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If you are ever at Grantley Adams Airport and need something to eat before your flight, instead of going through to departure straight away, check your bags in and head across the car parks to the little cafe next to the garage. The food is delicious. Choose from Snapper, chicken, roast sweet potatoes, fries, roast breadfruit, and steamed vegetables. All at $12 BBDper plate. Wash it down with a beer or two, feel the breeze on your back, take one long last look at the airport, and settle down for a nice snooze on your flight.I went there for lunch today and realised its one of the airport’s best kept secret.
My sleep pattern’s all over the place since I got back from Montserrat, went to bed at 8.30 last night, up at 2.30 a.m to face a full day. Going to Bridgetown to meet the editor from The Nation about featuring the book. Also received the order from Pages Bookstores which I’m hoping to deliver today if I can get a lift. They will receive them just in time to still feature in the Independence month celebrations of writing by or about Barbados. Everywhere the Barbados flag and colours abound. The radio and TV calls for Barbadians to show their pride in their nation. This is the bandstand at Brown’s Beach, where we do our Tai Chi on Saturday mornings, bedecked in the Barbadian colours and The Nation Newspaper’s posters for the National Fun Run/Walk which took place on Sunday.
I spent some time yesterday researching shipping costs as I’ve run out of books to meet the orders I have. The airport bookstore is the latest to say yes, and I’ll approach Cloisters today while I’m in Bridgetown. Also looking to see if there’s any tax on the import of books here, as there isn’t in the UK, but can find nothing on the Internet.
The Travel Club of Barbados had it’s annual lunch today at The Plantation, a venue that features in my novel. It was interesting to see it in the daytime, and also to assess whether my descriptions in the book were accurate. I’m not sure if the event was part of the month long Independence celebrations, but it was certainly well attended, mostly by retirees with time and money on their hands. The food was delicious and plentiful The entertainment comprised mainly of singers, young and old, backed by the police band. The non-singers were a 3 piece band (keyboard, base guitarist and drummer) and a line dancing group. The whole thing was ably and amusingly compared by a man having a bit of a blonde moment.
It was a lovely atmosphere. We got chatting to Elvis, the base guitarist from the band, who was highly amusing. It would have been nice to have carried on relaxing but the tables were being cleared away in preparation for another function. Elvis gave us a lift home only to find that Camella had been having a very blonde moment of her own. She’d left the house keys in her partners car. Elvis very generously took us to find them, which gave us a bit more time to hear about his travels with a whole range of bands. Think we’ll be going to see him play with a reggae band at McBrides on Wednesday night.
Still on Friday. Moved to the night now. The plan was to go to the annual wine, rum and food festival at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre in Holetown, then go on to the after party at the Beach House a little further down the road which was due to finish at 2 a.m. I was a little apprehensive when Camella suggested taking the bus there (because she wanted to fully partake of all the alcoholic beverages on offer), and coming back by taxi. Not because I have anything against buses – (I’d taken ZRs, the local private mini-bus service in Barbados to and from my massage appointment) – but because I intended to wear heels. After all, it was a dress-up night. In the end I settled for jeans and dress-up top, looked great with my strappy high heels, but not the ideal footwear for trekking. I was mightily relieved when her partner offered us a lift to the bus stop.
We waited about half an hour before our bus arrived, and was a little perplexed when another bus which had been parked up departed at the same time. I should add that both buses were the yellow, privately owned ones. It became all too clear as the journey progressed why there were two. Our man seemed intent on overtaking the one in front, baring down on innocent drivers that sat between him and the bus in front, all this while constantly talking on his mobile phone. At one stage we were surprised to see a second person in the middle seat of the bus adjusting something on the dashboard. It was to our joint alarm the discovery that it was the same driver who had somehow slid from his seat will still driving and talking on his mobile. I know men are not usually know for multi-tasking but he didn’t have to go to such lengths to dispel the myths.
The hour long journey continued in that way, first one bus overtaking then the other, both competing for passengers, while our man complained bitterly that the other was acting illegally, should not be on that route at that time. It was positively scary at time the narrow gaps they squeezed into in their attempt to gain a few yards advantage. We were relieved to arrive at our stop in one piece, and I was possibly a little shakier than usual on the heels.
We made it to the Limegrove Centre only to be told that we needed tickets. How much were the tickets, we enquired. ‘$200 BD’ replied the lady on the desk ‘and in any case the event is sold out,’ she added smugly. There were, however, tickets for the after party, and a mere $150 BD.
Camella and I stepped aside to confer. No, we did not wish to pay that much for a party, and decided to check out some of the other venues in Holetown instead. After all, we’d come out to eat, drink and dance, it couldn’t be too difficult to find somewhere else in Holetown to fulfil those needs. WRONG. Holetown on a that Friday night is dead. A far cry from the vibrant, rocking place I’d been to on a Sunday night back on my last night in January.
‘We could always go to Oistins’, Camella suggested, and I didn’t need asking twice. So, back on the bus to Oistens. After a long wait (where about 10 buses to Bridgetown went by) our bus came -WITH THE SAME DRIVER AS BEFORE. This time there was no competition, just a bus already full with standing room only, and this time it was a disco on wheels. As we picked up more and more passengers, many who like us was dressed for partying, I couldn’t help feeling that we’d already started the party. The bus vibrated to the sounds of reggae beats and old-time dance music. People sang along, others danced – or as much as they could wedged a so closely to their travelling companions. Just as we thought the bus would burst open at the seams the driver called for us to move even further back to make room for more passengers. A few bold people asked where the hell else they could go, and although no one appeared to move, more passengers were fitted in. I was standing right under one of the speakers which made conversation impossible.
Now, this might all sound nightmarish, but it was in fact like a rammed nightclub with the added excitement of the bus taking corners on just the outer wheels. We were too tightly packed to fall over, and it was almost a disappointment (apart from the gratitude my feet felt) to be able to sit down after a few people had disembarked. By the time we got to Oistins we had struck up the camaraderie of those who have got close involuntarily and made the best of it.
So, after a two hour journey we ended up ten minute walk from home. The place was buzzing, the aromas were enticing and the dancing, was, as ever, delightful, especially the line-dancing outside Lexie’s. Alas, there was still the ten minute walk home in those shoes, up the hill, with no pavement.
Although it’s Saturday today its yesterday I want to write about. Sometimes, just when I’m beginning to think I have everything under control, when I begin to believe in the marvel of my own planning, and my ability to execute my plans with precision, something happens to remind me that a force way superior to me is a better conductor, a better orchestrator than I can ever be. This is a long one so settle back. Grab a drink in if you need to.
I got back from Montserrat on Tuesday night worn out by the hectic schedule of the week and the weariness of the wait at Antigua airport. Head still buzzing from all the sounds of the festival and the images of unsafe zone, I wrote my blog as a way of downloading the information and clearing my head on Wednesday. I slept pretty much all day on Thursday, and was therefore feeling rejuvenated on Friday morning. I wanted only two things on Friday. The first was a massage. Camella left for work promising to try and find me a good masseuse. The second was a reply from the Nation newspaper to my two previous emails, but I decided to relax for the day, hang out on the beach and deal with such matters on Monday.
After twenty laps of the beach I was heading to the bench for my abs work with I stopped to speak with a young lady I’d only previously said hello to. She captured my attention when she said she’d recently had and accident, that the doctor had told her she may well have a permanent injury, and that she had decided ‘hell, no. That will only happen if I believe it will. What we believe manifests in our bodies.’
An hour later I left her, having shared our beliefs that the the body does not need a fraction of the food we actually put into it. That it does not need great slabs of steak, or pounds of hard food (that’s yams, potatoes, dashines, cocos etc to you uninitiated). We agreed that illness serve a purpose, has a benefit for the people who have them, whether its to get sympathy,or time off work, or to be worn as a badge of honour for carrying the hereditary tradition of the family. I told her I wanted a massage. She was going to have one that day at 12.30. She called her masseuse and within minutes I’d got a massage booked for the afternoon. What I thought was touching was that, while we waited for the masseuse to call back, she said I could have her slot and she would go the following day as my needs appeared to be greater than hers. What a coincidence, I thought. We hugged, our own energy boosted by the other, and I headed for a dip in the pool side of the beach.
Within five minutes of being in the water a gentleman beckoned my over. He turned out to be the author David Goddard. His book In the Midst was published late last year. I told him about mine. When he asked if I was doing a book launch I told him of my frustration of not being able to elicit a response from the Nation. He said I was emailing the wrong person, that he had just been speaking with someone from the Nation and that, if I was willing he would arrange a meeting with the person I needed to speak to for next Tuesday. This is where I dumped my notion of coincidence, and wholeheartedly embraced the divine planner, the magnificent orchestrator.
As we talked we discovered we had a great deal in common, not least that we believe our thoughts manifests as things, that our beliefs shape our lives. His book, he explained, challenges beliefs about divorce, particularly for Caribbean Christians, who would rather die than divorce, will live separate lives for years but will not divorce because the fear of an unforgiving God is so great.
As I walked home I was joined by a young man (well young for me, about 35) who told me he was a preacher in The Church of God of Prophecy. His main concern was to challenge some of the firm held beliefs of the congregation that some of the metaphors in the Bible are real, literal. He couldn’t understand why I laugh out loud. I simply said I think we are all being challenged to question our beliefs.
Although it may look like I’ve just gone from one party to another, quite a bit has happened in between. I’ve reaquainted myself with Miami Beach and it regulars, who welcomed me back home and wanted to know about my trip to Guyana. I got a long lecture on the family links between Barbadians and Guyanese, along with another swimming lesson. The tables are now reversed, years ago it was the Babadians who were going to Guyana to look for a better life. They married, had children and so the connections were formed.
Pages Bookstore is definitely taking Dare to Love.
Camella’s sister called to say Radio Montserrat is already advertising my attendance at the literary festival, and in particular my workshop. YEY!! I’ve been giving the content serious thought, working on the finer details now.
Yesterday the second Starbroek News article came out. The focus was on my lost purse. Who would have thought the incident would be newsworthy? but it formed part of my TV and radio interviews, and now part of a newspaper article. The article prompted me to contact The Nation newspaper here again, as they still have not responded to my request to do a piece on the book in their magazine.
Last night we partied. A lovely beach front house affair with music and food to die for. People were really getting down.
Arrived back in Barbados this morning, desparately needing sleep. We went to The Edge nightclub last night for some final revelry. It’s an ultra modern club that looked and felt like the inside of a freezer chill room when we arrived. Mist floated around and the temperature had Camella reaching for her shawl. The long rectangular dancefloor, modelled on the one in Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean video flashed red white and blue under floor lights.
The sparcely filled room echoed the heavy, vibrating eighties and nineties remixes, and the bar staff hovered and pounced on us as soon as we were seated. The XL rum we had was the largest and strongest we’d experienced (except when we made it ourselves), but we had to be vigilent, as on the second order we were brought the inferior 5 year version, at the XL ten year price. Good thing we know our rums. It was changed without a fuss.
By eleven the club was heaving, that being the cut off point for free entry for ladies. The crowd certainly knew how to party, including some extremely risky moves on the floor by a couple of young women in extremely short skirts. It was a great night. Not quite in the same way as the oldies night on Saturday as there was, understandably a much younger crowd. We had to drag ourseveles away at two o’clock to try and catch a couple of hours before checking out of the hotel four hour later to head for our flight.
Marcelle and Denis called by earlier, about eight, offering to take us out for a drive and also to do a final interview for the follow up story for Starbroek News. The interest was in the story of the lost purse. Marcelle also had some questions about Dare to Love which she is now reading. We’ve agreed to keep in touch. Told them I came not knowing anyone, and was leaving with a clutch of new friends.
By the time I surfaced this morning I knew I was too exhausted to do any more than veg today. I had another interview booked for 10.30 this morning, after dropping in the reminder of the books to Austins at 9.15. My angel card said ‘time out’ and I listened. Mr Austin would not be in the office till 10.30 so I swopped the interview for that visit as that had to be done. Other things also got cancelled, either from my side of from thiers, including lunch with Rupert and the interview with Marcelle. It left me with an opportunity to hang out on the balcony and record sounds and images. The ideas for how to shape the comparative peice on the 3 countries I’m visiting are begining to take form.
My friend and I wandered around unchaperoned for the first time today and really noticed the grubbiness of streets, the pools, streams and almost rivers of stagnant water in the streets. Energetically this has an effect of the people of the city, on the ease with which things flow and the clarity of thinking and seeing. Maybe this could be having an effect on the political ‘stuckness’.
The National Communications Network interview that I did this afternoon (1 Nov) was the longest and most in depth so far. The presenter, Andrea Joseph, had researched the book and had used our meeting yesterday to put together a set of questions that not only allowed me to talk about the book, but also to share some of my philosophies for life. We spent some time discussing what I meant by the heart always knowing what is right. Although the programme would normally invite listeners to phone in, all phone ins had been cancelled by the government during the election campagining. One listener, however, did call anyway, to ask if there were any plans to convert the book into a talking book so that people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy it.At the end of the interview, my friend and I admitted that we were exhausted and in need of a little zoning out and people watching. Andrea recommended the Sidewalk Cafe, a jazz venue which did just the trick. On return to the hotel we were made the offer to attend a wake with another friend. Not having attended a wake in the Caribbean or in South America, I agreed.
I met the father of the 25 year old who was knocked off his motorbike, and died in hospital from his wounds. He was naturally distraught, but managed a laugh from time to time through the evening. Young people made up the majority of the approximately one hundred people that filled the house and lined the street on both sides of road outside the house. There was no music, just the slapping of dominos, the shuffle of cards, and the quiet outbursts of laughter.
On return to the hotel it was heaving in the bar. Two important people seemed to be visiting, the owner of Buddy’s and one of the candidates for the President in the forthcoming elections. I spoke to the latter, who seemed eager to engage in conversation, about the purpose for my visit and the fact I am planning to come back again. He recommeded going into the interior next time and maybe crossing over into Brazil.
A few hours ago Mr Austin, the owner of the renouned Austin’s Book Services said yes to stocking Dare to Love. It was a timely agreement, given that I’m about to do a radio interview in two hours. I can now confidenty say that the books will be available in the largest bookstore in Georgetown. While I’m extremely happy about this, I am happier about the nature of the transaction. Mr Austin is an exteremly charming person with a great sense of humour and a very sharp wit, a shrewd businessman but seems fair.
Although we hadn’t made an appointment, and he was about to leave for one, when he realised I was about to go and do the radio interview he spared us some time. I think also because Denis is a personal friend of his and he had accompanied us to the meeting. Denis, also a charming person, in a very laid back way. He never looked rushed, long easy strides, but as a journalist he covers a lot of ground. He met us at the bookshop, took us to the craft center and then found a taxi to take us back to the hotel. I commented on the friendliness and generosity of everyone we’ve met so far, which is directly opposed to what we had been warned to expect. He just smiled and said ‘you can’t believe everything you hear. Guyana has its problems, but not everyone has allowed it to affect their basic humanity.’