When I was given the folder of my handwritten letters to my parents when my father died in 1996, I was amazed that he had kept them for ten years. But so pleased that he did. We tend to remember the major events, and we had plenty of amazing experiences in those two years of living in the United States, but it is easy to forget the everyday…
This letter at the end of August was to be my last letter home from America in 1986. Two weeks later I went home for two weeks and when we returned from the UK we knew that we would be returning there on January 1st 1987. We also got into the habit of ringing my parents every week until we left.
In the meantime we fitted in a trip to Barbados using up some of the air miles and Marriott Hotel points we had accumulated. All we had to do was pay for our car hire (mini-moke) and food and drink.
August 24th 1986.
Dear M & D.
So excited to see you in three weeks and cannot believe it is a year since your visit to us. After my week with you in Portsmouth, I am catching a train up to Manchester to join David at his conference and to discover our fate. They have offered him the job of Chief Engineer back in Liverpool, and it is obviously something that he has worked for over the last five years with the company.
Anyway in the meantime I thought you might like to hear about our Barbados adventure.
The flight time is not too bad just under six hours, and we arrived mid-afternoon to find a humid day but bright sunshine. We took a taxi to our Marriott hotel which was on the windy side of the Island…which meant the sea was not as calm as we expected but more about swimming later.
The resort was set in some lovely grounds and there was everything you could possibly need in the main building.
Our room was on the ground floor of an annex with a small patio with two recliners and a view of the grounds and sea in the distance, which was perfect for sipping a rum cocktail before dinner (duty free). Wonderful seafood and great service and after our early start we were in bed by 10pm and ready to start the adventure the next day.
We were on the patio enjoying our first cup of coffee of the day, when we got the fright of our lives as a furry creature ambled passed us, stopping to give us a look as to say, ‘not another tourist’ and then headed off about is business. We checked with the front desk later to discover it was a mongoose. Apparently it was brought in from India in the late 1800s to take care of the rats in the sugar cane. Only they had not done their homework, as rats are nocturnal and the mongoose is a day time predator. However, they decimated the snake population instead, much to my relief as you know how much I dislike snakes. Still it was an interesting snippet to find out.
Before we hit the beach we had to get dressed for our interview with the local police. No, I had not got into trouble… but to drive a rental vehicle, you need a temporary Barbadian driving licence. We decided I would be driving, so was the one to go through the formalities and had to show my licence and passport before being issued with a two week permit. We had arranged to have our vehicle delivered by the hire people and as is customary on the island, it was a mini-moke.
I don’t have a picture of our actual mini-moke but here is an image from Wikipedia.
The formalities out of the way, we changed into our swimmers and headed off to the beach.
We had bought a belly board from from the hotel shop very cheaply, which if you remember I was quite proficient at when we lived in South Africa. I headed into the surf and emerged an hour later having recovered my expertise.. Only to find David in hysterics. I had been wiped out a couple of times and been thrown around in the surf quite a bit. Turns out I had acquired rather a lot of sand in the crotch of my swimsuit that was very noticeable when I walked out of the water. We had gathered a small crowd of young locals who were clearly envious of my boarding skills but were equally hysterical by the sight before them. More about our new friends later.
After getting changed, and removing a pound of sand…we thought we would try out our mini-moke and we headed off to Bridgetown in search of lunch.
A historic town and very busy, packed with tourists and there was a cruise ship in port which added to the crowds. We had some delicious seafood and checked out some of the guided tours, but decided in the end to follow our noses and get some ideas from the leaflets at the hotel. Our intention was to relax after a very busy summer and David wanted to do some snorkeling.. We did a little bit of souvenir shopping then as we did not have any intention of returning to the town again. Far too busy and we wanted something more relaxing.
We pottered around the hotel and its beach for a couple of days and then headed across to the other side of the island for the day, which is the wind free side and of course the water is calm and placid. There were all sorts of activities for tourists, including a pirate ship that you could spend the day on, but David was intent on teaching me to snorkel. So looking incredibly elegant in flippers, mask and snorkel, I followed him into the water, much to the amusement of the local fishermen casting their lines into the lagoon. Being wary of what is under the water after my escapades with jelly fish, I was a mite terrified.
However, I soon got the hang of it and we headed out to the reef area, and I must say it was amazingly clear water with wonderfully coloured fish and coral. We spent about half an hour and then David dived down towards the sand and gestured for me to come down for a closer look. He was clearly excited by his find, and imagining hidden pirate treasure I headed down to discover more. It was a very long, wriggling creature that looked like a snake to me…and I was not hanging around to find out more. I propelled myself upwards to the surface and headed for shore and shot out of the water between two startled fishermen. David said when he surfaced, the furrow I had created in the water looked like a torpedo had been fired, and that he had never seen me swim so fast. It did turn out to be an eel but I wasn’t taking any chances.
We spent several days exploring the island and popping into some of the other resorts for meals and usually ended up back at our own beach for an hour of surfing. The young lads would congregate after school, and from time to time, after wrecking myself in the surf, I would let them use my board. On our last afternoon we took down a bunch of cold cokes and said our farewells, and I donated my board to the boys who were thrilled. No point in taking it back to Houston and the swimming pool.
We flew home feeling rested, and after all my surfing, and despite eating very well for two weeks, I was 7lbs lighter.. perfect end to a holiday.
Anyway look forward to seeing you very soon and will bring the photographs with me.
love from us both S&D.
Sally Cronin 2019.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed our two years in Houston and our travels as much as we did. It has brought back many of the memories that had been filed away over the last 35 years.