"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Student Writing: Chacachacare, Trinidad

>> Sunday, April 10, 2011

Author: Sarah Nelson

Location: Chacachacare, Trinidad

The leprosy colony was hidden by the overgrown arms of the tropical trees on an island off Trinidad. As we explored, the floorboards creaked and cobwebs snapped. They were not accustomed to the weight after thirty years of abandonment. We approached the hospital, with the sun flooding through the dirt cracked window, illuminating the Promine bottles and medical papers that scattered the floor. The dusty medical books donned aged corners while their letters frowned. Newspaper clippings of leprosy doused the floor, littering a sense of reality over this once sanctioned village. List of patient’s names were scripted next to their current physical state. Few surnames were legible through puddles of gooey brown liquid. The quietness was overwhelming as the past was seeping in. The eeriness of a place once so lively with disintegrating humans was now a habitat for island pests and curious visitors. This experience showed me how our medical conditions have changed to a point where we do not shun people like outcasts. Tough not beaten nor involved with forced labor, these lepers were treated like slaves in the sense they were outsiders and freaks. As the floorboards creaked and paper read, I learned how eerie some of our history is, and how fascinating it is to explore it.


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