It’s street cleaning day when Baby Girl and I head into town on the cobblestone streets to buy groceries. Dust hangs heavy in the air as we pass two men with brooms sweeping the dust from the street. There is so much dust that it appears to be smoke from a small fire.
As we buzz by on our golf cart the dust clears revealing the glistening turquoise ocean water and a trio of pure white sailboats. Ugliness and breathtaking beauty almost in the same breath, and it strikes me that the island and the country are themselves a series of paradoxes.
It’s a place where…
… there is a season where you rarely see a drop of rain, and a season where the rain never seems to end. (Or where it can be sunny and pouring down rain as it is this very moment.)
…a resort that hosts A list stars is a five minute boat ride from one of the poorest neighborhoods on the island where the locals live in crumbling shacks.
…there are very few cars, but traffic accidents are the leading cause of death.
…a Catholic Church sits next to the largest night club in town (and one of the largest liquor stores).
…the stench of rotting Sargasso mingles with the most mouthwatering aroma of barbecue chicken you’ve ever had the pleasure of smelling.
…copious amounts of sugar are added to many local foods (which makes for some insanely delicious desserts), but GMOs are banned.
…you can see a group of Mennonites walking down the street and right after them a group of Muslim women in veils.
…children can safely roam the streets unsupervised during their school lunch, but there are bars on nearly every window in every home.
…a blind eye is turned to a man giving swigs of beer to his infant in a public square, but a mother wearing a baby securely in a carrier while driving a golf cart is told by the police that what she is doing is “very, very illegal.”
…a luxury boutique resort sits next to decaying and dilapidated buildings.
It’s a place with many beautiful and lovely things… the turquoise ocean water, the friendliness of the people, the weather, the fresh seafood… but also has things that are simply infuriating for this American, like the man giving his infant son a beer. (I had to bite my tongue really hard)
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a country in transition. It’s a third world country with a future so bright it should wear sunglasses.
It’s a land where opportunities abound if you have eyes to see them. I’ve had our island described to me by more than one person as the new Wild West, and I can’t think of a more apt description. It is rife with unrealized potential, but also the many challenges that come along with a less developed nation.
This is, by comparison, a very young country and quite similar to what Hawaii was like 50 years ago. Change is everywhere you look, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be living here.
Change is something I have learned to embrace with open arms because it opens the door for growth. Without change life becomes stagnant and, quite frankly, dull. That is not to say that all change is good, but in this case I believe it is.
So as we begin our island adventure I welcome the changes and choose to forgive the less appealing qualities of the island and focus on the beautiful side of this nation in transition.
Leave a comment