After lots of recent conversations about Barbados with my parents, I thought it might be interesting to write a bit about it. Not stuff you can easily read in tour guide, but something a little more Bajan. My whole family is from Barbados, living in different places and countries, but with one proud Caribbean heritage. It’s a small island that people might not know a lot about so, courtesy of CIA World Factbook, the BBC and my general knowledge, here’s Barbados in a nutshell:
- Population: 286, 705 (July 2010 est.)
- Capital: Bridgetown
- Area: 430 sq km (166 sq miles)
- Language: English (a Bajan dialect)
- Major Religion: Christianity
- Government: Parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
- Independence: 30 November 1966 (from the UK)
- Economy: tourism is the biggest source of revenue, an overtake from sugarcane exports
1. Bajans from Bim
For some reason unbeknownst to me, Bajans (pronounced Asian with a “b”), the colloquial term for Barbadians, call Barbados Bim. Bim?!?! This makes no sense to me what so ever.
A good majority of people have nicknames. When I say nickname, I mean an alternate name that everybody calls you. Your name could be Andrew, but for some reason, every single person calls you Hill. Or Pepsi. And at times, people don’t even know your real name. I heard a story about a funeral and in Barbados, everyone listens to the obituary on the radio. So the family put out an announcement of the death, using the deceased’s real name. People had no idea who that was and some never made it to the funeral because they didn’t recognize the name. It’s that intense. Sometimes your nickname is another real name, like Jack. So when people discover your real name, it’s quite a shock. This name phenomenon seems to be more predominant with males than females. It’s weird, but kind of endearing at the same time.
3. Free public transportation for students and seniors
This just seems logical to me and I wish it was implemented in more countries, but I assume it is the cost that is preventative. All schools wear uniforms and once a student is wearing their uniform, they can board the bus for free. Seniors have an I.D. card they carry and show when boarding. The cost of riding the bus is relatively cheap as well. Last time I was there about two years ago, it cost $1.50 Bajan every time I took the bus. One Bajan dollar is equal to approximately $0.50 U.S. (and now Canadian because we are more or less on par with the U.S.)
4. The meaning behind the flag
You might be able to find this information in a guide book, (actually probably), but I’m including it anyways. I like the meaning. The two bands of blue represent the sky and the sea, both the Caribbean sea and the Atlantic ocean. The gold symbolizes the sand and the sun. The broken trident in the middle represents the breaking of the colonial reign of the U.K. and independence from Great Britain. What gets me is that the trident makes it seem like there was some sort of revolution. Yet there wasn’t. Barbados has always been very peaceful and ties with the U.K are very good. The revolutionary symbolism amuses me, and I like the fact that it is a unique looking flag. I also like that the meaning is simple. I have no idea what the colours of Canada’s flag mean…
|View from the top on a cloudy day
5. You can drive the perimeter of the island in 90 mins
The island is that small. My cousin drove myself and my brother around the island in about that time. We when to a look out point, saw the northern most region, ate in a tourist town, headed south and then back home. Now 90 mins is no way to experience the whole island, but it is an interesting experience. My dad says at night, you can get around in about 50 mins. The roads are a bit crazy, as are the drivers, so I don’t doubt that.
Here’s a song from a prominent Bajan calypso artist, Red Plastic Bag.
My fave song from 2009 – In the middle of the road