Hero Alert: the Fair Ladies of Barbados

The Caribbean is a private place. You need to be especially respectful here. On the buses, music plays so loudly you feel like your ears might pop out of your head. Anyone talking? Nope. It’s not because of the music either. I think music is an excuse to stay quiet. Caribbean people just don’t like their business being discussed in public. We were in the Caribbean long enough to spot the tourists. They were the ones talking on the buses.

Each island in the Caribbean is a small place. Like Wales in the tropics. This means that it’s hard to stay private. And since we live in Wales, we felt aligned to this need for nuance. Still, I had an overall feeling that Barbados would be special. After all, Barbados was the first Caribbean island to be properly colonised. The one that started it all. We discovered that history isn’t the only reason this island thwacks such a thump though. There is genuine infrastructure here. Barbados is the place where tourism is in its luxurious overdrive. It has the tourist industry all wrapped it on its turquoise shores. Swimming pools and golf clubs alongside the University of the West Indies and a half-decent hospital. In the capital Bridgetown, the national library is the place where the air-con pumps and scholars spend all day long at the books. Nearby are two decent book stores… and a department store! I almost forgot about that. Man, I like a bit of infrastructure. I try to pretend I don’t, but what the fudge? Take the girl out of the suburbs… and I’m like, where’s the shopping mall? What if I get sick? How much are groceries?

So it’s the women who I look for in these panicky, middle-class moments. You see, I come from a female-dominated family. I like my women. I trust them. So When we first got to Barbados, I looked for the females. I’d been used to travelling around the Caribbean by then and well, some islands haven’t given me a very good feeling in this aspect.

Just as a side note; I have to declare a new hero. Jada Pinkett-Smith presents a Facebook tv show called Red Table Talk. She and her mother and daughter sit down and talk from their hearts. Real talk they call it. A recent show covered interracial marriage and in it, there was an uncovering about how some black women just don’t like white women. Generations of wrong-doing has born a deserving suspicion. I was glad to hear this real talk from Jada Pinkett-Smith. I feel it when I’m in the Caribbean. I felt it in Barbados. And my family are going to kill me if I keep tipping over and apologising.

‘It’s really annoying,’ Lulu likes to say. ‘Stop bowing.’

‘I know,’ I reply. But I can’t help it. I can’t stop thinking about the history. Even events up to the present day. And meanwhile the tourists on the bus, not pausing to understand how life here is conducted. Quietly. Beautifully respected. I love the Caribbean. I know I probably can’t change anything. Still, the fair ladies of Barbados will always have my adoration.


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