Nostalgia and the Pitch Lake: A journey back to my childhood wonder

A little girl playfully lying on her back (photo: courtesy of dnilrothanak)

As I sit here, gazing out of my window at the world that has evolved around me, my thoughts wander back to the magical days of my childhood. A smile pulls at the corners of my lips as I recall the countless adventures I embarked upon with wide-eyed wonder, and one memory in particular stands out—an enchanting visit to the Pitch Lake. But first, let me tell you how the Pitch Lake has benefited us. The Pitch Lake has been a source of tangible and intangible benefits for the citizens of Trinibago. While its direct economic contributions have evolved, over time, its cultural, educational, and environmental impacts continue to shape the island’s identity and aspirations for sustainable development.

Nestled on the picturesque southside of Trinidad, the Pitch Lake was a natural wonder that beckoned me with its mysterious allure. It was a place of legends, whispered to be the stuff of magic, and my young heart couldn’t resist its call. I remember the day I first set foot on its shiny black surface, a world unlike any other I had known. The sight was surreal—pools of glistening asphalt, a unique concoction of earth’s elements, bubbling up from the depths beneath. It was as if the Earth itself had opened a doorway to a realm of fascination. My friends and I, armed with boundless curiosity and overflowing energy, embarked on countless explorations of this otherworldly landscape. The black surface reminded me of the volcano with its very warm touch. We would hike across the hardened surface, our laughter echoing against the backdrop of natural beauty. The patterns formed by the cracks and crevices told stories only the wind and the earth understood. Our hands would touch the glossy surface, and we’d wonder if the stories whispered in the breeze were secrets known only to the Pitch Lake.

Little did we know that these childhood adventures were planting seeds of knowledge and passion that would shape our futures. The Pitch Lake wasn’t just a playground; it was a classroom without walls, teaching us lessons about the Earth’s wonders, its fragility, and the need to protect it. Our imaginations ran wild, weaving tales of ancient creatures and hidden treasures that might lie beneath the lake’s surface. One school trip led to another, leaving me with very different and unique experiences each time.

As the years passed, the impact of those early encounters with the Pitch Lake became clearer. The knowledge of its unique properties and potential uses remained with me, and it influenced my choices as I grew. The Pitch Lake was a symbol of the delicate balance between man and nature, reminding me that while we benefit from the Earth’s resources, it’s our responsibility to care for them in return.

The Pitch Lake has provided us with economic opportunities. The natural asphalt has been used for various purposes such as waterproofing boats, constructing homes, and creating tools, and has been utilized in infrastructure projects, including road construction and maintenance. The asphalt’s waterproofing properties and durability have made it a valuable material for building and maintaining roads, enhancing transportation networks and connectivity. These applications continue to provide local job opportunities and support traditional industries.

The Pitch Lake also holds cultural significance because it’s not just a geological wonder but also a source of local pride and identity. The lake’s unique characteristics have contributed to the cultural narrative of the island, often featuring in stories, art, and folklore.

Now, as I reminisce about those bygone days, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences and memories that have shaped my journey. It taught me to see the world through curious eyes, to appreciate its wonders, and to embrace the responsibility of being a steward of its treasures. And so, I carry the legacy of that enchanting natural resource with me, a timeless reminder of the transformative power of a single, magical place.

Subrina Hall Azih is Trinidadian educator residing in the United States.

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