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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The "Candy Man with a Dab" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Parked the car at Bobby's Marina and headed across the walking bridge into Philipsburg, Sint Maarten.  For years Carol and I have made this same trek to visit the Capital city of  Sint Maarten and walk their herringbone brick sidewalks that line cobblestone Front Street.  
But, before we ever got to the east end of Front Street, we passed this brightly painted dilapidated wooden building with a yellow roof with big blue bold letters proclaiming it to be "THE CANDY STORE."  I said to Carol, "You know, it's about time we stop in the shop and see exactly what they sell inside."  Approached the brightly decorated front door, read the sign that told me to ring the buzzer, open the door and come in.  So I did!  It was like walking into a dentist's worst nightmare!  Needless to say there was candy everywhere; candy from all over the world.  
The Candy Man of Sint Maarten.
Carol and I were immediately greeted by the owner of the store who told us his name was Candy Man.  I instantly loved the guy and knew I would be sharing my visit with you because this was something truly unique.  I jotted Candy Man in my little notebook and began a conversation with him.  Candy Man was a native Canadian who went on a Caribbean cruise seven years ago and found his niche in life.  A Caribbean Candy Shop was his idea of what life was all about.  The interior of the store is naturally filled with sweets from around the world, but is much, much more than that.  Photos of customers who have entered through the front door at one time or another fill the upper walls of the shop as well as the entire ceiling.  
Photos line the ceiling in the Candy shop.
Signs telling the year they were taken accompany the photos.  Shortly, three young girls entered and went right to work making their candy selections, placing them in small bags and putting them on the scale next to the Candy Man.  His banter drew laughs from the girls who pay for their choices and exit the shop.  
Tamarind Balls for sale.
I begin to ask a few more questions when the door opens once again and the girls return, telling him that one of the girls had forgotten to pay for her purchases.  He was so thrilled about their honesty that he rewarded them with popsicles.  Think they'll return?  Carol noticed a sign on the wall offering Tamarind Balls from Grenada which are made from the fruit of the Tamarind tree.  The fruit can be very sour, but is made into a tasty candy by adding sugar.  He gave us a small bag so we could try the tasty treat while grabbing a few bags of yet another sweet treat known as Beautiful's Coconut Drops.  He met a woman on Sint Maarten who made the sweet treats and she began making them for him.  
Coconut Drops.
Made by using coconut, raw brown sugar and a hint of ginger.  The mixture was boiled and placed on a pan to cool then broken into pieces which were wrapped for sale.  The woman moved from the island, but the Candy Man continues to get the treat from her son, Peanut. Well, I checked my notes and said, "I never got your real name."  His reply was, "Candy Man" is really my name.  
The Candy Man showing the bags of Coconut Drops.
I offered my hand to him to thank him for his time and his story and he showed me the true Caribbean handshake.  Begin with a rather weak handshake, pull your hand slowly away, latch the fingers slightly and then give a fist bump.  Then finish with a fist to your own chest which he said is known as a dab.  Boy, the stuff I learned today after passing through that decorated front door would fill a book, but I have condensed it to share with you.  Enjoy and if you are ever in the capital city of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, stop and tell the Candy Man that LDub sent you.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an oridnary guy. 

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