Barbados is one of those places where the postcards are blue and the clouds are white. Black men cast nets in azure water, clear as air, warm as blood. Carla and I, for our honeymoon, though we rather call it an after wedding trip; reserve the honeymoon for distant places next year.
We took the necessary tourist snapshot at mushroom rock, in front of Parlors, the spot next to Soup Bowl, Kelly Slater’s heavy right. I surfed it on Shirley’s board for a couple of hours: local boys and girls on the inside ruled chest high trade wind swell.
The people of Barbados–Bajan’s–are nice. Very nice. Proper English manners mixed with equal parts happiness and breeze. We stayed in Bathsheba, on the windward side, a place were few tourists apart from surfers go. The bus that took us directly into Bridgetown, easily found, the sign read “Bus Stop, To City.” No nonsense.
Riding the bus is the way to see the country. Two Bajan dollars. A taxi cost $75. Fast and fearless on the left hand side. The road, cut from coral uplifted some 600,000 years ago, narrow and winding. I was happy he was driving.
We visited right during Crop Over, the carnival-like celebration of crops being over. Bajans talked like that, direct and to the point. Crop over and stuff like that, their other favorite phrase. The cane fields were stripped, mostly bare, already sprouting the next crop. Two hundred year old stone windmills covered in grasses and creepers.
The old man standing at the intersection to Bathsheba. None of the grinding poverty of Central America. A few old great cane mansions, estates, and Caribbean style houses mixed among the colorful half painted ferro-concrete and block. The center of the island cultivated, all sugar centuries ago, now diverse and productive farmland.
Into Bridgetown the buildings started crowding the road, densely populated for the Caribbean. Old bills on the corrugated walls. Women got off the bus running, smiling. At the bus station we caught a local minivan and searched for Surfer’s Point. Closed. The driver dropped us off at Miami beach where we sat in the lot and ate ‘Bread and Two’ and drank ‘Four for Ten’ and swam with the smiling dark people who call themselves Bajans in the clear clear warm water and did stuff like that.