Saturday, June 26, 2010

Island Life at The Strip

So last night was my once-every-three-weeks Friday outing. We did the usual Dock visit. We hung with the parents (why do I look drunk already?)

while the kids played.

Molly was about to lose her tooth, as was another little girl oddly enough, and asked Charlie (who wasn't as grossed out as Molly's dad) to help it along. Both girls really wanted a visit from the tooth fairy so they could get some dough!

This kitty overhead gave us a giggle.

Then the parents headed home for dinner and we headed over to Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack to see what was happening there. I was excited that the Royaltiez band was playing, as I hadn't heard them in a long time. The group is kind of a mishmash of singers who come and go, so they had taken a break for a bit. They were as good as I remembered them. They're all great, but the 2 women have voices that just give you goosebumps. I was inspired to dance a bit. How do you like my Friday night outfit? I was too comfortable to change.

Once the crowds died down, we sat around with Mr. X and his business cohort (and good hometown pal), Esther and got into a conversation about how things were when they were growing up (they're both in their mid-30s). Paula, the American bartender (whose been coming to the island for a couple of decades), sat in too and we were just amazed at their stories. X and Esther are both from Sandy Point, a very old settlement (and 2nd largest town on the island) just west of the Fort.

They didn't have electricity or indoor plumbing. As a matter of fact, they didn't even have toilet paper. They used moist newspaper and/or sea-grape leaves. Remember, this is the 1980s! They had few clothes, many of which were not only hand-me-downs from siblings, but from cousins and neighbors as well. To iron their clothes, they had some kind of metal contraption that used coal. Speaking of coal, they made that too. Here's a good description of how that was done (here the process took about 2 weeks). The girls did laundry using rocks and hauled water on their heads. They would catch rain water in buckets, set it out in the sun to warm, and then used that to wash themselves. Mr. X was still ticked off at whoever stole his warm water one day. They had toy cars made of cardboard and doll houses made of match sticks and played cricket with sticks and coconuts. They slept on mattresses made of sea grass and would stuff their clothes inside. Because they had no snacks, they were starving by dinner so would "count the rafters" waiting for the food to get done. Mr. X told a funny story (which I won't do justice to) about being in charge of this pig and forgetting to get it from the neighbor one day. It was dark by the time the family realized it was missing and X was terrified to go through the cemetery to retrieve it. Once he got back, his Dad told him he was getting a bit too uppity about his track "greatness" and girl chasing and made him climb up a tree to get the switch his Dad would use to beat him with. When it wasn't big enough, his Dad made him go back up and get a larger one. Mr. X has a daughter, whose Mom left her with X to raise. He had two cloth diapers (rags really) - one for use while the other one was washed and drying ready to replace the soiled one. Electricity didn't come to their parish until the early 1980s, can you believe it? Banks appeared eventually, but of course, no one owned anything to use as collateral for loans, so no one could get funding to start businesses initially.

When you hear stories like that, you really realize how far the business owners have come and what they've overcome to get there. Puts my whining about not being able to get Diet Dr. Pepper in perspective. If any of you Kittitian readers have any stories of your own to share, send me an email or comment, I'd love to hear them.

Know what else I learned? I had 3 rum punches and learned that I should stick with no more than 2. Seriously, I stopped drinking by 8, drank 2 bottles of water and 2 Diet Cokes, didn't go to sleep until 2:30am and am still feeling a bit tipsy at 3pm the following day. Jeez. Oddly, one of the reasons we didn't go to the music festival was because they typically don't put on the headline act until the wee hours in the morning (as a matter of fact, the final act on Thursday night didn't come on until 4am Friday). We didn't think we had the energy for that, but then proceeded to stay out until the wee hours. We heard that Third World came on early and played for over 2 hours (darn it!). Tonight Babyface will be on, but I think we're still going to skip it this time around. We'll go next year.