In 2014, over 519 000 visitors came to Barbados (source: The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Authority December 2014 Statistics Report). The island caters to all kinds of visitors: those who live in luxury and stay in places like Sandy Lane, to those of us who are here on shoestring budgets and stay in self-catering, one-bedroom flats.
With all this infrastructure geared towards the tourists – the hotels, the resorts, the restaurants, it’s easy to forget that underneath all of that is a very traditional society. My grandparents first came to Barbados in 1974, and after my first visit here in 2009, my grandma and I exchanged stories about the locals, the rum shacks, the fish markets and vegetable stalls. In fact, the vegetable stall that is on the road by the medical centre in Sunset Crest is run by the same ladies who ran it back in the 70s and 80s.
I love how aspects of life seem to have come to a standstill here. There is no hurry for progress. Why fix it, if it isn’t broken? The other day I went to the beach and I had the pleasure of watching two teenage boys fishing. They weren’t using rods, poles or nets. They had a length of line wrapped around a spool and at the end was a hook and a small weight. Bait was attached to the hook and the boys took turns whirling the line and casting it out into the water.
At one point, I could tell they had caught something. It was really funny to watch, as the boy in the blue shirt kept trying to stomp on the catch. Unfortunately for them, the fish worked its way off the hook and escaped. Both boys laughed and simply put more bait on the hook.
Sadly, it didn’t appear to be a very productive day for them, as they left not long after. In all the time I’d been watching them, I didn’t see them catch anything. But it sure did look fun. I almost wish I’d asked if I could try my hand at it.