We arrived in Tobago a couple of days ago, Dec 29, after a few days in Port of Spain. We have spent lots of time and trips in Barbados over the years, as this is where my mother’s family live and where I grew up and went to school, boarding at Lodge School until we left for Canada. However I was born in Trinidad, the home of my father’s family, but left at a very early age when my parents, following the war (WW II), moved to Barbados, my mother’s birthplace from Trinidad, my father’s birthplace.
While I always hear the siren call of Barbados, I felt that we were long overdue to rebuild the connections to my Trinidad family and so V and I and the two grown children, J and D left Toronto on Boxing Day to spend a couple of days with our Trinidad family and then on to Tobago for a week of sunshine.
Dinner on Sunday night, the 27th, with a large contingent of cousins, nieces and nephews at a cousin’s house; lots of Trini dishes prepared by various family members and lots of stories and remembrances. My kids know their Barbados cousins and family well but had been looking forward to discovering and learning about their Trini family and we all had a wonderful time.
Next day, off to a day on the beach at Maracas Bay with some of the family from the previous night’s dinner and then a drive around parts of the island to look for places where my dad was born, grew up and went to school. Needless to say huge amounts of change and wide stretches of countryside where the cocoa plantations on which my dad spent his early years are now overgrown or built up, the cocoa plantations now long gone.
During all the course of the previous night and our day on the beach and driving with family, endless stories were told, numberless questions asked and answered, and the jigsaw puzzle of links, relations and family history slowly slid into place. Huge gaps still remain but lots of the edge pieces connected and for all of us a much better sense of the shape of the picture, and everyone welcoming and hospitable.
One of the sadder moments at Maracas Bay was the sight of 2 Coast Guard boats and a helicopter searching the shoreline in the bay. The surf was very high with huge breakers and a strong wind blowing inshore. There were red danger signs posted on the beach and warnings not to go beyond the breakers or swim. The sea in the bay is seemingly usually very calm and easy for swimming but there had been a strong blow for a couple days and the surf was very rough. A young man in his 20’s and whose family was a friend of my Trini family’s, had against all advice gone surfing by himself 2 days previously and had not been seen since. The Coast Guard was searching for his body and everyone was in shock. Pretty awful to see the boats and know what was happening.
Postscript: Even sadder, as we discovered later, the young man's body was found later the same day somewhere along the shore of Maracas Bay.