Back in Georgia, we’d be labeled as racist for referring to a black man as a boy. Blackboy wants to be called by that name. He’s proud of it and throws us a big gap-toothed smile, revealing that his front teeth are missing.
He’s dropped by Happy Times to invite us over to his restaurant at Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau. We look over to the southeast corner of the anchorage and, sure enough, there’s a building with red, yellow and green fencing that looks like a classic beach bar. Blackboy promises great drinks at happy hour from 6 to 7 p.m. and our choice of fried snapper or chicken.
When we arrive, Blackboy wants to know where Belle is. She’d given him a lick or two (or four) when he stopped by, and he expected us to bring her along, too. He gives us a big welcome and his buddies all nod their head in greeting. A fellow lying down in a hammock gives us a wave, and a woman solemnly eating a bowl of soup smiles briefly. She’s Debbie. We learn later that she makes great fried plantains.
Soon enough the TV shrine is turned on and all eyes and ears are tuned in to a Bob Marley special that aired when Pat Benatar and Queen Latifah weighed about 225 pounds each. One fellow whose left eye is closed to a blue slit bounces around on the sand floor and exclaims that Marley is the best singer around.
Blackboy hustles over with a strong rum and Coke for me and a Hairoun for Mike. Soon a strangely familiar scent wafts through the air, and I warn Mikayla not to inhale.
A couple walks in and Mike invites them to join us. It’s Bozena and Slawek of the catamaran Domek. They not only braved the Atlantic while crossing from Germany to the Bahamas, they also braved the cultural barriers. Their native tongue is Polish. They speak Spanish and a little English. Between Mike’s high school Spanish and my hand gestures, we strike up a conversation and a new friendship.
Within an hour, the restaurant is hopping. Blackboy did a great job of meeting and greeting every new boat that arrived in the anchorage. Every picnic table is full, the drinks are flowing, the dj is playing a good mix of songs, and one of Blackboy’s buddies grabs a woman now and then, me included, for a quick turn on the dance floor.
The food takes a long time to arrive. Slawek is about to eat his plate. Silently, Debbie’s assistant sets down a plate of cabbage salad and another of fried plantains before us and we dive in. Debbie arrives soon with a plate of whole grilled red snapper, garlicky twice-baked potatoes and rice.
Dinner is gone within 15 minutes or so. The snapper is cooked perfectly. It’s bony but very tasty. We make quick history of the plantains and salad.
We invite Bozena and Slawek back to HT for a nightcap, and everyone in the restaurant wishes us a good night. In this small anchorage, everybody knows your boat.