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I’ll be leaving you quite soon to return to Canada, and, as is the case with such long-distance relationships, I’ll continue to worry about how you are even when I am far away. I don’t feel like I am leaving you in a good situation and I’ll be too far away to help.
Yes, you Bajans don’t like to talk about the things that bother you, because you’re so polite, proud and discreet, but I know things are getting bad. That’s because now with my local friends, our talk turns to your sewage woes, trash pile-ups, potholes and the challenges with water and reliable Government services.
Meanwhile, the focus remains on big tourism projects that won’t help these basic infrastructure shortfalls – such as the proposed new Beaches complex north of Speightstown – which will lead to the destruction of the Heywoods beach there, to create a water park and tourist- (not tree, fish or turtle) friendly white sandy beach.
Bajans, I know, say that even if an election is called this done-deal project is unstoppable and will get under way before election day.
Maybe a new Government can restore some faith in Barbados and see more local private sector investment again in projects that create jobs and spin-offs for Bajans.
Meanwhile, during a recent hike with my local hiking group here, we travelled over the path of the old railway on the East Coast – but to get there we had to drive over pockmarked roads with drainage problems and hillocks that will be as unusable as the railway line within just a few years if nothing is done.
We took a stop at the Pot House spring where more than 300 years ago clean water was siphoned off from Hackleton’s Cliff so people would have disease-free water to drink. That’s more than the Government today appears to be able to provide for folks along the polluted South Coast and in water-deprived parts of the island.
On other hikes, we have gone through cane fields, where we often follow a trail beside dumped upholstered furniture, stoves, toilets, and plastic bags filled with junk. At the end of one of those kinds of paths we found the home of your first Prime Minister Errol Barrow, crumbling around the plaque to his honour.
All but the most devoted repeat visitors to the islands will be now deterred by the rubbish along the road and the stench of sewage on the South Coast and as you drive by the Port, right in sight of those cruise ships.
I haven’t mentioned your social problems here – the rising levels of violence in the schools and crime.
Just as a little example of the latter, my cellphone fell out of my pocket the other day: by the time I realised that, ten steps later, it was gone, with only the plastic cover left for me to take home for a souvenir. So, I will worry about you, Barbados.
There’s also the question of your weather, which has been cool and rainy, as the world’s climate changes. And there’s that seaweed messing up beaches again on the entire East Coast.
Of course, I love you, Barbados. We’ve known each other for more than 25 years. There are too many things about you that I have grown to love. These go beyond the physical. But now it’s time to let your inner beauty and strength shine out.
Maybe I’ll see you again next year.
– JANE GEORGE