July 12, 2007:
Always up for a party, we dragged ourselves away from the computers for an early-ish dinner with a few of the other guests at Tuckamore Lodge in Main Brook.
There had been a lot of chatter today - we weren't 100% sure what it was all about - at least not until we pushed a few of the kitchen staff for a little information. It was to be a "Screeching In" Party.
A true blue Newfoundland band was coming from the small town of Conche to entertain guests as well as to perform the screeching in ceremony - a Newfoundland tradition that puts visitors to the test to see if they are truly fit and worthy to be Newfoundlanders.
The proceedings got underway with the arrival of the band and their introductions by Barb Genge, owner of Tuckamore Lodge. The Newfoundland vibes have a distinct Irish flare and the stories told by song are the result of the relationship that Newfoundlander's have with the land and sea, and they are a proud bunch of people with respect to their culture!
The band certainly got us all to our feet for a jig and a boogie, the whole crowd was dancing in the relatively small space between the couches which are set up in a square around the coffee table (which had been removed by this stage).
After a short break, the band soon had us back on our feet again for a few songs until the time arrived .... Screeching time!! Contrary to the what the name suggests, we didn't have to screech at the top of our lungs ... no, Screech is Newfoundland's favourite rum although I believe it received its name from the reaction of an American who drunk the rum ... you can imagine what that was!! I'm told that Screech is brewed for less than half the time that usual Jamaican rum is brewed for and it sure packs a punch! We were all served up our shooter of Screech along with a morsel of fish and then on the command of the Master of Ceremonies and after a short Newfoundland prayer ... of sorts... we were scoffing down the fish which was then followed by the Screech .. in one gulp! Yikes!! Sure gets the eyes watering just thinking about it. Apparently, if you can keep all this down, then you are on your way to being an honourary Newfoundlander. By the way .. the drinking of Screech is only part of the Screeching In ceremony.
Next challenge: we were all called up in front of everyone to repeat a Newfoundland saying. Now the Newfoundlander's have their own form of english ... yes it's english but its super slangy and virtually incomprehensible to a non-Newfoundlander! Anyway, these "sweet" guys called us up and we stood in front of our peers to repeat whatever it was that we heard or thought we heard and it was our peers (also non Newfoundlander's) who judged whether what we said was right or not ... we were given three tries. Remarkably everyone managed to string enough words together so that it resembled a sentence. Once through that little challenge the only thing that stood between us and the certificate to prove our Newfoundlander/Screecher status was the kissing of a cod fish. So with a quick peck on the head of a fish, we were welcomed into the Newfoundland fold.
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