Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Marina: a true Caribbean.

Marina Taitt is the office manager for the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre. We had a fascinating conversation over lunch about reparations for slavery. During the conversation we branched into searching for ancestors and how difficult that is for black people in the Caribbean. Marina spent over 20 years in Jamaica, including time in Islington, in the parish of St. Mary. This happens to be close to the area where my father comes from. She reminisced briefly about planting peas and enjoying a short spell of agricultural life there, not wanting to leave.

Marina's background is also typically Caribbean. She was born in Guyana, is of mixed heritage of East Indian, Portuguese, and African. Her paternal grandfather, Jabez Taitt, moved from Barbados to Guyana in around 1920 to do his internship at a hospital in Guyana, because Barbados would not train nonwhite doctors; he never looked back. Her parents moved back to Barbados in the 1970s, thus completing the circle! Marina has tried to find out more about her Caribbean ancestors before her grandfather, but records in Barbados (affectionately called "Bim" by many) apparently don't go back to 1895, when he was born. Her grandfather had told Marina that his mother or grandmother was a slave on the Cave Hill plantation in Barbados, but Marina cannot confirm that. Marina's paternal grandmother, was Dorothy Pendleton, a white Guyanese-Portuguese who married Jabez in the 1920s. Marina's maternal grandmother was the daughter of an East Indian merchant from a rice-growing family, named Sawh, from somewhere in India, which disowned her for marry a man of African descent, her grandmother's parents had migrated from India to Guyana.

Marina has a great love of the Caribbean arts and culture. Her love for theatre led her to the Jamaica School of Drama at a time (1979) when some of the region’s most outstanding practitioners were teaching there, and she studied for the Diplomas in Theatre Arts and Theatre-in-Education. She developed a cultural sense of the region as a whole. She soon discovered that it was not easy to find research and reference materials on topics related to regional cultural development, without travelling around the region and collecting the information "out there". Marina wanted to find a way to collect information which was scattered, often unpublished/unseen and only partially recorded, and put it in a place where it could be easily accessed. So she developed http://www.caribarts.org/ as a way to do that: it's a true online "home" for Caribbean artists, a developing repository of information on our cultural traditions, which provides coverage of contemporary developments in Caribbean arts. It's a bold and dignified presentation of Caribbean lives and cultures, making a serious attempt to document cultural realities.

Marina is another modern day griot, online! She got a private grant in 2003 to design and post the full site online, and after a year of work a greatly expanded version of the site went live with the information databases she had been building. Today, she continues to expand the site’s listings and update the events and newsletter pages monthly. However, the site needs financial backing to boost the site’s income-generating elements and make it self-sustaining; unfortunately, responses from institutions have been few and negative.
The debate about reparations needs to continue. Some have argued that the important element of true emancipation is mental and spiritual, not financial. As Bob Marley sang, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves will free our minds." Marina shows one way to go along this road.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mixed blessings from cricket World Cup

While the cricket World Cup is on, I take opportunities to soak up the passion that surrounds the game in the Caribbean. A lot has been promised in terms of economic benefits and the region expects much from its team. However, uncomfortable questions are already being posed on both issues.

After two dispirited performances in the "Super 8" stage of the tournament, Windies have shown that they are not up for the fight. Lackluster in the field, and uncertain with the bat. Neither wickets nor runs are coming easily. West Indian fans rally round their team when they see effort and pride, even in chasing a losing cause. When the team seems to have a "can' care" approach, then that support turns quickly into heavy criticism. So, look out for lots of the latter about everything from the team selection, to the actual performances, and then even to the value of a regional team.

On the other side, the competition is not turning out to be the spectacle promised by my some politicians and organizers.
  • Will there be major visible benefits from the competition? Countries have borrowed heavily and spent large sums to develop stadiums and infrastructure for the games. Public comments have focused on the debt burden for the future. Projections of large increases in tourist visitors don't seem to be close to actual arrivals. Those hoping to benefit, whether they are hotel, villa and apartment owners, vendors, taxi drivers, or other merchants, are looking at slim pickings at the moment as arrivals are nowhere near the levels predicted, and some reports of lower hotel occupancy emerge. Bar owners were hit for six by recent announcements that they would need to pay for licences to show games, even though these are being transmitted on broadcast channels, not limited cable or satellite stations. The sour taste these developments are creating is likely to change little if Windies continue to do poorly, and has already been made difficult with the early departure of Pakistan and India, whose supporters were expected to provide a large part of the crowd base.

  • Why are the crowds so small? It is shocking to see the spanking new or expensively renovated stadiums with barely half the seats filled most of the time. Reports indicate that many games are "sold out" but the crowds look pitifully small. Part of the problem is that tickets given as obligations to teams or to sponsors have not been used. Another problem is that Caribbean fans like to make late decisions about matches and are being put off by the many new restrictions and complications they are facing. Whether it's security measures and how that slows things or upset people not accustomed to such procedures; or it's park-and-ride arrangements that force expensive additional fares or long walks to the grounds; or the somewhat bizarre restrictions on food, drink or clothing (due to concerns about safety and "ambush marketing/free advertising"), fans are being put off. The ticket prices are also very high for many potential fans. These things also put off many local people, who like a much more relaxed affair with cricket and "can' deal wid all dem rules", and they have decided to stay at home and watch the games on TV or listen on the radio.

Well, the bats will be out to beat on the heads of all associated with putting on the tournament and those who are representing the region on the field. It could get nasty, so put on your helmet and pad up well, as lots of fast and dangerous balls are coming soon.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Weddings without bells.

The groom waits patiently, with his best man, and the priest tries to keep the groom calm. Here comes the bride, all dressed in white. Graced by the bowing palms. But, she has sand in her shoes and her dress is wet from the lapping waves, and I suspect from being caught by one of the many showers that we had this morning. Very odd this dry season.
The crowd that has gathered shows remarkably little emotion. That could be because none of them know the couple, but just happen to be trying to have a quiet holiday.

Now, the couple are together and ready to be joined and never put asunder. The cameramen move the scenery a little so that the moment will be better captured for the albums and videos.

We get to see about 3 weddings a week on the beach below our balcony. They usually time them a little before sunset so that they can get some sweet shots with the background of the setting sun. Today, we got a daytime wedding: I presume it was not washed out from another day, like the cricket. This time, the couple managed to have a wedding where there were no sunbathers in the area where they set up the bridal arch. It's really tacky having half naked tourists stretched out like overgrown cherubs at the bottom of the pictures. But the cherubs were there first, and their "all inclusive" packages didn't mention any activities that involved playing as wedding guests. It's equally strange if you're trying to take your evening beach walk and you find these ceremonies in the middle of your normal route.

To us, the ceremonies are really sterile, and we've never seen any where lots of real guests were present. But, the couples usually look happy, and at least one of them must have thought that what they wanted was a beach wedding in beautiful Barbados. I don't know where they get the priests: whether they are real or on the staff of one of the hotels and just there to "do the deed". The cameraman has his studio just a few hundred metres from the beach area and it's obviously good business for him. I guess that if you come to Barbados for the wedding, you stay here for the honeymoon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A new baby!

Barbados has mostly small, narrow roads. The highways are not the multi-lane race tracks that we know in the US or Europe; they bypass the capital, Bridgetown, or give more direct access up and down the coast, and to and from the airport. But like other roads here, some of the highways get congested quickly. Part of that is because the volumes are too high for roundabouts--that hangover from British road planning that was never meant to deal with high traffic volumes. The road layouts will change soon as developments for some widening are completed, and new flyovers get off the ground. The road works are now adding another element to traffic congestion right now. Barbados doesn't need flyovers to deal with its traffic problems, but as governments often do, they see more roads as the only solution. We economists tend to look at ways of pricing to reduce demand on road space, and other social changes such as relocating housing and offices, or introducing more flexible working hours--most peak traffic is movement to work and school and if they tend to be concentrated in the same areas and start and end at the same times, then you get a predictable choking of traffic. It's not rocket science!

Anyway, we will do our part by car-pooling and doing things outside peak hours, or not driving at all. Georgette, Rhian and I have already made good use of the buses, and as it's the same fare (B$1.50 or 75 US cents) to make a trip anywhere, it's not a bad option. The private minibuses (which have licence plates beginning ZR) are a mixed bag. You get an initial excitement by feeling that you are being adventurous, and living like a local. But, when you get squeezed up and you are with a buggy or a sleeping toddler, or both, that "fun" quickly fades away. Some ZR drivers are like kamikazes; the more reckless drivers tend to work for other people so need to make as many trips and take as many people as possible. You can see and hear them coming, and their weaving and fast driving have caused much public comment and may lead to new legislation. They are also being blamed for other social ills, because the ZRs tend to blast out dance hall reggae and rap music, or what some politicians are labelling "mind-altering music". Many people won't ever step onto a ZR fearing for their lives or hating the noise, but waiting for a big public bus means a much longer wait for the greater comfort, and blander atmosphere, though some of these are also driven at crazy speeds.

All of this is scene-setting for our new car, which came home today. It was a long wait of about 6 weeks; in the US we are used to getting the deal done in half a day and driving away happy with the new rapidly depreciating asset. No cars were actually available at most of the dealers and we had to wait for the boat that "was still on the water". Then, clearing customs and moving through some diplomatic hoops added time. Therese, an unpaid spokesperson for BMW, really wanted the little model that they offer here. With the roads here, it would be a challenge to get the car to hit more that 70 km an hour, and Beamers are not cheap, even duty free. She had an ultimatum ready for the supplier of the Suzuki Swift that we were awaiting, but in the end calmed herself and let the process roll out. Now, cutie pie car is home. It's been a star on the rally circuit, so I will have to see how it deals with the winding inland roads over coming months. It seems a perfect little car for this little island. It would have been better if it ran on ethanol or was solar powered, but that part I can't control. What petrol it uses will be much less than most other cars, but I won't push too hard on environmentalism while talking about a 2nd car. I'll enjoy the freedom it gives and I'll try to use that and get about so that when our hordes of visitors arrive I'll know more than just where are all the supermarkets and playgrounds.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Angelina, ballerina? Well, not yet.

Rhian started ballet classes in the US, after we returned from Guinea. She enjoyed dressing up in her tutu, even if it was not time for ballet, and ballet shoes were "cool". She loves stories about Angelina, the mouse, who is a ballerina. She has continued ballet at school in Barbados. No tutus needed here. The classes are every Tuesday morning, as the last session before dismissal.It's only for girls, and about 35 participate. I asked what happens to the boys, but none of the parents there could tell me.

The children trade their school room at one end of the campus and go to the school hall a short walk away.The girls dance in bare feet in their uniforms. Today, the class put on a show for the parents. Rhian started well, but soon got stage struck and was happier spinning on the floor rather than dancing with the ribbons, or marching and jumping. Some others could not do enough waving and smiling to get their parents' attention. Or they were distracted by the pianist and needed to give him some moral support. All the girls seemed to have a good time and the teachers and pianist give them wonderful support. All of the parents were very proud to see one of the activities the children get to do. Simple enough fun and a nice way to end the school day for the girls. During the drive home Rhian said "I got shy." She displayed how she could have done better if she had worn some protective headgear--in the form of a diaper!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Little Britain?

Barbados is often called "Little Britain". There's no denying that the British influence stretches through many parts of the island's economic, political, and social affairs. The current links to Britain are most evident in the prevalence of British tourists, landed regularly by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

It's certainly no surprise to hear British accents more often than North American twang. Of course, as part of the former British Empire, cars drive on the left, and there are zebra crossings. However, fish and chips does not replace puddin' and souse on Fridays.

The influence of the "mother country" is also clear in politics, which follows the British parliamentary system and is backed by a legal system based on English law and practices.

In terms of social affairs, there are some aspects that seem to be more out of a piece of British life than something truly Caribbean. One such piece is the Holders festival. This is a series of events running through March, hosted on the former Holders plantation, which is located near the upper scale tourist resorts in St. James parish. The owners open up the grounds for a series of events, which are sponsored by various companies, including Virgin Atlantic. The property hosts a polo field, and the grounds are surrounded by newer upscale housing. Seats and a stage are set in the gardens, which are graced with huge bougainvilleas and palm tress, and provide a wonderful setting for the theatrical events that are offered. These events all have a strong British flavour, including bringing in artistes from the UK for the festival. The overwhelming majority of the patrons is white, and many sound as if they are British visitors of various vintages. Their behaviour is also very British (though it's not on a par with the Glyndebourne festival, more like events held on Hampstead Heath) with those who come toting picnic hampers and bottles of champagne and wine, matched by those buying their wines and beers by the bottle or glass. The Bajan influence is seen in the barbecue stand, with its very good dolphin burgers.

Holders gets away from this image a little with its family fun day, which seems to attract more black Bajans with their children. The acts this year also included a group from the community of Haynesville, near Holders Hill, who provided a troupe of wonderful young drummers and dancers. (For the cricket fans, the Holders Hill area is from where hail such West Indies living greats such as Charlie Griffiths and Desmond Haynes.) Black Bajan artistes performed songs and read poetry and stories. However, the British stamp is there clearly, and had whimsical twists in the form of the large faux photo poster of Buckingham Palace and an appearance from "The Queen"--a quite good double of Her Majesty.

Holders is part of the contradictory tapestry that exists in Barbados. Is the island Little Britain or is it something else?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rule Britannia! Legacies of colonial rule

Barbados will have emancipation celebrations on March 25, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the British parliament's abolition of slavery. How ironic that the anniversary of this event falls during the same period when we see one of the effects of colonialism and slavery being played out literally by the cricket World Cup. While enjoying the games West Indian players and their fans should reflect on how colonialism has a circle squared by the make up of the teams in this year's competition.

The spread of cricket is largely a reflection of the reach of colonialism. England, Ireland and Scotland provided so many of the original colonial masters in the Caribbean: just look at the family names that are now common in the English-speaking West Indies. The British went also as colonial masters but not as slave owners, and developed societies that were more in the European mould such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. We have the different colonial picture of Britain's time in Africa, with the teams from Kenya, and Zimbabwe. We see the outcome of British and Dutch colonialism in the form of South Africa. The Netherlands, themselves now feature prominently as a cricket nation, and we should not lose sight of their former colonies that are now part of the Caribbean region (for instance, Aruba and Suriname).

The British legacy in south east Asia was very different and the history of the region and the origins of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are very different from those of the other places colonized by the British. And that region has provided the West Indies with some of the richer parts of its culture, mainly from the continued presence of people sent to the Caribbean as indentured labour.

The Bermuda Islands stand peculiarly alone. They are the oldest remaining British overseas territory, and has a black population largely formed from slaves, migrants from the West Indies indentured labour in the 17th century, and subsequent migration.

The cricket World Cup will be enjoyed for what each and every one of the teams will bring to the matches and their atmosphere. When the final is played here in Barbados later in April most will agree that cricket is a happy outcome from the strange and sad historical origins of colonial rule.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What's a man to do?

I have quickly realized that the world of the stay-at-home expatriate spouse is well populated, at least in Barbados. In chance encounters over 6 weeks, I have met many men who are here because they followed their wives or female partners, and they are all staying at home most of time. Most are fathers of young children; one is a grandfather, who is responsible for looking after the grandchildren; others are retired or near retirement. None of them is going out to work on a full-time basis. Those who are doing paid work do this on a flexible basis, with some consulting or similar arrangement.
I may try to share some of their stories: one always feels more sympathy for a shared cause. Professor Betty Jane Punnett, head of the Department of Management Studies, at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, whom I met recently, has undertaken a study of the expatriate male: she is herself an expatriate and has a husband who falls into this category. I have yet to see the paper she wrote but she mentioned that there are many problems men face with the adjustment to at-home life. However, several important lessons should be noted, including the need to have a clear plan or goals, such as writing a book, or learning a new skill.

I shared morning tea with one of the at-home fathers and his story is very interesting. Christoph is German, and here with his French wife, and two young sons. His wife is with the European Commission delegation in Barbados. Christoph has a background in history and archeology. He previously spent 10 years in Burkina Faso, and his last activity was to develop an archeological site into a cultural and tourist attraction. : the local community now has day-to-day responsibility for the site, including its finances, which seems to be working well as a tourist attraction. Christpoh continues to steer this project remotely, and it is sounds like a good example of how small-scale projects can work well as the basis of cultural and economic development and do so without financial aid from donors. He is also getting involved in some archeological projects in the Caribbean. Given my time representing an international institution in west Africa, I smiled as he retold some stories of donor agencies unwillingness to consider his kinds of activities with communities as "real development".

As Christoph's relaxed expression would suggest, he is enjoying his first taste of island life, and his year and a half in Barbados has allowed him to enjoying raising his sons. He and his family have been in Barbados for 1 1/2 years out of a 4 year posting. Having lived during the first year near the south coast tourist area, they are now further inland, in a house not far from cane fields. The house where the family now lives has a very large, well-planted garden with a wonderful view of the ocean in the distance. He and his wife now have a young German au pair and his sons are now at school most of the days, so he is trying to rebalance his time and activities. He can amuse himself and his boys in the garden while learning about local birds, insects and plants. His "leisure plans" for his time in Barbados fall squarely into the island life mould: he wants to become proficient at diving, surfing, and sailing. However, he has some "work plans" that involve activities in Caribbean and African archeological and tourism development.

We had some interesting exchanges about the life of an expatriate. His many years in Burkina had allowed him to learn one of the local languages and he felt "at home" with the local population. But, his many years living in west Africa have not prepared him for what he has found in Barbados.

I won't expand on this here as I want to experience for myself much more of life in Barbados. Finding a place in social groupings can be hazardous for a foreigner, without the benefit of years of background of a place and its people. On the other side, local people are often quick to make assumptions about or judge a foreigner and put him or her into a bag that really does not fit. For example, choice of school for the infant of an expatriate family may have nothing to do with a desired social standing, but have everything to do with convenience of location. But, for locals a series of interpretations and "labelling" will flow from that choice and the expatriates may regret later how lack of awareness of how such choices may be interpreted. From my personal position, I cannot say whether it is easier to be a black foreigner in Barbados. I cannot say if it is harder to be a black foreigner with roots in another Caribbean country. However, I am very interested to see how these issues arise. Life is very complicated even at the best of times!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Things are really humming

My only experience with hummingbirds has been to watch them feed enthusiastically on hibiscus flowers, while admiring their grace and ease of movement in flight as they search out the point of attack to get at the nectar. In our temporary home at the beach front apartment, we see that feeding hummingbirds is a well-developed pastime, and liquid feeders can be seen from many balconies, including ours. So, armed with knowledge on how to mix syrup (like rum punch but without rum and lime), and learning that a clean feeder does the trick, I set about attracting some birds to grace us near sunset. I have to admit that I felt really gratified, even excited when I saw the feeder being surrounded by several hummingbirds after beng shunned as the "Last place to eat" diner. Finches, sparrows and doves come along and also try to take over the space, but now the hummers can have their way. I won't become an instant expert on hummers but will read more about the varieties that are here (http://www.mschloe.com/hummer/carib.htm) and how to attract them (http://www.hummingbirds.net/feeders.html). I look forward to doing more bird watching as time passes.

I'm not taken by certain aspects of modern island life, such as motorised water sports. I don't fish or sail, and so far have not been snorkelling (though I want to try this with Rhian once she can swim). I may change while in Barbados, but so far I am content to develop some interests that have been there under deep cover. Writing is one of them, but so is an interest in nature. Trying to do my little part for the environment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Out of Africa

Rhian's nanny from Guinea arrived in Barbados on February 24. This may never feature in any formal history of Guinea, but it was the end of an amazing journey. At the time, Guinea was locked in a civil struggle as unions had called a series of national strikes in January and February, which had been well supported, and had obtained many concessions from President Conte and his government. Over 100 people had been killed during the strikes as the security forces responded brutally to the public unrest. Georgette's journey had not been simple. She had managed to book a ticket to Dakar with Air Senegal and board a plane for the designated day, even though the airline had cancelled several flights and the airport was a mass of confusion as those who had not yet been able to travel sought to get on a flight. Good friends of ours in Dakar, met Georgette in Dakar and ensured that she had a good day's rest before she headed on to the next flight to New York.

New York was just getting another blast of cold weather as Georgette travelled, but thanks to Bronwyn, Georgette managed to stay warm and not suffer another climate shock. Events also worked well when the Barbados Embassy in New York sent a letter permitting Georgette's travel without needing to make a visit to the embassy. So, with all the pieces falling nicely into place the Air Jamaica flight from New York to Barbados was a relative piece of cake.

It should be no surprise that Rhian was very pleased to see Georgette again, even though it was just in the last week of January that Georgette had left the US to go back to Guinea, where she needed to sort out her family arrangements before she tried to rejoin us.

Georgette has settled into Bajan life as we live it, and is making a good effort with improving her English. Rhian gets more practice with her French now. We have also found as we broaden our social activities that there are French-speakers in some unexpected places. The rector's wife at St. Barnabas church (which we have attended the past 3 weeks) is a French teacher and she gladly interpreted for the congregation when we were presented as "visitors" at a Sunday service. The owner of an ice cream parlour/grill bar, who was born in England of Bajan parents, but also lived in Canada and the US, gladly engaged Georgette and Rhian with his French one evening.
Now, we have to wait for bureaucracy to move at a good pace so that Georgette can get her work permit. We'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Playing games

It's been good that in the short time that has passed since we arrived in Barbados we have found ways to stay involved with tennis. I have started playing with a men's group every Thursday evening at the Barbados Hilton, organized by Syndey Lopez, former Barbados Davis Cup player. We manage to play for a short while before Sydney puts us through a series of drills for about 2 hours. The legs suffer on Friday! Therese has resumed playing, and somehow coaxed me to get up and play at 6am in the mornings twice a week! That is cruel. Even better is that we have managed to get Rhian involved in tennis. There's no formation of a future champion as far as I am concerned, but it's good to get into another social group and one with other kids. Rhian is probably the youngest in the group at the moment but she is not the smallest. She is at least giving some pride to those who helped her to enjoy tennis when we lived in Guinea: our coach Mohamed "Yannick" Sylla, and organizer of a youth tennis program, Araphann Soumah.

Typically, for a child, what makes an activity fun is not what the adult sees that way. So, some children love to collect the balls in between the activities. I guess it's another aspect of "incentives" and "rewards" and children love to do something that earns praise.

At the moment, we try to make two sessions a week, of one hour each. The coaches and some of the kids are there five days a week. The training is organized at the Barbados Hilton by Sydney, who has three young daughters who are all good players, one of whom is internationally ranked in her age group. So, we'll watch how the tennis develops. But the essential would be to enjoy it and have fun.

We're also playing a lot with small and big balls, and also doing a good amount of activity in the pool. Simple doggie paddle is working at the moment, and Rhian tried her first head first dive at the weekend! She does not like having lessons at the school pool, which she complains is cold.


It's often said that adults find it harder than children to adjust to new circumstances. I think that I generally agree with this view, though would always be cautious because it's not easy to know what a young child in going through because of the simple inability to express well verbally. However, one little girls seems to be having her share of adaptation to do, and so far, doing it well. Her biggest challenge is to adapt without the help of older sisters alongside her to give her guidance in addition to whatever Mummy and Daddy can offer. Anyway, we have found and continue to find ways to adapt. Play is one of the best ways of getting to new understanding.

A child's imagination is something that is so rich. Who would suggest sitting in a basket as the comfortable place when talking on the phone? Rhian was having a long conversation with her sister, Eleanor, telling her all about the things she had been doing and gradually moved to the basket and the ideal place to relax and tell her life's story.

Maybe, when she is in The Oval Office, she will look back on these pictures and ask for a redesign of her office furniture.

Cricket, lovely, cricket: a visit to "The Mecca"

Pictures cannot do justice to the emotions attached to an event. To visit one of the treasured homes of sporting events is filled with high and low emotions: the joy of memories of games past, the sights and sounds of heroes of the game performing, the passing of those same legends. Kensington Oval is one such home, not just for Barbadians but for many who love the game of cricket. For that reason, it has earned the name of "The Mecca": somewhere that a true cricket fan must visit.
I won't pretend to being a true cricket fan, but I share the sense of reverence that the Kensington Oval evokes. We happen to have come to Barbados during one of the most important times in Caribbean cricket history, with the World Cup being held in the region for the first time. The final will be held at Kensington on April 28, but before that, the renewed stadium had a dress rehearsal re-opening on February 17. We cheered at many things: the parade of legends of the game, including Sir Garfield Sobers, still regarded as the best cricketer of all time, and supreme batsman, Sir Vivian Richards. "Sir Viv" would lead a team of West Indies legends against a World XI (eleven). But before the game we sampled stilt walkers, and tumblers, and The Barbados Defence Force Band, all of whom added a wonderful festive atmosphere. The crowd played its part too, even those attending a cricket match for the first time.

On this day, the result was of least importance. More important was the cheering at the flashing bat, at the tumbling catch, and at the dislodged wicket. Still more important was the sense of pride and achievement heralded by the renovated cricket ground. The finals should be a wonderful spectacle, made more glorious if the Windies are playing and likely to be the scene of pandemonium if Windies win. Rally!

In the beginning

Somehow, sometimes, although the day's length never changes, time seems to pass very fast. Days pass and before long, weeks seem to have gone by, and then you are gasping as you count the months that have slipped past, and another year is over. This may be especially true if you are going through changes, and I feel that our time in Barbados may become like that. I won't start at the beginning because we have already been in Barbados for a month and a half, but we will catch up.
Let's start near the beginning anyway. We (Therese, Rhian, and Dennis) arrived at the end of January, glad to be away from the freezing weather of Washington. Our new home looks set in paradise: it is a penthouse apartment, which sounds attractive, and the views are beautiful. The view of the beach from our balcony is enough to tempt many to pack up and come to a Caribbean island in a flash. However, there's more to life than a view, and when you are not on holiday, the sight and sound of tourists can quickly make you feel out of place. But we'll hold that thought.
So, let's get life rolling. Rhian had already had her share of schooling since she was 2 years old, and as she approaches 3 1/2 she will have another change. This time, in good Caribbean fashion, school uniforms will be part of her wardrobe. Therese wastes no time! So, after clearing immigration and customs, and being amazed at how many suitcases can fit into the car, we get to our new short-term home, put our bags into our room, then hot-footed off to the uniform supplies store before it closed, and left with a week's worth of uniforms, different colors to help change the mood, even though we know that Rhian really likes pink. So, we are set for going to school less than 24 hours after arrival! I at least need to take a breath at this stage. As I said, time passes fast.