As it was explained to me, Apéro is an after-work meet up with friends, where you drink, play some games and have a good time. The Jamaican equivalent varies, depending on who you ask, from “lime”, “link up”,”drink up”, and the list goes on. Whatever you call it, the concept of hanging out with some friends and alcohol remains the same. So this Apéro, which was hosted via Zoom on September 25, was a collaboration between the Alliance Française network across the English-speaking Caribbean, to celebrate La Rentrée or the back-to school season. There were participants from Trinidad, Barbados, St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Jamaica and some other countries that I missed, all of us allured by the promise of French and French Caribbean music and games.

The Apéro itself was mainly a quiz with 20 questions on French and Caribbean culture, with players submitting their answers on Kahoot. First prize for each country was a bottle of wine (except in Barbados where the prize was concert tickets). Intermission between questions was spent listening to bouyon and zouk music (think French soca and dancehall). So how did it go? Well, the Jamaicans came to win and the AFJ director was the best hype man we could ask for, but it wasn’t in the cards for us this time. And given my sobriety to write this post, I definitely didn’t come in first place. Not even close. I think overall I came in 16th place, which isn’t remotely brag-worthy in a game with 20something players. But aside from a bruised ego and a reminder that, post-pandemic, I need to take a trip through the Caribbean, it was pretty entertaining. Hopefully, I will eventually taste victory in a bottle of wine, but until that happens I can take pleasure in the jokes from strangers in different countries and learning that we are all more similar than we realize.

An honourable mention has to go to the Jamaican question of that quiz, which was undoubtedly a disappointment. The question asked what was the main ingredient in the Jamaican drink “Sea Cat Punch”. As a Jamaican, I have never heard of this drink, nor had I ever heard of a sea cat (I learned that it’s an octopus, which we don’t have here to my knowledge). So I and most of the other Jamaican players were confused. This burned more because the entire night while I was having my ass handed to me, I was looking forward to the Jamaican question in the hopes of leveling the playing field. But at 16th place, one question was not going to solve ALL of my problems.

Overall, I had a great time and it was the perfect event in a time when you feel the most caged in. Hopefully there will be more such events in the coming weeks and months and I encourage everybody reading this post to attend.

I also want to add that I’m truly impressed by the creativity and variety of the online sessions held by the Alliance Française de la Jamaïque as of late. Pre-pandemic I don’t remember there being many events outside of Talk French Tuesdays and a French film festival. But they’ve expanded since going online. On Sundays we could expect Vin Sur Vingt hosted on IG live, discussing topics such as studying in and moving to France and living in Montreal. There have been poetry readings and guest speakers discussing their literary works or reading French Caribbean stories on Zoom. A few months ago there was a collaboration between the Alliance Française network across the Caribbean and Latin America to host the annual Fête de la Musique on Facebook live. As someone who never had the time to attend their events in person, I’m enjoying the variety and accessibility of these online events. Looking forward to other events they have planned and covering them on this blog.