Sunday, April 26, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

Well, I'm writing this entry from the comfort of my bed in Vancouver, having gotten home just after 3 a.m. this morning. I looked outside first thing when I woke up about about 8 and was greeted by a different view than the last couple weeks, but still by the sun on the water and a feeling of how fortunate I am to be in the place I am. It is good to be home. And, as I poured water into my kettle in my nice, comfy apartment, I realized again just how fortunate I am, period. So much we take for granted here, not necessarily because we don't appreciate it, but just because that is our life (for the fortunate ones) here in this part of the world.

So many people in the Caribbean have so little and their lifestyle is very basic. But the thing that struck me most about these people is that they are proud, hard working, generous, and open. Their tiny little homes, which would definitely not suit our western sensibilities, are always tidy and well-kept. They sweep their yards with brooms made of leaves from the trees. They keep themselves presentable, despite any lack. They are smiling and open and willing to share what they have. Our tour guide for the rain forest in Dominica said, "Just because you're poor, doesn't mean you have to be nasty." Everywhere, people were generally happy and grateful for the "food that is everywhere" - the mangoes, papayas, breadfruit, bananas, dasheen, etc. that grow.

Of course, I did meet people who wanted to leave for a better life but I really didn't meet people who were ungrateful for the little they had or who openly resented what others have. We had the privilege of talking to some of the people and finding out what their lives were like and they seemed very open with us. Always, they dealt with things with good humor and a positive outlook. Everywhere there are smiles and laughter, not just for the tourist's sake. They greet each other constantly as they drive down the road, honking and waving and calling out. Maybe that is part of the island lifestyle, as it is on our gulf islands to a certain extent, but it felt like more than that - kind of a 'we're all in it together, and we might as well enjoy it' feeling. I have the utmost respect for the people I met - they are enterprising, optimistic, and hardworking.

And maybe, following their example, I'll be just a little more grateful than I already was, for the blessings I have and the abundance I enjoy in my everyday life. There is nothing like traveling to put your own existence into perspective and that is a great gift. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

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