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Feb 24, 2002

There was a song in the background while I stood in front of my match: The challenge I had be given to give my body and mind a strength it needed terribly after 9/11, Ferrer's election and Michael Bloomberg's recent budget to cut some city programs. The dish manifested the celebration of my culture surviving 205 years and counting. I needed it, BADLY!

The dish consisted of: Guliliwaru taun alabundiga falunmoun. I had been warned about the aftermath to which many around the community had stated that "not even an PH,D doctor can find the perscription to control the side effects". They're right because I fell to regain the strength.

The music in the background kept shifting and controlled my physical and mental state. For a moment I thought I neded special medical attention, but then I realized it was only the sound of the #2 drum of Aurelio's "YITA" that was controlling me. "It's OK", I said to myself, "Thank God it's not Pen or Pali"

Throughout the whole week, I have not been able to act "properly". A fellow Garifuna woman said it was my "diet".

"You have to go back to your roots", she said. "You're looking a little weak".

She passed me a brown piece of paper as if we were about to roll-a-blunt. But when I opened it, the words "Alabundiga falumoun lau guliliwaru" was written in black ink and stuck in my mind.

"You'll thank me later", she said as she took the BX19 going towards Fordham in the Bronx.

In the process the fish was bought along side the coconut and the bananas. Hours later I faced the plate that will bring my strength to where it was.

The drums kept playing without fear. The thought of not using the spoon flashed my head as I remember my grandmother back in Labuga. The days where joy were found as we shared the dish of strength.

I grabbed the plate: switch from Aurelio to Pali to Andy to Pen's 1981 record to James to Gadu to Rebels and GK (1995 Garifuna Kids). I became a traditional Garifuna in a modern world where most of the costums, especially the food being replaced by the Micky D's and B-Kings, has been replaced by the hi-tech world and the J-los and P. Diddys.

When I finished my moment with the Alabundiga, I quickly realized that the I just continued the survival by celebrating one more day into the 205 years of cultural survival.

Thank God for my Grandmother, Joseph Chatoyer and you who are working to keep it "SEMETI 205" years more.

Jerry Castro, Editor


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