Island Life

Lady Sarah returned from Punta Cana today and showed me her pictures.




Brings back memories from my Club Med daze … oops, days.  Meanwhile, G and I are planning a get-away to Hawaii for a bit … I’m suddenly all keen on doing the Maui Marathon in September. Good training goal I think. Yay me!

And this got me thinking of island life again. I’ve been so fortunate to have lived the island life. You see back in 1987 I spent near a year living in Barbados. I had finished university and was mulling next steps – maybe grad school, maybe teaching, maybe bum around some, maybe work (well okay, anything but that!). I was doing a lot of writing back then (the kind that doesn’t end up making you very rich or famous) and decided spur of the moment, and much to my mom’s shock and horror, to move to Barbados and finish the great Canadian novel I had in draft. 


I booked a flight on Wardair with an open return (gosh, anyone else remember Wardair? … great airline now sadly gone) and rented a one-bedroom apartment right on Blythwood Beach just outside Worthing (a tiny village halfway between Bridgetown and Oistins, where we got all our fresh fish). Best of all, I managed to convince one of my best friends Dab to join me. Yay Dab!


So down we went … and there followed:

  • blissfully days of beachcombing and tanning;

  • 5pm body surf contests;

  • watching the CBC (Caribbean Broadcast Corporation) news at 6:30 at Margo & Paul’s, who adopted Dab and I;

  • visits from our rastaman “Creeping Jesus”;

  • endless cups of iced coffee and dinners of flying fish;

  • the geckos that clung to our walls at night;

  • post-supper chess matches; and,

  • much writing.

It was a great time and I learned much. Most notably what it is like to be a visible minority, which is a lesson all white folks should learn I think. You see once the locales came to realize Dab and I weren’t tourists – here today and gone a week from now –  once they saw us daily at the market and in the bank and at the coffeehouse, an oh-so-subtle change in how we were treated took place. We were treated differently with a disdain which bordered on contempt at times. It was a fascinating experience. I suspect it’s not unlike the experience many newcomers to Canada confront when they land on our shores. 


I did finish my novel = title removed = but rather than share it, I’ll share a poem I wrote while ‘sur la plage’.

Island Life

island life
is under casuarina trees
and amongst sea grapes.
held firm
in hands of sand
from tided shores
and coral reefs,
tourists and
in a single day
a sun rise
a sun set
on an island fourteen miles wide

in narrower streets
with too many cars
and no room to walk,
the odour of roti,
minimokes, salt;
jet smoke and
Oistin’s fish
calypso beats under Alleyne Arthur signs
bajan women in fluorescent colours
mimic the sun
reggae and tasteless coffee
so strange so near the coffee coast

and always
the song of seas
brushing waves to shore
to rocks
cascading waters mast high
like hands held in prayer
to a god;
to the quintessential mystery of time;
or to the simple beauty of a tiny star
riding an ocean of sky

riding an ocean of sky


Dab and I at TGI Boomers on Canada Day 1987 (OMG, I got soooo drunk that night … have no idea how Margo, Dab and I got home but do remember skinny dipping in the ocean and Margo’s husband, Paul, being very upset at us)

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4 Responses to Island Life

  1. Anonymous says:

    I need a sunny vacation now.  Club Med here I come!

  2. abcyeung says:

    Wow….lovely poem…I don’t think I could write something like that!!

  3. Len_Q says:

    Caribbean Broadcast Corporation, haha. the Canadaian one is the only CBC I know! =)

  4. Fatcat723 says:

    Love the poem. Make sure you publish the novel – I want to read it. And enjoy the Islands. I would return there whenever I could but right now it is not possible.

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