As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION team – through this series – This Is My Story – will be speaking to people who migrated to the island and visitors who have come and fallen in love with our shores. We invite you to share with us or point us in the direction of an interesting person we can feature each week.
WHEN CALVIN MCDOWELL met his wife-to-be Sandra, a Barbadian residing in the United States, he thought that was it when it came to love at first sight was.
Then he got his first taste of Barbados.
And more than three decades later, the American is still madly in love with the 166-square-foot island, and his wife, of course.
Recalling that first trip back in 1984, one year after marrying Sandra, Calvin describes it as an unforgettable experience.
The systems support specialist from Cleveland, Ohio had arrived in the middle of the Crop Over Festival and was completely blown away by what he saw.
“It was very interesting. I remember it was during Crop Over and I had never seen so many black people in one place before, because you don’t see that too much in the States. And the thing that I noticed was that they were few if any policemen and those that were there were just casually strolling and walking around and the people were just excited and dancing and having a really good time,” he told the WEEKEND NATION.
“I mean Crop Over is a lot different now than it was then, but the people were having a good time and I was just amazed at the atmosphere, the vibe, the beat of it all and moving to the rhythm of the music.”
From there, as the saying goes, the rest was history.
He was still residing in the US at that point, but after that visit he made it a priority to visit the island as often as he could.
Twenty-five times to be precise.
Calvin McDowell (right) watching as contractor Timothy Wiltshire carries out repairs to his new house.
“From there I just got hooked on the wonderful foods and the beautiful beaches. I mean there are world class beaches here, but mostly I love the people and it has been a love affair ever since.
“We started coming every other year as the kids came along and the last five to ten years we’ve been coming every year as we prepare to transition here. It’s kind of been like a ten-year plan that we put in place and it’s all coming to fruition,” Calvin explained.
Together with his wife, they recently bought a house in Pegwell, Christ Church, which they are currently renovating and are hoping to move into by the end of November.
And while that in itself was a significant milestone for the now retired IT specialist, one of the most memorable moments in his life came when he became a Barbadian citizen six months ago.
Almost speechless at times, McDowell said it was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of his life.
“That was actually a bit more emotional than I thought it would be. I’m not an emotional person for the most part, but it was just an exciting and good feeling. It was a proud feeling.
“I really don’t have the words for it, but it was good. I loved it,” he said, as he broke into a laugh.
After 33 years of visiting Barbados, Calvin said he was still very much in love with the people and the island’s culture.
“I enjoy the vibe and the pace, the flow of the island and that comes down mainly to the people. The people are polite and nice and the pace is so relaxed. I actually think it’s going to help me to live a bit longer,” he said.
As for the food, Calvin said he had fallen head over heels for breadfruit cou-cou.
In fact, he pointed out one of the reasons that they bought their house was because of the fruit trees in the backyard.
“I love breadfruit cou-cou, but I don’t like the corn meal cou-cou. And now that we bought the house, it has three breadfruit trees so I can have all the breadfruit cou-cou that I want now.” (RB)