The photo looks like an ole time town. Meaning the feel of the photo, along with the facade of the building, the little paved area for walking, the complete absence of cars congestion lends the idea that this could well be an old town somewhere out there that time forgot. But sometimes photos don’t always tell the truth. This is the contemporary setting of a Dutch colonised island in the Caribbean. Sint Maarten is one island divided roughly half-half by two old slave trading nations in Europe – Holland and France. ‘The man in the doorway’ is the topic of the post, set in a space that is made to look whimsical and nostalgic. Stuck in a time warp, like the island itself.
When you don’t know who you are, you morph into ‘all things for everyone’. An island that has been set up as some tourist destination, is the obvious identity all of its inhabitants speak off. What is not spoken about is the ‘men in corridors’ both within and outside its borders that ‘manage’ the real goings-on of the island. Tax evaders, off shore business folk, eager-to-get-a-piece-of-the-stolen-pie politicians, a worn-down and ill-informed immigrant community, resentful locals, runaway Metropolitans from Holland, France, other colonial outposts, as well as North Americans, all seeking a better life that the island facilitates for them.
The tensions between the merchant class and the disenfranchised mainly black locals, ie small businesses, which the East Indians and Chinese lead. All of these little details, could never be captured in a photo. It is easier to present a facade of a quaint order under the disorder. Ramp it up with nostalgia touches and small island charm and the fantasy continues so that tourists could come and enjoy and say their carefully crafted nuptials under palm trees whilst the majority of the island’s inhabitants, mainly blacks, young and old, continue with a development module that pushes servitude.
That’s the ‘official business’ of the island. Servitude. There is nothing modern or quaint about that. All the more trying because we ‘choose’ to see it like this. Just like how in our own lives, we hold on to some faded memory, or idea of something or someone, because it is simply easier, even when we know it’s wrong or that it’s a lie. When I took the picture, and tried to ‘fix’ it…I had a motive. I wanted to do something that is fake and contrived. That said, it is just a photo.