Here I sit in a little restaurant, at the sea side in the middle of Portsmouth. It is an open cabin really owned by JoJo Etienne. I just had a good feed of fried plantain and stewed chicken in some kind of delicious sauce with fresh apricot juice. A cricket match is on the TV. Cricket is always on here. JoJo is a fan. When the West Indies is playing there often is a gathering of women come to watch.
Many people come and go. Some arrive walking on the sea wall, some off the street. Some sit and eat, some ‘take away’. Now – here comes a German couple, no, Dutch. They are birders and go out to the sea wall and bring out their serious cameras. There are not many birds hunting as it is hot mid-day and the fish have gone down deep. There are two Middle Eastern men at the other end of the table – Moroccans probably. Dark, silent.
It is hot, but the breeze, always present, is blowing nicely through. The sea is calm with little ripples There is a surface wind.
When I turn my face to look out the door I see a street winding its way up the hill side, colourful buildings on either side, some children going back to school, a man on a bicycle, a woman slowly trudging up the steep hill. No trees to shade the houses or street. Too dangerous, I am told. Trees fall on your house in a hurricane!
Now here comes a West Indian man dressed in his naval whites, an unusual sight. Maybe Coast Guard. He buys some guava juice. Next come some Norwegians who have been sailing the Caribbean. They pick up a beer from the fridge and strike up a conversation with me. They do not buy me a beer. Boo.
JoJo’s granddaughter comes in from school and is given a bakes with ham and a pop. Something happens in the cricket game on the TV and there is a loud cheer from the kitchen! The Norwegians drink up and go. A fisherman leaps in off the sea wall, calls out to me, and an exchange in Patois with JoJo and several other local regulars begins. Laughter, teasing, joking. They see me here often and are used to me.
Well, I could sit here all afternoon and just watch and chat and pass the time.
|JoJo in the kitchen|
|Looking out the back|
|Watching cricket on TV|