From Barbados To Europe : Adventures Of a Bajan Girl Living In Paris
Bonne Année! Happy New Year!
I come to you today to discuss the grievances of Bajans across the globe!
We as Bajans living abroad all know the feeling of coming home. Stepping off of your flight; however long it may have been, onto the tarmac at GAIA gives the most ecstatic feeling. You can hear the resounding sigh of contentment, even before sinking you teeth into a meal from Chefettte located right outside the arrivals…or the feeling of sand in your toes and the familiar sound of the sno-cone man. Can I get a hallelujah?
I’m a newcomer to this “living abroad” thing, and the thought of me spending the Christmas holiday away from home, my family and in the cold almost made me lose it. Not to mention that I would be up binge watching tv shows and munching on french pastries, effectively causing me to look like fat Albert in the space of two weeks.
That being said, I was home for three weeks of December, and I thoroughly enjoyed what seemed like a very short trip back home. Eating all of the things that were either hard to come by or impossible to have in this part of the world, I’m pretty sure that being back home, I gained all the weight that I would have, had I stayed in Paris.
In the order of importance, I’ll list the things that us Bajans miss most when we study/ live abroad.
- FAMILY & CHEFETTE
In no particular order (Chefette comes first in most cases), we miss our family and Chefette ( God bless you Mr. Haloute) in equal intensities. I know I’m contradicting myself somewhat, but after the initial moment of seeing your family, we know you’re happy! But knowing there’s a Chefette no more than 500 metres away from you, there’s no way you can say that you’re paying much attention to your family until you sink your teeth into those juicy chicken tenders (or wing dings should you prefer them). More or less, some of us would even prefer to have our families bearing sweet gifts from Chefette to munch on upon our arrival, but sadly it isn’t always so.
2. THE BEACH
As natives of a Caribbean island, it is an unspoken vow that we never swim in waters that aren’t our own (Caribbean in general), especially the sorry excuses that people call “beaches” in some places. This is a purely Caribbean thing. It is so refreshing to dip into the ocean on an excruciatingly hot day, and after being in a cold climate for so long, it procures an even more amazing feeling. Why would we leave our beautiful beaches to go swim at a “beach” where the shore is made up of stones and not actual sand? However, I haven’t yet taken a dip in the Mediterranean, so as soon as I do, I’ll let you guys know how that went! Rumour has it that it’s actually quite beautiful!
3. NOT HAVING TO BUNDLE UP
For about 7 months out of the year, we have to spend most of our days wrapped, bundled and layered to prevent us from getting frostbite. I can’t speak for all of us, but from social media, it has been proven that cold climates are the enemy of us Caribbean people! Being back home in the warm climate reduces the amount of clothes we have to wear..drastically…and the severity of dry skin and chapped lips.
4. BEING ABLE TO SPEAK DIALECT AND EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS YOU
This one is self-explanatory…It’s hard not to feel like you’re speaking gibberish when nobody understands you speaking english with your accent in partial standard/partial dialect. This forces us to put on our “American accents” (as wunna bajans like to call it) sometimes, because these people DO NOT.. I repeat DO NOT understand us when we speak sometimes. SOME OF US actually try to keep our accents, so please spare us the “you sound the same! you didn’t lose your accent” crap. Not everyone turns into a “Bajan Yankee” in 4 seconds flat.
5. CARIBBEAN PARTIES
Being away from home also gives you a greater appreciation for our parties. I mean..we’ve always had great parties with good vibes (regionally)! We are known for our parties! Imagine my severe disappointment going to a club here in Paris for the first, and consequently, last time ( I’ll admit I don’t do the clubbing thing). Upon asking my other colleagues what party culture here is like, I decided it was a no go and I’d rather hit up the cinema or go to exhibits and dinner with friends for some down time. Conclusion? Don’t party here :”)
6. NATIVE FOODS
There are so many foods native to our island that we miss so dearly when we leave. Fortunately, Bajans around the world have found ways of making our local dishes in their overseas locations by either taking foods back with them, or finding alternatives. (I did the former). Some of the major foods that we miss are:
- Fish Cutters (Cus Cutters)
- Fish cakes
- Macaroni Pie and Chicken: Macaroni pie isn’t macaroni pie ‘lest it’s made with Anchor cheese which is hard to come by on other parts of the world
- Chefette (I mentioned this already, but doing it twice doesn’t kill)
- Sugar Cakes, Guava Cheese, Tamarind Balls, Gooseberries, Dunks
- Sweet/Coconut (Cokenut) bread, Cassava Pone, Currant Slices and don’t you dare forget it.. Jam Puffs!
- Sea Eggs (Not my personal favorite)
So that’s it!
To my fellow Barbadians living abroad, what are the things that you miss? If I’ve left out anything, comment below and let me know!
À la prochaine!
Bajan Girl Abroad
The journey all began at UWI one day while the men were idling away our lives in the canteen having some lunch, by chance a member of a what...