If you have not read, Living in a Third World Country: Part 1 and 2, you can find them here, Living in a Third World Country (part 1: Another Move), Living in a Third World Country (Part 2: Getting Settled)
That was the turning point for me, I believe. After that night I had my “group”. After that night I had been drawn out of my bubble and it opened up a whole new and exciting world.
Now, I haven’t done much descriptive talk about living in this country and how different everything really was for me. Coming from Texas, I was unfamiliar with how the tropics looked and even felt. I moved from a very dry, west Texas, and so the differences in atmosphere alone were shocking enough. Yes, I was use to an overwhelming heat, but the humidity in this place was something I had never experienced before. We were dealing with a 90 to 100% humidity at all times. If you are unfamiliar with the Caribbean, it basically has two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. In the rainy season it rained everyday, the dry season was every other day. I did enjoy the showers we would get during the day.
The smells, on the other hand, weren’t quite as enjoyable, especially in the beginning. For the most part, people did not have air conditioning in their homes, we were not an exception. So, because of this, our windows, along with everyone else on the Island, stayed open 24-7. This promised that you were going to experience all the sounds and smells of the Island. Sometimes, like after a rain, those smells were fantastic. Other times, and for the majority of the time, you were smelling what everyone was cooking, and this didn’t begin around lunch, nope, this started first thing in the morning. It was the most intrusive curry smell I had ever experienced. I had not began to even tolerate this smell until months after we had moved there, mainly because I was not a fan of the food, quite yet.
Then there was the fantastic smell of the sugarcane factory. If you have never smelled a sugarcane factory, there is no way to describe it. It is a smell all in its own, and for me, it wasn’t a good one. Now, the longer you live in an area, the less offensive these smells become, sometimes they even begin to grow on you and don’t cause you to completely gag. The sugarcane mills did grow on me and that smell no longer bothered me too bad. The continued curry smell, on the other hand, was never a smell I looked forward to at 6 o’clock in the morning. By the time lunch rolled around, it smelled better, but bacon or coffee is all anyone should have to smell, that early, or donuts!
One of the only things I didn’t ever find myself complaining about was the scenery. It was the Caribbean, after all. It was amazing to me to finally see a palm tree that wasn’t on television or in a magazine. The majority of the beaches in Trinidad weren’t much to write home about, but it was still a beach, something else I had never experienced. Don’t get me wrong, there were beaches on the Island that were magazine worthy. Maracas Bay was that place for us. Tobago, Trinidad’s sister island was the place you really wanted to be, if you were a tourist and the only reason you were there was for the beaches. I did make it over to Tobago for a week, and it didn’t disappoint.
Our home was what most people would consider a beach house. It was on stilts and we lived upstairs and parked underneath. The inside of our particular house was pretty normal. Three bedroom, two bath, with an open floor living, dining, and kitchen area. It was a nice house for this country. I think the oddest thing about it was that it was gated. There was a doorbell on the gate and if you had a visitor, instead of knocking on the front door, you rang the bell and we would come out to the balcony and yell from there. You can keep your gate open but with dad gone most of the day at school, we typically kept it closed and locked. Now I am aware that this is not strictly a Trinidad thing, but when you live in Texas, it is odd.
Now, as I ventured off with my dad, when he was evangelizing and going from door to door to share the Gospel, I came to a quick realization that we were truly blessed to be living where we were. I remember going in one home that was pretty much on 4 posts and had a wooden ladder you climbed to get in. It was tiny inside for this young, growing, three person family. One small couch was in the living room and the bedroom was about 3 feet, directly across from the couch, separated by a curtain. The kitchen was large enough to have a stove and a small fridge and one person in it at a time. I do not remember seeing a bathroom. A rain barrel was the only “fresh” water they had for cooking and cleaning, which was a typical fixture for all the houses on the Island. Despite all of this, they were the most hospitable people I had ever met, offering up something to drink and large plates of food. They just wanted to share anything they had and were beyond joyful to do it. Seeing something like that and then seeing how generous they are, really makes you reevaluate everything.
I would come to appreciate things I never even considered before, things I easily took for granted. It was impossible not to.