I dont typically make New Years resolutions,
mostly because I just dont have the attention span to
keep focused on a list of things to do.
But if I did make resolutions, my first and foremost, (after
greater financial stability) would be to travel more.
Although its great to be in Trinidad, the urge to be
off again somewhere is getting stronger daily. And I cant
say whether its my short attention span and lack of
rootedness or that theres just so much more of the world
left for me to see.
Of all the things I regret about the past ten years of my
lifenow that Im another year closer to the next
big age milestoneis that I didnt travel more when
I was younger.
This struck me one night at the age of 26 in a hostel in Beijing.
I watched 17- and 18-year-old European travellers, all backpacks
and pure excitement and it disturbed me that I was the oldest
one in the room.
When I was finished with high school, Id harboured for
a little more than ten minutes, notions of joining the crew
of Greenpeaces Rainbow Warrior ship.
Id met some of the crew a year before when theyd
docked at the Cruise Ship Complex. It was at the height of
my intense fear for the state of the planet and I felt drawn
to this big green boat and the idea of traversing the seas,
teaching and learning and saving the world. Kind of like Captain
Planet without the ugly costume and the geeky voice.
Of course, my mother had a good laugh at this. My dreams of
being an eco-freako died then and I did the only sensible
thing and got a job at a radio station after refusing to give
UWI access to my still-very-impressionable brain just yet.
She, like many other Caribbean mothers, is of the keep
children close for as long as possible school of thought.
I have to ask myself, what exactly are our parents afraid
of? Yes, perhaps the world is a big scary place. But so were
maxi taxis back in the nineties.
Too besides, Im bored of being the exotic everywhere
I go. And the only way to stop that is if more young people,
Caribbean people, were to start travelling. Not just to Brooklyn.
Its possible to get across Europe on less than a shoestring.
North Africa is a ferry ride away from Spain. A ferry to Venezuela
isnt that expensive. Why arent there tour companies
organising trips for young people through the Amazon to explore
the wealth of First Nation cultures that lie just on our doorstep?
In the past three years that Ive spent living and interacting
with Europeans, Ive tried to understand the historical
legacy of colonialism and the rejection of that history by
a generation attempting like those of us who were colonised,
to redefine themselves. Ive learned that the children
of the colonised, like myself, have been forced to steep themselves
Culture that the children of the colonisers identify with,
because Western culture, First World status culture that we
are so desperately running after, means nothing and they know
it. Theyre not only the children of hippies, either.
Its why I have Rasta sistrens whove come and spent
time in Bobo Shanti camps in St Joseph. It accounts for Anglo-Swiss
Asians who are studying to be Orisha priests.
I guess the thing that struck me is that these European children
of colonisers still have a different kind of ownership of
the world and of themselves that we, the children of the colonised,
we the forced migrants still dont have. They know no
fear. No one can tell them that they cant.
I know now that some of that confidence comes from travelling
on your own. Fending for yourself. Figuring out how to eat,
sleep and get to your next destination with little or no money.
The people you meet along the way. And, of course, the mind-blowing
Travel, at any time of your life, is special. But doing it
on your own when youre coming into a sense of yourself
as distinct from family or friends or community, well thats
Whether its carnival in Bahia or a camel ride to the
Giza, our children have a lot to learn in the big wide world.
We also have a lot to offer the world and its the sharing
our own cultural riches that makes travelling such a mutually
Pity that we have a government that thinks that investing
in young people only means more schools. But not everyone
strives in an academic environment.We have the failures of
primary and secondary education to prove that.
The lessons you learn from taking up your georgie bundle and
setting forth into the world, learning to live and be a better
human cant ever be taught in a classroom.