The Sweet Discombobulation of Travel

I love being sent back to kindergarden where every moment is filled with learning and new ways of doing and seeing things. As we landed today in Barbados, my senses were set to high alert and I couldn’t contain my excitement in pointing out the coconuts palms, the outdoor airport, the cars without doors…anything that caught my attention as new or different. Arriving someplace new often yields this gleeful grounding in the present moment combined with a sense of seeking. This is the true gift of the sweet discombobulation of travel.

As a shy person, these first moments of arrival can be filled with angst. Will I sort out exchanging money, finding my bags, calling for a shuttle, learning how to use the pay phone…eek-having to ask the woman sitting beside the pay phone how much it is to call and why my one piece of Barbados coinage won’t work. She lends me her cell phone.

Rather than drowning in the sea of newness, today the kindness of the Bajans made the transition through the sweet discombobulation easier than usual. Unlike Kathmandu, there was no gauntlet of touts to defend against, instead Keith waited patiently to spirit us to our ocean side apartment via the grocery store.

Grocery stores magnify the “Sweet D.” As we roamed the aisles in search of both the familiar and the not, learning what things cost what, having an idea for a meal, looking for ingredients and swearing that we had just passed the UHT milk but now can’t find it anywhere and coming “home” with the famous and fiery Bajan pepper sauce so hot that it could provide a source of home heating for all Canadians who dare try the rather innocuous looking tangerine elixir.

Our host showed us to our accommodations for our first two nights here (The Ocean Bliss Apartments) and we sat out on the deck declaring that the place had been aptly named. With Keith’s frequent urging that “There is no hurry” and the sounds of the breaking surf, we were instantly lulled into a deep sense of “all is right with the world.”

I don’t often end up in beach destinations. I saw the ocean for the first time off the Oregon coast at the age of 17. And like today, then too, I couldn’t resist the siren’s call to venture out into the waves. Today’s Atlantic actually felt warm compared to that early eighties Pacific. Sopping and grateful, we walked up the beach watching the wind and kite surfers fly back and forth, to and fro. Yet another sport to add to the life list…it never does get any shorter.

There is something so primal in being washed in water by a wave. The lapping of the sea, the sinking of feet into sand, the regular pounding of the surf… perhaps it sends us longing for the first home of our watery womb and the comfort of our mother’s heartbeat, the first music we heard.

I am here working (at least part of the time :-), I am presenting and participating in a sustainability conference for Caribbean accountants on Thursday eve and Friday but in between, I’ll sneak in as many new experiences as I can.

Tonight after our sunset walk on the beach, we celebrated our arrival In Barbados with one of our favourite traditions: sampling a local beer. Banks. It went down mighty fine and we followed that refreshment with a fine dinner of macaroni pie and mashed potatoes with conkies for dessert…ah the sweet discombobulation of travel. I do love what it does to me and for me and I can’t wait for tomorrow morning’s surfing lesson…it’s going to be a thrashing I suspect! Stay tuned.

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2 Responses to The Sweet Discombobulation of Travel

  1. Shelagh says:

    “Working” eh? Sure you are! Looks pretty fine to this frozen Canadian. Enjoy.

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