What are you getting up to this Monday morning?

Myself? I’m most probably going to drift out of a blissful slumber, the echoes of dreamland still floating round my head, wander up to start the fresh local coffee brewing and then head to the office… well one of my offices. This one just happens to be under a rancho, quite literally a step away from the beach, and take a quick glance as to what Huey has delivered us overnight. Is there the promise of tubes and scatooshes in the pre-dawn haze? Or is a headstand session on the cards? Maybe just some crunching, low tide, body-surf action… hmmm!

I’ll then head back to the guest kitchen and prepare a fruit platter of exotic fruits. Well I’ll call them that simply ‘cos that’s what I’d have called them as a kid growing up, but these ‘exotic’ fruits haven’t had to travel too far at all! Sandia, piña, melón y papaya arranged attractively on the platter, with a side bowl of bananos, mandarinas y mangos. Muy sabroso! Next to them, a la mesa, I’ll place my homemade mantequilla de mani, locally sourced miel and my fresh baked pan. Then (and throughout the day) on the breakfast bar I’ll check that the homemade granola jar is topped up, as well as the cornflakes.

Then it’s time to slap some suncream on me bonce, grab my board and head out for a quick sesh! The sun is just beginning to thread its first few rays out into the sky. Throwing out glorious colours across the open canvas above before we even get a glimpse of her. A view that definitely doesn’t get worse by the time I’ve paddled out and shoot a glance back to the beach. And most likely, I’ll not be there alone. A morning sesh on our own, practically private beach with friends is on, dale pues!

Just a short session this morning and then it’s time to actually work. Geez! And yeah, like my job, my boss sucks too! He’s this miserable, un-smiley Bajan dude, that’s just no fun to be around 😉 Actually he’s probably just hollered me into my last wave as I head in! A change of boardies and a quick last check and everything’s ready for el Capitan’s arrival. We load up his truck with the coolers and empties and then head into town. ‘A León, a León, a León!’

First stop? El Mercado. A bustling hive of activity even in the early hours of the day, as the town is collectively opening their eyes. Located next to the biggest Cathedral in Central America. I bid el Capitan adios as he heads off to the liquor store, then enter into the Market proper to catch up with Don Wesli y su mama, Doña Pancha.

Walking into the entrance, squeezing past the ladies trimming down their cocos. Passing through the lanes, alive with colour and pleasing smells. Music playing, people chatting, the shrill scream of the ladies offering their freshly made, tasty treats, “QueSEEEEEEllos, queSEEEEEEllos”. The Nica version of the East End London Markets, “2 fer a pahnd, 2 fer a pahnd, I gots me sahm quali’y produce fer youse here my luvlies”!!! I arrive at my destination.

Smiles and fist pumps are exchanged, as well as my repeatedly denied efforts to get la Doña to dance with me, for but the briefest of moments. One of the few ladies here that doesn’t like to boogie, though she is mebbe just past the brightest side of 21 so fair play! Ever the British gent, I’m happy content myself with a cheeky kiss of her hand and little cuddle. This bi-weekly ritual still doesn’t seem to be any less amusing for any of those involved, or the somewhat bemused, surrounding onlookers, no matter how much time passes!

Then it’s down to business. After all, I’m a serious guy! “Anything new come into season? What’s the price of these this week? “What! You know I’ve 17 young kids to feed!!! Your cousin just turned up with a fresh batch of honey? Sweet!” I leave these guys with my grocery list and head off to the supermarket…

Yes, another of my bi-weekly haunts that I’m not the keenest on using. Mr WalMart stretches his greedy claws this far down too. However, there are a few things that I can’t obtain at the market (chips, cookies, yogurts, ice cream etc), as well as fresh meat that I can trust to serve up at my table. So I concede to it’s minimal use.

The main reason why? I definitely believe in creating meals sourced from local, seasonal produce. And in that sense I am blessed! The volcanic soils that make up the countryside around León are almost alive, brimming with nutrients. Especially during the rainy season, with the combo of both sun, AND rain? Almost every day!?!

This makes for some happy farmers. Of course, that is until the earth rumbles and belches out it’s fuming anger from said volcanoes. Forcing everyone to flee it’s wake and come back when all is calm to pick up the pieces. A dance that is not going to stop anytime soon… sombreros raised to those brave souls!

For those able to fully take advantage of it, this country has an abundance of produce. Even the poorest guys can walk down the streets during rainy season and fill their boots with the tastiest mangoes you can imagine, which are so plentiful they litter the streets! Avocados? The tastiest, biggest ones you’ll come across for way less than a dollar at times! Nice! You can also buy these from Mr WalMart here, but for whatever strange reason, known only to wholesalers of epic proportions, they come from Mexico, are rock hard and taste like shhhhh, huh-hmm. I’ll take those from Don Wesli please!

This is a concept that works almost everywhere! Well at least til you start hitting the tundra I guess, though I’ve never been so I couldn’t telll ya! I come from the UK and believe or not there are farmers there too.

Strawberries? I’ve not had finer tasting fresas anywhere. There is even a farm a few miles from me ol’ dears house where you can go pick your own! (Oh what happy, berry-stained mouth days I remember as a kid… and the last time I was back!) Yes you can get them year round from Mr Tesco, Mr WalMarts British cousin, but out of season they cost 4 times as much and taste like shhhh, huh-hmm. Sorry, summat stuck in my virtual throat. Hhhhhmmmm, that’s better! Blackberrys? No, no not that device buzzing in yer troosers, but the delicious berries that grow alongside raspberries like weeds in Mum’s back garden! Hell’s yeah!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve just met up with el Capitan and we have only to fill up with petrol, exchange the empty water bottles for fresh ones and head back home, a la playa!

Man, I hate Mondays 😉


Written by Our Chef, Steve (Stiggs) Ross, England


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