31 August 2007

Congress of the People and Trinidad's Caribs

In "Dookeran pays tribute to the Caribs," an article that appeared in Trinidad's Newsday on June 9, 2007, Winston Dookeran, the leader of the opposition Congress of the People (COP),

has paid tribute to the indigenous people of Trinidad and Tobago, mainly the Caribs, and urged the country not to forget the contribution they made to its development. Dookeran made the call on Wednesday night during his address at the seminar — A Rich Heritage a Common Future in celebration of our First People — at Legacy Hall, Sanchez Street, Arima. He said the COP is committed to the construction of a “national character” and in so doing cannot forget the sacrifice of the country’s indigenous foreparents. Dookeran said he is aware of the many challenges faced by the descendants of indigenous people and expressed the firm conviction that the fragile community is already threatened by the trends of Western society and must be preserved. He said most people will agree that not enough had been done to support the Carib community of Arima in a country that possesses so much wealth. “It is high time that we learn to respect the memory and contribution of those who came before us,” said Dookeran. “It is important that we pay debt of gratitude to the Santa Rosa festival and tribute to the descendants in spite of the hurdles they had to overcome.”

It is interesting to see that, increasingly, national political parties visit Arima and court it's "indigenous heritage" in making their pitches for national unity, as part of their campaigns to attain national office. This was rarely the case before the current millennium. Why this is starting to happen with greater frequency now is an interesting question.

Where Dookeran does not depart from the past is in his resort to a standard menu for framing Trinidad's indigenous people, in terms of past "contributions"--indeed, contributions to "national development," which supposedly occurred prior to the nation, in fact, prior to "development" itself. Caribs are memory, and sacrifice, part of the long and painful quest to achieve national independence--it is a laudable, even heroic theme, but it is also nostalgic and abandons Trinidad's Amerindians to history, speaking of Caribs today as "descendants."

(For those of you who may be asking if Dookeran is East Indian, one can only say he is a "descendant.")

News about Trinidad's Caribs and the State

In an article in Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday, "Carib leader snubs COP" (by Irene Medina, Wednesday, June 13, 2007), the following extract is worthy of note. It concerns the work of a government-appointed Amerindian Projects Committee, which was formally (re)instituted in September of 2006:

a Cabinet-appointed committee to look into issues affecting indigenous people, submitted its first draft report to the Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affair Joan Yuille-Williams for Cabinet’s consideration. The Committee, which is being chaired by Museum Curator Val Lewis is also looking into the issues of a public holiday for the Carib community next year and the issuance of a parcel of land. Lewis told Newsday: “We have made a number of recommendations that would improve the Carib communities generally throughout the country. Some of these include documenting the story of the Amerindians, immediate steps to protect archaeological sites and protection of medicinal herbs.” Lewis said talks have already been held with the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to identify the Caribs by name in the next census and that concerns were raised about the use of the Carib name as a product brand. He said three members of the Carib Community were on this committee and some major developments may be coming for the group.

Several elements of this story are noteworthy, some of which I have underlined in the passage above. The first has to do with the fact that the government appointed a museum curator to head the committee, which reflects the usual positioning of indigenous issues in Trinidad within the framework of history, archaeology, and the display of relics of a folk culture. This is not-so-subtle way for the government to suggest that indigeneity in Trinidad is shrouded in pastness, is not part of contemporary experience, and is to be managed by non-indigenous experts of the distant Amerindian past. The good news is that this is an orthodox position: for readers who may not be familiar with the writings of French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, orthodox views are articulated in defense of a position, precisely because that position is under question and open to contestation. In the absence of questioning, where domination proceeds unchallenged, there is no need to convert everyday assumptions into hardened ideology. That the existence of this orthodoxy--Caribs are relics of the past--has come into being reveals an unsteady state, and what is typical of unsteady states is moments of confusion and contradiction in official positions.

Thus, as if to contradict relegating Caribs to the dusty covers of history books, the article above tells us that now the Central Statistical Office may be planning to include a "Carib" category on the next census, something that seems to follow on the heels of an article published in this blog before the news above was made public (see: "Does Trinidad Recognize its Indigenous People?"). This is good news, and the effect of this inclusion may help to revolutionize the ways that Trinidadians self-identify.

What might seem more problematic is the notion presented in the article above that the government would improve the position of "Carib communities...throught the country": Who will do the identifying? What are the criteria they will use for indentifying these communities as "Carib communities"? What do they mean by community? What if persons who self-identify as Carib are not members of any kind of formal, identifiable structure that could be called a community? Indeed, it is arguable that were it not for the Mission, and the Santa Rosa Festival, there might not have been a Carib community in Arima itself, which is quite far from saying that, therefore, no self-identifying Caribs would have existed in Arima.

Also surprising is the news that a "public holiday" may now be established for the Caribs, something they have not requested. They have requested land, for decades now, and much further in the past as well, and there really is little excuse for not having granted any. What makes the ongoing stalling of a land grant all the more remarkable is that the head of the Carib Community, Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, is a devoted member of the ruling People's National Movement, which has been in power for most of Trinidad's history since Independence (coincidentally, to be commemorated on today's date). The article from which the extract above was taken is in fact primarily about Bharath refusing to attend a "heritage dinner" for indigenous people hosted by the opposition Congress of the People. As stated in the article:
“I would have gone in the interest of indigenous people but I felt it was inappropriate to attend that particular function in this, an election year. I did not want anyone to be unsure about where my allegiance is,” he said. Bharath-Hernandez added he was all for the development and upliftment of the indigenous people, but being a member of the PNM, felt attending wouldhave been a conflict of interest. He said he had written the COP declining the invitation.

One doubts that anyone will question Bharath's allegiance to the PNM. The question is whether the ruling party has shown sufficient reciprocal allegiance to the Caribs.


30 August 2007

Carib Santa Rosa Festival 2007

Photo of the Carib section of the procession for the August 26, 2007, Santa Rosa Festival in Arima. Holding the banner is Cristo Adonis, and behind him is Ricardo Bharath Hernandez.

For last year's Santa Rosa Festival, I wrote one main essay on what transpired at the event, and I can say I will not be doing an encore. I wanted only to bring attention to some aspects that were salient to me, and once again I was fortunate to have listened to the complete proceedings over the Internet on I95.5 FM.

The proceedings for this year seemed to transpire at a rapid pace, and even the radio coverage was one hour shorter than last year's, with the radio announcer seemingly in a big hurry to get to the next program. The chief celebrant was the Papal Nuncio to the Antilles, which is an interesting choice given the degree of outrage expressed by indigenous persons across the Americas over the Pope's recent remarks that criticized indigenous religious revivals, while praising the purifying role of the Catholic Church. The main theme of this year's event appeared to be "social justice." The radio narrators themselves spoken solemnly, and quoted heavily from the mid-19th century text by L.A.A. De Verteuil, where he spoke of Santa Rosa festivals he had witnessed as a youth. The radio narrators were impressed with the degree of continuity, a comment unfortunately made right after a quote from De Verteuil that on this day the Amerindians would forget their servitude.

What was also striking is the amount of resources and organization invested by the Church in this event: a medical vehicle to follow the procession, police and marshals, water stations for those on the procession, and of course the media coverage itself, the giant flat screen used to convey the mass to those outside of the church, and so forth.

Also of interest to me is that the order of the procession has been changed in recent years. The Carib Community was once third in line, behind the acolytes, and behind the priests and members of the Arima Borough Council. Now only the acolytes lead, followed by the Carib Queen, followed by the Carib Community, then followed by the rest. Why this has changed is an interesting question, and one can speculate that past discussions, and critical comments, sometimes made in the presence of those connected to the church, could have had some impact.

For those interested in hearing the English language portion of Ricardo Bharath's very interesting prayer at the mass, please click here (opens a new window).

The website of the Santa Rosa Carib Community can be accessed by clicking here (also opens a new window).


28 August 2007

The "Plastic" versus the "Real" Shaman?

I am not sure how it happened that I ended up on the mailing list of the "Shaman Portal," a website that features "all things shamanic" and offers a variety of resources to shamans, some for sale. I am glad to receive their e-mails, especially as it gives me a sense of the diffusion of indigenous cultures and beliefs, meaning that from early on I sensed that the shamans behind this portal were not necessarily of indigenous ancestry. This particular impression seems to have formed the grounds for a sharp exchange between owners of the Shaman Portal and some readers, as evidenced in this interesting bit of dialogue:

"Dear shamans of all nations,

A few days ago in response to an announcement we posted about http://www.shamanportal.org/ in one of the main shamanic groups on the internet, one of the readers sent us a response accusing us for being "Plastic Shamans" adding:

"....I don't think that anyone who is not part of a native culture where there are actually shamans can call themselves that. The term 'shaman' is used by commercial operators to denote any sort of nonsense that they wish to promote, and it has become a practically meaningless term, having nothing to do with the things that the word originally denoted. This 'shaman community' is really just a name for a lot of unscrupulous operators who take money in order to blow smoke up people's hidden orifices. I checked a lot of them out and they are, to put it simply, phonies....This 'white shaman' phenomena, where all of the shamans are either white folks or else they are white folks who claim Indian ancestry (are they different than other white folks?), is a parody of actual shamanism. Actual shamanism is a practice of third world, native peoples from a specific part of the globe, which one could not aspire to be a part of no matter how much wanted to. What people call shamanism in the context in which your business enterprises operate is actually 'neo-shamanism'.

Recently, an elder indigenous Pagé (shaman) deep in the Brazilian Amazon said to a group of visiting white folks: "We are all shaman. Don't you think that just because I wear those funny clothes and those colorful feathers on my head, I am more powerful then you are. We are all indigenous to Mother Earth, no matter where we come from."

Two very different and opposing view points."

If you have any opinions on this, please feel free to post your comments here.

Chasing the Ana - Triumph

From Taino - Wrap Up

18 days at sea, and yes I have completed the circumnavigation of my homeland Boriken (Puerto Rico). It was the trip that I had anticipated and much more. The north coast was a challenge with quartering swells and winds, the west was dead calm; no current, but intense heat, and gunfire! The south was headwinds and more head winds and the east was beam seas all the way back to the north which bought those nice North East winds and large swells again. I have seen the coast and know the waters of my beloved Boriken and with the pace of the Indio I can truly say I have accomplished my goals. Now enough of me I would like to thank the following Nydia Kein for her friendship and support. To the gang at KayakScuba.com Carrie Media and her Fiance José Quiñones who have gone well out of their way to take care of me and I didn’t have to ask. To their children; Jose, Maria, Francisco and Joaquin. Truly a loving and sharing family. A special message to mi gente my people on the island in the various locations that we meet you were all exceptional I am truly proud. Thank you also to Derrick & Yvonne and finally Wendy Killoran who picked me for this trip, and yes Wendy you were RIGHT.
Adios and Bomatum
Who is afraid of the surf?
Taino Almestica
Hijo de Aibonito.
last day

The sea does not care about last days. It goes on living and breathing long after we have turned to dust. We are of no consequence. Our petty accomplishments mean nothing to the sea.
We launched for the very last day from under the shadows of condominiums and just north of an old cemetery that now seemed so oddly out of place in this tourist’s playground on the outskirts of San Juan. I paddled out and swept my paddle on top of a small wave to again turn west. I looked over at Taino, now with his canoe paddle perched on the deck of his orange impex kayak. I thought about how different we were as people and as men. This was in many ways a solo journey for both of us. One we paddled together. Our reasons, our experiences, even our paddle styles were very different. Yet we could share the joy accomplishing our goals, traveling the same roads for a time, even if we would get off at different exits.
The ocean floor north of Puerto Rico comes in from the deepest trench in the Atlantic, then quickly rises to the island. The sea builds quickly before slamming into the rocky shoals guarding the pristine beaches. As the old forts came into view the waves began to steepen. 8 foot waves became common with 10 to 12 footers beginning to show themselves. Ahead we could see the ocean breaking on the many hidden rocks. The sound of the water crashing into stone always causes a bit of a shiver in my mind. Often you want to cling to the shore, but you must go further into the sea for calmer water. We paddled north, further into the open ocean. Beyond the green water and into the midnight blue the flow turned from south to west the waves eased into a quick but relaxing 4-5 foot sea. We moved light lightning on what I estimated to be a 3 kt current and were soon just outside of San Juan Harbor, the busiest in the Caribbean.
San Juan Harbor is deep but it’s mouth is only a bit over a mile wide. The east side was bordered San Felipe del Morro upon high stone cliffs, the west side by rocky waters and rocky shores. We paddled right up to the edge just as a large cargo ship eased out behind the cover of the fort. We paddled slowly giving the behemoth time to pass, and then we began our crossing. The water inside the channel was wild and jumping densely after the passing of the ship. We worked our way through a 4-6 bubbling cauldron catching the occasional bigger wave that would overpower everything else to push us further across the channel. To our right two large cargo ships passed, the one we had just waited for and another that was now on its way in. As we reached the other side of the channel the water swallowed again and the waves rose.
With just over a mile left we crossed the last big shallow bay. The sea came into us from our back quarter at 8-10 feet and quite steep. Still they weren’t breaking and we could easily just ride the escalator up one side, then with a quick flick and a couple quick strokes, race down the other allow gravity to do the work. We approached the last little island where we would turn and ride into the protected beach at Punta Salinas. This time around we would have to get across the breakers. Rain was spitting down from a storm that had been shadowing us all day. As was our habit, we both chose our own lines through the breakers and with a combination of surfing and back paddling we soon slid into the relaxed 2 foot rollers of the calm bay. I heard the voice of a crazy woman yelling on the back of a racing ATV taking an angle to meet us on shore. In front I could see the yellow “KayakScuba.com” tees standing out starkly against the dark trees behind the beach. I paused and let Taino go in first. I was not quite ready to leave the sea. I sat out and rolled and played for a few moments, then let the surf slide me in.
Many more stories to tell yet for the moment I want to also thank our sponsors, Carrie & Jose for traveling all over the island to provide water, food or whatever else we needed. Also for putting us up before and after the trip. It would have been a much harder task without their constant support. Special thanks to Jose as well for bringing back my gear, driving me to the airport and letting me set up a tent on his roof. Thanks to Nydia K. for her help and driving us around as well. Also thanks to Yvonne for posting pics, bringing supplies, and letting us fill her garage with sand. ( 4 buckets I’m told). Teamwork is the only reason an adventure like this works. Sure, you can go it alone. . but it’s just not the same.
Now. . . WHO was afraid of the sharks?
Chasing the Ana FINAL TEAM UPDATE!

fotos by http://www.kayakscuba.com/ : Playa Azul, night time camp Luquillo, Puerto Rico

Luquillo, Puerto Rico
12:25 pm
25 August 2007
Final Team Update

This will be your final team update for Chasing The Ana Puerto Rico '07 before the men are off the water and Derrick will take the rest of the story from there. I look forward to reading the details of this adventure written by Derrick.

For those of you getting this blog via email, you may continue to follow Derrick's blog by clicking here http://www.kayakquixotica.com/puertorico.html

The tracking maps are being posted in order at http://www.kayakscuba.com/blog

Derrick's photographs of this expedition are continuing to be posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/derrickam/

Last night the men arrived late in Luquillo on a storm swept beach, Playa Azul. I must have been bit by over a hundred little beach gnats. Of course when I mentioned this I got little sympathy from Derrick or Taino who have been bit THOUSANDS of times in the past three weeks. I had to laugh at myself. At least they offered me insect repellent.

The men are in excellent spirits as they come close to the final day. The marine forcast looks good, but isolated thunderstorms have been sending a few too many lightning stikes for comfort, causing the men to stay off the water for a few hours on Friday.
Special thanks to all our readers and guardian angels, our sponsors: Rockpool Kayaks, Reed, Impex, Kokatat, http://www.nykayak.com/ , and race recon, also Werner Paddles, Support team Nydia Kein, Weather Tracking Karel Vissel, Ground Support: Yvonne Le Guillou and team, José Quiñones and http://www.kayakscuba.com/ , the US Coast Guard in Puerto Rico for answering questions and tracking our adventure, and the generosity of the many Puerto Rican people who offered kindness, assistance, and camping spots!.
We will be video taping the completion of this expedition, and have a post expedition celebration. Call (787) 925-9232 for more information, or email kayak@kayakscuba.com You can meet us at Punta Salinas, in Levittown, on Sunday morning if you wish to greet our paddling duo!! For permission to post photographs contact Derrick Mayoleth for his photos or http://www.kayakscuba.com/ for photos taken by them.

kayakscuba.com foto by José Quiñones, Derrick and Taino at Playa Arroyo:
Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Twenty Three
FOTO: Derrick and Taino practicing rolls together in Levittown

Un-named beach between rocky cliffs
Puerto Rico
August 23, 2007
6 pm
Team Post - Day Twenty-Three
Carrie Medina checking in on day 23 of the expedition.
Derrick emailed me and said they were forced off the water due to lightning. Well, there is never a dull day, now is there!
The men are in an area between rocky cliffs. Derrick will have to forgive me on this one, but by his description I have placed them on the map and I might not have made a perfect pin point. Either way we are looking forward to meeting them Friday to resupply them and encourage them for the last sprint toward home!
Here is the link to the map http://www.kayakscuba.com/blog and the marine forcast for the last few days:

East winds 11 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
East winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Scattered showers.
Friday Night
East southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 4 feet. Scattered showers.
East winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 4 feet. Scattered showers. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Saturday Night
East winds 12 to 17 knots. Seas 4 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
East southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Twenty-Two

foto: Tracking Map by http://www.kayakscuba.com/

Playa Palmas Del Mar,
Puerto Rico August 21, 2007
4 pm
Team Post - Day Twenty-Two

Carrie Medina checking in with team blog for day 22 of Chasing the Ana, Puerto Rico '07.

Taino has just called in. Derrick and Taino are at the beautiful Playa Palmas del Mar in Yabucoa. They met up with a local paddling club and were invited to a gathering of paddlers in Levittown on Sunday. OK guys, paddle hard!

The men are now 3/4 the way to the original starting point of Levittown. Any local paddlers, or people following along, who would like to join us, please be at Punta Salinas early Sunday morning to welcome and congratulate Derrick and Taino. We will be video taping the arrival and have a post expedition celebration! Call (787) 925-9232 for more information, or email kayak@kayakscuba.com
Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Twenty-One
foto: Tracking Map by www.kayakscuba.com

Punta Patillas, Puerto Rico
August 21, 2007
9 pm
Team Post - Day Nine
Carrie Medina checking in with team blog for day 21 of Chasing the Ana, Puerto Rico '07.

What a WONDERFUL day to paddle! Our boys Derrick and Taino are back on the water August 21, 2007 after a few days of delay caused by Hurricane Dean (stop date August 15, 2007). Fortunately for our paddling duo, Hurricane Dean caused little upset to the island of Puerto Rico, and the seas, once at 12 foot swells, have returned to calm 2-4 foot smooth paddling!

Tonight our boys have reached Punta Patillas, on the southeast coast. For those of you recieving a forward, click this link to take you to the Chasing the Ana blog to view our map, tracking our expedition around the island. http://www.kayakquixotica.com/puertorico.html

You guys are 3/4 the way home!

East southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Wednesday Night
East winds 13 to 18 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
East winds 13 to 18 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.
Thursday Night
East northeast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.
up with the chickens. . . and the goats

When we landed at Puerto Real it took my a bit by surprise. It was a small village steeped in poverty. There was a nice marina on the waters edge but no other real access to land. In this small village I could find no one with even limited English which is quite rare in Puerto Rico. Homes and shops were worn with years. Streets were small and claustrophobic. For a while I just sat by my kayak trying to organize my thoughts and figure out if this was a place I felt comfortable to stay. While I sat there two small goats came walking across the street to investigate this strange guy and his kayaks. Soon they were followed by a young girl. She looked at me with a big smile and started to talk to me while pointing at the goats. "Sorry, no comprenda" I said. "English?". "No." she said, and smiled. Then she went on telling me about her goats as if I I could understand every word. I watched her and smiled when she smiled. Made a surprised face when she did. We were, in some ways, communicating just fine. They were her goats and she was proud of them. That's all I needed to know. After a long chat she called the goats and the trio went walking off into the group of yellow, white, and pink houses across the street. It was a nice moment.

I am waiting this morning for Taino to join me here and then we are off again to explore this tropical island.

Oct. 14, 2007: Amerindian Heritage Day in Trinidad & Tobago

Many thanks to Cristo Adonis of the Santa Rosa Carib Community of Arima, Trinidad, for earlier this month sending the following program of activities for October 14, which is an annual day of recognition for Trinidad's indigenous cultural heritage.

Daily five minutes educational spots on radio: topics should include historical facts about the Amerindian community in Arima; place names; Hyarima; foods; medicinal herbs; customs; arts; crafts; etc.

Sunday October 14th
Opening Ceremony
Carib Centre in Arima
6:00 p.m.

Monday 15th October
Gathering at Hyarima Statue Indigenous ceremony followed by Procession through the streets of Arima to Lord Harris Square for all day Indigenous activities
7:00 a.m.

Tuesday 16th October
6:00 p.m.

Wednesday 17th October
Lectures on Local Community
Indigenous World View
Groups would appear in Tobago

Thursday 18th October
San Fernando Hill
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Friday 19th October
Workshop on Indigenous Spirituality & Languages
C.O.I.P. meeting (Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples)
Carib Centre

Saturday 20th October
Visiting groups depart

26 August 2007

Santa Rosa Festival: Aug. 26, 2007

Today the Carib Community of Arima, Trinidad, will be celebrating the high mass of the annual Santa Rosa Festival, with a procession through the streets of Arima. The actual date of the feast of St. Rose is August 23rd, and the mass is held on the nearest Sunday.

24 August 2007

Garifuna Community News--Aug. 24, 2007

Thanks to CAC Editor, Cheryl Noralez, for forwarding this information.


Click link for more information. http://www.garifunaheritagefoundation.com/306.html

Click link to read full story : http://www.garifunaheritagefoundation.com/327.html






21 August 2007

Popular Myths about Caribbean History

The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago, under the direction of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs is hosting a presentation and book launch titled Popular Myths about Caribbean History, with a lecture by Dr Basil Reid (author, lecturer in archaeology, UWI, St Augustine).

According to the media release Dr Reid's lecture focuses on the many misconceptions relating to pre-Columbian native societies in the Caribbean as well as encounters between these groups and early Spanish settlers. The presentation will touch on a range of issues, for example, the definition of history, the accuracy of Arawaks, Caribs and Tainos as names for native peoples, Cairb cannibalism, and the tyranny of Spanish ethnohistory.

Wednesday, August 29th. 7pm at the National Museum. PoS.

Those who can, should attend. I will post a report afterward.

Further adventures of Chasing the Ana

Still Breathing

The sea is the sea. It is not always calm or serene or tranquil azure blue. Nothing in real life is like the post card, not even the 5 star resorts. Paddling a sea kayak around the island of Puerto Rico is not all calm seas, cold beer and bikinis. In fact it's just like paddling anywhere else on the sea, except occasionally a coconut floats by on the surface of a big wind swept wave.

It feels as if we've been paddling for days. (Mainly because we have. . .) We are tired and slipping a bit physically. We realized today we were eating almost no protein, a major mistake. We would rise to beat the wind and hit the water on granola. Yet, it's felt a bit like a race recently. Each day there is no choice to get up with the sun and rush to beat the wind only to have it find us in just a couple hours. Then the rest of the day it's a hard slog for every mile. Over the next couple days I will share more details. But for the moment let's just say we are glad for a few days off the water while we wait to see what "Dean" decides to do.

My "body count" keeps growing. I am taking meds for an ear infection as well others as for my raw and swollen legs. My ribs were feeling better until the last two days through oncoming winds and riled waves. Now again I am in pain with every movement. Yet I had been feeling signs of getting better and I hope the next couple days off the water will help set things right. My poor legs are raw. 1000 mosquito bites, 100 ant bites, sunburn, and a general infection soaked in constant salt water all come together to make for an exciting mix. Up until today, the only time I felt good was on the water, but the winds have taken their toll and even today’s paddle from St. Isabel to here in Guayama was a struggling "heads down" push. We could only keep reminding ourselves that tomorrow we wouldn’t paddle! Taino is in generally good condition but is worn down as well. Yet to cheer us up we can look at the chart and see we have made real progress and are on schedule even with this temporary break.

The last couple times on the south coast we have been met by our other Kayak Angel Yvonne R. Le Guillou, who has met us with more food than we can eat, water, and treats. Between Carrie, Jose, and Yvonne we are so very well taken care of. Yvonne has been working hard to get my various cards back to her home and uploaded to my flickr account. I just handed her another 2 gig card to sort through. (Poor girl!) She met us today (after a time) and with the help of a friend hauled all our gear to her home which now looks like the "Chasing The Ana" warehouse and public grill. I will be hang out here, watching the storm and touring the area, while Taino runs up into the mountains to visit family. Over the next couple days I will have some time to post some thoughts on the "show so far". Right now, I'm enjoying a glass of wine with ice and can't wait to experience a real bed again. As for Taino. . . he went to bed hours ago!
Hmmm, all day long I kept hearing Ringo Starr singing in my head. . "It don't come easy, you know it don't come easy. . . ."

Caribbean Crib Notes
(derrick at the north west coast)
I’m sitting with my feet up in the town of Guyama. Hurricane Dean is still quite some distance off but is already showing some signs of affecting the weather. A cool breeze rolls in the window along with the sounds of roosters crowing in all directions. Dogs and Chickens run free everywhere her in Puerto Rico. But, the dogs are NOT all rabid as some would suggest. Most are just roaming the streets looking for a hand out and a short friendly interaction before the roam off, sometimes alone and sometimes with a motley pack. I’ve come to love the many small dogs that seem to find us on every beach. They more often provide a comforting welcome than the “fear” I expected. Sure you have to watch them at first to be sure they are healthy, yet we’ve come this far and not yet had a bad experience with animals. Now on to my notes;

Gun Fire – The un-told story
We were tired we had been paddling hard through thick heat to get across the shipping channel in the bay of Mayaguez. Our goal was to land on the far southern side of the bay. During the crossing we were hearing gun fire. Taino, being in the Marines in the 80’s has a more than intimate knowledge of gunfire. We figured there must be a firing range somewhere. In time the gun fire stopped and we found in the distance a green building to aim for. Often here on public beaches you will find colorful green, yellow or red structures. However as we paddled closer just outside of a mile or so we recognized the red flags marking off a range. Still well away, we turned east and paddled out around the target area at a right angle and then turned south again to the east of the range and no where near the marked firing zone. In fact our minds had now moved on to other things, mainly taking a break. We saw a small fishing boat just ahead and more in shore we would pass on the outside, then turn around the head to land on the opposite. The first thing I thought was that flair had been fired. It sounded like a bottle rocket had flown past Tiano. Then another, then another. Taino recognized easily the sound of M16 fire and yelled something like, “Oh Sh*t!!”. My brain could not comprehend, things went into slow motion for me. Another “rocket” came behind my head with sort of a pressurized “snap!” in my ear that told it it went by very close. Too close. I sensed another crossed over my bow with a “hiss-pop” that later I realized was the bullet coming low and hitting the water. Later Taino shared similar close calls. In that “slow motion” mind set, we turned our boats away and paddled with everything we had, our heads down to our decks. There was a moment of quiet then a second round came in and again, right on our position in the water. We dug and pulled for every inch. We just raced out. The sounds I’m sure stopped sometime back but we did not stop until we are almost to the fishing boat we saw before.

So in the end we could only guess as to why we came under fire where we were at. Being at a right angle to the flagged firing zone, Taino guessed that they had another range and were shooting into and over a wooden or earthen target area that was not stopping the shots. We doubt they even saw us there. However we later learned that they should not have been using M16s or shooting in our direction. We also learned there were problems there in the past. 2 boaters had been shot a couple years back in the same area. You can call it sensationalizing or whatever, but the truth was we came under some dangerous gunfire and only dumb luck let us live to tell the tale. So there you have it from the horse’s mouth.

Cabo Roho - The “South Stack” of Puerto Rico

In order to come round the south west corner of the island you cave to pass the rocky point at Cabo Roho. We had heard some scary stories. The south winds come in consistent around 10am. Fisherman had warned us that even with their twin engines they had been stopped dead trying to round the corner. You could not go in they said, due to the high waves, big reflection and jagged rocks. You cannot go outside because of the confused seas and high winds. We were told we had to make it through before 10am. The day before I road out to the lighthouse to examine the corner from atop the cliffs. Looking down I could see a bubbling cauldron of waves. Jagged rocks indeed were being exposed in the troughs of big 6-8foot waves that would come slamming into the cliffs. On the outside was a distinct line marking where the fast current threatened to carry unwary boaters all the way to Honduras. However looking into the cauldron again I could compare what I was seeing to what I saw in Wales. Yeah, it was rockin’ and rollin’ but still there was a cliff blocking the wind and with a bit of paddling prowess we could certainly come in behind it and cross the big waves while avoiding the wind. Still, early was better. I did not like either option I saw from the cliffs.

The next morning we took off at first light. We could begin the turn at 7 if we pushed. As we closed in on the lighthouse the swell began to build. I could feel a bit of nerves building as well, but as we rounded the corner we were met with calm winds. We worked our way over the 3-5 foot waves that bounced around the cliffs and moved past the final wall into a glass sea reflecting like mercury under the hot morning sun. We paddled back into shore to hug the coast. Suddenly, unbelievably I noticed on the top of a stone’ A Cactus! We were in cattle country.
Thank You!

In addition to our group of silly helpers we have had so much help from the people in the many little towns that we have passed. Fisherman have of course been a wealth of information and are the first to take us in even when they think we are "loco" Americans. The Coast Guard has been keeping watch over us. A chopper a day I think, along with police boats that have also noted our positions. A wonderful street cleaner who did everything he could to help me coffee. Not to mention the hotels, yacht clubs, marinas & campgrounds that offered us a place for our tent.
The Weatherman!!
Oh, and let me think Karel (from Terra Santa Kayak Adventures) again for keeping on the weater. He's been our "final word" on the weather each day.
More Pictures
I try to get photos posted often as I can. I added more today at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/derrickam/

quintessence of dust
hat a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust?
- William Shakespeare
A couple days off the water allows you a new view of the land. You view solid ground rising from a sea that carries you upwards, slides you into deep troughs, and pushes you aside with little thought. You sometimes look to the land and wish to be there. If only to buy a really juicy hamburger. Yet back on solid ground you quickly find yourself again sinking the the human condition; Checking the news, reading the latest atrocities, noticing the bars on every window. Suddenly you feel the need to go back to sea.

Today we got up early and went down to the sea to watch the waves roll in. It was like a local holiday for the people of the area. Crowds gathered, food vendors were doing rapid business. Surfers tried the waves but soon learned these were not great for long rides. I spent much of my day filming and taking photos. You can see a few here.

Hurricane Dean passed us by with little damage. Power outages, branches down but nothing to severe. The sea will still be a bit wild for a day or so and the plan is to head back out on Tuesday, weather permitting. Until then I will be soaking in the mountains, the town, the people, and the traffic lights. . all the while with one eye to the sea. . .
City of Witches

little fiddles
Ran to the local Wal-Mart. . . (Vendemos por menos) and picked up some last minutes supplies. Including beef jerky!! Meat is good!

One thing I learned quickly about my Rockpool Alaw Bach is that you don't need the backband. It's there as a decoration. Remember sit up-right. There is a perfect bit molded into the back of the seat to support your tail bone. The only problem was that over time I was getting a little sore spot. So I popped the seat out which only means loosening two screws and lifting it out, and glued a bit of mini-cell around the back support, then added a couple bits of foam under the seat when I saw a tiny bit of wear. Might as well stop that right now. I also just took the backband right out.

I also noticed over the last couple days before we reached Guayama, that I was getting water in my day hatch. With a little investigation I found that was coming under the bulkhead. Nothing a little silicone couldn't fix. So I took care of that as well.
When you put day after day in the water in various conditions, lots of salt and hard landings you add years to your boat quickly. So it does need the occasional loving care before going out again.
back to the ocean tomorrow
The picture above shows the rocky shore near Isabella on the north coast. This is the place where we both had to jump out of our kayaks at the last minute and get them up and over the rocks. From the water, you could not distinquish the rock from the sand. For those of you who have lots of experience you know that from the water, the spot where the land meets the sea is often hidden behind the surf and in sort of a "dip". I'm not sure you to explain that but the illusion is that you paddle down to the beach and then it rises back up again. The point where the two meet are in a "valley". So you can see that paddling in all we would see is a sandy beach until we are so close we are committed to the landing. This is where I bent two pins that hold my 3 piece kayak together. Yikes!

Now hurricane Dean has passed and the sun is shining again. tomorrow according to Karel we are looking at a 10 knot wind and 4-5 foot seas. We may need to cut the outter islands to complete the circumnavigation, something I'd always been prepared to do depending on time and weather. Of course getting around PR is the main goal over the next 10 days. We will be paddling east just a bit more before we make the north east turn that will take us back up to the woolly Atlantic.

Today I'm off to buy a few supplies and some silicone seal to stop water that has been going into my day hatch through the bulkhead in the cockpit. Yesterday I put a silly sticker on my kayak for the women here who have been helping us out along the way. Carrie & Yvonne of course. Yvonne's neighbor, Emy who picked us up and drove us into town with boats and gear in her nice truck. Migdalia, who helped bring supplies near Puerto Real and of course Vicky who came to the Airport at San Juan and braved the wind and flooded streets so I could take photos and film the waves coming in from Dean. Not to mention the nice woman at our last stop who opened her little bar and made us food when she was obviously closed, tired and done for the day. We would have had a much tougher time without them. Thanks!!

New pictures added to the gallery
up with the chickens. . . and the goats

When we landed at Puerto Real it took my a bit by surprise. It was a small village steeped in poverty. There was a nice marina on the waters edge but no other real access to land. In this small village I could find no one with even limited English which is quite rare in Puerto Rico. Homes and shops were worn with years. Streets were small and claustrophobic. For a while I just sat by my kayak trying to organize my thoughts and figure out if this was a place I felt comfortable to stay. While I sat there two small goats came walking across the street to investigate this strange guy and his kayaks. Soon they were followed by a young girl. She looked at me with a big smile and started to talk to me while pointing at the goats. "Sorry, no comprenda" I said. "English?". "No." she said, and smiled. Then she went on telling me about her goats as if I I could understand every word. I watched her and smiled when she smiled. Made a surprised face when she did. We were, in some ways, communicating just fine. They were her goats and she was proud of them. That's all I needed to know. After a long chat she called the goats and the trio went walking off into the group of yellow, white, and pink houses across the street. It was a nice moment.

I am waiting this morning for Taino to join me here and then we are off again to explore this tropical island.

Commemorative "Indigenous Days" without Indigenous Rights

In another take on the "you got recognition" theme, whereby indigenous groups are recognized as existing, perhaps celebrated in national festivals, and otherwise commemorated but denied rights as indigenous peoples, the President of the Organization of Indigenous People in Suriname (OIS) addressed the following letter to Dr. R.R. Venetiaan, President of the Republic of Suriname:

Paramaribo, 10 August 2007

To: the President of the Republic of Suriname
Dr. R.R. Venetiaan
Paramaribo - Suriname

Esteemed President,
By means of this letter, the Organization of Indigenous People in Suriname (OIS)requests your attention for the following:

The day of August 9 is declared by the government to be “National Day of Indigenous People” and is at the same time declared a national holiday.

Assigning this day to the original inhabitants of Suriname – known to you all as Indigenous, called Indians before – was applauded very much by us, as an organization that attends to the interests of this group.

We have experienced this gesture towards the Indigenous community as a very positive one and have seen this in the light of recognition of our people within the Surinamese population.

But, to our big surprise we have learned only a few days after the proclamation of this day, both in the national media and also from our international contacts, that the state of Suriname has voted against acceptance of the “Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” during the consultation round at the United Nations.

Because of this act of the state of Suriname, which works against the rights of the Indigenous Peoples all over the world but especially against the rights of the Indigenous People in Suriname, we as representatives of the Indigenous People in Suriname must conclude that we, Indigenous People, still will have a very long way to go in order to go get recognition of the rights and titles to our lands, etc.

The OIS sees this act of the state of Suriname as a failure to appreciate the position of the Indigenous People, because the state of Suriname being also the only country in the western hemisphere that still has not ratified ILO Convention 169.

On behalf of the Indigenous People of Suriname and also on behalf of our Indigenous brothers and sisters everywhere else in the world, we want to call on you as President to take case that Suriname will vote in favor of the “Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” during the vote on September 3 in the United Nations.
Since you have expressed in your speech in Palm Garden on the 9th of August 2007, that you really recognize the Indigenous People, we as Indigenous People would really appreciate if you would convert your words in this respect into deeds.

The Organization of Indigenous People in Suriname,
Leon Ericson Wijngaarde

Editor's Note:
Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organization has in fact been ratified by very few states, only 18, since it came into being in 1989. Among the signatories that are notably absent are: Canada, the United States, Belize, Guyana, and Trinidad, all of which also claim to recognize their indigenous populations.

20 August 2007

Twelve percent American Indian?

It is more than a little disturbing to see the relative ease which writers in major mainstream news media exhibit when reporting that a person is "12 percent American Indian." This weighing of indigenous cultural identity on a scale, as if it were a sack of grain, not to mention the imposition of questions of "authenticity" (as if these persons were objects), is one of the perverse outcomes of the rise of DNA testing technology coupled with debates over membership in indigenous communities, and ownership of indigenous cultural artifacts. The most recent example, among a series, was authored by Ellen Rosen, in The New York Times (Sunday, Aug. 18, 2007) in an article titled, "Latest Genealogy Tools Create a Need to Know." The caption to the opening photograph states: "Through a DNA test, Dr. Holden found out that she is 12 percent American Indian." Not only that, she is yet another descendant of a "princess," which is an amazing accomplishment for someone whose indigenous ancestors knew no royal or noble titles. Apparently pricesses made for incredibly prolific breeders, as it is virtually impossible to find anyone who claims to be the descendant of a "commoner."

An American comedian--Stephen Colbert--recently claimed to have undergone some testing that revealed he was 75% Jewish, which gave him ample material for jokes about getting a "three quarters circumcision" or telling three fourths of a Jewish joke. When it comes to American Indian or indigenous identity, the subject no longer becomes the stuff of jokes, which it really deserves to be. I would hate to be a 12 percent American Indian in a debate about indigenous issues with a 13 percent American Indian.

Blogs for Indigenous News and Commentary

Normally I would be careful about recommending a website or blog whose authors/creators are not well identified, but CENSORED appears to be well worth visiting for those interested in indigenous news from a radical and militant perspective. Many of the current articles discuss Zapatista meetings, communiques from writers associated with the Mohawk Warriors Society, and pieces critical of U.S. actions in Iraq as well as domestic spying in the U.S.

Indigenous Issues Today is a relatively new blog authored by Dr. Peter N. Jones, director of the Baau Insititute in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Jones, of Welsh, Norwegian, and Choctaw ancestry, has also worked with indigenous peoples from the Dominican Republic, among others. The following information about the blog and the Institute came from a recent press release by PRLEAP.COM:

Indigenous people today face more challenges than any previous generation. Large multi-national companies are extracting all types of natural resources from indigenous peoples traditional homelands. Ecotourism is having an adverse effect on traditional indigenous cultural values. The establishment of large preserves for wildlife management has caused detrimental impacts to traditional subsistence lifeways by indigenous peoples throughout the world. In order to help mitigate these ongoing and constant impacts, the Bauu Institute and Press began publishing the Indigenous Issues Today news blog.

The Indigenous Issues Today news blog is written as a form of social outreach for those who want to find out what is happening to the worlds indigenous peoples and as a means of informing the public about one of today's central human rights issues. With over 20 posts on 15 indigenous groups located in 8 countries, the blog has already garnered a lot of attention. Primary topics have included timber harvesting in Chile and its impacts to the Mapuche people, oil and gas development among the Ute peoples of southern Colorado, and commentaries on the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights....

Dr. Jones said, "Although there are a number of blogs that cover a particular topic or indigenous group, this blog is the first to examine in detail one particular issue at a time while still taking a global perspective. A larger understanding is developed as to the problems facing indigenous peoples around the world." With the Indigenous Issues Today news blog, Dr. Peter N. Jones hopes to reach out to people from all walks of life.

About the Bauu Institute and Press

The Bauu Institute and Press is a science and applied research institute. Since 1998 the Institute has conducted a wide range of environmental, psychological, and social science projects. The Institute works on a range of local, state, federal, and tribal based levels, and are especially adept at working with indigenous peoples.

16 August 2007

Chasing the Ana - days 13-14

Check back here Wednesday night for his update!
Tropical Depression

We are keeping an eye on this baby and preparing to pull our boys off the water for a couple days as needed. Thanks to Karel for the update! Say your prayers to the god Hurican that this remains a tropical depression and does not become a Tropical Storm or Hurricane. This is still the season for it and the temps have been too high the past few days.

Derrick and Taino are doing well and in Ponce at this time. Click here to see the updated map of where they are at! www.kayakscuba.com/blog

Chasing the Ana Team Update Day 14

Carrie Medina from http://www.kayakscuba.com/ checking in here. I have been communicating with Taino & Derrick via the blackberry and Karel in Isreal for weather forecast updates.

I email Mary and Gryphon, Derricks family, to give her the updates before I post here, in an attempt to try and beat the press to the punch. Quick as they can be, I'm trying to be quicker. Guess I better not apply for any press jobs. LOL

Here is the update I have for you so far.

Our boys would like to take one more day on the water despite the wind and waves.

Derrick writes in response to my offer to send a truck to pick them up Tuesday afternoon;

''We are in St. Isabel. And will stay tonight and go for Guayama in the morning. José does not need to come tonight. Thanks though. Hard day fighting wind and waves. We are both zapped of energy and looking forward to some recovery time off the water''

Taino and Derrick have paddled the south side of the island much faster than I had anticipated so… all the bad weather days are still in the bank, and I believe we are actually one or one and a half days ahead of the expedition planning.
This is good news, as Derrick would like to get video footage of local cultural events happening around our island in addition to his footage of the Chasing the Ana Expedition.

Karel sent me a nice link to track the wave height as the tropical depression gets closer. http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display.cgi?a=natla_height Now lets all hope this extinguishes itself before Derrick gets footage of our beautiful island all wind blown!

The best news is that with the few planned days off the water, Derrick will be back here writing to you all about the expedition from his own eyes. His cultural interactions, experiences and wonderings of land and sea.

Andy Palacio and National Garifuna Council School Benefit


The Garifuna is one of the most misunderstood, unique and threatened cultures in Central America. Enter Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective, an all star team of musicians assembled in Belize bringing the voice and message of this unique and inspiring people. They are the ambassadors of the Garifuna culture, bringing with them a unique blend of paranda and punta from the Garifuna communities of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. These are the songs of the ancestors that connect the people with their spirituality, Garifuna spirituality.

I had the honor to witness Andy Palacio, Paul Nabor & The Garifuna Collective’s magnificent performance during GAHFU’s (Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United) benefit concert in Los Angeles, California on Friday August 3rd, 2007. The band included the primera and segunda garaoun (garifuna drums), the sisira man (shakers), the bass and the lead electric guitars, then Andy’s acoustic guitar and the main vocalist as well as the enchanting performance of Mr. Paul Nabor. Nabi as his fellow musicians call him, stole the show. He was the high light of the performance. The audience stood up and applauded his vibrant and energetic voice. During the sound check, Nabi told me that he was very pleased with his touring of Europe and the United States. Nabi also said that he would do it again. The man looked marvelous for a man his age.

It feels unbelievably good to know that “Watina”, the album, has taken The Garifuna Collective to new horizons; from Central America to Europe and from Europe to America as in the United States of America. The tour has taken them from the east coast to the west coast and from Jazz houses to nightclubs; from nightclubs to theaters around the country. The album hit number two in May 2007 in The World Charts Europe. For those of you who have seen the show, you know that it is priceless.

The benefit concert that featured Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective featuring Paul Nabor, was a contribution from Andy himself, his promoters and Grand Performances in Los Angeles. The benefit concert celebrated at Latino Night Club was organized by GAHFU, Inc. and it kicked off a month long fundraiser for school supplies for “NGC School” (National Garifuna Council) in Dangriga, Belize.

The NGC School will open on Monday, September 3rd, 2007 and the community is very excited about it. The school will be managed by the NGC located in the Monument Site area of Dangriga. The school will have 5 teachers and it will start with lower division education as in Pre-School, Infant 1, Infant 11 and Standard 1. Ms. Venancia Flores is the school principal with 20 years of teaching experience under her belt in the rural areas which includes 5 years in Seine Bight.

The NGC School will seek to develop a curriculum that will include and exceed the minimum educational guidelines of the Ministry of Education for Pre and Primary Schools. The traditional curriculum will be taught which prepares children for the School-Leaving-Exams. In addition, the curriculum will be integrated with additional subject matter that would produce competency in the Garifuna Language, history and culture. Traditional Garifuna life skills and values will be taught particularly in the early years of schooling. Children will be taught to read and write in English and Garifuna in parallel and they will also be taught practical courses in agriculture. There will be a special endeavor to teach the children the skills of their ancestors and to have greater appreciation for their culture as well as the multi-cultural nature of Belize’s society.

Parents in Dangriga town have shown a strong interest in this project and so far over 75 children have been enrolled in the NGC School. There was a vote taken by the parents to make the uniform reflect the garifuna culture and the colors will be black, white and yellow. Although there is some delay in the construction of the school building, there are plans to rent a nearby facility and probably buy one house from the Mennonites which will be used for the Principal’s Office latter on. Moreover, The Gulisi Garifuna Museum facility would be utilized for the Principal’s Office. There are plans to launch NGC’s own fundraising drive with the help of Hamalali Garifuna Radio by means of a Radiothon.

GAHFU, Inc. is looking to collect through your generous donations new or used computers with capabilities for internet connectivity. Also, printers, photocopy machines, projectors for video, VCRs and filing cabinets. School books with subjects such a math, English, science, geography, etc. for pre and primary school levels to be used as teaching aids. There is a great need for new pens, pencils, erasers, exercise books, folders, magic markers and coloring pencils. A P.A. (public address) system is also needed for school announcements. Monetary donations are also welcomed to purchase material for the school uniform which the students will be wearing.

The collected donations will be shipped to Dangriga, Belize duty free through National Garifuna Council and they will distribute the school supplies accordingly. GAHFU, Inc. is hoping to have these barrels shipped by the end of August 2007.

If you are interested in helping, please contact www.garifunaheritagefoundation.org website or by calling (323) 898-6841. You can also send your tax deductible donation in cash, check or money order to GAHFU P.O. Box 10054 Long Beach, CA 90810.

Written by: Rony Figueroa

14 August 2007

Suriname commemorates International Day for Indigenous Peoples

Published on Monday, August 13, 2007

By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean Net News Suriname Correspondent
Email: ivan@caribbeannetnews.com

PARAMARIBO, Suriname: For the first time in its history Suriname last week observed International Day for the Indigenous Peoples as a national holiday. Nationwide festivities and cultural activities were held by Amerindian organisations in Suriname, while indigenous peoples worldwide held ceremonies in recognition of their rights.


13 August 2007

Taino Festival in the Dominican Republic


Noticias del Frente Ancestral 028


1er. Encuentro Taíno de Kiskeya - 2008: Primer Anuncio

Sol Taino

Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos & Cinemateca Nacional
Plaza de la Cultura
Avenida Máximo Gómez
Santo Domingo, Kiskeya

Lunes 21 de enero, 2008; 4:00 – 10:30 pm

Programa Tentativo

Ponencias magistrales a cargo de: Bernardo Vega, Carlos Andújar y Domingo Abreu; Lynne Guitar y Antonio de Moya (Consejo de Ancianos/as, Guabancex Viento y Agua). Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Conversatorio con Martín Veguilla - Director del Festival Taíno de Jayuya y líder del Concilio Guatumacúa de Puerto Rico – Invitado Especial. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Estreno nacional de la película puertorriqueña: “Taínos, la última tribu.” Cinemateca Dominicana.

Visita de Benjamín López, director de la película puertorriqueña: “Taínos, la última tribu” y venta de las ediciones en DVD originales de la misma. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Exhibición de la película infantil “Ogú y Mampato en Rapa Nui”, con una historia acorde al tema aborigen. Cinemateca Dominicana.

Exhibición de videos acerca de la Cultura Taína de Soraya Aracena. Cinemateca Dominicana

Instalación-ofrenda a los ancestros por Pascal Meccariello. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Exposiciones fotográficas de arte rupestre de Alfredo Roldán y Daniel Dubai. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Degustación de casabe y video del proceso de preparación actual del mismo. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Exhibición y venta de artesanía y cerámica de inspiración aborigen. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Degustación y venta de productos relacionados y venta de diversos platos que muestran la influencia taína en nuestra gastronomía. Alrededores del Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Show de títeres sobre mitología taína por Ernesto López. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Narraciones de leyendas y cuentos de nuestros campos por Guaroa Ubiñas. Alrededores del Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Partido de pelota Taína con los jugadores de Batey de Azua. Alrededores del Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos.

Performance de Geo Ripley (Consejo de Ancianos/as, Guabancex Viento y Agua) . Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos

Concierto de música neo-taína y ritmos folclóricos de nuestra cultura, con Irka Mateo (Consejo de Ancianos/as, Guabancex Viento y Agua) y su grupo Boutí. Museo del Hombre y la Mujer Dominicanos

Microcuentos tainos para niños

Por: Fátima Portorreal
Consejo de Ancianos/as, Guabancex Viento y Agua

Especial para epistheme

Así es, así dicen: ¡Se llamaba Opiyel!


Para mi sobrina Kiara

Santo Domingo, Enero 2007

Según cuentan, en una nubosa noche, cantaban los toricos y a lo lejos, muy allá de la espesura de la fronda de doña Francisca, el chirrido del pitanguá se mezclaba con los grillos saltarines. Mientras tanto, en el charco de Itabo, croaban y croaban las verdes ranas, desafinando a los cucús y agriando a las lechuzas.

De repente, tras un leve movimiento, de la rama del laurel de Fifito, salta el pegapalo, la birijita, y por supuesto los jilguerillos que adormecidos por la penumbra, no acababan de entender tal alboroto… “¡Oye!” -- le gritó el pegapalo – “Deja de moverte y abre los oídos, ¿qué me dices, rayado pajarito?, escucha por favor…”. Del real camino de Acacia y no lejos del charco de Itabo, unas voces raras y una cuadrilla de raros humanos se dirigen a la fronda… “Escucha… Por favor, escucha…”.

“Camina, camina más deprisa” -- decía Macocael – “¿Acaso no conoces a las opias? Se comerán las guayabas, antes de que las guayzas tiren de un jalón, las sogas de Opiyelguobirán. No habrá para nadie. Correrá y correrá tan deprisa, que hasta el dulzor se perderá en sus dos grandes fosas. Dicen que no hay nadie como él, sus largas patas y dientes afilados desbarrigan corceles, descascaran el samo, la semilla de higuereta y hasta el duro caparazón de la hermana hicotea.”

“Camina, camina… que despertarán las avecillas y si no se dan cuenta, llegaremos primero al guayabal. Yo comeré las más amarillas; tú recogerás las que el hermano Inrirí tumbó por la prisa, antes del anochecer. Ellos, los amigos toatoa cargarán el resto… deprisa, deprisa, que se oyen los pasos de Opiyel…”.

Pero las imprudentes birijitas, asustadas con la corredera, silbaron y silbaron tan fuertemente que los toatoa se cayeron, los pequeños humanos se dispersaron, y el terrible Opiyel asustado y enredado con tal algarabía, creyó que las opias anunciaban el alba. Corrió y corrió tan deprisa entre las charcas de Itabo, que sin percatarse, un humano tiró de su cuerda y lo arrojó al charco. Así cuentan y así supe que de cualquier charco durante lunas oscuras y para siempre, Opiyelguobiran, el dios perro, sale a buscar guayabas.

Entre Lágrimas, Encontrando a una Ciguapa

Bonao, Diciembre 2006

Lo cierto no la invoco, más si fuera él, adosaría su nombre, rotulando círculo tras círculo en las umbrías estercoleras de la isla… huir de la sombra, no podría. ¿Aceptar su mirada…? Si fuera él… créanme… no la invoco. Denunciaría su nombre en la plaza de los hombres y la colgarían por impúdica y atrevida. Créanme… si fuera él, no le quedaran palabras. Las atrevidas Lauras trocearían su lengua y al amanecer de cualquier día o de cualquier noche, correrían a vomitarla en otras tierras. Si fuera él, no la enterraría… por si fuese a nacer, le pincharía los ojos… removería afanosamente los iris, la arrojaría a los riscos y ocultaría su sonrisa al oeste, porque allí muere la luz. Si fuera él, la dejaría agonizar y dormiría tranquilo, porque el silencio de sus labios no podrá amarrar el amor. Créanme… si fuera él, andaría tranquilo, porque sus torcidos pies, jamás se inclinaran a la luz.

Simbolo Taino

Así Nació el Mar

Santo Domingo, Diciembre 2006

Oye, algunas cuentan que en sus ojos llorosos y en su inmenso vientre había cicatrices y que día tras día, las danzarinas ranitas croaban y croaban, hasta que el apenado abuelo expandía y expandía el verano. Y mientras tanto y poco a poco, ella se estiraba y estiraba hasta que dos sonidos, al compás de la tierra, seguían al sol… pero de pronto y de un tirón, el centro se expandió tanto que de la abierta boca de Itiba salió el agua cristalina y gemimos las caracolas. Así me cuenta mi hermana luna que se formó el mar, y de ella nosotras.

La de Cinco Nombres

Santo Domingo, Noviembre 2006

Sentada sobre sus fuertes piernas para nada se adormecía. Parecía sobrecogedora aquella postura, pues su robustez exuberante mostraba aquellos contornos femeninos que sus extremidades hídricas sostenían ágilmente. ¿Qué mujer es Atabey?, y ¿Qué memoria se perdió en mi cuerpo, que alejó la fuerza primigenia de la madre? ¿En qué lugar se quedó la vitalidad de la abuela, aquella que tiene Cinco Nombres? ¿Adónde se fue la ligereza? ¿Es acaso la inexactitud de lo masculino, lo que no me permitió confrontar la amplitud del poder femenino y sus habilidades marinas? Acaso recodar es lo preciso, si al desmemoriado cuerpo pregunto: ¿Adónde está la abuela, la de la esencia, la que no tiene principio, la de las Cinco Memorias? Aquella, la de la metamorfosis, semejante a todas las ranas, a las cuales les he temido considerablemente.

¿Adónde está la fuerza femenina que me nombra, aquella abuela que en los charcos, arroyos y océanos nunca se asemejó a la serpiente occidental, ni cristiana, pero que irremediablemente se intentó borrar de nuestros cuerpos y sueños? ¿Adónde están los conciliábulos que te marginaron a los cuentos populares en las noches borrascosas de la ruralía isleña, sin pensar que algunos/as te encontrarían en las aguas cristalinas, en los bosques, cuevas y aguas termales de la isla? ¿Te ocultaste? No lo creo. ¿Permaneciste en silencio? No lo creo. Mas intuyo que te confabulaste con los pedigüeños, con los senderistas, con los cimarrones, con los desvencijados de la ruralía. Mas sin ellos saber, allí estabas, en las aguas cristalinas, entre la bruma de la fronda, esperando a que desvelen los sueños y te invoque en los altares, multiplicando diversas identidades, tras el atardecer o en las noches de luna llena.

¡Aquí esta! Ya te veo. Ahora puedo tocar mi cuerpo, sentirte multiplicada con mis manos, aceptando lo que tus Cinco Memorias conocen.

Tony Yaguarix de Moya

Reprinted by Jorge Baracuteu Estevez

Chasing the Ana update

Sunday, August 12, 2007

CTA Clarification on Bullets, Catabatic Winds & Ground Crew Support

Carrie of http://www.kayakscuba.com/ checking in here.

I spent the afternoon with Derrick and Taino. Derrick asked me to clarify a few things. First, on the automatic weapons fire, the men were paddling in an area near a firing range, which is how the bullets seem to have found them. Second, both Derrick and Taino saw the warning flags and were smart enough to paddle well clear of the warning area. However, it is likely that the protection intended to keep bullets from entering the water area is no longer effective. Also, the bullets were flying far outside the designated areas, so it is possible that someone was using land next to the firing range as a practice area. For this reason the US Coast Guard would like to have me report the incident to the local police so that someone can check up on this. Taino informed me that a local resident told him that 2 boaters were accidentally shot and killed in this same area 2 years ago, so certainly measures must be taken to protect those who use the seas.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program!

Anyone who imagines for just a moment that Derrick and Taino are paddling in calm seas, in a gentle breeze, near a small tropical paradise are welcome to experience the catabatic winds encountered by these two experienced paddlers after they crossed the bay at Mayagüez. Taino and Derrick both said they rounded a corner and force 5 katabatic winds hit them so quickly they had time only to react individually. Derrick chose to take a right, while Taino paddled left. Derrick checked to make sure Taino was making way while Taino did the same for Derrick. Outcome? Both paddlers arrived safe and sound at the same destination. Imagine, Derrick paddled these katabatic winds with bruised ribs, while Taino struggled with a stuck rudder. What a superior set of paddlers!

After that dramatic landing, Derrick encountered a small girl walking her pet goats along a shoreline. Goats, called cabra, are a popular livestock on the island and are most commonly served near the Christmas season, called Navidad, in a fricassee of local vegetables and sauce. The goats are also milked for delicious cheese, queso, and there are also competitions for goat milking held in certain areas of the island. If you ever get the chance to try cabra, or queso de cabra, served Puerto Rican style, I am sure you will love it.

Finally, I would like to give a special thank you to Nydia Kein of our CTA Ground Support Team. Nydia has returned home to Wisconsin USA. When you are out on the water there are many people who are working to make things happen for your great adventure. One of those people in Chasing The Ana has been Nydia, who did research, made contacts, transported kayaks and gear, and flew to Puerto Rico ahead of the team to prepare for the arrival of Derrick and Taino. One of the goals originally set for Chasing The Ana has been to bridge cultural gaps, so I would like to share a parting note from Nydia.

Nydia writes: Back from Puerto Rico – I was reflecting on the trip and want you to understand how fortunate I feel having been able to have the opportunity to share moments with all of you.

Carrie, you, your family and friends made me feel at home, sharing a cultural bond/island that retains a special place in my heart. Your trust and unconditional support of all of us was an exceptional gift. Thank you for everything, my best to you and your family.

Taino, it was a pleasure. It was great to meet someone that clearly shares my love of kayaking and would go to this extreme to finish a dream. It was great to see the children in Puerto Rico looking up to you. Seems like your greatest accomplishment on this adventure may be the understanding that you have left an "I can do it" in the hearts of the children, that's a wonderful tribute to the memory of Carrie's son.

I hope we have an opportunity to spend some time on the water in the future, stay well and keep in touch.

Guyana's Government Continues to Oppose UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights

From the Stabroek News, Georgetown, Guyana:

Gov't has doubts on parts of UN indigenous peoples rights declaration
Saturday, August 11th 2007

Two Amerindian groups are calling on the Government of Guyana to vote in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when it comes up before the UN General Assembly next month but Minister of Amerindian Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues says that the government has reservations about some clauses.

In a press release issued on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, observed on Thursday, the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) and the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) issued the call while expressing grave disappointment at learning that Guyana had joined six other states in asking for the declaration to be redrafted.

"This represents a most retrograde step on the part of Guyana and those states which have taken this position. We are dismayed that Guyana has aligned itself with this small group of states which are proposing that one-sided changes are made to a vital document that constitutes the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well being of indigenous peoples," the statement said

Contacted by Stabroek News, Minister Rodrigues said that Guyana is not asking for the entire declaration to be redrafted but would like to see some issues defined. She said that Guyana supports a declaration that is very clear and is of ultimate benefit to everyone, while also preserving national unity. She said there are some sections that Guyana thinks should be looked at again and one is that there is no clear declaration as to who is an indigenous person and who the name applies to. She also pointed out that a declaration can be made and some countries wouldn't do anything about it but that Guyana has a good record in honouring its commitments.

Rodrigues pointed out that indigenous peoples in different countries are different. She noted that charity begins at home and according to her some of the issues Guyana has already addressed in relation to indigenous peoples can be used as examples for other countries. "We want to have a declaration that we can work with and so there are issues that need to be clarified," the minister said.

GOIP and the APA said they are "gravely concerned" at Guyana voting for a redraft of the declaration taking into consideration that GOIP had written to the president and in a response Minister Rodrigues said that the Government is "fully supportive of a process that would result in a declaration that is unambiguous, preserves national unity and ultimately improves the lot of the world's indigenous peoples."

The two groups are convinced that the declaration which was adopted by the Human Rights Council of the UN in June 2006 represents the most important international instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights for indigenous peoples and fits the criteria that the government says it supports. "We are therefore utterly dismayed that the government has suddenly taken this extreme position."

11 August 2007

Chasing the Ana-Days 8- 9-10

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Chasing The Ana Team Post Day Eight

foto: Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Almestica called
http://www.guajataka.com/ at aprox 1:30pm, they have reached Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla. What a fast paddle that must have been! Carrie Medina and Nydia Kein are on their way to meet them. Carrie will post tonight.
Marine forcast :
Carib Waters From Punta Viento To Punta Melones And The WatersOutside 12 Nm From Punta Melones To Punta Cadena W To 68w AndS To 17n-This AfternoonSoutheast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 5 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.TonightEast southeast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.ThursdayEast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Scattered showers. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.Thursday NightEast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.FridayEast southeast winds 11 to 16 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Scattered showers.Friday NightEast southeast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.

San Sebastián, Puerto Rico August 9, 20071 pmTeam Post - Day Nine

This is Carrie from
http://www.kayakscuba.com/ checking in. I met up with Almestica and Mayoleth late last night at Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla. Mayoleth says his bruised ribs from a fall down the staircase made paddling difficult, but the miles they paddled were impressive enough. The men hope to paddle to Rincon in the morning then on to Mayagüez by the afternoon. I am heading out to that side of the island with Almestica's recharged communications gear. The good time they are making on the west end will be needed time, as the south side of the island, heading east, is anticipated to be a bigger challenge.
While out on the beach we met up with ''Roberto'' who promises to email us. 2 years ago Roberto circumnavigated Puerto Rico on a long board. The 3 man expedition took a year and a half to complete.

Marine forcast from:
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORYCarib Waters From Punta Viento To Punta Melones And The WatersOutside 12 Nm From Punta Melones To Punta Cadena W To 68w AndS To 17n-This AfternoonEast winds 16 to 20 knots. Seas 5 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.TonightEast southeast winds 16 to 20 knots. Seas 5 to 6 feet. Scattered showers.FridayEast southeast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Scattered showers. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.Friday NightEast southeast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Isolated thunderstorms in the evening...then isolated showers after midnight.SaturdayEast southeast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Isolated showers.Saturday NightEast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 5 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.SundayEast northeast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 2 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.MondayEast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 2 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.
Carib Waters From Punta Viento To Cabo San Juan S To 17n And E To64w Including The Carib Waters Of Culebra Vieques And The U.S.Virgin Islands-This AfternoonEast winds 16 to 19 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Isolated showers.TonightEast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Scattered showers. Isolated thunderstorms after midnight.FridayEast southeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Scattered showers.Friday NightEast southeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 5 to 6 feet. Scattered showers. Isolated thunderstorms after midnight.SaturdayEast southeast winds 16 to 21 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Isolated thunderstorms in the morning. Scattered showers.Saturday NightEast winds 14 to 19 knots. Seas 4 to 5 feet. Scattered showers.SundayEast northeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 5 feet. Scattered showers...then isolated showers.MondayEast winds 13 to 18 knots. Seas 2 to 6 feet. Isolated showers...then scattered showers.
posted by Kayak-QP at

Friday, August 10, 2007
Automatic Weapons Fire at CTA Kayakers
Automatic Weapons Fire at Chasing The Ana KayakersAt aprox 3pm today, August 10,

Chasing the Ana Kayakers Derrick Mayleth and Taino Almestica reported having bullets coming at them and their kayaks just off shore in the Mona Passage.Both men are ok, and
http://www.kayakscuba.com/ owner Carrie Medina has contacted the US Coast Guard in Puerto Rico. Officer Balcac has forwarded an email to let the Coast Guard know that the men can be tracked by map at www.guajataka.com/bloghttp://www.kayakscuba.com/ is investigating other possible locations of private firing ranges to avoid any further incidents. Both local police and the Navigation Comisioner will also be contacted Monday morning.Kevlar PFD anyone?

Chasing The Ana Team Post Day 10

foto: Almestica y los niños de la isla Borinquen. ''When I grow up I wanna be a kayaker!''

Puerto Real, Puerto RicoAugust 10, 20076 pmTeam Post - Day Ten
Quick check in at
http://www.guajataka.com/ by Taino. Problems on the water, but the men are at Puerto Real. Carrie will be checking in with Taino in one hour to find out what the difficulty was. The men are doing well. Special thanks to Mary Mayoleth (Wisconsin USA) and Kumiko Niimi (Ney York USA), the packages have been delivered to the shop and will be delivered to the men Saturday morning.

Certainly we are being challenged. Of course at times like today we were lucky enough to land at the ultra posh
Rincon Beach Resort in Anasco just south of Rincon. We have been welcomed in by these guys and enjoy a nice outdoor bar, swimming pools, and or course Wifi in a modern Spanish style open air plaza. Yeah, I could never afford a place like this in real life! My ribs have been more than a bit of a problem. I can tell I bruised them pretty well, but of course I don't have an opportunity to rest. After an hour or so on the water the pain eases away (the 3 tylenol help) and I'm good for paddling for the day. However pulling my kayak up the steep beaches can at times be almost unbearable. Sleeping is not comfortable. Luckily I think I'm building up my left side to compensate. Of course what I need is rest, but we have miles to go. I'm looking forward to a 3 day stop on the south coast and hope to spend much of that time healing before the last leg of the trip.My hard rock landing a couple days ago bent two clips on my Rockpools tail section. At first this looked like a major disaster until I realized I could swap them out with on top clip on the fore and aft sections. Mike had told me the tops only needed on clip, but luckily I asked for the older 2 clip tops. So with that taken care of and the help of a friendly octopus fisherman we were able to seal launch off the rocks and get out through the surf. The north coast of PR is NOT for the weak of heart.This is a good time to note that my second Optio has now died. Yeah, I can't say much good about the camera at the moment. Especially when after talking to Pentax and explaining our situation they refused to do anything to replace it in a timely manor. They basically just wanted us to buy a new one that they would ship from the Philippines in 7 or more days. Their customer service was, frankly, rude. Not for their camera, but for their rude customer service, I will never buy another Pentax or recommend on to you.Yesterday we rounded the western tip where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean ocean. There the sky is moody and the water was dark. I walked the ruins of an old Spanish style building. Only the two story walls were left standing. While walking out again through the grand doorway a boarder patrol truck passed. He waved. We are now in an area under constant guard against people coming in from the Dominican Republic looking for a gateway the US.The West Coast although beautiful is full-on hot. Through the intense heat and thick humidity we paddle south in what often seems like thick green syrup. Of course it's not the water, but the heat making my arms feel weak with each stroke. I stop on occasion to scoop salty water just slightly cooler than the air with my hat to pour over my body. It helps, but only for a moment. Then I look back out into the green/blue sea and slip my paddle again into the water and slide forward a few more feet. In many ways I miss the stormy Atlantic. She my be rough, but I know her moods. This hot Caribbean is new to me. So far she seems to want to lull you into a deep desert dream, where the mirage is land in the distance where you imagine a cold pina colada to be waiting. Thank God, on occasion. . . It is.My super buddy Yvonne Le Guillou, has been kind enough to post some more pictures from my camera here. More to come. Notice Maria doing her headstand in the Alaw Bach without a paddle to stabilize!

09 August 2007

Indigenous Peoples Congress in Venezuela, Aug 7-9

Indigenous People Congress Starts in Venezuela

Caracas, Aug 7 (Prensa Latina) The International Congress of the Anti-Imperialist Indigenous People of Latin America will start on Tuesday in the Venezuelan eastern region, with attendance of representatives from 22 countries.

The meeting will last until Thursday, and will be held in Anzoategui and Bolivar states.

Referring to the importance of this forum of the original populations, Venezuelan Minister for the Indigenous People Nicia Maldonado said it is about saving the planet above all ideologies.

She highlighted that the event"s agenda includes analysis of the different Indo American socialism proposals, as a liberating and integrating alternative for the peoples.

The Congress will be attended by delegates from Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, El Salvador, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Guyana, Suriname, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Brazil, Honduras, the United States, Uruguay, Panama, Venezuela, and other countries.

The closing ceremony coincides with the commemoration of the International Day of the Indigenous People, established on August 9 by the United Nations Organization.


Caracas, Aug 8 (Prensa Latina) The Indigenous Parliament of America will session from August 8-11 at the National Assembly of Venezuela with lawmakers from seven countries.

In his opening address, Roberto Hernandez, vice president of Venezuela's Congress, called the resurgence of the indigenous peoples a historic event for America today.

The indigenous peoples resisted European conquest and maintained their cultural identity along five centuries, so they can teach the rest of the world respect and care for nature.

Noheli Pocaterra, president of Venezuela's congressional Indigenous Peoples Committee, voiced pride in the indigenous cultural heritage despite humiliation and mistreatment.

Jose Poyo, vice president of the Indigenous Parliament of America, said they will focus on rights claimed beyond their countries, like the UN and OAS, and overcome the neoliberal dark age.