MsDora grew up, received early education and taught school in the Caribbean. Read her love and pride of the region—people and place.
“What in the Caribbean is so difficult to let go, that you just can’t stay away?” The question was posed by someone jealous of my love affair with the region.
During my search for some magical words to express my inexpressible feeling on the matter, the inquirer continued, “In the United States, you’re closer to your children. You have more friends here than there. You have access to better health care. Proper nutrition is more affordable. There are perhaps a hundred other reasons that you should stay.”
“True,” I submitted.
She kept up the query. “Is it the hills or the ocean?”
“Both in one view,” the words leaped off my tongue, “and perhaps another hundred reasons added to your hundred.”
Still, the question haunted me, and one day when I waded into the embrace of the Caribbean Sea, a few answers came to mind. Whether swimming, floating or splashing, it is easy to imagine myself as an embryo surrounded by a voluminous saline solution with skin-friendly minerals. When it warms up, the sea has the nurturing feel of a mother’s lap or bosom, making it my second favorite Caribbean thing difficult to let go.
More Than the Hills and the Ocean
It’s the huge hug from the sea,
The close view of the hills,
The scent of fresh tea leaves,
The taste of the mangoes,
Bleating goats in the yard
That awaken my senses.
It’s the working smell of sweat
In eighty-degree heat,
Or the whiff of curry
On goat meat in the pot,
Or scented carbolic soap
That smells like life-for-real.
It’s the tropical showers
From May through December,
Sprays from the waterfalls
In the dense rain forests,
And the breeze from the sea
That cool the warm air.
It’s the bright red hibiscus,
The gorgeous yellow bells,
Straight palms at attention,
The black, gray and white sand
That appeal to my gaze.
It’s the coconut water,
Lemonade made with limes,
Passion fruit or mauby brew;
It’s homemade ginger beer
And sorrel wine at Christmas
That satisfy my taste.
It’s the crow of the roosters
Signaling a new day;
The laughter of children
Meeting up on sidewalks,
The night songs of crickets
That sound so familiar.
It’s the hills most difficult
To let go, which inspire me
Above bright lights and six lanes
And skyscrapers of foreign lands.
It’s the sense of peace and stability
From the hills that keep me sane.
After living abroad for many years, some Caribbean people return home with admiration for the little things we once took for granted. On our return, we notice for the first time the distinctive features of old buildings and the uniqueness of nature spots which attract the tourists. We leisurely stroll the distances which once seemed so far, just so we can take pictures of scenes we thought we would always see. The more often we visit, the more prideful we feel about our connection with our homeland.
- It’s the wise old sayings, the sing-song dialect, the calypso rhythms, the wide-open windows to let in the fresh air;
- It’s the local food items not in foreign markets: the sugar apple, the genip, the papaya, the guava;
- It’s the transformation of the old neighborhood featuring new edifices on foundations our ancestors built;
- It's the memory of those who scolded us, who encouraged us, who made sacrifices and prophesied the progress we now enjoy;
- It’s the opportunity to tell our stories of struggles and breakthroughs in appreciation for those who taught us, and for the encouragement of those who come after us;
- It’s the feel, the sound, the taste, the sights and smell of home that we find so difficult to let go.
© 2018 Dora Weithers