Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blue Latitudes and Random Thoughts

While I was at sea, I was severely limited in my Internet usage and realized how much I missed both sharing my adventures with others and enjoying the thoughts and experiences of other bloggers. As a social introvert, my favourite place to visit on the ship was the library. The Holland America Line has an extensive collection maintained by a professional librarian. There is also a book discussion group and daily quizzes based on a variety of subjects.

During my time at sea, I chose to read books that explore the lives of women living in the West Indies and in Latin America,  misnomers imposed by colonizers who knew little about geography and less about the ethnic composition of the inhabitants.
Hammock maker in Nicaragua

The first book that I read was Blue Latitudes:Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad. Many of these short stories deal with the sexual and economic exploitation of women and children. Discrimination based on class and colour prevents the characters from protecting themselves from predators who wield greater power in society. The anthology is compiled by Elizabeth Nunez who is the author of Prospero's Daughter, a novel of neocolonialism set in Trinidad.

Prospero's Daughter, set in 1960's Trinidad, is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  Peter Gardner,   an outcast British scientist tries to create a "piece of England" on a sparsely inhabited island in the Caribbean. When Gardner offers a "British education" to Carlos, the mulatto boy whose home he expropriates, Gardner finds that his "English rose daughter" has feelings for the young man. The novel poses the questions: are we our ethnic background, are we the product of the physical environment that nurtures us or is our nature determined by upbringing and education?

I believe that all of us in the Americas are "mestizos". We carry with us transplanted customs and languages from the "old country"  but as time passes, this inheritance adapts to suit our new home. As the Americas are comprised of immigrants from many different lands, families meld together to create new cultures and new traditions.






2 comments:

  1. Good to hear from you again -- even at sea, you're reading interesting books! I would imagine that some of the book discussions must be quite satisfying, especially with such an impressive library and with ample leisure time to indulge. . .

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  2. The book discussion this cruise was based on Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. I had already read the book which is an interesting picaresque tale of 3 Mexican girls and a gay man setting out to bring some men back to the village. I also enjoyed The Hummingbird's Daughter by the same author. I find Mexico a fascinating country and do not really understand the US-Mexico relationship. Readers can find interesting books wherever they travel.

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