I always find it takes a while to get into a holiday. To wind down and to feel that “ahhhh I am on holiday finally” feeling.
And I know that all islands are sort of horizontal because if they were vertical we would all fall off them, but Barbados feels more horizontal than most.
For the past few years we have been coming to Barbados to a villa that is “in our family” and that is generously donated to us for our stay. We know we are all spoilt brats. But it isnt for that reason that we keep coming back. There is a certain something about Barbados. A something laid back. A quaint charm about the island that makes you slow down. That makes you realise your general pace of life at home is insane.
I don’t know if it is the heat that does that to Bajans or if it is just a throwback to a bygone age. Whatever it is, I love it.
Petrol pumps for instance are all attended. You tell them how much fuel you want, they fill your car and take payment. You only have to go in and queue if you want to buy something.
You wave at everybody as you see them when you drive past. More often than not there is somebody wandering along the road, or sitting on a step watching the world go by. You raise your hand, they raise theirs. It’s just what you do.
Same with junctions. You pull up to a junction, drivers on the road you want to join leave a gap, beep their horn, you beep yours and join the queue. You just do it.
Going out for drinks? If you go to a rum shack you ask for a rum and you get a bottle. And then you ask for your mixers and they come in bottles. You take those and your bucket of ice and glasses and sit at your table. That’s how it is. You and your bottles.
Buses. Virtually every road is a bus route, only the narrowest are not (and actually some of the narrow ones are too, heaven forbid you ever meet a bus coming the other way). The bus stop will say one of two things. And one of two things only. “To the city” or “out of city”. The city is Bridgetown, and you either want to go towards it, or away from it. That simple.
There are no trains. Anywhere. Well Cowell might have a train set in his villa I suppose. But other than that, you wont find any trains on Barbados.
Your shopping is packed for you in the supermarket and taken to your car where it is loaded into the boot for you. All for a Dollar or two.
There is no real need for the police. Yes, they are around but you never really see them. You don’t feel you need to. It just feels, well, safe.
An evening’s entertainment for most of the menfolk is gathering in a bus shelter or at a park bench, drinking. Now if this was to happen in the UK you would be thinking I had just completely contradicted the point above. But these men all come together to play dominos. Yep, you heard me right. Dominos. There is nothing sedate about their domino playing either but nor is there anything sinister about groups of men after dark.
All of which mean that within hours of arrival you are relaxed. You are getting into the swing of Bajan life. You are on holiday.