Friday night. If we were back in Wisconsin, Sarah and I would likely be out with friends having a traditional Wisconsin fish fry and a Brandy Old Fashioned. But we’re in Dominica, so instead we spent last night drinking Bush Rum and playing Dominos at Toto’s Rum Shop.
Toto’s–The Reason I Slept in Today
Every Dominican village comes alive Friday night, with folks walking the streets, cooking fish and chicken at roadside stands, smoking/drinking, and generally having a great time. Sarah, Jimmy and I walked down from our house into Calibishie last night to join in the fun. We ate at a stand (Ms. Linda’s) and then wandered into Toto’s Bar. I’m glad we stopped.
The local Rum Shop is sort of an institution here. Part bar/part market, the rum shop is where the locals hang out, have a drink and maybe join a game of dominos. And one of the coolest things about the Rum Shop is that each one makes its own brand of rum which is infused with all kinds of things such as bay leaves, cinnamon, ginger, and even the bark of the Bois bande tree which is alleged to be a natural viagra.
I avoided the bois bande variety last night, and instead tried Toto’s most popular bush rum flavor. I know it had cinnamon and bay leaves in it, but I’m a little hazy on the rest of the ingredients. It had a nice kick, sort of like a Caribbean Manhattan.
Locals we are not, but everyone at Toto’s welcomed us and made us feel at home. The Dominican people are so friendly, and most people seem genuinely happy to see tourists join in. Before long, Sarah and Jimmy were invited to the table for a Domino lesson from George, one of the local farmers here and a genuinely nice man. George took it easy on them, but Sarah was able to win a game or two.
Jimmy didn’t fare as well, even with advice from this nice man in the window
After Toto’s, we stopped on our way home at a local bar up the hill called The Hot Spot where a younger crowd hangs out. After another bush rum variety, we had a great conversation with the bar owner Primus, his girlfriend Kelani (not sure on the spelling) and their young son and daughter*. Their house is attached to the bar and the place is certainly a family affair. Even Grandma lives there and helps out in the bar. Unfortunately, Jimmy may be scarred for life after he went into the house to play some video games with Primus’s son and stumbled upon Grandma taking her Friday evening bath!
Before leaving for the night, Primus asked if we could take a picture of them so that “next time you come back you can show us how much our daughter has grown.” We are already looking forward to showing him this picture on our next visit
I hope your Friday night, minus Grandma in the bathtub, was as much fun as ours.
*This little girl was a great example of how much responsibility given to Dominican kids. She is only 14 months old, but was given free reign to walk back and forth between the bar and their home, which she navigated like a much older kid. It was a really interesting contrast to our helicopter parental practices in the U.S.