I love my country. We are amazing. 166 square miles. I heard once that was the same size as JFK. I never checked if it was true or not, but the fact that I can even wonder says a lot.
And even though we're just a pebble, we've had enough influence on the world that you can feel us. We gave the world a whole slew of singers/songwriters: Shontelle, Hal Linton, Charles D. Lewis, Eddie Grant, and the most famous, Rihanna. We gave you grapefruit. We gave you rum. WE GAVE YOU RUM! (lol)
And that's just what you guys see. We've got a reputation among the tourists as being some of the friendliest people on earth. Sometimes you'll meet a Brit on the beach, and it will be their 20th time in Bim (nickname for Barbados). They've probably spent more time there that I have!
And the life! It's a melting pot of deep, inborn African tendencies, years of British rule, and proximity to the US. Reggae and calypso music. The sing-song rhythms of our dialect. The movements of our dancing. The buses with personalities. (You have to catch one to understand what I mean.) The ever-present undertones of God and sex, sometimes at the same time. The different ideals for women. (Ooo, future Caribbean Context!)
I'm proud to be Bajan! (Proper denonym is Barbadian.)
But sometimes I wish I was from somewhere else.
Even though we're awesome and we've proven it time and again. Even though we're now on the list of Developed Countries - and possibly the smallest country on that list, mind you. Even though we've got all these things going for us. Sometimes it's hard being from an itty-bitty country.
Imagine if your country was so tiny that you could never be sure that someone would have heard of it. Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australians, you never have to explain what/where your country is. And if you do, you probably write that person off as an idiot. I mean, even in the back-bush of Japan where they know NOTHING about the outside world, they know about these countries.
And when you're an international citizen like I am, it's a pain in the neck. Like British drivers can easily convert to a Japanese license. Barbadians have to take the full driving test. Even though we use most of the same rules, and drive 95% Japan cars. Why? Because why would the Japanese government bother to check the road laws of Barbados for the less than 10 of us who live here? At least we've got Europe on our side now and can travel freely there.
It even has implications as a writer. Where do I submite my work? US? UK? Canada? The UK is most open to international. But my writing gels more with American styles. And when I name-drop, I name-drop US names. The only famous people I know in Britain are in the Royal Family or on soccer fields. (Oh, Prince Edward is in Barbados today. The royals seem to love it there. Especially Prince Harry.) And Canada? That's even worse. Apart from Justin Beiber, who everybody in the US has made sure to disclaim, famous Canadians are often thought to be American. And what happens when I write a Bajan story? One that doesn't go out of it's why to include norms from elsewhere? Who will publish that?
There's an old folk song that starts:
"Beautiful, beautiful Barbados,
Gem of the Caribbean Sea"
I know it's beautiful. I know we rock. I know that there are millions of people in the world who would love to live in the Caribbean, and be able to walk to the beach every evening after work if they felt like. But sometimes, I just wish...
(NB. I made up the word izbipple. It's a synonym for awesome. Feel free to use it. )