Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jamaica & the Houston International Festival

Jamaica was the spotlight country at the Houston International Festival this year. I thought the best part was watching the dancers from Jamaica (we watched 3 different groups) & trying some food from Jamaica.

While we watched one group, they were doing dances with a European influence. I'd never seen anything like it. The dance above (blue dresses) was very slow and the girls were constantly using their fans. They also curtsied and bowed quite a bit.

This next dance was also very different from what I've seen before. The girls wore dresses that had lots of pleats. For the first half of the dance, they sat in chairs & "waved" their skirts. Then, they stood up & moved a little, but the dance was still mainly about waving their dresses. It was neat to watch!

Since pirates were a major part of Jamaica's history, we saw some pirates. One came up behind Alexandra & I thought she was going to be scared, but instead she reached out her hand to shake his hand! He took her to his treasure chest & gave her the biggest "treasure" (necklace) I've ever seen! He must have thought she was special, because it was the largest necklace in the treasure box.

They also had a ship (well, a front of a ship) that Alexandra climbed aboard & pretended to steer. She was fascinated by the skeleton hanging from the front of the ship.

The last group of dancers from Jamaica pretended they were slaves, as that is another large part of Jamaican history. Their singing and dancing was wonderful - unfortunately, my pictures weren't so wonderful.
Here are the Jamaican foods I tried for the first time:
  • chicken curry - so-so
  • tamarind - I loved it, but very strong - they are related to the date - kind of in a nut shell that they cracked for me & then the fruit is around a large pit
  • Guava Jelly - very good (Alexandra didn't think so - she prefered the crackers) - I even bought a jar
  • Solomon Gundy (mixed with cream cheese) - I liked this & bought some - Alexandra said she liked it, too, but later changed her mind - very strong & I could only eat a few bites at a time - here is a description I found online: "Solomon Gundy is a smoked red herring made into a spicy fish paste with Scotch bonnet peppers and other seasonings."


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