Yesterday, I was going to share a Christmas memory, but when I heard the news that the Caribs Rugby Clubhouse had burned down, I changed my mind…
When I first moved to Trinidad, I was nearly eight months pregnant, my stepson had just started living with us and I was completely out of my element. I had a hard time acclimating to my new environment, which is unusual for me but there was a lot going on. I faced small daily challenges like the all consuming heat and onslaught of mosquitoes; and I dealt with the larger issues such as how to make this place home for me.
My daughter was born, my mom left to go back to New York, and the reality of my life in Trinidad started to sink in. With my optimistic outlook, I reached deep for my better self, reached out for support, and I knew (mostly) that somewhere along the way this world would become home too. (Spoiler alert: it did!) There were several things that made this transition possible… one was the Caribs rugby club.
I had never watched rugby before my husband, Blaine, and I started dating. I probably only knew the sport existed because of Ralph Lauren’s collection. Blaine played it, watched it, lived it. I love a good sport, so as I watched with him, I started to enjoy it as well. And when we moved to Trinidad, we spent a lot of time with the Caribs RFC members. We went to games, functions, or just a Friday evening lime at the clubhouse. Most of the time we brought the kids.
Now, before we moved here, I had met some of my husband’s friends already. They were all lovely and just like his family, accepted me with a warm welcome. Still, I was not prepared for the amount of people I would encounter. Island life: everyone knows each other and many are related – you learn as you go. I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, they were all incredibly nice and lots of fun!
They started out as Blaine’s friends. “It was a rugby thing.” But it didn’t take long to realize these “friends” were family. Soon I formed friendships of my own. Over time, the clubhouse became my new comfort zone. It was a safe environment for the kids and I was in my element, surrounded by people I could chat with, laugh with, lime with. It’s where I held Blaine’s 50th – and the boys were so accommodating and helpful with everything.
My friend Anne, often gives the story about her first trip to Trinidad – a family member picked her up from the airport and brought her directly to the rugby pitch to watch a rugby game. Afterwards, we went back to the clubhouse, with my three month old daughter sleeping in her stroller/car seat, and added another awesome night to our memory books. She received the same welcome I did. Everyone does. That’s what makes this place so special. (BTW, That was my FIRST Bruno Browne!)
While I only have seven years of memories at that clubhouse, most of the members have lifetimes of memories. It was a home away from home for so many. I was saddened to hear the news, to see the photos. So I can only imagine how others felt. I am so grateful for all the memories we shared there – our three kids running around the place, making new friends and letting grown ups dote on them. The laughs, the drinks together, the SONGS! Birthday limes, BBQ’s, Pig Roasts, Jouvert. The list goes on…
Thank you for making my transition into this new and exciting (and difficult and challenging) country easier and more enjoyable.