Bajans often say how much they love their island home. Many foreigners have also fallen in love with the place and decided to make it their home. They come from North American areas with cold winters, escaping the cold, or come from warmer areas such as Florida seeking sun and sea without all of the "Miami vice". More generally, they may just be searching for a gentler pace. They also come from other Caribbean countries seeking an escape from increasing violence or other social problems. They hail also from Europe, mainly Britain, and everyone will assume that it's to get away from the bleak and constant mid-winter weather. They may be working or retired, from private sector or government officials and diplomats. They come with families or alone, and they live as single families or band together. Whatever the reason or the make up, they are all part of the interesting tapestry of people who feel at home in a sort of "paradise".
They take different routes to gain a place on the rock. They buy or lease apartments, condos, and houses. They live in expatriate enclaves or in regular communities. Not every foreigner is comfortable living amongst local people, so one can't criticize the choices people make. Some bring in their materials and find local craftsmen to help install and fit out the properties. Some take on bravely the prospect of renovating. But they are all ready to make the financial and physical investment to cement themselves into the island's life.
There is little point trying to categorize what the new residents do; that's as varied as the people themselves. Yes, there are people who can live out lifetime passions to be able to scuba dive frequently, or play golf every day, or a host of leisure activities. Some people are also pursuing social passions, such as helping children or tending animals. Some are making money, others merely living off savings. They all make an economic contribution. How they are regarded by the host population depends on many factors, and they may be loved or despised for reasons that no one can well explain. But that's life.
You can't usually choose your neighbours but they have an important on life. You may find that there is a pig and chicken farm in the neighbourhood, and no matter how much you love pork and chicken, you prefer them to be sitting quietly on a plate, rather than oinking and clucking when you are trying to have quiet time. You invite people into your home to help with tasks and they leave with the scars of being nipped by your dog, who just took a dislike to them, and they leave with a very bad impression--no pun intended.
The challenge for the foreigner is to navigate the social landscape and try not to fall too often. This can be very difficult without a map of all the social history of who you meet and where you live. But, give credit to those who make an effort to understand and often make no effort to offend, but still find themselves in social hot water.
Barbados may be small but what goes on is not simple. Bajans' views and ways of dealing with issues are not the same as in other Caribbean countries, nor the same as in America or Europe. (I'll discuss some of these aspects in later postings.) Bajans are very proud, and rightly so. Nevertheless, surveys of tourists show that it's Barbados' people who are what they like most. That would explain why many foreigners choose to make Barbados their home.
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