When I realized that my children’s half-term holiday, my line sister’s birthday celebration in Barbados and my marathon in Istanbul were all happening over three back to back weeks I had a moment of panic about how I would pull it all off and still keep my health and sanity. I feel like this post should start with “what had happened was…” but I pulled it all off. Less than a full week after returning from the South of France I was on a plane again to celebrate my line sister’s 40th birthday in Barbados.
I left on a Thursday morning for the nine hour flight from London and arrived in Bridgetown, Barbados in the early evening after the six hour time difference. I had been nervously checking the weather all week which forecasted rain; as is common in the Caribbean to cover the high probability of a sun shower, but my fears manifested just as I landed and it started raining…hard. Despite the rain, my worries faded when my line sister meet me at the airport with a van full of friends who had also arrived in Barbados to celebrate her birthday. There were nearly fifty of us, her friends and family who traveled to celebrate her fortieth season. It must be mentioned that the driver served the most delicious aged rum punch that also made me forget about the weather.
After dropping off a few guests that were staying at St Lawrence Gap and a few rum punches later, we arrived at the Hilton Resort in just the right frame of mind to flow with the relaxed island vibe. We checked in quickly returned to the lobby to meet three of my other line sisters to have dinner at a local restaurant. The menu consisted of fish meals that would be considered exotic outside of the Caribbean but were standard fare in Barbados. We sat outside as it continued to pour while we enjoyed our dishes of marlin, shark and dolphin before topping off at a local sports bar and heading back to the hotel tired from a full day of travel.
My body was still on UK time so I was up early local time the following morning and planned to go for a run but that plan was quickly derailed once word began to spread about the fish cakes and fish and bake at the local gas station. After breakfast, I abandoned any plans to run and spent the remainder of the day at the beach and lounging pool-side enjoying my girl time and the warm sun on my body. The day flew by and it was soon time to get ready to enjoy the first of several planned events for the weekend.
Friday evening began at Oisten; which for anyone who has never been can only be described as a large area consisting of many restaurants with picnic tables and benches packed with people eating while enjoying music that seems to come from every direction. There is a performance area where a fashion show was taking place and lots of people milling about. It was definitely a scene which kept us distracted during what felt like an eternity before our food arrived which was worth the wait. I’m not a beer drinker but I tasted the local beer “Banks” which tasted like Corona to me as I’m sure many will disagree. After dinner we were taken to the Red Door bar/club where we partied and clinked glasses of champagne in celebration of our friend. It was also where jetlag caught up with me and it was only during the hip-hop sets that could I find the energy to really join the party. I soldiered on and before long I was happily tucked in my bed to rest up for Saturday’s festivities.
Saturday started much like the day before with a breakfast run to the local gas station and lounging in the hammock on the beach. The waves were a bit rougher so I opted not to go into the ocean and before long it was time to prepare to go on the catamaran cruise. As we stepped off the bus we were greeted by the sounds of a 3 piece steel pan band which set the stage for the party that would continue on the catamaran. Again the rum punch flowed as the DJ spinned soca, reggae and hip-hop. The boat anchored just as the sun set and many of us slipped into the ocean for an evening swim. I’m not much of a swimmer but I jumped in without hesitation and then with the aid of floatation devices I watched the sunset from the ocean. Once back on the boat we enjoyed a buffet of delicious Caribbean food as the family of the birthday lady made beautiful, heartfelt toasts to honor her. The party lasted five hours but we wished it could have lasted another five…it was a time that we will never forget. Some revelers left in search of an after party in St Lawrence Gap but still jetlagged the only after party that I would attend that night was in my dreams.
Sunday came far too quickly and it was time to go home, but not before I squeezed in a little more time at the beach. The celebration continued with a beach party that evening without me as I had to catch an afternoon flight in order to land early on Monday morning; just in time to go home and drop my bags, shower, kiss my kids off to school and head into the office for work. And just like that one of the best times I’ve had in recent memory was just that…a great memory of bonding and celebration with friends that I will cherish for the rest of my life.