Fun at the Festival
04 May 2008 | Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
Beth - on a bright and sunny day
We've been so lucky in our timing for stops at Green Turtle Cay - the Junkanoo on New Years Day and the Island Roots Heritage Festival in May. The folks on this Cay know how to throw a party!
The theme of this year's festival was "The Jewel in the Crown" celebrating the Commonwealth connection and Loyalist roots. Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria were both here, along with Mad King George, first Bahamian Governor Woodes Rogers and an assortment of pirates and fire dancers. Also present were the very real - no acting required - Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, the Royal Bahama Police Band, experts giving lectures on flora and fauna, archaeology, Loyalist history, rail history, bush medicine. Several rake n' scrape bands provided music; games and activities for children went on from noon until dusk both Friday and Saturday. The bright colours and bone-deep drumming of a Junkanoo Rush Out reminded us of the full Junkanoo we experienced on New Years Day.
Local girls performed a Maypole Dance and it was a beautiful sight to see. They wore long white dresses, colourful bolero vests and ribbons in their hair. Most were barefoot and the ribbons of the pole were the Bahamian Colours - turquoise, black and yellow. They did a simple twining first and then a complicated in and out dance as the ribbons twisted perfectly. It was one of those things where one misstep would disturb the pattern but they knew their dance.
The whole thing came to an end with an Ecumenical church service on Sunday morning. The sermon "went a little south" for me when the minister talked about God creating the beautiful garden of Eden for Adam but then Eve got into the action and "it all went south from there." (I have this problem with literal interpretations of the Bible!) Fortunately the music was fine - good gospel hymns where the spirit of the words and the rhythm of the music are what count.
Because this was our last Bahamian Party, we ate all the local foods (ribs, chicken, fish, fritters, with macaroni, peas'n rice, guava duff) and drank all the famous drinks (Goombay Smashes, Yellow Birds, Pirates Passions, and Kaliks) we could manage. We picked up one more loaf of delicious and fragrant coconut bread and a couple of red snappers that we marinated in Bahamian Hot Sour, and then grilled to perfection. Eaten under the stars with sides of rice and plantains, it was a piece of heaven. Jim and I managed to stay awake late both nights - in fact we were still ashore enjoying the music at 11 pm on Saturday - that's about 2 hours after our usual bedtime.
About the music -local bands Island Spice and the Gully Roosters played early evenings; the Lassido Boys kicked up a storm of rake n'scrape both nights and the Royal Bahamian Police Pop Band closed out the evenings. The police band could march and twirl and put a Bahamian spin on the usual sorts of marching music, and then totally get into the fun of dance music after they doffed their fancy white uniforms (ornamented with leopard skins for the drummers.)
The Prime Minister arrived in a golf cart with just two people accompanying him and proceeded to walk about the festival grounds greeting folks. We thought his walk about would be more informal than anything found in Canada and it surely was. I managed to get myself in place to shake his hand and told him I was visiting from Canada's Capital city. He responded with a smile and a "Welcome". Canadian flags flew from poles along the streets along with Bahamian, Great Britain, USA, and the Conch Republic (a tongue in cheek Key West, Florida). Jim said I should get back in line and ask the Prime Minister if the Bahamian Department of Justice needs a Canadian Consultant so we could get back here again soon!