Every year, once a year, Franklin and I take off on a vacation from life. This year, we decided on Saint Lucia for a beach holiday. We’d never been so we thought we’d check it out. We’ve been to the Caribbean many times over the years, with and without the kids. In fact one year, we did a group trip to Cuba for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday. Our boys were quite young at that time but the memories will last a lifetime. They had two of their nine cousins with them who incidentally are exactly the same age. Two of my sisters and my mom came along as well as a couple of Franklin’s aunts and uncles. We had a blast.
Fast forward to today, and here we are on vacation on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia, no kids, no moms, no sisters, no aunts, no uncles…it’s just Franklin and me. We’ve left our responsibilities back in Toronto and we’re ok with that!
So today, we decided we’d do nothing except lounge around on the beach with our biggest decision being what to have for lunch. btw – I had chicken salad sandwich and Franklin had a burger because he can. You see, this is how it works. He eats burgers and fries and I gain the weight. We agreed on this arrangement when we first got married. That’s just how it is.
Back to my story of today. After breakfast, we settled on our beach loungers and hunkered down for a long day of sun, sea and sand. Off in the distance we heard a lady on a loud speaker saying something that we couldn’t make out. In the background, there was calypso music pumping out of the speakers. This is not unusual on any of the Caribbean Islands so we didn’t think much about it. On and on it went. I read my book and Frank was taking care of some emails. At one point I looked up from my book and saw a line of swimmers in a race in the ocean. Well! I had to put my book down to watch this! From a distance, it looked like women racing – I made this judgement based on the smallish arms doing a front crawl stroke. I watched for what felt like a long time totally engrossed in the action. The swimmers were definitely in a race – there were bouys as markers laid out in a course which the swimmers swam around. There were also officials in dingy boats and kayaks moving along side the swimmers. I watched and watched and watched. The swimmers, swam and swam and swam. It seemed to be taking a really long time so I went back to my chair and kept on watching and eventually went back to my book – Scare Tissue, Anthony Keidis’s memoir (perhaps I’ll tell you about it in another blog post but I’ll say this – holy hell! He’s got a story to tell and I highly recommend the book).
A little while later, I looked up and saw that the swimmers were still going! It must have been a good 30 minutes by then. I was fascinated and couldn’t believe the stamina I was witnessing. I marvel at anyone with athleticism and I was in awe of these athletes. I’ll be honest I was hoping the people in the water were women because it was a pretty awesome site seeing a line of 10-12 swimmers swimming in a row, clearly battling it out for first place. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this spectacle.
Over the loud speaker, the commentator was excitedly urging the swimmers to keep going and told them that they had one more lap to go. Well…, I had to get closer to where the swimmers were going to get back to shore. I should mention with all of this going on, I was so engrossed in the race it didn’t occur to me to get my camera! So sorry folks, no photos or video! Really sorry about that!
When we got close to the finish line, the first place swimmer was just about to arrive! How exciting! A couple of more strokes and the swimmer was there! And out comes a tween boy hustling up the beach (to get to the finish point)! I heard the announcer say that the boy had placed first in the 3KM race. Wow!!
Then the second place swimmer was about to arrive so we watched and lo and behold, it was a tween girl! Yay! The third place swimmer? You guessed it – another girl! Whoot! As it turns out, these were the only two girls in the race (I didn’t see any others). It was quite an awesome thing to see, boys and girls as equals in an athletic competition. In this day when gender equality is once again (and still) a hot topic, seeing this race, made me feel hopeful for our future. So kudos to the organizers of this race. It just feels like this conversation has been going on for a long time – like pretty much my entire life.
Growing up as one of six girls, I never really gave much thought to gender inequality. I was raised in a traditional household where my father pretty much laid down the law. He ruled and we followed his rules. Or else. But despite how I was raised, it never occurred to me that my gender would prevent me from becoming anything I wanted to become. It just didn’t occur to me. Sounds strange doesn’t it? Maybe even naive. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe it had something to do with growing up in the 70s when the women’s lib movement was in full force? Or maybe it had everything to do with watching my mom work full time, raise kids, keep the house immaculate at all times, drive, and cook, shop, socialize etc. She did it all.
So today, watching a physical race, as gruelling as swimming, with girls and boys racing against each other, it reinforced that there should be no question as to whether girls are fully capable of doing anything boys can do.
While I didn’t get a photo or video of the race, I did capture a bit of scenery from the lunch table today: