St. Lucia January 2020 Part 2
You’ll notice I use sour oranges quite a bit, the story behind that is funny. I needed five sour oranges to make a double batch of my rum punch as I like their flavor over lime juice. When I was at the market last Saturday picking up fruit and veg for the week, I saw a lady selling sour oranges, they were stacked in groups of five. I asked how much they were and she said 2 EC each, which seemed a little high to me but I needed them so told her I would take five, she proceeded to pile her whole table full of oranges into a bag, apparently she meant 2 EC each pile, so that is how I ended up with a glut of sour oranges but I was able to put them to good use.
Friday January 10, 2020
Today was the big sendoff BBQ for the crew of Skyelark before they leave for Columbia tomorrow on the first leg of the WARC. I had two whole legs of lamb marinating in sour orange juice, garlic, onion, ginger, cumin, rosemary and other seasonings. The plan was to place a layer of vegetables in the bottom of an aluminum pan with the lamb on top and sprigs of fresh thyme between them, then cover it with foil then roast it over the coals using the tripod grill. Fred made a breadfruit salad, using the recipe the woman at Castro’s Bar in Gros Islet gave him; it was fantastic and was very much like a good potato salad, I’m going to try that one in the South Pacific later this year. A garden salad rounded out the meal.
We had a lot of stuff and rather than wheeling it all down to the beach I asked our landlord if he could drive us down, he was more than happy to. I also invited him back for lunch as he enjoys that we cook local food in the local way, “you’re just like us” he always says.
Preparing the meal on the beach
Between Fred, Trendy and I and the crew of Skyelark we represented four different countries; travel and especially sailing can really broaden your view of the world. Dan brought a bowl of ceviche that he made from a tuna he picked up at the fisheries complex. I gave the requisite safety briefing on the rum punch; in my standard batch ( 2.5 litres) I use a full bottle of Denross which makes it almost 1/3 by volume 160 proof alcohol in each glassful; and this time I made a double batch! Nigel, a long-time client of Skyelark remarked that the punch didn’t taste strong, but he could feel his throat get warm after drinking it, that is the key to a good rum punch.
I saw the local fishing boat, that sells their catch on the beach across from Dukes coming in so I went over and picked up four small reef fish, as if we didn’t have enough food already. Trendy prepared the fish in foil to steam with seasoning and herbs.
Freddy in the hammock
The BBQ went off very well, everybody enjoyed the food and had their fill. We stripped one of the legs clean so I divided up the bones for the few beach dogs that were hanging around, the other I kept for lamb bullion. We made a good dent in the rum punch considering the crew was taking it easy with the pending departure tomorrow.
The were some swells running due to high winds so the Skyelarkers didn’t bring the dingy but came from the marina by bus. We broke down the camp and they headed back to Gros islet to catch a bus back while we loaded everything back up in the landlords jeep.
We had a few more rum punches at the room before heading down to the jump up for some nightcaps.
Good times with good friends
Saturday January 11, 2020
Dan had made arrangements for Fred and I to catch a ride out into the bay to see the start of the WARC on a catamaran with a couple from St. Pete Florida. We first stopped at Skyelark to say our goodbyes and wish them well. As we were walking down the dock, I spotted a US $10 bill and quickly reached down to grab it, just a split second before Fred could get it, there are rumors going around that I elbowed him in the groin on the way down but they are unfounded.
We headed over to the catamaran and were soon on our way out to the bay. Being on the water gave me a great position to get some nice photos of Skyelark and the rest of the fleet. I was also able to get pictures of Reduit beach and the little one we frequent, what a difference, almost like night and day. The start signal was given on time and the fleet crossed the starting line on a journey around the world that will take 15 months before returning to St. Lucia or 27 months for the boats that drop out midway to explore Australia and New Zealand before linking up with the next years fleet to complete this incredible adventure.
Skyelark on her way, I'll see you in March!
Some of the fleet off Pigeon Point
The balance of the day was spent chilling out, swimming at the beach and hitting a few of the bars in town. We ended up at Dukes for dinner; the line was shorter without the jump up crowd. Nightcaps at Irie Bar before heading back to the room to have a few on the balcony.
The Saturday night crowd at Dukes, not as busy as on Fridays
Sunday January 12, 2020
Today was a chill day, the past week had been very busy between the WARC events and cookouts. I slept in later than usual and fixed a nice breakfast for Trendy and I. Being Sunday I decided to make the pot of lamb bullion; I broke down the bones into pieces that would fit in the pot and boiled them with seasoning for an hour before adding the potatoes and carrots, I added dumplings the last ten minutes of cooking. Trendy was quite impressed with the way the soup came out; we just about finished the whole pot between us. Being a lazy day, I went to the beach for a refreshing swim, there were a lot of families on the beach as usual for a Sunday. I made a couple stops at our favorite haunts and then spent the evening on the balcony finishing up the rum punch.
Monday January 13, 2020
Took the bus to Rodney Bay and then took my morning walk to the end of the road. There’s a bench to sit on and it’s a nice way to relax in the morning, occasionally some fishermen are working on their nets. Things looked slow at the fisheries complex across the channel.
Fishermen fuel up before heading out
Some nets on shore across from the fisheries complex
I went down to the beach for a swim with just one of the stools, I should have brought the hammock with me. An older Italian guy stopped and said the hotel told him there is a white guy that grills on the beach every day and asked if it was me. I told him probably, but I don’t grill every day and had no plans for today. We chatted a bit, he was concerned because his son was relocating to Canada to be with his girlfriend; they are going to live in Toronto, and I told him it’s a nice city.
Wireman stopped by; he is a local artist that makes figurines from scraps of wire, he’s very talented. He was still carrying the fishermen figure he has had for a couple days, which meant he probably hasn’t made a sale for that long either. He’s an older fellow and going without food is tougher on him than the younger guys that hustle for a living. He looks a fright and commented that he needed a bath, if you were to see him you might want to avoid him because of his appearance, but he’s a nice soft spoken guy, not crazy or like the ones you see yelling on a street corner on a Friday night.
He asked if I could give him 10 for a roti, he must have been desperate because he rarely begs; I gave him a 5 as everything else was large bills. We talked a while and then he left to go take a sea bath; as he walked away, I could hear him pray “Father God, please help me”. This hit me hard; how many of us have had a friend or relative that struggled with addiction, mental illness or PTSD and could have ended up in the same situation, living on the street and having to beg for food. I regretted not giving him more when he asked; now I don’t often give money to panhandlers unless they are aged or handicapped but like I said wireman walks the beach all day trying to sell his art and I respect someone who at least tries to provide for themselves. Then I remembered the lucky $10 US I had found and decided I would give it to him next time I saw him.
I hung out for a while, chatted with a taxi driver that eats under the same group of trees, he commented he has seen our setup before and was impressed. Walking back into town, I saw wireman coming, he had a takeaway package in his hand so must have scraped up enough money to get something to eat. Trendy said before that one thing about wireman is when he gets money the first thing he buys is food. I called him over and slipped him the $10 as I would hope a stranger would do if someone I loved was in a hard way.
Tuesday January 14, 2020
I took the bus into Rodney Bay and picked up some stuff for tonight’s dinner and our last BBQ tomorrow. I have been craving chicken curry, so I grabbed a small bottle of coconut water from the roadside to stew the chicken up in.
I headed down to the beach, hammock in my backpack, ready to enjoy a relaxing day. A taxi pulled up and some young people got out with a pair of large coolers and some nice folding beach chairs; they were all in the same uniforms so right away I knew they were crew from one of the large yachts in the bay. The taxi returned this time with a table and some pans of food and the crew set the chairs up along the beach and right next to the road that goes through there. I could see the tender from the large sailing yacht going back and forth between the boat and channel so I figured that must be the one. The taxi returned for a third time and the six guests got out, grabbed their drinks, looked like they had a full bar there and took their places in the chairs. Soon the crew were handing out plates of food, I wished we were grilling that day as then we could show them how it’s really done. The taxi guy from the previous day stopped and this time he had some stewed pork for me to try. We talked a bit and observed how the other half live. I commented we must have a good spot if this is where the 1% choose to set up out of stretches of beach in the bay; ours does provide some privacy as not many people go there during the week.
Life is good
How the other half live
Wireman stopped by again; he looked better, fed and bathed. He had a spool of wire with him and began twisting it around into another creation; when he finished, he had a “man in a hammock” his first ever. I gladly bought it from him for 40EC. You could buy some chachki made in China from one of the many souvenir shops, but when you buy from a guy on the beach like wireman you are getting a one of a kind piece and helping the artist to survive another day; and for many people on the island it truly is a day to day existence. He is a regular on the streets of Gros Islet and at Pigeon Point outside the park, he can also be seen on the beach at the Landings and Sandal Grand as he walks between town and the beach.
Wireman with "the man in the hammock
Trendy was going to the Harbor Club to play pool with his pilot friend, I hung out at the hotel and made a nice pot of chicken curry. I must have done a good job because as Trendy was eating, he kept saying “this is awesome”. It was just another chill night on the balcony; I prepped the pork for tomorrows BBQ and then hung out watching the world go by while playing music with my Bluetooth speaker. I did find a new band, the Vye Twizeen Boyz (the Old Kitchen Boys ), they are from Dennery and have some good songs, many of them sung in Creole. Always good to find new local music.
Wednesday January 15, 2020
It was just going to be Trendy and I today so we cut back on the amount of stuff we wheeled to the beach with the trolly. We made a quick stop at the fisheries complex hoping to get a snapper but all the ones they had were rather large so we opted for a nice fat tuna. The six pound fish was only 47 EC or $18 US, not a bad price.
We have become pretty adept at setting up the camp; Trendy sets up the grill while I put the hammocks in place, I set up the table and he the stools, probably takes us only 10 minutes to have the whole thing in place. The pork was marinating in the remainder of the green sauce for the tuna I had an idea I have been thinking of since I bought the wire rack fish cookers. Trendy cleaned the fish and cut slits in the sides, I rubbed the fish with a mixture of sour orange juice, garlic, ginger and seasoning; I then put slices of, you guessed it, sour orange in the belly and on each side of the fish in the wire baskets. We roasted it over the low coals with a copper cooking mat underneath until it was done. The fish was moist and flavorful and had the texture of being poached after being steamed in the juice of the orange slices.
Trendy with the tuna
Ready to eat
Just as it was finishing up an English couple came over and asked if I was the “guy on TripAdvisor that grills on the beach”. He had seen some of my trip reports and recognized the grill and hammock. We invited them to stick around and have some fish, but they were on their way to town.
We packed the camp up for the final time and headed back to the hotel. I figured there is no reason to transport all this stuff back and forth each year so Trendy offed to store it for me. If anyone would like to do a beach BBQ when visiting the island, he can be reached at (1+758 727-1584). It’s a nice quite beach and a really nice experience with a chance to see how the locals do it.
Thursday January 16, 2020
Today was the day I move down to Soufriere to finish up my holiday; I like to finish in Soufriere as it’s a nice change of pace. I’m staying at the Downtown Hotel and won’t have a kitchen, so I gave Trendy the stuff in the fridge to take with him. He used the leftover fish and pork to make a one pot with some rice to take with him for the day as he tries to make some paper at the beach.
Since I was now down to a carry-on bag and my backpack I decided to take the bus to Soufriere rather than pay the $60-$80 for a taxi. I said goodbye to Mr. Louis and thanked him for his hospitality then grabbed a bus to Castries where I then boarded another to Soufriere. The bus filled within 15 minutes and we were soon on our way. The driver let me put my larger bag under the back seat, so I wasn’t trying to carry it all on my lap.
Once in Soufriere, I checked out the market which is now at the new bus station, I had hoped to get another bottle of coconut oil but all they had were the larger sizes, so I passed on them. There is a small restaurant located there and I got a saltfish on bread and shared a picnic table with a nice couple from the UK.
I checked into the hotel and dropped off my bags then headed for Hummingbird Beach. A couple of the guys were there, and we had a few drinks. I got a nice hamburger from Dai Dai, her little shack was the only food option on the beach, other than the hotels prior to the improvements. I was glad to see she didn’t get squeezed out. I sat around until sunset and then headed back towards town. A new restaurant, Gen Mwen, has opened between the new bus terminal and the customs office. I stopped in and had a fish roti and Piton then went back to the room.
I ended up just having a few drinks on the patio before calling it an early night.
Fishing boats with Petit Piton in the background
Friday January 17, 2020
The coconut water guy has moved from next to the hotel to the market, so I grabbed a coco tea from the lady across the street and went to the waterfront park to enjoy it with a slice of fruit cake from the lady on the corner. Strolled down to the market to pick up a bottle of coconut water and check out the Saturday market. It was improved from the old one at the fisheries complex, things seemed more organized, and there were plenty of vendors. I picked up a saltfish and bake which I ate as I wondered around. Feeling the need for some coffee, I headed over to Zaka’s Art Café for coffee. Simon was painting some masks and there was someone practicing chords on a guitar. I got a single pot (10 EC) which was enough for two cups. The coffee was very good; I had it black and found it flavorful but mild without an acid burn.
Back at the room I got my beach stuff together; I had a small bit of Denross in my flask so rather than waste it I figured I would just top up some rum punches at the beach. The foundation has chairs for rent, but I opted to get one of the private ones that a friend looks after, 10 EC for the day under a shade tree.
This is one of my favorite beaches for swimming; the dark sand can get hot on the feet in the afternoon though. It was good to see all the people at the beach, there was still plenty of room but nice to see a few tourist dollars being spent in town and hopefully people will walk to downtown and check it out also. Between swimming, relaxing in the shade and topping up my rum punches it turned out to be a nice last day on the island. Being a small island it’s not unusual to run into someone who knows someone and today was no different. The woman who oversees the chairs for the foundation is Marlyle’s cousin and the one that produced the CD I bought from him when we first met in 2009.
The rum punches and the sun had me thinking about food and a nap by late afternoon. I said my goodbyes and headed for Gen Mwen where I got a pizza and a Piton; they have a small brick over there. The pizza was nice, thin crust and a nice sauce, I would order one again.
I never did make it out for Friday night, but enjoyed the music of a nearby bar from the patio.
A fishing boat at anchor loaded with nets
A small boat on the beach
A fisherman rows out to sea to try his luck
Saturday January 18, 2020
Flying out today, I just hung around the waterfront and square until checking out. I had planned to take the bus to the airport, but Andre had stopped me yesterday to talk and offered me a very good price, almost half the going rate.
I swear they have the best airport food of anywhere I’ve flown. It’s not gourmet, but it’s real and cheap; I had a roti and a Piton, well a couple Pitons actually.
I only had carry-on and checked in online so security was a breeze. My American flight was uneventful, and I got back to Buffalo in good shape. It was just a short two weeks, but nice to see my friends and see Skyelark off before joining her in Galapagos in February to head off to the South Pacific for seven months.
My new winter home in St. Lucia, the Chez Marie Alish Hotel, I always get the room on the corner