Julie Anne and Tatjana Rhodes in Mustique
Last week’s episode of Housewives of New York vacationing in the Caribbean disturbed me. I know it is reality TV, and the more the drama queens bitch, the better for ratings- but really? The Caribbean and cat fights are just not synonymous for me!

A few years ago, I was pining for the Caribbean. I missed my yearly trips to Mustique and Barbados. Only days later, and after ten years of losing touch , my friend Lee Lindsey called me out of the blue! The conversation went like this “Hey Julie Anne, what are you doing in October?” Caught off guard my reply was ” I don’t have any plans yet… it’s only January now, why?” To which Lee said “I’m having a major birthday, and want to take ten girlfriends to Barbados to celebrate” I’d love for you to join us?”

Our version of the Island Housewives doing it right!
Now that was awesome! First, out of all the people one meets in a lifetime, to be one of her top ten choices to spend a momentous birthday with, really touched me to the core; and secondly, it was almost like I’d willed the trip into existence by longing for it so strongly. Of course I jumped at the opportunity.

Jerry Hall
Julie Anne, Tatjana, Jimmy, and Jerry: Tatjana’s first kiss in Mustique
Lee and I had been through so much together… we met in 1987 during a party at Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger’s house in Mustique. Our children just five months old at the time, were born within five days of each other. We arranged play dates for the kids once we were both back in London, and became close friends, as did our children. We were there for each other through the challenges of married life, being young mothers, through each others divorces, and certainly did our fair share of partying together.

Lee helping me with Tatjana’s 3rd birthday (her son, Sam, to the left of her)
By then almost ten years sober, I suddenly started to get cold feet at the last minute. I didn’t know any of the other women. What if we had nothing in common? What if we didn’t like each other? What if everyone wants to get smashed every night? What if, what if, what if… but the call of a long lost friendship (and of the islands) was stronger than my fears, so I threw caution to the wind, and went.

Every time I step foot off the plane in Barbados I draw in a long, strong whiff of air, hold it for a second, then release. It has a distinctive damp smell all it’s own, that for some reason makes every muscle in my body unwind at once. My constantly racing inner engine instinctively slows. I’m in my element, feeling a synchronization with the environment I’ve never felt anywhere else in the world. I’m on Caribbean time, and I am home… a place filled with happy memories.

Everything about it is soothing and enjoyable. I actually do stop to smell the roses with every sense enthusiastically drinking in the island’s local color. The Bajan accent as pleasing as music to my ear, feeling the spray of the sea on my face, and wet sand squishing between my toes. My taste buds dancing happily with every mouth full of food, and the decaying decadence of the homes we stay in built of sandstone with Venetian chandeliers swaying in the wind, and faded persian rugs beneath our feet.

Tatjana enthralled by the puppies in Mustique
Anyone would be hard pushed to say or do something to upset me in the islands. I’m just too happy there to let petty things get to me. I found it absurd when the Housewives, surrounded by incredible natural beauty, in the lap of luxury, STILL had to dig at each other constantly. We were eleven women in total, living under one roof, from different social and economic backgrounds, countries, and professions yet we never had even one bitch fest. In fact the motto of the trip was “just when you think life can’t possibly get any better… it does!”
Lee Lindsey
From the sisterhood that developed between us all, to lazing on the beach, swimming with sea turtles, cocktails at sunset with Lee serenading us on guitar before dinner, to dancing the nights away, and watching a sea turtle lay her eggs right next to us on the beach, as we ate dinner on the veranda the last evening- something the staff assured us NEVER happens. It must have been all that positive female energy.

The laughter, camaraderie, and intrigue with nature’s majesty was the polar opposite experience of that on the show. I felt sorry for the Housewives inability to appreciate their surroundings and each other. Ours was one of the best holidays of my life! Thank you a thousand times, Lee! Oh, and the food…

Lee’s birthday dinner
Bajan food is divine. Spicy, sweet, tangy, and fresh all in one. The cuisine retains much of the British Colonial traditions of it’s past, heavily influenced by African dishes that came along with the slave trade, plus a dash of East Indian spices and dishes such as Roti, delicious spicy meat of your choice wrapped in a chaptis. The fishermen bring in flying fish, tuna, barracuda, turtle, mahi mahi, and dolphin fish (a mild white fish not related to Flipper) that are normally cooked with local exotic fruits and vegetables such as pawpaw (papaya), cherries, breadfruit, coconut, and taro, yams, and squash. Chiles and thyme are commonly added in for an extra kick and balance all the other flavors to perfection. The Bajans are also known for their wonderful hot sauce with a yellow mustard base and blend of very hot chilis including habanero. I bring home as much as I can possibly carry every time I go, usually along with a few extra pounds from eating so well. I love Barbados. Where is your favorite destination?

P.S. Don’t forget to tell your family and friends to follow Jewels from The Roving Stove, so they can vote for their favorite Ladies that Lunch Menu. The poll is located on the right hand side of the blog towards the top.
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  • June 1, 2010
    6:41 pm

    Welcome to my part of the world Jewels. You'll have to visit the BVI one day. No drama queens allowed here!

  • June 1, 2010
    6:57 pm

    Here in Sao Paulo is soooo cooooold today =(Marcia Abud Anck

  • June 1, 2010
    6:57 pm

    Niceeeeeeee!Rhonda Davis Crombie

  • June 1, 2010
    6:58 pm

    wow!Have fun!!Martina D' Epifanio

  • June 1, 2010
    7:03 pm

    That is unusual isn't it Marcia? It was lovely Rhonda and Martina. Where do you all dream of vacationing?

  • June 1, 2010
    7:56 pm

    I dream polinesia(Barbados would be a GREAT idea too!!)…in the meantime I will pass my holidays in Italy,to the beach.Honestly I would like to travel around Italy for first…then the rest of the world.Martina D' Epifanio

  • June 1, 2010
    7:57 pm

    This year we expect some cold weather . We suffered with the storms in january and february – and now we live cold days ( but of course not like North America or Europe). The storms really destroyed a lot here in Brazil . We are not habituated to all these changes. =(Marcia Abud Anck

  • June 1, 2010
    7:58 pm

    Oooooooh. Somewhere without my kids? LOL! I would LOVE to go back to Italy. It has been a long time. Portofino has to be one of the MOST GORGEOUS places I have ever seen. I would love to be strolling through the city right now. ;-PRhonda Davis Crombie

  • June 1, 2010
    8:01 pm

    Hahaha… Martina "settles" for going home to Italy while Rhonda dreams of going back. I agree… Italy is FABULOUS!Marcia, I do hope things warm up for you. I know how you San Paolo-eans worship the beach. I loved it there.

  • June 1, 2010
    11:30 pm

    Allen and I fell in love with Kauai! From Poipu to Princeville, there is never a dull moment when we arrive! The sunsets are divine, the food is wonderful, and the scenery at The Beach House is one we never get sick of! I remember when you took that trip and how happy you were to have gone. What wonderful memories you have now!

  • June 1, 2010
    11:52 pm

    LOL! We always want what we don't have, I suppose. I live around 2 hours from Savannah, and it has to be one of the prettiest cities in the South; the beaches in Hilton Head, SC, just across the SC/GA border, are gorgeous, too. I should be happy that I am not still living in the middle of the only really ugly part of Montana!Rhonda Davis Crombie

  • June 2, 2010
    12:19 am

    It's always the things you don't want to go to. That end up being the most fun! Your post made me miss my gal pals. It's funny you mention the cruise episode. I could not finish it. The bickering got to me. Viva la Positive women energy ! My dream vacation touring France. 🙂

  • June 2, 2010
    2:42 am

    Lovely post, Jewels! I enjoyed time in the carribean (we were in St. Lucia years ago) but being so fair skinned, I didn't enjoy the sunburn (even with my prescription spf 50 sun block). When i dream of a vacation it's to central europe, where I studied for a while. Took a trip to Memphis TN and fell in love with that town too…good food & good music. Kimberly in MI

  • June 2, 2010
    7:06 pm

    We have the smell here due to the rain. I wish it would go away so I can enjoy my volunteer work and baseball game tonight! :)Carly Guerrero

  • June 2, 2010
    8:55 pm

    I'd be careful; making that invitation Abigail… you have no idea how quickly I take people up on invites to BVI! Lucky woman living there. I intend to one day too.Tracey… I am so glad I am not the only one that found that episode preposterous, and yes, "Viva la Positive women energy!" Do you live in the islands Carly? Nick had the same problem as you Kimberly, but it never stopped us from going. Trick is staying covered and in the shade during the strongest, direct sun hours of 11AM to 1PM, and gradually building on the amount of time you spend in the sun (don't spend all day in it when you first arrive. Sit in the shade a lot). Plus reapply that sunblock every time you get out of the water.Laura… I loved Hawaii too, but British Virgin Islands have that residual colonial thing going for them that make them so quaint. Maybe it is all the years there and the fond memories that draw me back so strongly? I'm perfectly in my groove there.

  • June 3, 2010
    4:44 am

    Great Post Julie Anne….what a tremendously fun bunch of women you all are. Oh, and what a beautiful place to go to. I personally have never been, but would love to one day. My favourite place to go to here in OZ is Port Douglas. It is Far North Queensland and it is just idyllic. Only 45 mins away is the Daintree which is heritage listed and is just breathtaking. I actually got married at a beach in the Daintree called Thorntons Beach. Just me, hubby, my diamond encrusted Collette Dinnigan dress, Two tourists from Britain I found to be witnesses and the celebrant. It was just amazing…oh and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. You just gotta check it out when in OZ. You will love it.Aussie Mum

  • June 3, 2010
    7:52 am

    I'd really love to go back to Turkey.I'm not one for lying in the sun as I go from white to red to white again 🙂 so I prefer to do day trips to places of interest and believe me, Turkey has plenty of those! And the food is the living end!Malta is also a place I love to see again.And in the words of Ultravox – Ah Vienna!

  • June 3, 2010
    7:05 pm

    What a beautiful image! Dream Martina dream!Martina D' Epifanio