High hopes for Harvey
August 8, 2017
The rights of Indigenous Peoples
August 8, 2017

My village, Blanchisseuse

By Dianne A Cooper-Bancroft

On the beautiful scenic north coast of Trinidad,

Lies the village of my maternal ancestors and mine

Bounded by the Caribbean Sea and adjacent to Paria bay, La Filette and Lorne La Croix,

Your shores are washed by waves with white foam like soap suds,

Your name was derived from the French – it means washer woman.

 

You were a village where Patois was spoken by almost everyone,

“Bonjour macoumere, ca-qua faire?” “Mois la, Macoum, bonjour”

(“Good day nenen, how are you?” “I’m there, morning”.)

These were greetings heard every day in the past.

Sadly, no one speaks Patois anymore, and what a loss.

Elders spoke ‘their’ patois so children would not understand what was being said.

Now we’re ‘poorer’ for the loss of a language that was once ours.

 

Inviting, enticing sandy beaches adorn my village’s coastline.

Walking from Upper Village through Centre Ward to Lower Village

Is more romantic every time.

Marianne River and beach and the Spring Bridge that bounces

Are attractions for local and foreign tourists of all ages.

But the bay, cosiest and best, where we, as children bathed.

Down the steps in the Upper Village in my mind has always stayed

Jean Baptiste Bay, next to the site of the Old Government Primary School

is an excellent hideaway beach.

 

The Fishing Depot located left of the Old Government Primary School

is a favourite with fisher folk and family.

Many crowd the beaches close to their homes to have fun and frolic in the sun,

Fishing, swimming, diving, playing cricket, football or running races

are enjoyed by most young ones

The beaches were our gathering spaces for recreation, social interaction

And freedom in total abandonment

 

Caimete, balata, mango, cashew, pomerac, pommecythere, plums

Tamarind, Pois-doux, Portugal and more you supply in season

Coconut water, dried coconut, avocado, mammy apple.

Green and ripe bananas kept us strong and healthy.

 

Fishermen supplied copious amounts of varied fish

When fish was available, daily.

Corned fish, buccaneered by Auntie and stored safely

for when fish was in scarcity,

Tasted so delicious when seasoned and fried,

It made our mouths water as we waited patiently to eat

Cooks were ‘par excellence’, for their creative skills

were passed on from generation to generation.

 

Our village Church Harvest still held annually offers

Some of these unique dishes, during the August vacation.

Many villagers return from distant parts to partake of these delicacies

And we look forward to these reunions.

 

In our village, race, colour, or creed did not create barriers

And so we knew only harmony and love.
Everyone attended the only primary school and recognised and praised natural talent and hard work.

 

Similarly differences in religious beliefs were accepted as normal.

Whenever crusades, thanksgivings, funerals and our annual harvests

were kept, villagers of every denomination attended

Blanchisharians are a big family related either by blood, marriage

Friendship, godparents, godchildren, or just having been

Good neighbours or schoolmates

 

Families were sometimes quite large, households had at least ten or more children, so daily meals became family celebrations.

Strangers were recognised by all and accepted by all, if they were friendly.

Cousins were endless and the famous saying “cousins make dozens”

Often became a reality for many.

 

All scholars were highly esteemed – Sir Solomon Hochoy, Teacher Ray Watkins,

Dr Ambrose Dottin, Catherine Cooper-Reyes, Teacher Cecil, Victor Beatrice,

Ann Emma Debra Cooper, and many more.

There are so many achievers, very successful in their various fields,

 

And also their children – Lenore Saunders, Kenwyn Goden, the Cooper family,

The Saint Brice family, Dr Hilman St Brice, Loderique St Brice,

Karega Mandela, the Hill Family, the Joyeau family and the Fournillier family

You have surpassed all the boundaries set by all standards and stand tall.

 

All these achievers and more have made their mark in our blessed country in various fields

Even internationally, and continue to fly the country’s flag high.

We are so proud of them all.

They have all received the primary school foundation

At the Blanchisseuse Government School

Sadly they have been forgotten by the institution they were nurtured in,

Too soon.

 

There are problems in our village which we have all experienced.

But they are not insurmountable.

The road connecting Blanchisseuse to Arima is almost impassable

The high school does not offer Home Economics or Agriculture to our children. How regrettable.

 

Many parents seem unable to motivate their children to study, this saddens me.

Parents must provide for their children and make them want to succeed;

Praise when earned and giving examples of past achievers is indeed needed.

Beautiful, coastal village, Blanchisseuse, home of my maternal ancestors birth,

You are the foundation of my search for the truth.





 

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