One thing we do on the island is entertain! With no real activities available here outside snorkeling, diving, fishing or hiking, we often turn to one another for diversion.
And boy do we entertain. For years it seemed that at a drop of the hat someone would have a get- together, albeit a group of 30-40 or small dinners with maybe 4-10 people. It was an opportunity to see folks outside of the hustle and bustle of shopping on the Cay or at a local restaurant where, at times, there would be so many people one could not get "quality" visiting in!
We celebrate birthdays, Conch Festival, Holidays, Weddings, 4th of July, house topping-out party, a "welcome back to the island party, anything that can get a group together.
April is big here for birthdays and at one time in April we had, I believe 8 birthdays to celebrate. So, we would combine them all into one Saturday and have one big party. We celebrate in homes, restaurants, on the beach and one time at a local "hall" that, unfortunately, never was used to its potential over the years.
Since I love to cook and entertain I host several get togethers during the year. We do not have the big gatherings we once had, like for instance for my husband's or my 60th birthday, nor do we have a large group over for Thanksgiving anymore. Thanksgiving and Christmas are now spent, appropriately so, at Manati (the German restaurant) because it affords more room. Everyone brings a dish of some sort and we have a wonderful time. The restaurant gets decorated by Geri, Cathy and any volunteers that are available, and the owners, Claus and Annette, provide us with tables, utensils, music and drinks.
We have had Christmas parties at other homes and with much success. So much so that we came to expect these gatherings and really missed them when the host and hostess found out they were getting to be a bit too much work. But, when they gave the party, they had a real spread. The food was always wonderful, lots of socializing and a good time was always had. Many friends came from the coast just to attend this once-a-year party.
Several years ago, I hosted a Valentines Day party at the Crazy Parrot. At that time, Claus and Annette ran the restaurant there and I coordinated efforts with them. They provided the food and drinks (at a nominal cost) and I provided the decorations and prizes either donated by local merchants or made by me. The day started out picture perfect and my husband and I went to set up the the decorations, prizes and games.
About noon the sky clouded over, the wind picked up and blew down all the decorations. By the time people started showing up, the weather had turned really cold with rain and wind and it was impossible to stand in the open area to eat or drink. Instead, we (being the hard-core, brave-at-heart people) gathered in the small kitchen and sat at improvised tables and ate and played games! We still had a wonderful time and the upside was that everyone got a prize! So a party turned disaster turned out to be fun and something all those attending will never forget.
Why, just a few days before Hurricane Mitch, we all attended a party at Half Moon Cay celebrating with music, dancing, drinks - the special drink of the day being a "Hurricane" that one generally associates with New Orleans! It was a wonderful party and it will be remembered by all because a few days later we were hit by a Category 5 Hurricane that sat over the island for 3 unprecedented days! Boy, what a party!!
So, just this last week, in honor of Valentines Day and the fact that the women usually don't get treated as royally as they might in their home countries, I had a small Valentines Day luncheon in our home with a small group of friends. It was mainly to let two new people to the island, Bonnie and Bob, meet some of the folks and acquaint themselves with them. I decided to make Cuban pressed sandwiches, a Cranberry crunch salad and black beans with Bruschetta as an appetizer. One of the women brought more bread and a lovely shrimp salad to serve. I made little baskets for the women filled with chocolates and a red candle and placed a heart on a stick wwhich was stuck through a roll of LifeSavers at each ladies plate! The weather was wonderful, the company pleasant and a good time was had by all.
So, while parties are sometimes the high point in our lives and can be few and far between, when they happen we make sure that we make the most of them. Food is always great, conversation interesting as well as informative and the camaraderie presents us with a time of sharing what we know, who we know, where we have been, why we came to be here and just good old joking thrown in!