Wednesday, 22 October 2014

While I was recovering from surgery earlier this year, one of the activities I missed the most was taking early morning road trips on the bike with Elijah on Sundays.

The first Sunday after getting through test trips without too much pain, we got up while the sun crested the horizon and headed down to St. Lucy for our first stop; the viewing point at Animal Flower Caves.  Its peaceful there, being mesmerized by crashing waves;  soaring then breaking, rolling back out to the sea while another takes its place; each wave unique; like a series of dancers exhibiting their skill.  As hard as it is to leave, the rising sun encourages our departure with the glare on the rock pools and by turning up the heat in our motorcycle gear.

Our next stop is River Bay.  It is one of the first natural places of beauty that my work cohorts introduced me to in Barbados.  We planned and pulled off a great company family fun day at River Bay during my first year working here.  Now I also think of it as the place of  I'Akobi Maloney's murder by “misadventure”.  Each time I have been there it has shown me a new face and evoked different feelings in me.  But then, our Sunday morning bike rides are always a mixture of freedom and worship for me.  The freedom of the bike; the immediacy of everything on rides creates focus and flow.  Life is narrowed down to the real, the spiritual…the important things in life. 

Elijah gave me a Nokia Lumia in January because of the camera on it.  I always carry it on road trips.  While I have come to like it as a phone - it’s my camera first and I love to capture all of the impermanent states of life with it.

That first day back on the bike was wonderful.  For me it was a freedom of mobility that I had not had in months.  My surgery was in early February; reconstructive surgery on both feet so I had been in a wheel chair for six weeks, then had to use a walker and Elijah for support for another two months.  Being back on the bike after the months of dependence and inability to do for myself- even though I was still on the back of the bike, I was flying!   

Coming down the road to River Bay there was a bright glare on the water in the bay and then there were bands of warm rust, orange and gold making their way inland from the mouth of the bay.  The colours were rich, warm and totally unexpected.  We got off the bike and stripped gear while I got out my Nokia and started looking for the right angle.  Once I was up close and stationary, I saw the white plastic containers, empty bottles of various brands of drinks, plastic bags and other debris mixed in with the bands of drying seaweed.  It was impossible to get a shot of the area without getting the litter.  I took a broader view once I had captured the colours of the seaweed and really started “seeing” my surroundings.

Something would catch my eye for the beauty of the landscape, but the closer I got, the harder it was to see past the Styrofoam food containers and plastic cups everywhere.   The beauty still entranced me, but the garbage stole a bit of the joy from each treasure I found… like a tree at the top of the hill where we met up with other bikers, that looked as if it had been struck by lightning. It was surrounded by a small lake of white plastic everything. 

I kept those photos, posting a few, but not really saying much. I have been doing a lot of that lately… observing- absorbing.  I see a lot more clearly that way.  Some things take time to come up from the subconscious; you just have to trust the process and see where it leads.

Anyway, I saw a video or a news story around the same time about one man in Barbados who was collecting the seaweed and drying it to make fertilizer.  What a wonderful idea.  Here is all this natural material which is certain to be good for something.   I visited Japan a couple of times and the Japanese government invests in research and development projects that allow each area of the country to identify and exploit the naturally occurring resources there.  If UWI could do that with this seaweed perhaps a small seasonal niche industry could be developed. 

Each Sunday we saw it tuning darker colours; spreading further into the river and bay until it became choked and stagnant.  The natural colours were still beautiful, but the smell was far from sweet.  

One Sunday morning we came down the hill and there were maybe fifteen people in work clothes, with old bed sheets on the ground that they were piling the seaweed onto then carrying up the hill to get it up on the asphalt where it could dry and get taken away.  There were people from the Freedom Riders motorcycle club, the St Lucy Independence Committee and the St. Lucy District Emergency Organization. We chatted and joked a little (Elijah of course – I am the shy one); I took more photos and we continued on our journey. 

We went back every Sunday that the weather permitted and now the sea weed is gone.  The garbage in the other spaces remains.  It warms me to see that there are still many people who care, give of themselves, serve their community and care about the environment.  I still think we should find a way to use the seaweed instead of merely seeing it as a nuisance.  

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed the adventures that allowed me to capture them.