Cocktails With — Alexcia Gray

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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We play catch-up with Alexcia Gray at The Wine Shop over a glass of Bakanal by EVOI. The far-from-traditional fabella, who started her career as a mathematics teacher at Vauxhall High School before moving on to the Jamaica Environmental & Management Services and then to Texas for her Master's in Geology where she ended up on an oil rig for three years, is currently logging up miles between the Down Under home of her fianc é , EVOI winemaker Nigel Ludlow, and The Rock where she helms her geological/environmental consultancy.


What would you say is the perfect drink to enjoy on an oil rig?

An ice-cold Pepsi. Coffee makes me antsy but soda has just the right amount of caffeine to keep me alert, which is important for working long hours around heavy equipment. Plus oil rigs are “dry” — no alcohol allowed.


How did your childhood prepare you for who you are today?

As a child and into early adulthood, I was quite sickly and very sheltered. My solace was that I got any book my heart desired, so I read voraciously. Due to those curious circumstances, I've become an adventurer and risk-taker. I have many fears, but all I want is to experience a full life.


You're a geologist. Was it love at first sight?

Well, you could call it love at first semester. I entered university wanting to study engineering, but I had to do a year of Natural Sciences to qualify. I chose physics, mathematics and geology. The field trips were physically taxing, I got injured, plus my parents were very resistant to their daughter studying “dirt and rock stone”. None of that mattered. Tomb Raider was my favourite video game and I watched Indiana Jones whenever it aired on TV. Geology became my passion, and 16 years later it still excites me.

What would you say to a class of fifth-form female students contemplating a career in geology?

If you're not afraid of getting dirty, love nature, have dreams of visiting remote locales with awe-inspiring scenery and are excited by discovering the Earth's secrets, there is a rock with your name on it.


From Kingston, Jamaica to an oil rig in Texas and then Down Under, was it strategic or accidental?

At first, I tried to plan my life every step of the way. At every turn, accidents, luck or fate led me to alternate destinations. However, every choice, every consequence of my actions (good or bad), have all led me to this point. I defied my parents, did geology and ended up on oil rigs, in forests, on hilltops and in rivers. I said hello to a stranger and ended up in deserts and vineyards. It's been both strategic and accidental — it's all calculated risk.


In your darkest hour, what emerged as the light at the end of the tunnel?

Friendship. While the bonds of family are important, the people I've met along my 34-year journey have become dear friends and are to me like 'the lighthouse to a lost sailor. “…'I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”-Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire


Invest in experiences and not material things... What say you?

Spend your energy on accumulating a wealth of experiences. They can't be taken away, they can't be lost, they can't be destroyed. Experiences are priceless treasures.

What would Alexcia say to her 16-year-old self?

You will finally gain a little weight. And it will be glorious!


Share with us the title of the last book you read

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.


How would you describe your style?

It oscillates between risqué and comfy casual.


What are your five travel essentials?

Khaki jacket, inhaler, lip gloss, bank card and a cellphone.


Were you to set a table in the middle of the desert, what would you serve and why?

Curried goat with dahl roti and white rice and ice-cold Ting.


Which five guests (living or dead) would you invite and why?

Mommy - I've always wished she could come on my adventures with me

Popper - He pines when he and Mommy are apart.

My (maternal) great-grandmother Lulu - To catch up on my Cuban heritage

My (paternal) grandfather Maas Gray - I want to hear all his stories

Nigel - My partner in all things adventure.


Finally, what gets you out of bed each day?

Food and fun - Knowing that there are delicious morsels out there waiting for me to try, and so many new and interesting places I have yet to visit.




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