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Contents

No. 148 November/December 2017

62

72 EMBARK

IMMERSE

ARRIVE

19 Datebook

45 snapshot

62 Destination

Why Jean-Michael Basquiat is a posthumous art star, how the Sunset Festival in Trinidad is changing Caribbean dance music, and where to end 2017 with a truly big bang: Paramaribo

Whether played on a computer, a console, or a mobile phone, video games aren’t just a way to kill time — globally, they’re big business, requiring creativity, technical skills, and significant investment. Mark Lyndersay meets the young talent behind two game developers in Trinidad and Barbados whose products reflect the culture of the Caribbean

South Florida: famous for its beaches, its nightlife, its shopping and entertainment. But the stretch of golden coast between Miami and Fort Lauderdale should also be famous for its fabulous art scene and world-class museums, says Samantha Rojas

32 PERSPECTIVE

50 Panorama

Events around the Caribbean in November and December, from surfing in Barbados to Christmas celebrations across the region

26 Word of Mouth

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, here’s how you can help the islands most badly affected

Tracing Circles and Circuits

34 Bookshelf, playlist, and screenshots This month’s reading, listening, and film-watching picks, to keep you culturally up-to-date

A new exhibition spread across two museums in Los Angeles uses artworks and archival materials to show how different generations of Chinese Caribbean artists deal with issues of migration, diaspora, and cultural identity. Curator Alexandra Chang explains

40 Cookup

58 backstory

Christmas means feasting, and traditionally many of the Caribbean’s seasonal delicacies — from roast turkey to black cake — use imported ingredients. But could you create a Christmas lunch or dinner using only locally grown food? Franka Philip takes up the challenge

The Caribbean musical hit of 2017? That’s “Despacito”, the steamy song by Puerto Ricans Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, which has been breaking records all year. Nazma Muller investigates its runaway success, and explains why “Despacito” has roused controversy for more than its lyrics

Total local

10

The games are afoot

WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM

Pasito a pasito

On Florida’s “Art Coast”

72 Round trip Go deep

The Caribbean’s warm waters are home to some of the world’s most thrilling dive sites, from reefs and submarine canyons to wrecks and underwater parks

84 Neighbourhood

Woodbrook, Trinidad Once a residential suburb, the west Port of Spain neighbourhood is now a hub for nightlife and culture — including Carnival

86 Offtrack

Mahaica Dawn East of Georgetown along the Guyana coast, the Mahaica River runs past farms and rice paddies, but the forest on its banks is home to numerous birds and other wildlife, as Janette Bulkan and John Palmer learn on an early-morning boat trip


CaribbeanBeat An MEP publication

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Editor Nicholas Laughlin General manager Halcyon Salazar Online marketing Caroline Taylor Design artists Kevon Webster & Bridget van Dongen Editorial assistant Shelly-Ann Inniss

Business Development Manager Trinidad Yuri Chin Choy T: (868) 460 0068, 622 3821 F: (868) 628 0639 E: yuri@meppublishers.com

ENGAGE 92The deal

Business Development Manager Tobago Evelyn Chung T: (868) 684 4409 F: (868) 628 0639 E: evelyn@meppublishers.com

Halcyon Salazar T: (868) 622 3821 F: (868) 628 0639 E: hsalazar@meppublishers.com

A legacy of change When Genevieve Jodhan was named the first female CEO of Angostura, it was a decisive change for T&T’s 193-year-old rum distillers, and a business traditionally dominated by male executives. Jodhan’s challenge, as Cate Young finds out, is to balance the venerable Angostura legacy against a changing market where women consumers matter more than ever

Media & Editorial Projects Ltd. 6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago T: (868) 622 3821/5813/6138 • F: (868) 628 0639 E: caribbean-beat@meppublishers.com Website: www.meppublishers.com

94On this day

Defenders of the faith A century ago, when Trinidad and Tobago’s colonial legislature banned the Spiritual Baptist Church, it was just another example of anti-African prejudice. The unjust law remained on the books until 1951, but it never suppressed the faithful, writes James Ferguson. And today the Spiritual Baptist religion is celebrated for its resilience and indigenous roots

96 puzzles

Read and save issues of Caribbean Beat on your smartphone, tablet, computer, and favourite digital devices!

Printed by Solo Printing Inc., Miami, Florida 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 2017. All rights reserved. ISSN 1680–6158. 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

Enjoy our brain-teasers!

102 onboard entertainment Music and movies to keep you busy

104 parting shot Grenada’s famous nutmeg brings seasonal flavour

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.

WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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@eldoradorums

eldorado_rum

@eldoradorums


Cover A yellow spinyhead blenny peeps from its coral hiding-place in Bonaire’s National Marine Park Photo Blue-sea.cz/ Shutterstock.com

This issue’s contributors include: Alexandra Chang (“Tracing circles and circuits”, page 50) is the Curator of Special Projects and Director of Global Arts Programmes at the Asian/ Pacific/American Institute at New York University, and an arts scholar and independent curator. She is co-curator, with Steven Wong, of the exhibition Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art. Laura Dowrich (“The EDM beat”, page 28) is a wellknown entertainment journalist and the content manager for Looptt.com, a news website and app based in Trinidad and Tobago. James Ferguson (“Defenders of the faith”, page 94) is a UK-based writer and editor, and longtime contributor to Caribbean Beat. He is the proprietor of Signal Books. Mark Lyndersay (“The games are afoot”, page 45) is a Trinidadian photographer and journalist. His Trinidad Guardian column BitDepth is the longest running newspaper column reporting on technology in the country. Nazma Muller (“Pasito a pasito”, page 58) is a Trinidad-born, Jamaica-obsessed writer who has worked in newsrooms in both countries, as well as in the UK. Franka Philip (“Total local”, page 40) is a Trinidadian journalist who is deeply passionate about food and food issues. She is features editor for the Trinidad Guardian. Cate Young (“A legacy of change”, page 92) is a freelance writer and critic living in Trinidad. She is the creator of BattyMamzelle, a feminist pop culture blog. Her writing has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Nylon, and other magazines.

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Season's Greetings

From THE CARIBBEAN AIRLINES TEAM

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Season’s greetings and best wishes for a joyous new year, from the Caribbean Airlines family to yours! 2017 has been a milestone year for Caribbean Airlines, as we celebrated ten years of consistent and reliable service to our valued customers. Some significant achievements for 2017 include: • • • • • • • • • 14

Winning the Caribbean’s Leading Airline award for the seventh consecutive year The upgrade of the Caribbean Airlines website A new destination in our network, St Vincent and the Grenadines An increase in social media engagement by 84 per cent year over year The launch of a new RBC/Caribbean Airlines Platinum Visa Card Corporate Social Responsibility in education, culture, youth development, sport, and other areas The launch of a new vision and mission The dedication of one of our aircraft to musical legend Calypso Rose Operating over 25,176 flights as of 5 October, 2017, with 1,990,966 passengers

WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM


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Caribbean Airlines staff on a school outreach visit Caribbean Airlines Sports and Family Day 2017 Caribbean Airlines staff arriving in Sint Maarten to deliver relief supplies after Hurricane Irma Caribbean Airlines hosts Guyanese media in Trinidad and Tobago

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• • •

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Ceremony to dedicate airplane to musical legend Calypso Rose Inaugural flight to St Vincent and the Grenadines welcomed by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves Carnival celebrations at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad Caribbean Airlines evening of appreciation and awards in Guyana

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On-time performance of 78 per cent as of 5 October, 2017 The relocation of our Port of Spain city ticket office to the Upper Level, The Parkade Building, corner of Queen and Richmond Streets Relief flights to hurricane-affected islands in September: Transporting over 142 persons out of Sint Maarten, Tortola, and Dominica Transfer of military and medical personnel to assist with recovery efforts Delivery of over twelve tonnes of critical supplies, donated by our corporate partners

Thank you for your support in 2017. We look forward to 2018 with renewed vigour and enthusiasm — going BEYOND for you.

WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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ADVERTORIAL

Help us fight hunger in T&T W

ith a spirit of civic-mindedness and a love of charity, the SyrianLebanese Women’s Association — more commonly referred to as the SLWA — has spent more than sixty years quietly giving back to their beloved nation, doing work to benefit those in desperate need and who often have nowhere else to turn. What started as a group of six women has, over the years, expanded quickly to the daughters, granddaughters, and friends of the initial members, all with the same mindset and embracing the idea of charity. Today, more than 350 members of the SLWA raise contributions of over half a million dollars annually for charity. Receiving numerous requests for all manner of aid — from medical to educational and housing needs — the SLWA properly vets each case, ensuring no request goes unanswered, and always striving to find unique and interactive ways to raise funds through the community. In order to meet the needs of all, the SLWA undertakes various avenues of fundraising, regularly hosting events and

drives — from Haflis (Middle Eastern-style dinners) to raffles, to luncheons and more. However, the SLWA is most commonly recognised for two ongoing campaigns that continually support the work they do. The first is the award-winning cookbook, Ah’len (which means “welcome” in Arabic). It is a compilation of favourite cultural recipes, produced as a gift to Trinidad and Tobago to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the SLWA in 2010, and found in bookshops around the nation. All money raised from the sales of Ah’len goes towards the educational needs of children in Trinidad and Tobago. The second, the “tin pan project,” collects money all across Trinidad, and uses the funds for both monthly and Christmas food boxes, which are given to those most in need — a tradition that has been going on for almost as long as the group has been active. The Syrian-Lebanese Women’s Association has had a long-standing history of feeding the needy in T&T. This need is great, and the Association is seeking to partner with citizens of T&T by introducing the

For more information: Website: feedtheneedtt.com Feed The Need Campaign email: slwafeedtheneed@gmail.com Club SLWA email: slwassoc@yahoo.com Facebook: Syrian-Lebanese Women’s Association Instagram: slwatrinidadandtobago

FEED THE NEED campaign. Our collective efforts can make a difference to thousands of hungry men, women, and children across Trinidad and Tobago. When you dine at all participating restaurants in the month of November 2017, you will be given the opportunity to make a donation to the FEED THE NEED campaign, where ALL proceeds collected at the end of the month will go towards ongoing monthly and Christmas food boxes. You are invited to dine and make a difference in the month of November, by contributing and joining in the cause of Fighting Hunger Together. Much gratitude to the participating restaurants and stores. For a full list of participants, please visit the website at www.feedtheneedtt.com. In the words of Dr. Coretta Scott-King, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Join us in the fight against hunger.

AN INITIATIVE OF:


datebook

WikiPedant at Wikimedia Commons

Your guide to Caribbean events in November and December, from surfing in Barbados to restaurant week in Guyana

Don’t miss . . . Jonkonnu 26 December Jamaica Every year, in the midst of the Christmas carols, family gatherings, and holiday cheer, a masquerade festival gets under way in rural Jamaica. Jonkonnu (also spelled John Canoe, Jankunu, and Junkanoo) has roots in several cultural traditions first brought to Jamaica by enslaved Africans in past centuries. You may have heard of the Bahamas Junkanoo street parade, where thousands of masqueraders dress in costume and boogie in freestyle and choreographed dances along the parade route. The Jamaican version is distinctive. Traditional characters

vary in each village, and are typically male masqueraders donning costumes and dancing to upbeat drum and flute rhythms. The agile and colourful Pitchy-Patchy, the taunting Devil with his striking pitchfork, and the pregnant and amusing Belly Woman, whose tummy jiggles to the music, are guaranteed to invoke a mixture of fear and excitement so beguiling it stops traffic.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay from destinations in the Caribbean and North America WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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datebook

If you’re in . . . BARBADOS

HAITI

Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival

Independence Pro-Surf Festival

Ghetto Biennale

2 to 10 November Venues around Trinidad

9 to 12 November Soup Bowl, Bathsheba

As single words, “survival” and “preservation” might be considered equivalent. But when circumstances become a tug-of-war between the fight for survival versus the need to protect and preserve resources, conflict ensues. The Dominican Republic’s forests

Clear skies, huge waves, good music, and lively vibes are key elements for a great day of surfing. As part of November’s Independence celebrations, the Barbados Surf Association presents the World Surf League–qualifying tournament in memory of Bill Thomson, one of Barbados’s pioneers in competitive surfing. The international surfing community also revered Thomson — especially eleven-time WSL champion Kelly Slater of the US, who referred to Thomson as his “surfer dad.” With a reputation as the island’s top spot for advanced and professional surfers, the Soup Bowl is on Slater’s list of the top three waves

have been protected; meanwhile, in neighbouring Haiti, trees have been used as a crucial resource in charcoal production. Set on the border between the two countries, Death by a Thousand Cuts is expected to create vigorous discussions on the opening night of the Green Screen film festival. The no-holds-barred documentary thriller will strike chords with themes of xenophobia, human rights, deforestation, and poverty. Carver Bacchus, founder of Green Screen, says the essence of the festival lies in “the creative and sustainability sectors meeting, learning from each other, and collaborating to push both sectors forward in the region.” Perspectives on sustainability will be paramount this year, as the festival focuses on food and agriculture, indigenous and First People’s issues, women’s affairs, and social justice. Over fifty films will be screened, from shorts to feature-length narratives, from animation to documentaries. 20

WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM

courtesy Surf Promotions Barbados Ltd

anywhere. “The best surfers will rip one of the most high-performance waves in the world,” says Christopher Clarke, director of Surf Promotions Barbados. And what better way to remember Thomson’s legacy than to run the Barbados Junior Surf Pro within the festival? Coincidentally, it’s the final event in the 2017 WSL Junior Tour. Will reigning champion Che Allan of Barbados successfully defend his title? So soak up the fun, sun, and good old Bajan rum on the windy east coast. And in between the action, take a dip in the reef pools. Surf’s up!

24 November to 18 December Locations around Port-au-Prince Reflections of the past and speculations about the future of Haiti’s capital city are constructed in three weeks of artistic expression. Two neighbourhoods known for craft production within Port-au-Prince — Lakou Cheri and Ghetto Leanne — will be the home of the 2017 edition of the Ghetto Biennale, hosted by

courtesy ghetto bienniale

Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival

TRINIDAD

the artists’ collective Atis Rezistans. Since 2009, the Biennale has welcomed artists from over twentyfive countries, including Germany, Sweden, Italy, the US, Malaysia, Japan, and several Caribbean nations. Though projects are often made in adverse conditions, a strong and vibrant spirit still effervesces. This year’s theme, “A Cartography of Port-au-Prince”, captures the diversity and intricacies of the city through artists’ projects that map various aspects of cultural production: street life, religious heritage, mythologies, histories, architecture, and much more. The Ghetto Biennale aims to transform spaces, dialogues, and relationships considered impractical and ineffective into transcultural and creative platforms. They also attempt to “create a compelling portrait of a historically significant, and intensely complex, city influx.” Event previews by Shelly-Ann Inniss


datebook

Nicely November

Caribbean Folk Dance Festival

miami book fair

Antigua Dance troupes from Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, and Dominica join colleagues in Antigua for workshops and performances choreographed to indigenous music [9-12]

Miami International Book Fair Caribbean writers take centre stage at North America’s biggest literary festival — from former Jamaican poet laureate Mervyn Morris to exciting newcomers like T&T’s Aliyyah Eniath and Shivanee Ramlochan [12-19]

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Alliouagana Festival of the Word

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Montserrat The power of stories and the skill of their tellers unfold as renowned authors inspire, entertain, and connect cultures [16-19]

Restaurant Week Guyana Taste scrumptious flavours of Guyana’s diverse cuisines at participating restaurants [17-26]

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datebook

Dashing December Saint Nicolas Day

Filip Fuxa/shutterstock.com

Aruba Christmas starts early, as children await the arrival of Sinterklaas by boat at the port of Oranjestad [5]

St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Mas An extravaganza of calypso, pageants, soca, street jamming, parades, and folklore presentations [15 Dec- 3 Jan]

Run Barbados Marathon Weekend Barbados Dust off your running shoes for the 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon events through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison [1-3]

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GOOD food

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GOOD prices

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Nine Mornings Festival

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St Vincent and the Grenadines Vincentians awake in the early hours of the morning for fetes, bicycle riding, and street concerts [16-24]

Pigout

Parang in Paramin

Barcode restaurant, Tobago Celebrate Christmas with pork cooked fifteen ways, plus the best of Tobago entertainment. [24 December]

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Trinidad Parranderos sing good tidings of comfort and joy from house to house in the hilltop community north of Port of Spain [all December]

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word of mouth Dispatches from our correspondents around the Caribbean and further afield

The Basquiat boom Philip Sander takes in an actionpacked exhibition of the artist Jean-Michael Basquiat, the son of a Haitian immigrant who became the most celebrated American artist of his time

E

arlier this year, when a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold at auction for US$110.5 million in New York, it didn’t just set a record for the late artist — it was the highest auction price ever paid for an artwork by any American. It was also just another superlative in the meteoric posthumous career of one of the defining creative talents of the 1980s. Born in Brooklyn in 1960 to a Haitian father and Puerto Rican–American mother, Basquiat grew up trilingual, speaking English, French, and Spanish, in close contact with New York’s swelling Caribbean communities. His artistic talent was obvious early on, nurtured by his doting mother, who took him to the city’s many museums, signed him up for art classes, and bought him books including a prized copy of Gray’s Anatomy, whose illustrations would influence Basquiat’s later work. But, despite the teenage Jean-Michel’s obvious intelligence and love of reading, family troubles — and his mother’s mental illness — derailed his academic career. He dropped out of school more than once, ran away from home at age fifteen, and became estranged from his father. At sixteen, he was supporting himself, just barely, by selling handmade postcards and t-shirts. He was also already earning the attention of NYC’s cuttingedge art world, for the distinctive poem-like graffiti he and a

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friend left on downtown walls in the dead of night — signed with their pseudonym SAMO, short for “same old.” When the Village Voice newspaper finally tracked down the authors of the witty spray-painted lines, it was the beginning of a dizzyingly rapid rise in acclaim. Within a few years, Basquiat was signed to a major commercial gallery, his paintings were selling for prices in five figures, and he was one of the hottest and most controversial young artists in a reviving art scene — and a rare example of a black artist achieving genuine cultural celebrity. It was a brilliant but brief trajectory: in 1988, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at the age of twenty-seven. But the story was hardly over. A 1992 retrospective at the Whitney Museum sealed Basquiat’s reputation, and in the decades since, an avalanche of shows, books, and documentaries have built interest in his paintings — and their prices — to astronomical heights. It’s astonishing, then, that Basquiat: Boom for Real — the survey exhibition that opened in September at London’s Barbican Art Gallery, and runs until 28 January, 2018 — is his first major posthumous show in the UK, heralded with near-universal excitement among British art fans. Assembling more than a hundred works with copious selections from the Basquiat archives — notebooks, letters, video and sound recordings, paint-flecked books from the artist’s personal library, and even a fridge he once covered with magic-marker drawings — Boom for Real sets out to document his full aesthetic range and intellectual preoccupations, while situating Basquiat in the downtown NYC scene of the early 1980s, where he befriended icons as diverse as Andy Warhol, Madonna, and the Jamaican-descended early rapper Fab 5 Freddy. The sensory force of all these objects is almost overwhelming, but curators Dieter Buchhart and Eleanor Nairne have devised an orderly narrative through the Barbican’s two floors of galleries, following both biographical and thematic chronology. In one room they offer a partial recreation of Basquiat’s first exhibition, bringing together early works that grabbed the attention of New York art critics in 1981. Other rooms are devoted to SAMO’s graffiti, to Basquiat’s friendship and creative collaborations with Warhol — including a painting they made together — and his intersections with downtown musicians and filmmakers (here you can watch the full seventy-two minutes of Downtown 81, otherwise known as New York Beat, with Basquiat in a self-referential starring role). The show also traces Basquiat’s fascination with jazz, with African American heroes (like the boxer Jack Johnson) and art historical figures (see his portrait of Pablo Picasso), and his devotion to books, which constantly surrounded him in his studio. Almost as breathtaking as the large-scale paintings with their bold fields of colour and repeated iconography are the pages


© The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Licensed by Artestar, New York, courtesy the barbican art gallery

Hollywood Africans (1983, acrylic and oil stick on canvas), by Jean-Michel Basquiat

from Basquiat’s notebooks installed in an intimate space. (Tragically, the cheap notebooks were disbound to allow their display in conventional frames, as though the pages were individual works — an act of archival vandalism.) Here, Basquiat’s graphomania, dry humour, and sharp ear for the subtleties of speech are at their most stark, and it’s obvious he could also have had a very different career as an avant-garde poet. Indeed, going back to the SAMO days, text was always a dominant element in Basquiat’s work, rendered in a distinctive hand and deployed for its visual qualities as much as its semantic ones. His phrases, tags, and lists collect a vocabulary obsessed with history and power relations, race stereotypes,

money and spirituality, the art world’s cynical commercialism, and the culture of celebrity which Basquiat both enjoyed and, paradoxically, mocked. None of these phenomena has receded in the three decades since Basquiat’s early death. Created in a very particular time and place — a gritty, risky New York long lost to rampant gentrification — Basquiat’s work retains a freshness and urgency that feels utterly contemporary, in an age of renewed ethnic tensions and reality-show politicians. He was a slyly knowing rebel who’s become, in his afterlife, an unlikely kind of exemplar: in the age of Brexit and border walls, it’s bracing to remember that the most iconic American artist of recent decades was the son of a Caribbean immigrant. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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courtesy sunset festival

word of mouth

The EDM beat Laura Dowrich explains how the Sunset Festival in Trinidad is pointing the way to a dance music craze

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low sticks, pulsing music, top international DJs: if you’re looking for the ultimate party to close off the year, Trinidad’s Sunset Festival is the place to be. A celebration of electronic dance music — or EDM, as it’s usually known — the Sunset Festival brings together top Caribbean acts with some of the best DJs in the EDM world. Held every December, this is the Caribbean’s version of international events such as Tomorrowland in Belgium and Ultra in Miami, featuring big names such as Martin Garrick, Major Lazer, Skrillex, and Bad Royale in past years’ star-studded casts, alongside soca

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heavyweights like Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin and reggae star Tarrus Riley. As a matter of fact, since its inception in 2014, Sunset has become a major stage for the germination of collaborations and hits. It was at the 2014 festival that Montano and Garlin had a spontaneous appearance together on stage, and the King of Soca set T&T’s music world alight with his many calls to collaborate with the Viking. In 2016, the duo quietly buried the hatchet and, to the delight of their respective fans, teamed up in 2017 on a song called “Busshead”. They then spent much of the year performing together on the Busshead Tour.

Sunset 2016, meanwhile, saw the debut of what became the biggest song of T&T’s 2017 Carnival: the Ultimate Rejects’ “Full Extreme”. A melding of EDM and soca, the song went on to dominate every corner of the Carnival landscape and won the Road March title with barely any competition, playing 556 times on stage compared with 72 times for Montano’s “Your Time Now”. Produced by businessmen Johnny Soong and Benny Hatem along with Karrilee Fifi, the Sunset Festival was an opportunity they seized to work with one of the biggest electronic DJ groups in the world, Major Lazer — one member of whom, Chris “Jillionaire” Leacock, is Trinidadian. The group has collaborated with several soca artists, among them Garlin and Montano. “The timing was perfect, considering the growth of the local electronic market and the fact that Major Lazer is the most palatable and relevant group to the Caribbean market,” say Team Sunset. That Trinis could fill the O2 venue in Chaguaramas for this event, mere week s before the onslaught of the Carnival season, speaks volumes about the local popularity of EDM. Sunset organisers explain it’s the grow ing popularity of the genre and its offshoot, Caribbean Dance Music, that helps grow the festival. “Since dance music has crossed over into mainstream pop, the electronic market in Trinidad has substantially grown. There are also monthly events that help develop the market throughout the year,” they say. “By including DJs that play CDM and artists that have CDM tracks in the Sunset Festival line up, it bridges the gap between dance music lovers and Caribbean music lovers, allowing us to target a wider market.” Sunset also provides a platform for many local DJs to make a name for themselves. Last year, organisers also held a Caribbean Dance Music Conference to further solidify the dance music genre in T&T. Sometimes you just have to follow the beat.

The 2017 Sunset Festival is scheduled for mid-December


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word of mouth

End with a bang Nixon Nelson puts on his earplugs and heads to Suriname’s Owru Yari celebrations 30

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round the world and across the Caribbean, the final day of the year brings a buzz of commemorative activity. For some, the turn of the calendar is an excuse for an all-frills party complete with formal duds, funny hats, and sparkling wine. Others gather loved ones for quieter celebrations, or head to religious services. Different countries, communities, and families have their own traditions, ancient or relatively new-fangled. Cubans traditionally start the new year eating one grape for each of the coming twelve months, and many Afro-Caribbean families feast on stewed black-eye peas, a dish thought to bring good fortune. And then there are the fireworks: explosions of colourful light originally invented by the Chinese many centuries ago, but now universally popular at moments of mass celebration. The noise and glare were once thought to scare

off malevolent spirits, and so guarantee an auspicious start to the new year. The superstition may have died away, but it seems the attractions of gunpowder endure. It’s not a tradition beloved by all: many are the complaints about the terrifying effect of fireworks on pets, the elderly and infirm, and really anyone who dislikes loud noises. But don’t tell that to the thousands of Surinamese who crowd the streets of Paramaribo for what may be the most astonishing noise display to be found anywhere in the region, the celebrations of Owru Yari — Old Year’s Day. If you found yourself in the Surinamese capital on the morning of 31 December, you might assume some sort of parade or Carnival was imminent. Bleachers and viewing platforms line the streets, food and drink vendors set up in every available spot, and sound systems vie with live bands brandishing brass instruments and drums. All along the pavements, below historic timber buildings and modern storefronts alike, festive throngs assemble, of all ages. Beverages emerge from coolers, children race excitedly around, and everyone’s dressed in their trendiest. Parbo beer flows copiously. Meanwhile, final preparation of the pagara is under way. Down the middle of the main thoroughfares, many thousands of small red firecrackers are knotted together to form a vast, serpentine garland of gunpowder more than a mile long. As noon approaches, police officers clear stragglers onto the pavements and more cautious onlookers reach for earplugs. At the stroke of twelve, each pagara is ignited, and a trail of fire races down the street. The roar of the crowd disappears behind the swiftly moving explosion, and the air fills with smoke. Confetti flies, the DJs turn up the volume, and the street party hits an intense new high. Any evil spirits brave enough to linger must surely find themselves converted by the sheer effusion of celebration. Tomorrow will bring a massive cleanup, opportunity for sober (let’s hope) reflection, and the enumerating of New Year’s resolutions. But for now, there’s an Old Year to be toasted and celebrated and shown out the door. n


PERSPECTIVE

After the storm

F The island of St Martin, which sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, was one of the region’s worst affected

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or people of the Caribbean, the start of the annual hurricane season in June is a time of watchfulness, if not anxiety. Hurricanes are a fact of life in the region, but it’s impossible to grow accustomed to the catastrophic damage they can inflict on small island communities. In future histories of the Caribbean, September 2017 will have a tragically prominent place, thanks to the Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which inflicted life-changing destruction on Barbuda, St Martin, St Barthélemy, the British and US Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the region. Between them, the two storms were responsible for over two hundred deaths and more than US$114 billion in damage. First reports from some islands spoke of damage that resembled large-scale bombing. Airports were among the infrastructure shut down by hurricane winds, slowing initial relief efforts. In some places, restoration of basic utilities like electricity and running water may take up to six months. Full recovery may be years away. And with many of the affected territories financially dependent on tourism and agriculture, damage to those key industries — farms and livestock washed away, hotels and resorts torn apart — will deprive governments of the economic resources needed to fund rebuilding. Around the Caribbean, the response was immediate and heartfelt, from official disaster relief assistance by Caricom governments and NGO programmes to hundreds of small-scale personal efforts by ordinary citizens who have collected food and emergency supplies, chartered boats, and staged fundraising events of all kinds. Like other corporate entities, Caribbean Airlines stepped up as well, sending in aircraft to deliver supplies and emergency personnel and help evacuate residents of affected islands.


The cost of hurricane damage Figures are the estimated cost of damage from both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, in USD

Turks and Caicos

$500M

British Virgin Islands Cuba

$2.2B

Puerto Rico

$1.4B

Anguilla

$290M

$51B

St Martin and St Barts

$4.8B

USVI

$2.4B

Barbuda St Kitts and Nevis

$32M

$215M

Dominica Guadeloupe

$1B

$120M

How you can help An arm of Caricom, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) immediately activated a regional plan to coordinate hurricane relief in affected islands. That includes an Emergency Relief Fund open to private donations, which can be made online or via local bank accounts. Visit www.cdema.org for more information. GlobalGiving, an online crowdfunding platform, has set up a Puerto Rico and Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund, with a target of US$10 million. Donations are pledged to support regional relief efforts including long-term recovery assistance. You can contribute at www.globalgiving. org/projects/hurricane-maria-caribbean-relief-fund. For more about country-specific relief efforts and how you can help, visit the Caribbean Beat website at caribbean-beat.com/hurricane-recovery, where we’ll be updating information as new initiatives are announced and needs change.

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Bookshelf The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: a novel in bass riddim, by Marcia Douglas (Peepal Tree Press, 285 pp, ISBN 9781845233327) A world in which Bob Marley walks among us again, twisting his Lion of Judah ring, in which fallen angels soar into open bedroom windows to beget powerful Rasta daughters: these are but two of the gravid, percussive possibilities given to us in The Marvellous Equations of the Dread. Why percussive? It is because the entire novel syncopates on timelines of converging histories, conspiracies, and family faultlines — everything has an echo; every happening has a sound beneath the seemingly simple sound. Jamaican Marcia Douglas does the work of both a diviner and a good deejay: she lets the sounds fall from on high, in prose that chants down Babylon and confirms the coming, sweeter than can be reckoned, of Zion. The narrators of Douglas’s novel are deaf Leenah, orphaned Delroy, Marley himself: together, they speak of their own stories, and of their antecedents’. Together, they shape a Jamaica that is entwined in the delicate,

Dreams Beyond the Shore, by Tamika Gibson (Blouse & Skirt Books, 190 pp, ISBN 9789768267061) Politics and passion don’t always make for the best bedfellows: the young wouldbe couple of Dreams Beyond the Shore learn this the rough way, in a story so clever and charming it snagged the first place 2016 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Here’s a story for young adults that credibly captures life in present-day Trinidad: tempestuous, tricky to navigate, but not without sweet success for teen scholars and football stars alike. In Chelsea Marchand and Kyron Grant, debut author Tamika Gibson has given her readers protagonists who are irrepressibly funny and winningly relatable, fashioned from equal parts fearlessness, loyalty, and juvenile frustration. Chelsea’s father, a prime ministerial candidate, is a particularly well-drawn character: a cautionary tale that the sins of the parent often fall too close to the aspirations of the child.

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deft process of trying to understand its own musical history, its own history in violence and rapture, conjoined. Hearkening to the heraldic words and visitations of Marcus Garvey and Emperor Haile Selassie, in slipstreams of storytelling consciousness, here is prose steeped deep in portents, parables, and a profusion of signs. A lyrical convocation of reggae, roots healing, the history of Half Way Tree, of duppies and fearsome body-swapping, of dangerous youthmen and deliberate revolution, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread samples archives, remixes gold standard tracks you’ve heard sung before, and offers up something enviable: a new way to say Jamaica. It is a novel that roars, much like one of the ancestresses in its pages, who proclaims “Rastawoman! I dwell betwixt and between and no evil shall overcome shelion; yu see me? I hold my neck proud and balance Jah-Jah ark on top I&I head.”

Girlcott, by Florenz Webbe Maxwell (Blouse & Skirt Books, 180 pp, ISBN 9789768267085) Second place winner of the 2016 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, Girlcott situates the desires of a precocious, gifted teen against the wider backdrop of 1950s Bermudian history. On the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, Desma Johnson is poised to snatch up a prestigious Empire scholarship. Her father’s arranged a birthday trip to the cinema, and invited all Desma’s friends: but there’s the matter of the nationwide cinema boycott, engineered by the anonymous Progressive League to protest racial segregation. Maxwell, a retired Bermudian librarian, storyteller, and member of the selfsame Progressive Group that agitated against state-sanctioned segregation, is a vital part of her island’s journey to unfettered self-determination. In Girlcott, she brings purposeful political activism front and centre, marrying it to a young black woman’s personal growth. The novel is proof that the personal is political, and that dreamers come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.


House of Lords and Commons, by Ishion Hutchinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 81 pp, ISBN 9780374173029) A leviathan power stirs in Ishion Hutchinson’s second collection of poems. Winner of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, House of Lords and Commons constructs narrative wonderments, whether the speakers reminisce about Jamaican childhoods or regard the sea. It is a homestead in verse informed by the presence of Derek Walcott, but not constrained by it. Through experience, a diligent regard for the rhythms of spoken and written forms, a fidelity to the musical canter of memory, Hutchinson works on the reader’s twinned senses of loss and livity. Spectral jubilation and dread are at play in poems like “The Garden”, wherein “the Minister of All could not sleep,” where “the dead / flew in a silver stream that night, their silk / hair thundered and their heels crushed / the bissy nuts and ceramic roofs.” This is how the poet draws us into his ancient, and contemporary, worlds: leading us with attentive elegance, formal restraint, and all the power of a quiet, watchful beast.

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The Shaping of a Culture: Rituals and Festivals in Trinidad Compared with Selected Counterparts in India, 1990–2014, by Satnarine Balkaransingh (Hansib Publications, 404 pp, ISBN 9781910553589) Epic in scope and formidable in research, The Shaping of a Culture takes a cross-sectional approach to documenting festival life: it examines how cultural mainstays like Carnival, Christmas, Phagwah, and Divali are celebrated in Trinidad, then spins the globe to see how these events unfold in India. From Chaguanas to Ayodhya, Felicity to Goa, Port of Spain to Chennai, we’re given meticulous accounts of how Indian and Indo-Trinidadian revellers worship, fete, and observe both gods and good times. It’s unusual to find nonfiction with a truly singular scope, but Balkaransingh’s book might be the most unique perspective on syncretic cultural forms we’ve recently seen on our regional shelves. Hindu devotees and cultural scholars are equally likely to praise the focus, lucidity, and artistic immersion with which this tome has been composed. Reviews by Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor

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playlist

Chronology Chronixx (Virgin EMI Records) Chronixx, a young powerhouse reggae singer who appeared on the cover of Caribbean Beat earlier this year, is among a cadre of musicians marking a roots reggae revival in the contemporary dancehall-saturated industry of island music. That revival may be more of a new reckoning of the universality and adaptability of reggae, as Chronixx takes musical cues from a range of genres — including rap, R&B, and EDM — to energise the music without the sound becoming too diluted. The track “I Can” has the anthemic quality of a Coldplay song, while “Black Is Beautiful” rings with the Caribbean hip-hop of Wyclef Jean (it samples early Fugees). The lyrics have an edge without being too sharp to ward off new converts. The themes are celebratory of Jamaica, and touch on love and hope, racism and poverty, without banging you over the head with a big stick. With this album as an early career signpost, Chronixx — only twenty-four — is the hopeful future of reggae.

Stony Hill Damian “Jr Gong” Marley (Republic Records) Damian Marley has released a new eighteen-track album of hits which not only carry on the Marley name as a focal point for global reggae relevance, but satisfy the idea that the next generation of reggae, born in the new millennium, has not abandoned its raison d’être as Jamaica’s “main collective emotional outlet.” From a stream of consciousness polemic on the problematic present and uncertain future (“Time Travel”) to an ode to “herb” (“Medication”), Stony Hill has everything essential. Tracks like “Looks Are Deceiving” and “The Struggle Discontinues” remind the listener of his father’s soulful drawl on a classic reggae vibe, while “Grown and Sexy” and “Perfect Picture”, both collaborations with Jr Gong’s brother Stephen, have a Drake-reminiscent sound. That duality should keep reggae listeners happy, as this album covers all bases in a slick and satisfying way to rekindle the hope that this island music is fluid and will never die.

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Single Spotlight Long Over Due Leston Paul (self-released) Normal Freetown Collective (self-released) From the arranger who gave the world’s most popular soca song (Arrow’s “Hot, Hot, Hot”) a life of its own comes a new album that runs the gamut from Caribbean soul to smooth jazz to new soca fusion. Long Over Due has a technical gloss and aural sheen that suggest Leston Paul’s production values are on par with the best in the industry anywhere. In a style that can be seen as a Caribbean parallel to Quincy Jones’s during his Back on the Block era, Paul harvests the talents of a number of Trinidadian musicians and singers to the best of their ability to give an overview of the range of music that is celebrated in these islands. From the languid elegance of “Night and Day” to the tongue-in-cheek nod to the classicism of calypso legend Kitchener’s “Pan in A Minor” — complete with faux orchestral strings — to the soulful strut of “Lots of Talk” and “Mt Irvine Beach Jam”, this album is a satisfying exercise in Caribbean music genre fusion.

“Rob the bank normal and buy a Range Rover normal / Lie to the people normal, practice evil normal.” These lyrics, sung by Freetown Collective’s Lou Lyons and Muhammad Muwakil, suggest or possibly reflect a cynical take on life in modern Trinidad and Tobago. A generation born in the 1980s has struggled through the posturing of island politics to render its impressions and observed reality as a ceaseless litany of the agonies and ironies of woeful living for the ninety-nine per cent below the line. Freetown Collective are modern calypsonians unhinged from the melodic template of the past century, but aware of the lyrical tradition. With a trap music production aesthetic, the song’s angst-filled vision generates a head-bopping reaction reminding the listener that, just like calypso, behind every good groove there is a message that takes notice of another side of our local existence. Reviews by Nigel A. Campbell

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SCREENSHOTS

Bad Lucky Goat Directed by Samir Oliveros, 2017, 76 minutes Out in the western Caribbean Sea, halfway between Costa Rica and Jamaica, lies the island of Providencia. Providencia is part of Colombia, but with an asterisk. The island’s population comprises descendants of enslaved Africans and English settlers, the Raizals. They speak an English creole, and their musical forms include mento and calypso. Providencia is Caribbean. It is also the setting for Bad Lucky Goat, Colombian filmmaker Samir Oliveros’s whimsical debut feature, about two teenage siblings at odds with each other. Corn (Honlenny Huffington) has dreams of becoming a famous musician. His elder sister, Rita (Kiara Howard), gives those dreams short shrift. One day, while running an errand for the family hotel, their quarreling makes them run over and kill a billy goat, damaging their father’s truck. They decide to get it fixed without letting their parents know, intending to be back home in time for their

father to collect some tourists from the airport. What follows is a winningly comic adventure with inventive flourishes, involving an unworldly Rastafarian, an outraged crime lord, an inept police officer, and a fat-necked butcher trading as Sir Loin. These characters are of necessity no more than types, but Oliveros is careful not to make them caricatures. David Curto’s roving camera catches the action (and the island’s gorgeous scenery) with eye-popping naturalism, while Pablo La Porta’s harmonica-driven score and Elkin Robinson and Diego Gómez’s reggae soundtrack nicely complement the film’s visual delights. Set against these virtues, the film’s weaknesses — some amateurish performances, a plot at times straining credulity, several continuity issues — are easily forgiven. It would have been reassuring, though, if in addition to the usual disclaimer in the credits asserting Bad Lucky Goat to be a work of fiction, there was one stating that no goats were harmed in the making of the film. For more information, visit facebook.com/badluckygoat

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Homelands Directed by Jaha Teleesha Browne and Tara Manandhar, 2017, 73 minutes “Which side do they cheer for?” the British politician Norman Tebbit asked of immigrants from other cricketplaying nations. “Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?” The subjects of the documentary Homelands would probably fail the infamous “Tebbit test.” The film follows four UK-based pop musicians — children of immigrants all — as they travel to the countries of their parents’ birth, seeking to connect with their heritage. Shakka goes to Dominica, Chanelle visits Jamaica, Diztortion heads to Suriname, while MC Saskilla finds himself in Senegal. Admirably free of romanticism, Homelands cuts back and forth as the musicians immerse themselves in the cultures of their respective locations, each eventually recording a song with a local artist. Yet, more than the music, what resonates is the profound feeling these individuals have for their ancestral homes — the Norman Tebbits of the world be damned. For more information, visit punch-records.co.uk

Green Days by the River Directed by Michael Mooleedhar, 2017, 102 minutes In the year when Trinidad and Tobago has belatedly outlawed child marriage comes a film in which that subject is, if unintentionally, a theme. Adapted from Michael Anthony’s much-loved young adult novel, Green Days by the River is the story of Shell (Sudai Tafari), in his mid-teens in 1950s rural Trinidad. Shell is attracted to Joan (Vanessa Bartholomew), but landowner Mr Gidharee (Anand Lawkran) sees the boy as a potential husband for his comely daughter Rosalie (Nadia Kandhai). Most of the cast of Green Days by the River acquit themselves well. Andressa Cor’s cinematography captures the lush landscape with pleasing depth, while art director Frank Seales provides an authentic look to a period piece despite a clearly limited budget. Michael Mooleedhar’s anaemic direction of Dawn Cumberbatch’s unwisely reverent script, however, leaves the film dramatically flat. For more information, visit facebook.com/GreenDaysFilm Reviews by Jonathan Ali

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cookup

Total local

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f you ask anyone in Trinidad and Tobago about Christmas lunch, you’ll hear about ham, turkey, pastelles, sorrel, ginger beer, and black cake. Even in the diaspora, people excitedly seek out the ingredients to add that Trini twist to their Christmas meal. When I lived in London, I used to go to the West Indian shops in Shepherd’s Bush and Harlesden to find dried sorrel to make the drink. I even remember asking someone to bring a pack of Promasa cornmeal from Trinidad so I could make pastelles, as if there weren’t enough varieties of cornmeal in British supermarkets. Shopping for Christmas dinner in T&T seems pretty straightforward: go to the supermarket and pick up a ham, a turkey (most likely a Butterball from the US), ingredients for stuffing, potatoes for roasting or the ubiquitous scalloped potatoes, cranberries for sauce, raisins, currants, and Maraschino cherries for black cake, and of course Venezuelan Promasa cornmeal for pastelles — almost all imported ingredients. Admittedly, it’s not the time of year when most people think about making their shopping as local as possible — so when I was asked to contemplate a total-local Christmas meal, it took a fair bit of thought. I went back to the 1980s, when T&T was going through a recession and foreign exchange was scarce, not unlike now. The difference was the dreaded Negative List, a list of banned goods that included “Christmas” fruit like grapes, apples, and pears, and a whole set of items that are commonly found on our shelves today. In the absence of preserved fruits and mixed peel in cakes, people substituted sugared green papaya or sugared christophene. A lot of it was awful, and nobody was fooled. Today, however, more people are going local because they’re aware of the need to bring down our monthly national food import bill, which stands at around TT$542 million. And, unlike

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Here in the Caribbean, Christmas is synonymous with feasting — from ham and turkey to pastelles and black cake. But many of our seasonal delicacies rely on imported ingredients. Franka Philip takes up a special challenge: crafting a Christmas lunch using only ingredients grown or manufactured in Trinidad and Tobago Illustration by Shalini Seereeram

in the 1980s, our farmers and artisans are today offering a wider variety of excellent products. I’ve heard about some adventurous foodies who are going all out to have totally local Christmas meals this year, and I was intrigued. Would it be difficult to find local alternatives for some key ingredients? I thought of what I’d usually prepare and, by a process of elimination, identified the foreign stuff that could be swapped for local ingedients. 

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o get some tips, I talk with Gaytree Maharaj, a food blogger and activist, who runs the annual Eat Local challenge. She feels it isn’t difficult to prepare a totally local Christmas meal, especially if it’s a vegetarian meal. “Most of the ingredients can be bought at farmers’ markets,” she says. And it’s true, because more farmers are growing items like kale, arugula, and a range of salad greens that were once only imported.  “Most substitutes are available, making it easier to use them in traditional Christmas dishes,” Maharaj adds. “However, in some cases where substitutes are not readily available, we are forced to let our creativity shine and craft new dishes using what is available.” One of the ingredients she points out is wheat flour. Even our “local” flour is made from imported wheat. So what do we do about pasta dishes, bread, and cake?  “In these cases, it is necessary to improvise with root-based breads like sweet potato bread and provision pies,” Maharaj suggests. There is indeed a small but growing segment of the market for wheat flour substitutes and gluten-free options. Moylan Lovell of Moy’s Gluten Free Kitchen has been using flour made from plantains, sweet potato, and cassava in products like tasty vegan waffles. Fitness guru Jody White of Slimdown 360 is also producing a new range that includes


Flourless Chocolate Rum Cake with Chocolate Rum Glaze Yields one eight-inch cake 6 ounces (1 cup) dark or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped ½ cup butter, cubed ½ cup sugar

4 large eggs 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract ½ cup cocoa powder ¹⁄³ cup dark or light rum

“Where substitutes are not readily available, we are forced to let our creativity shine,” says food blogger Gaytree Maharaj

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an eight-inch baking pan and set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, transfer to a mixing bowl, and mix in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth between each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and rum until well mixed. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out relatively clean, with a few crumbs. Do not over-bake or the cake will become dry. Allow cake to cool in pan for five minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

seller, but I was thinking a pommecythere chutney would go down well.” Pommecythere — known as golden apple or June plum in other parts of the Caribbean — is a small fruit with a prickly seed and the texture of a firm apple. It maintains some of that texture even after cooking. “When you cook that down with some sugar, citrus, and spices, it will be real nice,” Huggins says. “Mango is also an option, but that’s so run-of-the-mill, and you want an added something special for Christmas.” For the glaze: While Huggins doesn’t think it’s hard to pro4 ounces (²⁄³ cup) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped duce a totally local Christmas meal, he admits it 3 tablespoons butter takes a little more research to choose some ingre1 tablespoon rum dients. “You will find some excellent local products like our chocolate,” he says. “I think Cocobel In a small saucepan, melt together chocolate and butter, mixing until chocolate, for example, is great, and I use it a lot.” smooth. Stir in the rum. Spread evenly over cooled cake. Huggins is right: our locally manufactured chocolate is excellent. I think, for a different twist This recipe comes from the Pastry Affair blog, pastryaffair.com on a Christmas cake, a flourless chocolate rum cake using local dark chocolate and Angostura sweet potato and cassava pasta as well as instant ground provi- rum is a great idea. Another treat that includes local ingredision mashes. These goods are a little more expensive than their ents is a sorrel cake. Gaytree Maharaj rates this dessert quite traditional counterparts, as you’d expect, but as it’s Christmas, highly. “Sorrel cake is becoming increasingly famous,” she says. “In this local version of fruit cake, sorrel pulp and local dried we’ll push the boat out a bit. My Christmas lunch is definitely not going to be vegetarian, fruit can take centre stage.” so meat must figure quite prominently. In the past, I’ve done spectacular meat centrepieces like a multi-bird roast, but that hile a totally local Christmas meal is an admirable was in the UK, where I could find birds like pheasant, grouse, quest, I wonder about some basic items we take and pigeon quite easily.  for granted — like sugar. Since T&T’s sugar I asked Chef Jason Huggins how he would use local meats in industry was shut down in 2003, we’ve been a Christmas dinner. “If we look at our traditional meats, the ham importing sugar — so how is that going to work? In some cases, is no problem, because we produce good hams locally,” he says. honey might serve, but I would say look for Guyanese sugar — at “The challenge is the turkey, because the most common turkey least it’s from Caricom.  is the American turkey. I’m definitely going to aim for as many local products as “You tend not to find local turkeys easily, so I would say you’d possible in my 2017 Christmas menu. But before heading out to have to change to either chicken or duck,” Huggins explains. shop, I’ll take some advice from Gaytree Maharaj.  “Now, our local ducks are not bred for roasting, so the duck dish “First, go through your recipes and substitute what you would have to be a braise.” can — some research and creativity is required to completely My other meat would be a stuffed roasted shoulder of pork, substitute all ingredients,” she says. “Visit the farmers’ markets and that is not a problem, as our local pork is of a very high to procure your ingredients — this way you are sure all their quality.  produce and products are one hundred per cent local. Seek out Huggins, who is known for his jams, chutneys, and sauces, local producers and create relationships and network with the said having to think of a totally local Christmas meal prompted people who feed us.” an idea for a new accompaniment for his meats. “Most times we It’s great advice, and not only for Christmas time — but for us use cranberry sauce, and my cranberry and apple sauce is a big to take on board all through the year. n

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collection of helen atteck, courtesy chinese american museum

Immerse

Snapshot 44 The games are afoot

Panorama 50 Tracing circuits and

circles

Backstory 58 Pasito a pasito

Self-Portrait (c. 1970; oil on board), by Sybil Atteck, from the exhibition Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art


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snapshot

Video games aren’t just for teenagers to have fun — globally, they’re a highly lucrative business, requiring stateof-the-art technical know-how, creative flair, and significant investment. Mark Lyndersay meets the minds behind Couple Six and Coded-Arts, video game developers in Barbados and T&T, whose agenda includes creating games that reflect the culture of their home islands WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Artwork courtesy Couple Six

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he race for success in the international video gaming industry has become faster and more aggressive, with a top-of-the-line game costing as much to produce as a midrange film. Tetris, first released in June 1984, is estimated to have earned US$170 million over the years. Grand Theft Auto V, released in September 2013, has earned upwards of US$80 million. Popular on the PC but massive on mobile devices, games are a key element of the modern computing experience. Marketing professionals pursue opportunities to gamify their sales pitches, striving to immerse potential customers in participatory experiences while sharing their stories. While most games just barely manage to recoup the massive investments in their creation, or fail entirely, the allure of success drives developers, designers, and artists to work harder to create the next big game. In the Caribbean, two small creative shops are working independently not just to create games that compete in this superheated market, but to create experiences that reflect the culture, rhythm, and unique character of the islands of the archipelago.

Concept art for the game Le Loupgarou, in development by Couple Six

mark lyndersay

Programmers, artists, and management of Coded-Arts at the company’s U-Start incubator offices in Caroni, Trinidad

Taking advantage of new educational opportunities in the region — including a greater emphasis on software development in the tertiary level curriculum and the success of the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s nine-year-old animation programme — a new generation of young creatives are embracing the tools and learning available online to do what they might only have dreamed of as recently as a decade ago. Couple Six from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago’s CodedArts are fully aware of the competition they face, and are working to realise games that reflect and celebrate the uniqueness of the region. Here are their stories.

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arbadian Mark Ramsay was on a train from Toronto to Montreal in 2015 when he began chatting with a good friend about building a video game. But his friend wanted to create a Pong clone, and Ramsay wanted to create something more modern and involving.

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Another friend, Ariana Green — his bestie for ten years — was, to his surprise, working on her own video game project, but the two had absolutely no idea how to actually build one. At this point, Ramsay could rely on a background in fiction writing and Green was into photography. They began with a chilling visual in mind: a girl walking her bike down a track in a cane field who encounters a La Diablesse, the demon temptress of Caribbean folklore. The two began learning everything they could about the medium. They studied game design, narrative construction, pipelines and processes, studied running a company and project management, while Green dug deep into programming with the Unity game engine, a popular coding backbone for developers. “I think our lack of expertise and sheer gumption were incredible assets in those early days,” Ramsay recalls. “We didn’t have the wherewithal to understand that this project was too big to cut our teeth on — and that ignorance was a blessing.” The team, now working as Couple Six, has since grown by three: Joshua Clarke, a fine arts graduate of Barbados Community College; Krystal Leslie, a classically trained musician who is working on the musical themes that will underpin the game; and Danielle Blaize, a Trinidadian animator who is working on the 3D models for the game and the characters.


“Not only is developing a videogame with a small team ambitious in and of itself — but the kind of project we’ve decided to commit to borders on insanity,” Ramsay admits. “That’s exactly why we’re doing it. “We have met talented artists and developers all across the globe — Twitter is a lifeline when you’re a creative working on an island — and they have lent their support, their insight, and their experience. That kind of input is invaluable.” Couple Six’s game, Le Loupgarou, has rich concept art and test animations that create a brooding, somewhat spooky world that’s both distinctively Caribbean, if you spend a lot of time outdoors at night, and otherworldly, as befits a game “about a plantation fire, a pact with a creature called a Baccou, and a civil rights activist masquerading as a maid.” The team has signed up for online patronage with the website Patreon, where supporters can follow and contribute to the development effort. “We tried to work on other projects, side projects, random websites, copywriting,” says Ramsay, “but it detracts from our goal.” “We’re in it for the long haul. We know what that means. We’ve begun hunting for investors, backers, or grants to keep the project afloat, and eventually we will be turning to Kickstarter.” “We’re almost ready for that. We want to make sure that when we turn up and accept people’s money, we know we can deliver.”

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rinidad’s Coded-Arts came together in a more deliberate and planned strategy, but still ended up guided by serendipity. Students of the University of Trinidad and Tobago in animation and others in software engineering created two companies after graduation, Interactive Creative Entertainment and Toolkit Developers, both with the mission to create local video games. The two teams started referencing each other to create a project, and soon realised that marketing a game under two different studio banners simply didn’t make sense. After eleven months, they decided to merge into a single company, Coded-Arts. The team is developing Char Su’s Great Adventure, an atmospheric game about a boy living on a Caribbean island who has to deal with magic and mysticism, battling an obeah man who wants to release the region’s deadliest mythical elements into the wider world. The game is an adventure platformer targeting XBox One, Steam, and PS4. “Originally,” says Andy Berahazar, Jr, chairman and creative cirector of Coded Arts, “we thought we could get by doing a couple of small games while we worked on a larger game. That didn’t work out at all.” Certainly not if the team is to hit their target, the Triple A international gaming standard for the final project, which demands a three- to five-year development cycle.

Popular on the PC but massive on mobile devices, games are a key element of the modern computing experience

courtesy couple six

Mark Ramsay and Ariana Green of Couple Six

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Images courtesy Coded-Arts

Screen captures of the game Char Su’s Great Adventure, in development by Coded-Arts

The team is large, and when gathered in their space at UTT’s U-Start incubator centre, they completely overwhelm the space. But the whole group of twelve is almost never here at the same time, and usually six are in the office while the rest of the team work on projects. Some of those projects will keep the rendering servers running, and managing director Manuel Browne spends most of his working day selling the services that the company offers, a unique

blend of web projects, 3D renderings, and walk-throughs and gamification of projects for commercial customers. Under development as a commissioned project is a video game for the popular T&T video series I Am Santana, due in the first quarter of 2018. And in September 2017, the team delivered a People Finder web app and Android app for people to make contact in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Coded-Arts has also developed an immersive VR experience, modelled in 3D, of Prime Minister Eric Williams delivering his first Independence Day address to the T&T Parliament at the Red House in 1962. It’s an odd experience, looking around the virtual room they have created, full of people with twitchy nervous tics and uncomfortable postures, apparently reluctantly present for the historic address. “People are interested, but they want to see if it’s something that lasts,” Browne says. “It isn’t food, it’s something that has to be sold in a particular way to particular people.”

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To enhance their commercial offerings, and to enrich their game development, Coded-Arts has invested in virtual reality and augmented reality development kits as well as buying a motion capture suit. The company is in talks with Electronic Arts about a development kit and is also talking to Microsoft about working with a HoloLens — an “augmented reality” headmounted display device. The international market for their particular services is changing as well. China and India are volatile heavyweights in the market, but China is turning its resources inward to create more of their own properties instead of powering production for first world nations. Browne sees the market moving into Latin America, now that prices are rising in India, and hopes to find a place there using shared English-speaking as an advantage. “We are all gamers, and this is where we wanted to be when we were growing up,” says Berahazar. “We have an opportunity to decide on what gaming in the Caribbean looks like in the region and locally, and we have to capitalise on this and make it happen,” adds Browne. “We are aiming to be the first developer to release on the console, where success is found, and not just get lost in the clutter of mobile app stores. “Companies are looking for independent and interesting

projects to promote — they want something new, something reflecting unique cultures and experiences. We have the opportunity now to preserve our culture and to promote it using these mediums and channels.” Coded-Arts finds itself in an unusual space as it works to develop a new business model in the Trinidad market. They talk to established businesses and their leadership and, according to Browne, “It’s a lot like having your father looking at you doodle, and smiling and patting you on your back, assuring you that you’re doing a good job.” They also f ield continuous requests f rom inter ns and young people asking for courses to equip themselves for a nascent industry — finding themselves in the position of mentoring others in the business, only a few years after starting out. Mark Ramsay remembers meeting the Coded-Arts team in Trinidad at the annual Animae Caribe screening and demonstration event. “They took us out for Scorpion Pepper Hot Wings when we were there. You know, important business stuff.” n

The Triple A international video

gaming standard demands a threeto five-year development cycle

For more information about Couple Six and Coded-Arts, visit www. patreon.com/couplesix and coded-arts.com

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Courtesy Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Collection and the Chinese American Museum

PANORAMA

Transfinite Passage (1990, oil on board), by Trinidadian artist Patrick Warsing Chu Foon. Selftaught before he undertook studies at the University of the Americas in Mexico, Chu Foon may be best known for his large-scale public sculptures, but he devoted equal time and effort to his paintings

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Tracing circles and circuits

Opened in September and spread across two museums in Los Angeles, a pair of new exhibitions collects artworks and archival materials by dozens of Chinese Caribbean artists. As curator Alexandra Chang explains, Circles and Circuits traces connections between generations of artists and follows the complicated paths of migration and diaspora

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he exhibitions of Circles and Circuits bring into focus the circles created among artists and those around them, including peers, mentors, family, and others who have influenced their work. “Circuits� references the many paths, journeys, migrations, crossconnections, and flows of art, artists, and the Chinese diasporic communities they are a part of. Such circles and circuits are broad, ranging from the Asia/Pacific region to the Americas, to Africa, to the British Commonwealth nations and Europe. Importantly, the exhibition considers intersections of Asian and African diasporic migrations, Asian coolie labour in the Americas, enslavement of Africans in the Americas, and resistance. Circles and Circuits takes into account how personal relationships influence the artists and their practices, and how larger contexts of global migrations and historic legacies of cultural, political, and economic power also inform their work. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Courtesy Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Collection and the Chinese American Museum

Woman with Chickens (1958, oil on board), by Trinidadian Carlisle Chang. In the early to mid 1950s, Chang studied in London and Italy and also spent a formative year in New York City. Like many Caribbean artists at that time, Chang sought to find the primordial in what he hoped would become a national art movement, before and after Independence

Circuits of mobility are important in terms of the exchange and encounter of
ideas, people, images, multiracial and biracial identities, the influence of Afro-Asian interconnections, and the impact of the Second World War on the movement of people within the Caribbean and internationally. Circles and Circuits draws attention to the postwar period leading up to, during, and after Independence movements in the Caribbean in the 1960s. As these countries found their national voices, the impact of creating national identities on artists in the Caribbean is evident in their work and in the writings of their peers, both domestically and in diasporic art circuits abroad. Artists sought primordial “authenticity” and new and old iconographies of nation-building, which included looking to their indigenous and multi-ethnic histories: Amerindian and Taíno arts and cultures, festivals and dances such as Carnival, Hosay, congo, and bélé, as well as nature in relation to religion and everyday popular culture. The Circles and Circuits exhibitions concentrate on the work of 52

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artists who are part of the Chinese Caribbean diaspora in North America, Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Panama. Larger immigrant populations and political, economic, and social-cultural conditions — including the development of national museums and art schools, as well as training abroad — spurred the formation of pipelines of thought and information with peers through major international hubs. These transnational circuits generated rich art practices during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the Chinese diasporic and Caribbean artistic communities. During the past century, the Chinese Caribbean diaspora has travelled and resettled outside the Caribbean. Toronto and New York, for example, have notably large populations of Chinese Caribbean diasporic communities. Living and working in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Cuba, Panama, Canada, and the United States, each of the artists in Circles and Circuits is part of multiple circles and networks of communities and historic contextual influences, each with their own path to the work they create.


Courtesy george chung and the Chinese American Museum Courtesy pedro eng herrera and the Chinese American Museum

Carnaval Cucumbé (1996, three-plate etching and aquatint), by George Chung. Originally from Panama, Chung lost much of his work after he left Panama City in the 1980s for the United States. Now in his eighties, he harbours an immense body of seldom-seen work spanning several decades

Danza de la diosa Aguila y el diablito Abacua (1999, acrylic paint), by Cuban Pedro Eng Herrera. The self-taught artist’s work reflects his close relationship with Havana’s Chinatown, where he first worked as a labour organiser for restaurant workers, and later as the head of the Chinese militia during the Cuban Revolution

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Courtesy Jaime Lee Loy and the Chinese American Museum

The Roach (2017, video timelapse, 2:11 mins), by Jaime Lee Loy. The Trinidadian artist’s installations explore the pain of abusive relationships through the use of everyday objects and flower petals. In her work for Circles and Circuits, Lee Loy created a video that allows the work to continuously decay. The process of time caught within the piece is an essential element that emphasises the delicacy of the organic petals and their slow withering

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Courtesy albert chong and the Chinese American Museum

Courtesy Kathryn Chan and the Chinese American Museum

Throne for Gorilla Spirits (1993, chromogenic colour print with inscribed copper mat), by Albert Chong. Born in Jamaica, the artist moved to the United States with his family in 1977. His work draws on objects tied to his youth, including leftovers from food he consumed in Jamaica: coconut shells, eggs, and salted cod skins. His photographic work also reflects inspiration from Jamaican syncretic religions

Another Life (2017, cotton net, cane, screen printing ink, and sumi ink), by Trinidadian Kathryn Chan. This site-specific work, created for Circles and Circuits and installed in the atrium of the California African American Museum, calls attention to the human rights of women who have died due to domestic violence. Crafted from mosquito netting, the “wings� are an ethereal reminder of women trapped in violent domestic spaces

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Courtesy Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Samsøñ, Boston, and the Chinese American Museum

Finding Balance (2015, twenty-eight Polacolor Polaroid photographs on aluminium panels), by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, born in Matanzas, Cuba, and based in Massachusetts. In this large-scale mosaic, the artist dons a theatrical replica of a Chinese emperor’s robes. She also wears a birdcage on her head, symbolic of a Yoruba headdress. On her feet, though not visible in Finding Balance, are sandals purchased in Venice in the Piazza San Marco. The outfit echoes the presence of merchants from China, Africa, and Europe who historically exchanged wares at the piazza. The pink and blue pompoms, also found in other work by Campos-Pons, act as counters for the imaginary miles covered by those travelling from Cuba to China, Africa, Europe, and beyond

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Panama, and providing a new context for understanding the better-known work of artists such as Wifredo Lam of Cuba. Simultaneously, Contemporary Chinese Caribbean Art is on display at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles through March 11, 2018, focusing on the work of contemporary artists. Circles and Circuits is part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time initiative, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Tracing its own circuit, the exhibition will later travel in condensed form to venues in the Caribbean, accompanied by a catalogue published by Duke University Press.

Courtesy susan dayal and the Chinese American Museum

Circles and Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art, curated by Alexandra Chang and Steven Wong, is an unprecedented pair of shows presenting rarely exhibited artworks and archival materials on Chinese Caribbean art from the start of the twentieth century to the present. History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora runs from 15 September, 2017, to 25 February, 2018, at the California African American Museum. It traces the history of Chinese Caribbean art from the 1930s through the period of the region’s Independence movements, showcasing the contributions of artists such as Sybil Atteck of Trinidad and Tobago and Manuel Chong-Neto of

Obeah Series #3 (c. 1990–91, archival inkjet print), by Trinidadian Susan Dayal. The artist creates corsets and costumes in her selfportraits, at times struggling against the wire as shown in her She Web series, and in others, such as in her Obeah series, carefully composing her own image through stylised poses, as if to accentuate the power of the artist over her own representation

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BACKSTORY

“Slowly,” say the lyrics of the hit song “Despacito”, which has broken a slew of records since its release in January 2017. But the success of the collaboration between Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee has been anything but gradual. Nazma Muller explains how “Despacito” captures the seductive heat of Puerto Rico and the fire of reggaeton — and also why it’s roused controversy for more than its steamy sentiments

Pasito a pasito

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ver the last few decades, slowly and with perfectly timed rhythm, the Caribbean has been increasing its influence on global popular culture. From Barbadian Rihanna to Trinidadborn Nicki Minaj, the region’s offspring have increasingly dominated the charts and airwaves in the United States, Canada, and Europe. This past year, “Despacito”, the runaway hit by Puerto Rican sons Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi, has proved once and for all that the power of Afro-Caribbean rhythm is unrivalled. Like a hurricane, the seductive heat of “Despacito” has taken the US by storm, devastating records and leaping across language barriers to become the first music video in history to be viewed three and a half billion times — in the shortest time ever. Not to mention the first Spanish-language song to top the Billboard Mainstream Top Forty chart. The original version of “Despacito” debuted last January, and then Canadian pop star Justin Bieber’s remix hit the airwaves in April. With Bieber on board, the song rose to number one in the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for sixteen consecutive weeks. It was both Fonsi and Yankee’s first number one on the chart, and Bieber’s fifth. For Bieber, this was the first time he performed in Spanish, switching millions of his teenage fans across North America and Europe on to Latin rhythms and opening the portal to a whole new world of music. Number one in the UK for eleven weeks, “Despacito” was also the biggest-selling track for the summer, racking up 1.2 million combined sales across 347,000 downloads between June and August. With a total of 1.8 million in sales to date in the UK, it has far outstripped the summer’s other big hits.

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o what’s the secret? The “Despacito” video, filmed in San Juan, seduces you both aurally and visually. It pans gradually, allowing you to savour in slow-mo the crashing waves of the Caribbean Sea, the luscious colours of Puerto’s Rican’s stunning landscape, and her drop-dead gorgeous women. Like a carefully planned pepperpot stew, “Despacito” simmers with the Caribbean’s signature spices: una playa, muchas muchachas bonitas, and sensual dance moves. You can easily see why so many people have watched it over and over again. A steamy song about what the singer wants to do to a chica that he sees in a club, “Despacito” is filled with the many textures, colours, and flavours of the region, and — not surprisingly — has unleashed a firestorm of controversy: about the steaminess of the lyrics, the cultural appropriation of Caribbean creative products, and the true beneficiaries of this groundbreaking phenomenon. Its impact in the US is especially intriguing in the wake of Donald Trump’s antiimmigrant policies. Cultural theorists are watching with fascination as millions of American youths fall under the spell of “Despacito”: “pasito a pasito, suave suavecito” — “step by step, soft, softly.” Leaping over language and social barriers, “Despacito” has united its fans with its Afro-Caribbean rhythms, combining the musical traditions of Puerto Rico (the delightful intro is played on the cuatro) and Jamaica, which inspired reggaeton. Daddy Yankee (of “Gasolina” fame) brings street cred to the proceedings with his unique rapping style. “Despacito” has been performed on all the major talk shows in the US — and there’s even a remix by Ernie from Sesame Street.  Puerto Rico’s economy has also got a much-needed boost from all the hype over the song. Just two months after Governor Ricardo Rosselló declared the country bankrupt to restructure a US$70 billion debt, tourism picked up again, with curiosity


OMAR cruz

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music available digitally is bigger than ever and, consequently, plays a more significant role in the charting calculus.” The lusty ode to a mamacita has unleashed a tidal wave of columns and editorials about cultural fusion, and the unrelenting rise of the Latin sound. Its success led Daddy Yankee, who has seventeen million followers on Instagram, to become the most listened artist worldwide on the streaming service Spotify in June — the first Latin artist to break that record. Among the countless cultural explosions ignited by the song was Bieber’s faux pas at a concert when he massacred the Spanish lyrics, replacing some of the words with “burrito” and “Dorito.” Leila Cobo, Billboard’s executive director of content and programming for Latin music, said this has no way affected the song, which was always bigger than Bieber. “[‘Despacito’] was doing very well without Justin Bieber, that’s really important to say,” Cobo explains. “He definitely helped it get to number one on the Hot 100, which is a domestic US chart . . . [But] it was number one on Spotify and number one on YouTube at a global scale. So it was a global hit.” Just how much of the wealth onsi is a classically trained generated by the song has gone to Latin artist who has been the creative well from which it first making a name for himself on sprang has been another talking the Latin pop scene for nearly two point for activists, who say the decades. Two years ago, he woke music industry has exploited the up with the “Despacito” melody cultural production of communities playing in his head. That same day, of colour. Now coasting smoothly at a studio session with Panamanian in the Latin American mainstream, songwriter Erika Ender, the two reggaeton is the go-to rhythm to began putting together the nuts make a hit. The pioneers, such as and bolts of the mega-hit. “It just the Jamaican sound engineers from came together the right way: the the 1980s who created the dancehall right song, the right timing, the right styles that formed the backbone lyric,” recalls Fonsi. The writing of reggaeton, do not get their just experience was “very magical.” Stills from the record-breaking “Despacito” video dues. “Despacito” is seen by those Fonsi then brought in Daddy Yankee to feature on the song. Together they rearranged the promoting the rights of artistes as a perfectly packaged product that track, adding in Yankee’s urban rap style. After its debut in Janu- exploits reggaeton’s now-global appeal for the benefit of a handful ary, “Despacito” shot up the Latin charts. Then Justin Bieber of superstars and large media monopolies.  As non-Latino and non-Caribbean artists claim new fans by heard the song at a club in Colombia while on tour, and saw the tapping into Afro-Latino and other African diasporic musical effect it had on the crowd.  Bieber immediately got in touch with Fonsi. He told him genres, they appear to be “gentrifying” the culture, while not really he loved the song and wanted to release a remix. Fonsi sent a paying it forward to the foundation musicians, producers, and translated version of the lyrics to Bieber in Colombia, and just sound engineers who have never been credited or paid for their intellectual property. Tellingly, Fonsi credits a legion of crossover days later received a remix that was still mostly Spanish. “Streaming was the difference maker in ‘Despacito’ becoming artists like Enrique Iglesias and Shakira for helping pave the way historic, rather than just another song of the summer,” says Matt for his success. However, over the last three decades, it was artists Medved, a Billboard director. “The number of streaming-music and musicians of African descent who experimented with various subscribers has nearly doubled in the last year. In Latin American styles and sounds to carve out the groove and build the driving countries alone, subscribers increased over fifty per cent; overall, rhythms that Fonsi, Daddy Yankee — and now, Justin Bieber — can streams are up over thirty per cent globally. The audience for so easily ride. n

no doubt piqued by the song’s promise that “this is how we do it down in Puerto Rico.” Interest in travelling to the island increased forty-five per cent after the song debuted, according to Un Nuevo Día newspaper. Tour operators now include some of the places featured in the video, such as Club La Factoría in Old San Juan and the La Perla neighbourhood.  For Latino artistes, it is the major breakthrough into the North American and European markets they have long hoped for. “‘Despacito’ proves that when music moves you and makes you feel something, it’s universal, no matter in what language the lyrics are written,” said Mexican-American singer and actress Becky G to USA Today. “As a Latina American singer-songwriter, I couldn’t be prouder to be working in this industry at this point in time.” And Colombian singer J Balvin, whose single “Mi Gente” is being hailed as the next “Despacito”, agreed the song is a “historic” achievement for Latino artists. “I have the biggest love and respect for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee for opening even more doors for all of us,” he said.

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©istock.com/Boogich

ARRIVE

Destination 62 On Florida’s “Art Coast”

Neighbourhood 84 Woodbrook, Trinidad

Round Trip 72 Go deep

Offtrack 86 Mahaica dawn

Tools of the artist’s trade in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, home to a profusion of colourful outdoor murals


Destination

On Florida’s “Art Coast” Think of South Florida — the region served by Caribbean Airlines’ direct flights to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando — and what usually come to mind are amazing beaches, high-end shopping, and thrilling nightlife. But the edge of the peninsula is also home to worldclass museums and other cultural venues, as Samantha Rojas explains. She shares some personal favourites 62

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Street mural in Miami’s Wynwood neighbourhood, home to galleries and design studios

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The Pérez Art Museum Miami has a prominent location in the city’s new Museum Park

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ou always remember your first visit to a truly great museum. For me, it was the Museo del Prado in Madrid — where my dad and I dragged ourselves, after a gruelling nine-hour flight, little sleep, and a few too many welcome glasses of wine the night before. It turned out to be a six-hour trek through wide galleries hung with art treasures. I found myself encouraged into a meditative trance — by the works of art, yes, but also by the museum’s grandiose spaces, shrouded in heavy silence. Years later, and on the other side of the Atlantic, that memory returned as I sat in a cavernous room, taking in the Cuban artist Yoan Capote’s Isla — a monumental work of art created with oil, nails, and fish-hooks, composing the view from the sea wall in Havana, looking north to Miami. It’s currently on display — through April 2018 — at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). A visit to this world-class museum on Biscayne Bay — like my experience of the Prado — will also transform your fuzzy head from the night before into a soothed, Zen-like zone. Before entering PAMM’s caverns, I slumped myself gently into the contemporarily designed yet dramatically comfortable swings on the entrance patio overlooking the bay, letting the wet, hot, breeze waft over me. Sudden relaxation started in my shoulders and moved down through my legs. Grumpiness was leaving me. Museums are great places to wash away grumpy vibes. They are like spas. And

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although Miami may be better known for its beaches, upscale shopping, and nightlife, South Florida is also a cultural hotspot, attracting artists and audiences alike from across the world.

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s a Trini living in South Florida, I invite you to put the temptations of the warm blue Atlantic aside for a moment, along with this gold coast’s twenty-three miles of sand — and have a look at the stimulating sensations that make the region an arts magnet. There’s no shortage of contemporary visual art and local or international theatre, ballet, and opera around the southernmost peninsula of the continental United States. Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator of the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, is said to have coined the name “the Art Coast” for the area between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Designed by leading modernist architect Edward Larrabee Barnes and associated with Nova Southeastern University, the landmark 83,000-square foot museum has important collections of Caribbean art — like Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié’s mixed-media installation, The Indigo Room. The star attraction opening in November is a major retrospective of the American artist Frank Stella, on view through July 2018. One of the exhibition’s highlights is Deauville (1970), a forty-five-foot-long canvas shaped like a thoroughbred racetrack. Not far away, Bonnet House Museum and Gardens — an artist’s estate on Fort Lauderdale beach — is a mixture of exotic landscape, old Florida décor, eclectic art, and an inside look at the lives of the artist and collector Frederic Clay Bartlett (1873–1953) and his wives Helen (who passed away in 1925) and Evelyn, ex-wife of the millionaire businessman Eli Lilly. This gracious estate includes an art studio, an island theatre, and a famous orchid house, as well as endearing stories about alligators. For me, a museum is a place where I learn about culture mostly through osmosis. Images of ancient and contemporary stories wash over me, rather than demand I study them. Keepers of art, history, creativity, and talent, the museums of South Florida connect us to the past while enriching our present, creating new spaces within our psyche.


courtesy steven brooke

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The Indigo Room or Is Memory Water Soluble (2004, mixed media on plexiglass and cast acrylic with assorted objects), a large installation by artist Edouard Duval-CarriĂŠ currently on show at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

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Glimpse into a courtyard in the Wynwood Art District

A Florida Art Coast checklist Miami Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) pamm.org Dedicated to modern and contemporary art, PAMM moved in 2013 to downtown Miami’s new Museum Park district. PAMM offers free Thursdays on the first Thursday of every month as well as free second Saturdays.

Institute of Contemporary Art icamiami.org Moving to a new home in December 2017, the ICA is a home for the experimental and investigative in contemporary art.

Fort Lauderdale Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami mocanomi.org An impressive permanent collection complements special exhibitions focused on exciting new artists.

NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale nsuartmuseum.org Established in 1958, the museum has helped make Fort Lauderdale a significant art destination between Miami to the south and wealthy Palm Beach to the north.

Rubell Family Collection rfc.museum Established in 1964 in New York and located since 1993 in Miami, the Rubell Collection is one of the world’s largest private but publicly accessible contemporary art collections.

The Wynwood Art District

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens bonnethouse.org A private residence until 1983, Bonnet House was given to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation to ensure its treasures could be enjoyed by future generations.

wynwoodmiami.com Just north of downtown, this increasingly trendy area is home to more than seventy galleries, museums, and design studios.

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Put the temptations of the warm blue Atlantic aside for a moment, and have a look at the stimulating sensations that make this region an arts magnet

courtesy david warren

The extensive grounds at the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens

Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando from destinations across the Caribbean

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Round Trip

North Wall, Grand Cayman Some Caribbean islands boast a beach for every day of the year. Others claim the same number of rivers. In the Caymans, 365 is the number of recognised dive sites, in waters of almost legendary clarity. Grand Cayman’s North Wall is often named one of the world’s best dive sites, plunging deeper than six thousand feet in some places. Some say diving here is like underwater skydiving, as you drop from the boat past coral-encrusted submarine cliffs riddled with tunnels to explore.

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Go deep From coral reefs teeming with aquatic life to dramatic shipwrecks, from underwater canyons to sinkholes and caves, the warm waters of the Caribbean can boast some of the world’s most thrilling sites for scuba diving — like the six memorable locations in the following pages WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Útila, Honduras At the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef — the world’s second largest — the island of Útila off the coast of Honduras is sometimes described as “diving obsessed,” and popular with backpackers. There are more than eighty dive sites around the island, teeming with underwater life — and this is one of the best places in the world to encounter an elusive whale shark, the biggest living fish species. Filter feeders with a taste for plankton, whale sharks usually haunt the deep oceans, but at specific times of the year they congregate in the shallower waters off the island.

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Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park Said to be the world’s first submarine art gallery, the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is just off the capital, St George’s, in Molinere Bay — whose natural reefs were damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The brainchild of British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, the park was intended to serve as an artificial reef, creating a refuge for marine life, as well as a showcase of human creativity. Cast in concrete and sunk on the sandy ocean floor, the sculptures are intended to be colonised and gradually modified by corals and sponges — a true collaboration across species barriers.

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North Wall Blue Hole Útila Bonaire National Grenada Underwater Marine Park Sculpture Park

MV Maverick


Great Blue Hole, Belize Forty-three miles off the coast of Belize, in the middle of Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole is one of the world’s natural wonders. Tens of thousands of years ago, when sea levels were lower, this was dry land, a landscape of karst limestone. Like other great sinkholes, this one formed when gradual erosion caused the roof of a vast cavern to collapse. A thousand feet across and more than 350 deep, the Blue Hole was eventually flooded by the sea. It’s on every serious diver’s bucket list, but be warned: this one isn’t for the inexperienced.

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Some of the eighty-six official dive sites in Bonaire’s offshore national park have whimsical names like Alice in Wonderland and 1,000 Steps. But what draws divers here is the incredible diversity of marine life, including 350 fish species and nearly sixty kinds of coral. Like this colourful orange cup coral, which extends its translucent tentacles at night. At some dive sites, it’s the sublime scenery of cliffs, tunnels, and pinnacles that astonishes — at others, it’s the tiny living details that force you to pay attention.

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Bonaire National Marine Park


Twenty years ago, the Maverick — after decades of service as a ferry connecting Tobago with its bigger sister isle Trinidad — came to her final rest on the seabed off Mt Irvine, a hundred feet down. But the sinking was no calamity: it was carefully planned and executed, with the aim of creating a dive site and artificial reef. Now encrusted with sponges and corals, and home to dozens of fish species, from snappers to wrasse, the Maverick is one of Tobago’s most popular spots for advanced divers with a sense of adventure.

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Kadu Pinheiro

MV Maverick, Tobago


joel hinkson

pete oxford

NEIGHBOURHOOD

Woodbrook, Trinidad Developed as a planned community a century ago, this northwest Port of Spain neighbourhood has evolved from a quiet residential district into a hotspot for nightlife, culture — and Carnival

What’s in a name? Woodbrook’s oldest streets, at its eastern end, are named after British generals of the Boer War — Kitchener, Baden-Powell, Buller — but the streets of its central section are named for the eleven children of the German-Venezuelan-Trinidadian Siegert family, whose patriarch invented the worldfamous Angostura bitters in the 1820s. From east to west: Cornelio, Fitt, Murray, Carlos, Alfredo, Luis, Rosalino, Alberto, Gallus, Ana, Petra. Some bonus trivia: in the 1940s, a young V.S. Naipaul lived for a time in a house on Luis Street, owned by his mother’s family. The future Nobel laureate’s experiences there inspired his book Miguel Street, which captured the neighbourhood life of midcentury Woodbrook with insight and humour. 84

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Streetscape Though a few taller buildings have sprung up along Tragarete Road and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook is still largely a neighbourhood of single-storey bungalows. A handful of Victorian gingerbread cottages survive, elegant with fretwork, among dozens of 1920s houses, most of them extended and refurbished over the decades. It’s a leafy neighbourhood, with front gardens and backyard fruit trees, and the original town planners left space for parks too: Adam Smith Square is a neighbourhood focal point, the Woodbrook Playground boasts still-functional century-old swings and a small merry-goround, and Siegert Square is a quiet retreat tucked away behind St Crispin’s Anglican Church. Once dusk falls, “the Avenue” transforms into Port of Spain’s nightlife zone, with dozens of bars and restaurants — from longtime mainstays like Veni Mangé with its reliable nouveau creole menu to neon-lit clubs that manage to stay trendy for a year or two. “Venerable” may not be the right word to describe Woodbrook’s oldest watering hole, Brooklyn Bar on Carlos Street. An old-fashioned rumshop for many decades, a recent refurbishment replaced the décor but not the vibe.


Carnival capital

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The Caribbean Airlines Invaders steelband on stage

courtesy caribbean airlines

The traditional Carnival parade route, running counter-clockwise through Port of Spain, includes a loop through Woodbrook and a stage at Adam Smith Square, where temporary bleachers for audience and judges go up every January. Over the past four decades, and increasingly in recent years, the focus of Carnival activity has shifted away from the city’s downtown and into Woodbrook, where pavements are jam-packed every Carnival Tuesday. The neighbourhood is home to numerous mas camps where costumes are assembled, kicking into high gear in November and December ahead of the Carnival season. Woodbrook is also home to several steelbands — like Caribbean Airlines Invaders, Phase 2, Silver Stars, and Woodbrook Playboyz — popular stops in panyard tours in the weeks leading to the annual Panorama competition.

Co-ordinates 10.7º N 61.5º W Sea level

The same buzzing energy that feeds the neighbourhood mas camps, plus Woodbrook’s central location, have made it a cultural hotspot. The landmark Little Carib Theatre, founded by Beryl McBurnie in what was then her backyard, is Trinidad’s most hallowed theatrical space. A few streets away, the Big Black Box is home to rapso powerhouse 3Canal, and a relaxed, slightly divey performance venue where you’ll find everything from techno music to poetry readings. Round the corner are the contemporary art space Alice Yard, the upscale Medulla Art Gallery, and the tiny jewelbox of The Frame Shop, where artist Ashraph Ramsaran curates small shows by popular artists and designers. Performance at Alice Yard

courtesy alice yard

aaron Mohammed/ TCD Media

Arting about

History Woodbrook TRINIDAD

Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to and from its headquarters at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad

At the start of the twentieth century, Port of Spain was a more compact city, but short on housing for a growing population. Immediately to the west, on what were then semi-rural outskirts, was the Woodbrook Estate, owned by the Siegert family — who sold the land to the Town Council in 1911, to be developed as a new middle-class district. Carefully planned as a neat grid of streets, Woodbrook was quickly built up, and within a couple of decades became one of the more populous neighbourhoods of Trinidad’s capital. Once almost entirely residential, Woodbrook gradually commercialised, a trend which accelerated in the 1990s as the major thoroughfares were taken over by offices and restaurants. By the start of the twenty-first century, Ariapita Avenue was a major nightlife district, buzzing on Friday and Saturday nights. But Woodbrook retains a character and sometimes closeknit vibe distinctive from downtown to the east, St Clair to the north, St James to the west. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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OFFTRACK

pete oxford

The Mahaica River is home to dozens of Guyana’s bird species

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Mahaica dawn Southeast of Georgetown, the lower Mahaica River runs through rice paddies and vegetable fields, but the intact native vegetation along its banks is a refuge for numerous birds and other wildlife. Janette Bulkan and John Palmer head out on an early-morning boat trip, encountering dozens of Guyana’s colourful bird species WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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n early start is worth the effort. The night sky is growing light as we drive into the dawn, eastwards from Georgetown along the coastal highway for twenty-five miles. At Vic Singh’s rumshop in De Hoop we turn inland, heading south alongside the Mahaica River through the villages of Big Biaboo and Little Biaboo. Villagers are slowly waking up, gathering in small groups at the side of the road. Men with toothbrushes stuck like thermometers in the corners of their mouths glance curiously as we drive past. Our road winds through flooded and fallow rice fields, past farms with bora — long green beans — twining up five-foot poles, callaloo, boulanger, and other vegetables for the local markets. Black-and-white Friesian cattle graze on the dykes between the fields, flounder across the canals, and are happy to swim in the river and munch on the floating grass with only their heads above water. Business is good for some farmers: new concrete houses are growing up on the flat fertile soil, and riceploughing and -harvesting equipment stands in the yards.

When we get to the ramp, the six-seater aluminium boat — provided through the generous support of the Caribbean Aqua Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Programme — is waiting. Our guide, Ramesh Shibsahai, is one of seventeen community members who were trained under the CATS programme which gave birth to the Mahaica River Birding Tours. Although this farmland has been under cultivation for a century or more, the native trees and other vegetation along the riverside between the farms and residences have been left relatively intact. There is enough shade and shelter in these narrow strips for a great variety of wildlife. As we board the boat, a large green iguana watches from an overhanging branch. Bunches of flowers float past us, early-morning Hindu offerings on the Mahaica River. We’ve barely set off upriver when we spot them. Prehistoric, Jurassic, reptilian, their red-ringed eyes set in a face of blue skin, topped by a thin crest of spiky feathers. Their heads look too small for their hen-size bodies, their wings are broad but weak, and the birds are, to put it mildly, ungainly as they

We’ve barely set off upriver when we spot them. Prehistoric, Jurassic, reptilian, their red-ringed eyes set

Dr Horst Vogel

in a face of blue skin

Dr Horst Vogel

Mahaica residents: a hoatzin, Guyana’s national bird, and (above) a pair of red howler monkeys

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scramble and flutter among the riverside trees with hoarse cries. These are hoatzins or Canje pheasants (Opisthocomus hoazin), the national bird of Guyana. The Mahaica River is home to a thriving population of these paired-for-life birds, a generally rare Amazonian species. In all, we see around sixty hoatzins, whose preferred food is the leaves of the moko-moko (Montrichardia arborescens), a tall straight plant on the edge of the river with arrow-point waxy leaves. The Mahaica River provides a connecting corridor for avian and riverine wildlife. Threats come and go, but the river is a highway along which animals and birds can move to safety. The small four-stroke outboard motor is quiet enough for us to hear the morning birdsong. One hundred and fifty-eight

of false cocoa, and male red-capped cardinals lead the more subdued females through the undergrowth. Chachalacas peer from low trees into the stands of moko-moko. Overhead, two or three kinds of pigeon fly cautiously from tree to tree while broad-winged hawks circle and vultures patrol higher up. As the sun ascends in the sky, pairs and trios of Amazon parrots cross the river heading east, while small flocks of parakeets fly west. Sunlight flares into the tree canopy, shining off the red-brown fur of silent families of red howler monkeys, known in Guyana as baboons. Our guide Ramesh tries calling to them, but fails to provoke a response from the big bearded males who watch calmly as the boat glides below. We turn around just south of the upper limit of farming along

If you’re lucky, our guide tells us, you might even catch a glimpse of otters frolicking in the river Tours on the Mahaica River include catch-and-release fishing trips

Dr Horst Vogel

the river, as the banks became more densely wooded and the birds more difficult to see. Speeding back downstream, the experienced eyes of Ramesh spot other birds we failed to notice on the way up, or which can be seen more easily now in full daylight. If you’re lucky, Ramesh tells us, you might even catch a glimpse of otters frolicking in the river — but today we have no such luck. We stop for a late breakfast of fried bangamary (a river fish) and plantain chips at the river restaurant and pool bar, where we hear about the popular whole-day catch-and-release fishing trips run by the same Mahaica River Birding Tours, looking for tarpon and the peacock bass. The fishing is better when the river level is falling, pulling the fish out of their spawning areas in the flooded savannah behind the farmlands. As if we needed another reason to come back. n

species have been counted so far along this river. In just two hours, we see thirty-five of these, mostly multiple individuals in small flocks. Tiny ring-necked seedeaters flit at the river’s edge, while three species of flycatcher and two species of kingfisher perch on overhanging branches. Nests of yellow orioles swing from the smaller trees, and rufous and black hawks show their backs as they stand in the taller treetops, beautiful bars across their backs, more pronounced at the tail. Three species of woodpecker knock holes in dead and dying tree trunks, probing for grubs — their scarlet crests brilliant in the growing sunlight. Among the bushes, greater and lesser anis show their dense black and blue plumage and laterally flattened bills. Great and lesser kiskadees call repeatedly, while brown cuckoos sit quietly in the rising sun, a small hummingbird zips between the flowers 90

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For more information about Mahaica River Birding Tours at dawn or dusk, visit www.mahaicatours.com


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ENGAGE

The Deal 92 A legacy of

change

On This Day 94 Defenders of

the faith

The rum business is still dominated by men, but Angostura’s Genevieve Jodhan is an agent of change


THE DEAL

G A legacy of

CHANGE When Genevieve Jodhan was named CEO of Angostura, T&T’s 193-year-old rum distillers, it was a decisive change for an industry still dominated by male executives. But, as Cate Young finds out, her understanding of the Angostura legacy is what makes Jodhan exactly the right woman for the job Photography courtesy Angostura 92

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enevieve Jodhan has a special something that can only be described as “presence.” When she strides into the conference room at the Angostura compound where we are meeting, I’m struck by my immediate desire to impress her. Impeccably suited and incredibly commanding, Jodhan has little time to waste as the first female CEO of Angostura, Trinidad and Tobago’s venerable rum distillers. Milestones like this one aren’t new to Jodhan, however: she was also a pioneering force at 3M and served as their first female logistics manager back in 1997. Glass ceilings are no match for her, and she has continued with that same ambitious ethos during her time at Angostura. From the outside, her new position may seem like another notch on the belt of a woman fond of collecting “firsts,” but to her, it was simply the natural result of hard work and preparation. “I never actually thought I would be in this position, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t prepared for it or that I can’t do it,” she says. “I was honoured to have been given that valuable recognition by the board of directors of Angostura, not only as a woman in this traditionally male-dominated environment, but more as a competent professional who was now capable of being a CEO.” Now that she has the position, Jodhan is ready to get to work. “When I joined Angostura, I had specific goals in what I could bring to this company in terms of supply chain excellence and management, and I believed that Angostura was the best fit for my skills at that point.” After completing her MSc in logistics and supply chain management at Cranfield University in the UK, Jodhan felt that Angostura’s pioneering spirit matched her own. The 193-year-old company has, over the years, expanded to 170 countries. Jodhan initially approached Angostura as a consultant, but she ended up with a full-time executive position. Jodhan was driven — something she says has additionally rubbed off on her from interacting with Angostura’s passionate employees


and international partners. Their enthusiasm for the products encouraged her own. But, even in 2017, ambitious women are sometimes looked upon as a curiosity or anomaly. Much has changed for the working woman over the last several decades, but sexism persists. Jodhan insists this has never been a problem for her. “I’ve never felt that at Angostura. Some people might say that we’re more enlightened in Trinidad compared to the rest of the world. I see it when I travel — people marvel at me that I’m a female CEO. When I did my Cranfield degree, there were eighty-five per cent men and fifteen per cent women . . . I was already accustomed to working with men. It’s never really been an issue. In Trinidad, we are progressing, but wherever you go, women are facing challenges. The industry is still male-dominated, and we still have some work to do.”

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unspoken and often invisible labour many professional women rely on to keep their lives on track, in a bid to feed the lie that one woman can do it all. Jodhan is insistent that a support system is key. “You can’t actually have a career without support. Some people have family support, some people have to pay for caregivers, but I rely strongly on my support system. I have full-time help or I wouldn’t be able to function. That’s the reality. If you don’t have the support system then you can’t move. And you can’t move if your support system is grudging. If your spouse is not behind you and one hundred per cent supporting you, then you can’t do this.” When I ask, Jodhan pushes back at the idea that she is a feminist, insisting that for her it’s always been about being

ated with must be all-inclusive. You don’t just have to target men and objectify women.” Jodhan also hopes to continue the work Angostura has been doing to educate the T&T market about the premiumisation of rum. Maintaining the gold rum strategy it had already established abroad, Angostura launched Legacy in 2012 in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence. “We made only twenty bottles, and we did it because it was extremely expensive,” Jodhan explains. “We hosted a fiftieth anniversary function and we auctioned them off for TT$240,000. It became the world’s most expensive rum. Our thinking was that we know we make very good, expensive premium rums, so starting with Legacy, every eighteen months we’ve been relea si ng a not her r u m produc t that’s all about premium.” The idea was to establish premium rums in the local market in a bid to get the T&T market to understand the value of aged rums. Last November, Angostura launched 1787, a fifteen-year-old rum that they hope will help turn the tide towards premium sipping rums. “We’ve always looked at what different products we should bring out, but we’re also looking at process innovation and how we can innovate and get more mindshare,” Jodhan says. In the end, Jodhan sees her legacy as something more outside herself than I would have guessed. “I see myself as a custodian for a company that has a very long history, and I would like to leave the company better than when I found it.” It’s a humble goal, but a sincere one. Genevieve Jodhan embodies the brand essence of Angostura with “big-heartedness, enrichment, and inclusiveness.” Her dedication and passion are evident, and it’s far from a surprise that a woman with this much verve was selected as the one to lead this legacy company into its next double century. n

“In Trinidad, we want to be moving into the direction where we’re very much more aware of who is our consumer, and not alienate women in our advertising,” says Genevieve Jodhan

a t u r a l ly, Jo d h a n h a s advice for women who seek to follow in her footsteps. Her words are clear and true: “Work hard, read voraciously, learn continuously, and never be afraid to ask questions. And it’s always good to have industry mentors to inspire you.” It’s advice that she says has been instrumental in keeping her engaged in her work and consistently moving forward professionally. But where she’s most adamant is about the need to work towards a reasonable work-life balance. She also maintains that it’s critical to set aside time to centre herself, and remember what matters most. “You need a lot of time management skills to even try to get that work-life balance,” she says. “Family and faith are very important to me. But you have to plan your minutes. I live by schedules.” Jodhan credits her strong support system and full-time paid help with her ability to succeed and commit herself to her work, and it’s at this point in our conversation that she’s most animated. It’s a refreshing acknowledgement of the

the best you can as a person. Despite this, many of her personal philosophies align quite nicely with the ongoing sociopolitical movement. She concedes, however, that there are times when she sees her womanhood as an advantage in her work. She credits the new Angostura packaging design to the company’s observation of products usually overlooked from a man’s point of view. It’s this kind of paradigm shift that Jodhan hopes to encourage during her tenure, and this, too, is part of the company’s new ethos with regard to marketing. Spirits marketing is largely geared to the male consumer, but Jodhan knows that men aren’t Trinidad’s only big drinkers. “In Trinidad, we want to be moving into the direction where we’re very much more aware of who is our consumer, and not alienate women in our advertising. Any programme we choose to be associ-

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on this day

Defenders of the faith Exactly a century ago, anti-African prejudice prompted Trinidad and Tobago’s colonial legislature to ban the indigenous Spiritual Baptist religion. But, as James Ferguson explains, the draconian law never dissuaded the Baptist faithful Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

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n 1917, eighty-three years after its abolition, the spectre of slavery still haunted colonial Trinidad and Tobago. The descendants of emancipated slaves far outnumbered a small white middle class and an even smaller elite, and were joined by Africandescended migrants from other smaller and poorer territories in the Caribbean. The arrival of some 140,000 indentured labourers from India between 1845 and 1917 dramatically changed the colony’s demographic profile, yet the legacy of slavery remained and permeated all aspects of society with antipathy and anxiety. Of particular concern to the colonial authorities was the resilience of African influence in many forms of popular culture. Memories of slave insurrections and, more recently, post-Emancipation conflicts remained strong, and the idea of African-based customs and communal activity was anathema to those in power. Perhaps the most conspicuous of such cultural expressions was that of the Spiritual Baptist Church, and so it was that one hundred years ago, on 17 November, 1917, the legislature of Trinidad and Tobago banned a self-professed Christian religion. The decision may seem odd by today’s enlightened ecumenical standards, but it was entirely consistent with the contemporary colonial mind-set. The problem with the Spiritual Baptist Church was not that it claimed to be Christian, but that it was explicitly African in inspiration and practice, and as such was deemed to be undesirable.

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The church’s roots were eclectic, mirroring the colony’s ethnic diversity. Baptism had first come to Trinidad in the wake of the Anglo-American War of 1812–15, when so-called “Merikins,” former American slaves who had fought on the British side against the fledgling United States, were settled in the Company Villages in the south of the island. Their brand of Baptism, originating largely in the southern slave states, certainly reflected the experience of the African diaspora, and when missionaries from London Baptist societies visited Trinidad in the early nineteenth century they were struck — and alarmed — by what they saw as “primitive” forms of worship. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Spiritual Baptists’ services was the uninhibited shouting used as a form of expression. As Frances Henry remarks in Reclaiming African Traditions in Trinidad, “The practice of the religion also includes ‘baptism, proving mournin’’; the phenomenon of possession by the Holy Spirit; the physical manifestation of possession in the shaking, dancing, speaking in tongues; and bringing back spiritual gifts.” This fundamentally vocal element led practitioners to be known, rather pejoratively, as Shouter Baptists. Baptism rituals, as with mainstream churches, were important, but more unique was the “mournin’” process, in which initiates are deprived of food and water, their eyes covered, as they sit or kneel on bare ground for up to a week. This is thought to allow them to experience a symbolic death and resurrection, whereby their old sins are cast out and a new beginning is possible. This, together with the use of symbolic colours, bells, flags, special robes and headdresses, chanting and, of course, shouting, had little to do with the Baptism practised in nineteenth-century London, and if anything it had strong similarities — especially in the idea of spirit possession — with Haitian Vodou and Cuban Santería. To those used to the genteel rites and liturgy of the Church of England, such practices were doubtless outlandish and threatening. Fears concerning obeah or black magic persisted from the era of slavery. Previous legislation had already proscribed any form of “African” religion, while the playing of drums was outlawed in 1883. In the month before the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance came into law, the Port of Spain Gazette fulminated against what it saw as “a body that has mistaken noise for enthusiasm, and shouting for religion . . . it has long since degenerated into a burlesque upon religion and a general nuisance to every community where it has squatted down and deceived the feeble-minded.” With the aim of suppressing this unwholesome reminder of the past, the Ordinance prohibited, among other things, the ringing of bells, holding candles in public places, and shaking of any sort. Taking part in a Shouter service, using a

property for that purpose, or obstructing the police would result in a fine of $240.

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rohibition rarely works in the way intended, and the law seems to have done little to dissuade the Spiritual Baptists from practising their religion. Many arrests were made, and most charged with contravening the Ordinance were fined. The case of one Teacher Bailey, recalled on the excellent Obeah Histories website, is perhaps typical of the defiant attitude shown by the Shouters. He and thirteen others, according to the Port of Spain Gazette, were accused of taking part in a meeting in Perseverance Village near Couva. “‘Teacher Bailey’ appeared with his head bandaged around with a white cloth, a cross firmly pressed against his breast, and a huge Bible encased in red cloth. When asked whether he was guilty or not, Bailey exclaimed with cross uplifted: ‘I will only answer such a question if it comes from Christ; but not from any man.’ A plea of not guilty was recorded.” The apparently lenient judge reprimanded and dismissed the thirteen others, but Bailey was considered responsible and fined five shillings — which was paid by his supporters, some two hundred of whom accompanied him away from the courthouse. He remained unrepentant: My father is fifty-eight years old, my mother forty-nine, and from the time I was born, twenty-seven years ago, that is the religion I found my mother and father following — not shouting, but praying in the name of the Lord. (Holding his cross uplifted, Bailey proceeded to say:) I am prepared to go to jail every time, and to carry on these meetings, I will always do so. Christ was persecuted for religion, and if I go to jail for religion, it does not matter. A system that jailed individuals for religious convictions was clearly unsustainable, yet the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance remained on Trinidad and Tobago’s statute book until 1951. Then, with the rise of anti-colonial and nationalist sentiment in the run-up to Independence, this relic of anti-African prejudice was ditched. Prominent among those pressing for the repeal were members of the new Legislative Council, elected by universal suffrage, such as Albert Gomes and Uriah “Buzz” Butler, himself a Spiritual Baptist preacher.

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n 1995, the government went a step further, granting an annual holiday on 30 March in honour of the Spiritual Baptist movement. The religion thrives today, claiming between 100,000 and 200,000 adherents among a population of 1.3 million. In modern, multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago, it has reclaimed its place as a religion among equals as well as an indigenous faith, as expressed by the government’s National Library website: Although the origins of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Faith in Trinidad and Tobago can be traced to foreign countries, it has evolved over time to become a unique, indigenous religion. It has managed to fuse the spontaneity and rhythms of Africa with the restrained, traditional tenets of Christianity to produce a religion that is vibrant, expressive, and dynamic. n WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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puzzles 1

CARIBBEAN CROSSWORD Across 8 Out of bondage [10] 9 Cannot tell the truth [4] 10 Hot and wet [6] 11 A little spasm [6] 13 Monetary wager [3] 14 By mouth [4] 15 Hummingbird food [6] 17 _____ and confused [5] 18 What’s the purpose [3] 19 Flat fish that glides, perhaps? [5] 22 Nun’s head-cover [6] 23 Conspirators’ plan [4] 24 Solid water [3] 26 Cream-filled pastry [5] 27 Pitched [6] 29 Spoiled child [4] 30 Elderly and they’ve earned it [10]

Down 1 Landmark theatre in Woodbrook [6,5] 2 Skewered fare [5] 3 Practice space for Trinidadian instrument [7] 4 Purifies, as rum [8] 5 Very old [7] 6 Caribbean Christmas cake [5,4] 7 You hear with this [3]

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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE by Gregory St Bernard There are 11 differences between these two pictures. How many can you spot?

Spot the Difference answers Christmas tree is repositioned; bottle of ponche-a-crème is bigger; Kaiso’s Santa hat is repositioned; colour of Santa hat is changed; Kaiso is wearing shades; mouth is repositioned; bead necklace is removed; knife and fork are swapped; ham is smaller; pastelle is added; tablecloth colour is different.

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art Baptist bell blenny Blue Hole Chinese corporation craft Despacito distiller drum flour folklore Fonsi gamer green ham

kingfisher legacy liberation local Mahaica parang premium reef reggaeton rice shark sorrel Spanish substitute video wilderness wreck

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78% (2017 year-to-date: 5 October)


Caribbean Airlines CARIBBEAN Trinidad Head Office Airport: Piarco International Reservations & information: + 868 625 7200 (local) Ticket offices: Mezzanine Level, The Parkade, Corner of Queen and Richmond Streets, 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: 1 246 429 5929 / 1 800 744 2225 (toll free) City Ticket Office: 1st Floor Norman Centre Building, Broad Street, Bridgetown, Barbados Ticket office hours: 6 am – 10 am & 11 am – 7 pm daily Flight Information: + 1 800 744 2225 Baggage: + 1 246 428 1650/1 or + 1 246 428 7101 ext. 4628

/ Across the World

Nassau

Orlando

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

Airport: Orlando International Reservations & information: + 800 920 4225 (toll free) Ticketing: Terminal A – departures level (during flight check-in ONLY – Mon/Fri 11:30 am – 2.15 pm) Baggage: + 407 825 3482

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

St Vincent and the Grenadines Airport: Argyle International Reservations & information: + 800 744 2225 Ticketing: Argyle International Airport (during flight check-in ONLY)

Tobago 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

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 – 7.30 am to 7 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 – 12 pm to 3.00 pm); Baggage: + 305 869 3795

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

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) Ticket Office: Paramaribo Express, N.V. Wagenwegstraat 36, Paramaribo Baggage: + 597 325 437


Destination:

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737 onboard Entertainment — NOVEMBER/DECEMBER Northbound

Southbound

NO V E M B E R

The Family Stone

Maudie

Chaos reigns when the eldest son of a bohemian family brings home for Christmas his fiancée, a highly strung New York businesswoman.

An arthritic Nova Scotia woman works as a housekeeper while she hones her skills as an artist and becomes a beloved figure in the community.

Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker • director: Thomas Bezucha • comedy, romance • PG-13 • 104 minutes

Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett • director: Aisling Walsh • drama • PG-13 • 115 minutes

Northbound

Southbound

Four Christmases

Kevin is accidentally left alone in New York City, only to discover that the robbers he foiled a year ago are now out of prison and planning a new heist.

A couple who avoid their dysfunctional families at Christmas are forced to attend four separate Christmases with them.

Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Macaulay Culkin • director: Chris Columbus • comedy • PG • 119 minutes

Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Robert Duvall • director: Seth Gordon • comedy • PG-13 • 89 minutes

Audio Channels Channel 5 • The Hits

Channel 8 • East Indian Fusion

Channel 11 • Traditional Christmas music & Parang

Channel 6 • Soft Hits

Channel 9 • Irie Vibes

Channel 12 • Steelband Jamboree

Channel 7 • Concert Hall

Channel 10 • Jazz Sessions

D E C E M B E R

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York


parting shot

Spice of the season Native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia, nutmeg — the sweet, aromatic seed of the Myristica fragrans tree — has been a prized culinary spice for centuries. Introduced to Grenada in the nineteenth century, it’s become a symbol of the Caribbean’s Spice Island, even appearing on the national flag. And as Christmas approaches, cooks around the region will reach for their nutmeg to add seasonal flavor to everything from cakes to eggnog. Photography by chang/istock.com

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Caribbean Beat — November/December 2017 (#148)  

A calendar of events; music, film, and book reviews; travel features; people profiles, and much more.

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