Gouyave Fish Friday

Last Friday morning around ten I saw a familiar face in front of Huggins on the Carenage. The face I remembered quite well but the name I had to pull from my memory bank. He asked me if I was coming up to pay them a visit in Gouyave and I smiled. He got the answer for my answer was in the smile.

Hours later, I touched the soil that I had grown accustomed to as a teenager. I inhaled the refreshing breeze that came from the nearby coast. Years ago, on my daily travel to Schaper School on the wooden bus, I used to be comforted by the fresh sea breeze as the bus passed the park in the early morn. Yes, I was in Gouyave, the home of our legendary Talkshoppers PI and Gouyaveman. I stood on soil that supported the feet of academic giants like Dr. Dunstan Campbell and Dr. Kenny Lewis, two individuals I respect immensely. I was in Gouyave, not experiencing one of those frequent mental images I had sitting somewhere in North America. I stood near St. Francis Street and I needed no direction for I met Roy Marques, a past pupil, whose eyes lighted up when he recognized me. He kept repeating my name as if he did not believe I was standing there. And then I met others.

It was Fish Friday in Gouyave and we had arrived early. I was impressed with the layout. The mini tent like structures that lined the area were remarkably arranged to attract hungry eyes for they bore all types of deliciously prepared sea food and drinks. Someone called my name and I looked around to be greeted by Lapo’s son, Roger. Lapo was a Schaper classmate who used to bring up the huge pot of Fish brawf for us to devour on our lunch break years ago. Then I saw Kester and his family. I thought how wonderful it was for him to bring his children who were born in the States to witness and enjoy all the mouth pleasers that adorned the tables on St. Francis Street.

I quickly inquired about the Lambie waters. I could not come to Gouyave and not drink ah Lambie water. A man standing nearby told me to go further up the street. Again I was impressed by the neatly attired men and women in their chef attire. Those people looked so professional and the sense of order was everywhere. . I thought of Aim and Spiceislander and I imagined how much they would have liked to wage a war on all those tempting foods. I looked at the menu and yes, lambi waters was there as well as crayfish waters, fried snapper, fishcakes, sea moss, mauby and even fried breadfruit, one of my favorites. I got my Lambie waters and it was hot and tasty. I then tried the Crayfish waters. I had no intention of visiting Gouyave and not indulge. A friend offered me a fried snapper wrapped in aluminum foil. I happily accepted it. I poured a little pepper sauce on it and started with the head. There is nothing as tasty as a nice juicy fried snapper head.

I looked at the historical old church that stood nearby. Gouyave is a good place to observe such relics. I saw the new library that was well placed to enlighten the minds of those in search of knowledge. On my last trip I had donated a book and I will give more.

I observed the crowd that continued to grow as the night progressed. There were people of various ethnic background. They had something in common that night. They eagerly devoured the food. I saw the gratification on their faces as they dived into the fish foods. Ah fella standing nearby with a fried fish in his hand was wineing to one of the new Grenadian calypsos. Ah white man was dancing, his own dance, to an old Bob Marley song. I stood there and tapped my feet as the sound of a Culture song came from the distance. Gouyave was always known for its music and the music that night, like the food, was varied and geared to satisfy the different taste.
I knocked down a seamoss and peanut punch combination. Someone asked me if I was sure I could handle that. I laughed because I knew what she was getting at. Well let me tell you; once you indulge in those enriching foods, there is not a mountain you cannot move. Come to Fish Friday and then you are prepared to stand up to anything.

I bounced up me partner Rush. He was standing there as if he was taking notes. He usually keeps his own little Fish Friday in his basement in Brooklyn. He was scanning the proceedings, perhaps looking for ways to improve his event in New York.
My eyed beheld the colored lights hanging overhead. It felt like Christmas and sure enough there were ginger beer and sorrel to help create such an atmosphere. And then another light flashed and I stared into a camera. He later told me that he knew I was coming to Fish Friday at Gouyave. I pulled Shirley Ann and Kester, two former pupils of SJCSS and took a picture with them. That was a moment for me to share with me friends.

It was a memorable time on St. Francis Street. I stood there, a proud Gouyaveman at heart. I thought of Money who recently died and I was gripped by sadness. I thought of Cave, his father who used to push the cow a long way and then slaughter it to supply meat for the dwellers of Gouyave. I once again thought of the entertaining and serious confrontations between St. John’s Sports and Hurricanes. I remembered the lucky goal I scored against St. Rose Convent when I played for Schaper school. I stood on St. Francis Street and all those thoughts came to me. That Friday night I took my son to Fish Friday in Gouyave and gave him a little History lesson.

After eating the fish he asked for chicken. I told him it would be likened to sacrilegious for him to have chicken on Fish Friday night. PI, Gouyaveman, Dunstan and Kenny would revoke my Gouyave citizenship if I encouraged him to have chicken.

Wendell DeRiggs. Aug. 06 ©