I want to introduce you to an island. This island is in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and is part of a volcanic formation millions of years ago. Over time the fertile volcanic spaces filled in with the lushness of Eden.
I live on this Island, this island gave me life and molded my sensibilities as a human. This island is my home. Walk with me I will show you around so that you can understand what I mean when I tell you that I feel the pulsing of this Island because it has a heartbeat that is connected to the way I breathe and how I see the rest of the world.
The first place we will go is down to the sea. We can approach the sea from any point on this island. No matter how you crisscross you will always end up by the sea. You always hear it, even if you are miles away, sea sounds are etched into your soul. On this island the sea is the lullaby I hear whether I am asleep or awake. It is always present as a calming rush or a soft splish- splash when you walk through the soft sand fringed by the playful sea water that is always running up toward your ankles.
The sea tickles the little crabs and makes them come out of their holes and scuttle over your toes, but don’t be frightened when that happens, because it will, they are just playful. Those clouds you see, fluffy and moving across the deep cyan-blue of the sky, are the whitest and softest. They never darken, yet, sometimes all of a sudden, when the midday genie comes and opens his hands, it begins to rain. I won’t run, and you shouldn’t, just follow me. You don’t need to run when the midday rain gushes love all over the parish of Portland. That is where I have taken you. It’s midday…don’t run.
Look, there is a bamboo shelter ahead, we will sit there on the shabby old bench and wait exactly fifteen minutes, and the genie will close his fist and the rain will suddenly stop. Abruptly as it began, it will stop, and the most brilliant sun will emerge. The plants you will notice are the greenest. Brilliantly they glisten as if they have just had elixir from Valhalla. The leaves are extra big. Everything in Portland is extra big. Even the rain drops are huge and silky. Somehow they never really soak you , they just slide off and hit the hot earth and the petrichor will rise up like a sedative and will make you heady for a few minutes like you had smoked the herb, you will get flashes of old things, like Arawak Indians and alligators and talking trees. It’s not a lasting spell. Every day you can have this dreamscape, it makes me remember who I was before the strangers came.
They are gone now but they did so much damage in such a short time. The island however held its own and never for one moment changed her message. I want to show you how the sun dips down at evening and winks goodbye until tomorrow. It goes behind the horizon, See? look, follow my finger, and when you see only the tip of its blood red head, that’s when we will leave the edge of the sea and go up into the hills for the firefly show and a real fire where I will feed you jerk pork and roasted yams and wine. Maybe a cabernet because I like the way it complements the pork. If you aren’t too tired come, climb with me a little further in the hills and see the outline of the other town on the other side of this cove. As we go up you will notice that the trees are very tall and unruly with branches growing from impossible places on their trunks. That is where the little folk sit at night. Yes, we have night life, but not in the North American style. This night life is ethereal. We call them by many names you will eventually learn if you stay with me for at least a year. Isn’t it beautiful? The town twinkles and yes, that’s a drum you hear.
Come, we should make our way back down, it’s warm and fragrant in the house I live. You might experience the shock of the sudden contrast of natural beauty coming inside against all the modern creature comforts in the house. I don’t think you could sleep on the sand all night and allow the seawater to tickle your toes. It’s nice. Come, tomorrow we will visit the horses and perhaps go paddling in a yellow canoe. Come, it’s time to sleep and dream and perhaps meet my ancestors, if they like you, they will come to you.