There is something about walking the streets, so to speak, on Sundays in certain parts the world. The air vibrates with joyous voices raised in praise to whichever form of Christianity followed, or maybe the strident tones of the pastor haranguing his flock. Unless of course you happen upon a Seventh Day Adventist church which will not be open for business, those worshippers having celebrated the previous day. Cars, if there are any, are abandoned in no discernible order on crumbling kerbs, not from a night of drunken revelry but in a rush to give thanks.
Walking down the hill on this Caribbean island this morning, I was transported back to another island, that one in the Gulf of Guinea and specifically to the cathedral in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Mass was conducted in Spanish with the singing in Bubi, the Bantu language of the island. The cathedral and cloisters opening onto the square, catty corner to the president’s place of business and a recognised palace of intrigue, was a haven of exuberant calm, if indeed those two words can be used in the same breath; the front pews taken by pious worthies intent on being seen by both the local populace and the man above.
Immediately in front of me, on both sides of the aisle, rows and rows of white and grey frocked nuns of all ages made their devotions, bowing their heads like a flock of pecking pigeons eager for crumbs. As the congregation were called to take bread and wine I was able to sit back on my pew and watch the long line shuffle to the altar. Until then I had been lulled by the sameness of the their attire but as I studied the devout, many holding the crosses, some gold, some wooden, on chains or string around their neck, my eyes were drawn down to the array of footwear inching towards redemption. In place of the expected sensible lace ups, or at least enclosed shoes, were open-toed sandals, some with low, some with high heels. Whether encased in neutral leather or gaudy plastic, the nun’s toenails made freewheeling statements of individuality; a rainbow of colour to match their exultant voices as testament of their love of Christ.
A few years later and here I am sitting at a bar on the Boardwalk, listening to Spirit in the Sky and four strangers ardently discussing sport. They have cycled through football, baseball and basketball with a quick skim over to hockey, the ice variety. It seems not to matter which discipline they favour they are of the opinion that, “money is consistently spent on the wrong shit!” Matt, the barman agreed.
I should point out I am at the bar only because it is the one place on this sleepy Sunday island that offers Wifi, and even this is patchy. I felt beholden to try their locally brewed honey wheat ale, not my normal tipple, and have been pleasantly impressed though anticipate minimal productivity later in the day.
In the last week I have managed to slow my pace from mainland city speed to a long-dormant African amble, or maybe the mai pen lai attitude of Thailand. I was close to throwing out a decision to get some work done on this traditional day of rest, but deadlines are looming and having extended my St. Croix stay I really must pretend to accomplish something.
Funny how the mind wanders from one lived in country to another, hence my Sunday musings. Does a blog, I wonder, count as something?
Footnote – day late posting due to lack of internet.