Mango Trees and Random Acts of Island Kindness

My obsession with mangos can be dated back to my childhood. Owning my very own mango tree was on my list of Things To Do Before I’m Twenty, written as a ten year old dreamer. So when I moved into my apartment in the lull area of Christ Church in Barbados and noticed one of my neighbors had a large mango tree, I was automatically enthralled and could not wait to start picking.

*Pump your breaks J* 

One of my only friends at the time informed me that you cannot just pick mangos off of someone else’s tree. “You have to ask,” he advised.

I gave him a stare full of confusion and disappointment. I could not find the logic in asking for something that came from the earth and was practically hanging off of her property. But because I had just moved to the island and did not have any criminal offenses on my record yet, I decided I would heed his advice. I pumped myself up to go for the kill and just ask for some. But fear met me halfway and when I finally reached my neighbor’s property, all I could muster was “nice mango tree”, which halted a response of a half smirk; not one single word escaped her mouth.

As I walked away, utterly disappointed, my mind raced with angry thoughts…

Screw her, she knows I wanted some mangos!

Do I have to beg?

Does she plan on eating all those damn mangos herself?!

From that day forward, I walked past that house with complete disdain for a woman I did not even know. I just could not fully grasp how she could be so territorial over something that brought so much joy to the human palate.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I was so upset about something as inconsequential as not being offered any mangos. Let me explain: my perturbed feelings towards her had stemmed from the countless cases of cultural coldness and aloofness I had experienced since moving. I was an alien to these people, and I definitely didn’t feel any love in this part of town. It is not that she simply did not offer, but more that I felt so unwelcome that I would have never felt comfortable enough to even ask in the first place. Any book on common courtesy would tell you that when someone compliments your mango tree, you must say thank you, at the very least, right? Perhaps even offer them at least one piece of fruit? It was frustrating.

One day, I decided to go for a run. Since my huge move, I had an obsession with something else too – macaroni pie – and oh, did it suit my figure. I ran all over my neighborhood, taking in the captivating sights that helped to reassure me that I did not make a poor decision in moving to this rock.

On my way back, a handwritten note covering a bowl distracted me. Curious as to why I hadn’t noticed the sign on my way up, I stopped to read it.

HOLY HELL!  Mangos!

mango post bowl pic_WWLOR

The note accompanying them read: FREE Please take some Mangoes, Welch Family.

Jackpot!

I took as many as my small hands could hold. I headed back to my apartment with the largest smile to date. The Welch Family understood that mangos were to share, not hoard.

Screw you and your mangos, neighbor lady! I have my own now!

The Welch’s reminded me of family. You know, the kind of family that treats you like their own, without that underlying tone of when are you leaving my house? They restored my faith in humanity. I wanted to bring them a gift, a thank you card, or something to express my gratitude. They needed to understand the impact they had on me with their simple gesture of kindness.

I walked by one evening with my significant lover and the Welch Family seemed to be watching television (I was not snooping, their door was open). My significant lover thought I was crazy as I screamed, “Excuse me, excuse me!”

A lady came out (Mrs. Welch, I assumed), and I thanked her for brightening my day a week ago with her offering of mangos. She was receptive, and said that it was not a problem whatsoever.

We had only inched away when she called after me. I walked back to my hub of happiness, and she asked if I’d like some more mangos. The heavens had opened up.

I walked home with a bag full of mangos and a whole new perspective on island life.

*click for image credit

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Jadine Yarde

About Jadine Yarde

Jadine was born in Boston, though her most recent years have been spent in New York City. One day, she found the gall to walk into her corporate job to tell the department heads that she was chucking the deuces and heading off to do her own thing – a move to a small, confined island to start a business and a relationship. Home for Jadine is now a 166 square mile rock in the Caribbean sea. Barbados is the birthplace of her father and during frequent childhood visits, Jadine fell into a weird, cosmic love affair with the rock, complete with fireworks, sparklers, and dancers. And now here she is, reunited with the rock she loves, embarking on a lifestyle that’s incomparable to anything she’s ever known; wine is expensive, zetar vans are faster than a mini jet, and local wit can be sharper than a serpent’s tooth.

The famous saying, If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere, has been proven false in Jadine’s case. After time on the rock, she now believes wholeheartedly that if you can make it on an island like Barbados, then you can take over the world! (Jadine really hopes this statement is proven true.)

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11 thoughts on “Mango Trees and Random Acts of Island Kindness

  1. Love this post! Everyone with a fruit tree that bears well should share with neighbors. I know my grandfather in Florida did (mangoes, grapefruit, and tangelos). Unfortunately, crooks also stole mangoes from his tree — as did raccoons, so he didn’t always have so many to share. Glad you finally got some mangoes (yum)!

  2. I absolutely loved this!! Written very eloquently and told straight from the heart. I don’t live abroad but you reminded me at a very necessary time that a little kindness goes a long way. It sounds like the Welch family was a sign from God that you needed. Sometimes it’s astonishing to watch him work.

  3. one of my most loved moments here was when Husband and I got to his classroom one morning and found a note and a bag of mangos from one of the cleaning ladies at the school. The note said, “para la beba (for the baby)” bc she knew our daughter loooooved mangos. oh the happiness that came from those mangos in a bag.

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  5. Comparto totalmente el sentimiento por tu escrito, a mi también me decepciona ver que la mayoria de personas que tienen abundancia de TODO!!! no saben compartir.
    Un simple gesto de DONACIÓN, puede transformar nuestra tristeza en algo grande, algo como restablecer nuestra FE en el SER HUMANO, porque compartir es AMAR!!!
    Conxita :))))

  6. This is a Wonderful story, Mangos are always a quest when we go to Trinidad, and finding them at different times of the year literally makes finding them a search of the holy grail!
    Hmmmmmmmm I think that we need to make some friends with mango trees when we go back, our little tree will not produce much fruit for the next few years :p
    We do however have a line on Limes.
    We went to visit our lawyer a few times on our last trip and we always came home with a huge bag of Limes! He was very happy to show us around his garden naming off all his plants and then getting to business ( he was ecstatic to get Rid of some Limes ). He also gave us a branch from his Cinnamon tree, which we made tea from it’s leaves ( and saved some for our neighbours to show us how to make drinking Chocolate ).

  7. We do not live on any island…Yet! But one of our requirements are mature fruit trees. I’m not a mango fan from the grocery store, but have purchased from locals while on vacation and they are the BOMB! Also would love to have avacado trees, bananas and whatever else will grow!!

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