Out hunting for ‘awesome things’ with Kimmy Douglas in Banda Bou in September 2012, we decided to grab a late lunch at our favorite krioyo restaurant: Komedor Krioyo at Landhuis Dokterstuin (open from 12 – 4 pm except Mondays). We’ve been coming here for years and know our way around the majestic plantation house, up the stairs into the living room filled with antique wooden furniture, ceramics, old household tools to the large outdoor patio; a contemporary Famia Mogen addition. We were greeted by Senjora Mogen herself, rocking in an antique wooden chair. She nodded and smiled, a bottle of pink nail polish by her side. Her wise eyes welcomed us into her komedor, guided us to our wooden table covered in checkered red-and-white. Other tables brimmed with leisurely conversations in Dutch, English, Papiamentu, Spanish. Laughter. A slow Salsa Antillana played in the background.
A steady breeze carried indigenous deliciousness from the open kitchen. Kimmy and I both ordered an ice cold aw’i lamunchi and checked the menu to test our luck — paying close attention to the green dots. Signature dishes include krioyo delicacies such as sòpi di guiambo (#994), thick and juicy stobá (#801), catch of the day hasá, with funchi (#891) and tutu (#865).
Barika yen, kurazon kontentu (full tummy, satisfied heart) Kimmy pulled out her camera as we were walking out to take a photo of Senjora Mogen, at that point napping peacefully in her rocking chair. Senjora Mogen, nobody’s fool, opened her eyes and smiled, “how was your food?”
One thing led to another (as they tend to among warm people), Senjora Mogen (82) got married in that very plantation house — formerly Little Ascension, 18th C — she lived nearby for many years, when it was a civil registry (recording births, marriages, funerals, allocating permits to cut large trees, dog collars, goat branding etc.), when it housed several doctors, its garden filled with herbal medicine. Senjora Mogen was sad to see the glorious plantation house of her youth and young adult life deteriorate… walls crumbling… goats roaming around as they pleased when the last doctor passed on. A resourceful lady of many trades (arts & crafts, tour guide, chef) and no stranger to struggle, “semper ma keda ku kurashi!” (“I never lost my nerve!”), she concocted a plan to convert Dokterstuin into a bustling krioyo restaurant, entertaining locals and tourists, and employing her entire family.
Senjora Mogen petitioned our government (“subi 21 trapi”) for several years to gain access to the abandoned plantation house. Many doubted her, even her children lost faith along the way. Fiercely independent and bullheaded, she persevered, “what else were they going to do with this amazing house?”
It’s with great sadness that I write that our Reina di Banda Bou, Senjora Baby Mogen, has passed away. May she rest in peace and her ‘legacy di kurashi’ live on forever. (Added: 3/7/2013)