The waiter brings another Rum Punch as we lounge poolside, deciding which catamaran tour to take the next day.
Just kidding. We cling to the seat back in the ZR van as it careens at high speed around a corner, reggae music blaring, headed to the fish market. We’ll buy the catch of the day for our dinner, and see what looks good at the fruit and veggie stand beside it.
I’ve often vacationed in tropical places: Tahiti, Hawaiian islands, southern India, Mexico. In the last 5 years with my ex most of our holidays were at golf resorts in Arizona, California and Hawaii. I was very good at lounging poolside with a drink in one hand and a book in the other.
This time in Barbados is different. Instead of 10 days to two weeks, our time frame is months to a year. You can’t afford to live in luxury for that length of time, especially when Scott and I are both supporting households back “home.” And I wouldn’t want to.
Vacations are a break from your normal, busy life. This, here, IS my life.
Asides from being in beautiful Barbados, it’s an opportunity to take my downsizing and minimalist living to a new level. I’ve prided myself on traveling with one carry-on suitcase; now I am living with the contents of two. Much of that was full size versions of airplane sized toiletries; vitamins and medications; sunblock and bug repellant; beach towel and facecloths. To be honest, it was a challenge to fill the second suitcase, and I ended up including a couple of bottles of favourite gin and items from the health food store that I thought might be hard to find here.
Still there were packed items I didn’t need. I brought too many shoes and jackets. Actually, any are too many; I have only worn sandals since I arrived and likely will not wear a jacket or sweater until I leave. And what I thought was my lightest summer wear has been supplemented by a couple of very loose, very light dresses.
Scott and I both love to cook so we have added a few “essentials” to our kitchen: one good knife, a garlic press, a rubber spatula, a veggie peeler. We play with local ingredients: cassava, plantain and not so sweet potatoes; local seafood and chicken; fruits that might have familiar names, like avocado, papaya and mango, but look and taste different than what we are used to, as well as others, like soursop and ackee, that are totally new.
Unlike on holiday, we don’t rush. We have seen very few tourist sights and haven’t even been out on a boat, although we’ve swum at quite a few beaches. There’s plenty of time.
There’s time to walk to the bus stop and to pet the dogs. Today the woman across from the church actually smiled and waved as I went by, after a month of politely allowing me to pet her elderly terrier. I’ve yet to get a smile from the young man with the Rottweiler Mastiff cross but his dog wags enthusiastically when I approach.
We buy our juice from a local stand, and most people on the 10 minute walk to the local EZ-Shop greet me now with recognition, even the young men who gather under the trees on the empty lot, smoking and playing dominos.
Scott and I have also become used to each other. I haven’t lived with anyone new in over 30 years, yet we have slipped into an easy rhythm. I sometimes miss my family and friends, but not my home. Home is where the heart is.
When we changed places (no air conditioning in the bedroom was too minimalist, even for me!) we took the opportunity to spend the weekend at a resort on the “Platinum Coast” of Barbados. I enjoyed the wine chilling in the fridge of a kitchen larger than mine at home, the balcony’s ocean view, the pools and manicured grounds, the concierge with all the information you needed about the best tours and restaurants. But, with minor decor differences, it could have been at any of the resorts I’d stayed at in Hawaii, or Arizona, or California.
I’m not on my holidays, but my brave travels. And here in Barbados, I think I will stay a while.