Bajan Open House

We have an open house. As people pass our house it is not unusual for passers by to shout, “Hey Brother Calvin! Sandra ya a’right! McDowells!” It’s also normal for people even complete strangers to stop by to ask for a breadfruit, a coconut or mangoes. People know we are home because we keep all the doors and windows open. We have no screen door or screen windows which is why I call our house, an open house.

We do keep the the front and back gates closed which prevents someone from just walking in. But virtually every critter known to Barbados (except monkeys) walks about freely through our open house. Let me explain.

Back in the states if someone left the screen door open too long and a fly ventured in, Sandra would hunt it down until it was dead! Here, flies and mosquitoes come and go like they own the place! In fact, we have personal bug zappers in every room of the house including the bathroom for the unwanted visitors.

Once, a pigeon flew in the back door through the kitchen and out the front door. Thankfully we have an “open concept” and it flew right through and didn’t get caught up in the fan, curtains or crash into a wall. I guess it was traveling as the crow flies!

Recently, I called Sandra to come quickly to the living room and said “You won’t believe this!” There it was, a 10 inch “shanky” crab scuttling sideways through the living room warily watching my every movement. It could have made a tasty dinner! I have no idea where he came from but we ushered him out the front door and I have no idea where he went.

There were a couple of incidents with bites and stings that were quite painful. Imagine brushing your teeth in the bathroom and feeling a pain on your toe. I remember shaking my foot looking down to see a centipede nibbling my big toe. I started stomping like a person with his foot on fire and killed the critter. Fortunately, it was just a baby and not a big centipede because I have heard of people having bad reactions to centipede bites. My sister-in-law was fortunate that she is not allergic to bees as she was stung by a honey bee sitting on our living room couch.

On another occasion, Sandra was sitting on that same couch when she felt something in her pants. She sat up straight and said, “I think there is a lizard in my pants!” She cupped her hand over the area and calmly walked outside to the backyard, pulled off her pants and laughed as the lizard scampered away. Since then, she shakes out her jeans before she puts them on! The Bible says that “Lizards can be caught in your hands, yet can be found in kings palaces” and I’ll add “the McDowell house!”

Out of all of the critters that have been in our house only one has creeped me out and the reason I wrote this blog. I was sitting in my favorite chair watching TV when I felt something on my right shoulder. I tried to flick it off unsure what it was but it moved quickly to the left side of my neck. I missed it there too as it crossed to the right side of my face. A little panicked I knocked of my glasses finally connecting to the critter, a giant flying roach! I suddenly became like Sandra chasing a fly by shoving chairs and pushing couches finally tracking down and killing that roach!

Will we ever close and screen this open house? I am not sure, after all we must consider that we live in the tropics in an area that was once sugar cane fields. Besides, I’m used to it now after 3 years.

Will we ever get another visitor to stay at our house? I’m not sure about that either, would you come? Once this pandemic is over, we’ll see! After all, staying in an bug free hotel or an Airbnb is always an option!


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3 comments

  1. Wow you two nerves of steel! I would be getting screens, with my luck I would have been nipped by the crab 🦀! Calvin I enjoy reading your blogs! Barbados is a beautiful, warm, friendly place and your stories bring it to life! Tell Sandy I miss her!

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