Wow. *Poof*! There went the last year and a half or so in Barbados! Mostly *poof-itty* fast anyway, except for those e-looooooongated stretches of time when no visitors were scheduled on the calendar and no trips off island were in the works and I started to feel a bit like Bubbles, the yellow Tang fish from the dentists office fish tank in Finding Nemo who became abnormally excited whenever the little treasure chest in the tank opened and let loose a stream of bubbles –
Gill: Fish aren’t meant to be in a box, kid. It does things to ya. http://youtu.be/s7IYR_rELyE
It didn’t quite get to the talking-to-a-volleyball stage, but that’s only because the purple-furred muppet that lives on my left hand said not to. Or at least that’s what I think it said. Or what I thought to make it say. Or what I actually said in a high, all upper register voice that my purple friend’s mouth moved to as I spoke. But whatever.
In the weeks prior to relocating anywhere, we did as most embarking on a new adventure might do, scouring the internet for information and stories about where we were headed. We watched all of the Barbados Tourism Board videos (they’re quite good actually!) and tried to imagine the new scenery and how the days might unfold in a tropical paradise.
We read countless expat stories from around the world trying to glean useful information from others experiences through the process and also read with interest what are considered the 5 stages of being an expat.
1. Honeymoon Stage: At first stage everything in new surroundings is profoundly exciting and interesting. a great adventure. Just like a honeymoon, the bliss of beginning a new life can be rose-colored, happy, and hopeful for most expatriates. (True.)
2. Culture Shock: Six to eight weeks after the move is the culture shock stage. It’s as if you are a child again. It’s typical at this stage to feel that something is not right and homesickness sets in. (Yup.)
3. Initial Adjustment Stage: Here the expat starts gaining self reliance and being able to connect with local people in social and business situations. (Something like that.)
4. Mental Isolation: The initial adjustment stage is followed by another wave of integration ups and downs. During this stage the thought, “Maybe the people back home are forgetting about me,” comes into play. (As does the furry purple friend…)
5. Acceptance and Integration: : One finally stops trying to change the host culture or comparing it to the home country and develops new strategies for everyday life. (An appreciation forms for the what IS here rather than the what isn’t)
Despite such research done in advance of such a move, the imagination makes it easy to sculpt a whole Versailles worthy mental garden of pathways, arches and fancy topiary populated by statues in frozen diorama-like postures living this new (and wholly imaginary) life.
That being said, your new experiences help you to clumsily chip noses, appendages or whole heads off the unrealistic statues created and come to peace with whatever form remains. We had 20 visitors to the island in our time here (You’re welcome Barbados Tourism Board) and now that our departure is imminent, reflection on the time spent here comes to the fore and you wonder if you did the place and yourself justice by taking it all (or enough of it) in. A few thoughts then on the experience –
Will miss –
- Our amazing beach. Living right across the street from this gorgeous beach with beautiful sky above and beautiful views from every other angle above and below the waters surface
- Swimming in that mix of cyan, cerulean and Persian blue water. The swimming is much more than just strokes through clear water…It’s more like swimming but with snorkeling benefits
- The easy friendliness and greetings from pretty much everyone you encounter
- Our residence here, which for us had the best location,was open and well lit, perfectly sized, had the amazing rooftop pool and cooling breezes that came down the hill from the back and breezed through to the front towards the ocean. Loved it!
- Mullins Beach Bar – Positioned right on the beach and open to take in the views and breeze. An easy choice for enjoying fishcakes and Banks beer
- Rooftop pool – For when the beach across the street wasn’t rock star-secluded enough
- Beautiful blue skies populated with pristine white puffy clouds and accented by palm frond greenery
- Sunsets. Every single one.
- The quiet and rugged beauty of the island’s East Coast.
- The occasional Cuban cigar.
- The wild and sometimes incredibly brief rainstorms
- Driving on the left-hand side of the road in our somewhat rare on-island left-hand drive car
Won’t miss –
- Sultriness and the malaise and heat rashes it induces
- The uncertainty of grocery shopping where sometimes garlic or tomatoes or bread, etc. will disappear from shelves for days on end, though this did help me get over a bad case of Northern California food snobbery and enabled me to embrace what is, such as iceberg lettuce and its friends.
- The buses overpopulating the narrow roads, some crawling along at 10mph in hopes of picking up fares and then others speeding along at far too fast a speed for these roads and careening around corners on two wheels
- The wine selection which is limited and expensive
- Trying to park in Holetown in season
- Trying to park in Holetown in off season
- To be honest, the very name Holetown
- Driving on the left-hand side of the road in our first car, a right-hand drive
- The cost of some things, i.e. Berries, tp, ice cream
- Coconut milk in coffee & tea is fantastic
- One can feel themselves to be a powerful dolphin-like creature when able to swim with fins in gorgeous uncrowded waters
- People arriving to the tropics from cold, dark places and that haven’t seen the sun for a while should really be more careful.
It’s been great. It’s been lonely. I’ve loved it and I’ve pined for home. Once I leave I’m sure to pine for things from here as well but onward and upward to the next adventure!