When you’re from the Caribbean, not all of your trips to the sun, warmth, and sea are fun ones. Sometimes the suit packed neatly in your travel bag is not for swimming. The rum in your hand? It’s not for celebration. Sometimes someone close to you dies, placing the fun and adventuring we normally feature here squarely in the background.
Patrick and I just returned from such a trip to Trinidad where we joined with family, friends, and most of the nation to honor the tragic passing of our cousin, Clinton Grant.
Clinton and I were born just over a month apart, though we were never close, the distance between my childhood home in St. Croix and his in Trinidad never affording us too many play dates. Even as young adults we followed divergent paths; me to the U.S. mainland for college, career, and settling down, while he stayed in Trinidad, pursuing a passion for cycling that eventually saw him become the face of the sport in his home country.
Two January’s ago we agreed it was way past time for our paths to come together.
I was at the tail end of a typical UC adventure, making my way from Tobago to Trinidad by ferry in order to catch a flight back home, but needing a ride to the airport. In what would come as no surprise to all his friends and close family whom we met over this past weekend, Clinton was all-too-happy to help.
It takes about 45 minutes to drive from the ferry dock in downtown Port-of-Spain to the Piarco International Airport, though if I had my way that drive would’ve lasted much longer. We just got on so well and he was just so easy to talk to, like the distance and disparate paths never happened and we had, in fact, been close chums all along.
We talked about all kinds of things, but mostly the real side of Trinidad he was keen on helping us expose via Uncommon Caribbean. Hiking up into the hills, discovering secret beaches and waterfalls, playing mas together in Tribe, cycling around the island – we were just starting to hatch some nice plans…
I feel angry and cheated that I won’t get to realize any of those plans with my cousin; that we’ll never get to be as tight as we likely would’ve been if we had grown up together. Clinton was killed when a careless motorist plowed into him while he was on his bike training a budding young cyclist. The irony that the tragedy occurred days before the start of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month here in the U.S. only makes me angrier.
From our short time together and everything Patrick and I gleaned from his close friends and family over the weekend, it’s clear that our cousin Clinton was a very, very special guy; someone who gave selflessly of himself, truly valued his family and country, was loud, and really lived a good life.
Just as he inspired younger generations of Trinidadians to pick up the sport of cycling, we hope that his death inspires greater care and attention on the roads where he pursued his dreams.
Ride in peace, Clinton.