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Special from the Hill
My name is Calvin Arietas and I’m a seasoning salesman.
My brother had this cowboy hat sit down inside, just relaxing, and I find it take me nicer than it take him! So I take it!
I born and bred Paramin. Sing parang, play blue devil mas. I live right on top the mountain. Where the snow falls! Christmas time is very cold.
God does give you sufferation to make you stronger. If you don’t fall, you wouldn’t be able to get up. I wake up a Sunday morning and the house just catch afire and my child died. These are things that could make you prevail or regress.
I come from a VERY BIG family but I’s the pigtail in the callaloo. Half my family in America. I have one brother in Trinidad and five in Tobago. Plus my grandmother had 12 children, so I have a lot of cousins! At Christmas, you have to work hard, because is plenty people to give presents!
I ent married but I had a child but I have an adopted son and I have a wife—or she’s say she’s my wife when she ready. That’s Camille Mohammed.
After primary school, I was supposed to go in Town school. But it didn’t really work out that way. I left school at 11 or 12, somewhere around there, and went straight into the gardening business.
Soca is number one. We doesn’t mind the jam-and-wine but, oh God, give we more than one or two words! When I come to jam, I jam, when I come to wine, I wine—that is the whole song!
I like freedom: I’m a child of the forest. Freedom is the cooling of the mind, the mind and body at one, just relaxed: that is true freedom. And a lot of us don’t have that.
Paramin ent have much things to do. Is either you gardening, you liming by the bar, or you going and hunt or fish. Certain rocks, you have to have real belly to reach, because is straight down cliff. Real mountain-climber business. I going there from small.
If you taking care of crops, you taking care of them every day of the year. Even if you do a little on a Sunday, is that little less you will have to do on the Monday.
Crops don’t come as good, don’t taste as nice, on the flat. It special from the hill.
Violence is everywhere in Trinidad so violence is in Paramin, too. But we don’t have burglar-proofing. Most of the time, is outside influence that cause a car battery to get thief. Paramin people does work for they money: it does feel more satisfactory in your hand.
You clean out your brush, cut drain. We don’t cut trees. As my grandfather say: I could work here, you could work here, your children’ children could work here: once you do the right thing.
We take up the leaves from the trees, straw we call it, and scatter it back on to fertilise the land back over and keep the topsoil feeding. Most people nowadays grow everything with chemicals. It easier than to go in the forest and make 50 bag of straw to cover your garden.
Trinidadians will kill any snake. They ent business: once you name snake, you dead. Them ent studying if you is coral or mappipre. Non-poisonous snake getting same death. A worm? Kill it!
The earlier you work, the easier you work. The bush does move easier. And you have more hours. Stop half-ten, when sun start to beat you, go and eat, look to come back out by half-three.
Everybody want garlic pork. But nobody want to mind the pig or peel the garlic.
It kinda one-sided in Trinidad. If anybody could say different, they lying. The money staying on one area. It trickling down, but is one drop by one drop.
The best thing about the job is selling the seasoning. This is where all your hard work pays off. The worst part is the prices for chemicals. Half the money you make goes right back into the garden.
A Trini is someone who would work hard for what they want. But, if they could get it easy, they would take it so!
Trinidad is the sweetest place in the world.
•Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com