Monday, October 31, 2005

A bit of Minorcan history...a bit stale, but its ours.
To understand Minorcan Culture, you need to understand where we live(lived)and how we are connected to the land...and water. I am afraid that this takes us back a bit in time. Actually, a lot of bits, but oh, well, I'll get on with it. I need to ask you to look back a few years, about 450 million ybp (years before present). At that time the first orogeny of the Appalachian mountains began. To say the least, it was a different world. No, there were no Minorcans then, just one of their favorite subjects, fish and many tasty invertebrates. This would have been the Devonian/Silurian Period and life existed for the most part, in the sea, Panthallasia. Very little land existed,and critters with backbones and plants pretty much were preoccupied with aquatic environments. The land was just unclaimed real estate. But the land could care less, it was just the land and it did what land does, it moved and collided. As the developing cratons smacked around on the liquid mantle, one collision caused an uplift. Not much, but much like a crumpled fender, the crust rippled a bit. What we call the Appalachian mountains were conceived.No, there still weren't any Minorcans yet, but we were probably a distant part of the plan or process, which ever fits your comfort zone. God only knows what else went on for the next few 10's of million of yrs, but it must have been interesting. Somewhere around 300 million ybp, a really apocalyptic collision occurred. The nascent North America, Europe (Laurasia) and Africa (Gondwanaland) had a bit more than a fender bender, they smacked into each other like Sunday afternoon Pro-football front lines, bone crushing and planet changing. The ripple we know as the Appalachians, was thrust up...way up. The gentle little hills we are accustomed to, with their occasional rocky face, went literally, sky high. They were not the soft, round, verdant hills we know today. The Appalachians soared, high, probably higher, than the contemporary Himalayas, yes, over 5 miles high. Rocky, cold, icy, tormented by violent winds, snow and earthquakes, they awed, they terrified, they loomed...and they began to die. Their death was a part of our beginning. Sorry, but we seem to have a way to go. I've written too much tonight, so the "View from the Crack Shack" will have to wait. Oh, yeah, have faith, it really is all connected (I just haven't figured it all out yet!)
the Minorcan Madman

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What is Minorca and where did those people end up at?
If I'm going to try to spread some information about Minorca (Menorca), and Florida's Minorcans,I think I should explain a bit about where they came from and when they got to north Florida. Basically, Minorcans were poor residents of the Balaeric Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. In the late 1700's, they were conscripted as indentured servants by a British Imperialist, Andrew Turnbull,to leave Minorca for a new Florida colony, New Smyrna. The colony was named after the homeland of his beautiful Greek wife and was to be an agricultural venture. Turnbull reasoned that the warm, humid climate of northeast Florida, would require workers used to similar conditions and the hardy Minorcans of the Mediterranean seemed to fit the bill. Turnbull set out the terms, labor for a number of years, then freedom and land to begin anew in the world of opportunity of the 1700's,North America. I often wonder how excited they must have been, as the day of departure arrived. What did the children think when the masts of the ships appeared on the horizon? The ships that would take them and their families to the new world. The world of opportunity,adventure...and slavery.

The view from the crack shack.
Just a little about the place where I live. As PureFlorida says, his brother seems to be time-warped back in 1950. It's true, because that was the last of the best of St.Augustine and Florida. However, my time is limited because the wicked eye of develpment has begun to gaze in my direction. Still, I live in a home built in the 1950's. It's what Minorcans refer to as a "shotgun house". It's frame, with the front door and the back door in line east to west. So, a shotgun blast could in the backdoor and out the front without damaaging anything but screens. The view around my home is very much a museum of the lifestyle of the Minorcan fisherman of the 1950's, down to the datil peppers on the fenceline, the cluck family and the nets and 'nanner trees. If I can remember how I put photos the last time, I give you a visual tour. Happy Hurricane Season!
The MinorcanMadman

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This is a new blog, so get ready to laugh while I cuss mi computadora a little bit. I'm still trying to figure blogging out, so bear with me, or better yet go elsewhere like PureFlorida, my brother's site. Just to get started, I plan to provide information on a unique group of settlers to Florida known as the Minorcans. They arrived in New Symrna Florida in the late 1700's and remain in the St.Augustine, Florida area today. The St.Augustine Diocese Cathedral archives here chronicle their lives, their births and their deaths. While many occupiers took control of St.Augustine, the Minorcans stayed on and preserved a way of life that was different from the Anglo settlements we read about in the Anglo-centric historical accounts of North American history. Like many other poor subsistence cultures, Minorcans perservered by dedication to family values and resourcefulness. I hope to relate some of their stories of survival, their culture and history on this site. Of course, since I am a Minorcan, you will be subjected to me too, sorry about that. So, for now, what to Datil peppers, pilau (pronounced PER-low) and smoked mullet have in common? They are all central to our culture and part of this blog's future posts. Ciao.
the Minorcan Madman