Indian Arrival Day
Beginning in the 1830s, a rich new heritage was introduced to the Caribbean through the arrival of indentured immigrants from India. Today, Indo-Caribbean culture is woven tightly into the social fabric of our region, from religion and philosophy to art, music, and food. The arrival of these foreparents from the subcontinent is marked each year in Guyana (5 May), Trinidad and Tobago (30 May), and Suriname (5 June), typically with historical re-enactments, performances, ceremonies, and even fireworks. This year, though we commemorate the anniversary on a smaller scale and virtually, the spirit of remembrance lives on.
From architecture and monuments to street names, reminders of our history and culture surround us daily. And then there are the Caribbean’s many museums, overflowing with artefacts telling our many stories. Some of them are so unique and specialised — like the Crab Museum in Guadeloupe — it’s hard to believe they exist. International Museum Day on 18 May is a chance to reimagine your museum experience. Here’s a roundup of eclectic and sometimes lesser-known museums around the region.
Kalinago Barana Autê, Carib Territory, Dominica
Translated, the name means Carib Cultural Village by the Sea. Over three thousand Kalinago — Dominica’s indigenous people — reside in a reserve on the eastern side of the island. A recreated traditional village by the Crayfish River explores their cultural heritage with traditional craft demonstrations like basket-weaving and pottery-making, dance performances, an herbal medicine garden, and more. The largest hut — called a karbet — stages dramatisations and other cultural presentations daily. Caribbean people’s natural penchant for storytelling knows no bounds here.
Aloe Museum and Factory, Aruba
Simple things like the aloe vera plant can be significant and valuable. The domestication of aloe shaped the agriculture industry in Aruba for over a century. This museum houses vintage tools and equipment, along with a library covering every aspect of aloe vera. Each tour is fully interactive, with no chance of your feeling overwhelmed with gallery fatigue — possibly another wonder of aloe.
Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit, Sint Maarten
“The probability of finding a Star Wars exhibit in the Caribbean is 125,316 to 1,” reads a sign near the entrance. But if you’re visiting Phillipsburg in Sint Maarten, the odds are in your favour. Hollywood creature effects artist Nick Maley created the exhibit after his contribution to the Yoda character in the sci-fi saga. Not a Star Wars fan? The exhibit also showcases memorabilia from other films like Men in Black and The Terminator. Remarkable displays spanning over sixty years of moviemaking, plus life casts of celebrity Hollywood faces, are must-sees for film buffs.
Caribbean Wax Museum, Barbados
Life-like wax figures of icons from across the region are under the spotlight at the only indigenous wax museum in the Caribbean. Get up close and personal at your own pace, while learning more in a fully interactive audio-visual environment. Create your own memories with soca queen Alison Hinds, cricket legend Brian Lara, the fastest man alive Usain Bolt, and many more personalities across categories of entertainment, politics, history, and sports. When you share your selfies with friends, they may not be able to tell the difference.
Chaguaramas Military History and Aerospace Museum, Trinidad
The retired BWIA aircraft visible from the roadway is often used as a landmark to identify this museum located in the Chaguaramas district — once a US military base, during the Second World War. Have you ever been in a battle tank or a bunker? Unlock your curiosity about military history at this four-acre indoor and outdoor museum. Extensive exhibits are devoted to various raids and battles in Trinidad, the Napoleonic Wars of the British colonial period, and the years Trinidad was ruled by the Spanish. The historical artefacts and the tales they tell will make your imagination run wild.
Pineapple for beauty
It’s neither a pine nor an apple. The pineapple is actually a berry, and it’s a perennial staple at markets and on bar and restaurant menus — as well as the star attraction at the Bahamas Pineapple Festival in Eleuthera, running from 3 to 5 June. Full of nutrients, pineapple is just as good on your skin as in your stomach. Here are three easy ways to incorporate the versatile fruit into your skincare routine — try them at home!
Pineapple has strong antibacterial properties and a high water content. When blended into a puree and mixed with avocado and castor oils, it cleanses and hydrates the skin, leaving it revitalised with a dewy glow.
Bromelain, an enzyme in pineapple, has anti-inflammatory properties which exfoliate the skin. A splash of pineapple juice to the face unclogs pores and stimulates collagen production, enhancing the elasticity of the skin and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Coconut milk pairs well with pineapple juice for piña coladas — and for antiaging, too. Two slices of pineapple pulped and combined with two tablespoons of coconut milk prevents dry and dull skin. Wash your face and neck with cold water, then apply evenly. Let it stay for half an hour before washing off with lukewarm water. Try this twice weekly for best results.
Acne face pack
Green tea is known to reduce acne, and we know honey isn’t sweet just on our taste buds. Combining both ingredients with pineapple should give clear skin with repeated use. Add one teaspoon each of green tea and honey to some pineapple pulp and mix thoroughly. Wash your face and neck with cold water and apply in a gentle circular motion using your finger tips. Massage for five minutes then rinse with lukewarm water.
Keep in mind that pineapple contains citric acid, so don’t leave it on your face for too long, otherwise skin irritation and redness may occur. Try a patch test before attempting any of these recipes on your entire face.
The varied topographies of Caribbean islands offer endless alternatives for exploring on two wheels — and there’s no better time to start than World Bike Day on 3 June, whether you’re looking for an easy family-friendly ride or prefer something more intense. Here are three journeys that pair the exhilaration of cycling with an introduction to the Caribbean’s natural beauty.
Blue Mountain National Park, Jamaica
Level: piece of cake
Renowned for hiking, camping, and coffee, the mountain range in eastern Jamaica is also a cyclists’ favourite. At the start, your head will be in the clouds — literally — since Blue Mountain Peak is the tenth tallest in the Caribbean. Feel the tranquillity of nature first-hand as you coast down the slope through thick canopies of green. Over eight hundred species of plant surround you as you navigate the misty bends in the trail and breathe in crisp mountain air. Sweeping views of Kingston await, and maybe a cup of Blue Mountain coffee? Novice riders can tick this off their bucket list, but if you’re interested in a more challenging ride, names like Triple Bypass and Downpipe Gully give an idea of the prospects. It’s recommended to go with an authorised and reputable guide.
Level: intermediate and determined
With 108 square miles of rolling plains and gentle hills, Antigua is perfectly suited to a cross-country ride. Set aside a day or two to explore, and let’s see how many of Antigua’s reputed 365 beaches you can pedal past. Try starting at the incredible Devil’s Bridge National Park — an ancient reef formation at the island’s east end. Then enjoy the commanding views of iconic Halfmoon Bay to the south. If time permits a tour, Halfmoon Bay National Park is the perfect place to investigate Antigua’s natural biodiversity. Back in the saddle, the Shirley Heights lookout offers outstanding views of English Harbour. After all that aerobic activity, venture on to Turner’s Beach for refreshment, before your feet touch the white coastline of Ffryes Beach in the west.
Tinker’s Trail, St Lucia
This is for the hardcore bikers or adventurers looking to test their fitness — or meet their maker. For approximately eight miles, birdsong and the whizz of speeding bikes fill the rainforest air on St Lucia’s southwest coast. The trail, designed with the assistance of US Olympic cyclist David “Tinker” Juarez, covers varying terrain, allowing you to pace yourself, slightly. The trek includes a continuous steep hill rising a thousand feet from the coast. The scenic reward of the sparkling Caribbean Sea just beyond lush foliage, and the opportunity to ring Tinker’s bell, are worth the climb. Then it’s time to go home. The winding rollercoaster descent along daring precipices makes for a good story.
Shoma the Label’s Tropical Masquerade
New beginnings can be daunting, but Trinidadian designer Shoma Persad trusts in timing. After a challenging year in 2020, she launched her eponymous label earlier this year with her Tropical Masquerade collection. “With fashion, I get to do all the things I love,” she says, “including photography, styling, and marketing. This is where my passions collide.” Shoma the Label amplifies the vibrancy and charisma of Caribbean stories through each handmade piece. And the Spring/Summer 2021 resort wear collection has the quintessential Caribbean flair wrapped in a sophisticated package. “A lot of people look outside for the muse, but I design for the muse inside your head, which is you,” says Persad. These pieces showcase how Caribbean people look beyond Carnival, both glamourous and uplifting. The look reflects “a seemingly structured chaos, equal to a Carnival section, or jungle motif. Ruffles take on the energy of flora and fauna, while cascading features billow like a waterfall.”
The stunning prints for Tropical Masquerade were created by Persad in collaboration with designer James Hackett. Visit shomathelabel.com for more information.