Identified by my Travelling
Often we have to leave where we are to really see who we are. After getting a degree in physics and learning to program computer software as only an afterthought, I spent over a decade as a software architect and then manager in the software consulting business before becoming a writer and photographer. Having been a consultant I’ve travelled extensively throughout North America on business … so much so that I often feel it’s easier to identify the places I haven’t been to than the places I have been to. And the cities I have been to melt together. Increasingly, regardless of where one travels in the western world, the familiar nationwide chains of restaurants and stores sometime threaten to blur the practical distinctions between places. But I consider myself an adventurous traveller who doesn’t come with any expectations but remains open to the experiences the destination has to bring, so that despite the similarities between different destinations, there is always something new and meaningfully distinctive.
Curiousity and Openness
The Dakotas, for example, make a poor Manhattan for anyone looking for the big city. But if one is open to enjoying the place for its own merits one might notice that the rolling hills of the Dakotas, are a landscape unlike any other. Taking the opportunity to drive through it, I found myself humming along with the country music being played on many of the radio stations. Country music, my mother tells me, in her day had quite a following in the Caribbean partly since the AM signal of country radio stations were some of the only signals that carried to the islands. As a kid I loved to listen to Johnny Cash and some other artists on my dad’s old record player. They told such great stories in their music. I’d listen while my mother would hum and cook Sunday dinners that always smelled delicious. I didn’t normally listen to a lot of country music at the time I went to the Dakotas, but somehow with the landscape stretching on endless and unbroken, on either side of the highway during that trip, there was something deeply honest about that music. It seemed that nothing else could say what needed to be said right at that time, so I listened. Stopping along the road I tasted Bison burgers for the first time at a restaurant I can’t remember the name of. At the same restaurant I also bought the book “Buffalo for the Broken Heart”, which was one Dakota rancher’s account of leaving an unsuccessful beef cattle rearing business and converting to raising buffalo for meat. The buffalo he said were much more suited to that part of the country, and not having to fight the land to rear them, he said, was much more suited to his soul.
In Tennessee there were the barbecue pits that slow barbecued pork with a dry rub of spices. They cooked the meat slowly in pits, sometimes for just about the whole day. It would fall right off the bone, and we would eat it in sandwiches. I’ve had this kind of pulled pork elsewhere, but Tenessee, like every region, seemed to add their own little twist.
Defined by My Roots
Through all of this I’ve learned that the things I value and remember most about a visit anywhere are the stories that were meaningful to the person who told then to me. I rarely remember history or politics on their own otherwise.I called this blog “Wandering Descendants of the Caribbean” because although all my roots are Antiguan, I’ve been away around 30 years, such a long time in fact that my outlook is partly West Indian, and partly North American as well. But some thing run deep. I recognize the typical West Indian’s love for adding their own particular embellishments to their account of any event … to their story. The fact that I best appreciate places because of some individual’s well told story involving those places may or may not by mere chance. But I am in any case thankful for being graced with the ability to do so.
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