I was born and raised in the Caribbean and with the exception of a brief stint in the Netherlands have been an island girl pretty much all of my life. Even though I have not yet experienced each island in the Caribbean, I have come to the realization that we have quite a lot in common. This is mostly based on the different island nationalities I’ve encountered here on St. Maarten or the different islands I have visited in my lifetime.
What makes one earn the title of a true Island Girl, I wonder? I thought long and hard about this question and I came up with a few different attributes and have jotted some of them down below. Whether you were born and raised in the Caribbean like me or decided to make these magical islands your home, you are bound to identify with a few. And if not, you will hopefully at least get a good laugh out of it. There, my good deed for the week is done. You’re welcome.
Growing up on the gorgeous but super superstitious and religious island of Curaçao, I was constantly scared of something or someone. As an adult I often wondered if it was because of my personality but I am not one to shy away from anything. I’m more of a grab-the-bull-by-the-horn kinda girl, a real go-getter. But one day it hit me. It must be all those old wives’ tales I heard growing up, or the “Doom” scenarios described to me when or if I ever behaved badly. I still find myself making the sign of the cross for example whenever I drive past a church. Driving in Curaçao means crossing yourself pretty much at every intersection or street corner.
It’s almost that time again. I sense it in the crawling of my skin. My sensors all go on high alert. I’m crabby, emotional, obnoxious and unbearable. Yes, Christmas is upon us.
It’s the only time of year that I get home sick. Home sick to Curaçao, hell even the Netherlands will do, anywhere but here.
If you haven’t noticed it yet I dislike the holidays on my current home island very much. I say this knowing very well that this revelation might get me kicked off the island permanently. I can see the true St. Maarteners already, coming to get me in the middle of the night with pitch forks and torches, holding up signs saying “Off with her head” and “Death to the traitor”.
I have always been interested in other cultures. From a very young age my parents made sure to take us to cultural events all around the island of Curaçao, and there were many. So when I moved to St. Maarten I was actually surprised to find that most people were not that into the island’s culture. I get that St. Maarten has changed hands many times according to history books and I understand that the beauty of this little rock has attracted many nationalities who have all made sweet St. Maarten land their home. This of course can cause some dilution of the culture or enhancement depending on how you look at it. After all this island changed hands between the Spanish, French, Dutch and English so many times, it is enough to make one’s head spin. I’m sure they have all left a little of themselves behind. For many years St. Maarten was also considered Curaçao’s little sister (Curaçao being the largest of the 6 islands of the then Netherlands Antilles). You know, that one sister you keep back to make yourself shine brighter. I should know, I’m the oldest of four children and did this regularly to my younger siblings. In my opinion, the change of hands and the many nationalities who migrated here in the past have somehow all contributed a little to St. Maarten’s culture.