Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Break from Toronto

The party no tun up.. it tun ova...

***

Screws, sulfur pools, Dominica


So I was told Dominica has no excitement or night life.

I was deceived.

My first Friday comprised of bar hopping, lots of food and shots...!

***

One of the things I found most interesting is... Dominica looks a lot like Grenada, but their approach to their country is quite different. For one, the capital Rosseau is not dirty. I can walk around St. George's and sometimes see chips bags, bottles, plastic bags along the road side. This is not to say it's an epidemic here. We are taking initiatives to eliminate littering. However, I can still ride on a public bus and see a school child toss their candy wrappers out the window as if outside is a moving garbage bin. In Dominica? I had to look, and look hard. The streets had the dusty feel typical of busy, high traffic towns. That sort of grime is unavoidable. But litter? Nothing so.

Somewhere in town


One day when we got home I asked her mum, Aunty Deb, and she said that it is not as surprising as I'm making it out to seem. Apparently, they've taken it a step further than we have in Grenada. Actual companies have "adopted" their block that their business is located and maintain the cleanliness of the area, providing trash cans if necessary. I wonder if this is something that can be implemented locally. I remember when the number of bins on the Carenage were reduced, so then you had to walk twice as far to throw your garbage.

Lhana and I at Screws


Their natural attractions are similar, if not the same as ours. But their approach to marketing the same idea? Every tourist site Lhana brought me to (which believe it or not, I made it to most of the popular ones) was very clean, with secure railings, posts with clear signs and directions. Even the regular roads have signs indicating the percentage of the angle of inclination of the slope to facilitate tourists unfamiliar with the terrain. Not only are the sites well kept, but they do things to make your visit pleasant. For example, we went to Screws which is a developed fun site containing a sulfur spring. We have sulfur springs in Grenada. Ask me how accessible it is to get there? And what kind of vehicle one might need to access the nice ones?

(These are compiled vid clips from my instragram)

At Screws, which isn't the only sulfur spring on the island, has taken the time to develop several pools. Some are warm, others hot and then there are cool pools to close your pores and refresh your spirit. In the background, light reggae music permeates the air, not too loud to distract you from the sounds of water flowing. Fancy eh? Apparently you can even get a doctor's prescription to access their pools for therapy. At the end of your stay, you are given a platter of fresh fruits.



There's a small charge but that goes towards maintenance of the site. The other sulfur spring developed similarly takes it a step further... I didn't get the opportunity to go because there was no reason for me and Lhana to need a personal pool. However, couples and friends could book personal enclosed private pools for a set period of time. Hint hint!! How cool is that? Why are we not doing this here in Grenada?

Girly primping
How we get ready for the night life.


As for the night life? Yes, there isn't that much of parties happening. However, there's that little trend of everyone following the crowd wherever it seems to be going until a new hot spot happens. While I was there, it wasn't the club Kokonuts, but a bar called Marva's noted for their fish. (You can get fish almost anywhere on the island). This bar isn't particularly fancy, but it is well known for their food...and everyone turned up on a Friday night. We frequented the Reggae Lounge very often in the earlier part of the trip. Engaged in shot taking and lots of food eating.

Mouth diver shots at the Reggae Lounge



(These are compiled vid clips from my instragram, hence why they're so abrupt and poorly edited and synced.)
Tequila shots at After 4 Lounge
After 4 Lounge, shrimp alfredo


However, there were a few spots like Spiders, that Lhana brought me by, that by day when it's closed, I'd wonder what kind of ghetto neighbourhood she's trying to bring me in to get shot... only to discover when the place opens by night, it's classy with nice lights, flat screen tvs, tasteful art. Truly an open mouth, insert foot moment. She kept telling me about these amazing pies that gets sold out quickly. I was suspect looking at the building. At night? We did have to fight to get pies. The place was incredibly busy. And Shellon? I was busy being mystified at the transformation. The pies and chicken were legit - totally worth lining up around the corner for. It's also worth noting that the only rum shops I saw that resembled the ones from home were in the Carib territory. I remember being brought in a "ghetto rum shop" and wasn't aware of being in the ghetto until her friend who brought us there, and informed us. This ghetto rum shop was as unnecessarily cold as SGU library, with flat screen tvs, pool boards. I heard a rumour that rum shops could afford to look like this because they run on drugs money. But that's cool, didn't put me out, I was there for the good food.

Steam fish
The "ghetto rum shop" with amazing steam fish.


Banana Tree Bar
As for the night life? I remember my dear friend Tuesday told me last night when I went to NY, "Honey, at our age we don't do clubs anymore, we do bars." I think she would've loved Dominica. Lhana and I would park, and then spend the night walking from bar to bar. My favourite was Banana Tree. I was amazed at how well done and classy most of the places looked.

Having a fancy girly strawberry umbrella drink at Reggae Lounge

Fort Young Hotel

Restaurants here in Grenada, the kitchen closes at 10pm. In Dominica, it seems like the kitchen closed when you stop coming and asking for food. I got shrimp alfredo after midnight at After 4 lounge, while waiting on our tequila shots, listening to smooth jazz and watching videos on the flat screen tv. Fort Young hotel happy hour also has food and drinks. I just didn't have the patience to figure out how to get the food as the layout is a bit different from a bar and the wait was longer as the happy hour is busy.





 Escape bar is so gorgeous. As per usual, what I wanted to know about was the food. Yes, you can reserve a table at midnight and order delicious platters of yummy goodies. I swear I think I saw a platter of shrimp goodies for 20-something EC.

Escape Bar
Coke & Hennesy at Escape
Cheers to epic nights.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Is where the bouyon playing? (767)

My super amazing boyfriend gave me a laptop yesterday as a gift. So now instead of trying to make a netbook do laptop work, I have no excuses to not publish posts in a timely manner. I can finally edit everything ideally in a full sized screen. (Yay me!)

With that said, I can finally get those old posts from summer I had intended to write. I feel now is a good time to state that many of the minor details have since faded from memory but the epicness of the experience I hope to still be able to portray in these consequent posts. My summer getaway choice was somewhat unorthodox and spontaneous as this summer I found myself in exploring the Nature Isle of the Caribbean.

Why Dominica you ask?

Well I had the opportunity to meet a Dominican friend in Physics 1 at SGU. We bonded through the suffering of classes and exams and then found ourselves together again to endure Chemistry 2. At that point we decided to not make the universe conspire more to form a friendship, and we were close since. Along the way many other little friendships were formed and we were all toying with the idea of the trip. Somehow envisioning the trip in our mind the way MTV made Cancun look on Spring Break back in the day. In the end, the big group resulted in just me going.

Me on the plane..

Right above the clouds.



To be honest, I had no idea what exactly to expect from the trip. As fate would have it, I bounced into folks who had visited there before and gave me a list of "must-see" places. My mom insisted there was no night life. My dad insisted I'd love it as there was a lot of nature stuff to do. My friend? She's a city girl who doesn't like the bush, nor mosquitoes, nor cute furry wild animals or the sea.

Lhana, my friend, did an awkward job preparing me. For one, she got me adequately fearful of surviving the landing with strange stories of very rough landings and wind currents making it impossible to land due to mountainous terrain and even actual crashes. Other people correlated her story. What really happened? I found myself mesmerized by how many coconut trees were visible in the forest from above land. Then I found myself fantasizing about how much coconut water much be available on the island and how much I would drink. Then next thing I know? I'm on the ground, smooth landing. I found the flight to be super quick. Literally felt like I hopped a bus from my home, to town, then to country. The ability to be one place now and another then still marvels me sometimes.

Look at all the trreeeeeeesssss....! I know you can't really see how many coconut trees are there.. But I swear it looks like there's almost a plantation happening.



Then I arrived. I think the drive from the airport took me longer to get to my friend's house than the actual plane flight. I stayed in Castle Comfort, near Rosseau, high enough to see a beautiful sunset every day if I so desired. My taxi driver did an amazing job bringing me up to speed on what to expect on the island. He made me wonder (not saying that we don't...just never been a tourist on my island) if our local taxis invested this much time for no extra charge to sell Grenada. Leatherback turtles are protected there as they are in Grenada. My taxi driver was a part of the group that tries to protect him. He told me stories of how skilled some of the hunters are to know when turtles would come on shore by the moon and weather. The wildlife is pretty similar to Grenada but they also have agouti. I wasn't blessed with the opportunity to see one but I heard they were super cute. Everything wild is protected, right down to the mountain chicken (frog), and seasonal. They take these things so seriously that there's even Iguana crossings. Yes, it's illegal to bounce an iguana trying to cross the road. It so happens that Lhana failed to bring me up to speed on all this seasonal stuff that it seemed like the only thing readily available was typical stuff like fish or chicken, etc. However, no complaints here.

Normally, I'm iffy when it comes to fish. It's a moody, sometime-ish, if I feel like, maybe, sorta, kind of decision making process. I approached it with the same mindset... and then when I tried it, my world changed. While Grenada with it's not so active nightlife is more active than Dominica. Shellon, the foodie, was able to get food at any hour she desired. And when I discovered steam fish, you can bet your bottom dollar I pestered Lhana to help me acquire it.

In Dominica, there are little food places that open at night and serve amazing food. When it comes to fish, it's not like here where you take what is offered and prepared. Instead, when you go, there is a big basin of seasoned fish. You pick which fish you want. Then tell the chef how you want it done - steam, fried, etc. and then patiently wait for your meal to be prepared. Everything was oh-so-delicious. If I so desired jerk or grilled chicken, pork or fish, that was readily available late at nights reliably from I'Cho (It's hot).



Things I found most curious... In Dominica, both the top and bottom of the windscreen is tinted. Some vehicles have straight tints, some have wavy ones like this one in Lhana's mum's car, some have a heavy tint with a narrow slit.


We outchea..!

Monday, November 17, 2014

How come every time you come around my London, London bridge... wanna go down like London, London, London

"Drinks start pourin'
and my speech start slurrin'
erry' body start lookin' real good"
-"London Bridge" Fergie

***

It was only recently I realized how easily music can bring me back to specific time and place with specific people. I've always heard my parents speak about it but I just assumed maybe I'm too young to have that much to look back on.

However, I realized something. How can I look back with music if everything is so present tense with what I listen to? 

I proceeded to dig up my archives. I found my old Linkin Park, J.E.W., T.B.S., etc collections which brought me back to my teenage days and college days. I found that "When I grow up" song by  the Pussycat Dolls that reminded me specifically of a trip to New York. "Bombs over Baghdad" by Outkast and "Raise up" by Petey Pablo reminds me of my last trip to Chicago when I was 16. My cousins and I had gone to an amusement park and one I the rides played Outkast on repeat.

Most recently, I visited Dominica and my friend was more up to date with current music than I. So now every time I hear certain songs, it transports me to a time and place of night escapades and adventures and car rides. Ahh yes... youth. 

I remember when I first heard "Get free" by Major Lazer. It played at a rave she convinced me to go to and I remember it playing and asking her who it was and she looked at me incredulously. Needless to say, I killed this track when I visited her in Dominica.

And my title? Many a day of loud singing and giggles with Sherry in our late teens/early 20s strolling through town or dancing in my room.

Then there are specific Movado an Vybz Kartel songs from circa 2006-2007 that bring me back to when I first started seriously going to parties and now entering college. The beginning of my young adult experience.

It's amazing how vivid and transforming each memory attachment to these specific songs are. I guess now that I'm more open to the experience I shall be more aware of connections.

Do you have these moments too? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada

I very recently have come across the most amazing opportunity to get to be an assistant artist on a new underwater sculpture project that's going to be placed in our underwater sculpture park in Molinere. I'm assisting an amazing Norwegian artist, Lene Kilde. She has done lots of sculpture and wire work, in addition to book illustrations/drawings. I hyperlinked her name to a Google search so you could glimpse her work.

It's only been one evening thus far, but I've learnt and learning so much in an area I have had little experience in but have always found intriguing.

The most current piece she's working on are two folktales, one is the La Diablesse and The Nutmeg Princess. La Diablesse is supposed to be a woman that lures men... She's very beautiful and wears a broad hat that hides the demonic part of her face and has one cow foot and one human foot.

The following are snippets from what has been done thus far.

She sculpted a clay model by hand. Then we painted on vaseline and release cream.



The work area...

Mixing the silicone to do the mask.


The goopy stuff got all over my fingers. However, when it dried it was easy to peel off, fingerprints perfectly copied and all.

Fully coated, waiting to put the plaster on over it.

That's all so far folks.
I'll try to keep you posted.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

End the absurdity of Inequality #Inequality


#Bad14 #BlogAction14
Blog Action Day

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
-George Orwell, "Animal Farm"

***

When I think about inequality as a topic, I find it overwhelming to try to select just one aspect of it. There's so many instances that we all run into on a daily basis - be it the media, work, the streets, life on a whole.

For me, being someone of mixed descent, originating from a country that has still yet to come to grips that people do mix descent, the topic of inequality of race comes to mind. Growing up in Grenada, I wasn't forced to recognize the potential negative reactions of having black in me as the island is predominantly black. This, in turn, brought about an entirely different dynamic.

In Guyana, from what I've gathered and witnessed as an outsider, as the country is predominantly Indian, it is the culture that prevails. That's fine, it's typical for which ever race is dominant to have the dominant, accepted culture. However, the roots of slavery has shaped the culture of how colour lines are drawn. Instead of everyone being seen as equal, the Indians who entered as indentured workers saw themselves as better than the Africans that came on the slave ships. Of course, everyone knows in retrospect it was a deliberate act by the slave masters to maintain control through maintaining division of the people. Likewise, the dividing of the slave body with preference of certain slaves to be house slaves and others to be field slaves.

Yes, that was hundreds of years ago. However, it is still very much present today on a subtle level. Amongst Indian Guyanese, especially the elders, I have felt that quiet understanding of having to conform to being as Indian as possible. Anything done outside of eating the food, customs, dress, etc. is seen as quiet betrayal and dismissal of culture. Funnily enough, most black Guyanese that I've met have welcomed me openly without feeling much pressure. I recall once overhearing an elderly Indian Guyanese lady whisper to my mom, "Do you know her boyfriend is black?" I was so amused and disturbed by such an obvious question to ask my mother...especially as he's mixed like me, just darker. When I pointed it out to mom, she explained that some of the older folks just can't shake their way of thinking. It's not that easy as it's something cultural that they grew up with.

In Grenada, I've noticed that while I don't feel pressured to feel bad about having black descent as well, I've been encouraged to feel I have "good hair" and "high colour." As I have gotten older, through discussions with friends, I have heard stories about those that have been teased about being "tar babies," having a broad nose and heavy build to the point where... as adults, they now wish to do plastic surgery to make their noses straighter and smaller, make their bodies slimer, to bleach their skin.

I've witnessed first hand within school systems preference given to lighter skinned and white children over black children. In fact, I've heard disturbing stories of witnesses of black babies being handled roughly, whilst the lighter babies and white babies get treated tenderly.

Then I have heard of lighter skinned boys being picked on for money and things because it's assumed that they will have it because they are fair. Also, I've heard of the preference for fair folks for some jobs. I don't even have to mention our trusting nature of foreign "investors" to start businesses here or outsourcing skilled folks when we have skilled folks right here... but that's leading into another discussion about inequality.

For me, I won't say I'm perfect or that I'm not guilty of committing some stereotype that leads to inequality of people. But what I would say is that when it comes to race, I shut it down one time and try my best not to see colour.

I don't buy into the "good hair" or "high colour" philosophy. If someone points out that I have gotten darker from being in the sun in an upset tone, I ask why it's an issue? If someone points out that I have pretty long hair, I ask what's wrong with tighter coils of curls? If someone tries to define me as inherently either, I clarify - I'm mixed.

To claim one over the other, is to deny self. At this point in history, I think enough time has passed for the population to be a mixed pool of genes anyways to make a claim of a singular race relevant. Also, it's obvious that division of the people in their mind leads to division of people in the nation. If people can't get over colour lines, they're doomed to continue repeating the patterns that made slavery successful in the first place... and contributing to the subtle profits of the system.

The media has portrayed so many examples of  this inequality still existing. I remember when that Trayvon Martin story were all the headlines and hearing the mixed views. I had met people who said he deserved it because he looked like a criminal because he's a young, black male wearing a hoodie. Ironically, some of those same people voted against Obama in his first election on the premise that he's black and he won't be able to lead a country the way a white man would. Now there's Fergerson. Let's not forget how different racial groups were portrayed during the New Orleans Hurricane years back. I have even seen the insinuations that with this new Ebola crisis, a treatment only suddenly existed when a non-brown person contracted it... Ironically, the first person in America to die from it wasn't given the same treatment and guess what race he was?

I've stopped following the media as intensely as I once did, there's too many inequalities that are obvious to depress me. I think the world would be a very different place if we consciously tried to change the way we think.

The most relevant solution that I can think of is something a friend posted recently. To solve not just the inequality issue I've mentioned in this post, but the ones the participating voices across the blogosphere have brought up. Chances are you may or may not have heard it already... and if you have, I suggest you listen to it again.

#End #Inequality