‘Respect! Caribbean Life in Edinburgh’ is the Museum of Edinburgh’s latest temporary exhibitions and is a collaborative project taken on in conjunction with the Edinburgh Caribbean Association. The Museum of Edinburgh is one of our favourite ‘hidden’ gems in the city, and we are always recommending it to visitors. Therefore, we were delighted when we saw that they were opening up a new exhibition and immediately made plans to visit.
While it is a wee exhibition, it provides a wealth of information and history that is important for all of us to learn about. Before we begin our celebration of Scottish Caribbean life in Edinburgh, we need to acknowledge that, as with most history, there are dark sides that we must not ignore. The Scottish connection to the Caribbean goes back centuries and is rooted in colonialism and slavery. That is why, when you look at one of the exhibition maps below, you see that there are many “Scottish names on the Caribbean landscape. Scottish plantation owners and map makers changed Indigenous and other European place names to remind them of home”.
The exhibition does a great job at acknowledging the dark past while discussing its connections to the present. I especially appreciated that the voice of the Caribbean Association was prominent throughout the exhibition. According to the exhibition, “the Edinburgh Caribbean Association celebrates Caribbean culture and brings together Caribbean people living in Edinburgh”. In fact, they have a video where Association members share memories of their childhood as well as current lives in Edinburgh.
There are artefacts throughout the room that highlight the diverse life experiences that Scottish Caribbean individuals underwent while growing up. For example, the exhibition points out the importance of representation for children in the media and their toys and how, even until recently, it was difficult to get dolls in skin tones other than white.
There is much more to see and learn, and we highly recommend that you visit the Museum of Edinburgh in person. While there, be sure to stop at the Huntley room to see the ‘Respect! Caribbean Life in Edinburgh’ exhibition on display until 19 February 2023. It is a lovely way to learn about the experiences of Scottish Caribbean people in Edinburgh as told from their personal perspectives with their ‘voices’ at the forefront of the discussion.
Head over to the Museum’s website for more information on how to best plan your visit (admission is free but we kindly ask that you provide a donation if you are able). Additionally, you can learn more about the Edinburgh Caribbean Association on their website.
After our fascinating visit at the Museum, we wanted to continue our celebration of Caribbean life in Edinburgh and one of the best ways to celebrate cultures is with food. As it was lunchtime, we decided it was time to try out a relatively new place that has been on our must visit list- Guajira Café.
Conveniently situated just up the road from the Museum of Edinburgh, the Guajira café opened in February 2022, and is described on its website as serving “delicious Latin American and Caribbean food”. We can concur that this is absolutely true, but more on that in just a moment. The café is run and operated by owner, Indhira, who is from the Dominican Republic.
We have been wanting to visit for awhile as Sami had seen the inviting and beautiful outside of the café on many occasions while out and about on our walking tours. The vibrant colour scheme extends inside and provides a delightful contrast to the austere stone architecture found throughout Edinburgh.
The interior is cosy and you are immediately welcomed into the space both by the inviting surroundings and Indhira’s sincere greeting. The beautiful art, greenery, fun objects peppered throughout, and upbeat music help to transport you to the Caribbean and Latin America. The food takes it to the next level.
Sami decided on the Cuban sandwich and I ordered the Mexican Croque Monsieur. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was the best croque monsieur I’ve ever had (and that includes ones I’ve had in France)! My first bite was an explosion of flavour and I immediately knew that I had made an excellent choice as did Sami who also thoroughly enjoyed his sandwich.
Without a doubt we will be returning to Guajira Café as there are other delicious options we want to try. We highly recommend the café to everyone if you are looking to have some mouth-watering Caribbean and Latin American food (they even have vegan options) for affordable prices. The café is located just off the Royal Mile near the World’s End at 18 Saint Mary’s St. Please check out their website for more information.
Well, while I continue to daydream of trying more of Indhira’s savoury food, I’m going to have to end this post for now and go get some lunch (although, unfortunately, my options here at home aren’t nearly as appetising). I hope you have enjoyed hearing a bit about the Museum of Edinburgh’s latest exhibition as well as a fun way to continue to celebrate a slice of Caribbean life right here in Edinburgh.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!