Barbados: Things I’ve Learned

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We headed to Barbados in April for a meetup with work, staying at St. Lawrence on the Gap. The aim was to sort out the e-mail subscriptions side of WordPress.com.

Confused about why we went to Barbados in the first place? So were the hotel staff. You can read more about that here.

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I’d never been to the Carribbean before, and truth be told, didn’t really imagine that it’s somewhere I would have gotten to go to for a long time… if at all. When the meetup location was decided, it made me realise just how little I actually knew about the island.

Here’s a few things that I learned along the way.

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Everything is bright and colourful in Barbados.

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It’s not just the buildings and scenery that are vibrant; the people are incredibly friendly and interesting too. That seems to get said about a lot of places, but here it really applied.

This was the guy that ended up driving us about in his minibus for the week, rather than flagging down taxis. The shirt he’s wearing here is a fairly conservative affair, with some snazzy yellow button action going on… but normally he was wearing some dayglo affair. The green satin one was my personal favourite.

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If you want to stand out as a foreigner, being pale and in the ocean when it’s raining is a good way to do it.

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When the weather forecast says there will be storms in Barbados, that doesn’t quite mean the same thing as storms here. Infact, all it realistically means is that the waves might be a bit bigger.

I was expecting torrential rain.

It did rain once… for a few hours when we arrived. Oh, and it was warm rain.

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Barbados was a British colony, and so there are lots of everyday similarities that one might not necessarily expect. The first language is English, people drive on the left, and lots of traditions are similar… they even observe certain UK bank holidays that we in Scotland do not.

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Not sure why there was so many Canadian flags though. We were convinced it was a conspiracy, pulled together by our meetup organiser, Richard.

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Fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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There is the equivalent of less than half the population of Glasgow living on Barbados.

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‘Island time’ really is a thing. If somebody tells you they’ll be ready in ten minutes, they really mean half an hour. Take the time you’re told, multiply it by three, and you’ve got a pretty good estimation of how long it’ll take.

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When we were there, the links between the credit card systems went down, meaning that nobody could make any card payments. The response from locals was simple: the engineers would fix it, but they wouldn’t be back for a few days… why? Well, it’s the weekend after all.

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The currency (the Barbados Dollar) is legally tied to the US Dollar at a ratio of 2 to 1, and almost everywhere will accept USD as payment.

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People everywhere will ask if you want to buy some drugs, and cars will slow down to ask if you need a ‘taxi’. Unlike other places though, if you decline, you won’t get pestered. You’re more likely to see the same folk over and over. ‘Roach’ was the one who sticks out most in my mind, and he seemed like an awfully pleasant chap.

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The water really is as blue as it looks on TV.

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People might look at you weird, but you really don’t need a conference room when you have some tables outside next to a beach.

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One night we saw police officers riding horses playing what can only be described as some sort of weird game of musical chairs.

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It’s a shame, but they really seem to like cricket here.

Probably one of the worst hangovers of colonialism.

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