The green mountain across the street is a constant in our lives. It is good to have a constant, when so much is new and different. We started school this week, and the learning curve for all of us is steep, much like the mountain. Junie and I are taking a crash course in the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum as I am learning how to incorporate the IB philosophies and tenants into my art program, and he sorts out the ins and outs of coordinating special services at the school, both special ed and ESL. Since students don’t begin school until a week later, Elias and Nicole have been learning to familiarize themselves with the school, getting to know other new students, take placement tests, and explore the neighborhood while we are at work. When we are beginning to feel overwhelmed and the newness is pouring down on us making us soggy with it all, the rainbow seems to come pouring out over the largest hills, lightening things literally and metaphorically.
We are learning so many new rules and policies at school, but today, the biggest rule we had to follow today was this one:
We had an amazing tour of the island, which included visiting three Hindu temples, giving us a chance to experience the big influence of Indian culture here in Trinidad. This wonderful day was uplifting and inspiring, one of those rainbows shining down on us after a long work week.
The Hanuman Temple was spectacular and expansive. The main temple, an elaborate pink building, which was full of intricately hand carved concrete Indian designs and symbols.
Behind the temple was an 85 foot steel and concrete sculpture of Hanuman, a breath taking tribute to the monkey god who is a symbol of strength, perseverance, and devotion in the Hindu religion.
So we all took off our shoes and walked around this amazing monument in a clockwise direction, noticing that even such a powerful god needs a little upkeep sometimes.
Our next stop was the Temple in the Sea, which also told a story of perseverance, vision and strength. Siewdass Sadhu was born in India, and immigrated to Trinidad. He had a near death experience which made him realize the miraculous and temporary nature of life. He vowed to build a temple to thank the gods for saving him. He tried many times to build a temple on sugar cane land, and actually had some success at one point, but it was destroyed by the owners of the estate. So, realizing that no one owned the sea, he began to collect stones bucket by bucket, to create a temple on land he reclaimed from the sea. He spent 25 years building his temple, and died in 1971 with the structure not yet finished. In 1994, the government decided to build a more permanent temple on the same site to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad.
After a rich, full day of visiting temples and exploring the island, our tour guide, Jesse James, stopped at a road side fruit stand to purchase the ripest pineapple he could find.
Before we knew it, we were watching a Trinidadian cooking show, right there in the back of the van. He demonstrated the proper way to peel and chop a pineapple. Then he pulled out all the important ingredients: salt, black pepper, hot pepper, garlic, and chadron beni (a cilantro type herb). And don’t forget the lime!
He mixed them all up, and we all got to try Pineapple Chow, a Trinidadian treat. It was a refreshing topping to our day.