I was woken up this morning by the sound of the conch. It sounds kind of like those long plastic things that people blow at soccer sporting events, a sort of low toot-toot that bounces off the water and right up the hill into my ears. That little “toot-toot” tells me that there’s a fisherman with something to sell. This morning the fellow was in a tiny row boat, alternating rowing along the shoreline and tooting the conch. Talk about effective marketing. If I was thinking of cooking tonight, I’d run down and try to catch him.
I wonder if this fisherman catches his fish in this tiny boat. Perhaps so. Most fishermen use boats either with sails or motors, nowadays, except that it is becoming common practice for men from St. Vincent to come over in the night and steal the outboards or even the boat and the outboard. This, as you can imagine, is a major economic bummer, since an outboard motor costs a lot of money. The man who is the caretaker of this house and a fisherman since a kid has lost 2 outboards in the last year, and a boat. No, actually they found the boat in St. Vincent, which he said was a miracle because usually the thieves puncture the boat and sink it. It was “mashed up a bit”, but good enough to bring it back home on the ferry. Sadly, Irvin doesn’t fish anymore, and people here say he’s started drinking instead. I told him he needed to park his boat in his living room for safety.
Crime is, alas, part of the scenery here. St. Vincent, the neighboring island, has crime statistics equal per capital to Colombia and El Salvador, mainly because of the drug trade that moves through these waters. Crackheads do stupid things to each other when they are high, and then steal stuff to fuel their addictions. Non-crack heads who have tasted the quick payout of pawning a stolen phone or computer vs. toiling for months in the hot sun (when they can get work) are hard to reprogram into being a “good citizen”. We used to sleep with the windows and doors open, so the lovely sea breeze could blow through our room and wash out the mozzies. Now we bolt ourselves into our house, and Anders sleeps with his phone and a long hard piece of wood under his pillow. One night the first week we were woken up at 3:30 am by the sound of a car driving up our driveway, and then male voices coming up the stairs. Anders called 911, and got the dispatcher on St. Vincent, which really wouldn’t have been any help if we had been in real trouble. But the voices turned around, got back in the car, when they, most likely, figured out that this wasn’t the house with the party they were looking for. Thankfully, violent crime is not a problem on this island. Yet.
That being said, we think nothing of walking late at night through the little village below us, where people sit in the palm trees after dark. Or pull up a table and turn soda bottle cases on their side for a seat, and play dominos in the light from the one street lamp. I have to admit the scene is a bit disconcerting when I first come upon it that first night of our vacation, voices wafting in from the dark grove of trees. But then, what else is one to do when there is no tv at night?
And the sound of the waves is so lovely.