Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Room With A View

At the Sea Foam Haciendas in Barbados all the beds are single and are placed side-by-side, which makes it challenging for couples. The sounds of the traffic outside and the music from Mojo’s (a bar and restaurant that caters to white folks who want to experience Rastafarian culture) across the street make it difficult to sleep. Air conditioning is only in the bedrooms. The furnishings are mostly dated and the walls are largely bare. And the wireless Internet is unreliable.

We love it.

The view of the Caribbean from our room.

We love it because it sits on the beach. We love it because day and night we have a view of the sea and the sound of the surf. We love listening to the tree frogs at night and watch the birds by day. We love that the beach is steps away from our first-floor apartment. We love the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. And, of course, we love the sunsets.

There are many reasons why we love the Sea Foam Haciendas, but really what we love the most are the people who come each year at the same time we do and have been coming here long before we knew this place existed.

There’s Derek and Monique who live outside of Vancouver, Canada. Derek, a world-class photographer who specializes in architecture images and Monique, a veteran flight attendant, have become close enough friends that we have visited their home the past three years. Then there’s Jerry and Phillip of Washington, D.C., cousins who are both retired men and travel the world together, tell terrific stories and host an annual Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham and all the fixings. There’s The Ontario Six (Roger, Jan, Chris, Elaine, Ann and Kathy) who are the most organized and amicable group of travelers I’ve ever seen. There’s David and Jackie (brother and sister) from the U.K. who are absolutely happy to spend their days on the beach and their nights in their apartment. And there’s the Jacksons, also from the Vancouver area. Three generations of a family in two units who are, by far, the most active members of this temporary community.

We’re the new kids on the block. We have been staying here since 2002. Some of the others have been making their annual trek here since the place opened more than 30 years ago. We’re also among the youngest of this group.

Conversations take place on the beach, while bobbing in the warm Caribbean water, and in each other’s apartment. They are always interesting as we catch up on what has happened the past year and how the events of the world have affected our lives. Since the apartments have full kitchens (and let’s face it, you don’t go to the Caribbean for the restaurants), dinner parties are the norm.

The Sea Foam rests comfortably on Worthing Beach—a small strip of sand with natural borders on each side. It fits well among the private homes and small rental properties, and may have the best spot on this lovely beach.

Image by Derek Lepper of Derek Lepper Photography.

The complex consists of two buildings, each with six identical apartments on three floors. The first was built in 1977 and the second two years later. Although I say they are identical, there are endless discussions over the minute differences of each unit and their location. The main bedroom and bathroom are in the rear facing the noisy street. There’s a hallway that goes past a second bedroom and then there’s the kitchen, dining and living room cooled by a ceiling fan. A sliding door leads to the private patio for each apartment. In front, since we are on the first floor, there is a common patio with tables, chairs, a bar and a grill shaded by Casuarina and Sea Grape trees and is also source of many dinners and casual talk. The building is resilient inside and out. A strong concrete structure keeps the sea at bay. Tile flooring inside and out is also impervious to the elements. And the furnishings? While they may not be the most attractive they are as resilient and comfortable as the structure.

There are places to go and things to do and see while in Barbados (and over the eight years Maria and I have been coming here, we’ve seen a lot), but for most of us the Sea Foam is the place to be. We buy our food, our rum, and our beer and stay mostly put. It’s too comfortable, too relaxing, to perfect of a beach and island experience.

Even the trees are happy at Sea Foam.

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