[Cross posted at Peter Marina’s blog]
Montserrat must wait; it’s carnival time in Antigua. The boat leaves for Montserrat on Wednesday, the day after carnival. I found an affordable air-conditioned hotel in the middle of St. John’s in the heart of carnival festivities.
Sunday is J’ouvert, a celebration that consists primarily of loud “what did you say, huh, whaaaaaaaat?” carnival music, including soca and calypso, blaring on the streets and people grinding each other. The point of the event it seems to be that if there is an ass, grind it. It is an ass-grinding festival, and the people – at least for the day – labour at ass grinding. But there rules exist. Women can grind the ass of another woman, a man can grind a women’s ass, a woman can grind a man’s ass, but a man cannot grind another man’s ass under any circumstances. I’m sure mistakes happen, but are ameliorated one way or another rather quickly.
After grinding-ass day, the carnival – in my view – much improved with real parades, elaborate costumes, and ass grindless celebrations to good times and community. The costumes displayed the creativity of the people and the joy of carnival.
[I’ve inserted the photos at the end of this post after the jump so you can continue reading.]
After carnival – and all the drinking and dancing – it was time to get back to research. And research called me to the volcanic island of Montserrat.
Ferry rides cost $255 from Antigua to Montserrat; this includes taxes to leave Antigua and costs of a visa. The return tickets costs a slightly less $210 which includes taxes to leave Montserrat and a security fee for an agent to pretend you are dangerous and check your body and personal belongings for whatever they determined dangerous. In my travels matters of national security are real, and certain objects deemed threats of concern to international security. I know for a fact certain objects that have, in fact, become matters of national security. These include seashells and my hair cream to alleviate frizzing in my chestnut colored curly Cuban hair (with auburn highlights). Apparently, the Antiguan government believes that terrorists target the all-important island. As a result, they take national interests seriously treating fellow inhabitants of the Caribbeans as dangerous terrorists. Or these Caribbean countries are just trying to act like the U.S. of A. I suggest they celebrate their independence and treat airport security the Caribbean “Yaaaah maaaaahnn” relax and lime way. No one wants to blow you up. Politically you are no threat to the world, no one cares about you as a violent threat to the globe. Chill Caribbean. You should hand out mangos as people enter the airport, not invasive body pat downs and security checks. Unlike the United States and Western governments – who have killed hundreds of times more humans in the past fifty years than all the terrorists of the world combined – you pose no legitimate threat to anyone in the world. As a result, no one wants to kill you. Relax. Just be yourself and throw in some mangos and jolly smiles.
Bishop Meade was my contact in Montserrat, but I had no idea if he was on or off island. I also had no idea about where to find him, only a phone number with no answer. While waiting at the ferry dock in Antigua, I asked a random woman behind me if she knew Bishop Meade to which she replied, “Why yes, he is my pastor.” I love it when that happens. She told me where he lived in the neighborhood of the newly developed St. John’s. This woman just returned from Orlando to attend the 98th Annual International Assembly at the Church of God of Prophesy from July 25 – August 3, 2014. Bishop Meade also attended this meeting but it remained unclear if he was returning to Montserrat. The woman explained that another one of my contacts, Abraham Riley, is now retired, and is no longer head of the Brades Pentecostal Church. Riley now resides in a new development called Lookout. Pastor Tony Allen now heads Brades Pentecostal Church. The woman also took time to discuss some important scholars influential in the literature on religion and culture in Montserrat, including a man named Sir Howard Fergus who wrote a book about PAWI called Tongues on Fire. Further, PAWI recently celebrated their 100th year anniversary in Montserrat (and, as a result, the Caribbean) at Faith Tabernacle where Bishop Riley previously ministered.
Once off the boat, we exchanged contact information before I jumped on a bus headed towards a guesthouse that turned out to be a perfect place in a magical country.
Now, here are the Carnivale pictures: