Monday, March 27, 2000

Gales Point

Culture shock is how you could describe Gales Point. Picturesque, true Caribbean are other terms. The dirt road narrowed as we drove into the village. Small wooden houses on stilts, some more tilting than others were set back from the road. Ramshackle by American standards, but absolutely charming. People were sitting on their porches hanging out, and the palm trees leaned over the road. The late afternoon sun sparkled on the water of the lagoons that are separate by this long skinny peninsula.

In our reading about the area we had discovered that there is a bed and breakfast co-op in the village but we were rather late getting in and had not planned anything about a place to stay. We had also read about Manatee Lodge and thought that perhaps, just this one night we would splurge and get a "real" room as we were pretty tired and grubby. But… oops the place was full. A group of 13 people were scheduled to arrive that night.

It's a beautiful place set in well-manicured lawns, the white and green painted main building looking fresh against the backdrop of the lagoons.

Now what?

We could drive on to Dangriga but I really didn't want to drive the road at night. Or we could rent a tent from Yvette at Yvette's Store. Or…

We drove back through the village feeling a little deflated and stopped at Yvette's, where we had earlier found out about her tents and bought ice-cold water. Yvette is a wiry little Caribbean lady with dreadlock hair that is wild! She is full of advice and happy to talk. She rushed off to put on her best hat before she would let me take a picture.

Anyway, we started to ask her where we could stay and she said
she'd take us to one of the b&b's. It ended up that John Moore, who works at the Manatee, brought us down to Mr. and Mrs. Perez, who are part of the co-op.

Mrs. Perez, Elaine, is charming and said of course we could stay.
She rushed around to put clean sheets on the beds and get things cleaned up for us.

Picture this.

Yard all raked and tidy.Several friendly, but skinny dogs. Chickens and roosters scratching around. Coconut palms loaded with green coconuts swaying and rustling in the breeze. Several small houses placed haphazardly on the property, all of them in what appears to be a state of disrepair.

We wonder where the rooms are! Is there indoor plumbing and please,
please let there be a shower. As we rummaged in the bags to get just what we needed for the night a young man appeared who introduced himself as Francisco Perez. Then his pretty little girlfriend Valerie walked over and we were taken to our rooms.

Up stairs in the dark and very proudly shown into our rooms.
There are no building codes!

The rooms are sparsely furnished, each with a bed, table and chair and some shelves. Mine has a ¾ bed and Susan has a double. There is no glass in the windows, just storm shutters and screens, which we discovered in the morning are more for show than function. The bathroom at the end has a sink with water; there is a toilet and shower. What more could we want!

Elaine was willing to cook dinner for us and while she was preparing it we decided to walk down to Gentle's Cool Spot for a beer. We had seen the little place as we drove in. A sort-of screened in veranda with tables and chairs, chickens scurrying in the yard and numerous dogs lounging around.

The guide book had billed it as a "pavillion restaurant." A bit of a stretch, I'd say.

As we walked down the dirt road from our room, a Range Rover came toward us and stopped and an American voice attached to a small blonde woman introduced herself as Nancy, owner of the Manatee Lodge. She had had a cancellation and was concerned that we were driving the Coastal road at night. But she had heard from one of the locals that we were staying with the Perez.

So pleasant, and the entire place has a sense of community that is sorely lacking in the United States. I can't remember when was the last time I have seen so many people so happy and smiling and wishing each other well. It makes one wonder how essential all the stuff is that we gather around us.

We were welcomed at Gentle's by Mr. Gentle himself. Other guests greeted us with "Good Night" and we thought that the place was closed and they wanted us to leave. But that is the greeting for the evening.

And so to our first Beliken beer! Boy did it go down easy! And being so tired it went right to our heads. There were a couple of Americans there, a Rasta mon named Egbert and a young woman called Cynthia. We didn't stay long and came home to chicken and rice and homemade bread and mango jam. What a treat!


Post a Comment

<< Home