Monday, August 31, 2015

Independence 3... 2... 1..!


The first time I ever came to Trinidad was in August of 2011, during a State of Emergency that came with armed roadblocks, reduced traveling options, and a curfew. Despite all that, Trinidad presented herself as an incredibly interesting country: an island full of tropical landscapes, a people proud of their heritage, a past shrouded in mysteries of colonization, emancipation, and so much to learn and discover. I was with a group of students and we spent time in the university, driving up and down more and less developed stretches of road, and exploring as much as we could in those limiting circumstances. I still remember how fascinated I was and just how much I liked the place. Incredible.

The following year, again during August, I came back with another group of students. This time, there was no curfew, there were no roadblocks, and we got to visit the same places we had seen the previous year while looking through a different pair of glasses. By then I had traveled to more Caribbean islands and had spent more time learning about the region and so I was able to appreciate how unique she was (and, of course, still is) among her sisters. Or, rather, her cousins. Trinidad was still just as welcoming and I was still just as fascinated and I made the decision to come back for a longer time, which I did two and a half months later - happily. Incredible.

That third time I came to Trinidad, in November of 2012, I stayed for three months; and because Trinidad still liked me and I was still really into Trinidad and a gigantic opportunity had presented itself to me in Academia World (somebody create that theme park, please) I was going to come back once more - to stay. Incredible.

I came back for the fourth and last time in the spring of 2013, to start my UWI career that September. The plan was to stay for four years and complete my PhD in Geography in that time. That's why I say it was the last time I came back, because the other, future, times wouldn't count anymore. I'd still be coming back, but differently, because the immigration forms and the stamps in my passport and the address I wrote everywhere told a different story now. Trinidad was now the point of return, not another destination. Incredible!

But this is where independence comes in.

Today is Independence Day.
August 31st.

I was here for every single Independence Day since that first one. This is my fifth one.

However, now is the first time I am also celebrating my own independence again. I wasn't last year or the year before. I didn't have any; something I have explained in previous posts and surely will explain a few more times before the year runs out. Because in two weeks, I will again, and I have to leave to get it. Incredible...

Happy Independence Day, Trinidad and Tobago.

And Happy Independence Day, isa.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

This is tense.


I met a few new people this week and as they're all academics like me, the basic get-to-know-you questions were about the formative years. You know how those questions vary depending on who you're meeting and where and under what circumstances...

Friends' friends:
How do you know ABC?
What do you do?

Travelers:
Where are you from?
Have you been to XYZ?

Hookups:
Can I buy you a drink?
Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

And when you meet people in an academic setting of any kind it's always the obligatory mini interview about your current research and previous studies.

So, what are you working on right now? Have you read so and so? Don't you find this theory absolutely fascinating and that other one just ridiculous? And what did you do for your undergraduate degrees? How do you feel about this professor and that university. What are you planning on doing when you're done?

Whoa... cross-examination, much?

Anyway, talking about my background in philology made me want to revisit the times I spent learning and speaking various languages by blogging about what's new and at the same time exploring the fascinating world of English tenses.

Yes, I'm weird. I know.

Get over it.

Present.
It is hot. It rains a lot these days. I don't understand cricket. I am in Trinidad. I have pink paint on my left hand. Some giving up is more of a victory than a defeat.

Present progressive.
My kittie is sleeping downstairs. I am going through a time of transition. My friends and family are helping me. The air condition unit is making a quiet rumbling sound.

Past simple. 
I drank a lot of apple juice today. I sent my cousins an email. I took tons of pictures at the cricket matches I visited. I also asked a lot of silly questions and used the wrong terminology. One of my plants died. I never thought it would come to this.

Past progressive.
I was thinking about a lot of things. Many people were waiting outside the bank. A young lady was stacking milk cartons in the supermarket. My thoughts were firing in all kinds of directions and giving me a hard time sorting them.

Present perfect.
I have come to a conclusion. A colleague has asked me to participate in his pilot study. My cat has destroyed one of his toys. A former neighbour has decided to move back into his old apartment.

Present perfect progressive.
The vet has been giving us many tips on healthy nutrition. My supervisor has been supporting me in my work from day one. I have been thinking about this a lot. My closet has been threatening to explode because of how full it is.

Past perfect.
I had planned to visit my friends in Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. I had thought I could keep trying and fighting. My cat had tried to eat that plant, which is why it ended up dying. The other manager had told me I couldn't return the item to the store.

Past perfect progressive.
I had been meaning to sew new curtains for my bedroom. The roof gutter had been leaking for months. The police officer had been threatening me with high fines and taking away my license. My cat had been waiting behind the curtain for me to walk past him unawares.

Future I - will/going to.
It will all be okay. I am going to give my cat a treat. I will drink even more apple juice tomorrow. I am going to see more cricket matches. I still won't understand the rules though. I will miss a few people.

Future I progressive.
I will be continuing this blog. Hollywood will be producing more and more Marvel movies. I will be traveling again. I will be working on finding solutions for everything.

Future II.
One month from right now, I will have left Trinidad.