“I came to the Netherlands for love. I was born in England but grew up on Saint Lucia. My father had been given a job there and we were supposed to stay there for two years but we didn’t leave. I was there when Saint Lucia became independent and I also feel like a native Saint Lucian. After middle school I went to pilot training school in Trinidad on a special scholarship and became the first ever female pilot at the local airline LIAT. Men from the Dutch Antilles and Suriname also worked there, which is how I met a Suriname-Dutch man. We moved to the Netherlands in the latter part of the eighties.
When we divorced ten years later I moved to Amsterdam. This was done out of a practical viewpoint, as Schiphol is close by and I fly for Transavia. But I also moved there because of the bustling community. And so at thirty six I began my new life in the big city.
At first my time in Amsterdam was chaotic. I had chosen a 1950s house in Zuid and had to renovate it. At the corner of the street stood a flower kiosk where a proper Amsterdammer worked. I couldn’t understand a word of what he said, even though I’d lived in the Netherlands for a long time and spoke the language well. When he understood that I had come here to live he gave me a free bouquet of tulips as a welcoming gift.
I’m happily single. I think that the fact that I am a pilot scares a lot of men off. I have a group of international friends in Amsterdam and we speak Nether-English; a mix of Dutch and English. In Saint Lucia lots of people come to visit for short periods of time and everyone welcomes them. You are quickly absorbed into a group. You don’t need to have gone to school together to be able to call someone a friend. It’s different in Amsterdam; groups of friends seem to originate from the student years. Some friendships began even earlier than that. So I don’t really have any local friends.
I feel privileged, coming from Saint Lucia. My father recently passed away and I returned to my family home for a month. When I left I said, “I’m leaving home, to go home”. I’m glad I have two places I can call home.”
9 people in Amsterdam have the Saint Lucian nationality