The Spice Necklace Blog

Ann's Blog

Hog Island, Grenada:
January 31, 2011
Trini-inspired humor, and friends bearing gifts

A corbeau boarded a Caribbean Airlines flight in Trinidad last week. He was carrying two dead manicou. The flight attendant looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, Sir, but only one carrion allowed per passenger.” Oooohhhh. I didn’t create that joke from scratch, but I spun it myself to give it a Trini twist (she says proudly, having never been known for her jokes or her joke telling).

(If you’re not from Trinidad or haven’t spent time there, a little vocabulary may be in order: A corbeau is a large black vulture. A manicou is a small opossum.)

I’m not joking when I tell you that last week I received several unexpected gifts. I knew our fisherman friend Dwight was up to something when I overheard him telling Steve as he left Receta one afternoon that he had to go work on “deh t’ing for Ahhnnn.” A couple of days later, he and his partner Stevie delivered it: a gorgeous cream-and-cocoa king helmet shell, more than seven inches long. A prize shell. (Helmets are the shells used for carving cameos.) Dwight had spotted just the very tip of one of its spires in the sand when he was skin-diving for lobster off Grenada’s southwest coast. Its inhabitant had already vacated (or been eaten out of) the premises, but Dwight and Stevie washed it repeatedly anyway once they got it to shore (knowing Ahhhnnn wouldn’t like any lingering smell), and polished it to a glossy finish by rubbing it in the sand. I was touched, and completely delighted, by the gift. When we’re at anchor, it’s on display in Receta’s main cabin.

They came bearing gifts: Dwight, with his surprise find; and
Stevie, with a pumpkin from the garden
Another unexpected gift was delivered on Friday night when we walked up to the tiny rum shop on the Welcome Road in Upper Woburn that Stevie’s sister, Charlene, owns. A couple of cold Caribs, accompanied by fried chicken wings and fried bakes, seemed the perfect way to start the weekend. (See my blog about Charlene’s rum shop.) Afterwards, as we got ready to start our trek homeward, Stevie disappeared and returned with a pumpkin for us from his family’s garden, knowing it was one of my favorites. My Steve got the job of lugging it back to the dinghy – but at least the way back is all downhill.

A few days later, Stevie and Dwight pronounced the two versions of the pumpkin bread I made with the gift “real nice,” high praise in this part of the world. But I want to make the bread one more time before I post my recipe. (It starts with raw grated pumpkin, rather than cooked, which makes it fast and easy to put together.)

My last gift of the week arrived one morning when Stevie dropped off a bag of fresh pigeon peas at Receta on their way out to sea. His father had picked them for us, and he and his dad shelled them (a time-consuming chore). Those I turned into pigeon pea soup with dumplings. Stevie and Dwight both approved wholeheartedly of that recipe, too.

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