Dennis on the Road

Friday, September 30, 2005


I’m two days away from my last race of the season and four days away from South America. This week in Barbados has zipped by as fast as their flying fish. Hot and unexpected are the two words I would use to describe the experience thus far.

Once again, doors have been opened to me and I’ve been blessed with kind hospitality. The trend of outstanding food also continues. Raquel, a professional trained Japanese chef prepared a four-course dinner last night, culminating in a sushi roll that brought Barbados closer to Japan than one could imagine: flying fish with island spices rapped inside seaweed and Japanese rice. A yummy cross-cultural fusion.

I’ve been reading a lot since I’ve been here. I’m savoring Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. Although I’m a ways away from the Colombian setting, the heat and Caribbean bring a texture to the book that I can’t imagine it having in the States. My goal is to reread it (or something else by Márquez) in Spanish at the end of this journey. I’ve also been reading V. S. Naipal’s Miguel Street. While I enjoy the uniquely Trini dialog and the reference to places that have become familiar in the past month, his craft, especially beside Márquez, leaves much to be desired.

The riding here has been good. Barbado’s favorite son seems to be the track cyclist Barry Forde, whose family is promoting this weekend’s race. Barry won a silver medal at this year’s World Championships and is back home from Germany. He brought a collection of Euro-trash sprinters with him for a training camp plus this weekend’s racing. We can’t ride a kilometer with Barry without a wave, horn beep, and folks shouting his name. The island is small enough that he actually seems to know half of those who recognize him.

The Forde’s also organized a day-cruise. In the three+ weeks that I’ve been in the Caribbean, it was my first day of playing tourist and the only time I’ve been in the ocean on this trip. We sailed along the coast and anchored to swim with turtles, snorkel at a shipwreck site, and eat a delicious lunch. All the while the rum punch was flowing. The beaches and water here is so beautiful that it seems unreal, like swimming through a postcard.

Meanwhile, in this tropical paradise, immersed in the surreal world of bicycle racing, amongst a lot of white folks in a black and brown region, I feel a long way away from the social justice and education work that has been a critical part of my entire adult life. While I guess that a break is good, and may be refueling, I feel like a sellout at times. I get occasional news of the never-ending war on Iraq and emails of education issues or political actions at home and I am well aware that I’m silent on the sidelines. I have a feeling that I’ll be jumping back in soon, however.


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