Need to know | Events calendar (Sept/Oct 2018)

Essential info to help you make the most of September and October — from Labour Day Carnival in Brooklyn to Pure Grenada’s Dive Fest and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival

  • Mas in the big city: feathers and sequins on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
  • Barbadian mixologist David Barker serves up a cocktail that changes colour before your eyes: a mojito with red cabbage mint puree, John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, and fresh lime juice dancing in harmony with Four Square Spice. Photo courtesy Barbados
  • Bianca C. Photo courtesy The Grenada Tourism Authority
  • Underwater Sculpture Park. Mark Evans/courtesy The Grenada Scuba Diving Association
  • Flamingo Bay. Photo by Melanie Lupoli/Shutterstock.com
  • Actor Nickolai Salcedo (at left) and other members of the HERO cast. Photo courtesy Caribbean Tales
  • Detail of madras cloth. Photo by cri1810/iStock.com
  • Illustration by James Hackett
  • Photo by Daniel Korzeniewski/Shutterstock.com
  • Photo by Iprachenko/Shutterstock.com

Don’t Miss: Break away on the Parkway

It’s officially known as the West Indian Day Parade, but revellers across the Caribbean diaspora know it as Brooklyn Carnival. On Labour Day (3 September this year) — drawing a crowd of more than a million, by some estimates — the action begins at dawn for J’Ouvert revellry and continues till nightfall on Eastern Parkway. New York City’s Caribbean communities — Trinis, Jamaicans, Bajans, Grenadians, Haitians, everybody — come out in force for a day of parades, floats, and even pan. Soca? Yes. Wining? Of course? Acres of sequins and spandex and feathers? What you think? Pelau, jerk chicken, souse? Bring your appetite.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana, with connections to other Caribbean destinations


Must Try: Foodie Bliss

Cuisine is a satisfying way to explore a country — and not just for dedicated foodies. The inspiration and stories behind traditional or innovative recipes can take you on a culinary escapade into the unknown. And with three major food festivals happening across the Caribbean in September and October, there’s no better time to work up an appetite.

Trinidad and Tobago Restaurant Week

28 September to 7 October
trinidadtobagorestaurantweek.com

Doubles in Debe, crab and dumpling from Store Bay, kebabs on Ariapita Avenue, Sunday dim sum: T&T’s cuisine reflects the country’s multi-ethnic roots. Spanish, African, Creole, Chinese, and Indian influences borrow from and hint at each other. Hints of Italian also infuse the Thai. The food completely engages your senses as you try to identify flavours. This is a foodie nation (and possibly a gym instructor’s dream). And for ten days each year, you can enjoy prix fixe menus with reduced prices at participating restaurants during Restaurant Week. So grab your aperitifs and feed your culinary curiosity.
Must try: callaloo, Trinidad style — rich, spicy, and dense with flavour

Barbados Food and Rum Festival

18 to 21 October
visitbarbados.org

Every day in Barbados brings a new gastronomic adventure. It seems like the entire island is made up of chefs — whether formally trained or self professed. It’s no surprise so many Barbadian restaurants have earned Michelin stars and Zagat ratings. At the Food and Rum Festival, you’ll understand why some call Barbados the culinary capital of the Caribbean. From a Thursday night cook-off in Oistins to the Signature Rum Event on Friday, plus fine dining events pairing international and local chefs, the vibe ranges from down-home to elegant — and everything is delicious.
Must try: the classic, cornmeal coucou and flying fish, with a tall glass of Bajan rum punch

Jamaica Food and Drink Festival

20 to 28 October
jafoodanddrink.com

From the high mountains to deep in the valleys, Jamaican food connoisseurs, their neighbours, and grandparents turn out for this annual all-inclusive festival. The extravaganza kicks off with Pork Palooza, featuring top-secret sauces, and even desserts with “a dangerous porcine twist.” Another night, dance with the dragons at Chopstix: a smorgasbord of sizzling favourites from all corners of Asia. And come back to the land of wood and water with Crisp: an event centred on fried fare coupled with ice-cold international and local beers. Imagine jerk fried chicken kicked up a notch with scotch bonnet and balsamic vinegar . . . Your mouth’s already watering.
Must try: escoveitch fish, roast breadfruit, and festival, Jamaica’s unmistakeable sweet fried bread

Shelly-Ann Inniss


Top Three: Diving around Grenada

On the surface, Grenada is breathtakingly serene. But beneath the deep blue sea, the shipwreck capital of the Caribbean boasts more than forty dive sites, and a seascape teeming with aquatic life. Here are three for your bucket list.

Bianca C

After you brave the strong currents, a look down the hull of this wreck, sunk in 1961, gives an inkling why it’s known as the Titanic of the Caribbean (below). Technical and recreational divers have also spotted barracudas and sharks near this spectacular site, which runs parallel to Whibbles Reef.

Underwater Sculpture Park 

These artificial reefs (above right) perfect for exploration by children and beginners have been recognised as one of “earth’s most awesome places” by National Geographic. Each sculpture pays homage to Grenadian history and culture.

Flamingo Bay

Snorkellers hit the jackpot on the reef (above left): yellowtail snappers, seahorses, rope and barrel sponges, and elkhorn corals are just some of the marine species you’ll encounter. Divers at any level can venture to this site located in Grenada’s Marine Protected Area.

No need to be an expert diver to participate in Pure Grenada’s Dive Fest from 3 to 6 October. You might start off on dry land, as the festival opens with a photo competition and launch party in Carriacou. The following day, the wreck and reef diving gets underway — Grenada has about fifteen wrecks in its waters. Of course, nothing says “I went diving” better than an iconic selfie, a wreck photo, or reef shot, so make sure to capture these moments before the final party and lionfish dinner. Who knows, your photo might be the winner of next year’s competition.

SAI


Word of Mouth: We need a HERO

Cate Young reports on the historically inspired feature that opens the 2018 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival

History enthusiasts are in for a treat at this year’s installment of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, as the new feature from award-winning Caribbean director and producer Frances-Anne Solomon makes its global debut. Starring Trinidadian Nickolai Salcedo in the title role, HERO: Inspired by The Extraordinary Life And Times of Mr Ulric Cross will be the opening night film at the 2018 festival. Inspired by a true story, and loosely based on Cross’s life, HERO examines the myth of the man known as the “most decorated West Indian of World War Two.”

It follows Cross’s journey through the war and into his roles as a broadcaster, lawyer, and diplomat, as well as his political awakening and crucial role in independence movements across West Africa. As much of the work Cross did in his capacity as a diplomat in post-Independence Africa remains classified even after his death, the film incorporates archival footage to illuminate the “dynamic and transformative” political climate of the time, and “extrapolate and dramatise” the significant events of his life, according to Solomon.

Lead actor Nickolai Salcedo notes many parallels between Cross’s life and the current global political climate. “We’re dealing with issues of race, reparations, and people wanting to regain their true sense of self as we have for centuries. The movies speak to now,” Salcedo says. “The players have changed in some cases, but it’s the same game. Who is being taken advantage of, who is banding together and who are the ones standing in the way of that?”

HERO also deals with the extensive colonial pressures at play across the globe during Cross’s lifetime, including his decision to practice law in Ghana and Tanzania due to social barriers in the West, and his friendships and collaborations with journalist and activist C.L.R. James and Pan-African activist George Padmore, both fellow Trinidadians.

Cross spent his life dedicated to public service, acting as a prominent jurist in Ghana and Cameroon before returning to Trinidad to serve as a high court judge. In 2011, he received the country’s highest honour, the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He died in 2013. 

HERO is the long-awaited examination of an oft-looked-over hero, with a legacy that deserves to be preserved. As Solomon says, “Ultimately, the story is about us, about who we are as Caribbean people, and as citizens of the world.”

The film’s international cast also includes Peter Williams (Stargate-SG1), Joseph Marcell (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Fraser James (Resident Evil) and Rudolph Walker (EastEnders), among others. Hero premieres on 18 September, 2018, at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain — with Caribbean filmmaking heavyweights in the audience.

The 2018 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival — ttff/18 — runs from 18 to 25 September, with a programme of screenings, workshops, and industry events at venues around T&T. For full programme details, visit www.ttfilmfestival.com


How You Say: Talk like a local at Jounen Kwéyòl

On the last Sunday of October, St Lucians celebrate their proud Creole heritage with an island-wide festival of music, cuisine, traditional dress (using the plaid fabric called madras) — and of course language. Don’t speak Kwéyòl? Here are some helpful phrases to help you fit in.

Good morning:  Bonjou

Good evening:  Bonswè

Please:  Sou plé

Thank you:  Mèsi

What time is the concert?:  Ki lè spètak-la ka koumansé?

Where can I get a bus?:  Koté mwen sa jwenn on machin twaspò?

How far is the beach?:  Ki distans lans lanmè-a?

I am a tourist:  Mwen sé an touwis

I’m hungry!:  Mwen fen!

I’d like to try the bouillon*:  Mwen vlé éséyé bouyon-an

Where can I buy some madras?:  Koté mwen sa achté twèl madwas?

I’ll be back next year!:  Mwen kay viwé lanné pochen!

* Traditional dish of meat stewed with provisions

With thanks to Hilary LaForce and John Robert Lee of the Monsignor Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre


The Read: What he learned

An excerpt from “Unaccounted for”, an essay by indigenous Trinidadian writer Tracy Assing, published in the recent anthology So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans (Peekash Press)

My father’s memory is good. So I ask him to talk to me for a while about what he learned growing up. He rattles off the names of animals and plants I have never heard before. Or, I think I have never heard before. It all sounds somehow familiar.

“We were taught about snakes,” he says. “The dangerous ones, we can smell them, hear them, and avoid them. We were taught about the mapipire – balsain and zanana – coral, cascabel, mapamare, creebo, macajuel, tigre. The pretty, attractive ones were poisonous. Our teaching from age one to seven years was about seeing as a form of knowing, smelling as a form of knowing, and hearing as a form of knowing.

“We were taught about scorpions — if stung by one, we can eat them. If we don’t like the [raw] taste, we can roast them in fire and then eat them. We were taught about Jack Spaniard wasps, which we call jep: jep cohong, jep tattoo, jep cesar. If stung by one, we must take three different types of bush, grass, or herb and crush the leaves in our hands and rub the juices on the jep sting to avoid swelling. Of course, all stings are more potent during the full moon, and although we know all these remedies we must avoid getting stung by bees, snakes, scorpions, jep. So, always be alert whenever in the forest, on the estate, or by the rivers.

“We were taught about zagweeh, cheenee, santapee, congoree, tac-tac, marabuntas, fire ants, red ants, garapet, battimamzelles, butterflies. We were taught about insects with wings and without wings.

“We were taught about the birds: kweleebee, kai, ramea, chat, viennal, taoday, cravat, picoplat, toucan, chikichong, semp, zotola, greeve, pawi, guacharo, gabila, tuvatuva. We know these birds by their marking and colour, by their mating calls and their distress calls. In order to catch them, we were able to feed them by calling them for food and using their distress call to get them closer to us. This ability comes from listening to the birds and mimicking their calls. The forest is like a school.

“As children, we had lots of fun in the river. We would play ‘hide the stone’ in a pool. Which involved hiding a stone underwater and then the other people have to find it. We had swim races under water. This helped strengthen our lungs. Sometimes we would venture far up river or down river. We were taught about all the fish in the river. What was edible and what was not. The tayta, guabin, zangi, cuscorob, watamal, crayfish, maki, and buc. We would catch these fish with our hands or sometimes we use the old native plant, balbac. Our ancestors loved and respected the river and we did the same.

“We were shown the trees and told the names and fruits. Kapok, guatacare, tapana, crapo, oilver, mahoe, ceret, galba, calabash, cazuka, anare, moriche, touca, balata, coffee, cocoa, roucou, cayoneg, caimit, cashima, cashew, mamisepote, aguma, guanabana, gree-gree, groo-groo, peewah, kereckel.

“On our treks through the forest for dry wood for the fireside, we were taught about the animals, the trees, and the herbs. We were taught about the iguana, the agouti, quenk, tattoo, manicou, matapal, pillowee, porqupine. We were taught the hunt and the trails. There are ancient trails connecting each mountain region to the other.

“We didn’t have money or a deed for land, but we were never hungry.”

In Guyana, home to one of the Caribbean region’s largest First Peoples populations, September is officially celebrated as Indigenous Heritage Month, a chance to learn about the diversity, legacy, and cultures of Guyana’s indigenous peoples: the Akawaio, Arawak, Arecuna, Carib, Makushi, Patamona, Wai-Wai, Wapishana, and Warrau. Communities across the country stage exhibitions of art, dance, craft, food, native games, and sports.

In nearby Trinidad and Tobago, a one-off holiday in October 2017 brought the country’s indigenous history to public attention. But the Carib community centred on Santa Rosa, near Arima, has commemorated its own Amerindian Heritage Week in mid-October for almost two decades, asserting the presence of a people and a culture in defiance of historical amnesia.


Datebook

More highlights of September and October across the Caribbean

Nevis Marathon and Running Festival

6 to 8 September
Challenging marathon routes with enchanting views and distances suited for athletes — and stragglers — at any level.

Word on the Street Festival, Toronto

23 September
A wide window opens onto Canada’s literary scene, as authors, artists, publishers, and lovers of the word come together.
www.thewordonthestreet.ca

Bonaire Sailing Regatta

10 to 13 October
Sailors in all classes compete. There’s even a category for five-to-ten-year-old crews. 

COCO Dance Festival, Trinidad and Tobago

26 to 28 October
The Contemporary Choreographers’ Collective (COCO) presents the work of emerging and established choreographers from T&T and beyond, bringing together the worlds of arts and education. To mark its ten-year anniversary, the 2018 festival will feature the 2012 to 2017 winners of the COCO Choreographer’s Award.

International Ballet Festival of Havana, Cuba

26 October to 2 November
Caribbean dance lovers are spoiled for choice in October. The stunning Gran Teatro is the principal venue for this celebration of ballet. Over twenty dance companies — including the London Royal Ballet, the Scala de Milan, the New York City Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre — will perform impressive repertoires. With world premieres also scheduled at the Karl Marx Theatre and the Mella Theatre, Havana will transform into the beating heart of ballet.

World Cocoa and Chocolate Day Expo, Trinidad

28 to 29 September
Did someone say chocolate? Trinis are in everything, people sometimes joke, including chocolate: this is where the Trinitario cocoa variety originated. Plus the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine campus is home to the International Cocoa Genebank, and the oldest cocoa research centre in the world. So the campus is the natural home for the WCCD Expo, bringing together emerging cocoa and chocolate entrepreneurs, and the chocolatiers who convert cocoa into an abundance of enjoyable products, edible and otherwise — like this overwhelmingly chocolatey body scrub, which you can try yourself at home:

1 cup raw cane sugar
3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
3 tbsp organic cocoa nibs
1/8 cup almond oil
1/8 cup cocoa butter (melted)

1/2 tsp chocolate syrup
5 drops Vitamin E oil

Mix all dry ingredients together. Melt the cocoa butter, and stir in the other oils. Add the oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix using a hand mixer. Add chocolate syrup and mix gently. Et voila! Apply to your skin for a luxurious chocolatey experience. 

Courtesy Eco-Truffles Lavish Body Treats

SAI