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What Books to Read to Mentally Travel to the Caribbean

Picasso already said: “everything you imagine can be real”, and he was more right than a saint. The visualization technique proves it: positive thoughts and visualizations trigger the brain to make “feel-good” substances, for example, the neurotransmitter serotonin. Experts say that visualization works very well when one needs to achieve a goal or even a wish.

Right now, we are in a very propitious moment to activate our imagination. Since we cannot travel physically, let us travel mentally through barbados books and many more books about the Caribbean. Now we have the necessary time. And that will not happen many times in life, really. It is time to imagine and desire.

And what better way than to pick up a book and let our minds fly to other places. We will start this week with one of those exotic destinations that almost everyone places at the top of their dream trips: the Caribbean. Coconut palm beaches, radiant sun, crystal clear waters, coral reefs, waterfalls, Mayan temples… It is the image of knowing how to live and take advantage of time, of smiling, good vibes and total relaxation. To get to know it in depth and from different points of view, here are 6 books to give to your imagination:

‘The traveler’s tree’ – The Antilles

Patrick Leigh Fermor is one of the great travel writers. An essential classic. Although he did not like to be defined as such, it is one of the most intelligent and sharp traveling pens that can be read today. In 1933, at the age of eighteen, with Hitler in power, he embarked on a two-year journey on foot across Europe that took him from Holland to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and then to Greece, and which has since made him in an inveterate traveler. In his travels he had a relationship with a Romanian princess with whom he lived for a long time in a windmill, he participated as a soldier in World War II and spent his last years in the Peloponnese, dying at the age of 91.

We recommend this reading precisely because it is based on the experience of this British writer on his journey through the Caribbean in the 1940s. The Traveler’s Tree is divided into 13 chapters, each of which is dedicated to one or more of the Greater or Lesser Antilles. He visited among others the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. He moved by steamboat, by sail, by plane and on foot, taking note of the most picturesque details of daily life, the landscape and the customs of the locals. The vision that he provides about each of the islands is very enriching since, despite being in the same archipelago, the author evidences through his erudition, a great sixth sense, very sharp humor and an overflowing curiosity that are idiosyncrasies and completely different entities, whose ways of seeing life vary as they would if we traveled from one end of the planet to the other.

‘Our man in Havana’ – Cuba

Set in Cuba at the time of dictator Fulgencio Batista (shortly before the Castro revolution), Our Man in Habana is not your typical mystery and suspense novel. It’s something else. Its author, Graham Greene, puts an ordinary character – a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana – and totally crazy in an absurd espionage plot. Jim Wormold, the protagonist, is not looking for adventure, on the contrary, he wants a calm and stable life. But finally, he is immersed in this story because of a capricious daughter who exposes his ineptitude to become a minimally profitable secret agent. Its content is sometimes hilarious, simple and entertaining.

A movie version was shot in Havana, by the way, after Castro took power. In fact, the Cuban leader criticized that both the book and the film were too moderate for his pre-revolutionary regime. In this aspect, precisely what Greene pursues is to vindicate the power of freedom against the oppression of the system, be it that of one side or another. The atmosphere of the story described by the British novelist is interesting since it shows a city (Havana) enriched and embellished by US money, with hotels, casinos and nightclubs. A reading that shows the clear contrast with today’s Cuba.

‘Pirates of America’ – Story

If there is a legend that gives meaning to the Caribbean, it is the pirates who inhabited it 500 years ago. It is its history and in a certain way its origin. There are thousands of versions of these adventurous characters as well as ruthless. Perhaps the first book that explains the reality of the pirates who sailed the Caribbean Sea is this one by Alexander Olivier, Exquemelín. A reference for any reader who enjoys this fascinating literary genre. Exquemelín was a true pirate. Although scarcely known as such, at the time he must have had a lot of names since he sailed under the orders of two of the most bloodthirsty figures that are boarded a pirate ship: Sir Henry Morgan and the Olones.

In that aspect, the text of Pirates of America is not at all sophisticated. On the contrary. His language is familiar, direct and without frills. We are talking about a text from four centuries ago written by a pirate. Of course, the capacity that Exquemelín has for detail is amazing. Perhaps that is the reason why he became a best seller and a reference for lovers of piracy. He describes with great precision the Caribbean landscapes, the fauna and flora, buildings and fortifications and all series of objects that he finds on his voyages. He is also very curious as his stories emphasize the customs of the sailors, hunters and gatherers of the islands.

‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ – Jamaica

This may be one of the novels that most delicately captures the confused soul and psychology of the Caribbean people. As the title of the book indicates, the sargassum sea – which is a kind of algae that floats on the surface – is very wide, since its oval shape extends along the North Atlantic, to the southwest of the Antilles, where the author of this novel, Jean Rhys, was born. To be exact, she was born on the island of Dominica, one of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. The story is a prequel and brings back a character from a very famous novel: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. She explains to us the past of Antoinette Cosway, known as Bertha Mason.

The first part of Wide Sargasso Sea is set in hot and lush Jamaica (in 1830) where black slaves have just gained their freedom. In this situation, the protagonist of it, Antoinette Cosway, develops who is a young white Creole trapped between the island customs of the Jamaicans and European patriarchy to which she succumbs after marrying and moving to England. She has a very nice, fluid style, with brushstrokes of fine irony, but on her she is especially generous with Caribbean landscapes, whose description shows us a colorful environment, with fruity aromas and vibrant energy.

‘The Feast of the Goat’ – Dominican Republic

No need to make introductions. Mario Vargas Llosa is a well-known author. Novelist, politician and columnist, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010. In this historical novel or fictionalized history, he recounts the events that occurred on the Caribbean Island of the Dominican Republic during the last years of the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Without any doubt, this is one of the masterpieces of the Peruvian author (and contemporary Latin American literature in general) whose purpose was to delve into the nauseating terror of a ruthless dictator. It is a novel that delves into psychology and an imaginary that is characterized by corruption, extreme machismo (he humiliated his collaborators by sleeping with their wives) and the politics of fear.

This delicious but raw text by Vargas Llosa and the voices of its protagonist, Urania Cabral, the dictator and his assassins, travel through the history of the Dominican Republic, from the planning and after the attack, in May 1961, and thirty-five years later, in 1996. In a way, reading La fiesta del Chivo is like diving into a traumatic moment that affects a generation. This part of the life of the Caribbean island must be known to better understand the inhabitants and the culture of the Dominican Republic.


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Hi my name’s Sarah. I'm a lifestyle blogger. I live in North Cornwall in a small village in the UK by the city. I started blogging as an outlet for something to do not that long ago. Although I'm young, and don't have a ton of experience in life, I don't think that disqualifies me to write about life and lifestyle subjects, so that's what I set out here today in my debut blog.

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