Missions Trips Chapter 22: Final Touches and Eddoes

To read this story from the beginning, click here.

Monday, Day 10

Today was to be our final work day, and indeed, the work was wrapping up. By now, all that remained to be done was grouting and sealing. Pat mixed the grout, and together he and I filled in the gaps between the tiles, starting in the shower, so that hopefully we would not have to take another sponge bath.

The shower, finished and ready for use

We had to use fans for circulation because there was very little breeze today, but this caused a problem, as it dried the grout too quickly. Pat continuously had to add a little more water and remix the grout. I grouted the shower, then immediately began the task of cleaning off the excess. It was fairly easy at first, but it dried faster than I cleaned, so it grew increasingly difficult to clean up.

Meanwhile, Pat grouted the floors in the other two newly tiled areas. He missed some spots, including the entire step into the shower. When I went behind him for a second rinse, I was disheartened to find the unfinished work, but we were both growing weary in well doing and running out of time. Kawal had plans to take us shopping, and later we were expected at his nephew’s house for dinner.

Several lizards and geckos took it upon themselves to oversee the work.

We cleaned up with another sponge bath and sink-shampoo, then went to a mall in the city of Chaguanas. Like the other day, our first stop was the food court for lunch. This time Pat and I did not bother trying to eat American, but settled on barbeque instead. We got our food, found a table, found three chairs, then looked around for Kawal. Where was he, but in line at Burger King! We laughed. But our barbeque was delicious, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the biggest whopper in town.

Chaguanas is the second largest city in Trinidad, but this mall is much smaller than the Trincity Mall, and the gift shop did not have a wide selection of souvenir-type items. We did, however, find a few things of interest.

We could see that Kawal was tired, so we left the mall and headed for his nephew’s house in another part of Chaguanas. I had requested eddoes (a kind of potato), since Kawal has talked about them so much over the years, so Kawal had asked his nephew’s wife to cook “a poor-people meal” for us. When we pulled up to the house, I was struck by its beauty and said to Kawal, “This is a mighty rich house for poor-people food.” I soon found that it was no less beautiful on the inside. Kawal told them what I had said, and they laughed, then told me that it took many years to make the house look the way it does today.

The food we ate that day may have been nicknamed “poor-people food,” but there certainly was no scarcity of it. There were eddoes cooked two different ways (seasoned and fried, and creamed), two different types of roti (bread), lentils, dried and seasoned mango (a garnish), and fresh avocado. There was no meat because poor people rarely can afford to eat meat. There also was no silverware, as they sop up their food with the roti. But I think that’s a Trini thing, not necessarily a poor Trini thing.

After dinner, she spoiled us with still more treats. We were both satisfied, but we graciously accepted. First there was a warmed slice of pound cake with a generous scoop of scrumptious vanilla ice cream. Then came a bowl with a sampling of Indian sweets. When our bowl was empty, she refilled it with dry roasted chick peas—not the spicy kind. (They told us a story of a friend of ours named Kenny, who has come to the island on several occasions. One time he bought a bunch of the dry roasted chick peas to take back to his coworkers at the shipyard, but he didn’t notice that they were spicy hot—until he ate some. Poor Kenny thought he was going to die.) And the grand finale was a piece of coconut fudge and a pouch of salted cashews for each of us. As those were sealed, I tucked them in my camera bag to save them for later, because by then we could not have eaten another bite if we tried.

She also offered to get us more Indian sweets if we would stop back by tomorrow. Kawal promised to return, and it was settled.

Addendum

I looked up eddoes on the Internet and learned that they are actually quite nutritious. In that respect, they are more akin to the sweet potato than to the white potato. They are a good source of fiber, healthy carbs, Vitamin E, copper, and potassium. They have a nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to desserts. They provide numerous health benefits, from better digestion to greater energy. Eddoe (or eddo) flour is used in infant formula and in baby food. It can help lower cholesterol levels and slow the absorption of glucose, thus reducing insulin requirements and the likelihood of colorectal cancer. They are no longer considered “poor-people food,” but even when they were, that wasn’t a bad thing because they were so good to the body.

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