Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘islands’

“Hey Mon, Would you like to see my jewelry?”

A: “No, I’m all set.”

IMG_6663The cottage industry, Roaming Beach Vendors, aka, the band of people who stroll the resort sands past the chaise lounges of relaxing tourists perched under the midday sun, deserves the respect it never gets. Find a country, island, beach cove, or open expanse of seashore and you will experience the creativity of the entrepreneur. Free trade is a curious thing. Put it on the internet and (if legal) it is a normal part of our culture. Put it on the beach during the primetime of your well-deserved vacation, and something changes.

The West Indies Islands are remarkable in creativity from the local merchant, homeopathic herbalist attendant, masseuse, artist, watersports sales agent, food vendor/cook, and brownie salesman.  Oh, did I mention wood-carver?  Not only have I been engaged by one of these energetic trades, but I have searched them out in various lands. Fondly, the strong palms of the Thai masseuse, clad in white linen, head to toe, with that genuine smile, remains in my memory.  On a chaise under an umbrella steps from the lapping waters on the salty shore is the perfect place for the back and shoulder rub down in the fifty or so minutes.  What value, too.  And, there’s more.  Who might pass up the opportunity to listen to the comical stories of the beach comic, as he tries out a string of his latest jokes on the sunning tourists.  Shouldn’t that act be worth a few shekels ?  Many of my beach vendor friends have many jobs.  Take my comic friend, ” the Mighty Bassman”, as his real job is to pace the full several miles of beach promoting with a bullhorn the merits of attending the nightclub /beach bar for that evening.  ” It’s going to be Hot, Hot, Hot!  Come to the Party at Alfred’s Bar. Remember, Ladies are alway free! Hot, Hot, Hot.”

20121028_37 It is hard work, as the Jamaicans call it: Hustlers or Chiselers. I am certain the downturn of the North American/ European  economy has touched the livelihood of many of the vendors. From firsthand experience, I have seen the numbers of unused beads amass in the hands of the hair-braiding ladies. Fewer little corn-rowed children roam the classrooms after vacation week.  Belt-tightening certainly affects all the vendors. Music prevails on the beach, as the creativity of these local artist come through. Put three guys with dreadlocks, Hawaiian shirts, an aged tambourine, Guitar and old bass fiddle in front of you, playing a Bob Marley song.  As the bass fiddle is held together with ducktape, and the songs are in key, I open my wallet.  These artists become my regulars, or I, theirs.  I may be easy, but I like it.  Perhaps, I may be convinced to begin a foundation for the advancement of beach vendors, or to establish the Beach Vendor Senior Citizen Home.  In any case, I have grown with the beach vendors, heard their stories, watched them age, and have seen some leave us, like BanjoMan.

IMG_6656Negril Beach is seven miles long and the best beach in Jamaica. BanjoMan would begin his day on one end and finish the full distance and return at day’s end.  All was under the hot sun. He weighed a mere 140 pounds and wore khaki shirt and pants, a floppy straw hat and carried that ole -timey four string banjo, on bare feet.  I could guest that I first met him at his age seventy.  He lacked several teeth; top and bottom. He could play and he could sing.  BanjoMan wasn’t much of a talker, but I think it was his humility.  He could play:” The Harder they come, the harder they fall” and all the others.  The beach vendors mostly adored him, as I did. One season BanjoMan hung up his instrument for all time.

Who invented Aloe?  Yuck, these beach vendors roam the sands with aloe fronds in hand, looking for hapless idiots to smear a substance of rubber cement on those bodies.  The goop is sticky, yes, can’t wash off and will stain your favorite “T”-shirt. Then, they want you to give them money?  No thank you.  Then I think: ” I just don’t get it”, as the cardboard box on the beach vendors head is full of little reef fish. They are all beautiful in color; sargent majors, parrot fish, tiny grey angel fish. Tourist do not buy fish on the beach. Every week he fishes and offers his catch. He is still in business.

See, the All Inclusive Resort Business on many West Indies Islands has put a dagger in the hearts of these vendors.  Guests do not bring money to the chaise lounges at water’s edge.  One price and then the package is sealed. I say, that you need to bring those dollars. Buy that coconut palm hat that you will alway wear.  Go parasailing several times.  Bring home those Flip Flops.  Have them sing out for you: “Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot”.  And, support your Beach Vendor. You will be glad you did.  Thank you.
IMG_6784 (2)

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Copps Hill Burial Ground      My travel to a new destination is not complete without a journey to a local cemetery.  You may call me bizarre, as others have noted this trait as unusual.  I generally see that the culture of a land and the knowledge of an age long past is before my eyes upon walking past those gates.  A somber reflection, in a dignified manner, into the lives of those departed, opens my eyes to the needs to respect the dead.  The payment of homage and need to glorify the memory of a family member takes on so many differences in the cultures of my travel.  From an early age I found the monuments to the dead intriguing.  The walks through the cemetery take on a peace of their own.  Ancient or modern in design, open wide or grown over set a tone.  The maintainers of the gravesites add to the culture.  My earliest remembrance came from a Victorian era matured cemetery in Connecticut, USA.  Though not in a New England wealthy town, the deceased  retained many beautiful and massive stones over their graves.  Many monuments reflected the touch of the sea with anchors and granite crosses adorned with cherubs and dolphins.  The cedar and cyprus trees were so mature that the shadows fell across most graves in a cloak of sadness.  Pools of fresh water in the hollows on the grounds drew weeping willow branches toward the reflections on the water and tears of leaves  floated down in the breeze. The families of the late 1800’s felt the sadness of loss of the loved ones and those graves clearly let the living feel the grief.

    sabagraveIn the heat of the noonday sun, no cemetery was more striking to explore than the Hassell Cemetery on the 5 square mile  island of Saba in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean Sea.  This island is an upside down ice cream cone with a population of 2,000.  The lilliputian villages are populated by ancient seafaring Scot families and Carib/African descendants. The families had etched a space over several generations to bury the dead.  Volcanic in nature, the land required the above ground vault mausoleums.  These were not like the historic New Orleans, LA style, but more low-rise, in a dense plot of graves.  The island seaman would travel the world and return with glass and ceramic tiles from every culture.  Those tiles were then used to pave every inch of every vault in every color and mixed pattern. The reflection in the sun and the intensity of the blend is a vision of ingenuity.  Most crypts sport an oval photograph of the deceased imbedded on a raised head stone. Like a hotel washroom, the tiles are scrubbed and shined gleaming by the  families.  They were so proud of their graves.

  GreeceChurch On the road to the last vestige of land of the mainland before touching the deep blue Aegean Sea and the islands of Greece, the villages of the Peloponnese area, known as Mani, gives us the color of a proud culture.  These fierce people from ages long past retain the memories of stoic, no, Spartan times in history. This culture retains religious veins of intense respect for the dead.  The honor of the departed parent is most evident here.  The graveyard of Greece is a family place and many times attached to the family’s own individual church. These churches serve as the last resting place.  Black-shawled women tend the grave/vault near the cubic whitewashed structure.  Within a glass-doored wooden tombstone are put vessels of  “holy water” and olive oil, photographs of family, incense, dried flowers, toys, “toma” or the pressed religious icons of silver, painted icons of saints, candles of golden bee’s wax and the list goes on.  The touching sadness of the stuffed toy puppy and the photo of the dark curled haired toddler speaks of this culture.  These are glimpses into a respect for life and the prayers for the departed.  The life of the village revolves around all in the Mani mind-set.

     These and the many chances to walk the paths that the mourners have walked have opened my eyes to a respect for the timeless  museum of granite, marble, slate and the wood.  I place my hand on the chiseled words and feel the warmth of the stone and drink in the sound of the wind through the monuments that draw me to the land of the lost.  The land of the living becomes most real. 

GreeceMani

Read Full Post »

Sunkist2 Island Traveler

This page gives you a little insight of my Travels through my lens.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

The phone does not ring. The messages are eliminated.  The ambient sound is bubbles.

 Negril,JAM1 Image5   Image8 IMG_2203 IMG_2277Image6Image7
 

Read Full Post »

peace

compliments of PhotStock

Ocean Elders convene to save the Caribbean
The Necker Island, British Virgin Islands’ retreat, serves as the location of a symposium for corporate leaders and government officials to save an industry. That industry is the 80 Billion dollar tourism and fishing trade of the Caribbean Islands. The perceived destruction of the infrastructure that supports the ecology of the region and the blatant disregard for the preservation of the most visible sea life is the highlights the discussion.

turtle

compliments of PhotoStock

Led by Virgin Group Ltd, Chairman, Sir Richard Branson and co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Grenada, The Right Honorable Keith Mitchell, lead a group of industry stalwarts of Disney, Starwood Resorts, Sandals Resorts, The Nature Conservancy and a host of Caribbean Goverments. The outcome is promised as a significant agreement to preserve the island water’s resources. These “Ocean Elders” from St. Kitts, Jamaica, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Grenada and more gather to hammer out the desire of the G-20 the save the pelagic species that are so rich to the draw of over 25 Million Visitors each season.

shallow-reef-large

Shark Reef, Bloodybay, Jam

A start is the ban on the hunting and fishing of those species at most risk. The prohibition of shark hunting and the fishing of the eagle and manta ray for two years are to kick off the moratorium. The management of energy ecology will be considered. Regions near the breeding grounds of whales could be directed toward marine reserve status. Waters off of Haiti have been recognized as breeding grounds of the sperm whales. As the tourism industry promotes the Caribbean sea and build the vessels to carry 4000 at one time to the ports, the stresses are evident. These and further discussions of Goverments and leaders, Ocean Elders, if you will, are imperative.

Read Full Post »

No Problem, Mon, Every ting is Irie!

bigup07

My purchase of the vinyl record Rastaman Vibrations in 1976 got me started.  The rest all fell into place, as I picked up guitar, and listened to the Bob Marley lyrics.  Sure, I remember the “ska” tunes of Desmond Dekker’s  The Israelites, and the My Boy Lollipop by Millie Small.  Each had the lilting sway of the island beat and the swagger of Reggae roots.  But, Jimmy Cliff, the Marley Clan, and those Jamaican pioneers of the 70’s showed that one did not have to be a Rastafarian to feel the vibe.

The tribute to artist Bob Marley for the 2013 55th Grammy Awards Ceremony and the emergence of a slew of media advertisements featuring artist Jimmy Cliff at the 2013 Super Bowl Championship for Volkswagen is an image of respect to two of the Jamaican culture’s strongest emotions.  Harmony and independence are summed up in the Jamaican Nation’s independence motto:   Out of Many One People.

Negril Beach posseProfessor Dr. Carolyn Joy Cooper, literary scholar of the Department of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona Jamaica has worked  for the preservation or as she says: ” of the vernacular – that the genuine Jamaicans embraces so wholeheartedly. The class structure is of such that some considers others to be illiterate if they embark on the illumination of the common language of the locals.”  Patois is the distinctive Jamaican language or as ‘Patwa’ being the preferred language of youth.

I began to learn Patwa twenty plus years ago on the beach from Jamaicans. Back-a-Yard, the gathering place of family life, board games, BBQ and Redstripe is the proper place for complete Patwa education. The commitment in the preservation of the Jamaican Creole dialect needs to be supported as true Jamaican Tongue.

IM NEVA NAA BADDA MI, FI WHA GWAAN BACK A YARD IM A JAH KNOW.  ZEEN?   That’s the attitude:” Mind your business and your neighbor’s issues are between he and his maker.” “Do you understand?”

Elvis rules the beachIn that VW Commercial the blonde Tow-Haired Fellow from Minnesota pulls the Beetle into the Managers parking spot after a too long lunch hour and says: EVERY TING CRIS ( “groovy”), BOSS MON?  That is: “Go with the flow, Volks.”

How can you not love this Language.  Want to learn more?  Take a couple of mile stroll along the seven mile sugar sand beach of Negril, Jamaica one day.  For now , ” Respec’, Brudder Mon!”

Read Full Post »

Flying in to Sint Maarten, W. I.Sometimes I think back to a short time before the 1995 Hurricane Luis hovered over Sint Maarten for those thirty-six immeasurable hours and I have to roll my closed eyes back in my nodding head and sigh,”What a waste.” An exposed and windy place is this point of land. No, it looks more like a jagged little island. It is connected to the ironshore coast, but the razor sharp edges of each foothold prevent any temptation to test a pair of Keds. The waves that suck under the hollows on the extreme verticals to the open sea leave the bellowing of the humpback’s long deserved breath. This is a rugged and exposed place. It does not invoke comfort. It is also the touchdown point of the island’s international airport.

When the bohemians found paradise, the Dutch side of this Sint Maarten/ St. Martin tiny island prospered. Small comfortable enclaves sprang up in the secluded nooks and bays. Not fancy, but club-like, these refuges built a following of word-of-mouth guests, who could not think of any alternative. Caravanseri began as this and continued to thrive through the nineteen eighties tourist boom while keeping the intimate character- a home in the tropics.

This brings me to the Pirate of Sint Maarten.

As my little de Havilland Twin-Otter aircraft hovered yards from touch down on the beach front landing strip, waving below was J.J. and the gang outside the villa at Caravanseri. It was a long day on the island of  Saba and my throat was begging for more than those steel cylinders carrying that beautiful air all during a scuba day at 100 feet below on  Saba’s ocean gardens.  At Caravanseri I knew my destination: the open air octogonal restaurant; the Bar, manned by Moncel and the “Pirate”. Fifteen mintutes later, having been hosed down with the villa’s outdoor shower and with a fresh linen shirt,  I was ready to roll. Moncel was ready. Two glasses in hand, and a grin on his face, he began to perform his magic.

THE PIRATE

1 OZ BRANDY
1/2 OZ GALIANO
1/2 OZ B AND B LIQUOR
1/2 OZ CONTREAU LIQUOR
1 OZ VODKA
2 TBLSPOONS CREAM
2 TBLSPOONS COCOCREAM
NUTMEG SPRINKLE
SHAKE ON ICE, SERVE IN A REAL TALL GLASS.

Hurricane Luis for 36 HoursThat year it was all gone ; just a nice piece of barren land with great waves crashing over those jagged rocks. All blown away; villa, octogonal bar, Moncel? (hope not); everything!  But you know, we still have the Pirate, though, we can leave Hurricane Luis for another two hundred years. Enjoy.
UPDATED from October 1999
The hotel was rebuilt under the name Millennium, only to be devastated once more by the 1998 storm: George.  After three months of repairs, it opened to be renamed Caravanseri with 75 rooms and a repaired restaurant on the cliff. Sadly a freak October 1999 storm again destroyed this hotel, shutting it down completely. Thank you Mother Nature!
UPDATE-September 2012 season   A time-sharing hotel of several stories and  re-named Caravanseri is on the location.  The octogonal restaurant is back in the islands. Where’s Moncel?

Read Full Post »

 Still feelin’, Hot, Hot, Hot!

RegGay Blast Off RecordIt seems like ages, but only four years have passed since losing Byron Lee, an icon of the West Indian Culture, and five years from sitting  next to him on a Jamaican Air flight.

At 30,000 feet above the Caribbean, it is not hard to imagine the lilting sway of the coco palms to the music of the islands.  I was on my way to Jamaica and my thoughts drifted to the luxury and pampering I was to receive at a beautiful refuge on the Negril coastline of Jamaica. Yet, while sitting in the airplane seat next to Byron Lee of the orchestra Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, the heart and the rhythm of the islands came alive. Byron Lee, a legend of island music, had made his final tour before his death the following year in November, 2008.

During those past 43 years, Byron Lee had made an indelible mark of cultural style to world music.  On heading back to Jamaica from a September tour of the States, airliners were his lifeline to his home, family, and roots.  Calypso music enhanced with island soca style has infiltrated all parts our lives.  Byron Lee and a few others were the early pioneers of this now contemporary hit. Having finishing a 37 city tour, Byron’s focus was on the newest of over 52 recordings.  “Caribbean Sty-Lee” on V.P. Label was his fusion of the sounds of Bahamas, Trinidad, Belize, Barbados, and of course Jamaica.  That recording “flirts” with reggae, French souk, soca, and a Latin pulse.

Much of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires’ performance schedule included the regional Caribbean carnival scene and Mardi-Gras.  His tours took him to the heart of carnival in Trinidad and on though the season to St. Maarten, St. Croix, and St. Barth.  He toured each island and country while maintaining a band of 14 performers of trumpets, trombones, sax and singers, all backed by that unmistakable calypso sound.  North America has embraced the carnival and the Dragonaires toured to the cities of Toronto, Winnipeg, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, and Brooklyn in NY.  Each city has a carnival to rival the best.

If  “Hot, Hot, Hot”, written by Byron in 1983, has not gotten you up on the dance floor, nothing could.  Other notable hits included “Dollar Wine”, written by Collin Lucas back in 1991, and Byron’s “Tiney Winey” in 1985, also preformed by Arrow.  The music transcends all ethnic lines.

What is the future for Byron Lee’s legacy?

Byron in the 80sHe leaves his family at his Jamaican home, “Sweet Music” in Stony Hill outside of Kingston, while sharing his successes with his grown children.  His concern for the music industry was strong.  As he related, the damage from piracy on the small label hurt the third world artist the hardest.  Fifteen to twenty percent loss to bootleg and piracy is difficult to overcome.  Artists need the support of the fan.  Wise words from an artist who got a break-through to perform several songs in the James Bond movie, Dr. No. in 1961.  When I asked him of his greatest fear, he mentioned the vague concept of retirement, and he turned with admiration to the memory of Ray Charles, who worked into his 70’s, for that lasting inspiration.

The Airliner A-320 was over azure blue sea and descending.  Byron Lee summed his career for me, “My music is a vitamin; it cleans the heart of hunger.”

The band has continued since Lee’s death at 73 years of age, with the name slightly altered to Byron Lee’s Dragonaires. Look for his music on V.P. Label or Atlantic or visit the website at http://www.byronleemusic.com/ and be sure to enjoy the legacy of Byron Lee’s art.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »