[January 8 2015]
My first surf trips when I was younger were to the Caribbean, mainly Puerto Rico. Then I wanted to graduate to places I thought were somehow more exciting and exotic such as Hawaii, Europe, Central America and Indonesia. Some of these places entailed extra travel and for me that was part of the allure. The Caribbean just didn’t seem that adventurous, a shortcoming of mine I later realized. Thinking back to stories my parents told me of their honeymoon in the 80’s buzzing through sugarcane fields and how people there would stare through the windows of neighbors that had a working television, Barbados seemed like the perfect choice. Close enough to New York, yet exotic enough to satiate an adventurous palate.
For someone traveling solo I didn’t do much research. Just a few Google searches that lead me to the loveliest of people, Ken Mayers. I found his email and he responded instructing just to bring him down an iPad in exchange for board, and he would be waiting at the airport for me. Ken sorted me with a place on Cleaver’s Hill – a sparse two bedroom up on the hill over looking the fabled surf break Soup Bowls. Just how I prefer to travel, living amongst the local people.
Bathsheba, the area I was staying in seemed as if it was standing still from richer and more fruitful times. Many foundations stood unfinished or deteriorating back into the land unfinished and underfunded. Paint was chipped, bricks cracked, and metal rusted both from time and the salt in the air. I found comfort and beauty in the decay as flowers at times grew next to, or even entwined in, the degeneration. I found the texture of the palm trees and the light they cut against the blistering sun captivating. Walking for hours through hills and villages I excavated a layer of the island sweeter than the sugar growing in the fields. Not to mention the pleasantries exchanged with every new person encountered and the popular greeting “awright” ringing out.
Text and photo Johnny Knapp