Barbados for Manhattan Home Exchange (What were we thinking??)

Barbados for Manhattan Home Exchange (What were we thinking??)

Would the quintessential New Yorker Eloise like Barbados? Dahling, she'd love it!

Would the quintessential New Yorker like Barbados? She'd rawther love it, of course!

For a Yank-cum-Barbados girl suffering lack of Christmas spirit, it seemed like a great idea: Exchange our apartment in Barbados with another couple’s apartment in Manhattan.

The switch took place on Christmas Eve: a couple took possession of our apartment on the south coast of Barbados and we flew to New York to their place.  Each year for Christmas I read something about faith, serenity, living a good life, that sort of thing … always feels good… and on the plane I read Mitch Albom’s book Have a Little Faith on my Kindle.

When we arrived at La Guardia, I slipped my winter coat over the spaghetti-strap top I’d put on that morning. I stepped out of the warm plane into a very chilly jetway, excited to walk one of my very favorite cities in the world and admire the special Christmas window displays; the tree at Rockefeller Center; the snow in Central Park.

So, NYC from a Yank-cum-Barbados viewpoint?

I’m freezing. Manhattan is 40 degrees north of the equator; Barbados is 13 degrees north. And since I was here in the winter last, my blood has either “thinned” or New York’s gotten colder. Today’s forecast: freezing rain.  Also, the sun is lazy in New York, going to bed at 4:30 and sleeping in until 8:30 the next morning. Perhaps the only thing not lazy in Barbados is the sun; it’s bright and sunny and colors are brilliant each day from 6am until 6pm.

It’s noisy in New York: I hear sirens howling in the distance all night long; I’ve never heard a siren in Barbados. Are we so laid back that we don’t bother with sirens — or does the sound of the sea just drown them out?

It’s really crowded. Manhattan packs a million and a half people into its 23 square miles. Barbados population is less than 300,000 over 170 square miles.  Without being able to see the horizon, Manhattan’s skyscrapers bear down on me. Barbados is wide open, with the horizon of beautiful blue sea or fields of sugar cane gently bending in our warm breeze.

Yep, it’s cold, noisy, and crowded in New York .. and I’m loving every minute. Everywhere I turn there’s something to do, buy, see, or eat. I bought new gloves on the street for ten bucks; satisfied a craving for a knish at midnight; saw a movie on an enormous screen – at 10 in the morning – on the day of its release.

Greg and I began Christmas Day bundling into our woolens and holding each other tight as we dodged three-foot snowdrifts on the sidewalks.  We had breakfast at the resplendent old Plaza hotel (of Eloise fame). Then we saw two movies, got provisions for our apartment, stopped at Starbucks for hot-hot anything, and had sushi for dinner last night. Today we’re seeing a Broadway show … and of course need to hit some after-Christmas sales.

The 21st-floor apartment we exchanged our place for is on the Upper East side overlooking the East River; it’s perfect for us, down to the festive pine Christmas tree.

I’m feeling very New York-y at this moment: fuzzy warm slippers on my feet, frost on the windows, Ink Spots on the CD, Greg rummaging for his long underwear …. a siren ….

In his Faith book, Albom says the key to happiness is to be satisfied and to be grateful.  I am both, in abundance, and hope you are, too.

Merry Christmas, all. Thanks for reading and especially for your delightful comments.



9 Responses to “Barbados for Manhattan Home Exchange (What were we thinking??)”

  1. rainy says:

    Merry Christmas to you too Jane. Yes it is cold here in the Northern part of the US. I have enjoyed reading your blog that seem like little letter you have written to your friends explaining your journey. I love Christmas time. My anniversary is 12/16, I can’t help but think about Barbardos and the joy I felt when I married my husband. I felt like I was receiving the best Christmas gift ever. I am very thankful for my life and blessings. There is alot of suffering and loss, especially here in Detroit with the job losses due to the big three downsizing. Baby Jesus gave us hope and joy on Christmas Day. I hope you have a great time in NY. Enjoy.

  2. Kyle says:

    Seasons Greetings Jane, and to all your readers. I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas with lots of ham, laughs and drinks. I know I sure did. I’m taking advantage of all twelve days of Christmas this year, and plan to enjoy every second of it. Here’s wishing you a Happy and Prosperous 2010, may success and happiness continue to follow you, your family and loved ones all through the year.

  3. Oh, my, Kyle, yes I did have lots of ham, laughs, and drinks – too much of the first, however! Happy New Year to you. Thanks so much for writing, as always. xxoo

  4. Rainy, thanks so much for writing. Happy Anniversary to you on December 16 … I’m happy you have so many wonderful memories of beautiful Barbados and your beautiful union with the man in your life.

    What a contrast these northern climes are to Barbados! Yesterday, here in Boston, it snowed — flakes as big as ping pong balls! The high today is going to be 26 Fahrenheit, but with wind chill will feel much colder. Must be similar in Detroit. Let’s make a pact, Rainy, to bundle up and embrace the day, whatever it brings. Warmer days will come …

  5. Dennis Hoertt says:

    Thank you for writing this about your New York excursion. Of course NYC and Barbados are much more than mere miles apart, but isn’t that the fantasy? To be whisked from one world to quite another? Always knowing that however intersting NYC is for that short time, there is ultimate comfort in the thought that the cold and the wet, the rude and the selfish, are merely transitory, eventually, and at your convenience, giving way to the genteel once again. I missed her at Christmas.

  6. Hello, Dennis, thanks for writing. I love how you put it, “that’s the fantasy” …. to be whisked from one world to quite another.” Lovely. Thank you.

  7. Curt Sachs (fKa Marvin) says:

    Found you while getting nosy about NM friends from eons ago. Sounds like you have “arrived”. It has been a very long time…Left NM in 88, left NJ a year ago and moved to Portland, Maine (long story). Reinventing ourselves. Corinne is now a librarian, I am reinventing myself, teaching architecture and doing pro-bono design in a Haitian hospital. haven’t actually been there yet.Cheers

  8. Curt Sachs (fKa Marvin) says:

    Found you while getting nosy about NM friends from eons ago. Sounds like you have “arrived”. It has been a very long time…Left NM in 88, left NJ a year ago and moved to Portland, Maine (long story). Corinne is now a librarian, I am reinventing myself, teaching architecture and doing pro-bono design in a Haitian hospital. haven’t actually been there yet.Cheers

  9. Marvin & Corinne, hello! Wonders of the internet. We haven’t been in contact since I purchased your Volvo 240 station wagon (which I loved and drove well over 100k miles) in – what – 1984 or ’85. Best wishes for a wonderful 2010! xx Jane

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