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Have you ever dreamed of living on a paradise island? It's a common goal for many around the world, and exactly what Yvonne Campbell ("Other World Travel: "The Bucket List") will be doing, for a whole year, when she moves to Barbados.

Listen in on her Caribbean adventures as she shares with you the sounds and experiences that only Barbados can deliver.

During the episodes, you'll hear her talk with other tourists, hang out with holiday-makers and generally soak up the flavours of the paradise island.

If you have been dreaming of going to Barbados but can't quite make it out there, this fabulous travel show is the next best thing.

You'll hear everything from where to stay, what to do, and how to do it, when enjoying the ultimate Barbados experience.

From the makers of "Otherworld Travel: The Bucket List" travel podcast comes this new immersive show that promises to inspire your next paradise island visit.

If you love travel and you dream of going to Barbados whether for the first time, or for that long-overdue return, make sure you subscribe.

To find out more about Yvonne and Otherworld Travel, visit her site by clicking here.

Apr 16, 2021

I'd planned to experience life in Barbados, spending a year on a paradise island.

If you've been seeing any of the news updates from the Caribbean recently, you'll know that my plans have hit something of a stumbling block this week.

I've been spending a lot of my time this week, glued to this page.

Over Easter, La Soufriere volcano on St Vincent erupted, sending ash thousands of feet into the sky, and literally carpeting Barbados in its wake.

As a result, the lifting of Covid restrictions has been made null and void. We still can't go out, for a new reason!

The whole point of this show is to give you an insight into life in Barbados, from the point of view of someone who's actually living here. I wouldn't really be serving you properly if I didn't give you an on-the-ground insight into what's going on here.

So this episode is a little different.

We're not tasting any delicious local treats.

We're not testing any Bajan beverages.

We're not enjoying any experiences or activities.

What we are going to do, is bring you a flavour of what it's like for someone who's relocated to this beautiful paradise island, on the Barbados Welcome Stamp, and finds themselves in the middle of a fluke natural incident.

I'll be doing this with the help of some of my friends who have kindly offered their thoughts, and footage.

During this episode, we cover:

The views of a couple of my new friends here who are also experiencing this alongside me.

My possible emergency escape contingency planning with my friend, Marie.

What the people of Barbados went through last time this happened (back in the 70s) with Vic Fernandez.

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**For the benefit of any news agencies or journalists who'd like to reach out for on the ground correspondence from the paradise island, I have limited availability for both live and recorded two ways. You can contact me via the email button (fourth button down) on my show page here! 

I've added a full transcript of my report from the episode in these show notes below for your reference.

Please do not use any section of the content without prior permission from me. I'm regularly checking my emails so will be able to get back to you within minutes not hours!**


Yvonne: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to this week's episode. Well, this was not the episode that I had planned to be sharing with you this week. I was meant to be out trying beach tennis at the weekend on Brian's beach, but that is going to have to wait another time because this week this happened, my thoughts are with those people in St.

[00:00:18] St Vincent, who are affected by this much more than us here in Barbados. There's a certain radius around the volcano that has been evacuated as according to the university of the West Indies, the volcano continues to erupt quite explosively and has now begun to generate what they call pyroclastic density currents.

[00:00:39] So these are really hot currents of between 200 and 700 degrees Celsius. The ground hugging flows of Ash and debris that are coming down from the volcano to the surrounding areas. So essentially impacting on everything in its path. The last eruption was in 1979 and the one before that was 1902 at this stage, it is far too soon to be telling how bad

[00:01:03] this one's going to be so, you know, we're dealing with unpredictable mother nature, 1979. I think this is worse than what it was then as for 1902. Well, that lasted for a year. So here's really hoping that it won't be as bad as that. Barbados is 120 miles to the East of St. Vincent. And the winds has been bringing the Ash cloud this way.

[00:01:26] Since Friday, we've had very per visibility and the toxic Ash has been in the air. So it's been really important to stay covered up when going outdoors. So that is wearing the mask. It's a good job we have lots of face masks at the moment due to COVID. But it's also important to keep your arms and your legs covered as well.

[00:01:49] We had a bit of an order to stay in doors and everything's shut over the weekend and the airport is still closed. Cleanup really started around Tuesday. And the good thing is that Barbados has always been very good about sharing information, doing press conferences, given advice and support, especially during COVID and now for this crisis.

[00:02:10] They're also doing that as well. So the kind of things have been telling us is to clean regularly and not to let the Ash build up. I think the worry is if the Ash builds up, it'll be a lot more difficult to clean. And also the dust is quite toxic. So having that set on various things for a long time is not good.

[00:02:31] We have been asked to limit our water usage. So there's a bit of a drought at the moment are definitely a shortage. It's a bit challenging trying to kind of clean on one hand whilst trying to conserve water on the other. We've been keeping our doors and our windows closed and especially where I am. I live in a plantation style house and where you would normally have class windows.

[00:02:54] I have wooden slats and there's quite a lot of gaps in those wooden slats which means the dust particles are coming through. So while my doors and windows are closed, I've also had to use wet tiles to cover the gaps and limit that amount of Ash coming in. There's been a bit of a lack of hot water. So we've got solar panels, I think most of the Island probably has solar panels for their hot water.

[00:03:17] But because there is no sun, those solar panels, aren't getting the sunshine that they need to provide the energy for the hot water. We have had to turn off air conditioning units in some cases. So it depends what type of an air conditioning unit you have, but I've had to refer to my fans. So the fear around the air conditioning units is about the filters getting blocked.

[00:03:40] I don't know if you're aware of some of the AC units that you have, where half of it kind of sits outside the house and the other half inside the house. So that would be pulling air from outside to inside. And that problem would not be good news. We have been asked to clean gutters as much as possible. So one of the biggest challenges that whenever the Ash has fallen, it has fallen into, you know, various different nooks and crannies and gutters are one of them.

[00:04:08] But then we also had some rain come along as well, and it basically made the Ash into a bit of a paste and it was starting to block the drains. So some people have been getting leaks inside the house and others have had the gutters break altogether. So a lot of people have been up ladders and scaffolding, trying to clear the gutters in relation to the car.

[00:04:31] What we've been trying to do is actually kind of like dust down the cars, obviously trying to conserve the water, but there's also the issue that, you know, if you kind of put the water and it turns to paste, it's going to be a bit more challenging to get off the car. So the advice has been that we need to make sure the dust is off the cars as regularly as possible because the Ash dust will act as a bit of a corrosive and will strip their paintwork, which isn't great.

[00:05:00] And then also we have to be careful with the windscreen wipers. Cause if there is dust on the windscreen, the wind screen wipers will take it across, you know, back and forth across the windscreen itself. And will likely scratch the actual windscreen the good news is the water supply. Whilst it might be high end demands with the low supply, it's actually not affected by the dust as it's a closed system.

[00:05:26] So we do still have good, healthy drink and water here. People were clearing the roads immediately. So I was really impressed by the government's response to the main roads. And I hear some of that's happened in some of the villages and so on as well. And I must say that very hard working people working in those conditions to clear the roads.

[00:05:44] Once people are also driving past and kicking up some of that dust. So, you know, that's quite a challenging job. They have so fair play to them. And then the other thing is that, supposedly the Ash is good news for the soil in the long run. So I'm sure farmers at this point in time will not be thanking the volcano for the Ash cloud that has come this way, but in time it will help as a fertilizer.

[00:06:07] So that's something that we can look forward to, but I'm sure not right though. Dealing with the cleanup is more of a challenge for farmers and then things started opening up today again. So it's still quite unpredictable. I think businesses are just playing it by ear and figuring out what is right for them.

[00:06:26] So who knows, you know, there could be an Ash cloud in this way, again, in a few hours time, we just don't know. So I think people are going to have to play it day by day and react as things change. A lot of people have been referencing the 1979 eruption. And I was just wondering what it was like back then.

[00:06:44] So a friend of mine put me in touch with Vic Fernandez. He is a prominent broadcaster here in Barbados. I was

[00:06:51] Vic: [00:06:51] away for the weekend. So I have a couple of perspectives, you know, of leaving my home. In one condition and returning to see it in another condition. At the time I lived in another very traditional Barbadian home just below Oyston's, but it was on the main road leading to Oyston's and every year we have the Oyston's fish festival takes place on the Easter weekend.

[00:07:17] Well, good Friday being good Friday. It's quite quiet. Sundays again, fairly low key, but the Monday, everything goes into high gear and it's like a carnival is music. There's people dancing in the streets, but there's traffic on hundreds, thousands of people and you live right on the main loveliest place to live for the other 364 days of the year.

[00:07:40] But so every year, my first wife and I, we would, we would just leave the Island on this occasion. We went to Trinidad to visit the in-laws and we left on the Thursday evening and returned on the Tuesday morning. So I, my perspective gives you both pre and post this, what we are experiencing now is nothing like what was experienced back then, literally a breeze pun intended, you know, in comparison to this.

[00:08:10] Were you

[00:08:11] Yvonne: [00:08:11] aware the last time round that something was going to happen? 

[00:08:16]Vic: [00:08:16] We were aware, but you know, the thing about volcanoes, as you know, they're quite unpredictable, you know, the dome could, it could be coming and it could remain like that for months. So while. The activity had been heightened.

[00:08:29] I don't think they had hit red alert yet, but it went, it seemed to happen very quickly, you know, and of course I got the news where I was that, you know, we were having volcanic Ash. And again, it didn't affect all of the Island. It was mainly in the South. I believe the ocean was right across the road from us.

[00:08:49] You know, the volcanic Ash arrived and covered whatever part of the Island largely. Well, from my experience, it seemed to have been more the Southern part of the Island. I could be wrong, but that was my understanding. And by Saturday, Holy Saturday, so you have good Friday, which is a quiet day, anyhow and Holy Saturday, people were cleaning up.

[00:09:13] So that by the time I arrived back on Tuesday morning, there was no evidence of it until I actually got to my home. And then I saw. Oh, my God, my car, the two cars are covered in Ash. You know, the patios were covered in Ash, the windows of the house, and so on the driveway, the plants and so on. But you know, within a matter of hours between myself and a helper that I had, he and I had pretty much cleaned up all of it.

[00:09:44] You know, we spent the entire day, washing and washing and you know, of course thankfully why that house was a very traditional house store as well. It, not all of the doors and windows were shuttered tight. It was largely untouched on the inside, which is where you want to keep the dust Ash from, you know, because a lot of people in Barbados, I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but we have a high incident of asthma in Barbados.

[00:10:10] I mean, it seems to me, I have my own theories and my theory is that kids. Need to get outside and run in the mud and the muck and thing a little bit. I think they're too sanitized in our, in our environment when I was going, growing up, both in Trinidad and here in my school year in Barbados, we had one kid out of 300 boys who had asthma.

[00:10:33] Wow today, you probably would find that 75% of that school are either asthmatic or borderline asthmatic. There is a serious problem and it may well be environmental could be dust, but I, I honestly believe it's because we over sanitize everything, you know, we don't want them to get into the dirt, the soil, we don't, you don't.

[00:10:52] We want to keep kids are spending too much time on, on toys and electronic stuff. And so on. You can get out of it. Yeah, burnt by the sun and, you know, come back in old grimy and dirty. And yes, so people did clean up very quickly. It seemed, this is on a whole other level of completely.

[00:11:08] Yvonne: [00:11:08] And when you returned back in 1979 and you saw your house all covered like, what was your feeling?

[00:11:14] What was your reaction?

[00:11:15] Vic: [00:11:15] I'm not sure it's polite to say, but I went, Jesus. No, you just come back from a lovely little break. You're feeling all good. You know, your energy level is up, you know, your buoyant and so on and positive and you pull into your drive and you look at, and it's like, What the hell has this happened?

[00:11:37] It was an apocalypse of some kind and landed on this property, this one property, you know, of course everybody else had had three days previously to, to do their cleanup. Uh, you know, so yeah, it was pretty, pretty intense.

[00:11:51] Yvonne: [00:11:51] What was the mood of the Island at the time? He says always a positive time in Barbados,

[00:11:56] Vic: [00:11:56] You know, and I think if it was sustained, If we had something like COVID on top of it, you know, 'cause COVID does really sucked the very energy out of everyone, you know, every time you think you're getting on top of it, there's, you know, some of the outbreak or, you know, now we seem to be on top of it.

[00:12:14] Again, we're down to yesterday for just four new cases. We obviously have managed this second wave very well. But, you know, every time you release, you begin to relax. Boom. So we didn't have anything like that. In 1979, we have a government that was very popular. They got reelected in 1981. We have a legendary leader, a transformative leader in JMG and Tom Adams and his father by the way, was the first premier of Barbados.

[00:12:44] And the only prime minister of the former Western East Federation. So before independence, many of these islands, before we became independent, we had an experiment with, um, a Federation, a political Federation, and the federal capital was in Trinidad and the prime minister of the Caribbean West Indies Federation as it was called, was the legendary national hero, uh, Sir Grantley Adams.

[00:13:10] So his son, Tom Adams, who. Was an economist and an attorney at law and the former BBC producer had returned to Barbados in 1966 and went into politics. While practicing law, and, um, won the election in 1976. And so the government was in a very agile state. There was lots of stuff happening. The economy was being transformed.

[00:13:36] The international business sector was being developed. You know, lots, lots of stuff was happening. So it was, it was a happy time. It was a good time in Barbados in 1979. Was it like. You know, we are today, we are facing the twin perils of COVID and, uh, the volcanic Ash from the superior.

[00:13:55] Yvonne: [00:13:55] And did that last at all? Or was it just the one Ash cloud and it more or less went away?

[00:14:01] Vic: [00:14:01] Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. You know, I was talking to some friends of mine in St Vincent last night. And I'm surprised at that. Well, certainly his case, how. Two or three of them, I've been speaking to how buoyant and how happy they seem to be in the midst of all of that confusion.

[00:14:16] But I was talking to him and actually he called me to say to me that I should ask the prime minister, who should they send the bills to for the lovely, um, fertilizer that they're sending our way. He reminded me that. Uh, there's a lovely little Island resort where there's several in the Grenadines, but it's a small Island.

[00:14:36] 33 acres immediately offered the mainland of St. Vincent. I actually, my daughter, my youngest daughter, and I swam across that channel on two occasions just to prove that we could do it. So it's called young Island resort. You might want to Google it at some time. It's a magnificent rustic, five-star style hotel, where you eat in open gazebos, your showers are outdoors and so on.

[00:15:00] And, um, Oh, it is magnificent and it's a private Island. So, uh, he owns this Island and he was reminding me a few days before the volcanic eruption of this current year, that back in 1979. They did not even have to empty the pool at young Ireland because they got no Ash from the volcanic eruption on that part of the Island.

[00:15:25] Well, wow. If you see the videos now of what happened this time around the entire Island has been blanketed the pool. I mean, every aspect, it will take them weeks and weeks to clean that up. Because they have to clean the entire Island and it's also a nature reserve, uh, too, as well. So they do have to protect it as well.

[00:15:46] So that's an example. That's a comparative point. Yeah. Uh, there that, uh, parts of St. Vincent and didn't even have ash fall uh, back in 1979. Now, I don't think there's a square inch of that Island that has not been pretty much blanketed by it. Uh, I believe said Lucia is also having some of it, not to the extent that we have had, but they've had some bits of it too, as well.

[00:16:09] And. It's apparently moved in some cases, some of the Ash flows have gone as far up as Montseratt, and I have a friend in Montserrat who told me yesterday that they woke up to some, they had some minimal Ash cloud even in Montserrat. And, you know, they lost more than 60% of their Island to their volcanic eruption a few years back.

[00:16:31] And they've never been able to. To repopulate that part of the island because it's just a total wipe out from another La Soufriere volcano you know,

[00:16:41] Yvonne: [00:16:41] And  I suppose the challenge is, we're not too sure what's going to happen from here on if that's potentially not the end of it, from what we've seen. So, you know, you're cleaning up, what's already happened and you know, even every single day, no matter how much I clean it comes back in again.

[00:16:54] Vic: [00:16:54] So don't even go there. Then they reminded me, he reminded me last night. But the 1902 eruption lasted one year. O M G no, no, I think I'd be migrating. I'd be heading to somewhere the UK, Canada someplace. If I had to put up with this for a year, you know, because our style of living is very open. It's not like living in Manhattan or some major city, or even in London, you know, very, because of the weather, your houses are far more insulated and closed and so on.

[00:17:30] So that's a great thing. But all of our traditional Caribbean living is wide open verandas and patios. And, you know, I have a 40 foot swimming pool up there and it just looks like a 40 foot canal at the moment, you know? Uh, and I can't go into that at the moment because we still have to vacuum it again and again and again, but you're alive.

[00:17:53] Yvonne: [00:17:53] Barbados was just coming out of some restrictions and, you know, Monday we were due to be able to go to bars at 50% capacity, maybe head out on leisure, pleasure crafts and things like that. So obviously this came in over the weekend. I've worked in the travel industry as well. And so we were hoping that was going to be the bounce back of tourism with the new protocols announced.

[00:18:14] And it just feels, this is, you know, another kind of major setback. Do you get a sense of. how people are feeling about the, I suppose, kind of the future in Barbados with the lumen potential long, lasting ash cloud situation.

[00:18:28] Vic: [00:18:28] Well, you know, I'm probably not a good person to ask because I'm, I'm the eternal optimist.

[00:18:34] And I, I always believe that there is a, you know, the glass is not half empty. It's half full. And because I have to, I have to believe that because as human beings we need positive energy. We need to think positively. Otherwise we get depressed and we, you know, we begin to make all kinds of mistakes and we lose interest and so on.

[00:18:53] So it's a battle. We know it's a battle, but you know, I always can console myself with, you know, our forefathers in these islands, uh, would have gone through much more terrible, uh, conditions  than we did. And therefore we shouldn't be whining and complaining. You know, we have a lot to be grateful for in terms of tourism.

[00:19:16] You know, it's been a difficult one because as you said this, I mean, who wants to come to an Island right now they're just covered in ash. You're not going to do that, but I do sense that there's an appetite for the Barbados tourism product and, and that we have a product that is, that has always been attractive.

[00:19:32] And I think it will continue to be attractive. I believe that once we have the. Some semblance of herd immunity, or at least the vaccinations, uh, in place for our visitors coming in. I I've heard the prime minister in her last press briefing, outlining potential approaches of how it could work. Those have not been finalized yet.

[00:19:55] And I hope that with people like yourself, you know, guiding because we have to get the feedback from your end too, as well as to how, how it's going to work. I remain optimistic, but we have a product that's a good product. And that, uh, we, Barbadians like to say that God is a Bajan because somehow we seem to duck most of  the calamities, earthquakes and floods and hurricanes.

[00:20:20] The last real hurricane we had in Barbados was in 1955. You know, so when people overseas asked me about, well, should I come through in the hurricane season? I said, why not? You know, we've been here all of our lives. Most of us have never seen one. In fact, I've seen more hurricanes out of Barbados than in Barbados.

[00:20:40] I've been in five or against in other islands just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, uh, and I've been caught in Cuba and Belize, in The Bahamas, you know, so yeah, I've been, I've been in quite a few hurricanes where, you know, like and even, in Miami, the last one of all places for God's sake, you know, in Miami.

[00:21:00] Yeah. So I, I do think, but here's, here's, here's the thing. Now we have, um, my wife has, uh, a side business, a small business that we, we run, we have our own little, um, real estate. Uh, we have some properties that we put. And veteran rentals. And a few years back, she started, uh, with some short-term rentals using doing Airbnb at the height of the Airbnb.

[00:21:27] We had five of our units, different parts of the Island on Airbnb. She has been a Superhost from pretty much from the first day she got Superhost status, but of course, Airbnb died. Just came to a halt. So we've had to. She said, well, what do I do? I said, well, let's, let's go into long-term rentals, go back to long-term rentals.

[00:21:50] So we've done that now the cottage here at our home that one, we're not going to put long-term rentals in it because we don't want anybody here on a permanent basis. Uh, so we got to keep that one. And when, when, when the market reopens, but we've had, we've had guests who have been with us before making inquiries and saying, uh, you know, when do you think we could come?

[00:22:11] So I think that's, I think that's positive. Because we made great friendships over the years with people who have used our Airbnbs in particular, the one which is right here on our compound. So whether they like to, or not, or we like to, or not, we see each other pretty much every day we do things together.

[00:22:28] We invite them to, you know, if we're going out somewhere, we invite them to join with us. It'd be going to the market, went up to Oystens we're going out for a meal, that sort of stuff. And so on to the point where, you know, we've had repeat guests that I, I really couldn't charge them because. You know, I just didn't feel I could do that.

[00:22:44] You know? So, uh, we've had to give up on that for the time being, but look, look at all the inventory we have in, in hotels, we don't have a choice, you know, we can't turn that inventory into anything else. Our economy is built on tourism and I hear, I hear political pundits and, you know, um, Armchair experts, uh, holding forth on, or, you know, we, we, we need to diversify this economy and, you know, not be dependent on tourism.

[00:23:16] And the question I always ask is, and what is that? Could you tell me what that is? Because it's, it's fine to say that we should have this great diversity, but what is this diversity? Because if it was that easy to find, I believe we would've done it already. Not so tourism in short, what I'm saying is.

[00:23:34] It's it's what we have. It's our greatest play. It's what we offer. It's our friendliness, it's our warmth, it's our culture, it's our food, you know, and, and that's not going to go away. And I think the relationship that we have particularly with, with. Areas like UK, we have a symbiotic relationship with Barbados is for long seen itself as, you know, little England and so on are our legacy with crickets and our traditions.

[00:24:01] And so on. Even as you drive around and you look at the names of places and so on, but you know, all of these Hastings and

[00:24:10] yeah, it's very British, whether you, so we are not going to change that, you know? So I'm, I'm optimistic that once. We can see some sense of normalcy. I'm a worried about COVID than I am about, about the volcanic eruption, because I know that has to end at some point in time.