Category Archives: Caribbean

10 things about Curacao I’m looking forward to

In 8 days I will be moving back to Curacao. Of course there are many things that I’m going to miss about Statia, but on the other hand there are many nice things to look forward to. Except for seeing old friends and making new ones, these are the 10 things I am looking forward to most of all:

1. Papiamentu

In the years I lived in Curacao I learned to speak the local language and I love it. I hope I will be fluent again soon.

2.  The Cinemas

After two years of watching the same movies on DVD and YouTube… Yesss!

3.  Running after dark

Of course it’s too hot (and in my opinion not healthy) to run during daytime in the Caribbean. On Statia there are no streetlights on the roads where I prefer to run. That means I always have to calculate the exact amount of time I need for the planned running distance and subtract this from the time of sunset. Let’s say I do a 10k run in 1:13 and sunset is at 18:23, I have to start running at 17:10 sharp, when it is still hot. On Curacao there are more streetlights, so I’m really looking forward to running when it cooled down a bit.

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4.  A boatride along the Bandabou coast

I just love the rocking of a boat while watching Knip, Jeremi and the other beaches pass by. And a cool dip in the water at the Blue Room.

5. Shorediving wherever, whenever

Shorediving on Curacao is just great. Diving gear in the car, broom broom, jump in the water and hello different world. I can’t wait to see the underwater world of Hundu and Manzanilla again.

6. Horsebackriding lessons for Makeda

Horsebackriding is one of the things I used to “bribe” Makeda (sorry) into  agreeing to the move to Curacao. She wants this for so long and there is only one single horse on Statia. On Curacao she can do lessons with other kids and go crazy about horses. And every now and then we’ll make a trip together. Yeehaa!

7.  The variety of white beaches

Like Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Cas Abou and Lagun. Picture from Grote Knip here is from Tripadvisor.

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8. Brownies at Sol Food

The best brownies ever, in the heart of Westpunt!

9. Shops

On Statia, everything needs to come from St Maarten, the States or the Netherlands. Choice on such a small island is simply not there. Shoes my size? Forget about it. I’m not a shopping person at all, but I know certain shops are waiting for me on Curacao.

10. Watamula

One of my favorite places on the island, on land for a good hike, but especially under water. Packed with hard and soft corals, lots of marine life, shallow and deep. And all that just around the corner!

My bags are packed.

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10 things I’m going to miss about Statia

In little more than one week I will be moving back to Curacao. There are many nice things to look forward to, but of course there are things I am going to miss too. Except for my friends, young and old, and special people I met, these are the 10 things I will miss most of all about the Golden Rock:

1. The travel time

Wherever you are on Statia and wherever you need to go, travel time is minimal on an island of 21 km2. Have an appointment at 11:00 sharp? Leave home at 11:00 and you will be right on time, Statia time.

2. My scooter

Although I sometimes have to tape my scooter to prevent it from falling apart, I love my blue monster. No need for air conditioning, the wind through your hair and Makeda’s arms around my waist.

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3. My running route

As a runner you love certain roads. I will miss running the road to the Botanical Garden and the road at Lynch going down towards the Berkel plantation.

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4. The animal shelter

For almost two years I have been volunteering at the SEAWF animal shelter. How I will miss all these cuddles!

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5. The roaming animals

Although there are roaming animals on Curacao, it is nothing compared to the number of cattle and goats on Statia. I know, they are supposed to be fenced and kept under control, but I still love it when a big  bull is slowly peering through the shutters of the pub.

6. Everybody greeting each other

On Statia everybody is greeting each other. Waving, honking, nodding, “good morning”. I think I’m going to stick with this habit on Curacao.

7. The Leatherbacks swim team

Makeda has been swimming with the Leatherbacks since almost two years and I have been a coach for a year and a half. I will miss all my kids, the swim meets to St Maarten and St Croix, the fun we had and even the times they drove me crazy 🙂 I love you, guys!

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8. Turtles hatching 

I’ve witnessed Leatherback turtles, Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles hatch on Zeelandia beach a few times. This is so special!

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9. My big yard with fruit trees

Mango’s, guavas, bananas, soursop, starfruit, cherries, cashews, sugarapple, papaya… and a hammock.

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10. The chance to find my own blue bead

Blue beads are very special for St Eustatius. I have been given one by someone special, but I never found my own. If you find your own, or as some say ‘if a blue bead finds you’, you will always come back  to Statia.

We’ll see where the wind takes me.

Next: 10 things I’m looking forward to about Curacao.

 

Mr. Anansi in St. Eustatius

Wijnand “Mr. Anansi” Stomp is visiting our little island in search for stories. Personal stories about the past and slavery. Together with his team (documentary maker Jean Hellwig and camera man Ewoud Bon) he visited first Ghana in Africa and Zeeland in the Netherlands; to complete the triangle they’re now filming on St. Eustatius, the Golden Rock.

Between interviews and filming sessions the gentlemen took the time to visit the Golden Rock school for a performance. Mister Anansi telling the story how to outsmart Mr. Tiger and the other animals. As most Caribbean people, the kids loved Anansi. What a great way to keep a real African/Caribbean tradition alive. Thanks Mr. Anansi, come back soon!

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5 reasons why I love Zeelandia (or pro #8 of living on Statia)

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#1   TO WALK YOUR DOG

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This was last year’s dog walk organized by the St. Eustatius Animal Welfare Foundation.

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#2   FOR A STORMY DAY

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#3   FOR EDUCATIONAL TRIPS

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#4   TO SEE HAWKSBILL TURTLES HATCH

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#5 TO SEE LEATHERBACK TURTLES HATCH

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More pros of living on Statia:

How to become a Frequent Flyer (or pro #1 of living on Statia)

How to tape your scooter (or pro #2 of living on Statia)

How and where to swim (or pro #3 of living on Statia)

Wedding Witness (or pro #4 of living on Statia)

Statia in Shape (or pro #5 of living on Statia)

Nevis Agricultural Fair (or pro #6 of living on Statia)

Vogelfestival * Bird Festival (or pro #7 of living on Statia)

Vogelfestival * Bird festival (or pro #7 of living on Statia)

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Monday April 28 STENAPA (St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation) held its first Bird (Vogel) Festival.

After being tested what our knowledge of the local birds was -I admit, I am terrible in identifying birds- we made a guided walk through town to spot the local beauties.

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Spotting and identifying the birds is hard enough as it is, taking sharp pictures of them is a nightmare. Most of my pictures looked like this:

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Not a bird in sight!

We spotted our national bird, the Kili Kili…

IMG_0220the common dove…

IMG_0225the banana quit….

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and many more, that of course wouldn’t sit quiet.

Back in the library, there was enough to do for young and old.

???????????????????????????????Making bird masks.

bird feedersMaking bird feeders out of empty plastic bottles.

In the end prizes (camera’s, binoculars and bird books) were given out to the kids that handed in the most beautiful picture or drawing of a bird. The jury, that consisted of two professional iguana-watchers that visited the island for the opening seminar of CNSI, had a hard time.

whisperingThe winning photograph by Tom showed one of the few (pet) parrots the island has. Congratulations!

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More pros of living on Statia:

How to become a Frequent Flyer (or pro #1 of living on Statia)

How to tape your scooter (or pro #2 of living on Statia)

How and where to swim (or pro #3 of living on Statia)

Wedding Witness (or pro #4 of living on Statia)

Statia in Shape (or pro #5 of living on Statia)

Nevis Agricultural Fair (or pro #6 of living on Statia)

United forces at CNSI

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On April 24 and 25 the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) was officially opened in St. Eustatius. To celebrate this, many presentations were held pertaining to the reefs, fisheries, marine and terrestrial reserves, agriculture, tourism, vegetation, research studies, archaeology, diving, history, public health and geology of St. Eustatius, the Dutch Caribbean and the Caribbean in general. Scientists and students from all over the world were present, as well as representatives of Naturalis in Leiden, the University of Wageningen and other universities, Carmabi, NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for sea research) and many more.

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A local lunch was held at the beautiful Lynch family plantation. The endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana came to visit.

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Governor Gerald Berkel, commissioner Carlyle Tearr and father Raffi of the Roman Catholic Church blessed the new institute, the STENAPA Junior Rangers gave a presentation about the formation of St. Eustatius and the brass band under guidance of maestro Dennis Amajan gave a great show. A big success by organiser Johan Stapel.

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Jos Rokx of the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Island Governor Gerald Berkel and Edwin van Huis, director of Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in the Netherlands.

All in all a great initiative to promote and facilitate more research on our little Golden Rock!

Photos by http://www.cnsi.nl

Quill

There goes my A to Z challenge.

The schedule was as follows:

Thursday April 17: the letter O for On our way to St. Croix, swimmers take your mark!

Friday April 18: the letter P

Saturday April 19: the letter Q

Sunday April 20: RELAX on Easter Sunday

Monday April 21: the letter R

APRIL-CALENDAR [2014] - updated

Instead, this is what happened:

Thursday April 17: the letter O for On our way to St. Croix, swimmers take your mark!

Friday April 18: I was off and moved to my new house with two bags of clothes and bed sheets, and my laptop. The internet guy was supposed to come by to check which trees need to be trimmed to get an internet connection in my new house. He did not come.

Saturday April 19: Weekend! I planned to go back to my old house, by scooter, with my laptop to post my P and R. The scooter broke down and the bicycle had a half flat tire. I did not feel like walking up and down between houses with my laptop under my arm. Instead I painted some purple.

Sunday April 20: RELAX on Easter Sunday morning and moved more bags and boxes in the afternoon and started unpacking.

Monday April 21: I was off, nobody available to fix a poor girl’s scooter. The whole island was partying on the beach. I joined them. On a half flat tire downhill, walking uphill.

So, my apologies, I did not stick to my A to Z challenge. But in my defense, I did not plan moving in April. I still would like to contribute with a belated Q, which might be a complicated letter for some of us. But not if you live on Statia, where the everyday life is influenced by the presence of the volcano Quill. I would like to reblog my post about the Quill today: going green inside the crater.

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On our way to St. Croix, swimmers take your mark!

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It’s planning time again! The Goldenrock Leatherbacks swim team is preparing for the annual swim meet in the US Virgin Islands. In the weekend of June 13-15, six swimmers, one coach (that would be me) and two chaperons will be going to the 32nd Dolphins Invitational Swim Competition in St. Croix. All swimmers are between the age of 8 and 16 years old and ready to show the rest of the Caribbean that we are here.

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Matthew (16), great diver, good breaststroke and butterfly. Being the oldest one in the team, also a bit my assistant, if he’s not in an argument with his brother Mel. Jason (11) disappeared from the team for a while, but I’m glad he’s back, and stronger. Good breaststroke, good team player. D’Seante (11) likes breaststroke, backstroke, flipping around and talking. Who likes a quiet pool? Marshel (10) unstoppable in every sense, energy overflow, good butterflyer and great freestyler. Kaboom! Mel (10) good in all strokes as long as he stays focussed. Working good on those push-ups. Makeda (8) has a smooooth breaststroke and is getting better and better in butterfly. Keeping up good with the bigger fish.

IMG_8342This was last year on St. Maarten, with some different faces.

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The pool in St. Croix is Olympic size (50 m), so no baby races are done here. Freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly are done in 50 m and 100 m races, 200 IM’s (200 m individual medley, 50 m of each stroke), 200 m mix medley relays (50 m of each stroke by four different swimmers, two boys and two girls) and 200 m freestyle relays are on the program for our swimmers. Four days a week they are in the pool practicing and yes, playing and giving me a hard time. Kids! But seriously, I love my little team and I’m looking forward to spending a weekend with them in St. Croix!

No Olympics yet, but On our way to St. Croix.

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Nevis Agricultural Fair (or Pro #6 of living on Statia)

March 27, 6:00 AM

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A group of more than 20 people from St. Eustatius, including crop and livestock farmers, gardeners, employers of the department LVV (“agriculture, livestock & fisheries”) of the island government, the vet and other people interested in agriculture, boarded the Waterman to go to Nevis to visit the yearly agricultural fair. As policy adviser of the directorate Economy & Infrastructure, working with the unit LVV, me and my camera were there 😀

Apart from people, the Waterman carried around 1000 kilos of sheep meat and a small amount of cow meat. Over the last year, Nevis has become a regular buyer of Statian meat.

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The manager of the agricultural department and the veterinarian/meat inspector made sure the meat was delivered properly to the Nevis abattoir.

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The fair was very educational and covered a wide range of agricultural subjects. Various techniques of growing vegetables were displayed. This can easily be done by anyone without a big garden:

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The information was abundant, on growing different types of grass, invasive species, health, backyard farming, pesticides etc. Farm animals, pets, flowers, vegetables, seeds, meat, herbs, homemade products like tomato and spinach-wine and much more was for sale. Especially the fruit trees were favorite: guava, lemon, lime, Julie mango, avocado, starfruit, grapefruit, you name it.

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fruit

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flowers

fruit trees

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The Waterman arrived back on Statia at 5:30 PM filled with fruit trees, flowers, herbs, seeds and many other goods, possible business deals, a wet goat and a seasick Rottweiler puppy.

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Pro #6 of living on Statia is; for a work-related trip you just hop on the boat to another Caribbean island!

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More pros of living on Statia:

How to become a Frequent Flyer (or pro #1 of living on Statia)

How to tape your scooter (or pro #2 of living on Statia)

How and where to swim (or pro #3 of living on Statia)

Wedding Witness (or pro #4 of living on Statia)

Statia in Shape (or pro #5 of living on Statia)

Vogelfestival * Bird Festival (or pro #7 of living on Statia)

Knock knock, who’s hatching?

Knock Knock!    K

I  know I’m blessed. Happy, lucky and blessed! 😀

This morning I witnessed 81 Hawksbill turtles hatching on Zeelandia beach, THE sea turtle nesting beach in the Caribbean Netherlands. This is the 7th Hawksbill nest already for this season.

Apart from Hawksbill, also the Green turtle and the critically endangered Leatherback nest here, thanks to the never-ending sea turtle protection by Stenapa. Last month the entrance to this beach was finally blocked for vehicles, to prevent illegal sand mining here (high 5 for NuStar for their support). Sea turtles always come back to lay there eggs on the same beach where they are born, so it’s extremely important to keep this beach in good shape for the future generations of turtles.

entrance Zeelandia

Also worth mentioning here: the Stenapa Junior Rangers, small kids with a big future!

Stenapa Junior Rangers sign

Last year I witnessed a Leatherback nest hatching. There’s a clear difference between the two. The Hawksbill is much smaller than the Leatherback. Also, the Hawksbill has a “real” shell, while the Leatherback’s back is, well, leathery (I’m a genius).

First the baby turtles just look like moving sand.

first they look like moving sand

Everybody get your camera ready! Also the kids from the NuStar school were there. Last week two groups from the Golden Rock school had the privilege to watch this miracle.

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There you go!

hawksbills there you go

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These guys and girls must be pretty smart. Without too many problems they can find their way to the sea. Follow the light! During this short time on the beach (maximum half an hour I’d guess, and that would be a very slow turtle) they have to learn to remember this beach. Thirty years later they will come back to the same spot! I can see the smartness in this turtle’s eyes.

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There are ups and downs.

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Those human footprints are not an easy hurdle to take.

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Follow the leader.

follow the hawksbill leader

It’s a long way for a tiny turtle.

it's a long way for a hawksbill

Almost there. Get ready for the big splash!

hawksbill ready for the splash

See you in 30 years!

 

Jamaica, Negril

After living there for almost three years in 2005 to 2007, Makeda and I went back there last year for a few weeks.

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The letter J in the A to Z challenge is for Jamaica, Negril. Don’t miss the last picture of five generations!

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With special thanks to Makeda’s great great grandmother (yes, that’s her grandmother’s grandmother!!)

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Freedom: from Marcus Garvey to Jack Sparrow, from Chocolate Milk to Narnia and back

My mom challenged me with the letter F in this A to Z challenge. The F for Freedom.

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My mom knows me well. She knows I must have many ideas and thoughts on the concept Freedom. She kind of unleashed a stream of thoughts that is so big and thick it can hardly put into words in a single post. I decided to make a picture collage (+ one  commercial from the 80’s) of what Freedom means to me. Disclaimer: it’s just a glimpse of my mind. And my mind only. Freedom of Thought. Freedom of Expression.

 

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Inline image 1 Inline image 2

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relaxation

What does Freedom mean to you?

The Experiment

Today my mom and I started an interesting experiment. She posted a letter in Leiden (the Netherlands) to me in St. Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean or better Caribbean Netherlands) with only my first name

Fraukje

and the name of the island

St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean.

No last name, no street address, no nothing.

letter

The situation is a little confusing if you’re not Dutch, but St. Eustatius is a 21 km2 small island in the Caribbean, situated between Saba and St. Kitts & Nevis, around 50 km from St. Maarten. But it’s a “public entity” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just like Saba (an even smaller island) and Bonaire. Confused? Check Now let’s get this straightened out to get even more confused…

To receive mail on this island is not always easy. Since many computersystems don’t know St. Eustatius, but only

Bonaire St. Eustatius Saba

(as if the 3 islands are 1), or

the Netherlands Antilles

which seized to exist on 10-10-’10, St. Eustatius is hard to reach. To make things worse, the capital of St. Eustatius is

Oranjestad

exactly like the capital of Aruba! So never, and I repeat NEVER write

Oranjestad

on a letter if you want it to reach

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius.

It will without a doubt end up in Aruba, which is a long swim.

But, although I do not have a lot of faith in the Dutch Post, I do have a blind faith in the Statian post office. Once a letter reaches the right island, the employees of the Statian post office can find anyone of the 4.000 inhabitants anywhere, either at work or at home. I’m pretty sure they can even track me down in the swimming pool or in the crater of the Quill.

Usually the mail, if it arrives, takes around 3 weeks. So sit back, relax, take a drink and check back in a few weeks to find out if my moms letter made it to the addressee:

Fraukje, St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean.

waiting

 

The Golden Rock Adventurers and the Beautiful Secret of Little Mountain

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It was a warm day in the beginning of eternal spring on the island of Golden Rock. Two adventurers started their search for the Beautiful Secret of Little Mountain. It was not an easy road.

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But they did not know fear and started their journey bravely.

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They found many challenges on their way. A cactus forest…

???????????????????????????????valleys and oceans…

???????????????????????????????and hidden trails.

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But with some help…

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they managed to get back on the right track. Although the signs were written in a secret language.

???????????????????????????????They barely had time for a drink and a snack…

???????????????????????????????because they noticed the signs…

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of a giant beast with hairy claws as big as swords!

???????????????????????????????Ruuuuuuuuuuunnnn!!!!

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More spiny challenges were ahead.

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But a trail of fantasy flowers…

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were leading the way to the old tree…

???????????????????????????????which pointed them to:

???????????????????????????????LITTLE MOUNTAIN SUMMIT (translated from the secret language).

They had to hide for Indians in caves…

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and keep an eye on the volcano that was about to erupt.

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In the distance was a strange island that had never been there before.

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But something told them that was OK.

???????????????????????????????They finally made it to the top.

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But when they leaned over they saw…

???????????????????????????????POISON!! Millions and millions of liters of poison!!

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Was this the Beautiful Secret of Little Mountain?!?! That couldn’t be!

They turned around and saw the Real Beautiful Secret, only to be seen from Little Mountain. It was so beautiful, it couldn’t even be fully captured on camera. It was the WHALE THAT WOULD SAVE THE WORLD!

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With peace in their heart the Golden Rock Adventurers walked back to civilization, already fantasizing about their next adventure.

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Check here for more adventures of the Golden Rock Adventurers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Violet

Miss Violet was rocking her old wooden chair on her tiny, even older wooden porch. The red color on the concrete started to wear off again, even though Blackah repainted the porch floor completely last Christmas. Blackah, that poor man… Some people in Hilltop didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Too much Guinness brings out the demon, they say. But Miss Violet kind of liked the poor man… He was always in for a little chat and helped her out with small jobs like painting the floor or fixing a hole in the fence. In return she gave him a rice & peas with some fried fish she bought from Yuyu.
Blackah was gone now. Maybe it was the demons that took him. Maybe it was just an accident, falling of the porch, right on his bottle of Guinness. The glass cut straight through his artery. It happened so quick, Miss Violet called for the neighbors down the road, but by the time they arrived the porch was already stained with a darker shade of red. That poor man…
Blackah was a little afraid of Miss Violet. Maybe because she was not afraid of him, unlike the rest of Hilltop. Blackah, whose real name was Wayne Campbell, was living on the streets since his mother died, when he was 8 years of age. She was beaten to death by a lover or a costumer – he never really knew the difference, the treatment was the same. Little Wayne was standing outside when he heard the beating. Again. He wanted to run inside and save his mom. He wanted to kill the bastard. He should have killed him. But instead, he stood paralyzed behind on the other side of the wooden fence between the room and the outside kitchen. Ever since that day he was filled with shame. Shame that he wasn’t man enough to save his mother, the only person that would give the world to him. He hid in the woods in the daytime, after dark he came out to “borrow” some food. Small things. A loaf of bread. A tin of sardines. And a Guinness if he could. Water was everywhere in Hilltop. In the river, in taps outside. Bananas and mangoes too, so he didn’t have to grow hungry. People were afraid of him, especially now he has gotten older. He didn’t really know why. He wasn’t the only “poor man” in Hilltop with a fucked up youth. But Blackah was used to the silent treatment now, and the fact that Miss Violet dealt with him as if he were her nephew was distressing and comforting at the same time. Her rice & peas tasted like heaven.
Yuyu brought Miss Violet four pound of fresh red snapper last Friday. As every Friday in the last few years. He handed her the plastic bag, she handed him the money, that was it. Yuyu didn’t like Miss Violet. His mother used to work for her, washed her clothes twice a week. But from one day to another she stopped working there. When Yuyu asked her why, he never got an answer; his mother just shivered by the thought of the lady and kept quiet. And many years later, when he had Miss Violet as a customer for his fresh fish, he too shivered when he saw the lady, although he didn’t know why.
Sonya was only 16 when she gave birth to Yuyu. As so many girls her age, she quit school and had no choice but to look for a job. Sonya was washing clothes for some Hilltop ladies. When times were particularly rough, she danced in the bar on the other side of town. Miss Violet was a good customer. She had work for her twice a week, gave her the money on time and didn’t interfere much with her life. She was a quiet little lady and Sonya liked it that way. Until that hot day in August. Miss Violet watched Sonya wash quietly for a while and suddenly asked: “What do you 25 years from now?”. Sonya slowly looked up from the washpan, not really understanding what Miss Violet was aiming at, then said: “In 25 years I wish my Yuyu is a strong, wise and wealthy man”. Miss Violet laughed with a strange voice: “25 years from now, I will cut a young man’s throat with a piece of glass”. That was the last day Sonya set foot in Miss Violet’s house.