TT has been more than I anticipated. I have learnt things about this country that I would have never imagined, and have been fortunate to encounter some of the most beautiful souls I have ever met.
From the first month of being exposed to a new accent and the rhythm of TT, to almost a year later, I continue to learn about – and learn to love – the country, sharing in the cuisine, architecture, spirit and creativity of the people.
I look forward to having more conversations with more people from all walks of life here, and engaging in or witnessing more forms of cultural expression, such as Canboulay, or going to goat racing or the Great Race.
As the first anniversary of my arrival approaches, I have been reflecting on how much I have grown. I’ve realised that I am fortunate beyond measure, and stronger than I imagined. The support of my family and friends have kept me pushing, and TT has become my home away from home.
I now feel a rush of emotion when I sing the national anthem, and I have found myself in some instances referring to this nation as “we.” After all, “All ah we is one family,” right?
I knew I would love living in TT, but I did not expect to fall in love with the country, its people, and its culture the way I have.
A lot of my natural traits have changed, too. I’m much more outgoing and expressive. I find myself poking fun at complete strangers who seem warm enough for a joke, and liming has become part of the list of things to which I look forward. Liming as a cultural practice ensures we are surrounded by our support group more often than not, and has reminded me of how amazing it is to have face-to-face interaction with friends as often as possible, like the days of childhood.
I find myself taking life a little less seriously all the time. The experience of uprooting myself and finding a space to call my own here reminds me that with focus, serious work and faith, anything is possible. I have learnt how to fete from the people of TT – after all, they invented feting. They’ve also helped me growing to understand better the power of being completely immersed into the present moment.
Though TT is not perfect, as no country is, I see a country where descendants of people from all over the globe have in fact found something of an equal place, where in one room, there can be an African, Caucasian, East Indian, Chinese, Syrian and everything in between – everyone living in harmony.
Because it’s so unlike my homeland, Jamaica, the genetic composition of TT’s population reminds me of the notion many Jamaicans have – there the wealth of an individual is assumed on the basis of the colour of his or her skin. But Trinidadians from all socio-economic backgrounds look alike, no matter what they look like.
I smile in reflection, remembering the first time I flew over to Tobago, hiked Mt Tabor, played mas, had a gyro on D Avenue. I look forward to more hikes to Paria Bay, many more limes on Maracas beach and moments of zen at the Maracas waterfall.
There is still so much of TT that I have not seen. I am yet to explore other beaches, even though Pigeon Point will forever be a favourite. I look forward to discovering whether an accent other than that of Charlotteville exists which has a tone that could trick me into believing I may in fact be somewhere in Jamaica.
Like my homeland, Jamaica, TT still has a lot of growing up to do; but then again, both are only 56 years old, and even at 56 the typical human being is still trying to sort out childhood trauma. Even though we coexist, people from every creed and race have room for improvement.
Living in TT has reminded me, as is illustrated by all my previous pieces, that we in this region are more alike than we think, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When I resettle in Jamaica – hopefully after living in other spaces too for more than a vacation trip—I hope to take back an even more powerful message of “One Love” than the song that has kept me going since the day I left.