Sunday, July 27, 2014

Where my string be

We learned many things over our winter in the Bahamas.  We saw sights, we talked with people, ran aground (!) a few times.   Perhaps the most rewarding though was learning about the Bahamians.  Yes, there are Bahamians.  Its a sovereign nation of 400,000 people, smaller than Austin, and 350,000 live in Nassau.  Which means when you aren't in Nassau you are in with them.  They are a people with their own unique history and culture that arose from origins of slavery and life-on-the-sea in an archipelago of hundreds of islands.  They see the Loyalists of the American Revolution as the good-guys because the Loyalists brought so much economic prosperity to these astringent islands.  They talk a lot about Positive.  There is an active church every half mile along the road.  They live for the moment and for the future of their children.  It's a culture they struggle to hang on to in the face of the hurricane of self-indulgent materialism exported by the 'States.  Many go to the 'States to study and work.  But they always find their way home.


On Stocking Island we had a chance to hear a local historian and botanist talk about his country.  He talked about plants and their medicinal purposes. He talked about where he had lived and why he was now back home on Stocking Island.  He said it was "where his string be."

Wow!  What did that mean?  We had to ask.  He said your "string" is your umbilical cord and it's buried in the garden of the house you are born in.  And when Bahamians are done wandering and living abroad, they always head back to where their string be.

Where be your string?  As Americans, we don't have much sense of home, the world is our oyster, well not really.  We are out in the world right now, touring through Europe, avoiding the worst of the South Florida summer heat.  We are visiting our European friends and our ex-pat friends too.  It's pretty clear that ex-pats do make their homes here although there is always this sense of looking over your shoulder back to the US.  And the over-arching question is "where will we settle when we get back?"  Without a sense of "where my string be" it's pretty hard to know where to go back to.

Cruisers seem to be the same or worse.  Most of us do not intend to spend the rest of our lives living aboard nor abroad.  At any gathering of cruisers there is this undercurrent of wondering where we will each go next and where we will go back to when done wandering.  The Bahamians wander their archipelago and the world but they each know where their string be.