Caribbean at Heart
Yes, I am a roti eating, ginger beer drinking, rocksteady swaying, Caribbean - at heart. I didn’t plan for this to happen. I don’t even know how it happened. How did I, a kid from New Jersey become immersed in “all things” Caribbean? Ok there are a couple of things I don’t get like the passion for Cricket. And I guess I’m just too old for the whole whining thing (how do they do that?). But outside of that I’m pretty much a sucker for the Diaspora. Maybe it all started when my parents played old Harry Belafonte records to quiet me down as a child. I think my first worlds were Day’oh.
In high school all the kids raved about the song “I shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton. Then someone played the original by Bob Marley. I was hooked. Cliff, The Maytells, Third World, Dennis Brown became my theme music much to the chagrin of my teen contemporaries. Today I can honestly distinguish between Reggae and Roots, or Ska and Soca. In college I discovered more than music. I found myself attracted “island women” with those beautiful melodic accents. Through them jerk, curry, brown stew and escovitched entered my culinary vocabulary and strange spices, fruits and tubers tickled my palette. And yes, I’ll take my fish with the head on please. As a young adult I got my first opportunity to visit the region and it felt like a home coming. Sure, it’s the warmth and the water. But more importantly it was the casual formality of colonial customs adapted to this rugged beautiful landscape. The school children in their uniforms, the classic architecture all done up in pink and coral, all set on a backdrop of lush greens, and vibrant blues. Ok, the patois throws me somewhat but overall I’m good. Since my first visit I’ve traveled the world but I continue to come back. So far I’ve visited more than 15 islands, each with its unique vibe. Like I said, it feels like home. I even got married under the backdrop of the turquoise Caribbean. Today my iPod carries music from around the world and includes an expanded repertoire of Island sounds including Kompa from Haiti, Zouk from Martinique and Garifuna from Belize. When I really need escape I just select “the Islands” from my playlist and I am transported to that wonderful place that is so dear to my heart.