The Queen of Wine in Diamond Rock

Ms. Jesus in her garden

When you meet Ms. Felipa Pandy aka Ms.Jesus (pronounced Hay-Soos for English speakers), there is no doubt about her passion in making her life a challenge and doing everything that she likes to do. Born 92 years ago in Diamond Rock, a small town in Roatan at the East End. In this town you can find only humble and hard working people. Possibly it is the most picturesque and versatile parcel in the Caribbean.

Usually you can find Ms Jesus in her own backyard, in her own bush, how she calls it.

Her face is lovely with bright light in her skin, she has sparkling periwinkle eyes and a couple golden shiny teeth appear when she laughs. If she laughs, she smiles with a big passionate mouth. She takes her job to a high degree when she is picking her wine berries. She puts the harvested berries in a big bucket, she carries it home accompanied by her grandchildren.

Her right leg is stiff. A couple of decades ago, in ’86 she hurt her leg bad in a car accident. But the steel rod in her leg from this accident doesn’t hold her back from walking a lot, she says. Her belief for longevity is walking a lot and eating a lot of meat. In particular beef, because she “is not a great fan of chicken.” Not so long ago her doctor advised her to eat less meat, but within no time she felt weak.

Ms Jesus with her daughter Chola
With her great grand child

You don’t get away with not trying her wine

She takes the berries, one for one, off the little branches, tosses the rotten ones, removes the stems and washes the berry thoroughly. After crushing the berries, she let her berries sleep in sugar for one week in an island style fermentation container.

Ms Jesus explains that the flowers start to grow in November, so every year from that moment, her picking starts and goes on till February. “The fruits are anti-inflammatory, and high in vitamin C”, says Ms Jesus with her island slang, which is hard to understand for a non-resident. So if you pay her a visit, you don’t get away with not trying her wine. The taste is strong and sweet. It would be amazing in combination with a piece of pure chocolate, cacao.

Her daughter Chola has her own restaurant/bar a few doorsteps away from Ms Jesus’s house. It is the place to bé on the East part of the island. A hard worker, strong values, and never met a stranger. Ms Jesus has in total five children, three boys, one passed and Chola and another daughter. Her husband past in the eighties, when he turned 78 years. “No man in her life ever since,” she has her hands full with all her grand- and great grandchildren. She thinks she has 28… she lost track.

With her great grand children

A real business lady she is

The bottles are ready to sell, right in time before Semana Santa.

After the processing starts, Chola’s empty bottles from her café are used for her mom’s wine. Besides selling by the bottle (100 lmps) she also sells by half a gallon (600 lmps) or one gallon (1200). “A real business lady she is”, her proud daughter says. The bottles are ready to sell, right in time before Semana Santa. “And of course I drink her wine almost every night”.

Cooking is her passion.

Working on her coconut bread

She created coconut bread, meat, stew, soup, pancakes you name it. When you see her grating a coconut down on a board you realise how physically strong she still is. Most of the people quit at the 5th time opening them, when they usually slice open their thumb. “You ain’t no good, my friend”, she comments. Whether making her own coconut oil or producing wine, she keeps moving and never stops.

Not a bad wine year!

She loves to be surrounded by her family, most of them live around her.

Her secret to a long and healthy life. “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best medication for everything. Time and health are two cherished valuables that we usually not recognise and appreciate until they have gone…”, Ms. Jesus says with a grin on her face.

Roatan moments