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Contents No. 160 • November/December 2019

74

24 44

EMBARK

20 Wish you were here Viñales Valley, Cuba

22 Need to know

Essential info to help you make the most of November and December across the Caribbean — parang in Trinidad, Garifuna Settlement Day in Belize, Sugar Mas in St Kitts, and more

38 Bookshelf and playlist

Our reading and listening picks

42 screenshots

Filmmaker Laura Guzmán explains how the life of pioneering Dominican Republic director Jean-Louis Jorge inspired her new feature Holy Beasts

44 Cookup

Cuisine beyond boundaries Jamaican-American Nneka Nurse has a mission: to introduce Caribbean cuisine to international foodies. She tells Franka Philip how and why it’s time to “elevate” Caribbean food 12

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IMMERSE

49 Closeup

Written for the young of all ages Young adult (or YA) literature is aimed at teenage readers, but appeals to many grownups, too. And in recent years there’s been a boom in Caribbean YA, Kimberly De Souza reports, as she meets five writers telling innovative stories about Caribbean youth

58 Snapshot

The Jimmy October Project “New Calypso” is how twenty-fouryear-old Jimmy October describes his genre-bending music — a sound that feels like “home” to listeners in Trinidad and Tobago but also appeals to international audiences. Laura Dowrich-Phillips learns more

64 backstory

When art is defiance Ten years ago, a group of artists in Haiti launched an audacious, even

provocative, project: the Ghetto Biennale, drawing international attention to the creative community in Port-au-Prince’s Grand Rue. The event’s tensions and discomforts are at the heart of its mission, writes Nixon Nelson, as the Ghetto Biennale prepares to stage its sixth edition ARRIVE

74 destination

Curaçao diary An unexpected flock of flamingos, traditional architecture, a hike with incredible views, and beach after glorious beach — Philip Sander samples the delights of Caribbean Airlines’ newest destination


86 Neighbourhood

George Town, Grand Cayman Equally famous for its amazing beaches and diving spots and as an international financial centre, the capital of the Cayman Islands also offers art, nature — and a little taste of Hell

88 explore

An ABC for SVG Twenty-six ways to experience the best of St Vincent and the Grenadines — in alphabetical order

98 Bucket List

Old San Juan One of the Caribbean’s oldest cities has a historic centre famous for its architecture and culture ENGAGE

100 Green

For the sake of a lizard The gem-like colours of the tiny Union Island gecko — a lizard found only on one small island in the Grenadines — are why it’s so highly coveted by the exotic pet trade. As Erline Andrews reports, hopes for the endangered gecko’s survival depend on new conservation efforts, and a push for eco-tourism

CaribbeanBeat CaribbeanBeat An MEP publication

Editor Nicholas Laughlin General manager Halcyon Salazar Design artists Kevon Webster, Kriston Chen Production manager Jacqueline Smith Web editor Caroline Taylor Editorial assistants Shelly-Ann Inniss, Kristine De Abreu

Business Development Manager, Tobago and International Evelyn Chung T: (868) 684 4409 E: evelyn@meppublishers.com

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

Business Development Representative, Trinidad Joanne Pennie T: (868) 392 4517 E: jpennie@meppublishers.com

Business Development Representative, Trinidad Indra Ramcharan T: (868) 750 0153 E: indra@meppublishers.com

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

102On this day

Crusing for trouble Some people love cruise ships, some people hate them. But, personal preferences aside, the fate of the SS Columbus — scuttled by her captain eighty years ago — suggests the dangers of tourism in a time of war. James Ferguson tells the tale

104 puzzles

Enjoy our crossword and other fun brain-teasers!

112 classic

A dip into Caribbean Beat’s archives: Attillah Springer explains why her late granny’s Christmas black cake was and is the best ever, no debate

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

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

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Cover Flowering cacti, a characteristic part of the Curaçao landscape, against the brilliant blue sea surrounding the island Photo Irina Naoumova/ Alamy Stock Photo

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

This issue’s contributors include: Erline Andrews (“For the sake of a lizard”, page 100) is an award-winning Trinidadian journalist. She is a regular contributor to Caribbean Beat and her work has appeared in other publications in T&T and the US, including the Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor. Kimberly De Souza (“Written for the young of all ages”, page 49) is a writer from Trinidad and Tobago. She has written for Caribbean Belle, Culturego Magazine, and ET&T Weekly. A Fulbright Scholar, she is also involved in script writing and media production. Laura Dowrich-Phillips (“The Jimmy October project”, page 58) is passionate about culture and the arts in the Caribbean. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, she is currently the regional lifestyle editor for Loop News and is co-host of a podcast called Music Matters: The Caribbean Edition, exploring the business side of the Caribbean music industry. Franka Philip (“Cuisine beyond boundaries”, page 44) loves to find the story behind the story in the food industry. A journalist for more than twenty years, she has worked in print, online, and radio in Trinidad and at the BBC in London. At the start of 2018, she co-founded Trini Good Media, a website hosting the podcast Talk ’Bout Us.

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A MESSAGE From OUR CEO

Whether you move across the floor like a ballerina, groove like it’s still the 70s, or just defy rhythm like your dad at a wedding, dancing is one of the purest forms of human enjoyment and spontaneity. I defy even the most reluctant dancefloor chair-hugger not to feel the beat in their toes of a sexy salsa, raunchy soca, or even a rave dancehall anthem. It’s certainly an intrinsic part of Caribbean culture, pulling on cultural influences from around the world to create our own rhythmic, joy-filled celebrations of life, such as reggae, dancehall, mambo, merengue, calypso, or soca, which in turn have inspired other cultures around the world. Dancing is just one essential part of the Caribbean Identity we have been celebrating this year — this is the underlying essence of our region that brings us together across the different cultural heritages, individual experiences, and geographies that divide us. In fact, put Caribbean people together anywhere in the world, and they will instinctively recognise their common identity. This is what Caribbean Airlines celebrates, as it connects the Caribbean nations by making it easier to travel between them and by supporting and celebrating our festivals and cultural events. Recently, we asked Trinidad and Tobago’s soca superstar Machel Montano to produce a song to express this idea. The result was the brilliant “Flying High”, which soared across the Caribbean and into North America and beyond. The dance video and road

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mix version helped to fuel the 2019 Carnivals, earning over two million views — check it out on our YouTube channel. Using that success as a launchpad, we decided to go global with a dance competition via our Facebook page, asking people to create their own submissions. The response was truly global, with the first entry received from faraway Fiji. Of the twenty-five high-quality entries, the eventual winner came from Russia. What a fantastic demonstration of the power of the Caribbean Identity to bridge time and distance. The videos — showing teams from around the world dancing to infectious Caribbean soca music — attracted more than eight million views on Facebook. All twenty-five videos can also be seen on the Caribbean Airlines mobile app, which is available from Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Our mobile app has also proved tremendously popular: it makes access to all our services and products even easier, and is a great way to keep up with the services and offers from Caribbean Airlines. For example, after adding St Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba, and Curaçao to our network over the past few years, in December we will launch service from Kingston, Jamaica, our northern hub, to both Havana and the Cayman Islands. And there will also be a special extra service between Fort Lauderdale and Montego Bay, Jamaica, over the Christmas–New Year period, from 15 December, 2019 to 7 January, 2020. In 2020, look for even more new

destinations, providing easier and more convenient movement within the region. Packages to  Grenada, the Bahamas, and Cuba will also be launched soon through My Vacations and Tours, and can be accessed at vacations.caribbean-airlines.com. Changes are coming thick and fast. Caribbean Vacations payments can now be made in local Caribbean currencies, for example, as well as US dollars. Travellers can take in three different islands or more for one Caribbean Explorer fare. Future flight bookings can be held for only twenty-five per cent downpayment under our Caribbean Layaway programme. And we’re investing in new ways to measure and strengthen our warm and helpful customer services. These are just some of the improvements we’ve made, or plan to make, in the near future. Even as we prepare to unveil refreshed branding in 2020, we promise to go on drawing the Caribbean nations closer together. To all our valued customers, employees, and stakeholders, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! At some point in this party season, may the Caribbean rhythms take hold and bring you joy.

Garvin Medera Chief Executive Officer


come together By Dionne Ligoure

T

he Caribbean is a vast archipelago defined by the  Caribbean Sea. It is often subdivided into different regions: namely the Lesser Antilles and the ABC Islands, the Greater Antilles, and the Lucayan (Bahama) Archipelago (which alone includes over seven hundred islands). The major languages we speak are Spanish, English, French, Dutch, and Kweyol. The area spans more than one million square miles, but there is more that unites than divides this immense archipelagic region. Most academic literature describes the Caribbean as an area with a common history of slavery, plantation society, and colonisation. These links are part of a powerful and intricate heritage. In 1958, the English-speaking Caribbean established the West Indies Federation to enable more structured unity in the region. In so doing, they identified three institutions that could facilitate increased co-operation: the University of the West Indies, West Indies cricket, and the airline. Like the other institutions, Caribbean Airlines remains committed to its role in shaping the connected region. In 2019, Caribbean Airlines has boldly enlivened its role, to be a powerful force in uniting our islands through its Caribbean Identity campaign and by improving regional transport links. The airline is today the leading advocate for the Caribbean Identity, inclusive of Cuba, Curaçao, Guyana, and Suriname. This campaign gives us another channel to celebrate our diversity and embrace our commonality. Caribbean Airlines upholds our common heritage in deeply rooted traditions of music, dance, culture, festivals, and other celebrations. The concept is igniting a new camaraderie within and outside the Caribbean region. For the diaspora, it provides a universal medium which showcases our rich heritage and gives second- and third-generation West Indians an additional and distinct handle to hold. The airline’s network expansion is making travel within the region easier. While many islands are just hundreds of miles apart, travelling among them often takes far longer than expected, based on a lack of convenient connectivity. With improved transport links, the islands are brought closer together, further strengthening our shared identity. The Caribbean Identity is as deep as it is wide, and encompasses all that we are as a region. We have been gathered, it seems, from every continent in the world, bring-

ing painful histories, shaped by slavery, indentureship, and waves of migrants looking for opportunity. We have risen through postcolonial struggles coalescing into our unique Caribbean Community, even as we hold to the belief in sovereignty for individual island states. What emerges from this melting pot of ancestry that spans the globe is a warm and spicy personality honed over centuries by those of us born here. We see our “Caribbeanness” reflected in our marketplaces, in the flavour and blending of our cuisine, the pulsating rhythms of our music, and the intellectual prowess of our region’s thinkers. Our world is articulated in the seminal writings and reflections of minds like Dr. Eric Williams, C.L.R. James, Lloyd Best, Aimé Césaire, Sir Shridath Ramphal, Edwige Danticat, Oonya Kempadoo, and Sharon Maas, to name a few.  Our ambition manifests in the athleticism of exceptional sportsmen and women. And our culture takes music and musicians to world stages. (For the significance of culture to our region, see “Art Is Identity” by John Robert Lee, published in the September/October 2019 issue of Caribbean Beat.) The Caribbean Identity is forged from colonial frameworks which still shape our laws and direction. These ties with old continents are part and parcel of “Caribbeanness,” and enable comfortable relationships with global entities. As the region evolves, contestations of race and class are ongoing, with the emergence of many new hybrids of “colour.” However, any pockets of separation come to naught in times of crisis, when Caribbean unity is fiercely demonstrated. The sea that separates our territories must now be the sea that unites us, as we come together to confront climate change. In recent years, increasingly destructive hurricanes have brought the region closer together. Among the many lessons learned is the urgent need to build even closer relationships among ourselves. It is hoped that the Caribbean Identity will extend to policy, technology, and initiatives to protect our seas and safeguard our lands, and give us the voice to stand up for islands everywhere against consumerism and pollution. As we enter a new decade, the Caribbean continues to face our age-old challenges: remaking ourselves, relating to the rest of the world, and being a voice for islands everywhere. We CAN DO this by being a community of ten million, rather than island populations of one or two million each. Let’s deepen our connections through Caribbean Airlines. Let us embrace the similarities and differences and appreciation for diversity that define our Caribbean Identity. Dionne Ligoure is Head, Corporate Communications at Caribbean Airlines. This essay is part of a series reflecting on the Caribbean Identity and what it is and can be.

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wish you were here

Viñales Valley, Cuba In Cuba’s farthest western province of Pinar del Río, the Viñales Valley is bounded by the sheer limestone cliffs of the unique small hills called mogotes, forestcapped and home to rare bird and plant species. The dramatic gradients, overhangs, and panoramic views across the valley — also famous for its tobacco farms — make Viñales a mecca for adventure-seeking rock-climbers, just a few hours’ drive from Havana.

Photography by marcin jucha/Shutterstock.com

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NEED TO KNOW

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

Don’t Miss St Kitts Sugar Mas

courtesy st kitts tourism authority

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Carnival season falls before Lent, or at the traditional end of the sugarcane harvest. In St Kitts, traditional Christmastime celebrations dating back to the seventeenth century have evolved into a Carnival that spans the end of the old year and the start of the new, today called Sugar Mas. With hallmark festivities like calypso and soca monarch competitions, a Carnival queen pageant, steelpan and extempo, the pace is hot and exhaustion is a real possibility. J’Ouvert opens Boxing Day on 26 December, and for the first few days of January, life is literally a song and dance at the Grand Parade and Last Lap events. How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua, with connections to St Kitts on other airlines 22

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need to know pick up instruments at any point, on any given day, because we love to hear it. I believe that’s why we are one of the main hubs for parang. We don’t wait for people to tell us when to play, and we keep it authentic most of the time.

Can anyone join in house-tohouse parang?

maria nunes

You either plan to go with a group, or you listen for a band and join the band with your instrument and help them play. If you’re playing in time, and they like you, they allow you to stay in the band. I’m not fluent in Spanish, but if I memorise the songs, I can sing them perfectly. If I only hear a song and try to freestyle, that’s a different story.

What is your role in Los Paraminiños?

On the Beat Trinidad parang From October to early January in Trinidad, the strumming of the guitar, cuatro, and mandolin, mixed with the shakes of the maracas and the beat of the box bass, herald the island’s traditional Christmas music, parang. Derived from Venezuelan folk music and sung in Spanish, the vibrant sound of parang reverberates from the hills of Paramin in the north to Lopinot and Arima in the east and San Fernando in the south. Traditionally, parranderos — parang performers — went door to door in their communities, serenading each household. Steffano Marcano is well known as a Carnival masquerader, portraying the blue devil character, but during parang season he also performs with the Paraminiños parang band. He explains why crowds from near and far ascend the steep hills to his village to enjoy the music.

How did you become involved in parang?

I got involved because of my community in Paramin. It is such a culturally enriched place. I really looked up to parang icons like the people in my village, also the Lara Brothers and Daisy Voisin. I see a generational change now, because we give our children the maracas and other instruments at very tender ages. As soon as you can hear or understand music, or maybe even mumble it, you are introduced to parang. It clings to you and you grow with it.

Do you remember your first performance?

I was five years old. My sister Shauntel and I learned to play the toc-toc for 24

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timing, then the maracas, cuatro, and a bass bucket for a bass box. We improvised using a bucket with a string and a stick on it. We’d go to four or five neighbours’ houses and play parang for them. We could only play three songs. People loved that we were trying to sing a song and entertain. They encouraged us, and over the years we got better and better by doing it for the love of it. To this day, my band and my family, including my parents, still do house-to-house parang.

Tell us about Paramin.

There are many cultures in Paramin, and the Spanish is one of them. We grew up with parang instilled in us. During the year, neighbours play parang music. We

I am the “marac man” and a backup singer. Performing parang is a stressreliever. I adore playing and singing. It’s not always in Spanish. We also do patois parang. We literally did a song called “Patois Parang” — written by my uncle and sung by the band. I love seeing the joy on people’s faces, and to watch them dancing. Other than the great sound, it is their joy that makes it worth it.

Are Paramin Carnival characters ever incorporated in parang performances?

We have never mixed moko jumbies and blue devils into our performances. I love to enjoy the parang season, and let it flow and finish before I do my major blue devil performances. I love to let the seasons have their time.

What style of parang do Los Paraminiños perform?

Our sound is traditional parang with a modern, alternative twist. The focus has always been on performing the traditional nativity songs. However, as one of our goals is to generate more interest in parang by the youth, the band covers popular songs in the traditional parang style. We also covered some of Machel Montano’s smash soca hits. Even if parang is not your thing, we have something for you. As told to Shelly-Ann Inniss


courtesy belize tourism board

need to know

All About . . . Garifuna Settlement Day Commemorated in Belize’s southern Stann Creek District since 1941, and nationally since 1977, Garifuna Settlement Day on 19 November marks the arrival of the first members of the Garifuna community in what was then known as British Honduras, in 1832. The Garifuna — once called Black Caribs — are descendants of indigenous Caribs who intermarried with escaped African slaves in St Vincent, in the late seventeenth century. This proud, determined people resisted both British and French colonial forces until finally defeated in 1797 at the end of the Second Carib War, whereupon the British exiled thousands of Garifuna from their native island. Many settled the Caribbean coast of Central America, with communities in Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize. 26

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With a distinct language and sense of historical identity, today’s Garifuna community includes a sizeable diaspora in the United States, in particular Los Angeles and New York City. And internationally the Garifuna may be best known for their music, thanks to the breakthrough of the late Andy Palacio — activist, musician, and cultural ambassador — whose 2007 album Wátina won fans around the world while drawing deep on Garifuna tradition. That Garifuna Settlement Day has a place in Belize’s calendar is thanks to the efforts of Thomas Vincent Ramos, a Garifuna activist, teacher, and preacher brought up in Stann Creek. In 1940, Ramos and other elders approached the governor of British Honduras requesting a public holiday to commemorate the significance of the Garifuna in

the history of the colony. Originally called Carib Disembarkation Day, and observed only in the southern districts with sizeable Garifuna populations, the holiday was extended throughout the colony ahead of Belizean Independence in 1981. A week of festivities — parades, music, a food festival — culminates in a reenactment of the arrival of the first Garifuna in small boats. And for many in the community — plus other Belizeans of all backgrounds — the highlight is the annual Battle of the Drums in Punta Gorda, an exhilarating three-day celebration of traditional Garifuna drumming, where dozens of troupes compete for audience acclaim and official prizes — while invoking the ancestral rhythms that have led Garifuna survival over the centuries. For more information on the Battle of the Drums festival, visit www.facebook.com/ battleofthedrums


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courtesy barbados tourism marketing inc.

need to know

Great Outdoors Run Barbados Come December, the feet of devoted runners from around the world will pound the historic roads of Bridgetown at the annual Run Barbados event. Three days of races, including 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, and one-mile runs, and a 5K walk, have brought repeat participants to Barbados’s shores for over three decades. The 2018 winner of the women’s marathon, Fanja Felix of Martinique, will be back this year to defend her title at Run Barbados 2019 (6 to 8 December).

Why did you choose to participate in Run Barbados?

I had been doing half marathons for a few years, and we were living in Martinique, which is geographically very close, so it was the perfect opportunity to try out the marathon.

What makes Run Barbados different from other events?

It’s really one of a kind. The welcome, the warmth, and fantastic organisation from the organisers and the volunteers make it special. I appreciate the hospitality and the way Barbadians love life.

How many times have you done the marathon?

I have done the Run Barbados marathon for the last two years, and 28

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have been the female winner both times. I’m now on the road to the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

Did you enter Run Barbados with a running partner?

I have always come alone. But I would really love my husband to accompany me so that he can experience the ambiance of the race.

Tell us about the marathon route.

The course is quite rolling, despite the heat, which adds a bit of pepper. The main difficulties are at the 7 km and 14 km marks, where we have to be quite careful, as a marathon is a strategic race — especially with the heat. I’d rate it seven out of ten.

What methods do you use to make marathons easier?

I don’t really listen to music during my race, because I like to live my race to the fullest. I concentrate on myself and my environment, the public, and the supporters. I believe in what I do and in God. I move forward because I have the mental strength to do so.

What are the keys to a successful marathon?

Preparing for a marathon is not easy, as one must constantly motivate oneself. It requires a lot of time and dedication. You have to manage your race: don’t start off too fast and drink lots of water. Staying hydrated and taking advantage of the feeding points is very important. Most of all, enjoy yourself. I was quite surprised at my win, but once I tasted victory, I wanted to come back to defend my title. I’m aiming for a triple win.

What are your parting words to future Run Barbados participants?

I will continue to fight, as a race is never won before the finish line. Whether I am the favourite or not, may the best woman win. As told to Shelly-Ann Inniss


need to know

Eat less meat

Some scientists argue it’s the single most environmentally impactful thing the average person can do. Livestock account for 14.5 per cent of greenhouse emissions globally. Tropical rainforests are clear-cut to grow feed for cows and other animals. By some estimates, it takes 15,000 litres of water to produce a kilogramme of beef. Going full-fledged vegan is more than most people are willing to consider, but even just one or two meatless days per week would make a difference, if enough people committed to it.

Carry your own bag . . .

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most wasteful features of today’s consumer societies. Get in the habit of keeping a couple of sturdy cloth or canvas bags in your car, so they’re always accessible on supermarket trips — or if you duck into a shop to buy a single item, carry it out in your hands!

James Hackett

. . . and your own bottle

Top Five Green resolutions for the new year For most people, the end of each year is a moment of both celebration and reflection — an opportunity to bask in the company of family and friends, but also to contemplate how to navigate the coming twelve months more happily, healthily, and responsibly. And maybe your new year’s resolutions ought to include an attempt to live with a lighter environmental footprint. At this point in the twenty-first century, the dangerous effects of climate change are no secret to anyone. The small island states of the Caribbean will be among the first places in the world to suffer from changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. The magnitude of the threat is understandably daunting — but there are practical, everyday steps we can all take to start making a positive difference. And there’s no need to wait for 1 January, either. 30

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Bottled water is another unnecessary and environmentally wasteful product that’s become a daily habit. An insulated metal flask that keeps beverages cold is an investment that quickly pays off: fill it at home, have a cool drink always at the ready, save money, and generate less garbage.

Walk

Let’s face it, many Caribbean cities have substandard public transport, and many of us have no choice but to drive to work. But for routine nearby errands and neighbourhood visits, think about keeping the car parked and relying on your own two feet. Save gas, get some exercise, and emit less carbon into the atmosphere.

Recycle

Some Caribbean countries already have fledgling glass, paper, and even plastic recycling programmes. Find out the location of the nearest dropoff point, keep a recycling bin or box in your kitchen, and get in the habit of not tossing away recyclable waste. If you’re feeling specially ambitious, you could even help organise a community recycling drive, and bond with your neighbours.


need to know

Bun Halo (2018; hair, brass, citrines, honey quartz, champagne citrines, peridot, pearls, silk; 7.75 inch diameter)

Adam heisig, courtesy taisha carrington

Opposite page Ear Wings Earrings (2018; hair, velvet, organza, crĂŞpe, orange tourmaline, pearls, 18-karat gold; 7 x 3 inches)

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Taisha carrington

Ready to Wear Most precious At first glance, many of the pieces in Barbadian Taisha Carrington’s Woke in the Wake jewellery collection seem to invoke organic forms: flowers, leaves, sea anemones and other marine creatures. And along with precious metals and stones, they do incorporate organic material, but a type not frequently found in jewellery nowadays: human hair. “Human hair has actually been used in jewellerymaking for millennia,” Carrington explains. “It’s quite durable.” In Victorian times in particular, there was a vogue for “mourning jewellery” made from the hair of deceased beloveds. But these pieces, now collected by museums, never used black people’s hair — “Afro hair,” as Carrington calls it — an absence which reminds us that even today, and even in places like the Caribbean with majority black populations, black hair remains a source of insecurity and contention. Carrington says she grew up in Barbados “experiencing and observing the prevalent self-vilification by black women about their features.” Her response? These breathtakingly beautiful objects of jewellery that use black hair as their “most precious material.” Carrington sources hair from herself and her friends — “It’s always shed hair, not trimmed hair,” she says — and prepares it for use using treatments that recall the hair-care rituals that are “an integral part of deep bonding among family and friends in black communities.” Shampoo and conditioner treatments felt the hair, WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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Taisha carrington

Sunburst Earrings (2018; hair, pearls, silver, citrine, tourmaline, Malaysian jade, silks; 3-inch diameter

Left Waves Earrings (2018; hair, synthetic hair, silver, pearls, coin pearls, peridot, silk; 2.5-inch diameter)

Adam heisig, courtesy taisha carrington

There’s a clear continuum between Carrington’s jewellery, like the Woke in the Wake series, and her larger, more conventionally sculptural works. “Getting jewellery to be recognised more as wearable sculpture in the Caribbean has been challenging,” she says, “but my use of non-traditional materials and the size of the pieces tend to set the foundation pretty well for me to have that conversation . . . Persons approach sculpture expecting a concept or idea — the beauty of jewellery is that it’s worn, so the person wearing it carries the story to share.” In the case of the Woke in the Wake collection, that story includes the history of Carrington’s primary material, and its tangible resonance: the transformation of otherwise discarded black women’s hair into a substance of intricate adornment. Her intention, she says, is to “evoke commentary, eye contact, and acknowledgement of the wearer’s presence.” The effect is bold, unapologetic, and undeniably regal.

condensing and strengthening the fibres, after which Carrington bleaches and dyes it to create the desired effect. “I always made art, from as young as three years old,” Carrington says. “Art was my way of exploring and understanding my world. I touched everything, smelled everything, and if it could be glued to something else, I glued it.” Deciding to study art formally as a teenager, she began as a sculpture major. Then a professor recommended she try a jewellery class. “She saw that my sculptures were highly detailed, and I focused heavily on craftsmanship — two great skills to have for working on a smaller scale . . . I also realised it was a great way to leave art school with flexibility: I could be employed as a metalsmith or jewellery designer, but also work for myself as both.” 34

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For more information on Taisha Carrington’s Woke in the Wake collection, visit taishacarrington.com or contact the artist at info@taishacarrington.com. Pieces from the collection are available for purchase, and customisation is also possible — including the use of the client’s own hair.


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courtesy moda market

need to know

Datebook More highlights of November and December across the Caribbean

MoDA Market

22 to 24 November, Kingston, Jamaica Celebrate some of the best of fashion and design from “the land of wood and water,” as the Collection MoDA team create an platform for innovation and inspiration. thecollectionmoda.com

Miami Book Fair

Junkanoo

Gemonites Moods of Pan Festival

Les Bocans de la Baie

17 to 24 November Hundreds of authors and even more readers — including many from the Caribbean — gather in downtown Miami for the love of literature and imaginative expression. miamibookfair.com 30 November and 1 December, Antigua Music lifts your mood and provides an escape from your worries. So release your cares at Antigua’s annual steelpan festival, where the lineup ranges from regional and international artistes to primary and secondary school students, creating music from steel at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre. 36

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26 December and 1 January, the Bahamas The streets of Nassau jolt to life with enthusiastic revellers in extravagant costumes, rushing to the rhythms of brass, whistles, cowbells, and drums, as spectators crowd the streets, balconies, and bleachers. 30 December, Martinique Melodies and plays of light intermingle in harmony at a magical fireworks show in Fort Saint Louis. Mark the close of the year at this “pyromusical rendezvous” at heritage sites, museums, and restaurants, plus a buzzing Grand Market.


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bookshelf In the Vortex of the Cyclone: Selected Poems by Excilia Saldaña, ed. and trans. Flora M. González Mandri and Rosamond Rosenmeier (University Press of Florida, 144 pp, ISBN 9780813064291) These collected poems from the late Cuban writer Excilia Saldaña seldom appeared in English before her passing in 1999 from asthma complications. Consequently, their publication here, in this bilingual edition, is a gift to the Anglophone Caribbean and the rest of the world. Saldaña died at fifty-two, well known in her natal Havana as a children’s writer, translator, professor, essayist, and poet. Her pen was untimely stoppered, but her dying diminished none of the robust imaginativeness and roving spirit contained in these poems. In the book’s foreword, fellow Cuban poet Nancy Morejón begins: “Seldom does a cyclone show its throat in a form so clear and defined.” The proof of Morejón’s assertion stirs in the sprawling free verse of Saldaña’s longform poems, which trade in thick erotic associations, hemmed by meditations on the psychic roots of Cuban culture itself. In “Mi fiel” (“My Faithful One”), the poet’s speaker makes several inroads into memory, cultivating a space where a female eros pursues and lays claim to a matching maleness. This powerful feminine voice manifests in “my nape of cohune palm, and my thick cane syrup ears, and my trumpet- / wood hair, and my forehead pregnant with spectres and apparitions.” In lushly unapologetic descriptiveness, Saldaña’s poems delve into Afro-Cuban womanhood’s life-cycles of lover, mother, and committed explorer of one’s own land. Unafraid to make playful forays in form and tone, In the Vortex of the Cyclone is an atmospheric feat in contemporary verse, a world in which “the fruit of the girl bursts into blood and cotton, / spatters the whole house as she goes, / waters the rose, / feeds the dove.”

I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara

Perfected Fables Now: A Bookman Signs off on Seven Decades

by Lalbihari Sharma, trans. Rajiv Mohabir (Kaya Press, 80 pp, ISBN 9781885030597)

by Gordon Rohlehr (Peepal Tree Press, 290 pp, ISBN 9781845234508)

To hold this book of poems is to have a history-maker in your hands: this is the only known literary work completed by an indentured labourer in the Anglophone Caribbean. Originally composed and published over a century ago, Sharma’s verses of religious devotion and longing are translated by awardwinning Guyanese-American poet Rajiv Mohabir, and lovingly resurrected by Kaya Press. Poet and translator, though separated by a hundred years of history, both trace their roots to the same region of Guyana: this is but one testimony to the survival of language that I Even Regret Night makes. Sharma’s poems echo with the arduous, repetitive incursions of indentured life, as Mohabir translates in “Kavitt”: “As the bell tolls five, the pot heats on the fire: / rice and yogurt boil with sugar. / I eat my fill and the sardar comes to the door, / bringing orders we must endure.”

Guyana-born scholar Gordon Rohlehr’s contributions to regional thought have fed our great debates of some fifty-odd years. Assuming the mantle of our consummate Carnival chronicler, the Bookman, Rohlehr observes the effects of war, suffrage, colonialism, calypso, and commerce on the societies of the united, yet nonunified Caribbean. Whether his attentions turn to Earl Lovelace or Derek Walcott, to the contemporary poets of the Antillean Anthropocene, or to the behemoth of educational evolutions in our primary and secondary schools, Rohlehr’s analysis cuts clean and whistles mischievously, subversively against empire. Of his boyhood days in St John’s Anglican School in Suddie, Essequibo, he writes, “We learned ‘Rule Britannia’ and were glad to sing it when George VI died from lung cancer and an incurable stammering.” This Bookman’s ledger is a timeless treasury, unafraid to bite.

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bookshelf Q&A The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone Publishing, 290 pp, ISBN 9781538584644) This debut novel set in the US Virgin Islands is a page-turning speculative fiction thriller with an environmental conscience. In accessible prose, it asks what happens when co-existence stops being simply a watchword, and morphs into a way of life. Probing the breakdown of interspecies diplomacies between the residents of St Thomas and the Ynaa, Turnbull’s cast of characters grapples with big canonical sci-fi considerations of humanity intersecting with alien life. Proof that extraterrestrial invasions don’t need to happen in New York, London, or Paris to be compelling, The Lesson presses a stethoscope to the heart of global border insecurities, listening to our (in)human anxieties about sharing our home. Here’s a tale of first contact that challenges what you think you know about strength, survival, and staying safe.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal (Tor Teen, 288 pp, ISBN 9781250296078) Young adult literature receives a welcome Puerto Rican addition in Ann Dávila Cardinal’s debut, which centres teenage experiences of Latinidad in bustling barrios and horror-tinged encounters. Peppered with Spanglish, pop culture references, and a strongly summoned sense of place, Five Midnights presents a world in which folkloric hauntings brush shoulders with crime-and-drug dangers. “Gringa-Rican” Lupe Dávila finds San Juan a far cry from her Vermont-residential life, and her immersion in San Juan’s irrepressible duende is one of the novel’s principal strengths, forthright in its exploration of the relationship between the US and Puerto Rico. One of the secondary characters shines brightest: Marisol, an independentista with a lot to say about systemic oppression and the right to self-rule. Her anger at her displacement, and its roots in a globally underexamined history, strike the book’s highest and bravest notes.

On Being Committed to a Small Place: Local Writings (TEOR/éTica, 252 pp, ISBN 9789968899406) collects a series of essays by Barbadian artist Annalee Davis. She talks to Shivanee Ramlochan about the challenges of building a politically commited practice in the contemporary Caribbean.

“A r t i v i s m ” — t h e portmanteau of art and activism — feels an apt designation for your practice. At the roots, is all your art political? I live in a part of the world that is sometimes rendered invisible, outside tropes of exotica, crime, or ongoing climate disasters. The inability of most people to see this territory or its artists holistically, or recognise the multi-dimensionality of places and people’s capacities and desires, is partly grounded in extractive economic models foundational to the Caribbean’s complex colonial histories. Cuban essayist Antonio BenítezRojo refers to this as the long annelid parasites of history that moved through the bowels of the Caribbean. Committing one’s life as an artist and cultural activist to a place often misunderstood or flattened by stereotype is inherently political, especially in small post-independent nations still asking if artists are legitimate or valuable citizens. We are required to employ collective strategies ensuring our very survival by simultaneously preserving a practice while expressing our civic responsibility through building community, and mitigating madness. Shaping our spaces as active citizens is deeply political.

What is the chief benefit, for you, of marrying essays and images in this bilingual edition? Although this publication originates from Costa Rica in Central America, a mere 1,600 miles from Barbados, our understanding of each other’s cultural milieu is sorely lacking. Intervening images among the English and Spanish languages function as complementary tools revealing mine and the region’s wider context with that of the readers, and hopefully this will build affinities. As the first Anglophone writer in TEOR/éTica’s Local Writings series, this unique opportunity provided me with a gift to offer intellectual exchange and kinship through the form of this book.

If all art opens a dialogue, is your ideal coconversationalist always Caribbean? I continually pivot on this archipelagic hinge as my work repeatedly takes me out of the space and simultaneously brings me back home. As an unrepentant regionalist, however, the constructive and often urgent exchanges that take place with my Caribbean kin across this deeply intertwined archipelago are somehow distinctive and nurture me profoundly.

Reviews by Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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playlist More Work to Be Done Third World (Ghetto Youths Int’l) The relative paucity of writing on Caribbean music has left generations and nations without a full history of our music heroes. Third World represents an iconic position in music, advancing reggae into the space left after the passing of Bob Marley. On their twenty-second studio album in a forty-six-year career, the band’s legacy and currency are reinforced with music that ought to be heard and reviewed widely. Superlative harmonies featuring new lead

Grafted Ijó (Spielzart Entertainment) Caribbean jazz, like its North American precursor, has been a collaborative effort: a musical conversation, despite singular stars in the pantheon. Ijó, out of Trinidad, seek to fulfil the role of eminent conversationalists within the context of the myriad musical influences that bathe their island nation. This new band on the Caribbean jazz scene is made up of top individual session

Evoz Mindscape Laboratory (self-released) To contextualize progressive metal music born in the Caribbean is to move past a long-held idea about the ascendancy of indigenous sounds, and replace it with the notion that, in the global musical landscape, sounds and songs created in the West Indies will flow where there are audiences willing to interact with them. On their new album, Mindscape Laboratory present a case for moving beyond music which mimics extreme

The Reel Nailah Blackman (self-released) The evolution of the granddaughter of soca innovator Ras Shorty I from naïve ingénue singing teenage odes has been remarkable. On her first EP, Nailah Blackman channels all the modern pop music tropes with Caribbean rhythms at their centre, and channels them into a music that spans modern tastes and touches influences from reggaeton to trap, and everything in between. This auspicious debut, moving away from her roots in soca and Caribbean vibes towards a more international 40

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vocalist A.J. Brown keep the sonic signature of the band intact. A slate of collaborations with current stars Chronixx, Damien Marley, Tarrus Riley, and others make this album easy listening for ears accustomed to great reggae and for new listeners in search of Caribbean vibes. Third World were once described as having “singlehandedly invented a new format: Progressive Oriented Reggae . . . Take basic reggae. Add Cuban, Latin, and African elements, and a lot of contemporary soul.” The recipe is still intact, as Third World continue to be leaders of modern reggae. musicians, a kind of supergroup that does not disappoint on their first effort. Orisha drumming is captured on “Black Rose”, alongside a hint of the transplanted Indian presence in “Nari” and world fusion gone mad on the track “Ijó” — just some of the soundscapes one may traverse on this album. Long in gestation, Grafted takes its time to grow on the listener. So powerful are the individual voices that the “accents” are sometimes hard to decipher, in the elegance of the melodies and harmonies. heavy metal tropes — fast percussive beats (drummer Noah Rahman is excellent), low growling vocals, shredding guitars — and listening to the lyrics. A kind of metaphorical poetry, a new twist on describing one’s own presence in a land that seems to be holding back one’s potential, comes out: “Break free, we are timeless! / Break free, drown the mindless!” The urgency to be rid of psychological barriers is reflected in soundscapes that threaten to re-envision the band’s island home as a utopian metropolis beyond the Third World. reach, was intentional — and the results are not bad. Coming from a region that has thrown up a number of one-hit wonders on the international scene, Blackman has strong prospects for these sophomore efforts, beyond her lead single “Sweet and Loco”. The remaking of her first teen viral song, “No Barbie”, changing it from an acoustic guitar-driven lament to a synth-pop declaration about acknowledging your inner beauty, is a standout: “I’m crazy in love with the imperfect being I am.” The Reel is real and addictive. Reviews by Nigel A. Campbell


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Courtesy laura guzm´án and israel Cárdenas

screenshots

“We began this film as a battle with oblivion” Vera (Geraldine Chaplin) is a septuagenarian actress with a last ambition: to direct a screenplay by her beloved late friend, the real-life Dominican filmmaker Jean-Louis Jorge (1947–2000). Her crew, a bohemian band of Jean-Louis’s old colleagues, reunites on the island. Yet, as filming on the ominously named Water Follies begins, it’s clear something’s amiss. Things get curiouser and curiouser; as the plagued production threatens to fall apart, any semblance of reality is finally, fantastically, discarded. An Antillean conjuration of Federico Fellini by way of Jean Cocteau, Holy Beasts is the latest film by the impressively prolific Israel Cárdenas and Laura Guzmán. Campy and kinky, woozy and weird, it’s a visually entrancing séance of stylistic excess, a touching tribute to an obscure artist, and a step forward for Caribbean art cinema. Jonathan Ali speaks with Guzmán about realising this singular dream. Who was Jean-Louis Jorge? He was a Dominican director of enthralling talent. He studied at the University of California at Los Angeles, then directed two films: Serpents of the Pirates’ Moon (1973) in LA and Melodrama (1976) in France. He was murdered in 2000. Even though his body of work remains incomplete, his vision defined the way for future generations. What was the impetus behind Holy Beasts? In the Caribbean, it is difficult to preserve almost anything in good condition. It is rare to find material from previous directors — time has erased them. We began this film as a battle with oblivion, as an homage to a generation of Dominican filmmakers who dreamed of making films against adversities, guided to a great extent by Jean-Louis Jorge, an artist who made timeless 42

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films, works that navigate nightlife, cabarets, and the magical, dramatic backstage of filmmaking. This film is your most ambitious, in terms of the scale of production. Though a step up in scale, it’s a natural one, connected to our previous film [2014’s acclaimed Sand Dollars, also starring Geraldine Chaplin] and the growth in the Dominican film industry. Holy Beasts may be the most personal work we’ve shot to date. We wanted to portray the world of filmmaking, convey the sense of vertigo and the insecurities one has when creating — film as a provocation of destiny, but also as a tool against mortality. The extravagant side of the film is balanced by your continued interest in non-fiction tropes. That blend happened naturally as the

project developed. I contacted Edwige Belmore, Jean-Louis’s closest friend from the time he lived in Paris — she was ill, and sadly passed away in the beginnings of the project. She became an inspiration for Geraldine Chaplin’s character. [Seminal Colombian filmmaker] Luis Ospina was friends with Jean-Louis from when they were both studying at UCLA. We suggested he could play one of the characters. We also needed to represent his friends from the island: Jaime Piña, who was friends with JeanLouis and a film producer, was perfect for the character. The three of them work well together. All of them are cinema icons in their context. They play the crew behind the camera, young spirits with lots of wrinkles. In front of the camera are the beautiful young dancers and models. The contrast between generations is very suggestive. Reality merges with fantasy in the film, the latter complicating the former. In Sand Dollars, we explored reality through social drama. This time, since Jean-Louis is unknown to most of the world, we chose to privilege fantasy, relying on a free spirit that allowed us to play with cinema within cinema, with fantastic characters and imaginary spaces. Near the end, there’s a haunting visual reference to the indigenous Taíno people. It echoes an earlier mention of an historical Taíno massacre. What was the motivation here? To answer this, I’m going to quote Jean Louis from a 1978 interview: “I have three films written for the Dominican Republic. I’d like to do something on Taíno culture . . . It’s an old dream I wrote many years ago. I know that sooner or later I will achieve it.” Holy Beasts Directors: Israel Cárdenas, Laura Guzmán Dominican Republic 90 minutes


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cookup

Jamaican chef Troy Levy plates one of his dishes at the 2018 Caribbean Holiday Guest Chef Series at United Nations headquarters in New York City

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Cuisine beyond boundaries For Jamaican-American blogger Nneka Nurse, introducing sophisticated Caribbean cuisine to international foodies is a personal mission. While visitors love Caribbean street food, it’s time to promote fine-dining traditions, she says, and two recent projects in New York City have done just that. Franka Philip learns more Photography courtesy Caribbean Holiday Guest Chef Series

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f you’ve been lucky enough to work somewhere with colleagues from across the globe, the one time of the year you really look forward to is Christmas. It’s the time when everyone brings a traditional dish from their country for the office potluck. Imagine having a buffet laden with delights like panettone from Italy, latkes from Israel, tamales from Costa Rica, Sachertorte from Austria, stollen from Germany, jamón ibérico from Spain, and mince pies from the UK — with, of course, some ponche de creme and sorrel from the Caribbean. One place this really does happen is at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, where chefs from around the world are invited to share their national Christmas delicacies. In December 2018, for the first time, chefs from the Caribbean were invited to show off their wares, as part of the Caribbean Holiday Guest Chef Series. This is an initiative by Jamaican-American lifestyle blogger Nneka Nurse, in collaboration with the United Nations Delegates Dining Room.

“This came about with an idea I had to showcase Caribbean holiday cultures here in the US,” Nurse says. “This had never been done before, and I felt there was a cultural void among the younger Caribbean-American community.” Nurse says she was lucky that, by spending holidays in the Caribbean as a child, she had the opportunity to engage with and fully understand her Jamaican heritage — but it’s not the same for many Caribbean-American chefs in the US. “Spending time there help me recognise the beauty of Caribbean culture . . . as well as a sense of pride. The holidays are a time of celebration and eating. Not gift-giving. While all of the holiday traditions could not be shared, I figured the easiest element to introduce would be food,” she explains. I first encountered Nurse via her Instagram page, @BestDressedPlate. She uses the page to promote Caribbean-American chefs and the food events they are involved in. Nurse describes herself as a “free foodie” who is willing to try anything — except seafood, because she’s allergic. She got

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Caribbean dishes served at UN headquarters last year included Haitian griot pork with black mushroom rice (above), Bahamian chicken with a peas and rice risotto (above right), and snapper with a carrot purée (right)

her love of food from her mother, who worked in a nursing home where her colleagues were “transplants from all over the diaspora.” Her mother loved the potluck dinners, and experimented at home with the recipes she was given. In August, Nurse hosted an event called Caribbean Tradishon at James Beard House in New York. People who follow the culinary industry know that the James Beard Foundation is named after the late cook, author, and TV food personality who mentored generations of chefs. The James Beard Awards, given out annually, are known as the Oscars of the culinary world. So cooking at James Beard House is an honour for any chef.

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ooking at the menus for the event at the UN last December, it’s clear that the chefs are raising the bar for Caribbean food in the US. They drew strongly on traditional Caribbean ingredients and flavours, but there was none of the stodge that has come to be associated with Caribbean Christmas lunch. For example, the Jamaican dishes included Solomon Gundy canapés, coconut cream of pumpkin soup topped with scotch bonnet oil, pan-seared snapper topped with escoveitch pickle and served with annatto-spiced pumpkin, masala-spiced roasted goat, a deconstructed sorrel trifle, and Appleton rum balls. Haitian cuisine is somewhat underrated in the southern Caribbean, in my view, but in the US, Haitian chefs like Marie “Chef Ash” Darbouze — whose work was featured at the UN — are making waves. Some of the Haitian dishes included soup joumou, griot canapés (with fried pork, fried plantain cups, and spicy pickled cabbage), legume maye moulin (mushrooms, sweet plantain, spinach, carrots, chayote squash, and eggplant), poulet au noix (chicken encrusted with cashews, creole sauce, coconut steamed rice), and soursop crème brûlée. And I could think only of pure decadence when I saw lobster-stuffed turkey on the Bahamian menu. Their other dishes included Andros wild boar, island

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“conchitini” (pickled conch, pink salt, and citrus tuile), guava-braised short ribs, black bean and sweet island roasted corn loaf, and island-style coconut cake with Nassau royale rum sauce. For the 2019 UN event this December, Nurse says she plans to highlight chefs from Grenada, Antigua, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and possibly St Lucia. For this passionate food lover, bringing Caribbean chefs together is a mission. As far as Nurse is concerned, it’s about elevating the perception of Caribbean food from what many think is an unevolved style of cooking. For many visitors who travel to the Caribbean on holiday, she believes, their memory of the local food is street food. She feels the time is right for “taking it out of the streets and bringing it into the seats,” as she puts it. “While it’s great having that opportunity to support the economic development of the street vendors, it’s our time now to put Caribbean food up to the same level as French, Asian, and Latin food,” she says. “We need to see more hotels serve local plated food to visitors, and we as a people need to frequent these spaces as well, to help drive the message home that we too can have coursed Caribbean dining.” At the end of the day, initiatives like Nurse’s at UN headquarters and James Beard House are also about broadening people’s perceptions about our region. “It’s to show through collaborative efforts that we as Caribbean people can expand upon our rich, diverse culture finally through other mediums besides music,” she says. “Everyone is familiar with our contribution to sounds we have all grown to love. Why not create a space that celebrates chefs from the Caribbean that will help to shape a new opportunity for the Caribbean to bring more awareness to all that we have to offer? “Food’s language is universal, so it holds no barriers — mmm and yummy mean the same thing all over the world.” n


courtesy jimmy october

Immerse

49 Closeup 58 Snapshot Written for the young of The Jimmy October all ages: meet five authors redefining young adult books

Jimmy October, musical genre-bender

project: T&T’s rising musical star calls his sound “New Calypso”

Backstory 64 When art is defiance:

Haiti’s Ghetto Biennale turns ten


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Written for the young of all ages In international publishing, there’s a boom in fiction aimed at young adult readers. Caribbean writers have entered the game, too, with a wave of new books published in the past half-decade. Kimberly De Souza meets five authors creating stories inspired by the lives of Caribbean teenagers, but appealing to readers of every generation

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hen someone mentions young adult (or YA) novels, perhaps the thought of overcoming juvenile challenges may come to mind. The name of the genre — conventionally defined as aimed at readers from ages twelve to eighteen — often limits the true depth of the best YA fiction, and can deter adult readers from delving deeper into their young protagonists’ journeys. Or maybe the genre reminds us of our school days — of reading Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid or To Kill a Mockingbird Bird by Harper Lee, and being prompted to write a book report. But casting these books aside may rob us of the magic that comes from revisiting one’s childhood. Even so, many of us have been reading YA novels for years, even without realising it, since the label has become more widely known in the Caribbean only within the last decade. YA novels are usually focused on characters the same age as their intended teenage readers, and many critics agree that is the only difference between

this genre and “adult” fiction. And although Caribbean authors have been unveiling young characters to eager readers for years, a recent wave of interest in Caribbean YA has led to new opportunities for emerging writers, and a flourishing of the genre. One key development was the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, administered by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Lit Fest from 2014 to 2019. Headed by Marina Salandy-Brown, Bocas partnered with the Canadian charity CODE and Canadian philanthropist Bill Burt to set up the award, which recognised three writers each year, with not just a cash prize, but publishing deals and guaranteed distribution across the region. Salandy-Brown says the purpose of the CODE Burt Award was to create an ecosystem partnering authors with readers. “When we first started,” she recalls, “everyone said, You’re crazy, no one in Trinidad reads — but we knew there were closet readers. And by giving these writers a chance, we have allowed the readers to come out.” A f ter recognising a total of eighteen Caribbean YA books, the final CODE Burt Awards were granted this year. During the sixyear run, some of the Caribbean’s best new YA novels made it into the hands of curious readers. The five writers profiled and interviewed here — all of them CODE Burt Award winners — speak to the diversity of recent Caribbean YA fiction. From stories of the fantastic to explorations of the real-life issues facing young Caribbean people, their books enrich the imaginative worlds of readers of all ages.

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paula obé, courtesy lisa allen-agostini

The dystopia lover

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oet, journalist, editor, actor, stand-up comedienne — Trinidadian Lisa Allen-Agostini is a Jane-of-all-trades in the creative industry. She published her first chapbook of poems, Something to Say, as a teenager, before cutting her teeth as a features journalist at the Trinidad Express. In fact, Allen-Agostini has worked at all three daily newspapers in T&T, attaining the rank of assistant features editor at the Guardian. In 2017, she moved to the T&T Newsday, where she worked as a freelance writer. It proved fitting for the seasoned journalist, since the most influential person in Allen-Agostini’s writing life was, and is, the Newsday editor-in-chief (and former Caribbean Beat editor) Judy Raymond. “She’s one of the best practicing journalists in Trinidad,” Allen-Agostini says. “I consider her a mentor. She’s hard, she can make you can cry with an edit,” she continues, recounting an earlier time at the Express. “I was now starting as a journalist, and I would write something and send it to her. It would come back with a bunch of red markings. It was torture, but it was the best way to learn.” Parallel to her career in newspapers, AllenAgostini has never stopped writing poetry and fiction — including two books for young adult readers. And it was her work as a reporter that led her to the YA field. During an interview with Joanne Johnson — prominent Trinidadian author of children’s books — she learned about a call for manuscripts for a new fantasy series. “All that had to be submitted were three chapters,” Allen-Agostini recalls. “I gave them to her, and she said, ‘Yes, I like this, let’s go with this.’ She was my first YA editor, and she was very supportive. There were times when I couldn’t go on, and she pulled me up.” As a result of Johnson’s support, those three chapters evolved into The Chalice Project, published in 2008 — Allen-Agostini’s first attempt at writing a full-length fantasy novel. It has encouraged her to pursue other literary

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avenues, particularly in Caribbean Afro-futurism. “I like my ‘topias’ ‘dys,’” the comedienne jokes. “So I wrote a story about Trinidad after global warming.” She adds, as if teasing that her writing can be even more provocative, “I also wrote a story about a lesbian La Diablesse” — the supernatural temptress of T&T folklore. Her second YA novel, Home Home, was an unpublished manuscript when she entered it for the CODE Burt Award in 2017. Placing third that year, it was snapped up by Papillote Press — with North American rights soon sold to Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The novel will be republished next year. Agostini says the new version will be different from the original, as she’s added new content and reorganised the entire book. Unlike The Chalice Project, with its classic sci-fi scenario, Home Home is a realistic coming-of-age story about a Trinidadian teenager struggling with depression, sent by her mother to live with an aunt in Canada. Despite tackling hard issues of mental health, sexuality, racism, and family dysfunction, it manages to be a gripping and affirming read — and proof that fiction is one of the most effective mediums for younger readers to process big questions about identity and self-worth.


courtesy vivianaprado-nuñez

“We are where we are because of what came before”

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orn in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Viviana PradoNuñez spent her formative years between her native island, where she lived with her father and half-brother, and Maryland, where she lived with her mother. Her family life was fragmented, she admits, but she appreciated the happy times, too. She cherishes her brother, calling him “a terrifically terrifically terrifically good person. And as much as I’d like to give myself credit for it,” she adds, “that boy is honestly a miracle child.” Her novel The Art of White Roses, written when Prado-Nuñez was still a teenager herself, and published in 2016, tells the story of a young girl, Adela, who grows up in Cuba in 1957 and begins to notice the strange disappearances of her neighbours. As she tries to figure out the reason for their absence, she considers how family, violence, and revolution play a role in shaping herself. The Art of White Roses won first place in the 2017 CODE Burt Awards, making Prado-Nuñez the youngest-ever winner of the prize.

Describe the moment you knew you wanted to be a writer — and why YA? I’m not sure, but I think I decided to be a writer because I read Harry Potter and thought it was cool — I was thirteen. Writing a YA novel was honestly a little bit of an accident. In general, I tend to write the age I am at, or the age I was just at, and because I began to write the vignettes that later became the novel at the age of fifteen, thirteen felt like the right age to write about at the time. If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing? No idea. Something arts-related, probably. Acting, maybe? What would you do differently, if you had a chance? Nothing. We are where we are because of what came before. And out of all the mistakes I’ve made, I can’t think of any I could have avoided, considering the place I was during that time of life. There was no way for that version of me to have known better, and because of the mistake, I learned. So I forgive that version of myself. And I would change nothing. Which character in your book would you say is similar to you? Adela is definitely a past version of myself. Although I am very extroverted and very weird and outgoing in real life, I tend to write the characters that I view as representative of me a lot shyer than I actually I am — mostly because I used to be shy when I was younger. And I guess my internal voice never grew into anything different. What’s something about yourself that you want to improve? I’m trying to freak out less. And to treat myself as if I were another person I’m giving advice to. I am utterly cruel to myself sometimes, and am also in that weird stage of life in which I’m approaching graduation [from university] and realising that thing most everyone has to realise at some point, which is that I can’t have my future planned to a T, and honestly the best parts of life are the ones that come unexpectedly.

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courtesy imam baksh

The heromaker

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e’s published two prizewinning novels, and if that doesn’t impress you, maybe the fact that Imam Baksh also runs a preschool and kindergarten in his native Guyana, and still has time to write, will get your attention. His Children of the Spider won the CODE Burt Award in 2015, and three years later The Dark of the Sea scored the same achievement. There must be some element in Baksh’s writing that’s twice made him the “chosen one” — maybe it’s his knack for combining Caribbean influences with fantastic plots to create novels that are both contemporary and entertaining. Or maybe it’s the compelling dialogue that make his characters seem genuine and familiar. If you ask him, it’s the way he uses surprises, character flaws, jokes, and unifying themes that makes his novels feel connected and whole. Baksh says he always told stories for fun, but it was his parents who planted the seed that germinated the author within him. “They read to me from an early age, and always made sure I had books of my own to read. They used books and writing as part of their parenting.” He enjoys reading YA novels even as an adult. “These kinds of books seem to address more energetic conflicts, more colourful scenarios,” he says. “And, thematically, they tend to be about a hero rising to their potential, all without a simplistic view of conflicts and morality. And I suppose it’s natural for me to write the kinds of stories I enjoy.”

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Children of the Spider tells the story of two indigenous children who try to escape from the Spider Gods in the land of Zolpash. Some critics suggest the novel presents an interesting twist on Anansi, the trickster spider character known to many Caribbean readers and listeners of the oral tradition, derived from West African folklore. Baksh says he took a huge liberty with Anansi — first of all, by making the spider a female. “I also tried to make my Anansi more literally human, by having her fit into the human world more realistically,” he explains. “She moves in human form and is more of a puppeteering politician gangster who deals in promises and secrets, rather than outright tricks.” His follow-up, The Dark of the Sea, introduces a dyslexic fifteenyear-old boy living on the Guyanese coast, whose relationship with the ocean takes a dramatic twist when he’s introduced to a fantastic underwater world and a thrilling mission. One review called it magical realism done well, combining details of contemporary Guyanese life that ring utterly true and a classic fantasy story about a character who evolves from misfit to hero.


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“I’ve been given an extra serving of passion for life” courtesy jeanelle frontin

When did you first want to be a writer? I can’t say that I considered becoming a fiction writer before 2016, when the story of Yara first entered my soul. Fantasy is one of my favourite genres, so I wasn’t surprised that the story had that nature. At that point in time, however, I hadn’t decided to target a younger audience. Only when I knew the age of my protagonist — sixteen years old — did I know my market for this series.

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eanelle Frontin grew up in San Fernando, south Trinidad, in a Christian home. Family discussions were unfailingly profound and intense across a multiplicity of concepts, she remembers, whether concerning current affairs, education, strategising for the future, or the advancement of the globe. She was always an avid reader, but Frontin came to fiction-writing relatively late. In 2016, she bega n to imagine the character of a girl named Yara, who knows nothing about her past — found as a baby by strangers and taken to a village where she was raised. Years later, as a sixteen-yearold, Yara begins hearing voices that cause her to question her identity, as she seeks to uncover her true purpose in life. The story of her journey begin in The Unmarked Girl, winner of the 2019 CODE Burt Award, and continues in two sequels: The Eld Queen and The Melded Truth, forming what Frontin calls the YaraStar Trilogy.

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What would you do differently with these books, if you had the chance? I’d stick to my commitments-to-self and timelines — as much as is humanly and divinely possible — and avoid the consequence of a very intense year of creation. But, you know what? I don’t think I’d do many things differently if I had a second chance. I learned so much over the two years before I began the first book, post-synopsis, all of which influenced my writing. I can only accept the lessons and do better next time. Which character in your book would you say is similar to you? Oddly enough, three characters are similar to me: an extremely brave and loving eight-year-old called Mila — my inner child; the spiritually guided mother of the protagonist, Maia — my connection to spirituality; and, of course, the series star, Yara. Yara is the culmination of what it means to battle for an identity without understanding what it means to have one. I believe this is a common challenge for all humans. What was your biggest obstacle in life, and how did you master it? I have many passions. For example, I’m a science and technology fanatic, and I loved my engineering degree just as much as I loved writing, music, and creative arts. However, I once believed that I needed to narrow down my pursuits to be a more “responsible” adult. In an attempt to streamline, all I ended up reducing was my fire. Going after “too many” things, or even being “too much” as a person, is relative to what someone else feels comfortable or fulfilled pursuing. Accepting that perhaps I’ve just been given an extra serving of passion for life was liberating. What’s something about yourself that you want to improve? I’d say that when I am near to the finish line, after a long period of labour, I push myself so hard that I burn out after I cross it. But the race isn’t finished then. Getting to the finish line — deadline or goal — is one thing, but a new “race” begins right after: nurturing painstaking quality into whatever you’ve produced. Post-production is a concept that’s adaptable to any endeavour, and I prefer to use that term than to call it “editing.”


courtesy shakirah bourne

The child at heart

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riter and filmmaker Shakirah Bourne admits she always told scary stories to frighten her sisters and cousins when they were growing up in Barbados. Then adult obligations set in. “After I got my first job,” she recalls, “I had no time for writing. I was absolutely miserable, and it was only after signing up for a writing course with George Lamming that I realised I was so miserable because I had no time to write.” So ten years ago she quite her full-time job to pursue writing as her main career. It hasn’t been easy, she says, but it’s been worth it. She first came to wide attention as a filmmaker, with the comedy-drama Payday — Bourne wrote the script, and co-directed and -produced the film as well. A local hit, Payday went on to be screened throughout the Caribbean and in the US and UK, and was followed by a sequel, Next Payday, and then the ambitious A Caribbean Dream, a film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream shot in Barbados with an international cast. Meanwhile, her self-published collection of short stories In Time of Need was released in 2013, and won Barbados’s Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Literary Fiction.

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It was the CODE Burt Award, she says outright, that really challenged her to write a full-length novel. “I had written adult literary fiction for years, but several persons told me I should write for children, because I tend to write stories from a child’s point of view. When the Burt Award opportunity came up, I had a story and concept in mind, and decided to go for it.” The result was the hilarious My Fishy Stepmom, about a young Barbadian girl, Josephine, who suspects something is “spooky” about her father’s new girlfriend, Mariss. A series of mysterious events begin when Mariss comes along, forcing Josephine to become an investigator in an effort to solve the mystery of her stepmother. It’s pitched at younger readers, but Bourne says the novel straddles the line between the upper-middle-grade age group — eight to twelve years old — and YA, yet the content can be enjoyed by older readers and appreciators of any youthful, entertaining plot. She adored her main character and the story, Bourne says, and she started to read other middle-grade and YA book s — “A nd now I’m hooked! I intend to write books for kids and young adults for a very long time.” Among her awards and accomplishments, one of the things Bourne is most proud of is bringing Barbadian stories and culture to an international stage. “Sometimes people have never heard of my country, or not know much beyond sun, beach, rum, and Rihanna. I’m proud that my books show them a glimpse of the culture and the people.” n


snapshot

The Jimmy October project Twenty-four-year-old Jimmy October calls his sound “New Calypso,” a genre-bending and –blending hybrid in continuous evolution. Working outside Trinidad and Tobago’s soca industry is a challenge for any young musician, writes Laura Dowrich-Phillips, but October’s expansive sense of self, and his close connection to his young fans, push him to create a sound that feels like “home” but also translates to global listeners Photography courtesy Jimmy October

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s he tells it, L’shun Emmanuel — better known by his stage name, Jimmy October — fell in love with music at a very young age. “It was my first love, basically,” he says, recalling his childhood in Sangre Grande, east Trinidad. “I would always sing with my mom when I was growing up, and that’s really how I realised I had a voice, and that this was something I could really do. “My influences are sort of spread out between genres, because I listen to so many different styles of music, and I feel connected to different artists for different reasons. So it ranges from Frank Ocean, Kanye West, PartyNextDoor, Drake, Kid Cudi, to Bob Marley, Protoje, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Machel Montano,” he says. Having discovered his voice, October decided music was his destiny. “This is something I was

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chosen to do. It’s a part of my purpose, it’s a part of why I’m here on earth. As a youth, I started making R&B at first and then hip-hop, and now I’ve coined a sub-genre which is New Calypso. I’m more into genre-bending and doing whatever feels right to me, and not thinking about creating within some box that they try to put me in,” he explains. “I’m trying to evolve every day, and pull from different experiences in my life and the things I enjoy and the things that are in front of me. That’s the core of where the music comes from. So it’s not me thinking if I want to do a hybrid of genres of whatever. It’s art to me. It’s how I express myself. “I want people to know that my music is gonna change as time goes by. It’s not always gonna sound the same. It’s going to depend on where my mind is at, and what I’m feeling, and that’ll cause the sound to evolve as I evolve. It’s just the way it works,” he says, describing himself as half-art, half-human.


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n the music world, Trinidad and Tobago is known mainly for soca and calypso. But in recent years, younger artists have been taking the influences of those genres and fusing them with hip-hop, R&B, rock, and soul to create a hybrid but distinctly Caribbean sound. From Nailah Blackman — with her new EP The Reel, which blends soca with Afrobeat and pop — to producer David Millien’s Soundwave genre, incorporating a variety of percussive instruments, this new generation is experimenting and bending genres in an attempt to find a sound that will stick in the ears of global tastemakers. Jimmy October, now twenty-four, is one of those artistes, rapidly evolving into a singer oper-

“I’m more into genre-bending and doing whatever feels right to me, and not thinking about creating within some box that they try to put me in,” Jimmy October explains 60

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ating outside traditional parameters, as he pushes the envelope. And his efforts are paying off. An early break came in 2014, when he was invited to perform a spoken-word poem as an opening act for Machel Montano’s Carnival spectacular Machel Monday. Other gigs began to materialise, and then October caught the ears of US EDM (electronic dance music) DJ Steve Aoki, via the DJ trio Bad Royale, who spent some time in T&T working with various artistes. October collaborated with Aoki on the track “On Time”, released on his album Kolony on the Mad Decent label in July 2017. October appeared in the “On Time” video using footage shot in Trinidad, and digitally transposed into a cloudy dreamscape. He also impressed Jamaican reggae star Protoje, whom he performed alongside at his New Wave event in Trinidad in 2018. October subsequently signed with Protoje’s label In.Digg. Nation Collective and Delicious Vinyl Island, the new Caribbean music imprint from iconic rap label Delicious Vinyl, for his debut EP Vacation. That EP introduced fans to October’s sound, dubbed New Calypso.


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about Trinidadian or Caribbean references. He is making music for all people, all colours, all races, all cultures, he explains.

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perating outside the soca industry is no easy task for T&T artistes. It takes determination, consistency, and hard work to build a following and get the attention of event promoters. “If you make soca music, and your aim is to perform for fetes for Carnival, then you have this entire festival and list of events and also attention of people that’s waiting to receive music — because everybody is hyped about the entire thing,” he says. “It’s a bit different [for me], because I’m the one responsible for actually building energy up and creating that anticipation in the fans to feel connected and be ready for new music. I don’t see it as just a con, but I kinda see it as a pro as well, because that helps me actually organically build a fanbase of folks that care about my music and about me as an artist.” And when it comes to an international market, he thinks there is a level playing field for all. “The world is paying more attention to Caribbean artists than we may actually realise, and I’m not just talking about one particular type of music. “On Time” [from the Steve Aoki album] was a song that was

Jimmy October has been pushing himself to make music that feels like “home” “I was doing this interview a while ago to prep for a song release, and one of the questions was ‘What do you call your style of music?’ That’s when I decided to share with the world that I called my music New Calypso,” October says. “That’s just something I came up with since I was creating Vacation, because it’s what I feel like that sound feels like. It feels like home.” Vacation was produced by Tano, the producer behind “No One” — the single that got T&T singer Kalpee a distribution deal with Sony Middle East — and this year’s Kes and Shenseea single “Close to Me”, among many others. October says Tano is half responsible for the New Calypso sound, which they created together. “He had known me when I was rapping, and he asked what my island type of music would sound like. I had the beats for Vacation for months . . . If it feels a certain way to me, then that is what it is,” he says. October has been pushing himself to make music that feels like “home,” but not singing only

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a mixture of EDM and hip-hop. It actually shows we can do the stuff we want to if we believe and push ourselves to really get it done, without thinking about what the limits are, but focusing on the long-term goals. “I’m really trying to bend genres and create music that can represent who I am, and give that to the world. That’s it. Success follows the hard work.” October says he feels it’s about time to put out another body of work, and then do shows and performances around that new project with his band, making the whole thing an experience. But if you’re dying to know what else he has up his sleeve, you need to link with him on social media — that’s where he prefers to give his fans first dibs on whatever he’s doing. “I get a lot of fulfilment from communicating to my fans in my own way, so they can really feel more closely connected. So I’ll just say to whoever is reading this — turn those post notifications on, and be ready.” n


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backstory

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LAZAROS, courtesy ghetto biennale

When art is defiance Ten years ago, when the inaugural Ghetto Biennale in Haiti was announced, it roused curiosity and ruffled feathers in the Caribbean art world — not least for its provocative title. As Nixon Nelson learns, social and economic tensions have been at the heart of the biennale from the beginning, and its curators have never ducked the resulting discomforts and negotiations. As the 2019 Ghetto Biennale opens in November, we look back at the previous five editions, which brought unprecedented attention to the community of the Grand Rue in Port-au-Prince

3rd Ghetto Biennale, 2013: street procession with sculpture by André Eugène WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM

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“ 1st Ghetto Biennale, 2009: detail of Jessada, by Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson, a series of portraits of young black men in the style of traditional vodou flags

hat happens when First World art rubs up against Third World art? Does it bleed?” Ten years ago, with that arresting provocation, curators André Eugène, Céleur Jean Hérard, Evel Romain, and Leah Gordon announced the first Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince. As astonishing as the very idea of a biennale — a kind of art world extravaganza more usually associated with wealthy metropolitan centres — in Haiti, of all places, was the matter-of-fact claiming of the title ghetto for the crowded, disadvantaged Grand Rue neighbourhood of downtown Port-au-Prince which was to be the event’s epicentre. In her afterword to the 2017 catalogue documenting the Ghetto Biennale’s first four editions, Gordon recalls the moment when the phrase and the idea took shape. “I called André Eugène immediately, who understood, perhaps not the exact form, but the potential of the fusing of these two unlikely words. The acknowledgment of the powerful wrongness of these two words being placed together was the starting point for the Ghetto Biennale.” To some outside observers, the first Ghetto Biennale, opening in December 2009, may have seemed a foolhardy if not outright mistaken idea. But anyone acquainted

Anyone acquainted with the determination and resourcefulness of the Grand Rue’s community of artists should have been unsurprised by the biennale’s sheer ambition

EBONY g. PATTERSON, courtesy ghetto biennale

with the determination and resourcefulness of Grand Rue’s community of artists, established since the 1980s, should have been unsurprised by the biennale’s sheer ambition. Its roots are in the workshop of Eugène, who began as a wood-worker and furniture-maker before experimenting with sculptural works incorporating scrap metal, rubber, and other discarded materials collected from the vicinity of Grand Rue, alongside other artists like Hérard. With an aesthetic radically different to the colourful paintings for which Haitian art is far better known, the Grand Rue artists soon attracted curiosity and critical scrutiny, and adopted the name Atis Rezistans to describe their work’s defiance of stereotypes — shared by foreigners and many middle-class Haitians alike — of the everyday lives, aspirations, and prospects of urban communities like Grand Rue.

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LAURA HEYMAN, courtesy ghetto biennale


5th Ghetto Biennale, 2017: works from Potre, a collaborative printmaking workshop with artist and curator Sabrina Greig and members of Ti Moun Rezistans, the youth arm of Atis Rezistans, exploring “self-portraiture and printmaking as a method of emancipation and radical self-love�

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MELITZA JEAN, courtesy ghetto biennale


2nd Ghetto Biennale, 2011: Holding It All Together, an architectural intervention by the Fungus Arts Collective (Bermudan artists James Cooper, Russell de Moura, and Roger Simmons), using coloured masking tape on an earthquakedamaged building

With an aesthetic radically different to the colourful paintings for which Haitian art is far better known, the Grand Rue artists adopted the name Atis Rezistans to describe their work’s defiance of stereotypes

Even as the Atis Rezistans enjoyed growing critical attention — complete with exhibition invitations and commissions — individual artists were frustrated by practical obstacles like denied travel visas, and subtle yet insidious attempts to co-opt their work into misguided critical frameworks. The solution, they decided, was to “reclaim the mechanisms of exhibition practice on their own terms,” in the words of art historian Polly Savage, “and hold an international event in their own space.” Announcing this intention, the Ghetto Biennale team invited — indeed, challenged — artists around the world to respond. In her essay on the inaugural event, Savage recounts the results. “The group received over one hundred applications, and selected thirty-five, on the basis of their practical and conceptual sensitivity to the conditions of Grand Rue, with preference given to works produced in situ. Funding was secured for a rental car and two interpreters, but participants otherwise covered their own expenses. On 28 November, 2009, artists began arriving from the US, Jamaica, Australia, Sweden, France, Italy, and the UK, commencing three weeks of collaboration, before a final day of exhibition and performance in a specially cleared, openair lot in Grand Rue.” Conversation and negotiation among the visiting artists, their local counterparts, and the broader Grand Rue was integral to the enterprise. And for participating artists visiting from elsewhere in the Caribbean, the biennale was an opportunity to look past regional prejudices and expand a pan-Caribbean dialogue. The results were rich, chaotic, unexpected, and perhaps for the first time ever, the people of Grand Rue found themselves the centre of positive and eager attention. Barely a month later, when the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake devasted Port-au-Prince — including Grand Rue — the question of whether there would be a second (never mind third or fourth) biennale may have seemed

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MULTIVERSAL SERVICES, courtesy ghetto biennale

4th Ghetto Biennale, 2015: a film screening in Rue Carbone, downtown Port-auPrince

doubtful. In fact, the impact of the earthquake only made it more imperative for the Ghetto Biennale to continue, as it has done, despite the odds, and on schedule, with editions in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. And even as its international reputation — or notoriety — has grown, the core curatorial team have stuck to their vision with admirable tenacity. As Leah Gordon writes, “Quieter simpler projects are often privileged over louder, more spectacular works, not particularly for ideological reasons, but out of knowledge of the space, resources, and economics of the neighbourhood. We have also tended to privilege projects that attempt to engage with Haitian history and culture, with the inherent structural inequalities of the Ghetto Biennale, or with the material dilapidation of the site.” The process, Gordon writes, has not been without tensions. Inevitably, visiting artists, even just in their ability to purchase international plane tickets, arrive in Port-au-Prince with a degree of economic privilege they may be reluctant to completely acknowledge. “The concept of collaboration has at times been misused and misunderstood,” she notes. “Sometimes collaborations have become, paradoxically, an unconscious device to avoid confronting the divisive power structures within the working conditions of the site.” To the credit of the curatorial team, they have never elided these fraught dynamics. And despite the contretemps and confrontations, the biennale remains a source of pride for the Grand Rue artists, an opportunity to be seen and heard and known — not just for the genuine problems and deprivations of their community, but for the ingenuity and wit and rezistans by which they survive. n

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The 9th Ghetto Biennale opens on 29 November, 2019, with performances, workshops, and screenings starting on 11 December, and the final presentation of the artists’ works running from 18 to 20 December. For more information, visit ghettobiennale.org Published in 2017, Ghetto Biennale/Geto Byenal, 2009–2015 (No Eraser Publishing), compiled by Leah Gordon, documents the first four biennales, drawing on a rich archive of images, interviews, and texts by both critics and former participants


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ARRIVE

Destination 74 Curaçao diary

Explore 88 An ABC for SVG

Neighbourhood 86 George Town, Grand Cayman

Bucket List 98 Old San Juan

The façade of the ornate Penha Building, one of Curaçao’s historic landmarks


destination

Curaรงao diary

It begins with a flock of flamingos, and ends with a rigorous beach survey. Philip Sander explores the charms of Curaรงao, from historic architecture to a mountain hike to a giant iguana

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he landmark we were looking out for, the imposing nineteenthcentury church of Sint Willibrordus, appeared as we drove over a crest in the road. Perched atop its small hill, the church seemed to be the tallest structure for miles around, looming higher as we approached. Then an unexpected flash of colour turned my head. The tide was out in the lagoon of Saliña Sint Marie, exposing an expanse of mudflat dotted with mangrove clumps. And further out, near the edge of the shallow water, was a flock of flamingos, placidly foraging, their bright pink plumage contrasting with the chocolate-brown mud. We pulled over, of course, and climbed up the viewing platform helpfully provided by the citizens of Sint Willibrordus. A quarter mile away, the flamingos were mere specks of pink, but we gazed with delight. Somehow, I’d assumed spotting them would require a special expedition, maybe an organised tour — I didn’t expect they’d casually appear in the landscape on our very first day in Curaçao.

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At Daaibooi Bay near the village of Sint Willibrordus, limestone cliffs shelter a pristine turquiose bay

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Nor did I expect the thing that next caught my eye, just at the edge of the lagoon, beside a football field below the church: WILLIWOOD spelled out in tall white letters, a tongue-in-cheek imitation of the famous Hollywood sign, here in an otherwise sleepy-seeming village twelve miles out of Curaçao’s capital, Willemstad. Past the church — built in the 1880s, I’d later find out — our route veered to the left, and soon

The true amazement of colour was the sea before us, an intense shimmering and utterly transparent turquoise 76

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we were driving through dry thorny forest, low hills rising on either side. A sandy parking lot announced our destination: Daaibooi Bay, a beach with a name almost unpronounceable for Englishspeakers, and known for its unspoiled seclusion, we’d been told. It sounded like just the spot for our first swim in Curaçao. The small bay had a broad, sandy beach, sheltered on either side by limestone cliffs, topped with thorn trees and cacti. A handful of thatched huts offered shade, and a ramshackle beach bar brought up the rear. As we strode out onto the sand, a nearby tree seemed to explode with birdsong: scores of bananaquits hopped and chirruped in its branches, joined by a dozen larger troupials, their


Wild flamingos at Saliña Sint Marie

bright orange plumage offset by their black heads and white-streaked wings. But the true amazement of colour was the sea before us, an intense shimmering and utterly transparent turquoise. Within mere seconds I’d plunged in, and I couldn’t help laughing with sheer delight. The sky above was untouched by cloud. As I floated out to the middle of the bay, I thought there was surely something in the world worth worrying about, but for the moment I couldn’t remember what that might be.

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mmediately west of Punda, the historic (and formerly walled) centre of Willemstad, is Pietermaii, named for the Dutch captain who

A beach for each There’s no shortage of beaches on Curaçao’s sheltered leeward coast, and options for every preference, whether you’re looking for someplace wild and untouched, or with all the amenities of the poshest resort. Many of the most popular beaches, like Jan Thiel, Blue Bay, and Cas Abao, are run by official operators who charge an admission fee in return for access to changing facilities, restaurants, and bars. Others are free to enter, but individual entrepreneurs rent beach umbrellas and deck chairs. And if your ideal is merely a towel spread on the sand, there are small coves off the beaten track where you can bask and swim untroubled by commerce.

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One colourful character

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The colours of Willemstad are one of the first impressions to strike any visitor. With the exception of one or two modern glass and steel structures, every house, shop, church, and government building in the city is painted in a vivid hue, from pastel pinks and greens to intense reds and yellows, usually accentuated with white trim. For this charming rainbow effect you can thank one man: Albert Kikkert, a military officer appointed governor of Curaçao in 1816 by King William I. As the story goes, when Kikkert arrived to take up his post, the buildings of Willemstad were washed a uniform white — which in the tropical noon created a glare that troubled the new governor’s eyes. To spare himself the literal headaches, he decreed that all buildings in the city were to be painted over — that he was a shareholder in the island’s only paint factory may or may not have been a coincidence. So every tourist who pauses to take yet another snapshot of the pastel-painted skyline should pause for a moment to thank the governor with the tired eyes.

The ornate façade of a historic building in Willemstad’s Pietermaai district

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settled here in 1674. Once a suburb of the town, with simple cottages along narrow alleys and larger, more ornate nineteenth-century villas along the seafront, Pietermaii went through decades of genteel decline, many of its colonial buildings falling into disrepair. But an absence of new construction meant that when entrepreneurs turned their attention to the neighbourhood a decade and a half ago, there were numerous historic structures ready for restoration, many of them now converted to trendy boutique hotels and restaurants, their façades painted in the brilliant colours Willemstad is famous for. From our hotel in the heart of Pietermaii — in a former warehouse building, a big loading door still visible on one side of the upper floor — it was an easy ten-minute stroll to Wilheminaplein, the square at the centre of Punda next to Fort Amsterdam, the city’s oldest surviving structure.

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You can’t come to Curaçao and not explore Willemstad’s historic streetscape, a UNESCO World Heritage site — but first we needed to find the giant Dushi. “Dushi,” you see, is a key word in Papiamentu, Curaçao’s national language. It’s a multipurpose expression of approval or pleasure, like “OK” or “nice” or “irie” — or even (context is everything) “darling” or “sexy.” And in the middle of Wilheminaplein are five giant letters forming a selfie-ready backdrop, an almost obligatory shot for Instagram. Except I found myself distracted by another odd monument erected in the square by the city authorities: a pair of giant iguanas, sculpted in concrete, and large enough for even adults to clamber up on their backs and pose for a photo. (Mine got sent directly to a Jamaican friend with a special interest in lizards.)


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“Dushi” is a key word in Papiamentu, Curaçao’s national language. It’s a multipurpose expression of approval or pleasure, like “OK” or “nice” or “irie” Selfies out of the way, we began our tour of Willemstad’s architecture. The characteristic merchant’s house, dating to the seventeenth or eighteenth century, has a steep-pitched Dutch gable roof and arched arcades open to the street. Many of the surviving examples have been adapted over time, the ground floors in particular converted to modern shopfronts, but preserved architectural details and the grid of narrow streets give Punda a distinctive historic atmosphere. The most famous view in the city, of course, is of the line of buildings facing the waterfront along Handelskade — the most celebrated of all being the baroque Penha Building, now a high-end perfume emporium, on the corner with Breedestraat. And to properly take in the view, we headed across the equally celebrated Queen Emma Bridge, a pontoon across Sint Anna Bay, connecting Punda to its “other side,” Otrobanda. Built in 1888, the bridge was designed with a hinge and a series of propellers so it can be periodically swung open to allow boat traffic into the harbour. (If you happen to wish to cross while the bridge is open, a free passenger ferry leaps into action a stone’s throw away.) In the early twentieth century, it operated as a toll bridge, even for pedestrians, though those without shoes were exempt from the charge. In 1974, it was closed to motor vehicles, and today the bridge with its illuminated arches is another obligatory selfie spot. Just on the other side is one of Willemstad’s most architecturally fascinating neighbourhoods,

Bon bini The average person in Curaçao is fluent in three if not four languages: Dutch, English, Spanish, and, of course, Papiamentu: the national language (shared, with minor differences, with Aruba and Bonaire), with roots in various West African tongues, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. Linguists still debate its exact origins and historical development, but it is definitively the most widely spoken language in Curaçao, taught in schools and used in parliamentary debates, and a smattering of its vocabulary is useful even on short visit.

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bon bini bondia bontardi ayo por fabor danki di nada

welcome good morning good afternoon goodbye please thank you you’re welcome


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along a gentle slope above the bay, once known as “the hill” of Otrobanda. Beautifully restored nineteenth-century villas, some with shady gardens, rise in tiers, with information plaques along the streets for self-guided tours. And here you’ll also find Kura Hulanda, a unique district of seventeenth- to nineteenth-century buildings now converted to a hotel, with accommodation spread across dozens of cottages and historic townhouses, cobbled alleys as “corridors,” and a fascinating historical museum at its core. The walk back to Pietermaii took us past

the small Waaigat lagoon, an offshoot of Sint Anna Bay, and the location of another longtime Willemstad landmark, the Floating Market. Traditionally, small boats bearing produce from nearby Venezuela would line the wharf here, selling fruit, vegetables, and other provisions to the householders of the city. But as we approached, we saw the wharf was almost deserted: the importation of food from Venezuela has all but stopped due to the political situation there, and the Floating Market awaits a change in continental politics to return to its former picturesque bustle.

At the centre of Willemstad, giant letters spell out the Papiamentu word “Dushi”— a perfect selfie location

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The literal high point of Christoffelpark is Curaçao’s tallest peak, Christoffelberg

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rom Willemstad to Westpunt, Curaçao’s remotest point, is an easy morning drive, a leisurely hour on uncrowded roads. Still, we should have risen and started earlier: it was nearing 11 am when we pulled up at the headquarters for Christoffelpark, a protected reserve around Curaçao’s highest peak, Christoffelberg (all of 1,239 feet tall). Founded on the site of one of the island’s oldest plantations, and in the dampest part of a usually rather dry island, the park is Curaçao’s bioversity hotspot, with a forest of dividivi trees and cacti, rare wild orchids, and a small herd of native white-tailed deer. Well-tended trails criss-cross the forest, the most popular leading to the top of Christoffelberg — but the best time to tackle the steepish ascent is not when the sun is at its most intense.

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Still, we gave it a try. The trail began deceptively with a short descent, the thorny trees offering sporadic shade. Many, many lizards slithered through the dry undergrowth, and brown-throated parakeets screeched overhead. Very soon we were climbing uphill, over a dry streambed and over a scramble of rocks. As we ascended, an occasional breeze kept us refreshed, and then the view of the surrounding hills and the further sea opened up. The distant blue competed with the pounding heat. Reader, I wish I could describe to you the spectacular view from the summit itself, but instead I’ll confess that an hour into the climb, we halted — perhaps not so much because of the intense heat as because we’d begun to think of the sea. Specifically, of the extraordinary beaches we’d heard of


Westpunt Grote Knip

Christoffelpark

C U R A Ç A O Cas Abao

Sint Willibrordus

Daaibooi

Blue Bay WILLEMSTAD

Jan Thiel

around Westpunt, and the notion of submerging our sunstruck selves in that cool, clear water. I always say it’s good to leave something for the next trip, and in the case of Curaçao, that includes finishing the Christoffelberg hike. And as we arrived at our next stop — the beach at Grote Knip, also known in Papiamentu as Kenepa Grandi — I couldn’t truthfully say I felt regretful. Often, leafing through a travel magazine or brochure, I see a photo of a beach with water so incredibly blue, I turn the page with a sniff, convinced the hue owes something to the photographer’s retouching skills. Here on the cliff above Kenepa Grandi, my mind boggled, and not just because I’d hiked too long in the blazing sun. This expanse of turquoise gleaming below — surely this was not a colour that could actually occur

in nature? It was like having a Photoshop filter installed in my retinas. Not even when I was immersed in the water, surrounded by other bathers, all apparently unfazed, could I quite believe it. Over lunch — and a bottle of Amstel beer — my companion and I decided, in the interest of scientific rigour, that the rest of the day must be devoted to field research. We took out a map, planned a route. In the absence of instruments, hue would have to be measured with our eyes, water temperature with our skin, the fineness of sand particles with our feet. We set out to sample as many of Curaçao’s leeward coast beaches as we could stomach. There was Playa Kalki in the north, with a boardwalk at the foot of the cliff and shingle sloping down to the waves. There was Playa Grandi, known for the friendly sea turtles which congregate around the fishermen’s dock. Then Kenepa Chiki, smaller sibling to Kenepa Grandi, less crowded and fringed with manchineel trees. Playa Jeremi was perhaps the most modest of all, with a parking lot but no “facilities” other than the sheltering cliffs and shady trees. And on and on down the coast towards Willemstad, one azure oasis after another to be waded into, with a sigh. The things we do, reader, for the sake of science . . . n

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A sunset swim at Daaibooi Bay

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neighbourhood

George Town, Grand Cayman The capital of the Cayman Islands is a highpowered tropical banking centre, with the beach conveniently on its doorstep

Seven Miles to paradise . . .

. . . or highway to Hell?

Immediately north of George Town is the famous Seven Mile Beach, once voted the best in the Caribbean. Before you groan about the accuracy of the name — the beach is closer to five and a half miles long — consider the advantages of having this long stretch of coral sand right on your doorstep. With ample room for relaxing and adventure, this beach stretches along Grand Cayman’s western coast and is lined by the island’s most luxurious resorts, top restaurants, and tour companies. The clear waters offshore are also perfect for divers and snorkellers to meet the residents of Cemetery Reef, which lies at the northern end of the beach. Despite its off-putting name, the reef is far from dead: rather, it’s one of the Caymans’ most beautiful diving spots, home to numerous species of coral, fish, and turtles.

In West Bay, a mere twenty minutes’ drive from George Town, you’ll encounter a garishly coloured sign enthusiastically offering a “WELCOME TO HELL.” Don’t worry, there’s neither fire nor brimstone. Instead you’ll find a labyrinth of black, jagged limestone formations, braided through with tiny streams of water, protruding from a lush, grassy field. This phytokarstic formation, as geologists describe it, is the result of erosion by limestone-eating algae boring into porous rock. Not quite a scene out of a horror movie, but it nonetheless captures the imagination of both locals and visitors with its striking contrast to the island’s otherwise idyllic countryside. At the nearby gift shop, painted bright red, you can buy a postcard from Hell to surprise your friends — or enemies? — back at home.

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The Cayman Islands’ somewhat out-of-the-way location south of Cuba meant they were populated relatively late: no evidence has yet been found of an indigenous population, and though Columbus spotted the islands in 1503, it was the mid seventeenth century before British colonists settled permanently on the island of Grand Cayman. Long governed from Jamaica, the Cayman Islands became a separate British colony in 1962, and its administrators focused on building an economy around tourism — capitalising on the fabulous beaches — and offshore banking. As a result, over the past four decades George Town has developed into a significant financial centre, with nearly six hundred banks and other financial services companies based in and around the city — though the skyline remains low-rise, and the balmy weather makes for a less stressful financial district than Wall Street in New York or the City of London.

Collection of clive and Basia harris, courtesy the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

History

Resonance (2008), by Bendel Hydes

Gardening in the tropics Tucked away in the greenery of Grand Cayman’s North Side, away from the bustle of George Town, is an opportunity to wind down, enjoy the moment, and explore on your own beat. Opened in 1994 by Her Majesty herself, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a sixty-five-acre oasis, featuring hundreds of plant species, a lake, and even the work of local artists. The park’s various trails and gardens are designed to tell the story of both the natural and human history of the Caymans, with a woodland area including more than half the known plant species of the islands, a Cayman Heritage Garden that explores the history of acriculture, and a special habitat area for the endangered endemic Blue Iguana, found only in Grand Cayman and once considered on the brink of extinction.

Art and identity What does it mean to be a Caymanian? The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands in George Town, established in 1996, has more than one answer to that question, with its collection of works by dozens of Caymanian artists in all mediums, inspired by the islands’ landscape and history and a mandate to explore the links between the local art scene and the wider world. If you’re visiting in November or December, you’ll have the chance to take in a retrospective by Bendel Hydes, an elder figure in the Cayman art world and the first Caymanian artist to be internationally recognised. Visit nationalgallery.org.ky for more information.

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Coordinates 19.3° N, 81.4° W Sea level

GRAND CAYMAN

Drink deep Almost every Caribbean territory distils rum — a legacy of the sugar industry — each with distinctive tweaks to the formula, but Grand Cayman’s Seven Fathoms Rum has a unique secret ingredient: the ocean. After being processed and casked in the distillery, the rum is sent offshore and submerged (you guessed it) seven fathoms deep for approximately three years. The ebb and flow of the sea’s rhythm, as well as the cool temperature, create optimal conditions for the aging and strengthening of its flavours. A tour at the Cayman Spirits Company distillery will fill you in on the story, and give you a chance to taste the uniquely smooth blend now exported around the world.

George Town

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explore

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An ABC for SVG

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How to start planning a visit that takes in all the delights of the thirtytwo islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines? Try alphabetical order . . .


Grown by the Caribbean’s indigenous peoples for seven thousand years, the arrowroot plant produces rhizomes which, when pulped and dried, give in a fine, starchy powder that was a staple of Victorian cuisine, and is still used to make cakes, biscuits, and jellies. Once the main export crop of St Vincent, arrowroot remains popular as a gluten-free alternative for today’s health-conscious chefs.

A

The second-largest of the Grenadines, Bequia — the “island of the clouds” — lies ten miles south of St Vincent, an easy ferry ride (or an even quicker hop in a small plane). Bequia’s gorgeous beaches — Princess Margaret Beach is the best known — and accessible dive sites are the main attraction, but Easter time also brings the popular annual regatta, attracting seafarers of all levels of skill and enthusiasm.

B

If you think Bequia is laid back, pay a visit to Canouan, twenty miles further south. Once a centre for shipbuilding, the island is famous for its luxury resorts, but the glorious reef-fringed beaches are also accessible on a day-trip by ferry from Kingstown.

C

The gorgeous expanse of Bequia’s Princess Margaret Bay

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Enchanting Dark View Falls on St Vincent's leeward coast

St Vincent’s original indigenous name, Hairouna — “land of the blessed” — is shared by the local brew. Hairoun, brewed since 1985, is Vincies’ beer of choice — accounting, it’s claimed, for four out of five bottles sold in the country.

H

Just a mile southeast of Kingstown, Indian Bay is a popular swimming and snorkeling spot. It’s also where Vincentian artist Nadia Huggins captures the underwater scenes in her eerily beautiful photographs, which have been shown internationally (and previously featured in Caribbean Beat — see our July/August 2015 issue).

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Despite the ominous name, the double cascades of Dark View Falls on St Vincent’s leeward coast are considered the most enchanting of the island’s numerous waterfalls. An easy hike through rainforest and bamboo groves leads to the plunge pools at the foot of each fall, with facilities like changing rooms and a viewing platform to enhance the experience.

D

All of fifty feet long, a bar of brilliant white sand barely poking about the waves, Mopion in the southern Grenadines is sometimes called the smallest island in the Caribbean. And it’s home to a sole structure: the thatched Engagement Umbrella, just big enough to provide shade for two, and supposedly a favoured spot for wedding proposals.

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Like most Caribbean islands, St Vincent was fought over for centuries by European colonial powers — and the physical evidence includes the forts, in various stages of preservation or ruin, scattered through the landscape. Most were designed to protect the coast from invading ships, but at Fort Charlotte, on a hill overlooking Kingstown, the defences also faced inland, to guard against the indigenous Caribs.

F

Kingstown’s Botanic Gardens are thought to be the secondoldest in the Americas, founded in 1765. Twenty acres are planted with flora from around the tropical world, a historical legacy still in bloom.

G

If the uninhabited Tobago Cays are the most picturesque of the Grenadines, Jamesby Island — also sometimes called James Bay — may be the prettiest of all. A brilliant white sand beach is barely big enough for a handful of coconut trees, and a rocky cliff offers shelter. The only way to arrive is by boat.

J

Founded in 1722 by the French, Kingstown has served as capital of St Vincent for almost three hundred years, nestled in the shelter of the island’s leeward hills. It’s nickname, “city of arches,” comes from the traditional arcades that shelter pedestrians from both sun and rain. The Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals, both near Victoria Park, remain the most prominent architectural landmarks.

K


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

Declare Agricultural Items

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U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Plant Health Directors Forum

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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


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Volcanic rocks create a natural bathing spot at the Owia Salt Pond

Amerindian petroglyphs, or rock drawings, have been found at sites around St Vincent, but the easiest place to encounter these mysterious artworks of the past is the village of Layou, north of Kingstown. A short trail from the visitors’ centre leads to a riverside boulder with carvings that intrigue historians as much as they puzzle.

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st vincent

A scrubby island named for its mosquitoes and home to failed cotton plantations doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of a holiday paradise. But in the 1960s an ambitious English nobleman bought the island of Mustique and transformed it into an ultra-chic getaway for rock stars and royalty — including Princess Margaret. Nowadays Mustique is just as famous for Basil’s Bar, watering-hole for jet-setters and day-trippers alike, and host of the annual Mustique Blues Festival, which raises money to give scholarships to schoolchildren.

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Kingstown

Bequia

Since 1969, the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust has helped protect and manage the country’s historical heritage, including sites like the Layou Petroglyph Park (see above), Fort Duvernette on a dramatic rocky islet, and Kingstown’s Carnegie Building — originally a public library, now home to the National Archaeological Collection as well as the National Trust’s own headquarters.

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Near St Vincent’s northernmost tip, the Owia Salt Pond is a natural saltwater pool formed by long-ago volcanic activity, creating a bathing spot sheltered from but continually refreshed by the crashing Atlantic waves. A national park protects the nearby shore and forest, and the village of Owia is a traditional stronghold of St Vincent’s indigenous Black Caribs.

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Mustique

Canouan Mayreau Union

Tobago Cays


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hot e l a l e x a n d r i n a . c om

St Vincent’s mountain rainforests are home to the island’s most prized bird species, the endemic St Vincent Parrot (Amazona guildingii), with its striking yellow and white head, violet wings, and yellowtipped tail. An estimated 750 of this rare bird remain in the wild, but you can also observe them in the aviary at the St Vincent Botanic Gardens.

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Where comfort & tranquility reign

h o t e l / a pa rt m e n t s r e s tau r a n t bar weddings

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The breadfruit, native to the Pacific and famously introduced to the Caribbean via St Vincent in the late eighteenth century, is indelibly associated with the island not just through history, but as its national dish — roast breadfruit, specifically. The simple traditional recipe calls for cooking the fruit outdoors over an open wood or charcoal fire.

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banquets conferences r e t r e at s fa m i ly r e u n i o n s

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hotelalexandrina@aol.com ~ Prospect, St. Vincent & The Grenandines

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Just north of Kingstown, Questelles Bay was once voted the best beach in mainland St Vincent — and that’s saying a lot. There are actually three distinct beaches in the bay, the first accessible by road and the others via something of a rocky scramble — the better to keep their black volcanic sand pristine.

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At 4,049 feet, Soufrière is St Vincent’s highest peak, and also its most dramatic geological feature: an active volcano which last erupted in 1979. Today, scientists carefully monitor the volcano for seismic

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Spot the endangered St Vincent Parrot along the Vermont Nature Trail — or at Kingstown’s historic Botanic Gardens

activity and any sign of a coming eruption, and the hike up its steep slopes and into the huge crater offers unforgettable views of the northern end of the island. Near the southern end of SVG’s maritime territory, the Tobago Cays Marine Park protects one of the most stunning seascapes in the Caribbean, a sandy lagoon fringed by coral reefs and studded with five tiny islets. Up to eight thousand yachts visit the park each year, drawn to the clear turquoise water and abundant sea life, from turtles to starfish.

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Closer to Grenada than to mainland St Vincent, Union Island is SVG’s southernmost territory, with a profile of rugged volcanic hills that once won it the nickname “Tahiti of the West Indies.” Those same hills — Mt Olympus, Mt Parnassus, and Mt Taboi — offer good hiking, preferably followed by a swim at one of the reef-fringed beaches.

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The Buccament Valley, sloping down to St Vincent’s leeward coast, boasts the Vermont Nature Trail, a well-tended two-mile hiking route winding through the rainforest and ending at a panoramic lookout. It’s the best place to see the St Vincent Parrot in the wild, alongside dozens of other bird species and a rich cross-section of the island’s flora.

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SUGARAPPLE INN . SUGARAPPLE ON THE BEACH

ESTABLISHED 2003 . BEQUIA, ST VINCENT & GRENADINES

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ADVERTORIALS St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the lesser travelled and explored Caribbean destinations. Relatively untouched by mass tourism, it is a thrilling discovery for those who seek unspoilt hideaways. Submit yourself to its thirty-two islands and cays and be revitalised in mind, body, and spirit. You are specially invited to experience the “Renewal at 40” celebrations as SVG commemorates forty years of Independence on 27 October, 2019, with a year of activities.

The sheltered leeward coast, facing the Caribbean Sea, is where you’ll find St Vincent’s best swimming beaches. The windward coast, open to the vast Atlantic, is a wilder and more rugged place. Follow the Windward Highway northwards, with sandstone cliffs on one side and black volcanic beaches on the other, through the 350-foot-long Black Point Tunnel, dug in 1815. Past Georgetown and in the vicinity of Sandy Bay is the territory of the Black Caribs, descendants of indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans who preserve a distinct way of life, and once threatened the British hold on the island in the Carib Wars of the eighteenth century,

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X marks the spot on a good pirate map — as any fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series can tell you. Fans also know that St Vincent’s Wallilabou Bay was one of the main locations for the film franchise. Nothing survives of the temporary sets, but you can still pay a visit to the place where Captain Jack Sparrow swashbuckled his way to iconhood.

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Paradise Beach Hotel, located in Villa Beach, offers twenty-five tastefully decorated rooms and apartments with modern amenities. Enjoy local and international dishes at our restaurant overlooking the bay. Pool, spa, conference facilities, wedding planning, and Fantasea Tours on site. Sugarapple includes two properties in Bequia: Sugarapple Inn, a B&B with a garden pool, and Sugarapple on the Beach, a charming beachside duplex cottage. All Sugarapple units are self-contained with full kitchens, combining convenience and style. The MV Admiral 11 offers a speedy, comfortable journey with regular daily crossings between Bequia and St Vincent. This ferry has been in service to the people and visitors of St Vincent and the Grenadines for over twenty-five years.

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Perched on a hillside overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Hotel Alexandrina is located in a secluded, ecofriendly environment. This modern and elegant twenty-seven-room apartment suite hotel is a prime location for a business conference, family reunion, or simply for relaxation. Just ten minutes from the beach and fifteen minutes from the airport. T: (784) 456-9788

“Castaway chic” is how the tourist guides sometimes describe Young Island, a resort on a private island in Villa Bay. Cottages dotted across thirteen acres of gardens overlook a tiny but perfect beach, and quiet seclusion is the prevailing atmosphere.

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Young Island in Villa Bay is where you can practise “castaway chic”

Close your eyes, and imagine the scene: as you swing gently in your hammock, a soft breeze caresses you. All around you are shrubs laden with tropical blossoms, and the soundtrack is the rustle of waves against the shore, and the quiet cooing of a zenaida dove. The biggest decision in your immediate future: beach or nap? Welcome to SVG. n

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Caribbean Airlines operates direct flights to St Vincent’s Argyle International Airport from Trinidad, with connections to other destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America


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bucket list

Old San Juan F

ounded by Spanish colonists in 1521 on a small island just off the north coast of Puerto Rico, San Juan is the capital of the territory, and its oldest district — San Juan Viejo, or Old San Juan — is the seat of government and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Distinctive blue cobblestones still pave the sixteenth-century streets, and many of the Spanish colonial residences, painted in shades both bright and pastel, now serve as boutique hotels and restaurants, while the great citadel of El Morro guards the entrance to San Juan Bay. n

Caribbean Airlines operates daily return flights to Miami International Airport from Trinidad and Jamaica, with connections on other airlines to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan 98

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The historic centre of Puerto Rico’s capital is as famous for its cultural life as for its restored colonial buildings San Juan

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Green 100 For the sake of a lizard

On This Day 102 Cruising for trouble

In December 1939, the captain of the SS Columbus scuttled the cruise ship rather than let it be captured by the Royal Navy


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For the sake of a lizard Photography by Matthijs Kuijpers/Alamy Stock Photo

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he number of known animal species on Earth is around 1.5 million, yet that’s likely to be only a fraction of the numerous kinds of creatures humans share this planet with. Hundreds of new species are discovered every year. Many undiscovered species are in largely undisturbed and unexplored parts of the world, like the forest overlooking serene Chatham Bay on Union Island, one of the chain of tiny islands that make up the Grenadines and form one country with St Vincent. Union Island is home to about three thousand people, and is known for its pristine beaches, which draw yachties and water sports enthusiasts. Chatham Bay in particular is a popular destination for celebrities — Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Ed Sheeran, among them. In 2005, Roman Catholic priest Mark Da Silva and fisherman Matthew Harvey, both naturalists, were exploring the Chatham Bay forest when they came upon a tiny gecko — a kind of lizard — whose skin bore a dazzling array of colors, the most prominent being emerald and ruby. But until Da Silva brought it to the attention of a couple of herpetologists visiting St Vincent, the gecko had not been noted and named by modern scientists. Found nowhere else but that fifty-hectare patch of forest above Chatham Bay, it’s even rarer than the precious stones it resembles — current estimates put its population at fewer than ten thousand. And just as with gems, the gecko’s rarity created a human demand for it — a demand that put the species at risk. The exotic pet trade is a multi-billion-dollar industry, some of it legal but much of it illegal, as species are plucked from the wild to meet a growing demand that’s fed in part by social media, where people show off and sell animals. “As soon as a demand is created for a rare species, it can dis-

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Found only on a tiny island in the Grenadines, the rare Union Island gecko with its gem-like colours is coveted by the exotic pet trade — which threatens its survival. New conservation efforts offer hope — and, as Erline Andrews reports, may point the way to developing eco-tourism that benefits human residents, too

appear very quickly,” says Chris Shepherd, executive director of the British Columbia–based organisation Monitor, which keeps track and advocates on behalf of endangered species that may be overlooked by other organisations and the media. A survey conducted by Shepherd and colleagues between 2014 and 2018 found a single Union Island gecko — typically not longer than three centimetres — going for as much as US$750 in the online market. They were being advertised for sale from locations in Europe. Most of the ads came from Germany, the location of possibly the world’s biggest reptile trade fair, Terraristika, held three times a year in the city of Hamm. Removing the gecko from its habitat without a permit is illegal under Vincentian law. The government has only ever granted one such permit: to the two scientists who first documented the gecko’s existence, giving it the scientific name Gonatodes daudini. But the same year the gecko — also known as the Grenadines clawed gecko — was discovered, a road was built that allowed access to the forest. Poachers caused further disruption to the species’ habitat by turning over rocks and logs. By 2011, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which compiles a list of threatened species, declared the Union Island gecko “critically endangered.” “Additional pressure on this rare and attractive gecko from commercial exploitation could have a dramatic effect on the population,” the IUCN concluded.

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n 2015, conservation NGO Flora and Fauna International got involved, and brought together a team of local and international conservationists. After consulting Union Island residents and the relevant state authorities, the group drafted a plan to protect the gecko that was accepted by the Vincentian government. Wardens began patrolling in 2017, and the first poaching arrest — of a Union Island resident — was made that year. The


St Vincent government requested that the gecko receive protection under Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which would ban all trade of the gecko. The request was granted. “More than a third of the proposals at this CITES summit relate to amphibians and reptiles threatened by the exotic pet industry,” National Geographic reported on its website. “Amphibians and reptiles are often popular as pets for their attractive colouring or rarity.” Reptiles are among the most threatened species on Earth. One in five are endangered, according to one study. But they’re not the kind of animal that draws people’s sympathy. “If you ask anybody to name five endangered species they’re going to talk about elephants, tigers, orangutans, sea turtles, and lions,” says Shepherd. “There are so many species of reptiles that are becoming extinct because of the illegal trade that nobody knows about.” Other than the gecko, the pink rhino iguana — a unique form of the more common green iguana — is found only on Union Island, and may also be threatened. The situation is the same for other reptile species across the Caribbean. In 2017, the IUCN found that more than half of the 376 reptile species it had assessed in the Caribbean were threatened with extinction, and many of them were being traded internationally. “A lot of reptile enthusiasts really love the Caribbean,” says

Matthijs Kuijpers, a Dutch photographer who has captured images of more than two thousand reptiles around the world. The gecko is one of about seventy of the world’s most endangered reptiles which Kuijpers compiled in his book, Cold Instinct. “Everything is unique,” he says, explaining collectors’ fascination with Caribbean reptiles. “All of the islands, because of the isolation, developed their own niche of animals. People [in the Caribbean] should be really proud of it and not take it for granted.” The CITES listing and the warden patrols are major steps,

Reptiles are among the most threatened species on Earth. But they’re not the kind of animal that draws people’s sympathy but conservationists are aiming for one more: to have the Union Island gecko’s home declared a wildlife reserve, and therefore protected from further human encroachment. Plans to develop the surrounding area with housing and agriculture (the land has already been cleared), plus the expansion of tourist facilities at Chatham Bay, and the predatory goats, cats, dogs, and rats that come with human habitation, all pose a threat to the gecko. “We don’t want development to stop happening per se, but we would like a certain amount, if not most, of the forest protected,” says Louise Mitchell, the executive director of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Environment Fund, which has played a key role in conservation efforts. “Whatever development comes, it has to fit in with the environment. There’s no sense protecting the gecko without protecting its habitat.” And protecting the gecko and its habitat can bring its own commercial advantages. “Since we’ve been installed there, we’ve seen so many visitors who have come to hike,” says Roseman Adams, a tour guide and environmental activist on Union Island who’s also a volunteer warden patrolling the Chatham Bay forest. He works alongside three paid wardens. “We have taken them on guided tours there. They are very much appreciative of what’s been done. They encourage us. They want to know ways in which they can assist us.” Adams is working with other conservationists and government officials to see how the gecko can be used to promote tourism on the island. “We’ll create a mascot of the gecko. My guess is that it will eventually become the icon of the island,” says Adams. “There’s a lot for the island and the community to benefit from its protection.” n

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on this day

Cruising for trouble Cruise ship tourism is either a boon or a bane for the Caribbean, depending on your perspective. But for the passengers of the SS Columbus, stranded in Havana eighty years ago, getting left behind was surely better than going down with the ship, writes James Ferguson Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

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ruise ships divide opinion and excite contrasting emotions. I have a friend who loves them, who has taken journeys across every ocean in the world, and who combines exotic destinations and fine dining with giving lectures on cultural topics to an (admittedly captive) audience. These tend to take place on one of the smaller, more exclusive vessels that are increasingly in demand as an antidote to the massive ships which ply the Caribbean with anywhere between four thousand and seven thousand people aboard. The sheer scale of the numbers involved confirms that cruising is extremely popular, and is liable to become even more so in the next few decades. Of course, there are those who decry cruise liners as floating gin palaces and shopping malls, worlds apart from the places they visit. A recent British TV series gleefully depicted emergency helicopter evacuations after engine failure near Norway, drunken brawls, and an explosive outbreak of Norovirus

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(don’t ask). Critics complain that the allinclusive model of cruising means that passengers have little incentive to eat and drink when ashore, and that the hordes of tourists who disembark in Caribbean island ports are corralled towards airconditioned duty-free outlets rather than seeing the places themselves.

The moral of the story should maybe not be ignored: don’t book a cruise when a world war is about to break out Still, some twenty million people chose each year to visit the Caribbean in this way, most setting out from Miami and following set itineraries that usually include the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and the Mexican island of Cozumel. Many islands can sometimes feel somewhat

swamped by the cruise ship crowds: in 2013, Aruba (population approximately 100,000) received almost 700,000 cruise visitors. The Caribbean needs the industry, with its foreign income and employment, argue its supporters. There are also critical voices that raise issues such as pollution, private beaches, and a decline in more conventional tourism. Whatever your view, cruise ships remain slightly controversial, albeit massively profitable. They operate everywhere, from the frozen wilderness of Antarctica to the tropical splendour of the Caribbean, and they work all year round under any circumstances. But the moral of the story that follows, which took place eighty years ago, should maybe not be ignored: don’t book a cruise when a world war is about to break out.

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he cruise ship in question, the SS Columbus, was born and died in conflict. It was ordered in 1914 by the Hamburg-based Norddeutscher Lloyd, one of the world’s leading shipping companies, from a boatbuilding yard in Danzig, together with a sister ship. Both were to be deployed in the growing transatlantic passenger business. The outbreak of the First World War put a stop to its early construction, and work only resumed in 1920 after its completed sister ship had been handed over to Britain as part of the punitive system of war reparations imposed on the defeated Germans. After shortages of essential materials delayed completion, Columbus was finally seaborne in 1924 — having earlier become stuck for two months on the launch ways. At 32,000 tons and 775 feet long, the ship had 1,750 cabins for four classes of passenger, an outdoor swimming pool, and luxurious fittings throughout. Colum-


bus was briefly the fastest and biggest liner in the German merchant marine fleet. But with competition from new, faster Norddeutscher Lloyd liners, it was decided to refurbish Columbus in 1929. According to Michael L. Grace’s history: Particular attention was devoted to giving the rooms a spacious feeling, and the Dining Room and Social Hall both extended up through two decks. Noted German artists were employed to provide art work for the ship, with murals by E.R. Weiss and hand-carved art work by Joseph Wackerle. Perhaps most important for some status-conscious travellers, “Decks were so arranged that passengers travelling in different classes never came in contact with one another.” This was a time when transatlantic passenger services were gradually morphing into today’s cruise industry, when getting from London to New York could be complemented with leisurely tours of exotic destinations. A March 1937 prospectus advertised an “Easter Cruise to the West Indies,” with SS Columbus leaving New York on 26 March and calling in at Port-au-Prince, Kingston, and Havana before returning on 2 April. But the days of carefree cruising were numbered, and in September 1939 war once again broke out between Britain and Germany. The Columbus was in the Caribbean at the time, and Norddeutscher Lloyd realised that British forces could at any moment seize the ship as a potential enemy combatant. Having disembarked the 745 passengers at Havana, the ship’s captain Wilhelm Daehne set sail for Veracruz in neutral Mexico. There it was suspected that the liner was secretly refuelling German U-boats, so Daehne, supported by Norddeutscher Lloyd, decided to make a dash for it, hoping to reach Germany or Scandinavia by eluding the blockade by British warships in the Atlantic. On 14 December, SS Columbus left Veracruz, escorted by seven US warships charged with patrolling the American coastal neutrality zone (which included the Caribbean). Five days later, Daehne’s bold plan suddenly foundered as the British destroyer HMS Hyperion appeared

on the horizon, about four hundred miles off the coast of Virginia. Had the neutral Americans tipped off the British? The US cruiser Tuscalooosa was on duty in the area, and its crew looked on as two warning shots from Hyperion were followed by smoke beginning to rise from the German cruise ship. Rather than hand over his ship to the British (no doubt for future use as a troop carrier), Daehne had decided to scuttle Columbus, allegedly on Hitler’s orders, starting multiple benzenefuelled fires and opening sea water valves

as the crew took to the lifeboats. This process had been practised many times, and the ship took several hours to sink in the waters of the Atlantic. Its final moments make for melancholy viewing, as captured by Pathé News footage. “Not until 9.55, when he was satisfied that his ship was unquenchably ablaze,” reported Life magazine, “did Captain Daehne climb down the rope ladder to the last lifeboat.” The crew of 576, including women and children, were picked up by Tuscaloosa, thereby avoiding becoming prisoners of war, and were taken to Ellis Island in New York. Some four hundred “distressed seamen” were subsequently transferred to a camp in New Mexico, where they seem to have enjoyed a relaxed regime of gardening and sports, until Germany declared war on the US on 9 December, 1941. Those who survived the henceforth harsher conditions were eventually freed in 1945, at the end of the war. So ended one of the most elegant of early cruise ships, quite literally in the wrong place at the wrong time. History does not record how the 745 passengers stranded in Havana ever made it back to Germany. Perhaps they also stayed safely on dry land until peace in 1945 — surely qualifying their trip as the longest in cruise ship history. n

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by Gregory St Bernard


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Caribbean Crossword Across 6 Take some time off with Jimmy October’s song [8] 8 Largest member of the parrot family [5] 10 South Caribbean island chain [10] 11 Fixed quantity in measurement[4] 12 This liquid leaves a mark [3] 13 Makes the music even louder [3] 14 Break the code [7] 18 Main character, if he’s a man [4] 20 Very social insect [3] 21 What the French call this year-end holiday [4] 22 Pretty paving, but rough on the feet [11] 24 Housepainter’s sign may say [3] 26 Low sandy island[4] 28 Root staple [7] 29 Not you but . . . [2] 30 Updated musical release [5] 31 This job needs great balance [7] Down 1 Trini Christmas performer [10] 2 Gone straight to heaven [5] 3 These teeth are our last [6] 4 Tropical tree only resembles a pine [9] 5 One way to get home [4] 7 Second to ___ [4] 9 One way to get high [6] 15 Curaçao neighbourhood named for a Dutch captain [10]

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If the puzzle you want to do has already been filled in, just ask your flight attendant for a new copy of the magazine!

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Wreath is repositioned; heart on t-shirt of boy with plant is repositioned; boy with plant’s left arm is missing; “LOVE” card is replaced with “LIVE” card; girl with pan’s bracelets are moved from one wrist to the other; girl with pan’s hair has changed colour; pendant is removed from girl with pan’s necklace; girl with pan’s t-shirt has changed colour; smile pattern is changed on boy’s globe; boy with globe’s afro is shorter; candy cane is repositioned; “JOY” card is changed to “TOY” card; “PEACE” card is changed to “PIECE” card.


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Have her cake and eat it James Hackett

Attillah Springer on the world’s best Christmas black cake — her granny’s. Originally published in November/Decemer 2005 Illustration by James Hackett

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verybody thinks their grandmother makes the best black cake. They are wrong, since I can say with all surety that my grandmother made the best black cake. I guess it’s an easy mistake to make, but I can assure you, my grandmother would have won any best black cake competition, hands down. Those people who think I am biased are just jealous because they’ve had neither the space nor the eloquence to extol the virtues of their own grandmother’s black cake. Sadly, I no longer have proof of this. Silly me, I never thought to get Granny to make forty or fifty in the unfortunate event that she shouldn’t be available for more cake-making duties, since I was sure she was going to live forever. But now that she is baking black cakes in the great kitchen of beyond, it’s struck me that I can’t replicate the smell of her house on the evenings when she baked the season’s first cake. This would be devoured by her grandchildren quicker than you could say “Danish butter cookies tin.” Following the rapid demise of that first cake, we would start up a chorus of “please, Granny, please, come and make plenty black cake for us.” She would ask in her typically cantankerous manner why the France we didn’t learn to make black cake ourselves, then make a date to turn up at our house. Now, given that the fruits had been soaking for a while, and she had in fact instructed my mother about when to put

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said fruits to soak, I think she just enjoyed the annual begging ritual. I would pretend to assist in the cakemaking, but mostly I just hung around waiting for the moment when I could safely lick the remnants of the batter without the threat of wooden spoon on the knuckles for sticking my fingers in the mixing bowl. Granny would frequently issue patois curses in the direction of my mother, who was not helping at all, but overseeing the process while doing the joropo around the living room to the Lara Brothers. In later years, after I became a hardline vegan, I didn’t take part in the cakemaking. I could not, however, refuse a slice of my grandmother’s black cake. Between her selective deafness and my love for her cake, I couldn’t be bothered to explain my dietary restrictions to her. Besides, I didn’t want to put her off her life’s challenge of trying to fatten me up. Indeed, in my early 20s I always justified these anti-vegan misdeeds as my effort to onset the rapid development of a posterior more in keeping with Caribbean standards of protrusion. I have to say that these attempts failed, but at least the cake was good, and I didn’t have to endure a boof from my grandmother. Granny was as good at making black cake as she was at boofing, which is an endearingly Caribbean way of reprimanding wayward children like yours truly. These days, although I frequently issue loud and poetic boofs to children who may not have grown up with a grandmother as versed in the boofing arts as

mine, I have to confess that I cannot make a black cake. But I only ever honestly liked my granny’s black cake, and if I can’t get that, well, what’s the point of having any at all? Dry ones, wet ones, overly fruity ones. Cakes that could make you drunk just from a whiff. Being vegan was an excellent excuse. Some felt sorry for me, and I would nod piously. And then I would take my hypocritical self home and indulge in my granny’s superior fare.

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he last Christmas my grandmother was alive I was in London, and some kind soul allowed my mother to weigh him down with various delights from home. I didn’t stick around exchanging pleasantries too long, as I could feel the outline of a tin in the bag, out of which the faint smell of fruits and rum was wafting. On the Underground I hugged the tin tight, as if some cake thief was lurking in the carriage waiting to pounce on me and take away my black gold. The cake never left my room. I didn’t put it in the kitchen with all the other goodies, because, quite frankly, I didn’t think the other people in my house were worthy. They knew nothing of wooden spoons and the diminutive Granny who, sick though she was, still found the strength to send me a little piece of paradise. I ate every last piece of that cake without a hint of remorse. Sometimes sharing is way overrated. I was glad to have the world’s best black cake all to myself. n


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Profile for MEP Publishers

Caribbean Beat — November/December 2019 (#160)  

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

Caribbean Beat — November/December 2019 (#160)  

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