We Didn’t Start The Fire


This evening, my stepfather was feeling a bit tired after our trip to Pigeon Island–where I didn’t see any pigeons and which isn’t an island, sadly–so my mum and I went to get some groceries and eat dinner.  We ate dinner at a restaurant whose service can best be described as a bit leisurely, and when we got out of dinner after I had polished off a 12″ pizza with plenty of water and my mom had scavenged some sugar in the raw to add to her collection, we found that there was a fire on the lightpost that had the possibility of spreading further.  Being somewhat acquainted with fire [1] and not being particularly fond of it, once we found out that the appropriate people had been called, my mum and I walked back to our hotel room, a bit amused at the way people were concerned that we were alright.  I suppose that tourist-driven economies are a bit sensitive about things that might disturb tourists, but as my mother and I are no neophytes when it comes to world travel, we accepted the incident as sufficiently dramatic and exciting but not as something that would lead us to feel negatively.


As I stated earlier, our Family Day for the Feast of Tabernacles in St. Lucia for this year was held on Pigeon Island, which is not technically an island anymore since it is connected with Rodney Bay by a causeway, and which is sadly lacking in pigeons, which is a bit of a shame since I am at least moderately interested in all kinds of edible poultry [2].  Thankfully there were some tasty refreshments after I came back from a hike and ended up having a great conversation with one of the leading members, perhaps even a deacon, of the Port of Spain, Trinidad congregation, concerning the more expansive meaning of Passover that is often neglected by those who only think of the death and suffering and not of the resurrection into eternal life and the unity we share through our participation in the bread and the wine and the footwashing.  Given that I was pretty exhausted from hiking to the area of Fort Rodney, which guarded the suitably named Rodney Bay from the French invading from Martinique, the island just north of St. Lucia, which you can see from the fort, both the refreshments and the enjoyable conversation were appreciated.


So, what possessed me, and my mother, who has a broken toe, to climb up to Fort Rodney, which was a considerably more strenuous climb than I had anticipated as a person with a somewhat gimpy foot even on good days, as today surely was?  In retrospect, it was probably a combination of two factors.  First, the hike was described as being not too strenuous.  Second, the hike was to a fort, and anyone who knows me and knows my background will be unsurprised at my interest in forts, especially since this particular fort has largely been left in its natural state, even if it’s not a particularly big or a particularly famous fort.  The biggest claims to fame of the area in terms of its history are the fact that the island was once a base for a French pirate and was the base from which Admiral Rodney (who modestly named the island and its fortress after himself) sailed to defeat the French in the Battle of the Saints, which gave Great Britain naval domination in the Caribbean during the latter phase of the American Revolution.  So there’s that.

As my feet were pretty done after the hike and my mom ended up destroying both of her shoes herself, I was able to sit and peacefully watch the sort of games that make Family Day in this place as well as many others.  There was a race with a lime on a spoon (instead of the usual egg on a spoon in races in the United States that I have seen), as well as water balloon tosses and three legged races and other such races which I did not participate in and which I watched occasionally during breaks in the conversation that I found much more interesting.  In these games I could see a fair amount of competition between the people of different islands, as was the case in much of what I have seen so far during the feast.  I have been to plenty of feasts where there has been a great many brethren from many nations together, but I must admit I have never seen a case where the people of those nations are so competitive with each other based on their island identities.  Truth be told, most of the people I know would be hard pressed to know anything about most of the countries represented here among the Caribbean region:  St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as some people who are expatriates from Jamaica and Suriname.  Yet these people are intensely competitive about their island identities to a degree that is quite striking and unusual.

And yet while Family Day was certainly fun, it definitely had its serious moments.  While we were sitting and relaxing and talking, I spoke with a young man from Trinidad & Tobago who is from the Arima area of the country, and he commented to me that while the area of Pigeon Island was certainly beautiful, the beauty masked a lot of suffering and destruction.  Indeed it did.  The Caribbean as a whole has a long history of violence regarding the invasions of the Caribs, the establishment of imperialism, and the workings of the cruel systems of plantation slavery and then indentured servitude after slavery was ended.  Many a peaceful and pleasant looking land hides an immensely dark and ugly history, and surely this area is one of those.  If it is a beautiful island full of a friendly but definitely business-minded people, it is also an island whose history of death can be seen in the obvious and large cemeteries in the core of many of the cities, even being right next to the airport in Castries.  Perhaps people do not like to dwell on these things, but even in the midst of fun I tend to find myself being a person of a somewhat dark imagination.  I suppose that is the way that some of us are.

[1] See, for example:


[2] See, for example:




About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Church of God, History, Military History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to We Didn’t Start The Fire

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