As told by Roland Cadeaux
I went to Barbados in the early Naughties with two good mates from home. It was around March time, the end of a miserable winter, and Barbados provided the perfect antidote to a brutal 6 months in the UK; warm, blue water, great weather and waves… The dream trip, then. Flights were pretty much dirt cheap from Gatwick, as long as you didn’t mind sharing the economy cabin with half of Essex. Which we didn’t, at all.
One of the boys, Nick had been there a few times before, so he knew the drill. We rented a bungalow in Bathsheba and surfed the clean conditions in the mornings, and even when the strong trades were up, Soup Bowl was still fun as shit when small, but heavier than it looks when bigger. We had one pretty big day, which was pretty exciting. The local surfers were for the most part super mellow, real friendly, and all ripped. It was a great week of surfing all up, and pretty good value really. We were stoked.
Our bungalow was a wee bit sketchy, truth told. There was a backpackers there at the time, I’m not sure if it’s still there, but we wanted to get our own place. Nick had stayed in the backpackers before and had to room with some Canadians, who got on his nerves. So we opted for renting a bungalow through a contact he knew in Bathsheba. It was pretty much across the street from the break called Parlour’s, and it was nice enough. It had all the basic essentials, if perhaps not quite state of the art security-wise.
At that time, there were a few issues with drugs on the island, crack mainly, from what I’m told it’s cleaned up now, mellowed, especially in the Bathsheba area where the best surf is, it’s all pretty chill for the most part. But back then, it was occasionally a bit sketchy, after dark.
Anyway, throughout the week some of the boys would always cruise by the porch to say wassup/ask for a drink of water/sell us a bit of weed/case the joint. I remember falling asleep in the afternoon on the porch after a 3 surf morning and several spliffs and opening one eye to see a giant guy inside the house itself.
He saw me wake up, then came out onto the porch with a glass of water that he’d helped himself to, and sat down next to me. He sort of gestured for me to budge up a bit, give him more room.
“You look a lil’ tired man,” he said.
I was like, “Well yeah. That’s coz I’m asleep.”
Anyway, it was all pretty cordial, if slightly cheeky. But it was fairly obvious that at some point our belongings were destined to be removed from the premises and smoked in a crack pipe (having been traded for drugs approximate to their black market resale value). We knew it, they knew it, they knew that we knew, etc, etc.
Still, like I said, waves were fun and the boys were stoked.
A few nights before leaving we went out to Bridgetown and had a massive night, drove back in our little Moke in the small hours. In fact, the night out itself bore omens of coming trouble. We somehow got into an argument with these drunk Americans on spring break, outside this club. I can’t remember over what, think we were just having banter. But I remember one guy, baseball cap backwards and little soul patch, “Oh so now you want a lil piece of this, huh? Oh so you want me to bring the pain?” That kind of thing. Weirdly there was sort of a metal fence between us, so he knew we couldn’t have a lil piece of this, or have the pain brought on us, coz of the fence. Anyway. We drank rum and the Bridgetown part concluded more or less without further incident.
We drove back across Barbados (Bridgetown is on the west coast, Bathsheba the east, and it’s quite a long drive down small bendy roads with loads of little turns.) By the time we got back we’d all sobered up a bit. We came down the hill into town and pulled up outside our cottage, and we could see one window screen had been removed. Then we saw a guy was coming out with our backpacks and making off up the hill.
Nick immediately leapt into action, shouted “Oy!” after him and gave chase into the inky darkness. My other mate E ran into the house to see if any others were still there. I just kinda stayed in the car, if I’m honest. I’m not a hero. It didn’t have doors as such, sort of half doors and no windows, like a Jeep. If there were doors to lock I would have locked them, but there weren’t so I just kinda closed my eyes. Figured that was the best place to ride it out.
What was funny was the way he’d been through our stuff and picked what he wanted. He packed the backpacks with stuff he liked the look of, and left the rest in a pile on the floor. Apparently, he wasn’t keen on any of my collection of early naughties bright yellow surf brand T-shirts, but liked the other colours. He basically liked the look of all of my clothes except the yellow t-shirts, and especially liked the look of my not-well-enough-hidden passport.
Nick was pretty pacey in those days. He caught up with the perpetrator in some bushes a little bit up the hill, tackled him and grabbed one of the backpacks by the strap. The thief held the other strap in one hand, and thus a bizarre nocturnal tug of war ensued. It was quite a steep hill, and the perpetrator held the high ground. He also held, as suddenly became apparent, a massive machete. There was a bit of moonlight that night and it suddenly caught the blade, which was probably quite scary from within range. Nick decided to let go of the backpack. It was a nice enough backpack, an Etnies one I think, but probably not worth losing a limb for. You could get ’em for £29.99 in Surfing Life.
E spent the rest of the night up, rocking in the kitchen chair with a baseball bat on his lap. I still have no idea where he got a baseball bat from at 4am in Bathsheba, we certainly didn’t bring it with us. Anyway, he sat there, clenched teeth, flared nostrils, ‘In case the fuckers come back for more…’
I didn’t. I went to bed after being roundly chastised for staying in the car and ‘Not backing the boys up’. If I’m honest, I felt that maintaining the maximum possible distance between myself and the machete-wielding crackhead in the pitch-black had been an excellent display of decision making, even in my drunken state. I can remember sleeping the other way around in the bed, thinking if they came back and tried to chop my head off with the machete while I slept, they’d just get the pillow, the cloud of feathers creating enough of a diversion to buy me a vital few seconds with which to make my escape.
We’d all lost most of our clothes so we all wore my yellow t-shirts for the rest of the trip. The worst part of the whole thing was losing my passport though, a massive hassle. The authorities called my mum in Cornwall to verify the missing passport. “Mrs Cadeaux? This the British Embassy in Bridgetown, it’s about your son…” that nearly gave her a heart attack. She’s actually still a bit pissed off with me about that.