Living the Good Life
When I'm in Barbados, I'm reminded how lucky I am to be working here in the Caribbean.
I woke this morning at about 6am and went for a swim in the sea just as the sun rose. That by itself is not so unusual, and the fact is that most hotels here in Barbados are right on the water.
As I was swimming I was thinking about the news I heard that a major snow-storm is heading towards the north-east. Memories of a project I was part of several years ago in December, in Toledo, Ohio came to mind...
I also know that people coming here to the Accra Beach Hotel, have saved for years and months for the opportunity to come to the Caribbean on a vacation. I come here every other week or so, and barely blink an eye.
It made me think of how good life is here in the Caribbean, and how easy it is to convince oneself that the grass is greener on the other side -- over there in the US, Canada and England, where most migrating West Indians end up. The tragedy is that most are able to fulfill only the first part of the dream -- to leave.
Part 2 of the dream almost always includes an intention to make some kind of successful return, and this is where the challenge lies. It's relatively easy to leave the Caribbean to live outside the region, but quite hard to return.
The reasons aren't legal, either.
They have more to do with the psyche that develops in the minds of those of us who have left. The result is that a return remains nothing but a dream for the majority, who end up drifting into a permanent stage of being "neither here nor there."
Unfortunately, it's difficult to evaluate the pros and cons of migration. Even worse, I've never seen any kind of service, website or book that offers any help for those who start out thinking about migrating, and end up making the decision based on only partial information.
For example, most West Indians moving to the US have no interest in raising their children as African Americans. Being West Indian is different. However, for Black Caribbeans, there is really no choice . The forces they confront at school, the workplace and in the larger society are just too big to resist -- and before they know it, the accent is gone and the kids adopt American values and norms.
Further, most West Indians would say they are not interested in moving to a place where the idea of going to the beach is a rare one, and the termperature drops way below 50 degrees for days at a time -- yet most do.
It seems that these kinds of questions are not openly asked and answered, and most who do migrate end up saving for weeks and months for their own opportunity to return home to enjoy the beaches they, and I, took for granted.
If that's the case, then why leave in the first place?