A SmAlL PlACe


“The thing you have always suspected about yourself the minute you became tourist is true: A tourist is an ugly human being.  You are not an ugly person all the time; you are not an ugly person all the time; you are not an ugly person ordinarily; you are not an ugly person day-to-day.  From day-to-day, you are a nice person.  From day-to-day, all the people who are supposed to love you on the whole do.”

Jamaica Kincaid
A Small Place

small places II

sunshine and the weather is sweet

The short story by Jamaica Kincaid would have provided a great context for my trip last year to the wonderful country of Antigua and Barbuda.  Unfortunately, this book was passed on to me a little under a year after I came back from my trip.

As I entered Antigua, I realized that I was on a trip like no other.  I was going to take part in Carnival and had made a point of not learning anything about the place that I intended to spend my vacation.  This was partly to have a “different type of experience” than I usually have on vacation or when travelling to a “foreign country” but also because I had been overwhelmed by work during the summer and couldn’t make the time to do a little research on the small island nation.  As I walked to immigration I remembered two things: 1. I had no contact information and no idea where I was staying or how I would contact my friend who was picking me up; 2. I was entering a country that would allow me to act like the “Ugly Tourists” that Jamaica Kincaid described in her book.  I usually like to pride myself on being a “good tourist” but on this trip I pulled out all the stops.

I usually would never want to admit that I would ever act like an ugly American.  However, it is important for me to acknowledge all of who I am as a grow and understand my personal growth into womanhood.  My experience in Antigua was mixed with a number of emotions.  I fell in love with the people who reminded me of New Yorkers with their blunt responses to my many questions juxtaposed with a sense of warmth a familiarity of a small nation full of love.  I fell in love with the few traditions that I participated in (I LOVED LOVED LOVED the free-ness of Carnival).  I fell in love with the lifestyle of being in a place where the oceans, sunset, beach and pace of life is that much slower than the hustle and flow of the big city.

Flying High

wink it up WINK IT UP

The music, the people, the food and the friendship that I experienced while on a vacation with a group of women that I will always be bonded too was a once in a lifetime experience.  Sitting under the moonlight and discussing the cultural differences of foreign – born Antiguan nationals made me recognize the love I have for the human experience and our constant struggle to identify our place in the world as individuals.  I left the wonderful place with  newly blossoming friendship, an enduring love for a new place and a newly acquired love for SOCA music.  I finally realized and understood what it meant to be a TRAVELLING WOMANIST.

“That the native does not like the tourist is not hard to explain.  For every native of every place is a native of somewhere.  Every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression, and every deed, good and bad, is an attempt to forget this.  Every native would like to find a way out, every native would like to rest, every native would like a tour.  But some natives – most natives in the world – cannot go anywhere.”

Jamaica Kincaid
A Small Place

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~ by travelling womanists on May 20, 2010.

One Response to “A SmAlL PlACe”

  1. You may want to ignore this rant.

    Despite what Jamaica Kincaid thinks or what you may even be internalizing about yourself; I doubt that you were, are or ever have been an “ugly person” or “ugly tourist” for that matter. This blog, your consciousness about being other, black and woman would never produce – UGLY.

    I can’t hardly stand the word “ugly”, but that’s a completely different blog entry.

    Either way, it’s difficult for me to get down with Jamaica Kincaid aka Elaine Richardson. Her writing, although not my favorite, does touch on an array of insider / outsider issues specifically in terms of relocation and traveling but her story always seems to contradict the woman she has become or rather always was?

    She moved from JA at a seemingly young age and lived in the States for a large portion of her life. She even talks about becoming a woman in an “foreign” country however when she writes, no matter what the story, there is always a hint of disdain for tourists and outsiders– for those who frequent her beloved country but in her mind are not “native” or do not actually belong.

    Is this self hate? Jamaica are you mad that you left your beloved country at 16? Are you a little bothered by your privileged trek up the writing ladder with various gigs for reputable publishing houses in NY pretty much handed over to you because of your connections? Is there a little bit of “ugly” going on with you?

    And then there is all of her writing about the colonizer? THE COLONIZER? You married the colonizer and what about working and establishing yourself within his ivory tower?

    Ahhhhhh. Just be authentic about who you are and what you do. Hell I’m a black girl that came from money and lived in Texas. Attended private schools my whole life and never had to struggle. That’s my story. I can’t get around my privilege and I know that it shapes everything I do and say – once I start faking the funk I become “ugly”; unable to accept who or what I am.

    So yea. You aren’t ugly. You are as real as they come. What do they say – you are 100.

    I have anger issues. Help me.

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