Please note the Obama grocery. These is also an Obama hairdresser, Obama mechanic, Obama restaurant and Obama shop.
This is a fruit and veg shop. Works quite well, I think, despite the lack of fruit and veg.
This little boy called me a Mzungu, and all his little brothers and sisters behind him are coming to call me Mzungu too. Note the wire ring he is holding. This is an excellent toy, providing hours of fun spinning and running after it.
This boy has a made a cool toy. It is a white box attached to some string. These kids have such fun with stuff they make out of objects left lying around.
I am trying to read the expression on her face, not sure what she thinks of me and my camera.
In 31 days Trinidad and Tobago will be the host of the 5th Summit of the Americas. 34 democratically elected leaders of the Western Hemisphere will gather here in Port of Spain, home of 1 highway and the 12 minute cappuccino, to discuss and exchange ideas about the Americas, the problems, the solutions and to gossip about who is the most handsome leader of the Western world. 5000 people from 33 countries will gather here, and according to the T&T organizing committee, will have a chance to see Trinidad in another light. Hmmmm. The big question, of course is why did Trinidad get this honour and what benefit will there be to this small island through the hosting of this mammoth event?
Of course, Trinidad is pulling out all the stops. They are dredging the harbour to accommodate both the large cruise ships coming in as well as Obama’s battleship,his home during the event. They are updating the airport, lining the windows of the Hyatt with bomb proof sticky stuff, pulling people from the military reserves out of their jobs (one of our maintenance men at school is going), training people to march and patrol in boots, hold guns and look scary. The other day, streets were closed and the daily traffic jam brought to a halt for a rehearsal. This country is getting ready. They are closing the port and the airport for the entirety of the event, which means no one ( me!) can return from Tobago on the ferry in time for school. The whole country is getting ready to turn into a peacock and show off their best colours to the world. They will tuck away the unsightly feathers, the crime, the poverty, the massive corruption, and showcase them selves as a country worthy of respect and investment. Apparently there is some assurance that at no point will any VIPs see anything ugly at all. Routes have been laid out so that no cars will pass by the boarded up facades of the formally magnificent homes around the Savannah.
This is a huge undertaking for Trinidad. It takes over 3 years to build an over pass over the highway and here they are dredging the harbour 31 days before the Summit begins. There is much cynicism over the fact that Trinidad is rushing to show off to the world ( and to future investors) long before it fixes its own domestic troubles. Comparing the money spent on this summit to the health care spent on the poor of Trinidad is one bone of contention. The papers are full of criticism for the government and Patrick “Business Man” Manning but I suspect that when the streets are swept and everything is shiny and ready and Obama is actually here, a certain pride will take over this little island and the words of one famous leader will echo through the land.
“Yes We Can.”
I am not even American and I feel proud. America is like my best friend who has been disappointing me of late. In fact we haven’t been speaking for awhile. Now I feel like hanging out again. I am not naive and don’t believe that the troubles are over but the very fact of voting for him is a strong indicator that times are a changing. I do not want to wax lyrical about how we are tipping into this new era and I don’t want to add a voice to all the others in the danger of turning something very real and touching into a cliche. I will say that when I went into school today it felt like the world had changed. Yes, the odd cynic wondered how long this might last and a few Republican students threw some sour grapes into the mix but even those people were smiling. Everyone was happy. Everyone was slightly electric as if we had just entered the future.
Trinidad is absolutely thrilled about Obama, as is most of the world. So my question is, why is Trinidad so inspired by someone else’s leader? They vote but don’t believe in their leaders, yet they’ve placed a whole lot of hope in Obama’s hands. They are not inspired here since there is little faith in the promise of change. While the US is ripe for a new vision, Trinidad wants it but perhaps is not ready. In Obama’s acceptance speech he spoke of a victory over apathy. Apathy is ingrained over here and there is an overwhelming sense of “what’s the point?”.
The American people have spoken and they have said “Enough.”
When the Trinis speak they do not demand change. Why is this? How can there be apathy in the face of unreasonable crime. There have been 436 murders this year and counting. Where is their Obama?