Jounen Kwéyol / by Alan Strathman

October is Creole Heritage Month here in St. Lucia.  And today was Jounen Kwéyol, Creole Day. Each year someone designates four towns as official Jounen Kwèyol locations.  This year Laborie was one of those towns.  It was basically a day-long street fair with an hour taken out for church.

The first two pictures will give you a sense of how packed it was.

This is a picture with my friends and fellow PCVs, Krista and Doug.  Doug and I had our madras shirts on and we bought hats from Lucius, who makes them out of some plant.

It was a nice day of food and drink--lobster for lunch and crab for dinner. 

Friday was Creole Day at school.  Many of the children and teachers wore madras and there was a special Creole lunch. The picture below is my Grade 2 class with my counterpart teacher Miss Amanda.

We did not have classes after lunch and the boys mostly spent the afternoon running free. Several boys spent the afternoon bursting bamboo.

First a little background.  In the U.S. I was annually annoyed at how early the Christmas season started. Unfortunately, the Christmas season here started in early October.  The season is opened each year by frequent big booming sounds, which sounded like someone was shooting a bazooka.

At some point I discovered that it was not someone shooting a bazooka but kids bursting bamboo.  The kids harvest a stalk of bamboo (and, by the way, bamboos are a group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the true grass family Poaceae), drill a hole in one end, fill it with kerosene, and light it off over and over.  Basically they fire off a bazooka without a projectile, though I heard that in years past, men used to shoot frogs out of the bamboo.  Nice.

So in this picture a group of children in the schoolyard is playing with fire, unsupervised, using the fire to light kerosense that then explodes.  After I saw them doing this I said to one teacher, "Is it true that a group of children in the schoolyard is playing with fire, unsupervised, using the fire to light kerosense that then explodes?"  She said yes. Ummm...okaaayyyyy.....just checking. Notice in this picture one child is blowing into the kerosene-filled hole to help the firing process. The teacher I mentioned above also told me that usually the worst thing that happens is that a child loses his eyebrows.

Can you imagine a U.S. school allowing a group of children in the schoolyard to play with fire, unsupervised, using the fire to light kerosense that then explodes?  Nope, me either.