Showing posts with label Caribbean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caribbean. Show all posts

17 April 2015


by R.T. Lawton

Map created by Donny. Dominica is inside the red circle.
Christopher Columbus named the speck of land he found out in the Caribbean after the day of the week he discovered it. The day was Sunday, November 3, 1493. Sunday being Dominica in the dead language of Latin. At the time of his discovery, the Caribs were the owners of said island. Naturally, the Caribs knew where they were all that time and weren't really happy about being discovered by some Italian out on a cruise to find India for the king and queen of Spain. Due to the isolation of the island, plus the ferociousness of the Carib warriors, the Spanish left Dominica alone for several decades. France eventually established a colony, but ceded the island to Great Britain in 1763, Then from 1958 until 1962, Dominica belonged to the short-lived West Indies Federation before becoming an independent nation in 1978. Three years later, a conspiracy of mercenaries had their own plans for the island.

Mike Perdue of Houston and Wolfgang Droege of Ontario put their heads together in a plot to overthrow the government of Eugenia Charles. Their idea was to help ex-Prime Minister Patrick John and his Dominica Defense Force regain control of the island. In exchange for their services, the two mercenaries were supposed to have control over the future of Dominica's development: testimony presented at their subsequent trial said they were to have the island to use as a drug trafficking base.

Unfortunately for the conspirators, the FBI received knowledge of the attempted coup and thus Operation Red Dog was doomed to failure. The ship hired to transport the mercenary group never sailed from New Orleans as scheduled. Seems someone approached a journalist about an "exclusive story" and the journalist felt compelled to contact the police. Talk about your dumbest criminal of the year award. In the end, Droege and nine co-conspirators, to include white nationalist Don Black, were charged and tried. The entire fiasco was soon termed as the Bayou of Pigs and a book by the same name was written about the intended takeover of the island of Dominica.

A pod of snorkelers being tickled by warm volcano bubbles.
As for me, the only "hot water" I got into was during the Champagne Snorkeling Tour which had nothing to do with consuming the famous bubbling wine of France. Seems that Dominica is one of those islands created by volcanic activity and there is still heat coming up from the ocean floor. I quickly found myself swimming through a mass of multiple streams of small bubbles rising from the coral twenty feet below. And yes, the water was warm, not at all cool like the rest of the Caribbean Ocean.

Other than that, just be advised that the residents of Dominica get a little touchy if you confuse them with the Dominican Republic which is the old Spanish half of the old French island of Haiti. Both islands are in the Caribbean, just be clear when you book your travel ticket or you could end up with a surprise.

See you in Grenada in two weeks. Just so you know, that's the island in the Caribbean, not the city in Spain. To help you out, the island is pronounced Grenade-ah (as opposed to the Spanish city of Gra-na-da) and is the place Clint Eastwood (as Gunny Highway) invaded in the movie Heartbreak Ridge.

23 May 2013

Random Observations

by Eve Fisher

Update:  (This was to have been published on 5/9/13, but current events got in the way.)

I've been on vacation for the last couple of weeks, and I only got a chance to check in a couple of times, but all I can say, from reading my co-writers' blogs, is that (1) they know a lot more about writing than I do and (2) I've got to start writing more.  I don't outline - although I may try to start doing that; I don't journal about my writing - though I may start doing that, too.  What do I do?  Well, I try to write something every day, even on vacation.  (I keep a journal, just not specifically about my writing.)  And I try to pay attention.  I watch.  I listen in.  I mull a lot.  And I try to describe it, at least to myself.

We were on a cruise in the Caribbean, which we had won on our last cruise, playing the cruise lottery.  It was a great cruise, but then I love cruises, because all you have to do is unpack once.  After that, it's up to you when you want to eat, what you want to do, and if you want to do nothing at all, there's the deck chairs, the poolside chairs, the top deck chairs, the library chairs, and, if worst comes to absolute worst, your room.  And I like doing nothing, when this means sitting in a chair and watching the ocean and watching people.

And 1200 people on a cruise ship can indeed represent the entire gamut of humanity.  As opposed to the endless "People of Wal-Mart" photos, the cruise clientele range from the Felliniesque to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and everything in between.  Every weight - which rises over the course of the cruise, as we all know - every age, every height, every nationality.  And once in a while, something unique.  Something that says, check this out:

The very thin Asian girl, who was with a very pasty older Englishman, who came to breakfast, took 2 HUGE pieces of cake, went to a back table, and was gone 30 seconds later leaving an empty plate.  (Obvious questions: Was the cake in her bag or in her stomach?  Was she headed back to the room or to the bathroom first?)

The relentless smile on the face of an Indonesian steward, which relapsed into an existential exhaustion any time he was left alone for a few seconds.

The old man who sat for hours aft every day, looking out at the wake of the boat, with all the hunger of Edward for Bella.

The monarchs of the ship, the headliner entertainment, a married couple, strolling around the ship doing their best to look stylish and hot and powerful and above all the hoi polloi who were their audience.

An older woman, a deep dyed glorious blonde, generously proportioned, lavishly painted, dressed in a rainbow, with a laugh that would have made Bette Davis come over and offer her a cigarette.  (Fun to talk to, too.)

An Aussie who assured me that I needed to make the trip to Australia sooner than later, because time was fleeting...  and later told me the story of his wandering life as we stood thigh deep in the Caribbean.

The last didn't surprise me a bit - I heard a lot of people's life stories on the trip, and I always do when I'm traveling.  Maybe I look trustworthy, maybe not; maybe I just look interested.  (Which I am.  I am insatiably curious, and I am always willing to down tools and listen to someone's story or read a book.)  Maybe it's because I'm a stranger and they'll never see me again.  Maybe it's because they're traveling, and they need to assure themselves of who they are.  Or, in some cases, they're rehearsing a new persona.  Seriously. 

Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to go to a writer's colony (one and only time, at Ossabaw Island, Georgia), and while I was there, I had a memorable conversation with a woman.  She was married, and it was the first time she'd been away from the family in years, and she was at first bewildered, then bemused, and then bedazzled by the realization that, since no one knew her there, she could be anyone she wanted.  For the first time, she could choose who and what to be.  (I'd already done that years before, but that's another story.)  We agreed, it was interesting, and she should pursue the opportunity as far as she could.

File:MalteseFalcon1930.jpgHow far was that?  Hard to say.  The flip side of changing who you are - running off and becoming someone knew - is what is called nowadays "The Flitcraft Parable" in Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon" - Mr. Flitcraft, who is almost killed by a falling beam one day and leaves his job, wife, children, everything, without a word and vanishes:

"He went to Seattle that afternoon," Spade said, "and from there by boat to San Francisco. For a couple of years he wandered around and then drifted back to the Northwest, and settled in Spokane and got married. His second wife didn't look like the first, but they were more alike than they were different. You know, the kind of women that play fair games of golf and bridge and like new salad-recipes. He wasn't sorry for what he had done. It seemed reasonable enough to him. I don't think he even knew he had settled back naturally in the same groove he had jumped out of in Tacoma. But that the part of it I always liked. He adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to them not falling."

Or, in other words, you can run, but you can't hide, at least not from who you really are. Was Hammett right or not?  Can you reinvent yourself, or do you simply put on an existential wig?  Discuss, children, and we will talk more later.