edge

Bacchanal Mujer

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Pati Garcia and I am a midwife at [the registered charity NGO childbirth centre] Mamatoto.

The Mamatoto building in Belmont has been standing for 11 years! For an NGO to last this long in the Caribbean doing what we do is unheard of! And I love being part of that anomaly.

I was born in East Los Angeles, California, in the USA but, in Trinidad, I would call myself, “an East girl” – because I’m definitely not from, “the West”. Although I have the complexion for it, the West wouldn’t be my vibe at all!

I moved to Trinidad [in 2016] because I knew, deep down in my guts, Donald Trump would get elected. It was a green light for all the racists to come out and vote. I am half-Mexican and half-Peruvian, the child of immigrants. So I always felt, from a child, that I could live outside the US. I saw an ad for a US midwife in Mamatoto– they get a grant from the US Embassy. I had Trini-American friends and their vibe was sweet so I thought, “Maybe their country is great, too!” I did my voting through the mail and left two months before the election.

I like to get people riled up and informed. So they can fight for their rights.

White supremacy is a concept. It isn’t something that exists with just the white-skinned folks. Even black folks can have some of these traits. It’s a disease. As a first generation American, it’s easy for me to connect with my “outside-of-the-USA-ness” – but there are people [of colour] who’ve been there for many generations who are now anti-immigrant! I’m like, “Honey, your great-grandfather came from Mexico! Stop rounding up the immigrants!”

I grew up in California but, as a child, my mom brought me to Peru three times before I was ten years old. We’d travel north to a bunch of family in New Jersey, jump over to Miami and then go to Peru. I got a little bit of New York and a taste of Miami in me. And Mama put me in little pre-schools in Peru so I got to be very Peruvian. And now I’m getting to be very Trini.

I provide antenatal services, take care of women during their pregnancy and when they go into labour. We have a natural, autonomous and empowered birth and then I take care of them postpartum for the next six weeks.

I don’t have any kids as yet myself. But I hope to – and I’m going to try my best to have natural childbirth.

Women who come to Mamatoto already know medication won’t be offered here. Natural childbirth is “controversial” because it’s not readily available and consistent in the public – or even private – [sphere]. You never know what you’re going to get. At Mamatoto, they know they’ll get respect from prenatal all the way to postpartum.

The best part of the job is delivering Trini babies! That welcoming them into their country, a water birth, that peaceful vibe. My ladies get into all kinds of positions – they’re wining down the babies, they’re moving their bodies, they have music on! They have their family, their children, whoever they want in the birth. It’s really a family event. It’s almost like a little lime.

I heard people steups before I came to Trinidad. In my culture, we steups in a different way. We call it, “chuparlos dientes”, suck your teeth. It’s more short. Here in Trinidad I learned to stretch my steups. Make it wet!

I’ve been to La Brea, the Pitch Lake, in south Trinidad. And we have the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. I’m really tripped out that, in the world, there are not many of these, but there’s one in LA and there’s one here! It’s like I was meant to be here!

I’ve recently fallen in love with Tyrico Bay, first because I surfed there, but then because I realised you could park up the car, open up the trunk with the cooler, put your music blasting. Drink, lime, dance, go in the water, come back out. It’s all good – and you can’t do that in the States! That’s not life in the States! This is life!

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

One of the first things that stood out to me in Trinidad was the loud music. I grew up in an immigrant community in the US. Music until four o’clock in the morning, everyone dancing and drinking, was very normal. As my family got Americanised and moved to the suburbs, where there were more white Americans, parties were having to end at 2am or midnight. I didn’t realise what a loss that was for me until I came to Trinidad and heard how loud music was here and it’s normal to party until the sun comes up.

The year I arrived in Trinidad was probably the last year it was a free-for-all in sound levels at fetes. The next year, they started telling fetes to turn it down. I was like, “Shit! I got here too late! I got [only] one year!”

The one time I hung out with my dad and mom together was when I was 15 and we went to a [Mexican-born, California-based guitarist Carlos] Santana concert. I hadn’t quite been around that [odd aroma of] incense before but I loved it. I was, like, “Mom, Dad, this incense is so good!” My parents were like, “All right, but don’t inhale so hard!”

My mother is one of five sisters. My dad, I didn’t really grow up with, so I don’t know much about his family. My mom was the first of the family in LA. So all of our family who came to America stayed with us at first. My family could be the people Trump had in mind with the chain-migration – and I was an anchor-baby for sure! And I’m happy with that! Most of my deliveries in the US were anchor-babies. [My clients] had their babies in the US, so those babies got their US citizenship, and then went right back.

Jouve was the first part of Carnival I got to experience. Just my partner and I, not with a band, very freestyle. We’d chip with one band, then another. I think that was the most fun I ever had. The next year, I paid to play with a Jouve band and I was so disappointed! They only played their own music. The year after that, I just joined their band and they played all that year’s music. So [the moral of the story is] don’t pay, storm!

What you have to do is find your vibe and go with it.

I went to a great fete, people jammed up on top of each another [on the dance floor] and I LOVED that. I want to feel other people’s sweat on me! And then I played mas with a very stoosh band. Wh’appen? It was mas with training wheels, for sure. I had a very nice [boring] time. I had the best time with the security people holding the rope to keep people out of the band and the women working the air-conditioned bathroom. THEY had the energy I was looking for! Everyone in the band itself was, like, in their own world. No one paid any attention to me. I kept going back to the bathroom, to wine up on the lady there, because she was so nice.

I was really shocked to see how many foreigners come to play mas. I had no idea. I really thought it was mostly Trinis.

I am up for residency in the next year or two and I would like to have children here. I want my children to have their formative years here because there is a deliciousness in this culture. There’s no shame here in learning Standard English and then whatever you speak at home. And, with the influx of Venezuelans, I feel it’s going to be really important to speak Spanish and my child is going to have the opportunity to grow up bilingual, [like me].

I want my children to grow up in Trindad, to know how to dance! And how to enjoy life! There’s a way to enjoy life here that just isn’t available in the US. Unless you come from a very wealthy background; those are the only people in the US who get days off. Here, EVERYBODY gets days off! Trinidadians very creatively come up with so many five-day weekends over the year!

I know there’s a critique about people here being lazy and customer service being poor – and it’s true – but people just enjoy life in such a different way here! I’ve travelled enough to know that the reality for most of the world is potholes in the road, water and electricity that comes and goes – so you’re really grateful when you have it and make do when you don’t.

I want my children to grow up in real life. Not in the [sanitized] American version.

I LOVE the energy that exists here and I love a particular word that is used a lot here: bacchanal! In Peru, “bacan” means something is huge, powerful, awesome, cool. And bacchanal is like a version of bacan! I love scandal, loudness, rudeness and all that super-hyped energy – when it’s appropriate.

I came here for the work. And stayed for the bacchanal!

A Trini is whoever wants to be a Trini. So I’m a Trini because I want to be.

For me, even though there is a lot of backward-thinking, Trinidad & Tobago means forward-thinking. It has also meant owning my life and a giant leap in my career. I’m working at the only birth-centre in the Caribbean that offers water-birth and it’s lasted 11 years!

Bacchanal Mujer

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is Pati Garcia and I am a midwife at [the registered charity NGO childbirth centre] Mamatoto.

The Mamatoto building in Belmont has been standing for 11 years! For an NGO to last this long in the Caribbean doing what we do is unheard of! And I love being part of that anomaly.

I was born in East Los Angeles, California, in the USA but, in Trinidad, I would call myself, “an East girl” – because I’m definitely not from, “the West”. Although I have the complexion for it, the West wouldn’t be my vibe at all!

I moved to Trinidad [in 2016] because I knew, deep down in my guts, Donald Trump would get elected. It was a green light for all the racists to come out and vote. I am half-Mexican and half-Peruvian, the child of immigrants. So I always felt, from a child, that I could live outside the US. I saw an ad for a US midwife in Mamatoto– they get a grant from the US Embassy. I had Trini-American friends and their vibe was sweet so I thought, “Maybe their country is great, too!” I did my voting through the mail and left two months before the election.

I like to get people riled up and informed. So they can fight for their rights.

White supremacy is a concept. It isn’t something that exists with just the white-skinned folks. Even black folks can have some of these traits. It’s a disease. As a first generation American, it’s easy for me to connect with my “outside-of-the-USA-ness” – but there are people [of colour] who’ve been there for many generations who are now anti-immigrant! I’m like, “Honey, your great-grandfather came from Mexico! Stop rounding up the immigrants!”

I grew up in California but, as a child, my mom brought me to Peru three times before I was ten years old. We’d travel north to a bunch of family in New Jersey, jump over to Miami and then go to Peru. I got a little bit of New York and a taste of Miami in me. And Mama put me in little pre-schools in Peru so I got to be very Peruvian. And now I’m getting to be very Trini.

I provide antenatal services, take care of women during their pregnancy and when they go into labour. We have a natural, autonomous and empowered birth and then I take care of them postpartum for the next six weeks.

I don’t have any kids as yet myself. But I hope to – and I’m going to try my best to have natural childbirth.

Women who come to Mamatoto already know medication won’t be offered here. Natural childbirth is “controversial” because it’s not readily available and consistent in the public – or even private – [sphere]. You never know what you’re going to get. At Mamatoto, they know they’ll get respect from prenatal all the way to postpartum.

The best part of the job is delivering Trini babies! That welcoming them into their country, a water birth, that peaceful vibe. My ladies get into all kinds of positions – they’re wining down the babies, they’re moving their bodies, they have music on! They have their family, their children, whoever they want in the birth. It’s really a family event. It’s almost like a little lime.

I heard people steups before I came to Trinidad. In my culture, we steups in a different way. We call it, “chuparlos dientes”, suck your teeth. It’s more short. Here in Trinidad I learned to stretch my steups. Make it wet!

I’ve been to La Brea, the Pitch Lake, in south Trinidad. And we have the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. I’m really tripped out that, in the world, there are not many of these, but there’s one in LA and there’s one here! It’s like I was meant to be here!

I’ve recently fallen in love with Tyrico Bay, first because I surfed there, but then because I realised you could park up the car, open up the trunk with the cooler, put your music blasting. Drink, lime, dance, go in the water, come back out. It’s all good – and you can’t do that in the States! That’s not life in the States! This is life!

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

One of the first things that stood out to me in Trinidad was the loud music. I grew up in an immigrant community in the US. Music until four o’clock in the morning, everyone dancing and drinking, was very normal. As my family got Americanised and moved to the suburbs, where there were more white Americans, parties were having to end at 2am or midnight. I didn’t realise what a loss that was for me until I came to Trinidad and heard how loud music was here and it’s normal to party until the sun comes up.

The year I arrived in Trinidad was probably the last year it was a free-for-all in sound levels at fetes. The next year, they started telling fetes to turn it down. I was like, “Shit! I got here too late! I got [only] one year!”

The one time I hung out with my dad and mom together was when I was 15 and we went to a [Mexican-born, California-based guitarist Carlos] Santana concert. I hadn’t quite been around that [odd aroma of] incense before but I loved it. I was, like, “Mom, Dad, this incense is so good!” My parents were like, “All right, but don’t inhale so hard!”

My mother is one of five sisters. My dad, I didn’t really grow up with, so I don’t know much about his family. My mom was the first of the family in LA. So all of our family who came to America stayed with us at first. My family could be the people Trump had in mind with the chain-migration – and I was an anchor-baby for sure! And I’m happy with that! Most of my deliveries in the US were anchor-babies. [My clients] had their babies in the US, so those babies got their US citizenship, and then went right back.

Jouve was the first part of Carnival I got to experience. Just my partner and I, not with a band, very freestyle. We’d chip with one band, then another. I think that was the most fun I ever had. The next year, I paid to play with a Jouve band and I was so disappointed! They only played their own music. The year after that, I just joined their band and they played all that year’s music. So [the moral of the story is] don’t pay, storm!

What you have to do is find your vibe and go with it.

I went to a great fete, people jammed up on top of each another [on the dance floor] and I LOVED that. I want to feel other people’s sweat on me! And then I played mas with a very stoosh band. Wh’appen? It was mas with training wheels, for sure. I had a very nice [boring] time. I had the best time with the security people holding the rope to keep people out of the band and the women working the air-conditioned bathroom. THEY had the energy I was looking for! Everyone in the band itself was, like, in their own world. No one paid any attention to me. I kept going back to the bathroom, to wine up on the lady there, because she was so nice.

I was really shocked to see how many foreigners come to play mas. I had no idea. I really thought it was mostly Trinis.

I am up for residency in the next year or two and I would like to have children here. I want my children to have their formative years here because there is a deliciousness in this culture. There’s no shame here in learning Standard English and then whatever you speak at home. And, with the influx of Venezuelans, I feel it’s going to be really important to speak Spanish and my child is going to have the opportunity to grow up bilingual, [like me].

I want my children to grow up in Trindad, to know how to dance! And how to enjoy life! There’s a way to enjoy life here that just isn’t available in the US. Unless you come from a very wealthy background; those are the only people in the US who get days off. Here, EVERYBODY gets days off! Trinidadians very creatively come up with so many five-day weekends over the year!

I know there’s a critique about people here being lazy and customer service being poor – and it’s true – but people just enjoy life in such a different way here! I’ve travelled enough to know that the reality for most of the world is potholes in the road, water and electricity that comes and goes – so you’re really grateful when you have it and make do when you don’t.

I want my children to grow up in real life. Not in the [sanitized] American version.

I LOVE the energy that exists here and I love a particular word that is used a lot here: bacchanal! In Peru, “bacan” means something is huge, powerful, awesome, cool. And bacchanal is like a version of bacan! I love scandal, loudness, rudeness and all that super-hyped energy – when it’s appropriate.

I came here for the work. And stayed for the bacchanal!

A Trini is whoever wants to be a Trini. So I’m a Trini because I want to be.

For me, even though there is a lot of backward-thinking, Trinidad & Tobago means forward-thinking. It has also meant owning my life and a giant leap in my career. I’m working at the only birth-centre in the Caribbean that offers water-birth and it’s lasted 11 years!