Living Until I Die #1: My First Trip To Barbados

My First Trip To Barbados

Living Until I Die #1: My First Trip To Barbados
Photo by Marley K. Me fishing in the Caribbean Sea on my first trip to Barbados May 2010

My First Trip To Barbados

I spent a weekend in Barbados a few weeks ago in a secluded, local, out of the way villa apartment, and it was beautiful. Listening to the Caribbean Sea waves crashing the shores, watching the animals in nature, and the storms passing through all weekend was very relaxing and refreshing.

My trip also showed me how blessed we Americans are. We take so much for granted.

Photo by Marley K. Rough waters in the Caribbean Sea before a storm.

Self-Reflection

I had a lot of time to think about life, topics to write about, and compare my what I consider modest, scaled down life as an American to the kind, modest people in Barbados. I stayed in an area where the locals stay intentionally so I could get a feel of what life is like on the beautiful island for citizens.

Any time I travel to the Caribbean it’s an emotional and awakening for me. It was a time of reflection for me, comparing what I would call my “modest” American life to that of a native Islander. I came on a Friday expecting to have just another experience, I left Sunday feeling enriched. Getting out of the states and escaping Trumpism for a few days is always a great feeling.

As a Black person of color, it’s never an easy thing to see the extreme poverty, hard-working African descendants people working every single day with no hopes of retiring. It’s depressing to watch people spend their entire lives serving others. Sometimes while vacationing we make life difficult for others. Because I’m have worked in the hospitality industry, I’m keenly aware of the weight of serving others for little or no money. I live for making places better than I left them and doing no harm.

I take nothing for granted.

Appreciating Local Hospitality

Our taxi driver was over 50 and gave us a card telling us of his availability 24-hours a day besides being a personal concierge service. He was kind, reminding me of the folks back home in Carolina. I felt safe.

As the taxi driver drove us to our hotel, he told us how much he loved his job. I believed him, but thought to myself what kind of life it must be driving all day and night? It seemed only the wealthy and ex-pats have the luxury of retiring on the island. Regular natives must work and work hard to earn a living.

Our taxi driver gave us the most helpful tips on where to eat, places to see, and the non-tourist attraction places most people don’t care to explore. I inquired about being out at night and driver told me it was a safe place with low crime rates. Because the island relies on tourism for survival, crime is of the utmost importance. I felt more comfortable exploring. Off to explore Oistins I’d go. I dropped my bags off into my room and took the same taxi to the local fish fry.

I didn’t know what to expect, but it had fish — so I was all for it. Our driver took us and waited on us until we were ready to go. I couldn’t believe how well he took care of us the entire weekend.

The Island’s Fish Fry in Oistins, Christ Church

The island has a weekly Fish Fry in Oistins, Christ Church on Friday night, and it’s THE place to be on the island after a week of hard work to have good seafood, dance, drink, and fellowship with other locals. It’s a huge tourist attraction in the island’s heart. I sat and watched all the White and European tourists overly intoxicated having a great time among the locals without a care in the world.

Clearly, these folks felt safe in a sea of Black and Brown people or else they wouldn’t be there. I wondered if they act this way at home amongst the Black and Brown communities or would they not affiliate with the likes of such people. It’s amazing how folks act when they aren’t at home.

I saw one really drunk White, middle-aged female tourists flirting with local Bajan men of color and I pondered whether they behaved in such a manner with Black and Brown men in their respective countries or towns, or was it Black meat tourism (it’s female sex tourism where White and European women travel to Black/African countries to have sex with Black men). At least it looked that way. They all looked wary as they didn’t want the trouble, but kind and respectful to her.

It impressed me. It also reminded me how men of color must carry themselves at all times to avoid trouble even with the tourist. They don’t have to be looking for trouble, intoxicated trouble with blonde hair in a pair of short shorts and a free spirit can somehow find them.

I watched sadly as an older Bajan gentleman who reminded me of my late great-grandfather working collecting a sea of glass beer bottles and placing them in the crates for the restaurants to recycle. His hands looked hard, like my daddy’s. I call them grown workingman’s hands. They are the kind of hands young men today know nothing about because we’ve vilified manual labor here in the states. The old man’s hands were the kind of hands that know heavy lifting and lots of fixing.

They were also the kind of hands that can knock a man out in one hit. His face appeared tired. He looked too old to be working but unlike us here in the U.S.; Bajans likely don’t have safety nets and corporate/government retirement plans. There are no stock market monies to play with, and probably few opportunities for pensions.

The culture felt very much like if a man doesn’t work, a man doesn’t eat. That’s what I saw on his face. In that moment, I realized how much we take for granted here in America. I felt blessed to be in Barbados. I was humbled by what I witnessed.

The Ex-Pat Hole

I found an ex-pat hole recommendation on TripAdvisor nearby disguised as some great place to eat for waterfront dining. The hole was for wealthy Anglo folks and it felt weird being there. We were the only brown folks on the premises, and we could tell by the reception that place was not for us. It was safe, sanitized, and nothing reflected the flavor of the island. Not the food, not even the music.

I hate going to these types of overpriced, safety nets for fragile tourists who need the comfort of Whiteness everywhere they go. That experience taught me to trust the locals, especially when they look like me. There is something universal about the things we enjoy. We know our people.

We ate our over-priced food and dealt with our suck ass service. To add to the terrible experience, an old White ex-pat came into the bar with 6 dogs who sniffed all over guests the entire time we were there. I was pretty done with the place after that. We paid our tab and left with a promise never to visit the safety and sanctity of an ex-pat hole again. If I wanted that experience I could have dined in South Florida where people carry their dogs everywhere.

I learned one valuable thing though.

White people have their secret, whitewashed enclaves all over the world, even when they move to live among People of Color. They need safe White spaces. That never escapes me.

Unexpected Surprises

I conspicuously got to witness a Bajan wedding ceremony held from my apartments back porch and boy was it an honor. I felt as though we were a part of the ceremony. I almost got picked up by one groomsman (I say almost because I ignored all the young buck’s advances lol). It was an intimate, beautiful ceremony with a beautiful backdrop of the sea.

Author sitting on her porch secretly spectating a Bajan wedding. Photo taken by the author
The Bajan family photo after the ceremony. Photo taken by the author.

The Island Was Beautiful

I stayed in a secluded local part of the island which was just my speed. The views were spectacular. The weather was not so great most of the time, but a weekend listening to waves crash and breathing fresh ocean air is better than any day in our American concrete jungles. I loved it so much I’m going back in July with my best friend.

Our apartments. Photo taken by the author.
Barbados. The storm on the horizon. Photo taken by the author.
The sunset after the rains. Photo taken by the author.
The author fishing way off in a storm in Barbados, alone and at peace. Photo taken by the author.
Author’s travel fishing tackle. Photo taken by the author.

If you follow me you know I love fishing, and I never miss a chance to go if water is nearby. I packed my travel rods and bait for the opportunity. If there is the possibility of fish being caught, I’m there!

A girl never leaves home without her tools!

Homebound

As always, my trip was too short, and I didn’t get to experience enough. I had Bajan beer, at Bajan food, partied with Bajans at the fish fry, got hit on my good looking Bajan men, experienced Bajan culture, had Bajan desserts, and left the place the way I found it. The customs guy asked why my stay was so short and I told him it’s all that I could afford, he laughed.

He asked me what I would do about to make sure the next time I could stay longer. I told him I would go home and do better in life so I can come back again. We both laughed, and he checked my passport and sent me on my way. Another trip down in the history books.

I love traveling. I’m on a mission trying to live before I die. I plan to write more about my experiences. I know all of them won’t be good, but I’d rather have a bad experience than no experience at all.

I can only live once, and I am planning on living as much as I can until I die. We must steal away when we can. Life steals too much from us already. I was lost but now I’m found.

I was blind to the world, but now I can see. I’ll be writing more about my travels. I have been to lots of places this year, not all of them abroad, but all of them are special.

Visit Barbados!

©2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.