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Evening of Storytelling Keeps Jumbies at Bay

March 5, 2006 — If there were any jumbies haunting the rain forest in Estate La Grange Saturday evening, they probably got the scare of their life seeing a couple of dozen laughing, joking people walking through the dark woods.
Bruce Wilson, the owner of Mt. Victory Camp, said, "This is good. This is a late night in the rain forest."
Crucian Heritage And Nature Tourism (CHANT) was sponsoring a night of jumbie stories at the camp, which more than 100 people attended.
Oceana James, executive director of CHANT, called it a successful event that brought the group's mission into focus: establishing heritage and nature as the lead tourism products for St. Croix and the vehicle for the island's sustainable economic development.
The evening featured Veronica "The Calabash Lady" and other storytellers. An open-mic format allowed even novices to tell a story. Judging from the laughter in the audience, the tales were all appreciated.
Bully and the Musical Kafooners entertained between stories.
A highlight for many was the dark walk from the camp to Creque Dam with Veronica. She pointed out many jumbie houses and jumbie crossings. The walkers were given dried calabashes to shake and make noise to ward off any jumbies, but the group was probably making enough noise without the shaking. Drivers in the few passing cars that went by the hikers seemed astounded that people were out walking in the rain forest at night.
Wilson said that Mt. Victory, one of the vendors signed on with CHANT, has hosted other CHANT events and they have all been successful. He was also pleased that all his campsites were filled.
The camp was so full that Sean Green, a college student who came down from Virginia to exchange work for lodging, found himself moved out of his regular lodging to sleep on a porch of the pavilion for the night.
However, Green didn't seem to mind. He said, "This is awesome, really cool."
CHANT was formed in October 2003 after receiving a $100,000 grant from an anonymous donor. Since then it has received several other private contributions.
In a report to Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards in 2004, James said that CHANT hoped to eventually certify about 20 "providers" of knowledge in nature and heritage tourism areas. She said Saturday night that so far six people had been certified.
Island cuisine prepared by Mathilde Wilson was also available during the evening.
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