Before Blogtime: Center

06 February 1993

Every evening the center of the world is Queen's Park, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Queen's Park was originally the British royal grazing lands outside of Port of Spain, until Port of Spain grew up and around the vast grazing lands. Now Queen's Park is perhaps the largest in-city park in the world, containing dozens of cricket and soccer fields along with a complete horse racing track and stables.

Every evening over a thousand Trinidadians come to the park to play, to lime, and to exercise. Around the edge of the park runs a wide sidewalk, carrying walkers, joggers, and runners in both directions around the park. Along the sidewalk vendors sell food from every corner of the world, Caribbean, African, East Indian, American, Filipino, and French foods are all available along the way.

Walking and jogging on the sidewalk are people from every continent on the earth, with the possible exception of Antarctica. As the sun sets warmly on this multicultural parade around the grassy park, the center of the world pauses and walks a lap around the park.

The park was only empty once, during a strange coupe attempt by a chap named Abu Bakr. I was there, in a hotel at the very edge of the park, near the television station of which Abu was in command. From the upper stories we could see Abu's men on the television station rooftop with their M16s. Shortwave kept claiming Abu was armed by the Libyans, but I saw no AK-47s, and when it later turned out that Abu had bought all of weapons at an arms show in Miami, I was not surprised. During those few days the park was empty as bullets whistled between the buildings of the city.

Near the end the Trinidadian army came running across the park, punctuated by choreographed rolling and diving with their own M16s. We stood out in front of the hotel watching with some amusement as we had already determined from our own observations that all of Abu's men had pulled back to the television station.

I did not get to see the park return to being the evening center of the world as we fled on an Air Venezuela flight to Caracas before the army imposed curfews were lifted. I need to return someday to reassure myself that the world is walking around the edge of the park again.

In the meantime, here in Pohnpei, we proudly maintain our own pale imitation as Micronesians and expatriates of many countries gather each evening to walk and jog around the Pohnpei Island Central High School track.

Every other evening after jogging in the foothills above the family home, I swing past the track and put in couple laps with the rest of the exercisers. There is no food, and a lap is only 400 meters, but we enjoy a fantastic view of our volcanic tropical rain forest carpeted mountains and our rain washed clean air.


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