Memories of St Lucia
I was born on the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean. Due to circumstances, I was given the opportunity to leave the island for Canada, 16 years ago to the day. I have always been afraid of heights, so as you can imagine, the idea of a plane ride terrified me, far less the three that I would need to take to make the trip.
Before taking the plane ride, I remember convincing myself that everything would be alright. My mental pep talk included a gentle berating about needlessly frightening myself. This is because I had never heard of a plane crashing in all my 14 years of life, most of which revolved around actively ignoring the news.
Needless to say, with my false sense of certainty, I was able to make the trip to Canada, a few tears of fear not withstanding. Not long after I arrived in Canada, a famous world event happened in America revolving around airplanes. That’s right, the September 11 attacks. What was once a theoretical fear suddenly became startlingly possible and a genuine seed of fear got planted.
Over the course of the next 16 years, I became hyper aware of all plane crashes and used them to justify my fear. I became convinced that every plane that took off ultimately crashed, ignoring the literal thousands of flights that safely landed daily. While rooted in this irrational fear, I really started to miss St. Lucia. I had already decided that there was nothing that was going to get me to go on a plane again but my entire family lived there.
The human mind is an amazing and confusing thing. St Lucia is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide across. Canada is a whopping 151,00 miles wide, of which I have been from end to end and yet every night without fail, I dreamt that I was in St Lucia, walking the streets of Vieux Fort. For 16 years.
In those 16 years my memories of St Lucia became more and more fantastical, magical, whimsical and I longed to visit more and more with each passing year. White and black sandy beaches, easy island living, beautiful weather year round and my mom’s cooking, who wouldn’t want to visit this near perfect paradise?
That’s exactly what I did. After all those years, I decided to face my fear and I hopped on a plane, not giving myself any time to think about it.
I landed in St Lucia to a hot and sunny day and a warm embrace from my mom. I saw the smiling faces of my brother and sister after so long and we went to the home I grew up in.
In one week I noticed so many things had changed. The country seemed a little worse for the wear. A lot had changed but not necessarily for the better.
The cost of food was now 1.5x to 2x the cost in Canada.
There were literally no jobs. In desperation to survive, lots of people who used to be professionals took to organic farming.
The water system was iffy at best. After a small downpour the water was shut off for the entire night till the next morning.
The people seemed hopeless and sad. They hated their circumstances but were trapped to them.
The government seemed to only care about getting the tourists in the country and lining their own pockets.
Where there used to be lots of tourists walking the streets, we barely saw any.
The entire place, even the capital seemed run down.
At first I thought to myself, this must be a joke. Then I got angry, why were the people allowing this to happen? I kept trying to see if I could convince people to speak up. I could imagine the government thinking, “I can’t believe we are getting away with this,” but no matter who I spoke to, their answer was the same. They did not believe that they personally had the power and so they reverted to blaming the government and this just left me feeling so saddened. Eventually I gave up. I was only going to be there for a reason and I do understand the psychology of the human mind.
They may hate their circumstances but a lot of factors were playing against them and it was not their fault. Recognising that I didn’t have the time to change or push anyone, I instead focused on what I could - myself.
I chose to see it for what it was - a much needed change in perspective. I recognize, like we all do that there are parts of the world where things are not the greatest. I think though that although we know this, we only know it on an intellectual level. I got to know it on an emotional level. My family lives there after all.
I spent a lot of time being introspective. I looked at all the times I complained about little things, when there are people getting hurt physically for $30 a day, not an hour but for a full day. I needed this change in perspective because I look at my life in Canada a little bit differently.
What are the chances that a person like me, from a poor family would get the opportunity to escape what seems like a hellish life? Doesn’t that mean that I can’t waste my opportunity? I am a strong believer in destiny. I believe in destiny in that we all have a purpose, but it is up to us to meet that purpose. Life doesn’t give handouts. I got this amazing and frankly miraculous opportunity to live in Canada so it is my responsibility to do something with it. This is not coming from a place of arrogance, rather I feel like I owe it to those who do not have the chance that I got to not squander it.
I went to St. Lucia for some closure. I believe that my mind was telling me that I needed to go back through the constant dreams. I felt that when I went there something would happen. I wasn’t sure what. Maybe I’d feel happier, or better, but instead I felt a new drive. How can I marathon Netflix when my family is working so hard just to survive?
I will never forget this feeling. I know that I am blessed and live a privileged life. I am thankful that I got to experience what I did because while I am not afraid to fly on planes anymore, and will visit St. Lucia more often, this first visit after so long will always be the most meaningful.
Have you ever had any experiences like what I described? Where you got to witness a way of life completely different than your own and it changed your perspective and thinking? How did it impact your life? I'd honestly like to hear about it. Either share it below in a comment or you can email me privately at email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.