Monday, 29 December 2014

Centenarians thrive in Barbados!

By Stanley Collymore

It’s the most natural thing in the world to feel passionate and positive about people, places and things that matter a great deal to you, however when others who aren’t connected to those same people, places and things as you are also develop a similar liking and immense appreciation for the aforementioned, it’s a profoundly rewarding experience I can assure you.

The article reproduced below; initially entitled Staying alive in Barbados can be found online at Bootsnall, was written by Ramona Flume and says it all!

 “Barbadians, or Bajans, don’t just look young for their age; they stay young, for a long, long time. The tiny Caribbean island (only 21 x 14 miles) has the second largest population of centenarians in the world after Japan. Every week local newspapers announce a few more 100-year-old birthday celebrations. Women in their eighties get away with dressing like they’re in their twenties. How do Bajans do it? How does everyone sustain such a happy longevity way out here in the middle of the ocean? I still don’t know if there’s a scientifically quantifiable answer to that question, but Bajan living is definitely a very healthy thing.

Maybe Bajans owe their lengthy life spans to their vigorous hobbies. I visited the Whist & Hearts Club during my stay in Barbados, where I learned how to play the Bajan version of dominoes. It’s a high-speed game of strategy, in which players slap down bones like thunderclaps and wits flick with lightning speed, sharply anticipating the storm clouds that lie a few turns ahead. I sit by in silence for a few games; astounded by the mental dexterity of my teachers, both in their mid-sixties. They might as well have been performing a series of back flips right in front of me.

Other sports like cricket, surfing and polo keep Bajans looking fit no matter what their age. I really took to polo during my visit and was lucky enough to take a lesson from Jeffrey Evelyn of the Barbados Polo Club. While the sport is quite dangerous (only second to car racing in annual injuries), it’s exceptionally accessible. There is no gender gap or professional limitations (amateurs are allowed to compete in pro matches) and many Bajans learn how to ride before they can walk. Also, newer water sports like stand-up paddleboarding have gained popularity in recent years. There is a half-mile race every Sunday, which anyone can participate in, as well as a challenging annual race around the entire island.

It could be the rum punch, or, more appropriately, the happiness that goes along with the rum punch lifestyle, that keeps everyone in Barbados ticking along so nicely. There are more than 35,000 rum shops on the island and everyone indulges—even the church crowd. Every church, which closely rival in number, is located within walking distance of a rum shop. Also, Mount Gay, “the oldest rum in the world”, has been distilling the national spirit since 1703. But that’s not to say the island is running wild with drunks. Bajans have a high tolerance to the national cocktail and the drink owes most of its popularity to the relaxing past time of sipping a punch at the neighborhood shop, shooting the breeze with friends and family.

Or it could be the fresh air. Barbados is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles and the east coast faces a virtually empty expanse of Atlantic Ocean. The nearest land mass is West Africa, 3,000 miles away, so the sea breezes rolling into the east coast are untouched by human intervention and pollution. Bajans take pride in their salubrious weather and many make daily sojourns to eastern facing points on the island to enjoy a few deep breaths.

A short walk in Barbados, however, can be closer to a cardio workout than a leisurely stroll. Unlike most other Caribbean islands, Barbados is terraced, not volcanic, so sloping hills and mountains pervade the landscape. The Scotland District, a sparsely populated rural region in the northeast, is especially mountainous. Locals here boast some of the best property and views in Barbados, but they’ve got to work for it. A city block’s walk to get to church, the bus stop or even the neighbours is an invariably steep climb.

Or maybe the food keeps Bajans alive and well. There are limited natural resources on this tiny island, but there’s never a shortage of fresh fish. Bajans keep up an extremely healthy diet– and have fun doing it. Every Friday night there is a raucous fish fry/live music/street festival in Oistins, a small fishing village located in the Christ Church parish. Hundreds of locals and tourists alike dine alfresco on the freshest catches of the day and unwind after a long week of work in paradise. Music and dancing is another important feature of life in Barbados that visitors can observe during these weekly street festivals, especially “wukking up”, a Bajan tradition of sensual gyrations. While chicken is consumed heartily on the island, there is little red meat in a Bajan’s daily diet. Interestingly enough, Barbados is one of the few places in the world where McDonalds didn’t thrive—or even survive. The local chain went bankrupt and was forced to pack up and leave the island after a few years of bad business. Bajans are pleasantly content without the golden arches though, and as a visitor, I was too.

On my last day in Barbados, I took a tour of the island with famed local photographer, Ronnie Carrington to find a few last-minute photo-op locations of the island. Ronnie’s family has lived on the island for generations and he has spent most of his life here. At one point, I ask him what he thinks about this mysterious fountain of youth that so many of his countrymen have seemed to discover. He says he doesn’t really know exactly what to think, but says he wants to show me a picture of his mother, who is in her mid-nineties. He pulls out a portrait photograph of the mother and son taken two years ago and—I swear on my life—the woman looked no older than 50 years old.

 “I can’t believe it,” I tell him. “I can’t either,” he says, “but she can.”

1 comment:

  1.   Procedure By Which conservatives Could Control  Parliament
    If UKIP  is  Lucky,  UKIP could  get,   perhaps,  get   five  to  ten   seats
    in  Parliament.  Do  not   forget,   the  public  still regards  UKIP  as   a
    one  issue  party.  To gain  control of  Parliament  UKIP  and  (and frie-
    nds) should  form a  new  conservative  party  with  a  platform that is 
    close to that of the existing Conservative party, omitting, of course, 
    policies that are objectionable to conservatives. The purpose would
    be to make a bed that would be easy for conservatives to slide into,
    including  the eighty  percent  of  the Conservatives who left Conser-
    vative  associations. UKIP and the  conservatives  should   then  form
     a  political  association  in  each  parliamentary  district.   UKIP   could
    merge with the new party, thus getting rid of the one issue problem. 
    Every one who would have worked  to  form  the new,  conservative,
     party   should   be   prevented   from    joining    the    new   party    for
    a  period   of time  to  prevent  the  impression  that  UKIP  controls  it.
    The two or three conservative parties should hold a primary election
    to determine who runs as the Parliamentary candidate, with the losers
    to help the winner. The cost of forming new associations can be raised
    by local contributors. It is suggested that the  new   conservative   asso-
    ciations and the political party be controlled by the lowest level of con-
    servatives, such as teachers, small businessmen, solicitors, professionals
    etc. If the  above   procedure   can  not  be  completed  in  time  to   get 
    candidates   elected   to    Parliament,  the  new  party  must  wait  until
    after the  election  and  hold  a  petition  demanding  that  the  elected
    MP  resign. Note: an MP  represents   every  person  in  his  district,  not
    just members and   supporters of his party. When the petition reaches
    fifty percent of those who voted in the prior election, the conservatives
    will be morally justified in demanding their MP"s resignation. Then the
    new party could run their  candidates  in  the  following by elections. 
    To select a candidate, a local  association should  advertise  for applicants
    or the position of candidate for  Parliament, then  select   the   best  app-
    licant  by using rigorous tests, including, most importantly,  psychological 
    evaluation. psychological evaluation is an absolute necessity as the psych-
    ological evaluation is the only way to tell who is honest and who is a con-
    artist; members of the public  cannot.  Testing  could  be  required  of the 
    association  officers,  committee  members and delegates, etc.

    The platform, selected by new party associations,  should be some what
     vague in order to facilitate integration  the platforms of the  new  assoc-
    iations into one platform. It is suggested that self forming cliques of those
    who are   honest  and   trust  worthy  be formed;  then form   self  forming
    cliques of those who have   political skills  and  capabilities,  within  the
    first described clique.

    The corruption in Ukip is a cause for concern. Information about the corr-
    uption may bee seen on the following websites:

    John Newell