“Ready?” Michael said as he opened the door to my bedroom. His voice roused my from my slumber.
“Ready? For what? Huh?”
“We’re driving to a new beach today. Remember?” Oh. Yeah. That. I’d been naturally waking up at 6:20 each morning, not too long after the sun lights up the ocean outside my window. But now that I’m out of quarantine I’m back to living with someone else whose schedule I have to work with. I’ve learned that, by 6 a.m., Michael has already put in two hours of work, talking to his colleagues in Greece and Belarus . By 6 a.m., he’s ready for his first break of the day. Which these days entails a walk on a beach–preferably one we haven’t yet been to.
There is a beach here at our resort, but it is littered with sea grass. In any other year, the staff would clean it each morning, but this isn’t any other year. So instead of walking the beach here, we hop in the car Michael rented and take off for the Beach of the Day.
“Why so early?” you ask. Well, during the National Pause here on Barbados, we can only be on the beaches from 6-9 a.m. and from 3-6 p.m. Michael and I are both working from here, so the afternoon isn’t always an option. Thankfully, we are early birds. One of us more than the other. . .
And so it is that on Monday we went to Carlisle Bay. Michael, thankfully, rented a car a couple weeks ago when he was here on his own and learned to drive on the left side of the road at a time when there wasn’t anyone on the roads due to the lockdown. So by the time he drove me to Carlisle Bay, he was proficient at the skill, but I wasn’t proficient at sitting on the left side without having any control over the vehicle. By the time we pulled into a parking spot, my stomach was screaming, “Get out! MUST. GET. OUT.” Michael was doing a good job driving, but my mind and body were having a lot of trouble adjusting . . .
“Look. A lobster place!” Michael said as we got out of the car. I saw the boarded up restaurant. “No lobster today,” said a man standing under the sign. We chatted with him about the state of affairs and he assured us that this would all pass. “Patient man ride donkey,” he said with a laugh.
“What?” I asked.
“Patient man ride donkey. You haven’t heard of that yet? It’s a Barbadian phrase.” I took a few seconds to process the meaning.
“Ohhh. . . because donkeys go so slow,” I said. He laughed. “Yes, that’s right.”
“There’s a couple cruise ships out there,” Michael said to me.
“They’ve been there for a year,” lobster man told us. “The captain isn’t getting Covid out there!”
“So there are people on them?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. It takes a lot to keep up those boats,” he said. Hmph. I hadn’t thought about this. . .
Michael and I walked out onto the beach. “I’m going to go back and ask that guy if there’s a bathroom around here,” Michael said. I stood taking in the scene: a calm bay, a handful of people strolling past, a couple runners, some floating heads out in the ocean. “. . .if you’re going to be Barbadian,” I heard Mr. Lobsterman say. Michael returned to me.
“So what did you learn?” I asked him.
“No bathrooms,” he said.
“But what was he saying about being a Barbadian?”
“Oh. That. He told me to ‘pee in the sea or pee on a tree.’ That if I wanted to be a real Barbadian, I need to pee on a tree.” We both laughed. “I think I’ll take the sea option instead,” Michael said.
As we sunk our bare feet into the sand I wondered about Lobsterman. What was he doing there, standing beside the open doors of his van at 6:30 in the morning? A little coffee overlooking the ocean before going to work? Is he there every day? Or did he have work in the area? What other wisdom might we have gleaned from him had we forgone our walk to chat with him a little longer?
I’m not sure how many beaches there are on this island. . . but maybe next week I can persuade Michael that it might be worth returning to this one. I think I have more to learn from Lobsterman. . .