Thoughts on Special Places

(Originally written in 2011)

There are a very few places in the world that truly touch me to my core… I just found another this past week.

I’d like to share with my friends something I wrote while facing my return to the so-called “Real” world…

“Sitting in Saba airport bar, which is an open-air deck by the check-in area, I realise the saddest part about being here, even sadder than having to leave this paradise — the thing that makes Saba feel so foreign is not the strange names, the weather or the food, it’s the troublesome fact that it feels foreign to be in a what I feel is a true community; a place that has no crime — 6 policemen with nothing to do, nobody locks doors in the house or car, people actually stop to talk to you, showing genuine interest in what you think of their island obviously proud when you pass a compliment, offering to help you out in any way they can. In short, what community used to mean, rather than being some political term used to isolate groups from each other, as opposed to uniting us as a people.

“Old and young, regardless of skin colour, religion or origins — on Saba we are all part of the community. This is what we have lost, and this time here has been a sobering reminder of that for me.

“The biggest environmental danger to Saba, as the conservation organisations work to preserve the oceans and the cloud forests, is the danger that this taste of what I believe should be a core value for humanity will be lost as the island gets more popular and more commercial.

Maybe the genie is already out of the bottle and we can’t go back to this, but it certainly felt nice for a short while to feel truly human again.

Maybe it was summed up by one of our taxi drivers, Jarvis, who, when I asked him if he had ever left the island, said in his characteristic accent “No, never saw reason to”. I sort of know how he feels.”

The Saban national anthem sums up some of that feeling:

Saba, you rise from the ocean,
With Mountain and hillside so steep,
How can we reach you to greet you,
Isle of the sea, rough and deep.
Come, let us look at the rowers
with faces so placid and calm,
Guide us now safe through the breakers,
take us ashore without harm.
Saba, Oh Jewel most precious,
In the Caribbean sea.
Mem’ries will stay of thy beauty,
Though we may roam far from thee.
Saba, oh pearl of the ocean,
Friendly and lovely, though small,
Do not forget to be grateful,
To God the creator of all.
He in his goodness will guide you
and bless you in every part,
Making you always most precious
Saba, so dear to my heart.
Saba, Oh jewel most precious,
In the Caribbean Sea.
Mem’ries will stay of thy beauty,
Though we may roam far from thee.
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