Barbados Friendships & Departures

Barbados Friendships & Departures

If you could leave your current life behind for three years to live in Barbados, what do you think you’d treasure most about being on a paradise Caribbean island? The slower pace, smaller scale, and easier lifestyle? The warmth of the sun?

The music of the waves and gentle wind in the palms as you sip your rum?  Awakening each morning to the mind-blowing blues of the sky and sea?  Or perhaps the windsurfing, surfing, cycling, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and sailing?

Greg and I had dinner last night with an American family who has lived in Barbados for three years and is now moving back to the U.S.  They’ve become good friends of ours. I will miss them so much, particularly Sharon, who’s become such a dear friend.

Taking photos in Barbados

Sharon taking photos in Barbados: never enough.

We’ve been crowding in a lot of togetherness as they count down their last few precious days in Barbados. Last Monday they came over to our place – we live in the St Lawrence Beach Condos in the St Lawrence Gap (where I rent out Barbados vacation rentals) – and strolled down the colorful Gap to the casual Southern Palms restaurant on Dover Beach.  The family is a regular at Southern Palms on Monday nights, when a band called the Redmen plays country music.

Peter came to Barbados on a 3-year contract as an executive with an international firm. Sharon, a physician, took a hiatus from her practice to be here.  Their son was 11 when they arrived; no longer a kid, he’s a mature 14 now with a deepening voice and young man’s confident gait.

As we sat in the warm evening air next to the Caribbean Sea dangling over rum drinks while awaiting dinner, I asked each member of the family what they’ll miss most about Barbados.

Peter said he has valued the business environment in Barbados because he’s been able to form relationships with people that in the States are far more difficult to form because of the more competitive corporate culture that prevails there.

Sharon said she’ll miss our day-to-day friendship, which included excursions through the island together.  She and I have prowled this island in her Subaru, fooling ourselves we were taking the “scenic route” when actually we were hopelessly lost; visiting an illegal “suitcase merchant” for party dresses; indulging our shared penchant for new cleaning products at Carter’s hardware store; and taking photos of the mind-blowing physical beauty all around us, which we land-locked Yanks can’t get enough of.

Oh – and the American holidays; only a fellow Yank understands the tender childhood memories triggered by a roasting turkey and cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

The son said his favorite part of Barbados is his friends at school.  He’s formed deep attachments at his all-boys school in Barbados, where, by the way, he’s far ahead his equivalent grade in the US educational system.

Even though they’ve enjoyed other aspects of Barbados, including sailing in Barbados, none of them mentioned those things. It’s the friendships they’ll miss most.

Warm breeze enveloping our table and the Redmen crooning, dinner arrived.  I guess I wasn’t surprised by their answers. When it comes down to it, what matters more than the people we treasure?  It’s as true in a tropical paradise as anywhere else.

9 Responses to “Barbados Friendships & Departures”

  1. Greg says:

    Wonderful post, lovely people; I know we’ll see a lot more of Sharon & Peter in the future!

  2. Caribista says:

    When I moved to Barbados in 2004, I was fortunate enough to relocate with my sister, cousin and close friend. This made the transition a lot easier to handle, but by no means easy…

    It did take several years to build a life – not too far from where you live in St Lawrence Gap, and friends that I will always hold close to my heart.

    Some were Bajan, some weren’t. Some were a permanent fixture in Barbados, many were just passing through, which made the adjustment to Bajan life, a bit hard to swallow sometimes. So many people pass through Barbados for so many reasons, it always felt as though I was saying good bye to someone. But as Barbados is such a pleasant place to visit, there were always a lot of airport visits and collections.

    Having left Barbados now, I have to say that there are a few things that I miss, friends being one of the main ones, but thanks to the development of Skype, they are never more than a free phone call away.

  3. This is such a beautiful message, Caribista. Thank you for reminding me of the natural flow of life in a paradise such as Barbados. As you say, thank goodness for Skype!

    Have a wonderful day,
    xx Jane

  4. michele says:

    I never say “good-bye”,but “see you soon”!After 25yrs,and I have travelled the world,I always return to Barbados!For the past 2yrs we have spent the entire month of Jan in Barbados & next year hope to increase it to 2mos!As I stated in BFP,Barbados is a “welcome to our island” kind of place & many friendships develope!My husband & son & friends dive with Ram & we almost never miss a Mon night at Southern Palms to hear him & the Redmen….ahhh Barbados!

  5. Bim Girl says:

    When I read Michele’s statement, “Barbados is a welcome to our island kind of place,” I was reminded of a song called “Welcome the Morning Sun” by a group called Sing Out Barbados, which was popular in the 1970’s. After searching for their songs online for months, I discovered someone put them out on YouTube a few months ago.

    Besides “Welcome the Morning Sun,” I also like one of their songs called “Barbados Ah Come From” and another called “Beautiful Barbados.” I have attached a link for YouTube where you can hear the aforementioned songs as well as others by the group. People who love Barbados will listen to the songs over and over again.

    If the link doesn’t work you can go to YouTube and type in Sing Out Barbados and see a list of songs to choose from.

  6. I’d love to live such a simple yet beautiful life…

  7. Haha, the Redmen! Like the Merrymen, they’ve been going strong for a very long time. Sitting at Southern Palms on a Monday evening, having a great dinner in the warmth of the night, the sea lapping the shore of Dover Beach, listening to the Redmen – and dancing if so moved …. it’s a great time. xx

  8. Vanessa says:

    I lived in Barbados fron 1984-1985 with my parents. We lived on Maxwell Coast Road and most days I would walk my dog either towards Oistins along the beach or towards Southern Palms enjoying the peace of the early morning. The Redmen played regularly then and I loved them. I still miss the island so much it makes my heart ache sometimes even though it was 26 years ago. I have not been back since and part of me would be nervous of returning as I have so many wonderful memories I would hate to diminish them with all that must haved changed over the years. One day may be I will be back. I dream of it often.

  9. Jane says:

    Vanessa, it’s amazing what strong heart-connection we can feel for a place. Having lived in Barbados for 3 years I can understand your attachment. I was just away traveling for two months, returning last night. Like you, I felt an ache for this place. I awoke to the sea this morning and knew all was right with my world again.

    I hope you visit again … I understand your hesitancy, but by returning you have the opportunity to create new memories of beautiful Barbados.

    Thanks for writing. Your note is beautiful.

    xx Jane Shattuck

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