‘Rum & Coca Cola’ in a Montreal Loft | THE STUDENT TRAVELS | Montreal Adventures

Rum and Coca Cola, mother and daughter out working for the Yankee dollar.
Shortly after followed by Jean and Dinah, Rosetta and Clemantina, the Yankee gone and Sparrow take over town!

The music hums on in the background behind the sound of cordless drills and striking hammers as we sweat beads and drink iced tea. A mix matched group of young people working together in an uplifting, albeit dusty, environment, chasing a dream. The learning curve is steep but the corrections are gentle. ย 

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We could be anywhere in the world, however the music we are all jamming to in the background seems to sell out our location as Trinidad or Tobago. The stickiness of our skins does not beg to differ.

Where in the world are we?
Montreal, Quebec.

After plans for an apartment go slightly awry and the hostels’ beds are all booked I take up a friend’s (Loรฏc) gracious offer of temporary accommodation. I enter a home where the occupants are in the midst of remodeling their loft themselves and I jump in to help them. As Trini’s would say, or maybe Caribbean people in general, “one hand cannot clap”.ย ย These people are wonderful! Over shared meals and tool requests I got to bond with these folks. They are university students, graduates, comedians, artists, dancers, adventurers, beautiful.

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Aven, Isabella and Loรฏc having a chat after post construction cleaning. (left to right)

We sing and dance, and saw and cook, and speak to a comedian on the road side three stories beneath us. I think of how fortunate I am to meet people that I can get along with so well. It’s a pleasure to find people on your wavelength where ever you travel.

It was a really positive setting, as Loรฏc said: “Bring your confidence and you will be able to do it.” Can you imagine? A house of 4/5 girls all handling drills and jigsaws and table saws and all sorts of machinery, getting a job done. It was admirable how those who were familiar with construction (Loรฏc, Aven {left above} and Loรฏc’s pops) guided and taught without pride.


Last year at around this time I met two exchange students at UWI who were from Concordia and were studying in Trinidad for the semester while staying on a farm in the countryside. We became friends and had many conversations about the world that we are inhabiting in this time period, its influences and our ability to influence it with positive change.

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They spoke highly of the social environment at their home university, and just about everyone I met had something (many things) positive to say about Montreal.

Initially my decision was to attend University of Calgary for my Study Abroad year. However my courses were not aligning like they appeared to do at Concordia. That, along with all of the pleasant stories of Montreal and Concordia University is the tale of how I ended up here in Quebec.

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To tell the story of how we ended up listening to the Mighty Sparrow in a loft thousands of kilometers away from his land, is a story that begins two years ago in Pakistan when a family left their home and migrated to Montreal.

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It continues when the daughter requests a blues song on a Saturday afternoon- the subject of which is Rum and Coca Cola in Trinidad during the US Military occupation of the Western peninsula.

I smiled to myself as I drilled hole after hole in a floor board and felt the moist air of my exhalation in the dusk mask I donned.

It is a strange thing this life and there is no use planning it out.

Live well, stay in, speak out,
Rushell

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