To the Editor:
Those of us who’ve lived here a while remember when most everyone lucky enough to drive a vehicle had the same one…a Suzuki Samurai. A rich guy had one with a spare tire, all its essential parts, a good top, and no lacy rust-spots. The rest of us had bumpers lashed on with heavy rope, a home-made plywood top, a 2×4 holding the front seats from flopping backward, and not a lot of paint.
With the back seat removed, we had a pickup truck. A Samurai could waddle like a donkey up any hill over rocks and gullies, and it didn’t need much gas to do it. On the road it hugged the inside curves and left lots of room for others to pass, and in town it could squeeze into the smallest space, cozied up against its mates.
Outside of town back then, most of us lived in small places… a little stone house with shutters and a fan… or maybe an open, wooden, screened-in place, built like a boat to catch the breeze. We knew to conserve water and were pretty sure the rain we caught off the roof would be enough. We didn’t depend on a lot of appliances because electricity was an iffy commodity.
Our idea of luxury was based on The Resort… gently blended into the land, low stone cottages camouflaged by tropical plants.
So let’s flash ahead a few decades when suddenly most of us are barging around these narrow roads in gas-guzzling behemoths that could carry a few Samurais in the back seat. And since most of these massive roadhogs contain only one or two passengers and a bag of groceries, there’d be plenty of room back there for a few sensible little vehicles.
It can’t be for safety that we’re driving these hulks which are too big to negotiate curves safely or to stay in their own lanes. And we certainly can’t delude ourselves that because of their size they’d withstand a collision with a concrete truck or some other juggernaut careening around a corner.
Do we see how absurdly wasteful and inconsiderate it is to moor an oversized land yacht diagonally across two scarce parking spaces to keep our chromy butts out of passing traffic? And most important, do we have any idea that the gasoline we’re burning excessively is costing, every day, peoples’ lives in a foreign war?
These monstrous vehicles are all in perfect scale with the megalithic buildings now bursting out of the hillsides all across the island. Rather than blending into their surroundings and forming a gentle shell around their inhabitants, these buildings are arrogant monuments to excess and ego. They crowd the sky, destroy the hills and valleys around them, and pollute the sea below. They overpower and conquer huge tracts, stripping them and displacing all that’s indigenous … iguanas, cuckoos, orchids, and saddest of all, families living in simple homes now overhung and smothered by their massive presence.
When did our little St. John become like the legendary frog that puffed himself up big, bigger, biggest…until he finally exploded?