Wow...I'm sort of speechless....in culture shock. This wasn't expected, to be honest. After seven months aboard in the Caribbean, I am seeing parts of the United States from a new point of view now that we are back; I feel like I've just come out of a time warp in Star Trek or something! We do indeed live in the land of plenty, and it's quite startling in its contrast to the islands.
While I was looking forward to being back with friends and family - and the ease of being in touch with them all - I admit I didn't expect to see common, everyday things in such a different light! Such a different perspective gives things a clarity that I'd not experienced before and I'm really appreciative of it. Take, for instance, the local grocery store. Here in the U.S. in your every day, average store, we have produce, foodstuffs and specialty items from all over the globe available in every aisle, in staggering quantities. What is more staggering though, is how much of that we take for granted! Ease of abundance, abundance, abundance...it becomes the norm. Really, just think about how one "goes shopping" here in the US: you get in your car, go to the store, pick out what you want, let someone else bag it, pop it in your car and then head home. A no-brainer -- and most of us don't even think twice about it! But I was speechless to see it again; the profusion of choices, the luxury of it all, was almost overwhelming.
You see, aboard a boat, as a visitor to the islands of the Bahamas or the Caribbean, the mere act of getting groceries can be an all-day affair. Location changes the entire equation. You take your dinghy ashore, and generally, there are no cars, so you walk or bike to the nearest -- or only -- grocery store or market. Once there, your choices are limited to what is either in season "on island" or what is newly available from being shipped in on the last mailboat. If your timing is bad, you arrive at the store to find nothing is left after everyone else on island has been there to shop. (Which means what is left is moldering and nasty, nothing what you would ever buy anyway.) Remember, everything you buy you have to carry back to the dinghy, too! No carts, no cars, just the bags in one's hands.
|Sometimes there is plenty to choose from, as at this |
fruit stand/store on Harbor Island, which was well stocked.
There are some staples that are easily found in the islands. Onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, local root veggies like dasheen or taro or malaga lila; broccoli is a favorite since it ships well, along with apples and various peppers: green, red and hot. Fruit is usually plentiful, depending on what island you are on: what is available locally and what has been imported (think $$$). Want anything beyond those staples? If available, it will be canned, and canned items are generally limited to corn, beans, spam, canned chicken and tuna. Really, you quickly find out what you want versus what you need! And, then sometimes you settle for what you can get!
|Pineapples, potatoes, squash, onions, bananas, plantains, fennel, breadfruit,|
mangoes, taro, corn, radishes, tomatoes...the fresh items of the day, in good condition!
|Inside the "Blue Store" on Staniel Cay. Note the "abundance" of onions|
and potatoes in the bins in the front. Canned items are on the back wall.
But... that's it.
|Then there were items I wasm't sure about...|
|...never heard of...|
|....don't really care for (pig tails, for your dining pleasure!)...|
|....and items I would not buy. I believe the man that we saw in this market in the|
Dominican Republic was chopping the skin from some animal into strips.
Of course, it's all relative. Every island is different -- some islands are more remote and thus have fewer items available, and some islands are more cosmopolitan than others, so have better choices. When you are there, your choices are the same as everyone else's. It's humbling, and you....become grateful for the simple things. Grateful for the food you buy, for what you have, for what you have experienced....when was the last time anyone gave thought to that while in the grocery store here in the US?
I'm grateful for Equinox, for the opportunity to be out there cruising, to have shown me these things. The lifestyle is a deliberate choice and one I'll make again and again, if for no other reason than to experience the variety in the world. And now that we're back, I appreciate all the more the simple Pink Store and Blue Store in Staniel Cay, Bahamas, the Best Buy Grocery in Nevis, the Super Marche in St. Martin, the IGA in Provo, Turks and Caicos, and the open air market in Samana, DR. We found what we needed, and didn't want for anything! The world offers many oysters --- you just have to look to find your pearls!