Despite everything I’ve promised myself, I start to giggle as soon as I see her walking up the beach. She resembles a water goddess, hung with shells and gold. Her short, curly hair, her smooth, tanned skin, her almond-shaped eyes, it’s overwhelming. „I’m starstruck”, I chuckle. She takes my hand and says:Don’t be. I also shit.” I don’t understand this, so she has to repeat it.
Her name is Indya Moore. She played Angel Evangelista in Pose, a series about the vogue dancers of the 1980s and 1990s in New York. She was the first transgender model on the cover of the American Elle and is one of Yves Saint Laurents brand ambassadors in the United States. We were in the same port town in the Dominican Republic at the same time. She because her family is originally from here. I because the ship on which I was to sail to Curaçao had been wrecked and I had washed up in this town. My friend Liz – one of her 1.6 million followers on Instagram – had sent her a message: “You should meet my magical friend Raoul!” To everyone’s surprise, she had responded, “Okay.”
We take off our clothes and run into the ocean towards the setting sun. She circles around me, sinks, then stops, kicking and looking at me, intensely, with only her eyes above the surface of the water. Since I suspect none of this just happens, us here in the water together, I spin around and tell her why I went sailing this summer: to research the African gods that once interacted with enslaved humans. came across the ocean.
To the Taino, a human being like Indya was nothing strange or devilish, they had a word for it: two spirited
Indya also has Africans among her ancestors, but she knows more about the Taino, the people who welcomed Columbus when he ‘discovered’ this island in 1492. According to my guide at the Columbus museum, this was the end of the Taino, but Indya shakes her head no, fiercely: the Taino were never destroyed. “They merged with the new people who came here. What they knew has not disappeared, their wisdom still lives on.” At a low point in her life, she’d had a vision of a glorious woman shining on her with the light radiating from her eye sockets. Indya felt how this creature protected her and had always been with her. She found a picture on the internet that depicted exactly what she had seen. It turned out to be Atabey, according to the Taino the mother of water.
To the Taino, a human being like Indya was nothing strange or devilish, they had a word for it: two spirited. Indya probably would have had an easier life if her parents hadn’t come to believe in the God once brought by Columbus. But Indya had found her way back to Atabey and with it her strength.
Like two dancing dolphins we move further and further into the water, until it is dark, the water cold and the land disappeared behind the waves. I tell her about La Sirène, a black mermaid who guards the treasures at the bottom of the ocean. And about Agwé, the master of the sea: black with blue eyes, like me, but tall and fearless, in a sailor suit. Then we say nothing more, we spread our arms and legs and swaying on the waves we look at the stars.