Fish, fish, glorious fish! Today we were going to learn about the fish we have been eating at Springfield Estates and Cabrits. We left Springfield around 8:30 to go to the capital, Roseau. We were dropped off by the fish market and we thought it was going to be a busy morning. There were only two women standing inside the market…not so busy after all. Before we entered the market, Scott talked to us about questions we should ask the ladies (what kind of fish do you sell, how much do you sell them for etc.). The first lady we talked to was named Alix Peter. She just started her business of selling fish in the market a couple years ago. Alix talked about the yellow fish tuna (it was 84 pounds) she just bought that was caught by a 15 year old boy. It was caught by a line and hook about 45 miles away from land. The fishermen’s boats are wooden and are about 28 to 35 feet long. They fish from 3 a.m. to 1-2 p.m. and on a good day they will stay out till 6-7 p.m. She also told us that it takes a whole day to sell an 80 pound fish. At the dock she bought the yellow fish tuna for 6 EC per pound and she said she was going to sell it for 9 EC per pound in the market. Alix usually works from 7 to 3 p.m. and then she goes to the dock to purchase fish. She also sells swordfish, tuna, dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) and marlin. Currently, it is the offseason and the market is slow due to rough seas in the Atlantic.
The second lady we talked to was named Nadia (she has been in business for awhile and has developed several relationships with the fishermen). Nadia sells snapper, grouper, dolphin fish, parrot fish, lobster, marlin, and “salmon” (rainbow runner). She was cleaning a male dolphin fish (we could tell since it had a block head); this is one of the most sustainable fishes in the market. Fish are sold to restaurants, cruise ships, and local people. Depending on the season, she sells her fish from 10 to 12 EC per pound. Nadia also brought out a chunk of a blue marlin…it was huge (it was only a juvenile)! Blue marlins can weigh up to 800 pounds and she was explaining how fishermen have to tie it to the side of the boat since it weighs so much. Scott pointed out the brown fat near the spine, eyes, and brain to keep the fish warm.
Nadia and Alix allowed us to go in the back where only employees were allowed. We met Hilchia Johnson who talked about the company (New Town Fisheries). It started in the 1970’s as a privately owned company. They have two ice machines and two freezers which allows them to purchase more fish and keep them fresh. Before they purchase the fish, they check the texture and the temperature of the fish to make sure the fishes are fresh. In their cooperation they have a cleaning and fillet station. They are currently selling multiple species of fish (marlin, tuna, dolphin fish, and swordfish), lobster, octopus, squid, and conk. Additionally, they sell fish for tanks. Hilchia also mentioned that they receive aid and training from the Japanese so they are qualified to sell to other countries.
The vegetable market was our group’s next stop. We bought soursop, avocado (they call them pears), sapodilla, passion fruit and pineapple. Our group then split into small teams to explore the city. I walked around with Gretchen, Leah and Adam. We first headed down to the bank to get money. On the way, Gretchen and I were stopped by two men (who were taxi drivers) to ask us if we could model for his website so they could promote tourists to come to the island. It was very flattering, but we told them we had to attend to school. By the time we arrived at the bank, Leah and Adam were ready to hit the town! We headed to a small store that took us 10 minutes to find and we found Dominica chocolate (there were many different flavors of chocolate such as dark, milk, spice, tangerine, ginger, mint and peppers). I bought the tangerine chocolate. At the register, I spoke to the lady about agriculture and tourism; she wanted to promote agriculture instead of tourism. After we bought our goodies, we headed down to the grocery store to buy lemon, lime and bitters (a fizzy soft drink that is pink). Gretchen really wanted to buy a Dominica flag; we walked over to the cruise ship venders that had Dominica flags (it was probably made by the Chinese). Gretchen and Leah then wanted to go buy spices so we headed back to the market; they bought spicy curry. We headed back at noon to Springfield Estates and hung out until 4 p.m. Gretchen, Taylor and I got dressed for the bat cave hike and we were waiting around wondering where people were until Anh came down to inform us that the hike was cancelled due to major flooding (there are three rivers that were overflowing and it would have been dangerous to cross). Around 6:30 we came down for dinner; we had avocado (the ones we bought at the market), pumpkin, fish (tuna), bread fruit and chocolate pudding that had a hint of sorrel in it (the dish had a small spice to it). After dinner, we cut open the pineapple, passion fruit (it is very sour) and sapodilla. I did not particularly enjoy the sapodilla but the avocado at dinner and the pineapple were very delicious! For the rest of the evening, I sat outside and journaled on the porch. I enjoyed watching Fred (the bat) swoop down and fly around catching bugs around me. I counted this as “seeing a bat cave”!