I truly enjoyed my on the spur of the moment mini-holiday in Barbados. I had the opportunity to be adventurous but not too crazy. I felt safe at all times and met many nice friendly people.
Like virtually all countries the island of Barbados is beautiful. Yes, I truly believe that each and every single country is beautiful; sometimes you just have to look harder. But it wasn’t that hard to appreciate it here.
I was surprised at how expensive things were here though. Okay, not expensive per se but not cheaper in any sense than in the United States. The Barbadian Dollar is two for one against the US dollar and it seems to be pegged at it. So eggs in the US for 2 dollars would be 4 dollars here. It was pretty neat though to use my US dollars. No exchanging bills on this trip.
Now on to the cat-calling. Ahhhh, you thought I was going to make it through a travel-logue without commentary on the men, huh?
Well, what can I say. I guess, to sum it up, if I were to ever feel ugly, fat, devalued, undesirable, miserable, I just need to hop over to the island of Barbados for the men to boost my morale….as long as I don’t lose my mind and fall for their lines. Simple. From the moment I stepped off the plane I had men paying attention to me. Now they weren’t swarming around me. No. Nor were they shy and actually why would they be? I happen to think this is one of those places where women exist for the pleasure of men so why should men be shy about things? It’s unlikely someone is going to scream “sexual harrassment” unlike here in the United States where for the most part men “reign things in”. So they were just very free in approaching me and asking me VERY POLITELY how I was, where I was from, was I enjoying myself, undsowieter. I felt respected (really) as a woman and they did not give off that “creep” vibe. Even the ugly dudes didn’t give me the shivers. I enjoyed myself and didn’t feel threatened at all.
I chose Barbados in part because I thought I would “blend in” quite nicely. Well, apparently the joke was on me. All these guys would call out to me “African Princess”, “African Beauty” “Pretty African Lady”, or if they asked where I was from and I replied the United States they would retort “No, where are you really from?” What kind of African-dar do these people possess?! Meanwhile, I go to Ghana and people ask me where I’m from!
They also seemed in general to appreciate my natural hair. The women too! As I mentioned in my initial post, a lot of the men had dreads and quite the number of women wore natural hairstyles too so I wasn’t an enigma. Nor did I wear my hair out in a huge afro which I know is quite stunning if I may say so myself. I kept it in 6-8 large twists pulled back into a modest “pony-tail” the whole time; believe me nothing fancy.
Lest I think there is anything special or exotic about me, I must say that when I was on the government bus on my way to Jack-in-the-Box gully, a young woman walked onto the bus in tight fitting clothes with her breasts practically falling out. She sat right in front of me. Why did the old man sitting diagonally across turn around and stare. Not a subtle let me steal a glance stare. A stare stare. A stare a little bit longer stare. Then he did this little shake like he had just caught the Holy Ghost, then turned around and stared some more. I was so embarrassed! Even the old woman, unrelated, sitting directly behind him had to flick him on his head as if to say “old man behave yourself”. Luckily, he got off two stops later but wow! No shamem eh?! As I said, it’s as if the point of women is purely for the pleasure of men.
Of the many encounters with random men a few are memorable. One day as I was walking to the beach, a dreadlocked man heading in my direction stopped right in front of me, took my hand as if to shake it but kissed it instead and asked “How are you my African princess?”. I played right along and answered that I was fine but kept on walking. He turned around, after letting my hand go, and accompanied me. Next thing out of his mouth was that he was a vegetarian cook and a very good one at that. I didn’t hesitate to let him know that not only did I eat meat I truly enjoyed eating meat. “No problem, man” he replied and muttered something else I couldn’t discern. After I had declined his offer to cook something for me (I know right? how many times does a man offer to cook for me that I go declining left and right?) he proceeded to let me know that I was very beautiful in my naturalness and that he just loved being ‘conscious’. I had to break it to brother-man again that nope, I was not ‘conscious’ and with that he said “no problem, just saw a pretty African woman and wanted to talk to you”, kissed my hand again and left. WHO DOES THAT?! I run into him again two days later at the Fish Fry but we just nodded our hellos.
Another memorable encounter was while I was laying on the beach one day. These two youths come to play beach tennis right beside me. The one farthest away from me would keep hitting the ball towards me such that the other had to run over to me to get the ball. Each time he retrieved the ball we would engage in one line conversations. “How are you?”. Volley. “Are you enjoying yourself, you don’t seem to be reading that book”. (I didn’t crack open that book the whole holiday!) Volley. “Should I get you a drink?”. Volley. “You know he keeps hitting that ball here because he likes you”.
This continued until the rain came. Still I lay there, still they played. A different man who had come to chat me up had to go least the rain would melt him. “So you just going to lay there?” the youth said when he next came to retrieve the ball. Volley. “You are going to catch a cold laying there in the rain”. Volley. “So what do you think of my friend?” Volley. “You know all those men there are talking about you”. Volley. “There’s this one man, big man, he like you but he too shy to come talk to you…you wanna go up there to the lifeguard station to talk to him?” “Big man but too shy” he laughs.
“You know, age is nothing but a number” he said after it was revealed that I was a decade older than he. Wow. A whole decade older people of someone trying to holla at me. Anyway, he told me which of the nightclubs in the Gap I should hit that night for some entertainment and I took his advice. Enough said.
Ha, did I mention that I enjoyed my mini-trip? Here’s a brief clip of the waves crashing against the cliffs at Edgecliff. What’s missing is the spatial perspective. I’m sitting up on top of a cliff watching these waves down below. You just need to be there to experience it.