The first time we went to the Caribbean was in the early nineties. It was to St. Maarten and we had no idea how wonderful an experience it was going to be. We left from Newark, N.J on a frigid winter day in February and, mere hours later, I glanced out the airplane window at the blue waters of the Caribbean. As the plane came in for a landing, I saw a line of palm trees, their fronds waving gently in the wind, and the sight affected me powerfully. Growing up in India, I had seen thousands, hundreds of thousands, of palm trees and never spared them a second thought. These, however, were different because they instantly transported me from the snows of New Jersey, promising me warmth and sunshine and fun.
Since that first trip to St. Maarten, we have been fortunate enough to visit the Caribbean more than half a dozen times. We’ve been to St. Lucia, Antigua, Anguilla, the Dominican Republic (twice),Bermuda and Jamaica (twice). Each of those trips has been wonderful. The beaches, the steel drums, the friendliness of the people, the flowers, Red Stripe beer, jerk pork and chicken, hot sauce, the pastel colors of the houses are all unforgettable.
It’s been a few years since our last such trip but, in my mind, I can go there any time I want … and I often do. All I have to do is slip a favorite CD into the player and jump to track number 8, Hot!Hot! Hot!! by The Mighty Arrow. As I listen to the familiar words, the trumpet glissandos and the insistent beat I am once again on a Caribbean island.
As I write these words, it cold and snowy outside. The ground is covered with a thick blanket of snow, the wind is howling and the temperature is 12 degrees. It is the coldest day of the year but it doesn’t matter because, inside, … I am feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!!