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Jan 28, 2005

The break down of the Garifuna community in Los Angeles is as follows: Belizeans being the largest population lives primarily in the South Los Angeles area and in the outskirts like Long Beach, Riverside, Pomona, and Inglewood among other cities. Hondurans make up the second largest population of Garinagu outside Central America. They also live throughout Los Angeles County and its surroundings. Guatemalans, have the smallest number of Garinagu in Los Angeles, New York being its largest concentration.

The Garifuna community in Los Angeles has been growing significantly along with its traditions and culture. I set myself on a journey of finding the common hangouts that my people frequent on the weekends. Therefore, I would like to mention 6 of the most popular locations where Garinagu come together at any given time on the weekends. You will find that one of the most popular spots is at a local school referred to by the people as McKinley Park. There, Garinagu congregate to mingle, socialize, play basketball, play soccer and sample the favorite Garifuna dishes and of course Gifiti (bitters). You will also hear the latest sounds in Garifuna music ranging from punta rock to paranda and from dancehall reggae to lover’s rock. But best of all, it is the place to visit if you want to acquire the latest recordings in Punta. This is the one place where all the Garinagu, no matter where they come from, come together to interact with one another.

Another popular spot is a location referred to it simply as “Forty Eight?. This is a popular Garinagu meeting place where you will find a social gathering of all Garinagu. They come to dance, eat, socialize, gossip and play cards. If you are in the mood for some real traditional dishes, there you could find: ereba, darasa, odule, dabuledu, tamales, fried fish, pigtails, hudutu and the regular rice and beans with chicken and boil-up.

A Garifuna-Belizean run facility that caters to all Garinagu and their culture is “Maabatuwa?. This is one place that I really recommend; it is the Garifuna Cultural Center and a place of gathering. At Maabatuwa you will experience culture at its finest. For example, Garifuna drumming live on a weekly basis or at your request. The whole environment and decorations feature drawings, pictures and paintings of the most outstanding Garinagu celebrities and musicians. This is the place where you can come to listen and dance to the hottest sounds of “Libaya Baba? cultural drummers.

As for Hondurans, I would recommend Jacho’s Garifuna Place. They have a real warm and friendly back home flare and it is family oriented. You will always feel welcomed and at home at Jacho’s, no matter who you are. At Jacho’s you could always find fresh baked treats like; bun, coconut bread, dabuledu (tableta), cassava bread (ereba), etc. Not to mention the best fried fish and hudutu that you will ever have out of Central America while in Los Angeles.

In addition, Hondura’s Kitchen is by far the only location where a full-ensemble of Garifuna musicians plays live music for the patrons. I am talking about Punta Kartel, where the musicians who perform in the band represent the Garinagu from Belize, Honduras and Guatemala at any given time. It is primarily a Honduran restaurant which caters to all Central Americans who are looking for tasty food and to dance to live, old and new Garifuna Punta Rock.

When it comes to La Buganas, Guatemalans go to Paps’ Garage. Paps’ Garage is the meeting place for all the Garinagu from Livingston, Puerto Barrios and beyond. It has served as the center for Garifuna community leaders to come together to discuss issues revolving around politics, economy and social issues in Livingston and the United States. The former mayor of Livingston and the running candidate for last year’s mayoral race have come to Paps’ Garage in search of the people of Livingston and Puerto Barrios away from home. This is the rehearsal spot for the Wanaragua (Yancunu) Dancers around the Christmas Holiday.

In closing, the purpose of this article was to inform the locals and visitors of the different Garifuna venues that we have available within the Los Angeles community. However, there are a few other places that I wasn’t able to include in this article, but I promise to write about them in future editions. I visited these venues before I wrote about them in order to provide you with a fair and balanced assessment of each one of these locations.

Any comments or suggestions please feel free to write to me: mamagapg@yahoo.com

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