Monday, November 15, 2004

Goodbye Bay Street Jetty

You tell me to forget
That my grandmudda was born right dey so
All right I say I shall go...........

and I hope ya kno it's true
that'll I will never never ever forgive you
because looka whu yuh gone and do
to my Emmerton

Mighty Gabby - Emmerton

Last week they tore down the old jetty on Bay Street. You know the one down by the Jemmotts Lane, Bay Street Junction, next to the old Family Planning Building just across the street from St Patricks Catholic Church, just down the road from the fishmarket and the Starline Supermarket. Yea that one, the one on Browne's beach, Burke's beach, Carlisle Bay whatever name you feel to give to the best and probably most underrated stretch of beach in Barbados. A place I've been familiar with since I was a small child.

To be honest the jetty was a dangerous spot. Its been rotting as long as I can remember and as a child, adults would gave us kids numerous warnings about climbing onto it to jump off into the sea. Those warnings were ignored by many.

True the jetty was in general an eyesore, slowly crumbling bit by bit under the steady constant erosion of the waves but to me growing up it was just another feature of the beach. Actually the only real standout feature on the beach itself. Earlier on, it was a natural break for me when I was running laps in the sand from the Yacht club wall (since removed as well), just below Grand Barbados hotel, down the beach to the Jetty. I would run up and tap the dark rotting wood with my hand or foot quickly turning, like an Olympic swimmer hitting the wall and bouncing back, to head back up the beach. I would also have secret races (I was racing they weren't) with other joggers that I had seen ahead of me, trying to pass them before they reached the Jetty. Great motivation, great exercise. Of course that was back when I considered myself a runner and the beach a good training ground for my school sports sprinting. Back when I wasn't so injury prone.

Recently its been a natural turning point for those long, early morning swims with my dad from up by the parking lot below the Bay Street/Beckles road intersection past Harbor Whites (sorry I mean Lights), the new Carlisle Bay Center, the new lifeguard tower and the supermarket.

Even walking the beach with my dad it was a landmark. We walked down the normal stretch of beach past the swimmers, those out for an early morning dip to help the arthritis and other ailments, the original chat groups soaking away in the sea while arguing about politics, cricket and religion ...without the aid of a computer and the groups of walkers who my dad always introduces me to year after year proudly saying something like "this is my boy who now up in Toronto. He come home to get in a few sea baths". Past the children dashing in and running back out of the cold morning surf, the serious joggers and the guys, usually dreads, brushing up on their football skills (real football not that stupid American crap). We would walk down past the people and all the landmarks previously mentioned and then duck under the Jetty to emerge in an almost different world. A world devoid of all but the most serious walkers and runners who went all the way down past the Boatyard (night club), a world devoid of swimmers and dippers and football players and just a lot more empty than the stretch of white sand on the other side.

Once upon a time the tide stopped you from going much further than the Boatyard. There was an old wall you might get past occasionally if the tide wasn't as high, but only if you were very careful as that area was rather mossy and rocky and it wasn't usually worth the risk to bare feet to thread there. In recent years though the tide didn't come in as far (global warming, shift in tides who knows) and so you can go past the Boatyard, past the old Harbor Police Headquarters all the way down to an old weather-beaten wall which I assume is somewhere in the vicinity of the back of Mannings or the Coast Guard HQ on the edge of Bridgetown.

It was just a strange netherworld back there on the other side of the jetty. It was quieter, to me it seemed somewhat colder and human life was sparse although at one point someone seemed to have built some sort of shanty and was living out there.

As I walked or sometimes ran back there, I always thought it to be a quiet spot where someone could make a drug drop in the dead of night and I imagined myself finding a large lost bag of drug loot washed up on the beach which lead to me being chased and shot at by a swarm of bad guys. I would end up staggering and falling bloody into the sea still clutching the bag of money (I'm rich beeeeeeetch!) after being shot numerous times. Are you telling me I'm the only one who's had that dream. OK fine be like that its not like I'm unstable or anything!

There was always lots of action near the jetty. Schools of fray and sprats darting furtively in the calm blue waters; now you see them now you don't. "Man-O-Wars", "Sea Lice" and other invisible beasts of the depths lurking to sting you if you were in certain areas of the water on certain days. There were also people on top the jetty, on the beach next to it or in the sea close by. All on the inhabited side of the beach. The Jetty was sort of a defacto wall dividing the sands. A defining line between Jekell and Hyde, quiet and loud, Bert and Ernie. The Jetty acted as a curtain which when pulled back revealed another, a different room from the one you were in.

Its crazy how thinking about this jetty makes me remember my beach runs or my long swims. Makes me miss home and my dad and think about my need to go back soon and have myself a good sea bath. Time to get some good salt water in my skin which is currently being ravaged by this dammed cold humidless weather.

So to the Jetty, thanks for being there as a stop sign and a portal. Thanks for being my finish line and turning point for countless swims and runs. Thanks for just being. Thanks for the memories.

And I'll take with me the memories
To be my sunshine after the rain
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

(good gosh I just realized I wrote a eulogy to a jetty, how sad is that?I really need help)


Abeni said...

How sweet.Boy you need help fuh real:)

4panist said...

wow, from reading that I feel like a just took a trip to the beach myself. Funny how you pointed out the distiction between the two sides. I must have noticed it (populated vs. abandoned) but I don't think I could have been so eloquent. Still, you lost me on your dreams for "the other side". For me the quiet side would be more the place for romantic walks and stolen kisses. I guess that shows you how different people's minds are..we all can't be jdid.

Jdid said...

romantic walks and stolen kisses??? yuck!