Monday, 07 April 2008

Cat Island :Tomatoes and Haitians


The marine nomads enjoying a well deserved swim at Hawk's Nest
The rest of the day was spent driving up to the northern end of the island and a swim at the tip of the island. After trying to find a place to eat, we were lucky in our fourth attempt and we enjoyed a late lunch in Arthur’s town at Hot Spot, a local joint full of colourful Cat Islanders with a quite share of their life stories. We found out that Sidney Poitier comes from this island. In times before the borders between countries were tightened, Cat Islanders would sail down to Haiti to find brides (so goes the story anyway). And the tomatoes we ate there! Delicious. As we walked doen the hill from the heritage we spotted some boxed along the road full of sun ripened tomatoes. The woman who walked out of her field to sell them was so very pleased that we left with more tomatoes than we needed.
The straw shop run by Mama Irene carried all sorts of goodies made of, you guessed right. Straw. Mads got himself a very durable panama hat which he still has up to this day (april). He is very grateful for a hat that can withstand the marine environment; it has survived a teething baby, submersions in sea water and being stepped on.
We sailed a few miles south to Hawk’s Nest area after being duly warned about the wild life in the area. The mangroves had their fair share of no-see-ums and mosquitos but we were clever enough to stay on the windy side to enjoy peaceful nights. Hawk’s Nest as a marina, a resort and a private airstrip where those rich enough to own or hire private planes regularly fly in for a spot of fishing for the weekend. I can imagine the conversation back at the club in New York (and I mean a real club not the one where you bob your head hoping the DJ will soon play something you like):
Charles: So Harold, what did you do last weekend?
Harold: Oh I flew down to the Bahamas for some fishing. And I caught a gigantic Wahoo, I almost could not reel it in. I think I won the fishing tournament for the weekend, my catch was a good 60kg. I returned with the boys in time for Sunday dinner at Martin’s.
Charles: That settles it then. I will have to fly my plane down next week as well, we can’t have you running around with such an ego. I promise you that I will catch a bigger one next time and I will not even use two days on it. By the way, how is the landing strip there? The madam does not like a bumpy landing…etc etc.


The great thing with the people at the resort was their friendliness, I mean they did not know who we were and yet we could just serve ourselves at the bar and use the internet. Now that is hospitality. We did not even have to put airs, trying to act like we were guests, as yachtspeople, it is almost de rigeur to have to resort to acting like part of the furniture to get a fresh water swim. It does help though with an island that does not have many visiting boats (no yacht fatigue yet). As all TV deprived children, Afika was extremely happy to find that the channel was changed to her advantage. After a few hours in the pool, she had a pre-dinner feast on cartoons and played with little Jessie.