Dominica x 2
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Sat 13 Jun 2009 22:29
Return to Dominica
08:45 on the 10th of June we were ready to leave the Saintes for the eighteen miles to Portsmouth.
We were overtaken by this French Amel, Skipper did his flag thing and our first view of Dominica approaching from the north
We have seen this game played almost daily wherever we have been. The game is called Warri, we have seen mild-mannered people become tyrants - banging, clacking, arms aloft seeking divine intervention, shouting and cursing. People play on street corners, sitting outside shops, in queues, at bus stops and taxi ranks. Bear has always wanted a set and finally I got him to buy one whilst we with Jump Jet in St John's, Antigua. Too busy before to get it out and learn, we had time on our crossing to set it up and go through the instructions.
The game of Warri was brought to the West Indies by the African slaves some two hundred years ago. It is thought that the slaves of Antigua were mainly from the Gold Coast where the game is thought to have originated. Warri means "house" in many African dialects - the game is essentially a game revolving around "house". The houses are represented by hollows on the board. The counters are called Nickars (pictured by a Euro piece), made of a small hard nut of the Guillandria bush which grows in Antigua, usually near the beaches. The game is said to sharpen your wits and mathematical precision.
The game is for two people, each starting with twenty four nickars, four in each hollow. The object of the game is to capture twenty five nickars. The only to do this is to end sowing your seeds, one to a hole, in one of your opponents hollows where there are only one or two nickars - that is if your last nickar drops into an enemy hollow making the number two or three, then those nickars are "captured" and put into your storehouse.
The player who starts picks up the nickars in one of his hollows, sows them in an anti-clockwise direction, one at a time, beginning in the hollow next to where he picked up. The object is to try by judicious selection to end up in your opponents hollow where at the time there are one or two seeds, so that when the player places his seeds in these hollows, the final number is two or three.
Each player has a turn. The nickars of any unbroken sequence of twos or threes on the opponents side of the board, from where the last seed was dropped, going backwards and captured are taken up, but they must be in an unbroken line of twos or threes. If there is a hollow with more than three seeds in it, when the chain of captured seeds is broken, then the capture stops there. With it so far?
If a hollow contains more than twelve nickars, then the sowing from that hollow will be more than one complete cycle of the board. The emptied hollow is always omitted from sowing in that cycle and must remain empty for that players turn. When an opponents hollows are empty a player must, if at all possible, put nickars into them. If however, you cannot do so the game is over and all the nickars left on the board belong to the player then playing. I think we better sit with some experts in the game to get the full grasp of this.
The familiar sight of the Cabrits with a yacht below, as we neared Charlie Love, one of the boat boys came to welcome us. We were the eighth boat to be anchored in Portsmouth, being creatures of habit we were virtually where we were opposite the Purple Turtle the first time we visited, a difference not to be one of the 50 - 80 boats we were amongst before. One of the surf board boys sold us ten passion fruit and took away our rubbish for the princely sum of £2. Some yachties moan about the boat boys, yes, if you arrive exhausted and just want a little shut-eye, the tapping on the hull "fruit skipper", "Indian River trip, mon" can be wearing, but they can become friends, a welcome source of local information and generally 'know a man who can' when you need anything fixed.
Well now, the computers were playing up when they were being charged with the inverter on. Mine would ping off even though there was enough juice for another half an hour AND told me I had Trojans. All very worrying. So eventually to keep me quiet Bear got the office door off and minced his way into the tight cupboard that houses said inverter. He fiddled with a few buttons and withdrew. His particulars looked in a very compromising position, but clearly they were not in pain. Particulars in the more normal way I get to see them - skipper on watch standing at the pram hood. If people ask "do we miss sailing in the UK" NO. For the mere fact that we are not weighed down with three layers under oilies, boots, gloves and struggling around like some demented Michelin Man, makes all the difference. Even if it rains here when we are on watch, it is is always warm and very often makes for a nice refreshing, impromptu shower.
By the way, since the fiddling with associated risk to particulars, the computers now behave nicely.
Skipper went ashore to clear us in and out. The first night was reggae night, little sleep until two am and it was quite rolly. After the second night we motored down to Roseau and being Friday, we went for chicken with Josie. Fantastic to be enveloped in her arms like old friends, although she did point out that I had put on some "lumber", must do something about that. We had a wonderful supper, enjoyed seeing folks from before, bought a rabbit for stew and off we went through the evening market before going back to the girl.
As we wandered back we realised what wonderful people we were with. Everyone saying "hello", complementing me on my dress, holding the bank door open for us as we left the ATM. A HUGE difference to the non-welcome we had had in the Saintes.
ALL IN ALL SMASHING TO BE WELCOMED BACK, BUT TIME TO HEAD SOUTH FOR PASTURES NEW.