I have long felt like a foreigner in this world. Born in Jamaica to a Jamaican mother and a Welsh father, not black – disappointedly not so. Arriving on a banana boat in 1966 in England yet not English. Going “home” to Wales in 1972 yet not Welsh and my father constantly reminding me to remember my Jamaican roots. Spain ignited a sense of identity only because of the curiosity as to where I was from. You’re English they’d say when I said I was from Britain and immediately I’d explain my roots and claim that I was British.
Now with the recent and resounding no by some British people living in Scotland, I am not so sure! For 22 years I used the term British to explain an experience of life in a place that was not mine. I held a British passport, have done for life and lived in many places until I settled here in Mallorca and then found my home here in Binissalem. But who and what am I?
I am not Welsh nor am I Jamaican, at least I have never thought so. Half yes but not whole. Does it matter? Having always had a sense of looking inside from the outside, I don’t think so. Moreover I was always envious of my Welsh family for their ties to the community and so I always hankered for that too. I found that when I moved to Binissalem in September 1999 just in time for their wine festival. This year the town celebrates 50yrs of this festival and one can feel the pulsating pride as we move into our second week of festivities.
Last weekend saw the start of the party with the famous grape fight! As I waited in the plaza along with hundreds of Binissalamers excitedly gathering in front of the town hall, I bumped into first born’s second best friend in the village (the first being put aside once this one arrived on the scene!). This young lad had come from Asturias a year or two after we had moved here from Palma. He and first born were inseparable! Ying and Yang, blond and brunette, two peas in a pod! They did everything together, spent every spare moment together until they entered their teens when they slowly but surely drifted away from that intense relationship. Bumping into him in the plaza was a joy, he is a fine young man. Two kisses, a sincere greeting, but nerves gave him away. Of course I wanted to know what was the matter. The answer was “I can’t wait for it to begin” referring to the Vermar, the wine festival! First born was the same. Looking inside their lives this past weekend, I felt very much an outsider as I’ve never had those feelings of intensity, of emotion, of excitement. Call me laid back and Jamaican perhaps?
I cannot remember ever being like first born and this friend and all the other Binissalmers who are so proud, so upright in their conviction that they come from the best place in the world! I agree with them – Binissalem is the best village in the world! We are family, we are community, we are one, especially now at the 50th celebration of our wine festival. Me? I am one step away from all this, looking in, on the outside by choice, by experience, with love. I was born foreign and I shall die foreign but home is where the heart is and my heart is here in this welcoming town, this town whose name means Sons of Peace – Binissalem.