Friday night I thought, "Now what should I do this weekend?" I'd been planing, sometime during the day, to find myself some camping equipment and then head up to Hereford and, from there, to Secret Destination B. This fell through, but I was not without hope…


The following day was 4th July and I thought I'd spend it with Americans; I'd mailed a local group of Expats to see if I could join their festivities, but they never got back to me. Even then, I did not give up hope because you see, dear Reader, I know something you don't… I know about St. Paul's Festival.

I began to get hungry towards afternoon, so I went out and discovered my local co-op and its supply of yummy-delicious yogurt smoothies. Afterwards, I discovered a place to get my camera lens cleaned - it's smudged with the fingerprints of Haitian children - it was closed, though.

Wandering down the road, I began to look for St. Paul's Festival. I passed by a smaller mini-festival and then dropped into a wine shop where the man told me it would be down the road, through the "arches". He told me I would hear it as I got closer. As I left the shop, a distant and unending roll of thunder swelled on the horizon.
Down the hill I went, through a suburby part of Bristol I'd never been too before and then, through the unmistakable arches.
As I drew closer, the city changed…

And then, I was there…

…and the thunder was all around me.

I squeezed down crowded streets where futile attempts at order and safety were failing.
And everywhere, the bands were pumping out the music, accompanied by crowds of costumed people…
…and others who were not.

They had help with the sound, though, accompanied by trains of speakers.

Some didn't know what to think…
…others were just lost.
There were pockets of order…

…but you got the impression there'd be a lot of cleaning up to do.

St. Paul's Festival is sort of a celebration for all the Caribbean and African folks in Bristol - they get together and have this huge bash. The music doesn't seem to be culture-specific, it just has to be load and crazy enough to have mosh-pits in the middle of every street: there were 16+ stages with live musicians.

The food, though, is specific and, everywhere you look, there's Caribbean and African fare; I began to feel thirsty. Not thirsty for water, the greatest and best of all drinks, but thirsty for Toro. Toro, the Haitian energy drink reinforced with testosterone extracted from the semen of a bull; Toro, whose steely gray 20z bottles with the blue label litter the beaches and streets of Haiti; Toro, one of four sodas on the island. Surely… surely Toro is here.

I search and search, but don't find it. Then I begin feeling hungry for a Haitian meal, for rice, fried chicken, and plantain slices. In the end, I have to settle for curried goat and a full plantain, but that's okay!
Then, I find sugar cane. The first time I ever had sugar cane, it was given to me by Jethro, the man-giant rum-guard in Haiti; it was stripped with a machette by a street-urchin. This time is equally good and, in my mind, fresh sugar cane takes on mythic qualities.

By this time, it's become late, so I squeeze myself out of the crowds and wander home.

Check if this is a private message just for Richard:

Glenys - Monday, July 20, 2009 at 03:20:29 (PDT)
Hey, this is where I used to teach, Newfoundland Road, now called Cabot School, ST. Pauls!! We used to take part in the carnival! Memories!! Wonder if I taught the guy in the picture?!

Mom - Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 12:55:40 (PDT)
In my opinion--you are well off for not finding the Toro!! Hope the goat was tasty as Haitian goat!!

Richard - Sunday, August 02, 2009 at 16:20:54 (PDT)
I had no idea, Glenys! Coincidence? I think not.
But Toro is tasty, Mom.