Old Point sits on a Caribbean peninsula on the eastern side of the island Bastimentos, not far from where I served in the Peace Corps, I can actually see the Peninsula Valiente. Old Point has all the features of Peninsula Valiente, the rain forest, reefs, surfing, diving and the Indians. Although, there is one big difference; on the peninsula Valiente I was living in a wooden hut, on old point I am living in a Eco-Lodge…..okay, technically my wooden hut was a mini eco-lodge, but believe me there is a big difference. Interestingly enough the people that live and work on old point come from an Ngabes village called Salt Creek; apparently half of the population are people who have migrated from the peninsula. That said, I have had some interesting encounters with Indians in the area. When I arrived at Old Point, I was trying to get a lay of the land, walking around visiting people trying to get a feel for the place. Well one day an older Indian man stopped me and asked me what my name was using Ngabere (Ngabes dialect), I responded accordingly much to his satisfaction. He proceeding to ask me all the routine questions that Ngabes will ask a complete stranger (are you married, are your parents alive, do you like the Yankees), using Ngabere. Now you have to understand, most foreign tourist struggle to some degree with Spanish, but for a tourist to understand and speak Ngabere is unheard of. So I figured this guy has got to be a little impressed. He only feigned interest in my ability to speak Ngabere, whereas on the peninsula it was it was met with great interest. So I asked him where he comes from, and he said he was from Punta Valiente (my old site) but had come to Old Point in search of a wife many years ago. I told excitedly that I had lived in Punta Valiente and that really my name was Tuchi not Jack and the following conversation ensued (in Ngabere):
Old Indian: No you’re not.
Me: Yes, my name is really Tuchi.
Old Man: That is impossible; Tuchi speaks Ngabere much better than you.
Me: I guess I should practice Ngabere more, but I am Tuchi.
Old Man: You’re not tall enough
Old Man: Tuchi is seven feet tall and speaks much better than you do.
Me: Have you ever met Tuchi?
Old Man: No
Me: Then how do you know then, because I know that I am Tuchi, and you have never met him. (surely that will convince him)
Old Man: Tuchi took a woman and left and isn’t coming back, if he does I will let you know and you can meet him.
At this point I wasn’t sure what to think; really I wanted to laugh, because the guy was dead serious. I guess you never know.
Here is to being a legend in your own time, even if it is in a tiny corner of the world.