Friday, January 14, 2011

Antigua Me Come From - Life Outside of the Resort

I think I may have mentioned before that peoples' perceptions of the Caribbean often make me uneasy. It's fascinating when I meet people, tell them where I was born and where my family lives, and then I get a variety of questionably interesting responses depending on who they are. My favorite was : "Wow, I just didn't think people lived there." Yes, Dexter who brought you your pina colada has to live somewhere, since he's not staying with you at the resort. ;)

Unfortunately, most Caribbean people don't all sit around smoking weed (a common Caribbean misconception propagated by too many people with Bob Marley posters in their college dorm rooms) and singing "Day-O." Folks who live in the Caribbean have jobs and lifestyles that often don't have anything to do with tourism and the tourist experience. Of course, this may sound rather condescending to say this to you, dear readers, but I have been a part of too many mind boggling interactions with many people to not reiterate this.

Someone who went to Antigua once told me that they felt bad for people in Antigua because they were so poor (luckily this was in an e-mail, and so I spared her some eye rolling). I can only speak for Antigua because it is the island I know the best, but I feel that I can say that folks there are doing okay. Is there more to be done in Antigua in terms of infrastructure and economic development? Yes. Am I an expert in international development? No. Does everyone there have a 2,000 square foot home, multiple cars and an HD TV? No, not really. (Actually I recently had someone visibly pity me for not having some of these things. I think I'll survive without them.)

People have small, modest homes that they've lived in all of their lives and may take the bus (even though the service is shoddy at times). What may look poor to some is perfectly adequate and comfortable for many of the people that live there. I have yet to see chronic homelessness, people lacking adequate running water, electricity and solid, basic shelter. After seeing some of these issues in other places I've visited in the world, I think Antigua is most definitely on the right track. There is more to be done there, and I hope the government and other interested parties help its growth.

ANYHOO, the person who felt sorry for my homeland also never left the resort while they were there, SO I am going to give you all a little look into what Antigua looks like outside the confines of a resort.

I spend a lot of time here. It's my aunt's home. She lives in a nicer area in the northern part of the island. She was one of the first people to move here.

Husband J and I decided to walk around her area one morning. She lives near a small cove.

One of the homes in my aunt's neighborhood. While there are a few expats in her area, this home is owned by an Antiguan.

I remember this house from when I used to visit my aunt years ago. Each little roof was painted in a different pastel color. I think the house is owned by someone else now. I miss the colors.

Shifting now, this picture is of a street in the village where my mother was born and where some of my cousins still live in our family's home. I think the yellow building is actually an ice cream place that opened since one of my prior visits.

This is the church my family goes to. My mother also went here as a little girl.

Since the village is called Sea View Farm, there are points where you can actually see the sea! :)

One of the days we visited my cousins, there was a car "rally" benefitting a family that was recently in a major car accident. Lots of car enthusiasts from around the island got together to drive around, show off their cars and raise money for this family. Here's one of the trucks with music leading the way. These large trucks blast some very loud soca and reggae and are quite common during Antigua's carnival in late July.

Some friend's kids trying to get a good view of the cars. The peach building is the village primary school.

This is my cousin's car, hence the the thumbs up. :) I still can't believe he drives. I still have the image of a six year old in my head, which is hysterical since he's in his 20's now.

Husband J watching along with some family friend's kids. By the way, I think he almost caused an accident. Someone in a car did a double take when seeing him. Persons of his hue (ahem!) are not usually seen in this part of the island.

Purposely small houses are pretty common. It keeps costs down and life simple, I think. Here's is one being built right in the middle of the island close to the capital city of St. John's. Oh yeah, the man in the picture is my Dad. I think I'll be visiting him here next time.

I love this picture because it reminds me a lotof what Antigua was before and what is becoming. We used to have a ton of farm animals near my family's home. Once a cow came in the kitchen! There aren't so many animals now but definitely lots of development and waaay more houses. I think it will be important that Antigua makes sure that the development is sustainable for such a small place, but that's just my opinion.

So, that is a little slice of island life. I do have more to say about Caribbean tourism and what I would think might be room for change. I'm still working through that in my head and how to express it all, but that is for another post.


lavenderpug said...

i'm sorry that a lot of misconceptions have been heaped on you--thanks for this look into a slice of your family's life!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa said...

This is such a great post. I love the look into local life (and how beautiful every part of the island seems to be).

BigAppleNosh said...

Such an interesting post! You're right, when I go on vacation, a lot of times I barely wander off the resort. It was great to learn more about the world beyond that!


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