So, we finished up four years in Guyana, South America—my “first” second culture. Now, just so you understand the TCK, we’re call “third culture” kids because our first culture (birth or home culture) mixes with our second culture to produce some weird concoction that is now a “third” culture. Follow that? Just wait—it gets even more complicated for me!
Guyana—the only English-speaking country in South America, a country with large Muslim, Hindu and Christian populations, a large land area with a small population (less than a million!), a country both modern and stone-age. It was a great place to spend my childhood—I was largely oblivious to whatever dangers, but old enough to enjoy a rather care-free life.
Then, at the end of 1973, since the Guyanese gov’t refused to renew visas for missionaries, my parents had to turn elsewhere…and it wasn’t too far away. After a year-and-a-half furlough in North Carolina for Dad to do masters degree no.2, we moved to Grenada in the West Indies, the southern Caribbean. I was nine-years-old when we arrived there…and it was to be the most formative place in my life.
Grenada is a small island—12 miles wide and 21 miles long. The west coast is calm and lined with beaches; the east coast faces the Atlantic and tends to be more rocky and rough. The interior of the island rises to some 2800 ft. at its highest point. Thanks to the volcanic origin and mild climate, the land is green with life.
Life in Grenada was paradise. Oh, I had to go to school, but it wasn’t too difficult. My usual day went like this: up at 6:30am…into my uniform…on my little Honda off to school…back home by 2pm…lunch is ready (flying fish, callaloo soup, cristophine with cheese sauce, mmmmmm)…a little rest, maybe some homework…the 416 steps from our veranda to Lance aux Epines Beach below our house with my dog at my side…wander the beach…go out on the rocks…back to the house…a light dinner…some reading…sitting on the front veranda with my parents chatting…and in bed by 9:30pm. Next day, do it again.
Grenada…where we lived through the Revolution of 1979. Grenada where I first “fell in love” (with a German girl I met on the beach!). Grenada, where I had my first real friends—Bobby and Terry. Grenada, where music first entered my life—all the reggae tunes that still float through my mind.
My best memories—1) visiting Bobby up in Mt.Moritz for the weekend: running through the bush together, sleeping by the river, catching fish and crayfish…throwing them in a pot with breadfruit and blugga…and eating right out of the pot—all five of us, arm-wrestling his mother’s boyfriend—an officer in the People’s Revolutionary Army, seeing his hidden weapons, eating damseljam we had made. 2) Diving on the reefs with my brother: the dingy we bought and fixed up, buying the Yamaha motor that would carry us out to the reefs, spending hours in the water in Lance aux Epines Bay—angelfish, urchins, barracuda, nurse sharks, rays, amazing corals; catching fish for our seawater aquarium, arriving home absolutely exhausting and sleeping so deeply. 3) Going up to the mission churches with my parents: packing into the Toyota Crown (tag 1283), passing through St. Georges and squeezing two or three more in with us, up the west coast highway and then turning off onto a ‘road’ that ran up the mountain, through small villages, past the rum shops, to a little house a the end of a path; going in, finding a seat, and then having others arrive…packing it in—the mix of smells of the mountains, of people who had worked the mountain all day, of the fishermen…singing, often too slowly, usually not exactly on key…the quiet during the sermon, the expectation, the joy; exploding out of the building after, everyone greeting and laughing and us kids running around…or looking cool for the cute girls who were too shy to say “hi.”
To this day, Grenada is who I am at the core of my being—when I get angry, I fall into the patois in my mind; when I am happy, the songs of the islands come to my mind; when I am depressed, I play the music of the islands; when I dream of a perfect world, I dream of my Grenada (“my” Grenada because she has changed much in 30 years); when I think of the best vacation, I think of Grenada; the best foods? Grenadian. If I ever had money to burn, and could live ANYWHERE in the world, I would go back to Grenada.
I lived in Grenada from 1975 – 1982, from ages nine to seventeen…some incredibly formative years. As we prepared to leave in the summer of 1975, I cried myself to sleep almost every night. New things awaited me in the US, time would prove that being in the US was the best thing, but for that young fellow at that time, God never seemed so unjust and unkind. But, then again, that 17-year-old boy could not see the future…!
(More to come….)