The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Leonie Trub­shoe

As I watched the full moon in the sky last night, I knew my dreams had come a full rev­o­lu­tion and the story of my Saint Lu­cian restau­rant was en­ter­ing a new phase.

Papa King’s Liming Spot had been the dream of the man I thought was my part­ner of three years and it thrilled me no end to be able to cre­ate it for him. It sym­bol­ised all the good things that the is­land Par­adise of­fered – a happy shin­ing vibe with good mu­sic, fam­ily, cul­tural ac­cep­tance and love – love for one an­other, love of reg­gae, love of good food and, nat­u­rally, love of good rum!

My man and I had met on a cruise ship three years ear­lier where he was em­ployed as a mu­si­cian. A sim­ple song re­quest led to hours and hours of talk­ing and be­ing to­gether. I knew I had met the most spe­cial man of my life and, en­cour­aged by our daily con­tact af­ter my re­turn, I en­gi­neered op­por­tu­ni­ties to travel on the ship for a more ex­tended time.

The mod­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods of Skype, Black­Berry, What­sApp and email meant that our daily con­tact kept the re­la­tion­ship alive and con­nected no mat­ter where in the world we both were and we be­gan to dream . . . and so Papa King’s be­gan to de­velop.

It was im­por­tant to me, af­ter spend­ing an ex­tended pe­riod abroad, that what­ever we cre­ated should be­come a haven for all – male or fe­male, gay or straight, black, white, brown or yel­low, re­li­gious or not, from two years to 92 years of age and be­yond – an es­cape from big­otry, lone­li­ness and age.

I spent hours re­search­ing ev­ery as­pect of Saint Lu­cia from its his­tory to its cui­sine, the cul­ture to its brew­ing meth­ods. I wanted an au­then­tic re­pro­duc­tion that would please the most crit­i­cal Caribbean per­son and in­tro­duce Aus­tralians to your amaz­ing coun­try.

I trav­elled up and down the coast of the Perth re­gion by the beach, tak­ing pho­to­graphs and videos of lo­ca­tions and busi­nesses so that my man was in­volved ev­ery step of the way. Fi­nally, he said, “This is our Liming Spot” – a di­lap­i­dated build­ing, aban­doned al­most a year pre­vi­ously. The lo­ca­tion was per­fect, right down to the old palm trees on the perime­ter, al­though there was sub­stan­tial scep­ti­cism I had to over­come from my chil­dren who feared the ex­ten­sive work re­quired, the as­so­ci­ated ex­pense and the ab­sence of my part­ner. The lengthy ne­go­ti­a­tion process be­gan with an avari­cious land­lord but, rid­ing high on a cloud of love and eu­pho­ria af­ter my man’s last visit, no ob­sta­cle seemed too dif­fi­cult to over­come.

First I took a sub­stan­tial loan, then, in a ma­jor step, I put my house on the mar­ket and, once sold, used the funds to con­tinue con­struc­tion. Ev­ery step was a bat­tle with hid­den pit­falls but be­ing able to in­tro­duce my part­ner and my con­struc­tion work­ers by way of the apps made it feel like we were all work­ing to­gether.

By now, he was home in Saint Lu­cia ap­ply­ing for his visa to travel to Aus­tralia. His fam­ily had over­come their ini­tial re­luc­tance and were firmly be­hind him, he said, and his father had even ap­proved my sug­ges­tion that the restau­rant be named af­ter him – a tribute to a re­spected and well-loved el­der of the fam­ily.

I be­gan to pro­mote his son’s singing ta­lents through­out the Fre­man­tle com­mu­nity, build­ing a fol­low­ing I hoped would ben­e­fit him if we also brought him to Aus­tralia to per­form. I sourced con­tacts for Caribbean pro­duce – plan­tains, green ba­nana, bread­fruit and sour­sop - and I em­ployed the help of a de­signer to en­sure the lay­out was con­ducive to the at­mos­phere I wanted . . . then I cre­ated the el­e­ments I had

stud­ied to bring Saint Lu­cia to life.

The colour scheme of the flag - blue, gold, black and white - fea­tures through­out. We have a fire pit for cosy con­ver­sa­tion; it’s the ideal place to re­lax with one of the St Lu­cia Dis­tillers spe­cial rums which we sourced to fea­ture at the rum and reg­gae bar. I bought a grill for the jerk chicken, he sent Madras fab­ric for the uni­forms, and we joined the Perth Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion as a cou­ple.

He was to be the cook/chef and source the mu­sic while I was to take care of ev­ery­thing else. We were work­ing towards an open­ing date of De­cem­ber 9, but his visa ap­pli­ca­tion seemed to run into prob­lem af­ter prob­lem. In hind­sight, they were fan­ci­ful sto­ries, but I was too in love to tell.

Then, on Novem­ber 18, 2016, three weeks be­fore we were due to open, all com­mu­ni­ca­tion stopped.

I de­layed the open­ing by a week but knew I had to be open be­fore Christ­mas if we were go­ing to have enough in­come through the door be­fore the colder months. We had to en­sure we took ad­van­tage of the hol­i­day pe­riod – but how? Where had my part­ner gone?

Af­ter two weeks I was fran­tic for news, ter­ri­fied he had suf­fered an ac­ci­dent. Us­ing the in­ter­net I was able to source his mother’s phone num­ber and I rang to see if he was all right. It was then my world fell apart. She had no idea who I was! Not only was he not there, but he had not been for some time. He had re­turned to the ship over three months ear­lier and all the notes when he had said he was pick­ing his daugh­ter up from school, at his sick son’s bed­side, go­ing to mass with his mother, or fi­nal­is­ing things with his es­tranged for­mer wife, ap­peared to have all been the work of a cre­ative, com­pul­sive liar.

Ev­ery­thing I owned was in­vested in the restau­rant. I was two weeks off open­ing – had no chef, no mu­sic and no part­ner; a build­ing still un­der con­struc­tion and with­out his promised in­put of funds for fin­ish­ing. I needed to do all the tasks of two peo­ple while my heart was break­ing.

It was then I learned the power and love of the Caribbean and Cre­ole com­mu­ni­ties.An in­ter­view for a bar man­ager yielded the most amaz­ing Mau­ri­tian GM; sourc­ing hot chilli sauces in­tro­duced me to an in­cred­i­ble Ja­maican woman who in turn in­tro­duced me to peo­ple to help me find a chef and mu­si­cians; a Ja­maican DJ I met walk­ing my dog on the beach has be­come a fix­ture of the restau­rant, while the Saint Lu­cian vice-pres­i­dent of the Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion stepped in and helped with recipe ad­vice and taste-test­ing, and the Pres­i­dent pro­moted us widely through­out the com­mu­nity.

I met the amaz­ing Olivia who pro­vided me with moral sup­port, new strands of mu­sic, her taste buds and even her voice for our ad­ver­tis­ing and, when open­ing night came, Olivia took pho­to­graphs and sent them back to Saint Lu­cia to show friends and fam­ily. As a re­sult, I re­ceived an email from

the First Lady – Raquel du Boulay - and then a beau­ti­ful pho­to­graph I now have mounted for all to see.

What an hon­our to be em­braced by all these amaz­ing peo­ple – and it hasn’t stopped! Ev­ery week I meet some­one new who sup­ports Papa King’s, of­fers friend­ship and ad­vice – strong, beau­ti­ful, Caribbean women and men who have re­newed my faith in the good­ness of peo­ple.

Yes­ter­day, the cruise ship came in. I dressed in his favourite colour, wore his favourite per­fume, put on our ring, hop­ing it was all a mis­take.

We even cre­ated a spe­cial Soca Sun­day Lunch to cel­e­brate his favourite mu­sic. Three of my new friends waited for my van­ish­ing part­ner to step ashore, de­ter­mined ‘the brother’ should come to the restau­rant and give me an ex­pla­na­tion, but in a fi­nal dis­play of cow­ardice, he re­fused to speak to them, or leave the ship. I have not heard a word from him since that morn­ing of Novem­ber 18, 2016 when he swore undy­ing love be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing from my life.

The moon is full – the cy­cle is fin­ished. I now wait for the new moon in the hope it will ease the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion while con­tin­u­ing to send these rays of sunshine into my life. I feel they are the Pi­tons ris­ing out of the wa­ter and in­spir­ing all those who know them to grow big­ger and bet­ter. While one Saint Lu­cian has crushed me, the mag­nif­i­cence of the coun­try in­spires me to keep go­ing de­spite the fact I have never set foot on your is­land par­adise.

Reg­gae is a Fri­day night rit­ual now with all ages danc­ing to those spe­cial rhythms. Satur­day we have mu­sic rep­re­sent­ing other parts of the Caribbean from Cuban beats to African jive, and Sun­day af­ter­noons are chilled vibes with in­ter­na­tional jazz per­form­ers.

Our menu cel­e­brates the cui­sine with salt fish and green ba­nana, jerk chicken, accra cakes, Ja­maican cur­ries, co­coa bread, a range of sal­ads and Caribbean spare ribs, amongst oth­ers. Black cake has be­come a favourite dessert, along with ba­nana bread, co­conut pud­ding and juicy mango tossed in rum. St Lu­cia Dis­tillers 1931, Ad­mi­ral Rod­ney and Chair­man’s Re­serve rums – in­clud­ing the For­got­ten Casks - have be­come favourites of the Fre­man­tle rum con­nois­seurs and a lo­cal bou­tique brew­ery has even brewed our own Papa King’s pil­sner beer.

Next month, I hope to host a chef from Saint Lu­cia for a gala func­tion to raise funds for an or­gan­i­sa­tion aimed at help­ing young peo­ple un­der­stand the fun­da­men­tals of busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship, thus con­tribut­ing to the fight to ease youth un­em­ploy­ment in Saint Lu­cia.

It is my way of say­ing thank you for the in­spi­ra­tion of your peo­ple and your flag - the blue field will be my bet­ter days ahead, the gold my sunshine and pros­per­ity and the white and black the com­ing to­gether of all na­tion­al­i­ties at Papa King’s Liming Spot – a place of peace and love, now and for the fu­ture.

Staff in their madras uni­forms.

The Saint Lu­cian-themed Papa King’s restau­rant in Perth, Aus­tralia.

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