Tag: Junkanoo

What Hope Looks Like

Several times over the years, I’ve written about the importance of Junkanoo to Bahamian culture.

Young Junkanoo Performer, oil painting by Alton Lowe

For well over a century, Green Turtle Cay residents have gathered on New Year’s Day to welcome in the coming year by donning colourful costumes and marching through town accompanied by a cacophony of cowbells, whistles and the infectious rhythm of goat-skin drums.

Masked Junkanoo Performer, oil painting by Alton Lowe

But when Hurricane Dorian devastated Green Turtle Cay this past September, the storm not only destroyed the island’s Junkanoo shack where residents gathered to make costumes and to practice, but it also ruined many existing costumes and instruments.

With so many locals left without homes and jobs, and with so much rebuilding to do, it seemed unlikely they’d want (or be able) to stage a 2020 New Year’s Junkanoo rush. 

Our Junkanoo Wedding

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Randy Curry, Green Turtle Cay.

Hard to believe it’s been so long, but seven years ago today, Tom and I were married on the beach at Green Turtle Cay’s Gillam Bay. bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo wedding

You’d think that planning a destination wedding — especially on such a small island — would be stressful, but the truth is, it simplified the process. Once we boarded the plane, we just let go. There’s no Macy’s or Michael’s on the cay. No point fussing over anything we left behind. What we didn’t have, we would have to do without.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

Most of our wedding party stayed at Roberts’ Cottages, which were ideal for a large group. Three simple but spacious cottages, each with a large screened porch, right on the shore of Black Sound. There’s a dock for ferry pickups and drop offs, and though we were within easy walking distance of town, the large, tree-lined property felt incredibly private. As we hoped it would, Robert’s Cottages quickly became wedding central, with guests dropping by all week to visit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a Kalik.

Party Favours 2

Some of our wedding favours – locally made guava and pineapple jam in straw baskets, and mini Junkanoo cowbells. Photo: Dawn Drewry

Though the weather on the Monday we arrived was beautiful, by Wednesday, we were experiencing near-monsoon conditions. Let’s just say the extra-large garbage bags I brought along served us well. They became waterproof containers for wedding decorations and party favours, and seat covers for golf carts. My Mom and cousin even used them to fashion some very stylish rain gear.

Bachelor Party

Tom’s Bachelor Party Photo: Rachel Diedrick

Thursday brought a new group of arriving guests, Tom’s bachelor party at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar and — thankfully! — glorious sunshine.

We had invited guests to drop by our cottage for Friday evening cocktails to kick off the wedding weekend. It was a gorgeous, starry night and we went to bed relieved to have dodged a bad-weather bullet.

Saturday morning, I got up early and opened the blinds. It was pouring. Not a little drizzle. Not a light shower. Heavy, dark clouds and fat, stinging raindrops. All the brave things I’d said during the week (“Don’t worry, we have a rain plan,” “We can’t control the weather,” “It’s not where we get married that’s important,” blah blah blah…) went out the window. I wanted to get married outside, on the beach, at Gillam Bay.

After a good cry and a lot of comforting from Tom, I hopped in the golf cart and headed to Gillam Bay. I sat in the rain and made peace with the idea that after months of planning, and with so many friends and relatives making the journey to join us for a beach wedding, we’d be getting married indoors.

As I drove back toward town, the rain seemed to ease a little. The clouds seemed brighter than before. By 11 a.m., small patches of blue began to appear. And by 1 p.m. – the deadline for pulling the plug on the outdoor ceremony – the sky was all but clear.

Two-and-a-half hours later, escorted by our flower girl, Jade, my Dad and a Junkanoo parade, I walked up a sandy “aisle” to meet Tom.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, wedding, junkanoo

Our Gillam Bay wedding was low-key and laid back, just the way we wanted it.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, weddingAfter the ceremony, the Junkanoo dancers and band performed for our guests, many of whom had never before seen this rhythmic and colourful Bahamian tradition.

Before heading to Bluff House to join our guests, Tom and I took a little drive through town.bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

It was nice to have a few minutes to ourselves to absorb all the day’s excitement and to enjoy New Plymouth on our special day. It was even more fun to do it in our wedding clothes, with all the town children waving to us and following the golf cart.

Our reception was held in the Bluff House conservatory — which, sadly, has been damaged by hurricanes in recent years. But that night, it was beautifully decorated with huge, white paper lanterns and gauzy curtains billowing in the breeze. We enjoyed a Bahamian buffet of grilled lobster, ribs and chicken, peas ‘n’ rice, potato salad, johnny cake and more — all delicious.

After dinner, toasts and cake cutting, we all danced outside, under the stars. A light rain began late in the evening, putting an earlier end to the reception than we’d planned, but given how fortunate we’d been earlier with the weather, we didn’t dare complain.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

Photo: Daniel Drewry

Without a doubt, our favourite part of the wedding was having the opportunity to spend the entire week with family and friends from all over North America, and to introduce them to each other and to Green Turtle Cay. It wasn’t an easy or inexpensive trip to make, and we were grateful so many were able to join us.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, junkanoo, wedding

I’ll write a follow-up post soon about the nuts and bolts of getting married on Green Turtle Cay.

In the meantime, happy seventh anniversary to my husband, Tom Walters. Thank you for giving me the wedding of my dreams and a wonderful life every day since.

 How we pulled off our dream destination wedding on a tiny island in the Bahamas.

Save

Save

Happy New Year from Green Turtle Cay!

Photo by Tom Walters

Photo by Tom Walters

I’ve been blogging less than I’d like over the past month or so, partly because of holiday commitments and partly because I’ve been helping a friend with a project which I hope to be able to share with you soon.

However, we arrived in Green Turtle Cay this past Friday, and I’m excited to get back to Little House by the Ferry and on to the restoration of Fish Hooks.

Island Roots Festival: Celebrating All Things Abaco

Photo and Sign Courtesy of Mandy Bennett Roberts

Photo and Sign Courtesy of Mandy Bennett Roberts

For a few days each May, tranquil New Plymouth pulses with activity as the Island Roots Heritage Festival takes over the settlement. Originally created to encourage islanders to renew ties with kin in Key West and beyond, today’s festival offers an authentic and entertaining island experience for locals and tourists alike.

GTC 2013 (5)

Royal Bahamian Defence Force Band Marches Through Town

For visitors, Island Roots is a crash course in local culture. Bahamian artisans display native wood carvings, straw and shell work, fine jewelry and vivid paintings of tropical scenes. Traditional lime-in-spoon races, scavenger hunts, Maypole plaiting, conch-cleaning and conch horn-blowing contests and tug-of-war competitions delight kids of all ages.

We Need More Cowbell

It was twilight, a day or two before this year’s Island Roots Heritage Festival was set to begin. Town was quiet and still as I walked our dog, Wrigley, along the Settlement Creek waterfront. But faintly, on the breeze, I heard drums. And cowbells.

I tracked the sound west, past the ferry dock and Curry’s Food Store. The music grew louder as I passed Settlement Point and the freight dock. As I rounded the corner by Sundowners, I came upon this.

In case you don’t recognize the music, these are Junkanoo musicians, practicing for their performance at that weekend’s festival. I’ll post more about the Island Roots Heritage Festival (and Junkanoo) soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this sneak preview.

%d bloggers like this: