Step, step (don’t lead) hop!

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Two weeks ago, I gained entry into the unique world that is Latin dancing.
I come from a family that loves and plays most genres of music. Merengue, Salsa, Batcha, Mambo etc have all played at some point or the other in my house. Multiply that with a father who was given the name “twinkle toes,” and you have someone who thought they knew how to Latin dance but clearly didn’t.

I was invited by my coworker to attend a workshop and Latin dance party in Kampo-Vibes, Chaguanas which is home to quite a few Latin Dance events.

The dance move taught during the workshop was the Salsa hustle. My coworker, her fiance and I arrived fairly late so we jumped into the workshop as soon as we arrived. Within a few minutes, I was able to dance with my imaginary partner to only have a real human being interject and test my dancing skills. The workshop allows persons of all skill levels to learn and practice with each other. To me, being a beginner meant apologizing and telling others that I was just that, a beginner.

My first dance partner was a mature guy, tall and slim. I made sure to give him the disclaimer and we began to dance. I started off  well, and one, two, three but the numbers were ambushed by the million and one other thoughts head and I was a mess. You could tell that he wasn’t a beginner and all though he was quite polite, he wasn’t here to dance with a beginner. If he could tell me to keep it moving, I sure he would have.

My next partner was a short mature man. He was my saving grace. I wasn’t too sure of his background but I assumed that he was a dance teacher. He was patient and kept reminding me to let him lead. He went through the steps again and at that point I felt like I was ready for any Latin dance competition they threw my way. Even some other women who were watching were quite impressed at how quickly I picked up the moves.

The lights were dimmed and the party begun. Initially it felt like a high school dance, men on one side, women on the next but eventually some brave couples started the party and everyone was dancing. I sat there in awe and slightly nervous. My coworker was chosen by a random stranger to dance. I watched her glide across the dance floor effortlessly. She was in her world and I was merely an observer. It went from 4 people sitting on either side of me to, 3, 2 and finally 1. I sat there a bit happy that I wasn’t chosen but a bit disappointed. Then out of nowhere, a hand was extended out to me. This was it, feet don’t fail me now.

My first dance was of course, the salsa hustle. I warned my partner that I was a first timer and to go easy on me. He complied and the first dance wasn’t bad. This continued throughout the night. Persons would just come up to you, extend their hand and ask for a dance. I enjoyed dancing with most of my partners but some, not so much. The men who wanted to get REALLY close to you, cheek to sweaty cheek I eventually started hiding from. Some men were really smooth and some left me dizzy and out of breath in a matter of minutes.

By the time we were ready to go home, my feet were screaming bloody murder. As soon as I sat down for a break, someone else asked me to dance. I can’t even remember how many times I was approached but I definitely got enough practice that night.

Would I do it again? Yes but not voluntarily. If I was asked or invited yes. This is something I would take my parents to. It’s could be a fun date night or night out with the girls. You can meet some great people and practice your moves.

Kampo-Vibes will be hosting it’s next Latin workshop and party next week saturday, March 28th, 2015.

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A year later

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“Losses that are not successfully resolved in childhood have an increased likelihood of recurring in adulthood… For TCKs, questions about who they are, what they are, where they are from, what and who they can trust are examples of existential losses with which they must cope.  And the way in which they process these losses will change, or may even wait until long after their childhood.”- Kathleen Gilbert

My readers who may know me personally, know that I identify with the TCK/A (Third Culture Kid-Adult) community. Not to go into too much detail but a TCK/A is basically someone who has grown up in a different country other than their country of birth or passport country. TCK/A’s always can never fully identify with their home country (especially when they move back home) and end up answering questions on where they’re from with “Well…I’m from _______ but I lived in______…”And more than likely they lived and vacationed all over the world and more than likely, haven’t learnt to stop.

Note: You don’t have to be a TCK/A to understand how I feel, you might have started moving much later and may completely understand where I’m coming from.

It’s been a year and a few days since I returned to Trinidad from Japan and I don’t regret doing so. It was a decision I made, thinking that returning home would mean a chance to further my education, a different outlook, a chance to make a difference in my country and I’d also plant some roots and be comfortable in an environment that I was growing to love and appreciate months before I left it. Not everything has fallen into place, and being an impatient, (slight) control freak, I now have late night chats with google regarding my next step.

I left Japan for many other reasons, I thought that I’d never be able to settle down and establish a proper relationship if I constantly kept relocating.  My parents are getting older, my little sister is growing up and to make things worse, my last grandmother was ill (she passed away on my way back to Trinidad). I was too far from home. It would take me two days minimum to get home so I was always worried that there would be some emergency and I wouldn’t make it in time. I felt as if I was being selfish and needed to be a good daughter, granddaughter and sister. Skype and whatsapp messages were not enough.

I didn’t hate Japan, I didn’t love it, but I did what every TCK/A does, I learned to adapt. Yes I complained and yes I dreamt about leaving, but I accepted it as my temporary home. Not only did I accept the cultural change, but the lifestyle change as well (I definitely accepted that with open arms). I was living on my own, paying my own bills, ticking countries off my bucket list and I loved (to a certain extent) my job. But where I was in Japan, wasn’t enough and I knew I had to bite the bullet and leave Japan before I became too complacent or comfortable to want to move.

Hopping from one place to another from birth changes how you view your surroundings and how you deal with certain emotions…

You never give yourself enough time to miss a place because you’re always rushing to leave or rushing to unpack and adapt to your new life which then meets you months later reminiscing on the past, bawling your eyes out in the fetal position while eating your last box of pocky (almost true story…almost).

You don’t miss people like “you’re supposed to” because you’re accustomed to seeing them come and go. It’s not that you don’t love them enough to miss them, but those who you’ve created a strong enough bond with will always be a message, call or plane ride away.

Deny, deny, deny. You deny not being able to adapt, not being ok with the decision you’ve made because “you’ve done this a million times and you know know how to deal with it.”

You feel like no one will ever understand the itch that you get to leave. Not just to go on vacation, but to actually leave the country for-eh-ver. You wish you could fit everyone you loved in one storage container but you’d probably be arrested for human trafficking. You might not give in to the wanderlust, but the itch isn’t a joke.

You develop a serious sense of guilt and fear of commitment which you battle to try to overcome. Guilt for not staying to make a difference, guilt for not being a good family member and a fear of commitment for starting a project/job that you wont be able to finish, or even a relationship.

As I said, I don’t regret my decision but I’d be dishonest if I said that I’m loving my life back home. I’m still adjusting and I have to constantly remind myself, that this type of adjustment doesn’t happen overnight and it’s ok if it doesn’t happen within a year. I’m adjusting to home life and to Trinidad culture and the people who knew me are adjusting to the person that I’ve become. I’m glad that I’m able to see my family much more often that I did (even though we all know what life was like readjusting from living on your own during undergrad to living with your family upon your return) but this is an adjustment that has nothing to do with anyone else, but myself. I constantly have to explain to people that they shouldn’t take my need to find my own space or flee personally. It’s not you…it’s me, seriously.

For those of you moving back home, I understand what you’re going through. For those of you thinking of moving back home, I recommend finding your own space and find people like you (if you need me, hollaaa!) also making sure that you allow yourself enough time to adjust, there isn’t any rush. I love my life in  Trinidad and Tobago even with it’s bad ways, but I haven’t considered it MY real home yet. Also, if you’re moving back, happiness can be found at home!  However, always remember that the option to leave remains. If you did it once, you can do it again. DO.NOT.BE.AFRAID

I created this blog to help me learn to love my country a little more. To help me appreciate what I have at home instead of always looking past Piarco International Airport.  However, because of my busy schedule, it hasn’t been easy updating the blog. There is still so much to see, so many places to go and so much food to eat!!! I’ll figure it out bit by bit, but I need to take my time. I don’t want this blog to be about me, I want it to remind people of outings or adventures they went on years ago or introduce them to something new. I’ve tried taking some video but I don’t necessarily feel safe or comfortable walking through the streets talking to a camera. Plus, I still have random people come up to me asking me if I’m the girl from that video on youtube… yeah I don’t need much more of that just yet (I might change my mind).

Fret not, there are more posts to come. I appreciate the comments because they keep me going, they remind me that there are people out there like me who are also trying to rediscover their love for their country. Happy anniversary to me, and here’s to a bright future where I am either happy consistently travelling or happily settled in one spot vacationing every two years with my future husband and children.

Kampai.

NYC- Don’t stop til you get enough

New yorkJFK airport has seen me almost as many times as Piarco. Just a few years ago, JFK gave me a sense of comfort that I’ll never forget. It was the first time returning to the Western Hemisphere after living in Japan for a year. Growing up between Europe and the US, I was accustomed to being the token black girl in my neighbourhood, schools, and pretty much every activity I participated in, but something about living in rural Japan made a difference as to how I felt I was perceived in a homogeneous society. From the time I stepped off the aircraft in New York, seeing different skin colours and hearing different accents, gave me so much joy that I couldn’t help but giggle to myself. I felt like I was home, even though technically I was only half way there. I’ve had some great conversations with customs officers in JFK, sometimes having to stop them midway to explain that I have to catch a connecting flight. It’s the gateway to the city that I’ve grown to love.

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The longest I’ve stayed in New York was three weeks while I did a summer internship at VP records. It was the first time I had to learn to take the subway on my own which meant always leaving the apartment at least an hour before work just in case I got lost on the way. Travelling from Brooklyn to Queens then taking a train to Manhattan after work to explore, made me realize why people loved New York so much; everyone had a space, and if they didn’t, they made one for themselves.

With a population of 8.337 million, NYC reminds you that no one is watching, so being yourself is ok.

New York is a great city to explore on your own (with the help of HopStop and Google maps) but it’s a lot more enjoyable with company. There is always something happening that is worth sharing a laugh about or discussing. Plus, having someone to keep an eye out for your subway stop helps, especially if you suffer from dropsy.

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People always ask me what my favourite thing to do in New York is and the first thing that comes to mind is EAT. I can’t leave New York without having a 99 cent pizza slice (2 Bros!!), a Belgian waffle (Waffles and Dinges) , cupcakes (Magnolia Bakery is my new favourite, Crumbs is horrible) and an addition to the list, Dimsum (Gogo Dimsum in China Town).

Besides stuffing my face with butter cream frosted cupcakes, MSG, oily cheese and carbs, taking an afternoon repose in Central Park is another one of my favourite things to do in New York. Bear in mind, Central Park is not the only park in New York but it is the most well known and it remains my favourite. Central Park is huge and has so many little nooks and crannies to explore. During my last visit, I was able to actually see a bit more of it, thanks to the friendly caretaker who gave me a map upon seeing the bewildered look on my face. After a few minutes of exploring, nothing is better than resting on a blanket and people watching.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is the only place that I MUST visit every.single.time I go to New York. I could see the same Picasso, Lichtenstein, Monet or Warhol every single time I visit, but there is always a piece of art that might have been on tour during my last visit. FYI the MoMA has Uniqlo Friday’s which means that entry to the museum is F-R-E-E. Just be prepared to stand in line.

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The shopping…yeah we aren’t going to talk about that. Y’all already know what’s up.

I only spent a few days in New York, but I find myself sitting at my desk thinking about what I would be doing at that very moment. New York is wonderful but can become exhausting. The hustle and bustle during rush hour is something to avoid if you can. Running after trains, pushing past people as you try to get from point A to point becomes draining. Worse yet if you have to catch a bus from the Port Authority to New Jersey which is basically in the middle of the cluster f*** of lights and tourist track AKA Time Square (I recommend going there ONLY ONCE).

Between the art, the architecture, the food, the fashion and just New York being New York, you just can’t get enough of this city. I like to take it in small doses so that each time I go back, I get that rush of excitement.

Would I go to New York again? Oh yes honey, I’m already planning my next visit.

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*To everyone who I didn’t get in contact with or get to see while I was there, I promise to stay longer next time!*

Santa Cruz ‘home of the first TV’

I stumbled upon this interesting article from the Trinidad Express about John Logie Baird, producer of the first-ever-televison and his time in Santa Cruz, Trinidad.
#ThingIdidntknowaboutTrinidad

By Louis B Homer South Bureau

Santa Cruz Valley is historically known for its cocoa plantations and production.

It is also the home of cricketing superstars Brian Charles Lara and Jeffrey Stollmeyer.

It was home to Jonas Mohammed Bath, Sultan of Yalliallhad, who was partly responsible for the construction of the famed Fort George.

But not well known is that Santa Cruz was also the laboratory for a man who would one day invent the television.

John Logie Baird, a Scottish engineer, spent time researching his invention on a cocoa estate in the Santa Cruz Valley, and produced the first-ever television, which earned him the title of “Father of Television”.

Baird had arrived in Trinidad in 1919 to begin researching the television. He had chosen the cool valley of Santa Cruz because weather conditions there were helping him to recover from an illness plaguing him for many years.

At Santa Cruz, he worked alone on his secret project.

continue…

Happy Indian Arrival Day!

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If it wasn’t for the arrival of the indentured labourers from India, Trinidad and Tobago wouldn’t have the best curry in the Caribbean! Trinidad and Tobago is so rich with many different cultures, but today we celebrate the arrival of our Indian brothers and sisters. They are the spices in our melting pot that add that extra richness to our music, food, fashion and dialect.

I’m sure some of you are currently experiencing a food coma from all the curry, however, I decided not to go that route this year but did enjoy some homemade Saheena. (rolled!! Not chipped!!)

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful long weekend.

 

The Cocal

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Something about driving through the coconut trees in Mayaro makes me feel like I’m going back in time.

One of my best friends, Zahra and her family invite all their friends and family to their beach house for their annual easter Mayaro lime. It’s a chance for persons to enjoy a day of relaxation, great food and just overall fun. I missed the past two years while I was in Japan so I was really excited about being able to join in on the festivities.

The drive to Mayaro county is pretty long but when you get to Manzanilla it’s absolutely worth it.  Of course I had my camera ready to snap pictures while we drove. Plus I learned a couple of new things during the ride.

First thing I learned:
“The Cocal”

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The stretch of coconut trees is called “The Cocal.” Their is something so majestic about driving through the Cocal and seeing these tall coconut trees in different shades of green with the ocean on one side and fields of coconut trees on the other. The beaches aren’t the best, the water might be rough but Mayaro is still a great place to go for a staycation.

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Second thing I learned:
There is a swamp on the other side of the road from the beach that people go and fish.

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My Friend Bash and I went exploring and met an old man and his fishing partners who told us about the big fish, snakes and Caimans that live in the swamp. After noticing the swamp for the first, the men decided to try their luck at fishing.

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The men were quite proud of their catch.

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After hearing about all the creatures living in the swamp that could possibly jump out and take me to my death, I wasn’t about to stick around.

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Third thing I learned:
I didn’t know that watermelon grew in Mayaro! In between and at the foot of the coconut trees you can spot watermelons growing from vines.  You’ll see quite a few watermelon vendors  trying to sell their crop along the Cocal.

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By the time we got to the beach house the lime had already begun. he beach was filled with people playing football, flying kites, kite surfing and playing cricket.

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It’s weekends like this that make me realize how blessed I am to be born in such an amazing country. I’m fully aware of the crime situation but I refuse to let that take away from the beauty of this country.

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