Today is Independence Day in Barbados. On this day, three years ago, my friend Jon picked me up at my quarantine hotel and brought me to the South coast. This is the day that I started my new life in Barbados. It has been three years of exploring the island and myself asking the question, “What am I doing here?!” I may be given the option over the next three years to tackle the question, “What am I MEANT to do here?”
Sunset over the board walk on the South coast
I have been applying for residency in Barbados. I am not rescinding my citizenship to Canada, which is a big concern for any Canadian I tell this. I am asking the Barbadian government for a guarantee that they will allow me to work and reside in their country for the next three years.
It has involved multiple trips to the Immigration Office. The last one was in the form of an interview. The interviewer asked me multiple questions around, what will you do for Barbados?
The interviewer said that if I were granted temporary residency, in three years’ time we would sit here, and I would make my case for permanent residency. Smiling, I said somewhat joking but totally serious, “I am going to make you proud.”
Yoga at sunset looking over the South coast - Sweetfield Manor
President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” That never resonated with me. In Canada, I was essentially set up to work with a SIN number by the time I was twelve and a bank account by the time that I was fourteen. When I was sick, I was taken care of and had no idea of the cost. When I purchased property and paid for the utilities, I always had running water and electricity. I took all these things for granted. I felt entitled to them.
Barbados is not a first world country. The infrastructure is crumbling. I hit a pothole so big a couple of weeks ago that I burst a tire – this is not an unusual experience. Most of the island was without water for an entire weekend earlier this month, due to emergency repairs. Layered on top, there are deep reminders of colonialism and difficult conversations that need to take place for Barbados to move forward.
Out with Nick at Baia for my birthday dinner
I am protective of my new home. I want to make this a better place. I want the trust of the people here. I do not believe that I am entitled to this. I need to earn it.