|The Guianas (ArnoldPlaton, CC BY-SA 3.0)|
As guides and new friends patiently explained across a mind-blowing array of geographic and historical sub-contexts, the story of this southern basin of the Caribbean is a tragedy of colonial conquest, yet yields today a triumphant range of blended cultural traditions. Mixed ethnic backgrounds deriving identities from dramatically different parts of the globe informed the experience of the people I met more often than not, rendering a picture of diversity--and moreover of peaceful co-existence--like none I have seen elsewhere in the world.
|Ruela Goedewacht is head of the Johannes Arabi primary school in Nieuw|
Aurora, Suriname (CC BY-SA 4.0). The Peace Corps painted this world map,
and the school features many beautiful murals for the kids to enjoy.
|Anthony Luces of Trinidad Food Tours at left (CC BY-SA 4.0). At center|
is my security officer and virtual nephew, Casey Bius.
As a result: Churches, mosques, and temples of various kinds take up residence adjacently to one another. Public calendars are speckled with holidays and cultural traditions, whether Ramadan, Christmas, Holi, or the solstice, which enjoy a surprising embrace of mutual observance--not to mention the universally beloved Carnival. Many people are fluent in multiple dissimilar languages, from Marroon and Amerindian tongues traceable to African and indigenous tribes, to the curving script renderings of the Far East, as well as unique Creole blends of native and European tongues. And to my mouthwatering delight, the food traditions have produced unprecedented and delectable blends, such as South American-cultivated beef (Western) in a cumin-rich sauce (Indian/Hindu), or pork ribs (Eastern) upon flatbread (Indian/Muslim).
|Dino Ramlal of Travel the Guianas, center. At left is one of my steadfast|
travel companions, Debby Merickel, who blogs at the Aging Adventurer
(CC BY-SA 4.0).
|Charcoal ice cream on the streets of Port of Spain (CC BY-SA 4.0).|
I've said too much.