Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pittstown Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E-SE 10 knots, occasional showers

Today I spent ashore at the house, with Karl and Nappy. The rigging is finally and blessedly done, and we went out to Blackjack’s to celebrate. It’s so good to have a friend here, a real Bahamian friend, maybe the first one we’ve truly made since we’ve been in the Bahamas. I keep forming vast plans to invite him over for pizza (and, if I’m lucky and can talk Karl into it, a rousing game of Settlers of Cataan, my favorite yet never-played board game), but I’m still ashamed of the filthy state of the boat, primarily the head, and I’m not brave enough to knead dough in the persistent unbearable heat. I’ll do it eventually. I’d also love to take Nappy for a real sail, maybe down to French Wells, or maybe all the way around Crooked and Acklins on a multi-day trip. He’s never been on a sailboat before.

Blackjack’s was closed--Blackjack and his brother Diamond were out fishing--so we wandered around the island as we always do with Nappy, looking for food. Whenever Nappy takes one or the other of us out, we have no idea how long we’ll be gone. A quick trip to the corner store turns into a forty-mile cross-island jaunt, honking our horn at every car we pass, and more often than not stopping driver’s-side to driver’s-side in the middle of the road for an unhurried conversation. It’s great. We’ll pull into some unknown individual’s driveway for some unknown reason known only to Nappy, and Gary will jump out on an errand, and more often than not we’ll get invited to take fruit from someone’s sappodilly or sugar apple tree, or introduced to some ancient matriarch of the island. Today it was a grand old dame named Queen Cunningham. She seemed bewildered at our presence, as most of the people we meet do until they get used to us. Everyone tolerates the sandpeople, and lives off their economic influx to the island as often as not, in one way or another, but they’re not used to having them cavort around their side of the island. And we’re obviously not sandpeople, either, or tourists, so we’re mainly inexplicable. I keep hoping that we’ll just be accepted, and to some degree we are once we befriend people, but we’re still mysterious.

Still, though, we were on the lookout for food. We stopped under the giant tree by Pokyman’s house, Poky’s den (I keep meaning to get a picture of the incredibly beautiful tree, but I don’t want to look like a tourist), and some people were chowing down out of the ubiquitous styrofoam. They were eating souse, bought down at Cop’s from Cop’s wife. Here is where I failed.

Souse, as I thought I knew, is intestines. Nappy turned to us. “You eat souse?” he asked.

“No,” I shuddered. Karl looked at me in dismay.

“No?” he said. “You just said no? You don’t just say no!” Our alleged rule is to say yes to anything, especially to unfamiliar cross-cultural cuisine that someone less immersed in the community would never be asked to dine on. Karl’s never more excited than when he eats an animal he’s never tasted before. In Maine, while allegedly hunting but out of ammunition, he bashed a porcupine to death so as to have the privilege of tasting it. I even tried a bite. But only one.

“It’s intestines!” I protested. I do my best, and in Thailand I ate an occasional insect, but I balk at internal organs. Nor do I share my brother’s aptitude, who in Mokenland happily watched as horseshoe crabs were grilled alive, shriveling themselves to death on an open fire, and then happily picked flakes of flesh out from under their ancient pre-historic exoskeletons. I know. I saw the film. He might have put it on YouTube.

Nappy watched this whole exchange with some confusion. Then we did what we should have done from the beginning--we asked Nappy what souse is. “It’s just soup,” he said. With intestines, I thought, still convinced. Nevertheless we drove over to Cop’s, and ordered two sheep’s-tongue souses for Karl and Nappy, and one chicken souse, for me. I figured I could eat around the intestines, or at worst, give it all to Karl.

I was wrong, though. Souse is just extremely delicious soup, in my case, chicken vegetable soup, with whole wing sections boiled until falling-apart tender. It was maybe the best chicken soup I’ve ever eaten. I had a bite of Karl’s braver sheep’s-tongue choice, which was a little strong for me, though being a good Greek girl I love lamb. So that’s what I get for my prejudice, for not giving my great all-affirming yes to things. Now I can say I eat souse, something few sandpeople, if any, do.

1 comment:

rgatens said...

Still reading!
Y'know, some of this posting, portions of this one, for instance, are worthy of Cruising World. I mean it. It is almost as good as Bernadotte Brennan (who also visited Samana Cay, two years ago w/her husband)and "Fatty Goodlander," a regular contributor.
With a theme, beginning, middle and end, you are publshable!
Walter Renn