Persona Holidays

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Travelers are looking for authentic, personal holiday vacations that are designed for their own personal needs and expectations. PersonaHolidays is uniquely personal.


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WorldSagas 7 -Cherry Avenue Rum Shop

This is a lovely story by By Ann-Christin Truedsson. Fantasy Tale of larger than life characters you may well meet in a Bajan Rum Shop.


Cherry Avenue, Barbados

Sue-Ellen wagged her tail and limped towards Sir G as usual eyeing the dove blue linen napkin in his right hand. It was Friday night at Cherry Rum Shop.
Sir G and Lady G had dined at RiffRaff, the exclusive jetset restaurant known for its super-expensive but understated looks and food.

As he did every Friday night, Sir G carried the leftovers from his rack of lamb in the napkin. Madam Cherry, the Rumshop’s proprietress, now owned more than 2 dozen of these nakins and they came in handy as tablecloths for Christmas and 2 of them hung in the washroom to cover the broken window.

Sir G laid the napkin on the sidewalk, opened it and even before he could wish Sue-Ellen `bon appetit’ his wife was already by the bar reaching out for the rum punch which Madam handed her through the crowd. Sir G spotted the cherry in the drink, remembering the night when Madam had run out of cherries. Immediately he tried to forget.

Lady G admired her cherry with the plastic sword in its middle bobbing in the drink, her perfectly pickled Bajan cherry. Madam had told her she had gotten the last cherry so she felt very happy to have one. As she held the sword close to her mouth, ready to bite the cherry off, there was a stir around the bar and as someone pushed Lady G, her cherry fell onto the floor. Misty-Man was standing in the doorway. All sound, all movement stopped.

Misty-Man – the highlight of the night – at first stood still, carefully taking in all the attention before he proceeded towards the karaoke equipment. On his way he almost crushed the cherry with his left foot but the cherry rolled under a table, Lady G’s eyes fixed on it. Misty-Man tuned the equipment into Elvis’s song, `Suspicion’, pressed the start button and checked to be assured of everyone’s attention.

This was a performance of power and everyone was in awe, avid to take in every word – never mind unspoken. This was the `Friday night karaoke-miming by Misty-Man’ – the moment of the week no one wanted to miss.
When the music stopped, Misty-Man’s lips ceased moving. He bowed slightly and walked erect and powerful towards the door. The crowd snapped out of its mesmerism and someone’s foot pushed Lady G’s cherry from under the table.

The dear cherry was about to become nothing but another spot on the floor under Misty-Man’s foot when Lady G threw herself at him to make him change direction and so save the cherry. She succeeded and pushed it towards the wall by the door while asking for Misty-Man’s autograph on a napkin. Misty-Man wiped his forehead, returned the napkin and left.
Departure-time had also come also for the G’s. In the doorway Lady G complained about mosquitoes and bent down to scratch one ankle.
When she straightened herself and gave Sir G a smile, he noticed a spot on her tooth, a cherry-red spot. Sir G smiled at Sue-Ellen. She wagged her tail.


Originally Posted on Barbados.org

WorldSagas 6ii – Caught for Possession, Ace Looks for Cash!

ACE moves through the village like a fox on the prowl; agile, aware, cunning.

Bathsheba Walking Down The HillIt is early. He wakes with the day, eats a banana and drinks coconut water. “It’s medicine, man”, he told me once. “Coconut got to be young, picked long before they get hard with jelly, still small on the tree, no bigger than a cricket ball. Full of nourishment then, better than medicine: Keeps the system clean and fresh, good for the kidneys too. Plenty of iron, make you strong like a lion”.

At 6 am ACE heads out into the day and strides, with purpose, down Horse Hill, his hard feet stamp a rhythm onto the cool asphalt. The village is quiet, the dogs eye him sleepily from their beds under the raised floors of the chattel homes along the road.

“Got to pay 700 dollars or they throw me in jail”, he thinks. “Got to find the money, man, or I’ll be sitting in a damp dark cell, with no unripe coconuts to keep this mind and body well”.

Vendors at BathshebaHe knows every corner of the village and its people. He takes stock of its workers, residents, visitors, tourists and strangers. This is his trade. He knows that newspaper writer Griffith, is away teaching in America, a young girl, Ella, is staying there, taking care of it in his absence. He scouts for new faces and opportunities: Tourists will give him a few dollars and offer drinks in bars. Surfers and weekenders buy coconuts. Residents have houses, gardens and cars to repair. Jobs are scarce and the pay is poor. It could take months to raise the $700 he needs.

Seven Hundred Still to Pay.

“Seven hundred still to pay.
Just two weeks to judgement day,
seven hundred months away”.

“Rass man, should never have happened, ACE don’t have no truck with the law. Live outside it. Not me they ought to worry with. There are bad people, lazy people and crazy people man. I don’t do no harm. Man got to live, fetch a pile of coconuts, sell some bananas, do a favor for a man, borrow some food. Ain’t no harm in that.

So Little Time to Pay

Ain’t me they should worry ‘bout. Sure I took a little dope, had a little snort of coke. Trouble man! Coke brings trouble with the law!. But I ain’t no pusher me, never done no truck with dope, just a snort, a swig, a smoke, just for me and friends I know. Possession’s what they say, when they take my coke away, and give so little time to pay”.

He is tuned to the sound of movement, the music of motion. Flip, flap, slide, and slap. His loose oversize shirt flaps in the wind, in time to the rhythm of his feet on the street. He breathes steady, heart beating like a base. A harmony:

No Such Thing as Jail House Rock

“Flip, flap, slide, and slap. Got a monkey on my back. Seven hundred fine for crack. I am a symphony. Man in motion, power walking down my hill. Got to find the money man. Flip, flap, slide, and slap. Moving forward, never back. Ain’t no rhyme in the jail house block. No such thing as jail house rock. Got to keep the music live. Ain’t going to no jailhouse dive.”

breadfruitA breadfruit tree extends over the road, he picks a ripe fruit and puts it in his sack. He thinks Round House may buy it for their breadfruit chips. He takes a detour through Joe’s River tenantry, past the chattel houses on the cliff. Off in the distance, Atlantic waves roll to the shore.

No one Putting Ace Away

“Got to see those waves each day, Bathsheba is where I stay.
Got to find the money man.  No one putting ACE away. Flip, flap, slide, and slap. Get this monkey off my back.”

Voices bounce in his head like echoes in a cave. His mind is a fog of thoughts, arguing. “Time if I steal and no time to pay. Time if I don’t and time if I do. Time for a time whatever man. Got to get clear, got to stay clean, got to figure it man.

A little for the Magistrate

Ain’t doing no time, no ACE in no cell, no ACE in the clink. Got to figure a plan, find some time to think. Borrow just a little time, take a little for a time. Plenty time and money here. Movie cameras, laptops, fancy cars and stereos, fetch some dollars on the street.  Ain’t gonna steal, just got to take, a little for the magistrate”.

Sort Cut through the Bananas

He takes a short cut over the hard dry valley, and crosses the yard of a new house. Pulling some lemon grass from a herb garden, he puts it in his sackcloth bag. Further down he turns into a banana grove. It is cool, dark and comforting.

bananas-A dappled light peeks through shabby, torn banana leaves. Friendly banana trees speak to him. Close around him on the hard red earth, they look like tramps in tattered clothes, chatting in a market square.

Arms full of bananas, like fingers on a hand, reach down to him. Shake my hand they seem to say. “Shake my hand and take a hand, a banana hand for ACE today. Take a few while on your way, we know you have to go but would so love it if you’d stay, so stay awhile and play”. With his eveready, eversharp knife he cuts an arm with many hands and puts it in his bag. They are banana-figs, much prized for flavour. They are smaller and sweeter than the normal banana and fetch a better price.

700 Soon to Come

“Da la, lo la, dala lum.
Beating music to my drum.

A symphony in motion man.
Seven hundred soon will come.
Flip, flap, slide, and slap.
Get the monkey off my back”.

“The Canadian with the skateboard, skating down Horse Hill. Seen him playing music with the headphones on. Cash in his ears. The newsmans gone away. Only the girl, Ella sleeping in the house. Safe to enter. The guys from Pittsburgh come last night, spending big time in the bar. Drink some rum with them tonight, help them off to a deep sleep, as into bedrooms I may creep: And if I steal into the night, a shadow in the pale moonlight. Take a little they won’t miss. And give my magistrate a kiss.”

He turns the corner to the beach. Thirty people move along the shore with cameras, taking pictures in the morning light. They are not like sightseers, they angle up on rocks for fancy shots. Lying belly on the sand, they shoot along the water edge to catch the ripple of a dying wave. Cameras point at palm tree roots; tangled and twisted on each other like eels in a nest.

Bathsheba Beach“Hey man, What Everyone Wearing Cameras for

Yeh!. All you learning to tek pictures, on location in Barbados. Man that is some smart holiday. You gonna keep some fine memories, have your holiday, make your postcards and learn picture taking from a pro. Great man, great holiday. Hey, I climb the coconut tree for your picture man. Cut some coconuts for you. Money! no problem man. Just give me what you want. $50 is plenty. I’ll roast some breadfruit, you can photograph that too. How much?. I do it for you man – no problem.”

”Humble crumble, got no shame. I know their nature, take my aim
Feed their need, to give not take. Save it for my magistrate.
Ain’t gonna steal, just got to take, a little for the magistrate
Da la, lo la, dala lum. Seven hundred soon will come”.

Mid Night Break

It is midnight, Ella wakes, gets sleepily out of bed and walks slowly to the bathroom. She thinks she sees a movement by the French doors and stops, looking through sleepy eyes. Across the sitting room she thinks she sees the French doors move. A shadow is crouched down in front of the doors, its back to her. It is gently closing the door from inside the house. Ella screams.

The shadow, does not turn, it flings the doors open and bolts out. Ella screams more. From where she is she can see the shadow. It is a tall slim man, wearing an oversize shirt, long shorts and no shoes. The shadow does not turn to her and she sees no face. The shadow jumps over the balcony and drops eight feet to the ground. It runs and vaults a five foot wire fence, still running on the hard and jagged coral rock it disappears from view into a gully and off into the hills. Ella calls the police. She does not know who it is but thinks it could be ACE.

No one sees ACE for a few days. He is conspicuous in absence. The village is a buzz with talk of who the thief might be.

“So ACE, you heard there was a burglar next door”, I tell him when he finally appears with a load of coconuts. “You know some think it might be you”.

“Not me man, the police know me. They know I don’t do it. Had my trouble in the past. People always saying ACE this and ACE that, truth is ACE walking straight on the cool and narrow. Man Oh man. What this place coming to. Well let me take your garbage out, need the car washed?. I do it for you man, before I fetch the breadfruit for Round House”.

“How you doing with the fine” I ask him the next day.

Going Dig the Ground and Pull Some Weed

“Man Oh Man”: he says, “I done get some lucky. Guy from Pittsburgh, give me four hundred straight. Don’t need we dollars where he gone. Gonna get the rest from some guys I know, for future services, plantation work. Horticulture man!!. ”

Dig the ground and pull up weed, plant some stuff that people need. I’ll have the cash by Judgement day. No one putting ACE away. Bathsheba is where I stay“.


The characters in this story are fictitious.
While aspects may be based on individuals,
most is speculation and imagination. Resemblance to any one character is accidental.
None of the events are necessarily true.



Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSaga 6ii – Yeamans Story of Love and Murder

Round House has stood on the corner at the foot of the big hill in Bathsheba for over 200 years. John (later Sir John) Yeamans had it built before he shot Colonel Benjamin Berringer and fled to Carolina. The exact details of the whole affair are a bit vague but it is clear that Yearmans had an affair with Colonel Benjamin Berringers’ wife Margaret, and the rest, as they say, is history.

St. Nicholas Abbey - BarbadosIt’s about an hour horse ride from Bathsheba to the Abbey, in St Peter where the Berringers lived. Yearman rode there quite often from the Round House.. He went by day to organise workers with his friend and business partner Colin Berringer. Berringer and Yeamans were realestate speculators and planters. They were clearing the densly wooded area of cherry tree hill, with the idea of selling land to the new arrivals who were coming to Barbados. The land was fertile and ideal for agriculture besides being close to Bathsheba and the spectacular view of Xherry Tree Hill. At dinners, the Berringers and John talked of dreams, life, ambition, the military, adventure and power.

The Berringers loved his visits, but to Mrs. Berringer, John Yeamans was a saviour. She was lost in long, lonely days in a rambling mansion, tucked away in a wilderness of mahogany trees, far away from like minds and interest. Her husband did not understand her loneliness. He was content with his life, the business, the military reserves, the plantation and the stately home. Home was a magnificent Jacobean mansion that Banjamin had built and decorated with taste and antiques. It was build in the classic style of a Jacobbean mansion complete with four chimneys. Outside, the lawn stretched 100 feet to the great garden wall. Oleander, hibiscus, Ixora and tropical flowers grew, almost wild, in the formal beds. Royal palms lined the long drive. They were an established family living in luxury.

The plantation was manned by black slaves and a few white men who had come to Barbados as indentured labourers. Sugar, which was introduced to Barbados in the 1630’s, was very labor intensive and in the early days indentured labourers were recruited from England. They agreed to work for 7 years without pay in exchange for their passage and keep. But this was not enough, young English men were kidnapped and they along with convicted criminals were shipped to Barbados. Some like Henry Morgan escaped the tyranny of this system and lived as buccaneers, raiding Spanish galleons as they carted cargo between Europe and the new world. Later white labour was replaced Black African slaves from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Margaret Berringer felt lost and alone. She was uncomfortable with the workers and the slaves. One white worker, now a foreman, had been a convicted criminal. He was crude and frightening. Often she stayed indoors just to avoid his stare and uncouth manner. “I am a prisoner in paradise”, she thought.

Margaret was an ambitious and determined woman who struggled with the prejudices of the day. Her father was reverend John Forester, and her upbringing was strict and conservative. She felt she had always been a prisoner of some sort, hiding her emotions, pretending to be demure and lady like, to please her parents and live up to the expectations smothering her. She married Berringer because it was somehow expected. Women had no say, they were property, but to be fair Berringer was wealthy and powerful and the idea of living in his castle-like home was intriguing. The intrigue did not last. Cherry Tree was a deserted forest where she remained hidden from everyone. Bridgetown was 2 ½ hour away by carriage, Speighstown was closer but people were moving to the south. They had few friends and no one just popped in as they did in Bridgetown.

Yeamans visits brought relief, laughter and excitement. She laughed at his jokes and loved his keen sense of the world. He understood so much, he understood her. They talked sometimes with little need of words, sensing thoughts, emotions and intentions. It seemed that they had known each other forever, even when they first met. Secretly they walked in the woods. Sometimes they rode their horses to Bathsheba and strolled along the deserted beach at Cattlewash. They found pretexts to meet whenever they could.

Benjamin was an old fashioned man. Honour and respect were the foundations of his morality. He did not want to believe his wife was unfaithful but there were rumors. He overheard workers talking, he saw secret in faces and was aware of the abrupt silence when he happened on plantation gossip. This was unusual, he connected it with Yearman and his wife. One day as he walked through the grounds he saw Nyala , a leader amongst the slaves, alone crushing cane in the windmill grinder. “What you know of the miss’s and Mr. Yeamans he asked point blank. “Some boys done see them together, he don’t got no respect that Mr. Yeamans”. Nyala never minced words.

Yeamans had become careless with his affections and Colonel Berringer, a military man of honour, had only one recourse.

The duel was a spontaneous affair, arranged with the best British manners. “You know what this means, John. You cant be with another mans wife and not expect him to do something about it”. “But I love her”, Yeamans had said. “These things happen, its not personal Benjamin”. . “All the same, no one makes a fool of me in my house and gets away with it, what will it be, pistols or sabers?”. “Why not just a good punch up, old boy, there is no need for anything fatal, Benjamin”. “Pistols then, and may the best man win”.

Yeamans did not want to kill Colonel Benjamin but he did not want to die. In a duel you can shoot to kill, to maim or miss. He was sure that Benjamin would aim to kill and that left no choice. From a distance the body is like a dartboard, aim for the middle and you have a chance of hitting somewhere. Miss and you will certainly be hit in the return volley. The two men stood back to back and on command walked the 20 paces away from each other. They turned together and fired.

Yeamans married Mrs.Berringer and moved into the Abbey, shortly after they buried Benjamin. But life was not easy. Friends and family turned against them. The 1660’s were hard times for Barbados.. There had been a locust plague in 1663 that destroyed crops across the island. A fire had burned Bridgetown to the ground and provisions were scarce. A major hurricane in 1667 blew down sheds and uprooted trees on the plantation and the drought of 1668 just about ruined them. The final blow came when the Barbados court ruled that the Abbey be returned to Berringer’s children.

In 1669 the couple packed their bags and moved to Carolina. John Yeamans became a leading figure in the founding colony. He was appointed Governor after just three years. He died a few years later and Margaret, once again lost and alone, fell into the arms of a new man and remarried.

The two Great homes of these men still stand as icons of a different age.

The Abbey now called Nicolos Abbey, was named after Berringer’s grand-daughter who married George Nicholas. It is now a private home and a designated historic property that is open for public viewing on occasion. Yeamans legacy in Barbados ended with John. There were no more deaths from duels in Barbados. Round House, built of solid coral with walls that are several feet think, has survived its rugged environment. Today the Round House is a fine guesthouse and restaurant.


This story is based on fact, but the account in Campbell’s History of Barbados indicates that Berringer was poisoned and not shot. Whichever the case, it is thought that Yeamans killed Berringer or had him killed so that he could inherit his estate and his wife. The estate was eventually sold to the Cumberbatch brothers for payment of back taxes.



Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSagas 6i -Banana Bust

Ace, Drugs and Bananas

The police arrested Ace on Thursday night in a surprise raid on prime suspects. There had been a plague of break-ins for over a month and residents were angry. Big mouth, big belly John was angry and determined to take matters into his own hands if the police would not act. “Why are we paying these taxes? So you can sleep at night while thieves raid our homes”. He told them.

Big John Confrontation

Big John had stirred it up earlier by tackling Ace, vigilante style, handgun pushed down his trousers, purposefully visible over his cowboy belt and large stomach. “Come here boy” he said. “Tell me why the hell this house is the only one that has not been broken into, You got some ideas on that?. No!. I don’t suppose you do, only I think you know too well. I think YOU don’t trouble this house caus’ Janet lives here and YOU are sweet on her. No coincidence if you ask me”.

Ace is not an easy man to tackle, gun or not. He has had his share of fights and knows how to use the knife he always carries. “Best you shoot to kill” Ace said, “or you going wind up with a knife in your throat.” Janet kept the two men sane, just by being present, but the fever was started then. The neighbourhood was riled and the police were pressed to act.

The midnight raid was a success of sorts. They got their man, Ace could not account for some hands of bananas in his home.

I will miss ACE and his frequent visits to sell me coconuts, bananas and breadfruit. I will miss his fast talk, his good humor and his craziness. Like the time I saw him coming down Horse Hill with a wheelbarrow full of fruit and nuts. His tall, slender fit body, clearly straining to hold the barrow from slipping away, to hurtle down the hill like a torpedo. “Where you get the barrow?” I asked him. “Borrowed it. Gonna give it back just now, don’t you fret man. It don’t help much anyway”.

Can’t Get No Respect!

Next day he told me. “Can’t run with the barrow, when the gang is chasing you. Got into some trouble taking it back too. Like I stole it or something. Wanted to cut me up or something. Been doing a bit of running, man. This place is going to the dogs. It’s crazy man, crazy. Got these people who think I doing break and entry. Got all them young local guys, just lazy man, hanging bout for no-good, it’s bad man. They is calling me names for climbing coconut trees and selling door to door like some sort of preacher. Got no respect man. I just want to stay out of trouble.”

Get High to Cope

Ace’s craziness is helped by some natural product. “Mushrooms and herbs” he says. “get me high man, time stands still, can hear a heart beat from the top of a coconut tree, awesome, man”. He was on mushrooms the night he came across some surfers partying on the beach. It was a beautiful full moon night for their picnic of champagne and salmon sandwiches, under the silhouettes of palm trees. They saw Ace at 2:00 pm, surfboard under his arm, going for a surf. “You can’t swim here Ace”, they told him. “It’s dangerous Ace, the rip tide is too strong in the full moon and the waves will kick you down under the reef ridge. Here, have a sandwich”.

Maybe it was Ace who broke into my house twice, who knows? Drugs, even mushrooms and herbs, can alter reality so that stealing is no longer a crime, just something you have to do. Harder drugs are in the island too. Cocaine addicts are not human when the panic need strikes. They will do just about anything for a fix. Drug pushers know it, but to them an addict is cash in the bank. Addicts are to be cultivated. Dealers give away drugs to the young and the older who are bored, seeking thrills or trying to be hip, just to get them hooked. The real criminals are the drug pushers, not banana thieves and those who steal to eat.


The names and characters in these stories are fictitious.
While some aspects may be based on individuals,
most is speculation, imagination and adaption.
Resemblance to any one character is accidental.



Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSagas 6 – Modern Life in a Fishing Village Bathsheba

Bathsheba - tent bay boats

This is Bathsheba, a small community nestled about a thin road that stretches for a few miles on the edge of a rugged coast. It lies at the foot of a hill and three roads, like fingers, point up the steep incline to the main connector routes the East Coast road and Horse Hill road. Horse Hill climbs over the center of the island to the West Coast. It is so steep that the older buses pipe blue smoke and can not go faster than a few miles an hour on the climb. I know this because I tried to pass one in my mother’s 16 year old Susuki, the one with the sewing machine for an engine. My top speed was 12 mph, only slightly faster than the slowly moving bus.

bathsheba rock The village has its characters, the local surfers and their buddies like Horse, Snake, Smoky, Ace, Hoggy and Oz. World famous surfer Mark Holder (The Boss) is my neighbour, living in a yellow chattel house with his family.

I came home tonight before sunset and had to edge the car around a bull eating the hedge at the end of the drive. Villagers bring their cows, black bellied sheep and goats to graze wherever they see green. The soil is dry and barren, grass is scarce. I walked down the lane a little later and carefully passed the bull. It was still there, big, calm, happy, eating and looking very much like a bull. I met Snake, we exchanged acknowledgements: “Hi, hi man, howdy”. “How is it?”. “Good, man, and you?”. “Great”. “See you”. A car passed and blew its horn at some lights on the corner. A busy night.

roundhouse room4 balcony seaviewI was on my way to Round House, an inn and restaurant catering to tourist and upper class Bajans. The boys, Snake, Smoky and the Boss come here on reggae nights when their girls “from away” are in town.

The walk to Round House is about 1/2 mile from where I am staying. It ambles along the tiny road which used to be a railway track. It’s twilight, I pass Smoky’s shack where a young couple, tourists, sit watching the sea. They sit at a lone table in a room with no front wall. Smoky has knocked out the front walls to allow a better view of the sea. Some people say he knocked down the walls because he likes knocking down walls, but it looks like a creative and not destructive act.

barabcuda tent bay

Smoky plans to make the shack into a bar and restaurant, but the health authorities denied his license three times. He is still trying to get it approved; in the meantime you can join him and his herd of mongrel dogs for refreshments, TV and a chat, almost anytime.

Past Smoky’s is the Bajan Surf Bungalow, run by Melanie, a world class surfer, who cooks flying fish lunches for her guests and runs the place in between a busy surfing schedule. Surfing is tough she says, “I get hit by boards, cut by coral and flung to the bottom by powerful waves that will knock the stuffing out of the fittest of us. Then I have to deal with all the guys trying to take possession of my waves and sometimes me. Some are just not cool”. She is off to Brazil to represent Barbados in a couple of weeks. She is a pretty girl, in excellent shape from surfing and walking fast up and down the hills. Anna from England is staying with her, recovering from a broken heart. Bathsheba is a great place to recover, I think, from everything.

Round House is at the bottom of the North finger road which winds down a very steep hill. The buses don’t pass this way and my Susuki, can only make it with a running start. Round House food is wholesome fried fish fare with friendly service. People come for the ambience, the view and the raw feeling of the place. Patsy the waitress, sometimes bar tender, cook and manager is a great hostess. She has a lovely smile and a gentle, sincere way with her guests. She loves Bathsheba, grew up here and never wants to leave. Got herself involved with a couple of guys who played around. Now she wonders what the hell commitments mean. She and her 6 year old daughter live just up the hill. She wants a rottweiler to keep her company now instead of a man. “I’ll not trust a man again” she tells me. “I could not get close to you, if you were interested, I just would never trust you, a dog I can trust, a man, who can?”. Hard words from such a slight and gentle person. But hurt will turn a warm heart cold and rob it of all feeling. Betrayal is a wretched kind of hurt. Playing around is part of the nature of many of these fun-loving Barbadian men. It’s a game, a sport that becomes an addiction, almost a definition of who they are.


The surfers and friends make a living by their wits. They can aspire to be stars like Boss and Melanie, but there is room for only a few at the top. Even International surfing stars make little from the sport. Bathsheba surfing boys take pride in attracting women tourists who will entertain them and pay the expenses. Tourist girls often fall in love with them, they are fit and muscular, handsome and full of fun. But they are fickle, macho men. Some marry. Smoky married a tourist but it did not last. Snake is going to Sweden to live with the Swedish beauty who fell for him. Mostly the boys have many steadies, who are often away, which suits them fine.

There is a church by the sea just down the road from a baker and rum shop. It is right beside Rest Haven, a rustic and overpriced apartment guesthouse. It is a community of traditional chattel houses, about four in all, close to some of the best surfing on the island. The chattel houses are old, and mostly held together by paint. Termites have half eaten them. Each house has a central room that acts as dining room, sitting room and an extra bedroom. Painted plywood tables and hard upright school chairs suggest fast food and heavy drinking rather than gourmet dining. It’s a surfers den. The bedrooms are tiny and sparse; each has a Bible on the bedside table. They are furnished with hair mattresses on makeshift wooden beds.

SeaU Main House Superior
Sea-U Guest house, just up the hill on the South finger, is the most upscale accommodation in the neighbourhood. It really is in Trents, a fishing outpost just to the south of Bathsheba. Beside Sea-U is Atlantis, a rather ugly concrete structure with a wonderfully authentic old-world feeling. The food is good local fare: pudding and souse, peas and rice, plantain, stews and fresh catch of the day. The dining room hangs above the water where fishermen land their catch. The wind blows strong through the open veranda.

On the North border of the village, above Round House, is Edgewater Inn. It has endured a multitude of owners and neglect. Wind and salt have taken a toll. Nothing survives the constant salt-abrasive wind. Rust seeps through cement walls and drips down painted wood. Cement structures decay from the inside out. Their reinforced iron rods rust, expand and crumble. Rust, wood, cement and strips of metal hold structures together by accident, it seems. Yet it is utterly charming and real. You sense a history and a past, rich with experience. The old buildings have a raw charm and fit perfectly into place.

It’s a raw place this Bathsheba, but Bajans and tourists come here to escape and to recuperate: to breath the invigorating air, clean and fresh from its passage over thousands of miles of open sea; to feel the wild, moist wind on their faces, blowing all cares away. Many affluent Bajans own holiday homes here. They come for weekends and for vacations. They rent them out to friends. At Catllewash, half a mile north of Bathsheba village, there is a community of these holiday homes.

Cattlewash Holiday-Home owners are mostly white Bajans. They are not necessarily racially divided, just miles apart in culture, interests and lifestyles. On weekends and holidays they entertain at Catlewash with fish and chicken BBQ’s, gourmet dinners with fine wine, and rum punch parties in the day. Cattlewash homeowners don’t know Snake or Oz and have no interest in these lives.

It is rumored that a major housing development is planned for Cattlewash. The boys, who don’t expect to benefit from the expansion, do not generally approve of this, except maybe for Ace and others who know a thing or two about cars and mechanics and can make a buck at it. Ace is pretty good for a self-taught man. He knows how to remove your distributor cap and sell it to you when he is called in for the fixit job. But he only works for people he does not like, which is fine by his friends.

cattlewash beach

Bathsheba is where the Cattlewash community buys bread, rum and other necessities. It has several rum shop-stores, a baker, an art studio and fruit and vegetable stalls. On the hilltop there is a surprisingly good mini supermarket that sells a variety of wine, food and provisions. The service is friendly and warm, with great attention to detail. I nearly bought vegetarian bacon, but the owner came over to show me the finest local bacon. If you want a local breadfruit, just ask and she get someone to pick a fresh, ripe one for you.

Stores are not just places to buy things, they are social clubs. People meet and chat even in the supermarket. Every corner store is a rum shop where talk and rum, good company and sharing are dispensed with candy bars, soap and cooking oil.

I first wanted to rent a house from Mrs. Carter the owner of Carters convenience store. I was warned: “She is well into her 80’s and firmly set in her ways. She will rent only to those she likes”. Mrs. Carter was in her herb garden when I arrived. I introduced myself over the wall. She ignored me, she turned her back and dug her pots. Her helper was embarrassed, he smiled apologetically and said something that had no effect. In her own time Mrs. Carter went into the house without ever acknowledging I was there. As if to say “Mister, when you come visiting, be sure you are invited first”.

I knocked on the door and waited. She had some things to do it seemed so I waited more. “Yes?” she said impatiently, peering at me through the half open window some minutes later. “I am looking for a place to stay and Cliff recommended you might help me”. “Who is Cliff?”. A bad start was getting worse. “I don’t know his surname. He sings.” I said. “Never heard of him, don’t know no singer, don’t care for singers and your nightclub types”, said Mrs. Carter. I told her I did not sing, was quiet, an excellent tenant who did not like nightclubs either. “I think if you give me a chance you will like me”, I said. “Where you from?”. I told her Trinidad. . “Trinidad. Then you must like to party. You married?”. No, and I don’t chase girls either. “You chase boys then?”. “No.” “Well I thought you was with a lady, that’s what the man said. You was supposed to be two people together, not one – I don’t like renting to single men or women”. So she does know Cliff and he did talk to her, I thought.

We had a good chat and she smiled a lot before inviting me back to look at the place. It was not what I wanted but Mrs. Carter was a treat to meet.


It was different in the old days when the trains ran along the coast to Bridgetown. The Gibbsons came with picnic baskets, suitcases, the children and the cow. There was no store selling fresh milk and Mrs. Gibbson knew that fresh milk was important for the family, especially the growing boys, so they always tried to bring Nelly the cow. Each year, when Mr. Gibbson took his month’s holiday from the sugar factory, they came by truck, packing cases, Nelly and the boys piled into the back. Sometimes Mrs. Gibbson and the boys came by train for just a week, sometimes they came just for the weekend. There were always friends and families in the nearby homes; the children played in the Gully, caught crayfish in Joe’s river and picked sea moss from the rocks. Mrs. Gibbson boiled the sea moss and made it into a jelly which they ate. It did not taste so great but it was good for you.

It was before Surfboards had been, but young Bathsheba boys still played in the waves, without a thought of being stars. They stared at the families getting off the train and piling into donkey carts for the ride to Cattlewash; white ladies in white lace, elegant and upright under straw hats and parasols. They were in different worlds, much more so then than now. Beach boys in the early 1900 could not be stars, they could not hope to mix with the ladies or their children. But the worlds have changed. White boys today ride the waves with Boss and the gang. The mothers and the boys dance reggae in the same crowd on Fridays at the Round House, while Mrs.
Gibbson turns in her grave.


This is part of the Barbados Saga. A Historical Drama of Barbados since Time Before Man.
The Bathsheba story introduces a part of the modern Barbados society.


The names and characters in these stories are ficticious.
While some aspects may be based on individuals,
most is speculation, imagination and adaption.
Resemblance to any one character is accidental.


Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSagas 5 – After Emancipation

Days like today I feel guilty. Looking out the window I see my mother working the vegetable plot. Sometimes she straightens up, pressed one hand against her back and wipes her arm across her forehead. That’s when it’s hard not to go out to help, but I know what she’ll say: You get inside and do your lessons and when you finish, you come help. She’s always telling me to do lessons. Mr. Clark, the teacher at St. Lawrence chapel school mostly makes us learn catechism and I memorized that already. But if I go out and tell my mother I finished, she’ll say Get back inside and do your numbers! or Do your letters! So I stay in and study some more. I keep hoping my father will come back to help her. He’s in Trinidad. My mother says you can get three times the pay for the same work there and when he comes back they’ll have some money and she won’t have to work so hard. * My best friend Jatty Grigg has to work all the time. His parents need the extra pair of hands to help pay the tenancy, so he only comes to chapel school about half the time. But it’s Saturday so there’s no school today anyway.

Every Saturday the women go up to do washing at the pond. All the women do is chatter all day. Jatty and me and the other boys kick a rag ball around the field. We don’t have to do anything except sometimes sprinkle cassava starch on the clothes when they tell us to or turn the clothes over on the bleach rock. Saturday is the best day of the week. * The teacher, Mr. Clark, is all right except one eye is always looking in a different direction so you never know if he’s talking to you. My mother makes me go on time but Mr. Clark is usually at least an hour late so I’m alone in the classroom a lot. I look at the books from the cabinet (no one ever locks it). One of them has pictures of people’s insides and I hide it behind Plato’s Dialogues in case Mr. Clark comes earlier than usual. One week I counted and he was only in the classroom for four hours.

Today he told us that the school inspector is coming. Mr. Clark looked nervous about it. Jatty told me Mr. Clark gets paid by how well we do on the exam. From the way Mr. Clark was carrying on, I believe it. He was giving out licks with his paddle faster than you could answer. After class he asked me to give extra lessons to the other kids so they’d be ready. I wanted to tell him to do it himself, but I knew it would only get me more licks. * Jatty got mad because he can’t do arithmetic. I was trying to show him and some other kids but Jatty wouldn’t listen. He said what good is arithmetic when you’re cutting can or digging sweet potato? Because that’s all any of us are going to do anyway. I told him he was ignorant and he hit me so I hit him back and pretty soon we were rolling around in the dirt in front of my house. I kept on hitting him because I thought he might be right.

At first I didn’t ask my mother about what Jatty said because I thought she’d get mad. She was cooking salt fish outside in the rock kitchen. She could see I was thinking about something so she made me ask. She didn’t get mad like I thought. She got quiet.

She said when slavery ended, not much changed. Most doors stayed closed. But one that did open was education. Maybe you’ll end up cutting cane, she said. I want something better for you but maybe you’ll end up cutting cane. It’s important to learn that you’ve got value as a human being, regardless of what other people say you’re worth. That’s what comes from education. I think I know what she meant but none of that would have convinced Jatty. * The inspector came today. Mr. Clark was especially nervous. His eye was rolling around in his head like crazy and whenever somebody answered a question wrong he banged his hand on his desk. Finally the inspector asked Mr. Clark to wait outside.

Most everybody knew the catechism and most could do their numbers and letters. When the inspector got to me he asked me the usual questions and when I knew the answers he asked some harder ones. When I knew the answers to those too he looked surprised. He pulled down one of the books from the cabinet (Plato’s Dialogues, one I’ve looked at plenty of times in the mornings before Mr. Clark arrives) and asked me to read him some. I told him the first couple of lines without looking. After all this, the inspector talked to Mr. Clark and Mr. Clark looked real happy. Jatty leaned over and said, Well, I guess he’s gonna get paid. * When I came back with firewood from the gully Mr. Crowe was standing in front of the house. I waited on the other side of the hedge, thinking I could hide until he went away. My mother says he’s the same as he was before they ended slavery. He doesn’t see any difference between overseeing slaves and managing located laborers. He was standing with his hands on the top of his white breeches. I heard him say my name. He was talking about the exam. He was saying how much he believed in education for Negroes.

Learn punctuality, he said. Learn to perform your duties cheerfully. But don’t learn aspirations, don’t try to exceed your station because it will only lead to trouble.

My mother was quiet while he said this. Even though we pay on time, Mr. Crowe can evict us any time he likes. From the look on her face, if she opened her mouth it was going to be trouble. After he left all she said was, Don’t mind him. He’s ignorant. * Now that Mr. Clark’s been paid and he doesn’t have a visit from the inspector to worry about, he was extra late today. Since there’s nothing at home except work, most of us kicked a rag ball around the yard outside St. Lawrence Church. Pretty soon a preacher came along. Jatty said we were gonna get licks for playing ball in the churchyard. But the preacher just wanted to know which one was Nat. I told him I was and he said he was from Pilgrim’s Place secondary school here in Christchurch. They found out about my exam and they were offering me a place at their school. I figured it was a joke and so did Jatty. But the preacher marched me home to my mother and told her the same thing. I didn’t see her smile or cry or shout but I could hear all three in her voice when she said, Nat, you’re smart enough to know an open door when you see one.

Author’s note: The first major gesture towards education for all in Barbados was made in the form of the Negro Education Grant of 1835, though the motives behind these initial moves were dubious. Newly emancipated Blacks were hungry for education but the planters saw schooling merely as a means for producing a docile working class and tried to influence the curriculum accordingly.

The picture today is very different. Since independence from Britain in 1966, the government of Barbados has been distinguished by its commitment to education. Today, more than 20% of its annual spending goes to education (compare that with 5% in the U.S.). Education on the island is of the highest quality, regardless of the student’s sex, race or colour.


Tours and holidays on Education – Codrinton Colledge & more >>>

Codrington College
Oldest Anglican theological college in Western Hemisphere. more ››


Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSagas.com 4 Rebellion (Bussa)

Moved to RoguesinParadise.com –



On April 12th there was a Good Friday dance at the River Plantation. From all over St. Philip slaves came to join in the revelry. As the sun went down, friends gathered to catch up on news; rum eased aching limbs, dancing erased awareness of tomorrow’s labour. Amidst the revelry Daniel saw several of the slave ‘officers’ from other plantations standing apart from the crowd, huddled together conspiratorially. There was Jackey, the driver from Simmons, Johnny Cooper from Bayleys, and Charles, the driver from Sandifords. Along with them was the African-born ranger from Bayleys, a man of noble bearing who had known freedom in his lifetime. It was Bussa. Each time Daniel looked in their direction he felt a powerful rush of excitement and trepidation. Instinctively he knew that the rebellion was at hand.

Get the full Story on Rogues in Paradise


WorldSagas 3 – Nyala and the Slave Ships

Nyala walked up the footpath leading away from his village, thinking of the meeting he had just had with the Ibo elders. He was the son of the Chief and destined to be a leader someday soon. There were many responsibilities for a chief. African tribes had been at war with each other for some time, but these wars were now being driven by a new greed. Europeans had begun buying the captured men and women as slaves and the wars had extended to village raids and kidnapping for the sole purpose of selling captives as slaves.

From the 1500’s Portugal and Spain had used African slaves in their sugar plantations in Brazil and the West Indies. The Netherlands, France, and England began doing the same in the early 1600.. To the Europeans, Africans were much prized, they had an innate understanding of nature and were knowledgeable agricultural workers… A good, strong mail slave would fetch up to 30 pounds in Barbados, about $1500US in today’s currency (See more about slave ships at https://roguesinparadise.com/african-slavery-afro-bajan-heritage/).

Nyala did not notice the men until it was to late. They were lying in wait and sprung from the bushes as he passed. He turned swiftly, just in time to see the heavy set African swing the club above him. Within moments he was unconscious, bound, gagged and on his way to a fort on the coast.

Far away in England, men talked in church halls and in private clubs of the slave trade, some with conscience, but to many it was simply a business:

Elias Penrose clutched the collar of his greatcoat tighter around his neck and cursed the biting cold of English winter. How tiresome it was to take time from his schedule to speak to members of the business community-a task made more detestable by the fact that these businessmen indulged some absurd notion of social conscience. To Elias one pursued either the aims of business or of morality, but not both, and those who attempted to do so were deluding themselves. Nevertheless, as a businessman himself, he knew the value of public relations; liberals or not, these men awarded large shipping contracts and had to be placated. So it was with his business interests in mind that he composed his face in a congenial smile and entered the church hall.

After the handshakes and small talk, they got down to business. A ruddy-faced and rotund man, who strongly resembled a walrus stuffed into a gray wool suit, stood and spoke.

‘Mr. Penrose, as you know, there is in our society a great deal of concern regarding the ethics and practice of the trade in African slaves. You have generously agreed to meet with us as a knowledgeable representative of a company that deals in slaves as well as other commodities and I trust we can count on you as a man of your word to answer all questions forthrightly. ‘ Elias Penrose held out his hands in a practiced gesture of openness. ‘of course.’ The walrus shuffled his papers and began: ‘Mr. Penrose, what period is usual for the crossing from Africa to the colonies in the West Indies?’

‘Six to eight weeks, sir.’ ‘And for that time, what space is allotted each slave?’ ‘For the men, each is given a space of six feet in length and of adequate width to allow him to recline comfortably. As for headroom, it varies according to ship. On some the space between decks is just over four feet and others nearly six

Nyala was bruised and exhausted after a week’s stay in the fort. Judged old enough to constitute a threat, he was fitted with heavy iron shackles before being jostled and shoved aboard the Parrey-a ship owned by Elias Penrose. The crew of the Parrey shouted and gestured for him to crawl through the grate below decks and press himself into the honeycomb of narrow wooden platforms where others were already lying prone. Some of them had been down here several months, waiting for the ship to finish collecting its human cargo. As the crew forced more and more people into the hold, there ceased to be enough room to lie flat and everyone had to lie on their sides. Unused to confined spaces, Nyala struggled and thrashed until he struck his head against the platform just inches above. There was no place to move, no way to sit up, and still the bodies kept coming.

* The man in gray wool continued: ‘Mr. Penrose, would you be so kind as to explain the measures taken to ensure the health of the slaves once aboard?’ ‘Naturally there is a physician aboard each ship. In the event of illness the half deck is appropriated for a sick berth.’ ‘And is there ample opportunity for the slaves to take exercise?’ ‘Of course, sir. They are brought above decks for a third of each day and encouraged to move about and stretch their limbs. I can say in all honesty that the slaves on the whole are humanely treated.’

Three weeks out from the Bight of Benin, the Parrey hit rough seas and those below decks were no longer allowed out. Nyala lost track of days and soon was aware of nothing other than the unbearable stench of excrement, the moans and wretching and the crush of humanity that shifted and slid in its own filth as the ship rolled on the waves.

A man with kind eyes carrying a medicine bag came down through the grate clutching a white cloth to his nose and mouth. Nyala watched as the man picked his way among the tangle of limbs, pausing here and there to apply ointment to sores caused by incessant rubbing of skin against iron and wood, or to offer a brown bottle to those afflicted with vomiting or diarrhea. With each successive patient the man appeared more distressed. He had nearly reached Nyala when a wave caused him to lose his footing and pitch headlong into the sloshing effluent. Overcome by a fit of heaving he went back above decks.

‘* What of our British sailors, Mr. Penrose. With the hold occupied by slaves, what accommodation is made for them?’ ‘They make use of hammocks and are quite comfortable on deck.’ ‘And in stormy conditions?’ ‘In a storm the crew shelter under tarps which they suspend from the rigging like a tent. I have sheltered under such a tarp myself, sir, and I can assure you it is commodious and effective.’

The weather worsened.. Through the grate in the deck Nyala saw a towering wall of gray water, then an iron-colored sky, then water again. With each roll he felt the ship would surely capsize. He found himself hoping that the ocean would pull them all under, washing him clean and drowning him so that his spirit could return home. Each time he thought: ‘This time it will go over,’ and each time the ship righted itself.

The sailors on deck were scurrying about like ants, securing the sails, closing portholes, stowing loose lines. To keep the waves and rain from filling the hold they fixed a tarp across the grate. Everything below was darkness now. Frightened cries rose to accompany the shrieking of wind and groaning of timbers.

The gale blew itself out after sixteen hours. By the time the tarp was removed and the portholes opened nearly a third of the people below had perished. But not Nyala. Against his own will he’d survived. He sat on deck with the other survivors, still shackled, staring out with unseeing eyes as the dead were flung unceremoniously over the side and the hold was flushed out with seawater. A bitter conviction formed inside him that wherever this ship was taking him and whatever waited for him, there was life inside him that could not be extinguished or broken. If the hell of this floating graveyard had not been able to do it, nothing could.

Two weeks later, the Parrey arrived in Bridgetown on the island of Barbados, where Nyala was sold to Colonel Berringer owner of a large sugar plantation in the parish of St. Andrew.

* ‘Mr. Penrose, we do sincerely thank you for your time. We’d be honored if you would remain a while and take some light refreshment. The Ladies’ Auxiliary have set out tea and cakes.’ The formal meeting dissolved into a tea party. Nearly every member of the committee approached Elias Penrose to thank him for ‘setting the matter straight’ and ‘addressing our concerns.’ In the effusive rush of relieved consciences Elias secured two new shipping contracts. Though he personally found it distasteful dealing with weak-livered men like this, business, he reminded himself, was business.

More >>> Colonel Berringer & Nicholus Abbey – Heritage Plantation

The historic Nicholas Abbey is the only operating Jacobean plantation in the world. It still operates using theam mils to crush the cane and it produces an award winning heritage rum. The old house is  fascinating authentic Jacobean structure with three chimneys. Archeological digs reveled ancient Amerindian settlement. There is a museum of these cultural relicks and a old film of one of the maiden voyages by ship from England.


Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSagas 1- Barbados

A Long, long time ago… The start of our Barbados Saga.. Links to Other Saga, Amerindians, Slave ships, Pirates, Moder life etc.

From a vast height the islands of the Lesser Antilles looked the same five hundred years ago as they do now: a delicate chain of islands binding the ponderous bulks of the Greater Antilles to the southern continent. To the east, the froth-capped midnight blue of the equatorial Atlantic, a nursery for generations of tropical storms. To the west, the placid sapphire waters of the Caribbean Sea.

One island in this chain stands apart from the others, slightly out of line as if asserting its individuality. And as we come nearer we see that among the islands it is unique, not coarse and spiked like the shell of a conch, as the others are, but smoothly rounded with softly undulating hills that echo the gentle swells of the Caribbean. Indeed to say, as some have, that this island was born of the sea is as much fact as poetry, for the island is an enormous and ancient coral reef, lifted above the surface of the ocean by the tectonic forces that gave birth to its fiery neighbours.

Five hundred years ago, this island that stands apart was still covered with luxuriant primeval forests of bearded fig, whitewood, and West Indian cedar. The Amerindian inhabitants, called Lacono, used conch axes to clear small areas for huts and fields of cassava, maize and sweet potato, which they planted in happily disorganized clusters with no regard for geometry or organized rows. Our story begins here, in one of these clearings, where a young Lacono woman along with her two daughters, was preparing bitter cassava just as her people had done on the island for over three thousand years. Her name was Matamu.

See more about Barbados unique geology

Next – Amerindians Dream of the Ancient Turtle


Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org

WorldSagas 2 – Amerindians Dream of the Turtle

With a conch knife Matamu deftly split the poisonous tuber, took one half in her hands and began to work it across the coral grater in her lap, producing a fibrous pulp. This pulp she pushed through the hole at the top of the snake-like matapi basket, which hung from the roof of the palm-thatched hut. Her daughters, who like all children were happy to help with chores provided a game could be made of them, were seesawing on the wooden lever attached to the bottom of the matapi basket, which caused it to contract rhythmically, squeezing the poison out of the pulp.‘Tell us a story!’ they cried.

Matamu was powerless in the face of her daughters, whom she adored. Also, she was a gifted storyteller (even among the Lacono of the island, who were aficionados of the art form) and rarely refused a request for a story.

‘What story would you like to hear?’ she asked with feigned curiosity for she knew exactly which one they wanted. With each bounce on the lever they shouted one word: ‘Tuani! And! The! Turtle!’

Matamu smiled, scooped another handful of cassava pulp unto the matapi basket and began: ‘A long time ago when the world was in its infancy, the Lacono people lived far across the water. One day, Yocahu, the giver of cassava, became angry with the people. He reached down and with a mighty swipe of his conch knife, cut the people loose from their fields. Everyone knows that birds are birds and the sea is the sea but humans also feel the forces that lift the tides and compel the swallow each year to fly to the sunrise. So when Yocahu cut the Lacono loose, they drifted across the ocean.’

‘One day the sun did not rise and instead there came a huracan. The sea became a dragon and the waves became its teeth and it reared up to crush the Lacono in their tiny canoa. Everyone was terrified except Tuani, who was still a young girl no older than you two. The dragon writhed and thrashed its tail but Tuani slept as if she were rocking in her hamaca. And while she slept she dreamt of the goddess Atabeyra who told her to watch and wait.’

‘The next day the dragon lay down on its back and the huracan moved away, but still the people were frightened because they were lost and didn’t know where to go. We will surely die on the sea! they wailed, but Tuani waited quietly at the front of the canoa. Soon there appeared a turtle. Tuani recognized Atabeyra and persuaded the others to follow her, which they did for three days and nights. Finally they reached a forested island, rounded on top like a turtle’s shell and when Tuani set her foot on the white sand she knew she was home.’

After a moment the two girls begged Matamu to tell it again but once was enough, besides, most of the juice had already been extracted from the cassava. Fashioned into cakes, the pulp would be dried and cooked on a clay griddle, but that was a chore for tomorrow. Matamu sent the girls off to play and went to find her husband.

Blessed with rich fertile soil, freshwater springs and easy access to an inexhaustible supply of flying fish with which to supplement their diet, the Lacono had found themselves with a surfeit of leisure time on their hands. In the early days of the settlement they had filled this time with rituals of personal ornamentation and the production of ornate pottery and elaborately carved canoa. But gradually over the years the ease of life on the island had tempered this industriousness into a much slower paced lifestyle. Pottery and canoa became simple and functional and grooming habits relaxed so much that men took to wearing long beards. Now they dedicated their free time to singing and telling stories and taking astoundingly long afternoon naps in hamaca under the shady cabbage palms. It was in this last activity that Matamu found her husband Bela deeply involved.

‘Get up, you oaf,’ she said. ‘I’m asleep,’ he mumbled. ‘I am going for a swim and you are coming with me.’ ‘I am already swimming with you in my dreams. Isn’t that enough?’

At this, Matamu rolled her husband out of his hamaca and sent him crashing to the sand where he pretended to snore.

‘You are fat and lazy as a manatee,’ she said and covered his nose and mouth until he gasped and chased her down into the sea. After a good deal of wrestling, Bela surrendered and the pair fell exhausted into a hole in the rocks that formed a natural bathtub (a feature that would later inspire settlers from England to call this spot Holetown). Matamu and her husband were floating contentedly side by side when something on the horizon caught her eye. Though hardly more than a speck, the dark shape cast a portentous shadow over her mind and filled her with dread.

‘Bela,’ she whispered. ‘We must tell the others.’

From the cover of the trees the Lacono watched apprehensively as a group of pale men climbed down from the giant canoa into a smaller boat and rowed towards the shore.

‘They are Karifuna,’ one man hissed, by which he meant the cannibals who several times over previous generations had raided the island in search of men to fight and women to kidnap.

‘Those are not Karifuna,’ replied a man old enough to remember. ‘These men are pale and cover their bodies in cloth. Besides, the Karifuna never had a canoa like that.’ He pointed at the sailing ship.

‘As you say,’ Matamu whispered. ‘But just the same, I have an uneasy feeling. We should hide in the gully until they go.’

Her husband, who had learned to trust Matamu’s intuition, nodded in agreement.

‘No,’ said the chief boldly. ‘These men are strangers and we will go down to meet them and discover that they want. I will take six men with me. The rest of you will wait here.’

The Lacono had no knowledge of war but neither were they cowards. Six men volunteered to go with the chief, including Bela, whose pride did not allow him to stay behind despite his misgivings. After a final embrace, Matamu looked on as he and the others followed the chief down the sand to where the pale men were coming ashore. The strangers did not attack immediately as she had feared, but merely observed the Lacono men and talked animatedly among themselves. She had just decided they might be friendly after all when, at the order of their leader, the pale men assaulted the Indians. Those at the tree line could do little else but watch in horror as their men were overpowered and forced onto the small boat.

That night, hidden in one of the deep shady gullies that crisscrossed the island, Matamu and the others huddled together and desperately questioned each other as to what to do next. The shaman, the most influential of the group now that the chief was gone, decided to seek guidance from the protector of the dead, the dog-spirit Opiel-Guaobiran. The others watched in expectant awe as he prepared himself for the ritual.

To purify himself he took a swallowing-stick made of bone and inserted it into his throat until, with a wracking heave, he vomited up the contents of his stomach. From inside his bag he pulled a small zemi statue of the dog-spirit and knelt on the ground before it, where he crushed the leaves of the cahoba plant with a carved stone roller. Through a Y-shaped tube he snorted the crushed plant into his nose.

The Lacono jumped back in fright when, all at once, the shaman began to shake and leap around the zemi figure while a torrent of strange words poured from his mouth. Then, just as suddenly, he collapsed to the earth. Matamu rushed forward to help. Exhausted, he looked into her eyes and hissed, ‘Opiel-Guaobiran waits for us.’

At that moment from the shrubs at the entrance to the gully one of the men who’d been captured burst forth. Matamu let out a cry of joy, believing that her husband and the others had escaped. But it was soon apparent that this man was alone. Between ragged breaths he told how he had jumped overboard when the pale men were distracted and had swum for his life towards shore.

‘What of Bela?’ Matamu shrieked.

‘Bound,’ the man said with tears in his eyes, ‘and taken away.’

Late at night, in snatches of restless sleep, Matamu dreamt. She dreamt of an ancient turtle who, with infinite sadness, led her and her daughters away from this island, away from their home, and across the sea.

The next day there was no sign of the sailing ship. A week passed before the man who had escaped from the pale ones became ill. He would be the first to fall victim to the deadly influenza the strangers had brought with them.


Explore Traces of this Ancient Culture and History – 

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Next in Series >>  Nyala – Slave Ship Abdiction


Source: Ian R. Clayton, Originally on Barbados.org