Sunday, March 5, 2017

Keep it Pozitive

One third of a five foot by one foot acrylic of Dominican Sunset.
We’ve had an eventful week.  I think the last time we blogged, we were at the Sisters Sea Lodge at Picard Beach in Dominica.
Our room at Sisters Sea Lodge with new painting.
We are still in Dominica.  

Spesh, as in special, had taken us up to see the spectacular Syndicate Waterfall.

An old cottage used in Pirates of the Caribbean
He also 
rowed us up the Indian River where we saw a setting for the secondPirates of the Caribbean movie and introduced us to a new habitat. The river carries salt water quite far up the river and results in an unusual mix of plants and animals. The twisting roots of a particular tree resemble the arms of a swarm of octopi. We also saw a Yellow Crowned Night Heron, a Green Heron and more. 

We planned to drive to our next destination and enroute, go to the Kalinago territory. The Kalinago, aka Caribs are the last of the original people of the Caribbean.  They have a protected territory in this small country where they try, through educational demonstration, to retain some of their traditional crafts and practices. We visited their reenactment village and bought a few small items, a handwoven basket and a mask carved from the wood of the tree fern. Their name for the island was Waitukubuli which means, “she who stands tall”, referring to the high mountainous land they inhabited. 

Spesh had sent an associate of his, Charlie of Sunshine taxi.  Charlie came a bit early that Saturday morning to pick us up but since we’d seen this unusual behavior with Donkey, we realized we could take our time and he was not trying to push us. He just, “likes to be early”.  Charlie is a rastaman who is proud of his beautiful country and wishes all his countrymen would take pride in it and treat the tourists well and live a kind, healthy life…no drugs and very little alcohol, would be Charlie’s prescription for a better Dominica.  We warmed to Charlie of course; who wouldn’t with a philosophy like that, and arranged for him to return to pick us up a week later and take us to Mero, our next destination.  But before he dropped us at Calibishie Bay View Lodge he took us to the Islet Cafe in the Kalinago area where we had a great lunch from a high mountaintop perch.  The food was ‘really nice’ especially the starter, the plantain fries with a killer dip (my guess for the dip: cream cheese, mayo, curry, hot sauce).  As we sat down at the table, I pulled my lap top out of the backpack only to realize that the water bottle lid hadn’t been screwed on properly and had wet the computer.  I opened the screen, hit the power button. Yes, the apple started to reboot and then suddenly went black.  Nothing, it wouldn’t peep.  We took it to Bayview Lodge, put a fan on it and even put it in a big ziplock with rice and tried to restart it a couple times but it didn’t seem to even take a charge. Dang!

Yata’s mother died last week. We weren’t surprised, she was 98 and had been declining steadily for a few months. When we saw her at Christmas we realized it would probably be the last time we’d see her.  It was very sad leaving her. But she had had a full and fruitful life. She left behind three sons, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren who loved her dearly.  

Trying to communicate with family back home using only a smartphone and sharing it between the two of us was getting stressful, especially when I couldn’t charge the cellphone on the computer and had to try to find other people with usb plugins wherever we were, to keep the phone charged. Although people were generous and willing.

Calibishie is on the northeast shore of the island and thus has more of an Atlantic coast with brisk winds. It is also an area where many expats have built homes and thus there are more guest houses and tourism amenities.  We had heard from a number of people that we had met that there was a Canadian on the island who went by the moniker Poz  (for positive) and that he was a dead ringer for Yata.  So we had to meet him! Turns out we were staying an easy two block walk from his place, Calibishie Gardens and Poz Restaurant and Bar. They did look like they could be brothers. Poz, aka Troy, is a bit younger, taller and bigger but the eyes, forehead and nose are sure similar.  And they both have a positive energy that people are attracted to.  By the end of the week, we had swum in his pool, eaten our way through much of the menu, shared life stories and Yata finished up by entertaining his clientele on our last night with mostly Motown favorites.  Great fun. 

Poz is a bit of a social worker at heart, always trying to help people out and seems to be well loved by the locals and expats alike. But we came to realize that he was stressing.  His ‘ride’ had been stolen by a man who he’d hired to do some paint work on it.  The man was seen using the car and not returning Troy’s calls to return the car.  Troy notified the police but the best they would do was to follow up on a sting operation that Troy maneuvered, an illegal sale.  The man was caught in the act of selling the car that he didn’t own and yet Troy was still having a hard time getting the charge to ‘stick’.  So he continued driving, over an hour, day after day, to try to make sure that the man was properly charged. And on top of all of that he even remembered to pick up a usb charger block for my cell phone!  Wow!

Charlie was scheduled to pick us up this morning at 10am to take us to Mero, our final stay on Dominica.  But of course he arrived at 8:40 while we were still sitting in our pajamas having our morning coffee.  Again, no rush. When I told him that the laptop was dead he was amazed but said, “I have a friend, Cedric, in Portsmouth (which was on our way to Mero) who might be able to help. He worked for Apple in England for many years.”  I said, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt”, although I was a bit skeptical.  I had contacted Apple and they told me to put it in a bag of rice which I’d tried to no avail.  But we dropped it off with Cedric who seemed like a capable guy.  We drove on to Mero and after some difficulty found out guesthouse, an elegantly appointed spacious villa overlooking the sea, again!  I guess that comes with being on a small island.  Within ten minutes of arrival, Charlie returned to say that Cedric had my computer repaired!  Wow, again!  These folks are almost miracle workers!  Within another hour we had the laptop back, fully operational.  I was so happy I gave Charlie a big hug and kiss and invited to take him out to dinner. 

We drove down the hill to the Romance Cafe on the Mero Beach for dinner a wonderful french style seafood filets in a buttery cream sauce with fresh vegetable salad and roast potatoes. While the manager/cook was totaling up our bill Yata grabbed a guitar and began extemporaneously singing a song about the Romance Cafe, shocking and delighting the staff. When we asked at the bar if the folks knew Poz, their eyes lit up and they said, “I heard there was a party at Poz’s last night.” I said, “That was him, playing music there last night”, pointing at Yata.  Poz is planning a party at Romance Cafe here with Yata heading up a jam session this coming Tuesday.  Stay tuned! 


Fungee with Carmelized Onions and Shitake Mushrooms
3 servings

1 cup of fine ground cornmeal
3 cups water
1 tsp or more butter
salt and pepper
1 red onion sliced into thin crescents
1/4 pound of shitake mushrooms sliced
2 T olive oil or butter or combination
1/2 tsp dry Thyme
1 scant T balsamic vinegar

Heat water in medium sized saucepan to near boil.  Slowly pour into the water the cornmeal, whisking while pouring.
Continue to stir with a spoon until it bubbles and thickens, about a minute. Turn off heat and add butter and salt and pepper, stir and then pour into a lightly oiled or buttered dish.

Saute onions in butter/oil for 10 minutes until soft. Stirring at times. Add thume and hitake along with some water if needed and continue to saute for another 5 minutes. Add vinegar and cook for 30 seconds. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve onions mixture over the warm fungee. 

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