Saturday, November 21, 2009

Questing for a Literal-Literary Home

Hi friends! I'm sorry that I have been a "lazy good for nothing" blog hostess lately but I have been held captive by career duties and research, enchanted by the Facebook fairy, and compelled by a family who wants their mom to be the Domestic Holiday Goddess-or at least cook. I appreciate your visits and comments so much! Thank you for staying with me. (I will try to do better, I promise.)

Here is a photo from my recent trip to Dominica. I am standing with my French friend, Marie-Annick, a professor from Bristol (UK).

I just love the way our world is growing smaller everyday.

Speaking of a small world (and not the Disney version) let me get back to the walk through Dominica and our little group's chance meeting with the Marie Elena John's mother (Marella John) and her aunt (Irma Byron)....

If you recall... Sunday was hot...a kind of heat where you feel you need to slip into a bathing suit and wade gently so you don't just let go and sink to the bottom and drown.

Our brave little-soaked-in-humidity-group continued down George V Avenue in spite of the heat. Hotel Flamboyant (photo) called to us in all of its tropical but cool brightness but we were on a mission.

"Just where is the author, Jean Rhys' house? It's around here somewhere." (She called herself "a doormat in a world of boots" and is the famous Caribbean writer of the prize winning, Wide Sargasso Sea, which is another look at Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre) It's around here somewhere...

There it is just under that Guest House sign. Everything seems to be closed and boarded up. Too bad.

Did you know that Jean Rhys went to England to live with her aunt when she was seventeen? She also longed to go to the places that she read about in books. (see article)
The characters in her fictional but often autobiographically based books are displaced. Isn't it sad that her schoolmates in England made fun of her when she called herself English? They said she was a colonial. Rhys writes of lonely women who long for validation from men, and I've often read that she had a drinking problem but I digress...
Where are we going now? I hope it's safe. I had a reason to feel afraid...

We had an unpleasant adventure one evening, which I regret to tell you about. One of our party was robbed! It was dark when we headed down the street en route to our hotel when I heard another friend yell, "They're being robbed!" After she dashed by, I went back down the dark street only to see a man engaged in a discussion (HE HAD A GUN) with another female from our group while two men hovered nearby. (One of them was MR. OASIS!) I started yelling, "They're being robbed!" and didn't stop until people began to return, and the criminal took off with our friend's purse.

At least they didn't get shot!

"Dominica is safe; the official crime rate is well below the average." We heard this from the hotel staff, our tour guides, and the airport personnel.

Still I advise you to be careful if you go there.

Crime happens everywhere. (Confession: I 've learned my attracting attention distraction technique from the streets of Puerto Rico!)

We went out many times after this incident and no one was ever harmed, stalked, or hustled in any manner.

It's daytime! Get ahold of yourself, Ms. Oasis! Just look at the delightfully bright color of these homes!

Hello up there! You have a beautiful colorful house!

Was I too forward?

I think people from Dominica are friendly and honest. We started talking with these ladies on the balcony. When they realized we were there for the Caribbean Cultures Conference, they became even more hospitable! I'm afraid I asked them their names. (Bold!) When I heard the surname John, I immediately suspected that they were the women mentioned by the author, Marie Isabel John during her presentation. [She said, "I'm not an academic" but is a graduate from Columbia University (masters degree)-she was also valedictorian of her bachelor's degree class-I'm sure she knows what she is talking about-academic or not.] Her novel, The Unburnable, loosely references her family-and these two women!
What a discovery! We found the house and family. It was a rare opportunity because they now live in Antigua and were only in Dominica for their annual two week visit to air out the family home.
AND they invited us inside!
Hello Miss Marelle and Miss Irma!
We will tour of this historic house, see a handmade traditional costume, and experience more of the beautiful Dominica in the following blog... See you soon, friends.
Bye for now!


  1. Great photos! I agree--those blue house dwellers live within enchanted walls. No wonder they're smiling at your acknowledgment.

    Cynthia, you're not the only one who's been a dirty rotten blogger of late. But look at me! I put up a new post today! I visited yours! Maybe I'm not so bad after all. Next thing you know I'll be living in a blue house.

  2. Ah Cynthia. What a lovely post with fantastic photos!. You are a favorite person and writer for me where ever I find you!

    Alas, I may have to compete with you for preoccupied blogger!. I am regrouping also!

  3. pity about that one incident. looks like a great place to visit nonetheless...

  4. fascinating visit. glad everyone survived the robbery. I adore Jean Rhys and think I've read everything she's written. Also and including a non-fiction piece written by a man who rediscovered her in her old age and wrote about her life at the time. It was actually an article that I didnt care for, showing Rhys in a very bad physical light. But anywya....quite a woman. Thanks.

  5. what a wonderful photo walk i took with you through the streets of a city i doubt i will see through these eyes inside my head....and how even better to see you again, my dear, you work too hard if you have no time to say hello once in awhile..consider yourself gently whacked upside your sweet little intelligent head with much much love...

    lovely post and i can't wait for the next installment....glad you are doing well, did i mention you look glorious? well you do! so whatever it is that keeps you busy, know it is agreeing with you♥

  6. Great narrative! And yeah, I too love the fact that the world is growing small :)

  7. Sounds like a great trip Cynthia...nothing like a great adventure with friends, xv.

  8. I think you can be forgiven, Cyn, for not having been around. What with your Dominican trip, family and work life and everything else you have to fit in - well, there is only so much time for us bloggy friends.

    I had a quick look on Facebook to find you and Befriend you but could not see your pic against any Cynthia Pittmans. there was one in PR but she had dark hair.

    Which one is you?

  9. What an adventure! How horrible to be robbed at gunpoint, but Dominica looks so friendly and colorful that the good must outweigh the bad.

    Happy Thanksgiving if we don't connect before then.

  10. I enjoyed every bit of this post, Cynthia, thank you! :D

  11. Hi Cynthia,

    I just wanted to pop my head around for a long overdue hello and tell you I read your lovely comment and hope YOU'LL read it. Thank you for your wise words and I am sorry I have neglected your always lovely site. Anyway, do read my reply so you can understand me a bit better possibly?


    One of 365

  12. and PS: please check out my much improved blogroll ;)


  13. Teasing us Brits with the hot weather!! Looks beautiful and you have posted some lovely photographs here.

    CJ xx

  14. Lots to learn here, about books, authors, running into people and hoods in dark allies, the power of narrative, and good friends.

    Stay and tell us more when you get a day or two.

  15. Your Dominica pics are fabulous, but my fav is of you and your friend. You look so happy!

    Love the new look of the blog, too. It's much easier to read. Excellent!

    And honey you just blog when you feel like it, read other blogs when you feel like it. There are no rules here!

  16. Thanks for sharing...wonderful experiences, photos...! It gets busy, but as long as you and your family are taken care of, we here in blogland can wait.


Start a conversation with your comments here...