We were walking down the driveway, on our way to dinner, when Richard looked at me, startled.
“Is that a CARDIGAN?”
Simone, who was also carrying one, and I exchanged a men-don’t-really-understand glance.
“I might get chilly.” Simone nodded in agreement.
“But it’s still 28 degrees!”
“But it might get down to 26 tonight. And we’ll be sitting by the water.”
We have definitely acclimatized to living in the tropics. I used to consider 26 C hot; now it’s where we set the AC at night. I’ve lived in places where winter temperatures were regularly minus 20, even 40 below. The annual range might be 60 degrees; in a day it might swing by 20.
Yet here, the annual range is not more than the daily range of 4 or 5 degrees. As a result, a change of one or two degrees is noticeable. The two times we went to air conditioned restaurants I was quite uncomfortable— partly because of Covid outdoor dining habits, but mostly because I am not used to being that cold!
The first time I swam in the ocean here, it felt like a salty, wavy bathtub— not at all refreshing. Now I brace myself for the chill when I go for an early morning surf.
I wrote before about How Barbados Has Changed Me, but now that we have been here almost a year I notice so much more.
To begin with, I see the change of seasons. There are always flowers in bloom, but which ones depends on which month. The beach changes weekly: the surf, the sand, the weed all fluctuate. I didn’t realize the amazing local “pears” (avocados) and limes we discovered on arrival were seasonal. Now that they have reappeared, I greet them with delight.
I’m not as delighted with the return of the sand flies, nor the intensification of mosquitos, but we now know much better how to cope. Like a Bajan, I don’t mind the return of the Christmas bugs, nor the lizards and geckos that live inside and out, but also like a Bajan I am not fond of the cockroaches, and am horrified by the centipedes.
To my surprise, I welcomed the return of the whistling frogs. The sound that last year made me flee inside, had me sleeping with noise cancelling earbuds and a pillow over my head, is now a lovely background as I sit outside. The 24-hour rooster crowing and dog barking also seems to have muted after the first six months.
I’ve worn out a pair of water shoes in less than a year; my previous pair lasted 25. I took more clothes with me on a two week Hawaii vacation than I own here, although I have had to replace a bathing suit and add more light dresses. I wear the same 3 pairs of earrings, when I remember to wear any at all.
Living in Barbados has opened my eyes to the possibility of living anywhere in the world, as a digital nomad. That said, we will likely renew our Welcome Stamp Visa for a second year.
Besides, how could we leave our friends, our life here? I have not had this much fun since— well, I don’t remember. For decades I was the responsible one, making sure everyone was fed, sunblocked, on time for their dentist appointment. Now, without the obligations of family, home maintenance, or community service, I simply relax and enjoy. I am lucky that I have found a circle of people who like to play as much as I do.
For the last few years I have said that what’s important is people, not things, but here I have the freedom to spend my time and energy on my relationships, whether they are across the street or across the world. And if I must stand in a line for an hour or two, not an uncommon occurrence in Barbados, that is simply an opportunity to get to know the people around me.
Something else that continues to develop is my admiration for Barbadians. I was taken with them from the start, their friendliness, humour, style and accent. They are well-educated and not afraid to express their considerable opinions, nor to have fun. But having seen them first coming out of a 4 month lockdown, trying to build their economy again, then facing storms, another lockdown, volcanic ash, cutting off of tourism again, a hurricane— my respect and admiration for the resilience of people here has just grown and grown.
I’m not leaving soon, but if I do I know part of my heart will always stay in Barbados.