Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sails on the Horizon

Today was a first for me, so I want to share this brief story. On clear days, the distant view from my village looks across the Atlantic Ocean towards the small French island known as Marie-Galante, which is part of Guadeloupe (Dominica's neighboring island to the north). Most of the time, there are no ships to be seen on our part of the ocean, but on rare occasions, a large tanker or container ship will pass between us. One time last year, as dusk arrived, the lights of a large cruise ship could be seen passing through (I was told that sometimes if a ship is running ahead of schedule, they choose to take the long way and pass through the channel between Dominica and Marie Gallant).
During school this morning, I happened to gaze across the horizon to see a small but unusual sight. There were three large white sails of a sizable sailing vessel passing through the channel. It would have been nice to have had a pair of binoculars, or even a telescope, to see it more clearly. I tried to take a picture with my old cell phone, but as you can see, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. This story contains only that one picture, but subsequent versions are enlarged.
It had to have been some sort of “tall ship” as they are often called (similar to the one I visited in this previous story). I made sure to show it to the students who were outside for their morning break. I talked to them about how in the old days, it could have been what a pirate ship would have looked like. I also talked about how this view might have been what the natives to this island might have first viewed when Christopher Columbus first “discovered” Dominica (he named it Dominica, which in Latin means Sunday, because that was the day of the week the island was sighted).
It was fascinating for me to think about what the Kalinago natives (the indigenous people who inhabitated Dominica) must have thought when they saw these strange, towering white shapes coming over the horizon in 1493. They would have had no idea that these were sails connected to ships. It would have been so absolutely alien to them. Little did they know what massive changes would accompany these ships. I'm glad I got the opportunity to see what that view was like.

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