April 11, 2013

Finally, my very own ‘ivory’ tower! Call me Rapunzel.

“It’s not found on many maps, true places never are.”  ~Hermann Melville

I love an island where you can smell the pungent humidity in the air, seeping into your pores like sunshine. A country where the billowing clouds anchor in the bay of the sky like tallship windjammers, where the sun varnishes the calm sea into an antique hammered copper plate and the view is like Neapolitan ice cream, sand, sea and sky a tri-color of blance, indigo and rouge.

Barbados’ wild East Coast; not many tourists bother coming here. The swimming is dangerous and the tides unpredictable with very fierce currents. There are some beautiful old churches, though, with graveyards full of mossy, skewed stones.  
If you trace the shallow, weathered marks with a finger, you can sometimes still decipher the names and dates; improbable centuries have passed since those souls first tried to eke a living from the barren land they'd been allotted.  These Irish and Scot peasants were indentured servants* shipped out to work on sugar plantations for a set number of years before being granted freedom and land.  The unforgiving sun burned those peely-wally limbs so badly they became known as the Redlegs. The stony, hilly terrain they were allotted was nigh impossible to cultivate and many starved to death. Their descendants peopled this district.  Barbados has many hauntings** because of its long and distraught history. 

I on the other hand had the good fortune to stay at a charming place in the verdant and lush grounds of a plantation house (Scarlett O'Hara swoon), eat a mango seconds after it tumbled from the tree, and laze in a hammock marveling at the unspoiled beauty of Barbados.

*The Chattel house is the Barbadian word meaning 'moveable property'. The type of home came into play when plantation workers decided they wanted to live on the estate and simultaneously own or rent their own house. It was particularly logical to develop the house in a way that it could be transported to another location in case a tenant-landlord dispute erupted. Chattel houses are built of wood and set on blocks of coral, without a foundation so that they can easily move. Many have steep corrugated iron roofs which help protect the houses from heavy rain and high winds that may accompany a hurricane. in addition, they often show remarkable designs of ornate framework, carved wooden banisters and miniature jalousie windows.

**St. Lucy Parish Cemetery has a very strange vault located among the tombstones. This gravestone has inscribed on it, "This vault shall never be opened." It is said among many of the St. Lucy locals that two witches were burned at the stake and their ashes buried in this vault. ;-)=

Wishing everyone a bright and beautiful weekend!


Syl v O said...


Aloha Bruce ;-) said...

Barbados is an island of ghosts, awash in the poetry of loss and longing. One night, with the sort of weird historical inevitability that happens all the time on this island, an emblem of Swinging London, Pattie Boyd, turns up at the bar at the Lone Star, an all-too-glam hotel and restaurant. Boyd, the onetime “it” girl of rock, began her career playing a schoolgirl in A Hard Day’s Night, ultimately co-authoring Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me. As it happens, she honeymooned on Barbados with Harrison in 1966. Like many on the island, Boyd’s in search of the past, and she has returned to photograph old houses. The old estates that are starting to vanish with all the development. When the beauty of those ruins is gone, it will be gone forever.

Ms. Edna (squared) said...

Alas, all too true everywhere.