Thursday, August 28, 2008
St. Lucia's Rose Festival, part of the Feast of Saint Rose De Lima, honors the regal flower with great pomp and ceremony, including a royal kingdom complete with king, queen, dignitaries and loyal subjects. The official rose proceedings take place on August 30th, but this important event demands careful preparation and all-night partying! Every Saturday night for the past month, people have been meeting for all-night singing and dancing sessions, raising money for the costumes that will be part of this festival. At each meeting, people dress up in last year's fancy dress - as bright as the vivid colors of the local Jacquot bird that flits about the island of St. Lucia. No one is allowed to see the current year's costumes before the big day. This Saturday, everyone will march to church for a service, before parading through the streets. Then it is off to the main hall for the Grand Fete. While the "King" and "Queen" of the Rose Festival may not be VIPs, St. Lucia's social hierarchy is out in strength on this day, with all the local bigwigs, government members and even the prime minister attending the occasion. When the singing gets going, led by the lead singer, drums start beating, guitars start playing, and the maracas start shaking. Like many Caribbean parties, this celebration is sure to become so exuberant, that it continues well into Sunday! If you have any pictures from this from fun festival, please send them to us to post! -Donna
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
For those of you that like a good laugh, the Caribbean has its own way to tickle your funny bone. Starting this Friday, August 29th, St. Martin will play host to the Caribbean Comedy Festival. Held annually, the CCF promises three days of laughs, music and beach parties. The event kicks off on Friday with Music Concert Night, featuring HipHop and Reggae artists, local musicians and dancers. Saturday and Sunday will feature popular stand-up comedians from the US and later, international DJ's will spin the tunes for festive after-parties. Other activities will include beach events, boat trips, and golf sessions throughout the weekend. Who ever said this is the "down-season" in the Caribbean? -Donna
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Thursday, August 21, 2008
If you have ever flown into St. Vincent to start your charter, you know how tiny, cramped, and well-bascially nothing of an airport it is. Even the residents agree. So, needless to say, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent is thrilled to have building underway for a new airport in Argyle. Physical work to pave the way for the construction of an international airport on mainland St. Vincent began last week with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves using a bulldozer to demolish one of the buildings that was to be removed to make way for the earthworks. Following Gonsalves' symbolic start of the construction, Vincentian and Cuban heavy-duty equipment operators started the earthworks. According to estimates provided by the International Airport Development Company (IADC) the construction cost of the airport is EC$589 million and should be completed by the year 2011. St. Vincent has had a little help from her friends in making this airport happen. Gonsalves has put together a number of countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Taiwan, Mexico, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago in what he calls, "the coalition of the willing", to aid in the construction of the airport. If you have photos of the airport construction/progress, please share them with us.- Donna
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
This time of year is the "off-season" in the Caribbean, mainly because it is the height of hurricane season. If you are willing to take the risk and have trip cancellation insurance, you can find some great deals for a sailing vacation! The islands are very quiet this time of year. Many businesses take advantage of the down-time to either spruce up their establishments or take a much needed break. If you are heading to the BVI, following are some of the restaurants that are temporarily closed or are on a limited schedule:
Anegada: Neptune's Treasure-Closed September 1-October 15th
Virgin Gorda: Leverick Bay Restaurant - Closed Aug. 1-Nov. 23rd; Bitter End Yacht Club-Closed Aug. 27-Oct. 6th; Biras Creek - Closed Sept. 1-Oct.15th; Saba Rock- Closed Aug. 28-?
Jost Van Dyke: Soggy Dollar Bar-Opened for lunch only; Foxy's - Closed for dinner through Sept.; Harris'- closed Aug. 15th - Sept.
Peter Island: Oceans 7 - Closed through Sept.
Norman Island: Willy T- Opened but maintenance work being done August and September
Cane Garden Bay: Quito's- Closed Aug. 19th-Oct. 10th; Stanley's - closed
Trellis Bay: De Loose Mongoose- Closed mid August - mid October; The Last Resort - closed Aug. 23-mid Oct.;
Marina Cay: Pusser's - closed September
East End: Tamarind Club - Closed Aug. 4th - late Sept.
Road Town: Cappriccio Di Mare- Open for lunch and dinner only, Aug. 18-Sept.6 & in Sept. closed Saturdays and Sundays; The Pub- Closed Sept. 8 - Oct. 13; The Dove - closed August; Spaghetti Junction- Closed Sept. 7-22
West End/Soper's Hole: Jolly Roger - Closed July 27-Oct.1; Sebastian's - Closed Sept. 1 - Oct. 10
If I have made any mistakes or you hear of other closings, let me know. If you plan a trip now, this is your chance to provision and cook aboard! -Donna
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Thursday, August 14, 2008
If you have recently taken a ferry from Red Hook or Charlotte Amalie to start your BVI charter, you may have been a bit confused. When we got to Red Hook, the only sign we saw was for Native Son. When we asked, we were told by the ticket agent that Smiths and Native Son had merged and there was now only one ferry. Our taxi driver at West End told us that Smiths was charging too much and folded, while Native Son had a reasonable fare for BVI residents that were going to St. Thomas for their weekly shopping. However, on our return trip at the end of the charter, we were approached by 3 different agents at the ferry dock in West End. Apparently, there are still at least 3 companies that operate ferries between Tortola and St. Thomas on a regular basis and they are all fiercely competitive with one another. We ended up taking the "Fast Ferry" - a trip I would not recommend if you tend to get sea-sick. Although air-conditioned, it is all enclosed seating with limited visibility. It travels from West End to Charlotte Amalie and the trip not only seems endless, but it can get a bit rough as you round the coast of St. Thomas. Several meetings have been held between officials of the Ministry of Communications and Works and the BVI Port Authority and the administrators of the US Virgin Islands to work out new schedules in order to facilitate both the travelling public as well as the owners of the ferry services. The goal of the meetings is to find the best solution for all parties involved while at the same time providing the public with a schedule that is reliable. There are at least ten different schedules between the two territories everyday which convey hundreds of passengers. Has anyone else experienced the "ferry fight?" - Donna
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Caribbean Community has sent several athletes to the Olympics in Beijing this year. Countries represented include: Bahamas(22); Jamaica (57); Antigua and Barbuda (5); Barbados (8); Belize (4); Bermuda (6); Cayman Islands (4); Grenada (9); Guyana (4); St. Kitts and Nevis (4); St. Lucia (4); St. Vincent(2); and Trinidad and Tobago (30). Most of the competitors are in events like track and field and swimming, but a few are participating in equestrian, taekwondo, sailing and boxing. A question was raised whether, with the tough economic times, it would be better for the Caribbean community to form one team, rather than have individual nations represented? There was one occasion when a joint Caribbean team competed in the Olympics. That was in 1960 when Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago entered a joint team known as the British West Indies Federation (BWI). The team won two bronzes for the 800 m and the men's 4x400m relay. With the formation of the West Indies Federation in 1958, the West Indian Olympic Association was established. The dominant members of this body were Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, whose athletes formed the nucleus of the two West Indies teams that participated in international Olympic competition. The West Indies Olympic Association then participated in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Jim Wedderburn became the first Barbadian athlete to gain an Olympic Medal as a member of the West Indies 4x400 relay team. In addition to Wedderburn, the team was also comprised of Jamaicans George Ezekiel Kerr, Malcom A. E. Spence and Keith Alvin Saint Gardner. Together they won the Bronze medal. Kerr also won an individual Bronze medal in the men's 800m. So, what do you think? Should the Caribbean community compete as a team or preserve their individual national identities? - Donna
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It is that time of year again when Carnival season kicks in to full gear in the Caribbean. Many of the islands have their celebrations, including St. Lucia, Antigua, Canouan, the BVI, and Grenada, but here are some smaller festivals that you may not know about: St. Lucia hold its Annual Market Vendor's Feast during August. Castrie's market vendors celebrate their feast day with a religious service followed by a festival of food where you can sample local dishes. Montserrat holds the Annual Cudjoe Head Celebration August 2-3. This colorful street festival named after a runaway slave, includes sporting competitions, music and masquerade performances. August 2-4 is time for Grenada's Rainbow City Festival. This festival takes place in Grenville, the largest town of St. Andrews Parrish. It is marked by a plethora of arts and crafts against a backdrop of music, cultural performances, street dancing and drinking. Guadeloupe marks the Festival of the Women Cooks on August 10th. This is a culinary nirvana that features a five hour banquet to which all are invited. Decked in Creole dress and carrying baskets of traditional foods, women parade through the streets of Pointe a Pitre to the cathedral where they are blessed by the Bishop. Then, there is a parade followed by the banquet and dancing. At the end of the month, St. Lucia holds the Rose Festival. This festival honors the regal flower with great pomp and ceremony including a royal kingdom complete with a King, Queen, dignitaries and loyal subjects. Every Saturday during the month, people will meet for all night parties, singing and dancing while they work on elaborate costumes. On August 30th, the people will go to church for a special service, then parade through the streets to the main hall for the Grande Fete. This is complete with singing, drum beats, guitars, maracas, dancing and an all night party. No matter where you go, you do not need an elaborate festival to have a great time in the islands, but at this time of year, you are sure to find some type of Caribbean celebration. If you have been to any of these festivals, we would love to post your photos and share your experiences. -Donna