Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

May, 2012:

You say potato…

We just returned from India and Nepal. It was a great trip. We saw amazing sights (the Taj Mahal and a tiger included). The food was great, and nobody got sick. We did have some challenges, however. Not the least of which was trying to understand what our English-speaking guides were saying. Don’t get me wrong. I have always marveled at (and been somewhat embarrassed by) how much we, as vacationing Americans, rely on the fact that folks in foreign countries will speak English to us. Lord knows that I do not speak any Hindi let alone Malayalam or Maharashtra. So I was happy with any little tidbit I could glean from what was being said. Being able to effectively communicate is helpful when you visit foreign countries, and it’s certainly essential when you move to one.

When we chose to live in Anguilla, there were a multitude of factors to consider. The weather and the beaches were obviously big draws, but nice weather and lovely beaches can be found in a lot of places around the world. Anguilla, however, also offered the benefit of being an British protectorate so that English is the language spoken here. It may not exactly be the Queen’s English, but it isn’t Portuguese either.  Also, in all fairness to my Indian guides, even impeccably articulated Queen’s English can be a little bit difficult for us Americans to understand at times. Our British friends constantly send us running to our online dictionaries in search of the meaning of words like fete and grizzled and confuse us with their pronunciation of words like alu-MIN-ium and ore-GAN-o. The same is true here in Anguilla. Ga-ZEE-bo is ga-ze-BO. The Lady MaRIa ferry boat is the Lady MARia. And those are just some of the words that I can actually figure out. Throw away possessives (it’s Joe Restaurant not Joe’s Restaurant) and the occasional past tense (bake chicken not bakeD chicken) and then toss back in some “where you be?” or “when she went?” and you’ve got yourself quite a little verbal soup. Even after eleven years here, I still don’t always understand when Anguillians are talking to me. Set them off in a rapid fire discussion amongst themselves and I can just forget about it entirely.

We’ve also had to learn new names for things. Nobody refers to electricity. They talk about current. Dips in the road are dish drains. Bumps in the road are speed humps or sleeping policeman. And don’t bother searching in hardware stores for chicken wire. Michael looked high and low and couldn’t find it anywhere. He asked everybody. Nobody stocked chicken wire. Or rather nobody knew that they stocked chicken wire….not until Michael grabbed a piece of paper and drew a picture of the hexagonal wire mesh. Ah ha! Sure they have that. It’s fish pot wire! But of course. Nobody bothers to pen up their chickens here (see a previous post on Wild life in Anguilla), but they do make lobster pots. Another mystery solved. But there’s always another and another and another.

 Years ago a very nice wall was erected around a vacant lot on the main road. 

Shortly thereafter these words were scrawled at the opening of the wall:

Yard Sale.

We waited and waited for somebody to set up tables and start selling stuff, junk, household goods, old sporting equipment, Christmas decorations, the sort of things that you sell at a yard sale in the United States. But it never happened. What did happen was that little by little the vacant lot was dug up and carted away until the property was level. (And then nothing else ever happend and the weeds took over.)

It had never once occurred to me that a yard sale could mean actually selling the yard.