dimanche 6 décembre 2015

WESTPORT, WASHINGTON USA AN ENTHUSIASTIC RETURN TO AMERICANA

Westport, Washington: A report from what used to be the Salmon Capital of the World

Going towards the Pacific coast, skirting the Puget Sound, once you pass an indistinct town of Aberdeen, the atmosphere and the evergreen trees remind you that you are in for a time travel treat. You are headed towards Grays Harbour Area, discovered by a certain Capt. Gray in the early 1700s. Of course Indians had always lived here.
Səʔ notsʔ Tí.
Our tribe was formed in 1866 incorporating members of Lower Chehalis, Shoalwater Bay and Chinookan people. As a small but strong tribe, we strive to keep our language, culture and economic health active and viable. While very connected to our past, Shoalwater Bay tribal members work to expand our influence and increase awareness of our tribal culture while improving our health and way of life.
This part of Willapa Bay has sustained our ancestors since the beginning. It continues to sustain our people and enables us to reach out to the greater community. Throughout this area, visitors, travelers and residents receive the benefit of the vision, infrastructure and development directed and managed by the Shoalwater Bay Tribe.
You’re Welcome. Hiyu maśi (many thanks). (From the tribe’s website)



If you look at the map, you can see why this sense of exhilarated isolation sets in. If you had taken the north road, you would have ended up in the modern, all facilities available, no comfort spared, community of Ocean Shores.
But you have left Aberdeen and its non-descript façade and driven south, into a sparseness, which has cultivated the men who live here, given them strength, sturdy fisherman, people who made this region their home, windswept and tsunami prone, giving them an unique character. The people who live here, who have always lived here or moved here in recent years, rejecting the comfort levels of the capitalist coercion, are uniformly friendly.
As a foreigner, but a person with a fondness for USA, I can say this: I was charmed by the Americana of the city, which has remained unchanged from its 1950s architecture, with the kinds of businesses which are simple and straightforward that honest people do, to pass time and to say hello to others but not with the intention of accumulating wealth, which may not be a possibility in this sparsely populated region. It used to be called the Salmon Capital of the World, that is long gone, but since the 1960s it seems that they have become experts at Crab (it can’t be crab fishing or crab catching, there must an English word for it, crab pots are lowered down to the sea and the crabs enticed into it for their last supper, crab fishing I am told if you go on a boat, crabbing if you do it manually on the beach?)
The town is neither prosperous nor poor, there is a tranquility about it. One thing for sure, it is not pretentious, as defined by its people who are not pretentious.
I had been crisscrossing the continents in the month prior, so my good sister friend wanted me to enjoy the tranquility of this lovely village. Because of the currents the temperature is about 5 degrees higher and the wind and the spumes are bearable under coats and jackets.


More importantly, I had the pleasure of meeting some genuine people. They are trying to leave as little carbon foot print as possible on this earth. They are young people who had left the hectic life of the cities and wanted to live in harmony with nature and build a community of likeminded people, while indulging in their artistic sides.
For me, in a way, in this little village of an Americana that had not been paved upon by concrete, these people were also reminiscent of the times of American Innocence and adventure and at the same time, the American hospitality and generosity of time and efforts and solidarity with the neighbours and friends and visitors. I wish them well and they seemed to be in balance in mind and body. Only when you are not balanced in the mind that you are afraid of the Other, fear of the future and seek security in goods and things known to you.

For me this visit to Westport, Grayland, North Cove, Tokeland (and the Indian reservation of Shoalwater Bay) has had the effect of reinforcing my eternal optimistic attitude about human beings and their good nature and that we can accept each other, love each other, respect each other and allow us our own space and time, while sharing what you have, including the happiness generated by living in such an ambience.