A Trip to Hopkins for Reynolds

On March 09, 2011 in Belize, Caye Caulker, News, Ragga Crew


Early on Saturday morning many of Reynolds’ friends and family began the journey down to Hopkins for the end of his Nine Nights celebration (a Garifuna memorial service) – This is considered the family’s final farewell to the spiritual double of the dead who is believed to remain in the house after the burial. It is only now that his trip to the other world begins. This service would generally occur nine nights after the burial, but in this instance it happened later.

We all definitely had mixed feelings on our way there. We never would have missed it, but it certainly began to bring up old feelings from when Ren passed, and at a time when we were just beginning to come to terms with the whole situation, so it was difficult for us. It was hard to know how we would feel when we went back his grave, but we just wanted to be there to set our friend free.

We went to Reynolds’ family home soon after arriving in Hopkins to visit his Mother and the rest of the family in order to show our support. It was while we were out the back of the house talking to Aunty Jane that Patrick turned to all of us and said “Jasre is here” – for those who don’t know this is Reynolds’ beautiful daughter, the joy of his life. We hadn’t seen her since just after the funeral as she had left the island with her mother, and we had no idea that she would be there. It was such a blessing to see her laughing a playing along the beach with the other children. She is looking more and more like her father, and you could definitely feel his presence all around her. It was a wonderful moment.

Beautiful JasreRemoving the pins - Releasing the spirit

The celebrations began as the sun went down. People gathered in the front yard and listened to the Garifuna drumming as well as to a DJ who played songs for Reynolds that would awaken his spirit. We talked, drank rum and shared our memories of Reynolds throughout the night. And at midnight we gathered around a table cover in pieces of coloured cloth and paper that was set up in the middle of the yard to represent his grave. As part of the Garifuna culture we each took the time to search through the pile of fabric and ribbons and remove all of the pins that were attached – this is done as an act of releasing the spirit. This is what you can see on top of his grave in the photos above. The cloths were then packed up into a box, ready to take to the burial ground at sunrise. The music and celebrations carried on till the early hours of the morning and could be heard all across the town, which was otherwise in a sleeping silence.

Then as the sun began to light up the horizon we made our way to the cemetery for the final service. This was the hardest part. We gathered around Ren’s yellow and white grave, where he is buried above his brother, and placed our hands on him and lost ourselves in prayer and thought. Only the sounds of a drum and a wailing family member could be heard, which only added to the already sombre moment. As the drummer eventually left the cemetery we were left in silence. None of us really knew what to say. It was still all so surreal. Even almost 4 months down the track it is still impossible to believe that he is gone, and we were again left asking ‘why’? Why did he have to leave us? We will never be able to get an answer to that question, but over time the acceptance and healing will bring us some peace. We kissed his grave and said our goodbyes to our friend and walked away knowing that he is now truly free. It was heartbreaking to have to leave him behind. We headed down the beach on watched the end of the sunrise…. The beginning of a new day.

Keep resting in peace Ren. We love you.

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