Yes Please! It says much about Barbadians, or Bajans as they’ve come to be known, that their be-all answer to a question, a statement, a polite request or a loud proclamation, is “Yes Please.” And compared to other islands in the Caribbean, Barbados is pleased to say yes to many things, including the highest standard of living of in the West Indies. This might have something to do with the islands strong British influence, its magnetic appeal to the mega-rich, or simply that it isn’t in the Caribbean at all, but rather floats in the Western Atlantic Ocean. However you look at it, it shouldn’t be confused with the other B’s – Bermuda, and the Bahamas. Sure, they’re all tropical islands blessed with the turquoise water of dreams and powdery white beaches (although Bajans will certainly argue their water is that much brighter, their beaches that much finer), but unlike the other Bees, Barbados has a proud culture, a history stretching back to the 1550’s, and a culture that has developed through the constant movement of people, tossed together like the soup a surfer might find inside the big waves of Bathsheba. Slavery and religion, colonialism and uprisings, cricket and roundabouts. A bountiful sea crashing against some of the world’s most exclusive resorts, alongside luxurious homes built for the rich and famous. Further inland, I discover wooden chattel houses recalling eras of sugarcane fields and slavery, parishes and rum shacks, all in a climate that hovers between perfectly hot and just perfect. One week is all I had, but as usual, it would be a busy one.
Unpacking a suitcase. What simple pleasures a cupboard shelf can offer the weary traveller! For only the second time filming in 35 countries, the Word Travels crew would be staying in one place for the entire week. Sometimes, we can find ourselves in a different bed every night. During season two, we clocked 10 hotels in 12 days. Here, at the 80’s pink-hued Bougainvillea Beach Resort, we were each gifted our own suites, including a small kitchenette, a living room and balcony with an ocean view. After 14 hours of travel, Quito via Miami to Bridgetown, I found late night reserves to unpack my case, hang up my crushed and creased collared shirts, spread out my toiletries, and move the bloody hell in. Next evening, Paul, a sund guy foodie who apprenticed as a chef, relished the opportunity to cook for us, using two electric stove tops to whip up an excellent risotto, pan seared pink-red tuna, shrimps in a fine tomato sauce, a fresh baguette with Ruffina Cheese (a starting cheese for those who want to get into cheese but don’t know where to start, he assures me) on fresh baguette. For my part, I whipped up a chicken stir-fry in a honey cilantro sauce, although we couldn’t find any cilantro on the island itself, maybe because bajans call it shadowbunny. That’s why my homemade hand-picked-at-Oisten’s fish market barricuda ceviche fulfilled only 85% of its potential for greatness. I substituted basil for cilantro, gazed upon the ceviche, and lo, it was fine, and lo, it was good. Point being, on an island famed for its restaurants, the weary traveller finds comfort in home cooking, and always in good company.
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