"Goat Water is Not What You Think" is a book about life on Montserrat Island for "two Hoosiers," Carol and Ed Elrod of Indianapolis. The book records their life on a small island in the Caribbean between 1993 and 1996. Their stay was cut short by the eruption of nearby Soufriere Hills volcano.
Montserrat is a British island located southeast of Puerto Rico in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. The tiny island is approximately 10 miles long by 6 miles wide (less than half the size of Pine Island).
"My husband was selling insurance and he was asked by our church to go to Montserrat to help rebuild after Hurricane Hugo in 1989," Elrod said. "Then we spent about a week's vacation there several years in a row and on an impulse went around looking for a house to buy. After we bought a house we went down for a month to see what life there would be like and it was after that I decided to retire. That same year we went back in November or December and stayed until May. We finally settled down in late 1992 or early 1993."
Elrod has been a "writer" since she was a teenager and wrote her first book when she was 20 years old.
"I wrote my first failed novel when I was 20 years old," Elrod said. "And after our experiences on Montserrat I decided it was about time that I try to get something published."
The book begins with the Elrod's visit to their newly purchased home at Spanish Point on the east side of the island.
Upcoming Carol Elrod book signings
Wednesday, March 27:
Little Lilly's Island Deli,
Wednesday, April 2:
Pine Island Family Hair
Salon, 10 a.m. - noon
Thursday, April 17:
Friends of the Pine
Island Library (at
the Elks), noon.
"Life in Montserrat was often quirky, with cockroaches, cows and goats everywhere," Elrod said. "The minute we stepped in the door and turned on the light, cockroaches the size of mice were everywhere. We spent that first night trying to kill them but it took some time to make the house livable."
This chronicle of their three years on this small island recreates the challenges of everyday life: trying to find auto parts, house paint and new and different foods including goat water stew. The title, "Goat Water is not what you think" came from the unique dish called "Goat Water Stew." Goat water stew is a Caribbean dish that it is not watery at all. It is a rich and hearty stew with hints of clove and cinnamon.
"We were there for four winters and we took our dog and cat and totally moved in," Elrod said. "We got involved with meals on wheels, school programs and church fund-raisers. Then the rumblings of the volcano began. The volcano was two miles up the mountainside from our back door and then after a while it began extruding lava. These volcanos are identified as a stratovolcanos. Stratovolcanos can have 'quiet' eruptions for many years but there is always the danger of a 'violent' eruption similar to the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980 that blew down or scorched 230 miles of forest. As things continued to get worse we were evacuated and then the eruption came. Our house and that whole section of the island was buried under ash and lava."
The back cover of the book describes the Elrod's experience: "Carol Elrod shows us the poignancy of having given oneself to a place so completely and then having it crushed literally by a volcano that wasn't supposed to erupt and which covered their home and their dreams."