Life Aboard LULU

February 28, 2000 (Joan & David)
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February 28, 2000 -- Joan & David arrive

I spoke too soon about the wines -- and apparently whined too much about paper towels because Joan & David decided we needed a paper goods fix more than we needed a fine wine influx.

I guess it won't be a problem since we're now in Guadaloupe -- a French island -- so good wine should be flowing from the drainpipes.

But what they did bring -- in addition to themselves, some Kleenex and some Bounty -- was a stash of fabulous, prime meats - big slabby pork chops, hunky veal chops and chunky porterhouses. We barbecued the veal chops last night; their flesh was pale, pale pink and succulent -- and 4 veal chops for three was decadent.

Meat is a more significant problem down here than paper towels. Yes, we have to overpay for paper towels but it's almost impossible to find tasty, well-marbled meats in cuts we actually recognize.The pancakey steaks we pass in local markets are of a uniform dark maroon color that puts me in mind of cordovan shoes - hardly a texture you want to be thinking about when contemplating a meat purchase. This unnatural color alone sets me questioning what bovine area they might actually hail from. None come to mind that seem remotely edible.

Locally caught fish, which is easily available off the colorful fishing boats from the very men that catch them, are unfortunately from the reefs and can carry a virus called Ciguatuera that's potentially quite dangerous for us. The frozen stuff from the ocean is mostly so shriveled and hoary with frost you wonder just how many Ice Age women already passed on it. So we eat a lot of the ubiquitous frozen chicken and supremely fattening pasta. Or, more often than not, Jackie & I insist on being taken to restaurants, frequently mediocre, even more frequently expensive -- so Gary gets to climb on his soap box and remind me, "Lulu, I keep telling you there is no such thing as Caribbean cuisine." Still, I prefer this soap box to the Rush Limbaugh-inspired harangues he was famous for in our former life.

(Unfortunately for me, Gary has recently found his beloved Rush on Armed Forces Radio, piped in over the SSB. But fortunately, Rush is on at 1 in the afternoon, so with some creative errand-making and the promise of lunch ashore, I can usually have us off the boat when he's broadcasting. Now if only the local meat were more Limbaugh-like -- oversized and thick with fat -- I could be a happy carnivore.)

I can now look forward to a supremely carniverous week, thanks to this meat Joan & David supplied. They almost missed their flight over it too; after a late arrival at JFK, they were asked whether there was dry ice inside the 2 Stew-Leonard-packed styrofoam hampers they were toting. After lengthy protests and visits from supervisors, they had to slash open the tape and remove the dry ice, although David would much prefer to have slashed the supervisor.Lucky for us, the meat arrived slick in Saran jackets and still frozen.

Joan and David, however, emerged from Customs hassled and bedraggled -- though our meat had arrived, their suitcase did not.

Now our friend David does not take well to being out of control; nor does he silently suffer fools, which as far as he's concerned number 99% of the planet's population, and he greets disappointments due to other people's inefficiency with his own brand of verbal incineration.

So I was not surprised to find him fuming in full fettle -- spewing wrath on the sleepy-looking native official behind the baggage desk -- who did all but pick his nose while David ranted. Clearly he could've cared less. But after, he could hardly be counted an ally, expected to take any extraordinary measures to find the errant baggage.

Gloomy and always the pessimist, David absolutely knew their week's worth of clothing and sundries was on its way to Monrserrat to be incinerated. Or, to Venezuela, where their brand-new $400 suitcase would be opened, purloined and taken home by some greasy, gold-toothed Customs agent, whose typical weekend wear -- polyester shirts pushed to button-burst limits by a huge gut -- would now be supplemented by size XXL, Neiman Marcus silk sport shirts. (David didn't say this exactly, but I knew he was thinking it.)

Naturally, Joan and I knew the suitcase would arrive -- as it did -- on the next plane. But since David cannot - yet - fit into Gary's clothes and since he threatened to wear only his underwear for the rest of the week, and since we decided he actually meant it, we knew he needed a stopgap wardrobe. So we detoured to St Johns' heavily boutiqued area - a triangle of land in the midst of otherwise uniform squalor of the Antiguan capital city where cruiseships disgorge their passengers -- where we were sure to find an ample supply of David-sized shorts and shirts. Fortunately we had John Taxi to schlep us and wait for us.

No, in case you're wondering our driver's last name was not coincidentally "Taxi." Antiguan cabbies are all hailed on VHF 68 by their first name and the word Taxi. As in, John Taxi, Winston Taxi, Peli Taxi, Moody Taxi. Each owns his own taxi, actually a maximum-13-person van whose windshield brow is painted John Taxi, Winston Taxi, Peli Taxi, Moody Taxi. Most of us yachties seem to cotton quickly to a single favorite and use him exclusively. We liked John because his van is immaculate and so is he. Despite the fact that the ground beneath his feet is always either dusty or muddy, his sneakers are always refrigerator white -- down to the shoelaces. John himself, a family man and homeowner, is affable, willing, smart, well bred and has a good sense of humor. It occurred to me later, however, that Moody might have been a better choice to drive David.

It's my opinion David (who not for nothing owns a baseball cap embroidered "Grumpy") was dishing out added dollops of vitriol because he -- one of my very favorite people to overeat with: a self-described glutton, with his own Peter Luger's charge account -- has recently commited himself to a macrobiotic diet. While such a regimen would certainly make me ill-tempered, David insists it's filling him to blissful satiety. (But why, come to think of it, should I quibble when there's an extra porterhouse, veal chop and pork chop in it for me?)

Anway, in St John's we dudded David up in record time -- down to a proper pair of sandals. Joan also managed to pick up a few items she liked -- no surprise there -- and so did I. Joan soon pointed out that this nonsense I've written -- about how clothes don't matter much to me any more -- is not quite accurate. It's just that I care differently, she observed. In this new life it's sleeveless tank tops, elastic- waist shorts and pedal pushers instead of long skirts and baggy sweaters. I suppose she's right. My outfits - whatever the venue -- are still numerous, still color coordinated and I'm still tucking my shirts in, at least for treks to major towns. However, given the few extra pounds I've managed to accumulate, I can't manage to do double-tuck-ins any more. No doubles and certainly no triples, like our friends Carolyn & Dave Parks, AKA Mr & Mrs Triple-Tuck. Though of late even they're down to a maximum of two tucks.

All from livin' la vida aqua


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