To give you a little history of my Crop Over experiences I will start with the first year I went to Barbados as a Crop Over virgin. My best friend accompanied me as I had been hearing about Crop Over from other friends who had been and wanted to experience it myself. There was very little information out there at the time, except from Travel Agents, so luckily I had a really good one who booked us in a hotel in Christ Church which turned out to be the BEST place to stay. That year we arrived in Barbados on the Thursday, meeting two really cool Trini guys on the plane who became our official guides on where to go and what to do. Now the first year I went to Crop Over there were no “Trini” fetes like Glo or Lara’s all-inclusive, instead we went to Boatyard, Harbour Lights and Ship Inn and the only boat ride we went on was the Jolly Roger! Now, the fete landscape has changed and I will comment on that later.
Anyway, my girl friend and I really enjoyed the fetes, meeting lots of other Trinis as well as people from other countries. We also enjoyed the fact that after a night of solid partying we recuperated on a glorious white sand beach tinged with pink, turquoise water stretching far as the eye can see, and the best part was the beach was two steps from our hotel room! Many a morning was spent getting over a hangover by lying on that beach!
Bubba’s Sports Bar was also close to our hotel, and boy did we have a blast hanging out there for happy hour! The bartenders were oh so kind to the two “Trini” girls that we often got cocktails on the house! Bubbas was also the place to get all the info on what events were happening as well as where I first heard about fish cakes, which sent me on an elusive hunt to find these fish cakes. Can I tell you how disappointed I was when I eventually found the fish cakes only to learn they were what we call “accra” in Trinidad.
The actual day of the parade that first year we met up with the Trini guys we met on the plane, they were the ones who de-virginized our Kadooment experience. Now, having been accustomed to Trinidad Carnival the whole concept of Crop Over was very different to us. Firstly, while getting to the stadium it did not even appear to us that a Carnival was in progress, persons were going about their business like normal whereas in Trinidad the whole country basically shuts down for two days. Then the idea of jumping on a stage in the stadium then hitting the streets seemed back to front to me, not to mention I did not think the “costumes” were really anything more than what we would see at home in a pretty J’ouvert band (needless to say the costumes have improved over the years). The other thing that surprised me, seeing that I was not playing mas, was that other non costumed masqueraders simply lined the streets to look at the parade pass by! In addition, I had no idea that straight women, complete strangers, would “buss” a wine on you just like that! The first time it happened to me I was flabbergasted but was later told it meant nothing; it is just the way Bajan’s do it. Oh, and can I just say I was mesmerized the first time I saw a male Bajan “wuk” up!!!
Well, you know we were Trinis with no behaviour so we jumped up behind a band, Cockspur and Johnny Walker making the trip with us! Now I had no intentions of jumping up for Kadooment so I was ill prepared wearing platform clog sandals and pants so tight they eventually ripped when I was wining down low on Spring Garden Highway (one of the guys loaned me his T-Shirt to cover my butt and the wining continued!). What I also was not prepared for was the fact that the route was so short and that it all was over so early! I swear, by late afternoon it was all over, we were at the end of the Highway with bands going off to have their private parties leaving us to go to the beach! Later that evening we went out looking for some sort of “las lap” activity and the place was DEAD; even “The Gap” was as quiet as could be, surprising for Trinis who were used to the fetes going until Midnight.
Having had such a good time that year we made plans to return to Barbados the following year for Crop Over. We kept in touch with the Trini guys we had met on the plane when we returned home so we all went back to Barbados the following year, leaving on the Wednesday on the same flight. That year it was a little different, my girlfriend had some guy who was sweet on her book (and pay) for our accommodation but when we arrived the hotel was located WAY past Cave Hill on the West Coast! Luckily we were able to get the money back as I said we were not staying there (too far from all the action) so we found the nearest phone and called the hotel we stayed at previously, they had room but the caveat was we were only going to be accommodated for a few days, after that we had to find other accommodation. Being as optimistic as only youth can afford you we decided what the hell went to the hotel and would think about getting alternative accommodations later. Fortunately for us the Trini guys we met were staying by their Bajan friend who found us a guest house in Christ Church for the rest of our stay.
This time around in Barbados we knew all the ropes so we went to all the fetes by ourselves, meeting up with the Trini guys ever so often but we made a new “network” of Trini friends. Thing is where we stayed at the Guest House also had other Guest Homes in the area so all the Trinis eventually “bounced” up at fetes and shared taxi rides back to our respective accommodation. That year all the Trinis did the Jolly Roger, went to Harbour Lights and jumped with Baje International. We even went to Cohoblopot which was something different to do during the day apart from lounging on the beach. I was even more prepared, wearing my sneakers for the jump up on Kadooment Day as well as having my Trini Flag (essential and often a most wanted commodity!). And even though we were NOT playing mas with Baje we happened to get free drinks all day! Apparently they thought the Trinis we were liming with were part of the band since the Trini guys were all in shorts and sporting the Jolly Roger ID bracelet! That was the best time on the road! The only regret was that the parade was so short. We left Barbados that year promising to return again but I am yet to return for Crop Over, though I have been to Barbados on other occasions several times since then.
Hopefully this year I will once again be able to experience Crop Over, from all reports lots have changed since I have last been. There are now fetes such as Glo, Island People’s 10 to 10 Caution, Baje Fete, Lara Fete and the infamous Boat Ride. I don’t know how to take the influence of Trini fetes on something that is essentially Bajan; I mean I especially enjoyed experiencing something different than what we have here in Trinidad and though it was great to meet so many other Trinis at that time the invasion was not as complete as it is now! As much as I like my fellow men it seems to me like everyone I know is now going to Barbados for Crop Over and when you also want a vacation rolled into the trip it makes it somewhat difficult to simply “get away” from persons who don’t know the saying “What happens in Barbados, stays in Barbados”, you know those maccos! In spite of those reservations I am still looking forward to making the trip this year. Let the planning begin!