Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 10 (Monday)

It was hot and humid early this morning, a preview of what the weather was going to be like later-on this day. With daily high temperatures about 90 degrees and the ever-present humidity, you would think that the local climate would be uncomfortable. However, we find that the ocean breeze helps to keep everyone relatively cool. In our part of the States, this kind of weather drives everyone indoors to seek the comfort provided by modern air conditioning. On Carriacou, we simply open all of the doors and windows to let the ocean breeze carry throughout the villa.

The lack of nagging insects in the Caribbean always amazes us. Yes, you can always find mosquitoes if you wander through the mangroves; ants, beetles and roaches roam the undergrowth; and there are periods during the year when certain flies hatch to swarm for a few days. However, we could never dream of completely opening our home’s doors and windows back in the States. We prefer to use bed netting while in Carriacou, but we have had few experiences where it was absolutely necessary.

By late morning, everyone had finished their breakfast and was ready to get going. We decided to run to Hillsborough for one last trip for provisions before our holiday came to an end. As was our custom, we began our day trek with a stop at Henrietta’s Bakery in L’Esterre for a cool drink and some fresh baked goods, including a few treats to eat along the way. Once in town, we made a quick stop at the Shell gasoline station to top-off the fuel in the rental jeep and then to Kim’s Plaza for some basic provisions. After ten days of being in the area, our family had become familiar to some people in Hillsborough, and we were often greeted with genuine warmth and friendship. This is one of the reasons we like Carriacou so much. On many other Caribbean islands that we have visited, we have often felt like intruders who were only tolerated because we had money to spend. It is so much different here.

Being election day eve, the campaigns were in full force. Every utility pole held a sign or banner, vehicles of all types displayed posters supporting candidates and even the road surface was sporadically painted with campaign slogans and messages. The local radio stations continued to include campaign speeches and commentary, but we were glad to hear them also provide detailed instructions on where and how residents could cast their ballots. To simplify the voting process, the political parties had adopted symbols for representation. The National Democratic Congress (“NDC”) uses a heart shape, while the New National Party (“NNP”) uses a house shape. The ballots would include these symbols, so even those people who could not read would be able to identify which party they were voting for.

Upon returning to the villa, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and conversation about the highlights of our holiday. The mid-day heat was bearing on us, which made the kids appreciate the convenience of the swimming pool. Our son, Anthony, greatly improved his swimming skills on this trip. He became much more confident in the water and joined his sister as a literal fish. Both of them are adept with the snorkel and mask and are able to dive to moderate depths in the ocean without weights or other assistance.

We watched with interest as the local fishermen returned to Paradise Beach from their morning’s work. We grabbed our snorkel gear and ventured down to the beach to investigate. Many of the fishermen we observed used a simple fishing line rig, although the majority of the fish appeared to be caught with large, gathering nets operated by a group of men using two or more boats. The nets are rather indiscriminate to what they catch, but apparently the fishermen must place them skillfully, as the number of non-target fish caught seems to be minimal. Entire families joined-in on processing the day’s catch. While the men cleaned and organized their boats and fishing equipment with the ‘help’ of the children, the women began sorting and cleaning the fish. It all looked to be very efficient.

Snorkeling conditions were marginal, as a light wind helped to stir-up the sandy bottom of the bay. We were able to observe several starfish, including a few that were easily more than 12 inches in diameter. The real joy of snorkeling on this day was to enjoy the cool waters. There were quite a few local residents at the beach on this day to escape the heat. We were amused to watch some of the local dogs who also joined in the fun for a romp in the surf. Apparently, they like to play in the cool ocean too!

As evening approached, the final election campaign rallies kicked-off. Both parties seemed to have saved the best for last, as large gatherings featuring enthusiastic speeches and live bands broadcasting through powerful amplifiers competed for the resident’s attention. From our vantage point on the hillside, we could hear much of it, although it was difficult to make out the details of the speeches. Election day could prove to be interesting from our independent view.

Laura and I played a couple of games of Scrabble while the children watched a movie on the notebook computer. Once the lights were out, we enjoyed a magnificent view of the night sky. I experimented a bit with the camera, trying to capture a photo of the stars. However, any picture that I could take would not do justice to the immense beauty. Standing on the veranda enjoying the view, we also noticed the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach and the clean ocean smell of the island. If there were only a way to capture these experiences to take them all home with us.