It’s funny how you learn about the place you live. If you grow up somewhere, perhaps you learn the folktales and history of your home through your parents and grandparents. When you move to somewhere new, you don’t often get to appreciate the people and events that have come before you to their fullest extent. The history of the Caribbean is rich and deep, and we got just a tiny taste of it this past weekend.
My book club read Alice Hoffman’s “The Marriage of Opposites” and it was fascinating! While the book was fiction, the roots of the story were in the history of impressionist artist Camille Pissarro (born and raised on St. Thomas) and his Jewish family. It was mostly about his mother, of which very little is known, but Hoffman weaves a compelling love story and island history lesson together to create a beautiful vision of St. Thomas in a bygone era. The St. Thomas Synagogue hosted Alice Hoffman for a presentation and reception featuring some of Pissarro’s work, and some members of my book club and I got to attend. I also got to meet Hoffman and have her sign my book, which is always a treat for this book nerd! The book signing was a bit chaotic; picture a crowded room full of Jewish grandmas all pushing you to get your book signed quickly so they could get their armful of books signed for everyone they knew that couldn’t make it.
On Saturday Dan and I got up early, took a little dinghy over to Hassel Island for the “locals” hiking tour. Led by a member of the St. Thomas Historical Trust, we hiked just under three miles and learned about the island’s rich history and connection to St. Thomas.