Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I’m slowly becoming immersed in the lifestyle here. On the weekend I took time out from my errands and chores to go to the beach. Although it was stifling hot on my patio and even near the pool, under a palaypa by the beach was perfect. The warm sea breeze and sounds of the waves gently lapping were enough to relax even the most hard core workaholic for 3 or 4 hours at a time. It was entertaining to watch as many of the locals come down with their car loads of family and food for an all day picnic. They would swim, frolic, and play beach games. The young boys had their spears for fishing, and snorkeling was the thing to do.

My days start early as I am anxious to witness the magnificent sunrises. It’s a very pleasant 75 degrees at 6:30 am and I want to enjoy every second as it doesn’t last long. An hour later the humidity kicks in and it’s already gone up to 85. The golf course looks good as they are regularly watering and the goats keep the grass trim.


The buses of construction crews start arriving at 6:30 am and by 7:30 the site is abuzz with a thousand workers, running, talking and laughing full of energy and vigor before the long day commences. They are at the local canteens getting their jugs of orange juice and water for the day.

A new canteen was set up outside my home last night. My initial reaction was “oh no, I hope that doesn’t mean more flies.” But as soon as I said that I was embarrassed. I am living in the middle of a construction zone, and this is their site. Living here and witnessing the hard labor 10 hours a day, for some six or seven days a week, one can not help but gain a whole new appreciation of value and respect.

I left the house at 7 am to go to the gym and was a little unnerved as there were about 50 men hanging out at the canteen 30 meters away watching me. I got in my car, rolled down the windows, slowly drove through them as they parted. I smiled, waived and yelled “Buenos dias”. They smiled back. I know I will be okay because I am no threat to them, and they will be no threat to me.

Slowly maneuvering down the Paseo towards the Inn, it’s amazing to be part of the activity. The air is fresh and there is a sense of pride as everyone gets ready for their day’s accomplishments.

My mind wandered to my father, who came from China to work the Canadian Railways. He paid the $500 head tax and tolled years of long labor to make a better life for his children. Being a first generation Canadian raised in a poor immigrant neighborhood, I never knew life was hard. I laughed, learned and loved. I remember looking at the rich white folk with reverence. It seems I have come full circle and this is a time of awakening for me.

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