I’ve been busy. And lazy. Too busy and lazy to blog. For a few months. I am sure you can live with it, but it isn’t good for me. So here I go again, about to take that ride again, starry-eyed again, taking a chance . . . .
In early January, Rosamond and I went to Barbados for two weeks, our annual retreat to the Caribbean from the frozen north. We rented a small condo on the south shore and on arrival were greeted with the sight of colorful kites, some twenty or thirty of them, flying like a disorganized flock of birds out over the water. The kite surfers shared the water with wind surfers, and they all zipped around, plowing through waves, tacking and then tacking again. They moved at high speeds and seemed quite close to each other. I thought that there was a risk of running into each other or getting the shrouds of their kites tangled, but apparently they had developed rules of the road.
Later, walking along a beach where the surfers congregated, I heard French and Spanish and English English, a mini UN of speed junkies. I also noticed that most of the surfers were men, and a number of bikini clad young women sat along the shore with not a lot to do. Stand by your man. Nevertheless, it seemed like a lot of fun. If I were younger I would be tempted, but for now my speed demon will have to make do with skiing.
I thought that I would take photos of the scene the following weekend, but when the weekend arrived almost all of the surfers had gone as if on some biologically determined migration, further south perhaps or somewhere where the wind was stronger and the waves more challenging.
Our condo was one of maybe only a dozen units, and next door was a large hotel with over one hundred rooms—abandoned. Only a little rain water glistened greenly in the bottom of the hotel’s pool. I learned that up until a few years before it had been full (or almost full) of tourists, many of them English. More migration apparently, and now the whole shebang was up for sale.
We live a quiet life in the Caribbean. After we get up I start the coffee, and then we go out, me for a run along the coast and Rosamond for a walk. A faint trail led along the top of a small cliff above the sea. Waves crashed into the coral cliff face, sometimes sending up spumes through holes in the rock. Eventually, the trail led into a residential area. One could walk along the cliffs at the back of houses that faced the sea, but the irregularity of the rock didn’t make for easy running, so I jogged along the street, trying to imagine the lives of those who occupied the houses. Many, I suspected, were only there for a few weeks or maybe a month out of the year. More migrants.
After our outing and maybe a cool-off dip in the sea, we would have breakfast, play a game of rummy, and then open our computers. Such is the modern life. But I was working on a book (probably just for my kids) about life after Yosemite and El Capitan, and Rosamond had articles to write and books to review and e-mail from her office to deal with, and facing each other across the table, keys clicking away, offered its own joys. Later, we would have lunch, play a game of Scrabble perhaps, read, or take a tour of the island.
Rosamond and I like to snorkel. The south coast didn’t seem a good place what with the wind and the waves, so we drove up along the west shore. Compared to other Caribbean islands, Barbados is highly populated although it doesn’t have the strings of high rise hotels that you find in other places, no Atlantis that you see ads for on TV, no Club Med. Bridgetown, the island’s city is really a city, not merely the largest metropolis like Nassau. We tried to avoid it driving around but got sucked in once while looking for a road to the west shore. It was right at the time when school let out, and throngs of school kids in uniforms were everywhere, and the streets were clogged with school buses, and all in all it was fun to see, once.
We had read about a park on the west shore that featured a snorkel trail, so we went there. There were more winds and waves than we would have liked, and a squall blew through, but we swam around and saw some fish. Not enough to want to go back. Maybe there were other places on the island that offered good snorkeling, but we didn’t find them. Some years before, at the start of our Caribbean odyssey, we had found wonderful snorkeling on the southwest coast of Nassau, a place that was used in the underwater scenes of the early James Bond films, and we have been looking for comparable places ever since but without success. Spoiled water rats, that’s what we are.
We also drove along the north and east shores where the cliffs were higher and the waves cruised in from the Atlantic and pounded the rock unrelentingly sending corollas of spray high into the air, sometimes with rainbows captured in the mist. We followed a steep trail down to a secluded beach, secluded except for a Frenchman who I gathered lived nearby the year around. He told us that a week or so ago he had been walking the beach and came across some wreckage, some twisted aluminum that had French writing stenciled on it. He thought that perhaps it was from an airplane but checking with his computer found no evidence of an air accident. He contacted the authorities. It turned out that the mangled remains were from an Ariane rocket booster that had landed in the sea and then washed ashore. Does this qualify as a migrant?
At the beginning of a trip like this two weeks seems like a lot of time, but after a week and a half it doesn’t seem like much time at all. I usually wear just a bathing suit or a pair of shorts all day long, and the thought of togging myself against the New York cold is depressing. As is the thought of Rosamond trucking into the office every day. As it turned out, that didn’t happen, but that story will wait for the next installment.
We have visited a number of islands in the Caribbean, but have yet to find a place that we want to go back to year after year (actually we had a time share on the south west coast of Nassau that was perfect until it went bust and then got blasted by a hurricane). If you know of a place with unpopulated beaches, good snorkeling, and a low key life style let me know. A vibrant night life is not wanted, although a scenic running route would be nice.