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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

What You Gain By Seeing the World From a Differnt Angle

I Am Writing This Blog From Curacao

We exchanged homes with a family from this island, and while they explore New York, we get to see Curacao. Our boys are in a day camp by the water, which is both challenging and interesting. Challenging b/c only some kids speak English — the dominant languages here are Dutch and a patois called Papimiento. My older boy, who can get caught up in anything physical, is more OK with finding a common language in games, my younger son understandably hangs back unless he sees a more familiar openining. The great part though is the mix of peoples — families from Venezuala, from Holland, every brand of ethnic mix — Curacao actually has an old Jewish history that links directly to the first Jews to come to New York — all make up the island population, or the tourists. So the kids get a mini-UN over the summer that is like New York but with a different combination of accents and backgrounds. Great

I learning something just from readng the guide books: Cuacao has a great natural port, so this was the center of the slave trade. More boats came here than anywhere else. We have not yet been to the major slave trade museum, which is said to be very good (I’m a bit worried about my 4 year old as I expect there to instruments of torture on display). But the size of the port only makes sense when you realize that the slave trade was centered on Brazil and the Caribbean — something we never emphasize in American schools.

By coincidence I happen to be reading Undaunted Courage, the Stephen Ambrose book about Lewis and Clark. It feels very dated, very old fashioned. But all the more so because I am reading it here, where the America drive west — with its mixture of motives, its complex cast of characters, its consequences seems less a matter of pride and more something to question, to examine through the lens of What If? And that is the great part of travel, you can see life through lenses different from your own, and imagine What If our story had been different.