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Relax, Mon!
By Rob Bloom


After our beach time, we decided to partake in one of the many fine restaurants Barnes told us about. Without a car, we relied on public transportation, which in this case were Matatus, which is Swahili for "taxi vans" or layman for "vehicles o' death." Matatus can fit eight people comfortably so obviously the drivers squeeze in a minimum of 40. If you're the type of person who enjoys a stranger's underarm sweat slowly dripping on you while your ear drums explode from the very, very, very, very loud reggae music that's blasting throughout the van, then this has your name written all over it -- literally. Just underneath the spray paint graffiti reference on where to find a good time.

After dinner, we explored the Barbados nightlife where I learned two things about the locals:

1. These people love to karaoke.
2. These people love to karaoke.

Now maybe it's just me, but there's something about hearing a drunken rendition of "Build me ahp, buttahcup, bay-bee. Don't break me heart, Mon!" that makes me smile.

The next day featured an authentic island safari where our tour guide promised a full six hours of "roughing it." And was he ever right! We stopped a measly ten times for bathroom breaks, the beer they served on our "booze breaks" was only partly cold and there were only two choices for lunch: grilled chicken or freshly caught fish. Honestly.

We did, however, see some breathtaking views, as well as some really interesting sights. But because of a bad microphone, our guide's accent, and the miscellaneous noise that comes from driving 85 mph in an open Land Rover, I couldn't understand our guide as he described the sights. A typical passage sounded like this:

"And over here, you see the world famous SCHMIELSCHMATZELMON. Look over here, Mon, you'll see something very special! This is a BIDDITYGOOGLINESSITNESS. You can recognize it from the giant MUMBLYDUMBLYGURGLE on its SOMETHINGOROTHERMON. Whatever you do, stay far away. It be poisonous, Mon!"

That night, my wife and I wandered into a cozy bistro where we ate a delicious meal of undercooked and overpriced meat before going to the pub next door to sing along with a local named Jerry as he belted out "Sweet Caroline, Mon." After dinner, we crammed into another Matatu where I sweated off five pounds and had a lovely conversation with a 300 lb. Rastafarian woman who pressed me against the van door. Unable to understand her over the very, very, very, very loud reggae music, I politely smiled and nodded a lot. I think we're now engaged to be married. Back at the hotel, my wife and I fell asleep listening to the sweet sounds of crickets chirping. And a karaoke version of "Ice Ice Bay-bee" from the hotel bar.

That brings me to today. We spent the morning sitting on the beach, avoiding poisonous trees and European men in waaaaaaay too small bathing suits. After inhaling a plate of fried calamari, we returned to our wooden lounge chairs to soak up more of the Caribbean sun. Now it might be the heat, or maybe it's just the effects of undercooked calamari, but I'm starting to feel a little strange. A weird sensation is creeping over me. Oh good, the crab is quietly humping our Dasani bottle so it must be something else. Hmmm...tightness in chest? Check. Strained breathing? Check. Racing heartbeat? Check. Oh, no. Not that. It can't be. IT'S STRESS!!!! Somehow it found me, all the way out here in… well, wherever Barbados is.

Stressful thoughts are filling my brain: fighting rush hour traffic; meeting deadlines; the leader of the free world trying to produce a coherent sentence. Stop the madness...I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

(Breathe in and out)
(In and out)
(In and out)
(Ignore the crab)
(In and out)

Wait a minute, I am still on vacation here. That other stuff can wait. For now, I'll relax, Mon.

Now hand me that microphone. It's karaoke time.

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