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Peas Porridge, Where?

Next month we will make 18 years living here in Anguilla.

We learned our way around this tiny rock back when almost no streets had names and even the ones that did certainly didn’t have signs telling you what they were. The second time we drove to our property we remembered (miraculously) to turn left off of the road to Blowing Point Ferry at the mutli-colored garbage bin and right past the goat hill ( a pile of rocks under a now Irma-toppled Neem tree) to as far as a car could safely travel and then daringly further still on a path mostly walked by those same goats.

Over time we settled into a routine like most folks have in their lives. This is the way to the grocery store. This is the way to the beach. This is the way to our friends’ houses. No reason to venture off of those well-traveled routes. Come and go. Task-oriented and not at all adventurous.

Then five years ago I started practicing on island and caring for my patients took me to parts of the island that I had never had reason to visit before. Obviously I have become accustomed to receiving directions that start at some mutually recognized marker (a business, a friend’s house, a cell tower) and then proceed from there with turns at colored walls or beat up, abandoned vehicles or onto a surprisingly well-paved road in the middle of nowhere. But still the contacts and accounting programs on my computer are stubbornly resistant to allowing me to enter such nonsense into the address fields of their data files.

We are not without technological aids, however. You can enter the name of my house or my practice into Google Maps and it will show you where I am and give you directions – even if it just says turn left, turn right, unnamed road. At least it gets you there with an accurate line drawn from point A to point B.

But even so….after all this time…..I can still be thoroughly stumped. This morning, for instance, another technological marvel, Facebook, alerted me to the availability, for a limited time only, of healthy porridges for sale today. Here is a copy of the post…see if you could find the location

Let’s see what do we have to go on?

South Hill is not a street. It is a village of many streets. That narrows it down but not too much.

I assume TR. refers to a teacher. Who apparently lives across the street from another teacher. No help at all to the childless.I don’t know a Daphne. I do know a Winifred but not that Winifred. So, not hot, not cold, not nine days old, no porridge for me, today.


I Think I See a Trend

Just about a month ago I posted a blog about the travails some friends had trying to get from Anguilla to Antigua and beyond. (Easy come, easy go or not http://whaddyadoallday.com/?p=555 ) That story ended with an impromptu tailgate picnic in the parking lot of the Anguilla airport. I think now we may have a meme. Here’s the latest:

Our last group of winter guests arrived at the end of March. They’ve been to Anguilla many times so this time we thought we would take a few days at the end of their stay to visit St. Barths. We love St Barths. In fact, if we hadn’t thought we’d always be going to the beach (St. Barths doesn’t have many beaches but then again we hardly ever go anyway) and if we had had a whole lot more money, we might have moved there instead of Anguilla. Luckily, we have a friend, Mary Ann, who has a house there on the hill overlooking St. Jean (Eden Rock Hotel, Nikki Beach, and the airport). So we made arrangements to take our friends to meet Mary Ann.

To get from Anguilla to Barths, you can charter a plane. (We did not.) You can charter a boat. (We did not.) Or you can take the regular ferry from Anguilla to St Martin; and then, if you are lucky, the ferry to St. Barths leaves from the same terminal in Marigot on that day. (We were not.) Otherwise you take a cab to Oyster Pond and catch the ferry to St. Barths from there. (That’s what we did.) We bought our tickets online choosing a schedule that didn’t require getting up out of the house at 7am but would still get us to St. Barths around noon. There was a big Bucket Race yachting competition ending that day. And Mary Ann and her French friends were planning a lovely Sunday lunch for our arrival.

The best laid plans.

We arrived at Oyster Pond only to find the ferry’s check-in window closed with a note tacked on the wall informing us that our boat had been cancelled. The note claimed to have tried to reach us with this news, but we had never received notification. In a long and complicated story, the email they sent was later found in Michael’s spam folder while the captain of the ship which had just docked on its return trip from Barths told us that there is NEVER a boat that leaves at that time midday. So we were none too happy especially given that the next boat was not scheduled to depart for another 5 hours and there is NOTHING to do and just two little restaurants in the marina at Oyster Pond.

At least the captain was kind enough to let us sit on the boat in the air-conditioning while we waited. But still, 5 hours is a long, damn time to sit around doing nothing and reading (though in all fairness that’s pretty much what most of our houseguests tend to do on a normal day anyway). The bigger disappointment was missing seeing the racing yachts coming back into the harbor at the end of the Bucket Race and inconveniencing Mary Ann (who we did at least manage to contact with our revised arrival time).

However, when we arrived into Gustavia and disembarked the boat, Mary Ann and her friends were there waiting with…..a picnic….of quiche and fruit and, of course, wine! Fortunately, there’s a conveniently located gazebo located right there in the harbor so we didn’t even have to eat out of the back of the car this time. These arrival and departure picnics could become a tradition. After all, just look at all of our happy, happy faces (L-R John, Michael, Coco, Me, Judy, and Mary Ann).

Gustavia Picnic


Giving Thanks

Celebrating American holidays in a foreign country and on a little island can be a bit of a challenge but at least it’s not as difficult as it used to be.

Timing dinner is a minor issue. A Thursday in November is not a holiday on island. That means that if we invite any working friends to celebrate with us, we can’t sit down to eat at the traditional 3 or 4 0’clock in the afternoon. That was the case this year when we didn’t start eating until a very late 7PM. My brother pointed out that 7PM in Anguilla is 3PM in California which helps from a philosophical standpoint, but it still precludes nibbling on any leftovers later on Thanksgiving Day. On the up side, we did have the opportunity to watch the Packers/Lions game while we were finishing our dinner preparations. (I’m a die-hard Steelers fan, but if they aren’t playing the classics will work.)

Now, when it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner, I am a traditionalist. I’m all for trying new recipes when we have every day dinner parties or even when I’m looking to pair up ingredients I find in the pantry just for me.  I am certainly no stranger to Foodnetwork. However, at the holidays, I never switch out my pumpkin pie with a pumpkin cheesecake let alone an apple or pecan pie. You will not find a single clove of garlic in my mashed potatoes. On occasion, Michael might mix up the ingredients for his dressing (pecans vs. walnuts, dried cranberries vs. raisins, that sort of thing); but basically the menu is always the same. My Thanksgiving dinner has been the same for over 50 years. It is not going to change now.

I think that tradition is a good thing, but it wasn’t always easy here. When we first moved to Anguilla, skim milk and diet coke were hard to come by. You can imagine the challenge finding candied yams and stuffing cubes, Libby’s canned pumpkin (who remembers ‘if it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it like it on your table, table, table…?) or Reddi-Wip (no Cool Whip in my fridge). Back in the day, everything wasn’t always available. Early on I had to make my candied yams from scratch which was a problem since the local yams look like yams but are white and very, very starchy. I always had to ask Lee at Ashley and Sons Grocery store which ones in the display were ‘American’ yams so I would be sure to buy the right ones. And marshmallows. Marshmallows were impossible to find.

Of course, now you can reliably get everything you need for a great Thanksgiving feast (except maybe those plain stuffing cubes Michael likes so much but he can make do.) I even came up with an island cornucopia-esque centerpiece this year using a big aloe, cactus frond and a coconut pod for the tray. I filled it with tiny baby coconuts (they look a lot like acorns), bright colored, croton ‘fall’ leaves, papayas and avocados.

A pretty centerpiece, a great traditional meal, good friends and a lovely evening in a tropical paradise. That’s a lot to be thankful for.

So Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to everyone – wherever you are.