Coast Pop

Sky Juice in the Cayes
by Shannon Switzer -- September 24th, 2013

“Welcome, sista. Please have a seat.”

Our host was sporting dreadlocks and a Bob Marley tank top. He pulled out a chair and fanned his arm with a flourish.

My godparents, who had brought me to Belize as a high school graduation gift, pulled their chairs out too and sat down. We situated ourselves around the small card table, covered in a faded floral cloth, and absorbed our surroundings. We were the sole table on the porch of a small house on stilts, sand still clinging to our bare feet. We’d arrived on Caye Caulker earlier that afternoon and were already in love with the small sleepy island and its Caribbean vibe.

“I’m Doren, and this is my wife, Sonia,” our host explained.

A woman’s head popped out of the window of the little house and with a smile said, “You in for a treat, cuz I be cookin’ for you tonight.”

Doren asked for our drink orders, and my godfather requested a round of waters to start.

“Ah, brotha. We don’t have water here on da island. All dat we have here is da sky juice.”

When Doren returned with our glasses, we all agreed it was the most delicious water we’d ever tasted. The rest of the night, we swapped stories with our amicable hosts over the meal Sonia had prepared: stone crab in coconut milk with black beans and fried plantain. They made us feel like honored family members, and it didn’t seem to matter that we were their only patrons.

That night I fell in love with travel, and in particular with the unique flair of island and coastal culture.

Twelve years later, I’ve lived in and explored various parts of the globe and have also rediscovered the joy of traveling in my own back yard- visiting fascinating subcultures and unique landscapes around the U.S.- and documenting it all with words and images.

During this time, like my colleagues here at the Nicholas School and many of you reading this, I’ve seen the good with the ugly as our planet continues to adapt to our (often harmful) habits. We have impacted the world for better or worse, and now communities stretching far and wide (human & non) have to cope with these changes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in island nations suffering from collapsing fisheries and sea level rise contaminating their drinking water and agricultural land.

But I think there’s good news, and it’s in the form of “community.”  The concept of community and community-managed resources, what that means, and if/how it has the potential to heal at many levels will be one of my core areas of study while at Duke. Here at Coast Pop, I will explore this theme, especially as it relates to all things coastal.

So come get your daily swig of Coast Pop, and here’s to you, Doren, Sonia, and the planet…Sky Juice for the people!

 

My kind of ocean front property!

My kind of ocean front property!

6 Comments

  1. Tawnee
    Sep 24, 2013

    Wonderful featured image, Shannon! As well as introduction… I felt like I was right there with you on the on the beach in Belize. I think especially for managing common-pool resources like the ocean and all its assets, the idea and role of communities is crucial. I’m looking forward to hearing your perspectives on this over the coming year!

    • Shannon Switzer
      Sep 30, 2013

      Thank you, Tawnee! I completely agree with you, and am looking forward to a fruitful exploration of “community” as the year progresses!

  2. Erika Zambello
    Erika Zambello
    Sep 24, 2013

    I love that term, “sky juice!”

  3. Janet McCourt
    Sep 26, 2013

    Your blog was great and your photo’s were fabulous. Good job.

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