Lynn's Comments: We were both exhausted. The thought of warm weather and a sandy beach was too far away to focus on. First we had to get there. Having no one to leave our outer clothing with, we took with us our parkas, gloves, scarves and big winter boots. We could have boarded the plane in lighter fare - (there was a heater on board) but living in the north teaches you to be prepared for survival. If anything caused our plane to set down in the bush, we'd be dead without winter gear. The trip was a pleasure. We had forgotten what kid-free travelling was like. We didn't have to warm up the plane or prepare a lunch or bring toys or the potty...we just had ourselves to think about. Even though we had to slug suitcases and wait in line and sit for hours, it all seemed like such a luxury!
Lynn's Comments: We arrived in Barbados at the same time as several other aircraft. The customs and immigration area was at a standstill. Long lines of visitors stood patiently waiting, but there seemed to be no movement at all. The heat was unbearable. Some of the older people felt faint. Others fanned themselves furiously with their passports and a few were ready to mutiny on the spot. Nothing had gone wrong until now and we wondered how such a busy airport could be in such an impossible mess! When we came home I did this comic strip. A few days after it was published, I got a letter from the department of tourism in Barbados! They had seen the strip in the local paper and were embarrassed to see their airport problem broadcast to papers all over North America and beyond! I was assured that tourist entry control was being quickly reorganized and that I would never encounter this problem again! I don't know if FBorFW can take credit for the modern, efficient and air conditioned space they have now - but I'll say that it did and have fun with it!!
Lynn's Comments: The room we had was 35A. This was one of the rare times that I really did a chronicle of our personal goings-on! The hotel was a lovely little retreat called "Tamarind Cove". The beach was secluded and the water warm. I grew up next to the ocean, but had never seen this kind of blue before. Rich, pale turquoise ribbons stretched from left to right as far as we could see. Darker blends of greenish blue reflected the clearest sky. The deck chairs beckoned and the first drinks were free. We settled easily into this glorious retreat, wishing that time would stand still.
Lynn's Comments: I have never worn a bikini. Even in my 20s I was far too self conscious. In the strip, however, I could wear what I liked. Elly's shape constantly fluctuated. Bulges grew, angles sharpened, postures slouched and straightened as the moods dictated. On the beach, it did occur to me that folks didn't much care what they wore - getting as much sun as possible was more important than esthetics. Some of our fellow guests, bleached and bulbous, lay happily out in the open, oblivious to those who smiled at the sight of them. But what difference did it make? We'd never see each other again, so why not enjoy? Maybe I should have tried on a bikini after all!
Lynn's Comments: Ever seen one of those conveyor-belt style toasters? The kind they have at breakfast buffets? You fire a slice of bread onto a moving belt, and by the time you've plopped a wad of scrambled eggs onto your plate, the bread has moved past a heating element and has reappeared as toast. This is an efficient and practical way to manage a hungry crowd of people, all bent on getting what they want, when they want it. Going to Barbados rather reminded me of the conveyor belt toaster. White folks get off the planes, head for the beach and return to the airport tanned and toasted. Not much different than a breakfast buffet. Strange, isn't it, that many of us (white folks) equate a tanned skin with health, style and attractiveness...and yet we've maligned and criticized for centuries folks who are born with a natural tan! Makes me wonder.... how can we be so stupid and so smug at the same time?!
Lynn's Comments: We had been living in northern Manitoba, where the winter sun rises around 10 in the morning and sets around 4 in the afternoon. We were all pale faces; the only colour being the inevitable frostbite which reddened our cheeks and made our noses peel. The thought of spending a day on a sandy beach under a warm tropical sun overrode my common sense and inevitably I spent the first few days in agony. What was to have been a second honeymoon became "Don't touch me!" and this drawing was received by my spouse with little humour.
Lynn's Comments: Sunburns were part of the summer experience when I was young. North Vancouver rarely became too hot for comfort so a clear, cloudless day when you could lie on a blanket on a dry back yard lawn was heaven. A tan at that time was important. People buttered themselves up; they glistened with oil and worked hard to move straps and waistbands so as to cover every exposable inch possible. We spent hours forcing colour to rise to the surface of our melanin challenged hides. On the beach at English Bay, we all listened to the same radio station and every 15 minutes, the DJ's on CFUN would tell us to roll over. You would then see everyone down the whole length of the beach, like frying sausages, roll at the same time. This was supposed to prevent sunburn - but it never did. Many a night I went to bed after a cool bath, with cold cream covering my seared and sorry skin. Afterwards, I'd peel like a banana and vow never to do it again. HAH! I'm older and wiser now and my pallor is preferable. It's interesting, isn't it. Despite warnings and proof that the sun can do more damage that we ever imagined, folks willingly... still get burned.
Lynn's Comments: During our first few days alone - sans the kids - we were surprisingly quiet. We were so used to our conversations being about children that when it came to other subjects, we hardly knew where to begin. Talking about "ME" and "YOU" feels almost selfish when so much of what parents do is for others. It took a few days to get past the need to talk about the kids, and even then it was hard.
Lynn's Comments: On the beach just outside the gate to our hotel, a young woman and her mother had set up a dress stand. They made and sold all kinds of dresses, many of which were baby-sized and beautiful. The young woman had a little daughter whose name was Samantha. It wasn't a common name at the time, and I thought it was so pretty. She was about the same age as Katie. I'd watch her and compare the two. I bought two dresses - one for me and one for Katie. It was an opportunity to talk to another mother and to play with her daughter who had the sweetest smile. Her hair was full of barrettes and her eyes sparkled with mischief. I wondered how the two little girls would get along. For months I had looked forward to being without my children, but it only took a couple of days to make me miss them more than I could say.
Lynn's Comments: When I go somewhere new, I want to see as much as I can. I want to take tours, ride the local buses, check out the markets and explore. Rod was content to relax on the beach and didn't mind if I went off on my own. The Tamarind Cove was an intimate little hotel. We had met some interesting folks on the beach and in the dining room - which often required that we share a table with other guests. I soon connected with a couple of eager shoppers wanting to go to adventuring. We collected our hats, strapped on our sandals and set out for Bridgetown.
Lynn's Comments: Just outside the hotel entrance, there was a bus stop. I was told that I could either wait for the city bus or jump on one of the local transports. The local transportation was not much more than a half-ton truck with an open back into which people literally ran after and jumped into. Since it was a sort of private arrangement, the "bus" was not allowed to stop. When it did come barreling down the road, the other would-be passengers already knew to start running. Needless to say I was not ready to attempt this new and challenging style of travel and waited for the city bus, which was full of school children. I enjoyed standing at the back, admiring their uniforms and the many colourful ways in which the girls had their hair done: so many barrettes, so many different kinds of braids. It was worth the wait, for sure.
Lynn's Comments: The markets in Bridgetown are a complex jumble of colourful stalls, filled to the brim with baskets and clothing and goods of all kinds. The problem is that the vendors all seem to carry the same things and so it becomes a choice of who to buy from, based on the friendliness of the vendor and the appearance of the stall. The vendors are all friendly, so your time in the market is spent wandering up and down the busy, narrow passageways just looking and enjoying everything. I was surprised to find a woodworker who had taken a number of discarded planks and had carved intricate local scenes on them. His was the only booth in which there was something original and new, so I started a conversation with him. He told me about his home and his family and he asked about mine. After awhile, I felt rather obligated to support him and his work so I decided to buy a carving. The one I liked best was about 1.5 feet wide and 3 feet high. He wrapped it in newspaper, we shook hands like old chums and I lugged it back to the hotel.
Lynn's Comments: Needless to say, my spouse did not see the artistic merit in the work I presented to him and asked that it be put somewhere "reasonable". The carving remained in our basement until we moved from Manitoba to Ontario - and I remember the lady who bought it at my mom-in-law's yard sale saying "how can you get rid of this - it's beautiful!" Goes to show you... that art is in the eye of the beholder.
Lynn's Comments: Sunsets here in Canada have incredible charm - but when you're on a beach in the tropics, preferably after a couple of coconut coolers, the early evening sky can inspire love songs, paintings and poetry. The sound of tiny green frogs tweeting in the trees, the sway of the palm trees, the shushhhh of the waves...fine, soft sand cushioning your toes.... (you can tell I'm writing this in January) make the Caribbean a place like none other. We honestly couldn't believe we were there. At home, it was -20 degrees and here it was perfect body temperature. We had brought our parkas down to Barbados - having no one to store them for us in Winnipeg - and one day, just for fun, we decided to wear them on the beach. Standing on the hot sand in our boots and winter parkas, with the fur hoods low over our faces, we were quite a sight. Even the hotel staff took pictures! They had never before seen such clothing and it gave them an idea of the weather we lived in and why we were so glad to be there!
Lynn's Comments: This really was part of a conversation we had with one of the hotel staff. Rudy had been particularly sweet and we looked forward to seeing him every day. It was as if we had been staying at his house, so naturally we wanted to reciprocate. We asked him if he'd ever been to Canada, thinking we could give him a great tour should he decide to explore our turf, but after seeing us in our parkas and hearing about the weather back home...this was his response. It was interesting to me to find out that few people leave the island for a holiday. Seems that travel is too expensive and besides...if you're living in paradise - what's the point?!