Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Yeah Mon Jamaican Independence Day

Yeah Mon Jamaican Independence Day is in full swing and naturally will last a week.

It’s 59 years since the Jamaicans led the way by becoming the first Caribbean country to break from the UK.

Following the experiment of the West Indies Federation between 1958 and 1962.

Where Jamaica led (and leads) its Caribbean neighbours followed.

More independence

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

And Trinidad & Tobago also took the plunge that magical year of 1962.

Barbados followed in 1966 before there was a rush of freedom in the Seventies.

With the Bahamas in 1973, Granada in 1974, Dominica 1978 and St Lucia and St Vincent in 1979.

And Antigua & Barbuda in 1981 and St Kitts & Nevis joining the gang in 1983.

All of which means that there will be a landmark every year to keep us all going for the next few years.

Jamaican jewels

Get down: In Jamaica

Now where once Britain left its footprint on the Caribbean,West Indians have transformed British life.

In the years since we put out the call to come here to help rebuild the post-war UK.

So we probably all think we know the Windies well by now, and Jamaica, and Jamaicans, in particular.

And its British, and more specifically Scottish and Irish links.

Jammin’

Bobbin’ along: Marley

But did you know?

That Jamaica is more than reggae, though there’s plenty of Marley which is good for me.

Try out the ska, mento, dancehall, ragga, dub and rocksteady. And soca, although there’s more of that in the southern Caribbean.

And it’s not just Usain Bolt though who has ripped up the sporting world, though he’s plenty good for us too.

Usain follows in the spikesteps of the marvellous Marlene Ottey and the Don, Don Quarry.

Other kings and queens of sport

Howzat! Chris Gayle

While Elaine Thompson-Herah led a Jamaican 1-2-3 in this month’s Olympics ahead of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson.

Mikey Holding, Courtney Walsh and Chris Gayle are just three of the calypso cricketers; Mike McCallum and Trevor Berbick are Caribbean kings of the ring.

While who can forget the Winter Olympics bobsleigh team who gave us Cool Runnings and the Jamaica football team who reached the World Cup.

Thank God for Jamaica

Praise the Lord: Gospel singing

That the island has more than 100 Christian denominations may come as a surprise.

And more churches, 2.75 per square mile, than any other country in the world.

And, of course, a morning in church (and it will be a morning) and a gospel choir should be on your must-do list when you visit.

And rum

Rum-making

As should the rum bars where for hardened rummies this is what you should order…

Jancraw Batty, which translates as ‘vulture’s ass’ and is under the rum bar counter.

There will be plenty Jancraw Batty raised today.

Yeah Mon Jamaican Independence Day.

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Deals, Europe

Newsday Tuesday – Green for more go

Don’t fret Bandanini and Bandanettes I’m incorporating Cruiseday Tuesday into a new feature as things are moving quickly…. here’s Newsday Tuesday – Green for more go.

We’ve long lobbied for Greece, and particularly its islands to be first off the block with a UK green light and now we’re pushing Cyprus.

Hype for Cyprus

The pool is all mine

My friend Diomedous in Aegeanworld has good news for us.

Pafos on the southwest coast is reporting a 0.000 rate of positive cases!

And in Cyprus as a whole there are 0.1 positive cases which is prompting the Athena Beach Hotel to open up again on June 9.

Seven nights with free half-board upgrade for July departures from £689pp, flying from Gatwick, with other airports available on request.

More ports in the storm

Obrigado: With the Scary One in Portugal Centro

Now wouldn’t it be a treat if we could all broaden our horizons from our current Green List go-to countries of Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland?

The UK Government will be releasing their Travel review on Thursday, June 3, with the new destinations to come in on June 10.

We’re hearing on the grapevine that these ten are mooted because they’re leading the way on vaccinations and Covid rates.

And no, Cyprus, isn’t on it but I know Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps are ardent readers… imagine them in Bandanas.

The perfect ten

The Malta archipelago

So let’s look at some of the ten that could get the green light.

Malta has long held a special place in our heart while we need little invitation to flag up the Caribbean.

Each have their individual merits.

Anguilla and the Caribbean

Caribbean queens: In Anguilla

But on alphabetical order, and because their Minister got off the beach and put down his rum punch to talk to us… let’s headline Anguilla.

Antigua and Barbuda (one country),

The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, St Kitts and Nevis (again a oner) and the Turks and Caicos Islands (you get the picture) complete the Caribbean comeback.

Fiji or there would be a mutiny

Fiji singing

Exotic islands you say? Fiji is being championed too and why not as it has been voted Happiest Place on Earth.

And I put their patience to the test when I tried going native with my Dad Dancing when they brought their show to Dublin.

The big Finnish

Let’s finish our list of contenders with, well with a big Finnish, where we all know they love a sauna and cutting ice circles in lakes to jump into.

And we suspect there will be a mass dunking if they get the nod.

It’s Newsday Tuesday – more Green for go. Go, go, go.

And Bye Bye Love Boat cap’n

The Cap’n

And for most of us Fiftysomethings our first insight into the magical world of cruising wax The Love Boat.

So it was only natural that Princess Cruises should get Captain Stubing on board to serve as their Global Ambassador for 35 years.

May heaven be a calm sea, Cptn Gavin MacLeod.

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland

Oh Ireland in the Sun – Montserrat

There’s an advert on Irish television where the winner of the EuroMillions lottery buys a tropical island for his friends and family… oh Ireland in the sun!

Didn’t he know there was a Caribbean island there already which is more Irish than Ireland?

Montserrat is the tiny 39 and a half sqm Emerald Island of the Caribbean because of its Irish links which run deep.

The Irish have been around the Leeward Island since 1632, sent there from neighbouring St Kitts and later Virginia.

Fly the flag

Sounds of Ireland: The oul’ harp

Montserrat was to build a thriving economy around tobacco and indigo (that’s blue dye) and later tobacco and sugar.

Fast forward to today by way of Cromwell’s transportations, and if it wasn’t for the sun, palm trees, volcano and rain forest you’d swear you were in Ireland.

It’s there in the island flag with its figure of a cailín standing by a cross and holding a harp. We’ll gloss over the Union flag in the corner.

While a shamrock adorns Government House.

The oul’ Shamrock and the oul’ Jock

So why then is Montserrat not a throng of Irish visitors from the Old Country?

Possibly because they prefer the Canaries and there is a lot to like about them but say that it’s Tenerife you love then you’ll love Montserrat too.

Hot-Hot-Hot

The volcano and Arrow’s hot-hot-hot too

There’s the volcano which gives you the distinctive black beaches shared by both islands, though there is one white beach that we all love too on Montserrat.

While there’s evidence of the volcano’s activity in the form of a buried city, and now St Vincent’s has awoken and is erupting the focus switches south to the ghost town of Plymouth.

The best place to view it is from the Garibaldi Hill viewpoint or the viewpoint from Jack Boy Hill on the east of the island following a short hike.

Combined, of course, with a trip to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

Your own beach?

While Montserrat’s Irishness is all around you in its symbols (the shamrock stamp in your passport), names of villages and they say too in an Irish brogue it goes into overdrive around St Patrick’s Day.

When the Montserratians tie in their own commemoration of their slavery past with the saint’s day.

For the craic, yes, but also because it is steeped in their history.

St Paddy’s Day, mon

Irish pubs everywhere: Martin Healy and his band in Montserrat

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1768, the African slaves on the island rose up and it is alleged nine slaves were hanged.

And they have never been forgotten with St. Patrick’s Day now heradling a ten-day festival to honour their Afro-Irish heritage.

Again there are too few of the Irish who go out to Montserrat, and we mean to do something about it.

Green for go

Martin Healy and his band have been pioneers over recent years.

And trawling through the records we’ve seen that Martin is a regular visitor out to the Emerald Island

Caribbean craic

Stay there… the Caribbean

Where he was a special guest at Governor’s wife Sujue Davis’s popular latest Coffee Morning on Tuesday, March 11 before that same evening performing at the Uncle’s bar/restaurant a popular night spot in Flemings.

And the Montserrat Reporter (are you employing?) chronicled that ‘the three-man Irish band performed throughout the week at probably every ‘rum shop and bar’ and is a major performer in the popular “Pub Crawl’.

So Montserrat, all 4,900 of them, celebrates their Irish roots with good trad music then, and also its Caribbean heritage with our favourite Soca Music.

Arrow hits the mark

Golden Arrow

Hot-hot-hot? Yeah, you now it, mon. It’s this classic from one of Montserrat’s favourite sons, the legendary late Soca star Arrow

So to get there… you’ll fly out of the UK to Antigua where it’s only a 15-minute flight out to your Ireland in the Sun.

And here’s where you’ll stay with a wide range of hotel rooms, guest houses, villas and apartments all flagged up on the Montserrat site.

Tropical Mansion Suites on Montserrat

And with less than 5,000 people on the island, everyone practically knows each other, and if you say you’re Irish you’ll get a warm welcome from Warren and Cherise!

Slainte!

And no, you don’t get away that easily… here’s why we love the Caribbean so, from Trinidad and Tobago to Barbados.

And next up is Jamaica where we’ll bring you all the news of how they’re jammin’.