I have proclaimed this my birthday week and it has been full. Packed with the many things that I love about Barbados, and representative of the wonderful life that I have built in the last couple of years. Here is a walk through the past 10 days, keeping with the three theme format.
We are obsessed with it. It dictates large portions of our free time and is a constant topic of conversation. When there aren’t waves, we try to amuse ourselves in other ways in the water. The latest was wake surfing. We surf with David, a fellow Canadian, and joined him and his wife Jenna, who happens to be from Byron (5 min from where I grew up) for a day on their boat.
My new motto in life is to stretch myself out of my comfort zone, which we all did with much applause and cheering:
Then there is Conrad...first try...riding waves like a pro
Sunday past, both my friends Ruth and Brandon went to the clinic for stitches after surfing incidents. Ruth especially took a bad bash to her lip, and we made sure she got to the clinic and her belongings got home safe.
Surfing, when it is great, brings out the joy in life. The accidents teach us to look out for each other and that we are not invincible. The thrill of the sport is exhilarating but is not risk-free – isn’t that life?
On my birthday, I had a small group of close friends join me for a pool party. November 23rd has always had horrible weather in the places I have lived before, cold and rainy with winter on its way. Here in Barbados, its timing signals the very best of weather coming.
Every good pool party starts with a whirlpool:
Leave it to the South Africans to know how to braai (barbecue)
We continued the celebration on November 26th, Ruth’s actual birthday, with a sunset cruise on a catamaran. I was surrounded by my closest friends on the island, many who have become my family here. The evening was filled with conversation, a dip in the ocean, lovely dinner and then dancing.
Ruth and Matias do acroyoga on the front of the boat
The Birthday Girls
The tall people in the house
When a woman tells you that she is fifty, she has no reason to lie.
My families in Barbados - Erin & Darren, Lorena & Conrad - with Matias in the sunset
November 26th marks the day that I came to Barbados in 2020. I sold my house and the title transferred on my birthday. Three days later was the first flight from Toronto to Barbados, and I was on it with more people than I had interacted with in the entire nine months of the pandemic beforehand.
The island advertised the Welcome Stamp and I bought into it…and I was welcomed with open arms. Since then, this tiny Caribbean Island has become my home.
At my birthday party, a few of us were having a whine about all the frustrating things about living in Barbados. My friend Jamie said in jest, well thank God none of you have bought property here! We laughed because many of us have. Despite the list of things that annoy me, and I have talked about them plenty in this blog, I have never been as at peace as I am here. I am surrounded by amazing people who have become my community.
Ruth and my community is now large enough to fill a boat!
Today is Independence Day in Barbados. A celebration of Barbados becoming a republic. A break from the commonwealth, which they continued last year by replacing the Governor General with a Parliamentary President. A new beginning to a country that suffered slavery and continue to undo the effects of colonialism. A country with struggles that I do not understand but am learning.
My friend Kat photographed this free diver at "The Broken Trident" where they have planted live coral - a symbol of Barbados
Me and some of my friends also took the statutory holiday as an opportunity to recover from a rave. There is nothing more freeing than the feeling of dancing in the open air with warm wind passing by under the stars. Most people don’t “get” electronic dance music, but to me it represents a wild abandon of the cares of how you appear. It doesn’t matter how you dress, and it doesn’t matter how you dance. It just matters that you feel the music. It only matters that you feel the freedom.