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Day-By-Day inna Paradise -days 5 &6

Posted by Daniel 
Day-By-Day inna Paradise -days 5 &6
January 15, 2006 05:16PM
Having gotten only a few hours rest for 4 nights in a row, a fair amount of recuperation was in order for our last two days on St. Croix. On Monday, we visited Natural Mystic, an African and Rastafari Culture shop that is the island’s primary place for buying reggae music.

I was able to find a few albums there that I did not have, including Katalyss’ “Start A Fire” and Jessy’s “I’m Blessed” that was released by Afrikan Roots Lab a few years ago. That night, I traveled to Princess to spend a few hours doing an interview with Ankh Watep. I also got to meet The Great Abu and the member of Gravity Band. Upon returning to the hotel I was able to spend a few minutes with Mutabaruka and to get his reflections on the first Winter Reggae In Paradise festival.

Our final day in St. Croix started out with an interview of Ronnie Benjamin. We had hoped to do the interview at ‘Grassy Point”, because he told me that this was a very inspirational spot for him, and a place he would visit frequently whenever he was looking to write some lyrics.

Unfortunately, the breeze was pretty strong, so we decided to do the interview at the hotel instead.

Later that morning I did an interview with NiyoRah, whose new album “Purification” should be out later this spring. I also did an interview with Army, who was returning to St. Croix for the first time in over a year.

After getting my first taste of ‘Johnny Cake’, a island dumpling, I jumped into the ocean for all of about 10 minutes before we made our way into Frederiksted.

Vaughn had mentioned that if I ‘really’ wanted to know what was going on in STX, then I should visit the Fish Market, a place where rastas often congregate. We walked along the wharf of Frederiksted,

before heading towards the Fish Market. Upon our arrival, I was somewhat surprised that I knew most of the faces there: Vaughn, Jordan (a singer who appears on the first Black Star Liner compilation), Jah Rubal, Ancient King, and Kenyatta, the base player for I Grade’s Red-Eye Band.

After sunset, we made our way towards Sunny Isle to a restaurant run by Hebrew Israelites that makes the best Ital Tofu Lasagna I have ever tasted.

All and all I would have to say that our visit to St. Croix was filled with pure joy. While the island is definitely struggling, you don’t see the ‘zinc fence jungles’ that are so prevalent in Jamaica. The lack of ‘hustling’ that abounds in Jamaica is also noticeably absent. Two things that I found sorely lacking are a lack of agricultural and fishing industries. I was told that STX imports 90% of its produce, which is a real shame considering all the open land on the eastern half of the island. The people on the island are extremely friendly, with people you pass on the street looking into your eyes, smiling, and exchanging greetings and blessings.

One thing I disliked intensely was the new license plates for cars. The old ones say “U.S. Virgin Islands – Our Island, Our Home”. This slogan of self-determination seemed most appropriate, especially for St. Croix – which has a bit of a ‘rebel’ history. But just recently, they changed the slogan to “America’s Caribbean”, which just conjures up visions of subjugation for me.

The first Winter Reggae In Paradise was a real blessing. Not only did it help expose the island to the more than 200 foreigners who visited the Virgin Island specifically for this event, it also met its primary goal which was to expose the roots music of St. Croix to the people of St. Croix. I give thanx for the opportunity to be present to witness this Istorical event and look forward to returning for WRIP#2 on January 7, 2007.
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