Monday, November 12, 2007

Watina - Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective

This is a magnificent new recording of music from the punta rock star of Belize: Andy Palacio. There is a nice introduction to his music on You Tube at
The music is based on traditional Garifuna rhythms from Belize and Honduras integrated into soft rock with a caribbean flavor. Andy has been recognized by UNESCO as an ambassador of the Garifuna culture, which originated on St. Vincent but was nearly exterminated by the British attempt at genocide after the Second Carib War. How close it cam is illustrated by this essay:

The tale of Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective traces its roots
to the early 1980s, when a teenage Palacio traveled from his home in
the Central American country of Belize to Nicaragua to serve in a
literacy campaign. Palacio is Garifuna, a unique culture based on the
Caribbean coast of Central America that blends elements of West
African and Native Caribbean heritage. Andy was told that Nicaragua’s
local Garifuna traditions and language were all but extinct. He was en
route via boat to the Nicaraguan village of Orinoco to begin his first
literacy assignment, when a storm forced a change of direction, leading
to a surprise encounter that had a lasting impact on Palacio’s music,
career, and life mission. The legacy of this life-changing meeting lives
on in the music of Wátina, a stunning new album featuring an all-star,
multigenerational lineup of Garifuna musicians from Belize, Guatemala,
and Honduras that will be released by the recently-formed record label
Cumbancha on February 27, 2007.

The Garifuna people originated when two large ships, filled with a
delivery of West african slaves, sunk off the coast of the Caribbean
island of St. Vincent in 1635. Half of the Africans survived and
intermingled with the indigenous Caribs of the region, creating a new
hybrid culture. Fiercely independent, the Garifuna community resisted
European colonization, and were forcibly exiled to the Caribbean coast
of Central America. Some were segregated and held onto their
traditions and language, while others were forced to homogenize with
the local predominant culture.

To avoid his own mid-lagoon shipwreck, Palacio’s boat captain
decided to take a detour to a nearby village until the storm passed. He
said to Palacio, “There is a Garifuna man in this village. You should
talk in your language and see how he reacts.” When the eighteen
year-old Palacio greeted the old man, Mr. López, in the Garifuna
tongue, the elder replied in complete disbelief, “Are you telling the
truth?” “I told him, ‘Yes, my uncle; I am Garifuna just like you,’”
explains Palacio. “He embraced me and would not let go. He could not
believe a man so young could speak Garifuna, having imagined the
language would perish with him.”
“From that day I realized that what was happening in Nicaragua, the
disappearance of Garifuna culture, foreshadowed what was going to
happen in Belize less than a generation down the road,” recalls
Palacio. “I decided to follow my passion and focus more on performing
Garifuna music as a way to keep the traditions alive long into the

You can read more at:

The music can be purchased as a record at several places on the internet and as individual track downloads at iTunes and eMusic.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


There are some new photos on Flickr at In particular there are photos of a concert at Government House and the 25year Anniversary Exhibit of the Agricultural Assistance program of the Republic Of China (Taiwan). I'll get around to blogging about them but we have been pretty busy settling in.