Coming to Montserrat from Mexico rather than from
a more sedate and predictable country, we were well prepared to
ferret out island resources for the things that we needed. One of
these was meat – fresh local beef, chicken, lamb and pork.
Our first year here we met a fellow named Oriel who had opened a
small pretty primitive shop on a road just below the local supermarket.
We'd get our groceries and then stop by Oriel's if he was open for
business to see what he had. Some days we were well rewarded with
his fresh vegetables and frozen local beef or pork. It wasn't predictable,
but then it was’t much of an investment of time or effort
to check him out. Many days he was closed, but then nothing ventured
Oriel started out in this small ramshackle building
with two big freezers filled with local beef and pork and a small
counter with a scale and a shelf with vegetables if he had any.
Within a few months, he had put in a kitchen and was selling fresh
sausage. In what seemed like days, he had completed the kitchen
and installed a bar with tables for dining and drinking. Oriel had
really arrived and we were thrilled to be getting fresh local food.
We left the island that June to return to Mexico and on our return
to Montserrat in December, Oriel was no longer proprietor of the
property. Apparently the landlord had tossed him out in favor of
a fellow who would pay more rent. All of Oriel’s hard work
was now the proud possession of the local brothel operator. He,
with his girls, is now ensconced in Oriel’s bar and his business
is thriving to all accounts.
Oriel next rented land from the owners of the popular
local hotel, the Vue Point. The land is on a gently sloping hill
just above the hotel with a lovely view. No doubt someday it will
be the site of another hotel or land development. Right now it is
Oriel’s. He is a tireless worker and has created a half acre
of happy birthing pig pens, and a couple of acres of vegetables.
On our return to the island this year, we immediately
sought out Oriel to see what he had for sale. We drove down
to his place
just after the new cricket field on a road which taxed our trusty
little car and never, after seven trips, found him there – “there” being
a couple of ramshackle buildings fenced and locked. It was easy
enough to climb over the fence, but even after much shouting
and horn blowing, no Oriel. We resorted to our other contacts,
the ladies that sell their vegetables outside of Ram’s
to get Oriel’s phone number. After a few days we had it
and when Stassi called a hesitant voice answered. He asked, “Do
you speak Spanish” “Habla Espanol” and she
broke into a babble of conversation long dammed in an English
speaking country. Her name is Joanna which is unpronounceable
in Spanish, but there you are. She always tried to be helpful
telling us when we could find Oriel at the farm, but try as she
might we never did.
One day Oriel himself called and made an appointment
with us. We were to be at the farm at 7:00 A.M. the next day; he
would be there by 5:00. We would get the pick of the beef as he
had just done a cow the day before. We were there at seven, whistling
in the wind, as Oriel had not arrived. We waited till the sun was
getting hot and took off. Back home it was now 9:00 A.M. when we
heard the toot of a car horn. There was Oriel. He arrived asking
why we hadn't waited carrying a bag of 20.56 lbs of sirloin –
it was all the cow had to give and we gratefully bought it and stuck
it in the fridge.
Oriel was paid and off he went and it was now
time for making steaks, hamburger and small pieces of beef
for stir fry. Stassi
pulled out the “Pork-ert” a device we bought in Mexico
for grinding beef. We bought it in a small hardware store in
Iguala on the day I was in town for a medical exam (that in itself
is a long story). The grinder was made in Hungary or somewhere
thereabouts for making sausage we assume. We got it here in our
luggage and after many foolhardy tries have finally figured out
how to make it work without breaking into hysterics.
I washed and cut up the two sirloins, Stassi
ground up the beef, I made hamburgers and everything went into
the fridge and freezer.
We were vegetarians for two days afterwards, but now are enjoying
our grill very much.