Over the Hump, into the Pan – steel drums and feeling at home on Statia

Well Ive been here for about 2 months now, and Statia has started to feel like home away from home. Got one month left. But its been difficult! I know I know, you’re thinking “yeah right, hes on a Caribbean island drinking rum on the beach”, and yes, I have done that quite often. But its been difficult nonetheless! Its hard for me living alongside a bunch of people in a small house, constantly close to each other. I mean, Im used to living in a van! Doing things my way! But I am learning here, and thats good.

Heres a few photos of the old day to day here.

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Man, but its been a fricken adventure so far, for real. Diving, digging, learning to half understand Dutch kind of, so many things. One thing I wasnt so happy with was not having found a way to do any music here. But what do you know, make a few friends on an island, and they can help you find anything (I mean anything).

So I went camping couple of weekends back, with a bunch of me new friends here. A pretty diverse mix! Mostly expat crew I must admit. I talk with local people all the time, and have beers together and stuff, but there is still a bit of a divide between the Statians the foreigners. I mean, theres always going to be a divide between people who have lived in a place for generations, and people who come for a short time. In terms of expats, this island seems to draw interesting people from all walks of life. But one thing draws them all together: people travelling and working in crazy places out of passion, a love for living, and an openess to doing something thats not just for money. Ive really met some cool folks, sadly most are transient, and I will have to say goodbye to three friends this weekend.

So yeah, we’re sitting around the bonfire, cooking chicken skewers marinated in Jamaican jerk spice and cheap rum, drinking good rum and ‘Carib’ beers, and my Dutch friend, a primary school teacher is playing guitar. When I mention steel drums, you know these ones –

A 'Pan Man in Trinidad (image courtesy of Shanel Kalicharan from Wikimedia commons)

–Β  and he says that he plays in a steel band here. HAHAHAHA! So then he says that I could come along and listen to rehearsal. Well, thats just great I say, and we agree to go.

Yeah yeah, Rum at the beach and all that πŸ™‚

So rehearsal night comes around, and after tearing myslef away from drinking rum at the beach (haha sorry) with a crazy American and a crazier Israeli, I pick my mate up from his house. After a bit of time wasting (traditional here) we head out and I ask whether i should lock the front door? Nope, dont need to do that round here, its Statia man!

So we get down to rehearsal. Theres a bunch of people around, getting ready to play, all local crew, and I didnt feel out of place, but felt just like I did back in school playing in orchestras and stuff. Even though the violins were replaced with (seriously) artfully hammered sawn off sections of oil drums, and the women in front of me had much bigger butts, I felt right at home.

So anyways, next thing I know my mate is handing me a pair of sticks, and motioning to a pair of beautiful steel pans, with no one to bang on them as yet! He hands me a sheet, and motions me to be discreet but to just damn well get behind those pans and sink or swim or get off em if their regular player arrived!

And then the REAL fun began. It was kind of like that feeling when you’re riding a bike down a steep hill, when you HAVE to focus or you’re fucked. Once the band master started conducting, my eyes would look up at the music, madly take a chunk of notes in, then down to the pans and search out the corresponding bumps, kindly marked with ‘A’s, ‘F#’s, and all the other ones needed for a good tune. Well, dat ting was hard man! But I got about half the notes, and come end of rehearsal the maestro comes up: What does he say? Well I have no idea what to expect here. Maybe ask me what the hell I thought I was doing? Maybe say ‘not bad for a tourist but go back to America’?


Well, he just says “Next week I want you on Second Pans”

and that was when I got into a Caribbean Steel Band.






4 thoughts on “Over the Hump, into the Pan – steel drums and feeling at home on Statia

  1. That is so wicked Staf! You need music everywhere…at least I do (flash back to singin in the rain in Paris). Sounds like you’re having a time. I love your blog it’s so inspirational!

    ps…the cactus looks like a wang

    Much love from Newfoundland


  2. Man, I miss Tuesday nights at Hale πŸ™‚
    They were my LIFE! Wednesday was the worst day of the week cos it was the longest possible time until Tuesday night.

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