This year, my husband and I decided to escape the harsh Winnipeg winter. Our destination for our six-week vacation was the island of Barbados.
Barbados is an island in the Caribbean which occupies 166 square miles. It is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a population of 288,000. Its original inhabitants were Amerindians. The English settled the island in 1627 and Barbados finally gained its independence from the U.K. in 1966.
These are some basic facts — but Barbados is so much more.
Let me try to capture the essence of the island.
First of all, it offers an explosion of colour in the dead of winter. The sea is turquoise blue, and everywhere there is the green of vegetation…palm trees, flowering shrubs, and tropical flowers. Even the houses are painted lime green, orange, pink and yellow.
The world is alive with sound in Barbados. Beginning at sunrise, birdsong fills the air. During the day, the ‘Trade Winds’ rustle through the palm trees. The streets are alive with the lilting music of the local people speaking Bajan. As the sun sets, the bats come out and the frog song begins.
People here are friendly. This may be the only place in the world where I am greeted on my morning walk with "good morning darling," or "good morning sweetheart."
Even the names of the houses, streets and bars in Barbados were fascinating. Houses named Perseverance and Resurrection reflect their characters. Streets named Amen Alley and Mango Drive caught my attention.
The Doorless Bar and Grill and a restaurant named Mmm…I Like I Like rounded out the list of unusual names.
Food is fresh and plentiful in Barbados. The fish market in the town of Oistins offered fresh fish pulled daily from the sea and the choice is amazing…barracuda, shark, tuna, mahi mahi, and the national dish of Barbados flying fish. Street vendors sold fresh produce and herbs — tomatoes, pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, thyme, and marjoram. In the backyard of our residence we could pick, bananas, avocados, and limes.
What a treat it was to have such an abundance of fresh food in January and February.
Most of all, it was the unexpected daily events that made me love this island…the lizard that lived in our laundry room, the green monkeys that crossed our yard, the school of tiny silver fish that jumped the waves surrounding me during my morning swim, or the tiny sea turtle fighting the surf against all odds to make its way to the sea.
Even the death notices in the local newspaper summed up the beauty of the island. Each notice begins with the words "sunrise" (denoting date of birth), and sunset (date of death). What a perfect way to frame life on a Caribbean Island.
And yes…we have booked our flight back for next winter.
Joanne O’Leary is a community correspondent for Riverbend.