Letters & Opinion

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay and Watching the COVID Waves Roll-in…

The Global Omicron Experience Part 10

Image of Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Otis Redding’s 1967 hit song ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ hums through my mind every morning when, like him, I stand in my kitchen Watching the ships roll in, and watch them roll away again…

Like Otis, I grew-up sitting on the dock ‘by the bay’ at Hospital Road in Castries, watching the ships coming and going — from ‘Cable Ships’ to ‘Banana Boats’ to ‘War Ships’, to today’s ‘Car Carriers’ and today’s floating hotels.

It used to be that every cruise ship rolling-in here was welcomed with open arms and treated like they’d brought ‘The Yankee Dollar’, today the question on most minds watching daily arrivals is whether it’s brought COVID-19.

Saint Lucians were also generally glad to see a real return to the daily arrival of sometimes three cruise ships per day for the past few weeks.

But they’ve stopped rolling-in and the question is: Why?

The first indication (probably) came from the Chair of the National COVID-19 Management Center (NCMC) Cletus Springer, who, in a recent Facebook Post outlining the powers of the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) said: “Indeed, I can reveal that last month, the Ministry of Health twice denied berthing privileges to cruise ships.”

Indeed, local Health Authorities have been keeping cruise ships at bay for COVID — and not only Saint Lucia…

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Wednesday said while kit wouldn’t tighten regulations within the US, cruise ships taking visitors outside US waters still have the responsibility to keep passengers and crew safe.

It’s therefore commendable, even though costly to all tourism stakeholders that cruise ships with COVID-19 problems have been prevented from or alerted they wouldn’t be allowed to dock here…

Next I heard about the absence of the cruise ships was from my old friend and colleague Sam ‘Jook Bwa’ Flood (Thursday morning) when he asked listeners: ‘How come they’re not telling you cruise ships have stopped coming-in since last week because of Corona?’

And he asked, ‘So, what about the taxi-drivers and the vendors?’

Expectedly, Sam continued his daily early-morning vaccine-bashing sermons, but this time named some of the vaccines and other medicines he has problems with – and also making the telling point that ‘Those against medicines originally meant for animals being used against COVID’ should consider this week’s case of ‘an American man who was given a pig’s heart to live!’

Sam challenged the authorities to ‘Stop hiding and come-out and say how many vaccinated persons have died’ and ‘How many people have become infirm after being vaccinated…’

He also said words to the effect that the global vaccination drive is essentially a conspiracy ‘to reduce the world’s population…’

And calling-out unnamed ‘doctors’, he accused one of prescribing ‘an American vaccine the CDC has not approved because it causes pregnant women to deliver infirm babies…’

Still on ‘the doctors’ case, he also said: ‘While doctors always like to talk about how many lives they save, they should also talk about how many of their patients have died…’

Reiterating that ‘My role and purpose is to save and protect lives of Saint Lucians at home and abroad,’ Sam returned to his earlier perfect linguistic spin and play on the word ‘jab’, saying it’s ‘Un jab pou vway!’ (‘The jab is truthfully a Devil!’)

Even at the risk of being accused of having accepted Sam’s open invitation (on his program Wednesday morning) for me to ‘walk’ with him, I have quoted him at length to make the point that like with every media messenger, he too has his message – and he’s damned good at getting it across.

Indeed, many who listen with English ears often make grave mistake of settling for English translations and interpretations of a language they didn’t grow-up with or understand well-enough — and by the time they finish trying to figure-it-out, ‘Pawol Papa Juke Bois’ has long left them behind…

Hence why I’m warned by (some) fellow former Samarians that if I’m holding my breath waiting and expecting the Cletus we know ‘to even mention Jook Bwa’s name’, I’d better exhale quickly (lest I stifle myself…)

Thing is, though: I’m not Otis Redding, who traveled 2,000 miles from Georgia to sit on the dock of the San Francisco Bay to watch the tides rolling-in.

Instead, I was born and grew-up ‘by-the-bay’ in Faux-a-Chaux watching the ships roll-in for the past six decades — and now I’ve also seen five COVID tidal waves simply roll-in through the bay like tsunamis.

Looking at the tourism berths on the dock of the bay from the Castries Waterfront and watching the bay at the entrance to the harbour from my window these past few mornings, there’ve been no cruise ships rolling in or out — just like Jook Bwa said.

I don’t agree with most of what he says about vaccines generally.

If one gets rid of stale ear wax and listens clearly — with both ears and languages — Sam is not really and totally against all vaccines.

But that’s for another Pawol Papa Jook Bwa…

Meanwhile, like most who listen, I do still enjoy his special musical selections chosen to make his jabbing case: that taking ‘a jab’ is like accepting a Death Sentence from ‘The Devil’ (Jab-la).

Like it or not, Sam Flood is the very best at what he does – and therein lies the problem for those whose responsibility it is to help the health authorities’ vaccination drive by providing verifiable information to Saint Lucians at home and abroad, in ways they will listen – and a language they’ll understand.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW: Otis Redding sang Sitting on the Dock of the Bay in 1967, but died in a plane crash in December that year; and the hit song was released January 8, 1968 – exactly 54 years and one-week-ago, today.

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