Wednesday, July 21, 2010


It occurs to me that having written about why I am leaving Dominica, I should also write about the reasons to stay or return. There are several strong reasons. I will do this in the next weeks.

Meanwhile, here is a story


Sono and I had to go to Rosseau to pick up the new propellor, the 25 ho motor and do some other city errands, so we hired his friend, Cockter (pronounced cock-tah, a patois word meaning a stick to dig in the earth or a staff) and his pick up truck.

It was raining, but Cockter was more or less on time. He had to "do something" before he came to get us! Off we went at top speed in his rattling, rusty rogue of a truck. Cockter is a big man and the gear shift was on the floor, so Sono and I were squashed hard up against the passenger door.

Now, Rosseau is only 30 miles from Portsmouth, but the road is winding, twisting and narrow and features potholes the size of a bath tub, so it takes an hour to get there. The road is snug up against the mountain on one side and a precipice going down to the ocean on the other. It is a very busy highway with an endless stream of huge Diatsue dump trucks carrying tarish, pickup trucks carrying people, people carrying loads on their heads, vans, busses, cars, goats. Dominicans drive on the left - sort of - mostly in the middle and the prevailing attitude is every man for himself.

So, as I said, off we go. I give myself over to fate and decide to enjoy the ride.

About 10 minutes into the trip, Cockter parks on the non-existent shoulder, jumps out, opens the hood (bonnet). Sono is not far behind, They jiggle the battery, declare it "good to go" and jump back in. Another 5 minutes of driving, reminiscent of a midway ride, and Cockter pulls over again, this time to pee. "Let's go again", he says as he heists himself back into the truck.

Sono and Cockter keep up a constant flow of chatter in broad idiomatic Dominican mixed with patois. I understand less than half of what they are saying. Between them Sono and Cockter know everyone we pass. There is much honking and waving. The personal and family histories of all are discussed in detail.

Closer to Rosseau the Chinese (chi-nee) are reconstructing the road. Huge bulldozers are carving away hairpin curves, building sea walls and preparing new road beds. The process is analyzed and, of course, found to be wrong. No one stops for the construction. You just push through.

And so we reach Rosseau. It is a humid 38 degrees C. The Rosseau River is dirty and the harbour is muddy because it is raining. Poor Sono stumbles out of the vehicle. He has been bouncing along on the metal rim of the seat and the CD speaker has been jamming into his shoulder, "My cote bondar (arse) hurts and my shoulder is mashed up," he says.

Our first stop is the Mercury agent to get the propellor, which is too small, then over to Fisheries for the motor, but they are closed (?) and nobody knows why. Then we go to the police station to pick up Sono's passport, but they are closed for lunch. Next we find a shop to buy a battery for my watch, and discover a long lost brother! No kidding, really. They haven't seen each other for years. They are genuinely happy to see each other, but nothing much transpires and they go their separate ways. Back over to the police station and get the passport.

On the way home we have to stop in Fond Cole, an industrial park, to buy some rope. Sono knows exactly where the place is, Cockter does not. He drives where he thinks it should be, not listening Sono's directions. Cockter quickly realizes he can get under Sono's skin by randomly driving all over the place and pulling in to any old factory parking lot. Sono is sweating trying to keep his temper. By sheer accident Cockter pulls into the right place and we get our bales of rope.

Finally, we head for home picking up a lady and her basket of tomatoes on the way. Luckily it has stopped raining because she is perched on the bales of rope in the back of the truck. She gets down at Picard and we buy a delicious Bar-B-Q'd chicken. We are home by 4.

The day isn't over yet...but that's another story.

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