June, 2000
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture
Nevis, West Indies

Greetings from Paradise
"You Bawled"

Greetings everyone,

Hope that you all are well and life is treating you kindly. Enjoying the emails that I get from you. Well, we are getting close to returning to the States and so I am starting to wind down emotionally. One of my involvements that I really enjoyed this year is an ecology program with the primary school in our area. Shortly after Lee and I moved here, we noticed that as spiffy and polished as the children are when they go to school, church or town, or as immaculate and tidy as their homes are, both children and adults littered, big time. Lee and I were amazed when we held a village open house shortly after we moved in to discover that mannered, polite and groomed guests threw their napkins and plastics over the verandah when they finished eating. So I asked the principal at the local elementary school if I could present a short program on picking up the trash and helping to keep Nevis Beautiful. One night, when Lee was off island and I couldn't sleep, I wrote this interactive poem which I dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the school.

NEVIS IS BEAUTIFUL
Mt. Nevis sits as God's own throne
When you see it, you know that you're home.
The sea is clear, inviting and warm
With sunsets spectacular except when it storms.

Stars sparkle in the sky
The moon grows big and small way up high
The sun warms us and makes things grow
And puffy clouds move fast and slow.

Colorful rainbows in an arc they flow
Tall palm trees sway to and fro.
Rain comes down and feeds us all
The people, the sea, flowers and birds so small.

But sometimes the sand and earth are very sad
When people, young and old, don't mean to be bad
But use the earth and beach as garbage cans
Dropping bottles, papers and bags right from our hands.

So, let's keep Nevis beautiful and clean
Where God blessed us all with the sea and earth so green.

Written in honor of St. Thomas Primary School's 30 anniversary and the beautiful people of Nevis.

I visited the school three times. The first time--with photos of Nevis in tow--I told the students how much I loved Nevis and how very, very happy my husband and I were to live here with them. After sharing the beautiful shots of Nevis and comparing a spanking clean new shirt with one covered with mud, ketchup and chocolate, I asked them which one they thought was prettier. Of course, they said the clean one. And so, I told them that the earth is clothing for the planet and we need to keep the earth clean so we can enjoy the beauty that God has given this magical little isle.

By my third and final time with them, the children knew the poem and delighted in the interactive motions that I had taught them. Lee had asked if he could accompany me down to the school to watch the children's and my interaction with each other. And so we went to say our good-byes, to wish the children a happy and safe summer and remind them of the dangers of going to the sea or into the mountain by themselves. I asked the children to please tell an adult when they left the village because I wanted to return in the fall and hear and see that everyone had a safe, happy summer. As I was saying good-bye with 180 beautiful faces looking back at me, I started to sob uncontrollably unable to catch my breath. The principal, Mr. Swanston, looked bewildered, not knowing whether I was having a heart attack or what. Fortunately, Lee quickly jumped in quickly and said, "She is crying because she is sad that she is leaving." When I finally got my bearings, I told them to be well and happy and I would see them when I returned. As Lee and I walked to our car with Mt. Nevis looming ahead, I knew my sadness reflected not only leaving but a fear that I would not be able to return.

When our neighbor, Infatari, arrived home from school, she exclaimed bright-eyed and loudly, "You bawled!!!!!!" That apparently had made the greatest big impression on the children.

I just want to add a few lines about our seven year old granddaughter, Rebecca who flew down by herself from Atlanta where Greg boarded her to Puerto Rico where Lee picked her up. She didn't bawl, nor bat an eye lash about her solo flight. This was Rebecca's second trip down that she could remember, the first one when she was 18 months old. Rebecca meshed right in playing with the children; her face always a moist red from the heat. She loved the freedom of roaming the village, danced with Lee and I and a very cool, young female guest at one of the resorts until very late at night. She went to school with Deanza, Spencer and Infatari, held one of Kenneth and Veronica's newly born kids which by the looks of it was her greatest delight. Below are some of our favorite photos of her time down here, the first holding Ken and Veronica's baby kid, next with Infatari and her new puppies, next with Deanza, Spencer and Denrieke under the hammock in December, and lastly walking down our village road to the school with our neighbors, Infatari and Iziah.
 

                      
 Rebecca holding the new kid at the Ferguson's.                                             Rebecca, Infatari and puppies.
 

                   
  Deanza, Spencer, Rebecca and Denreike under the                         Rebecca, Infatari and Iziah walking down the
  hammock.                                                                                                mountain road to school.

Life is good and I wish you the same.

Love and later,
Ruth