Friday, April 10, 2009

Other Island Scenes

The Caribbean islands we visited held some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen, many of them just growing at will here and there. There were breathtaking views of the coast, the coves, the rain forests.

I'd like to say that everywhere we looked there was beauty.

But we also saw a great deal of tremendous poverty.




One of our guides told us that although most people on that particular island held jobs, they were not paid quite enough to make ends meet. Thus, they had fruit and vegetable gardens.

They raised chickens for eggs and meat. They raised sheep (tails down) and goats (tails up) for food. They made do. They didn't need multiple seasons worth of clothing as we do. They certainly didn't need to heat their homes. So they made do.




Driving along the roads, seeing their poor homes, their obvious poverty, I began to understand in a new way the concept of privilege. I thought to myself that comfortable Americans should not witness this way of life without being moved to somehow do something to help to effect change. I began to try to think of things I might do upon my return home that might make a difference.

From time to time the vehicle we were riding in would stop at a particularly beautiful spot to provide an opportunity for photographs. My eyes would be drawn away from the scenery to the shack across the street, to the small souvenir stand at the parking area.


At one such stop, I wandered down to the stand where a woman was selling cheap plastic mementos along with hand-crafted necklaces. I spent some time looking over the necklaces, and with the feeling that I really had to do something that very day to help, I selected a string of beads that I didn't want or need and indicated to the woman at the stand that I wanted to buy them. They were turquoise and, at least, matched my Crocs.

"Good morning," she said to me. "How are you?"
"I am well," I told her. "How are you?"

"I am blessed," she replied.



3 comments:

Tanya said...

What lovely pictures and what a lovely attitude for life.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Yes, in this country, we are mostly segregated by financial circumstances. And in many cases, the low income people in the US live better than the average in many countries. I always wonder how much of the tourist dollar gets to the masses in the countries that need tourism to survive. My town in the US half survives on tourist dollars; we'd have almost no stores without the tourism. But tourist service jobs don't pay much.

Gretchen said...

A very moving post. I felt the same way when I went to the Bahamas a couple of years ago. I made a point to get away from touristy places and eat at a local restaurant and buy local handmade items. The contrast between the resorts and rich people's housing vs. how most of the residents live was incredibly sad.