Saturday, March 28, 2009

Garifuna Village

This is one of the Garifuna homes in the village of Chachahuata. It has "windows" on the sides to allow light and air flow. They all have curtains hanging for privacy. There is plenty of air flow between boards, too!

A view into the center of the village. The building under construction on the right is the new cultural center.

A Garifuna woman cleaning a fish. The evening meal we were served was a fish soup, full of vegetables like potato, carrot, onion and plantain, and a very large, 2 inch thick slice of barracuda. We had a little table discussion about whether barracuda can be poisonous at certain times of the year. Our friend, Merlin, says it is and always lets someone else eat the barracuda first (and live) before she'll try it. We heard that the local people test the safety by dropping a chunk of the fish on the ground, if the ants won't eat it, they won't either. Apparently, it was safe; we all survived, and the soup was delicious!

A mud stove, fueled with wood. They boil water in the tea kettle and pour it through a filter filled with coffee to make a cup 'o joe - just like I do when our power is out! Their coffee is very strong, very black, but smooth and delicious.

The children showing off a litter of kittens and offering them to us. They were only about 3 weeks old, so Anna explained to them that the kittens needed to stay with their mama for a few more weeks. Kellie really wanted to bring one back and even called her dad to ask permission (denied). And yes, cell phones worked here. The Cayos are only about 10+ miles from the mainland and lots of cell phone towers. Even the Garifuna have cell phones.

A little girl of about 5 years of age, performing her morning chores.

This goal post looking thing was constructed for beach volleyball for the kids. I didn't see anyone playing, nor did I ever see a ball or a net. The hammocks under the thatched roof were a popular spot to rest and visit for both residents and visitors. Great place to watch the sunset. In the very early morning, as Don and I walked around the island longing for someone to get up and make coffee, we saw people sleeping in these hammocks, on mattresses drug outside, and even in a pop-up tent on the beach. We met a man who lives on a nearby island who had rowed his boat over to Chachahuata during the night when the wind caused waves so high that he was being swamped. He said it was very, very difficult and tiring to row, but too dangerous to stay put. He slept on the windswept beach, soaking wet and no doubt quite cold.

Why were Don and I up before almost everyone else? We are just early, early risers, and we had gone to sleep quite early. The village only runs a generator to supply power for lights from 6-9 p.m. and each room has one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. Some of the rooms had candles, but ours did not. And let me tell you how dark, dark is in a place that has no lights at all. The night sky is quite spectacular and many stars were still visible when we first got up. Very cool to be on a little flat island where you can clearly see both sunrise and sunset.

Women dancing the Punta, a traditional Garifuna dance, while the drummers provide the beat. They also chant or sing in their native dialect the story of the Garifuna people while they dance. One of the council leaders later told us their history in English. There is a Garifuna village on Roatan that has an annual reinactment of their arrival here centuries ago,complete with costumes and boat landings. I'd like to see that.

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