Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy 44th Independence Day Barbados

I know it is a little late, but Tuesday, November 30th, we celebrated Independence Day here. It is interesting to think that Barbados is just about 100 years behind Canada in separating from the Brits. It makes sense why the island is sometimes referred to as “Little Britain” – which makes me think of the hilarious British comedy show.

Anyways, it is an official UN holiday here and it was quite refreshing to have a day off in the middle of the week! I took it upon myself to experience a little more Bajan (colloquial for Barbadian) cuisine and activities. The surfing lessons the previous Saturday went really well – though I only could crouch by the end of it, it was a workout-and-a-half. So my friend Sam who is giving me surf lessons offered to take me along with him and a friend while they went spearfishing, giving me some goggles and a snorkel to swim around the coral at the same time. So I headed out to the West Coast to meet Sam. I found him really high up trimming loose branches from a tree in his friend’s yard, which backs right on to the beach. After lounging around for a bit, we set out in a kayak towards the ring of coral reefs which encircles the island. I am not so interesting in doing the spear fishing myself, especially since they use a kind of gun and guns make me feel unsettled. But cool to watch. Not that I was watching much. I preferred just to swim around, check out the pretty fish and search for turtles! After having dove numerous times in Zanzibar without seeing any, and having helped those baby turtles back into the ocean, I really wanted to see them in a natural way.

And I didn’t have to look to for long, though Sam was much more adept at spotting them than I was, but they were so used to tourist groups on catamarans dangling fish pieces at them, that human contact is not so frightening for them. I will not delve into the ethics of luring hordes of turtles to have flighty tourists ogle at them. Regardless, to me, swimming with the turtles, just me and the turtles, was wonderful. I plan on going out there as often as I can; it really makes you forget everything else happening in your life. 3 hours of treading water later, and with a few fish each hung around their wire belts, we headed back to shore. I learned how to de-scale and clean a fish on the beach and learned that the fish here eat moss off rocks, which translates to bellies filled with green ooze. Yum. We also enjoyed some conkies, which is a traditional pumpkin/sweet potato based clump (soft cookie?) mixed with raisins, coconut, corn meal, spices and sometimes dried fruit, and baked or steamed wrapped inside a banana leaf. I’m currently sans camera – long story but I will have another quite shortly – so please enjoy this Google Image photo:

After conkies and the swim, we went over to Sam’s family’s place for a BBQ, with fresh fish and more traditional cuisine: pig’s tails. I just tried to find a suitable image and it mostly makes me wish that I hadn’t tried it. Regardless, it was like a hard, fried sausage with I guess a muscle or cartilage inside; edible at least. And they took great pleasure in offering it to me and watching me eat it; so, when in Rome! And otherwise, I watched a few local football matches as part of an Independence Day tournament. Interesting observation: the lines on fields here are painted with leftover black oil of some sort instead of our normal white paint to save money.

Oh and yesterday, I ran a half-marathon! I’ll post again tomorrow about that with photos and links. I’m off to the “hot pot” thermal springs tonight to work on my muscles. Right now I feel like I aged 80 years in one day.

In other news, McKinley, the CANADEM intern in St. Kitts whose bog I linked to earlier, is coming to Barbados for Christmas!

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