The drive from the ferry to the Grand Codroy RV Park was about 23 miles through some very rugged-looking but beautiful country with very little evidence of civilization. The ocean was on one side of the highway and mountains on the other side. Tomorrow we have an all day bus tour of the surrounding area.
The “Screech-In” was tonight at 7:00PM. We all gathered in the RV Park’s clubhouse for what was to be an initiation ceremony in which we would become Honorary Newfoundlanders. This ceremony includes instruction in how to eat like a Newfoundlander, dance like a Newfoundlander, speak like a Newfoundlander, and kiss like a Newfoundlander. The ceremony’s host must be a natural-born Newfoundlander and be dressed in a Sou’wester (yellow rain suit with the funny yellow hat).
Due to our large number and limited space we were divided into four groups and the ceremony was repeated for each group. All of the participants were made to wear one of those funny-looking yellow rain hats.
Learning to eat like a Newfoundlander involved a plate of “Newfoundlander Steak”, which was passed around for each person to take a piece and eat it. It looked, smelled, and tasted very much like bologna.
Next, we had to dance while the band (a guitar and accordion) played something akin to a jig. The host and hostess demonstrated the proper steps, which included a lot of stomping.
Learning to speak like a Newfoundlander was the most difficult part of the ceremony. The host recited some unintelligible sentences that we had to repeat. The only one I can remember was “Long may your big jib draw”, which means “Good luck”.
After the language lesson we each received a shot glass of Screech Rum, distilled and bottled in Newfoundland. It smelled like finger nail polish remover. The host counted to three and we had to drink it in one quick gulp. I’ve never tasted finger nail polish but it couldn’t taste any worse than the Screech Rum. It also had a terrible burn as it went down. That’s when you knew where the name of the rum came from because you can’t drink that stuff without letting out a yowl, or screech. Some of the people in our group actually liked it and went back for seconds and thirds once the ceremony was over. I went for my water bottle.
Learning to kiss like a Newfoundlander turned out to be my worst fear (having read of this ceremony some time ago). A plastic garbage bag was laid out on the floor and the host reached into a cooler and picked up a large dead codfish. The purpose of the garbage bag was to protect the floor from whatever was dripping from the fish. Each person was required to kiss this dead fish on its lips. Whether or not it was a “good” kiss was determined by the host and audience. Several people had to kiss the thing several times before they were judged to have kissed the fish properly.
Once all of the requirements were met, the hostess dubbed (with an empty Screech bottle) each of us on the shoulder and proclaimed us “Honourary Newfoundlanders”. We received a certificate (suitable for framing) and a lapel pin from the Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers. It was good fun and everyone enjoyed it. However, I couldn’t wait to get back to our RV and wash my lips!