Being British is not always a good thing in my opinion. Independence came to Barbados in 1966 after three centuries of British influence. Some of this influence remains today, red post boxes for example but more irritatingly, the British love for bureaucracy still pervades officialdom.
On arrival we had to visit three separate offices to check in to the country. This necessitated filling in a different set of forms in each office, these being health, customs and immigration. We filled in pretty much the same information on each set of forms, name, passport number, last port of call etc as we moved between offices. Speedy it was not.
It’s been a while since either of us has used blue carbon paper which allowed copies to made in triplicate. The official who guided us through customs was hidden behind stacks of paperwork and the spare desk had several teetering piles. Bear in mind, in our two weeks in Barbados at least one cruise ship or occasionally four a day have been docked in Bridgetown, that’s an awful lot of paperwork.
Today we checked out in preparation for departing tomorrow. Once again we visited three offices. And once again we filled in at least two forms in each office with the same aforementioned blue carbon paper. Some of the forms were exactly the same as the ones we filled in when we arrived. I suggest somewhat hesitantly so I don’t appear to be a ‘shouty shouty know all’ that the system could possible be more streamlined.
Our other recent experience with officialdom was with the American Embassy. The form filling online was frustrating and long. (There were some shouty shouty moments during this experience). The actual interview and delivery of the passports was smooth and straightforward. Our passports now each sport a 10 year visitors visa. Our short to medium term plan (which was actually plan A when we left the UK) is to cruise the Caribbean for the rest of the winter and spring then head north to the States to avoid hurricane season.
Tomorrow we plan to pull up the anchor and head to Grenada. Should be about 24 hours to our planned destination. Barbados has been so so friendly, welcoming and relaxing. We’ve been blown away by the helpful gracious nature of the people. Unsurprisingly, we’ll miss seeing turtles swimming around the boat, the wreck to snorkel on in the bay just a few hundred metres away and the welcoming hospitality of the yacht club ashore.
The benchmark has been set for the rest of the Caribbean now.