My first memory is of my father throwing me into the ocean. I was three and I didn’t know how to swim!
Before you call social services let me assure you that this was a typical swimming lesson in my home country of Aruba; besides, no one would have answered your call.
The expression "sink or swim" comes to mind. But it was exhilarating. I became the fish my people intended me to be, and swim I did. I swam all the time. I was practically covered with a film of sticky salt until I had to stay dry enough to start school at the age of five.
Yes, life on the happy island, as we affectionately called her, was relaxing and free. I am absolutely certain that I inherited my joy from the care free rhythm of celebration present on my island, and in my people.
Who are these awesome Arubans? Aruba is home to natives of many ethnicities. We are descendants of Arawak Indigenous people, Caquetio Indian, Dutch, African, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and more. Aside from all the awesome native linages, Aruba is a booming tourist destination with opportunities to meet anyone from just about anywhere.
Having such a rich mixture of people, living one happy life on a very small island, is a recipe for openness. I learned very early on that diversity is a remarkable endeavor!
Sure it is challenging at times to encounter something new. But growing up in Aruba we knew it was worth setting our ways aside to take in fresh perspectives. The rewards are outrageous. I can’t think of anything more valuable than human beings, each with unique lives and experiences. On my island we knew it was a very cheap exchange. We paid a little discomfort, and some lack of knowledge, and received a part of someone’s life.
I can’t help but feel that the reason my island is so happy is because we dive right into the thrill of those discomforts fully knowing we’re going to receive the righteous reward of the most valuable commodity--love.