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“The person you called is not available!”  How annoying.  Try again.

“You have reached the mailbox of…”  Oh, shut up!

It was the long Carnival weekend in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  The safest refuge from noise and the constant interruptions from callers, who perhaps believe that holidays are theirs alone, was to load up the tent, provisions and fishing gear and flee to an uninhabited island, where the birds, turtles and wild animals quickly spread the news of their newly arrived visitors. Four crazy fishing enthusiasts, later joined by a couple more seasoned ones, settled into their primitive escapade from civilization.  It wasn’t the total digital detox experience since it was necessary for them to have at least two cell phones for safety’s sake and to ease the minds of those of us left behind at home.  But of how much use was a phone that would not transmit or receive unless they went to the very top of the hill where just a slight turn to the left or right could cause the call to be dropped, and text messages remained undelivered?

By the evening of the second day the men did manage to receive notification of the impending Tropical Storm Chantal, so my hopes of having corned fish to last the balance of the year were condensed to the reality of a Greaves-sized plastic bag of a still-soggy, salted dolphin and some smaller bottom species.

Arriving back in the bay, the boat was quickly unpacked and hauled on to higher ground with the help of nearby fishermen.  Up the hill we trudged with the load in wet shoes that made it more challenging than the initial descent.  I had a good laugh at little Antoine who came to help and was given the task of carrying a rolled up sponge pillow.  He exclaimed, “Phew! That is load!” and you would have believed he was carrying the world on his shoulder.

There wasn’t sufficient sunshine for drying the fish as the day rolled on, while the next day was even less encouraging. It rained.  We stuck the partially dried fish into the freezer and it looked like we would have to use it like the Alaska Salted Pollock you normally find in the cooler at Greaves Supermarket in Kingstown.

We shuttered only two windows, just in case.  Chantal went looking for trouble elsewhere.  It was a relief.  With the sun back in all its glory, my husband had the bright idea of drying the fish in the Sun Oven.  I protested a bit, because every cornfish connoisseur knows that all-too-familiar smell.  I did not relish the thought of every subsequent dish embracing the leftover scent.  He insisted.  So side by side they sat.  Two Global Sun Ovens with wings outstretched, inanimately mirroring the passionate heat of a chef for his ingredients; inside, moisture escaping like a hot breath from a mouth in need of freshening.

The sun-dried fish experiment was successful.  It took a storm to introduce us to one more thing that can be done with this wonderful invention.  And here, ladies and gentlemen, I leave you today with a photograph or two of salted fish dried in the Global Sun Oven.

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