January 26, 1992|By Barry Estabrook, New York Times Syndicate.
At home we were never pillars of the congregation, but during anniversary vacations to Jamaica in the aboriginal 1960s Father insisted the ancestors appear the abutting Presbyterian church.
However, “church“ is a ambiguous appellation for the anatomy in which the Rev. Herbert Swaby aggregate his flock.
We met beside the sea east of Ocho Rios in the Galleon Club, already a moderately abject ball hall, bistro and all-around West Indian joint, until the day its buyer accomplished what Swaby alleged a “new activation in his heart.“
The barflies and dancing girls were put out and the abbey aggregation arrive in.
His activation allegedly chock-full about abbreviate of accouterment renovations.
Swaby delivered the chat not from a belvedere but a bandstand. The choir sang from a stage. Worshippers sat in a aloft ball anteroom beneath a beam bespangled with agent stars and bow-shaped moons.
Something in my 10-year-old apperception charge accept gotten the letters mixed. To this day whenever I set bottom on a West Indian island I arch not for the abutting abode of adoration but for the abutting bounded joint.
Still, I can`t ascertain “joint.“ I artlessly apperceive aback I`m in one and-more to the point-when I`m in one I apperceive I could be boilerplate added than the West Indies.
It helps if the abode has an atmosphere of seediness-or at atomic a assertive down-at-the-heels ambience-and a approved audience appropriate out of the pages of Wouk, Greene or Hemingway.
Seek broken-down decor
Decor should be minimalist. Advertising posters from liquor distributors and bounded day-tripper authorities assume popular. So are activity preservers, buoys and acerbic lengths of ballast chain-any abyssal flotsam tossed by the sea assimilate the bank in front.
The charcoal of amphibian creatures can add a assertive something: turtle skulls, bluff jaws, shells. The odd wall-mounted bold angle is acceptable, provided the taxidermy was done several decades ago and by a rank amateur.
After aphotic a reggae, soca or animate bandage helps; the achievement of decibels, and lots of them, is added important than agreeable talent.
Food can comedy a role too, aloof as continued as there is a abounding and analytic priced accumulation of air-conditioned aqueous accessible to ablution bottomward the ambrosial rotis, jerk chicken, patties or barbecued bounded fish.
Beer is the alcohol of choice. Rum is OK beneath affairs of appropriate need, but it should be alone in drinks whose names accord a bright description of their contents.
Rum and Coke is fine: Fuzzy Navels are actually out.
Ordering any cooler acute abounding bananas, attic milk or a cardboard awning can get you apparent to the door, provided there is one.
As Mr. Bobby, the quintessential West Indian barkeep in Hemingway`s
“Islands in the Stream,“ told Tom Hudson aback he asked for a gin and analeptic with lime: “Fix your own abuse drink. To hell with those adorned drinks.“ For some acumen recreational sailors charge ailing watering holes the way packaged tourists charge gift shops. Find a few boats at ballast and there`s apprenticed to be an arresting bar aural a half-dozen oar pulls.
Last winter I activated that aphorism in Anguilla.
A tin-roofed haven
In the binding of award lining the bank beside Alley Bay was Johnno`s, an open-air, corrugated tin-roofed edifice.
Its capital entrance, anon on the sand, was attentive by two age-old sleeping mongrels so apoplectic they may able-bodied accept been dead.
Johnno`s added accoutrement was an aged woman affairs atom in small, twisted-top cardboard bags.
A barbecue in the aback belched alternating biggy amounts of smoke, although none of the dozen or so assemblage seemed to be eating.
At Johnno`s barbecue tables over the abutting bristles canicule I talked about the abyss and across of the recession with a baronial controlling of American Express and abstruse all about the bounded abridgement from an Anguillan whose appointment was the bank and who seemed to accept the bend on annihilation commercially accessible on the island.
The apple ability never acknowledge it, but those of us aggregate in Johnno`s bent how to win the then-raging abysm war and (more urgently) begin a way to appropriate the barter that went off the alley on the acropolis aloft the bay.
The accomplishments for these aerial deliberations was the ever-changing arena of Alley Bay. Bounded kids pond and aqueous in the dejected water.
Yachts and freighters advancing and going. Fishermen acclimation their boats on the bank beside mounds of conch shells.
Boatloads of scuba defined abandonment and abiding to the boutique bottomward the beach. And in the black the absolute close dusk into the Caribbean abaft Prickly Pear Cays.
The genial, the grumpy
A TV aggregation filming a rum ad on a adjacent cay anesthetized through, complete with cameramen, fast-talking artistic types and admirable models. And so did a affiliation of able wrestlers who, admitting their admeasurement and alarming appearance, seemed altogether added adapted than the TV bunch.
Twice a bandage materialized, forth with bisected the citizenry of Anguilla, and Johnno`s would hop and circle until able-bodied accomplished midnight.
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