Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chuck Almost Meets the "Pineapple Queen" of Antigua

Beautiful Clemie, the "pineapple queen" of Antigua

Chuck was in love, or so I thought.  He sat quictly in the back of the van, gazing out the window, and I thought it best to leave the kid alone.  

        Let him “moon” about Lady on his own.  

With Almond Peters at the wheel, our trusty tour guide, from Pelican Safari (www.pelicansafari.com)  we began moving in the direction of the Rainforest on Antigua.  This was one thing I wanted to see, a lush tropical forest, which has remained the most natural part of the island.  Luckily, the rainforest was not destroyed during the many years after the island was “discovered” in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and named “Antigua.”  

In 1632 a group of English colonists established the first settlement there and soon Antigua became a profitable sugar colony and Britain’s “Gateway to the Caribbean.” Eventually, however, malnutrition and and slavery destroyed the native population.  In 1807 slavery was abolished and all the slaves were emancipated in 1834.   
     Before reaching the Rainforest, we made a pitstop at Almond’s favorite fruit and vegestable stand: Clemie’s Fruits and Vegetables.  

If you are ever in Antigua, please stop by and pay Clemie a visit.

Clemie, who Almond called the “pineapple queen,” owned and operated this stand for many years.  She lived across the street and made her living selling the fruits and vegetables she grew to the motorists who passed by.  As a special treat, she cut up some fresh fruit for us--papaya and banana and pineapple and coconut, and we ate it off a plate with a toothpick.  Antiguan style!  

It was simply delicious.  

This fruit had not been refrigerated or shipped half way across the world.  It literally had been picked off a tree, walked across a street, and then cut up seconds before we popped it in our mouths.  It couldn’t have been fresher and tastier.  

Imagine us--talking to Clemie, taking in the atmosphere of the place, enjoying the fruit. 

Almond agreed to pose, holding some of Clemie's fruit, near her stand.

And that’s when disaster almost happened.

By accident, we’d left the back door of the van open, and Chuckie, who normally is a bit shy about jumping out of vans--jumped out.  He landed on the grass along the side of the road.  Now, usually, he would have been totally freaked out . . . but he began to sniff around and I guess forgot for a moment that he was in Antigua and not home in his own back yard.

        Also, I guess he was “over” Lady and his own curiosity got the best of him.

Clemie just happened to look out from her stand and she spotted him.

Clemie herself, at her stand, doing what she loves best 

“Look at that cat,” she screamed.

I heard the word cat, and knew in less than a second, it could be none other than the Chuckster himself, making an appearance.  

But should I admit that “that cat” was my cat?  

“He’s a handsome devil.”

“Probably a stray,” I said.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” she said.  “He looks too . . .”

And I waited for her to come up with the word.   Well fed?  Plump? Fat?  But, luckily, Clemie was distracted, never got a chance to finish her thought, and I hustled over to Chuck, who had been staring up at Clemie, and now--oh, so calmly--had discovered an old decaying coconut on the ground and was investigating this rock solid ball like structure.  

I hoisted the kid back into the van.  “Are you kidding me?”

Chuck let out a big yawn and nestled on the back seat, where I quickly covered him with my sweater.  I wasn’t quite sure how Almond would react to having a cat on tour with him.   He’s a super nice guy, and he admitted himself to having dogs and cats.  But some people are finicky about cats on tour.
Soon we walked over and said our goodbyes to Clemie.

“Now where did that orange and white cat--” 

       “Oh, I think he ran across the street,” I said, telling a little white lie.

And we continued our tour of Antigua.  


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