On our local news outlet, there was an article about the Dutch marines visiting Saba. Ladies, they are always quite the sight: a group of about twenty able-bodied, strong men in uniform with a leader and a purpose. They’re hard to miss: you can smell the testosterone from up the road. They never stay long, a week at most, more often just a day or two. One time, they train for an evacuation; another time, they come in hopes to recruit; this time, their community service was an island clean-up.
Now for our seasoned islanders, as you know, Saba is a small community. We look out for each other without expecting anything in return – because we’re human, it’s what you’re supposed to do. Another thing about Saba is this: locals and expats alike are PROUD of this little island. Yes, the cost of living is high; yes, choice in goods and resources could be better; no, not everything is totally perfect in this little paradise – but it’s all relative. This sense of pride can be seen in how locals speak about the island, but also in how they take care of their house, their neighbors, and the roads.
Locals are proud to be Saban, or Sabian, and expats also love to see tourists wander around in amazement, because they make us appreciate that we have managed to carve ourselves a niche on this tiny piece of paradise. We appreciate that where in other places, the falling of the leaves or the budding of the trees determine the passing of the year, where here it’s the beautiful “July tree” aka the Flamboyant tree, that becomes easily noticeable in bright red or yellow, that assures us that summer (or rather, the start of the hurricane season) is upon us. Here it’s the avocados that roll down the road into your hands (that literally happened to me once!) that remind you that it’s that time of the year again.
Local or expat, we are all proud of this island and we like to keep it clean. I was reminded of this once more when I read in the article that these marines were having an island clean-up on this rock during the month of June. These fit young men in their heavy camouflage uniforms came to Saba to climb Mount Scenery and clean our island up. They looked trained to face any form of hostility. They looked ready to go to war.
Though it became clear from the article that what they mostly cleaned was something a lot more peaceful. Something that clearly was “a nuisance due to the large number lying on the roads”:
I’m going out on a limb here to presume that the most hostile creature they encountered on this rock was the mango-eating goat.
Not the most dangerous of jobs for these marines, but appreciated nonetheless.