I am from Arima, Trinidad. For quite some time I have been envisioning leaving a legacy for my boys. Concepts swirling in my cortex are a cookbook with all their favourite eats that I’ve made over the years or a short story anthology of my life in Trinidad, along with my eventual migration to America.
The oral tradition of passing down family tales is steeped in the fabric of every Trinbagonian. But, I believe in the twenty-first century, it is also necessary to leave a recorded and electronic legacy that can outlive time.
As such, I’ve selected to commence with a quick account of my childhood memoir from Trinidad.
I was born on November 29, 1973, in the Saint Ann’s District in the Saint Ann’s ward of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago at Nicholl’s Nursing Home in Port-of-Spain.
I was christened Tusca-Ray Kirton Morris the next year on January 6, 1974, at the Santa Rosa de Lima Roman Catholic Church in Arima, Trinidad.
Arima is the Amerindian (Caribs/Arawaks) word for water. Arima was given its name “place of water” because it sprung up on the Arima River banks. Arima was established in 1757 by “Capuchin priests from Spain who had come” to convert the Amerindians to Christianity.
These priests from Spain built the first church in Arima in April 1786. They dedicated it to Rosa, an Amerindian girl from Lima, Peru, who ultimately was canonised as Santa Rosa de Lima. The Santa Rosa church still stands today in Arima and is on the register to be included as a heritage site by The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.
From my parents’ various memories, I believe I lived with my grandparents in the village of Mayaro, Trinidad, until I was ready to attend kindergarten in Arima.
Mayaro is located in the south-eastern corner of Trinidad and is the Arawak word for the place of the Maya plant. Maya is the word for the plant, and ro means “the place of.” In the history texts, Mayaro was settled before the rest of the island of Trinidad was colonised by the early settlers who were fleeing turmoil in Guadeloupe and Martinique after the French revolution. For several years in the nineteenth century, the only way to get to Mayaro was via a ferryboat from the capital Port-of-Spain.
My maternal grandparents John and Eliza Phillip lived on Plaisance road in Mayaro, less than half a mile stroll to the Atlantic Ocean. My early childhood and the August vacations – summer holidays- I spent in Mayaro was the most memorable because of the simplicity of life, the extended family, and the abundance of cousins, aunts and uncles staying at my grandparents’ home.
- Wikipedia: Rose of Lima https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_of_Lima dated July 31, 2018, sourced August 5, 2018
- Towns and Villages of Trinidad & Tobago by Michael Anthony