Sunday, December 29, 2013

Finding NEMO - Analysis of the Paralysis and other Disorders

Mankind has learned, since the beginning of time, to adapt to his
environment. This learning experience also works in concert with his instinct to survive creating what we have today as standards and procedures making our survival on this planet just a little bit easier.

In 1980 when St. Lucia was ravaged by Hurricane Allen there were many lessons to be learned back then too, for the people of St. Lucia. Then came Hugo,  Debbie, floods, and floods, and other weather related disasters. On the eve of Journay Kweyol in 2010, the big one hit. No, it was not related to Fred Sanford in one of his escapades with Lamont or Grady on the comedy show 'Sanford and Son', but rather a hurricane of tremendous proportions. Many lives were lost in the ensuing onslaught of fair Helen, the likes of which many had never seen in their entire lives. Criticisms and finger pointing continued long after the mud dried and the victims were buried. The public was promised that reviews of procedures were scheduled and measures would be implemented to better deal with such situations. Through it all NEMO (National Emergency Management Organization) was at the forefront of criticism and would have been the primary beneficiary of any improvements and modifications to disaster procedures and preparedness.

Fast forward to Christmas eve 2013. The weather report called for isolated thunderstorms with a chance of flooding in low lying areas. Nothing new to St. Lucians who by-and-large know what the report will be even before it is completed. In nutshell the report is usually the same wording whether we have significant flooding or no flooding at all. The weather report usually refers to the POSSIBILITY of flooding.

Perched up here in New Jersey I knew something was amiss when I received a telephone call from my mother who was already out and about, like most other St. Lucians, preparing for last minute shopping. First call came in at 8:08 AM St. Lucia time. She had already noticed the ominous clouds and said she would have to rush to avoid any problems associated with the weather. Next call came in at 10:58 AM St. Lucia time with a greater concern as it had already been raining heavily. At 2:17 PM I received the third call with news that the weather had deteriorated so badly that she had abandoned all further shopping. My mother is not a meteorologist. I continued to receive calls throughout the afternoon from other friends about the deteriorating weather conditions. A Skype call from another friend was inundated with the sound of continuous rumbling of thunder and torrential rain on their roof. Another call was received at 6:28 PM from someone driving towards Castries along the Castries/Gros Islet highway  towards Castries in the area of Sandals Halcyon at Sunny Acres. Their report was of a rock slide in that area immediately across from the hotel.

What I am trying to emphasize with these accounts is the rapidly degenerating weather conditions on that Christmas eve. By all accounts there were no updated weather reports neither any notifications from NEMO or the MET office.

By now we all know the events of that fateful day. Shoppers who had traveled to the city of Castries and Rodney Bay were trapped by the flood waters. Flooded bridges, flooded streets, roads cut off; all contributed to an already horrible situation becoming a nightmare for some. Employees and last minute bargain hunters, as well as procrastinators were trapped in stores, restaurants, malls. Many tried making a mad dash for home by boarding already packed buses in desperate hope of beating the already obvious flooding conditions. Vehicles stalled all over the island braving ever deepening flood waters. Many stalled with frantic passengers screaming in terror as they began floating away in raging waters. From Bexon, to Cul-de-Sac, Roseau, Dennery, Choc, Canaries, Anse-la-Raye, Soufriere, the story was the same; flood! Then the calls began inundating the radio stations . From all over the island the calls came. It was beginning to unfold that we had a serious situation on our hands.

Yet through all of this NEMO was silent. Where was NEMO? Were they already in the Christmas spirit that they were unaware of events unfolding all across the island. Did they not hear the incessant rumblings of thunder, the likes of which most St. Lucians will attest they had never experienced their entire lives on God's green earth? Did they not hear the calls to the radio stations? Did they not see the flooding? Where were these people who are charged with the responsibility to warn St. Lucia of impending peril? Where were they when it was clear as a shabeen on the beach that things were going downhill faster than the money in the pocket of a womier under the CDC?

With no guidance on what was really happening or what to do about it St. Lucians took to social media. Facebook and Twitter were ablaze with mobile phone pics and stories of harrowing experiences. Still, no NEMO!

The first inkling of any life in the NEMO camp came at 6:49 PM St. Lucia time:

"Message from MoI - bridge at Canaries is impassable. Landslide at Anse la Verde."

Next one came at  7:38 PM:

"Please.... under no circumstances try to cross any river at this time. You will be swept away by the raging waters."

By 8:20 PM people were beginning to get desperate for direction from NEMO. The posts from concerned citizens began


But the really big shocker of the night, after deaths had already been reported, was this Facebook post on NEMO's page at 10:35 PM:

"midnight masses have been called off."


Are you serious!! Is this the best that NEMO could do when people were already dead??

In this day of social media NEMO has failed to capitalize on this free resource readily available to all and sundry. And to top it all off the NEMO website is dormant with their last entry dated March 6, 2013. Not a peep since this current disaster!

Baloney anyone?

Through it all the people of St. Lucia were left to fend for themselves as best they could. The National Emergency Management Organization did not even seem able to manage their own ability to respond to an emergency because their excuse was that their equipment at the NEMO office became compromised in the weather. Exactly what that means was never explained and neither was it asked. Also, according to NEMO the ability of the MET office to provide accurate forecasting of the weather on that day was seriously hampered because the radar facility in Martinique which was used for this purpose was in-operational. Lo and behold the French authorities have since denied their radar facility was ever out of service. Jean Noel De Grasse, head of Meteo France in Martinique has vehemently denied their radar facility experienced any service outage. In an interview with Maurice Nagou this is what he said,

“The most important thing is that the radar in Martinique was definitely not broken down. It was functioning perfectly. All of the information that we make available to the other islands in the Lesser Antilles and our neighbours, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and St. Vincent, all of the information was totally accessible. And I mean totally accessible because this year we put in place a cooperation program with the help of the General Council in Martinique, which permits us to share all our information with the countries that I mentioned. And this information is shared on a special website which is based in France and is therefore not affected by any bad weather that we might experience.” 

He went on further to say that all of the information was accessible on Christmas Eve and during Christmas and that it was the same information that was used in Martinique via their radar which also completely covers Saint Lucia - Story in the St. Lucia Star newspaper

It's your fault! No it's YOURS! Yours! I know, it's the French! Down with the French! It's the rain!

DOMEX weather radar coverage area from facilities in Guadeloupe and Martinique

The French are not too happy

A simple analysis of this situation clearly indicates that neither NEMO nor the MET services in St. Lucia had any backup plans in the event of such an emergency. What about using the facilities in Barbados, Miami, or Puerto Rico? Wasn't the weather forecasting in previous years done without the facilities in Martinique anyway? In essence what NEMO was saying can be likened to them throwing their hands up in the air and saying there was nothing else they could do until Martinique came back online. So in the mean time "weh pour choow.'

A Virgin in the storm

Sometime on Christmas eve a Virgin Atlantic Airbus 330 flight VS-98 from Trinidad to St. Lucia was involved in an 'incident' upon landing. For some inexplicable reason (at least to me) this has been shrouded in an air of secrecy. I say secrecy because all other incidents at the airport at that time, flooding, closure, MET weather equipment being knocked offline, river flooding it's banks, were reported. There seems to have been a careful and deliberate omission of this incident from all news until December 28th., 2013, a full four days later! Was that Virgin airliner so small that it was somehow forgotten in the melee' at Hewanorra? Can you imagine that the first mention of this incident in the local press was actually a news report on DBS quoting information from a FOREIGN publication online! That's right nothing from the local press. The first story published in the international media was on December 26th at 6:17 PM, two days after!  In the absence of any official information many versions of what transpired have come to light. The most that has come from local officials, as reported by DBS, is that SLASPA will issue a statement. Initial story is at The Aviation Herald. This story was even reported in a Polish publication DILAPOLITA, yet nothing from our local officials. Why is it that we always seem to have this unnecessary and mysterious need to keep issues of importance so secretive. Why do certain people see the need to be so viciez? I really wanna know. We have to thank our lucky stars this did not turn out to be a nightmare before Christmas.

Multiple international agencies will be investigating this incident and no stone will be left unturned. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), ECCA (Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority), ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) will all be looking into this. The black boxes have already been removed from the aircraft and will indicate clearly what transpired in the minutes leading up to, during, and after the landing. A major question which springs to mind is where liability for this damage will rest. Who will foot the bill for the investigation, temporary replacement aircraft, hotel accommodations for delayed passengers and ripples throughout the system for missed flights, engineers inspection of damaged aircraft, and most of all who will ultimately foot the bill if this aircraft is deemed a write-off (as many in the aviation industry suggest is a possibility). Will it be SLASPA and by extension the government of St. Lucia, Virgin Airlines, or the insurance company. This aircraft is valued at US$216 million.

Hewanorra International Airport is currently the lifeblood of St. Lucia. 80% of our GDP is earned through tourism, and a large percentage of that tourist dollar passes through Hewanorra. We MUST know what happens there!

Virgin Atlantic flight VS-98 -Extensive damage to undercarriage and fuselage upon landing at Hewanorra Airport

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Unfortunately the sad reality is that nothing seems to have been learned from Hurricane Tomas. Almost three years to the day we have been no better in response than we were on that fateful night in 2010. What is clear to almost everyone is that NEMO was practically nonexistent during the early hours of this disaster to provide any appropriate guidance or response as they are required to do. Their responsibility as the emergency management organization was lackadaisical, at best. The MET office working in concert with NEMO appears, on summary investigation, to be sorely lacking in their procedures to recover from a failure in receiving data for weather forecasting from their primary source. Sadly, nothing seems to have been in place to verify whether this apparent failure was real or not. Something as simple as a telephone call would have rectified this within a few seconds.

There must be a better system of conveying to the populace the severity of weather conditions. The current process of referring to vastly dissimilar weather conditions as "a chance for scattered thunderstorms and the potential for flooding in low lying areas" is just not good enough. It amounts to the story of the boy who cried wolf. Reporting rainfall in inches instead of a blanket statement or adopting a coloured alert approach, like the French, is much more meaningful and effective in the long run.

Regardless of how we look at this Christmas from hell, the performance of the MET office and NEMO was at least a failure of colossal proportions; gross incompetence! A paralysis of inaction. A failure which, whether directly or indirectly, resulted in the deaths of six St. Lucians and the loss of millions of dollars in property. All of this has occurred at a time when we can least afford ; at a time when we have not yet even fully recovered from Hurricane Tomas in 2010; and at a time when our economy is scraping bottom with hardly an indication of improving. A little Christmas joy and distraction was stolen from us all and will live on forever in our memories as the Santa Storm, Storm with no name, upper level trough, or whatever we choose to call it. This date, December 24th., 2013, will live on forever in the history books of St. Lucia as one of the most miserable Christmas eves of all time. It will share the books with Hurricanes Allen and Tomas, the torpedoing of the Lusitania in the Castries harbour by a German submarine during the Second World War, and of course the unforgettable Castries fire. 

We must be outraged and vow for this never to occur in St. Lucia again. Ever! 

Please see map below which I have created to give a more comprehensive view of where incidents occurred over the two days of the storm. Some locations are as accurate as possible but precise enough to reflect the location of occurrence. This is a work in progress as I enter more data. You can click the place names to the left which will 'fly' you to the location on the map. You can also zoom in and out and drag the map to view in more detail.

Click link below

Incident map

Martinique weather radar facility located at Morne Constant near Diamant

Guadeloupe weather radar facility located at Moule, east of Grande-Terre



Friday, December 13, 2013

Vincent Mc Doom - St. Lucia's Person of the Year 2013

To most St. Lucians the name Vincent Mc Doom is nothing new. Having gone to Paris, France many years ago Vincent has made a name for himself in the fashion and modeling industry throughout Europe. Well known for his fiery personality and a no-holds-barred mentality he has been able to survive and rise to a level that most can only dream of in the dog-eat-dog world of the fashion industry. From his humble and traumatic beginnings he had an eye for fashion and design which catapulted him to great heights the moment he was given the opportunity to rub shoulders with the big names like Paco Rabanne, Guillemin, Talenzi, Guy Laroche and André Walker.

Notwithstanding his success Vincent has never forgotten his roots in St. Lucia. He maintains constant ties with many in the fashion and design industry locally and is always willing to offer from his wealth of experience and savvy. 

In considering the person to be named as the most significant and influential in any year it is important to evaluate not only their individual achievement but also their influence and long lasting impact on others. In my opinion Vincent Mc Doom has been able to meet this criteria and more. Accepting the call from St. Lucia Tourist Board's call to assist in the addition of Fashion as a new aspect to the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2013 he graciously offered his services for free as the artistic director. According to Vincent it was an opportunity to give back to his country. 

Since then Vincent has remained a dominant face on the local scene. He was able to prepare, in quick time, many uninitiated and aspiring models for the blockbuster HOT COUTURE fashion show which was held in May and was a raving success by all accounts, clearly attributed to Vincent's undaunting resolve and hard work. He has since then championed the fight for fair treatment of models and others in the fashion industry, at many times coming to odds with those who did not share his views.

His presence has been felt throughout the blogosphere with his mastery of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media all in his arsenal of tools for getting his message and point of view up front and center. Although he has been called many names, some not too savoury, Vincent continues to advise and support many in St. Lucia's fashion and modeling industry. The models certainly love him and what he did for them. Since HOT COUTURE up-and-coming St. Lucian models have graced the runway in L.A. at the LA Fashion Style Week with rave reviews. Throughout 2013 Vincent has become a household name like no other.

Excelling in film, reality TV, fashion, and lately the movies. Vincent has a long repertoire of accomplishments through the years from which he has borrowed many an experience to pass onto our aspiring models and fashion hopefuls. 

Vincent Mc Doom can be found on Facebook, Twitter, IMDB (Internet Movie Database)

In his own words. Interview with Clinton Reynolds on DBS Newsmaker Live:

Part 1

Part 2

Like many in the fashion industry Vincent Mc Doom is loved by many, then there are others who have a love-hate relationship with him. Nevertheless he continues to excel and push the barriers wherever he goes. Remaining in the spotlight and being the subject of conversation for most of the year has catapulted Vincent Mc Doom into being even more than a casual household name. In true Vincent fashion his name makes people sit up and take notice. Many a politician would die for his mastery at publicity and charisma. A champion to many who felt they didn't have a voice Vincent continues to do his thing.

Love him or hate him, Vincent Mc Doom rocked St. Lucia in 2013 and by far was the most influential and visible.

As a result, on our National Day, I find it fitting, and I'm very pleased in naming Vincent Mc Doom St. Lucia's Person of the Year 2013.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Models from the Caribbean take LA Style Fashion Week

The young and beautiful up-and-coming models from St. Lucia were introduced to LA Fashion Style Week this year in Los Angeles, California, which ran from October 14th to October 19th. The models, Tara Edwards, Jeannel Thomas, Amy Brown, and Kurzelle Albert, of Divine Modeling Agency, were the talk of Style Week and scored many spots walking the runways each night for designers such as Ashy tees, Kami Shade, Andre Soriano, Dexter Simmons, and the closing show of StyleWeek, Furne One. 
Tara Edwards, who is Miss Universe St. Lucia, was asked to be a judge next to designer Andre Soriano for the Miss USA pageant on Saturday October 19th. The girls landed interviews with some of the top modeling agencies in the world, including LA Models and Next Model Management. Two of our models were offered full contracts with L.A.models, they are Amy Brown and Jeannel Thomas.  Tara Edwards and Kurzelle Albert are in negotiations with another company. Stars showcase Hollywood made it all possible for the girls to get from the Caribbean to this special week of great opportunities in Los Angeles. Glenda Lugay, CEO of Caribbean International Fashion Week, connected the girls with the biggest players in the fashion industry and set up the event filled week of Fashion Style Week LA. 
The walking in heels guru, Chyna Whyne, helped the girls walk their very best walks and present themselves to LA. They were approached by everyone at Style Week and were interviewed and photographed throughout the week. 
CONTACTS: Glenda Lugay - TopJob PR - Beverly Hills, CA 90212  (310)770-3230


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Carnival Queen Show 2012 - My Opinion

 Originally posted: July 8, 2012 at 12:56pm

Like so many St. Lucians in the diaspora I rushed home to watch our yearly Carnival Queen Show on my computer screen from thousands of miles away. Although being so far away we try to compensate for our absence by participating, in any way possible, with all things 'local.' It makes us feel, even though for a few moments, as though we never left. Thank goodness for the internet. Last night Murphy was alive and well at the Queen Show where too many things went wrong. Not because of Murphy, but rather because of poor planning, a serious lack of standards, and an atrocious entertainment choreography. For a moment I thought I was watching The House of Dark Shadows, starring Barnabas Collins and Maggie. At any moment I was expecting Shane to put a vampire bite on Onika's neck. I mean seriously did anyone need to tell them there needed to be more light?

Swimwear for me was really good. Not perfect but nice. These girls must have been the fittest, sexiest, longest legged contestants to ever grace a queen show stage in St. Lucia. The husband and wife dancing duo was absolutely superb. They were class.

The contestants tried really hard. They put in the time, practice, and dedication to do their best. They were however failed by the organizers of the show. It is clear that the planning was poor, rehearsals were inadequate, as there just appeared to be a mass of confusion on stage with the format. Everything should be in a Carnival Queen Show  handbook. That way nobody is left up to their own 'feelings' about how things should be done. There should be a  standard on stage activity. How to hand out prizes. What the format of the show will be. What is a no-no for announcers and commentators. Too many times we have hosts and entertainers saying the most inappropriate things at these shows. There should be contracts for everyone in the public eye. A proper job description, and a clear
understanding of what is accepted and not.

Things really started going downhill during the question and answer segment. Of course supporters of the different contestants will love it when the opponents mess up with the answers. This happens at all shows of that type. Poor jab the girls, that must be the most nerve-racking part of it all; especially if the person ahead of you messes up. But can you believe the horror when the judge is actually the one messing up during the show? How can a judge who can't even read now turn around and judge a contestant on diction and how she answers that same messed up question? Maman  mouton blanc!!

First off, I thought this judge had just come from a workout at the gym rather than sitting as a judge at a Queen Show. 'Muskles' all over the place bulging out from her sleeveless top. And then being unable to read her own question to the contestant. She made the same mistakes each of the three times that she reread the question. It was so horrendous that the crow eventually booed that judge! What!! Can you imagine how that contestant must have been traumatized having to answer after all that? Poor thing.

The prize giving was a disaster in itself. Does there really need to be a participating award given? Can't that be given later for posterity to the contestants? My goodness, what is the purpose of a chaperone? No table behind the contestants to put the prizes resulting in prizes being placed on the floor!

What really gets me is the failure to capitalize on the highlight of the Queen Show. The crowning glory for the queen was lack lustre and a mass of mediocrity and confusion with last year's queen simply removing the crown and placing it on the new queen's head. Isn't this supposed to be a queen? Isn't this why we were supposed to be dressed formally, to be in the presence of the queen? Where was the throne to seat the queen for that epic crowning moment? Where is her velvet robe? Where is her sceptre? Then to be flanked by the other contestants for that photo opportunity moment, which will go down in history and for posterity.

A french translation of crowning glory has it as "le plus grand triomphe" The queen had no such moment last night.

Synonymns for crowning "climactic, consummate, culminating, final, mother (of all), paramount, sovereign, supreme, ultimate"
Let the queen be a queen!

It was a Queen show with a formal dress code. Why are people in there looking like they are dressed for jour ouvert. Couldn't there be more appropriate music when the queen is announced? My word man, is the only thing which gets St. Lucians to react is for them to mash up something, or wave a dirty rag or half bath towel? Ricky T can sing but he has no sense of occasion, and it's time we learn to be appropriate. Before he sang at the end of the QUEEN SHOW Ricky T says "I just want to send a shout out to my baby mama"

Then the queen was unceremoniously dragged away from the stage to be interviewed by Shane and Onika and then they just abandoned her and start talking among themselves as if she was not even there. Maman maman maman!

Last night's Carnival Queen Show was a disaster! It was a compendium of horrors, a cacophany of woes, an embarrassment of epic proportions. A disgrace. A farce.

And who doh like it allez toofay!!

Cackalack For A Job - An Employment Nightmare

Originally posted: June 30, 2013 at 11:58am

A few weeks ago news reports told the story of a prominent businessman who had been arrested for incest with his daughter. Committing this most despicable of acts daddy-loose-draws remains unnamed because of provisions in the law which dictate that both the victim and alleged perpetrator remain anonymous until a verdict is reached in the case. Don't worry, St. Lucia is a small place and we all know the salop! This jolted my mind to recall the intention which I have had for a very long time to write on a serious malaise which is very prevalent in St. Lucian society. In fact this has gone beyond simply a malaise and has attained epidemic proportions.

More than twenty years ago in St. Lucia I was friends with a rather attractive young lady who had been seeking employment in Castries. She recounted to me one day about an interview which she had a few hours earlier. It was at a business place in the vicinity of Vigie Airport/La Clery/Vide Bouteille. Going through the usual interview motions and cheerful banter with the boss made her feel confident that this job was almost hers. Towards the end he suggested that she return after 5 PM so that he would be less distracted with the responsibilities of work, and be able to confirm that she was indeed able to perform her duties if she was indeed hired. Feeling elated about this rather promising prospect she agreed to return.

It was promptly 5 PM when she was called into his office and the door closed behind her. After a few phone calls he directed his attention to my aptly bosomed friend and was down to business in next to no time with suggestive comments about her looks and then asked her to take a ride with him. He indicated that they could go have some drinks and then take a drive down to the Vigie quarry (the abandoned quarry near the Vigie airport hangar). Well my friend was having none of that bulshittery; she told him where to stuff his drinks and what to do with himself in the quarry.

This businessman has been well known, in fact notorious, for preying on women in search of employment. If there were a Nobel prize for sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour he would have received it.

Many of our St. Lucian women have endured this same type of harassment in seeking employment, and lamentably some have fallen victim to these sexual advances because of their financial situations. Having secured jobs under this duress they are now continually pressured to have sexual relations with the boss or supervisor in order to retain their employment. Eventually this situation becomes untenable resulting in frustration and anger about their predicament.

The reactions, when confronted with such advances, can be varied and evokes different emotions. Some women may walk out of the interview, others may be numbed with surprise, and others will let the offender have a piece of their sharp tongue. And then of course there are those who may just lay down on the office table and spread it or go for drinks and that ride to the Vigie quarry. Lets not be naive here, there are some women who will enjoy the temporary power of being with the boss because they may receive preferential treatment and have certain 'perks' on the job. Sometimes the wanton fraternizing with female staff is well known on the job and usually degenerates into an all out conflict for the affections of the boss or supervisor.

Then there are those who decide to just close their eyes and do it one time, just to get in. Unfortunately the unscrupulous boss sees this as another conquest to be had at his whims and fancies. Eventually this woman decides to cut off the sexual encounters with her boss because she may feel guilty, have a new boyfriend, or just decide that she no longer wants to continue having sexual relations. This is when the retaliation begins. Persons who no longer want to 'pass-it' are victimized, given menial tasks, or fired.

Posting the preview to my Sunday topic last Wednesday I was bombarded, within minutes, with private comments from persons anxious to share personal experiences. They mentioned names , businesses. Surprisingly an overwhelming number of complaints mentioned government departments. It seems there are some notorious senior civil servants known by all and sundry. My information is that many complaints have been lodged against a particular individual...all for naught. Could it be that it's just another old boys' club and complaints to the higher ups are squashed because they are all in it together. Would the lack of action equate to the sexual abuse cover ups which went on for more than one hundred years in the Catholic church?

Within five minutes of posting here is what someone commented:
Like your topic...........this is prevalent at my work place where the head man is concerned......the young women who have just left school and come to (**government department**) are targeted by the sicko.....especially those who have financial difficulty......making all kinds of suggestive remarks, promises, asking for phone numbers and requests to meet after work.........the young people are afraid to come forward and he continues and just denies..........sometimes I wish it was a relative for me to tumble down in his ass this shit upsets me. The worse part is that reports have been made to people higher than him and I guess nothing can be done without hard evidence. The thing is everyone in the department is aware...........and no one is's expected
Here is what someone else commented:
I have lost a lot of respect for a number of people that are involved in the cover up, of not just that, but corruption too. People we all grew up having the utmost respect for.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as these stories have been recounted over the years many times, but what does one do about being faced with a situation like this? Where is a report made after such pressures and brought to bear? What penalties do the perpetrators face?

I contacted Flavia Cherry of the Caribbean Feminists Research and Action (CAFRA) about my story and this is what she said:

In Saint Lucia sexual harassment is a criminal offence. It is also recognized as unlawful discrimination. The laws governing sexual harassment are the Criminal Code and the Equality of Opportunity and Treatment in Employment and Occupation Act .

Protection under the Criminal Code Chap 3:01
 Sexual harassment is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of imprisonment for one year. The relevant section in the Criminal Code applies to employers, supervisors and prospective employers.

Protection for employees
It is a criminal offence for an employer or supervisor to make it reasonably appear to a person that that person’s prospects or working conditions depends on the person’s acceptance or tolerance of sexual advances or persistent sexual suggestions from the employer or supervisor. The employer or supervisor (as the case may be) would have committed sexual harassment and may be imprisoned for one year.

Protection for job seekers/ prospective employees
It is also a criminal offence for a prospective employer to make it appear to a job seeker or a prospective employee that the offer of employment or the terms of the employment depends on the person accepting or tolerating sexual advances or persistent sexual suggestions from him. The prospective employer would have committed sexual harassment and may be imprisoned for one year.

Protection under the Equality of Opportunity and Treatment in Employment and Occupation Act 2000
The penalty for sexual harassment under the Equality of Opportunity and Treatment in Employment and Occupation Act is a fine of $5,000.00.

Remedies available to a victim of sexual harassment
A victim of sexual harassment can receive damages for losses suffered as a result of the sexual harassment. The court may even order that the employer or relevant person make amends by employing, re-employing or re-instating the person who was sexually harassed (as the case may be).
Of course sexual harassment is not only limited to women. Both men and women can be subjected to this same treatment and my focus here today in no way minimizes the seriousness of any kind of sexual harassment endured by men.

Victims can also call the CAFRA office for further guidance and support (758) 453-1608.
Of course the police can always be called in an emergency.

According to calypsonian Singing Sandra in her song 'Die With My Dignity' (1987)

"It have a lot of women just like me
Who might not be so well off financially
You need a job and you really need it bad
Ah man decide to help you must be glad
But if you value yourself as a woman you will be demanding respect from the vagabond
Stand up to them and let them know the truth
Is work you want you ain't no blinking prostitute...."

Is Jan Dupal a sorceress?

Originally posted: July 31, 2013 at 10:09am

 In 1975 my family moved from the mountain that is Pavee Road to Mongiraud, Gros Islet. At that time moving to that area was akin to moving to the Australian outback or the Amazon. Bus service was practically a daytime event , and if you were unfortunate enough to be stuck in town (Castries) after 7 pm, you were on your own. Leaving the city after 7 pm required you to head over to the corner of Jeremie and Peynier streets next to the cabaret to 'hike' a ride up north. To those who don't recall the cabaret I speak about was located where the current craft market resides. The Rodney Bay/Reduit/Bonne Terre, uh-feh the Gros Islet area was a wilderness at best. Bonne Terre was sparsely populated with only a few houses hidden from sight in the kuhpesh. From Volney's Gas Station to the Gros Islet gap all that met the eye was flatland and cows. That's right, bef tout patous. There were the two 'A' frame houses opposite the Bonne Terre gap and the three demo Canadian houses, on the left, just before the Rodney Gap to Baywalk Mall. It was a time when there was no 'Gros Islet Friday Night' (for real!). Living any further into Beausejour than the Blue Lagoon Guest House was considered an act of madness as that area was a mosquito infested swampland. You could not pay people to move in there. Now it's some of the most sought after real estate in St. Lucia. With all of its remote charm Gros Islet was considered by many to be a haven for the black arts. That's right people, Gros Islet was overrun by majie nweh, jean gazhet, la diabless, and obeah. Monchy particularly was black magic central. You dare not be walking on any road in that vicinity late at night and not be smoking a cigarette. And don't forget to wear your shirt inside out (wrong side). Coffins blocking the paths of unfortunate late night travelers was a common story. And boloms! Haaaaaaaaa boy! You better be wearing your underwear inside out too.

Anyway, so much for the brief history lesson about the north.

Somewhere along the way Janice Dupal moved up north (as we say in St. Lucia). According to a conversation I had with her yesterday she intimated that it was always her dream as a girl to become involved in fashion and entertainment. You see, Janice and I go waaay back and can rap about random stuff like that. Don't ask, don't tell. Our conversation sprung up because I wanted to know how she was able to make the just concluded Miss Gros Islet Beauty Pageant such a success.

To be absolutely honest I had not been interested in attending that show. It was only because of a friend who would not have been present that I was asked to take photos so they could experience for themself the excitement of that night. Imagine I didn't even get a free ticket to work like a buick. I arrived late and missed the swimsuit segment because I had been covering another extravaganza that day; the UWP Convention in Marigot. I will forever blame them for that. Of course I had to sweeten up before I left for the show, so that took up more of the ever important swimsuit segment.. Damn!

To be quite honest (didn't want to say Frank because my name is not Frank) I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the show. Everything flowed like clockwork. Many times I asked myself whether I was truly still in St. Lucia. The performances were world class. The contestants, the organization, the everything. My gosh! How was this possible? The dresses were out of this world. The crowd was wonderful. And all that after I missed the swimsuits! Can you even imagine what my state would have been had I witnessed, first hand, with a zoom lens, the the the the....well you know, the swimsuits!

Janice attributes the success of the show to the cooperation of the contestants, the chaperones, and a strict adherence to a properly scripted performance. She is the chairperson and pageant coordinator of the Gros Islet Cultural Development Committee. She also lauds the assistance of her daughter, Consuelo Dupal, who is also the Chief Chaperone and handles the public relations.

Which now brings me to the big question, how is it that the National Carnival Queen Show has not been able to have such a success for so many years? In fact as far as most St. Lucians are concerned, from time immemorial! Maybe they should take a page or two, or three, from Janice and the folks at Gros Islet. As far as I am concerned The National Carnival Queen Show should be dropped over the Sans Souci Bridge with a brick tied around it's neck just like so many unwanted pets which met their untimely demise over the years in St Lucia. It's time to start all anew with a new pet.

After so many years of bad vibes with Queen Show are we to take Janice at her word that the success of the Gros Islet show was simply because of 'cooperation'? Mere mortals had failed so miserably through the years, are we to now believe that  things had somehow turned in the north?

It is said that those into black magic and bagaille demoo have a special look in their eyes. Next time you meet Jan Dupal look into her eyes, really deep! But make sure your underwear are on wrong side. Just in case.


Originally posted: May 19, 2013 at 12:04pm

Not in the cumulative history of modeling in St. Lucia has there ever been such drama, intrigue, mauvais langue, inflated egos, and downright bullshittery as has been witnessed surrounding the HOT COUTURE fashion/modeling aspect of St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival 2013. As I see it this sordid affair is more than just HOT COUTURE. It is more than Vincent Mc Doom or the St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB). It is more than the models or designers. It is more than Jazz. Under the microscope is how we conduct business in St. Lucia; how we treat our own people vis-a-vis how we treat foreigners, and what we accept or are forced to accept.

Sitting down here in my lopsided chair trying to decide where to begin is a task in itself. There are so many angles and perspectives it dulls the mind. So many people, so many interests, so many stories, all important in the final big picture. So rather than beginning in 2013 I will roll back the clock and kick off where I feel is a more appropriate commencement in this scheme of things. The year, 1991.

In 1991 the US indicts two Libyans in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; Warsaw Pact dissolved; Boris Yeltsin becomes first freely elected president of Russian Republic; Professor Anita Hill accuses Judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment; Soviet Union breaks up after President Gorbachev's resignation; St. Lucia has it's first ever Jazz Festival.

The St. Lucia Jazz Festival was created to boost the island's tourism industry during the time of year when hotel occupancy was at it's lowest as a result of the end of the winter season. After consultations with a foreign and local entities it was decided that a jazz festival would be an ideal marketing tool in attracting visitors to the island during this waning period. It was decided that big name international jazz artistes would be on the lineup in order to have maximum appeal. It must be noted that from the inception the St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) was primarily concerned with the filling of airline seats and hotel rooms. At time there was minimal, if any, focus on local talent or participation. The bulk of funding evidently went to foreign artistes and production.

In my opinion this concept was flawed from it's very inception. The SLTB focused on foreign tourism as the only salvation for a waning tourism sector during that time of year. However local tourism seems to have been totally ignored and continues to be neglected as a source of significant revenue during this low season. I beg to suggest that traveling from Vieux Fort to Castries for whatever reason, whether it be Jazz or shopping, or cricket at Beausejour, these individuals are indeed tourists. If we are to suggest the introduction of sports, medical, or university (medical schools) as tourism, then our own traveling to support these services should therefore be considered as local tourism. In all sincerity they do spend money on transportation, housing, tickets, meals, and entertainment, in the same manner as foreign tourists. For example, a person traveling within New York state, from Albany to New York City is considered a tourist. There is no differentiation just because they are within the same state.

Over the years there has been an almost resistant inclusion of local artistes into the jazz festival. There have been brouhahas through the years with artistes complaining and boycotting the event with claims of unfair treatment, lack of appreciation for their skills, and minimal compensation for their performances.

2013 has seen the re-branding of St. Lucia Jazz to include the arts. As part of this endeavour it was decided to incorporate a fashion and modeling aspect to the festival. The SLTB realized they did not have the expertise to produce such a show and as a result contacted Vincent Mc Doom to advise on the production of such a show. Vincent accepted their request for assistance and came on board as the Artistic Director. This was confirmed in a telephone interview on Friday with SLTB Director Louis Lewis. As part of the agreement Vincent Mc Doom's airfare, hotel accommodations, transportation, and other perks would have been paid by the SLTB. Vincent Mc Doom offered to render his services free of charge as a St. Lucian giving back to his country.
Here's the Wikipedia definition of the role and responsibilities of an artistic director.

On the announcement of Vincent Mc Doom's appointment Shamark Leon, Director of Silhouette Fashion House took to the airwaves to voice his discontentment.

Internet Movie Database for Vincent Mc Doom

On viewing this response from Shamark Leon I anticipated an immediate response or some form of action from the SLTB in order to mitigate any fallout or negative repercussions from the statements made. Lamentably there were none. This was also confirmed by the Director of the SLTB, Louis Lewis during my telephone interview on Friday. He said there were thirteen events to coordinate and as such they did not want to be distracted by these happenings. This only allowed the situation to spin further out of control. I wonder if we had another bus hijack during that time whether the SLTB's response would have been the same? Could it be that this episode only involved locals and therefore was no big deal?

Here is part of my telephone interview with Vincent Mc Doom on Thursday afternoon:

Me: How did you become involved with the HOT COUTURE aspect of St. Lucia Jazz and Arts 2013?
Vincent:  I was contacted by the SLTB to advise and coordinate the show in the capacity of artistic director.

Me: Was there a contract defining your role and responsibilities?
Vincent: No there was not. I accepted the offer and volunteered to do it for free as a way of giving something   back to St. Lucia.

Me: What really caused the problems which surfaced during the lead up to the show?
Vincent: I was disenchanted by the pittance which was offered to the models. It really upset me that these young people who we claimed to be helping were being offered such a pittance for their hard work. Imagine being offered $60-$75 to participate in a show of this magnitude. I would not have it happening under my guidance. It was exploitation in my books and I did not like it. The impression I got was as if they should feel honoured that they even got the opportunity to be a part of the show and should cherish that. Mae and I suggested that the SLTB pay the models $700 each for their participation. The SLTB said this was not in their budget and could not afford to pay that amount, and as a result we settled for each model to be paid $500.

Me: What happened with the stage?
Vincent: Well, as the artistic director it is my responsibility to oversee the whole production process. My vision of the theme and format of the presentation falls clearly within the framework of the artistic director. I was surprised and taken aback when I was presented on the day before the event with a stage that I had no input whatsoever.

Me: In light of what has happened would you be willing to return next year and participate in another production and would you be willing to work with the SLTB?
Vincent: Norbert, I am dedicated to helping models in St. Lucia. I have no problem in working with the SLTB or anyone else.

PART 2 coming below this line!

Kudos must be given to the St. Lucia Tourist Board though. Their accomplishment with Jazz in St. Lucia has been monumental in its success. Notwithstanding the myopic view with which Jazz was formulated they have worked relentlessly in sustaining it's international prominence. They have filled hotel rooms. They have provided employment in all the ancillary services during this period of otherwise low occupancy.

Here is part of my telephone interview with SLTB Director Louis Lewis on Friday morning:

Me: There has been much contention over the capacity in which Vincent Mc Doom was brought in by the SLTB to participate in HOT COUTURE. What was his official capacity?
Louis: We recognized that we did not have the expertise in the SLTB to handle the production of this show. As a result we reached out to Vincent Mc Doom in Paris and expressed our interest in having him assist. He accepted and volunteered to render his services for free. He was taken aboard as the Artistic Director. Vincent's role was to select and train the models as we wanted an entirely St Lucian cast, as well his artistic input in the production .

Me: What happened on the day before the show?
Louis: 26 hours before the show was due to open Vincent was at the Audi Showroom. He was not pleased with the runway which had been constructed by Adrian Augier. He had other ideas for what the runway should be and made requests for the change. Particularly that it be mirrored, among other changes. I informed him that at this late hour there was really not much which could have been done. There were heated words between us but that was that.

Me: Yesterday I conducted a telephone interview with Vincent Mc Doom. He said that despite all that had transpired he is still willing to work with the SLTB or anyone else next year in hosting another HOT COUTURE event. Would you be willing to work with him in the interest of St. Lucia.
Louis: Well, I can tell you that I have no problem with Vincent personally. I believe that he is sincere about his intentions to assist his country. However, that is my personal position. The decision of the SLTB is not left entirely up to me.

Me: Is there anything more you would like to say on behalf of the SLTB?
Louis: All I can tell you at this time is that a press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday, 22nd. May, 2013 at 10 AM.

So, can cooler heads prevail in the interest of our own progress and betterment? Can we put aside our overinflated egos and work together? Squabbles such as this occur all the time in the entertainment and modelling industry. St. Lucia's experience of this is minor in the big scheme of things. The question remains as to whether the persons involved are mature enough to let go of their bruised egos. The silence from the SLTB has been deafening. 

In the midst of this uproar certain individual actions have come to light. Utterances in private and among friends are just as important or consequential as those made in the public domain. Private comments are even more revealing as they expose inner feelings and attitudes which would otherwise not be exposed in public. It has been brought to my attention that a senior member of the SLTB changed their BB status message on Wednesday to the following, "I'm so over HOT COUTURE!! MOVE ON people!!!!"

Seriously!?? Am I now to assume that this person has any interest in dealing with the issues at hand pertaining to this matter? Is this individual truly concerned about the interests of ALL St. Lucians affected? Should we expect any serious consideration of the issues and complaints surrounding HOT COUTURE by this individual? If anything, this BB status suggests a dismissive tone. One of contempt and disdain. The next question to ask is whether this attitude is pervasive within the SLTB?

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, a well-known quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, and refers to the benefits of openness and transparency. Many of the personal messages and comments I have received overwhelmingly suggest that a large number of St. Lucians believe that the SLTB is an entity unto itself and does not have to answer to anyone. Many people remain silent even though they agree with the grievances expressed. There seems to be a subtle apprehension that individuals who speak out will be targeted and discriminated against. Where is this fear coming? Is this a figment of their imagination or has there been evidence of such retribution. Even in my lead up postings during this past week I have had persons who have forcefully suggested that I "drop" the story. That "this thing needs to be put to rest." I wonder how we can progress and learn from past mistakes if we avoid critically discussing issues such as this. Whether we like it or not this dirty laundry can be cleaned up.

If the U.S. can be allies with Japan after 2402 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor by these same Japanese; if Japan can turn around and also be allies with the U.S. after atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing approx. 244,000 people; if the current tourism minister Lorne Theophilus can jump ship from the UWP and become a candidate and minister in the SLP; if George Odlum could team up with John Compton on the William Peter Boulevard in what was described as an "Unholy Alliance"; if Vaughn Lewis can jump from the UWP to SLP and be received with open arms; surely Vincent Mc Doom and the SLTB can work hand in hand again in the interest of St. Lucia. Anyone suggesting otherwise is naive and and unrealistic.

Lets be clear. Vincent Mc Doom is damn good at what he does! His accomplishment speaks for itself. A poor St. Lucian boy who made his way out of St. Lucia with little fanfare. Someone who has seen exploitation in the modeling and fashion industry firsthand, Vincent's success was no mistake or stroke of luck. To achieve his level of celebrity and prominence in an industry of sharks and barracudas says much about the individual. He is not a perfect man. Neither is he the most politically correct nor diplomatic in how he presents his arguments. However we need to sometimes distance ourselves from the emotional aspects of a person's argument and focus on the content which is valid. In criticizing Vincent's complaints too many people have zeroed in on his personality rather than address the real issues at hand. There seems to be a concerted effort to completely ignore the message and shoot the messenger. Regardless of how anyone feels about the issues which Vincent Mc Doom has now brought to the fore, these same complaints have been exposed over the years by many individuals associated with Jazz and other aspects of St. Lucian life. Unfortunately none of them have had the independence and testicular fortitude to expose it without feeling intimidated or threatened.

Should we be convinced that the complaints from so many models, designers, and others are all a figment of their imaginations concocted by Vincent Mc Doom as part of some outlandish scheme to discredit the St Lucia Tourist Board? Regardless of how we may feel about Vincent we cannot be misled into believing that this is simply an over reaction on his part by dubbing him a drama queen. This is an overly simplistic explaining away of a situation which requires serious consideration and evaluation.

May the good Lord bless our island
Guard her sons from woe and harm!
May our people live united,
Strong in soul and strong in arm!
Justice, Truth and Charity,
Our ideal forever be!

St. Lucia nice, more than twice!©

Peace and Love


Originally posted: August 11, 2013 at 12:20pm

I love rainy days, and yesterday was a devilishly rainy day. During the early hours of the morning many cœur faible (weak heart) St. Lucians were rudely awakened from their sleep by peals of thunder, while the lightning had others crying for their mommy; Lucians are such cowards. The city of Castries looked like a dump and a sewer as it usually does after any moderate rainfall; garbage was everywhere! Plastic bottles, chicken bones, dead rats, discarded jelly coconuts, plastic bottles, plastic bottles.....oh, did I forget to mention plastic bottles? Jeremie Street looked like the river Ganges with all it's filth. That monstrosity in the Gardens designed to avert flooding in the city was useless once again. At one point I saw what looked like an old Sebago shoe with a rat inside, steering, as it floated by. I could swear that rat looked me in the eye and shouted, "Land Ho!"

 Many fans who had already purchased tickets for the sold out cricket match between the St. Lucia Zouks and the Jamaica Tallawahs were praying to the high heavens for a reprieve, "Oh God please make the rain stop so I won't lose my EC$25." Blasted hypocrites, you still haven't said those twelve Hail Mary's since the last time you  went to confession. Anyway! What is a St. Lucia Zouk? Somehow someone failed to inform me of this new exotic creature which has suddenly sprung upon the St. Lucia landscape. Could it have been a concoction of the great pharmacists Kassav? After all, they were the ones who said 'Zouk la c'est sel medikaman nous ni.' Is this 'zouk' thing, this creature, this whatever-it-is, dangerous? Is it an endangered species? Sighhhh. I digress.

After all the drama of obtaining a rare-as-gold ticket from a friend of a friend I made my way to the Beausejour Cricket Grounds. Cars were all over the place. Did I just go through the time tunnel and end up at a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx? Last minute stragglers were loafting (I know there's no such word) outside the main entrance trying to sneak their way inside or find someone who had a ticket to sell. I entered belle breeze. I had my ticket and nothing was stopping me. Belelesh! Now to find a seat in the stands. To hell with it, even though my ticket was for Laborie Stands I was heading to the Canaries Stands. After all, Canaries is the village of my ancestors, and damnit, I was going to be seen in the shabeen stands! Represent Nobbie, represent!

You must be wondering what the hell is Nobbie going on about today, aren't you? Well wait no more.

2013 saw Ricky-T win both the Groovy and Power Soca titles for St. Lucia Carnival. Hell, the man even won Road March as well. Quite a feat by any standard. But by golly, our artistes always seem to fall short just when you expect them to bring it over the top. Last night was no exception. I keep wondering when the music industry in St. Lucia will take things to the next level as far as image of artistes is concerned. After the dismal losses and final loss last night by the endangered Zouks, in true Lucian style there had to be an after-party. Damnit, St. Lucia lost but to hell with anyone who even thought that they would be denied a last lap jump up. To hell if Carnival had already closed it's doors until next year.

Running through the lineup of performers I expected that Ricky-T would perform. In anticipation I asked a friend, more than once, whether he was slated. I mean how could it even be possible that the vanquished were allowed to grace the stage at such an international event without the presence of the grand master himself, Ricky-T, with his now famous Sebago shoes ready to give soulye'. The temperature at Beausejour was a balmy 79 degrees with no rain from the heavens. It was a beautiful night. Sir Lancelot had just performed. The crowd was waiting. The MC was hinting about Sebago shoes. The crowd took the bait and were in a drunken, carnival-revived, frenzy. The MC, a guy who sounded like he ate too many hot potatoes as a child walked to the stairs near the back of the stage, and handed the mic to someone out of view. I was holding my breath like a star struck groupie. Damnit, the grand master was about to appear! From his performance and presentation a few weeks earlier I expected to be blown away. Rickt-T...Ricky-T....Ricky-T....I love you! Well not quite! That was the girl next to me. The crowd was heaving; guys smoking marijuana without a care in the world assaulted my nasal passages; little boys walking around with their mouths screwed up trying to look bad pushed through the crowd; little girls who should be in the company of their parents were running wild. One zegeleg girl was seated on the shoulders of a male friend getting a meg girl's view of the stage. The crowd was ready in orgasmic anticipation. Then Ricky-T came up the stairs and presented himself on stage.

 I was aghast. Could it be that I was under the influence of those marijuana fumes I had just recently inhaled? I know I had a malt, but it could not have been that. What was causing that for me uh? Was Ricky-T in a friggin bubble jacket? Wasn't I in St. Lucia after departing from the grand old US a few weeks earlier? I mean even if he had been in Brooklyn last night, by some strange time shifting process, he would not be wearing a bubble jacket. What the hell are you doing Ricky-T? I wanted to be dazzled. Some nice trendy suit; a sequined pants; some kinda dazzling outfit by a St. Lucian designer like J'aeylu; something to rival your appearance and performance for Carnival just a few weeks earlier. Instead you appear with a kiss-me-ass bubble jacket! In St. Lucia? Booooo!! Were you feeling cold my boy?

Stop pandering to the lowest common denominator. Step your game up man and get into the business of real entertainment. And get some props. You have admirers, groupies, followers. Get some Sebagos and toss them into the crowd after you autograph them. It won't matter if they were made out of cardboard. Glamourize your act and wow your fans. Get a Twitter account, get on Facebook, take it to the next level for Christ's sake. This malheureuse (malaway) mentality has got to go. Why do you think Machel Montana is so big now? He's not only targeting the crowd in Tunapuna or Laventille. Machel is now jamming clubs in Asia, Europe, and around the world. For too long we have been lax in our approach to entertainment and forgotten that it's a money making endeavour. At an event with reporters from all over the world, TV cameras galore, celebrities and other big name entertainers (incognito, and cognito), you failed to be anything other than another on-the-block sensation. You failed to step up your game last night. You should have rocked Beausejour like you were putting a baby to sleep.

Instead you looked like any other little bum or gangster wannabe. You had no wow factor last night.

Wake up out of your daze Ricky-T.


Originally posted: August 18, 2013 at 12:24pm

Flight date August 17, 2013
FL 350 (35,000 feet)
Speed: 550 mph
Time: 4:15 PM

United Airlines flight 1463 had barreled down the runway after a hell on earth experience prior to departure. Everything had been in chaos at Hewanorra airport. As the pilot pushed the throttles full forward the engines responded quickly and I sunk into my seat due to thrust induced by Jet A1 fuel. St. Lucia quickly disappeared into the distance as we hurtled towards the heavens. Seated in 25A I had a window view of the terminal rushing by the left of the aircraft. Still on the ground were American Airlines, US Airways, Delta, JetBlue, and over on the extreme end of the parking apron was the Taiwanese president’s Boeing 747 with a great big flower on its tail. President Ma certainly caused a stir during his visit (but on to that another time).

The pouch in the seat in front of me has the usual assortment of in-flight reading material: Boeing B737-800/900 safety booklet, the United Airlines Hemisphere magazine headlining ‘Three Perfect Days –Alaska.' The picture which graced the cover must have been taken from a helicopter, and was that of a snow covered landscape with running elk. Don’t they call them caribou up Canada?  The United Sky Mall shopping magazine was also in the mix. Thanks, but no thanks, I’ll get my deals from eBay or Amazon.

It is at times like this, on the return flight, when one is usually inundated with thoughts of a vacation just concluded. I was no exception. At 35,000 feet with nothing else to do the previous five weeks flashed through my mind like a fast forwarding VHS tape gone wild. Visions of being a passenger on the inaugural United flight to St. Lucia; the Monday and Tuesday carnival jump up through the streets of Castries and all those pictures I took; meeting so many friends once again; La Rose; an SJC graduating class 25th anniversary reunion; Miss Gros Islet; my underwater mission as Agent 009 Nobbie Bond; and mangoes. All those damn blasted mangoes. I mean seriously!

Mangoes were a part of every day. I picked them early each day from the trees which spotted the landscape where I stayed. Pon, Graham, Tin Kwem…..ahhhhhhhhhhh.  These mangoes kept me sane, I believe. I was spared the affliction which is commonly known as VAT-induced-vap. It is a condition which afflicts many St. Lucians who become more and more enraged as they pay VAT on items they purchase throughout the day. Usually by 4 pm they’re ready to eat you (an expression used by St. Lucians to mean that a person has become wild enough to eat you in a rage). I was at least spared contracting that affliction as any glass of juice did not give the feeling of swallowing VAT at every gulp. This year’s harvest was bountiful, sweet, and VAT free.  I continue to be amazed at how many foreign fruit drinks are on our supermarket shelves.

Notwithstanding all these memorable recollections on my more than mile high flight my mind also twists around some of the unsavoury visions of my stay. The stray dogs of Vieux Fort are a sight to behold, especially near the roundabout /bus stand area (at times it seemed like dogs outnumbered people). The jumbies/crackheads of Castries who come out at night, enmasse, like so many ghouls in ‘Living Dead’ or ‘Night of the Undead’ movies. Have you ever ventured out after dark, and passed near Kentucky Fried Chicken adjacent to  the Cathedral on Micoud Street? One’s first instinct is to run for the hills as the jumbies approach you, on exit, like a scene from Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video. Pavee’ and The Morne are conveniently close. The garbage of Castries is a disgrace. Not that garbage is anything other than that anyway.

A trip to the Castries Market area after dark is a sight to behold. Having been named one of the most intriguing outdoor markets of the world the filth and refuse discarded in plain view with wild abandon is nothing short of colossal. And the skeletons of Castries! By night the city becomes a veritable bone yard; a cemetery. Strewn across the streets of the city are the carcasses of makeshift constructions used during the day for sidewalk vending. They follow no rhyme or reason in their construction.Mismatched pieces of wood, pieces of tarpaulin, galvanize, plastic, wrought iron, all put together by some sidewalk engineer with rope, nails, welding, or gravity. These monstrosities occupy at least fifty percent of the sidewalk space forcing pedestrians to walk in the street; a dangerous undertaking. Anytime after lunch will catch many of the mostly women vendors who occupy these out of code traps fast asleep; and you thought siestas were only a thing of Spain. With mouths involuntarily hanging open, heads lolling to a side, and bavay dripping out the corner of their mouths (sometimes creating a very wet spot on their blouse), many of these vendors are caught in full public view.And just as they suddenly arrived in the mornings, they are gone by night. It’s like one minute they are there, and the next they’ve vanished leaving behind the carcasses of their edifices to stand hopelessly waiting for another day when their nakedness will be covered once again.

What’s this? A little turbulence, a wide graceful climbing turn, and a bathroom break. Looking back to the rear of the cabin I see a line for the bathroom, and my two elderly visitor seat mates are asleep.They have me boxed in. Damnit! Don’t think about it Nobbie you really don’t have to pee; mind over matter. Well in this case it turned out to be too much matter. To hell with it I’m waking them up.

Eventually I made it past my slumbering friends and on my return had a conversation with Bob who was now awake. We spoke about politics, Mexicans, trade, the US auto industry, and crooked politicians. Bob lives in New Jersey and was  returning home after a wonderful trip to St. Lucia. He says Bermuda will be his next vacation spot next year. Ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle Bob? At least Bob helped pass the remaining forty five minutes of flight time.

As we began our descent into New York airspace I captured some sunset shots. The landing was a bit hard, but we made it. And so, one chapter ends and another begins in the life of Secret Agent 009 Nobbie Bond.