Stuck In Paradise

If the Spirit Above, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You only have one more afternoon left on this Earth. Where would you like to spend it?”

My answer would be immediate and very clear. “I’d like to spend it on “Planet Dune”.

Recently, I was able to spend a week there. While that was wonderful enough, there is only one thing better and that is extending your stay for two extra days due to a major snowstorm that resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights into the Northeast US.

Planet Dune is on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. We have been traveling to Anguilla for about 15 years and this year I was on the island to take in and perform with my daughter at MoonSplash, one of the Caribbean’s fonkiest music festivals. The festival, which celebrated its 27th anniversary, is the brainchild of Bankie Banx, one of the Caribbean’s foremost musicians and songwriters. Bankie has performed all over the world for over 40 years. His lyrics, which touch a lot on social commentary and activism about the environment, economic justice, political corruption and civil rights has remained relevant for decades and his playing style and sound is very unique. If you had to describe his music it would be a cross between Bob Marley and Bob Dylan.

The Dune Preserve is a plot of preserved land directly on the beach overlooking Rendezvous Bay with the island of St. Maarten visible in the distance. The warm, healing waters of the ocean lap at the foot of the Preserve itself, which proceeds up a sloping dune with a lush green hue provided by palm trees, sea grapes and other native Anguillan plants and fauna. For the past 25 years, Banx has, amongst those trees and greenery, been slowly building, much of it with his own hands, the Dune’s infrastructure to include a full kitchen, several bar areas and various nooks and crannies with tables and three distinct performance areas including a full sized stage made from the hull of a large sailboat. Think of a giant, meandering, tree house for adults perched above the shimmering blue-hued bay and amongst the swaying palm trees palm trees fed by the warm Caribbean breezes. The place is otherworldly. Pure Paradise. There’s no better place to be “stuck in”.

I got stuck in Paradise, I’m free in my head, Changed my attitude and my head turned dred, I just met Mickey Maloney on the beach down the shore, Said to call him in New York and come knock on some doors, I thought it was kind, it’s not on my mind, I’m just sittin’ here doing some quality time.
— Bankie Banx

And while the surroundings, scenery and vibe are about as cool as it gets, it’s the cast of characters that inhabit it and the visitors from all over the world who come to soak in the spirit and healing properties of Planet Dune that make it one of the fonkiest, hippest, coolest places on the planet.

Some may call the regular cast of characters who inhabit the Dune “sketchy”, others simply “colorful”. Regardless, they are undeniably interesting, unique and entertaining.

From Bullet, Bankie’s oldest friend and general right hand man, dreadlocks from head down to the tops of his, multi-colored Chuck Taylor Converse, old-school canvass high-top sneakers to “Choo-Choo”, a dead ringer for a Caribbean Buddha, stationed, perhaps permanently, on a wobbly bar stool, that without his Buddhist Karma, would otherwise have collapsed months ago. From Johnny Danger, a transplant from New Mexico who serves as the “supply procurement officer” and driver of the Winnebago on Bankie’s US tours to a bass player whose other lines of work you can only imagine for a New Yorker with the name Johnny Cement. There is the young bartender, Javier, who insists on you pronouncing it “JAH-vier”, given his Rasta beliefs and Peaches, the wonderfully delightful Mother Hen of Planet Dune to the Dune’s resident taxi driver, the dignified Philmore Lake. And the extremes of “Sunshine”, clearly Caribbean “royalty’ from the island of Nieves, decked out from fedora topped head to his slippered toes in full out white linen, a steady line of locals approaching to shake his hand and pay appropriate respects to the whippet like, deeply dark skinned and impossibly red-eyed “Homegrown”, best described as the Dune’s Doctor of “island attitude enhancement”. Hollywood couldn’t put together a more fonky, crazy, interesting cast of characters.

Then there are the tourists, wanderers, nomads and mystics from across the globe – folks of all shapes, sizes, colors, and occupations who offer a steady stream of interesting conversations and entertaining moments as they embrace the freedom, anonymity and healing vibes of landing on Planet Dune for a spell of escapism. All to the constant soundtrack of Bankie Banx, Bob Marley and on rare occasions, even Willie Marble.

“I’d like to take you to a funky place, where the breeze is always in your face, Take a trip on my solar ship, take a seat on a lone star ship, On the Planet, Planet Dune, we face the Southern Moon, Planet Dune, we face the Southern Moon.”

No need to stand out on the ledge, take a trip to the water’s edge, Leave your troubles far behind, come sit, wildberry wine, On the Planet, Planet Dune, we face the Southern Moon, Planet Dune, we face the Southern Moon.”

- Bankie Banx

One final afternoon on Earth?

Put me on that solar ship to Planet Dune.

 

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