In Saba, One Man’s Quest to Serve as the Island’s Wake-up Conch Call
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
It’s fitting to apply the words of a celebrated composer like Gustav Mahler to the story of Percival “Percy” Ten-Holt. I came to know of this curious long-time resident of Saba through Richard Varr’s Travel Blog. I’d long admired Richard’s “Notes From A Travel Writer,” none more so than this engaging account of his recent visit to Saba.
You may recall that I finally made my first-ever visit to Saba a couple years ago. Sadly, that trip only lasted a few hours, leaving me yearning for a more extended second visit soon. Richard’s story further fueled my desires, especially his intro to Percy.
What’s so special about this guy?
In line with the Mahler quote above, Percy is big on preserving one of Saba’s long held traditions. And yes, that tradition is somewhat musical.
The tradition: Blowing conch.
As noted last week, people have blown conch for various reasons all across the Caribbean for generations. In Saba, the call was often a signal advising local residents that a ship was approaching.
Modern conveniences have made such a practice obsolete, of course. The way Percy sees it, though, that’s no reason to let a good tradition die, as he notes in Richard’s video…
Cock (crowing) or conch (blowing) ⎯ one way or another, you’re bound to get an early start to your day in Saba!