Category Archives: The Blog

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Famous Bajans – Neil Alvin

 

Welcome to the section of the blog dedicated to famous names that you may not have associated with Barbados or been aware they were Bajan or of Bajan descent.

BGKI - Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados), Joy Lewis, French-English Translator

Interview with Neil Alvin, creator of Black Girls Killing It

Did you know that the immensely popular website, Black Girls Killing It (BGKI) was started by Barbadian, Neil Alvin? BGKI is a global platform for Black fashionistas. Women from around the world post pictures of their snazzy attire, showcasing their unique sartorial aesthetic. With hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, not to mention the masses that flock to the website, BGKI is definitely making its mark on the fashion blogosphere.

Congratulations on creating a blog with such an international reach. What prompted you to launch it and when was it created?

Black Girls Killing It, BGKI, has existed since 2011 but I have actually been blogging since 2010. The website was initially called Neil Alvin.com.  And it all started from my love of reading. I was always reading all sorts of random material, including online magazines.  I didn’t really know anything about fashion but I loved reading.

One day, I came across an article called 50 top fashion bloggers.  I read it, pondered it while doing other stuff around the house then went back to the article.  The way it was presented allowed me to see all 50 thumbnails simultaneously… and I realized that not one of them was black.  None. I thought to myself it simply wasn’t possible that there wasn’t one black blogger among them.  If you travel the world you will see so many beautiful, fashionable black girls… there couldn’t not be one!  So I decided I was going start my own website and only post pictures of black models. I didn’t know about blogging. I just knew about black superstars like Halle Berry, Naomi Campbell. So I created NeilAlvin.com and every day I searched online for pictures of famous black models and posted them.

Black Girls Killing It - Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados), Joy Lewis, English-English Translator

Gradually, a small online community of 400 fans grew and became curious about the person behind the blog. They wanted to know where I was from, what I did on weekends, what I did during the summer… things like that. Whenever a question was asked, I’d post the answer publicly so any others with the same queries could see the response. And these responses generated comments.

At that moment, it hit me that no one would be looking for Neil Alvin and that I’d need to create a brand around the website. I got my 400 fans to help with choosing a name and eventually Black Girls Killing It came into being. And just by registering the new name and creating a logo, the number of followers jumped from 400 to 4,000 in one month.

Interesting. So the blog didn’t spring from a real interest in fashion?

No, not really. To be honest, I wouldn’t say that I am overly interested in fashion per se, I just like looking at photos. My mother collected magazines, so there were always lots lying around – Essence, Ebony, Cosmopolitan, etc. Between the ages of 12 and 14, I read lots of magazines, so it really was my love of reading that made me aware of fashion. But I don’t know the fashion industry.

What have been your biggest BGKI-related challenges up to now?

My biggest challenges come from the fact that I am based in Barbados. A lot of opportunities come my way – I receive lots of invitations, which I initially turned down. But two years ago, I started using them as an opportunity to get other people involved. For example, I’d get invited to London Fashion Week or Milan Fashion Week, so I started running competitions on the website and offering fans the opportunity to win and attend the Fashion Weeks.

Being based in Barbados has also had financial implications in terms of receiving payments from the US. I am somewhat penalised because I don’t have a US bank account. Another challenge comes from not being able to physically go out and knock on doors to meet the power brokers. I have to try to get someone’s attention by email when they are already being bombarded by thousands of emails.

BGKI - Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados), English-French Translation (2)

Well, given what you’ve just said, do you sometimes feel outside the fashion loop since you are based in Barbados, which isn’t a major player in the fashion world (Rihanna notwithstanding)? Or does this internet age mean that physical location is not as important, fashion-wise?

Yes and no. I am not disadvantaged by the Internet. Everybody has the same equal opportunity to get out there and get exposure for their product. It’s amazing – you can go from obscurity to superstardom in a day, just because something has gone viral. But I’m disadvantaged in terms of networking, and in terms of advertising, which brings in revenue. For example, bloggers’ networks hold conferences, none of which take place in Barbados. Most of the head offices of the big ad agencies are in major metropolitan cities, not Barbados. It just makes it that much harder to connect with the right people when operating from Barbados.

Are there any advantages to being in Barbados at all?

Yes. Barbados’ reputation as a desirable, exotic location has led some bloggers and fans to make contact. As I’ve mentioned before, some were interested in learning more about me as well as the island. In fact, I’ve even hosted some of them. So, I’ve decided to harness the power of social media to promote Barbados to the wider world. So the plan going forward in 2016 is to fly bloggers in for a couple of days and do interviews in Barbados instead of online as I previously did. You can imagine that if a fashion blogger, who has hundreds of thousands of followers on the various social media, announces a trip to Barbados, it would immediately generate enormous interest among those followers. That way I will generate buzz both for BGKI and Barbados.

Where are most of your followers based? Any posters from Barbados?

In terms of any one country, most of my followers are in the US, about 60%. Those numbers were higher, but my popularity is growing on the African continent. So, when you add up the numbers from the various African countries, they actually exceed the number of US followers. My biggest national markets are the US (New York, Los Angeles, Miami), the UK (London) and France (Paris). But when you add followers from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe, they exceed the US numbers. I have a few Bajan followers, they account for around 2%, but they almost never post pictures.

You mentioned France, so how have the French responded to the blog?

I actually noticed the French when I saw posts on the blog that were not in English and became curious. I didn’t really have a following in France during the first two years. Then the numbers jumped to between four and five thousand followers within a three-month period. I’m still not sure exactly what generated the sudden interest… maybe it’s because the French in general and Parisians in particular are just interested in fashion. Paris is one of the cities I visited when I did a European tour promoting the website and it went well.

BGKI - Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados), Joy Lewis, English-French Translator

Where do you get pictures and are they edited before posting?

Girls send me photos. After initially posting pictures myself, I decided to add a submit feature on the website so girls could send me pictures. After working fulltime at my day job, it was just too tiring to go home and sit for another four hours looking for pictures of well-known models. It was 3 weeks before a picture was submitted. You can imagine how excited I was to get the first one… and obviously it has snowballed since.

And yes, I edit them before publishing after making my selection from the photos sent. I do this to ensure they meet certain standards. This has actually given me the opportunity to work with foreign photographers and magazines, primarily in LA and New York.

Barbadian superstar Rihanna is universally acknowledged as a style icon (at the time of writing, she had been just been officially recognised as the world’s most marketable celebrity). Do you think she is exerting any influence on Bajan girls style-wise?

Rihanna is undeniably a global fashion icon and Bajan girls definitely pay attention to her fashion choices and mimic some of them. A few years ago when Rihanna was in her red-hair phase, Bajan girls sported red hair for about two years.

Are Bajan girls killing it?

I’ve actually never really thought about this in relation to Bajan girls. To me, killing it encompasses confidence as well as trendy looks. I have observed that style has improved in Barbados over a period of time. I like to think that I helped with that. Girls are now on-trend. Before there was a time lapse – a trend would emerge in January, but may not be seen in Barbados until September. I know this happens because I meet store owners when I attend events in Barbados; it seems they consult the website to see what girls overseas are wearing and use that as gauge of what to sell on the local market. By way of example, when a photo is posted, there is engagement on the part of my followers – they indicate their preference for one look over another with ‘likes’. Local storeowners then have tangible proof of popular international trends and that influences their purchases… and these are seen on the streets of Barbados.

Which are your favourite female fashion trends?

I like to see girls in buttoned-down shirts. If a girl can wear a buttoned-down shirt and trousers and still look stylish, to me that takes more effort than just wearing a figure-hugging dress. It requires more creativity and thought to wear loose clothing stylishly. I also like mix and match look.

BGKI - traduction blog - AAA Translation Services (Barbados), Joy Lewis, traductrice français-anglais

Describe your style

I love standing out from the crowd. I love denim, structured looks, military style, buttoned-down shirts… and I prioritise comfort.

What’s next? What do you want to achieve?

I would like to take the brand to other countries, set up physical stores. Right now, I have an online marketplace where people sell their goods, but I’d like to transform that into a physical store. Here is how I earn revenue: since I have a buying public, stores approach me to sell their advertising to that public – Macy’s, J C Penny, Forever 21, they all advertise on the BGKI website. I created the marketplace so that my followers could just go to one hub where they could access the various shops and deals. It’s called Shop BGKI and is basically an online mall. So what I’d like to do is have a physical version of that. It could serve as a platform for local creators to get their products known abroad via BGKI stores.

I’m also looking to get into the carnival market. Every year, over 50 carnivals are held worldwide. Again, this could be a way to promote local talent by having local designers create carnival type attire that could then be showcased in a BGKI section in carnival bands. This is something that could be transferred to different carnivals around the world. So, I’ll begin in 2016 with a BGKI section in one of the big bands on Kadooment Day (carnival). I’ll see how that goes. If it works maybe I could take it to Trinidad or Brazil or Notting Hill. This move could really expand my brand. Right now, it is known only to people who are online and want to shop. But there are lots more people online who have never heard of BGKI.

BGKI - traduction blog - AAA Translation Services (Barbados), Joy Lewis, traductrice anglais-français

What do you think has been key to the blog’s success?

I think it’s because when girls visit the site, they see people they could actually encounter on the street, as opposed to magazines where they see celebrities. I think that’s why it continues to grow. I regularly get messages and emails from girls telling me how the blog has given them confidence… helped them realise that they are not alone when it comes to dressing in a particular way, that they are not “weird and freaky. It’s like a little community that supports each other… there are no negative comments on pictures.

You’ve obviously found a niche that was lacking, any plans to extend to other demographic segments?

I do plan to expand and actually, I have registered Asian Girls Killing It and World Girls Killing It. As it grows, you’ve got to think ahead. There will be some brands and company that will not want to partner explicitly with Black Girls Killing It. You want to keep your options open. It’s something that could easily be expanded to other markets, like Asia, then it could easily be World Girls Killing It… any girl that’s fashionable and confident.

 

Thanks to the management of Limegrove Lifestyle Centre for allowing us to use their premises.

Photographic coverage provided by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio/Photo Dynamics Inc. 

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.


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Vive la France! Bastille Day celebrated in Barbados

Followers of this blog may be aware that there is a small but active branch of the Alliance Française in Barbados. In addition to teaching French, the Alliance française de Bridgetown (AFB) celebrates major French cultural landmarks, and Bastille Day 2015 provided another occasion to do so. Like its sister chapters around the world, the AFB organised an event to mark France’s National Day, otherwise known as Bastille Day.

Choosing to return to the venue where it launched an exhibition commemorating WW1 in April, the AFB celebrated Bastille Day at the Barbados Museum on 14th July. The AFB’s events are becoming increasingly popular, and like the Dîner français, this one was completely sold out.

Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

To mark the occasion, the Museum was decorated with balloons, ribbons and lanterns displaying the blue, white and red of the tricolour flag, creating a charmingly French atmosphere. The Barbadian and French flags flew outside its walls, welcoming guests to the soirée and setting the tone of the evening.

 French-English Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

The event was held in the Museum’s picturesque upper courtyard, which features majestic sandbox trees planted in the middle of its cobblestone walkway and palms and other trees at one end of the courtyard. This cosy backdrop, surrounded by the historic original buildings of the military garrison provided the perfect setting for recreating the look of a French country square.

French-English Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

No French event worthy of the name would be complete without cheese or wine, and on this occasion Elle & Vire  brie and camembert cheeses as well as several French wines, provided by Wine World, took pride of place. The cheese was served on baguette slices, crackers or with grapes and, with the wines, announced the start of a very pleasant evening.

English into French translation -AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the cocktail reception was the smorgasbord of exquisite French hors d’oeuvres served up by Anna Went, caterer extraordinaire. Patrons feasted on savoury treats such as chicken vol-au-vent, smoked salmon with crème fraîche served on cucumber slices, beef and mushroom skewers, seafood crepes and fried Brie, while dessert options included crème brulée and profiteroles.

French into English Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

Guests showed their appreciation for the mouth-watering fare by clearing the platters as soon as the servers appeared. And I must not neglect to mention the servers’ attire, which reflected the French theme; they wore blue aprons over black trousers, white shirts, red neckerchiefs and black berets.

English-French blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

As they mingled and savoured the delicacies, guests were entertained by the smooth renditions of popular jazz ensemble, NJ30+.

Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

Saxophonist Joseph Callender delighted guests by weaving his way through them while playing, stopping at times to amuse them with his playful antics.

French into English translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

During the evening, speeches were made by Captain Don Chee-A-Tow, France’s Honorary Consul to Barbados, Mrs. Denise Haynes, the President of the Alliance française de Bridgetown and its Director, Antoine Lombard. After welcoming attendees, Mr. Lombard gave them the history behind Bastille Day. Captain Chee-A-Tow spoke of, among others, the benefits to be gained by learning a foreign language, not least of which, is insight into another culture. Mrs. Haynes thanked patrons and the AFB’s sponsors for their continued support, without which its various events would not be possible.

English into French translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

Appreciative comments from patrons leave no doubt that this latest AFB production was a resounding success and a fitting celebration of Bastille Day. Next on the calendar of not-to-be-missed French events, Beaujolais Nouveau, on 19th November.  Another delightful evening awaits!

Photographic coverage provided by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio/Photo Dynamics Inc. 

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.

 

 

 


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Meet a Frenchie – Laure Garancher

In this section of the blog, we’ll meet French people living in Barbados. A census carried out by the French Consulate indicated that there were around 250 Frenchies living here.

Today, it is Laure’s turn to relate her experiences in Barbados. She is from Manosque, a small town in the southeastern Department of Alpes de Haute Provence.

French/English Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

So Laure, tell us, what brought you to Barbados?

I arrived a little over two years ago on a work contract with PAHO.

Was settling in easy?

Yes. Everything had been organised for me so it wasn’t too difficult. Travel arrangements, relocation, etc., had all been arranged, so it was rather easy. Furthermore, I’m used to relocating from one part of the world to another, as I lived in Vietnam and South Africa before coming here. And Barbados is quite a nice country – there are no safety issues and things are fairly easy. So yes, everything went well.

Had you ever heard of Barbados while in France?

I could just about find it on a map, but I must confess that I knew nothing about Barbados. In France, Barbados is not very well known. We know Rihanna (laughing). More so in South Africa, where she is really famous as well, but apart from that, we don’t really hear much about Barbados.

What has been the biggest culture shock?

Hmmm… maybe the fact that there really is no great culture shock. I mean, compared with moving to Vietnam or South Africa, where things are very different indeed, the difference isn’t that great in Barbados.

So for you, the culture shock was greater in Vietnam and South Africa?

Yes. In Vietnam, the language, religion, food and traditions are completely different. Even grocery shopping is complicated as there is no supermarket – at first, you don’t know where to find things. In South Africa, English is spoken and, culturally speaking, it’s closer, but there are other problems – particularly, where safety is concerned – that don’t exist here. You’re forced to live in protected homes, you can’t walk around in the street… So, at the end of the day, for me Barbados seemed more similar (to France).

English-French Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

What do you do at PAHO?

I have been seconded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to PAHO, where I represent the French Departments. My objective is to strengthen relations between the French Departments, i.e., Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana, and the English-speaking Caribbean and to encourage collaboration on health projects between the French and English-speaking Caribbean islands.

Is there a significant difference in health policy between the French and English speaking islands?

Yes. As the French Departments are considered a part of France, all French citizens must have access to all the health services they would have in mainland France. So there are first-rate university hospitals where rather complex surgeries can be performed – heart surgeries, etc. – that are not always possible in the English-speaking Caribbean. So, I’m interested in sharing the expertise available in the French islands with the English-speaking Caribbean.

How exactly?

At the moment, there is a bit of brainstorming on hospital cooperation to see how certain services could be introduced to the English-speaking Caribbean. There are also discussions concerning research. For example, when faced with new epidemics, such as Chikungunya, we will try to collaborate on programmes with neighbouring countries and advance research projects. The same goes for tropical pathologies or illnesses that don’t necessarily exist in mainland France.

Are there any specific projects for Barbados?

Yes, there are a few projects involving Barbados. A few years ago, the International Health Regulations were adopted and stipulate that every country must meet certain standards in terms of epidemic prevention, etc. So we are working with a team from Martinique to help Barbados attain the desired standards. And in September and October, we will organise training on how to manage chemical or nuclear risks. For example, should a major chemical accident occur in Barbados, what would be the course of action to take, how to decontaminate the zone, etc. These are examples of projects where the French Departments will come and assist Barbados.

Blog Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

And now to completely change the subject, it seems that you are a comic strip creator, how did that interest come about?

Comic strips are much more popular in France than here and they’re something I’ve always liked. My mother was an art teacher and my father was an architect, so I’ve always loved painting and drawing. One day, I thought it could be fun to try and create a comic strip and I was lucky enough to find a publisher who was interested. Voilà.

Have the various countries in which you have lived influenced your scenarios?

Yes. My first scenario was about Vietnam and China while the second one was about the Opium War, which took place in the 19th century. Actually, I created both books while living in South Africa and now that I’m here, I’m doing one on South Africa. I imagine that once I’ve left here I’ll do one on Barbados and the Caribbean. I think it’s good to have a bit of perspective each time.

But it’s true that since I’ve been here, I have started using more colour. I hope I get to do a comic strip on the Caribbean… I will try to recreate the light here.

Is it difficult?

There are several stages. I use a Cintiq, an apparatus specially designed for comic strips (Laure does not draw freehand). I make a rough sketch directly onto Photoshop, over which I trace the black line art (a technique used in comic strips). Then I remove the rough sketch and send it to my colourist who adds the colour on a separate layer. Creating a comic strip is a multi-layered process. It takes about eight hours to do one page. And obviously since I work I can’t dedicate myself to it full-time. For example, this book (Opium) which is about 150 pages took me one year to complete… it’s my second book.

Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

Is there a special technique used to ensure that characters always have the same features?

Not really. To ensure characters’ features remain the same, you just have to draw, draw and draw… at first, you work on drawing each character in different poses so that you get used to drawing them…

What was/is most frustrating about living here?

Food. Sometimes I’d love to be able to go to a good French restaurant or buy duck confit or French sausages or cheese (laughter) or real bread… buy crunchy baguettes or croissants. I miss French food (laughing).

And what do you like the most?

I really like the colours and the light. Maybe it’s because I paint, but I pay particular attention to them. We don’t have a car here and walk everywhere and doing so allows us to see just how beautiful Barbados really is. There are always lots of flowers everywhere, sunrises and sunsets are stunning, the houses are colourful… there are lots of beautiful things to look at.

And what’s really great about Barbados is the public transportation system. You can go everywhere by bus here. Compared with the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, where there’s little in the way of public transportation, Barbados is way ahead. I think it must have one of the most dense bus networks in the world. When we arrived here after leaving South Africa – where due to safety concerns you are forced to use a car as it’s dangerous to walk around – we looked at the size of Barbados, which is 21 x 14 miles, and decided that we didn’t need a car and that we would walk or bike everywhere. And we get along just fine – and we get to see Barbados in greater detail.

What’s your favourite place of interest?

I love going to Bathsheba… the East Coast. I really like hiking so often we’ll just walk along that coast and it’s quite spectacular. There’s also North Point, which is equally impressive with its cliffs and wild landscape. And I also like Hunte’s Gardens… all the colours and the layout. It’s pretty cool there.

What’s your favourite Bajan dish?

Something I’d never tasted before and that I’ll order pretty regularly now is barbecued pigtail. It’s so greasy… but it’s delicious (peals of laughter)! It’s something that’s not eaten anywhere else (in any case, I’d never tasted it before coming to Barbados). So, I’ll have it whenever it’s there to be had. But yes, it’s greasy.

What’s your favourite Bajan expression?

What I find amusing is the Bajan accent rather than any particular expression. None come to mind. I admit that sometimes I don’t understand some Barbadians when they speak because of the accent. But I find it rather musical. I rather like the Bajan accent.

Name your favourite beach

We go to the beach fairly often and it’s right next door. That’s one of the great things about Barbados… you’re never far from the beach. My favourite lies at the end of the Boardwalk heading towards the Hilton hotel. There’s a spot where people have created a pool of sorts in the water and I really like it because it’s so calm, it’s like being in a tub. It’s beautiful there… I love it. That’s the place I will miss.

Website translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

How do you relax?

I draw. I try to draw at least two hours every day… to move things along. Comic strips are more time-consuming compared with painting, as a page is made up of around fifteen successive illustrations.

I also do karate – I go to the dojo three times a week. I began here as a white belt and now I’m a purple belt, so I’ve made progress (laughing).

Any advice or tips for French people who might be thinking of moving here?

Stock up on French goods – sausages, cheese, wine – before coming.

Barbados in three words

Sea, light, weather.

 

Photography by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio/Photo Dynamics Inc.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.


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Meet a Frenchie – Catherine Forter Chee-A-Tow

In this section of the blog, we’ll meet French people living in Barbados. A census carried out by the French Consulate indicated that there were around 250 Frenchies living here.

Now, Catherine, artist and wife of the Honorary Consul of France to Barbados, will relate her Bajan experience. She comes from famous wine country – Bordeaux, to be exact, located in the French southwestern Department of Gironde.

French/English Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)So Catherine, tell us, what brought you to Barbados?

It’s a long story. I’d even say a story that goes back a long way, as I came to Barbados a little over twenty years ago. At the time, I was completing a Master’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages (Business and Commerce section) at the Université de Bordeaux III and like many students, I had got a summer job to be somewhat financially independent.

I liked the wine sector because it afforded exposure to the world yet at the same time was firmly grounded in the terroir. I had a unique opportunity to work with Alexis Lichine, a Russian-born American wine expert and author, who owned several classified Grands Crus. He had been coming to Barbados and holidaying at Sandy Lane since the 60s. He always said, “You don’t follow trends, you set them!” And in a manner of speaking, he revolutionised the Bordeaux wine sector because at the time – and this might be hard to believe – there were no women in top positions in this industry.

So, one day, he called me into his office and I entered feeling slightly nervous. Out of the blue, he asked me if I’d like to spend three months in Barbados. I immediately said “Yes!” without thinking. I had a map of the world on my bedroom wall, so of course as soon as I got home I searched for Barbados… a small dot with no discernible shape on my map!  Rihanna wasn’t around at the time.

So, there in a nutshell, is how I ended up in Barbados… to develop a distribution network for premier French wines here and throughout the West Indies. As destiny would have it, one day, I caused LIAT (West Indian airline) that I took regularly to be late… and ended up marrying the Captain (laughing).

Was settling in easy?

You know, when you’re in your twenties everything is easy (laughing)! The only thing was the rent… to be completely honest, the (high) rents charged!

Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known then and that would have made the process easier?

I had spent my final year at Oxford University as part of an academic exchange programme and so I was very confident when I departed for an English-speaking country. My daughter, always says that she speaks three languages, French, English and Bajan. Needless to say more… (the word Bajan refers to both Barbadians and the dialect spoken).

English-French Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

What has been the biggest culture shock?

I can’t really speak of a culture shock. I was open-minded, open to discovery. ‘Cultural shock’ implies (a level of) comparison or even judgement in relation to my own culture, something I guard against. A few anecdotes all the same: I arrived for the first time in Barbados and the West Indies an evening in November, in other words, during the rainy season. That very evening, I had been invited by my Bajan contacts of that time for a traditional rum punch. It took place in the gallery, a typically Barbadian feature which is an architectural adaptation to tropical life dating from the Georgian era. Actually, it is a rather narrow veranda that wraps around the house, and allows the trade winds to be enjoyed whatever the season.

I became aware of a noise that in the heat and stillness of the tropical night – exacerbated by jetlag – seemed strident and I expressed aloud my surprise that no one was paying attention to the bizarre car alarm! Ha ha ha! It was actually a ‘whistling frog’, a tiny frog the size of a finger nail, whose ‘whistle’ is synonymous with the rainy season…

Blog Translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

I know that you are an artist. So, in what way have Bajan culture and social mores influenced your artistic expression?

Barbados is without doubt the place of my birth as an artist. By artist, I mean the moment when I exposed my artistic work to the gaze of others and I realised that it meant something to the buyer. Irving Burgie, who composed Barbados’ National Anthem, has been collecting my work for several years now. The fact that my paintings hanging on the walls of his New York home reminded him of Barbados made me realise, and become confident in, the Barbadian identity of my work.

The luminosity is extraordinary here… the vividness of colours found in everyday life, the sea, which is never far away, the sky, but also the fruits on street vendors’ stalls, fabrics, women’s clothing, vegetation… the way the colour reflects on the incredible range of skin tones. I like to speak about the generosity of shapes and colours, yellow, orange, red, blue, green, the colours of the earth, colours that are omnipresent and only serve to influence artistic sensibility. Colours that symbolise energy, creativity, wellness.

Gauguin spent a year in Martinique after leaving (France) to work on the Panama Canal and of course, before going to Polynesia. Barbados, like the rest of the West Indies, was built over the centuries by the painful encounter of the continents and peoples of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and I like to think that this has given it this sense of tolerance, durability and adaptability. Identity in diversity… I often think about (Patrick) Chamoiseau’s concept of Creole identity. I believe that this literary movement has value in terms of our society’s identity. I express this in my paintings through the representation of women, who in Barbados, are a constant source of inspiration and present an incredible diversity.

Blog translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)

Do you think your development as an artist would have been different if you were in France, a country with a great artistic tradition and internationally recognised as such? Has being here been an advantage or just the opposite?

I think that developing my art in Barbados has allowed me greater freedom of expression and of style. By that I mean that I am not subjected to fads, because even in creativity, the phenomenon of trends exists.

What’s more, Barbados is a window to the world, for one thing, because geographically, we are at the crossroads of several continents – Europe, North America and South America – and also because we are an international tourism destination. This has given Bajan art real universal value!

Generally speaking, do you think that the Bajan public has an appreciation for art?

There is a great artistic dynamic in Barbados, in music, dance, song and painting. Art is alive and not just the domain of a privileged social, artistic or even intellectual elite. Art and music are two fully fledged disciplines in Barbados. They are mandatory and are taught at secondary school at least until third form (middle years). Children do coursework in painting, sculpture, do a little bit of art history and visit one or two art galleries as part of educational trips. And while waiting in the parking lot to pick up my children after school, it is not unusual to hear the sounds of a steel pan or a saxophone.

Yes, I think that the Barbadian public appreciates art precisely because of that introduction at school. Among the many art galleries that exist, there is even a mobile ‘Festival Gallery’, which visits various markets and cultural events each week. It’s very innovative and reaches a public that differs from that of traditional galleries. It even allows the youngest, future collectors, to make their first purchase! Festival Gallery was founded by a lady who took an exhibition featuring Barbadian artists to London every year for Independence celebrations. But, I’m sorry that we don’t have a national gallery!

What was/is most frustrating about living here?

Public and private sector indifference to preserving and restoring suburban architectural treasures dating from end-19th century and beginning 20th century. It hurts my heart every day when I traverse Bay Street, Country Road etc. I was really happy when Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison were classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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And what do you like the most?

I like Bajans’ sense of tolerance… unity in ethnic and religious diversity.

What’s your favourite place of interest?

I like Lancaster House and St Nicholas Abbey. I like the Museum – I go there regularly and spend hours in the little bookshop. I always find something new. I liked the exhibition on the Panama Canal. I also like the Crane for that feeling of wide open space and horizon.

What’s your favourite Bajan dish?

Sea urchins (called sea eggs by Bajans). What a pity sea egg season is becoming increasingly rare! I love anything that comes from the sea. Chubs are another favourite of mine.

What’s your favourite Bajan expression?

“You put on size.” I must admit that the first time I heard it I was slightly offended as I thought the person was saying that I had got fat (laughing). In fact, in Bajan it means that “You look good.” (The expression can imply that weight gain is flattering).

Name your favourite beach

Carlisle Bay, for a long walk and a swim in the morning or late afternoon.

How do you relax?

I paint or do yoga. I also like big game fishing and I like going out and listening to Jazz… we’ve got excellent musicians!

Any advice or tips for French people who might be thinking of moving here?

 We all have different expectations when we choose to emigrate. But whatever reasons or expectations may have prompted your emigration, keep an open mind and let yourself be seduced by the pleasure of the sense of life in this part of the world.

Barbados in three words

Sun, happiness, inspiration.

 

Photography by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio/Photo Dynamics Inc.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française see here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Meet a Frenchie – Irène Fumanal

In this section of the blog, we’ll meet French people living in Barbados. A census carried out by the French Consulate indicated that there were around 250 Frenchies living here.

This time around, it’s Irène who will recount her experiences here. She is from the southwestern Department of Vaucluse in France.

So Irène, tell us, what brought you to Barbados?

Love… I followed my husband who was posted here.

How long have you been here?

4 years.

Was settling in easy?

Yes, it was, as I used to visit Barbados twice a year before moving here.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known then that would have made the process easier?

No, not really.

Had you ever heard of Barbados while in France? 

I had heard it was a rum-producing country, but I didn’t know exactly where it was in the West Indies.

What has been the biggest culture shock?

The biggest culture shock for me? The omnipresence of religion… in public life, business and even the tourism sector! It’s surprising when you come from a secular county.

What was/is most frustrating about living here?

The state of the roads and the difficulty and red tape involved when trying to go into business as a foreigner.

And what do you like the most?

The island vibe. There are very few unpleasant things here… apart from mosquitoes! I like Bajans’ sunny disposition, the atmosphere, the uncomplicated lifestyle, the never-ending summer, the peace. I love Barbados!

What’s your favourite place of interest?

I really like Parliament, the National Heroes Gallery and Museum of Parliament. I also like the Barbados Museum, very informative about Barbados’ history. I also like the natural attractions… the east coast, North Point, the countryside… and the rum shops!

What’s your favourite Bajan dish?

I like flying fish in any form.

What’s your favourite Bajan expression?

Ahhoookay!

Name your favourite beach

I like Dover Beach and Miami Beach.

How do you relax?

I go to beach, either to swim or walk. Otherwise, spending the day on a catamaran… it’s a very good way to relax.

 Any advice or tips for French people who might be thinking of moving here?

Don’t come with any expectations and you won’t be disappointed! Sometimes, Europeans come here expecting to live exactly as they do in their country of origin, and constantly criticize the country and its people, etc. My advice: don’t confine yourself to the expat community, go out and meet Bajans. Some are Francophiles, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to converse with them in your mother tongue.

Tip: I always ask Bajans when it comes the practical aspects of life here… for example, to recommend a good electrician. I’m always grateful for their help and advice.

Barbados in three words.

Coconut, rum, liming (hanging out with friends).

 

Photography by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio/Photo Dynamics Inc.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.

 


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Meet a Frenchie – Jacques Anfossy

 

In this section of the blog, we’ll meet French people living in Barbados. A census carried out by the French Consulate revealed that there were around 250 Frenchies  living here.

So let’s begin with Jacques…

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So Jacques, what brought you to Barbados?

My wife and I decided to retire in Barbados – she’s Bajan (Barbadian).

How long have you been here?

7 years now.

Was settling in easy?

Ah yes – my wife is Bajan. It was easy… EXCEPT when it came to building the house! I wouldn’t advise anyone to build a house in Barbados if they’re not actually in Barbados!

Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known then that would have made the process easier?

No, no… not really.

Had you ever heard of Barbados while in France? 

No, before meeting my wife I had never heard of Barbados.

What has been the biggest culture shock?

The biggest culture shock – which unfortunately still remains – is understanding Bajan English… actually I mean the Bajan dialect. I still can’t understand that language.

What was/is most frustrating about living here?

The most frustrating thing? The answer is the same as for the previous question. I’ve spent a long time living in English-speaking countries. I speak English pretty well, but here… not being able to understand most people… it’s frustrating.

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And what do you like the most?

I really like the lifestyle. Look, here we are conducting this interview in a hotel. Around me are people who have paid a fortune to come here and enjoy for a week what I have all year long.

What’s your favourite place of interest?

My favourite place of interest? Hmmm… It’s not the beach. I’m interested in the history of Barbados, so I like historical buildings like, Codrington College.

What’s your favourite Bajan dish?

I like fried flying fish and breadfruit coucou (a sort of Polenta made from breadfruit and of African origin).

What’s your favourite Bajan expression?

Cheese-on-bread, man! (Expression of annoyance).

Name your favourite beach

 I don’t go to the beach very often, but near our house is Bath, which is on the east coast. People don’t want to go to beaches on the east coast – they’re wrong. Bath is a beautiful beach. It’s sheltered by trees and has an attractive life-guard station and a nice little restaurant.

How do you relax?

I’m retired. I relax 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (laughing). So, I don’t really do anything special to relax, except maybe read.

Barbados in three words

An eternal paradise.

 

Photography by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio-Photo Dynamics Inc.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.

 


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Alliance française, the Barbados Museum & the 100th Anniversary of WW1

 

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In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of WW1 this year, an interactive digital exhibition has been created by the Institut français, the AEFE and the Mission du Centenaire. The transmedia exhibition offers a new kind of experience, combining print and digital supports and requiring the use of smart mobile technology. On exhibit are posters equipped with QR codes. The viewer must download an app that is then used to scan the QR codes to access information provided across several multimedia platforms (videos, audio, texts, photos, 3D objects, etc.). The information has been translated into several languages, including English and French. The use of smart technology is likely to make the WW1 exhibition more accessible and interesting to today’s tech-savvy generation.

An eye-opening exhibition with an unusual slant

The exhibition relates the many stories of some of those affected by the Great War. It focuses not only on soldiers on the front line but also on civilians far away from the battlefields.

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Mr Kevin Farmer delivering the welcoming speech

It presents the numerous layers of the war: the front lines, experiences and perceptions of those affected directly and indirectly by events between 1914 and 1918.

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Guests listening to speeches

The exhibition is on a worldwide tour and can now be viewed in Barbados thanks to a partnership between the Alliance française de Bridgetown and the Barbados Museum.

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Mrs Denise Haynes, President of Alliance française de Bridgetown

To launch its opening at the Museum, the Alliance hosted a cocktail reception for specially invited guests.

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Lt Col Thierry Delbarre, CDR Thierry Legay and Capt. Don Chee-A-Tow

Among those in attendance were Captain Don Chee-A-Tow, Honorary Consul of France; Mr Mikael Barfod, Head of the EU delegation; Ms Victoria Glynis Dean, British High Commissioner; Ms Wang Ke, Chinese Ambassador to Barbados; Lieutenant Colonel Thierry Delbarre, Non-resident French Defence Attaché; Commander Thierry Legay of the French Maritime Intelligence and Coordination Cell; and Ms Denise Haynes, President of Alliance française de Bridgetown.

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Two guests learning about WW1

Attendees enjoyed French hors d’oeuvres, cheeses and wine while viewing the exhibition. A welcoming speech was given by Mr Kevin Farmer, the Deputy Director of the Museum. Speeches were also made by Ms Haynes and Captain Chee-A-Tow.

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Guests at the cocktail reception held to launch the exhibition

The Museum has enriched the exhibition even further by adding its own artefacts and documents. It will run until mid-July.

 

Photography by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio-Photo Dynamics Inc.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.

 


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Celebrating French culture and language in Barbados

Semaine de la Francophonie

In Barbados, there exists a chapter of Alliance Française, a non-profit organisation that promotes French language and culture. Like other chapters around the world, the Alliance française de Bridgetown organised the Semaine de la Francophonie, a week of activities celebrating French language and culture, in the month of March.

Three schools – Alexandra, Codrington and Queen’s College – and the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus (UWI) participated in these events. Alexandra and Queen’s College are secondary schools while Codrington offers both primary and secondary education. As part of activities, Codrington’s secondary school students gave Powerpoint presentations on Francophonie and francophone countries to the primary students. On March 20, International Francophonie Day, Alexandra students participated in a quiz and gave presentations featuring 10 new words accepted into the French language.

Queen’s College and UWI students participated in a francophone forum organised by the University. Native French speakers from Canada, Belgium, Martinique and the Democratic Republic of Congo shared their culture during a Q&A session. A French movie, ‘Chante ton bac d’abord’ (with English subtitles), a French karaoke singing session and an exhibition on Martinique were also held at the University.

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 Another event organised to mark the Semaine de la Francophonie was Le Dîner français, which was held at the restaurant, Chez Max. Gastronomic specialities were prepared in honour of the occasion and greatly appreciated by lovers of French cuisine.

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We fall squarely into that category and were in for treat. The food was quite simply delicious! Beginning with a Kingfish tartare canapé served on a bed of lettuce and accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine.

 

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Our first course was mussels served in a white wine sauce. We love seafood and thoroughly enjoyed the creamy texture of this dish. Next was a palate cleanser – a refreshing rainbow sorbet drizzled with blue curacao liqueur.

For the second course, we selected Coq au vin (a chicken stew featuring red wine), mashed potatoes and vegetables of the day.

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Again, our palates were gratified – the chicken was tender, subtly well-seasoned and delicious, dripping off the bone. We chose a Grenache blanc viognier white wine for this course as well as the others.

 

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Next came the cheese selection consisting of Port salut and goat’s cheese and served with a sliver of toast and grapes.

 

 

 

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Finally for dessert, we opted for the decadent three-colour chocolate mousse and again we were well pleased. The texture and flavour were simply divine!

For us, Le Dîner français was the highlight of the Semaine de la Francophonie.

 

Photography by Stephen R. Smith of Pro Photo Studio-Photo Dynamics Inc.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.


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Famous Bajans – MOUNT GAY RUM

Welcome to the section of the blog dedicated to famous names that you may not have associated with Barbados or been aware they were Bajan or of Bajan descent.

MOUNT GAY RUMFrench-English translation - AAA Translation Services (Barbados)We will begin this series with the oldest of them, Mount Gay. “The rum that invented rum” was created right here in Barbados in 1703. That makes it the world’s oldest rum! It was named after Sir John Gay Alleyne, who was the 1st Baronet of Four Hill and a Barbadian politician. The story goes that John Sober (oh, the irony), a trusted friend of Sir John Gay Alleyne purchased the Mount Gilboa Plantation/Distilleries and asked Sir John Gay to manage the company for him. Apparently, Sir John did an excellent job, improving distillation, perfecting the rum-making process, and ultimately producing a noticeably superior product. Indeed, so effective was he at leading the company that it was renamed in his honour after his death. Since a Mount Alleyne plantation already existed, the company was called Mount Gay Distilleries, incorporating Sir John Gay Alleyne’s middle name.

During most of the 20th century the company was owned by a prominent Barbadian family, the Wards. In 1989, Rémy Cointreau, a French alcoholic beverage group, became a majority shareholder.

Mount Gay Distilleries produces 5 rums: Silver, Eclipse, Black Barrel, Extra Old and 1703. Silver is described by Mount Gay as soft and refreshing; Eclipse is described as having a subtle smokiness due to the toasted Kentucky oak barrels in which it is aged; Black Barrel, the most recent creation of Master Blender, Allen Smith, is a bold spice balanced with oaky vanilla and sweet caramel; Extra Old is rich, oaky and sharp; while 1703, the premium product, is a balance of caramel, spice and toast.

Five key elements distinguish Mount Gay Rums from their competitors: the water, which is naturally filtered due to Barbados’ coral limestone foundation; exceptional sugar cane molasses, which was known as Black Gold in the 18th century because of the additional revenue it provided; fermentation; a distillation process that has been in place since 1703; and maturation.

Personally, we have tasted all except 1703. Our favourite is the divine Extra Old, which is aged between 15 and 18 years. It is as smooth as the finest cognac and really should be savoured on its own and not diluted in a mix.

Rédaction et traduction du blog réalisées par AAA Translation Services. Pour la version française voir ici.


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