Local traditions and culture in Barbados

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    Dolphin FISH
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Most Viewed Local Customs in Barbados

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    Begging?

    by luke850 Written May 23, 2004

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    On the beaches of Barbados there are a number of locals who think that instead of actually working for a living, they can just sponge off tourists. These people don't see what they do as begging, but actually believe that visitors to the island should give them something for nothing. You will be able to spot these people as they wander up and down the beaches, looking for people they think will give them something. If you give them one thing, say a cigarette, they won't leave you alone until they've got a lot more. The most annoying thing about this is that these people are clearly not homeless or particularly poor, they just want something for nothing. The actual homeless/poor people do not tend to ask for anything.

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    Red Plastic Bag (Barbados music)

    by Fen Written Nov 13, 2003

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    While we was driving around in our hired Jeep we heard this song called "Volcano" on our car radio and then in our Hotel bar. I asked the Barman and he told me the song was by Red plastic bag. Fantastic I said, I will buy this Album. It went down a treat, as we got everyone listening to it before the Holiday was over.

    Great Album
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    Bajan People

    by luke850 Written May 23, 2004

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    People in Barbados call themselves Bajan, so the peole in general are called Bajans. The people on the island are generally very friendly, and will wave or say 'hello' as you pass by. It is well received if you wave back or say 'hello' to them. Many of the locals will be more than happy to chat with you over a beer or glass of rum, and it is an excellent way of getting an insight into what life is like over there.

    Bajan Fisherman

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    Fish Fry Night

    by joanj Updated Mar 14, 2008

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    An update for you all - Oistens has been refurbishing the area for Fish Fry nights, and I have now included some photographs to show you the refurbishment. It really has tidied up the area, and the vendors stalls are so colourful. All in all Oistens has been regenerated in this area.

    Do go to Oistens on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night to sample local food at its best, Friday night is noisy, with loud music, so much finger lickin' food to choose from, and colourful locals to watch reggae, or dance in their own inimitable way. Do not miss this , it is fun. Just get the bus to Oistens cooking starts when the sun goes down. Enjoy. Thursday nights are crowd free, and you can obtain your food almost immediately, there is no music, but still good food.

    The photo shows the two slate roof buildings which houses the catch of the day and the locals who clean the fish ready for sale. Please be courteous and ask permission if you wish to take photographs.

    The Oistens Fish Festival takes place over the Easter weekend, and it brings a carnival atmosphere to this small coast fishing village. There are contests in fish boning, and other skills, testing local prowess. There are also stalls selling crafts and home cooked foods.

    Photo by joanj

    Oistens New fish fry night area Oistens Fish Market Oistens vendors huts on main thoroughfare seating area for fish fry Area at the fish fry for the Very loud music

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    Chattel Houses

    by grandmaR Updated May 9, 2004

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    Chattel houses are a unique part of the Bajan landscape.

    The name chattel was confusing to me, but the word "chattel" comes from the English common law. It refers to personal property as distinguished from real property (land as in real estate).

    Plantation workers on the sugar cane plantations had houses that could be disassembled and put up again in another place. The foundations were of loose stone. This was because the workers did not own the land that the houses were built on. In the event of being fired or some other dispute they could be moved to another place.

    The houses are usually small and brightly colored and have a steep gable roof with short eaves, constructed of corrugated iron. This is to prevent the wind getting under the edge of a flat roof and lifting it off.

    Chattel houses often have jalousie windows (very popular in the tropics) which may have wooden slats and three sets of hinges (2 vertical and one horizontal) for maximum flexibility against the wind and sun. They are often trimmed with ornamental wooden fretwork.

    Chattel houses Chattel houses in Holetown Chattle Houses Details of houses Explanation of the chattel house
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    Bajan National Dish

    by joanj Updated Aug 31, 2004

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    A Bajan national dish is Cou-cou and salt fish. Cou-cou is a cornmeal and okra pudding. It is ladled with gravy and served with a salt fish stew. Cou-cou in the making is a wonderful sight to see and a challenge, much energy is put into the stirring, for if any lumps are allowed to form, it is considered a failure. The finished mixture is packed into a bowl, and then turned out on to a plate. The centre of the mound is sunk with a spoon and a light gravy ladled into the centre and around the golden mound. I

    I have eaten this dish, and it is lovely, I have also had a friend make cou-cou for me, and can tell you it looks like hard work. There is a special little wooden stick called a cou-cou stick, that is the traditional tool for stirring the cou-cou.

    Also a national dish is flying fish and cou-cou.

    That too is delicious, and when I visit a friend she sometimes cooks this for me. If not the cou-cou, then the flying fish, and sometimes, Bajan Fish Cakes, another culinery delight.

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    Sharing A Table

    by briantravelman Updated Feb 6, 2015

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    One thing I really liked about Barbados is that it's not like in the U.S., where you go to a restaurant, and every party gets their own table, no matter how many people, and if all the tables are taken up, you will not get a table, even if you are by yourself or your party is small. Most places in the U.S., if you ask complete strangers if you can sit with them for dinner, they will look at you like you are crazy, and will feel that you are intruding on them, and probably ask you to leave. That is not the case in Barbados. Even if there is another party already at a table, doesn't matter if it's locals or tourists, as long as there is room at it, the waiters will seat you there. We were having dinner at the Oistins Fish Fry, and a waitress sat another couple with us, twice. Also, it is really normal and common for random locals, and even tourists, to ask you themselves, if they can join your table, and it is considered very rude and impolite to refuse them. It is also not uncommon for them to start having a conversation with you. We had a very lovely conversation with some friendly Londoners from Canada, at the Oistins Fish Fry, and another conversation with a London tourist in St. Lawrence Gap.
    Some people might get annoyed having a stranger join them for dinner, but this actually isn't a bad thing, as it's a really great way to meet people. In fact, we met several friendly tourists this way, and had some lovely conversations. And it doesn't matter if it's a group of locals or a group of tourists, everyone will share a table with you. This is just the norm here, and it is nice to see that even tourists have adopted this custom. Though I've noticed this is a bit more common with English tourists, than American tourists, who aren't used to this short of thing.
    So if you really want to eat somewhere, but there isn't a free table, don't be afraid to join someone else's, whether they be locals or other tourists, even if you may feel like you are intruding. Even though they most likely won't ask you to leave, do make sure you ask them first if you can sit at their table, don't just walk up and sit down without saying anything.
    The only drawback is you might not eat much, because you will be too busy having a conversation, and making new friends.

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    Tipping

    by rachel_sun Written Mar 10, 2003

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    Also,a 10% tip is expected here,but make sure that it has not already been added to the bill as some places add it on automatically.
    Bathing suits should only be worn on the beach,not around shops and also skimpy clothes will be out of place in a town.Remeber that you have to pay a departure tax when you fly back home of around bds $25,so budjet for this.Make sure you keep the copy of your immagration card that you filled out on your flight out safe as you will need to hand it in when you fly home.

    Yummy rum bar
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    Manners go along way

    by rachel_sun Updated Mar 10, 2003

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    You should always greet someone before asking directions etc.Barbados is influenced alot by north America and Canada and you will see this on the island in daily life.Barbados is also one of the richest islands in the Caribbean.Barbados is politically stable and has a generous government,so lots of foreign investors are attracted here.

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    Saturday tradition

    by joanj Updated Aug 31, 2004

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    Bajan tradition is for "pudding and souse" - an old island dish still made everywhere, and served on Saturdays.

    The pudding is made from grated and well-seasoned sweet potato, which is stuffed into the cleaned pig's intestines called "belly" which is then steamed. The cooked pudding looks like a long dark sausage. This is cut into clices and served with the "souse" - pig's head ,feet and flesh cooked until tender, cut into slices and "soused" or pickled with lime juice, onion, hot and sweet peppers, salt , finely chopped cucumber and parsley.

    I cannot tell you what it tastes like, because when I was offered it, and asked what the dish contained, I politely declined!. If anyone has tried it, please let me know !! Shall be interested.

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    Chattel Houses - Keeping up a tradition.

    by joanj Updated Mar 14, 2006

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    These few pictures show a Chattel house on the St. Lawrence Road, Christchurch that was in desperate need of repair. The first picture shows the beginning of the wooden structure, the foundation having been left.

    The next two pictures show the nearly completed outside of the property. Pictures 1 and 2 were taken about a week apart, and picture 3 only a few days later.

    Chattel Houses were used by early African Plantation workers. They were built on cement blocks, and so could be dismantled easily and moved to other pantations. They were able to move them because the workers did not own the land they were built on.

    As their income improved, they were able to add on to the house.
    Sometimes these little houses have many family members all living together. They are small but compact.

    Today, many Chattel Houses are used as craft shops, notably in Holetown, St. James on the West Coast, and St. Lawrence Gap in Christchurch.

    Many Bajans today, still occupy this type of house.

    Early Stages of building Almost finished nearly completed shell of Chattel House

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    Legendary Friday Nights

    by TexasDave Written Feb 11, 2006

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    If you are in Barbados on a Friday you must make it to Oistins, on the South shore, for the fish fry put on by the locals. The different grilled fish fillets are offered by about a dozen or more vendors, but almost all offer flying fish, the local speciality. Walk around first and check different one out; most offer free samples. Prices are good, mostly about US$ 8-10 per plate.
    Don't get there too early, because once it gets dark live island music is played for all to hear.
    There are also several trinket vendors offering different styles of jewelry and other handicrafts.

    One of the More Popular Fish Stands Mounted Shark Teeth and Other Trinkets
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    Hurricane Shelters

    by joanj Written Mar 12, 2006

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    You will find dotted about the island, Hurricane Shelters in the form of the local Church.

    This particular photograph is of the St. Lawrence Church which was consecrated on 5th November 1839, and established a Parish on 15th January 1977.

    As the Church is the centre of the Community, it makes sense to have them as the gathering place in an Emergency.

    St. Lawrence Church.

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    Not That Kind Of Dolphin

    by briantravelman Updated Feb 13, 2015

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    Even before I arrived on the island, I saw some pictures of restaurant menus taken by other travelers, and my initial reaction was, "Oh, my God! I can't believe they eat dolphin here!" But it was more a reaction of surprise, than disgust. Than at several restaurants around the island, I also saw dolphin on the menu. Than at the Oistins Fish Fry, one of the cooks offered me it. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but than my curiosity and adventurous side got the better of me, and I said, "Sure, why not? It'll be interesting." I asked her, "What kind of animals does it taste similar to?" Than she started saying to me, "It's not flipper. It's not flipper." I didn't know what the hell she was talking about. It took me about a minute to figure it out, when she finally said to me, "Not the mammal. It's a fish." Than I finally realized it was Dolphin FISH, the technical name for the Mahi Mahi. I felt kind of stupid, but she told me not to worry, as this happens quite often, and I am not the first tourist to make this mistake. In fact, some other tourists also told me they thought it was the mammal. If they just put Dolphin FISH, I would know immediately, what it was. But I'm not gonna complain that they should rewrite it, as it's kind of funny to watch the reaction of confused tourists, like myself, when they think they are being offered dolphin. Makes me wonder if they do it on purpose. At least, now you know.

    Dolphin FISH Restaurant Menu
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    Indigenous to Barbados - Road Tennis

    by joanj Updated Mar 16, 2005

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    This sport of Road Tennis is a sport they call their own.

    The game started as far back as the 1930's in the parish of St. Michael, and has often been referred to as the "poor man's tennis".

    Equipment is very basic, consisting of two pieces of wood,an old tennis ball, and the court chalked out on the ground on the road.

    Once when we were on a country road in the moke we hired, we came across some young boys playing the game, and we stopped so they could finish the "set". It was facinating to watch them have so much fun with such basic tools.

    The Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA) was formed in 2000 and is based in Barbados.(Dale Clarke is the President). The Association is determed to improve the standard of play and to spread the gospel of road tennis all over the globe.

    Visitors can learn more about road tennis and participate in holiday coaching clinics organized by the PRTA.

    Details below:-

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