This time Another Building, is really Another BuildingS, as the most important location of the film, is at a site where there are many little houses that look oh so cute, until you realize that they are not big enough to really stand in, and that you can’t enter the house without crouching down. The ” slave huts” as they are still called, were used by the slaves that worked mining salt on the island of Bonaire, a Dutch special province.
Salt used to be a valuable commodity before fridges and without salt there would have been no trade, as salt preserved much of the food at the time. The slaves used to walk from the other end of the island to work the salt, and would rest in the houses. The trip was long.The men mined the salt, the women carried it in baskets on their heads.
Bonaire’s well know historian Boy Antoin has a historical website that does a wonderful job preserving the local history as well as educating people on the island’s history. We will link to the site and refer to his knowledge as much as possible. Mr. Antoin has written on the subject of salt in his recently published book, Bonaire: Salt and the Colonial History: Bonaire: Zout en de koloniale geschiedenis.The salt plant is still actively used today but most of the labor is done by machines.
Personal connection: Bonaire is by far my favorite island in the Caribbean. I can not explain why, I have been on so many of the Caribbean islands, but this one is just in my heart. Not a lot of people live there, nor is there much to do as far as art or night life goes, but it is a place that soothes my soul and I find incredibly spiritual. I still can’t put my finger on it. It also is the place we used to go to for vacations as a child and I have nothing but fond memories of swimming, collecting stones and shells, windsurfing and hanging out with my brother. The slave huts have been part of the decor. I never wondered what they really were as a child. As an adult I truly understood the meaning of these houses and really what is signified.
The story, in Kasita has many small references to that love for the island, the nature, but also refers to the walk the slaves made once and to the youth who can see important history but don’t really know or value it, they are part of their daily surroundings.
Then there is the larger connection, the story still told, of how a small island is still important for it’s salt winning. The Salt Company is now American owned (Cargill) and it is interesting to me how those, Dutch, American connections keep coming back, from the time Peter Stuyvesant was Governor of both New Amsterdam and the Dutch Territories, including Bonaire.
With KASITA I hope to give something back to an island that has been so good to me, it is my ode to an island I love deeply.