After sleeping the sleep of the jetlagged the day before, I’m up before seven this morning ready and rearing to go. And go I do. Today, I venture into the city: Bridgetown.
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados, in more ways than just geographically. It’s the shopping and cultural centre as well; everything happens here. And almost every things that happens in Bridgetown seems to happen along Broad Street. I go window shopping in the vast, rambling departments of Cave Shepherd and I learn one very important fact: things are not cheap here.
We run into the nearest Chefette and kill two birds with one stone. Chefette is a uniquely Bajan restaurant, sort of a cross between KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut but somehow not quite achieving the same excellence of flavour it would have if it had devoted its energies to just one fare. But the food still tastes good, with the exception of one drink option they can only offer in Barbados: mauby.
Mauby is a flavour of soda (also sold as a syrup, and – I would like to think – a paint stripper) derived from the bark of the Mauby tree. It is black and fizzy much like Coca-Cola, but there the resemblance ends. Mauby is as bitter as a jilted bride, with a burn at the back of your throat reminiscent of really bad tequila. It is no Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.
We go back home.
Later in the evening is a small Christmas party, held at the nearby Home for the Physically Challenged. It’s my first time singing carols with a group of people who aren’t in a church, let alone with a group of people who are so enthusiastic (if somewhat dysarthric) in their renditions.
The exposure to Bajan culture and customs is much less overt here where we are just a group of people, some more challenged than others but still people, congregating to celebrate the season. The lines between J’can and Bajan blur enough for me to slip under them and fit right in, serving plates of fresh-from-Chefette Christmas fare and smiling with everyone I see.
We aren’t so different, you know.