Liming – On the Edge – Dominoes

I wandered back to the hotel – it seemed a long way back round the end of the airport, and settled again before Keith picked me up late afternoon.  As he always did, he asked how I felt and we chatted politely as we headed north to lime.  It rained hard between the Auberge and Rodney Bay, a distance of about seven miles, but either end was bone dry. We remarked how this was exactly the problem with Caribbean weather, you could neither predict when it would change or where it would affect.  It would often sit over the hills, the moist air falling from above the mountain tops, and then the clouds dissipating as soon as you dropped over the other side.

Pigeon Point Beach

Pigeon Point Beach

Keith first took me to Pigeon Point, beyond most of the resorts of Rodney Bay and Gros Islet.  On the beach there was a small shack, and a large guy was leaning out over a counter on one side, serving drinks to anyone who asked.  A few of Keith’s friends hung around, as they did any Sunday, waiting to see who turned up.  This was liming.  Nothing special, nothing arranged, but underneath the nonchalance it was supremely important to a West Indian.  I drank with Keith while watching a bunch of his friends play dominoes under the palm trees.  A simple little bar game elsewhere, in the Caribbean it is a sport of supreme consequence.  Never has the placing of funny little tiles with dots on taken on so much importance.  There are rules, and woe betide the person who fails to keep to them.  No hands above the table, no signs to the your partner, not even the wiping of a nose is allowed.  And you must not be seen to be enjoying the game.  A serious, solemn face is needed throughout, to avoid showing any weakness, and each piece must not be placed carefully down, but slammed hard from three feet above your head, slammed down on the table and slid noisily to the right position.  The final tile must be slammed extra hard to signify complete domino domination.

 Like Oware before, I found after watching the games that Sunday that Dominoes, while openly a very simple game, hid incredible intricacies that allowed you to find strategies to win; like placing the same number at either end to ensure that only you can play next, or ensuring that the numbers at each end of the laid table were equivalent to the pair of numbers you had on one tile, which meant you could close the game and no-one else would be able to move forward.  I did not play that Sunday, but learnt a lot from watching.  Keith watched me, and sized me up carefully.  He was investing a lot by having me over in St Lucia, and I was being assessed even while liming.

Pigeon Island

Pigeon Island