In Barbados, mind the seaweed

A lot of people were concerned about my solo trip to Barbados, though I didn’t quite follow their logic.

What exactly is so scary about pristine beaches, perfect weather and friendly people?

***

palm barbadosMy father will be disappointed to learn that I didn’t snorkel while away, which was exceptionally lazy of me given that a tour departed right from the beach outside my hotel. I just couldn’t bear the thought of being on a boat with someone like the girl who had a complete and utter meltdown the day I arrived.

“It’s RAINING,” she screamed at the guide. “You’re going to do the tour in the RAIN???”

Her outburst wasn’t just obnoxious – it was also factually incorrect.

It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t even drizzling. It was sort of doing that light misting thing that most reminds me of when you walk through Macy’s and get sprayed will several perfume samples at once – something I would think she’d be quite used to.

***

On my second night in Barbados, I met a man who was on official business with the U.S. government. He was sufficiently vague about his purposes and I decided that he must be doing something exciting, like hunting down a terrorism cell or breaking up a drug trafficking ring.

But after a fair amount of back and forth he finally admitted, “I’m here investigating seaweed.”

“Seaweed?!” I asked.

“Yeah, there’s a lot more seaweed washing up on the beach now than there used to be.”

Just when I thought there couldn’t be anything less glamorous he added, “I’m going to East Africa next week for a project about managing solid waste.”

“Poop?!” I asked.

“Poop,” he agreed.

***

Barbados was good for reading, though I didn’t get as much done as I hoped. I was lazy about this too. Here’s what came off the list:

Brain on Fire. This is a memoir by New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan about her battle with a rare disease that literally drover her crazy. It’s truly terrifying – both in the sense that such a thing can happen and that some doctors are, in fact, complete idiots. Advice time: always get a second opinion.

Exodus. This is the follow up memoir to Unorthodox, the book by Deborah Feldman about her decision to leave a Hasidic Jewish community. I appreciate her approach, mostly because I too love a meticulously crafted burn. Anyway, in this book, she chronicles a trip through Europe to retrace her grandmother’s life and survival of the Holocaust. It’s an interesting story – though perhaps not as interesting as I would have imagined given the circumstances. Either way – good for her and I hope she writes more.

Amerikanah. I don’t usually do fiction, but I made an exception because the writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is Nigerian. The book offers a very frank discussion about the relationship between race and privilege in the U.S. If you’re naturally interested in and curious about such things, then you should read it. If you’re not, then you should definitely read it.

Me Talk Pretty One Day. God bless my friend who finally asked me what I read by David Sedaris that made me not like his work.

Running With Scissors,” I said. “Hated it.”

“Well that’s the problem!” she replied. “He didn’t write that!”

She was correct, of course. Augusten Burroughs did. She sent me a link to Sedaris’ Jesus Shaves essay – and thus my love affair began.

I portion his books out like little treats. They last longer that way.

***

boats barbadosAt the height of my laziness on Saturday afternoon, the seaweed investigator asked me a very important question: “If you could own any of those boats, which would it be?”

I actually would have preferred to have one of the horses, but in the spirit of cooperation I picked a short, squat little boat with a blue canopy. It didn’t really excite me, but it appeared to be the least likely thing to tip over. Then I went on a walk and everything changed.

“I found a new boat!” I announced before launching into an animated description of the tiny, beat up, old dinghy that looked like it might be destroyed in Barbados’ next mist storm.

He looked unimpressed.

“It’s called the Hustle Hard!” I yelled. “It’s perfect!”

***

While killing time in the Bridgetown airport before my flight back to JFK, I accidentally walked into a men’s bathroom. I actually got several steps in before realizing my mistake, executing a perfect pivot turn and marching my little hiking backpack right out of there.

I’d say it was the only suitable way to end the trip that began by walking into a sliding glass door.

 

 

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