Monday, September 17, 2007

Pittstown Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: SE 10 knots, rain and thunderstorms in the morning, remnants of Tropical Depression Ingrid drifting by directly overhead

Our visit to the church yesterday has continued to prompt rumination for me, especially now that the novelty has worn off. Yesterday, all I could think about was our acceptance in the community, but today I’m thinking about the theme of the event, which really had to do with the current crisis in the Bahamas. Everyone spoke about the future of the nation’s children, and everyone spoke about the climate of violence in Nassau. Ninety percent of the population of the Bahamas is focused in Nassau, and these rural communities are really just a reflection of what goes on there. Everyone we know goes to Nassau often, sometimes as often as once a week. We know workmen who are here working from Nassau, and we know other people who go to Nassau for work. Nappy lives on Crooked Island, and his wife live in Nassau. They have, to all appearances, a perfectly functional long-distance relationship, commuting to spend time with each other.

So Nassau has a big influence on this island, and even though the children and young people here seem fairly innocent, these are the little kids from the country. Kids get sent here from the big city, when they’re born to single mothers or fathers, or when they can’t be controlled in Nassau. We haven’t been to Nassau, so I can’t really talk about how crime-ridden or violent it is or is not, but I know there have been three weeks of school in Nassau and there have already been three stabbings. That’s all anyone could talk about, what’s going wrong and what could be done about it.

I keep mulling it over in my head. How did this peaceful little island chain--everyone talks about the “good old days” when farmers would grow tomatoes and cabbages instead of bringing in vegetables from Nassau, when communities would get together with washboards and buckets for rake-and-scrape, when breakfast was always boiled fish and grits--turn into a hard-edged country of stabbings and the highest rape rate per capita worldwide? The only possible reason, in my mind, is America. All the violence, the prosmicuous sex, the endless text-messaging: that’s all because of the consumer-driven message of the States. I hate to blame hip-hop culture, because I love hip-hop music and respect its lyrical and musical innovation, but I do think that certain elements of that ethos have translated into very bad things. The emphasis on bling, on drugs, on relentless misogyny, has permeated all levels of society here.

Maybe our presence at church yesterday was more subversive than I thought--we are a representation of that corporate-controlled message, with my bare legs and Karl’s tattoos and our long hair and our comfortability with uncertainty. We are Americans, of the land from whose wells all these waters spring. Nappy gave us an old Bahamian saying yesterday: “When America sneezes, the Bahamas catches cold.” We don’t think people like Anna-Nicole Smith matter, but in the Bahamas, they blame her for the ruling party losing the April election.


Wayne said...

I have read the entire blog and am enjoying the content and writing style very much. As a fellow Ranger 33 owner I feel a special kinship. If I can be of any assistamce let me know. Keep the faith, you are living the dream, relax and enjoy it.
Wayne Keller
Grand Isle, LA

Si Campbell said...

Please say hi to Nappy for me.
Arriving on island October 6. Interesting to hear your experiences there. Any advice for us--we are staying at least 2 1/2 months. Si Campbell

cindy bates said...

Hi There everyone!
Thank you Si for forwarding me this Blog. I was living on Crooked when there were no phones, only VHS for communication! This is great to be able to communicate with someone that is actually sitting on Crooked Island as they write! Please say hi to Nappy for me also. I was the manager of Pittstown Point from 94-98. The best years of my life. My plan is to work one more year and also sail down to live permanetly. The Marina Gibson family is my adopted family, and I was baptized in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I feel as Bahamian as the locals. It's great to follow your comments.
God Bless you for living your dream so young.