Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Salt Pond, Long Island, Bahamas 23º16.7N | 75º6.9W

Traveling by boat, we often skirt along the edges of the land, rarely penetrating the barrier between land and sea, between water people and land people. But sometimes, and not often enough, we find a doorway and sneak through, even for just a few hours.

Last Sunday in one of Long Island's tiny towns, I was looking at handmade straw purses in the back room of a small marine store.

"Those aren't for sale," the purse maker told me. "They're for the talent show at the church this afternoon."

So, at 4 o'clock, we paid our five dollars at the door, me and Chip, Karen and Dale, stood in line for our plates of homemade cake and cookies, and then awkwardly wedged ourselves into the last four plastic chairs near the front of the room, the only foreigners, at the Holy Cross Talent and Fashion Show.

Laughter, singing, prayer, babies, great grandmas, sulky teens, bright dresses, sweet people who didn't seem to be bothered at all by four white people in shorts crashing their church party -- or taking pictures of their children.

Husband hunter.
Not even the lady at our table who drove some 30 miles hopefully canvasing the gathering for a husband.

In finery from local shops, the islanders, young and old, promenaded across the stage, some shy, some buoyant, all relishing the coos and applause of an adoring crowd.

Between fashion sets, a thin teenage boy quietly sauntered onto the stage, while the announcer told us he was dedicating his song to his little sister, Zena.

The preacher's wife leaned over from the table next to us to inform us that his 10-year-old sister Zena died just a few months ago.

And through clear despair, without a hint of teen bravado, he labored through a recorded song by a rapper who lost a sister too. At the end of the song, he stopped by his grandmother's side for a long embrace. Though he never shed a tear, his face, his whole body exuded profound grief, and for just a moment, we felt it too.

And then, just like life, the show went on.

The whole scene a reminder that what is paradise to us is real life to those kind souls who live here.

Hat making contest.
The winner.
"Can I have this dance, for the rest of my life."

1 comment:

  1. Chip and Dale?

    I don't know why I just felt I should comment that.