Caribbean Beat — July/August 2020 • Digital Issue

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Leading the Caribbean’s COVID-19 Health Response

Travel Advice Avoid non-essential travel to countries where there is community spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

If you must travel: Seek information about the current COVID-19 situation and remain aware of up-to-date information from the Ministry of Health in the destination country and/or CARPHA.


If you develop symptoms (such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, etc.) within 14 days after travelling from a country with COVID-19 cases: Seek medical care at once. Call ahead and inform officials of your symptoms and travel history.

Assemble a travel health kit including a thermometer and know where you can seek medical care in case you feel ill. Avoid areas with outbreaks. Follow advice from the local Ministry of Health and/or CARPHA.

If you have symptoms during travel or upon arrival into a Caribbean country or territory, tell a flight attendant immediately, OR a border services officer when you arrive.


Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette.

Precautionary Measures Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Wear a mask during travel by airplane, and on cruise ships, when not in your cabin. Avoid travelling when ill. If on-board an airplane or cruise, stay in your cabin when you are sick and let the on-board team know immediately if you develop a fever (100.4˚F/38˚C or higher), and other symptoms (such as cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat). Do not touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains 60%-80% alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol).

Avoid contact with others.

Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains 60%-80% alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol).

Tourism and Health Information System Use the Tourism and Health Information System to report visitor-based illness. It allows for real time monitoring and response to possible disease outbreaks.

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A MESSAGE From OUR CEO What a year 2020 has been. One of the invaluable lessons of the past few months is how quickly and unpredictably circumstances can change. COVID-19 has disrupted the Caribbean and the rest of the world, bringing numerous challenges. But the resilience of the human spirit has also come to the fore. The Caribbean Airlines family extends heartfelt condolences to everyone who has lost loved ones due to the pandemic. We also salute the front-line healthcare workers, who provide their

How Caribbean Airlines serves the region during COVID

vital services to ensure our safety and well being. And we thank all Caribbean Airlines staff who continued to work during this time. In recent months, we have supported repatriation flights for several Caribbean nations, including Guyana, Cuba, Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Our Cargo operations continued throughout, providing critical transport services, including the new cargo charter service launched to meet the growing demand from Caribbean islands, which experienced signif-

Using our Boeing 737-800 and ATR-72 aircraft, we provide critical cargo service for the movement of essential goods to and from Caribbean destinations

Cargo destinations served include Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Curaçao, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Martin, St Vincent, Suriname, and T&T

icantly reduced cargo deliveries when borders were closed. Regionally and internationally, there is a lot to restart, and we have already begun with our hub in Jamaica. In July, Caribbean Airlines recommenced passenger flights from Kingston to the United States and Canada, with more services to follow. Safety is always our first priority, and we have implemented COVID safety measures — aligned with IATA, ICAO, the World Health Organisation, and regional health authorities — to protect the health of our customers and employees. For Caribbean Airlines, 2018 and 2019 were successful, profitable years. Although COVID-19 has seriously set back our business, Caribbean Airlines is on the path to recovery, and we are resuming our 2020 plans, which include the launch of the new I AM CARIBBEAN branding and the expansion of routes in the Eastern Caribbean, with the acquisition of additional aircraft. We are also expanding our services to provide a wider travel ecosystem to our customers. We are co-operating with the relevant partners to provide vacation packages, flights, tours, and more, at attractive rates to rebuild regional tourism. Caribbean Airlines has been here for a long time, and we know the region will survive this unprecedented disruption. Our part — our commitment — is to continue to provide the best service we can to the Caribbean.

Garvin Medera Chief Executive Officer

On 6 July, we resumed daily flights between Kingston and New York. Non-stop service from Kingston to Miami and Toronto resumes from 15 July

New health and safety measures follow international guidelines to protect our passengers and employees

Contents July/August 2020 • Digital Issue


84 78


14 Wish you were here

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

16 Need to know

Make the most of July and August, even during the time of COVID-19

28 Bookshelf and playlist

Our reading and listening picks

32 screenshots

Cuban filmmakers Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez discuss their collaborative film charting a lifelong friendship

34 Cookup

Cooking alone together With so many foodies quarantined, social media has become an even more important way to share not just recipes but a sense of community, says Franka Philip ARRIVE

39 Round Trip

The Caribbean we love The COVID-19 pandemic brought many travel plans to a halt. But when the time comes to plan your next dream vacation, the glorious destinations of the Caribbean will be ready to greet you

CaribbeanBeat CaribbeanBeat 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: Website:



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

78 Make style

Maskerade Face masks are the new essential accessory — and there’s no reason they can’t be stylish. Shelly-Ann Inniss talks to Trinidadian designer James Hackett about Lush Kingdom’s colourful mask alternatives

Business Development Manager, Tobago and International Evelyn Chung T: (868) 684 4409 E: Business Development Representative, Trinidad Tracy Farrag T: (868) 318 1996 E:

80 Q&A

An MEP publication

“I didn’t write the book I thought I was going to write” Trinidad-born writer Ingrid Persaud talks about the “scenic route” to writing her novel Love After Love

Cover Balandra Bay on Trinidad’s east coast Photo

82 Icon

Everton Weekes Former Barbados prime minister Owen Arthur on the late cricket legend, third of “the Three Ws”

84 Green

Time to grow From organic produce to community gardens, a handful of NGOs in T&T are leading agriculture-based projects to make local communities self-sufficient. Nazma Muller learns more

87 Showcase

Gatekeeper A poem by Donna Aza Weir-Soley, from the new bilingual anthology The Sea Needs No Ornament

88 On this day

An island for a princess Sixty years ago, Princess Margaret’s honeymoon visit to the island of Mustique launched a relationship with international celebrity that changed the Grenadine island for ever. James Ferguson recounts the tale

94 Do you even know

Our trivia column tests your knowledge of some of the Caribbean’s signature places

Dear readers, This issue of Caribbean Beat is our first ever to be published only in digital form. Since 1992, we’ve published 162 print editions, each full of intriguing stories and gorgeous photos highlighting the best of Caribbean travel, culture, ideas, and innovation. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached our region back in March, we were about to send our 163rd edition to press. Instead, like so many others, the Caribbean Beat team was brought to a halt. But we always knew the pause was temporary. Four months later, widespread social distancing measures and closed borders are part of the “new normal” we’re still adjusting to. Caribbean people, with their hard-won habits of resilience, are taking these changes in stride. And so is Caribbean Beat. In this digital issue, we bring together all the elements our readers are accustomed to, tweaked for present circumstances. Here you’ll find images of some of the Caribbean’s most stunning places, to inspire you as you dream about future travel, plus coverage of Caribbean creativity and brilliance, from art to fashion to music and literature. Our usual routines and recreations may be disrupted, but even in the time of a global pandemic, Caribbean imaginations soar free. We hope you enjoy this new digital edition of Caribbean Beat, and we can’t wait till we can put another gorgeous printed magazine in your hands — soon! The Caribbean Beat team

Read and save issues of Caribbean Beat on your smartphone, tablet, computer, and favourite digital devices! 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 2020. 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:


Your New Travel Essentials Face mask


Hand Sanitizer

Antibacterial wipes/tissue

2 Snacks

1. Be sure to include these safety essentials: Face mask Hand sanitizer Antibacterial wipes/tissues. 2. For your safety, we’ve temporarily placed a hold on our In-Flight meal service and Caribbean Café sales. We recommend that you bring along a healthy ‘bite’ and remember to cater to children and those in your care. Pack a snack We will provide you with bottled water when boarding.

Dem is Sea’s Children By Opal Palmer Adisa Like all who live on small islands I must always be remembering the sea . . . — Frank Collymore


he sea moves under our feet. Bright blossoms adorn our bodies as we prance and swivel through the streets in search of ourselves, forging memory and place into home, blending herbs and wild bush into medicine, always listening for the sound that courses through our blood, settles in our stomachs, and propels us onward. We are the cresting waves of the Caribbean Sea that encloses and sustains us, and the vibrancy of the flamboyant trees whose red-orange- and yellow-headed blossoms pregnate the landscape from June through August. We are Caribbean, indelible as ackee from Africa, mango and coconut from Asia, and breadfruit from New Guinea; memorable and welcoming as a kite dancing in the sky, its tail fighting with the wind, intent on remaining alive. Caribbean people are synonymous with dogged determination, steadfastness, and — contradictory as it might seem — pliability. We are all here as a result of a people running from scarcity in search of opportunity, kidnapped and enslaved or indentured, all deposited to create what is now decidedly Caribbean — a spicy, multilingual, multicultural syncretisation of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Except for the Taíno, the original inhabitants, we are displaced yet rooted, wounded but joy-filled, inventive yet laid-back, welcoming yet tenaciously committed to our island identities. We are immigrants, migrating for education and economic viability, but carrying our culture and sharing it wherever we pause. We are not merely Christian, we are Islam and Hinduism, Vodou and Kumina, Santería, and Shango. The Big Drum Dance seduces us as well as Kélé, as we bob in the waves, not really sure how and to which ancestors we belong as we ride the breakers moving with the extempo,

limboing with calypso, bending with zouk sounds integrated in the dancehall where we grind, then stand tall with dub and rock into reggae downbeat. We are Caribbean, yearly taking blows from Gilbert, Ivan, Irma, and Maria, hurricane winds that ripped us but left us rooted as cassava, food of our indigenous peoples. We are the squawk of the seagull before it dives to swallow a fish for lunch. Our identity is loud as our fight for liberty. Bussa, Nanny, Julian Armando Cho, Felipe Santiago Ricalde, and Sarah Ann Gill, floating when tired before picking up the mantle of justice like Samuel Jackman Prescod, Paul Bogle, George William Gordon, Ben Ali, Choc’late Allen, Cleopatra White, Marcus Garvey, and Norman Manley to ensure our sovereignty. Una Marson, Claude McKay, and C.L.R. James’s Minty Alley spoke about class and ethnic divides. Understanding who we are is inscribed in our motto “Pride and Industry”. Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Olive Senior, Janice Shinebourne, Edgar Mittleholzer, Martin Carter, and Rosa Guy wrote “Each Endeavouring, All Achieving”, making space for V.S. Naipaul, Earl Lovelace, Ramabai Espinet, George Lamming, Esther Phillips, and Paule Marshall to embrace the ideal “Out of Many, One People,”. Many other poets’ and writers’ words break stone to build a wall in the sea, their words crescendo as my own “She Scrape She Knee”, illuminating the bramble-strewn path that many Caribbean women navigate daily to embrace our motto “Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve.” If you can imagine the Caribbean Sea with its 1,063,000-square-mile expanse, then you can imagine the resilience of its people. The indomitable spirit of Caribbean people is tied to our black and white sandy beaches, our coral reefs, manta rays, and moray eels. Our temperate water invigorates and heals. The sea orders our steps, sometimes tricking us into believing we are safe when it is a flat shimmering glass at noon, or tossing us hither and thither when the white horses gallop, crashing into rocks and spewing salty water to our shores. See dem in the early morning, wading in the sea, grouped in a circle, swapping stories, talking and laughing, laughing so hearty the sea pulls its waves in sheer astonishment. Jamaican Professor Opal Palmer Adisa is the University Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, based at the Mona campus. She is a writer of poetry, prose, and drama, a gender specialist and cultural activist, curator and photographer. This essay is part of a series reflecting on the Caribbean Identity and what it can be.

wish you were here

The Baths, Virgin Gorda Near the southwestern tip of Virgin Gorda, the white sand beach is heaped with massive granite boulders, forming hundreds of caves, tunnels, and pools. The Baths — part of a protected national park, along with nearby Devil’s Bay — is a popular site for swimming, snorkelling, and rock climbing, with some of the most stunning natural scenery in the British Virgin Islands.

Photography by AGF Srl/Alamy Stock Photo






Mark Atkins/Shutterstock.Com

Essential info to help you make the most of July and August — even in the middle of a pandemic

Don’t Miss Emancipation Day



Processions and ceremonies, drums and pealing church bells, traditional African attire and reflections on the Caribbean’s African heritage: these are hallmarks of Emancipation Day, commemorated on 1 August across the Anglophone Caribbean. Under COVID-19 health regulations, many traditional Emancipation events have been cancelled or scaled back in 2020. But in a year when protests against racism and for social justice have surged around the world, Emancipation Day is more vitally significant than ever, for Caribbean people of all backgrounds. Public events may be reduced in scope, but local organisers will host virtual events, from lectures to performances, and 1 August is a day to reflect on our painful history, the resilience of African ancestors, today’s continued struggles against racism, and a better future for our region and the world. Upward and onward shall we go, in respect, love, and unity.

Escape Relax Enjoy

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need to know

On View Art Under Lockdown In many parts of the world, museums and art galleries — like other public cultural spaces — were early casualties of the COVID-19 shutdown. Hundreds of scheduled exhibitions were closed prematurely, or had their openings postponed, as galleries shut their doors in keeping with public health measures. And with curators and other staff now working from home, many institutions turned their efforts towards sharing artworks with audiences via the web, and even organising special quarantinethemed projects. For the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, creativity under social distancing took the form of Art Under Lockdown, an online exhibition staged at the gallery’s website. “Intended to shine a light on the creativity of artists and members of 18


the public who have turned to making art as a means of expression during the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Art Under Lockdown began with an open call. There were eighty-six submissions — from established professional artists represented in the NGCI’s permanent collection, as well as hobbyists as young as twelve years old — all accepted “in the spirit of inclusivity.” Two-dimensional works unsurprisingly predominate. On the NGCI gallery website, you can scroll through thumbnail images, each accompanied by a concise artist’s statement, and zoom in to examine

Under the Poinciana, by Charles Long (acrylic on board). The NGCI writes: “Long has chosen to depict a scene devoid of action: a spare and empty shoreline punctuated by two figures who face one another . . . Despite the inviting colours of the water in the background, the sea appears removed and inaccessible, like a mirage that is tantalisingly out of reach . . . Further reinforcing the sense of isolation, the figures stand notably apart — a space of six feet or more.”

details. Some works evince anxiety, even dread. Others are playful — such as Wil Bignal’s minimalist photograph of a single roll of toilet paper, titled Pandemic Relief — but the prevailing theme is resilience, with many artists turning to the natural world, the reassuring beauty of their island landscape and its flora and fauna, for a sense of grounding in bewildering times.

Art Under Lockdown runs online until 31 August, 2020. Visit the exhibition at

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need to know

How to . . . Write it down

Bookblock Courtesy Unsplash.Com

Stuck at home social distancing, there’s no better time to start channelling your ideas, anxieties, and hopes by writing about them. Poet Shivanee Ramlochan suggests how to get started.

An English Country Garden journal, complete with a flimsy silver lock and key. This was my first foray into the world of diary-keeping. I could not have been more than ten when my mother gave me the journal, along with a new hoard of novels. As a young girl with a boundless and intemperate imagination growing up in rural Trinidad, I was accustomed to living in the realm of Rudyard Kipling’s jungles, Jane Austen’s high society ballrooms, Gaston Leroux’s phantom-haunted Parisian opera houses. The advent of the diary meant something new: I learned that I, too, could make and inhabit my own worlds. I’d live for the quiet, rain-soaked evenings, having successfully completed or evaded 20


chores and homework, when I could curl up with my diary, purple glitter pen tracing out what I didn’t know would one day, years into the future, form the bedrock of my very first poems to appear in the public arena. I struggled, in my teenage years, with allowing myself to use writing as a way into my own heart. Now the world can feel even more confusing and stressful than it did then. We’ve spent months reconditioning our expectations of what it means to share closeness, to be intimate with ourselves and each other in a time of global health uncertainty. So many of us live very differently to how we’d imagined or were accustomed, out of necessity, caution, and perhaps even fear. Whether you have a pastel-coloured, orchid-trellised

notebook, a serviceable legal pad, or the blinking cursor of your word processor, there’s good news. You have the tools you need to fight that fear, to struggle against your loneliness, to release your own words like light semaphores down the deep well of unknowing. If you’ve had a story, a poem, a letter to yourself languishing unwritten in your desires, now is the time to allow yourself that voice. Now is the time to permit yourself the lifesaving, world-sustaining truth: that the creative voice you’ve most needed all this time may well be your own. It can be scary, but you’re not alone. Allow yourself to start small. Every day, write one word, one thing, one truth for which you are grateful: within a week, you’ll have seven bright gems of inspiration from which more writing can bloom. Feeling physically stuck, pressed in by your living quarters? Visualise the place you want to write from, and settle yourself there; pull up a video or photo of the space to help get yourself situated. On any given day, you could be scribbling perched on the rocky outcropping that overlooks Bathsheba’s wild, exquisite coastline in east Barbados, or suspended over Guyana’s roaring Kaieteur Falls, cradled by lush, green forests. You can control your setting, despite its limitations: select your favourite music for your writing sessions; light a candle or some incense; prepare your preferred tea, coffee, or cocktail to sip as you reflect and unwind on the page. A simple Google search will yield countless creative prompts, if you feel yourself getting stuck, or frustrated. Above all else: practice kindness with yourself on the page. This is the beginning of a journey you deserve, and all your words are patiently waiting.


Pocky Lee Courtesy Unsplash.Com

need to know

On the Field Olympic dreams on pause With the long-anticipated Tokyo Summer Olympics officially postponed to 2021, Sheldon Waithe learns how athletes from across the Caribbean are coping with a major change in career plans. Only two world wars had ever stopped the modern Olympic Games. We can now add the COVID-19 pandemic to that list. It was inevitable — as various individual sports were forced to shut down globally — that the granddaddy of them all, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, would follow suit. Despite an initial waitand-see approach, both the Games’ governing body and hosts Japan were forced to put safety first, as nations started to confirm their intentions to boycott the event in favour of their athletes’ safety. The final decision, when it came back in March, brought relief to competitors and coaches, who — despite training all their lives for July 2020 — now had confirmation of a postponement to 2021. Dreams were not cast aside, simply delayed. Caribbean athletes now have to readjust plans of a lifetime, but the consensus is that such a deviation is miniscule compared to this unprecedented crisis. T&T swimmer Dylan Carter highlighted the incomparability of an Olympics versus a pandemic: “You have to be sensitive, as this has affected everyone in some 22


way. I can’t say it’s not disappointing” — before seeing the silver lining of additional preparation time. “I think next year I will be even better.” T&T’s multiple Olympic medalwinner Richard Thompson echoed his national teammate. “It was the right decision for the greater good of humanity. You have more time to work on your weaker areas and focus on the positive.” Jamaica’s reigning 100m and 200m Olympic champion Elaine Thompson Herah, eager to defend her titles, emphasised that continued preparation is simply part of her job: “We as athletes still have to keep training, no matter what.” With new Olympic dates still to be confirmed, that point rings truer than ever. As Thompson Herah’s fellow Jamaica Olympic champion Earl McLeod said, “I do believe that postponing the games to 2021 is the best solution for all athletes. We just have to stay motivated and keep aspiring.” The experienced athletes know what they’re missing out on — but what of those that were in the process of qualifying for their first Olympics?

Boxer Rufus Clement was on the cusp of confirming his place in the Grenada Olympic squad, after taking the novel approach of enabling his preparation via online funding. Then his qualifier was postponed. “I am putting all I got into this, since it has been a dream of mine, a one-time opportunity,” he explained. Eighteen-year-old Jamaican gymnast Danusia Francis took a view that emphasises the positivity of youth, even in these times of uncertainty. “It’s hard for me to think that I have to train for an entire extra year,” she said, “but it would be a massive shame to completely cancel it, so I welcome the decision to postpone.” The region’s finest athletes will eventually have to press reset, but it’s the same for their global rivals. Whenever the Tokyo Games occur, they will be ready to provide muchneeded joy for their nations, in the aftermath of the pandemic. But for now, they’ve pressed pause. T&T’s vastly experienced shot putter Cleopatra Borel summed it up best. “Athletics is my life,” she said, “but actual lives matter most.”



need to know Have you made a wish upon Dingolay? No, I haven’t yet!

Did you actually dingolay when you heard the news?

I was and still am blown away. I started to ramajay as I sang along to the late Mighty Shadow’s song “Dingolay”. I definitely dingolayed a little at the ceremony when I first saw my beautiful telescope [the competition prize].

How did you choose the names?

All About . . . Cosmic Creole Observing the stars is one of humankind’s oldest pastimes, as ancient legends about the constellations prove. And even in times of social distancing and COVID-19 self-isolation, the beauty and mystery of the night sky offer a sense of consolation. Social distancing has put stargazing parties on hold, but even if your vantage point is a window, you can still contemplate the wonders of the cosmos — and remember that beyond the twinkling clusters of stars, there are lots more objects deep in space, invisible to the naked eye. Such as exoplanets: planetary bodies orbiting stars outside our solar system, more than four thousand of which have been discovered since the 2009 launch of the Kepler satellite. In 2015, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) began approving exoplanet names. Traditionally, the names of stars were derived from Greek, Latin, and Arabic, but in recent years names have been approved from more diverse cultures. As part of the IAU’s centenary celebrations in 2019, the organisation launched an initiative for each country in the world to name a designated exoplanet and its associated star through national competitions. Jo-Anne Ferreira, a linguist based at the University of the West Indies, chose the winning names for Trinidad and Tobago’s planet and star. Numerically identified as HD 96063b, and discovered in 2011, the exoplanet orbits a giant yellow star in the Leo constellation, 515 light years away from Earth. Now they are officially known as Ramajay (exoplanet) and Dingolay (star). Ferreira talks to Shelly-Ann Inniss about making her contribution to the atlas of the universe.

For more information about the IAU’s Name Exoworlds project, and the names chosen by other Caribbean countries, visit



My inspiration was man’s best friend. While visiting my mum, I met a dog called Dingolay O’Connor, and I thought, how perfect — Dingolay! Trinbagonians dance! Ramajay was the next step — Trinbagonians sing! Actually, once I settled on those two, I didn’t look any further. In terms of the campaign rules, they fit perfectly into the category of “long-standing cultural, historical . . . significance.” They both fall under the theme of our national creative genius and joie de vivre. And, of course, they are “not identical to, or too similar to, an existing name of an astronomical object.”

So, to dingolay is to dance, and ramajay means sing or extemporise on the steelpan. Do the names have other meanings?

I found out after I chose them that dingolay is a fascinating word and may have two origins — a possible convergence of Kongo and French. It is also the name of a tassa hand drawn directly from dholak rhythms. I would call that a true Trinbagonian word. Ramajay is a particularly beautiful poetic verb describing the chirping or warbling of a bird. It’s from a French word, ramager (same pronunciation except for the <r>, as in [ˈramaˌʒe]), now rare and archaic. We’ve preserved it here and catapulted it to the stars.

What other names did you consider?

I was mulling over the rules and wondered where I could start, given our huge national vocabulary and wealth of place names from so many different origins. We have over 12,200 words, as documented in Lise Winer’s Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad and Tobago. We know of ten recorded Amerindian languages which coexisted in Trinidad and Tobago. Here in T&T, Patois has made us linguistically and culturally who we are. Like their speakers, Creoles have never really been accorded the respect both speakers and languages deserve, and they have certainly never named exoworlds, as far as we know. It’s time for our peoples and languages to take our rightful place.

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need to know

Datebook Look forward When the last print issue of Caribbean Beat appeared in March, we had no idea that most of the upcoming events we highlighted for readers — from Jamaica Carnival to music and food festivals to Easter celebrations — would soon be cancelled or postponed, as the COVID-19 pandemic extended its reach to the Caribbean. Disruption has been the story of 2020 thus far, and many of the Caribbean’s favourite public events have had to rethink their timing or format. The positive side? COVID-19 has forced organisers, performers, and artists to become even more innovative, as they venture into the realm of virtual events. Instagram

Carnival in Santiago, Cuba’s second biggest city



Live, Facebook, and other social media platforms have become the new hot venues, as we enjoy live performances perched in front of our screens, from the comfort of home — sometimes in our pyjamas. The “new normal” of social distancing and mask-wearing is a condition we’ll have to live with for some time yet, but when the worst of the pandemic is behind us and public activity can resume, the Caribbean’s amazing calendar of festivals and festivities will be waiting to greet us. So here are a dozen headline Caribbean events, one for each month of the year, for motivation and inspiration as we look ahead to the days when COVID-19 is a memory.













Trinidad and Tobago Carnival There’s a reason they call it “the greatest show on earth” Antigua Sailing Week Sailing fanatics from around the world converge in Antigua’s sheltered waters Easter Rodeo, Lethem, Guyana Cowboy action in the Rupununi Savannah

St Lucia Jazz Festival Top musicians gather for the Caribbean’s most popular jazz event St Kitts Music Festival When you can’t get enough of that rhythm . . . Carnival, Santiago de Cuba A showcase for the best of Cuban music, with roots going back centuries Barbados Crop Over Chip your way to bliss in the Grand Kadooment parade

Labour Day Carnival, Brooklyn New York City’s Caribbean community celebrates a vibrant heritage World Creole Music Festival, Dominica The sweet sounds of the Caribbean’s Creole heritage take the stage Divali, Guyana, Suriname, and T&T The Hindu festival of light and prosperity is a time for sharing Bahamas Junkanoo Year-end festivities in Nassau are a rush in every sense


Three Kings’ Day, Puerto Rico The traditional end of the Christmas season — parties, parades, and food



bookshelf Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging by Tessa McWatt (Scribe, 272 pp, ISBN 9781925849011) “I am not your yellow lotus, your angry black woman, your Pocahontas.” Multifarious are the demands placed on the female self, and fissures crack even these exhortations when the body under scrutiny comes from not one source, but many. Novelist Tessa McWatt — born in Guyana, raised in Canada, living in Britain — excavates the disturbing ore, the precious matter emerging from this fractalling plain of identity, and frames her findings in a bold, honest memoir. This is hard work, to be clear. To examine the influences of race (and racism), class (and classism), xenophobia, and desire on the human soul, McWatt points the interviewer’s tape towards her own mouth, her own cache of family, her secrets. Her narrative, which mirrors the form of an anatomical experiment, begins by invoking her ancestors: Chinese grandmother; Indian, Arawak, Portuguese, French foremothers; African great-great-grandmother; Scottish great-great-great grandmother. Their presence matters, in

One Year of Ugly

this journey of research, inquiry, sociology, and historical analysis embarked upon by the memoirist. Their stories, which we receive in factual detail and in fragmentary speculation, lend the book something both reassuring and richly symbolic: if not its spine, then some of its courage. McWatt channels these women’s genealogies and battles, but puts herself — her childhood, her comings-of-age, her romantic, professional, and reading lives — into the vortex of deconstruction, of discovery. The revelations aren’t always beautiful: at thirteen, in Alberta, the author flinches after being unwantedly prodded by a local boy observing her, a boy who proceeds to call her “dirty squaw,” mistaking her for a First Nations girl. When is a woman not “dirty,” asks Shame on Me: when can a woman reclaim herself from the past’s hatred, the present’s complicity? Now, this memoir responds. Now is the time to do all we can, unashamed.

Fatboy Fall Down

by Caroline Mackenzie (The Borough Press, 378 pp, ISBN 9780008347079)

by Rabindranath Maharaj (ECW Press, 272 pp, ISBN 9781770414525)

Armed with a silver tongue and literary ambitions, Yola Palacios knows la vida no es un carnaval: her family fled Venezuela for a better life in Trinidad, a chaotic, cosmopolitan island where crime and beauty collide. Now that the sins of her dead, dearly beloved Aunt Celia have come to haunt the entire Palacios clan, can Yola keep her head held high amid the triple threat of drugs, displacement, and human trafficking? Or will the needs of her heart knock that bacchanal for six? Mackenzie’s debut novel is an assured thoroughbred in plotting, pacing, and hilarity, made for overnight gobbling with a bottle of tequila or a tray of steaming hallacas at your side. You’ll laugh, you’ll grimace, and then you’ll laugh some more — and this is just what Mackenzie intends: for you to grin, thoughtfully.

Orbits, with all the poetic unkindness of which Trinidadian vernacular is possible, might be described as a cunumunu: blighted, ridiculed, frequently the oversized butt of the joke in any given room. Life has dealt him a hanged jack of a hand. How does this man carry the attention of an entire novel? In gently interrogative prose, Maharaj centres Orbits in our affections by showing how solidly he clings to the fringes of his life. It’s a slanted way to guide a novel, requiring no small skill to expose just that — the smallness, the unremarkable minutiae that make up an existence, and how this, if well-examined, is its own wonder, too. After receiving some nasty news, Orbits trains his gaze skyward to the jigsaw puzzle of the clouds. So too does Fatboy Fall Down look up, equanimous despite all adversity.



bookshelf Q&A Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta (House of Anansi, 272 pp, ISBN 9781487005344) Kara Davis, the central character in the sequential, linked short stories of Frying Plantain, carries more than her own dreams within her. Generations of Jamaican women perch on her Torontonian shoulders: her devout Nana, who transmits love through overstuffed margarine containers of leftovers; her stern mother Eloise, full of sharp ambition she presses into Kara’s hair, manners, clothes, university applications. As Kara navigates the familiar shops, schools, and secret hideaways of her Eglinton Avenue world, life comes at her quick: whether she’s fibbing about a severed pig’s head she allegedly decapitated herself, listening to her estranged grandparents squabble in colourful invective, or reminiscing on her first kiss while poised on the threshold of a sexual milestone. In between the sounds of 90s dancehall, kissing teeth, and everyday gossip, Reid-Benta writes Kara, girlchild to young woman, with intense depth.

Crossfire: A Litany for Survival by Staceyann Chin (Haymarket Books, 216 pp, ISBN 9781642590258) Jacqueline Woodson keeps her foreword to Crossfire brief, not so much rolling out the red carpet for Staceyann Chin’s poems as throwing down the gauntlet. Be aware of this, Woodson warns: this is a world about which you know everything and nothing. She’s right: Chin’s long-awaited debut collection is a treasury of loving, mothering, globe-traversing, home fleeing-and-finding, sexing, resisting, and creating. The poet’s politics are achingly, insistently intersectional — and have been long before that word became hashtagworthy fodder. She brings them to bear in these poems that span 1998 to 2019, letting us into a world of childhood abuse, of societal scorn, of the bloodied and wrung-out wars of antagonism and attrition fought against the black queer immigrant female body. When you walk into the world having read this work, even your stride will be better-purposed. Reviews by Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor

Each year, Barbados’s National Independence Festival of Creative Arts — NIFCA — runs a literary arts competition seeking out talented new writers, with winning entries published in a series of biennial anthologies. Ayesha Gibson-Gill, cultural officer at the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados, talks to Shivanee Ramlochan about the most recent in the series, The ArtsEtc NIFCA Winning Words Anthology: 2017/18 (ISBN 9789768265722).

This anthology convincingly balances styles, themes, genres: what challenges did you surmount in assembling these tales? Some writers are reluctant to participate [in the competition], thinking that to be awarded they must write a postcolonial tale of island life — preferably a nostalgic one. When they do engage, they realise that all we’re looking for is good writing. The other practical challenge is seeing how everything fits together. We’ve been fortunate that the shapes of the anthologies have suggested themselves based on content, recurring themes, and pressing socio-cultural concerns — not to mention literary ones. The evolving contemporary Bajan aesthetic has been influenced by everything from Kamau Brathwaite to indigenous folklore to comics.

How do the voices in this collection speak to each other? When putting together readings from the yearly competition, I group work into themes and then have fun putting together the kaleidoscope of perspectives. For example, love is a universal and regular theme. A poem by the name of “Love” is a pulse-racing description of falling in, out, and back into love written by fifteen-year-old Abayomi Marshall. The poem can be seen as the contextual bracketing of the short story “This Could Be It”, by multiaward-winning writer and filmmaker Shakirah Bourne, which deftly explores the effect of money and material aspirations on romantic relationships.

Which Barbadian narratives do you feel are the least told today? Investigations from and intimate engagements with the points of view of minorities — the obvious ones, like those of religious and ethnic groups along with the neuro-atypical, those who don’t conform to gender and other social “norms,” the “outliers in thought” who blend in in most other ways — those may be the stories that are being written but perhaps not as seen or heard. We remain open to them. Robert Sandiford and Linda M. Deane, the sponsoring publishers from Arts Etc Barbados, contributed to the answers WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM


playlist Yago Freetown Collective (Cheah Meng Sound) Freetown Collective — Muhammed Muwakil and Lou Lyons, backed by Malene Joseph, Tishanna Williams, and Shanna Joseph — is a fresh incarnation of the nation music that has been looking for the “new native” since the 1970s in Trinidad and Tobago. Soca and reggae have been the pathways for many artists, but there are those who tread alternative routes, innovating those rhythms and exploring greater synergies through

Mi Mundo Jany McPherson (Jazzit Records) The solo piano album is an artistic statement of both skill and patience. Melody, harmony, and rhythm, the basic elements of music, are all brought to life by ten fingers, two hands. Francebased Cuban pianist Janysett McPherson has produced a sublime piece of work that unfolds with a sense of understanding her space as a transplant from the Caribbean to the European metropole. Sonic references to a kind of pas-

Note to Self Jah9 (VP Records) Jah9 has been described as “reminiscent of that darkly operatic wailer for truth and justice, Nina Simone.” That comparison rings true when you listen to the lyrics — and, importantly, their rendering — on this new album. Spoken word mingles with a powerful, clear singing voice making the lyrics stand up, and you, the listener, rise to accept these odes. With fifteen songs

Single Spotlight

All Our Lives Rexy* (self-released) Rexy* (Sherrexcia Rolle) is an heiress to a Bahamian airline company, but that does not prevent this lawyer-by-day from delving into the musical side of her life. This song is about “embracing the love and life I’ve always wanted,” she says. “I’m finally living the dreams of that little girl holding a hairbrush singing and dancing in the mirror.” Fulfilling childhood dreams is one thing, but making music that defines and speaks to the confident modern Caribbean



canny lyricism and harmonic adventure to find new global audiences. Yago is a short burst of brilliance, balancing words that inform with ideas which, while still young, are mature enough to speak for a generation of West Indian millennials. Popular notions of love and representation are made poetic, and swing with an enthusiastic pulse that can make crowds sing along. “Baby, come close to me, let me tell you something / Every time you look at me, it’s an eruption / A million bullets of love, it’s pure emotion.” A familiar calypso metaphor, reawakened with percussive motifs — this is evolved Carnival music. toral vision blend with percussive jaunts that locate the heat of island tempos within a world wider than this archipelago. A cover of Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso theme song has McPherson exploring dissonance, but her right hand’s melodic lines gird the beautiful melody with a pathos that is reflected in the nostalgic theme of the movie. Caribbean musicians — Michel Camilo and Monty Alexander, for example — have long used the solo piano as a platform for musical identity. Mi Mundo, “My World,” showcases an awe-inspiring globetrotting musician. that range from affirmations to solemn confirmations of self, respect for and pride of skin, this album could be seen as an outlier among other reggae albums by women vocalists in its sound and delivery. Jah9’s voice is powerful and direct enough to make converts of all. Livity is a Rastafari concept of natural living as a parallel to living faith. The songs on this album are celebrations of that credo. Poetic diction, broad consciousness, and a musical spirituality are keys to making this a keeper.

woman is something many artists look forward to. Here is a catchy single that effuses a sly dancehall-soca riddim. The magic in the music is in the joy of repetition: “love you like I do,” and “we’ve been looking for a love like this” are phrases that don’t get boring on repeat. It is easy to get caught up in the simple pleasures of a pop song, and the tropical images conjured up by a solid production, so if the listener is in the mood for escape with a hint of affirmation, then this is a track for you. Reviews by Nigel A. Campbell

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“It is no longer you who has the reins”

Courtesy Heidi Hassan And Patricia Pérez


Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez are filmmakers, and best friends. Born and raised in Cuba, with its utopian promises, they both eventually fled the island and its hardships. Pérez left first, for Spain. Hassan followed over a decade later, settling in Switzerland. For a long time, they had no contact. Then Hassan and Pérez decided to approach each other again, the best way they knew how: by making a film. Consisting of a series of video letters between the women, In a Whisper features diaristic footage they had been shooting for years as well as poetic narration, recounting their years in Cuba plus those in Europe when they were effectively lost to one another. The result is a moving exploration of friendship, loss, exile, alienation, nostalgia, motherhood, and the redemptive potential of filmmaking. By any measure, In a Whisper — which last December won the top prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the most prestigious event of its kind — is a significant achievement. Jonathan Ali speaks with Hassan and Pérez about tackling a quintessential Caribbean subject: the emigrant experience. This conversation was conducted via email. For the most part, the filmmakers chose to respond collectively. When did you decide you were going to make this film? We have worked together many times before but it was always one who directed and the other who edited or shot the film. However, when we were close to the age of forty, we felt the need to reflect on what it meant for each of us to approach that moment, how we were living it, and what emotional and professional point we were at. We talked a lot with each other at this time, so it was talking about these things that made us decide to make a joint film, an audiovisual exchange, because we knew it would be through this process that we would find the best answers. Tell me about the form the film takes. Did you know from the beginning it would be structured as a series of video letters? The structure of the film was something that was very clear from the beginning. In fact, the desire to make a movie together stems mainly from our previous epistolary correspondence. Obviously, we did not know the number of video letters we would make or the duration they were going to have, but we always knew the narrative would be articulated through them. Video letters were an ideal way to structure this story primarily because they naturally allow you to have a very intimate relationship with a person who is far away. Also, this structure offers a huge space of creative freedom where objective or subjective images and sounds can coexist harmoniously. 32


Another great strength of the film is its use of archival video, much of it video of your time together in Cuba. At the time you shot that video, did you think it would come to have meaning as it does in the film? If something characterises us both, it is the need to record our lives. That can be by writing a letter or a note, taking a photo, or recording a video. In the case of Heidi, most of the time it is more elaborate than that, and manages to crystallise into a selfportrait. In the case of Patricia, it is more spontaneous, and depends solely on having the camcorder with her. It is difficult to say with absolute sincerity if we imagined that our videos would end up in a film. When you record, deep down you want something to happen with those images — you don’t want them to stay in a box for many years. But you are also aware that most likely nothing will happen with them. So it has been very comforting to be able to find a cinematic space for them. In the case of the images we made in Cuba, the answer is blunt: we never expected them to end up in a film, and much less with such prominence. It was fate that made both of us keep a record of that common experience so that they finally came together in In a Whisper.

The film blurs the distinction between truth and fiction. Could you say something about this creative treatment of documentary? It was clear from the beginning of the project that although our experiences are the main sap that nourishes the film, the most important thing for us is the exchange between artistic experience and life. We were never interested in being completely faithful to reality because that could limit us. Even wanting to be completely faithful to our autobiogra-

phy, we are talking about approximately fifteen years of our lives condensed into an hour and a half of film. It is a work of intense synthesis that inevitably leads you to rewrite your own life, to gather events, to give them greater or lesser importance as the film needs. We are also talking about two protagonists and the need to create a contrast between the experiences and the views of both. So many times we had to accentuate our differences to make that contrast more revealing. In a Whisper is a very honest film; you both open up and bravely reveal your innermost selves. Was there ever a time when one or the other (or both) of you contemplated quitting making the film? Now that it is done, has it given you a sense of catharsis? There were very difficult moments during the process of creating the film, since it was very long. Perhaps if it had been a short film made in a short period of time we would have had more of a catharsis. Actually, the most complicated thing is not foregoing your privacy — what became more difficult was that life was going at one speed and the project at another, and there is a moment when you have to unfold in two: your real self and your character in the film. Both are living the same processes but not in exactly the same way, and this is something that drains you enormously because you have to think as if you have two lives. When the stories that one tells are not personal, it is easier to defend them in the face of the producers and other people who finance the project, but when it comes to your own story — in which you are also going through a particularly fragile moment — it can be more difficult to convince them. It is tremendously exhausting. There were times when we felt too exhausted to continue, but I don’t think there was a real possibility of abandoning the project. If we had abandoned it, we would have returned to it days later, because the need to do so was stronger than anything else. The film does not show you both reuniting in Europe. Why not? It is a question we were asking all the time. In the scripts we wrote, the meeting always happened, and we even shot possible meetings, but in the final assembly we did not even consider them. There is a moment in the creative process in which it is no longer you who has the reins, but the film itself. When we assembled the final sequence of the film, we understood that there was nothing more to add. It became clear to us that it was better that the encounter occur in the imagination of the spectator. In a Whisper Directors: Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez Cuba 80 minutes WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM



Cooking alone together


s I write this, we’re living “in the time of Corona,” as the COVID-19 virus has disrupted the world, and we’re now forced to fundamentally rethink our daily lives. For example, some of us don’t cook every day, and we’ve become used to picking up relatively inexpensive but nutritionally balanced meals on the run. Now that many restaurants are closed or operating with restrictions, even foodies like me find the challenge of cooking almost every day somewhat daunting. While people were panic-buying toilet paper, I was more concerned about whether the farmers’ market would still be open, and how I could get good fresh produce. I also recognised it was important to think more carefully about how I shopped, and about scenarios like possible closures of markets and the very real prospect of not being able to readily access fresh vegetables and fruit. For some advice, I checked in with my friend Chef Bianca Savary-Bianco, who was preparing her kitchen in almost military style for the long and testing time ahead. Instead of catering for dinners and big events, she is concentrating on cooking for her family and some of her more vulnerable neighbours. “In stocking, I thought about foods that are nutritionally dense and Illustration by Shalini Seereeram high in fibre, protein, and iron,” she said. “Food that could last a long time both raw and cooked in the freezer, and that you can share easily with loved ones. “I cleaned out my refrigerators to get a clear idea of what I have, and this prevents me from impulse-buying,” said Savary-Bianco, who’s based in St Joseph, Trinidad. “The first thing I did was top up my basics like brown rice, basmati rice, salt, sugar, and things like garlic and onions. I added canned foods for the long haul — sardines, salmon, and tinned tomatoes, which are extremely useful. Of course, I bought dried food like saltfish, smoked herring, three to four types of dried beans, and different types of oil — olive, canola, and coconut.”

Meals are an age-old way to bring people together, writes Franka Philip. But in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, with so many foodies quarantined or practicing social isolation, social media has become even more important as a way to share recipes, ideas, and a sense of community





Now that many restaurants are closed or operating with restrictions, even foodies like me find the challenge of cooking almost every day somewhat daunting

Check out Baidawi Assing’s food posts: Web: Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube: @eatahfood Instagram: @eatahfoodtt And find Jamie Schler at: Twitter: @lifesafeast Blog: 36


Savary-Bianco also pointed out that fresh greens like callaloo, spinach, and kale can be washed and frozen. And there are those fresh but hardy vegetables like carrots, celery, pimento, and cabbage that store well in the fridge. “What was important for me was to focus on food that can easily be prepared in large quantities, and retain flavour after freezing.”


ith Savary-Bianco’s advice in mind and time on my hands, I’ve taken the opportunity to embark on some interesting food adventures, inspired by social media. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, social media timelines were quite downbeat — then things started to change, and instead of coronavirus notices, I noticed more folks posting photos of their homemade meals. Social media has been a joy, as food lovers have taken it upon themselves to post photos, handy tips, and recipes to help us through these quarantine blues. I got into the act, too, posting some of my photos, and my biggest hit was an Instagram post showing off a traditional meal of ground provisions (purple cush cush, sweet potatoes, and green bananas) served with stewed saltfish in a tomato and pimento sauce. One of my favourite foodies online is Baidawi Assing, who runs the food site EatAhFood. Assing explores a mix of traditional and modern T&T cuisine. He’s got a fresh and rootsy vibe, and his posts appeal to a largely millennial following. The EatAhFood post “Pantry Essentials for Quarantine Cooking” has been shared widely across several social media platforms. I especially liked his last tip, bonus level: “Start a Kitchen Garden.” “I started to buy a couple of extra canned goods — not in a paranoid way, but I like to be prepared,” Assing says. “Going through that process myself, I thought it would be cool to do some recipes based on the stuff I was buying. I wanted to give my recipes a slant by using ingredients that people would use in an emergency.” Assing is also doing cooking videos on his YouTube channel. It’s been a revelation, the number of people who’ve been posting recipe threads on the platform Twitter. But I’m really hooked on those by French-based American food writer Jamie Schler. I’ve been following the witty, socially conscious writer for many years, and through her initiative #IsolationBaking, she’s built up a community of isolated cooks across the world. “I am spending a lot of time on social media: it’s a great way to stay active in a community while in quarantine or respecting social distancing,” she explains via email. “I have been sharing simple recipes on Twitter, hoping it would help others who are also in isolation.” Schler is in lockdown in France, where she and her husband run Hotel Diderot in Chinon. “Besides being a necessity, cooking and baking are now a much-needed distraction from the news and to keep us from going stir crazy,” she says. “Making cookies or cake is a great activity to do with children who are home full-time now. A lot of folks have stocked up on baking basics like flour and sugar, so my #IsolationBaking project gives them a variety of things to make while bringing together and reinforcing our social community, creating solidarity for everyone confined to their home.” Food has always been a magnet for getting people together: the family cookout, Christmas dinners, barbecues by the beach. Now with COVID-19 forcing us to practise social isolation, the internet has given foodies a way to be alone together. n


WELCOME BACK TO THE CARIBBEAN While the past few months have been extraordinarily trying times for us all, the resilient faces of the Caribbean shine once again. Our “welcome back” is more than a long-awaited reunion — it’s the culmination of efforts in every island we call home. Thanks to your outpouring of love and support, the Sandals Foundation remains #CaribbeanStrong by continuing over 11 years of progress in the areas of Education, Community and the Environment, from school system assistance and farmer partnerships to local hospital aid, elderly care and beyond. Whether we reunite tomorrow or in the very near future, we look forward to advancing together towards a better Caribbean.



Re-connect and create new memories. It’s good not to be home.

We’ve re-opened and are waiting to welcome you back with new room, wedding and meeting packages as well as exciting food and beverage offers. It’s time to reconnect and celebrate with family, colleagues and friends. We have a clean-cut plan in place and are taking precautionary measures in an effort to maintain a safe environment for erveryone. Our top priority for welcoming guests and colleagues back is doing it safely, with your well-being in mind. For reservations, visit HYATT REGENCY TRINIDAD 1 Wrightson Road, Port Of Spain 868 623 2222 The HYATT trademark and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation or its affiliates. ©2020 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

round trip

The Caribbean we love The world’s best beaches, stunning mountains, forests, and waterfalls, vibrant culture, delectable cuisine — there are many reasons the Caribbean is one of the world’s most desired tourism destinations. The global COVID-19 pandemic brought many travel plans to a halt, temporarily — but as lives gradually return to normal, it’s once again possible to plan for your dream vacation. When you’re ready to head out and experience the world, the islands of the Caribbean will be ready to greet you photo credits, clockwise from top right: DebraLee Wiseberg/; Michael Rolands/; courtesy Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc; Pawel Kazmierczak/; Birdiegal/


Antigua and Barbuda Land of 365 beaches

The shared nickname of these twin islands at the northern end of the Leewards is an unsubtle hint about their major attractions. But it’s also a world-class sailing destination, a watersports paradise, and home to some of the Caribbean’s most intriguing historic sites. Then there’s the celebrated rum punch . . .

Top five

❶ Darkwood Beach: want to start a fight?

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Try naming Antigua’s best beach. West coast Darkwood Beach might be worth the trouble, though, with its iridescent water and pristine sand, and a distant view of Montserrat Nelson’s Dockyard: a living museum of nautical history, this former Royal Navy base with its restored buildings and wharves is one of the Caribbean’s best known heritage sites Shirley Heights: once a military gun battery, this hilltop location boasts Antigua’s most stunning views, and is the place to be each Sunday evening for sunset music and dancing Barbuda Caves: these natural limestone formations are a unique ecosystem, home to indigenous petroglyphs centuries old Green Corridor: launched in 2018, this designated area of forested hills and protected reserves near Antigua’s southwest coast has become an ecotourism magnet

barbuda Codrington

St John’s

A nti G ua

English Harbour



Eric Baker/Shutterstock.Com

The stunning view from Shirley Heights



Dbimages/Alamy Stock Photo

Setting sail from Nelson’s Dockyard




Pearl of the Antilles Its natural beauty won Cuba its age-old nickname, and when you experience its lushly forested hills, sweeping plains, and beach-fringed coast, you’ll understand why. But the island’s incredible culture and history are what astound visitors — from museums and carnivals to some of the world’s best music and dance.

Top five

❶ Són cubano: the true sound of Cuba, ancestor

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of rumba and salsa, són — with its characteristic percussion and call-and-response structure — blends African and Spanish elements in an intoxicating formula Old Havana: the historic heart of Cuba’s capital, founded by the Spanish in 1519, is a postcard-perfect UNESCO World Heritage Site Viñales Valley: this broad limestone valley surrounded by distinctive hills called mogotes is the Caribbean’s most coveted rock-climbing location Ciénaga de Zapata: the Caribbean’s largest and most pristine wetland area, protected by a national park, is a birdwatchers’ dream, home to the famed bee hummingbird and endemic species like the Zapata wren and Zapata rail Trinidad: the city on Cuba’s south coast is sometimes called a living museum of historic architecture HAVANA







A classic streetscape in Old Havana



The Bahamas Seven hundred islands

Scattered over more than five hundred miles of brilliant blue sea, across the Tropic of Cancer, the islands of the Bahamas range from small to smaller to tiny, all of them stunningly beautiful. Sun, sand, and sea make the Bahamas a dream holiday destination — but don’t overlook the islands’ rich cultural life.

Top five

❶ Arty Nassau: the capital of the Bahamas is a ❷

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cultural hotspot, with historic architecture, art galleries, a thriving music scene, and a trendy film festival Glass Window Bridge: one of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking drives is along this natural wonder, a narrow peninsula in Eleuthera, separating the wilder Atlantic Ocean from tranquil Eleuthera Bight Blue holes: the legendary “blue holes” of Andros, Great Abaco, and Grand Bahama are flooded limestone sinkholes, some of them three hundred feet deep — fairytale spots for swimming and diving Tongue of the Ocean: this dramatic ocean trench separating Andros and New Providence — 150 miles long and twenty wide — is an unforgettable dive site Junkanoo: celebrated for centuries, with roots in West Africa, the annual masquerade is best experienced in Nassau

Abaco Islands

Grand Bahama



New Providence Exumas

T he bahamas



The Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism And Aviation

Swimming in a blue hole in Grand Bahama Island



Lucia Pitter/ Shutterstock.Com

The Pitons rising above Soufrière are the icons of St Lucia



St Lucia

Helen of the West Indies An island of poets, St Lucia offers ample inspiration in its natural beauty — of mountain, valley, forest, river, and coast — and rich Kwéyòl culture. As you drive down its sheltered west coast, the lilting names of the quiet villages almost make a poem, while the rugged Atlantic coast is a journey through the wild sublime.

Top five

❶ The Pitons: few natural landmarks are more

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indelibly associated with a country than these twin volcanic peaks, covered in forest, towering above the small town of Soufrière. The hiking trail up Gros Piton is an unforgettable adventure Sulphur Springs: on the outskirts of Soufrière, this popular site — sometimes called “the world’s only drive-through volcano” — includes mud baths where you can enjoy an all-natural spa treatment Rodney Bay: near St Lucia’s northern tip, this magnificent horseshoe-shaped bay is the island’s entertainment and nightlife capital, set right on the glorious waters of Reduit Beach Pigeon Island: across Rodney Bay from Gros Islet, this small island — now joined to the mainland by a causeway — has a rich history as an indigenous settlement and colonial military base, and today is home to the St Lucia Jazz Festival Derek Walcott Square: in the heart of Castries, this small park pays tribute to St Lucia’s literary Nobel Laureate. In the nearby Roman Catholic cathedral you can see magnificent murals by artist Dunstan St Omer Rodney Bay


st lucia

The Pitons

Vieux Fort




Land of Wood and Water The north coast resorts of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios are world-famous, but to really experience Jamaica, head into the lush interior, a landscape of hills and valleys, fertile plains and winding rivers — this is where the island got its indigenous name. And don’t overlook Kingston, the Anglophone Caribbean’s biggest city and a cultural epicentre.

Top five

❶ Blue Mountains: dominating the landscape ❷ ❸ ❹ ❺

of eastern Jamaica, these peaks and valleys are known for stunning views, precipitous villages, and delectable coffee City of music: Officially recognised by UNESCO since 2015 for its musical heritage, Kingston is the birthplace of mento, ska, reggae, rocksteady, dub, and dancehall Portland: sleepy and picturesque Port Antonio, the mysterious Blue Lagoon, and Boston Bay, capital of jerk, all in one laid-back parish Martha Brae: a rafting trip on this quiet, bamboo-shaded river near Falmouth is as tranquil as it is Instagram-ready Negril: the seven-mile beach at Jamaica’s westernmost tip is home to some of the world’s most spectacular sunsets

Montego Bay


Ocho Rios

J amaica Kingston



Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

Everything in the Caption Hent asirie repratur countryside moJamaican offic torrum que nim rerovit, ipsunt.



Prisma By Dukas Presseagentur Gmbh/Alamy Stock Photo

Taking the plunge in Negril



Ride the Rhythm Do you feel it? Let’s go!

Paulzizka/Istock Photo

Emerald Pool, one of Dominica’s natural gems



Dominica The Nature Island

In an archipelago of lush green islands, Dominica takes the drama of nature to incredible heights, with its breathtaking mountains and volcanic black beaches. Rebounding after 2017’s Hurricane Maria, Dominica is on the bucket list for hikers, scuba divers, birdwatchers, and adventurers of all types.

Top five

❶ Waitukubuli Trail: 115 miles long, running

❷ ❸ ❹ ❺

over spectacular terrain from the island’s northernmost to southernmost points, this is the Caribbean’s longest hiking trail and Dominica’s ultimate adventure Boiling Lake: Dominica’s volcanic geology bubbles to the surface at this sulphurwreathed natural wonder, whose waters are kept simmering by geothermal heat Champagne Reef: volcanic activity is also responsible for this popular diving and snorkeling site in Soufrière Bay, where submarine thermal springs create naturally fizzy waters Emerald Pool: one of the gems of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, these brilliant green waters are fed by a forty-foot waterfall Fort Shirley: this scrupulously restored historic site on a picturesque peninsula is remembered for the 1802 revolt that resulted in all enslaved African soldiers in the British Empire being made free

D ominica


Scotts Head



Courtesy Discover Dominica Authority

The dramatic scene at Wavine Cyrique






The pristine waters of Daaibooi Bay



Curaçao Dushi island

The charms of Curaçao are aptly summed up by the Papiamentu word “dushi,” a multipurpose expression of pleasure and contentment. Here you’ll find beaches of almost unbelievable beauty, quaint architecture, a rich hybrid culture — and a warm welcome to rival the world’s most hospitable

Top five

❶ Westpunt beaches: the leeward coast near ❷ ❸

❹ ❺

the island’s western end is a string of bays and coves, large and small, with water so blue it’s almost blinding Christoffelpark: this protected reserve around Curaçao’s highest peak includes a forest of thorny divi-divi trees, rare wild orchids, and a herd of native deer Historic Willemstad: the two halves of Curaçao’s capital, Punda and Otrobanda, are dense with Dutch colonial-era buildings — none more famous than the ones lining the waterfront, best observed from the pontoon bridge across Sint Anna Bay Blue Curaçao: the famous azure-tinged liqueur is flavoured with a variety of bitter orange grown nowhere else in the world Klein Curaçao: a sixty-foot lighthouse, picturesquely dilapidated, is the main landmark on this beach-fringed islet east of Curaçao, a perfect daytrip escape

Westpunt Christoffelpark

cura ç ao





The windswept summit of Soufrière in northern St Vincent



St Vincent and the Grenadines

One destination, 32 islands

One of the lesser-known treasures of the Caribbean, St Vincent is an island of dramatic scenery — thanks to its volcanic past — fertile rainforest, and quiet beaches, while the small islands of the Grenadines vary from laid-back escapes to posh resorts, all stunningly beautiful.

Top five

❶ Soufrière: St Vincent’s highest peak, a volcano ❷

❸ ❹ ❺

that last erupted in 1979, offers one of the Caribbean’s most dramatic hikes to the rim of its crater, with 360-degree views Bequia: the “island of the clouds,” second largest of the Grenadines, has everything you need in a getaway island: beaches, a laid-back vibe, and an annual Easter regatta that brings together boat-lovers of all stripes Kingston Botanic Gardens: founded in 1765, this oasis in the capital is a living museum of tropical botany, and the easiest place to see the rare St Vincent parrot Tobago Cays: this sandy bank in the south Grenadines, studded with five tiny islets and protected by reefs, is a once-in-a-lifetime destination for yachties Black Carib territory: northeastern St Vincent is home to the island’s Black Caribs, descendants of indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans, who S t vincent preserve a distinct way of life, rich in stories, music, and more Kingstown Bequia

T he grenadines


Canouan Mayreau

Tobago Cays




Grenada The Spice Isle

Most southerly of the Windwards, Grenada’s rich volcanic soil is responsible for its lush interior hills, as well as its world-famous nutmeg. But don’t forget the incredible beaches of the island’s southwest, or the charms of the capital, St George’s — often called the most picturesque town in the Caribbean, with its heritage buildings and steep streets, and amazing views at every turn.

Top five

❶ Grand Anse: two miles of brilliant white ❷ ❸ ❹ ❺

sand and azure water — a beach you’ll never forget Grand Etang: this mysterious crater lake, once thought to be bottomless, is the centrepiece of a national park with unforgettable hiking and wildlife up close Levara: wild and windswept, this beach and lagoon near Grenada’s northern tip is a nesting site for rare leatherback turtles Cocoa culture: everyone knows about Grenadian nutmeg, but these days the island is almost as famous for its world-class cocoa, which you can sample via estate tours Underwater sculpture park: one of the wonders of the modern Caribbean, this submarine museum features innovative sculptures slowly colonised by coral and other sea creatures

GRENADA Grand Etang Lake St George’s



Courtesy Pure Grenada Tourism Authority

St George’s, one of the Caribbean's most picturesque capitals



Oscar C. Williams/Shutterstock.Com

The flavour and the friendly spirit of Grenada



Ziad Joseph

Remote Paria Bay on Trinidad’s north coast




Land of the Hummingbird Caribbean Beat’s home island is renowned for its annual Carnival, “the greatest show on earth,” with a sweet soca soundtrack. But it’s also a nature lover’s paradise, with diverse ecosystems ranging from dramatic mountain forests to placid wetlands, home to abundant bird species — and one of the world’s most diverse cuisines.

Top five

❶ North coast beaches: Maracas is the most

❷ ❸

popular by far, with its iconic bake-and-shark stalls, but some of Trinidad’s most idyllic beaches are accessible only by hiking along the well-kept north coast trail Asa Wright Nature Centre: this world-famous centre for birding in the Northern Range is the place to experience the island’s amazing avifauna, including the rare and elusive oilbird Queen’s Park Savannah: north of Port of Spain’s downtown, this park is centre-stage at Carnival time, and the rest of the year is the place for strolling or jogging. The historic buildings around its perimeter are a history lesson in architecture Caroni Swamp: the scarlet ibis, Trinidad’s national bird, is the most famous resident, but a sunset boat trip through the mangrove lagoons will introduce you to dozens more birds and other species Temple in the Sea: on a manmade islet in the Gulf of Paria, this Hindu temple is a small but moving monument to cultural resilience

port of spain Caroni Swamp


trinidad San Fernando



Imagebroker/Alamy Stock Photo

Tobago’s waters, teeming with life, are a diver’s paradise



Tobago The Sister Isle

Sister to Trinidad, that is — the two islands have been linked since the nineteenth century, but Tobago has its own distinctive culture and vibe. Gorgeous beaches, winding country roads, warm village life, and cherished folkways create an air of relaxation and release, an experience that soothes the soul.

Top five

❶ Pigeon Point: familiar from a thousand post-

❷ ❸

❹ ❺

card depictions of its thatch-roofed jetty, this beach in the southwest checks all the boxes: broad expanse of sand, warm turquoise water, plus access to watersports and boat trips out to Buccoo Reef Main Ridge Reserve: the oldest protected forest in the Americas — designated in 1764 — the spine of Tobago is a lush home for wildlife, with numerous trails for hiking and biking Kelleston Drain: the island of Tobago is surrounded by bucket-list dive sites, with dramatic submarine scenery and reef life nourished by the Orinoco River outflow. Kelleston Drain is celebrated for its gigantic brain coral, one of the world’s largest Little Tobago: a short boat ride off the northeast coast, this small island is a major seabird nesting site, the place to get up close with magnificent red-billed tropicbirds Argyle Waterfall: it takes a forest hike to get to Tobago’s highest waterfall, cascading down three stages, including natural rock tubs for soaking


Little Tobago

tobago Pigeon Point Store Bay




Paul Wittet/Shutterstock.Com

Trinidad’s diverse bird life — like this white-necked jacobin — is famed among birdwatchers worldwide



Richard Seemik/Shutterstock.Com

Englishman’s Bay on Tobago’s sheltered leeward coast



Thierry Dehove/Shutterstock.Com

Orient Bay, just one of St Martin’s world-class beaches



St Martin The Friendly Island

The thirty-four square miles of St Martin are uniquely divided between French Saint-Martin in the north and Dutch Sint Maarten in the south. One is known for its gastronomy, the other for its shopping and nightlife — and the entire island is famous for its extraordinary beaches and even more extraordinary hospitality.

Top five

❶ Philipsburg: on a narrow strip of land ❷

❸ ❹ ❺

between Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond, Sint Maarten’s capital is a duty-free shopaholic’s dream Grand Case: this small town on the French side, running along the coast for a mile, is the island’s culinary centre, with dozens of restaurants offering French, Creole, and every other kind of cuisine you can imagine Tintamarre: just off the northeast coast, this small uninhabited island is the place for a day trip to explore your castaway fantasies The Flying Dutchman: for this one you need a head for heights: the world’s steepest zipline, an exhilarating plunge from the peak at Rockland Estate Guavaberry: made at home for generations, and now commercially distilled, this unique liqueur is a taste of St Martin you can take home with you

Grand Case


n Sai


Sint Maarte

Great Salt Pond






Land of Many Waters The continental scale of Guyana’s landscape is unlike anything in the Caribbean archipelago. Here, beaches line rivers and creeks, forests have an Amazonian vastness, and the savannahs of the interior feel like a world away from the coast. Yet Guyanese culture has all the warmth and rhythm of its Caribbean neighbours.

Top five

❶ Historic Georgetown: the unique wooden

❹ ❺

architecture of Guyana’s capital, with ornate structures designed to sit lightly on waterlogged land — like soaring St George’s Cathedral — is best explored on a walking tour Kaieteur Falls: this magnificent treasure of the Guyanese interior, the world’s largest singledrop waterfall by volume, is an hour’s flight out of Georgetown — or a multi-day river journey up the Potaro Rupununi Savannah: this vast plain in Guyana’s southwest, divided by the Kanuku Mountains, is an unforgettable landscape of red earth, blackwater creeks, sandpaper trees, indigenous villages, eco-lodges, and wildlife like the jaguar, harpy eagle, and giant river otter Iwokrama: the thousand square miles of the protected Iwokrama rainforest, on the west bank of the Essequibo, are a centre for research and the place to indulge all your jungle fantasies Shell Beach: on Guyana’s Pomeroon Coast, near the border with Venezuela, this ninetymile stretch of Atlantic coast is a nesting site for four species of endangered seaturtle


gu y ana Iwokrama Forest Lethem Rupununi Savannah



David Di Gregoire Courtesy Guyana Tourism Authority

Majestic Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River




Land of the Flying Fish Easternmost island in the Caribbean, an outlier in the Antillean chain, Barbados is world-famous for its postcard-perfect beaches and luxury resorts. But there’s much more to this island, with its rolling limestone landscape, cherished historic buildings, and vibrant culture and music.

Top five

❶ West coast beaches: here’s another island

where beach favourites is a dangerous game to play. But Barbados’s tranquil “platinum coast” is hard to beat for reef-sheltered, shell-strewn shores and warm, glistening sea The Garrison: south of Bridgetown proper, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, where eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings ring the Garrison Savannah, is a storied location in the island’s history Harrison’s Cave: near Barbados’s geographical centre, this network of limestone caverns, adorned with intricate natural formations, offers a thrilling and accessible glimpse into geological history Scotland District: these craggy hills above the east coast — named for their supposed resemblance to the Scottish Highlands — is the island’s most thickly forested zone, with sprawling views Oistins: once a sleepy fishing village on the south coast, Oistins is now best known for its weekly Friday night fish fry, an unpretentious party that revolves around delectable seafood



Bridgetown Oistins



Byvalet/Alamy Stock Photo

Bottom Bay on the southeast coast of Barbados



make style

Photography courtesy James Hackett



What stories do Lush Kingdom’s masks tell?

It’s one of the most visible aspects of the COVID-19 era: the new ubiquity of masks, worn to slow the spread of the virus. It began months ago with practical but unflattering surgical masks, but around the world, and here in the Caribbean, designers like Trinidadian James Hackett soon got to work on more spirited versions. Shelly-Ann Inniss learns more


utside of Carnival, did you ever think you’d wear a face mask in public? In recent months, for the first time in most of our lives, the majority of the world updated its wardrobe simultaneously, as face masks became vital to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many Caribbean families dutifully retrieved their sewing kits — repurposed Danish cookie tins — and created homemade masks out of old T-shirts, leftover fabric, and even socks. Children were assigned the important task of mask monitor, and lists of mask makers were widely circulated on social media, along with news of mask donations to charities and essential workers. Of course, Caribbean fashion designers also got into the act, giving the new daily “maskerade” their own unique twist. Amusing and stylish prints quickly trended around the region. These protective face coverings may hide our emotions, but smiling eyes and approving nods are still visible, particularly as strangers compliment each other on their creative masks. Trinidadian designer and Caribbean Beat illustrator James Hackett is the founder of the Lush Kingdom design label, known for its vivid bespoke prints, used on everything from clothing to shoes and umbrellas — and now masks. He explains how he incorporated the new essential accessory into his repertoire.

The masks were born out of necessity more than style. I applied an extra bit of colour and print-heavy designs — part of Lush Kingdom’s DNA — and they were very successful. I think some people may continue to wear them when the pandemic has ended, but I don’t see them as a mainstay.

When the use of cloth masks became enforced, people complained about discomfort, and fogged glasses among other issues. What makes Lush Kingdom’s masks better? The design of my mask fits better along the nose bridge, so it traps air below the glasses. With the valve, there were customers who were glad to have the filters, because of difficulty breathing with regular cloth masks.

Are there any unexpected elements in mask design that have impressed you? I won’t say impressed, per se. There were definitely different fabric uses and some alterations of shape. People have been creative with print combos, and combined pieces with head wraps and their outfits in general.

What do you anticipate the near future of mask fashion will look like in the Caribbean? I don’t think masking will be that big of a thing in the region, but I foresee most of the trends in fashion picking up steam here — for example, athleisure and comfortable clothing.

Are there other COVID-19 fashion trends on the horizon? I think more practical, comfort- and utility-driven clothing could be a thing. I also believe that people will be looking for fantastic designs after being restricted for so long, so there may be an explosion of fantasy going forward, too. n

Designer James Hackett (opposite page) and a model (right) wear two styles of face mask from Lush Kingdom




“I didn’t write the book I thought I was going to write” Trinidad-born Ingrid Persaud, author of the novel Love After Love, talks to Caribbean Beat about her “scenic route” to a writing career and her relations with the unreliable muse Photography courtesy Ingrid Persaud

Many writers were bookish children. Were there specific books you read in childhood that sparked your ambition to write? My mother, a single parent, only had one piece of child. She was bookish, so I copied. And she let me read anything in the house — from Mills and Boon to Piajet’s theory of cognitive development. Me and books became friends long time. Everything in my world was in a book. It’s not surprising that I am happiest resting my thoughts inside a hardback.



You have a fascinating biography, which includes a period as a lawyer and legal scholar, followed by a career as a visual artist. How did these past versions of yourself shape your literary self ? And have you stopped practising as a visual artist? I normally look where I’m going and go where I’m looking. But with this writing gig? Ah, Lord. I took the scenic route and now I feel I’ve reached the party when the DJ’s already packing up. Not that I have

regrets. With both law and art, it was a journey of clipping, curling, twisting, and stretching language and text. I use these past lives all the time. One day I’ll find time for visual art again. One day soon.

You’ve also had quite a peripatetic life, living at different times in Trinidad, Britain, the United States, and Barbados. What do national identity labels mean to you, if anything? You see me and nationality? We don’t mix at all, at all. Inside my handbag I have three passports. Depending on how the breeze blowing, each of them countries have a reason why I belong or why we’re not true family. Plus, for a writer, nationalism can get in the way of looking deep and hard at society. One small complication, though — my navel string’s buried in south Trinidad and the pull of that is real hard to resist.

What was the seed or spark of the story you tell in Love After Love? How fast or slow, simple or complicated was its evolution? I didn’t write the book I thought I was going to write. The first thing I wrote was the scene where Solo visits a prostitute. The book looked like it was tracking one man’s journey. Next thing I know, his mother, Betty, and their lodger, Mr Chetan, jumping up and demanding equal billing. I didn’t have a choice but to tell their story as I got it. And you see the first 20,000 words? That took a good year to polish. Once that was done, the rest of the novel flowed like the Caribbean Current and boops baps it was done in a few short months.

The Jamaican writer Lorna Goodison once said every time she thinks she’s losing a sense of the rhythm of the Jamaican voice, she picks up the phone and calls a relative in Jamaica, to just listen to the speech and soak it in. Did you have any similar technique to recapture the intricacies of the Trini voice from a distance? If you know how glad I am that even Lorna Goodison, grand dame of poetry,

Do you have a sense of belonging to a literary community, in London or elsewhere? Writing is not a group activity, although some people like to get together and critique each other’s work. Peace and love, but that ain’t my style. Recently a small group of Faber authors have been meeting virtually — mainly to toast another Trini writer, Claire Adam, who has been winning a set of prizes. We’ve evolved into a supportive group of women writers, and I think of them as my community.

Have any readers’ reactions to the novel surprised or especially pleased you? If you know how my heart does be glad when a Trini tells me that they didn’t think their ordinary lives would be in the pages of a mainstream book. A man from Williamsville said his eyes watered when he saw his little village mentioned in the novel. sometimes needs to hear the rhythm and music of our speech to write. I do the same. I will pick up the phone and ole talk with my aunty until she mouth tired. If I ain’t able to talk to nobody, I hit up YouTube. You bound to find a Trini talking one set of foolishness.

What does a typical writing day or writing week look like for you? It could be a Sunday or a Wednesday — I’m in front my screen ready to do the

day’s thousand words. If things looking nice, and me and the muse well love up, them thousand words could get licked out by lunchtime. Sweet. But that muse is one unreliable so-and-so. Some days she’s late. Other times she’s in a corner vex with she mouth shut. Plenty times she doesn’t even bother to come to work. Those days I does let go some good cuss. But even if it took twelve or twenty hours, I don’t stop until I reach my word count.

Born in Trinidad, Ingrid Persaud read law in Britain, followed by degrees in fine art from Goldsmiths and the Central St Martin School of Art and Design in London. Following a move to Barbados, and years of successful practice as a visual artist, she gradually turned to writing. After winning the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2018 BBC National Short Story Award, Persaud’s novel Love After Love was snapped up by prestigious publisher Faber, and appeared in early 2020 to eager anticipation. Borrowing its title from a Derek Walcott poem, Love After Love, set in San Fernando in south Trinidad, tells the story of an unlikely family: a widow, her teenage son, and the lodger who soon becomes best friend to the former and a father figure to the latter. But what seems like a perfect if unconventional domestic setup is plunged into crisis by the revelation of family secrets, and each of the three main characters must walk a difficult and sometimes contradictory path to understanding not just what love means, but how it means different things to and between different people.

What’s it been like ushering a novel into the world in a time of pandemic? Every man, woman, and child on this earth has had to deal with these strange times, so a new novel launching seems insignificant. I’m glad it’s in the world. I missed having a big lime to celebrate. I didn’t get the ego boost or sales that come from having a book front and centre of a bookstore. But I was glad not to be travelling all about to events, and plenty more people were able to engage online. At my Hay Festival online event, over five thousand people tuned in. Now that’s cool.

Are you ready to say anything about the next novel? You mad or what? Imagine I tell you and somebody who don’t like my face decide to put maljo on the next novel. All I can say is that I’m at my desk Sunday to Sunday trying a thing. n




Everton Weekes (1925–2020)

Owen Arthur on the Barbadian cricket legend, third of “the Three Ws” Photo courtesy West Indies Cricket Board


here are some things in one’s life that stand out forever. For me, one such occasion was my first attendance at a cricket Test match — the West Indies versus Pakistan in 1958. Across the vale of years, I can still vividly remember my first sight of Everton Weekes, and his magnificent 197 on that occasion. To my childhood eyes, watching him bat was akin to witnessing a form of magic. But there was something more and special to the occasion, it was the opportunity to see, in the flesh and at his best, a man who was, in every best regard, a legend and a hero to us, the young Barbadians of the 1950s. We wanted to be like Weekes. The Test career of Everton Weekes is an important, classical part of Barbados’s social history. His excellence as a batsman and the great artistry and gallantry that he brought to the game were all an essential part of his contribution to cricket. But there was about Weekes always something that was bigger and greater than his extraordinary skills as a player. He was of the Bridgetown poor, seeking a place for himself, and those of his class, in a society that was limited in the opportunities it offered, and socially rigid in the way in which those opportunities were created and extended. Through his excellence on the cricket field, Sir Everton helped in a fundamental way to change Barbados for the better, forever, by proving that true excellence cannot be constrained by social barriers. And as early as 1950, he and the other members of the West Indies cricket team helped to start the process that led to the



“end of the Empire,” as Learie Constantine so eloquently termed it, by establishing that the people of these, our West Indian islands, could better the British who, at the time, exercised political control over our affairs. Everton Weekes’s cricketing career was therefore an assertion of excellence from the grassroots at a time when that assertion was required as part of our general claim to rights of self-determination. Of course, there was much more to Sir Everton than his cricketing exploits. His remarkable intellect, his wonderful sense of humour, his sophistication in every respect, caused us to ponder as to the heights he could have scaled had the opportunities available to us today been available to him in his youth. Without fanfare and with little or no personal gain, he provided sterling service to the game of cricket off the field, to his nation, and by his mentorship, to young aspiring Barbadian cricketers too numerous to mention. His characteristic graciousness and generosity of spirit, and above all that special but indefinable touch of Barbadianness, marked him out as one of our greatest citizens of all time. n

Owen Arthur is a former prime minister of Barbados. This text is adapted from his foreword to Mastering the Craft: Ten Years of Weekes, 1948–1958, by Sir Everton DeCourcey Weekes with Hilary McD Beckles, published in 2008 by Ian Randle Publishers. Reprinted with the kind permission of Ian Randle Publishers. Find out more at

Born in Pickwick Gap near Barbados’s Kensington Oval, Everton DeCourcey Weekes was a keen player of both football and cricket as a boy, but it was in the latter game that he rose to fame. Playing for Barbados against Trinidad, he made his first-class debut in 1945 — two days short of his twentieth birthday — and his Test debut for the West Indies in 1948, alongside fellow Barbadians Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell. They soon became known as “the Three Ws.” Often considered the best batsman of the trio, Weekes is remembered as one of the hardest hitters in the history of the game. From 1948 to 1958 he played fortyeight Test matches, and he scored more than 12,000 first class runs over his career.




Time to Grow In recent years, a handful of NGOs in Trinidad and Tobago have worked to set up community-based agriculture initiatives, both to provide healthier food options and to make local communities more self-sufficient. It’s a movement that has become even more relevant in the time of COVID-19, writes Nazma Muller, as food security becomes crucial


hat started as an informal exchange of skills among kindred spirits may be the saving grace for Trinidad and Tobago’s organic agricultural movement. As panic about food supplies in the region started in March with the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the closing of borders, Gillian Goddard, one of the founders of T&T’s Alliance of Rural Communities, remained calm and collected. Although the country is notoriously dependent on food imports, ARC’s transformative Caribbean network — they also work with communities in St Lucia and Guyana — has been spreading an appreciation for environmentalism and social equity in ways that are as organic and vitalising as the produce they sell. And the crisis of COVID-19 could be a golden (or green) opportunity to cultivate the right kind of culture — one based on indigenous peoples’ respect for the land. Over the last seven years, ARC has grown to include more than a hundred members from communities all over Trinidad. It started with an initiative to produce chocolate from the worldacclaimed Trinitario cocoa beans for which the island is famous. Goddard, who had been producing her own brand of gourmet chocolate under the brand SunEaters Organics, wanted to share her skills with traditional cocoa-growing communities. The distinctive brand of dark chocolate is now available in fifty locations across the Caribbean and North America, and online. The northeast Trinidad coastal village of Grande Rivière, famous for



its giant leatherback turtles, can now boast of its own beautifully packaged drinking chocolate. The Northern Range villages of Biche and Cushe are branded big and bold on the wrappers of their own dark chocolate bars. ARC also does tastings and public demonstrations of chocolate making, as well as catering at farmers’ markets and expos. But it goes beyond chocolate. By pooling their skills and resources, ARC is also able to deliver boxes of fresh, delicious organic produce from participating communities — with items such as coconuts, bananas, ground provisions like cassava, yam, and dasheen, string beans, ochro, button and Portobello mushroom, lemons, citrus like grapefruit and portugals, plantain, pumpkin, callaloo leaf, and herbs. Much like the forest, which teaches us so much about life and how to innovate and collaborate, ARC does many other things: they build community capacity and prepare villages for natural disasters, develop transformational replicable systems (including online), and improve resilience in isolated areas. For deliveries, they use a hybrid vehicle, and all containers are returnable or home compostable (some produce comes wrapped in leaves, rather than plastic). The forest philosophy that guides ARC is based on observation of the natural world and how it functions and thrives — by being flexible, adaptable, and interdependent. Young people in the communities learn the many skills of their elders. There is no limit set on what the collective can do, so it continues to expand and generate

Courtesy The Alliance Of Rural Communities

new ways of creating synergies. As demand dictates, ARC’s inhouse guides offer tours of their communities, taking visitors on hikes to waterfalls and rivers so they can experience and appreciate the fauna and flora that make each community so vibrant and unique. The idea is to build on members’ existing skills and resources, while exchanging and transferring them so that the whole collective is stronger. Goddard is also keen to raise awareness of the extreme trauma suffered by the majority of Caribbean citizens — historically and in the present. Emotional literacy and mutual respect are key components of ARC’s teachings. “So we talk a lot about equality, racism, classism, sexism, and colonialism,” she explains, “all of these traumas that we have to heal from as a society. Returning to a land-based way of life will help us — and the land — to heal.”


RC is not alone in its quest to produce and promote Trinidad’s fine cocoa. The Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Cooperative Society is a farmer-owned and -run entity whose primary goal is helping to revitalise the local cocoa industry and improve the quality of life for farmers through a higher bean price. The co-op began in 2009, when five farmers from the Gran Couva area in central Trinidad came together to revive the cocoa farms in the Montserrat Hills district. The first step was to consistently increase the quality of their beans and production levels. By 2010, the Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Co-operative Society Limited

The forest philosophy that guides the Alliance of Rural Communities is based on observation of the natural world and how it functions and thrives was formed, and forty-eight farmers (both large and small) now contribute to the pool of excellent cocoa. Their central processing facility is in San Antonio, one of the many estates that contribute to the blend of cocoa grown exclusively in the Montserrat region. In 2016, the co-op became the first organisation in the Englishspeaking Caribbean to receive certification from Rainforest Alliance — an international NGO that certifies sustainable goods and services. The Montserrat Farmers’ products now include chocolate, pure cocoa butter, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, and drinking chocolate. Its annual Cocoa Food Festival, which usually takes place in July, showcases all manner of chocolate delights — including cocoa chow (beans and pulp with lashings of pepper, salt, garlic, and other seasonings). And just as ARC extends its reach across the rural Caribbean, another T&T agricultural initiative is bringing hope



Marci Paravia/Shutterstock.Com

— and organic crops — to urban communities. The Sunbeam Foundation, of which Rhea King-Julien is director, launched its brand-new Food Production in Motion programme in January 2020, in an attempt to empower “concrete jungles” to become more sustainable. With funding from the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, the foundation ran community garden training for seven weeks with nearly a hundred adults — most from the east Trinidad town of Arima — and 150 students from the Malabar RC Primary School at the Malabar Phase 4 community centre, followed by a green market. Each community garden aims to produce a full “Sunday lunch” on a lot of land (five thousand square feet). Crops include herbs such as chive, parsley, and celery, in a hydroponics system; either tilapia or cascadoo fish, raised in an aquaponics system; and vegetables such as kale, lettuce, pak choi, potatoes, eddoes, tomatoes, ochro, peppers, beans, and eggplant. The garden also includes raised grow-boxes with medicinal herbs popularly used within the community, like rosemary, thyme, mint, turmeric, and ginger. At the first green market on 7 March, community-grown, pesticide-free herbs from the hydroponic system were on offer. These monthly markets will generate additional income to cover annual garden operating costs, organisers hope, employing at

least one person from the community and providing discounted produce to garden volunteers. The Sunbeam Foundation has also done outreach in the communities of Aranguez and Chaguanas. Each garden established in 2020 will be matched with a primary school. The foundation has also teamed up with several local youth vocational training entities. Recently graduated university students provide competence-based training in food production, while allowing primary standard two and three students the opportunity to work with practising artists. One tangible output of this pairing of artists and students: mural designs on the growboxes at the community garden, which the children also painted at the green market. A f ter t he ga rden open ing in Malabar, the foundation set up a weekly volunteer roster to ensure production at the garden is continuous. Sunbeam has also made a larger commitment to the Arima community, through its grant funder, to establish three more gardens in 2020 at the Pinto, La Horquetta, and Carapo community centres — making the first urban community garden cluster in Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed the English-speaking Caribbean. It’s a model for communities working together to meet their basic need for nutritious food — permanently relevant, but more so at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic demands that we work together for survival. n

In 2016, the Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Cooperative Society became the first organisation in the English-speaking Caribbean to receive certification from Rainforest Alliance




GATEKEEPER Meet me where the four roads cross where all paths open, close at your whim Meet me at the crossing where little feet dance the fates of kings and small axes fell giant oaks and cypresses Meet me inbetween the cycles of seasons dancing in time to the beat of hearts and heads Spirit knows the road before and after beyond what can be seen, so meet me at the crossroads where blood and fire lick the knife’s blade and it doesn’t matter who eats first as long as everyone gets fed and no bread’s wasted, while somewhere there’s a hungry-belly child.

A poem by Donna Aza Weir-Soley, from the new bilingual anthology The Sea Needs No Ornament Published in July 2020, The Sea Needs No Ornament/ El mar no necesita ornamento is a groundbreaking bilingual anthology of contemporary Caribbean women poets, edited and translated by Loretta Collins Klobah and Maria Grau Perejoan. Poems by thirty-three writers of the Anglophone and Hispanophone Caribbean are included — a survey of two generations of vital, various voices from across the archipelago

The Sea Needs No Ornament/El mar no necesita ornamento is published by Peepal Tree Press. For more information, visit

Meet me in the clearing at twilight when night eclipses day and fates give way to faith Meet me twixt tomorrow, yesterday and today

EL GUARDIÁN DE LAS ENCRUCIJADAS Encontrémonos donde se entrecruzan los cuatro caminos donde todas las sendas se abren, se cierran a tu antojo Encontrémonos en el cruce donde pies menudos bailan la suerte de los reyes y hachas pequeñas hacen caer enormes robles y cipreses Encontrémonos en medio de los ciclos de las estaciones bailando al compás del latido de los corazones y las cabezas El espíritu conoce el camino antes y después más allá de lo que puede verse, así que encontrémonos en la encrucijada donde la sangre y el fuego lamben la hoja del cuchillo y no importa quien come primero siempre que todo el mundo se alimente y no se desperdicie pan, mientras en algún lado hay un niño con la barriga hambrienta. Encontrémonos en el claro cuando llegue el ocaso, cuando la noche eclipse el día, el destino ceda a la fe Encontrémonos entre mañana, ayer y hoy.



on this day

An island for a princess Sixty years ago, the newlywed Princess Margaret, sister to the queen of England, arrived in Mustique on her honeymoon. It was the start of a relationship between the tiny Grenadine island and international celebrity, writes James Ferguson — and a twist in the complicated and often unhappy life of the princess Illustration by Rohan Mitchell


hat with the recent shenanigans surrounding the British royal family, it seems a good time to look back at another member of the monarchy who wanted to escape. In this case, the destination was not Canada, but the Caribbean — more specifically, the tiny Grenadine island of Mustique. And the getaway in question was not an “outsider” in the form of an American actress, but none other than the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II. Even so, the two episodes have much in com-



mon — the pressures of being a royal, the strain of intense media scrutiny, and perhaps a need to reclaim a sense of independence. Pr incess Ma rga ret, Cou ntess of Snowdon, was born on 21 August, 1930, the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. What was a sheltered early childhood changed dramatically when her father became king in 1936, in the wake of her uncle Edward VIII’s abdication due to his relationship w ith the divorced Amer ican Wallis S i mp s on . Fr om t h at mome nt on ,

Margaret was of public interest, second in line after her sister to the throne, and after a pampered adolescence and private education she blossomed into a glamorous, fashionable, and playful young woman — a contrast to the more dutiful Elizabeth. The two sisters’ very different personalities were to define Margaret in the popular imagination as controversial, slightly wild, and alluring. Perhaps she always chafed against the gilded cage of protocol and privilege into which she was born. And that feeling of impr isonment must have intensified when, in 1955, three years after her father’s death and Elizabeth’s coronation, she was forced to admit that she could not marry her great love, the dashing royal equerry Peter Townsend. He, like Wallis Simpson, was a divorcé, and the Church of England, then still powerful in such matters, decreed that even a civil marriage was out of the question. Initially heartbroken, the princess became engaged to Antony ArmstrongJones, a society photographer, in October 1959, reportedly the day after she heard that Townsend was about to marry a young Belgian heiress. Their wedding on 6 May, 1960, the first royal nuptials to be televised, marked the earliest stage in the monarchy’s move towards show-biz status, with celebrities from the worlds of fashion and entertainment mingling with Europe’s royal dynasties. ArmstrongJones, significantly, was the first commoner to marry into the royal family since the sixteenth century.


o it was that later that summer, sixty years ago, the twenty-nineyear-old newlywed found herself on the tiny Caribbean island of Mustique. The six-week honeymoon on board the Royal Yacht Britannia also visited Trinidad and Antigua, but it was in Mustique that Margaret looked forward to seeing familiar faces: an old friend, Colin Tennant, and his wife Lady Anne Glenconner, her former lady-in-waiting. Tennant, legend has it, admitted that he had forgotten to buy a wedding gift but decided to present Margaret with a ten-acre plot on the island. She graciously accepted — and then nothing happened for eight years.

How Tennant, later Baron Glenconner, was able to hand out parts of a Caribbean island is explained by Mustique’s strange history. Although part of the Grenadine chain of islands and administratively attached to St Vincent, the 1,400-acre territory (named after its notorious mosquito population) had been in private hands since the eighteenth centur y. Undeveloped and impoverished, its tiny sugar industry had collapsed and a couple of cotton plantations were semi-abandoned, leaving several hundred islanders to eke out a living on smallholdings. It was, said a 1958 report, “a desolate island covered in jungle, scr ub, and cactus.” That year, the eccentric Tennant bought Mustique for £45,000, apparently without even seeing it. Eccentr ic he may have been, but Tennant had a plan, and Princess Margaret was at its heart. In 1968, as relations between her and ArmstrongJones (created Lord Snowdon in 1961) deter iorated, she suddenly contacted Tennant and said she wanted a house built on her plot. She came to supervise the construction and revelled in the primitive conditions she encountered. “She arrived with no fuss a few months later, happily using the bucket of water in the trees to shower, just like we did,” recalled Lady Glenconner. Importantly, Snowdon hated what he called “Mustake,” and never returned after his only visit in 1960. Importantly, too, the royal connection encouraged Tennant to form the Mustique Company in 1968 — starting the clever marketing campaign that transformed the backwater into today’s billionaire’s paradise. The princess’s house, named Les Jolies Eaux, was ready by 1972, and from then she was a regular resident on the island. Lady Glenconner thought it was basic, but it must have seemed like a different world to the locals who waited on the wealthy

After years of drifting apart and r umours of inf idelity, in 1973 Princess Margaret was introduced to Roddy Llewelly n, an ar istocratic gardener seventeen years her junior, by Lord Glenconner. Three years later, the affair was out in the open when The News of the World published photos of the couple cavorting on a Mustique beach. T he g ut ter press cl ichés proliferated: he was a “toy boy,” she a “cradle snatcher,” and, worse, “a parasite.” The media onslaught was probably instrumental in hastening her inevitable divorce — the third in this tale — from Lord Snowdon in 1978.


Mustique offered Princess Margaret a life of her own: “It was the only house she ever owned and it made her very happy” incomers. Vitally, it offered Margaret a life of her own: “It was the only house she ever owned and it made her very happy, because apart from being beautiful it provided her with an independent base from her husband.” Yet, if she could feel liberated among the growing clique of jet-set celeb neighbours, she could never escape the attentions of the media and the notorious British tabloid paparazzi.

he Mustique idyll was over, and the last two decades of Princess Margaret’s life were blighted by ill health, exacerbated by heavy smoking and alcohol. She is remembered as a paradoxical mix of cutting snobbery and unexpected kindness. An accident in Mustique in early 1999, when a broken bathroom boiler produced scalding water, left her partially incapacitated, and she suffered several strokes before her death on 9 February, 2002. Mustique, with its seclusion and A-list of bohemian property owners, offered the princess the discretion, privacy, and autonomy she probably craved. The carefree days of the 1960s are now long gone, and money has replaced breeding and eccentricity as the key to joining the club (a villa in Mustique now costs upwards of US$10 million). Her escape from the stifling constraints of the British monarchy was much of its time, but the intrusive prurience that surrounds the activities of the royal family remains — and, if anything, is even more insistent due to social media. With all its flavour of glamour and exoticism, Princess Margaret’s experience proved that even the most privileged can find it hard to outrun the media — a cautionary tale still relevant today. n



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did you even know

Caribbean favourites

5. In the cathedral in Castries, you can see murals by which beloved artist? Dunstan St Omer Llewellyn Xavier

Derek Walcott Cedric George

While you’re dreaming about your next Caribbean vacation, test your knowledge of some of the region’s bucket-list locations. Stumped? All the answers can be found in our feature “The Caribbean We Love”, starting on page 39 — or at the bottom of the page!

6. What do Barbadians call the hilly area near the island’s east coast?

1. What’s the name of the deep underwater trench

Little Alps Bathsheba Heights

between Andros and New Providence in the Bahamas?

Neptune’s Keep Great Bahamas Rift

Tongue of the Ocean Deep Blue

2. Which coastal community in Jamaica is known as the

home of jerk? Oracabessa Boston Bay

Rio Bueno Treasure Beach

3. What fruit indigenous to St Martin is used to make the

island’s signature liqueur? Starapple Guavaberry

Manchineel Naseberry

Scotland District Highland County

7. Which of the Grenadines is known as the “island of the clouds”? Bequia Mustique

Canouan Mayreau

8. What rare bird species can you see at Trinidad’s Asa Wright Nature Centre? Harpy eagle Red-billed tropicbird

Bee hummingbird Oilbird

9. What is the name of the river that, plunging over an escarpment, forms Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls?

4. What’s the name of Dominica’s most celebrated

Essequibo Mazaruni

Potaro Cuyuni

Hot Springs Lava Pond

Answers: 1 Tongue of the Ocean 2 Boston Bay 3 Guavaberry 4 Boiling Lake 5 Dunstan St Omer 6 Scotland District 7 Bequia 8 Oilbird 9 Potaro

volcanic site?


Devil’s Hole Boiling Lake


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