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Caribbean islands hardly need any introduction. Without a shadow of a doubt, the islands in the Caribbean region qualify as those among the best of the world when it comes to delivering absolute pleasure and ecstasy to visitors. No wonders, the world is bound towards the magnetizing Caribbean islands. Tourists to the Caribbean islands cannot help being in awe of the fervent and lively nature of the residents of these islands. Whereas the islands of Grenada and St. Lucia have African cultural make up, Barbados exhibits more of a European touch. Although English is still the prominent language of the region, visitors should not be surprised to listen to lively flavours of local languages. With influences of most of the cultures of the globe, the Caribbean region has become a concoction of cross cultural environments. As a consequence, all the large and small islands have catapulted themselves right to the pinnacle of tourist destinations across the globe.
A country’s culture finds an honest expression in the dining styles and the cuisines of the country. The eternal food menus of the Caribbean islands lay testimony to the fact that there are so many cultures and lifestyles in the region that an equally diverse amount of food habits and cooking styles follow naturally. Caribbean is undoubtedly a paradise of sorts for the food lover, and it is worth looking for the personality of a Caribbean island in the spices and flavours that enliven its food.
There are as many categories of restaurants and eateries in the Caribbean as the different food styles. One can come across hundreds of roadside eateries and stands on most islands. Jamaica’s famous jerk shacks are often cool places to stop at and get hold of a quick snack. And just in case you are looking for inexpensive yet well cooked food, these roadside eateries present themselves as cool and affordable options. This, however, does not mean that the Caribbean is devoid of fine dining in the real sense of the phrase. The French and British islands present the rich tastes of these countries, and do so both at inexpensive eateries as well as top scale restaurants where you might have to book an appointment! Anguilla and Grand Cayman, being breeding grounds for tourists, are full of upscale restaurants offering special food to tangle your taste buds. From fascinating Latin spices to the mellow French offerings, these restaurants have all you need to make your Caribbean vacation an enriching experience for your palate.
Caribbean food is rich with the spirit and flavours of the people that originally made the islands so productive, i.e. the indigenous tribes and the African workers, apart from the European residents. With both land and sea yielding irresistible edible stuff, the Caribbean food enjoys world wide popularity. The Creole mix is easily one of the Caribbean’s most famous cultural exports. Seafood is something that you can literally eat all day long in the Caribbean, without repeating anything on the menu! You might end up trying too many novel recipes to even remember the good old English breakfast that invariably chases you throughout your vacations. Apart from great food, there are great drinks that beseech your attention in the Caribbean. Rum based cocktails, and even out and out rum shots await you on the Caribbean islands. Truly, Caribbean food is an indispensable part of your Caribbean vacation, and adds a fresh dimension to the pleasure quotient.
The Caribbean region has a fascinating history full of battles, and it began right from the times when the three main indigenous tribes inhabited the vast lands of this part of the world. Their dominance and occupation of the Caribbean remained for hundreds of years, and the Arawaks, the Ciboney tribals and the Caribs shaped their own distinct cultures on their lands. The historical journey of the Caribbean recorded a primary milestone when the great European explorer Christopher Columbus laid his feet on the shores of the islands.
The Spaniards originally claimed the islands as their property, and this certainly did not go well with either the inhabitants of these islands, nor the European superpowers that were interested in making these islands their own. Before much time could pass, invaders and rulers from England, Netherlands and Denmark all converged on the Caribbean islands, and this instigated bloody battles for land and resources, much to the dismay and shock of the inhabitants of the islands. Spain and France also saw benefits in controlling the Caribbean region, and this further invigorated the battles. Years of bloodshed followed, and at the receiving end of the battles were the tribes who had reared the lands with their efforts. People were losing their lands and their lives. Slowly and steadily, the major powers occupied different parts of the Caribbean region, and there was a period of widespread slavery at all these places. The real Caribbean culture got lost in the smoke of the greed of the European invaders. Native cultures hence gave way to those from Africa, Spain and France.
As the wars subsided, the major stakeholders, i.e. the warring powers engaged in rearing their culture on their occupied lands, and this overlapped with the enslaving of the locals and controlling of their sugar and coffee plantations. This led to the diversification of the cultural fabrics that interleave and then separate out to make the unique and fascinating Caribbean culture. The diversity of Caribbean ways of life can be felt through the appreciation of the slight yet considerable differences in the life of St. Lucia and Barbados, two neighbouring islands. Despite the fact that the colonial powers were the reasons for the creation of several war struck remains and battle grounds, they have been complimented by historians for the upkeep and preservation of all these remains, and the fact that these constitute a considerable part of the sight seeing for tourists to these islands adds credibility to this.
The artefacts and values of the Caribbean culture and history are rife with the influences of the powers that governed and ruled the different Caribbean islands. The traditional music and dances encapsulate the charms and spirits of the imperial powers, and the cuisine is rich with the spices and flavours of the African slaves that inhabited the islands. Today, some islands are independent, some are named territories of their original invading countries, and some are commonwealths of the United States. As times pass, the cultures of Caribbean continue to explore and exhibit themselves, fascinating tourists from all parts of the world who can’t help falling in love with the spirited life of the Caribbean.
Snorkelling and scuba diving might be the first sights and experiences that you would expect from your Caribbean vacation, but you are grossly underestimating this region if that is the only idea of sports that you associate with the Caribbean. The people of the Caribbean islands know how to sweat it out at work, how to dance the stress of life out on the beach, and then, how to compete in the field of play, whatever be the sport. Of course, water sports are abundant, and so is golf, but these are just parts of the lengthy list of sports activities you can indulge in while in the Caribbean. From pastimes to international competition, the people of the Caribbean are pretty serious about their sports. This article aims at introducing you to some of the more prominent sports prevalent and popular in the Caribbean.
Cricket is big in these parts of the world, and this is quite expected, as many islands have British influences pervading their lifestyles. The former British colonies and the present members of the Commonwealth adore the game, and one can come across the locals playing friendly cricket matches on the beaches as well as in empty land plots. Brian Lara, the master cricketer, is a world renowned legend of the game. The West Indies cricket team of the 70s and 80s was an almost invincible force to reckon with in the global cricketing world.
Baseball is another passionately followed sports in the Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic which also hosts the popular Winter League. Cuba matches the intent and vigour exhibited by players and organizers from Dominican Republic and plays host to thousands of baseball crazy players and fans by holding the festive Cuba National League Games in popular towns of the likes of Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Curacao, despite being a small island on the Caribbean maps is a considerable presence on the world baseball scene as several players in the major world leagues hail from this island.
Soccer is a globally popular sport, and even the Caribbean is not immune to the charms of this electric action packed sport. FIFA’s CONCACAF federation comprises teams from several Caribbean nations. Regional teams also keep on invigorating the competition for the CONCACAF Champions League. You might be lucky enough to be a part of the buzzing crowds that cheer local heroes like the Soca Warriors of T&T and Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in their soccer exploits all year long.
Horse Racing might not be a part of the natural train of thoughts that consumes your mind when you think of Caribbean sports, but the fact remains that this might not be the king of sports, but definitely has a history of being the sport of kings, and hence enjoys a fair share of following in Barbados, Dominican Republic, Nevis, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. The Caribbean spirits and British aristocracy intermingle perfectly to yield some intriguing horse racing activities and events in the Caribbean. And the list of sports activities that await and invite you in the Caribbean is far from closing out here! Polo clubs hold polo competitions on some islands, and there are auto racing options as well at Aruba! And then, there are the rather unconventional sports of goat racing and crab racing to intrigue and amaze you. And if you can handle the action, head on for some bullfighting! All this and more, just when you thought the Caribbean was just about beaches and water sports.