Here in Barbados, business is conducted in a slightly different fashion to back home. Time is not of the essence; time is an abstract concept to while away languidly on a street corner, perched among the bougainvillea on a pretty, crumbling wall with a rum, a sun hat and a few friends.
The vendors I have met are fabulous people. There are fewer tourists here on the east coast where I’m staying, so they cater mainly for locals. The fruit stand lady will always have the pineapples tomorrow at 5 o’clock. Each day at 5, there are no pineapples, but you get a lovely smile and the offer of a pawpaw in its place. Delicious, no complaints.
The fish man sometimes delivers, but it’s hit and miss. Down on Bath Beach, we met Ryan, a barracuda catcher. He’ll be there on Friday with a fresh catch. We can pop back to buy one. Or he might be on a different beach, so we can wander a couple of miles along the seafront to find him. He may be there. He may not. There are no guarantees. This is the normal course of business, and it adds to the island’s absolute charm.
The banana man was an exception. Peter is developing an eco area beyond his plantation, and has been conducting market research in order to present a proposal to the airline companies to bring in holidaymakers for an eco-package holiday. Joan and I chatted to him for a while, under the canopy beside his home, which provides such a lovely view of the coastline that he lets strangers wander in to take photos from his balcony.
He has a Facebook page. The diving school has one too, but it’s out of date and doesn’t link to the named website. Obviously, I can’t understand this. Temptation is bursting inside me to chat about social media services and explain the reasoning behind a business staying active on all relevant forms of social media, but I have promised myself that I deserve a proper holiday – a complete break from work.
I’m lucky that Marion is keeping everything going as usual; she is wonderful. Ben’s been helpful too, so apart from this blog, I should switch off and not think about discussing social media with the locals. Instead, I can focus on Joe, who lives opposite, climbing the coconut tree in order to make me fresh coconut water, and Malachi who does odd jobs for Joan and wants a poetry recital before I leave.
So my one concession to work was that I’d post this blog, written overlooking the Soup Bowl (a beach prized for its surf) from a garden that is filled with monkeys at dusk, playfully stealing the bananas from Joan’s tree.
My HUGE thanks to Joan for putting up with me – lifelong friend, role model and now fantastic holiday guide – and to my brilliant team at home for keeping my clients happy while I’m away.
When Joan and I worked together back in the day, Madonna was one of my musical heroes. She says it perfectly: “You can turn this world around and bring back all of those happy days. Put your troubles down; it’s time to celebrate. Let love shine and we will find a way to come together – and make things better… We need a holiday!”
I’ll be back in dynamic London next week, but now, for the first time in five years, I’m AWOL. I’m not even here: @WeekendWitch.