I’ve never been to a Dutch island before. The people don’t look how I’ve maybe subconsciously trained myself to think island people are supposed to look. Maybe that should be my next thing, visiting different islands around the world. Unsettle my expectations.
The airport reminded me, oddly, of Naples, Italy, my visit there last year that left me feeling slightly unmoored, waiting outside the small airport for someone to pick me up who I was not sure I would recognize. Angela and I accosted every lone female at the airport, asking with a quiet air of desperation if she was Agnes.
The third time, we got lucky when we spotted a thin Norwegian looking woman, blonde and long legged in a constantly moving scattering of brown and beige people speaking a wonderful mix of patois, Papiamento, English, Dutch, and other languages I didn’t recognize.
Agnes was sweet and charming, looked young and hopeful, like those kids who leave college or high school for a summer living in their backpacks. But later we find she is a mother of two, married and looking forward to a vacation with her husband to Suriname, their first in five years.
We head off to the airbnb guest house, driving through dry heat, the wind grabbing at us, Agnes’s pleasant chatter as I stare at the people we pass, thinking this is an odd Caribbean island. No mangoes. No velvet black skin. It would take some getting used to. And I was ready.