Dining in Barbados is a different experience from dining in the U.S. (or Canada or Britain or anywhere outside the Caribbean, I would guess). It is laid back. The service is, to Americans at least, extremely slow. Painfully slow. You stand at the hostess stand, waiting to be recognized & then wait for your table – this is true even if the place is empty. You are shown to your table & you will wait to get your menu. You will wait for them to bring you water. You will wait for them to take your order. You will wait longer than you thought possible for your food. You will wait for them to come ask if you want dessert. Even if you decline dessert, you will wait for the right moment to ask for your check, since the check is not proactively brought to you. You will wait for them to pick up your credit card & wait longer for them to run it. Dinner, even at the most casual of places, easily takes two hours. Fish sandwiches for lunch at our favorite beach bar? At least an hour. I remember very clearly my first experience eating at a restaurant in Barbados. It was our first trip down there in February 2008, & my grandparents & brother were visiting at the same time. My Dad, who had been living there for five months, wanted to take us to one of the best places on the island for lunch; however, they were booked. We took a chance on a place down the road. The restaurant wasn’t very crowded & they had a traditional Bajan lunch buffet set up. After a 25 minute wait, we were led upstairs to our table… & the exact scenario described above happened.
I was beside myself. How could customer service be this bad? Why should a lunch buffet take 90 minutes? It’s a little beach shack serving up flying fish & macaroni pie! My Dad just laughed & said “It’s Barbados.”
I have learned, in our five visits since, that it is indeed Barbados. It’s the way of life there. It’s laid back. It’s slow paced. It’s low-stress. Everything takes longer – going to the grocery store (the cashiers are allowed to sit in tall chairs while they check you out), driving down the street (it’s not uncommon for cars to come to a dead stop in the middle of the road to let another car turn in front of them), & having lunch.
While the slower pace can be maddening at times, the only way to deal with it is to shrug your shoulders, remember that you are on a beautiful tropical island on vacation & say “Hey, it’s Barbados.”