River Village Life

In The Beginning:   River Village Life

As an infant that had been born in the city Sean was immediately taken to a distant and remote River Village to live with his Auntie Edna, a sister of his biological mother. Auntie Edna and her husband, Clarence, already had one 4 year old son, Harold. The following year the family welcomed a new one and yet another new baby arrived the following year.

The River Village was a small quiet village on the banks of Lazy River surrounded by mangroves, some of the tallest ever reported anywhere in the entire Neotropics. These mangroves represented the optimal conditions for mangrove development of the three species white, red and black mangrove.

For Sean life was good in The River Village. The neighbors were good.  There was plenty of space for children to play and explore their surroundings.  Nothing fancy in the home. One kitchen table and two chairs; the children sat on the floor to take their meals.

But they did have cups and plates made of plastic and did not have to rely upon “Nido tins” as table glasses.  Nido is a brand of a concentrated/evaporated milk. The tins were the perfect size to be used as drinking glasses/cups and were the standard in many village homes.

The ruins of a 19th-century sugar mill is today a park in The River Village. Boasting a population of approximately 300 people there is a small campground, general store and a community phone all located on the main road that passes through The River Village.

Sean’s maternal grandparents lived only about a mile away on a small farm with an abundance of coconut trees and plenty of space to grow a large garden. Coconuts were harvested, grated and made into coconut oil that was taken to market in a nearby town to sell.

Sean’s oldest brother had lived with these same grandparents since he was born and continued to do so until adulthood. These grandparents were very much a part of Sean’s daily life in this sleepy little river village.

Though the auntie, uncle and grandparents were not the type of people that exhibited physical affection toward each other or their children there was no physical abuse of any kind. During the nearly 5 1/2 years that Auntie raised him, Sean only knew solid, genuine care, concern, love, guidance and healthy discipline when needed.

Sean had always known that “Auntie” was not his mother, rather her sister’s child and was never treated any different than her own biological children.

During the years with “Auntie” Sean’s biological mother had no contact whatsoever with him and came to visit him only on two occasions. The first visit was when Sean was about 5 years old.

Sean was told she would be coming and happened to be sitting on the front steps of Auntie’s house the day she arrived. At first glance of the approaching stranger Sean noticed the strong family resemblance to “Auntie” and quickly figured out her identity. Ms. Janice called his name. Sean quickly and courteously stood in her presence as she said something about him not recognizing her. As Ms. Janice approached and kept walking past him she went on to say the last time they had seen each other he was just a new born baby and asked how he was doing. Without waiting for an answer Ms. Janice continued to walk on past Sean and proceeded into the house to see “Auntie,” her sister.

Sean did not follow her in the house because he had been taught when there were grown ups in the house children were not allowed to come inside too unless they had been called.

Ms. Janice stayed about 1 ½ hours before leaving to go on up the road to see her parents; Sean’s grandparents. Sean did not know where she spent the night.

The next visit from Ms. Janice was when Sean was about about 5 1/2 years old. When she arrived Ms. Janice said nothing to him other than offering a polite greeting.

A short time later Sean was told because he was such a smart boy he was going to be going to the city to live with Ms. Janice so he could take advantage of getting a good education.   A few days later Sean was put on a bus for the seemingly long journey to the city, to his biological mom’s house, a ride of about 5 hours.

Life at Ms. Janice’s house was like stepping into a different world.