Blessings from Barbados

Barbados is different to the rest of the Caribbean. I say it like I forget it. I do forget.

In the rest of the Lesser Antilles chain, you don’t feel alone. In Antigua, you can see Montserrat. Nevis too on a clear day. In Guadeloupe, Les Saintes is just round the corner. In Dominica, Martinique rises up in the far distance. From Martinique you can see St Lucia easy. In St Lucia, St Vincent is on the horizon. From the Grenadines, Grenada is in the background like a tall auntie. Every island is connected – even if it’s a far in the distance landmass.

Barbados meanwhile, is on its own. You can’t see another island from here. You cant smell another island. It serves to make Barbados hardy. Without reference, Barbados feels unique.

This is not a single Caribbean nation though. In 1973 Barbados, along with Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad was one of the founding nations establishing the community of independent Caribbean islands. It’s called Caricom.

Caricom is now an inter-governmental partnership of 15 fully-participating nations. Barbados’ leader, Prime Minister Mia Mottley is serving her time as Chairman of Caricom at the moment. As well as as running her own country. You know, in case she was bored.

Mia Mottley is an amazing woman. I mean, woman shouldn’t even figure. Person should be first and foremost. I just didn’t know much about her until the pandemic began.

May 2018. Historic landslide victory. Mia Mottley’s Barbados Labour Party party secured all 30 seats in the House. They were the first party to accomplish this feat. Also they happened to win 72.8% of the vote in the general election. Highest share ever. Of course, Mia Mottley was endorsed by Rihanna, Queen of Barbados. But still. Mottley was clearly doing something right.

I went for a kayak around Port St Charles’ anchorage. I’m not sure this is allowed. The Police still come and visit us in their black boat, but they’re looking more mellow about it these days. New Covid-19 cases have almost ground to a halt in Barbados – for now. It seems it is approaching something steady.

Whisper, ‘Containment.’ Hold breath for hubris.

I kayaked as far as the floating pontoon. The pontoon has a bench, but no one ever sits here. Seems it’s occupied by ghosts.

The shore was shining golden. Fancy establishments sit right next to rum bars and fishing shacks. The water runs clear and clean. Frigate birds fought for late afternoon snacks with seagulls. Barbados really is hardy. Unique.

Two years ago, a month after taking office. Prime Minister Mottley unveiled huge financial debts the previous government had wracked up. Barbados suddenly had the world’s fourth largest debt-to-GDP level. Prime Minister Mottley said she had no choice but to seek financial restructuring for her country. Now this pandemic. And no visitors. And she is the Chairman of Caricom. Like there isn’t enough to do. I’m only a small visitor. Blessings from Barbados.

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