Last night I danced under the starry moon as the warm ocean pounded and the hotel band played Bob Marley. I slept in a crisp, white linen king-size bed made for a queen, turned off all the electronics from an iPad-like device next to my bed that had just been fluffed up, sheets turned back, by a mysterious butler who seemed to anticipate my every need. Right now, I’m sitting on the veranda that feels like I’m in a movie with little birds hopping along the hand-tiled floor and a tiny gecko slinking around a marble column that frames a mango tree-shaded view of the sea.
I mean, come on!
There’s more. Everywhere you might think about turning off or on or understand the electronic complicity of this mahogany and tapestry-embellished room, there’s a panel to dim lights, evoke sound, close or open the drapes, turn on the interior or veranda fans, intuitive air conditioner and silver-framed TV. The white embroidered slippers are placed next to the grandest Hearst Castle-esque bed I have ever slept in, the ornate closets light up, then there are the comped goodies in the stocked fridge, the finest liquor and wine in the hidden bar, and pink-rimmed made-in-France cup and saucer and polished silver spoon.
Yes, this is a place fit for a queen and it turns out, was. Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados was Queen Elizabeth’s favorite resort while visiting the Caribbean and here I am in a room of my own with a soundtrack of crashing waves and the view of a shimmering turquoise horizon. Right above me, on the top suite, is where the Windsors resided.
I am far, far away from my normal life. This is a place where the British elite come to play and I’m here in my clearance rack clothes from Target, with my cousin, sister, niece, nephew and the two boys having the time of our lives. We are the only Americans we have met so far. This place attracts lovely British folk who, despite their economic status, are engaging and slightly mystified about us bubbly, brash (volume-wise) Aw-gosh can you believe we’re here? Southern California Yankee giddy tourist spirit of “Let’s enjoy every moment!”
While the Brits typically stay for a fortnight at this lavish resort, we’re here for a mere four nights, courtesy of my niece and nephew’s generosity. It was supposed to be a five-night vacay, but our darn flight was cancelled, and we had a layover in Philly, then an overnight in Miami, cheating us out of our previously booked and paid-for night at the Fairmont Hotel down the street in St. James where we stayed three nights. That hotel, the bomb. We walked out the sliding doors right onto the beach, also had our bedding turned back, bottled water refreshed, and once the kids and their parents were fast asleep, drank comped French champagne under the moon on our private deck.
How is it that we—my sister, cousin, and myself–could be so very, very blessed to have family members who thank us for wanting to share their spectacular adventures with them? We’re not a bother. They tell us all the time that they like hanging out with us, the crazy Three Amigos.
You know I’m tearing up right now, filled with a sea-full of gratitude and love.
When you experience daily afternoon tea with sand on your feet and saltwater crusting on your chest, and breakfast buffets with catamarans sailing past your table and waiters calling you, “My lovely lady,” and “My dear,” greeting you with the biggest, most beautiful smiles I have ever seen in my life, you know life has been good and kind to you. Never, in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would experience this kind of tropical opulence, the kind Geoffrey, the chap we met one night at the Fairmont lounge experiences all the time.
This is his 10th time visiting Barbados, he told us over two rounds of rum sours. He was solo, having lost his wife recently, and a girlfriend who dumped him. He needed a fortnight to “think about things”. We had a laugh and serious talk about Harry and Meghan, which he abhors, “Mark my words, he will leave her,” countering our take, “He wanted a platform to be heard, tell his truth.” He thinks Biden is a shaky old man, which was an interesting comment since he was probably about the same age as the President, yet traveling solo across the globe. Geoffrey regaled us about his trips to South Africa—“You simply must visit South Africa; it’s marvelous”— all of the islands several times pulse, and countless trips abroad chasing his favorite sport, Cricket.
We talked about the Royal family’s squabbles, toyed with the topic of the world’s political shenanigans, applauded the singer’s reggae interpretation of a Amy Winehouse song, discussed Barbados’ glorious flauna and when the night was over for this sweet, jet-lagged man, he paid for our drinks.
“I can’t tell you how long it has been since a gentleman picked up the tab,” I told him, tapping his arm. “Thank you.”
“You can’t be serious!” he said in his astounded, Jeremy Clarkson British accent. Then waved himself away.
It’s all been like a dream. In a few hours we’ll be gone. But before that regrettable time happens, I wanted to take a moment to chronicle it, remind myself that I’m here, that this is real, that I wrote this as a tractor pushed a motor boat into the ocean, that I’m wearing a white and pink-trimmed bathrobe with a cup of English Breakfast tea at my side, the hypnotic, translucent waves crashing a stone’s throw away from me and am about to greet the best breakfast I’ve ever imagined, so I’m told. You know, having recently re-gained some of the weight I lost, I thought about trying to kick-start my diet plan on this trip, but no, changed my mind. It’s all just way too good not to partake.
Which brings me back to dancing to Marley’s “Three Little Birds” last night with my interpretive dancer little guys, Dylan and Logan, who didn’t care a lick who was watching them. Not the multimillionaires. Not the stiff-upper-lip clientele. Those little boys, this place, reminded me, “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right…rise up this mornin’. Smiled with the risin’ sun. Three little birds pitch by my doorstep singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true. Sayin’ “This is my message to you-ou-ou.”
Soak it all in.
Tell me, poet Mary Oliver asked, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
Today, Mary, this day.