Writing: January 2013. Photo: Dame Mary Eugenia Charles Blvd, Roseau, Dominica
The mountains are always underneath you. You are always in them.
This isn’t a remarkable photo but I felt compelled to post it the second I pulled it up from the folder where it has sat dormant for nearly 3 years. This photo was taken along the harbour front where the cruise ships dock. There is nothing there to see: a few colourful trinkets; T-shirts; the same souvenirs you’ll find in any tourist trap all over the Caribbean. I hated going by here as it meant running a gauntlet of tour guides that had mistaken us for cruise ship passengers. And yet we went here as often as we could stand to make the long climb down from the hills (and back up again); always in search of coffee. Or rather I was. Davin wasn’t a caffeine addict then. There is a coffee shop there, a Starbucks a-like chain that we ran into again at the airport in St. Lucia.
But I didn’t mean to say any of this. All I really wanted to say is that when I look at this photo I am reminded of how mountainous this island is. It’s complex; you are always going up or down. After some time you forget what it is like to walk on a flat surface with clear vision in front and behind you. You grow accustomed to looking at things in three dimensions because now you have to look up to see what is happening in the trees on the hills above you. You must also look down to see what lies in the thick greenery below you. You’d think that this lack of clarity would make you fearful, but it doesn’t. Instead, it makes you bold. Bolder. It helps you forget that there could be a steep drop just a foot off of the road beside your feet. One slip or misstep to avoid a fast moving car and you’re dead. You think about this a lot at first, but as time passes you worry less and less.
It allows you to sink into a comfortably hazy state of denial about all manner of things.
When I think about this now it makes me wonder about landscapes and the effect they have on people. It makes me ponder my own family’s sense of deep comfort in a lack of clarity. Is this the start, or at the very least a part that helped shape their hazy way of being?