(Note: I realized that I’m not an efficient/eloquent enough writer to produce well-thought out posts at regular intervals, so I’m switching to less structured frantic jottings that will hopefully help me remember this trip better. I may be posting backlogs of this type soon…)

No, I’m not a month late–I’m in Jamaica! Yesterday Jamaica celebrated its 45th year of independence, and we celebrated by going to the Knutsford Blvd. Independence Day Festival, a whole day long affair with performances, crafts, food, and–of course–a huge fricking stageshow that filled the busiest street in New Kingston with screaming, gyrating people.

The first thing we saw when we hit the festival at around 1 o’clock was a marching band or three. These were dressed in very bright colors, performed pretty good covers of current popular songs, and were accompanied by cheerleaders with ’nuff booty-shaking ability.

Past the marching band performance area was an alley set up for artists and artisans. As soon as we ducked in to one of the stalls, the sky opened up and dumped a WHOLE LOT of rain on us for a good half an hour–it was pretty intense. I did, however, find some nice gifts in that stall for my friends, so it wasn’t all bad!

Thanks to Kingston’s poor excuse of a drainage system, the water level rose FAST. We found ourselves standing in two inches of rain within minutes, and Larisa had to ditch her shoes:

Luckily, however, the rain soon cleared up and the festival went on!

All that raining had made us hungry, so we headed for the food stalls. The advertisements for the festival all claimed that the food “cyaan done”, so we were pretty psyched–and for good reason. The stalls sold everything from corn porridge and curried goat to fruits and what may possibly be the world’s largest peppered shrimp:

After stuffing our faces, we decided to check out some of the traditional dance performances. Strangely enough, most of the dancers were really young, but they were very good (and colorful!)

Since we lived nearby, we decided to duck home for a nap before the big show. When we came back at around 8, it was dark and totally crowded. In a stroke of excellent coincidence, we ran into Kevin and hung out with him for a while. The show was surprisingly mostly on schedule and featured a variety of very famous–and eclectic–Jamaican musicians. In between rocksteady legend Ken Boothe and Bob Marley backup singer Marcia Griffith was a performer who actually yodelled in the middle of his song. Yes, Jamaican yodelling. Now I really have seen everything, don’t?

Other performers of the night included current big names: roots reggae singers Etana and Tarrus Riley, female DJ powerhouse Macka Diamond, boy band One Third, and of course, the doctor Beenie Man himself. The crowd went ballistic every time a major hit was played. With Beenie, even the kids went nuts, screaming all the lyrics to every song as loud as they possibly could. It was truly a sight–so many Jamaican people unified under one musical experience.

All in all, a very long, full, and happy day. Happy 45th Independence Day, Jamaica!