What’s In a Name? Ask Barbadians–They Know.

What's In a Name? Barbados, by Illian RainThis is a hard post to write–not because of the subject matter but because of the coconut bread/salt water/sun-drenched stupor that I am currently marinating in. No–I’m not complaining, I’m just hot to the point of feeling semi-drunk all the time, and true enough, two pints under the sun has the ability to leave me woozy. 

So, in lieu of anything more pressing this week I’ve compiled a partial list of some of my favourite place-names on the island. I have a running list that I add to every visit. Why? Because I can. Because Bajans find endlessly creative names to call their places and I love it. So without further ado (and a heartfelt request that you overlook any weird grammar or spelling errors out of compassion for my outsized mosquito bites and sunburnt head) here’s the first round: 

  1. Retreat: I’m half Irish and half Scottish and that makes me a stubborn bastard, therefore my initial reaction to this road sign was “No, absolutely not”, followed by a mad charge into the land of…sheep and butterflies. And beer. Well you can’t win ’em all. Especially when there is nothing to win or lose. My map is all the way in another room and the internet is giving me nothing so I’ll have to get back to you after I confirm which parish Retreat is in. 
  2. The Risk, St. Lucy: I love this name; I love the idea of traveling North and skyward, fighting my way up all those winding hills until I pass the battered sign, that tiny sign announcing I have arrived at the seat of an ultra-wise oracle sitting around waiting to hand me a set of instructions from ‘the universe’. In reality there is once more a lot of beer, sheep, and brilliant views of the surrounding parish. And paved roads on which to drive. Good enough for me. 
  3. The Whim, St. Peter: This one is in my beloved Speightstown, and it’s the first place-name stunner that sent me reeling in a desperate search for pen and paper with which to commit crappy, embarrassing odes that would do little more than court heavy side-eye and teeth-sucking from hapless citizens of the island. Fortunately for me I was getting married in the next couple of days and was too busy with paperwork to humiliate myself in said fashion. Unsuspecting locals have no idea what a save that was. 
  4. Reckless: What can I say? I was so preoccupied belting out the most horrifying version of Run to You that Bryan Adams has never heard that I failed to note which parish we were driving through. And my map is still in the other room. And the internet is still a lazy asshole (ahem). Innocent bystanders were not so lucky. Thankfully my fellow Canucks are a forgiving bunch (I’m looking at you Mr. Adams) and since I have yet to be deported for audio crimes I’m going to give thanks that Barbadians are much the same. 
  5. Mount Misery, St. Thomas: This name screams Lord of the Rings to me. It is the Mount Doom of the Caribbean; the reckoning spot for all those who suffer under the relentless tyranny of the noonday sun. Only it isn’t. It’s too verdant, too friendly, too happy, and to accessible for that. Tucked into my bed at night however, Mount Misery transmogrifies into the epicenter of an entire island’s sorrows… 
  6. Good Intent, St. George: Maybe I will become a better person inland, away from the sea and all the festive, west coast madness… Nahhhh–we all know about good intentions. Regardless, Barbados really is the island of good intentions because shit will most definitely get done here. Someday. 
  7. Backstage Alley, St. Lucy: I love this place, even though it looks identical to the rest of St. Lucy. No matter. In the back of my mind this is where shit goes to prepare itself before it goes down, whatever ‘it’ may be. Good, bad, irrelevant–all of it converges in the north before trickling down over the rest of the island. 
  8. Great Head, St. Lucy; Cummings Hole, St. Philip: Enough said, ya’ dirty bastards. The British were not clairvoyant and had not one single clue how these might be questionable decisions. The Irish on the other hand–well maybe those Redlegs got up to no good. My people are known for being both a special kind of keen and rather tricksy…(And violent, and determined, and funny too I’ll have you know. But that’s another blog for another day.

Well, there you have it. I’ve enjoyed this so much there may very well be a part two. Of course, when I return to the land of ice and snow things may play out otherwise. Hell, all those feverish scribblings scarring up my notebooks and apps may coalesce into something significant. Or maybe it will all be a comical, feverish dream that we can snicker at together.

Either way I bid you adieu for the moment, as I must return to Discovery ID with Spanish subtitles. Because that’s how it’s done in Bim. 

11 thoughts on “What’s In a Name? Ask Barbadians–They Know.

    1. Yes–my husband is half Bajan and has family there so it’s like a second home. 😊 SE Asia looks marvellous–it’s been on my list for a while. You must have some wonderful stories and photographs. Feverish scribbling is a funny thing–the whole time I was writing another part of me was seriously concerned that it wasn’t making any sense!


      1. Logic and good sense can get very boring though! Lucky you having Barbados as a second home. I have a couple of stories I guess, but no photos sadly. I regret that for sure. No phone at the time, or camera. I’m sure you’d love it, it was very different.

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      2. I am lucky! It’s funny; before meeting my husband I had little interest in the Caribbean–I was a cold weather traveller and I pictured the islands as tourist traps. Utter ignorance on my part. The history here is incredible–and incredibly intense. I felt ridiculous about my previous assumptions and fell in love. Oddly enough I miss the cold. Yes, that’s crazy but it’s also true! 😂 Maybe you can slip us a tale once in a while. And I’m kicking myself that I haven’t reinvested in a real phone after my Canon died over a decade ago–camera phones don’t always do the world justice…


      3. Yes you don’t automatically think ‘sun-worshipper/beach bum’ reading your blog and looking at the images. Ive heard about the Brits in Barbados and that it was pretty monstrous? There’s history stretching back further ofc. Heres a se Asia tale from 2014 on the blog… it’s only short.. https://treatwilliams.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/near-death-experience/ I’m such a drama queen. But take care in that water! If Barbados has waves.

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      4. You are correct–I’m not a traditional sun-worshipper/beach bum though I love to swim and enjoy small (as in tiny) wave surfing. My beach read was, in fact, a tome on the history of Barbados and the cruelties of the English, Dutch, and Spanish (the Big Bads thus far) toward the Kalinago, indentured servants from Scotland and Ireland, and of course the gradually imported slaves from Africa and other Caribbean nations. It is quite a history, and not one that is as widely discussed as other histories. Your read terrified me but I understand it–I’ve underestimated waves before and it IS a peculiar feeling when you realize you are potentially in a life and death circumstance. Part of me was fighting to find a solution and part of me stood back and marvelled that this could really be it. I’m glad you’re okay! Sincerely–you were in a very precarious situation and I’m glad you’re still amongst the living and thought to test the depths. You are totally NOT being a drama queen–I’m sure you have a healthy respect for the sea now. I think she pokes us sometimes when we get careless just to remind us that she is queen. 🙂 Barbados does indeed have waves and I am very, very respectful of them. Talk soon!

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    1. Trekking up hills on islands is amazing! We actually got married several years ago but I’m acutely aware it sounds like my first time every time I’m here. 😂😂😂 But hey–at least I didn’t go on a tangent about my love for the stray cats down at the Esplanade. Next time perhaps, hee hee. It sounds like you’ve done some travelling!


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