I had never left the country before. My whole life I have been subjected to Americanmannerisms, concepts, cultures, and behaviors, and I never really questioned it. Coming to
Union Island and learning the sundries changed my outlook and perspective on how different life could be. My first step to submerging myself in Union’s rich lifestyle is to connect with its locals.
On one of my first nights in Union, a small group of me and my friends approached a quaint, pink shop with “Kandy Kreme” painted in neon on a wooden sign. A sweet, wafting scent came over me and attracted me inside. We were met with the shy owner of Kandy Kreme who has been dubbed “Bread Lady” by my friends and me. She was likely nervous with a gaggle of young foreigners entering her storefront, so she sat quiet behind her register, observing us steadily. Her store was filled with an aggregate of sweets, imported goods (praise for Pop Tarts on Union), and most importantly, freshly baked bread. A doughy mesh of baked goods sat in the display window and I purchased a piece for 2 USD, no hesitation. It was only until I was a quarter way through inhaling the bread that I asked the Bread Lady what this ambrosial fool was. Her only words were “coconut bread” and I fell in love with it.
The next day I had an intense craving for this renowned coconut bread and came back to give a visit to the Bread Lady. I think she was a little shocked to see us back so soon, and
greeted us unlike the night before. I immediately went up to her bread display and asked for some more bread, excitedly telling her that this was the best bread I have ever eaten and that I need more to sustain my island living. To my dismay, she was all out of coconut bread.
However, our appreciation completely took her aback, and she became very bashful that we enjoyed her bread so much. Our whole group chimed in saying they loved the vibes of her
shop and how they can’t wait to come back more. From here we were able to make a little bit of conversation, and she said she would have more coconut bread baked for me in the morning.
The Bread Lady did not disappoint. I came back the following night for my long-awaited coconut bread and found my angel (the Bread Lady) at the altar (the bread case). We conversed a little more about bread and the lady became less of a stranger and more of a friend. I would come to the Bread Lady at late nights when I needed carbohydrates the most and fresh coconut bread and smiles would always await me. Our group waves to her as we’re passing by and she welcomes us with a genuine smile when we come to visit her. It really changed something in me seeing this shy shop owner who would barely speak a word to us when we arrived blossom into a kindhearted friend. It really is the simple things like bread that bring people together.
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. During these courses, students learn scientific diving techniques over a 10-14 day period and carry out research and monitoring of coral reefs at various sites. Many of these courses are done in partnership with local environmental organizations, like the Union Island Environmental Alliance and the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.