a lush protected reserve for indigenous waterfowl, set in the middle of a massive oil refinery. Visiting this oasis of lakes and trees, home to endangered bird species, Andre Bagoo discovers there are ways for industry and nature to coexist

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Ducks at their ease, enjoying the tranquillity of the Pointe-Ă Pierre Wildfowl Trust

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othing here is as it seems. Lotus flowers and water hyacinths sit serenely on the water, but they belie large roots that absorb, entrap, and strangle below. The lake looks perfect for a dip, but large caimans swim in it. Their purpose is to eat the ducks: to teach them the lesson that the world, outside the Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, is a savage place. The very Trust is an aberration: what you see cannot be believed. A thirty-six-hectare oasis of nature sits in the middle of a flaming oil refinery complex at the heart of Trinidad’s industrial belt. How could something so beautiful have sprung up here? But the Wildfowl Trust did not spring up overnight. Established in 1966, it is the careful and considered result of five decades of tireless work by a non-profit organisation working for the preservation of the natural environment through education and protection of endangered species. About nineteen thousand people visit annually. “The Trust’s objectives are equally

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relevant today as they were fifty years ago,” says Molly Gaskin, president of the Trust for the last thirty years. Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2016, the Pointe-àPierre Wildfowl Trust is a repository for special flora and fauna. It is involved in the captive breeding of endangered waterfowl and other wetland birds for release into natural wildlife areas. Eighty-six species of bird have been recorded here, many of which breed naturally in its forest and lake areas. Viewed from high above, forty different tree species seem to clump together into a dense canopy of rainforest. Explore beneath the trees, though, and you will discover a carefully planned network of paths (with names like Devil’s Ear Trail, Fairy Woods Trail, and Forest Walk), and several large reservoirs which serve as breeding lakes, with pumps and artificial waterfalls. Within a few minutes of your arrival, the birds make themselves known: a parade of whistling tree ducks, kiskadees, purple gallinules, scarlet ibises (which begin their lives as black hatchlings), blue and gold macaws, wild muscovy ducks, green


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The Trust’s breeding lakes are its most striking features Right One of the forest trails winding through the Trust’s thirty-six hectares

herons, yellow-hooded blackbirds, neotropic cormorants, parakeets, pied water tyrants, cardinals, and ringed kingfishers. If you are lucky you may come across a black skimmer, a grey hawk, or an incredibly creepy snakebird (or anhinga), which swims partially underwater, and is easily mistaken for a water snake. The snakebird feeds on fish, frogs, and baby caimans, and has a habit of flinging its helpless prey around until the meal can be gulped headfirst. After hunting, the bird perches on a branch in the sun to dry off, spreading its black wings, a cocky warrior as slick as an oil spill. Many of the birds here are endangered. The Trinidad canary (or yellow warbler), prized as a caged bird, is now threatened in the wild. It is saffron-coloured and sings two different songs, each sweet and piercing. The fulvous whistling tree duck has been over-hunted. It nests over water, normally in pairs, though sometimes also in colonies. Pair bonds are strong. When one half of the couple dies, the other remains single for the rest of its life. The Trust has re-introduced hundreds into the wild. Another

A thirty-six-hectare oasis of nature sits in the middle of a flaming oil refinery complex. How could something so beautiful have sprung up here? type of tree duck, the white-faced whistling duck, cannot tolerate disturbance of its breeding grounds. It makes loud calls to its partner, and in the weeks between November and January becomes flightless, literally a sitting duck for predators. This bird was extirpated locally long before Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence, but today f lourishes within the protected confines of the Trust, which is a kind of ecological time capsule. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Lotuses growing in the breeding lake

lambouyant trees line the main breeding lake, their brilliant red blossoms reflected in the water’s surface. Nearby, pink pouis scatter flowers like confetti onto the lily-covered water. The crepe myrtle tree, also known as king of flowers, blooms in the wet season and the dry season. Its pink, mauve, and white flowers are soft beauties, but the tree is valued for its hard, durable timber and medicinal uses. Shade trees are planted all over, attracting slender hummingbirds. In the lakes live turtles, freshwater sardines, guabine (wild guppies), pacu — and, yes, hungry-looking caimans. “We want them here so the ducks will learn who their predators are,” says one Trust tour guide. Meanwhile, a learning centre — for human visitors — houses a museum about Trinidad’s indigenous Amerindians, who settled on this land long before there were oil refineries. It also contains a unique collection of molluscs from around Trinidad and Tobago’s waters. Elsewhere, there are quiet picnic and bird-watching areas. You can explore on your own, or take a guided tour. Both require reservations. In this golden anniversary year, a series of special activities — including exhibitions and competitions for

On the wing World-famous among serious birdwatchers, Trinidad and Tobago’s strategic location where the Antillean island chain meets South America, and its varied habitats, are responsible for its diverse birdlife. More than 450 bird species have been recorded in the islands. Here are some of the best places to encounter this feathered bounty, in addition to the Pointe-àPierre Wildfowl Trust Asa Wright Nature Centre At the head of the Arima Valley, this former cocoa estate is now run as a nature reserve and research station. Its 270 acres include the world’s most accessible colony of nocturnal oilbirds, plus leks — mating grounds — of the white-bearded and golden-headed manakins, which engage in an elaborate dance to attract mates. Dozens of species can be seen without even leaving the main house, whose broad verandah attracts countless hummingbirds and honeycreepers. Caroni Bird Sanctuary On the southern outskirts of Port of Spain, the Caroni Swamp — Trinidad’s second-largest wetland area — is famously home to the scarlet ibis, the national bird, plus more than 180 other species. This expanse of mangrove forest, mudflats, and tidal lagoons is bisected by numerous channels, which allow guided boat tours to take visitors into the heart of nature. Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary Trinidad is often called the Land of the Hummingbird — and with seventeen species of the tiny, brilliantly coloured birds, you can understand why. Thirteen of those species have been recorded in the grounds of this small bird sanctuary, run by Gloria and Theo Ferguson in the St Joseph Valley. What was once their private garden, lush with plant species chosen to attract the nectar-loving birds, is now

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open to visitors, likely to see literally hundreds of them on each tour. Little Tobago Off Tobago’s north-east coast, this small islet — barely 0.4 square miles — is home to important nesting colonies of red-billed and white-tailed tropicbirds, plus frigatebirds, terns, and boobies, among other seabirds. Visiting requires a short sea trip from Speyside, ideally in a glass-bottomed boat, for a view of the coral reefs under the waves.

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Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary

Asa Wright Nature Centre

Caroni Bird Sanctuary TRINIDAD

Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust

Little Tobago


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A purple gallinule, one of the Wildfowl Trust’s more colourful inhabitants

In the lakes live turtles, freshwater sardines, guabine, pacu — and, yes, hungry-looking caimans. “We want them here so the ducks will learn who their predators are” students — is in the works. The anniversary programme kicked off with a visit by Baroness Scotland, newly elected secretarygeneral of the Commonwealth, last December. It’s all part of the mission to educate the public about the value of natural landscapes and species diversity. “There has been a tremendous loss of wetland habitats due to inappropriate landuse practices and so-called development,” says Gaskin. “Species have disappeared due to overhunting. Can you imagine that waterfowl are currently legally hunted before the young birds are fully adult?” For her, the Trust — whose motto is “To know is to love, to love is to preserve” — has a key role in raising awareness of environmental issues. Since the 1980s, it has been focusing attention on climate change, a matter which engaged the attention

of world leaders at the Paris climate summit last December. “Given the reality of climate change, global warming, and sea-level rise for our island states in the Caribbean, we play a pivotal role through environmental education and public awareness,” Gaskin says. “This continues to be incredibly valuable. If you can educate people on the value of what is being done, you can encourage change. Everything we do is for the future generations.” The Trust, said to be the only conservation area of its kind located within an oil refinery, also demonstrates how an industrial economy like T&T’s can preserve spaces for nature. “The uniqueness of the Trust’s location within a major petrochemical and oil-refining complex is a powerful statement of mutual respect,” Gaskin explains. “It is an example to the rest of the world that industry and business and a bona fide environmental NGO with integrity can, with cooperation, understanding, and awareness of mutual values, work together.” “On our tours, we pay special attention to the lotus flower, which is a favourite of mine,” Gaskin says. “It has to grow in muddy water. But out of that comes an entirely edible plant, and the flower is beautiful. We always tell people who visit and who may be in difficulties to look at this plant. It is something that rises out of mud. But it does not fall, it survives and thrives.” n WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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“Floating, the hills clear in their distances” Writer and cultural activist John Robert Lee explains why Rodney Bay, on St Lucia’s north-western coast, is his favourite relaxation spot

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odney Bay is my own favourite beach, which sometimes I can have to myself. During the Second World War, the Americans had two bases in St Lucia, one in the south and the other in the north, in Gros Islet, named Reduit, which area was also home to the beautiful stretch of beach that now forms the length of Rodney Bay. “That beach holds a special childhood memory. When I took my very first trip to that part of island, it was with my mother — an adventurous woman who loved the sea — and brother. I was probably still in primary school. She hitched a ride for us with a friend of hers who drove a truck and was going to the beach to load up with sand for building — in those days there was no problem getting sand off the beaches. It was quite an adventure. The old diesel truck, and then arriving on the concrete paving of the old base, where there were guava trees, if I remember well, and of course sea grapes.

“A perfect time here would be: early morning or late afternoon, the water calm and warm; not too many people; sea gulls and herons above; little fish nipping at your legs; in the company of one or more good friends; and just lazing, floating on my back, looking at the surrounding hills, and Morne Gimie, our highest mountain, clear in their distances.”

To lovers of literature and culture in St Lucia and across the Caribbean, John Robert Lee is known as a man of letters and avid archivist. Author of several books of poems — most recently, City Remembrances — and editor of anthologies celebrating his country’s literary history, Lee is also a professional librarian, with a longtime base at St Lucia’s Folk Research Centre, with its invaluable collection of books, recordings, and artefacts documenting St Lucian heritage. n

Caribbean Airlines operates regular flights to George F.L. Charles Airport in Castries, St Lucia

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ADVERTORIAL

The Bahamas: closer than you think!

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he am azing aerial view of the archipelago which is The Bahamas, from your vantage point on Caribbean Airlines en route to Miami, is well worth seeing! Prior to 11 September, 2015, Caribbean Airlines passengers destined to The Bahamas were afforded a spectacular view of this beautiful island chain with its crystal-clear aquamarine waters. Now with the advent of the direct flight to Nassau last September, these stupendous aerial views are happily traded for the opportunity to travel to New Providence, the capital of The Bahamas, without hassle. The flight leaves the Trinidad and Tobago hub, makes one stop in Kingston, yet gets passengers to Lynden Pindling International Airport in

The Bahamas is home to the newest Caribbean Carnival the early afternoon. The return flight leaves Nassau at a very convenient time in the afternoon, with an early evening touchdown in T&T. One of the great things about this revised route is that it is offered on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, allowing flexible options for business and leisure travel to this touristic treasure and financial haven, with its rich cultural heritage and warm, friendly people. The Bahamas is home to the exquisite emerald green waters of The Exumas and the famed pink sand beaches of Eleuthera and Harbour Island, a few of the magnificent islands of the archipelago. It is also home to the newest Caribbean Carnival: Bahamas Junkanoo

Carnival, which had a wildly successful inaugural year in May 2015. Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival delivers three festivals in one amazing weekend for anyone looking for a culturally infused beach vacation. Book a trip to the Grand Bahama Carnival Kickoff on 14 to 16 April, or Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in Nassau from 5 to 7 May, 2016, and find the perfect dose of music, culture, and revelry to spice up your Bahamas vacation. Last year, international mega talent Machel Montano and The Bahamas’ own Baha Men starred in the Music Masters concert, while local semi-finalists competed in a mega song competition. The music component of the festival includes non-stop day and night performances. The cultural component takes place inside Da Cultural Village, the epicentre of activity. Saturday is reserved for Road Fever, the annual costumed street party that delivers pure revelry. Don’t miss Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival 2016: it’s the place to amp up the music, soak up the culture, and turn up the revelry.

For more details, visit www.bahamasjunkanoocarnival.com


NEIGHBOURHOOD

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Streetscape

Nassau, the Bahamas The Bahamian capital is a vacation paradise for tourists seeking sun, sand, and sea, but also a creative hub for visual arts, theatre, craft — and Junkanoo

Nassau’s heart remains the downtown area around the harbour on the northeastern coast of New Providence Island. Bay Street is the traditional centre of Bahamian commerce, and lent its name to the Bay Street Boys — the heads of the old white families who once dominated the city. Just west of downtown is the historic British Colonial Hilton, grande dame of the island’s hotels. Nearby are the bright pink Government House, longtime home of governors and governors general, and the Victorian Christ Church Cathedral, whose wooden ceilings were crafted by boatbuilders. Eighteenth-century Fort Fincastle, perched on the island’s highest point, is connected to downtown by the Queen’s Staircase, carved from solid limestone by enslaved Africans. Paradise Island, across the harbour from Bay Street, and the long stretch of Cable Beach to the west are Nassau’s main tourist zones. South of the city centre, the neighbourhoods known collectively as Over the Hill have long been home to black working-class Bahamians. Elsewhere in New Providence, middle-class housing estates have sprawled over what was once agricultural or grazing land.

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New Providence is surrounded by classically turquoise tropical sea and white sand, and in Nassau you’re never far from a breathtaking beach. Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island is a tourist favourite, and Cable Beach, with its luxury hotels and resorts, is world-famous, but some of the island’s loveliest stretches of coast are further out along West Bay Street, away from downtown Nassau. Caves, with its shady sea grape trees, and Orange Hill Beach, popular with Bahamian families on weekends and holidays, are blissfully quiet mid-week. Love Beach, fifteen miles from Nassau, has no clear public access, but it’s worth the effort to find your way onto its soft sand, if you’re a snorkelling fan — the shallow reef just offshore teems with colourful fish.

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Venturing out

Appetite Cracked conch — i.e conch fritters, fried in a lime-spiced batter — with peas and rice is indisputably the national dish of the Bahamas. Where to try it? Every Bahamian will give you a different answer, and comparing the recipes and flavours of different restaurants and food shacks is no hardship. Some swear by King’s, the always-crowded food shack. Others nod to the Twin Brothers chain, still others to Goldie’s Conch House. All three are in the popular Arawak Cay area, west of downtown. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Souvenir

Junkanoo

When Nassau’s famous Straw Market was destroyed in a fire in 2001, it was almost a national crisis. Eventually rebuilt, the Straw Market continues to welcome tourists as Nassau’s home for traditional craft. Baskets, bags, hats, and other souvenirs handwoven from palmetto straw and sisal became popular in the 1940s, and at its height, many hundreds were employed by the industry. Today, much of the straw craft sold in Nassau is imported, but the market remains a fixture on visitors’ itineraries — perhaps combined with a shopping trip to the numerous duty-free luxury goods emporia on Bay Street.

Sibling to Jamaica’s Jonkonnu (note the spelling difference) and cousin to Carnivals across the Caribbean, the Bahamas Junkanoo has its roots in masquerade traditions brought to the islands by enslaved Africans in centuries past, which survived and evolved in their new home across the Atlantic. Traditionally celebrated in the Christmas season, with parades on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, Junkanoo is a spectacle of colourful costumes made of crêpe paper, and masqueraders who “rush” through the streets of Nassau to the music of drums, cowbells, and satirical songs. A more recent addition to Nassau’s calendar is the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in May, a new festival combining Junkanoo traditions with Carnival elements borrowed from Caribbean neighbours, with a lineup of parties and concerts to build anticipation.

Art circuit March is a great month to survey Nassau’s crop of large and small art galleries, thanks to the Transforming Spaces programme, now in its twelfth year. Over one action-packed weekend — this year, 12 and 13 March — a guided bus tour takes visitors on a curated gallery circuit, showing off the work of dozens of Bahamian artists. Year-round, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, housed in a historic mansion near Government House, exhibits a small but intriguing permanent collection alongside temporary exhibitions, talks, performances, and other events. Meanwhile, the Popopstudios International Centre for the Visual Arts hosts artists’ studios alongside an exhibition gallery, with a focus on innovative contemporary work.

25.07º N 77.33ºW Sea level The bahamas

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Co-ordinates

History

Caribbean Airlines operates regular flights to Lynden Pindling International Airport from Kingston, Jamaica, and Port of Spain, Trinidad, with connections to other destinations across the Caribbean 66

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Originally founded as an English privateers’ base in the seventeenth century, known as Charles Town, the settlement on New Providence Island was raided and burned to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, reoccupied by a party from Jamaica two years later, then refounded by the Dutch in 1695 and named for the royal house of Nassau. For decades it remained a pirates’ hangout, till the English sent in a new governor in 1781. The town’s fortunes took off during the American War of Independence, which led to an economic boom for locals and a building spree. The Spanish managed to invade once again, but by 1783 Nassau was back in British hands, where it remained until Bahamian independence in 1973. If trade and piracy were the economic mainstays in earlier days, by the early twentieth century the growing tourist market began to transform Nassau. Today, the city’s beachfront areas are home to hotels, resorts, and the villas of the rich and famous.


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68 Have Internet, will travel Plugin

70 Voyager among gods On this day

A Haitian drapo or beaded flag, an important icon of vodou


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Have Internet, will travel

There are online tools for almost every aspect of our everyday lives — and travel is no exception. Georgia Popplewell surveys the best travel websites and apps to help you make the most of your next trip, in the Caribbean or anywhere else in the world

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t’s difficult — and probably futile — to determine which, among all human activities, has been most altered by the Internet, but I’d venture to say travel is in the top five. If you relish the opportunities the Internet offers us to research, plan, and book travel, coordinate logistics for bespoke voyages to parts known and unknown, read on.

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How to get there

Where to go If you’re planning a trip, you probably already know where you want to go. But for those times when you’re feeling indecisive — or spontaneous — Flykt ( flykt.com, web) lets you input your location and the amount you want to spend, and a choose from a set of “themes” (such as beach, shopping, history and culture, nature). A zippy search engine offers up a series of destinations to suit your tastes and budget, along with hotel and flight itineraries. Tripzard (tripzard. com, web) does more or less the same, but creates users’ travel profiles on the basis of multiple-choice questions about things like climate preferences and tolerance for factors like crime. 68

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Flight booking is probably the most crowded field in the travel business. But while it’s easier than ever to book a flight online, air travel is arguably the most mercurial aspect of the travel game, with prices, availability, and route configurations changing according to the time you book. The mobile app Hopper (hopper.com, iPhone and Android) will show you the cheapest dates to travel your route of choice, along with predictions about price trends. Practically all flight booking engines allow you to sort flight selections by price, flight duration, departure time, etc., but Hipmunk (hipmunk.com, web, mobile) also allows you to sort by “agony” — a combination of price, flight duration, and number of stopovers. Another service with a smart categorisation scheme is TripAdvisor (tripadvisor.com/CheapFlightsHome, web, mobile), which, though better known for its reviews, is gaining ground in the flight and hotel booking business. Rome to Rio (rome2rio.com, web) is based on the principle that flying isn’t the only way to travel. A search for a flight from Trinidad to Marseille, France (one of my actual travel routes), offered up a doorto-door itinerary that included a bus to the airport in Port of Spain and flights to various French cities that have train connections to Marseille, and another random search included a car ferry. Cleverlayover (cleverlayover.com, web) shows you money-saving itineraries that involve aircraft and airline changes, and is a useful way to find routes involving stops along the way.


Where to stay Booking accommodation is another area where users are spoilt for choice online, especially since the arrival of the peer-to-peer service Airbnb (airbnb.com, web, mobile), which allows individuals to rent out their private apartments, houses, and extra bedrooms. Online vacation rentals are nothing new, and companies like HomeAway (homeaway.com, web), owner of VRBO (vrbo. com, web), VacationRentals, Travelmob, and others are older, but Airbnb caught the sharing-economy wave at just the right time, making the private rental process not only simple, but also cool, popular, and international. Comparison shop through Meshtrip (meshtrip.com, web) and Tripping (tripping. com, web), which aggregate listings from several of Airbnb’s competitors, including TripAdvisor’s FlipKey ( flipkey.com, web).

Which doesn’t mean that hotels have gone out of style. Many flight booking sites offer hotels as well, but Booking. com (booking.com, web, mobile) remains my go-to on the sheer basis of the number of properties it lists, its global scope, and ease of use. I rarely book a hotel, however, without first checking reviews of the property on TripAdvisor (tripadvisor.com). If luxurious boutique hotels are your thing, check out iescape (i-escape.com, web) and Mr & Mrs Smith (mrandmrssmith.com, web). And if you happen be stranded in a major metropolitan city without a booking, the newish Hotel Tonight (hoteltonight.com, web) works with local hotels to post last-minute room rates for properties with vacancies.

Weather Where to store all that travel info It’s always wise to travel with paper printouts of your travel reservations and other information, but it’s also useful to have your travel information close at hand. TripIt (tripit.com, web, mobile) will ingest your flight information, hotel reservations, car rentals, etc., and organise them into a convenient timeline, as well as send you check-in and flight delay alerts and a host of other bells and whistles. There’s a free version, but for frequent travellers the pro version (US$50 per year) is well worth it.

Travel plans are easily foiled by bad weather. While there are myriad ways to check the weather on the web and on smartphones, users who revel in weather-related minutiae should check out the app Dark Sky (darkskyapp.com, iPhone), which offers (literally) up-to-the-minute details and predictions using gorgeous visualisations and simulations.

What to do and see Ground transportation In cities with good mass transit services, Google Maps (maps.google.com, web, mobile) will often include those in a route search. The famous (or infamous) Uber (uber.com, mobile) won’t get you a taxi in Kingston or Bridgetown, but in locations where regular taxis are costly or hard to find, Uber service can be a boon.

Travel guide publishers, including niche players like Bradt (bradtguides.com, web), are increasingly making their wares available in ebook format, and there are several country and city guides and walking tours available in handy mobile app format. The ubiquitous TripAdvisor (tripadvisor.com, web) also lists and reviews attractions and tour companies — and even individual service providers — in its “Things to Do” section.

Extras If you’re travelling to a place where you don’t know the language, and have mobile data service while on the road, Google Translate (translate.google.com, mobile, web) is handy for translating the odd word or phrase from and into most widely spoken languages. If you don’t have data service, there are numerous multi- and single-language phrasebook apps whose contents are available offline. A packing list app like PackPoint (packpnt.com, mobile)

helps take the guesswork out of packing by tailoring packing lists according to your destination and climate zone, and the activities you plan to engage in. And instead of making your friends and relatives envious by posting photos on Instagram and Facebook, why not let Postagram (sincerely.com/postagram, web) turn those photos into actual postcards and send them to your friends by snail mail? n

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on this day

Voyager among gods The African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston is best remembered today for her fiction, but her career as an anthropologist drew on her fascination with the beliefs and culture of the black Americas — and brought her to the Caribbean, eighty years ago. James Ferguson remembers the journey to Jamaica and Haiti that produced Hurston’s book Tell My Horse

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ighty years ago, on 14 April, 1936, a forty-five-year-old AfricanAmerican woman arrived by boat from New York City in Kingston, Jamaica. It was to be no run-of-the-mill business trip, family visit, or tourist outing: within days, she was hunting wild pigs in the remote Cockpit Country with the Maroons of Accompong, the descendants of runaway enslaved Africans. This was Zora Neale Hurston, the writer, anthropologist, and folklorist, whose life and career were every bit as colourful as her name, and whose flawed masterpiece Tell My Horse describes her extraordinary adventures in the Caribbean of the 1930s. Hurston was born in January 1891 in Alabama, the fifth of eight children of a Baptist minister and school mistress. The family moved when she was three to Eatonville, Florida, one of the first self-governing all-black communities in the United States, where her father was preacher and mayor. When he remarried after her mother’s death, Hurston was sent away to boarding school, but Eatonville,

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Illustration by Rohan Mitchell


with its close community structures and distinctive cultural identity, remained a strong influence. From Howard University she moved to Barnard College, Columbia University, where she was apparently the only black student. There she studied anthropology under Franz Boas, a leader in the emerging field, and was a contemporary of Margaret Mead. Hurston’s private life was chaotic, and she rarely settled for long in a single place, but her academic interests were consistent, with an emphasis on the lives and beliefs of America’s black communities. In particular, she was interested in language and folklore, the inner existence of people who had long been repressed and marginalised, and in the linguistic and cultural vitality of the African-American world. Mixing anthropology with fiction and drama, she eroded the demarcation lines of science and literature, creating a sort of writing that was highly personal, colourful, and unpredictable. Short stories and articles bolstered her reputation as an original voice, and she befriended Langston Hughes, the figurehead of the Harlem Renaissance. By the mid 1930s, Hurston was an established literary figure and well known in New York’s avantgarde circles. As a black woman in a white male-dominated academic world, she stood out as charismatic and challenging. It was perhaps no surprise that when she applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship she was successful: her plan was to travel to the Caribbean to study folk religion in both Jamaica and Haiti. The project was in many ways a continuation of her existing research into African-American folklore, but here she was to move into exotic and uncharted territory: the world of ghosts, vodou, and zombies.

Tell My Horse (which appeared in 1938) contains a highly coloured account of recent Haitian politics, but is more focused on life away from the plotting in the presidential palace and, in particular, on the meaning and symbolism of vodou. Hurston’s anthropological training gave her the theoretical background to transcend the tired old clichés, allowing her to examine the religion as a coherent belief system. She travelled to the offshore island of La Gonâve and the provincial town of Arcahaie to spend time at hounforts (temples) and to observe the rites conducted by houngans (priests). She assiduously noted the huge numbers of deities contained in the vodou pantheon and the multiple circumstances surrounding the various rituals, as well as the rivalries between priests and sects. She transcribed the songs and chants used in ceremonies and tried to make sense of the complex relationship between figures such as Damballah and Papa Legba (god of the gate) and the more familiar figure of John the Baptist. “Voodoo in Haiti,” she remarked, “has gathered about itself more detail of gods and rites than the Catholic church has in Rome.” But this was no dry academic dissertation. Hurston’s narrative style — discursive, chatty, provocative — is part travelogue, part reportage, but always focused on the individual, on the human subject. Infused w it h hu mou r a nd scept icism, her descriptions of vodou and its practitioners are also respectful and measured. Like others before her, she was fascinated by the idea of zombies, and went some way to demystifying the phenomenon by exploring the pharmacological science that might allow individuals to be reduced to a state of near death before being revived. Her account of meeting a zombie, a woman who reappeared some thirty years after her funeral, avoids sensationalism and evokes pity:

Mixing anthropology with fiction and drama, Zora Neale Hurston eroded the demarcation lines of science and literature, creating a sort of writing that was highly personal, colourful, and unpredictable

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n Jamaica, Hurston witnessed the intricate ceremony enacted to stop the duppy or spirit of a recently deceased man from returning to trouble the living. This ritual, she observed, was dying out among the middle classes, but “the barefoot people, the dwellers in wattled huts, the donkey riders, are at great pains to observe every part of the ancient ceremony as it has been handed down to them.” But Jamaica, it seems, despite its Maroon communities and Pocomania cult, did not interest Hurston as much as her next destination: Haiti. This was probably because the nineteenyear US occupation of that country had only recently ended, in 1934, and Haiti had become infamous in the American popular imagination through lurid accounts of vodou by writers such as William Seabrook. Seabrook’s version of vodou was the clichéd imagery of throbbing drums and ritual sacrifice, but Hurston was more curious to investigate a belief system that connected the ancestors of slaves to their distant African heritage, and which had survived the tumultuous history of the Americas’ first independent black republic.

And the sight was dreadful. That blank face with the dead eyes. The eyelids were white all around the eyes as if they had been burned with acid . . . There was nothing that you could say to her or get from her except by looking at her, and the sight of this wreckage was too much to endure for long. For all its originality, Tell My Horse was not a success, and despite winning praise for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and her 1941 autobiography, Hurston entered a long decline of poverty and poor health. In later years she was forced to work as a maid, was sacked as a librarian, and relied on welfare payments. Thirteen years after her death in 1960, the writer Alice Walker discovered her unmarked grave. Since then, her work has enjoyed a rebirth, with new editions and fresh critical interest. With this resurgence has come an appreciation that the unorthodox folklorist came closer to understanding and empathising with Haiti’s resilient religion than many before and after her. n WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Down 1 Martinique’s Easter crab dish [8] 2 They came before chickens, maybe? [4] 3 Islands, either East or West [5] 4 Conceives of [8] 6 They go on horses’ heads [7] 7 Picturesque [6] 8 Omnipresent [9] 10 Inuit shelter [5]

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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE by Gregory St Bernard There are 14 differences between these two pictures. How many can you spot?

Spot the Difference answers Diver’s flippers are larger; pattern on diver’s trunks is different; snorkel tube is fatter; bracelet on diver’s left wrist is removed; pendant is different; seaweeds are longer; blue fish’s cap is replaced by a hat; cane is added to blue fish’s right fin; blue fish’s goggles are replaced by glasses; clam is repositioned; pink fish’s eyes are different; pink fish’s lips are different; black beauty spots on pink fish are replaced by a red heart; handbag is added to pink fish’s left fin.

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Caribbean Crossword

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Caribbean Airlines

/ Facts

Incorporation date 27 September 2006

Operational Launch 01 January 2007

Website www.caribbean-airlines.com

Corporate headquarters Iere House, Golden Grove Road, Piarco, Trinidad, West Indies + 868 669 3000

Airline code BW Fleet 12 Boeing 737-800 5 ATR 72-600 On-time performance 88% (2016 year-to-date: 31 January)

Reservations + 800 744 2225 (toll-free) + 868 625 7200 (Trinidad & Tobago) Operational hub Piarco International Airport, Trinidad, West Indies Norman Manley International Airport, Jamaica (Air Jamaica brand)

Markets Antigua (ANU) Barbados (BGI) Caracas, Venezuela (CCS) Castries, St Lucia (SLU) Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA (FLL) Georgetown, Guyana (GEO) Kingston, Jamaica (KIN) Miami, Florida, USA (MIA)

New York, New York, USA (JFK) Orlando, Florida, USA (MCO) Paramaribo, Suriname (PBM) St George’s, Grenada (GND) St Maarten (SXM) Tobago (TAB) Toronto, Canada (YYZ) Trinidad (POS)

Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)

Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)

Cargo & Parcel Service We have raised the standard of delivery with our complete Air and Ground Transportation Network. We offer you dedicated Freighter Services, frequent line flights, and punctual interconnecting truck schedules. Our thrice-weekly freighter service on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays offers connections to North America and Caribbean gateways, while our JetPak Service is an Express Small Package Service that offers speedy and reliable airport-to-airport delivery of your urgent small shipments.

Loyalty programmes Caribbean Miles, Club Caribbean and 7th Heaven Rewards


Caribbean Airlines CARIBBEAN Trinidad Head Office Airport: Piarco International Reservations & information: + 868 625 7200 (local) Ticket offices: Nicholas Towers, Independence Square, Port of Spain; Golden Grove Road, Piarco; Carlton Centre, San Fernando Baggage: + 868 669 3000 Ext 7513/4

Antigua Airport: VC Bird International Reservations & information: + 800 744 2225 (toll free) Ticketing: VC Bird International Airport Hours: Mon – Fri 8 am – 4 pm Baggage: + 268-480-5705 Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun, or + 268 462 0528 Mon, Wed, Sat. Hours: Mon – Fri 4 am – 10 pm

Barbados Airport: Grantley Adams International Reservations & information: + 800 744 2225 (toll free) Ticket office: Sunjet House, Independence Square, Fairchild Street, Bridgetown Baggage: + 246 428 1650 and 426 428 1651

Grenada Airport: Maurice Bishop International Reservations & Information: 1 800 744 2225 (toll free) Ticketing: Maurice Bishop International Main Terminal Baggage: + 473 439 0681

Jamaica (Kingston) Airport: Norman Manley International Reservations & information: + 800 523 5585 (International); 1 888 359 2475 (Local) City Ticket Office: 128 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6 Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30 am – 5.30 pm, Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm Airport Ticket Office: Norman Manley Airport Counter #1 Hours: 3.30 am – 8 pm daily Baggage: + 876 924 8500

Jamaica (Montego Bay) Airport: Sangster International Reservations & information: + 800 744 2225 (toll free) Ticketing at check-in counter: 8.30 am – 6 pm daily Baggage: + 876 363 6433

/ Across the World

Nassau Airport: Lynden Pindling International Terminal: Concourse 2 Reservations & information: + 1 242 377 3300 (local) Airport Ticket Office: Terminal A-East Departure Hours: Flight days – Sat, Mon, Thurs 10 am – 4 pm Non-flight days – Tues, Wed, Fri 10 am – 4 pm Flight Information: + 1 242 377 3300 (local) Baggage: + 1 242 377 7035 Ext 255 9 am – 5 pm daily

(during flight check-in ONLY – Mon/Fri 10:30 am – 1.30 pm Tue/Thur 12.30 pm – 3.30 pm) Baggage: + 407 825 3482

New York Airport: John F Kennedy International Reservations & information: + 800 920 4225 (toll free) Ticketing: Concourse B, Terminal 4, JFK International – open 24 hours (situated at departures, 4th floor) Baggage: + 718 360 8930

St Maarten Airport: Princess Juliana International Reservations & information: + 1721 546 7660/7661 (local) Ticket office: PJIA Departure Concourse Baggage: + 1721 546 7660/3 Hours: Mon – Fri 9 am – 5 pm / Sat 9 am – 6 pm

St Lucia Airport: George F L Charles Reservations & information: 1 800 744 2225 Ticket office: George F.L. Charles Airport Ticket office hours: 10 am – 4 pm Baggage contact number: 1 758 452 2789 or 1 758 451 7269

Tobago Airport: ANR Robinson International Reservations & information: + 868 660 7200 (local) Ticket office: ANR Robinson International Airport Baggage: + 639 0595 / 631 8023 Flight information: + 868 669 3000

NORTH AMERICA Fort Lauderdale Airport: Hollywood Fort Lauderdale International Reservations & information: + 800 920 4225 (toll free) Ticketing: Terminal 4 – departures level (during flight check-in ONLY – 7 am to 6 pm) Baggage: + 954 359 4487

Miami Airport: Miami International Reservations & information: + 800 920 4225 (toll free) Ticketing: South Terminal J – departures level (during flight check-in ONLY – 11.30 am to 3.00 pm); Baggage: + 305 869 3795

Orlando Airport: Orlando International Reservations & information: + 800 920 4225 (toll free) Ticketing: Terminal A – departures level

Toronto Airport: Lester B Pearson International Reservations & information: + 800 920 4225 (toll free) Ticket office: Terminal 3 Ticketing available daily at check-in counters 422 and 423. Available 3 hours prior to departure times Baggage: + 905 672 9991

SOUTH AMERICA Caracas Airport: Simón Bolívar International Reservations & information: + 58 212 3552880 Ticketing: Simón Bolívar International Level 2 – East Sector Hours: 7 am – 11 pm City Ticket Office: Sabana Grande Boulevard, Building “Galerias Bolivar”, 1st Floor, office 11-A, Caracas, Distrito Capital + 58 212 762 4389 / 762 0231 Baggage: + 58 424 1065937

Guyana Airport: Cheddi Jagan International Reservations & information: + 800 744 2225 (toll free) Ticket office: 91-92 Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown Baggage: + 011 592 261 2202

Suriname Airport: Johan Adolf Pengel International Reservations & information: + 597 52 0034/0035 (local); 1 868 625 6200 (Trinidad) Baggage: + 597 325 437


737 onboard Entertainment — MARCH/APRIL Caribbean Airlines has introduced a second movie on flights of four hours and over, thus providing continuous entertainment to you, our valued customer.

Northbound + Eastbound

Southbound + Westbound

M A R C H

Goosebumps

Driving Miss Daisy

When Zach Cooper accidentally brings monsters from an author’s manuscript to life, he must get all of them back in the books where they belong.

Based on the Pulitzer Prizewinning play by Alfred Uhry, this classic affectionately covers the twenty-five-year relationship between a stubborn Southern matriarch and her compassionate chauffeur.

Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush • director: Rob Letterman • comedy, family • 103 minutes

Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman • director: Bruce Beresford • comedy, drama • 99 minutes

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 With the nation of Panem consumed by full-scale war, Katniss confronts President Snow in a final showdown and begins to realise the stakes are no longer just for survival — they are for the future. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth • director: Francis Lawrence • sci-fi, adventure • 136 minutes

Northbound + Eastbound

A P R IL

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher • director: J.J. Abrams • sci-fi, adventure • 134 minutes

Paddington When young Peruvian bear Paddington is sent to England in search of a better life, he encounters the Brown family, who offer him a temporary home. Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins • director: Paul King • family • 95 minutes

Southbound + Westbound

Robot & Frank

Brooklyn

Midnight in Paris

Frank is an old ex-jewel-thief whose son installs a caretaker robot to look after him. When the man and robot become friends, a new heist duo is born.

Eilis Lacey leaves the comforts of Ireland for the shores of 1950s New York City, where she embarks on a romantic relationship.

A young couple experience a series of life-changing situations. Meanwhile, a young man displays his great love for the city of Paris.

Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters • director: John Crowley • drama, romance • 105 minutes

Adrien Brody, Rachel McAdams, Owen Wilson • director: Woody Allen • comedy, romance • 99 minutes

Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden • director: Jake Schreier • comedy, drama • 89 minutes

Audio Channels Channel 5 • The Hits

Channel 7 • Concert Hall

Channel 9 • Irie Vibes

Channel 11 • Kaiso Kaiso

Channel 6 • Soft Hits

Channel 8 • East Indian Fusion

Channel 10 • Jazz Sessions

Channel 12 • Steelband Jamboree


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ROUTE MAP

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L. On

Hartford

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Harrisburg Pittsburgh

Columbus

New York

Trenton Philadelphia

A t l a n t i c

Washington DC St Louis

O c e a n

Charleston

Richmond

USA Nashville

Raleigh Columbia

Atlanta

Montgomery

Jackson

Tallahassee

New Orleans

Orlando Fort Lauderdale Miami

G u l f

THE BAHAMAS

Nassau

o f M e x i c o

Havana TURKS & CAICOS

CUBA

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Montego Bay JAMAICA

Belmopan

DOM. REP.

Santo Domingo

Kingston

BELIZE

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Georgetown Paramaribo

Bogota COLOMBIA

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FRENCH GUIANA

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parting shot

Flying season

A

cross the Caribbean, the glorious dry season weather — bright and breezy — makes kite-flying a popular pastime around Easter. From organised competitions like the Jamaica International Kite Festival to informal displays in neighbourhood parks, colourful confections of paper and string — such as these handmade beauties, for sale in Georgetown, Guyana — take to the skies. Photography by Amanda Richards

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WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM


Caribbean Beat — March/April 2016 (#138)  

Inside this issue: • Events around the Caribbean in March and April, from St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Montserrat to the Tobago Jazz Exp...

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