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I am back on the mainland and blogging from Seattle with South Austin in the rearview mirror. Don't worry Virgin Island fans, I will most certainly be back in the Caribbean for visits if not full-time. And I'm sure St. Thomas will creep it's way into many future posts. For now, it's all about living in the Pacific Northwest!

January 9, 2010

Ringing in the new year Virgin Islands style!

I had wanted to start this blog with an introduction and back story describing what has led me to this place in my life. But... since my goal for this blog is to document and share some of the more interesting (ridiculous) things that I observe, I will start with two holiday traditions that have come to my attention already this year.

The first is something that happens on the second day of the celebration of Kwanzaa. The focus for this day is on the principle of Kujichagulia - or Self Determination. A wonderful principle to celebrate and be inspired by, there were several events being held on the island on this particular day as reported by the Daily News. These included a "7 miles for 7 principles" race, a karamu (feast), a candle lighting, and chanting. Following this of course would be the open mic portion of the program. Because really, once you have all that equipment out, you might as well put it to good use. And what better use could there be than having all of your children, one at a time, take a turn at the mic to serenade your neighbors with their musical stylings? I hope this truly does become a tradition as Kwanzaa Karaoke has a nice ring to it.

The second event occurred on January 1st. While driving across the island during the morning commute hours, I suddenly had to come to a dead stop just past the hill at Bolongo. I didn't know it at the time but I was a traffic casualty of "Jump Up"! Traffic at a dead stop is nothing new here on the island. But, the inventive population will always find a way around whatever obstruction there is with little delay and without the help of the police department. So this was a mystery. Not to mention that this is one of the only places on the island where you can see as Cake so aptly puts it A Long Line of Cars. There was no movement. Every once in awhile, someone would walk by with a beer (this was 8:30am) but no car made a move. Finally, the line began to move but only because the cars' occupants as predicted began to take turns up steep and winding roads into the hills. I myself, being unsure of where they would lead, made an executive decision not to follow. Eventually after making some calls to inquire what might be the matter, I was told by a panicky voice "Don't go that way today, it's Jump Up!" What is Jump Up? It is a celebration on New Years Day which begins early and involved people milling about in the streets and dancing all in celebration of the New Year. I love a celebration and can't believe that I hadn't planned on attending as witness. So now I definitely wanted to see what I was missing.

I warn you here that the end of this tale is anticlimatic.

After thirty minutes or so of anticipation to make it around the corner which would reveal the happy celebration, I finally set eyes on Jump Up, Bovoni style. As expected, there were many police vehicles with lights flashing surrounding the road and a line of patrolmen in the street with the revelers. Still not a traffic sign, swinging arm, or whistle was to be heard in an effort to guide us. There were ambulances too. Not providing direction or medical care, merely adding to the traffic congestion. People milled about. Mostly crossing back and forth across the road repeatedly. There were lines of people up and down the road creating a gauntlet for the passing cars. A group of high school students lined up on the Bridge to Nowhere like perched birds watching and waiting for something to happen. I did not hear a band, nor did I see any dancing. Was this the aftermath of Jump Up? I don't think so. This was Jump Up in all it's glory... and it blew. To be fair, I could have missed the height of the celebration but I fear not. I spoke to many people that day who have never heard of nor attended Jump Up but who thanked me kindly for the traffic tip. I think Jump Up needs more hype and a little creative advertising for next year's event. That way, it will truly be an excuse to turn around and go to the beach instead of work.

I warned you that this would be anticlimactic. It does end with me having another potential excuse to go to the beach though which always puts me in a happy mood. So well done me!

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