Christmas time in the Caribbean

Change hot wine for rum punch

I like Christmas. Okay, I know this is uncool, I’m a fossil because I’m a Christmas guy. To me Christmas is the most beautiful celebration of the year and even it is already dark and cold in the winter, then at least with Advent, with open fire and red wine.

And I also like Christmas trees. This year I will fight for the last time with a sexton for a Christmas tree of at least 4 meters and set it up in the living room. I am aware that it takes absurdly much time for setting up, decorating and dismantling, I have not (yet) fallen from the tree. But that’s ok.

Before our Caribbean year I was on very thin ice for Christmas. I couldn’t imagine that in the tropics a Christmassy feeling warms my heart at 30 degrees.

Today I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas in the Caribbean again. It was much better than here, where the normal Christmas takes place at 10 degrees – it usually warms up again before Christmas – with rain and permanent grey. I can’t remember the last time “white Christmas”.

After our Atlantic Crossing, we arrived in Barbados at the end of November. It looked quite pre-Christmas. The streets were dressed up for Christmas, the palm trees were decorated with fairy lights – even on the beach. Since it got dark at 18.00 h, everything looked very festive. Instead of gingerbread and hot wine you took a rum punch at the beach, with cool music and cosy 30 degrees. However, I found the Christmas trees decorated in blue and yellow in the shops – the national colours of Barbados – to be a bit unusual. A matter of honour, as a fir tree – made of plastic. As we all know fir trees are not so common in the Caribbean. We anchored in the Carlisle Bay, just before Barbados’ capital Bridgetown. For the sundowner the sailors met in some beach bar. At dusk we drove with the dinghy to the beach and if you fell into the water while landing, it was rather funny and refreshing than annoying. A nice memory while I watch the cold rain fall outside.

Our next stop was St. Lucia. We spent a few days in Rodney Bay, where new ARC ships arrived every day. Also here everything was festively prepared, but more in the palm tree and Santa Claus style. Shops and restos had dressed up opulently. The warmth in the evening was fantastic. Chains of lights and Dark’n Stormy – no reason to miss the cold drizzle weather.

Our third place during the pre-Christmas period was Martinique and we also wanted to spend the Christmas days here. There was less of Christmas on the island than in Barbados and St. Lucia. Probably because of the French tradition, in which the Christmas days have less meaning, than on the islands with British influence. For sailors, the French islands are oases, as there is nowhere better place to eat and for provisioning.. The traditional Christmas food in Martinique is cured pork, something like “Kassler meat” in Germany. We prefer to leave that to the locals. Our Australian friends had obviously guessed this, because they got themselves a Turkey in Barbados, which we could not get in Martinique. But we could fulfill many other of our culinary wishes.

Our ship was the only one that got a berth in the overcrowded marina of Le Marin and so Christmas took place on board of our vessel. The folks of 5 friendly ships with crews from Australia, England, South Africa, Luxembourg – and the crew of an Italian superyacht right next to us, we celebrated Christmas Eve together. From a Chinese shop we had bought a tiny white Christmas tree, sight different to our usual Christmas tree tradition – better than nothing.

To make a long story short: it was a fantastic Christmas Eve. It was a blend of traditions and a lot of fun. For the British, Italians and us, Christmas was a solemn event. For the Australians it was rather a party. In the morning at 1.00 a.m. the skipper of the superyacht sent his cook into the kitchen again (there was no pantry on the yacht, that was a professional kitchen) to finally cook us a real Italian Aioli Pasta. Mille gracie Max. So we ate in the holy night with 28 degrees after midnight the best pasta which I ever ate and in addition we sang Christmas carols. To celebrate together with friends was the best Christmas present.

We spent the Christmas days on beaches and in the water. I didn’t think for a second about the Christmas celebrations in Luxembourg. There it was probably just grey, wet and cold as usual, while we were running around in the warm Caribbean water and enjoying cocktails. Our little white plastic Christmas tree I could also dispose of a little faster than the usual 4 meter tree.

While we are preparing our last Christmas in Luxembourg, I’m already thinking about our next one. No matter on which island of the Caribbean Islands we will spend Christmas 2020. But for sure, we will celebrate it with friends from hopefully many different countries. /Holger Binz

 

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