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Welcome to the exhilirating Tobago Jazz Experience Everything you need to know about Tobago’s premiere musical event

The Tobago Jazz Experience, as it’s now known, was started under another name in 2004 as a private sector initiative, and ran for five consecutive years until 2008. World-renowned artistes like Elton John, Sting, LL Cool J, and Diana Ross were some of the marquee names featured in the previous Tobago Jazz Festival. By 2009, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) took hold of the reins. Recognising that over the years patrons had come to enjoy more than just the scintillating headline acts gracing the main stages, the festival was rebranded the Tobago Jazz Experience. This new version has become an annual pilgrimage for family and friends who look forward to the easy-going vibe on the island with one of the most iconic beaches in the world, Pigeon Point. The Tobago Festivals Commission (TFC), the revitalised entity charged with sole responsibility for putting on the event, brought us the 2018 edition of the Tobago Jazz Experience, where audiences were treated to the music and moves of Michael Jackson-reincarnate, Ne-Yo; driven into a frenzy by Fantasia, American Idol winner turned international crowd pleaser; and serenaded under the stars by neo-soul exponent, Anthony Hamilton. Not to be outdone, the 2019 edition of the Tobago Jazz Experience promises to be no less exhilarating, with one of the world’s most beloved crooners, Michael Bolton, confirmed as a headline act. The other marquee performers are yet to be named — however, if the TFC’s short but impactful track record is any indication, we can expect that Bolton will be accompanied by similar star power over the course of the Tobago Jazz Experience, running from 25 to 28 April. TFC Executive Chairman George Leacock, former national basketballer and sport administrator, can be an intimidating personality for the fainthearted to interact with on a regular basis. But his lifelong love affair with Carnival, and Tobago’s culture on the whole, makes him the ideal person to charge the lead into such unfamiliar territory. As the founder of the island’s first radio station, he knows all too well the challenges of forging a path where none previously existed.

The Tobago Festivals Commission’s mandate Other than the Tobago Jazz Experience, this iteration of the Tobago Festivals Commission has been charged with managing all of Tobago’s other major festivals, including Carnival, Best Village, the Tobago Dragon Boat Festival, Tobago Heritage Festival, and Tobago Blue Food Festival. A new feature event on the region’s sport tourism calendar, the Pan Am Dragon Boat Club Crew Championships, carded for 22 to 24 March, is also under the purview of the TFC. Under the vigilant eye of the board, the TFC has adopted as its watchwords Economical, Efficient, and Exciting, with a view to putting on events that are lean in their use of available resources, yet still entertaining for patrons. Though a young organisation, the TFC is poised to chart a new course in festival management and event tourism. With a dynamic, innovative team of youthful professionals under the stewardship of an eclectic Executive Chairman with a business acumen like no other, it is clear that only the sky is limit.


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Contents No. 156 • March/April 2019

80

57 50

EMBARK

20 Wish you were here

Andromeda Gardens, Barbados

22 Need to know

Essential info to help you make the most of March and April across the Caribbean — from music festivals to Holi poems to Jamaica’s Champs athletics extravaganza

40 Bookshelf and playlist

Our reading and listening picks

44 screenshots

Antiguan filmmaker Shabier Kirchner talks about his new short, Dadli

46 Cookup

Resurrection rice Brought to Trinidad from West Africa via the United States, Moruga hill rice was a staple of the Merikin community for generations, writes Franka Philip. Now entrepreneur Mark Forgenie wants to make this traditional food available to all 12

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IMMERSE

50 Closeup

Queen of queens T&T’s self-proclaimed Queen of Bacchanal is a Carnival mainstay. But, two decades into her career, Destra Garcia remains underestimated by local fans and critics, argues Nigel A. Campbell

57 Panorama

Stories of steel Carnival is the season of steelpan. But behind the Panorama stage, the future of T&T’s national musical instrument will be shaped by administrators, craftspeople, arrangers, and educators — like these men and women profiled by writer Sharmain Baboolal and photographer Mark Lyndersay

70 backstory

Forever prima How did Havana come to be one of the world’s leading centres of classical ballet? Nazma Muller tells the story

of prima donna assoluta Alicia Alonso, and her influence on generations of Cuban dancers

74 snapshot

The inheritance of loss Trinidadian filmmaker Mariel Brown set out to make a straightforward documentary about her writer father. But as Unfinished Sentences evolved, it turned into a nuanced exploration of grief, family, and artistic ambition, writes Georgia Popplewell ARRIVE

80 Destination

Seven days in Tobago A mere week could never be enough to savour all the pleasure of Tobago — but Nixon Nelson suggests a seven-day sampler, from beaches to waterfalls to Store Bay’s curried crab


CaribbeanBeat CaribbeanBeat An MEP publication

90 Offtrack

Makonaima’s treasure Karasabai, a Macushi community in Guyana’s Pakaraima Mountains, is rich in wildlife and legend alike, writes Annette Arjoon-Martins

94 Personal tour

Good prospect From architectural landmarks to a growing foodie scene, the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Prospect Heights — home to Trinidad-born architect Roxanne Ryce-Paul — may be rapidly gentrifying, but it still holds on to elements of its history

98 Home ground

Editor Nicholas Laughlin General manager Halcyon Salazar Design artist Kevon Webster Production manager Jacqueline Smith Web editor Caroline Taylor Editorial assistant Shelly-Ann Inniss Business Development Manager, Tobago and International Evelyn Chung T: (868) 684 4409 E: evelyn@meppublishers.com

Business Development Representative, Trinidad Mark-Jason Ramesar T: (868) 775 6110 E: mark@meppublishers.com

Business Development Representative, Trinidad Tracy Farrag T: (868) 318 1996 E: tracy@meppublishers.com

Barbados Sales Representative Shelly-Ann Inniss T: (246) 232 5517 E: shelly@meppublishers.com

Home to Antigua Returning to Antigua after eight years away, Bridget van Dongen couldn’t wait to re-introduce herself to the island that made itself her home ENGAGE

106 Discover

As deep as it goes The portion of the sea below two hundred metres is our planet’s biggest habitat, and the least known. Erline Andrews meets Trinidadian marine biologist Diva Amon, pioneering deepsea research in our region

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

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

110on this day

A flag on the island When a British military force landed in Anguilla fifty years ago, it was a strangely anachronistic moment in Caribbean colonial history — but one that Anguillans welcomed with open arms, suggests James Ferguson

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 2019. 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

112 puzzles

Enjoy our crossword and more!

120 classic

A dip into Caribbean Beat’s archives: Kellie Magnus on Kingston’s “running commentary”

The Caribbean Airlines logo shows a hummingbird in flight. Native to the Caribbean, the hummingbird represents flight, travel, vibrancy, and colour. It encompasses the spirit of both the region and Caribbean Airlines.

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For information call 620-4382, 684-5869, 631-1320 email: tobagoresorts@gmail.com

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Cover The eye-catching fruit of the Clusia tree, known locally as the autograph tree or parrotapple, in the rainforest of Tobago’s Main Ridge Photo Sean Drakes/Alamy Stock Photo

This issue’s contributors include:

MAY

MAY

01 05

2019

Erline Andrews (“As deep as it goes”, page 106) is an award-winning Trinidadian journalist. She is a regular contributor to Caribbean Beat and her work has also appeared in other publications in T&T and the US, including the Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor. Sharmain Baboolal (“Stories of steel”, page 57) is a Trinidadian journalist and broadcaster with thirty-seven years’ experience working from Port of Spain. She was awarded T&T’s Humming Bird Medal (Gold) in 2012. Nigel A. Campbell (“Queen of queens”, page 50) is an entertainment writer, reviewer, and music businessman based in Trinidad and Tobago, focused on expanding the appeal of island music globally. Mark Lyndersay (“Stories of steel”, page 57) is a Trinidadian photographer and journalist. His BitDepth is the longest running newspaper column reporting on technology in the country. Georgia Popplewell (“The inheritance of loss”, page 74) is a media producer, journalist, and editor from Trinidad and Tobago, who is currently managing director of the international citizen media project Global Voices.

In our January/February 2019 issue, the photograph of maswoman Tracy Sankar-Charleau on page 67 was incorrectly credited to photographer Jason Audain. The image should have been credited to Maria Nunes. Apologies to both photographers for this error. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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A MESSAGE From OUR CEO

“We must push one common intention, for a better life in the region.” — Dr Leroy Calliste, “the Black Stalin”

We begin with our partnership with Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, which we are supporting in a number of ways, with sponsorship of: Welcome to Caribbean Airlines — your authentic Caribbean air carrier! Thank you for flying with us. It’s the time of year many of us look forward to, when the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival fills us with feelings of festivity and freedom. The sounds, the sights, the music, and the energy of the world’s greatest street party have to be experienced to be believed. All the details of this and many other wonderful festivals and events that form part of the Caribbean calendar can be found in the Need to Know section of this magazine on page 22. One of the great aspects of our festivals is that they are a shared occasion, made complete by the sense of togetherness with one’s “Caribbean family.” This concept is at the core of Caribbean Airlines’ new campaign for 2019: the Caribbean Identity. In the words of calypsonian Dr Leroy Calliste, the Black Stalin, in his seminal song “Caribbean Man”, “first of all your people need their identity.” The Caribbean Identity is the culture and the spirit of our many diverse nations, united by a shared sea and our similar and powerful heritage. It is an affirmation of what makes the Caribbean people and region unique. Our campaign will showcase the very best of the Caribbean, reflected across our airline, from branding to community activities to our presence at festivals and major events in the destinations we serve.

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• The Red Cross Children’s Carnival • Caribbean Airlines Skiffle Steel Orchestra • The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago (NCC) • Pan Trinbago • International soca icon Machel Montano’s signature event, Machel Monday, and his G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) Carnival Tour 2019, which will take soca music and the Caribbean Airlines brand to the world   The Caribbean Identity campaign was rolled out to all Caribbean Airlines destinations in February, including Guyana, where we were the Official Airline of Mashramani and will soon be the Official Airline of Guyana Carnival in May. In Jamaica, Caribbean Airlines is the Official Airline of the Reggae Girlz, the first Caribbean team to reach the FIFA Women’s World Cup. We are also a sponsor for Reggae Sumfest, one of the largest reggae music festivals in the world. Also coming soon in 2019 is the Caribbean Airlines Mobile app, which will revolutionise your travel experience with us. In addition, soon you’ll be able to book your entire vacation, including hotel and other options, with Caribbean Vacations and Tours — the latest expansion of our product offering. Our technology partner for this exciting initiative is Busy Rooms, who

will supply a state-of-the-art booking system and platform where you can book specially crafted vacation packages. We are passionate about creating world-class vacation experiences for you, right here in the Caribbean and throughout the world. Caribbean Airlines looks forward to collaborating with tourist boards, hotel associations, and tour operator associations across the region, as we market various destinations through our new Caribbean Vacations and Tours. In the meantime, please check out our LIMBO Fare promotion, which offers low fares aimed at encouraging you to visit new destinations and to re-visit some of your favourites. Caribbean Airlines is your airline, your brand — we belong to you, the people of the region. Our connection with the Caribbean goes beyond the thousands of people we transport every day. Our connection speaks proudly and loudly to the vibrancy of our cultures, the energy of our music, the splendour of our landscapes — and, of course, the heart of you, the people. Thank you for choosing the authentic Caribbean air carrier. Please take your complimentary copy of Caribbean Beat magazine as a tangible memoir of your travel with us. You can find us at www.caribbeanairlines.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @iflycaribbean.

Garvin Medera Chief Executive Officer


wish you were here

Andromeda Gardens, Barbados In 1954, when Iris Bannochie began planting a sixacre garden on family property near Bathsheba, no one could have guessed it would become one of the Caribbean’s horticultural treasures. Named for the heroine of Ancient Greek myth, and now owned by the National Trust of Barbados, Andromeda Gardens is a lush retreat perched on a hillside above the island’s dramatic east coast, with a collection of over six hundred tropical plants.

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Andre Donawa Photography

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NEED TO KNOW

courtesy CLAY J’Ouvert

Essential info to help you make the most of March and April: what to do, where to go, what to see!

Don’t Miss J’Ouvert in T&T Vibrations from music trucks jumpstart your biorhythm early on Carnival Monday morning (4 March), the true start of Trinidad and Tobago’s annual festival. Mud, paint, powder, and chocolate cover your skin, honouring 22

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the rituals of J’Ouvert. Joyful shrieks announce those about to get dirtied. From 4 am to after sunrise, revellers dance and chip through the streets to soca, pan, and brass music. And the action is not just in “town”: outside Port of Spain, J’Ouvert flourishes in communities around the twin islands, from San Juan to Couva, Arima to San Fernando, Scarborough to Point Fortin. The J’Ouvert bug is contagious — just

watch the smiling bystanders who are now gloriously anointed. Shelly-Ann Inniss How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates numerous flights daily to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad from destinations in the Caribbean and North America


Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock.com

need to know

Top Five In the groove From the waves lapping at our shores to our rhythmic accents, the Caribbean is a naturally musical archipelago. And brilliant dry season weather brings a chorus of amazing music festivals across the islands, where international celebrities headline alongside treasured local talent. Here are five of the best in March and April, to add the right notes to your travel plans.

Tobago Jazz Experience

SXMusic Festival

13 to 17 March, St Martin For five days, escape into an alternate universe like a movie set, with your closest friends carefree and forever dancing to music by over fifty world-class house and techno DJs. sxmfestival.com

26 to 28 April You won’t want to wake up from this dream. Steeped in African traditions, the festival presents an allround experience of Maroon culture, food, and music in an atmosphere where strangers become friends. carriacoumaroon.com

Jazz Artists on the Greens

Barbados Reggae Festival

6 April, Trinidad Carnival is over, but the musical energy still thrives, in a different genre, with no shortage of Creole jazz and smooth jazz, jazz fusion, and more. Relax on your blankets to the sounds of artistes from St Lucia, Cuba, and T&T. jaotg.com 24

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25 to 28 April Why don’t we paint the town, and all that jazz! Tobago’s annual musical bonanza is filled with dynamic performances inviting you to leave your troubles at the gate. tobagojazzexperience.com

Carriacou Maroon and String Band Music Festival

27 to 30 April Barbados might not be your first thought for reggae, but if you’re looking for a fix, this festival has all the ingredients. Listen out for Bajan artist Buggy Nhakente alongside international talent in this completely immersive experience. thebarbadosreggaefestival.com


SAVING HER LIFE TAKES ALLIES

With our Caribbean allies, the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative is transforming the diagnosis and care of children with cancer and blood disorders in six Caribbean countries. But to fund the Initiative, we rely on our philanthropic allies: donors who’ve given $1 million CAD each. Thanks to their remarkable generosity, we’ve screened 57,790 babies for sickle cell disease. We’ve trained 27 nurses and three fellows. And we’ve built seven telemedicine facilities, connecting Caribbean health-care professionals to each other, to SickKids, and to the world.

THANK YOU TO THESE GENEROUS DONORS:

Wes and Christine Hall

McCaig Magee Family

LesLois Shaw Foundation

Join us: sickkidsfoundation.com/caribbean


need to know

Ready to Wear Keep it clean As each new year begins, a fresh start is a common and hopeful resolution. For 2019, Trinidadian clothing label The Cloth, led by designer Robert Young, has offered a new collection called Clean Slate, with no expiry date. For over three decades, The Cloth has been known for its storytelling through intense colours and intricate appliqué, but Clean Slate offers a pared-down look. “It deconstructs our heritage, our patterns, and these saltwater boundaries, to figure out how we can move a little differently,” says the label. These sophisticated minimalist designs — executed in light Baltic flax linens, with special attention to the finer details — speak for themselves. You too may be inspired to find a different voice, while staying true to your origins. For more information and the full Clean Slate lookbook, visit thecloth.com

Photography courtesy The Cloth Models, from left: Gabriella Bernard, Laura-Lee Williams, and Glenesia Wilson

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need to know

On View Sharjah Biennial 14 instigated by the Trinidadian artist in the desert of Sharjah, commissioned by the Sharjah Biennial, and ultimately paid for by the state coffers of the small but immensely wealthy Persian Gulf state, one of the United Arab Emirates. Running since 1993, the Sharjah Biennial is the biggest contemporary art event in the Gulf states. In its fourteenth iteration — running from 7 March to 10 June, 2019 — it assembles more than eighty artists and includes over sixty newly commissioned works.

Courtesy Christopher Cozier/Sharjah Art Foundation

At first, a bleak and empty desert landscape, where reddish sand stretches to the horizon. A group of men arrive, dressed in identical white shirts and grey trousers, and a series of pickups deliver building materials: bricks, ropes, iron poles. The men start to erect a scaffolding structure. Gradually it rises to form a cube, three storeys above the sand. What kind of construction might this be, in the middle of nowhere, a roofless object that seems more like an abstract

on a common factor in the histories of the Caribbean and the Persian Gulf: “transplanted labour.” His structure in the desert was “obviously not a real construction site.” Rather, it was an experiment. “I wanted to see, and to listen to, who would be doing the actual work” — specifically, the workmen who wittingly participated in the project were labourers from South Asia, who make up much of Sharjah’s labour force. “I realised that everyone involved, including myself, in this act of labour, was from an elsewhere,” Cozier says. “Some children appeared and were playing around all over our chosen temporary site. They were behaving as if we were disturbing their playground or backyard.”

Still from elsewheres are beginnings and endings (video, 2019), by Christopher Cozier

sculpture than a habitable dwelling? But the men aren’t alone: a ragtag bunch of small boys wander around, alternately observing and ignoring the workmen’s labour. These scenes of mysterious activity are intercut with abrupt jumps, either back or forward in chronology, to the time before the scaffolding was built or perhaps after it was dismantled. elsewheres are beginnings and endings is a video work by Christopher Cozier (produced in collaboration with Maya Cozier and Shari Petti), documenting a ritual of labour 28

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Under the general title Leaving the Echo Chamber, the Biennial is divided into three distinct exhibitions, one of them organised by Guadeloupean curator Claire Tancons, known for her engagement with artists working in Caribbean performance traditions. Tancons’s “open platform of migrant images and fugitive forms” features works by artists from around the globe, including Cuban Carlos Martiel and Puerto Rico’s Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. Invited to create a new work in this context, Christopher Cozier reflected

It remains for the Biennial audience — drawn from a jetsetting global art elite — to put the pieces together, or perhaps to merely acknowledge a fact we ought to already know. Behind the smooth, shiny surfaces of capitalism and its cultural manifestations, the hardest, dirtiest labour that makes it all possible is done by men and women from elsewhere, working for minimum wages — often invisible, silent, ignored, until someone pulls back the veil. Philip Sander


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that were previously reserved only for vehicles in the luxury class. This means that it has the highest level of active safety in its segment, with functions adopted from the luxurious S-Class. The MBUX is equipped with Natural Voice Control, an innovative touchpad, and the new touchscreen. Interacting becomes natural and intuitive, and by being seamlessly connected to your smartphone, you never lose touch with what matters. The purist, surface-emphasised redesigned appearance of the A-Class is the next step in the design philosophy of sensual purity. The progressive front and dynamic lines make for a sporty and exciting design. More space, interiors inspired by modern luxury, and a revolutionary user interface are true game changers in the segment. “The A-Class has been a big driver of change at MercedesBenz. It is the single best example on how we managed to rejuvenate our entire brand”, says Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “There’s not much of an ‘entry-level’ feel left in our new entry-level car. This grown-up A-Class fully incorporates our definition of ‘Modern Luxury.’ And it’s unparalleled in this segment.”

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need to know

How You Say Nautical lingo The fine weather of March and April comes with a slew of regattas across the Caribbean, from Antigua to Bequia to the British Virgin Islands. The exhilaration of slicing through the water and the flapping of sails in the wind entice many landlubbers — but if you’ve never set foot on a boat, some of the crew’s language may confuse you. Here’s a handy guide for those who can’t even tell mast from sail.

Bow or stern?

Let’s start with the most basic of basics: the bow is the front of the vessel, and the stern is the back

Port or starboard?

Facing the bow, port is your left, while starboard is your right

Heeling

When the boat tilts into the water, due to the force of the wind To change direction by turning the stern of the boat through the wind, in order for the wind to come from the other side of the vessel

Tack

Your nautical course relative to the wind: if it’s blowing over the port side, you are on a port tack. To tack as a verb, however, is to change direction by turning the bow of the boat through the wind

Ready about!

Prepare the boat for tacking!

Man overboard!

Hope you’re wearing your lifejacket . . . 30

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need to know

Doha

LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

There are many provinces in British Guiana: some queer, some miserable, depending on your own eyes. Everyone knows the wondrous village Golden Fleece in Esiquibo District. Where Pandit Paramanand resides is renowned both here and abroad. Again I bow before Rama; also I bow

The Read Lalbihari Sharma’s Holi Songs In 1916, a small pamphlet of verses with the title Damra Phag Bahar was published in Bombay. Its author, Lalbihari Sharma, had left India some years before, bound for what was then British Guiana, as an indentured labourer. No one knows exactly how many copies of Sharma’s pamphlet were actually printed, how far it circulated, or why this pioneering publication — the only known literary work written by an indentured labourer in the Anglophone Caribbean — was eventually forgotten. But not forever: a century later, in a sequence of events combining sheer luck with archival doggedness, researcher Gaiutra Bahadur unearthed a fragile copy of Sharma’s verses at the British Library, and passed the text along to Guyanese-American poet Rajiv Mohabir. Capable in Bhojpuri — the native tongue of both Sharma and his own grandmother — Mohabir produced a translation now published as I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (Kaya Press), giving today’s readers thrilling, tantalising glimpses of life in a plantation community in the era of indentureship. Sharma’s Holi Songs, as the title suggests, are verses intended to be sung in the month of the Hindu festival of Holi, usually called Phagwah (its Bhopuri name) in the Caribbean. These songs, Mohabir writes, “remind you of comfort, of home, of the gods — and that this suffering is temporary” — drawing on traditional devotional poetry, Sharma’s memories of his youth in India, and the landscape of Guyana’s Demerara coast, where he created a new life for himself, and a new home.

before the wise one’s feet, the foundations of my life.

Chautal The bright Sita gained Rama’s dark body as a husband. Adorned in jewels, her friends sent her off to the garden to distract her. Rama and Lakshman’s hearts now hers. Sita opened her mouth but no sound came out, looking around she saw her friends and blushed. Praying to the goddess her face flushed. Beholding Sita’s blush Rama’s stalwart heart stirred. Sita’s face like the moon. Ram’s eyes like chakor birds, there in the garden Sita’s friends burned with jealousy. Bringing flowers, the brothers depart.

Lalbihari says, “Rama’s feet won my heart.”

Ulara My love, do not vex. What I say And what I don’t say Is only what I’ve seen. What use is anger?

Celebrated in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and other parts of the Caribbean in late March this year, Phagwah — also known as Holi — is the Hindu spring festival, an extravaganza of coloured liquid and powders, music and merriment.

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need to know

Gilbert Bellamy/Photosbybellamy

Kevona Davis of Edwin Allen High School won the girls’ 100m and 200m races, both in records times, at CHAMPS 2018

On the Field Calling all CHAMPS Kellie Magnus explains why Jamaica’s high school athletics championships loom large on the sports calendar — and predict future Olympic stardom Maybe it’s the statues of track legends that adorn the grounds of Jamaica’s National Stadium. Olympic medalist Don Quarrie stands guard at the entrance, while Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, Merlene Ottey, and Usain Bolt beckon athletes from other points of the complex. Maybe it’s the rhythm of history — decades of tradition, glory, and sweat baked into the floor and walls of the McDonald Tunnel, through which the athletes pour onto the track. Maybe it’s the hopes and dreams of an audience 35,000 strong, who strain the stadium’s capacity and roar athletes on to break records with astonishing predictability. Whatever the reason, when the stadium opens on 26 March, the expectation for greatness will already have been set. Its official name is the ISSA/ 34

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Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls Championships. Jamaican track fans know it as CHAMPS. In 2019, the five-day carnival of running celebrates its 109th year. Hosted by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association, CHAMPS is the premier high school athletic competition in the Caribbean, and the biggest high school athletic event in the world. The Boys Championships began in 1910 as a competition between a handful of prominent high schools at another storied Kingston location — the cricket grounds at Sabina Park. The Girls Championships started in 1914, settling into an annual schedule in the 1960s. The two were merged in 1999. The result is a solid week of athletic excellence with sprint events (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 100m/110m

hurdles) and the 1500 arranged by class and gender. Open distance events including the 5,000m and the 2,000m steeplechase and a full array of field events — high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, discus, shot put, and javelin (girls only), plus the heptathlon — round out the schedule. Then there are the relays — hotly contested 4x100s, 4x400s, and medleys featuring Jamaica’s top thirty-two teams, their places won by times at sanctioned meets on the country’s grueling high school athletics calendar. High school loyalties run deep in Jamaica, and the CHAMPS trophy tops the list of local prizes worth bragging rights. The three-thousand-plus athletes who will take to the track this March represent more than one hundred schools. But in 109 years, only sixteen schools have won a CHAMPS title. Longstanding rivals Kingston College and Calabar High School will resume their battle this year, with Calabar looking to extend their sevenyear winning streak and add another precious title to the three they need to surpass KC as the boys’ school with the most CHAMPS titles. Meanwhile, recent Girls Champs’ powerhouse Edwin Allen High School will need many more wins to surpass Vere Technical’s twenty-two. But while loyal alums come for the contest, most of the crowd in the stadium comes for the show. Qualifying and finishing times at CHAMPS, particularly in Class 1 (ages sixteen to nineteen) rival those of any international track meet. The 2018 staging saw twenty-one record-breaking performances. And each year reveals a new cast of athletics stars likely to shine in Jamaica’s already bright constellation for decades to come.


need to know

Joshua Cazoe, Courtesy NEW FIRE festival

Finding the rhythm at the New Fire Festival’s drum circle

Word of Mouth Light a New Fire Shelly-Ann Inniss learns how a Trinidadian music festival with green roots tries to spread a hopeful message of change Picture the lush grounds of a historic cocoa estate in Trinidad’s Maracas Valley. Surrounded by natural rainforest and the meandering Acono River, yogis do their practice. Nearby, artists focus on their canvases, people shop for innovative goods at an artisan’s market, while others play games or participate in workshops of all kinds. Meanwhile, from a vibrantly decorated stage, the lyrics and harmonies of musicians and poets fill the air. This is the vibe audiences have come to anticipate at the New Fire Festival, which returns this year to the beautiful Ortinola Estate (running from 12 to 14 April), for a weekend of fun, feel-good activities that manage to do good, too. The brainchild of the Trinidad and Tobago Bridge Initiative — a non-profit connecting people through sustainable cultural, environmental, and economic practices — New Fire blazes with a 36

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solid lineup of musical acts. For 2019, that means performances from Isasha, Nex Chapta, Caleb Hart, Jivanna, and festival favourite Freetown Collective. True star power will come from calypso legend David Rudder, who will headline as the new “Master of Fire.” The Ortinola stage, it’s safe to say, will be lit. Then there’s the everything else that makes New Fire a full-day experience: you can watch belly dancing, make your own up-cycled jewelry, try moko jumbie stiltwalking or capoeira, and more. To help you shed your cares and find your inner spark, experts will lead sessions in art therapy, dance and drama therapy, aromatherapy, and even horse therapy. And if it all sounds so good you never want to leave — or if you just want a chance to be one with nature, unplugged from social media and everyday noise — New Fire caters for that, too, with colourful tents creating a camping area.

Zero waste is the goal throughout the festival, with single-use plastics banned by organisers. Audiences and campers are encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles, and vendors will gladly fill your reusable food containers. Unlike your average Trini fete, New Fire is “based on environmentalism and sustainability,” says festival director Elize Rostant. Fire is an element of transformation, the organisers remind us, and every year New Fire tries to influence lives in a fun, positive way, appealing to the community-minded, and anyone interested in safeguarding our planet and environment. For New Fire regulars, the festival has become a pilgrimage they anticipate year after year. This is the dream: that in this ever-complicated life we live, there’s another world away from the everyday. One where happiness is not faked, inner peace is not compromised, and positive energy flourishes. You can breathe fresh air, be mindful of the environment, learn and develop sustainable life skills, relax and enjoy stellar entertainment — above all, try something new. Sounds a little farfetched? Just maybe, the New Fire Festival is the fuel you need to ignite that hopeful flame.


Escape the ordinary. Discover Hyatt Regency Trinidad.

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Calvert Jones, Courtesy St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority

need to know

St Vincent and the Grenadines National Heroes and Heritage Month

Datebook

March Traditional food, concerts, and a host of cultural activities celebrate SVG’s heritage (above), all month long. On Indigenous People’s Day, commemorations take place on the Grenadine island of Balliceaux

More highlights of March and April across the Caribbean St Patrick’s Day, Montserrat

Easter, around the Caribbean

17 March Don your green and join the joyful masses in parades, a soca monarch competition, the St Patrick’s Cultural Pageant, and a Freedom Run and Walk around the Caribbean’s Emerald Isle

21 April Each island has its own cherished Easter traditions — from kite tournaments in Trinidad to a rodeo in Guyana, Easter bun in Jamaica, and goat-racing in Tobago

20 to 22 April Every Easter weekend in the fishing village of Oistins, families come together for karaoke, boat races, road tennis competitions — and, of course, food. Do you think you can eat the most fish cakes? 38

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25 to 28 April Throughout the season, Jamaican and international soca and dancehall artists headline fetes. Charge up with high-energy, fun-filled events in Kingston and Ocho Rios, and get ready to crush the road!

Fusion Adventure Races, Trinidad Delphi/Shutterstock.com

Oistins Fish Festival, Barbados

Jamaica Carnival

27 April Athletes discover the hidden treasures of the island from a unique perspective as they compete in an adventure race through the forest, starting at Maracas Bay on Trinidad’s scenic north coast


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Carriacou Regatta Festival 2-5 August 2019

Spicemas Carnival 7-13 August 2019


bookshelf Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War edited by Karen McCarthy Woolf (Nine Arches Press, 124 pp, ISBN 9781911027294) If war songs praise bloodied heroes, then the unsung ballads of martial engagement point to those soldiers blotted out of the hymnals. So it has largely, historically, been, in Britain’s paltry recognition of the Caribbean servicemen of the First World War. The 1915 British West Indies Regiment, the BWIR, enlisted roughly fifteen thousand men across eleven battalions: many of those men never made it home. Who would the black Caribbean Siegfried Sassoons and Wilfred Owens have been, if allowed prominence to tell their own stories? Unwritten — which assembles ten commissioned poets and one essayist, from the Caribbean and its diaspora — speaks into history’s silencing void, pulling WWI testimonies, fragments, and elegies into contemporary verse. These poems strive not only to describe our maligned military volunteers, but to imagine what they might have said, and what their loved ones might have endured. Potent among these is Guyanese-GrenadianBritish Malika Booker’s “Her Silent Wake”, which chillingly

Theory

centres a mother’s loss of her war-slain son, a mother who seethes, “that bitch of a stepmother England built a forest / of bones for rats to feast on succulent black men, the scent of her / actions rancid as hell.” Though they speak in the main of families and lineages long deceased, the poems in this anthology are blisteringly, tenderly stitched through with the personal. Take Trinidadian Jay T. John’s stirring, powerfully sentimental imagining of the pioneering social worker Audrey Jeffers, “There are days where my hands”, which names Jeffers’s home street, summoning the domestic anchor of “Aunt Sherry’s gallery, where pools of / cool cotton lay draped before us, when a pricked finger was the only / worry of blood.” Unwritten doesn’t wrestle the poetic crown from Wilfred Owen or his brethren. It demonstrates, with all the resonant urgency of a mission long past due, that black Caribbean post-war survival needs — deserves — its own soldiers’ and storytellers’ crowns here, too.

The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story

by Dionne Brand (Knopf Canada, 240 pp, ISBN 9780735274235)

by Edwidge Danticat (Graywolf Press, 200 pp, ISBN 9781555977771)

Teoria, a graduate student mired in the completion of an increasingly elaborate PhD thesis, is easily distracted from the purity of academic purpose by three very different, sensually compelling women lovers. A novel of scholarly frustration and heartbreak hullabaloo might be desiccated in anyone but Dionne Brand’s hands: Theory, a genrecrumpling philosophy of a story, shows up the dustiest, most terminally hidden corners of the human heart, and reveals the aching limitations of a thinker’s intellect. Looking up at the window of one of their lovers, Teoria nocturnally muses, “Does she see me there, dressed in paper, dressed in the cuts on my fingers from turning pages?” Don’t be surprised if this sharp, erudite novel, as much thought experiment as it is institutional critique, keeps you up late at night with your own ponderings on unfinished romances and languishing dissertations.

“Sometimes we must become our own holy places, roaming cathedrals, and memory mausoleums,” pronounces Edwidge Danticat. No stranger in experiencing ultimate loss, and writing it on the page, the Haitian-American novelist and essayist guides us through the sepulchral cloisters of mortality through the testimonies of others. Using the lives, deaths, and creations of Gabriel García Márquez, Sylvia Plath, TaNehisi Coates, Audre Lorde, and others both perished and present, Danticat reveals the underpinnings of our obsession with passing on, peering into portals such as the rise of self-penned obituaries, and the ravaging grief left in suicide’s wake. When the author describes her own mother’s death from cancer, her sorrowful gratitude leaks with illuminating light.

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bookshelf Q&A The Ice Migration by Jacqueline Crooks (Peepal Tree Press, 144 pp, ISBN 9781845233587) As daringly necessary a series of stories about cross-border movements as Britain presently needs, The Ice Migration sinks its roots into the land, exploring the intertwined bloodlines of an Indo-Jamaican family caught up in the rigours of indentureship. Spanning a century of slavery’s clutches, migration as escape route, duppies who work mischief and offer comforts alongside the living, and the keeping and shattering of secrets, these tales are acts of ambitious cartography, showing in exquisite diction how spirits converge where unfinished business — and blood debts — linger, haunting the earth as much as those who walk it. From the bullock carts of Calcutta to the rag-andbone man’s Southall horse and cart, we are transported by these tellings.

Forged from the Love: Colin Laird, Caribbean Architect by Robert Clarke (The Colin Laird Project, 196 pp, ISBN 9789768280107) “ I wa s f i rs t c o m p l e t e l y enthralled by his drawings, which I considered artworks,” says architect Sean Leonard upon discovering technical designs by Colin Laird. Architecture as art of the most socially engaged order: this was Laird’s driving ethos, proof of which lies in his literal landmarks of our Caribbean. Clarke’s assiduous research reveals the distinguished socialist’s commitment to leaving public and private space better-equipped to serve the needs of all people, from politicians to proletariat. As much visual treasury as moving biography, Forged from the Love presents handwritten letters and family photographs alongside other touching ephemera. Laird’s legacy lives on, in buildings as much as in the progressive goodwill his architecture inspired. Reviews by Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor

Jamaican-British poet Raymond Antrobus talks to Shivanee Ramlochan about how hearing loss has primed him to write deep-reaching poems, in his debut collection The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins, 91 pp, ISBN 9781908058522).

The Perseverance bravely and unapologetically demands space for D/deaf voices. How do you hope readers will hearken to this call? My writing process for this book was a “project of listening,” given how much time I spent with all the voices in it. I hope I manage to inspire others to care as much about listening as they do about speaking. When I first worked with CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) ten years ago, I noticed how deaf awareness gave them patience and a presence that made them (generally) wiser than their years. The book directly addresses hearing people and points out ways that their culture doesn’t consider us, but I hope it also celebrates our presence in the world.

Your poems are bridges spanning worlds of experiences: D/deafness, dislocation, the difficulty of family trauma. Tell us about how you construct these bridges. The Perseverance is in conversation with lots of poets and poems I admire that also grapple with loss and trauma. From Hannah Lowe, Kei Miller, and James Berry to Shara McCallum and Linton Kwesi Johnson, Caribbean poets inform my poetics heavily, as do deaf poets like Ilya Kaminsky, Meg Day, and Raymond Luczak. Also, John Betjeman’s poem “Portrait of a Deaf Man” showed me you could portray a deaf person powerfully but also truthfully in a poem. If I’ve been successful, then The Perseverance is no more about deafness than it is about communication, connection, language, education, and family.

Do languages of love persist for you, in music as in poems? Records and tapes my parents played while I was growing up influenced my poetics. Becoming a teacher really gave me perspective in how lucky I was to have parents who were curious about the world and wanted me to question things — not everyone gets that. The building of my language of love probably came from music, because there was always something playing when I entered my parents’ houses (they lived separately). This means Prince Far I, the Heptones, Nina Simone, and Bob Marley are sounds associated with my homes, and therefore an important part of my language of love.

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playlist Keshav & Rakka present Badang! Riddim Various artists (Badang! Records/Monk Music Co.) Trinidad Carnival is here, and the sounds of Carnival are at their peak. A notable feature this year is the predominance of the riddim — one musical bed for multiple singers to exploit with unique songs or lyrics — as the driver of the frenzy. Another feature is the globalisation of soca, with the introduction of producers from outside the Caribbean exploring this music and distributing

The Complete Cuban Jam Sessions Various artists (Craft Recordings) Between 1956 and 1964, the major Cuban record label Panart captured the sounds and descargas — improvised musical jam sessions — of the most innovative native musicians on the island. With the freedom of jazz and the soul of Cuba, this is “a stylistic and historic panorama of Cuban music, from big band son montuno to Afro-Cuban rumba, mambo, cha-cha-chá, and country acoustic guajira Single Spotlight

Rag Storm Super Blue, featuring 3 Canal (Chinese Laundry Music) The music of Trinidad Carnival changed forever in 1991, when Austin Lyons — known to the world as Super Blue — instructed masqueraders to “get something and wave.” The energy and focus of the Road March tune — of which Super Blue already had three — became anthemic signals to abandon one’s inhibitions and “mash up the place.” Since 1980, when he won his first Road March, until the

XtraOrdinary Triple Kay International (self-released) Dominica’s Carnival, or Mas Domnik, is a preLenten festival like Trinidad and Tobago’s, and in 2019 the music of local favourites Triple Kay International is the soundtrack for revelry. The band, which performs zouk, compas, reggae, cadence, dancehall, and — in this case — Dominica’s native bouyon music, squares up against any naysayers who think they could outrank it. “Who’s coming with me / On this epic journey / To build a legacy / To be extraordinary? / We bigger than, better than, better than any 42

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it for other Carnivals worldwide. DJ Rakka from Belgium has teamed up with UK-based Trinidadian producer Keshav Chandradathsingh to create a skeletal drum-centric riddim that allows for the words of a number of major soca artists to “ride.” Rhythm more than harmony drives this music, prosody more than melodic variation is the key to hooking audiences. The stars are all out on this EP: superstar Machel Montano, chart topper Kevin Lyttle, lyrical geniuses Chromatics and MX Prime, and hot steppers Olatunji and Ricardo Drue make up the cast. music,” as described by compilation label Craft Recordings. This bit of history is here remastered for a new generation and collected in a five-LP box set (five CDs are another option), offering a unique glimpse of the zeitgeist of the nation during and after the Cuban Revolution, which nationalised Cuban culture and record companies. Legends of Cuban music recorded in that loose setting include mambo co-creators (and brothers) bassist Israel “Cachao” and pianist Orestes “Macho” López, alongside jazz drummer Guillermo Barreto and other pioneers. A keepsake for the ages. present, his is the template followed by just about every soca singer trying to get the attention of the masses. In 2019, alongside seminal rapso group 3 Canal, Super Blue is describing what will be the inevitable outcome when ears hear this jam: “Jump and jump up / Jump and rag up / Is mas’ and tempo / When Super leh go.” In other words, this music will have bodies defying gravity while enthusiastically twirling bandanas. The world welcomes the rebirth of Super Blue, who in the early 2000s descended into “hell,” with the battle scars of a vocal rasp as a reminder that he is forever the party soca king. competition / Competition flat!” Confidence indeed, but when a sample from Queen’s “We Are the Champions” invades the chorus — not once, but twice — you know this is not arrogance, but a tongue-in-cheek retort to everyone that you have to come good to even be on the same page. As a musical mélange of creole fiddle, saxophone, and drums alongside modern drums and keyboards, the sound resonates like a Trinidad power soca — but with that instrumentation, you know Dominica’s originality is ever present. Reviews by Nigel A. Campbell


beyond ordinary...

...Explore the extraordinary Caribbean island. Unspoilt, untouched, undiscovered Tobago TobagoBeyond.com | #101ReasonsTobago


screenshots

courtesy rathaus films

“I would love to break down the way we’ve been taught to tell stories”

How did Dadli come about? I got hired as part of the second-unit team on this feature film, Wendy [by US director Benh Zeitlin]. We were shooting on film, and before we started I decided to refresh myself with the format. So I called my first AC [assistant camera] and we got ourselves a 16-mm camera and two cans of film and went to a village in Antigua called The Point. And I decided to document. I had no idea anything was going to come from that. It wasn’t until after Wendy that I revisited the footage. What is it about The Point that made you shoot there? The Point has an interesting history. It’s the last tenement yard system that exists in Antigua. It’s also one of the first villages where the slaves revolted — the slaves were made to live on top of their burial grounds. Today it’s one of the poorest areas, but it shares a port with cruise ships. So there’s this interesting duality between the history of the island 44

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As a New York–based cinematographer, Antigua’s Shabier Kirchner has been making a name for himself shooting films for other filmmakers on the US indie scene. He’s worked on a number of acclaimed features, and last year the film-industry magazine Variety put him on its list of ten cinematographers to watch. Recently, Kirchner got the opportunity to turn his camera on his homeland, in the service of telling his own cinematic story. Set in the neighbourhood of The Point, adjacent to Antigua and Barbuda’s capital St John’s, Dadli — the title is the familiar form of Wadadli, Antigua’s indigenous name — is an entrancing sensorial experience, an impressionistic assemblage of assorted shots of people, places, and things. One of the film’s subjects, the teenaged Tiquan, provides a poignant voiceover narration about life in The Point, and thus some semblance of a story. Conventional storytelling isn’t the point, however: Dadli draws its power from the cumulative effect of its imagery, the camera capturing everyone and everything it sees with a piercing empathy. Jonathan Ali speaks to Kirchner about filming this almost accidental project.

and present-day tourism. Currently the government is bulldozing the area, turning it into commercial fisheries, so it was a great time to archive it. How did Tiquan come to be the voice of the film? While I was shooting this test footage, there was no agenda. I wasn’t looking for a main character. We weren’t recording sound, so there weren’t any interviews. I was just walking around shooting things that were interesting. It wasn’t until many months later that we realised there was this boy who kept appearing in the footage. So Tiquan became the force behind the narrative. After we had an idea of what we wanted the film to be, we tracked him down and interviewed him. Dadli provides an impressionistic viewing experience rather than a conventionally told story. Does one form of filmmaking hold a particular appeal over the other for you?

In the not-so-exact words of [French filmmaker] Robert Bresson, there are two types of cinema: the type that employs plot and narrative to drive the story, and the type that employs the camera to do so. I’ve always been attracted to the latter. This project in particular was purely the camera. Having made Dadli, are you planning on making more of your own films in the Caribbean? It’s all I think about, really. I would love to break down the way we’ve been taught to tell stories. The Caribbean is so full of untold narratives, I would love to share as many as I can with the world. My production company, Rathaus, has optioned a book by a Caribbean author that is currently in development. Dadli Directors: Shabier Kirchner and Elise Tyler Antigua and Barbuda 14 minutes


cookup

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s children, Mark Forgenie and his brother would play in the “coffin” under his grandparents’ home. This eight-foot-long chest was actually a rice box, where his uncles would store the rice farmed on the many acres of land his family worked in Moruga, deep in south Trinidad. At Christmas time, this large box would be filled with rice, and it would fall to Mark and his brother to scoop it out and process it for older relatives to cook. “We’d put it in the mortar and pound it for a good forty-five minutes to shell it out, then we’d throw it up and fan it until it was clean,” Forgenie recalls. “That would always break up the rice, but you’d get nice red rice that way. “The tradition was, from the start of December through January we would eat rice on a Sunday. On Saturdays, we would pound the rice and the men would cook the ‘Creole rice’ in different ways. A lot of times with coconut milk. Sometimes they would parch it with bene [sesame seeds] and sometimes with bird peppers.” This rice Forgenie grew up eating is African Oryza glaberrima, known locally as Moruga hill rice. It was introduced to Trinidad by the Merikins, a group of African-American soldiers who fought

for the British in the War of 1812. Forgenie himself is a descendant of the Merikins. The soldiers were each given several acres of land in Trinidad as their reward for fighting for the Crown. The rice — native to West Africa — had previously been grown in the Carolinas and the state of Georgia, where many of these soldiers were born. It was grown by the Merikins because of its hardiness and long shelflife. This red rice has never been a mainstream product in Trinidad, as it’s grown and consumed mainly in Moruga and surrounding areas. For years, hill rice production and consumption was in decline — something Forgenie realised only when his father suffered a health crisis in 2009. “My father had a small stroke, he had a clot on his brain,” Forgenie says. “The neurosurgeon, who is from Moruga, told my Dad he had to change his lifestyle — my Dad loved to eat bacon, pudding, and ham every morning, so his cholesterol was too high.” As part of his recovery, the doctor mandated that the elder Forgenie drink porridge made from hill rice twice a day. At the time, Forgenie was living in north Trinidad. He dropped everything to head to Moruga to his uncle’s home. When he got there, he expected the rice box to be full — but, to his dismay, there were just five pounds of rice.

Resurrection For generations, communities in south Trinidad have grown a special variety of hill rice brought from Africa, with a unique flavour and health benefits. When entrepreneur Mark Forgenie learned that the Moruga hill rice he grew up eating was about to disappear, he saw an opportunity. Franka Philip investigates Illustration by Shalini Seereeram

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rice “I grew up knowing these boxes to have four hundred pounds of rice, so I was shocked. I asked him what was wrong, why was there no rice.” Forgenie recalls. “He told me ‘none of your cousins are interested, everybody is either working offshore, driving maxi taxi — nobody wants to work the land, nobody is interested in the rice.’” Forgenie thought this situation was unique to his family, but he soon discovered the lack of interest in farming the rice was widespread in Moruga. He had not known this tradition, this “unique thing” he had grown up with, was dying. And how could he know? At the age of eighteen, Forgenie left Trinidad and headed to Britain,


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where he joined the Merchant Navy. He spent eleven years working on tankers in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South America — far from verdant and fertile Moruga. He returned to Trinidad in 2003, launched his own marine services company, and took up residence near Port of Spain. Rice farming was the furthest thing from his mind. After speaking with his uncles at the time of his father’s illness, Forgenie started exploring the reasons why hill rice had declined so badly, and sought to rediscover for himself the art of rice farming. His first stop was the farm of Miss Patrice, an eighty-six-year-old woman. “I was working for myself, so I had the time,” Forgenie says. “For two months, I would drive down on a weekend, stay at my family’s house in Basse Terre, and go see what Miss Patrice was doing. Soon enough, I realised that rice work is so labour intensive, it just turns you off.”

“The tradition was, from the start of December through January we would eat rice on a Sunday,” says Mark Forgenie But he was not dissuaded. Inspired by what his father’s neurosurgeon had told him about the benefits of hill rice, Forgenie felt he had to do something. “Dr Maharaj never did the research, but had anecdotal evidence from his stroke patients who used the rice as a porridge every morning and evening as part of their therapy. He said they recovered in half the usual time, and ninety per cent of them recovered. I realised there was a medical and scientific thing about this rice, that’s not like other rice.”

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o, since 2009, when his father had that stroke, Forgenie — supported by his wife Cassie — has been literally travelling the world to find ways to make the farming of Moruga hill rice more efficient and profitable. He set up Vista Dorado Estates on his family’s land, with the belief that farming could be made easier if there was equipment suited to the hilly terrain of Moruga. “I knew the answer was mechanisation, but there was no research about it. I went to the Ministry of Agriculture and they said they tried it, but they failed.” He was told by ministry officials that he should expect to fail as well, as there was no equipment on the market that could help. Forgenie was amazed at the negativity. However, once you meet Mark Forgenie, it doesn’t take long to recognise that he’s passionate, determined, and extremely astute.

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After failed experiments with local heavy equipment distributors, Forgenie sat down and drew a model of the kind of equipment he felt was needed for the terrain in Moruga. His quest for the right equipment took him to China, where he met with a company who bought one of his designs. They were so impressed, they took it into mass production, and Forgenie is now the Caribbean distributor. Having solved that part of the equation, it was all systems go. The Forgenies set out their plans for getting Moruga hill rice into the mainstream, via their company Caribbean Sea and Air Marketing. They worked closely with government agencies, and developed highly positive relationships with the Intellectual Property Office and ExportTT, Trinidad and Tobago’s national export facilitation agency. ExportTT helped the Forgenies with courses in key areas like the principles of packaging and labelling. And in 2018, Caribbean Sea and Air Marketing received a TT$317,000 grant from the Ministry of Trade to improve technology in their manufacturing process. “As an outsider, someone who never grew up in Moruga, I wondered, why is this rice not on the shelves?” says Cassie Forgenie. “We had to package the rice professionally, because traditionally, it was sold in a paper bag at the San Fernando Market.” She explains that a major turning point came at T&T’s 2018 Trade and Investment Convention, one of the biggest trade shows in the Caribbean. Here the Forgenies met with officials from S.M. Jaleel, a beverage company that sells their drinks up the Caribbean and through the Caribbean diaspora. The result was an international distribution agreement for Moruga hill rice. You can now find Vista Dorado Moruga hill rice on the shelves at all major supermarkets in T&T. I’ve tried the rice myself, and I can attest to its delicious nutty flavour, particularly enhanced when cooked with coconut milk and bay leaf. Vista Dorado’s lineup includes plain rice as well as varieties flavoured with geera, lemon pepper, and even Scorpion pepper, for adventurous types. You can also try that healthy porridge, made with ground rice flavoured with cocoa, nutmeg, and other spices. A small cookbook is in the works. After the Forgenies received their government grant, an editorial in the T&T Newsday called it “a healthy serving of good sense, reminding us of how our unique place in the world, our unique history, can be leveraged as a resource to return us to the path of economic growth.” Plus, Moruga hill rice is delicious — a winning formula in the ongoing campaign to make the most of indigenous Caribbean foodways. n


Rick Rudnicki/Alamy Stock Photo

Immerse

Closeup 50 Queen of Panorama 57 Stories of

queens steel

Backstory 70 Forever prima Snapshot 74 The inheritance of

Carnival season brings renewed attention — and anxiety — to the state of the steelpan, T&T’s national musical instrument

loss


closeup

Queen of queens She’s the self-proclaimed Queen of Bacchanal, and a reliable favourite on T&T’s Carnival scene. But, twenty years into her career, local fans and critics still underestimate the unstoppable Destra Garcia, writes Nigel A. Campbell. As the music industry evolves, he argues, it’s time to rethink what we mean by “biggest” and “best” — and acknowledge Destra’s international reputation Photography by Frame Photography, courtesy Bamboo Entertainment

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ast October, the US National Public Radio website published an essay declaring Trinidadian soca star Destra Garcia the “liberator of revelry.” That essay was part of a series “dedicated to recasting the popular music canon in more inclusive — and accurate — ways” in order to “challenge the usual definitions of influence.” Destra is “broadening the sound of soca,” argued writer Keryce Chelsi Henry — an external viewpoint that illustrates something taken for granted in Trinidad and Tobago: Destra Garcia is the bellwether among women soca artists in the music industry. The reach of her influence, I’d argue, has made this soca star a music icon

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outside her native country, even dwarfing her local reputation. And that influence is no longer centred on Trinidad Carnival. Destra is now international and perennial. To suggest subjective classifications like “best” or “biggest,” it’s useful to have the imprimatur of some objective measurements. In this modern age of music, when data is king and “likes” and “follows” matter more than universally diminishing record sales, Destra — with her entire catalogue on all the major digital music platforms — has the numbers that matter. They make a solid case for her ascension beyond her self-declared role as “Queen of Bacchanal” to the more apt title “Queen of Soca.” Looking at the numbers on popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Destra is indeed the queen, with metrics beyond other women soca stars like Alison Hinds and Fay-Ann Lyons, rising talent Nailah Blackman, or even calypso legend Calypso Rose. Only soca superstar Machel Montano betters her on Instagram, while Destra is the clear leader on Facebook among all performing soca artists worldwide, with over 323,000 followers, as of December 2018. That includes a strong fan base in the Caribbean diaspora worldwide. Even so, soca’s popularity, and the stars who make this music regional if not global, are still operating within confined niche markets, even as the sound and rhythm of soca are tapped by today’s urban pop stars as a sonic bed for charttopping hits. The social media numbers for the most popular soca artists pale in comparison to the major artists of other genres: Bajan Rihanna has close to 80 million followers on Facebook, while Trinidad-born Nicki Minaj has 41 million, and Cardi B — of Trinidadian and Dominican parents, and arguably the hottest thing right now — is just beginning, notching just over six million followers on the platform.


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As for Destra, she may have a bigger impact regionally and in the diaspora than at home in Trinidad. The Fader, the high-profile music magazine based in New York City, noted in a 2016 review of her career that Destra “tours globally year-round, connecting with her international fan base via trilingual capabilities — she speaks English, Spanish, and French — and the universal language of wining.” That universal appeal is endorsed by her tireless touring — in 2017, she fell from a stage in Bermuda, breaking her ankle, but continued touring and performing, wearing a cast. She has headlined festivals and other events in the US and Canada, the Netherlands, every island in the Caribbean archipelago, Guyana and Venezuela on the South American mainland, and even in Dubai. The global marketplace is her oyster, and soca is her ticket to the world.

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orn and raised in the tough Laventille district of east Port of Spain, Destra Garcia is both a product of her community and a patient student of an industry that rewards the deserving and confines the ordinary to the pages of journeyman chronicles. The late V.S. Naipaul wrote that “small places with simple economies bred small people with simple destinies.” Some Caribbean people — like Destra — take such a statement as a challenge, rather than an indictment.

The reach of Destra’s influence has made this soca star a music icon outside of her native country, even dwarfing her local reputation

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Destra went to primary and secondary school in Woodbrook and then St James, on the other side of Port of Spain, and in that milieu, she excelled at singing calypsos in the various competitions organised for school children by organisations like the National Carnival Commission. She remembers that initial breakthrough. “My teacher, Janice Roach, was the one that found I had a good voice, a good tone, and she found that I was brave. She wrote my very first calypso, ‘Common Entrance’, and entered me in the primary schools’ competition. And I won. My


first try, my first attempt at singing in public after she trained me to use the microphone. “I was only ten,” she continues. “It was just an eye-opener to me. I enjoyed the attention, I enjoyed the applause, I enjoyed being on that stage, and I never looked back.” The spirit of that early mentorship paid major dividends during her secondary school years, when she enjoyed an unprecedented winning streak, this time composing her own calypsos. While her school provided the foundation for a career, her family and their influence built the framework. The Garcia home was a house of music: Destra’s mother was into soul, her father was into Bob Marley, her grandparents were into old-time kaiso. Her relatives included working musicians playing steelpan and jazz. That “good voice” Destra’s teacher Miss Roach heard was touched by all these musical connections, as well as church and gospel music, developing into a signature powerhouse vocal instrument instantly recognisable among soca fans. Once Destra left school, she began to experiment with R&B in both solo and girl-group formats, and was sought out to record tracks to be “shopped” abroad by an American A&R executive. An unplanned setback with that project led her to “try soca.” An initial partnership with singer Third Bass

on the track “Just a Friend” began her professional soca career in 1999, leading to frontline vocal roles in the bands Roy Cape All Stars and Atlantik, before she struck out on her own. Destra Garcia the music businesswoman was born. As accolades began to pile up, there could be no turning back — but the slings and arrows of the professional soca circuit lay ahead. The plight of women soca artists in a music sector and genre dominated by men was quickly obvious. “We have to work twice as hard as men to actually reach on their level,” Destra says. “And sometimes we are on their level, but we’re still not on their level in terms of how the world sees it . . . At the end of the day, you do what you need to do: you remember who you are, you stay focused, and you go out there and just get it done,” she explains. Over the years, she sometimes displayed a perturbing self-

While her school provided the foundation for a career, her family and their influence built the framework. The Garcia home was a house of music doubt and awe under the pressure of the soca competition stage, but was steely, determined, and even bellicose when confronted. She reflected on that reputation in a television interview: “In the past, a lot of people have said, Oh, Destra has a hot temper. Destra’s mouth too hot.” A media darling one day, a target for derision the next. Those days are over, she says, now that she is a mother.

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ome might argue Destra is yet to achieve the two most important measures of soca stardom in Trinidad and Tobago: a Road March title, for the most popular song on the road during Carnival, and a Soca Monarch crown. It raised questions in 2003 when she was unexpectedly “denied” the Road March for her anthem It’s Carnival — a hit to this day in Carnivals the world over. Her “rival” — or, more accurately, her colleague in the soca fraternity — Fay-Ann Lyons has both titles, plus a distribution deal with US-based label VP Records that should guarantee some chart action for her albums. Yet this seems to not matter to the cognoscenti, or to Destra’s fans, who dote on her every offering for the annual Carnival celebration. The key to her domination is the near-universal adulation for her among the network of Caribbean and international Carnivals that ape the ethos of T&T’s annual celebration. Then there’s Destra’s impact on the performance aesthetics of many younger soca singers. Back in 2006, Caribbean Beat described Destra as “perky and girlish, a Trinidadian version of an American pop princess . . . her stage act is G-rated, but still just sexy enough for her to maintain credibility on the Carnival scene.” In 2019, the twentieth year of her career, not much has changed, except now the curves are real. Her public image is iconic — voluptuous, sultry — and unmatched by new interlopers on the soca scene. And in that two-decade career, Destra has had one reliable hit a year, including classics like 2015’s “Lucy”.

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So how has Destra survived all these years? Establishing a footprint outside the home market early in one’s career pays dividends in the segmented global music marketplace. The importance of “the brand” in the new music industry has not escaped her. Amazingly — or confusingly, if you are new to her music — Destra Garcia boasts three distinct brand identities, or three alter egos: Destra, the soca queen who launched her career in 2009; Lucy, her wild-child avatar from the hit song; and Queen of Bacchanal (or QoB), the fashion icon who “does mash up de place.” The question of “escaping” her Laventille roots still subliminally resonates in her music. Laventille was and is a crucible of creativity for original Trinidadian culture. But there is a perpetual battle among Caribbean artists over “keeping it real” — not diluting the brand with obvious crossover elements. Over the years, Destra’s brand of crossover soca has deliberately interpolated elements from global pop music. “It’s Carnival”, written by Kernal Roberts, liberally samples Cyndi Lauper’s hit “Time After Time”; 2004’s “Bonnie and Clyde” draws on 1980s Norwegian pop group a-ha’s “Take On Me”. The results have resonated in the international advertising and marketing sector. Captain Morgan’s Parrot Bay Rum used “Bonnie and Clyde” as the theme music for a TV ad campaign in the US, for instance, while Digicel signed Destra as its first woman endorser in the Caribbean in 2006. Even the island of Antigua, a leading wedding and honeymoon destination, wanted to cash in on her fame by suggesting that her nuptials would be held there in 2018 (a claim denied by the artist).

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Ten essential Destra tracks It’s Carnival (2003): The international anthem of Caribbean Carnival ever since. A winner in everyone’s book Mash Up (2004): Rapid-fire instructions that drive feters to, well, mash up the place Bonnie and Clyde (2004): On the surface, a song of desire for a long-lost one, but actually about a rag that

was lost at Carnival. Allegory gone wild I Dare You (2007): The ultimate come-on, if you’re able. Permission is granted Bacchanal (2009): An anthem for Carnival that suggests we leave our inhibitions at home

And corporate entities and tourist boards aren’t the only ones seeking out some of Destra’s musical energy. Both Nicki Minaj and Broadway star Heather Headley have spoken of their interest in potential collaborations. “Destra’s got a great, great voice,” Headley said, “and it would be fun at some point to just sit down and figure it out.” The T&T diaspora and our stars in it have heard that powerful, clear voice.

Cool It Down (2011): A production by the Bajan team D’ Red Boyz that finds a melodic centre outside of Trinidad influences Call My Name (2012): A reminder to her fans that she is the elixir for their happiness Keep on Wukkin’ (2012): The perfect tune for a couple to wine to. The groove

is addictive, instructions included Lucy (2015): It’s either an autobiography in song or an invitation for women listeners to proudly connect with their inner wild child Family (2018): A soca star recognising who is by her side through thick and thin. Danceable, too

Journeys to the top never follow a straight line. In Destra’s case, her path has followed the ups and downs of a life shaped equally by island influence and the DNA of family and ambition. Where it matters, the apparently ageless Destra Garcia is already a global player — and her ability to fascinate audiences everywhere in the excitement of soca music is the key to a future that won’t be slowing down soon. n

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© 2019 KPMG, a Trinidad and Tobago partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

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panorama

Stories of steel The steelpan is one of Trinidad and Tobago’s proudest achievements, and there’s no bigger event in the national calendar than the Panorama competition finals on Carnival Saturday night. But if the invention of the pan in the 1940s and the adventures of the early steelbands are the stuff of both legend and history, the instrument’s survival in the present day — and the survival of the communities that have grown up in and around panyards — is a matter of science, education, economics, and, yes, politics. Behind the glory of the Panorama stage are the many stories of the organisers, administrators, craftspeople, composers, and arrangers who will steward the steelpan into the future — like the women and men profiled in the following pages by writer Sharmain Baboolal and photographer Mark Lyndersay

A modern touch: notes on a new steelpan are marked using pre-cut magnetic stencils. Roland Harragin’s pan tuning factory delivers small runs of instruments now, but maintains a tradition of hand-crafting of the instrument that reaches back to its beginnings in Trinidad and Tobago

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T h e pr e sid e nt Growing up in Tobago, Beverly Ramsey Moore was banned from the panyard mere feet from her family home. It was no place for a girl, people said. Half a century later, she proved that the panyard — like the boardroom — is definitely the place for a woman, with her groundbreaking election as president of Pan Trinbago

lthough it was just five footsteps away from the front door of her childhood family home, Beverley Ramsey Moore was banned from entering the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra panyard, pioneered by her father and uncles in Black Rock, Tobago. Half a century ago, a panyard was very much a man’s world. Rather, it was in the privacy of his bedroom that Ramsey Moore’s father Hugh taught his eldest daughter to play Michael Jackson’s “Ben” on the tenor pan, when she was just fourteen years old. “In those dark days,” she recalls, “it was taboo.” Four decades later, in October 2018, Ramsey Moore was elected president of Pan Trinbago, the umbrella body for steelbands in Trinidad and Tobago — the first women to hold this challenging office. For years, she had tapped on the ceiling, until the glass shattered with her runaway victory against “an army of men who think it belongs to them,” as the nowfifty-eight-year-old grandmother puts it. Once again, she went against her father’s advice. “Why don’t you leave those people alone?” Hugh Ramsey asked, knowing the controversy that led to the bankruptcy and near collapse of Pan Trinbago. “I am a fighter. I want to help to fix it. Daddy, I am a game changer,” Ramsey Moore replied, reminding him of her track record. A relentless dedication to community service had evolved into a career in politics, as Ramsey Moore served two terms as representative for Black Rock in the Tobago House of Assembly, from 1996 to 2000. Then she was called on to help Katzenjammers, the “family” steelband. The gender taboo was a thing of the past, but her attempts to reorganise were still a battle. Ramsey Moore’s narrative about “human capital develop-

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ment” did not sit well with the few remaining members of the steelband, but she earned the right to proceed, by one vote. Over the years, she pulled the Katzenjammers community back together, until they earned the title of Medium Band Champions in the National Panorama competition in 2011 and 2012. By then, Ramsey Moore had moved on from being a band representative to a role as the only woman on the Pan Trinbago executive, encouraged by her peers because of her outspokenness at meetings. Was there a point of weakness when she thought, this is not a woman’s business? “Never!” is her emphatic reply. “I see myself as my family. We are leaders in the Black Rock community, and I fear no foe,” she explains. In the Pan Trinbago boardroom she was confronted with toxic masculinity, but she stood firm. “I knew they did not know what they were doing, but I kept on insisting on a structure, openness, and good governance.” Now she finds herself at the helm of Pan Trinbago and T&T’s entire pan community, staring into a financial abyss. In her first ninety days, she came under enormous pressure from both the T&T government and Pan Trinbago’s member steelbands. She shrugs. Navigating the 2019 Carnival season and Panorama competition is the first order of business. But there is heavy rebuilding work to be done, in the interest of not only financial survival, but better governance and accountability. For one thing, Ramsey Moore has promised to strip apart the constitution under which she was voted into office and repair the organisation’s weaknesses. “When communities embrace the steelbands once again, they won’t have the challenges they now face,” she says, ready for the uphill climb. A woman’s work is never done.

For years, Beverly Ramsey Moore had tapped on the ceiling, until the glass shattered with her runaway victory

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ow do you breathe life into metal? With a hammer. When Roland Harragin was learning the art of steelpan half a century ago, the process was written nowhere. It was a matter of trial and error, and the most intriguing musical instrument of the twentieth century was developed along with the tools used to lovingly coax music from steel. It was and is a perfect balance of the scientific and the spiritual for the men who have made tens of thousands of instruments without a blueprint. “When you come

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to a hammer and say you are looking for a note, it has to be inside of you for it to come out,” says Harragin. The molecular structure of the steel, the degree of heat, and the measurements of the notes on any of the nine pans, ranging from tenor to bass, can now be learned in a structured way, because of the cornerstones laid by tuners like Ellie Manette and Anthony Williams, along with second-generation craftsmen like Harragin. “Those before me got an inspiration” he says. “They were scorned by society and stayed in the backwaters to create this instrument.”


T h e tun e r Born the year before the steelpan made its international debut, Roland Harragin has spent his life perfecting the science and art of crafting pans, tending steel to create beautiful notes. Skilled tuners are a dying breed in T&T, he says — and how will pan survive without them?

Harragin himself has crafted steel drums in Europe, North America, and Japan, and for at least fourteen different steelbands in T&T. He’s also the builder of the G-pans used by Trinidad and Tobago’s National Steel Symphony Orchestra. Still, he believes, “we have only scratched the surface . . . When I die, all my technical knowledge is going with me, because it is not documented.” Born in 1950 and growing up on Schuller Street in east Port of Spain, Harragin became associated early on with the Joyland Steel Orchestra. The steelpan was in its rudimentary form, intro-

duced to the wider world at the Festival of Britain in 1951, where the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) performed to amazed audiences. “Everyone was experimenting,” Harragin recalls, “and hid things from one another, so you could not go around anybody to learn to tune a pan . . . It was really noisy, because there were no harmonics, and the sound was irritating to society, but the guys who were developing the instrument were not seeing that.” In 1968, after hearing a performance by Pan Am North Stars at Queen’s Hall in Port of Spain, the visiting British professor John Russell introduced the idea of concert pitch — a consistent standard for tuning musical instruments — to the pan community. “It made us on par with any orchestra in the world,” Harragin explains, “and the sound was further enhanced in 1970, when Rudolph Charles chromed the pan and created different instruments.” Without skilled tuners, there is no steelpan. “But very few people know how to make the instruments from scratch,” Harragin says. “Now, we are in a crisis here in Trinidad. We do not have a drum factory to turn out the same metal consistently, and we will never have it even in my lifetime,” he predicts. “All the strides are taking place in the Midwest USA. They will do it better, because they have the time, the money, and the technical know-how. “The whole world wants this, and here at home we are losing our key people, with their knowledge,” Harragin says — on a pessimistic note, after a lifetime of making music possible.

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The m eta l me n

oland Harragin doesn’t like his raw materials. He isn’t happy with locally manufactured steel drums, because they lack the precise and robust seal of factory-made metal containers intended to contain industrial liquids. But he also doesn’t care for repurposed drums previously used for chemicals — he calls them “poison drums,” with a distinct sneer, and won’t work with them. And when Harragin realised he no longer liked “making morning” — working until dawn to mass-produce drums for steelbands across T&T — he scaled back an operation that once piled up drums as high as the first floor of his Belmont home to just fifteen to twenty instruments a month. He does like his team, though, and is particularly fond of the Codrington brothers, Kaijah and Kareem, part of a pan family led by their father Cary. The work they do emphasises hand craft. Pans are forged with hammers and chisels, a process that’s approached with a jeweller’s respect for materials and executed with a mix of intuition, tactile response, and a decades-old tradition of metallurgy.

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Mark Lyndersay

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The steady process of sinking the drum begins with a mallet covered with duct tape, shown here, then continues with a pneumatic hammer after the basic shape is achieved. This speeds up the smoothing process from hours to minutes


Kaijah Codrington marks the surface of the steel drum prior to sinking it

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Roland Harrington has created templates to mark the segments of each type of drum. This one will become a double tenor

The Codrington brothers work together to mark off the note segments on the sunken steel surface

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To create the notes on the drum’s surface, the metal surrounding each note segment is hammered in, leaving the raised bumps that are responsible for the music. Special care is taken to separate the resonance of each note segment, so that it doesn’t bleed into the one next to it

The cut and shaped drum is heated prior to tuning, to temper the steel and remove any impurities from its surface. For all but bass drums, Harrington uses both ends of the steel drum to create instruments, but occasionally the steel will fail, ruining the instrument while it’s being made. The gas-fired rig completes the burning of the steel in less than five minutes. The drum will then be tuned, chromed, and fine-tuned again before it’s ready for its new owner WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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T h e t e ach e r Traditionally, in T&T’s steelpan community, music is learned by ear and preserved in individual memory. But the scarcity of written documentation means that musical innovations of the past are often inaccessible. Music professor Mia Gormandy-Benjamin is working to change that, and train a generation of pan musicians with the skills to create a true archive of pan

ow are we supposed to continue as a society if we don’t know the ideas of our pioneers?” asks Mia Gormandy-Benjamin. “How are we supposed to develop and create new ideas if we do not know what the old ones are? If they have it locked up?” For Gormandy-Benjamin, these aren’t rhetorical questions: rather, they form part of the foundation for her work as assistant professor of music at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), where she trains a rising generation of steelpan musicians — laying the ground for what she hopes will be a tectonic shift in steelband culture. To harness the boundless energy of young steelpan students, making them a part of that change, Gormandy-Benjamin is well prepared. Pan has been the focus of her academic life, including twelve years in the United States, starting when she embarked on her journey at Northern Illinois University as a teenager in 2005. Confident with a résumé that already included performances in the US, Austria, and Australia, the young GormandyBenjamin quickly learned that, although she was among the best that Trinidad had to offer, she had to up her game. Eventually, the award-winning 4.0 GPA student — who was NIU’s Most Outstanding Woman of the Year for 2011, when she graduated with a master’s degree in steelpan performance — found new purpose when she decided to pursue a doctorate. “I chose topics that involved the steelpan in Trinidad,” she says. “I found that a lot of information I was looking for wasn’t readily available, until my teacher suggested I study ethnomusicology. Her academic quest led her to Florida State University, where

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she became the first steelpan player awarded a grant by the American Musicological Society, to do research for her dissertation on pan in Japan. “Going abroad was eye-opening,” Gormandy-Benjamin recalls. “In Trinidad, we think we are the land of steelpan, and we are the only ones to play. In the United States, there are more steelbands than we have in Trinidad, and steelpan teachers have resources to get assistance. In Japan, like elsewhere, there is a hunger for our rich cultural history.” At home, meanwhile, a lack of access to formal musical training and documentation limits the development of many promising pan players. Gormandy-Benjamin is working to change that. At UTT’s performing arts academy in Port of Spain, she engages her students to help shape a bank of information through PanNotation, an online database. “Students won’t just have access to it, but can have their research papers or performances published,” she explains with enthusiasm. The surge of musically literate students entering the panyards — a domain where for decades players prided themselves on learning “by ear” — means a significant and growing change in the steelpan fraternity. Whereas in the past — as recently as the 1990s — landmark music from Panorama winners was transcribed and sold overseas with no permission from the steelband virtuosos, the new corps of trained musicians can transcribe and document the arrangements created each year, keeping it in T&T’s archives: a resource for composers, arrangers, and musicians of the future.

“How are we supposed to develop and create new ideas if we do not know what the old ones are?” asks Mia Gormandy-Benjamin

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T h e arrang e r When Renegades won the 2018 National Panorama Competition, it signalled a return to victorious form for the legendary steelband — and a career highlight for Duvonne Stewart, one of the most talented and ambitious of the new generation of pan arrangers

take a song about a minute and ten seconds in duration, and turn forty-eight bars into three hundred bars of music, with sheer creativity of self-spontaneous arrangement with nine different voices applied through the steelband,” says Duvonne Stewart, summarising the all-important role of musical arranger. “I have etched my name in a space where it cannot be erased anymore,” declares the forty-two-yearold, whose sixteen years as an arranger have earned him twenty-one competition victories — but none as meaningful as bringing the 2018 National Panorama title home to the BP Renegades, the band that bred and nurtured him after he left his home in Tobago and moved to Trinidad at the age of nineteen. It was Renegades’ first Panorama victory in the seven years — an almost Biblical term — since Stewart was handed the band’s arranger’s baton, previous carried by the late and legendary Jit Samaroo, whom Stewart idolised when he was a player with Renegades in the 1990s. In the nine years from 1989 to 1997, under Samaroo’s direction, Renegades won the Panorama title six times. Stewart’s talent is homegrown, but it was during a three-month stint at the University of Nantes in France, where he taught a series of masterclasses, that he truly blossomed. “I was thinking, I am the best, until I landed in Paris in 2002 and threw my ego into the River Seine and started from scratch,” he says. On returning to T&T, Stewart’s ambitions were translated into a series of Panorama victories with bands in the east, north,

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and south of Trinidad, while he steadily earned respect in the international steelband diaspora as well, arranging for bands in Britain and the United States and engaging students at the University of Liverpool and Howard University in Washington, DC. “I could see the transition process of a new generation of arrangers,” he recalls. “Somebody had to open that door. “In the 80s and 90s the arrangements that came from the virtuosos were very technical to articulate,” says Stewart. But now, “A new generation has evolved. Raw. Uncut. Unplugged. I am trying to send the message clearly, without trying to be difficult, or two or three notches above the average listener, without them being misled.” For last year’s Panorama, Stewart created a phenomenal arrangement of “Year for Love”, a statement song by Aaron “Voice” St Louis about gang warfare in east Port of Spain, which has claimed several lives close to the Renegades family. “I want to tell the story real and true,” Stewart says. And in 2019, he is once again treating with a fundamental problem in his community: the male-female relationship. “It’s the reality for families that reside around the band, and I will paint that picture with my music,” Stewart promises. At the Renegades panyard in Port of Spain, he’s assembled a cadre of international players from bands he has arranged for in the US, Britain, France, Japan, and St Vincent. And he’s ready to step into the hallowed halls of T&T’s music history: this era, he boldly predicts, will come to be called the Duvonne Dynasty, taking up the mantle of earlier virtuosos. n

“I am trying to send the message clearly,” says Duvonne Stewart, “without trying to be difficult, or two or three notches above the average listener”

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History and Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

backstory

Forever prima For decades, Cuba has been considered one of the world’s leading centres of classical ballet — which is partly thanks to the efforts, inspiration, and sheer talent of Alicia Alonso, the country’s first prima ballerina assoluta and co-founder of the world-acclaimed Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Nazma Muller tells the story of this international dance legend, still going strong at ninety-seven 70

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eneath the chandeliers of Havana’s Gran Teatro Nacional, the packed rows buzzed with anticipation. Then a murmuring spread through the crowd, and suddenly everyone was on their feet applauding, as the grand dame of Cuban ballet was led to her seat. The standing ovation for Cuba’s first prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Alonso, was a spontaneous outpouring of respect for the woman who, along with her husband and brotherin-law, created the world-acclaimed Ballet Nacional de Cuba. It may seem strange that this salsa-loving people embraced ballet — Cuba is the first and only Caribbean country to produce a world-class company. Like so much that is Cuban, the Ballet Nacional is the result of grit, innovation, and passion. The love affair between Alicia and Fernando Alonso gave birth to a style of ballet that mesmerised the world. As iconic as Fidel Castro himself, Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad del Cobre Martínez y del Hoyo, born on 21 December, 1921, is loved and respected by the Cuban people for her contribution to the arts. As a child, she studied flamenco in Spain, then ballet in Havana, where she met her future husband, a fellow ballet stu-

separate surgeries she spent two years recovering, confined to her bed for long periods. Fernando helped his wife to “learn” new roles by demonstrating her steps with her fingers. Alonso returned to New York and the Ballet Theatre in 1943. Unexpectedly, and almost immediately, she was asked to replace the company’s injured prima ballerina and dance the lead in Giselle — one of the most challenging roles in the classical repertoire. Despite her severe vision problems, requiring the use

Unexpectedly, Alonso was asked to replace the company’s injured prima ballerina and dance the lead in Giselle — one of the most challenging roles in the classical repertoire Opposite page Alicia Alonso and Reyes Fernández in Giselle, 1960

Keystone Pictures USA/Alamy Stock Photo

Left Cuba’s Ballet Nacional performing in 1974

dent. As a teenager, she was so dedicated to her craft, Fernando recalled, that she would answer the door in pointe shoes. When Fernando moved to New York City in 1937, Alicia, sixteen years old, managed to join him, and the two subsequently married. A year later, she enrolled at the School of American Ballet, taking a break to give birth to their daughter Laura the following year. In 1938, she made her US debut in the musical comedy Great Lady, and in 1939 she joined George Balanchine’s Ballet Caravan. In 1940, Alonso moved to the newly formed Ballet Theatre (later the American Ballet Theatre), but after just one year she suffered what might have been a death blow to her career, when her right retina detached during a performance. After three

of extra-bright lights to guide her during performances, Alonso stunned the critics with her spellbinding portrayal. A legendary career was now under way.

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iselle remained one of Alsonso’s signature roles, alongside other classics like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Promoted to principal dancer of the Ballet Theatre, she remained with the company for five years before starting to tour as a guest dancer with partner Igor Youskevitch. Over the next fourteen years, her performances took her around the world, dancing at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Kirov in Leningrad — the first Western dancer to perform in the Soviet Union — as well as the Paris Opera, with an annual guest role

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In July 2018, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba was declared part of the cultural heritage of Cuba . . . “where the tradition of theatrical dance merges with the essential features of the national culture” Young dancers of the Ballet Nacional

with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1955 to 1959. Her own company, co-founded in Havana with Fernando and his brother Alberto in 1948, was renamed Ballet de Cuba in 1955, but closed the following year because of financial difficulties. Then came 1959, the Cuban Revolution, and the rise to power of Fidel Castro. A supporter of the revolution, Alonso was given a grant of US$200,000 by Castro to found a new dance school, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, where her husband joined her in training a new generation of talent. Fernando was an innovative teacher. Combining his understanding of physics, kinesiology, and anatomy with traditional ballet training, he was instrumental in developing the Cuban style of ballet, which couples classical rigour with the physicality of Latin dance. His experience of coaching Alicia through her near-blindness also influenced his method, which included a balance exercise where dancers had to shut their eyes. He had studied techniques from France, Italy, Denmark, Russia, and Britain, which he used to develop his own methodology. The resulting Cuban technique has its origins in the Russian Vaganova method, which emphasises the entire body. The torso is the foundation of all movement, so the dancer is trained to have a strong and well-aligned torso. Movements are achieved through control of the core, so actions are very clean and precise. What distinguishes the Cuban method from the others is its romantic feel. It also combines high Russian extensions and jumps with intricate Italian footwork, French arm artistry, and British attention to detail, adding expressiveness and drama to classical ballet movements. The Cuban method revolutionised ballet, you might say, with its superb technique and impeccable footwork. As a symbol of Cuban artistic achievement, the Ballet Nacional was allowed to tour the world, performing its renditions of classics like Les Sylphides, Coppélia, and, of course, its signature work, Giselle. The US barred the company from performing during the Cold War, prompting the dance critic for the New York Times, Clive Barnes — who saw the Cubans perform in Canada in 1971 — to

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write, “We may be so struck by the way they dance Swan Lake that as a nation we may spontaneously demand Fidel Castro as president.” Alongside her role as teacher and mentor, Alonso continued to dance, into her eighth decade. In 1995, at the age of seventytwo, she gave her last performance. Four years later, UNESCO awarded her the Pablo Picasso Medal for notable contributions to arts or culture. The Ballet Nacional itself received the Grand Prix at the Paris International Festival of Dance in 1970.

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uban government funding for the Ballet Nacional continues to this day. The directors scour the island for gifted students, searching Cuba’s fourteen provinces for children with aptitude for the art: musicality, good body proportions, and the ability to follow simple steps. The training is intense, with students required to dance from 7 am to 1.30 pm,


Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

their studies covering character dances, folklore, African dances, historical dances, salon dances — even a bit of piano, French, and music sight-reading. And Alicia Alonso herself — now ninetyseven — remains at the helm. During the eight years of their training, Ballet Nacional students receive financial support from the government. If they become one of the forty professionals the school turns out annually, they earn a salary on par with that of doctors and skilled workers. Boys are encouraged to audition as much as girls — and, despite Cuban machismo, many have become professional dancers, encouraged by the rewards of being part of the Ballet Nacional. Case en pointe is Carlos Acosta, perhaps the most famous ballet dancer today. Born in Havana, he trained at the Ballet Nacional before joining Britain’s Royal Ballet in 1998, and has achieved a stellar international career, while also founding the dance company Acosta Danza in Cuba.

In July 2018, in celebration of its seventieth anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba was declared part of the cultural heritage of Cuba. The declaration was signed by Minister of Culture Abel Prieto. The document recognises the Ballet Nacional as “the ultimate expression of the Cuban school of ballet, which has achieved its own physiognomy where the tradition of theatrical dance merges with the essential features of the national culture.” If you need further evidence of Cuba’s central role in contemporary ballet, consider the biennial International Ballet Festival of Havana, founded in 1960 and now named in honour of Alicia Alonso. Leading companies, dancers, and choreographers from around the world have taken the stage at the Gran Teatro, with performances including 198 world premieres to date. It’s an extraordinary example of ballet’s essential combination of tradition and innovation — and its presiding presence is still the prima ballerina assoluta herself. n

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snapshot

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n the opening sequence of Unfinished Sentences, over fauxgrainy footage of two little girls playing on a beach in the golden light, the narrator relates an anecdote from her childhood. She’s talking to her father, reminding him of the time she and her sister were visiting him in Jamaica and he asked them to each write a story. She wrote hers from the point of view of a crab who drowns after being placed in a bucket of water. After reading the story, the father explained that she couldn’t write about herself drowning, because she’d be dead. The narrator is filmmaker Mariel Brown, and she recalls that moment as the dawning of her awareness of death. But it’s also a formative — and strikingly un-writerly — bit of creative advice, a case of a father’s anxieties overriding his artistic impulses.

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A dead narrator is a perfectly acceptable literary device, but an eight-year-old child must first learn the rules of life. It’s a dilemma with which many parents would probably identify: how to educate a child without stifling her creativity or invalidating her view of the world? Brown’s father is the late Trinidadian writer Wayne Brown, and the film that premiered at the International Film Festival of Panama in April 2018 is not the one she originally set out to make. “It was a completely irrational project from start to finish,” she tells me, months later. Not long after Wayne succumbed to lung cancer in 2009, at age sixty-five, Mariel, stricken with grief and panic — “I was terrified that all of his friends were going to die any minute now,”


The inheritance of loss Unfinished Sentences began as a straightforward biography of filmmaker Mariel Brown’s late father, the Trinidadian writer Wayne Brown. But over the film’s eight-year evolution, writes Georgia Popplewell, it turned into a nuanced exploration of grief, family trauma, and the ambitions and fears of the budding artist Photography courtesy Savant Films Unfinished Sentences includes re-enactment scenes featuring actor Renaldo Frederick (left) as Wayne Brown, and Che and Alessan­dra Jar­dine as his young daughters

she says — feverishly began interviewing his contemporaries, thinking she would make a biographical documentary about her father as a literary figure. Grief was also taking an unpredictable toll. Behind the compulsion to memorialise her father was the fact that he had almost literally disappeared from her imagination. “I’m looking for him in my memory,” she says, “and I’m not finding him, and I’m wanting to talk to him.” Around 2013, with hours of interviews with the likes of writers Ian McDonald, Edward Baugh, Mervyn Morris, B.C. Pires, and Rachel Manley under her belt, Mariel realised she was “being led down the road of including myself.” She resisted that impulse for a long time. “Because I started out as a journalist, the idea

of putting myself into the story was anathema to me,” she says. “I was desperate to make sure the film wasn’t self-indulgent. I didn’t want it to be just a little film about me and Daddy.”

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hether a film is “little” or “big” depends less on the subject than on the depth and quality of the themes it explores. Unfinished Sentences is about a literary figure who deserved to be better known. It’s about how human beings are shaped by place and circumstance and race and history. But it’s also about a special — and difficult — relationship, which is set up early in the film with the recounting of Mariel’s origin story. She is the first of Wayne’s two children, born after her British mother, Megan Hopkyn-Rees, had suffered a series of miscarriages. According to family lore, Wayne conjured Mariel into existence — “He seemed to write me into being,” she says in the film’s narration — assuring Megan that as soon as they moved to England she’d have a successful pregnancy.

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Unfinished Sentences cast and crew filming a scene at the Trinidad Yachting Association

Mariel embraces the story wholeheartedly — who wouldn’t want to be the product of art and magic? “I do believe Daddy was prescient,” she tells me. “That, in a way, is what made the relationship so hard. It became sort of a burden. Up to my teens I loved the fact that I was special.” Unlike her younger sister Saffrey, who once said to Wayne “I don’t need to read you — you’re my father,” Mariel chose a career as a filmmaker, further cementing Wayne’s role in her life as creative touchstone. In the film, she refers to him as “a landmark by which I could always find myself. If you were to die, I would surely lose my way.” Few of the interviews Mariel did in that initial rush to immortalise her father made it into the final version of the film, which required a new set of questions to be asked. She re-interviewed her mother and her father’s close friend Rachel Manley. Her younger sister Saffrey would become one of the film’s key figures. Mariel already knew a great deal about her father’s life. “He was incredibly communicative with Saffrey and me,” she tells me, “which was unusual among West Indian men of his generation.” Wayne also left a meticulous archive that included both letters he’d received and carbon copies of ones he had written. “There were folders of literary letters, Rachel letters, Tony letters [from the late Jamaican poet Anthony McNeill],” Mariel says. There was also a “Sas and Boo” folder, containing letters he’d exchanged with his two daughters. Several of the “Boo” letters — that was his pet name for Mariel — are quoted in the film. Along with the writer’s sense of posterity, Mariel attributes Wayne’s compulsion to collect and catalogue to the fact that he was the last descendant of his family. “The Vincent Brown line ended with Daddy, and I guess he felt a great responsibility to keep things.” Also present in Wayne’s trove were the letters between him and a Scottish pen pal named Rhona, with whom he had corresponded in his late teenage years and early twenties.

In the 1990s, Rhona tracked Wayne down and wrote to him that she was downsizing her possessions; she offered to send him the letters he’d written to her. For Mariel, these letters were documentary gold, giving her access to her father as a young person “discovering poetry, meeting Derek Walcott . . . the struggle within his family.” The film recounts the trauma of Wayne’s early life: the death of his mother just days after his birth, and later of the aunt who raised him; of his family’s upper-middle-class preoccupation with skin colour and its effect on a boy who happened to be born darker than was desirable; his fraught relationship with his father, a renowned jurist. “The loss of his mother was probably the most profound loss that stayed with him for his life,” says Mariel. “Death was a constant in his life, and death is everywhere in his work.” Unfinished Sentences traces the trajectory of Wayne and Mariel’s relationship as childhood reverence gives way to what Mariel comes to see as a wilful refusal on her father’s part to accept the person she’s becoming. It weaves interviews, readings of Wayne’s prose and poetry and letters by Trinidadian actors Nigel Scott and Nikolai Salcedo, and Mariel’s narration together with visuals of family photos, image-and-text animations, and home-movie-style reenactments of moments from the lives of the family, featuring Renaldo Frederick and Sophie Wight as convincing stand-ins for a younger Wayne and Megan. There are only a few glimpses of the actual Wayne in action, from an interview Mariel filmed in 2004. He’s already white-haired, wielding a packet of Benson and Hedges with a chain-smoker’s absentminded dexterity. That, plus some audio from a 1987 radio interview with an unnamed journalist, provide the only instances in the film of Wayne as a living person, of his deep, measured voice with its cadences of educated Port of Spain. On her last trip to see him in Jamaica, Mariel took along her camera equipment, hoping to interview him again. But it was too late: during her visit Wayne would die.

The portrait that emerges of Unfinished Sentences’ two main subjects is rich and emotionally complex, which means it isn’t always flattering

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Filmmaker Mariel Brown and voice actor Nikolai Salcedo in the recording studio

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he portrait that emerges of Unfinished Sentences’ two main subjects is rich and emotionally complex, which means it isn’t always flattering. Mariel’s mother Megan and younger sister Saffrey, in particular, don’t pull punches in their assessments of the two. “You were always a drama queen,” Megan says early in the film. Saffrey puts part of the blame for the difficulty of the relationship on Mariel’s alleged inability to let things go. Megan recounts Wayne’s fear, on their return to Trinidad, of being perceived by his peers as being the kind of man who would engage in housework or child care. The Jamaican poet Mervyn Morris is obviously choosing his words carefully when he says that Wayne was “pretty sure who were his friends.” As she grows older and more aware of her father’s relative fame and talent as a poet and writer, Mariel has to acknowledge that this talent hasn’t translated into material success, which makes her anxious about her own future as a filmmaker. The narration and excerpts from their letters to each other chronicle the sometimes brutal antagonism that develops between them as Mariel grows up. “You tore me to shreds with your words,” Mariel says in the film, “as though the I that I was meant to become had already been decided by you, and you were angry with the person I was actually becoming. How could you know who that would be?” Unfinished Sentences took eight years to make, and its painstaking evolution is evident in the film’s nuance and quality.

Mariel says the feedback she received after showing a rough cut first to a group of friends and colleagues (myself included) in Trinidad, and then at Primera Mirada, the works-in-progress section of the International Festival of Panama, was critical. “Getting notes will be something I’ll definitely do on the next project,” she says. Another first was working with actors on the reenactments. “I enjoyed engaging in a fully creative process and pushing myself. As I move forward, this is the kind of the direction I want to go more in.” Also “revelatory” was the collaboration with composer Francesco Emmanuel, and working for the first time with a professional sound designer. For Mariel, unveiling this very personal film to a wider audience was understandably dau nting. “I was ner vous about whether it would reach people,” she tells me, “whether it would connect, whether it worked on that level.” In her hotel room before the first screening in Panama, she felt physically sick. “It was after [that] first screening that I got a sense that it was working and connecting with people on many different levels, in terms of family relationships, in terms of grief, in terms of living a life of creativity . . . in terms of anxiety and mental instability,” she says. “I was astonished and delighted by the kinds of questions I got in the Q&A and afterwards, when people kept coming up to me and talking about their own experiences of being a struggling writer, struggling to commit to that, suffering with crippling anxiety. All these stories emerged. And that made me feel brave.” n

As she grows older, Mariel Brown has to acknowledge that her father’s literary talent hasn’t translated into a material success

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dbimages/Alamy Stock Photo

ARRIVE

Destination 80 Seven days in Tobago

Personal Tour 94 Good prospect

Offtrack 90 Makonaima’s treasure

Home Ground 98 Home to Antigua

Antigua’s Nelson’s Dockyard, a haven for sailing ships for centuries


destination

Seven days in Tobago Could a week ever be enough to savour the delights of Tobago, one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque islands? Nixon Nelson gives it a try

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ust twenty-five miles long by six wide, a daub of brilliant green on the map of the blue Caribbean Sea, Tobago may seem like the kind of place you can get to know in just a few days. But there’s more to Trinidad’s littler sister isle than at first meets the eye. These hundred square miles conceal more secret nooks and little-known pleasures than you’d expect, and it can take years — decades — to experience them all. Just ask

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those visitors who’ve returned here, again and again, unable to get Tobago out of their heads. (Why’d you want to?) We can’t all give everything up for a life on the beach, and the average Tobago visitor must tear herself away long before she’s ready. Yet there’s no reason you can’t experience the full diversity of this extraordinary island on a week-long trip — without running yourself ragged. Here’s a sevenday itinerary to show you Tobago’s best.


Day one

Michaela Arjoon

We know the number one reason you came to Tobago: the glorious beaches. So no dithering: your first day should definitely be spent finding and savouring your ideal stretch of tree-shaded sand and expanse of glimmering water. Head up the Leeward Coast, past Plymouth, and explore the succession of quiet, uncrowded bays — Castara, Englishman’s Bay, Parlatuvier, Bloody Bay, Man o’ War Bay — where on a good day you’ll have the beach almost to yourself, far from the madding crowds around Crown Point.

The brilliant blue waters of Parlatuvier Bay

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Argyle Falls is the most celebrated of Tobago’s waterfalls

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Day two Having seen Tobago’s Leeward side, let’s take the Windward Road and investigate the more rugged Atlantic-facing coast. Just before the village of Roxborough, turn inland towards Argyle Falls, the best known and tallest of the numerous waterfalls that rush through Tobago’s forested hills. A short hike brings you to the foot of Argyle’s three levels of cascades, with their small pools perfect for an invigorating plunge.

Day three Did Argyle give you a hankering to see more of Tobago’s lush interior? The rainforest of the island’s Main Ridge, protected by law since 1776, is home to an estimated one hundred bird species, including six different hummingbirds, plus manakins, trogons, and motmots. Well-maintained trails allow you to plunge into nature, and most hotels or tour companies can introduce you to a knowledgeable guide. Take your hiking boots and binoculars!

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Day four After experiencing some serious nature, let’s take a day to explore Tobago’s human history. Start in Scarborough, the island’s capital, with its colourful houses ranging up the slopes above the harbour. At the top of (aptly named) Fort Street, you’ll find Tobago’s best preserved historical site, Fort King George. Built by the French in 1781 as one of the island’s chief defences, the hilltop fort was later renamed for King George III after the British recaptured the island. Today’s fort-museum includes preserved historic buildings, a collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century cannon, and amazing views of the bay below. Now head out of Scarborough towards Plymouth, one of Tobago’s most historically fascinating sites. In the seventeenth century, a group of colonists from what was then called the Duchy of Courland — today’s Latvia — established a settlement here. The unapologetically modernist Courland Monument commemorates this chapter of the island’s history. Nearby Fort James has a commanding view of Courland Bay, and near its entrance you’ll find the curiosity known to locals as the Mystery Tombstone. Here lie Betty Stiven and her infant child, deceased in 1783, and memorialised with a riddle which has entertained passersby for over two centuries.

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robertharding/Alamy Stock Photo

The houses of Scarborough ascend their hill overlooking the harbour

Day five All this gallivanting works up an appetite, and it’s also nice to have a day where you just stay put. There are worse places to be lazy than popular Store Bay, a long stone’s throw from the airport at Crown Point and almost always busy. Still, the gently curving beach is just big enough to evade the crowds (except perhaps on weekends), and this is also the place to experience one of Tobago’s essential culinary delicacies, curried crab and dumplings. The simple food huts above the bay — named for their various, but invariably female, proprietors — offer friendly conversation and home-style food. Be warned, there is no prim way to eat curried crab: this is a hands-on, shell-crunching, sauce-dripping dish, at least if you enjoy it the right way.

Man o’ War Bay

Charlotteville Englishman’s Bay Parlatuvier Speyside Castara Bay

T O B A GO Plymouth Pigeon Point Store Bay

Scarborough


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Day six Celebrated for its dive sites, Tobago may not boast the water clarity of some other Caribbean islands to the north. But the outflowing silt from Venezuela’s Orinoco River which can sometimes cloud Tobago’s waters also provides rich nutrients that feed the extraordinary marine diversity of the island’s reefs. The best way to see this for yourself is a diving or snorkelling expedition, which you can arrange through one of Tobago’s highly experienced dive operators. Whether your primary interest is coral, fish species, or shipwreck exploration, there’s a site for every level of scuba experience. Manta rays, sea turtles, and the world’s biggest brain coral all await you below the surface.

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Day seven

Michaela Arjoon

Sometimes the best plan is to end as you started — with a blissful day at the beach, and after a week in Tobago you’ve probably figured out your personal favourite. But don’t miss a visit to Pigeon Point, even if it’s the island’s ultimate tourism cliché. There’s good reason why this long, palm-fringed, sandy stretch is Tobago’s classic postcard view. And the best time to take it all in just might be sunset, as the sky turns brilliant hues of pink and orange behind the Pigeon Point jetty. The sea laps gently at your feel, the beverage in your hand is still frosty, and probably you’re already dreaming of your next visit — because, no, seven days in Tobago could never be enough. n

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Jade Monkey

Located in Crown Point, Jade Monkey Casino, Bar, and Café is, as the locals say, “de best place to lime” in Tobago. The bar, known for its packed dance floor, is open every day of the week. Next door is the café, which specialises in various succulent seafood dishes. We also have the most popular casino on the island, filled with a wide choice of slot machines and roulette and card games. Each night there are cash giveaways, free drinks, and dinner available. So next time you’re in Tobago, don’t hesitate to stop by.

Flambowl

An Asian-style grill offering delicious hibachi bowls with rice or noodles and your choice of vegetables in several unique Asian sauces with a local splendour, plus gourmet burgers, hot dogs, cheese steak sandwiches, and lots more. Come taste a new way to customise your grill experience.

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offtrack

Makonaima’s treasure In the foothills of the Pakaraima Mountains, near Guyana’s geographical heart, the community of Karasabai may seem isolated on the map, but it’s an epicentre for lovers of wildlife and adventure, writes Annette Arjoon-Martins — and it’s also rich in folklore and legend 90

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Karasabai’s Kezee Eco Lodge is named for the rare sun parakeet, which can be found nearby

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Karasabai is celebrated among serious birders: it’s one of the few places where the endangered sun parakeet can be found in the wild

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he Guiana Shield, a two-billion-year-old geological formation spread across six countries, is well known to adventurers and scientists as an ecoregion of global significance, with a rich biodiversity. Stretched across the middle of this shield lies Guyana itself, a country crisscrossed by rivers, dotted with hundreds of waterfalls, with expansive pristine rainforests and towering mountains. Most impressive of these are the Pakaraimas, a vast expanse of flat-topped mountains spread across the borders between Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. Just south of the Pakaraima range, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, rich biodiversity, and fascinating folklore, is the indigenous community of Karasabai — an emerging destination for community-led and -owned tourism. Karasabai is a key place in the folklore of Guyana’s indigenous Macushi people, intertwined with the mythical personality of Makonaima. One of the legendary visitors to Earth from whom indigenous peoples are descended, Makonaima had a twin

brother named Pia, and a group of sisters collectively called the Pakaraimas. The “Tales of Makonaima’s Children” are Macushi creation stories, and here you’ll find the legend of how Karasabai got its name. In Macushi, kala sa means “treasure chest” and pai refers to the deepest part of a body of water, such as a river or lake. The story, handed down through generations, is that Makonaima passed by a creek where a treasure chest was located, and chose to turn it into stone. (Local belief is that anything that crossed Makanoima’s path, and which he did not want to be lost, was simply petrified.) The bay of the creek where the petrified treasure chest lies — the kala sa pai — is now called Karasabai. Today, Karasabai is celebrated among serious birders for a different reason: it’s one of the few places globally, and the only location in Guyana, where the endangered sun parakeet (Aratinga solstitialis) can be found in the wild. Known locally as the kezee, or “flying jewels,” the sun parakeet is an important motif in Karasabai’s tourism identity — for example, lending its name to the brand-new Kezee Eco Lodge at the foot of a nearby mountain.

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Dedicated birders like to start early, and the sun parakeet tour calls for a sunrise start and a short journey by 4x4 across the savannahs, skilfully navigating around the large termite mounds which stand like silent sentinels. Next comes a two-hour boat trip on the Ireng River, meandering through the valleys of spectacular mountains offering stunning vistas, high and low, for miles on end. Puffs of noisy blue-and-gold and red-andgreen macaws emerge from the mist-covered, thickly-forested riverbanks, and fly low overhead. Finally, the “flying jewels” appear, in flocks of dozens, making intermittent stops to feed on wild fruits on either side of the river. The boat captain masterfully manoeuvres his small vessel, following the birds to ensure photos or videos. The riverbanks are dotted with pristine sandbanks, perfect nesting and basking sites for giant river turtles. And since the Ireng is a tributary of the Amazon, lucky visitors may also spot a very rare and much-prized pink river-dolphin (Inia geoffrensis). The boat captain knows the most frequented pools, and is also adept at communicating with the dolphins to increase the chance of visitors getting that glimpse of a lifetime.

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or the more adventurous, Karasabai also offers opportunities for mountaineering, with a variety of peaks of various sizes and terrain, depending on levels of skill. The most popular mountain hike is on Saddle Back Mountain, with a cleared trail and a benab rest stop, and the added attraction of a cave full of archaeological treasures.

T he Pa k a ra i m a mou nt a i n s a r e con sider ed deeply spiritual territory by Guyana’s indigenous peoples — not only for their rich cultural value, but also for the provision of  natural resources. In indigenous culture, lucky charms — known locally as binas — are used extensively for catching fish and game, and sometimes, it is believed, even a husband or wife. To the northwest of Karasabai is one particular mountain where the binas for everything are said to be found. Many moons ago, stories say, there was a big flood which affected

The Pakaraima mountains are considered deeply spiritual territory by Guyana’s indigenous peoples the indigenous peoples and all the animals in the area. They sought refuge on top of this particular mountain, but there were tensions within the group and they fought among themselves. Those that died, both humans and animals, grew back as plants which are now known as binas. For example, if a deer was killed and came back as a plant, it can now be used to catch deer. Ordinary persons are prohibited from visiting the mountain to collect the binas: only the Shaman, who possesses the power to calm down the animal and human spirits, can perform this task.

The rare pink riverdolphin, which visitors to Karasabai can sometimes spot in the Ireng River

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A sociable species, the sun parakeet is usually found in flocks of up to thirty individuals

Travel tip The best time to visit Karasabai? Dry season weather makes overland travel easier, and the village is the first stop for the annual North Pakaraimas Mountain Safari, around Easter.

imageBROKER/Alamy Stock Photo

Another local landmark with its own folklore is Tiger Pond, with its Macushi name derived from the words ludule (“tiger”) and kuppu (“pond”). When the pond is displeased, some believe, a white cat emerges from the water and attacks young children. The terrible sounds that sometimes emanate from the pond are also bad omens. You may hear stories like these, perhaps, on a tour through Karasabai’s lush cassava farms to witness farine and cassava bread production, and to sample the potent local alcoholic beverage known as piwari. On sale is a wide range of handicraft, including intricately carved woodwork pieces depicting the various animals you may have encountered on your visit. Hand-carved from a prized wood known locally as “tigerwood” for its distinctive patterns, beautiful jewellery boxes are adorned with the forms of the giant river otter and — yes — the sun parakeet. Or look for one of the detailed needlework panels made by Karasabai’s craftswomen, each requiring hours of delicate work. A splendid sun parakeet rendered in coloured thread may be just the keepsake to remind you, years later, of a visit to this corner of Guyana shrouded in legend. n

Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana from destinations in the Caribbean and North America. Local airlines operate daily flights from Georgetown to Lethem, with overland connections via bus or 4x4 to Karasabai WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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personal tour

Good Prospect courtesy the brooklyn museum

The Brooklyn neighbourhood of Prospect Heights is home to cultural institutions, a thriving foodie scene, and a Caribbean community still holding on despite rampant gentrification. It’s also home to Trinidad-born architect Roxanne Ryce-Paul, who reveals the hints she shares with visiting friends 94

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ike the rest of Brooklyn, the neighbourhood known today as Prospect Heights was once the territory of the indigenous Lenape, and then a landscape of Dutch colonial farms. In the mid nineteenth century, as Brooklyn — still an independent city — began to sprawl inland from its harbour, the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted laid out 526-acre Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn city fathers established a series of cultural institutions nearby, to rival Manhattan’s. The neighbourhood of brownstone townhouses and grand apartment buildings on the slope immediately north of the park soon became known as Prospect Heights. In the second half of the twentieth century, the traditionally Irish, Italian, and Jewish residents of Prospect Heights were largely replaced by AfricanAmericans and migrants from the Caribbean. The Caribbean influence is still obvious in the neighbourhood’s streets, with Jamaican and Trinidadian accents never out of earshot, soca music blasting from the occasional passing car, and the annual Labour Day Carnival parade route running along Eastern Parkway. But, as with most New York City neighbourhoods with good housing stock and subway access, the past fifteen years have seen another major demographic shift. Priced out of Manhattan, young and mostly white professionals have flocked to the neighbourhood, and all the characteristics of gentrification have followed. When Trinidad-born architect Roxanne RycePaul and her partner, artist Nicolas Touron, moved to Prospect Heights in 2001, it was still very much a Caribbean-feeling place. Specialising in urban planning, historic preservation, and sustainable architecture, Ryce-Paul currently works at the NYC Department of Design and Construction, which means a daily commute north to Queens. But on weekends she enjoys spending time in her home neighbourhood, learning more about its architectural history and little-known Caribbean connections, and sharing them with visiting friends. Her personal tour of Prospect Heights leans heavily on its cultural riches — and its diverse culinary scene.

Opposite page The Brooklyn Museum (above) has the second-largest collection of artworks in New York City — including the sculpture Martinique Woman (below), by Malvina Hoffman Above The monumental Art Deco entrance of the Brooklyn Central Library

Start with the landmarks Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights’ southern boundary, is where you’ll find some of Brooklyn’s grandest public buildings. The Brooklyn Museum of Art, says Ryce-Paul, “is the NYC public museum where you can see yourself represented as artist and as subject, regardless of who you are and from where you have come.” She singles out two favourite artworks among the museum’s collection (the second largest in New York City): Martinique Woman (1928), a sculpture by the American artist Malvina Hoffmann, and A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt Rosalie (1866),

a monumentally scaled landscape painting by Albert Bierstadt. A short walk away, the Art Deco headquarters of the Brooklyn Central Library is “one of the most magnificent buildings in the city,” says Ryce-Paul. “The gold leaf relief at the entrance beckons, the plaza receives, and the curved façade embraces the book lover. It also excels by hosting a diverse and compelling range of services and programming for the community. I like to walk through the building on my way home just to feel Brooklyn.”

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The library faces right onto Grand Army Plaza, the vast ovalshaped entrance to Prospect Park that also serves as a memorial to the Union Army in the US Civil War. It includes a triumphal arch of stone with bronze sculptures. Ryce-Paul tells visitors to look closely at the group of soldiers depicted on the arch’s righthand side: in the foreground you can see an African-American soldier, rarely depicted in Civil War memorials.

Work up an appetite Grand Army Plaza is also a good place to start a foodie’s exploration of Prospect Heights, thanks to the popular Saturday Farmer’s Market. “Provisions are priced higher than neighbourhood food and drink,” says Ryce-Paul, “but the produce are just-picked fresh — eggs, bakery goods, meat, pickles all arrive that morning from upstate New York and rural New Jersey.

GrowNYC’s Food Scrap Composting then collects your farmer’s market food waste to replenish the earth and grow more food. Closed loop!” Ryce-Paul and Touron (who’s a former chef) enjoy cooking at home, with organic produce from the farmer’s market and the nearby Park Slope Food Co-op. But when they’re in the mood to eat out, there’s no shortage of options within a few blocks of their apartment. “Cheryl’s Global Soul [on Underhill Avenue] is where you must be first thing on Sunday morning — only to discover as you turn the corner that all of Prospect Heights is there before you for brunch, no joke.” When she’s in the mood for Caribbean food? “When you can’t be in Trinidad, you eat at Sugarcane [on Flatbush Avenue].” And Japanese is a longtime favourite. “Geido [Flatbush Avenue] does much more than excellent sushi. There is Japanese home-style donburi, ramen, soba, izakaya — and the pickled vegetables and ginger are some of the best ever.” A few blocks away, “Chuko [Vanderbilt Avenue] is radicalising vintage Japanese. No sushi here, but you can do a side-by-side tasting test of traditional versus avantgarde Japanese culinary delights.” When the weather is hot? Ryce-Paul strolls over to nearby Crown Heights and Island Pops [Nostrand Avenue], run by Trinis Khalid and Shelly Hamid. “Boozy lollies, snowcone, Mackeson chocolate or orange bitters ice-cream . . . The other day, in a Guinness caramel ice-cream delirium, I dreamed pennacool on the menu.”

Green days

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Manhattan’s Central Park is world-famous, but true Brooklynites will tell you that was merely Olmsted’s warm-up for his true masterpiece, Prospect Park, with its rolling Long Meadow, a rugged forested section called The Ravine, and lake and boathouse. That’s the place to “make friends with the greedy swans and wild geese,” says Ryce-Paul, while in the summertime Breezy Hill is where you’ll find the collection of trendy food trucks called Smorgasburg. But her number-one spot for relaxing outdoors is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, tucked between Prospect Park and the Brook ly n Museum. Founded in 1910, it boasts a celebrated Japanese

Left The bronze sculptures on the triumphal arch in Grand Army Plaza include a depiction of an African-American soldier Opposite page Springtime in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden: cherry trees in bloom

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Garden, a collection of plants inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and poems, and an esplanade of cherry trees that turns into a rioting froth of pink blossoms in the spring. When it’s cold, the tropical greenhouse — with cocoa and coffee trees, heliconias, and even a mango tree — remind Ryce-Paul of home. “Then there is the racoon tree, where we have, over many years, seen new little families emerge from a hole in the trunk.”

Culture-hopping The Brooklyn Academy of Music (or BAM) in Fort Greene — a short journey north from Prospect Heights by subway or even on foot — is one of NYC’s most innovative performing arts venues, with a year-round programme including theatre, opera, and film. “A prominent start to the summer is Dance Africa,” says Ryce-Paul, “which is as much a community celebration as a presentation of the dance arts of the African diaspora. In the autumn, there is the Next Wave Festival” — twelve weeks of groundbreaking performances — “and the BAM Rose Cinema screens new and emerging films.”

Prospect Heights is also home to two small but beloved independent bookshops — “thriving despite the relentless charge from characterless retail that sells everything and leaves you empty.” Café con Libros [on Prospect Place] is a feminist community bookstore, “really just an extension of home, when you invite friends over. Warm, intellectually stimulating, human.” Three blocks over, Unnameable Books [Vanderbilt Avenue] “passes under the radar until you know it and it knows you — then there is no reason to buy a book from Amazon, ever again.” One friend who visits Brooklyn annually is notorious for leaving Unnameable with a stack of at least a dozen books, every time.

Caribbean Airlines operates several flights daily to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport from Trinidad, Guyana, and Jamaica, with connections to other Caribbean destinations WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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home ground

Home to Antigua Returning to Antigua after eight years, Bridget van Dongen couldn’t wait to reexperience the sights and delights of the island she’s come to call home. Here’s her itinerary for a mini-vacation that shows you Antigua at its best

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ight years ago, I took a chance, and moved with my family from Antigua to Trinidad. Two months ago, we came back home. While I wasn’t born in Antigua, I lived here for twelve years from the age of twenty-four. I met my husband here, and our daughter was born in Antigua. I became a naturalised citizen. We had a mostly good life with problems here and there. So why did I leave? This magazine is one reason — during my eight years in Trinidad I was part of the editorial team for Caribbean Beat. But I never stopped thinking of Antigua as home — and, eventually, I decided the life I wanted for my family was here. The very day we returned, I knew we’d made the right decision. Since being back, we’ve won a pub quiz, had a curry lime for old friends, and I had the chance to play tourist with my friend Nikita, visiting from New York, which helped me to re-acquaint myself with my home. On Nikita’s first day here, we started with a drive around the island. Starting from Halcyon Heights, on the hill above Dickenson Bay, we drove through the outskirts of St John’s, the capital, down to Jolly Harbour, on the west coast. Antigua’s recently had a lot of rain, according to my friends, so the countryside is lovely and green, with thousands of pale yellow butterflies everywhere. At Jolly Harbour we stopped for our first dip in the sea. The colour of the sea on that side of the island ranges from bright turquoise blue to a milky teal colour

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when the groundswells stir up the powder-white sand. Nikita wanted to stop and relax, and it was tempting, but I was on a mission. I wanted to get to Falmouth Harbour by lunchtime, as there was a specific place I’d been dying to visit. But first there was the drive around the south end of Antigua. We drove past Darkwood Beach and remarked that we had to come back to try the Swash Inflatable Water Park, anchored just offshore. Then we turned through Urlings and Old Road, stopping to purchase some bananas and what is still, to me, the sweetest pineapple in the world, the Antiguan Black. Old Road joins the main road to English Harbour at Swetes, right


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in front of the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope — painted Pepto-Bismol pink, an unmissable landmark. Cresting Horsford Hill, we finally saw the magnificent vista of Falmouth Harbour with its yachts at anchor, a sight I’d really missed. As we descended to the coast, I told Nikita about the time, many years ago, when a hurricane caused a landslide on that very hill, which everyone around pitched in to help clear — including my friend Caroline and me. A few years ago, Caroline and her husband Simon opened Papa’s by the Sea in Falmouth, with a beautiful setting right on the water. The beer was ice-cold and our lunch was

delicious. When I remarked on the irony of a New Yorker ordering a roti from a British chef in Antigua, Nikita just kept chewing.

The view down to English Harbour

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eaving Falmouth, we drove past Willoughby Bay, through Bethesda. Apparently eight years away means misremembering certain roads, as I’d intended to navigate us to Devil’s Bridge, but we ended up instead on the road past Potswork Dam, the largest water catchment in Antigua. When I realised we’d taken a wrong turn, I rang my friend who runs PAAWS, an animal rescue organisation, in Parham — a village with a history as Antigua’s first British colonial capital,

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Cresting Horsford Hill, we finally saw the magnificent vista of Falmouth Harbour with its yachts at anchor, a sight I’d really missed founded in 1632. Nikita loves animals, and PAAWS allows visitors to the island the opportunity to play with the rescues. We spent a bittersweet half hour playing with puppies and dogs, and lamenting that we couldn’t take them all home with us. On our way home, we hit up Dickenson Bay — which, since I left, has become even more commercialised, with nearly every inch covered in beach chairs to rent. But that doesn’t take away from the loveliness of the water. So while Nikita enjoyed himself on a jet-ski and paddle board, I took a swim: the way every day in Antigua ought to end.

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he next day was dive day. Nikita is an avid scuba diver. He’s dived all over the Caribbean, from Mexico to the Dominican Republic to Tobago — so there’s no way he would have missed out on Antigua.

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We booked a dive with Indigo Divers in Jolly Harbour. Don McIntosh is an old friend, and he invited me to join them on a two-tank dive on Cades Reef, off the southwest coast. The last time I’d dived was in Tobago, where I was a little disappointed with the day’s murky conditions. Cades Reef was a different story: the water clarity was amazing, and we saw a wide variety of fish and coral. I thought we’d spot more lionfish, but we glimpsed only one, which our divemaster tried to spear, but just missed. She told us that because divers often kill the lionfish — a harmful invasive species — and leave them for other fish


nikita prokhorov

to eat, there are often black-tipped sharks hanging around the dive sites, but we weren’t lucky enough to see one. I did, however, manage to brush up against some fire coral. In all my years of living in the Caribbean and exploring its waters, I’d successfully avoided a close encounter with fire coral, and I’m glad — because weeks later my arm was still enflamed and itching. The next few days were beach days, including that promised visit to the Swash Water Park. It’s a great way to tire out over-energetic kids (and adults). I was exhausted within fifteen minutes, but my daughter and Nikita had a blast for a full hour.

We also hosted a housewarming curry lime for a few friends, with lots of beer, rum, and laughter — and, of course, a Trinidadian chicken curry cooked by my husband. In true smallisland fashion, I’d contacted someone on Facebook for something totally unrelated, and when I mentioned we’d be visiting Roti King in St John’s for the dhalpuri, this total stranger mentioned that his Guyanese mother made roti also. While it wasn’t quite as good as the ones from Ali’s in St James in Trinidad — sorry, mom! — it still mopped up that delicious curry and everyone loved the meal.

Opposite page The Copper and Lumber Store, one of the historic buildings in Nelson’s Dockyard Above The Pillars of Hercules

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wo days before Nikita flew back to New York, we took another trip around the island, this time by sea. Adventure Antigua offers various boat tours, but my favourite has always been the Xtreme Circumnav. The staff on the boat were super-friendly, though the day started overcast and slightly chilly. All along the way, our guides pointed out areas of interest on the mainland, sharing tidbits of history. The sun was peeking out by the time we stopped for lunch at Green Island. The menu was simple but delectable: barbequed chicken and pasta with salad, plus, I’m told, the best banana bread in Antigua. After lunch came a fast run down the east coast and into English Harbour — Antigua’s most celebrated historical site, and one of only a handful of working Georgian dockyards left in the world, a safe haven from storms for centuries. Named for the Royal Navy’s Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was stationed here from 1784 to 1787, Nelson’s Dockyard has a fascinating history, with well-preserved heritage buildings and a museum.

We kept count of superyachts and multi-million-dollar homes on the shore, pretending they belonged to us. Doesn’t hurt to dream, right?

Dickenson Bay

St John’s

AntiGua

Green Island

Jolly Harbour Darkwood Beach

Falmouth Harbour Rendezvous Bay

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ug hby Bay

English Harbour

After a brief history lesson, we moored off the Pillars of Hercules, an unusual natural limestone formation at the mouth of English Harbour. It was time for some snorkelling. By now the sun had fully emerged and the water had warmed up, so we all stayed in as long as we could. Our last stop before home was Rendezvous Bay, for rum punch (delicious and quite strong), and then a run around the southwest coast, back up to Dickenson Bay. Along the way, we kept count of superyachts and multi-million-dollar homes on the shore, pretending they belonged to us. Doesn’t hurt to dream, right? While it was a lot of fun playing tourist, by the time you read this, I’ll have started a new job (or begged for my old job back at the magazine). My minivacation was a great reminder why so many people come to Antigua to enjoy the tourist lifestyle. But when I sip my coffee each morning and look out at the incredible view from my balcony, I know the decision to move back to Antigua may have taken a while to make — but it’s one I won’t regret.

John King/Alamy Stock Photo

The delicious view from Green Island

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ADVERTORIALS

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Gingerlily Since launching its first store in Antigua in 1996, Gingerlily has been the luxurious go-to for women who want effortless apparel, a flattering fit, and a glorious selection of colours. Gingerlily offers globally sourced treasures as unique and evocative as the island itself. We are the exclusive stockists for brands such as Joseph Ribkoff, Spanx, Ralph Lauren, and Barbara Erickson. Most brands are available from sizes 2 to 20. We have two locations, duty-free in Heritage Quay and at Gate 1 in the departure lounge at V.C. Bird International Airport.

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Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua from Trinidad and other destinations


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ENGAGE

Discover 106 As deep as it goes

On This Day 110 A flag on the island

Hydromedusae jellyfish are among the creatures that inhabit the deep sea, the region below two hundred metres


courtesy NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

discover

Diva Ammon retrieving a new species of deep-sea sponge collected from the Marianas region of the Pacific

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The deep sea — defined as parts of the ocean below two hundred metres — is our planet’s biggest habitat, and also its least known. Caribbean islands are surrounded by the deep sea, but few of our scientists have the resources to explore the region. Erline Andrews meets Trinidadian marine biologist Diva Amon, who’s working to change that


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went to the Antarctic one year,” says Diva Amon. “I had a window in my cabin, and I was brushing my teeth one morning, looking out the window, and all of a sudden I just saw this thing go by. I was, like, ‘What was that?’” “I looked out the window,” she continues, “and there were so many penguins outside swimming away, doing their thing. There were penguins around the ship every day.” Amon’s job gives her experiences that are the stuff of dreams and movies. Back home in Trinidad for the holidays, she’s seated on the couch in the living room of her Maraval house, describing life on board a marine research ship. “There were humpback whales literally where that chair is every day,” she says, pointing. “People don’t get to do that on a day-to-day basis.” Amon is the only deep-sea biologist in the Caribbean — which is disturbing, considering the importance of the deep sea. More than two hundred metres beneath the surface of the ocean, pitch black, high-pressured, and extremely cold, this region is the earth’s largest habitat, teeming with life, much of it undiscovered. It helps regulate the world’s climate and cycle the nutrients that support the marine life many people depend on for their livelihood. In 2014, Amon was part of a team that explored the deep sea around the country of her birth, Trinidad and Tobago, for only the second time in history. It was the first time Caribbean scientists were involved. Caribbean nationals’ lack of involvement with the depths of the ocean is sadly ironic, because the history of deep-sea exploration is intertwined with that of the Caribbean, T&T in particular. The first real mission to observe life in the deep sea was launched off the coast of Bermuda in 1934. The scientist involved, American William Beebe, used a spherical vessel called the Bathysphere, and set a record at the time for the deepest dive by a human being. He later founded a research station in Trinidad, and died and was buried on the island in 1962.

The expense and expertise needed to carry out deep-sea exploration are partly why it’s rare in small, poor countries. But this makes it no less necessary in these places than in big, rich countries. The 2014 expedition — on board the American research ship Nautilus and using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) which carried cameras rather than human beings to the deep sea — explored areas off the coast of T&T and Grenada over fourteen days. A subsequent paper co-authored by Amon and other members of the team argued that as oil-and gas-producing T&T moves towards deep-sea drilling, it is necessary to try to better understand the possible impact of such activity on that environment. The expedition also looked at parts of Grenada’s Kick ’em Jenny, the only active underwater volcano in the Caribbean, which scientists are anxious to learn more about. At the Trinidad sites, the expedition found more than eighty species of animal, including five that were newly discovered,

Trinidad alone. “This should be something we’re proud of,” says Amon. “Just like we’re proud of our Caroni Swamp and the beautiful birds that live there, and the important role that mangroves play. It should be the same for the deep sea. “There are so many species there,” she adds, “probably loads that are new to science, some that could have properties that could help us at some point in the future. Apart from all that, they’re just incredibly beautiful.”

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mon, now thirty-one, traces her own interest in the sea back to her early childhood. “My parents took me to the beach all the time, and I just became fascinated with the ocean,” she says. Amon, her father, and her younger sister also sailed competitively. Her fascination with the marine environment was reflected in her academic performance. A graduate of St Joseph’s Convent in Port of Spain, she earned the second-highest mark in the world in the Cambridge A-level geography exam. She

“Because the deep ocean has been so far removed from the average person . . . next to no one knows that deep-sea mining is on the horizon,” says Diva Ammon and unusually large mussels and tube worms. In a video about the experience, Trinidadian marine biologist and UWI lecturer Judith Gobin, who helped organise the trip, held a sub-sandwich-sized mussel that she said was the largest ever found. “We don’t do deep-sea research in the Caribbean, because nobody will fund it at the moment, but Diva and I are trying to change that,” Gobin says. The creatures were found around areas called cold seeps, where methane sprouts from cracks in the sea f loor and feeds the bacteria that sustain the deep-sea food chain. Cold seeps are associated with petroleum deposits. Previous research suggests there may be as many as eighty-five off the east coast of

was awarded a national scholarship and studied at the University of Southampton, where she learned about the deep sea for the first time. Over her career, Amon has taken part in fifteen deep-sea expeditions, eight of them in the Caribbean and its environs. Most of the explorations were conducted using ROVs. Three times she descended the depths herself in machines called submersibles. On every trip, she and other researchers have discovered new animals and information about the deep sea. Amon is currently on a fellowship at the Natural History Museum in London. Before that, she was one of a team of scientists exploring the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a 4.5 million-square-kilo-

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Courtesy Novus Select

Descending into the depths in the submersible Nadir, off the St Peter and St Paul Rocks in the mid-Atlantic, off the coast of Brazil

metre stretch of the Pacific Ocean under international jurisdiction. Corporations are eager to begin mining the deep sea for precious metals found mainly around structures called hydrothermal vents. Like cold seeps, the vents are formed from chemical-rich fluid escaping fissures in the sea floor, and they support immense biodiversity. The International

means that next to no one knows that deep-sea mining is on the horizon, that our oceans may be changed irreparably in the future, and it can change our environment irrevocably,” she says. It’s a major story, with Amon quoted in a slew of media reports over the last year. And the prominence of voices like Amon’s is important.

Caribbean nationals’ lack of involvement with the depths of the ocean is sadly ironic, because the history of deep-sea exploration is intertwined with that of the Caribbean, T&T in particular Seabed Authority is currently coming up with mining rules and regulations. Amon and other scientists were hired by one British company to find out as much as they could about the marine life and their habitats in the zone. “Because the deep ocean has been so far removed from the average person, that out-of-sight, out-of-mind characteristic

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“Because only rich, developed countries are able to do deep-sea science, it means that the deep-sea community is predominantly white,” she explains. “Now there’s this global conversation about managing and conserving our oceans, and many people are missing from that conversation.” So Amon has conceived a venture

called My Deep Sea, My Backyard — a oneyear project that provides scientists in Kiribati (a small Pacific island nation) and T&T with deep-sea research cameras, ROVs, and training in how to use them. It exposes the public, especially kids, to the wonders of the deep sea around their home islands. The project is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Inter-American Development Bank, the University of the West Indies, and other organisations, and is working in conjunction with SpeSeas, an NGO Amon co-founded last year with other T&T scientists and environmentalists. “We hope we will take everything we’ve learned in the year the project runs for — all the good and all the bad — and make a model that can then be rolled out to other developing countries,” says Amon, who was given the first-ever Award for Excellence in Deep - Sea Research from the International Seabed Authority last year. The project, Amon says, is really about showing young people “you can do this too. Anybody can, if given the right resources.” n


H E L P P R OT E C T T H E F O O D S U P P LY A N D N AT U R A L B E AU T Y O F T H E C A R I B B E A N

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ACROSS 3. The chosen spokesperson for the Don’t Pack a Pest program. 6. Pests and disease can be transported through _______. 9. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conduct inspections at various _______ of entry that are pathways for the introduction of pests and disease. 11. Unsuspecting _______ bring in food, plants and other agricultural items containing harmful pests and diseases. 12. Approximately 50,000 species of plants and animals have _______ the United States. 14. Any good that is made from animal or plant materials is an _______ item. 16. Passenger _______ is a critical component of the Don’t Pack a Pest program. 17. Visit DontPackaPest.com to _______ yourself on prohibited items. 20. The global economy spends $1.4 trillion annually combating _______ species. 21. Straw hats and other woven goods can carry the red palm _______ which causes severe damage to palms and banana trees. 23. Is the Caribbean spokesperson for the don’t pack a pest program. 25. A _______ dog is trained to target a specific odor, thereby locating prohibited items. 26. Unprocessed _______ like carved masks and other handicrafts can potentially harbor invasive insects. 27. The Asian citrus psyllid is a vector that carries huanglongbing, also known as _______ greening disease and arrived in the U.S. on imported items. 28. Help _______ our food supply. 29. Each year these types of pests destroy about 13 percent of the U.S. potential crop production, that’s a value of about $33 million.

DOWN 1. The giant African land _______ is one of the most damaging pests in the world because it consumes at least 500 types of plants, can cause structural damage, and can transmit disease. 2. Even one piece of _______can transport harmful pests. 4. If you do not declare agricultural items, you can be subject to _______ between $1,100 and $60,000. 5. An invasive species can be any kind of living organism, or even an organism's seeds or eggsnot native to an _______ and causes harm. 7. Before traveling with agricultural items you should ask yourself can I _______ it? 8. _______ all food and agriculture items when you enter the United States or other countries. 10. Agricultural risks grow with the ever increasing amount of this. 13. The USDA and state departments of agriculture work together to _______ introduced pests. 15. All agricultural items are subject to _______, to try and detect and prevent the unintentional spread of harmful invasives. 18. An acronym meaning animal and plant health inspection service. 19. More that 110 CBP agriculture _______ teams provide screening for agricultural goods. 22. APHIS and PPQ are acronyms meaning animal and plant health inspection service and plant protection and quarantine which are a part of what U.S. federal department? 24. When you travel please remember Don't _______ a Pest! 25. On an typical day CBP inspectors will _______ 352 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 4,638 quarantinable materials, including plants, meat, animal byproducts, and soil.

ACROSS 3. Linus 6. travel 9. ports 11. travelers 12. invaded 14. agricultural 16. awareness 17. educate 20. invasive 21. mite 23. Sassy 25. detector 26. wood 27. citrus 28. protect 29. insect DOWN 1. snail 2. fruit 4. penalties 5. ecosystem 7. bring 8. declare 10. trade 13. eradicate 15. inspection 18. APHIS 19. canine 22. USDA 24. pack 25. discover

ANSWER KEY


on this day

A flag on the island Fifty years ago, a British military force landed on a tiny Caribbean island — to be welcomed with open arms. The “invasion” of Anguilla was an odd and maybe anachronistic moment in the Caribbean’s colonial history — but, James Ferguson suggests, it left Anguillans with exactly what they wanted: a version of independence Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

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rom Haiti’s revolution of 1791 to the more peaceful mass movements of the 1930s onwards in the English-speaking colonies, the modern history of the Caribbean has been determined by a rejection of foreign rule and a desire for independence. While not all territories have opted for autonomy, the great majority have, creating nation states out of colonial dependencies. Few citizens of the contemporary Caribbean would want to turn the clock back and find themselves ruled from London or Madrid. Needless to say, of course, there is always an exception to prove the rule, and here it takes the form of a direct appeal to the former colonial power to re-establish control over the territory in question. I can think of only two such cases in the Caribbean. The first occurred in 1861, when the president of the Dominican Republic, confronted by political chaos and bankruptcy, asked Queen Isabella II of Spain to reconvert the country into a Spanish colony after seventeen years of independence (the US and France had already declined the offer). It ended messily: after two years of inept and repressive colonial administration, a popular insurrection turned into guerrilla war, and the Spanish were finally kicked out for good in 1865. The second case was much more recent, and featured a tiny, formerly British colony, best known today for its stunning beaches and luxury resorts:

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Anguilla. And this incident bizarrely culminated fifty years ago, on 19 March, 1969, with a British military invasion of the island. Anguilla had long been a remote outpost among Britain’s Caribbean possessions. Small and mostly arid, it was not suited to plantationbased agriculture, and as such had fewer enslaved Africans than nearby islands. The French made a couple of half-hearted attempts to seize it, but the British retained control from its first colonisation in 1650. Its insignificance was illustrated by the fact that it was not considered worthy of its own governor, and was administered first from Antigua and then, from 1825, from St Kitts. This arrangement fuelled resentment, as Anguillans viewed the legislative union as inefficient and discriminatory. A petition of 1872 requesting direct rule from London was ignored. A further cost-cutting exercise in 1882 saw Anguilla pulled into the three-island union of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, part of the Leeward Islands Federation. Nobody, however, thought to consult the people of Anguilla, who endured great hardships and mass emigration due to famines and the shockwaves of the 1930s Great Depression. The British persisted with the three-island model, first as a crown colony in 1956 and then as a selfgoverning associated state in 1967. This effectively handed over control of Anguilla to the majority legislators in St Kitts. This unwanted alignment was to prove a tipping point in Nevis and Anguilla, which both viewed themselves as deprived of resources and development by the biggest of the three islands. In one instance, Canada had donated funds for a pier to be built in Anguilla. The money went to St Kitts, where the pier was duly constructed instead. The premier of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was Robert Bradshaw, a tough veteran trade unionist, who seemingly had little time for Anguilla. “I will not rest,” he allegedly once said, “until I have reduced that place to a desert.” Discontent simmered in Nevis even after the granting of limited self-rule, but in Anguilla, where no such concession was made, anger would soon turn into open revolt.


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hree months after the official celebration of associated statehood in February 1967, a group of locals ejected seventeen Kittitian policemen from Anguilla, thereby removing whatever authority Premier Bradshaw thought he had. A provisional government was formed, the Union Jack was raised over the police station, and a referendum rather unambiguously recorded 1,813 votes in favour of secession from the new state and five against. Attempts were made by Britain to resolve the impasse, but most Anguillans remained resolutely opposed to rule from St Kitts. Robert Bradshaw, meanwhile, furious that a group of Anguillans had staged an abortive kidnapping attempt on him, claimed that Anguilla had been infiltrated by the US mafia, and demanded that Britain invade and stop the secession movement. An air of farce was rapidly surrounding proceedings when another overwhelming referendum result was followed by Anguilla declaring itself an independent republic, with Ronald Webster as its leader. This prompted a visit on 11 March, 1969, from a British junior minister, William Whitlock, in search of an “interim agreement.” His mission was not a success. He snubbed Webster and patronised those who had turned out to greet him by having his staff distribute leaflets outlining British proposals — in the words of a local journalist, “as a farmer might throw corn to fowl.” After a few armed supporters of Webster turned up, Whitlock decided to call it a day and flee. With Anguilla now a rogue state, it faced the military might of imperial Britain, which arrived eight days later in the form of 135 troops from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, and forty Metropolitan Police officers. Disembarking into smaller vessels from a frigate (there was, of course, no pier) in the pre-dawn darkness, they were momentarily alarmed to see flashes coming from the beach. But these were not gunshots, but the flash bulbs of photographers, many foreign, who had been tipped off about the “invasion” named Operation Sheepskin.

In fact, there was no resistance whatsoever, not least because the return of the British was precisely what the Anguillans wanted. The paratroopers were soon replaced by unarmed personnel from the Royal Engineers. One policeman recalled, “The vast majority of Anguillans were very nice to us and we very quickly dispensed with carrying arms and reverted to our more normal situation — that of being Bobbies, policing by consent.” Many could not believe their luck at being posted to this friendly, if undeveloped, island. The incident was widely mocked around the world as the ailing British Empire’s “Bay of Piglets.” But the people of Anguilla were to have the last laugh. In 1976 the island was given its own constitution, and on 19 December, 1980, it was formally separated from St Kitts-Nevis as a British dependency, a status it retains today — renamed as a British overseas territory. The Anguillans finally achieved their aim — and, into the bargain, the massive infrastructural improvements carried out by the Royal Engineers and largely paid for by London paved the way for the island’s transformation from an impoverished backwater into today’s tourist mecca. n

With Anguilla now a rogue state, it faced the military might of imperial Britain, which arrived in the form of 135 troops from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, and forty Metropolitan Police officers WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Spot the Difference answers Chequered flag is narrower; black and white squares on flag are swapped; horns of old goat in red vest are longer; “AT” printed on old goat’s vest is changed to “4”; hair of female goat in pink shorts is longer; female goat’s top is longer; red balisier plant is added to background; running goat’s pants are shorter; grass in running goat’s mouth is shorter; running goat’s necklace is removed; right pincer of blue crab with trophy is raised; blue crab’s glasses are removed; purple crab with red sneakers is replaced by red crab with purple sneakers.

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Antarctic arranger biennial Bolshoi cassava crab creek depression dive drum dumpling Easter Giselle granite Holi kite

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90% (2019 year-to-date: 6 February)


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classic

James H

ackett

Running commentary

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very great run has a soundtrack. When I first fell in love with running, it was scored by my favourite songs. In those pre-iPod days, I ran with a CD belt, so each run took on the mood of whatever album I grabbed on the way out the door. Saucy, tempo runs to Carlos Santana. Slow, contemplative runs to Monty Alexander. Speedwork to a medley of old funk jams. But then I decided to train for the New York City Triathlon, a road race with a strict no-music policy. I tuned in to a completely different soundtrack — the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, the rhythm of my own breathing. When I lived in Manhattan, my running soundtrack was mostly of my own making, save for the occasional honk of a car horn, the dreaded sound of a faster runner’s footsteps coming up behind me — or, worse, the shout of “On your left” as he or she went by. I ran mostly in Central Park or on the West Side Path, where my usual eight-minute-mile pace attracted no attention and gave me enough chances to yell my own gleeful “On your left.” Now I live and run in Kingston. And there’s a whole new soundtrack to get used to. “Yes, Fitness.” “Gwan through, Veronica.” “Lawd Jesus. Done now, man. You a go run off the good batty weh God give you.” I’m running laps in Kingston’s Emancipation Park when I realise the commentary is directed at me. I am not a morning person, and I hate to run on a treadmill. I like to run at night to purge the day’s drama from my body. And I like to run alone. If I could, I’d run on the street, but the first time I tried this, at dusk one evening, my intended long run turned into speedwork as a madman chased me down Constant Spring Road. That leaves me with Emancipation Park — a flat, paved, five-hundredmetre loop that stays open till 11 pm, and comes with ample lighting — and a pool of commentators who would do well on the European circuit.

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Kellie Magnus describes the soundtrack to a Kingston run — first published in our March/April 2006 issue Most of my fellow park users turn out for a walk. Young couples stroll arm in arm. Groups of friends walk briskly. There are usually just a few joggers, and very few women run. I rarely hear threatening footsteps, but the commentary comes in a steady torrent. Respect, concern, even anger — the comments are as varied as the people who deliver them. “Looking good, my girl.” “Yow, da gyal yah can run.” “She nuh hah nuh man? If she did have a man, she wouldn’t a run so.” At first the commentary threw me off. I ran with a hat pulled low over my face, no matter how late it was, and I would slow down apologetically to pass walkers. Now that I’ve tuned in to it, I use it to gauge how well I’m doing. On a slow day, I attract no attention. On average days, I get a nod and a “Yes, Runner.” There’s a simplicity and an elegance to “Runner.” It used to be my favourite title until one fast Friday night, when I was upgraded to “Runnist.” I could go back to running with music, but I’ve grown accustomed to the unpredictability of my very own Greek chorus. Like the perfect dancehall song, their rapid-fire delivery and lyrical dexterity ride the rhythm of my breathing and footfalls. Sometimes I struggle to keep my form, as on a recent Sunday afternoon when I ran by a bridal party posing for pictures. Bridesmaid 1: She nuh know seh if she run so fast she a go tired. Bridesmaid 2: If you did do likkle a dat, you frock wouldn’ tight so. One evening during the World Championships I was running in a yellow tank and black shorts, a hastily borrowed green scrunchie in my hair. I ran by a group of elderly women walking. “Poor soul, she mussi never make the team.” Late one Monday night, I’m on mile seven of an eight-mile run when I hear footsteps. I look over my shoulder and see a blond man, mid-forties, bearing down on me. His gait and pace tell me he’s a runner. His presence in this park tells me he’s a tourist. I pull to the right to let him pass but as he goes by I change my mind and adjust my pace to stay just off his left shoulder. We pass a group of four men walking. “She keeping up with him.” I pass the tourist. He passes me. I stay off his shoulder. Three loops later, we pass the men in the same spot. “Stay with him, my girl.” It is whispered urgently, as though there were a stake in the outcome. A thousand metres later, I am still off the tourist’s shoulder. I am at the end of my planned run. I am tired. But I look up and see the group of men just ahead. I mutter “Left,” and pull by. Neither the tourist nor his legs answer. I sprint by the group. “Yes, my girl. Show him, yes.” “Show him seh is Jamaica him deh.” n


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Profile for MEP Publishers

Caribbean Beat — March/April 2019 (#156)  

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

Caribbean Beat — March/April 2019 (#156)  

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

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