• Liz Lopez

Making Friends

As you know, Lopez is working toward becoming a Bajan American, while I’m just trying to make friends so we can have normal social lives here, like we would at home if it weren’t for a pandemic.

He made a friend for me before we even came, a woman named Jennifer who’s from WI but lives in DC. They met on Reddit and he asked her to be my friend, since she’s my age and would be down here at the same time. He told her that I would go insane with just my family for entertainment and that I needed girlfriends to go out with. (Thank you husband)

We made the trek to Holetown from our failed shoe shopping early Sunday afternoon. Lopez had checked online and was again misinformed about the public transportation situation from Bridgetown to Holetown. With everything in Bridgetown closed for the day, I had a hangry husband, hot and tired kids, and no school shoes. A cab driver offered to take us to Holetown but I only had $25 Bajan on me and he would not take us for that. I told him we’d find public transportation and he followed us, stopping us twice asking for 40 to take us. I literally didn’t have more cash and no ATM in sight and he finally caved. I thought he was ripping us off with the 40 because we’re on a tiny island here folks, nothing can be that far. I’ve been warned by many locals, mostly women, not to let cab drivers take advantage of us. They don’t have meters here and there is no accountability, so they can charge whatever with no repercussion or guidelines. Holy sheet did I feel bad after I realized how far away Holetown is from Bridgetown. On the map it’s like a dust speck down the road! But it was about a 25 minute drive and he, like many cab drivers, pointed out points of interest for us and this one showed us Rihanna’s house! It looked like a resort, taking up an enormous plot of land right on the beach. The houses were estates and the neighborhoods more glamorous and we weren’t on the South Coast anymore.

We made it to Mullins Beach, our agreed upon meeting spot with Jennifer. It was her official quarantine house and although she was cleared, she had the house for 2.5 weeks before her lease started. We waited for her at a picnic table on the beach, part of a tiny little restaurant that offered great food and cold drinks. Jennifer was all for meeting my family, which was perfect since I like them too. She and Faith hit it off and she conversed easily with the babies and Lopez as well. She’d rented a car for the weekend and crammed us all in the car to take her back to her house to rinse off and change into dry clothes. Mullins Beach does not have changing areas, unlike Pebbles Beach and some of the others on the island. Her house is new and tastefully decorated, with a coastal vibe and a lot of space. She invited us all back the following weekend to enjoy it with her, including the grill, the pool, and to let the pups have a playdate in the fenced in backyard. We even hugged because it was good to have a friendly face from the same place. Awwww.

This weekend WE HAVE PLANS, friends. That officially marks three weekends that we’ve had real calendar plans. The first was two weeks ago when we made the trek to Worthing Beach (that day we walked forever and then got ice cream on the way home at Sharkey’s). It was a great day meeting new people and Cal reveled in playing with Henry, their 4-year-old, and Lopez really liked talking to Henry’s dad, who works for the IMF. Their family isn’t on the Welcome Stamp, they moved here for his job. The other family, with three girls, was also cool, but they’re only here for a few months. Cal hit it off nice with Henry so I messaged Holly last week about getting them to Dover (they hadn’t checked it out yet) and sure enough, I was denied because HOLLY HAS DENGUE FEVER. I mean really. We leave the states to stay away from COVID and my friends here are getting f*&%ing dengue fever!! We’ll be seeing them soon and I wish my new friend a speedy recovery. Also I love bug spray.

Calendar entry two was meeting with Jennifer last week at Mullins and this weekend is just chalk full of plans. I’m serious!

After making plans to enjoy the pool and dinner at Jennifer’s, I realized of all times, I’d double booked us. There was a woman my mom had been emailing with about renting her place, which would be lovely for them (but so expensive). She sent me the number for her tenant, Andrew, who is here with his son, Albert, staying in Mamta’s two bedroom. A few weeks back, Andrew took all the kids body surfing at Accra Beach so even the kids have had plans too!

Scrolling through Facebook, I found a Painting and Curry night, hosted by Mamta! I promptly invited myself and dropped off the money last week, on Election Day. I spent 20 minutes discussing American politics, the pandemic and life in Barbados with a young Irish woman whose living in Mamta’s one bedroom. She will be at Painting and Curry night as well and I’m looking forward to the food (prepared by a local chef) as well as coming home with two new paintings for the house! Pretty confident Lopez will be the only guy there but at least the house will have more color and he would never pass up a good meal so win-win for everyone. I then had to request a switch to Friday night at Jennifer’s, and she was thankfully flexible and understanding.

Moving onto our third calendar event of this weekend, (because we’re so cool), we’re heading to a 7th birthday party in Rockley Saturday afternoon. One of the girls Penny insisted on playing with during a day at the beach a few weeks back (the ones who go to St Lawrence Primary) had a lovely dad, Nicolaus, whom I started chatting with while the girls played. I met his wife shortly after, Marie-Lauren, who is French although he’s Canadian. They were living in Canada before moving here on the Welcome Stamp for the school year, jumping on the bandwagon even quicker than we did. I exchanged numbers with Marie-Lauren so she could send me info on St Lawrence Primary, which is nearly impossible to find on Google. They were both so lovely that I hoped to see them again and sure enough, last weekend, I did! They like Dover Beach because of the waves, and since they have a car, it’s easy for them to reach. We chatted more and I introduced them to Lopez and Nicolaus assured me they’d been meaning to reach out to have us over. They put an alert on Marketplace for grills (they go so quickly when posted, and new grills here are quite expensive) but they finally got one! Like any good Expat, they wanted to share the joy of barbequing with those equally appreciative. He assured me they’d reach out with dates soon, which was great since I really enjoyed speaking with both of them and before I knew it, I got a message from Marie-Lauren that they were throwing a birthday party for their seven year old at their pool and we were all invited. Woohooo!

Finally, from the Barbados Expat Facebook group again, a member posted that he was looking for folks with teenagers to get together over the weekend. Since all our kids are presumably doing online school, they haven’t socialized much. I love my Faithy so much, but when she said she’s ‘fine not having friends for eight months, and can just hang with us’, I realized the importance of her making friends. Much like Penny and Cal, she needs social interaction with people her age, even if she doesn’t know it.

So, we’re meeting this guy Paz and another family, plus Andrew and Albert, at Carlisle Bay on Sunday afternoon. What a packed weekend! Bonus, I know where Carlisle Bay is AND how to get there via ZR! Should be a tiring but fun weekend for this newly minted social butterfly and her family.