January 9, 2015
Happy Birthday Cory!
Flowers, we see in abundance, pink bougainvillea, red castor and ixora, Hibiscus ( red, yellow and white), orange cordia, yellow allamanda, white spider lilies, growing on vines, shrubs and trees, draping over stone walls, running up houses and through abandoned buildings, some wild, some tamed in manicured landscapes, bordering swimming pools, leaping over tin rooves . Flowers and lush green foliage are everywhere. Neem trees are particularly prolific, one of which is threatening to topple a garden wall beside the Taj. Susan and Bryan are hoping to negotiate with their neighbours for its demise. A couple of palm trees tower above the patio, providing shade and interesting possibilities for sunset photos.
An almond tree along the driveway is showing great clusters of almonds, not yet ready for harvest. The coconut palm has already provided fresh tasty snacks, and today I made piña coladas with coconut milk, shredded coconut, lime, pineapple juice and eight year old rum. I know you do not care for coconut, Margaret, but this was a refreshing drink, full of vitamins! We procured the limes from a tree down the road. Banana trees provide sweet little bananas that have not been picked before their time for transport to Canada. These are available from roadside vendors along with melons, oranges, lemons, grapefruit and bright orange carrots.
Sadly other than the items mentioned above and lettuce, there do not appear to be many fruits or vegetables grown on the island. There is no manufacturing nor food processing of anything on the island. Almost everything is imported. Five thousand people does not make for a very profitable market, I guess.
There are many mahogany trees on the island. They have many long broad brown pods. When we wondered what could be in such pods, Brian suggested we would find tiny mahogany chairs. That started us on a round of humourous silly imaginings.
Last night we ate at Ziggy’s, Montserrat’s gourmet restaurant. Ziggy’s is a small operation, totally run by a husband and wife team, for the past twenty-five years. They used to be in Plymouth but had to move to their current location up a winding hill, right at the second street, left at the T junction. You need directions or you would not find it. No sign leads you there, but you need reservations; so, you will be given directions!
The menu is not extensive, but all was delicious and where possible food is sourced locally. I am pretty sure the asparagus in the salad was not grown here. On offer on the chalkboard for the main course were roast duck, large scallops, freshly caught snapper and steak. Our crew went for the first three items. All were delighted with their choices. Some had cheese soufflé, others smoked salmon for an appetizer. No one had room for a dessert of chocolate sludge or lemon sorbet. The venue was, of course, unique: three rooms tented outside the house with a fourth where the wine selection was housed. You went to the wine room, rather than a menu, to select your wine. Once again, the chef and his wife, the server, came out to chat with us following our meal. We asked where the name, Ziggy’s, came from. The response: “It is an easy name to remember; it is the same in all languages and it is easy to find at the end of the phone book.”
Fauna? We hear birds and animals or see their tracks, more than we see them. The most at home with us is a kestrel which sits on the wires near the Taj. Hummingbirds, large red necked pigeons and flycatchers flash past us, too busy to pay us heed. The white ibises descend en masse wherever a lawn is being cut. Pelicans, usually in pairs, fly low over the water in search of fish. I thought one of them was going to try me out for size as I was swimming. Perhaps the silver hair looked like a fish! The frigate birds leave us alone.
In the sea, we see a variety of colourful fish, but we have yet to snorkel in an area with large schools of fish. The coral we saw today was very colourful and in large and small shapes. I particularly liked the clusters of bright yellow tubes.
There are many roosters and hens running about. The roosters are especially vocal from the middle of the night to the middle of the afternoon. Those sleeping on the north side of the house seem to be more bothered by them than we have been. Mosquitoes have kept Brian busy at night as he clears out the ones which have found their way under the dome of our protective net. Last night was our first mosquito-free night. I think he figured out how to seal the cracked seam. Fortunately the bites we have received have not left great welts and have not been itchy.
We have heard donkeys braying and one cow mooing. We have seen goats and sheep tethered in yards. We have seen many squashed mountain chickens. These are large frogs, not poultry, and they are apparently a delicacy although we have yet to see them listed on a menu. Dogs bark and one black adorable puppy routinely shows up near the house or follows us on a walk. We heard that one survivor of the 1995 volcano has produced six thousand offspring. An intensive spaying project is underway.