The Windward Islands of Dominica and St Lucia both hold special food markets during their Creole Week festivals at the end of October. The
festivities include a focus on the produce of these very fertile islands and this is celebrated in the colourful food markets.
Stunning displays of local fruits, vegetables and spices are created for the event. Market vendors wear traditional costumes, stalls are festooned with brightly coloured madras fabrics and decorated with tropical flowers. Visitors can also sample the delights of a fresh jelly coconut, sugar-cane juice or a more substantial meal from a roadside snackette.
For a few days visitors have a glimpse of the past, away from the multi-national fast food outlets that are now sadly springing up near to these long established local market places.
Roseau market in Dominica
Castries market in St Lucia
The last Saturday in October
A traditional pre-Lenten Caribbean carnival that is friendly, accessible to visitors and uncommercialised. It is a moveable feast determined by the timing of Lent and in 2011 the main event falls between March 7th and 8th. Mas Dominik is a mixture of African masquerade and French carnival traditions. Many of the costume designs are traditional such as the Sensay where the masquerader is completely hidden by a costume of raffia, rope or strips of material topped by a mask and cow horns. The opening of carnival or Jouvert begins at dawn on the first day. Individuals take to the streets in home made costumes or night clothes banging drums or saucepans, anyone can join in and the streets are very eerie at dawn, populated by shadowy figures and the sound of drums. This is followed by the joyous celebrations of the school bands and other traditional masqueraders. The climax on Carnival Tuesday features the costume bands who make several laps of the route. There is no space in the narrow streets for elaborate creations or large structures but this means the carnival action is close, neither locals or visitors can remain spectators for long and will find themselves jumping up behind a band or a truck that plays the current carnival tunes.
The main carnival events take place in and around the capital city Roseau, and it is compact enough that you could not possibly miss the carnival. You need to stay in or around the capital to make the most of the events as public transport is virtually non existent after dark and associated events such as calypso competitions take place late into the night.
Google map: bit.ly/e4cdUX
Ti Kwen Glo Chau (translated from Creole as tiny corner hot water) is in the village of Wotten Waven: with a bush rum in your hand, take an outdoor hot bath in a cast-iron tub and gaze at a tropical fairyland. Run by a friendly Rasta couple, it's "ital" (natural) all the way.
Two cottages in an exquisite location, built by an amazingly creative craftsman, Clem Frederick, who, with his wife, artist Marie, has created this exquisite little place. Eat delicious creole food cooked on an open fire with banana leaves as plate mats; relax on Clem's chairs made from driftwood in Marie's open-sided art gallery. Every experience is a delight.
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