Monday, June 29, 2009

A Night at the Theater

0n Friday, Lynthia brought home a flyer about a theater prodction to take place in the next village on Saturday evening. She really wanted to go, and it intrigued me , so I agreed to take her. It was to take place at something called “the country club”. I was skeptical, but she seemed to know the place. As it happened we all (Sono, Lynthia, Guyva and me) took a taxi to Bourne. The country club turned out to be a rather nice, large bar, disco, theater compound. The ‘theater’, stage and audience were outside. There were no scenery changes. The sets were excellent.

The play was called “The Shingle House” and was about an abandoned wooden house, now haunted and about to be reclaimed and sold. The plot centered around who the original owner was, the town gossip, rumours, town characters, and general goings-on. It was a lively, funny , and well produced show - really an excellent piece. The audience was totally involved, shouting out advice and baudy remarks to the characters who would in turn consult the audience when some decision needed to be made, or someone did or said something that needed a comment. I had the impression that a lot of it was improvised. Very Elizabethean. Very entertaining. Unfortuneately I only caught ¾ of the dialogue as it was thick with accent, colloquillisms and local history.

A thouroughly enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Under the Mango Tree

There is a big mango tree, heavy with rippening fruit, in front of my building. It has a small, slapped together, bench leaning up against it. I spend a lot of time there during the day in its shade. I sit there with my drawing book and exchange pleasant greetings with passers by. In the evening the breeze rustles its leathery leaves while I drink Kabuli beer (light, local beer), eat plaintain chips and listen to the reggae music on the radio coming from the cabin, just behind the tree. It is a big box really. Some Haitains live there. They often cook fish for their meal which they chop up on one of the big roots of the mango tree with their "machet".

From this bench I hear dogs barking, roosters crowing, children laughing, woman chattering. Goats munch their way past me. Just in front of me is a thicket of mango trees, coconut palms, and banana trees. There is a well used path through it. I have no idea where it goes, and I surprize myself that I am not interested in exploring it. It goes where it goes, and that's good. I much prefer to just sit here and watch the comings and goings along the trail.

People are getting used to seeing me there. I always have my sketch book on my knee, and do endless drawings of mango clusters.

Killing the fatted goat and other culinary adventures

On Father's Day, Sono, the boat builder decided he had to "eat a goat", and wouldn't I enjoy that too. I assured him he was welcome to do whatever he felt he had to do, but that I would decline in the preparation of the meal (read slaughter), and maybe even in the consumption. He didn't press the point, and I did accept the dinner invitation. He stewed some of it in papaya, salted some of it, and the rest is in my fridge! This being the land of skinney animals, there was no fat on the meat, but lots of grizzle (ugh), and bone. I did my best. The papaya part was delicious!

I am awash in mangoes, limes and coconut milk, and a soft sweet pear like fruit. There is a 'snackette' in Portsmouth that has really good pizza. Chicken roti is a special treat. Plantain chips and local light beer is how I spend my evenings when Sono and the children come over to watch TV, charge their cell phones and crunch ice cubes.

On my birthday Sono, Lynthia and I baked a heavy butter and egg cake and soaked it in ginger wine. Fabulous.

I'm losing wieght. It's all the walking and sweating I do.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Today was the hottest yet. I have no idea what the temperature was. I have been trying to buy a thermometer, but there isn't one in Portsmouth. I can understand this because who cares when it is this hot. There also aren't any weather reports, except for those concerning sailors. Fair enough. There are really only 3 levels of weather, hot, hotter and hottest!

this is not a complaint.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Great Move

So, I have an apartment!!! Not only that, but I have a fridge and everything in it is mine, put there by me, and is there when I open the fridge again; and the fridge remains clean. You cannot imagine the wave of warm gratitude, to the gods that govern this sort of thing, that came over me when I opened the fridge this morning.

The move was easy. The woman who drove the taxi is called Alfie! "Call me anytime, darlin'"

The electricty is on a pay-as-you-go basis, and of course includes heating the hot water (shoud you want hot water!). Makes perfect sense to me. You are assigned a number, go to any convenience store and buy a block of power. It is up to you how you spend it.

And I have a mango tree in my front yard. I sat under it last night. There I was on a bench, under a mango tree, in my own back yard, chickens pecking all around, reggae music in the background. I laughed out loud at the very thought.

It is fairly quiet although there are buidlings all around and a lot of people. Mostly Ross University students. I was told that they are all serious and hard working. Yeah, right, I said to myself. But indeed, they are not undergrads but medical students and they DO work hard and long, so quiet does prevail.

Quiet prevails...except for the rooster concert which starts up around 2 AM after an hour's warm up! I have identified at least 5 different roosters who call back and forth to each other. Often they even try harmony. This is something to get used to.

I have to adjust and elaborate the cast of characters because I will be writing about them as they are part of my life. Lynthia is a near 14 year old, tall, langy, pretty girl. Her long femurs, shin bones and arm bones facinate me. I'm sure she has more vertebrae than she supposed to have. she is in high school. She is nagging me to get my sewing machine out. I'm sure she has something in mind. Her brother is Guyva, whom I have been calling Kiver, he is 16 and is transfering all the reggae and hip hop music I have on my computer to one of my flash drives, which I gave him) They come over every evening to watch TV. They live just around the corner. Their father, called Sono, is a boat builder and has one in progress in his yard. He is also tall and lanky and has a head of dreadlocks! He raised these two children entirely on his own from babyhood. They move around the universe as a unit, a constellation. Phillip is no longer an active member of this cast of characters. I don't trust him.

Jo Etienne and Isodora are women who run small take-out meal places called snackettes (isn't that great!) Jo's is in the middle of Portsmouth and Isodora is at Indian River. They are not exactly 'friends' but they are happy to sit with me when I go for a coffee in the late afternoon and chat.

Sister Clare is not responding, and I think I was being only politely tolerated in church on Sunday. I will not go back there. Again someone suggested "racism" and a disapporval of the company I keep. To this I say - I like the company I keep. I am disappointed that these people don't realize that my private life and my professional life are separate.

I have not yet contacted Olivia Douglas at CALLS. That is on the agenda for this week. I am curious to see if the reception there has changed as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I spent the day renting an apartment! I move on Monday. it is on the outskirts of Portsmouth in a village called Glanvillia. It is a slow 20 minute walk to the centre of Portsmouth, and thankfully not a hilly walk.Then I visited for the day with Phillip's older brother (whose wonderful name is Emmanuel Lambert John), a single father of two teenagers. He is a boat builder and has one in progress in his side yard. In the afternoon I went up the mountain to collect their goats! Then they cooked supper for me, a typical D'can evening meal. The children walked me home, and showed me a short cut through the bush. They will be neighbours and friends. How lucky can I get.

On Wednesday morning the radio news reported that 2 women in Rosseau had a stand-ff and shouting match on the street. One would not let the other pass her on the narrow, crowded street. Sounds like a mundane altercation? NO! NO! As it was explained to me, one should not let a known enemy pass you on the left. There is more to this than I know or understand, but it has something to do with folklore and witch craft. Gotta love it! Apparently this went on for hours.

For those of you following the Sister Clare saga here is the latest. The ball is now firmly in her court, where it belongs. She didn't anwser my 2 calls, and I finally got her on the third and told her I was coming over to deliver copies of THE HUMM to the girls. (see the JUNE issue. When I got to the school I was swarmed by the children. I know that Peter saw me from his classroom. I gave the papers to the girls, had friendly exchanges with a couple of teachers, and the care taker, spoke with Peter's little sister and then was bowled over by Peter hugging and kissing me. He is now taller than I am! I didn't talk to him because he vanished immediately. I said my adieus to Sr. C, left her my phone number and said I'd meet with her at her convenience. She looked tired and haggared and was seriously busy. so....

I am still using the internet cafe but I hope to get that solved next week when the laptop has a permantent home. It will make a wireless connection, no problem, but will not connect with the internet.

Anyhow - I am looking forward to happily sitting on my veranda, with a bottle of ginger wine, my music and my sewing machine!

Love to all...M

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Night at the Internet Cafe

This is Blog 1 from Dominica

It is wonderful to return and find that some of the things that I left behind are still in place: a picture from a magazine that I had pinned up on the wall, a coffee table centre piece of shells and stones I put together is still there, the TV channel list I had made is still tacked to the side of the TV...and some things never change: the shell of the white car across the street is still resting high in the dumpster, the work men are still yelling "fawk" at each other, and the roosters are still crowing, the mosquitos are still biting.

The trip down was without event. I do think the sewing machine caused some concern and may have been responsible for the "random" search of my luggage, and of me. There was no problem, they were very polite about it all, and I kept quiet and just let it happen. All they took was my toothpaste. I was more concerned about the Dominican immigration and customs, but no incidents there either. The only comment made was by the immigration official who said, "You are going to be here for a long, long time" as he signed the document. Did I detect a whistfulness in his voice? Customs didn't even open anything.

The next mini hurdle was to get to Portsmouth. The person who said he was going to meet me, or send someone, of course didn't. No surprises there. Frankly, I would have been surprised if he had been there. I got a taxi ride with a man whose sister has an apartment to rent, and whose mother and father are connected (his words). He gave me all 3 phone numbers and I will start calling on Monday. So that worked out.

I am in the same room as I was in this winter, and it feels like home. There is a honeymoon couple from St. Lucia staying also. Never see them!!!

I intended to go to the beach today, but I fell asleep and then it got too late. Tomorrow's another day. I tried to get my laptop to run, but the reconditioned battery doesn't hold its charge, and I forgot to pack the plug adapter. I went out on the street and asked around if anyone had an adapter to lend me until Monday. They passed me around until someone found one for me. I am grateful for the music i can play on the laptop, even if (so far) I can't use it for internet stuff.

Everyone is sneezing and sniffing. I am bathing myself in Purell. I figure that keyboard in the internet cafe is a perfect breeding ground. I must find out if this is allergy season, if there is such a thing.

OVER THE RAINBOW: As we were flying over Nevis we flew ABOVE a rainbow. I could hardly believe it. How cool is that!

HEARING VOICES: Sitting on the beach in San Juan in the late afternoon I heard a voice say to me: You have been training for this all your life.