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Barbados A Total Vacation

 

People have been coming (and coming back) to Barbados for rejuvenation and refreshment for more than 200 years. At the turn of the 18th century, businessmen, clerics, and military and naval officers from Europe and North America were frequent visitors

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What is it about Barbados that keeps pulling people back? “Come Back to Barbados”, the slogan used to say, and that’s what people do. One of the local tourist publications is always talking to visitors who are in Barbados for their third, fifth, seventh time, or who have been coming every year since they can remember, never seriously considering a holiday anywhere else. What is it with them?


It’s not only a visitor phenomenon, either. Consider Alison Hinds, for example (as many people do): she is Barbados’s megastar soca entertainer, the one you really have to hear if you want to boast that you know Barbados. She wasn’t even born on the island. She was born 4,000 miles away, in the eastern suburbs of London. But her parents were Barbadian, and they visited the island every year, as many Caribbean exiles do, taking young Alison with them. And every time they had to leave at the end of a visit and head back north, bitter tears would flow.


By the time she was 11, Alison was ready to stay for good. Today, she is as Bajan as they come: you wouldn’t dream for a moment that she had ever been anywhere else, except for the highly polished professionalism of her performances, perhaps. She is one of her country’s major artists and promoters.


This yearning to stay, or at least to return, again and again — it’s a striking phenomenon. What keeps people coming back? Maybe the landscape has something to do with it: those rolling green fields sloping down to coral sand beaches, spectacular even by the Caribbean’s high standards. Perhaps it’s the way the island is ringed with these superb playgrounds, so that you’re never far from white sand and irresistible blue water: calm Caribbean blues to the south and west, the Atlantic’s thunder on the east and north coasts.


It’s the sort of setting guaranteed to make people back in London and New York groan and tear their hair as the winter wind blows and the freezing sleet flies through the streets. Barbados, after all, is naturally blessed with a well-nigh perfect climate: tropical temperatures tempered by the island breeze, comfortably warm nights — the kind of weather you’d specify if you were writing a script for an ideal holiday.



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