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.
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.