I've given myself time to slide out of Barbados and into the Greater Washington area in both a physicial and mental way, and it's time to draw a line on living in Barbados. This does not mean that my interest in Barbados stops suddenly: I even got my regular reminder of upcoming discussion topics for this weekend's Down To Brass Tacks, and with technology at my disposal, I can continue to contribute as I and others wish. But, I want to start looking at the world from a different perspective and maybe with some different interests, which will evolve.
Certainly, being out of the Caribbean does not mean that I have left Caribbean things behind. On the first full day back in the US, we went to buy a car. We got into conversation easily with the sales consultant, whose accent was clearly Trini. When we asked if he knew Jamaica or The Bahamas, he quickly replied "I did a junkanoo wedding once, a few years ago, in DC." My wife and I took a deep breath, and I asked the man his name (I had not seen the full correspondence by e-mail between my wife and him during the preceding week). Once he answered, I said, "You were the DJ at our wedding!" We all fell around laughing. I had known his sister in the late 1990s, through work; she had given me his contacts, and he had done a great job. Somehow, I felt that we were not going to buy our car from anywhere else. It did not come down to knowing the man, but once you get a good chemistry going other things fall into place. He did not butter us up with turkey sandwiches and potato chips, while we worked through the process. His colleagues sweetened things by giving me a US$40 voucher for lunch at a nice restaurant, for the delays I had to deal with as a minor mechanical problem on the car was fixed. So, within a few hours, we had the car bought, and with the American easy financing set up, had arranged a loan, had insurance, and were good to go within three hours of starting discussions.
We've already experienced many differences in life styles, within a week, even having to deal with a five hour power outage as violent thunderstorms downed trees that fell on power lines. The radio this morning reports tens of thousands of local residents who were without power and the clear up of debris that is beginning.
The neighbours in our little spot have realised gradually that we are back in our house, and we have had some nice 'welcome back' conversations. We are the only non-white family in the immediate area: our street has about 10 homes. Beyond that, non-white families are very few. It has never seemed to matter much. It's a nice area, where we can walk to food store, pharmacy, eating places, bank, and more, in a small plaza just a five minute walk away.
I have taken some early morning walks, instead of my regular swim. I greet those who pass me, but often get nothing but a glazed response. Funnily, fellow walkers, joggers, or cyclists are more civil and they pass each other. On the start of my walk, I passed a young lady waiting for a bus, engrossed in her can of Slim Fast. On my way back, I saw her get rid quick approach, as the can was lying on the sidewalk. Too much to hold onto it and put into trash somewhere? Not only Barbadians litter, I know. But, are people just learning to care less? Those are salutary lessons in manners but also more.
I have to look forward to a state holiday: Virginia has a tax-free holiday starting today, so that great bargains can be had before kids go back to school. Have to find ways to keep the local economy ticking over.
As I tune into National Public Radio (NPR), which is my diet of news and comment, and hear about the coming release of US jobs data, I know that the economy here is in pain, and that finding a way through harder economic times is a major issue here, as it was in Barbados.
I will be trying to continue my writing and will post information of a new blog, as and when it takes shape.
A big thank you to all who tried to help me ease my way into living in Barbados.
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