A diary-style page about our time on the Caribbean island Barbados.
We arrived here on 10 June and plan to stay until 7 September, which is the standard 90 days for which British passport holders are usually waved into many countries.
The story so far: My partner, Maryke, and I started our digital nomad adventure in January 2020. The countries we've lived and worked in before Barbados are Thailand (Koh Samui), Greece (Crete), and Grenada. There's a retrospective page for each, because I started this blog after we had been there.
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30 June, 2022: We dodged a cyclone
Or rather, a cyclone that never was dodged us.
The official Hurricane Season in the North Atlantic runs from 1 June to 30 November. As we arrived in Barbados, stories started appearing in the news to warn people to get ready for this year's season, so I read up on hurricanes.
For those of you who are as ignorant about the relevant terminology as I was until recently, here's a brief run-down:
Cyclones are severe low-pressure systems that swirl counterclockwise (looking from above, hopefully) in the North Atlantic and clockwise in the South Atlantic. They travel westwards.
A hurricane is a cyclone with a sustained wind speed of more than 118 km/h. Basically, if your hat doesn't have chin strap, you're fucked.
Less severe cyclones are called tropical depressions (wind speed of up to 62 km/h) or tropical storms (wind speed of 63 to 118 km/h).
Before a cyclone becomes a cyclone, it is an area of low pressure with winds and thunderstorms but no swirling. This is called a Tropical Disturbance. It is the job of the good folks at the USA's National Hurricane Center in Miami to spot these as they form over the North Atlantic and forecast their likely trajectory and the probability of them becoming cyclones.
Our cyclone-that-wasn't was due to hit Barbados two days ago. The screenshot below shows the tropical disturbance as a red cross, and the red blob was its likely five-day trajectory when Barbados (indicated with my green circle) was still going to be a part of the action.
As it turned out, the disturbance turned further south than forecast and Barbados only got some gustier-than-usual wind. At the time of writing, the disturbance was last seen menacing the north coast of Colombia, with a 90% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next two to five days.
I'm not too excited about that yellow disturbance bearing down on Barbados. It's due to make landfall some time tomorrow, but its probability of becoming a cyclone in the next two to five days is only 10%.
21 July, 2022: Vive la différence!
On the Grenada page I wrote about how you cannot really evaluate something that you experience for the first time (in this case, a Caribbean island), because you have no similar experiences with which to compare it. Now that we're living in Barbados, I've started noticing some similarities and differences between the two islands. I'll highlight some differences here, because that's more interesting.
Greetings and civilities - the twilight zone
In Grenada, the afternoons are extremely long. I was caught out quite few times in the beginning when I greeted people in the street after sunset with a "Good evening!", only to be answered with a pointed "Good afternoon!" I wasn't able to determine for sure when the afternoon ended and the evening began, but I was definitely "afternooned" way past 19:00 quite a few times.
So, in Barbados, thinking that I've got this Caribbean greeting thing sussed out by now, I started greeting people well into the evening with a "Good afternoon!", only to be answered with a pointed "Good evening!" And strangely, this also turned out to be the correct form of greeting during a large part of what most people would consider the afternoon. Now being alert to this phenomenon, I've started noting exact times. The earliest I was "eveninged" thus far in Barbados was at 15:54.
This means that there's a "greetings twilight zone" of more than three hours between Grenada and Barbados.
Update, 23 July: I've made some enquiries, and it seems that "Good evening" starts at around 16:00. I've also been told that, in the old days, people used to greet each other in the late morning (say, between 10:00 and 12:00) with a "Good forenoon!". I shall be trying this out on people just for a laugh.
Our 'hoods - trade-offs
Barbados is more developed than Grenada (nominal GDP per capita: USD18,133 vs. USD11,518) and it's the most densely populated Caribbean island. The parts of Barbados that aren't built up are mostly covered in farmland - in Grenada the default is jungle.
On both islands, where we lived was determined to a large extent by what was available at the time. So perversely, it turned out that our day-to-day experience of Grenada was urban, whereas in Barbados it is rural.
On Grenada, we were fortunate to get a place within walking distance of a good beach. It was on the outskirts of the capital, St. George's, and next to the busiest road on the island. While we could walk to all amenities, our immediate living enviroment was bustling and quite noisy: blaring music, traffic noise, barking dogs, and emergency vehicles rushing past the front gate all hours of the day and night. I'm not complaining - just pointing out the trade-offs we have to make sometimes.
On Barbados, a pad close to a nice beach (i.e. on the western / Caribbean Sea side of the island) was way out of our price range, so we ended up in the parish of St. Philip, right on the easternmost tip of the island.
St. Philip is so rural, it's the only of the island's eleven parishes that doesn't have a main town or village. Its main commercial hub is called Six Cross Roads, where ... you guessed it.
It is a welcome change to hear only the croaking of frogs at night and (depending on the wind direction) the crashing of mighty Atlantic waves against the steep cliffs. Obviously, the frogs don't even feature during daytime. (Where do they go during the day?) And we can go running without having to sidestep people on the pavement or careening minibuses in the road all the time.