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Flying kites

It is a tradition to fly kites on Easter. They are multi-colored ornate, poly shapes, sometimes like diamonds, sometimes like dragons. Children make their first kites from ripped out pages of school books and the spines of coconut leaves threaded through to form an X. I suppose the cross shaped kites were images of the crucifixion, but over time this meaning was lost and shapes changed.

 

Now the traditional shape is hexagonal and the kites are made from colorful tissue paper on strips of bamboo held tautly together by string. They are made with an arch where paper tags are tied to whistle and hum in the wind; we called them bawling kites when I was a boy. These colorful high flying kites, with long white tails, are raised on Good Friday. They fly high above the mountain, lost in the sky and found only by their trailing long white tails and the loud whining and whistling.

The people of many villages gather on the flats of a hilltop where the wind blows the strongest. With the kites comes old school reggae music, rum poured in coconuts, called Jelly water, and a buffet of roots and fruits, fish and boiled whelks.

 

We eat “conchee” on Good Friday. Made from sweet potato, coconut, cassava and pumpkin mixed with nutmeg, black pepper and cinnamon, it is boiled in a banana leaf and tied up in string stripped from bark. From the sodden leaf is served the mottled emerald green hardened puree that tastes like a holiday. It is the culinary culmination of tradition.

Music, food and drinks last the long weekend but the kites keep flying till long after. For weeks we can still find the tatters of cloth and fabric in shreds amongst bushes and branches, an enduring reminder of a wonderful four day party.

I invite you, too, to soar into the sun. Join us on the flats.

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Nevis was very fortunate, we suffered minimal damage. The ancient saman tree in the town square was blown over, a few other trees have been lost and our beaches have been strangely rearranged but it is nothing that can’t be repaired with time and tide. With village names like Hardtimes and Burden Pasture, Nevis has known many challenges.We are not strangers to the storm.

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