Hibiscusade with that Goat Water?

A tryst with John Deere is what I expected when asked to cover the St. Croix 37th Agricultural and Food Fair – AGRIFEST – (or AgFest if you’re cool.) Feeling conflicted between the promise of sandy beaches with little parasols in tropical cocktails and the thought of having to find tractors sexy and inspiring, I hesitated about, oh, 10 seconds then ordered a new skimpy bikini.

A week later, I fly to the Virgin Islands, armed with hours of scientific research on agricultural implements and their attachments. John Deere and I are going to have a total love fest.

The St. Croix AgFest is a huge deal in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As soon as I land, I am whisked away to the opening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

Talking about governors, here he is: the seventh Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Governor John deJongh. A muy sympatico laid back governor if you ask me.

After a few glasses of punch, I feel ready for the big day ahead of me.

The next morning, approaching the Fair venue, I realize that studying the engagement of the locking differential through the use of split breaks in a four-wheel drive tractor may have been a tad irrelevant, if not completely nerdy. The sun is shining on columns of colorfully clad families walking cheerfully towards the Fair grounds and this is starting to feel a lot like… a party! This will be work for the camera rather than the pen, the senses rather then the brain (pretty good news considering the gray cells seem to have migrated to another country.)

Inspired by the last Top Chef season, I decide to emulate Anthony Bourdain. Whatever sounds the weirdest, that’s what I’m eating. I end up with Goat Water (a creamy stew made of goat.) In all honesty, I think the goat water is an acquired taste, and not to sound unworldly but a Hamburger from McDonald’s begins to look real good after a few bites of the goat (plus you receive a complimentary toy with your Happy Meal and you get nada with the goat.)

All the women serving food wear traditional garb. I could use a headdress such as this one. I think it would make me look much taller.

Rastafarians everywhere! Some make this adorable little heart sign when you photograph them. I can only assume this is the Rasta way of saying “peace out mon.” Perhaps I’m completely mistaken and the sign means “you look like a weird little dudette” but hopefully not.

Some Rastas look very friendly,

some very wise.

Some appear just a tad less approachable (you’ll notice no trace of little “I heart you” sign going on there, just Rasta office weaponry.)

Some non-Rastafarians look downright as if they had emerged from the Dallas hood, bling and all… You just catch yourself scrutinizing the parking lot for the pimped car on hydraulics.

No worries. We are very well protected by the island popo who incidentally has a lot of problem not cracking up while posing for the photograph.

The St. Croix agents are a force to be reckoned with. They are fierce. They look mean. Do not mess with them.

At the Agfest, you can get a temporary tattoo which is cool for a woman but not so cool for a mon, I told Matthew, another travel writer, who seemed quite tempted by the experience.

Having heard about Matthew’s longing for a girly girl tattoo, a Moko Jumbie attempts to scare the evil spirits away from him.

The whole fair grounds is strewn with booths selling clothes, jewelry, artifacts, fabrics, music, and local products from the three islands.

Fresh local organic produce. As a rule, I never eat anything green unless it’s wasabi but sampling the products of the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute, I was reminded of how fruits and vegetables are supposed to taste. Yummy for my tummy! I’d eat veggies if I lived on St. Croix. Until then, I’ll stick with sushi and Cocoa Puffs.

Music instruments and pots.

A photo booth!

At the end of the day, you could observe exhausted children sleeping in their mom’s arms… I, too, could have used a little nap by that time but then I would have missed…

Mister Suave. Perched on his bike, the dude was flirting with every women passing by. Sampling tomatoes? It’s all good but, eh, you have to keep your priorities straight, you know.

As I leave the Fair Grounds, the guy manning the entrance asks to have his portrait taken. He seems really cool. I have never ever seen such blown pupils in my life!

If you want a display of shiny modern agricultural machines, the Agricultural and Food Fair may not be for you. The AgFest is a cultural jewel and offers a perfect insight in the colorful Crucian lifestyle to tourists.

I would only perhaps recommend a Pious Nun over the goat water.

24 responses to “Hibiscusade with that Goat Water?

  1. You are easily the most talented photographer that I kinda know but not really. I hope you get paid a boatload for your talent. Great shots H! Do you have a gallery or a place where you show your pics? And can they be bought? Just curious…

  2. Those are great. Ahhh, the St. Croix memories, Moko Jumbie and all! So, did you stay at Carrington’s?

    So – how do you manage to get so many cool-faced people pose for you so willingly? That headdress woman – I’d kill to take such a photo, so I use it as a reference and go crazy with my brush (or collage papers). I’ll just go browse through my own photos…

  3. I loved the last picture the most. The guy looks so expectant, of what? I’m not sure, maybe life.

    Great to read your post.

  4. Nathalie woman!!! Oh what you’ve done to portray this wonderful place I live in.
    Your photos are personal visits with people I know and don’t know.
    I loved the two boys in the ” hood “, the mocko jumbie, and the woman in her head dress especially.
    I learned there’s a skill in making wraps and soaking them in heavy starch before ironing and that each wrap has different significance as do the individual madras plaids.

    To echo the expression of alntv above, you are the most dramatic and talented photographer who happens to possess the finest damn sense of humor and vision.

    Maybe you’ll find yourself back here again soon.

  5. You blow me away with your photos as normal! Beautiful.

    Can I ask what camera you use? And lens(es)? And what sort of post-processing do you do?

  6. Wow! Thank you so much everybody!

    Alntv, that was the best compliment I ever received from someone I kinda know but not really. I work on private commissions or for myself, and have not attempted to show or sell to the public. I am just starting out. I do not even know where I want to take it: portraiture, travel photography, photojournalism? It’s really not about money. I don’t have a marketing bone in my whole body!

    Nava, I first stayed at the Divi Carina with the press trip, then I stayed a few more days at the Carrington’s. I love these guys! To answer your question about getting people to pose for me, I think it’s because I’m a very silly petite chick. I have thrown myself at some people’s feet to beg them to let me photograph them. People say no a lot. I rarely take no for an answer (unless they are packing!)

    Warriorwitch, I think the last dude may have been trippin’. Either that or he had had serious head trauma. You don’t get that kind of blown pupils eating goat water.

    Thanks Bonnie. I want a headdress like that but not if I have to iron it. It looks like I’m going to stay small after all! I see you prefer my B&W photos. I do too. I was told that if I wanted to get into travel photography, I needed to use color a lot more. I’m trying! I think I see the possibilities better in black and white for some strange reason. I have just done a series in a poor neighborhood in Dallas, all in color and I think they turned out pretty well. I’ll try to post some this week.

    Nezza, I use a Canon 5D and an array of different lenses ranging from 24mm to 200mm, but I’m partial to fixed lenses. My camera bag always weighs a ton unless I’m photographing architecture in which case I always use my 24-105mm. I’m thinking about getting a Nikon D3 just because of the ISO possibilities.

  7. Oooooh. Goodie.

    More natcrack.

    (As in drug crack not rear end crack, silly)

    I’m not a marketer either, but I’d say this right here is your sweet spot: taking us somewhere and rarely taking no for an answer in order to tell us a story at the same time.

  8. Amazing photos 🙂

    and great narrative 🙂

    but what else would one expect from the incredibly talented nathaliewithanh 🙂

    note: Moko Jumbies!!

  9. Good Grief Nathalie, I had no idea of the depth of your talent and insight. What a wonderful wealth I’ve tapped into finding your blog.

    Your pictures tell stories. I so love that. You may venture into color, but you certainly have a great gift in black and white.

    I once had a pizza in Korea made with cheese made from goats milk; just to let you know there is something more funky than goats milk.

    Great pictures, great article, great humor – Fantastic.

  10. I can’t really add much to the above, just that I’d be careful of those tough police people if I were you. They may just confiscate your camera! Seriously, though, what beautiful images. It’s like taking a little break away… you capture the essence of the place and people in such a transporting way.

    BTW how did you and ‘John Deere’ get on? Were there any ‘dozers that took your fancy?

  11. Once again you were my spaceship transporting me from hell to a wonderland in a matter of words and images, incredible *bows*

  12. Ah Pat, “natcrack”: that’s exactly the type of expression which is going to stick with me no matter what I do! I’ll be so delighted to explain it is related to drugs rather than my butt. I’m sure my clients will appreciate the fine nuance…

    Thanks Ross! Coming from the Worldly Eminence of Wacky Wittiness, the compliment means even more!
    Note to Ross: Mo’ Moko Jumbies soon…

    Preston Surface, thank you so very much. I’m not sure of my depth really (I’m very silly) but I certainly enjoy telling a good story. I just wish I could tell about others eating the goat water.

    Mama, no dozers in sight. Cows, chickens, rabbits, a snake, and a little donkey, but no machines whatsoever. I definitely enjoy the travel photography very much – except not really the landscape photography – unless tombs are involved. When my dog dies, I’m packing and traveling again. It would be morbid to say that I can’t hardly wait (I luuuv my Virus), but you catch my drift.

    Thanks SanityFound. A spaceship. Cool. St. Croix is pretty much a wonderland… unless you have to deal with FedEx, then it becomes a nightmare. No Rastafarian works at FedEx. I suggest FedEx starts hiring the cool dudes maybe that will make a difference. You won’t get service but at least they’ll give you little heart signs.
    I wish you would post more photographs on your blog. You are very talented and I have never been to South Africa. Your shot of Loch Lomond is magnificent!

  13. Pingback: Cultural Treat in Pictures | MyMelee.com

  14. Excellent shots, as always. Your DOF is surreal at times (like pic 005). I salute your use of prime lenses and wish I could afford a few.
    Beautiful work.

  15. breathlessmini

    I love your pictures. P.S. I found you from sir penis’ page & will now visit often.

  16. Are you sure the Rasta was making a heart shape? Wouldn’t the thumbs be pointing down? Looks like something a bit more suggestive to me.

    I really liked the colour and the way you captured such a casual scene in the first shot.

    The guy with the pupils looks like he’s either just back from a visit to an ophthalmologist or he’s as high as a kite.

    As for goat, I found if you don’t cook the bejeezsus out of it and turn it into a curry, it will be inedible. I once had goat on a spit that was so tough I couldn’t chew it. It was like tyre rubber.

  17. Magnum, just get Higgins to get you some… or go for a ride in a rowboat with someone!

    Razz, the little heart? I had not quite thought about that. Mmmhm… Woohoo!
    Blown pupil mon, shrooms perhaps, LSD, or head trauma. He seemed too coherent to be tripping. I’m not making any allegations. I do not want to get sued or anything of the sort!
    I’m pretty much done with goat diet. I see that you concur. Good. We should stick to highly chewable crepes flambees.

  18. Breathlessmini, thank you so much for visiting! We share a common love for David Sedaris and the story you had mentioned is hi-la-rious! Frankly, after reading the book “The definitive guide to stuff white people like, the unique tastes of millions”, I almost dare not say I like Sedaris. He is number 25.
    Oh, and it’s not Mr. Penis anymore, but Mr. Weenie. This is a blog linked to my professional site, therefore penises do not actually exist in this realm. Come back soon!

  19. Big up Natthy wit an H. Jah really inspired you. So great. By the wuay, it’s a peace sign! Means “Selah”…Amen.

  20. Ah Dide, Big up! Ah bien voila, je me disais bien que ca voulait dire quelque chose comme ca. L’autre qui me disait que c’etait peut-etre un truc bien plus suggestif! J’aurai du pense a te demander! Bisous!

  21. I believe the “sign” the Rastas are making is “one love”.

  22. Thank you Constance. So when they go “One love”, am I supposed to go “One heart”?

  23. Hi! thought I’d tell you what the sign the Rastafari people are showing means though so long ago you have probably been alerted. But in case not, it is an upside triangle signifying the Holy Trinity of God (Jah), Jesus Christ and Haile Selassie or as most Christians know the holy trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many Rastafarians follow the Ethiopian Orthodox Faith but not all. one love 🙂

  24. I must say that I am from the US Virgin Island (St. Thomas) and found your article very interesting. LOVED IT…….OUTSTANDING work…. For reasons like this is why I would love to move back home….. Keep up the excellent work…… KUDOS. 😉

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