Rasta Men

My last night of three months in St. Lucia

Ani and Zioni invited my to sit between them on their bench as they sat at the end of the day to to watch ‘reality TV’. To feel the vibe as cars and people moved to-and-fro after the sun had set.

Ani is a carver who speaks with a quiet and calm voice.  Zioni (Dudley is his birth name) makes and sells jewelry mostly made of beads. I think he also works on carving with Ani as his mentor. Judging by the fist-bumps, handshakes and words of peace from passersby, Ani and Zioni are respected people.

We sat and shared stories and thoughts on St. Lucia, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan.  We discussed differences with positivity. Both men enjoy the slower pace in St. Lucia and I mentioned how I walked slower and slower as the weeks in St. Lucia added in numbers.

I recall a couple of weeks ago though when I was walking in Castries during lunch hour. I thought I was walking slowly but gained pace on three women. I was behind them for a bit trying to walk slowly but was uncomfortable because I didn’t want them to think I was following too close to them.  One woman looked back and moved over while they laughed, “You have somewhere to go?”

I laughed with them – we all knew that I indeed had nowhere to go quickly.  I passed in really slow motion while trying to make an effort not too walk too fast. I was walking slowly but not as slow as those who walk really slow – I suppose. Which reminds me of the time nuns were driving us to Laborie and they were mentioning the “Sunday drivers” – we needed to get somewhere and the other vehicles were going too slowly.

So there we were, sitting on the bench chatting about life, language and love with a couple dried leaves burning under us to keep the mosquitoes away… The mosquitoes have become more prevalent since the big rains on Thursday. People were walking by showing respect to Ani and Zioni and I was also offered fist-bumps.

I recalled another time I was walking past when Zioni invited me to join he and Ani by the water where they were roasting cashews. I remember wishing I wasn’t in a hurry but I was walking to the store and needed to get back for when a friend was picking us up. They shared some freshly roasted cashews and they were delicious – they offered me to take a bunch with me but I had no bag.

To roast the cashews, they built a small fire and placed cashews on a pan. The oil in the nuts catches fire and you hear a roaring-fire sound – the fire was hot but not out of control. Once they were finished, they dumped the nuts on the ground to cool. Then they would just gently smash the nut and the cashew was free of its husk. You can find an examples of the process at https://youtu.be/Fil18GLYwTA and https://vimeo.com/95586083.

There were other moments with Ani and Zioni over the last few months as I walked by on the way from work or as I walked to town on weekends.  All moments were genuine and they never asked for anything (we did of course, pay for their time teaching the children to carve and for several items of jewelry but they never asked for anything when they gave gifts of mangoes, cashews or time).

Respect to you Ani and Zioni…