Saturday, May 2, 2009
ISLAND ROOTS HERITAGE FESTIVAL
ISLAND HERITAGE FESTIVAL is celebrated every year on GREEN TURTLE CAY with noise, costumes, music and dance, and like every good event, there are the stalls with an abundance of items, many locally made and very unique, and of course tons of Bahamian food. We had motored out of MARSH HARBOUR to GT over blue-green waters, never more than 12 feet (3m.) deep, here and there dotted with islands. The Festival celebrates the cultural heritage of all the islanders, the religious escapees from Bermuda, the English loyalists, the slaves, the wreckers, the pirates and the modern day settlers. There is a beautiful blend of all shapes and colours living in absolute harmony with one another, as the historical photos on the display-boards showed.
Climb the mast and look around and you see GREEN as far as the eye can see. Here and there is an island barely 20 feet above the water, and upon arrival, in Green Turtle Cay, the "Queen", with an eye for culinary delights talks to Patrick about the finer art of 'conch' preparation.
Mr. Richard "Blue" Jones, gave us wonderful talk on Bahamian bush medicine that goes back to the days of slavery. He now grows various medicinal plants for everyday use.
FEVER GRASS for diarrhea, flatulence and stomach ache, GUM ELEMI used for a poultice and the leaves are used for an aphrodisiac tea called " 21 gun salute on Cat" and LIGNUM VITEA, also called ironwood, the wood is so dense it doesn't float. In 1700 it was considered the "Penicillin" of the time with bark used as a cathartic, fruit as a vegetable to rid the body of pains and the flower as a laxative. There were many others if you double-click on the photos. Call us if you need help with any ailments. "Blue" said there was no bush that helps with an IRS anxiety syndrome.
As usual, everybody arrived either by dinghy or golfcart, but none were as hip as this one, fully fitted out with fancy wheels and a boom-boom-box. Pimp Daddy's truck. A tailgater's dream in paradise.
Day 2 of the Festival is the dancing and the "junkanoo" costumes. This dates back to the African slavery days, when only three days of holidays per year were allowed, The 25th & 26th of December and the 1st of January. A certain "John Canoe" led a small uprising demanding that on the first of the year the slaves be allowed to dress up in their tribal regalia and dance their ancestral dances. Today the tradition is still celebrated as " JUNKANOO". A festival of costumes and dance (more like trance than dance). Here the Queen is given a glimpse of tomorrow's feathers and finery. Saw a man and his stall with nothing but Conch shell ornaments. Laddles, bowls, necklaces, picture frames, trinkets and baubles. If it could be made in tupperware he could make it out of conch shell. Conch is big, super big in the islands. There was even a conch cracking competition, here showing a couple of white folks having a go........... and the black Bahamians giving commentary and taking pictures. Now that's a historical turnaround.