Balmy Warmth

I have left the beginnings of Autumn behind in London, and arrived in a humid and warm Barbados.

There is nothing like that moment when you emerge from the plastic, sealed interior of a plane, into a tepid bath of humid Tropical air, tinged slightly with the aroma of aircraft fuel and warm tarmac, wearing the clothes which weren’t quite insulating enough in London, but which cling immediately to your skin, to make you realise you’ve arrived somewhere entirely new.

It is a sensation redolent for me of childhood.  I have a deeply embedded memory of an arrival into warm humidity; the first time I had experienced that weight of air pressing down on the top of your head and filling your lungs.  It’s the smell and the feeling of being immersed in dampness that launches me into the past.  I don’t really remember where I was or when it was, but family mythology is that it was our arrival in Washington DC in 1967.  For a child used to UK weather, unpredictable though it is, I’d never experienced anything like it.

Bridgetown Airport is a warm country airport – the official businesses of passport control, baggage collection and Customs checks take place in air conditioned comfort, but everything else is outside and open to the air; so we walked across the tarmac, around the building under an open sided canopy, and once processed, we emerged into a teeming meet and greet area where the merest hint of a breeze allowed the air to move.

I felt crumpled and hot and bothered in the face of the taxi dispatcher in his sharply pressed crisp blue shirt.  It was seeing the neatness of that shirt that made me believe acclimatisation might be possible.

Inevitably, my taxi was a rattling mini-bus with seats burnished to a brilliant shine by hundreds of buttocks.  The windows wide open, I was buffeted by the wind as we snaked our way across the island.  The driver pointed out the highlights: sugar fields, sugar factories and more sugar cane; he extolled the virtues of rum punch and the local beer; and when we arrived at my destination he refused to let me out of the van until he was sure that I was in the right place and my friend was summoned outside to confirm it.

It’s still warm, and I’ve not acclimatised yet, even though I’m now wearing better clothes and have been swimming in the sea.  It’s been raining, and there are rumbles of thunder in the distance, but I’m looking out over the sea, we have papaya, plantains and local fish in the fridge, and I wonder why I’m sitting in front of my computer!

Leave a comment


  1. Sounds totally blissful…. full of envy! have a lovely time Rowena. xx

    • Thanks Voula – it is lovely, although I’ve not needed the sun cream yet, while the umbrella has seen service!

  2. Jill Goldberg

     /  September 10, 2011

    Barbados – I knew it!

  3. margaret nickels

     /  September 10, 2011

    Never been but you ‘paint ‘ a wonderfully evocative picture !

  4. Rowena,

    Barbados, like the rest of the Caribbean isn’t always this humid. This is hurricane season, so it will be sweatier than usual. Being islands they usually have a bit of wind around to make ’em more pleasant.

    Enjoy yourself, Barbados is a pretty cool place.


    • Thanks Brendan, I knew at this time of year we’d be taking our chances with the weather….but the place has real charm, and I’m glad I’ve come.

  5. Sounds like you’re having a lovely time… keep writing though! You’ll have none of those temptations when you come to Cove Park – wind and rain here just now! Hello to Emma… Polly x

    • Thanks Polly. Some writing is being done…..a little bit at a time. But like Cove, I spend a lot of time staring out of the window at the water and the weather; although it’s warm rain when it comes! ‘Cove in the Caribbean’ could be the way forward……


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