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Trick or Treat! In March???

Yes, I know it is March and I am months from Halloween, but it struck me the other day that provisioning (buying food) feels a lot like going trick or treating.


Entering Clifton after docking the dinghy.

I do not dress up, but I do bring my own bags to carry my “loot” back to the boat and I do go from place to place to see what goodies are available.

So far my favorite place to find groceries has been Clifton on Union Island. The main street is sometimes sleepy and almost deserted. Other days it is teeming with locals and visitors alike. Now, when I say teeming, please don’t think New York! But do imagine a good number of people walking the streets, perusing shelves in various shops and enjoying beverages in shady cafes along a dusty road.


A quiet day on main street in Clifton.

We have provisioned in Clifton three different times and a pattern has developed. First I make a bee-line to Captain Gourmet. This tiny (by US standards) shop is a combination cafe and grocery that caters to the foreigners. I stop in here and scan the refrigerated area for hard to find treats. The last two visits, the freezer has been broken so I chat with the lady at the counter to determine what gems she has hidden in the storeroom freezer. We have scored unusual things here like pork tenderloin and turkey sausage and aerosol whipped cream!


Love this lilac color!

The folks at Captain Gourmet are super helpful and after I pay for my items, they let me leave them in the refrigeration until I have completed my other shopping.


It looks small by US standards, but Captain Gourmet has a lot to offer. Isn’t it cute?

Next we visit ALL of the groceries along the main street, which is about six different places. While items on the shelves at each grocery are often the same, each store has it’s own vibe and a few unique items. One place might be very clean and open, but has relatively few items. Still, I enjoy the clean environment and always buy something in the clean stores when possible.


Kash & Kerry is clean and the proprietor is very sweet.

Another place is dark and very dusty. They have a bit of everything, from used clothing and appliances to canned goods and children’s games. I feel a bit claustrophobic in here, but sometimes it has some unusual dry good that I really want.


You have to look up, down and all around!


This same store also sells “home goods.”

The grocery stores are where we buy canned goods, boxed goods, dry goods and occasionally some cheese or dried fruit, like raisins. But we never buy produce in these stores. Fresh produce is bought from the stands, which are our final stop.


Produce stands in Clifton.

Here in Clifton there is a dirt square with about eight different vendors.  Initially I was uncomfortable with this area because as I approached people would try to steer me to one vendor or the other. I didn’t like feeling pressured to buy from just one stand. Even if one stand has everything we want, I always try to buy a little from each person so we spread around our support.


An artist’s palate of color.

On days when they have restocked the produce, the stalls are an artist’s palate of greens, reds and yellows hanging in flimsy mesh bags.


This feels like a step back in time.

With the produce vendors, just like in Captain Gourmet, it is often the secret, hidden areas that offer treasures. We have learned to ask for what we are hoping to find because not everything is displayed. Fresh green beans are a rare and wonderful find and we have been lucky to buy them a couple of times here in Clifton. They were never in sight but when we asked, like magic, a bag of fresh beans was pulled up from the back of the stand.

We have also learned that if we ask one vendor if she has a particular item and she doesn’t have it, she is likely to tell us nobody has those here.  I asked for green limes and was told, “They are out of season. No place you can find those here.”  But as we made our rounds and asked each vendor, low and behold we found them just two stalls away.


Score on the limes!

Green limes are especially difficult to find and often you have to negotiate to buy just green ones and not have yellow ones included.


Star Fruit

The veggies and fruit we buy are certainly different than back in Texas but we are learning to appreciate some new flavors. One really pretty fruit that I had not seen back home is Star Fruit. It is a bit sweet with a texture that is a cross between an apple and a banana. When sliced, star fruit makes a beautiful presentation.


These beauties dress up any plate.

So, next time you pop into Tom Thumb or Kroger and find everything you want clearly displayed, regardless of the season, think of us “trick or treating” our way through several stores and stalls.

Happy shopping!


Wait! You’re Going the Wrong Way!

Oh yippee, we are almost there.

Wait, nope, need to tack (change direction) to actually sail to that opening almost right in front of us.

Let’s just head away from our destination for 30 minutes, then turn around and go back toward it.

Yep, we want to go west – so we are just going to head east for a bit, then go west.

Sailing seems to be two steps forward and one step back or is it one step forward and two steps back?

In any case, sailing to a destination is nothing like driving to one!

Frank and I had this discussion where he says humans have made life so comfortable that we no longer have any clue or concern about the weather. We just hop in our car and go to our destination.

In his estimation, that is so easy it is boring.

In my estimation, it is so easy it is reliable and efficient and I know what to expect!

Hmmm, I might have to make some adjustments to my attitude if I’m going to succeed as a sailor!

One thing I have learned about myself is that I tend to estimate the amount of time something will involve and I expect to pretty much meet that timeframe.

Well, my estimates are totally OFF when it comes to sailing.   E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G takes longer than it should, uh, I mean than on land!

Yesterday we had a reasonably good sail from Barbuda. During the sail, the wind became more southernly which meant we had to adjust our heading (direction) and thus we were too far off of our intended destination to simply sail to it. 

Instead we had to turn the boat and sail almost directly away from where we were going so we could change our wind angle and sail in to our destination.

This is SO frustrating to me. Some days I just want to say, “Turn on the engines and let’s just get there already!”

I think if I felt 100 percent well when we are sailing, I could handle these delays. Instead, I am usually very anxious to get out of the waves and to our destination a.k.a. calm water!

In addition to not being able to simply aim directly where I want to go, there are so many things I took for granted while living in The States.

Let’s talk internet…. we were delighted when we bought a sim card with data and were told all we had to do was top it off on line. Great! Easy and reasonably priced!

Except after we went through the initial data, we couldn’t top off on line…. So I have spent a lot of time on the phone and via slow websites trying to get to the bottom of this issue. 

But customer service here isn’t like in The States; as in half the time the phone call is disconnected or there is no actual person to speak with.  I did finally reach an employee on the phone, but I’m pretty positive she knew less about her own product than I do.  The employee told me the sim card I used for 5 GB of data wouldn’t work unless I had a blackberry…..

Um, I just went through 5 gigs on my Ipad using this sim card?!?

Nope, I have to terminate that sim card, add cash to my account, call back and reactivate my card.

Ok. Makes no sense, but I want the data.  I’ll call you back.

Well, I have tried calling several times (19) without reaching an available person! So I left a few messages and finally got a call back . This employee tells me the data plan I was told about is only for LTE and I don’t have an LTE card.

Really, my first 5G was LTE…..Ok, can I just reactivate this sim and have 4G?

Um, sure, but I have to check. I will call you back. That was yesterday. 

Do you think I’ll hear back?


Bailey’s Grocery – after a two mile walk.

Don’t even get me started on the grocery store. Trust me, I was seriously missing Tom Thumb as I walked 2 miles (literally) to the grocery last week. Not only was Tom Thumb a quick, direct drive from my garage to the parking lot (regardless of wind direction) but they had whatever ingredient I was hoping to buy!

But at least the nice lady at this market called a taxi for me so I didn’t have to walk home with the groceries!

So all this grousing is just to let you know that paradise is beautiful, but it is better if you leave your former life without trying to recreate it in paradise. 

And you best take off your running shoes and embrace the sandals because a casual pace is all we achieve out here!

(Lack of internet delayed this post and doesn’t allow for many pictures…. can you tell I gave up on topping up the sim card? Maybe on the next island.)

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