Late February 2020 to mid-January 2022 was the longest period of time that I’ve spent away from home and without visiting anywhere in the Caribbean. In fact I can remember only year since 2004 that I didn’t go home, though I at least visited other “homes” in the Caribbean. As you can imagine, my recent reconnection with Bim was particularly special. It was needed. Long overdue. Much anticipated. Even better than I expected. And needless to say, not enough, though an initial 10 days became 19. People who know me well understand that I still think I live in Barbados, though I work elsewhere. That’s been my mantra for almost 20 years and probably still will be 20 years from now.
For the last two years I’ve missed my home. Yet, I didn’t realize until I got there how much my body, mind, and soul thirsted for it, needed to connect with it. Upon seeing “the rock” as we approached to land, I felt the deprivation keenly, to my bones. Not the deficit of a specific thing, but of everything. The totality of what makes Barbados my home, the place where my “naval string is buried.” On reflection I can see that that singular connection, the pull of my naval string, is akin to a female sea turtle’s connection to the place where she was born, evidenced through her innate ability to return to that place, irrespective of time and distance, to give life to new generations.
I experienced so much joy in reconnecting with family, friends, places, spaces, food, land, smells, nature … Joy in living, laughing, loving … in just being, in the place that birthed and moulded me. I think every relative and friend who saw me, witnessed that joy. I have limited evidence to show you, just take me at my word.
The wellspring that created my joy included:
Ras & Harry picking me up at the airport
Seeing and spending time with my mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, good friends, and my brother from another mother. The hugs, love, dancing, laughter – so much and yet not enough ❤️.
My cousin Annie’s Macaroni pie, that she made specially for me. The tears she shed on seeing me for the first time and that tight hug that went on forever 🤗.
Cou-cou and saltfish, made by my eldest aunt Joyce 😋.
Dunks (Ziziphus mauritiana)
Cassava Pone; Sweet bread; Turnovers
Mauby (Sweet & Dandy … 🎶)
Cheese cutters with S-Bend pepper sauce (sometimes with fish, or turkey ham, even if I didn’t always remember to add either before eating half of the cutter 🤣).
Shirley biscuits; Teatimes (dead or alive); Ovaltine biscuits; Rusks.
Brown rum; white rum
Sugar cakes; Tamarind balls; Guava cheese
Roti (and doubles). Whose roti is the best? Lisa’s Doubles & Roti in Kendall Hill.
How the heck did I forget my mango chutney that Ras made and saved for me?! I’ll have to go back soon just to get it! 😁
Did I mention salt bread? Real salt bread, not the whole wheat stuff that it’s blasphemous to call salt bread.
Fishcakes made by Auntie Jenny and Annie, fresh from the pot.
Gifts from Cheryl that remind me she’s often thinking of me.
Sorrel (imported, but brewed by Ras, so delicious Bajan sorrel)
Mr. Dip/Choc Ice from the gas station (you had to be there 🤣🤣🤣). It wasn’t as tasty as two years ago and nostalgia can only do so much, so I didn’t return for seconds. I suggest a look back at the original Mr. Dip recipe
Sucking cane grown in my aunt’s yard. Peeling said cane with knife and teeth. All the while reminiscing about doing the same in the cane fields when we were children, as the adults cut and loaded cane.
Reminiscing. Bonding. Reconnecting.
Harrichellette Rawlins in the same space, place, and time. Our original space, despite the passage of time and in celebration of the passage of time (B, my brother-cousin, celebrating 50 not out 🎉 – my primary reason for going home). Being with this original crew and their loved ones who joined the fold. Connecting the past with the present. The constant with the constantly changing. The same with the different. Reminiscences juxtaposed with new happenings that soon will become part of our memory vault (and my infamous archives).
Sunrises and Sunsets. No words.
Sleeping through the rain. Hearing the rain. Walking in the rain/drizzle. Walking at the crack (but not the ass-crack) of dawn. Walking in ‘de hot sun’.
Walking and jogging almost 40 miles with Ras in familiar (though changed) neighbourhoods like Thyme Bottom, Pilgrim Road, the Pond Hill (first home of my first best friend, my original ride or die, Dr. Tull!), Parish Land (what’s up Lynn?), Providence, Gibbons, Pegwell, Enterprise, Oistins, Lodge Road, Coverley, and Charnocks. St. Bartholomew’s Girls School, my original stomping ground, now sadly in ruins, though I think there’s still hope for it. Harry’s guest appearance at the gymnasium.
I love that on this trip I seemed to have the ability to wish people into appearing. Thankful that I got to see them, say hello, catch up, break bread, share wine, and in a few instances, do the same things that we’ve consistently done for so many years. I wonder if in two decades hence this will differ.
Taking a ‘sea bath’ at Miami Beach, having walked the 3 odd miles to get there as I did countless times in my earlier years. Watching the retirees who take a sea bath daily and thinking about how much I look forward to doing the same in retirement or sooner.
So much to reminisce about.
To love me is to hike with me. At my pace, kinda, sorta. Even if for every 3 steps I take you take only 1 😆. Thanks C. Barbados is beautiful. I say this with minimal bias 😊
I took fewer photos than I normally would. And astonishingly, none with my camera. There were many sacred and poignant moments captured only by my senses. Some hilarious moments that I wish I’d been fast enough to photograph or video; even an audio recording would have been great because they were epic. Hopefully those un-photographed, unrecorded moments will always be alive in my memories (John Slade 🔫!). Happily, there were many, many wonderful moments, though I’m sharing just a few snapshots of people, places, and spaces that are too beautiful to keep to myself. The rest I’ll savour and share like I will my Mount Gay® XO Triple Cask Blend 😁.
It is always hard to leave Bim and at the end of this trip it was especially difficult. As I leave, two thoughts are always foremost in my mind: my next trip to Bim and how I can spend more time in Bim. I have some ideas about both … I’m working on them! 😁 Until they come to fruition, I’ll keep reminding myself that I leave so I can return.
To all that is Bim, know that I love you and yearn for you ❤️ 💋.