Another thing I like about Trinidad and Tobago is the balance.
When I catch weather reports on the radio or TV, I often wonder why they even bother. Trinidadian meteorologists have easy jobs; I can just tell you the daily forecast myself: warm. Perfect.
Trinidad has two seasons: dry (the first half of the year through June) and rainy (the second), yet the base temperature mostly remains the same year round. It’s always about 26-32 degrees Celsius, or in the high 70s-mid 80s Fahrenheit—i.e. warm. Perfect.
During the dry season, the climate is pretty stable. Of course, the occasional rain comes and goes, and is refreshing and necessary for the greenery of the island. During the rainy season, sometimes there might only be scattered showers, while occasionally it rains for most of the day.
It can get “cool” at night, which Trinis will refer to as “cold.” I don’t mean to be pedantic, because everything is relative, but Trinidadians don’t even know what could be—bless their hearts. And when you’re used to 83 F, 68 degrees at night is cold[er], relatively speaking. I can’t necessarily blame them, because they’re operating out of their sphere of existence. Last time I went to Zambia in the month of May, my family told me it was “cold” too, and I laughed. I'm sure people in Chicago would LOVE the warmth of a 68-degree evening right now.
What makes me crazy, though, is when Trinis go out of their way to tell me how to handle my daughter and the elements: “Oh goooosh, keep she out d sun!” “You burnin’ d child!” “Heat stroke!” or “Rain falling; d baby gettin’ wet!” “Cova she head! The dew is out; she’ll catch cold!” As though illness comes from exposure to a temperature range of 10 degrees. As though 60-degree weather will bring about a virus-like reaction in my child. Again, bless their hearts.
I appreciate the concern, but I don’t think people think about WHY they feel the way they feel about certain things. Of course, Trinidadians have no reason to think beyond their direct experience, so this is where they and I butt heads because I mostly don't see a need to put a hat on my child.
But it also comes down to science and subjective reality: WHY do people fall ill? Is there choice in the matter? (Hint: yes.) Viruses don't travel in raindrops, and the common cold doesn't magically emerge in the atmosphere once the thermostat drops below a certain point. I don’t know about them, but I’M waterproof and so is Eleven. A few drops of moderate-temperature island rainfall is NOT going to have an inclement effect upon my girl, especially considering she could easily be living in a polar vortex right now...but I digress.
Trinidad’s global location is unique, adding to the balance. It is the last island in the curve of the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean; six miles from the coast of South America. Distance-wise, Trinidad is actually closer to Venezuela than its sister island Tobago.
Because of its proximity to the continent, Trinidad doesn’t experience the same tropical storms and hurricane devastation with which the more northern islands out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean regularly have to deal.
Thunderstorms don’t really occur, especially relative to some places in the states--because of the type of landmass (lightning is actually formed from the earth!) the island is. Dread and I rather enjoy moving about in the mini rain showers with or without an umbrella; they’re quick, light, and often the sun still shines through and rainbows abound. And even if you get a nice soak or downpour during the dry season, you can usually bet on the rain passing shortly, and your clothes will dry with the quickness. Warm. Perfect.
Finally, we also must consider the notion of TIME when you live close to the Equator. As the Vernal Equinox approaches, the United States recently moved their clocks one hour ahead to "Spring Forward" for Daylight Savings Time. They do this in order to capitalize on waking daylight hours, because as Earth moves around the Sun, certain regions of the planet receive more or fewer daylight hours depending upon how the Earth tilts on its axis. Come this autumn, the clocks will once again, turn back one hour to "Fall Back."
During the winter months, the U.S. experiences late sunrises and early sunsets, and in the summer, the days are quite long. There is value to having four seasons in a way; it gives the experiencer a context and a feeling of going through the death and rebirth cycle every year. Last June in Chicago, I recall journaling my gratitude that the sun was still out even at 8:30 p.m.!
But on the other hand, 5 p.m. sunsets during the winter months led to me feeling more sleepy than usual, and I'm definitely one to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't understand why S.A.D. is a "thing" when it's just a reflection of truth! Melanated people especially are not meant to live in iceboxes.
The perception of time passing is different in Trinidad & Tobago. Due to the nations' proximity to the Equator, there's no changing of the clocks for DST here: sunrise is at 6; sunset at 6, year-round, without fail. 12 hours of lightness; 12 of darkness.
Eleven was born at the moment of daybreak on the 14th of November. That's how I knew her birth time before I heard anyone make the "official" announcement of 6 a.m.: the moment she emerged, the world around us became Light.
Thanks to the consistency of the path of the sun across the sky, the sun becomes a reliable timepiece. I can tell what time it is simply by looking up.
It also helps with productivity: once light emerges over the horizon, I know the clock is ticking away at the amount of daylight I have to get things done. I know that when I sleep in, I'm only depriving myself of time spent with the sun. Staying up til 2 a.m. means I'm only cutting into my potential sleeping time: the Earth will spin toward the sun in four hours, whether I like it or not--and my sunrise babe Eleven will definitely be up and ready to party once day breaks. Can I keep up with her?
The worldwide climate is shifting for better or worse, as we've quite obviously witnessed with the recent extreme winter conditions. Locally, however, the most extreme global climate change we've witnessed here in T&T is a slight shifting of when the rainy season begins and ends, and experiencing a bit of rain during what is presently recognized as the dry season. Still, that’s obviously a lot easier to deal with than temperatures of -45 F.
Trinidad & Tobago is a mere 10 degrees north of the Equator, and relative to Africa, we’re around the same latitude as Guinea-Bissau, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, etc.
It makes sense that with the earth’s poles shifting and the subsequent “polar vortex” fallouts, that the further north or south you are on the planet, the more extreme the weather conditions are going to become. If you're closer to center, the chaos of the poles is less likely to affect you, at least in the physical terrestrial sense (there's no escaping the shift of the ages on an energetic level!).
I love being in Chicago in the summer, but I'm not sure that the beauty of summertime Chi totally makes up for its long, frigid winters. It's harder because there's not a balance: a particularly rough winter does not automatically imply an incredibly sunny and hot summer! We make the most of it in Chicago, yes, but something about that sun is so artificial, especially when you're used to a non-chemtrail-filtered blaze of a Caribbean sun. I get darker in Tobago in December than I've ever been in Chicago in July.
And something (mainly the uniqueness of North America’s 2013-14 winter season) tells me that things ain’t going back to “normal.” It’s been building up to this for years, so it’s high time to let go of the notion of what winters/summers are “supposed” to feel like. Dem “good ol’ days” is gone. Who can tell what the summer of 2014 will bring? Certainly none of us, as the current winter extremities are unprecedented.
Winter got you S.A.D.? Where do YOU want to be? It helps to remember that it all boils down to choice.