An Ode to Beautiful, Blessed, Bountiful Bajans

An Ode to Beautiful, Blessed, Bountiful Bajans

It’s far easier – and strangely more satisfying – to stomp our feet and decry surly service in Barbados than it is to praise.  That means Barbados Free Press won’t likely pick up this post (although I thank those good folks for the attention they’ve given my various and sundry musings).

In the 18 months I’ve lived in Barbados, numerous incidents have shown me what extraordinarily kind people Bajans can be and usually are.

Pretty baubles, but none of them mine. To learn more about these rings, please click the image.

Pretty baubles (none mine).

One incident in particular.

It was my very first visit to the island.  I was coming to visit my sweetheart Greg.  I had flown all day from San Francisco, arriving BGI around 10:30 p.m.

While I awaited my bags, I visited the ladies room.  (Gosh, it was so clean!)  I removed my ring when I washed my hands.  Then returned to the baggage carousel, picked up my bag, and met Greg outside.  Happy kisses.  We drove home.

Around midnight I awoke with a start.  Where was my ring?? I quietly got out of bed and frantically searched my purse and still-unpacked bag.  No ring.  Heard my heart pounding.

The ring had been a gift from Greg. A tender symbol of our commitment and love.  I loved that ring.

Then I remembered: I had taken the ring off when I washed my hands in the ladies room at the airport.

I felt that panic you feel when you do something really stupid, something that with a single moment of thought needn’t have happened.

I woke Greg. “Honey,” I whispered as I shook his shoulder, “I have to go back to the airport.  I think I left my ring in the ladies rest room.”

“Janie, the airport is closed.  We’ll go get it tomorrow.”

“Get it tomorrow??” I countered.  “It won’t be there tomorrow.”  I calculated that the ring had disappeared about ten seconds after I left the rest room.  These things don’t last long.

A couple of years ago in Paris, I left my Chanel sunglasses on the table at a restaurant.  Stepping out into the sun, I remembered them.  But when I returned to the table, they were gone.

Last summer at San Francisco International Airport, I left my Oliver Peoples sunglasses on a short wall next to me at lunch.  We were walking toward our gate when I realized I’d forgotten them.  But they were gone within, say, the four minutes it took for me to return to the lunch place.

Years ago, I left my wallet at a phone booth (remember those?) in the symphony hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It vanished in the two minutes it took for me to remember and turn back.

Yes, I figured the ring lasted about ten seconds.

Greg dozed back asleep.  I stewed.  Got philosophical.  Decided I was way too materialistic.  Got angry at society for its silly traditions (Why do people need things like rings to show commitment, anyway?).  Convinced myself that I shouldn’t be allowed rings – or expensive sunglasses, for that matter.  He slept; I self-flagellated. (By the way, nothing kills a romantic reunion faster than one person’s self-recriminations.)

When he woke up in the morning, I pronounced that I would buy myself another ring just like that one.  “It won’t quite be the same, of course,” I said self-pityingly. “It won’t hold the sentiment or romance of the one you gave me … ”  Still, at least I’d have it. Maybe some day I’d forget my stupidity.  Or not.

Greg didn’t pay heed to my babbles.  Instead, he dialed the airport.  (How’d I end up with someone so sensible?)

“Yes,” said the person at BGI, “we have a ring here.  It was turned in last night by the woman who cleans the bathrooms.”

While ring-obsessing all night and that morning, I hadn’t even looked outside our bedroom window.  I hadn’t seen the glorious, god-given aqua sea that binds people’s hearts forever to Barbados.  Didn’t need to.  For me it was the kind Bajan cleaning woman … a person with a good heart and generous spirit … it was she who caused me to fall in love with Barbados.



13 Responses to “An Ode to Beautiful, Blessed, Bountiful Bajans”

  1. cookie says:

    wow, just a story we need to hear today. i just read all the replies on BFP and there goes my heart racing and my palms sweating again. but this my dear, made me smile and calm down. (i left a pair of way too expensive sunglasses at bubba’s one night, and the next day happily retrieved them.)

    and i will have to agree with you, “be it ever so humble, or surly, there’s no place on earth like beautiful Barbados.”

  2. Beautifully expressed, Cookie! Absolutely true. Home sweet home. “Be it ever so humble, or surly, there’s no place on earth like beautiful Barbados.”

    Thank you. xo

  3. Lisa ... Lisa says:

    Hi Jane,

    I have to share an experience which helped me to realize that there are good hearted, ethical people still out there. :) Last year a bunch of us girls planned a trip to Las Vegas. The first night we were there, we stuffed all of our ID’s, money, and winning ticket vouchers into a friends Coach wallet. At the end of the night, we stopped by a casino next to ours and played a few machines. When we went up to our room, we noticed that we didnt have a key, which was left behind in the wallet. Of course the wallet was gone, however we did let security know what happened. The next morning we received a call from the casino asking us to come claim a wallet from the lost and found. YEP….someone found it and annonymously did the right thing by turning it in….ALL THE CONTENTS INCLUDED! We couldn’t believe it. All of our money, winning vouchers, and ID’s that we needed to get back home on the plane, were all there. Soomeone’s mama should be proud. Ha-Ha! Thanks for another great blog!!
    Lisa…Lsia (p.s. I did find my phone cord..thanks)

  4. How lucky you were, Lisa! It’s amazing how the good feelings around such an experience stay with us forever. It’s important to give those good feelings to others by living life doing our best. Thanks for writing. xox

  5. Stephen says:

    There are so many people in Barbados who still hold traditional views, and truth and honestry are listed high.

    Buy cheap no-name sunglasses. They always get left!

  6. Good morning, Stephen. Yes, the Bajan people value truth and honesty highly, more than most places I’ve been. Even with too-common surly service, I believe the Bajan people are innately good.

    I wear a very strong prescription in my sunglasses lenses. One of my eyes is near-sighted; the other far-sighted. When I do lose a pair of sunglasses, I amuse myself with the knowledge that the thief can’t actually wear them without going to the trouble of changing the lenses. Small consolation for my emotional let-down in my fellow human being, though.

    Have a good day. Gorgeous day in Bim!!

  7. Jack Bowman says:

    The general sentiment of this post is surely true. I just left a comment to your post about Chubbies (having been pointed to your blog by BFP; I hadn’t encountered it before). I stand by the comment but of course there’s another side to the coin.

    I’ve lived in several countries because of my job, and have visited very many more. I’m here for professional reasons and in a couple of years I’ll be sent somewhere else. A seasoned expatriate in many climates, I think I’m not looking at Barbados through rose-tinted glasses when I say that, in general, Bajans are some of the most civil people I’ve ever encountered. It’s a reserved and restrained form of civility, but it’s true politeness nonetheless.

    Just one example: I’ve heard a lot of Bajans complain about traffic here, and I can hardly believe my ears. To anyone who’s spent time driving in Madrid or Buenos Aires, the politeness of most Bajan drivers is absolutely mind-bending. I’ve never seen such courtesy on the road anywhere.

  8. Wendy says:

    Jane, like you, I love Barbados very much. I was lucky enough to have a year long work assignment in Barbados many years ago. I’ve been back many times since and feel very connected to the island.

    During my work term there, I had many wonderful experiences but one story I always relate when I try to describe the place to friends is this ….

    While living there, I had a visitor from Canada down for the week. It was rainy season and we were out exploring the country side. We were trying to find Harrison’s Caves. You know how badly some of the roads and sites are marked …. there we were driving around and not finding the right road. A car passed us going the other direction and the driver (a young man) rolled down his car window and signaled me to do the same – he asked where we were headed because he wanted to let us know the road ahead was washed out. We told him … he gave us directions. The directions were somewhat complicated and I must have still looked puzzled. What he did next was so sweet – even though he was in a hurry, he turned his car around and told us to follow him – he guided us right to where we were going. He went out of his way as he was worried we would not find it. I was so touched by his actions and have never forgotten.

    When I got to the office the next day I told my Bajan co-worker about this. He looked at me totally puzzled why I would be so blown away by this – he said – yeah – I would have done exactly the same thing. And I know he would have.

    I found time and time again that helping strangers/tourists out is second nature to the Bajans. These kindnesses have really made me love theisland. Apart from the beauty of the place and all the usual things I love about the Caribbean, it is the people of Barbados who really make it a special place. I can overlook the odd customer service glitch if all the other experiences are positive.

  9. I’m so glad you shared this wonderful experience, Wendy. This happened to me in Pittsburgh many years ago and I’ll never forget the kindness of the woman who went out of her way for me. My feelings about Pittsburgh are forever marked by this one person’s kindness toward me.

    I agree with you that ultimately it’s the people who make a place special (or not). When I’m out and about on our island, it’s easy to spot tourists (for many reasons) but one is that the tourists rarely offer a smile and say hi while Bajans nearly always do. One reason I fell in love with a Bajan is because his manner is open and welcoming to everyone we encounter. It’s part of the character of the people here.

    I love the advertising line that says Barbados is 21 miles long and a smile wide. No, it doesn’t always exist amongst service personnel, but I’m with you … (once I cool down), I can overlook the odd customer service glitch if all other experiences with the people here are positive.

    Thanks for writing. I appreciate it. … Also, I envy your courage to set out on our unmarked roads to find the Caves!

  10. Oh my gosh, Jack, you are so right! Drivers here are generally polite! I lived in New Mexico for many years; when you wanted to change lanes, the driver behind you in the lane you wanted to get into would speed up in order to block you! Here, when I’m turning onto or off of a street, drivers will actually stop and flash their lights twice to signal that they’ll wait for me. This politeness floors me. Given my frequent uncertainty when driving (am I on the correct side of the street/the street I mean to be on/in the right gear?), I am so grateful!

    Btw, I limit my comments to regular drivers. The Zed vans – white vans with burgundy stripe along the side – that offer an alternative to our bus system in Barbados are reckless, disruptive of traffic flow, and rude, almost without exception. And as a form of transportation, I recommend these to no one!

  11. edie says:

    Hi B.F.F.
    We were in Las Vegas quite a few years ago and left our camera at a resturant in the Cesars Place mall. A few minutes had gone by and when we returned it was still on the table. Later that day we were playing the slots and this man asked us to hold his machine, when we looked over we realized he had $300.00 or more sitting in the machine which we could of emptied and taken off however because of kamra or whatever we waited a good fifteen minutes before he arrived back. We are so surprised when people do the right thing . Glad you got your special ring back. Now it has more meaning than ever.
    cheers
    edie

  12. jdid says:

    great great story. glad to see my people aint all bad

  13. I love these ain’t-humanity-great stories. We need more such stories in our lives. There’s too much focus on bad people … ! Thanks for sharing, Edie.

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