0014 A taste of the Caribbean in New Jersey (USA 014—new)

Vineland Travel Blog

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Day 005: 10 hours, 11.1 kms

The next time I find myself in Wandering Minstrel Mode, the situation is a bit different.  I’m on a weekend trip to the New Jerseybeach with my wife and baby daughter—you know, the kind of thing a typical family guy does in the summertime.  But just in case the opportunity should arise to sneak out and do some minstreling, I’ve brought my guitar along…

Sure enough, at around 8 PM, when my wife and daughter are tired and decide to call it a day.  So I leave them in the hotel, grab my guitar and hit the road to see what adventures await.

I drive a couple of miles up the road to the town of Vineland where I find a pleasant Main Street with a little fountain right at the entrance, a wide street with unnassuming one story shops.  Definitely a suitable to town to discover and to share my music.  Mostly Latinos here on Main Street--and I hear pretty much all Spanish as I wander the quiet residential areas.  I find out later that a nearby chicken processing plant is the big draw for immigrant workers.

It seems like I've reached the edge of town and there are only weedfilled empty lots--when suddenly I see lights and music off in the distance. Looks like there’s something to be discovered…

What do I find? A  Puerto Rican festival! There’s a band playing salsa music, there are various displays with Puerto Rican flags etc. for sale… and stands bursting with all sorts ofCaribbeandelicacies! Seeing those delicious plates of rice and beans, chicken and fried plantains, for a few moment I forget that I’m in New Jersey and I’m transported to the colourful, sultry streets of Santiago or Santo Domingo…

It seems to be a really family atmosphere, although there are little cluster of rather tough looking fellows here and there.  I wander about trying to figure how my music project could work here.  But the music is very loud and I just can’t find any spot where I could set up my camera and do my clip.

It’s OK—there’s a time to play music, and a time to listen… This is my time to listen

When the band takes a pause, an older fellow stands up and exhorts the crowd to appreciate and value their Puerto Rican heritage... It’s all very colorful, very lively--a total contrast to the quiet, rather monotonous New Jersey andscape surrounding us... Not to mention the ladies seem to be abiding by Caribbeandress code--no complaints about that!

Finally, I decide to head on my way. I’ll have to set up my concert elsewhere.

 I had gone a few blocks when 5 police cars speed past me, heading towards the festival... Hmm, that's odd...

I sit down at the fountain to play my songs where I was joined by a rather tipsy Mexican on a bicycle.

"Did you hear about what happened at the festival?"

"Nope--but I did see the police cars going past"

"A fight broke out between two gangs--one of the fellows got stabbed"

Aw shucks!  I missed out on all the excitement!  I guess the festival wasn't as family oriented as it appeared on the surface. 

I take one last stroll up Main Street, then head on back to the motel.

Deb says:
Aaaahhhh.... the joys of seeing what is new in my hometown. :-) (I don't actually list it as my hometown though...it's been so long.)
Posted on: Jan 04, 2008
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