The Caymanians say that nowhere in the Caribbean islands the pirates who operated in the Caribbean Sea from the 16th century are celebrated with such passion. They are certainly right because during all this November, the archipelago will relive part of its past thanks to the Cayman Islands’ National Festival, Pirates Week.
In 1503, during his fourth and last voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus discovered these uninhabited islands (if they did not count the very many turtles) located approximately 241 km (150 miles) south of Cuba and 290 km (180 miles) west of Jamaica. The archipelago consists of three islands : Grand Cayman (197 m2), Little Cayman (26 km2) and Cayman Brac (36 km2). During more than a century and a half, these lands were territories for water and turtle meat supply for the boats which made a stop there. This was the case of Francis Drake, considered as a brave pirate by the British Crown, but as a dangerous pirate by the Spaniards. These islands were also shelters for some prescribed people, such as the pirates or such as the man known as Bodden who, apparently, had fled from Oliver Cromwell’s army ; his grandson, Isaac Bodden, was listed as the first official resident of the archipelago in the 1660s.
In 1670, the islands became British after the signing of the Treaty of Madrid between Spain and England.
This year 2016 will be held the 39th edition (thus older than the saga Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp!!!) of the Cayman Islands’ National Festival, Pirates Week. The organizers chose as general theme :“Age of Romance” to align with the 2016 theme of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, “The Year of Romance”.
Several pirate strongholds
The festivities began last Friday (from 4 to 6 November) on Little Cayman with as key moment the Float Parade ; floats and costumes have to be made this year from the theme “Pirates of the 20th Century”. There are also in the program, a domino tournament with cash prizes for winners, various prizes are given for “best costume”, “best dance” etc.
After this first part, from November, 10 to 20, other festivities will take place in Grand Cayman, which is one of the earliest settlements in the archipelago in the 17th century, the island where is located George Town, the new capital (and international financial center), which replaced Bodden Town.
Rumor has it, moreover, the famous pirate Neal Walker (nicknamed Needle Walker) established in Bodden Town his headquarters, the governor Wood was his very close friend and, therefore, treasures would be hidden along the coast of the island or in the caves of the city. The discovery of a hole in the ground used to store or hide provisions revived this rumor…
There will be street dances, competitions, games, two glittering parades, fireworks, dishes and traditional drinks but the most spectacular event will be the landing of pirates in Hot Sty Bay in George Town Harbour on Saturday November, 12, and the governor’s kidnapping during this invasion. Thousands of people usually mass along the streets to watch this show.
The third and final part of this festival dedicated to revive the Caribbean history will take place from 25 to 27 on the island of Cayman Brac which, despite its 36 km2 (14 miles2), has many caves used as tourist attractions but also as shelters for a population of less than 2,000 inhabitants in the event of severe storms and cyclones.
Crafts and traditional food, among other things, wait for the visitors…
We will talk about Pirates of the Caribbean for a long time on this British Overseas territory.