Dominica’s Quelonios Festival Gave Me Innovative Ideas

Gavin Mendonca performing recently at Dominica’s Quelonios Festival

-Local rock musician, Gavin Mendonca
GUYANESE rock musician, `Gavin Aaron Mendonca has just returned from the Quelonios Festival in the Dominican Republic and is still reminiscing what he described as his “most enlightening, adventurous trip.”
Speaking with the Pepperpot Magazine a few days ago at the Guyana Chronicle, Gavin recalled the beautiful, clear beach where the annual camping festival is usually held.

The festival revolves around the creative arts; music, cultural exchange, the environment and protection of it, with a special awareness of protecting the giant leatherback turtles.

“The festival happens on a beach called ‘Playa en Valle’ in Samana to the north of DR. The beach is beautiful; just a clear beach, and there’s another strip where giant leatherback turtles nest every year,” Gavin said.

While attending the CirulArts Festival in Columbia last year, Gavin met the director of Quelonios Festival, Alex Matas. “We were sharing ideas about our festivals. He mentioned the word Quelonios, so I did some research and found out that the turtles he was talking about was in fact the giant leather back turtles. So I met with him the next day and told him we have something in common; Shell Beach, which is basically like the beach in DR.”

Gavin fondly recalls meeting Rebel Layonn and his wife Ama Makeda from Haiti. “Although we are different people, we had something in common: our love and consideration for the giant leatherback turtle. It was a great opportunity to network and I even invited some of those I met to next year’s Rupununi Festival.

“This was my first experience of merging music and arts with not just the environment, but with biodiversity; with the fauna of two countries. The trip itself was an amazing adventure. I made a presentation on the turtles and even donated posters that I got from WWF.”

Although the festival saw lots of rain, Gavin said this was no deterrent to those who attended. “It had a lot of rain and the main stage wasn’t completed but the people were there for the experience. The rain didn’t put a damper on their spirit. Part of the beach became a dance floor and maybe 200 people were there all night enjoying the rain and music.”

Gavin said the festival has helped him develop a greater sense of appreciation for culture and has even given him ideas for local festivals. “I wasn’t just there to perform my music; I experienced the environment. It was an enlightening experience, probably my most adventurous trip. I have come back with a greater sense of appreciation for culture, networking, and for the human experience; and some ideas to enhance our Rupununi Festival.”

Gavin’s trip was supported by the Rupununi Music and Arts Festival, RAMPS Logistics Guyana Inc., Bad Monkey Merch, Tropical Flora and Fauna, Music Unlimited, Jai Narine Singh, Deodat Persaud, Russel Lancaster and Rupa Singh.