We had a good laugh, telling each other stories
The bar was quiet. The warm Caribbean wind was blowing through the open air building causing countless t-shirts, flags and bras to shake off a layer of dust. An old black labrador was asleep in the dirt as I walked in. Sitting in his usual place between the bar and the store sat Philicianno “Foxy’ Callwood. The man famous for this bar, Foxy’s Firewater Rum, one hell of a New Year’s Eve party and a conservationist recently receiving a Knighthood. So it’s Sir Foxy now.
We caught each other’s eye and he motioned me to come over and sit. Sit I did. And listened as Foxy regaled me with stories about sailing around the world looking for a wife, being Knighted, the craziness of the New Year’s party and the history of Jost van Dyke. As a seventh generation local, which number somewhere around only two-hundred, he can tell you stories about this prize of an island and her people.
Foxy loves to talk, sing and hold court with large groups sitting around listening. He doesn’t do it as much as he used to as time is starting to slow him down. The fact that he was sitting out this day was an opportunity not to be missed.
Foxy has his act down. He can talk through the same stories, many of them set to rhyme, for over an hour. It’s an experience to behold. It is after he is done is when you really get to meet the man. As I did this day. I stayed. I stuck around. I was truly interested in this man and wanted to get to know him a little deeper.
After everyone left we began to talk. He told me about going to London to be knighted and seeing the inside of Buckingham Palace. He told stories about navigating the waters in the BVI and about fishing. He recalled details of trips he took more than twenty years ago as if they happened yesterday. Foxy then started asking me questions and I found myself telling him stories. We had a good laugh. I’m no Foxy but I do have a few good stories up my sleeves.
Foxy loves coconut and he was all to happy to cut one open and share it. I didn’t do a very good job at cleaning out all the jelly, so he took my piece back and showed me how it was done, and eating the rest without giving it back. We even poured a little Firewater in the coconut water. Can you imagine how amazing this day went? Drinking Foxy’s Firewater Rum with Foxy from a coconut he machete’d open for me.
After the coconut, Foxy pulled out his guitar and started singing. He has the crowd pleasing songs he normally plays but this day he played for himself and allowed me to shoot a portrait. The feature sepia toned image of this article is the one I like the most. Foxy has a small wall over near where he likes to sit. He has his picture being Knighted, his Honorary Kentucky Colonel certificate and few other momentos. He said he will hang this portrait on that wall. I am in the process of printing and framing it in order to deliver on my promise. I hope he really does hang it up there, it will be a true honor to hanging there.
All told I spent around three hours with Foxy that day. Men like Foxy, in any society are rare. Having the privilege to meet people like him is best part of being a traveler. Sometime when I’m slowing down I hope that I remember this day in detail. Then I too can sit on some far away island, sip my rum and tell friends and strangers alike about the day I spent with Foxy Callwood.
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