Chapter 22 - Caribbean Cuisine

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Captain Mike's mother was named Barbara. We children, of course, were to call her Mrs. Greenwood. Barbara Greenwood turned out to be the best Caribbean cook ever and she wasn't even from the Caribbean. She had made a hobby of cooking traditional Caribbean dishes when she arrived in Carriacou from South Africa. She would entice her neighbors and friends to show her their specialties with the promise of a dinner party and wine.

The oxtail stew was delicious. It was even better than Mum's, and she's a terrific cook. The sauce was rich and tomato-based with lots of spices. The vegetables were okra and sweet potatoes – yum! I saw that Matthew was wolfing down his serving. I knew he was a bit of a fussy eater, so I was surprised to see him tuck into the dinner so enthusiastically. Then I remembered how seasick he'd been and how hungry seasick people are when they get back on land. I thought of the seasick tourists on our boat, dying only a few minutes before, coming to the stern in search of leftover ribs and chicken after we had docked.

Mrs Greenwood had lived in Tyrell Bay for many years aboard a home-made catamaran and only moved ashore after her husband had died. The house was decorated in pinks and whites with lots of shells and coral everywhere. The white tile floor and cement walls were absolutely spotless. The ceiling rose to a peak and there were two big fans whirring above us. Outside, there was a little deck, shaded with palm trees, where Mike's dog, Jack, was contentedly lying in the shade.

Mrs. Greenwood was growing several different types of herbs on the deck and there were cool cacti out there too. I really wanted to go pat Jack and then swing on the hammock that was hanging between two palm trees, but I knew I couldn't leave the dinner table quite yet. That was a big rule in our house – you had to wait until everyone was finished and only then could you ask to be excused from the table.

Most of the dinner conversation revolved around Owen's and my heroic adventure bringing the Lord Sheffield back to Saba. I loved the admiring glances that Captain Mike and his mother directed my way. I was proud of myself, but also realized that sometimes pure luck has a lot to do with a successful sea voyage. I thought about the ship from Canada that Mum and Dad had followed on TV – the Picton Castle. Dad had got the idea for using a square rigger as a tourist boat from Captain Dan, who was the captain of the ship and one of the main characters of the program. Just last year though, a young sailor from Canada had been swept off the deck in a big storm. She hadn't been wearing a survival suit and had died horribly in the cold, stormy sea. If we weren't as lucky as we were, that could have happened to Owen.

When we were all finished our dinner, Mrs. Greenwood put a big bowl of Dutch licorice on the table. I watched Matthew dig into the bowl with excitement. Aside from the one Coke, we hadn't had any sweets since Saba. Mum and Sandra were big on healthy food. I didn't take any because I'd already had the experience of eating this stuff before. I thought it was horrible tasting. The first time I had it, I'd been so excited because Ellie and Owen had made a big fuss about buying some for me. I remember the shock of my first chew – yuck! It was like vomit and boogers and all things gross rolled into one. I couldn't even pretend to like it. I just spat it out on the ground. Mum was mortified and told me to smarten up and apologize to Ellie and Owen.

"Mum," I had said, "you try some!"

She reached into the bowl, put a nice piece into her mouth, began to chew and slowly a look of disgust appeared on her face. I started to laugh and so did Ellie and Owen. She got up and made her way to the bathroom to dispose of the "treat." That was an experience to remember, or better yet, maybe forget!

Matthew was bravely chewing the licorice, but I could see tears forming in his eyes. I began to chuckle and by the time he gave me his worst look, I was howling with laughter. He ran out of the house, his chair falling to the ground. I followed him out and when I got out there, I saw him retching in the corner.

He glared at me, "I'm going to kill you!"

"Why me," I asked him. "I didn't force you to eat it. Didn't you notice that I didn't take any myself?"

"Hmm... that did seem a bit strange."

Just then we heard a rustle in the bushes. I turned quickly to see what it was and what a surprise? A huge iguana was coming right for us! Matthew jumped about two feet in the air. "Matthew, stay still and be quiet. They're not dangerous."

As it moved slowly along, all I could think of was how much iguanas look like dinosaurs. This one was green with a bit of black and blue thrown in. The iguana's head swiveled around until a cold black eye found us. Matthew was just too excited to stay still and the iguana sensed danger and scuttled off. He stopped about ten feet away and then stood very still. All of a sudden he arched his back and his whole body seemed to convulse.

"What's it doing?" Matthew asked.

Just then a great big man-sized poop came out of the iguana. We both kept looking – horrified.

"Ewwww," Matthew groaned. It was absolutely disgusting and yet amazing, all at the same time. I couldn't take my eyes off the big pile of iguana poop, even though it was gross to look at. The iguana relaxed its body again, gave us a satisfied look, and then ambled back into the brush. "Wow!" said Matthew, "Let's go get Mum and show her."

Off we ran to tell Aunt Sandra what we'd seen. We knew she would love it. She loves the natural world, but won't hesitate to shoot a squirrel if it gets into her house. Squirrels can wreck a whole house! I guess I wouldn't want an iguana to move in with us, either.

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