After 24 days of economic hardship and heavy industry in Guyana and Trinidad, arrival in Barbados gave us all the first glimpse of the kind of Caribbean we expected, or at least hoped for.
No wonder the players wives and girlfriends all arrived on Saturday, just in time to catch the white, powdery beaches, the turquoise seas, the palm trees and the unmistakeable atmosphere of tropical paradise.
Opposite the media hotel there is a small construction site, surrounded by a tall wooded fence, which rattles and bangs occassionally as the south coast of Barbados attempts to install a sewerage system to replace the many septic tanks that were installed decades ago.
Just beyond that, however, is a one of the aforementioned white, golden beaches with palm trees. There is a beach bar called “Bikinis” at which women wearing bikinis are entitled to fruit and rum punch at half price.
Blatant sexism and wholly inappropriate concurred the all-male SA press corps, so we have boycotted ‘Bikinis’ in favour of ‘Sugar Reef’ necessitating an extra 50 metre walk.
However, two small beers, in squidgey plastic cups, cost B$9-00 which is R36-00 so we have boycotted ‘Sugar Reef’ as well, now.
A sports bar claiming to show recent Super 12 rugby matches seemed reasonably off the beaten track so it was explored. Another small beer (in a glass) and the cheapest meal on the menu, a grilled chicken baguette, cost B$29-00, or R116 for those still thinking in South Africa’s dear but struggling currency. Sadly for Bubba’s, they too have lost our custom now although the waiter seemed to be losing patience with repeated requests for “…the cheapest, please.”
A real, genuine ‘local’ was then persuaded to give us directions to where he goes out to eat. Keith Holder, cricket writer of the Barbados Advocate, has become a great friend of the SA media and his answer was unequivocal: “You must go to Oistins Town,” he said. So we did.
It is basically a small fishing harbour which doubles up as a series of eateries in the evening, all serving various kinds of fried fish with rice and salad. Magnificent taste, and value, at approximately B$20-00 per head with three beers. R80-00 for an evening was manageable.
Just as we were standing in the queue of an outside bar/restaurant watching some jivin’ to the beat of the soca music and waiting to buy a loopdop, it occurred to all four of us that we had barely seen another tourist. All seemed local.
Then the man in front of me, with shaven head, shades, gold tooth and shiny black chest, as Barbadian as could be, placed his order. “Ah, yeah, two burgers please, luv, and a coupla beers, ta,” he said in the broadest London accent ever heard outside Hackney.
The lady serving shook her head. “Wasyoo sain, I don gechoo?” “Bloody hell, mate,” said the cool guy turning towards me, “can you gimme hand? I can’t understand a bleedin’ word she’s saying…”
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