Week 2 in Barbados – 1st week living and working in the neighbourhood of Baylands or Bayville

I moved into the apartment and am enjoying it so far. As mentioned in 1st post, the location can’t be beat. My one concern was potential noise at night from various factors: roosters crowing at all hours of the day, loud music from neighbours and nearby drinking establishments, barking dogs. Well so far so good. Yes there are actually roosters in a next door neighbour’s backyard but the bedrooms are on the opposite of the house. Yes there are the occasional barking dogs but for the most part there are no stray dogs about, more what you might call the odd neighbourhood dog which is cared for but doesn’t necessarily have one home, otherwise people have dogs as pets. As for music, there are two small local bars very nearby and so this weekend will be the test as I have yet to be in the apartment over a weekend. Fortunately, it does seem that most folks go to bed relatively early and then of course up early, and that suits my daily rhythm fine. To mask any possible noise, the standing fan is my friend but not only as white noise/noise mark. You do need this to just keep cool or rather not be too hot at night. The air is very still at night, little to no breeze from dusk onwards, so the heat that accumulates in my higher than usual ceilings tends to hang in the place, even with windows open.

I am still trying to decide whether I will continue with a morning ritual of walk to the beach, walk along the beach and dip in the ocean or the same but as an after work ritual … such difficult decisions. Heck I might as well try to fit in both if I can. I mean I do feel so much better after these activities, in particular the swim I think more so than the walk.

This past Friday I awoke to a bit of rain on the metal roof and thought bummer I might not be able to go for a walk/swim, but it wasn’t a downpour so I thought let’s go for it. I stupidly thought the beach might actually be more quiet than usual but forget that, not that it is busy in the early morn. As my landlady Judy says nothing will stop them from having their morning sea baths. These folks definitely are mostly of the older generation, but there are some young folk as well. I would assume all locals, with an occasional tourist. I will take some pics to show in the coming weeks.

I have already seen a neighbourhood feral cat which I hope to befriend somehow and perhaps get the critter in for spaying/neutering if I can somehow get access to a trap and transport to RSPCA. I had hoped to volunteer on top of the volunteering with a cat rescue group but the few that do exist in the country focus on dogs, no longer cats except to foster rescued cats which I can’t do. However the RSPCA is still a possibility I am investigating. It has a relatively brand new state of the art facility, with the cheapest spaying/neutering services. While at the hotel for that 1st week, I of course befriended these friendliest kittens, one boy & one girl, whose home is the next door dive shop. I hope to work with them to get them spayed & neutered. I am missing my kitties and even my dogs a bit too. I already knew this but my cats – sorry dogs but you are too needy – are so important to my grounding and stopping to be present in the moment. No matter how shitty I am feeling if Yuki or Solstice or Juan or Ninja 1 or 2 (yes you read that right – I can’t tell my 2 black kitties apart by appearance only by personality but even this isn’t immediately evident) comes my way, I stop everything I am doing and get some cat loving time in and everything else just fades away.

I am realizing that I am still processing the emotional roller coaster ride I had upon our return to our farm, as well as my feelings about my work and living in Lima, so I have good days and not so good days. I can tell this because I find I am too emotionally volatile when stupid shit happens. I recently came across something that was fascinating thanks to a f b newsfeed post from an old acquaintance from OZ (argh!! I guess I have to thank f b sometimes!!). It was a 15 minute doc about earthing… check out https://betterearthing.com.au/dr-mercola-earthing-documentary/. This connects to my walking and swimming in the ocean and how it changes how I feel almost immediately for the better. I find it pretty neat, especially now that we have the technology to measure energies that are invisible to the eye. It connects for me with the latest research about the communication between trees and other plant life that scientists are just discovering. In case you haven’t viewed this, check out this 18 minutes: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_simard_how_trees_talk_to_each_other. Just WOW is all I can say.

As for work, I am having an experience reminiscent from the organization I worked with there where it took me several months to get documents that were about the background to the focus of my project, and when I did get the docs it was all of 6 pages. t is really too much to ask to be provided with a dossier of documents pertaining to the organization that I am supposed to be helping so that I can begin to understand how it operates? I know that some information may be sensitive but I mean I am not dealing with a high stakes government or private security agency. It is just an NGO representing farmers. I know I have to be patient as it is only the 1st week but they did know I was coming for many months. Fortunately as of writing there is movement on this and so hopefully I will be receiving requested documents.

I am thinking this is all too common in areas where there has been generational conflict and thus intergenerational trauma and subsequently a lack of trust. As we all know, information is power and so info is held close and not just shared with anyone, and of course I am the stranger. I remember years ago now, attending some conference where a prof from UBC (Uni of British Columbia), Dr. John Helliwell presented his findings from research he was conducting on what makes people and communities have a sense of well being or being in a state of happiness (talked about irony in the guy’s name!). Besides having the basics of life covered, the level of trust was key. You can check out https://economics.ubc.ca/news/2016/john-helliwell-co-editor-of-world-happiness-report-2016/, & http://worldhappiness.report/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/03/HR17-Ch5_w-oAppendix.pdf. I am not seeing immediately the info on trust but I remember this clearly from his talk, rather more of a focus on socio-economic factors in this report.

Makes you think about how much trust do you have in your own life. I have to say I have been fortunate in my life since I have rarely experienced relationships or interactions with people of whatever kind where lack of trust was uncommon. I know this is not the case for many. So my way of operating is often beginning from a place of trust at least in certain common situations like in a classroom or in a work environment (even though I know I may eventually learn how toxic some such environments can be).

One thought that comes to mind is with regard to business. It used to be that competition was a key way businesses flourished, and it still is but in a different context. I am talking more about the fact that if you have businesses that provide some common and different products or services they can in effect support each other’s business so that there is a win win instead of win lose. So instead of just seeing themselves as direct competitors, they assist each other in certain situations. An example will help to explain what I mean: in a certain larger community in NS there are 2 ‘alternative’ health goods stores, both providing same or similar products but also having different products. When one store doesn’t have what the customer wants, the employee recommends the other store knowing they have the wanted product. This builds good business spirit and trust, realizing that when a customer is happy they will remember both stores having been left with a good impression.

I am raising this issue since I am getting an inkling that there is a lack of trust between farmers, between farmers and governments, between large land owners and small holding farmers, although this isn’t surprising of course. An indicator of this is an issue I have come across (just before I left when I was researching agriculture in Barbados & the region) that I had never heard about and that is praedial larceny. I was like what the heck is that. This is a topic for a future blog post.

Anyway back to first impressions of Barbados & Barbadians. Everyone is very nice and cordial. Folks do have a good sense of humour (which tends to be evident in cultures where again shit has happened to groups of people – how else do you survive such atrocities?). I am living in a neighbourhood where I’m pretty sure I am the only white person and white woman to boot (probably too early to really tell). I feel safe but then I haven’t been walking around at night and won’t until Ross is here. Theft/robbery is more the issue but as I am not familiar enough with the area I will play it safe for now. At this time of the year it gets dark by 6 so I am in my home by then. I do believe that by the time I leave I will be a part of the neighbourhood so to speak (at least as much as any white person can be, a non-Bajan white person that is).

I have discovered a place that sells bread out of their house around the corner from my place, where they must get bread from the local bread manufacturer at wholesale and so sell it cheap to the locals in the community. I am looking forward to having a few beers in the two bars that are literally a block away from the apartment. Beer is so appealing in this heat!! On other matters of food – I will leave that to another post.

Well I hadn’t planned on this post being so philosophical but I guess that is where my head space is these days.

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